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The highlight of my day today.

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

And I know it was the highlight because it happened right off the top of my day and no experience has topped it since.

My morning routine is to get up at the sound of my braying, obnoxious alarm clock, roll out of bed and head downstairs to shower. And today was really no different. I woke up an hour late, but I was getting a ride to college, so that evened out. I got in the shower, turned on the hot water and started thinking. Thinking the way we only do in the shower. We take the sensory deprivation of the shower for granted in North America, just like the clean, drinkable water we use for it.

Just yesterday, I had started my Saints Row 2 campaign. And by started, I mean only that. I’m not even out of the hospital yet. I don’t even know if my game will pick up where I left it cos I don’t think you can save in that mission. In any case, I was/am playing as an ageing yet attractive Asian woman with blue hair and smeared purple lipstick. I told Dave this yesterday, and he said I should play as Gaben. Huh? “Gaben.” Huh? “Gaben!” Two seconds. “HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT A GABEN IS–”

At which point the computer had shut off. So, I googled it when I got back home. It’s a legitimately hilarious meme in which somebody cut the beginning of the Team Fortress 2 commentary, provided by Gabe Newell, into a stupid statement dance mix. “To stop the Gaben, press the Gaben” and so forth. His email is gaben@somethingtodowithvalve.com (not his real email, I forget what it is). And I thought of all of this in the shower, then thought to myself, “I should email Gabe Newell to tell him that Portal 2 is one of the best games I’ve ever encountered, let alone current generation, let alone console or developer–it’s just one of the best, period. Read more…

School schedule.

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

So tomorrow, I have a class at 8am, which means I’m setting my alarm for 5am in order to get there on time. As it’s now 10pm the night before that, I have to go to sleep now to get not even eight hours of sleep.

Good news is, I’ll be finishing the Portal 2 post tomorrow and putting one here in its stead about my experiences with the other half a dozen games I’ve bought for the PS3 so far. I should have some free time to play them then.

Other than that, get on twitter and follow the Overt Dictionary and Injustice Facts. The pro is that their content has made me disgusted with my own impulses to buy things and brought several forms of injustice and crime to my daily attention; the con is that they keep pushing their multimedia collective The Artists at the same time. Good with the bad, you know?

Seeya tomorrow afternoon!

Categories: Not-A-Reviews, Video Games

The blog post about Portal 2 before I’ve finished playing Portal 2.

January 9, 2012 Leave a comment

So, Portal 2. I feel like my review of this game is going to carry a lot of baggage when I finally get around to doing it. I’ve been thinking for years about dozens of things related to Portal–for the last four years, I’ve been on the longest and most winding road to current generation gaming. I just bought a PS3 for myself for New Year’s and I’ve got half a dozen games thus far. But the very first one on my list was Portal 2–but not because I’d ever finished Portal. My entire fascination with video games may have actually been piqued by Yahtzee Croshaw’s blindingly positive review of it in his review of Valve’s The Orange Box, the Half Life 2: Episode 2 bundle that included Team Fortress 2 and the original Portal. And since that one review, I’ve been deadly curious to play it and learning as much as I could about video games in the meantime. What made games unique, what made games good, what made them appealing. I’ve never been sure of an answer, but I’m getting closer to knowing the answers for me.

So Portal. After that one review, I spent years not listening to “Still Alive”. I spent years not reading anything about the game for fear of spoiling its ending. I’d spent my life under a rock labeled “Keep Me Ignorant of Portal‘s Everything!” and lemme tell you, until about 2009, it worked. I knew that I didn’t have a PC capable of running it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to play it on the laptop. So one night, I buckled down and did the unthinkable: I watched some dude on Google Video play through it in about 50 minutes. (The man had obviously thought with portals before.) And what I saw was one of the funniest things ever written in any medium, let alone just as a video game. And the ending was, as Mr. Croshaw promised, “balls-tighteningly fantastic”. And when Portal was being given away for free to celebrate Steam’s arrival on Mac, I signed up and got it immediately.

I mean, I still couldn’t play it without my laptop getting hot enough to fry an egg on. And maybe that’s me leaving the graphics too high and maybe that’s me leaving the second monitor plugged in, but it gets so hot it shuts down and I still cower like a little baby every time I see a turret laser. Wait, no, babies don’t cower like that–you gotta learn that kind of fear. I doubt I’d get past the flinging section with all the turrets in it anyhow–I hadn’t even seen a missile turret yet. So that’s where I’ve left Portal, but it’s not left my mind since. Ever since that day, I’ve spent all my moments thinking about video games learning everything I could about Valve software’s releases and what made them tick. They did and still do a number of things I like, such as refusing to segregate story and gameplay. If the story cannot be told through play directly, it will be told during play.

New year’s resolutions.

January 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I feel like I’m Michael Rosen, starting a story with the subject and then moving on to the rest of it. You know, “My dad. My dad was a bricklayer,” and so forth. But this is a subject that probably needs addressing on this blog as I have a couple resolutions of my own this year that I only want to keep for 21 days. Sadly, I’m already pretty lax on two of them. However, there’s a slight catch: I can’t say what they are. I cannot tell you what my new year’s resolutions are, because ever since I was a child, the only way for me to be responsible in any manner was to keep all of my good behaviour a secret.

I don’t know how many other people are this way, but I’m interested in finding out. If I want to motivate myself to do something, I cannot tell anyone I’m doing it, because the moment I make it public, the pressure on myself (from myself) doubles and I immediately quit for fear of disappointing everyone I’ve ever known. It’s not like anyone but me is invested in any of my goals, but I get so afraid of being a disappointment that I shut down and end up doing all of the things that disappoint everybody. Does that ever happen to you?

I’ve been this way nearly all of my life with everything. Or at least, anything I’ve ever kept a track of. The only way I learned to play guitar was when I was alone in my room working on it my way. I can really only keep this blog up for so long before remembering that there are people reading it and counting on me–or perhaps just casually browsing the stuff I put up on occasion. But the thing is, at least one of the things I’ve picked as a resolution for 2012 is something very public and daily. I have to do it every day for three weeks so that at the end of that 21 day period, it’s a habit that’s engrained in my mind. It’s something I have to do or I’ll feel off all day–like spending a day without brushing your teeth in the morning. More than your poor dental hygiene bugging you is the splinter in your mind of not having done something you do every day. Read more…

My pitch to The Escapist.

Hey guys, it’s Joe Criger here. That’s just so that anyone who thinks using my real name will intimidate me online knows I use it everywhere, by the way. Today’s one of those days where not much happened in my life (I’m having a lot of them lately). Tomorrow, I might be getting my G2 license as long as I don’t speed or mess up the parallel park. I’m also seeing Alice Cooper live, with supporting act Anvil. And it’s also the deadline for the June 28th issue of The Escapist magazine–that website I said I frequent and whose video series I reviewed. Three of them. They have, like a hundred. All by people I may or may not agree with. Anyway.

The June 28th issue is about how video games and other media are starting to cross over and influence each other and become each other and how all of the influences are being felt all over the board. And because I thought no one would think of this without me, I submitted a pitch–today–for an article about how Inception and Sucker Punch are both movies made to be video games on the big screen. And while I’ll get to the body of that pitch soon, I thought I’d cover a few miscellaneous points first.

For instance, my friend and recording artist D-Sisive has released a remix of his song “Graffiti Wall” from his album Jonestown 2 using a Deadmau5 song as the beat. And let me tell you, friends: it is fantastic. Just click the single cover to the right to hear it. It is a hot mess of contradictory, useless, senseless, meaningless partying that makes me want to dance to the story of how D-Sisive (fka Malicious) was defeated in a rap battle around the age of fifteen. And that’s hilarious. This is the latest in a series of hijacked beats from D-Sisive, and I’m curious to see what his next album brings us. Previously, we’ve had “If I Live to See Tomorrow…”/(SigurRos:Hijacked), “I Love a Girl”/(GrizzlyBear:Hijacked), “Anvil”/(DeadMan’sBones:Hijacked) and “Ambulance”/(TomWaits:Hijacked), in addition to TheIdiot:Hijacked–an album available somewhere if you can find it. And yes, I applied that title to those last two songs in retrospect. Keep up the good rapping, friend! Read more…

So here’s the deal.

I’m currently working on assembling my second impressions of TCAF into a proper post. Might even turn into one of those epic posts and take two and a half posts to get through all the awesome stuff that happened, but as I’m basically working from memory, I’ll try to get my girlfriend to upload those photos as fast as possible tomorrow morning. In the mean time, my buddy Chad offered to review his other favourite game of last year, Final Fantasy Tactics to take the load off of today (Sunday). Mostly because of my last post, I think–anyway. So, he was supposed to be writing that today, and I was supposed to be taking a day off. It’s around eleven thirty at night on Sunday night, and Chad has no idea how many words he’s at on FFT–he’d rather write a good article than be on time. Apparently, he hasn’t read most of my articles from volume 2!

So right now, I’m just posting this so that you subscribers know that there was something planned today. There really was, and it wasn’t my responsibility to get it posted. Cos Chad was all “Take a day off, I can do it!” And I said sure. Which isn’t my fault. In any case, do you want me to keep rambling on for 1000 words or just let stuff get stuffed? I could talk about a couple things I’ve been reading up on. Would that satiate you all? Let’s give’r the ole’ college try! Read more…

Assorted thoughts.

People tell me quite often that Twitter has no purpose, is stupid and is only for people with the most miniscule of attention spans. I don’t agree with a lot of this, and I also disagree that it makes us feel more connected than we actually are. I’ve never felt really, truly bonded to someone on Twitter the way I do in real life, but I digress. The real point I’m getting at is that people who bash Twitter aren’t bashing Twitter for what it is. They’re almost never just admonishing it for putting an artificial restraint on communication–surely there are avenues left for unrestrained expression where you could rewrite Atlas Shrugged in lojban for all I care–nonono. People who bash Twitter are bashing it for being Minecraft or for being something like Saints Row II (entirely uninformed analogy)–they’re criticizing it for doing anything you want it to do and not having an instruction manual. Twitter will do absolutely anything you can think of.

Are you looking for a place to publish the minutiae of what you eat and wear on a daily basis? Congratulations, you can do that. Are you looking for a poor man’s RSS feed for people who don’t know how to work RSS feeds so that your webcomic can reach a broader audience? You can do that, too. You can use Twitter as a forum to engage with people about things they might not necessarily publicize otherwise. You can use it solely to publicize new blog posts–OR, my favourite use of Twitter, you can do all of those things at once from the same account. By following one account, a single user can get the personal stories of the author, updates on new blog posts and projects as well as political news from around the world that they might not necessarily be tuned in to.

BREAKING NEWS: this reappraisal of Twitter has now been interrupted by the fact that Canada just elected a Conservative majority government. Read more…