Brief Reviews of Recent Releases

[As Soon to be Read on GIO.]

Because with each passing day it is looking less and less possible that I will find the time to fully edit older review drafts or write new ones to publish, I am going to provide short reviews here that nail the high points of the games in question. Hell, maybe I throw in some movies I’ve watched as well. Anyway, here’s to being very busy and not even having time to procrastinate. I’ll try to find some free time elsewhere.

Mario Kart 8:

Overall Premise: Improve the series in many ways imaginable and as of yet not thought of.

Graphics and Sound: The visuals look excellent on the Wii U and are the best in the series so far. Sound is comprised of good track selection and audio accompaniment ambiance as well.

Playability and Entertainment: The gameplay is even more fun thanks to new twists and turns, literally at times. The controls work well on the standard controller.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 9.0/10.0

Murdered: Soul Suspect:

Overall Premise: Solve a supernatural mystery murder…your own, in fact.

Graphics and Sound: The cinematic experience looks great in most aspects as do many character models. However, your own character doesn’t look as unique and the surroundings often feature the same bland color palette. The voice-work is pretty spectacular whereas the actually music is minimal and the ambiance sounds convincingly haunting.

Playability and Entertainment: The gameplay isn’t as well-handled as the story itself but it gets the job done. The story offers most of the entertainment as it is an interesting experience and somewhat of a better-quality version of something akin to Deadly Premonition mixed with Heavy Rain.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 7.5/10.0

The Wolf Among Us: Episode Five- Cry Wolf:

Overall Premise: Conclude the first season of the Fables-inspired episodic game series.

Graphics and Sound: The same semi-cell shaded and artistic visuals are found in this episode as the previous ones. The vice-work is still top notch and doesn’t feel as overused as it has before in Telltale’s episodic releases.

Playability and Entertainment: The quick-time events are exciting and fast-paced but still not of much difficulty and usually only take two tries at most to complete. The controls still work fine and the balance between action and thought is still present although this is one of the more action-packed episodes by far. Rather than answering most of your questions, no matter the outcome you have more at the end of the episode- for better or worse.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 8.25/10.0

The Walking Dead: Season Two- Episode Four: Amid the Ruins:

Overall Premise: Clem and her group fights harder against each other than ever before and many factors other than the zombie horde threaten to split them apart.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics are essentially the Telltale standard for the series and have no noticeable differences for better or for worse. The voice-work still isn’t quite as good as that of The Wolf Among Us’ however it is quality work and the music that accompanies tense moments nails the mood.

Playability and Entertainment: Both the story and the tense moments progress naturally- as naturally as they can during a zombie apocalypse anyway. The entertainment has been amped up even more but everything still controls solidly.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

The Last of Us: Remastered Edition:

Overall Premise: Build upon the epic masterpiece released last year with a slight graphical update for new consoles and a few other tweaks and additional features.

Graphics and Sound: Truly phenomenal work all around.

Playability and Entertainment: The story is still entertaining and believable, the ending as simultaneously heart-achey and solid. The controls have been tweaked slightly and work even better to get the dirty jobs required done.

Replay Value: Very High.

Overall Score: 9.75/10.0

Madden NFL 15:

Overall Premise: Build upon the annual sports juggernaut by adding and taking away some features that do and don’t work.

Graphics and Sound: The visuals are definitely an upgrade from last year’s but the sound work still suffers from inconsistencies in play calling and commentary, despite sounding good quality wise.

Playability and Entertainment: For the most part it is well-controlled and a step up from the last title and as far as entertainment goes it gets the job done and is yet another fine-tuned experience on the whole.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

The Walking Dead: Season Two- Episode Five: No Going Back:

Overall Premise: Really a game-changer at this point- there are truly vastly different endings and a phenomenal amount of impact from the story thus far as well. Interesting to finally see so many things hit home hard.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics remain unchanged but the sound work steps up and comes up with a win in my book. The background music weaves a tale of its own and the voice-work hits all the right notes at the right times during tense and somber moments.

Playability and Entertainment: Controls fine once more and the entertainment value is through the roof here partly because of the explosiveness of some of the moments towards the ending(s).

Replay Value: Very High.

Overall Score: 8.75/10.0

Destiny:

Overall Premise: Halo x Call of Duty x Mass Effect x MMO Status.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics look great and the soundtracks are not only truly interesting to listen to but also memorable as well. A true testament to the work of so many talented artists together as far as tracks go.

Playability and Entertainment: The controls handle excellently and makeup for some less than savory moments during the game. The story is pretty basic but nonetheless an entertaining adventure, and the same can be said about the game as a whole. It merges most of the right elements between MMO and shooter and RPG genres.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

Hyrule Warriors:

Overall Premise: Essentially a Legend of Zelda themed Dynasty Warriors game. Hell, we already had Gundam so why not, right?

Graphics and Sound: The visuals aren’t as striking as I expected but the number of characters onscreen at once makes up for that and the character design itself is pretty good. The sound effects are undoubtedly better than the soundtracks but that’s not to say the soundtracks are bad.

Playability and Entertainment: While most of the so-called story is repetitive as to be expected in Dynasty Warriors, the combat is adrenaline-filled and a journey I appreciated having the opportunity to take.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.0/10.0

Wasteland 2:

Overall Premise: Return to the apocalypse ala Fallout, but closer to the original Wasteland mixed with modern elements than anything else.

Graphics and Sound: The environments are truly impressive even if the overall graphics aren’t by any standards today. The sound work is superb to say the least.

Playability and Entertainment: The gameplay is heavily tactics-based and enjoyable nonetheless. There’s definitely strategy involved but the adventure isn’t an impossible one. The story and journey as a whole is definitely ingrained with wit and darkness in equal portions here and there.

Replay Value: High

Overall Score: 8.25/10.0

Tropico 5:

Overall Premise: By now your dictatorial duties haven’t evolved much but are still a last to fiddle around with as usual. Even more is open this time around.

Graphics and Sound: Visuals are pretty much the same they were the last time around, meaning they aren’t spectacular or bad. The sound effects and the music selection keep things fresh.

Playability and Entertainment: The controls aren’t so complex as to be unrecognizable to newcomers and veterans alike. The community building experience is definitely one of the best.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.0/10.0

Transistor:

Overall Premise: Just imagine what the minds behind a game such as Bastion can do and then play this game.

Graphics and Sound: The coloring of the environments offsets appropriately the setting and the overall awareness they provide means the colors don’t clash as you’d expect. The soundtrack is an interesting concoction.

Playability and Entertainment: There is some difficulty to be found in the gameplay but the need to discover more of the story makes the experience more than worthwhile at the end.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft:

Overall Premise: Digital Card Games x Warcraft to the greatest effect.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics look like Warcraft to be sure and the the sound effects to accompany cards are definitely…interesting at times throughout.

Playability and Entertainment: Definitely very accessible and entertaining to collect cards as you progress in skill.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 9.25/10.0

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Four Weeks In

My Weekly Picks for each NFL game of the Season thus far:

Howdy folks. Today’s blog is simply a statistics-based one. I simulated the entire NFL playoffs and regular season last year, so this year I am going to do the same (later on) but for now am settling for predicting each week’s winners and losers. I have scores as well, but the key thing I’m looking at are if the teams I choose actually win. You’ll see how I’ve done shortly. Without further ado, let’s begin.

Here’s a mockup of how the formatting will go (to ease your reading and interpretation):

WEEK #

Day

Game #- Winning Team, Predicted Scores, Losing Team, (Actual Scores, Result if different)

TOTAL W/L/T for the Week (My Record not the NFL’s)

♠♠♠

WEEK 1:

Thursday Night Football (TNF)

1- Seahawks 35-21 Packers (36-14)

Sunday Night Football (SNF)

2- Eagles 28-13 Jaguars (34-17)

3- Steelers 21-14 Browns (30-27)

4- Vikings 20-7 Rams (34-6)

5- Patriots 35-17 Dolphins (Dolphins 33-20 Patriots)

6- Jets 17-14 Raiders (19-14)

7- Chiefs 21-10 Titans (Titans 26-10 Chiefs)

8- Bengals 24-17 Ravens (23-16)

9- Saints 21-13 Falcons (Falcons 37-34 Saints)

10- Texans 21-17 Redskins (17-6)

11- Bears 21-7 Bills (Bills 23-20 Bears)

12- Panthers 28-14 Buccaneers (20-14)

13- 49ers 35-21 Cowboys (28-17)

14- Broncos 28-21 Colts (31-24)

Monday Night Football (MNF)

15- Lions 21-9 Giants (35-14)

16- Chargers 21-18 Cardinals (Cardinals 18-17 Chargers)

TOT: 11-5-0

WEEK 2

TNF

17- Ravens 21-14 Steelers (26-6)

SNF

18- Cardinals 27-17 Giants (25-14)

19- Redskins 31-14 Jaguars (41-10)

20- Patriots 21-10 Vikings (30-7)

21- Cowboys 21-7 Titans (26-10)

22- Bills 21-20 Dolphins (29-10)

23- Panthers 28-14 Lions (24-7)

24- Falcons 21-17 Bengals (Bengals 24-10 Falcons)

25- Browns 21-20 Saints (26-24)

26- Rams 17-10 Buccaneers (19-17)

27- Chargers 27-24 Seahawks (30-21)

28- Texans 21-10 Raiders (30-14)

29- Jets 21-17 Packers (Packers 31-24 Jets)

30- Broncos 35-14 Chiefs (24-17)

31- 49ers 21-14 Bears (Bears 28-20 49ers)

MNF

32- Eagles 27-21 Colts (30-27)

TOT: 13-3-0

WEEK 3

TNF

33- Falcons 35-17 Buccaneers (56-14)

SNF

34- Texans 21-14 Giants (Giants 30-17 Texans)

35- Eagles 28-14 Redskins (37-34)

36- Cowboys 21-7 Rams (34-31)

37- Patriots 28-6 Raiders (16-9)

38- Saints 21-10 Vikings (20-9)

39- Colts 42-17 Jaguars (44-17)

40- Bengals 28-13 Titans (33-7)

41- Chargers 23-10 Bills (22-10)

42- Browns 24-21 Ravens (Ravens 23-21)

43- Packers 21-14 Lions (Lions 19-7 Packers)

44- Cardinals 21-20 49ers (23-14)

45- Broncos 23-21 Seahawks (Seahawks 26-20 Broncos)

46- Chiefs 26- 14 Dolphins (34-15)

47- Panthers 21-17 Steelers (Steelers 37-19 Panthers)

MNF

48- Bears 21-3 Jets (27-19)

TOT: 11-5-0

WEEK 4

Who knows what will happen?

♠♠♠

I’ll continue posting my predictions every few weeks after they have come true or been dismissed. Also, here is my total current overall record for the first three weeks.

35-13-0

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Scarred (Scared) for Life

[As Would've been Read on GIO if the server hadn't 'errored' out when I hit publish.]

Hey folks, it’s me again. Today’s blog is going to actually be a little more than just another update, which I suppose is something you all are probably looking forward to- more so than a simple update anyway. No worries about my forthcoming reviews or blogs about anything else, as those are in the works but unlikely to be released in all honesty in the near future as things stand right now.

Anyway, today’s little ditty of sorts is focusing on something that has become an interest in my life because of experiences early on with the it- film. I heartily enjoy watching most genres of film from the fictional epics in horror, action, and science fiction fantasy to even the occasional documentary or well-thought out and produced reproduction of actual historical events. Film is something that it is easy to take pride in the heroic efforts put forth by actors and filmmakers alike, as well as to simply enjoy without having to think very much about it.

You can sit back and watch something that will twist your brain around like Labyrinth or Inception, or you can simply enjoy a good old slasher or mediocre subplots thrown in your face in laughable ways. As for my personal tastes, I’m open to most kinds of movies and general film, so with many works I don’t discriminate until I’ve at least seen part of the piece or heard enough unruly dissent about it that I can actually begin to see if it is even worth attempting to stomach (Sharknado).

However, my blog today isn’t merely about films themselves- although I guess you could say some of them have scarred me, or even scared me for life. Good old suspenseful horrors and thrillers are what I’m mainly referring to in this case. And today I’m going to talk about three films in particular that I’ve enjoyed time(s) with, been scared by (or for the protagonist at least), and general been pleased by and never much disappointed- well, with the exception of some less than stellar sequels, or sequels to sequels if you refer to Ridley Scott).

The particular films in question are none other than the original ‘Alien’ film, The Usual Suspects, and The Fugitive. Now, for those of you who may not be sure exactly what these movies are or are concerning, I’ll give you a few details to jog your memory…

The original Alien (1979) debuted and is remembered as one of the most terrifying ‘what can go wrong in space’ suspense movies of all time. It is the classic, it is the start, it is king in the category of alien-related films. Oh and it boasted a (now pretty recognizable) cast including Veronica Cartwright, Ian Holm, John Hurt, and of course Sigourney Weaver. The first tale of Ellen Ripley and the ill-fated Nostromo have struck fear in the hearts of many, and thrilled the hearts of others. Watching an alien burst from John Hurt’s chest unexpectedly will literally change everything the first time you witness it. I watched the movie around the age of 8 (thanks to my mother’s love for horror movies) and I’ve essentially been ‘scarred’ since. But in a good way as well, although I find myself jumping at night when the floor creaks. ;-)

The Usual Suspects (1995) is a modern classic as well- part thriller, part noir crime film and part Bryan Singer amazing. The movie is just as tense and suspenseful as any other thriller I’ve ever seen, and has enough crime dramatization in it to feel like an amped up Law and Order- save from the opposite perspective than usual. Not only this, but it marks a high point in Kevin Spacey’s growing career, features other greats such as Benicio del Toro, and also has literally what must be one of the (if not the) best twists in film history in the revelations surrounding the mysterious crime lord Keyser Soze. Trust me- if you haven’t seen this film, you must.

The Fugitive (1993) is yet another one of those great, tense, thrilling early to mid-nineties films. It also happens to feature Harrison Ford, therefore making it doubly awesome with the combined might of Han Solo and Indiana Jones on the table. Obviously the film has struck the right chords in the past two decades, as it has been credited with “universal acclaim” on review sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, and is also of course an amazing crime drama and thriller. Essentially, the plot revolves around an innocent man convicted of murdering his wife but who has evidence (and visual proof) that he did not and that in fact another man did. He attempts to clear his name in the most obvious manner (I say sarcastically)- escaping from a prison bus hit by a train and evading a state-wide manhunt whilst finding clues as to what exactly occurred and unraveling a mini-conspiracy along the way. Add a strong supporting cast and epic set moments and you’ve got quite the ensemble. Plus, it has Tommy Lee Jones and Julianne Moore in it.

Now, I’ve only got a few more things before I wrap this up. As you’ve probably guessed, Alien scarred me for life where horror movies are concerned, and now I thoroughly enjoy tense and suspenseful “classic” horror films- not the gross gore we consider horror today, although some are alright. The Usual Suspects boggled my mind with its ending and was essentially Shutter Island/Inception before either of those were a thing (but thanks Chris Nolan for the latter, now make a sequel). And of course The Fugitive was more good old Harry Ford and a strong, thrilling plot with some tense moments and interesting deviations in terms of supporting cast. Add to the fact that all of these films are wonderful and critically acclaimed and where would we be without them today? Or for that matter where would the acclaimed actors/actresses such as Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Spacey be without these films that launched their careers?

What an intriguing thought… Anyway, it’s time for me to get going and back to the weekend grind of mixing time for fun and fury, or study anyhow. I’ll be around, but in the event I don’t get back to in a timely manner with a new blog, feel free to bug and pester me all you want. It might motivate me a bit more.

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‘Hey Ya’

[Read on GIO.]

(Puns and Allusions)

Howdy there partners, long time no blog (again, for the umpeenth time of late). Well, hate to disappoint you, but along comes yet another blog about…nothing much…honest. It pains me to do so but I haven’t caught much of a break yet, nor will I for the foreseeable time coming. A little update on some things I’ve been up to lately? Well, here I’ll give you a few…

Well- I’ve gone back to school, yep you’ve heard right. Didn’t want to say much on it earlier, but it’s become pretty much necessary that I amp up my skillset to the next level (RPG much?) right now. I recently decided to return to schooling in order to achieve a specific MFA- an interesting task that, and one that will entitle me to much, much more as well. Which is good. More is good. ‘Murica, yeah.

Along the way I plan to be writing off and on, enjoying my even more horribly busy hours now (yeah, back to school for the first time in about ten years, woot) on top of my slightly lessened workload (still a heavy one, even with educational alleviation). Ah well, at least I can sort of keep up with pop culture and the gaming industry, as well as several others. Well, as much as I possibly can. Also, it’s either disheartening or amazing that I haven’t really evolved enough in ten years to see that some of the staying up late and never sleeping crap I did in my original run of school wasn’t always the greatest idea. Look at me now- up on a Sunday night with no plans to retire anytime soon. Eh, life moves on, so must I.

Still all mostly quiet on the reviewing front as things go thus far- I plan to change that but, hey, scheduling my friends. I’ve definitely got to cut down the numbers on my Top X Blogs of the Generation seeing as it well exceeds rational numbering that I’d like to reach in one blog (nor do I want to split the titles between a large number of blogs). Most other blog ideas are on a pretty much indefinite hold however, but I will continue to attempt to offer ‘life-updates’ or something similar I assume.

By the way, looking back at Time Check yes I am indeed still (sort of) able to at least write and edit occasionally, which is one of the few tasks I’m painstakingly coming along with. Again, that’s only sort of. So…the progress is even slower than it would be normally, and I still have absolutely no clue where this path will take me- oh the joys, the horrors, the writing, the grind. No gaming for me much now however- hah, as if I’ve got the time for mundane tasks such as that (kidding of course). But really- no time.

And by the way…keep me in the loop. I’ll take to social media occasionally, so if you see my online indicator pop up unexpectedly on Twitter or whatnot, feel free to socially punch me in the face a couple of times to keep me awake, as it’ll more than likely be in the dead of night when I should really be sleeping or better yet researching something much more important. Jokes aside (although I’ll never give up joking) don’t forget me, and I’ll try not to break each and every blog writing related promise I stumble into. Well, not that many…maybe. *gulp Until the next time folks, stay safe, and don’t forget your sonic screwdrivers.

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On the Doctor

So… Volcano Day has passed…

We’ve taken a deep breath and started down a new path.

Interesting new twists, old turns…

I enjoy Capaldi’s more “sophisticated” Doctor- I think, for the most part now.

I don’t know yet- I know I will, die-hard as I am most probably, but just like Twelve right now…

This is all new, and yet so old and familiar.

Also, the puns and underlying subcontextual hints and nods to former episodes both more recent and not-

I enjoyed that.

Here’s to a favorable ‘Eighth’ series.

And Clara, oh Clara…

Sometimes I feel you and Jon Snow have so much in common-

You know nothing Jo-

Oh well, you understand.

But that’s why we love you.

Or rather, the Doctor does at least, and if we don’t always, that’s more than fine as a …supplement.

*Ahem.

G’night.

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Some of my favorite Series and/or Works

Hey everyone, here’s my weekly (sort of) update yet again. Nothing so game related or general update related. Just a little explanation of some of my thoughts upon what exactly some of my favorite literary works are.

First up is a classic Spider Robinson novel based off of the manuscript of some classic Robert Heinlein notes for one Variable Star. The book, while receiving some good, some great, some bad reviews from 2006 until now, is in my mind a fitting tribute to Robert Heinlein and also a fitting addition to the ranks of Spider Robinson’s own novels. It is a modern classic on its own, a healthy mix of space-time continuum and fun filled sojourns across the universe.

Next up is a favorite series of mine dubbed the Incarnations of Immortality series. It was written by Piers Anthony, also writer of the long-running Xanth series of convoluted and odd topics. The books in the series 1-7 are excellent and although an eighth was written back in ’07, nearly two decades after the previous title’s publishing, I do not honestly consider it as a mainstay in the series as quality goes. The series, as with many Anthony novels, is filled with provocative content at times, however it has several interesting concepts and whatnot as well. My particular favorites are books 1-3 and 6- On a Pale Horse, Bearing an Hourglass, With a Tangled Skein, and For Love of Evil. The first deals with the Incarnation of Death, the second Time, third Fate’s three aspects, and the sixth Evil. The mere concept of there being offices of these Aspects is intriguing enough.

Going back to Robert Heinlein, I’ve got several other books (actually his) that are enjoyable reads as well. Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Assignment in Eternity. And how could one forget the novel that spawned a movie series as well? Starship Troopers was written by the sci-fi master as well, and fared much better than the movie counterparts.

Isaac Asimov also has written several excellent titles over the years as well. Some of the more notable are in fact series that have even had modern feature films created from some of their concepts. The Foundations series has excellent concepts and writing beyond its time, the Robot series- including the titular I, Robot as well as other novels such as The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn, and my favorite Robots and Empire. Other excellent novels and works include The Gods Themselves- another especially favorite title of mine.

Arthur C. Clarke is another favorite of mine and many others, and also of Stanley Kubrick and many movie industry goers- as he is credited with crafting the wonderful tale of a certain space odyssey… He has also written other excellent works I have thoroughly enjoyed such as Rendezvous with Rama, Childhood’s End, 2001-3001: A Space Odyssey, The Garden of Rama, Rama II, The Sands of Mars, The Food of the Gods,  and Dog Star.

Along with these titles, I also enjoy pretty much every book and work by Stephen King, Harlan Coben, George RR Martin, Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan,  Ray Bradbury, and much of the (until now) recognized Star Wars expanded universe. Now, here are a few more titles I’ve always enjoyed as well. Might I also mention that HG Wells, Tom Clancy, and pretty much every fictional writer of some sort have written fanciful and realistic writings that I have heartily enjoyed.

The Woods by Harlan Coben, Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster, The Planet that Wasn’t by Isaac Asimov, The Once and Future King by TH White, Mindkiller by Spider Robinson, The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell, The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, and Ted Dekker’s Circle series.

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Time Check

[As Read on GIO.]

A Now Customary Blog Update

Hey there folks- another short-ish blog on the menu for you all today. Sunday’s a slow day anyway normally. So I’ve been doing a few different things lately, as is customary for my thus far always busy schedule. As the summer slump ends it looks like I’ll be even busier than I have been as well! I can almost audibly hear the groans from here, but maybe that’s just my stomach growling (it’s lunchtime already?).

Regardless, it’s time to fill you in on the progress of some of my blogs that I’ve been working on, as well as some of the slightly worked on reviews of mine- as per my promise(s). I’ve gotten behind on reviews lately, but hopefully will have the chance to release some of them on the weekends every now and then if not during the actual business week. As for blogs, my Top X Blogs of the Generation (number tbd) is coming along quite fairly at the current time. It’s getting there anyway. I’ve also got another spate of Skyrim themed blogs- better late than never I suppose, and a few extraneous blogs as well. Hopefully enough for you all to enjoy reading.

In other news, I’ve been getting back into writing and editing more of my less than stellar works- ranging from fanfiction to actual good material, mainly for fun but who knows something may come of it after all. I’ve been reading a lot more science fiction works lately, or rather re-reading other ones I’ve already enjoyed simply for fun factor in my downtime- what little I have.

In gaming news I’ve been playing a few new titles but also habitually sort of slipping up and playing some Black Ops 2, considering it’s double experience and double weapon experience weekend and I may as well put that towards something of semi-good use. Plus, I was bored and didn’t feel like partaking in some long adventure roleplaying game or something requiring much actual thought or strategy- *cough Divinity. Jokes aside, I’m playing here and there but nothing like any sane individual should be- meaning I’m going through the occasional withdrawal of sorts (heh). Nothing I can’t survive though.

I’ll hopefully be able to post a few things here and there every now and then, but don’t count too heavily upon my answering of questions in a very timely manner as- although I will occasionally check, I won’t be around much for the foreseeable future, even though I know I’ve already slacked off for the past year enough. I apologize, but you all will surely understand what happens when life gives you lemons, or even worse- a job. Yeah, I made that distinction awhile ago, and fine line or not, it’s a difficult one to get a grip on. Working till the grave- that’s me.

Anyway, I know this isn’t anywhere near my normal blurb length or anything, but that’s honestly all I’ve been up to lately- aside from miscellaneous activities such as trolling the local interwebs, praying that net neutrality does not actually come to pass, paying bills hither thither, and obnoxiously playing music because I need to vent at times. Yep- my inner petulant college student or teenager is coming out again, funny how that happens about every five years after you’re actually in that particular group of humanity. Oh well. I shall speak with you all again sometime (hopefully) soon. Until then, peace.

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Level Review: Treasure Hunter (Papaya)

Veteran designer Papaya (formerly Papaya255- yes, I have good memory some days) has crafted yet another masterfully pieced together treasure collecting adventure, not to be confused with several other excellent levels of note so far released on the constantly erratic Atmosphir downloadable client the community has resurrected. This review, as with the others I’ve so far concocted at the behest of community members seeking feedback is for- you guessed it, purely feedback and critiquing of the selected levels. If you’d like to request a review of a level (preferably of your own creation or of the designer’s own volition) then by all means shoot me a message or post on the hub thread in the reviews section. And now that this much has been established, let’s actually talk about the treasure trove of goodies we find before us today! The aptly titled Treasure Hunter features- you guessed it, treasures upon treasures! Wow, you guys are a really perceptive bunch out there today!

Jokes aside, allow me to earnestly begin. Upon starting Papaya’s level, I noticed immediately that it took several design cues as environmental design goes from both Protector II and Ascension- two of Pap’s other excellent titles. This being said, I also particularly enjoyed the erratic sense of ‘randomness’ and yet equally present sense of ‘purpose’ with the design of the overall environment- both inside and outside the sections of the level I explored, although I’m sure there are plenty of hidden catacombs and sideways paths I’ve yet to delve deeper into. The level’s usage of hidden areas and religious use of treasure also of course provides plenty of motivation to explore deeper and deeper, and as there is no play clock the only thing stopping you from having free reign is your own skill level…and the one life you are given to waste or use to your advantage. As promised however, you can’t possibly not finish the level unless you rage-quit, as you’ll spawn upon death in the finish area, unlocking any achievements you may have earned along the way as well and collecting still more treasure from those. Enjoy the icing on the cake- this one isn’t a lie.

The best thing about this level is that- even with all of its semi hidden areas the entire thing feels like one big hidden mineshaft of pleasure and pain (contradictory as those might sound, it’s quite accurate I assure you). I had a pretty good chance to explore what I believe to be the majority of the level for this review, although I wasn’t going for much of a score run and therefore didn’t really focus on treasure much- or so I tell myself anyway. I especially enjoyed the thought put into each achievement, as well as the encouragement of replayability- not only to see new areas you may have died before entering, but also in order to get different achievements since it’s pretty difficult I’d imagine to get all of them in one go. So excellent work in that respect Paps- so far you’ve gotten full marks from me where environmental design and overall replayability are concerned.

This review is going to be a bit shorter than some of the others have been, and that is mainly because unlike the other more linear levels, since this one is a lot more open to exploration I’m hesitant to thoroughly spoil all of the goodies for those who have not yet been bathed in the blood of steeped in the full immersing nature of the level in question. So ha- not too many spoilers here today! I particularly enjoyed the thrill of platforming through specific areas- mainly when attempting to obtain the various masks throughout the level, as well as some bonus bombs and whatnot. The sense of achievement I got from each piece of treasure I did painstakingly collect highly dwarfed that of surviving in Protector II even though there were absolutely no checkpoints here as opposed to II’s one main one. Regardless, I felt falls here- short of fatal ones, were a lot more forgiving. And the difficulty not being on the level of Ascension’s was a godsend as well. Good call Papaya, good call.

So now for the endgame notations, and then my final, final remarks and whatnot… Thankfully, unlike some other levels that have otherwise been good (recently) but littered with sporadic glitches thanks to physics or other issues, I found no such complaints within this adventure. The concept, while simple, is fun and doesn’t get old as you can simply end it (quite literally) at any time with minimal regret since you’ll still finish with whatever you’ve thus far collected. Again, the environmental work was above average by far, the general aesthetics pleasing and enjoyable, and the level a blast to continually replay. Few others can really say that and mean it. Now, here are the final pros and cons I’ve found for the time being…

Pros: Environment, Concept, Achievements, Fun, Replay Value

Cons: Lolwut cons? Umm… Too easy to beat? 0_o

Play Browser Score: 5 Stars, Intermediate Challenge

Official Rating: 9.5/10.0

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Re-Working Some Things

Update: I recently began re-editing and working on more of my ever-ongoing AtmoPhage thing. Check it out here and on Wattpad if you want. The dates still say 2012, but I’m doing that so there isn’t a major time lapse in between chapters on the site, and so I can publish about as many as I want per day ha ha. Enjoy, if you’re into crappy fanfics and those sorts of things. Enjoy it even if you’re not. Enjoy it dammit! ;-) Still, good day folks.

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The 30 Worst Games of the Past Generation

[As Read on GIO.]

On a Scale of 1-Duke Nukem Forever, these are Worse

And then Some…

Hey there folks! I’m posting this terrifyingly terrible blog because I am also compiling a list of the most classic cult classics as well as the best games of the past generation. So, without further ado, I hope you all enjoy this list of the 30 worst games (FOR CONSOLES) of the previous generation of gaming.

30 | Clive Barker’s Jericho (2007)

Allow me to start off with this particular musty gem. While it is true that the game could’ve turned out a lot worse than it did, and it did manage to incorporate some interesting concepts and an odd and eerie story, it is a failure of this generation. Poor gameplay, a story lacking depth and addled by twists and turns, and some egregious and grievous errors in character design and animations bog down this horror title and make the worst terror of all the game itself.

29 | Kinect Star Wars (2012)

Although I could tell right away that it wasn’t going to get any awards for being the greatest Star Wars game ever, I thought Kinect Star Wars looked interesting enough and at least had some potential. So naturally, when I actually saw it in action being played, I was horrified. It has a few redeemable concepts- as few and far between as they are, but one thing utterly destroys it in a fell swoop: dancing. Well, and other horrible mini-games. It looks alright graphically, but that’s about at that was done right. I should’ve expected that though from a Kinect title… They would’ve had better success marketing it as Dance Central: Star Wars though honestly…

28 | Two Worlds (2007)

Cult classic essentially though it is, this game was an obvious shoe-in for the list here. All in all, it’s actually not that bad of a game if you can stomach the pretty bad everything and get past the fact that it is a worse version of Oblivion essentially, aside from the story being different. The sequel was actually a truly decent game, and markedly better than the original, but this one is where it all began- sadly. A host of glitches and assorted maladies plagued the game and I assume still do, but it still managed to endear itself to some.

27 | Velvet Assassin (2009)

Velvet Assassin isn’t the worst of games, as it obviously is not at the very bottom of this list, however it is very, very far from the best of them as well. The game has an interesting premise although it revisits the cliched and overused World War II Europe setting. However, it doesn’t even  manage to put together an interesting ensemble with the assassin chic or setting, as a convoluted plot, poor environmental design, and stale gameplay keep the game from being anything particularly special at all.

26 | Call of Juarez: The Cartel (2011)

Call of Juarez as a series has a spotty career track- a good first game, a decent second, a poor third, and then a decent arcade reboot. If you couldn’t guess, The Cartel is the third title in the series. While originally the series took place in the wild, wild west during pre, post, and during Civil War times, Cartel takes place in the present. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, join the club. As a shooter and cooperative title, the game has its flaws but manages to be at least passably bearable. As far as story, graphics, and anything else go however, it fails on most accounts.

25 | Cabela’s Survival: Shadows of Katmai (2011)

While the game doesn’t have as ridiculous a story as that of Dangerous Hunts 2011, Shadows of Katmai will leave you questioning the direction Cabela is going in, as well as why you even purchased the game at all. Having branched out of the shooting simulations market and into other territory as well, this so-called survival game forces you to fight poor area design, bad graphics, and heinous glitches more often than actual enemies and assorted wildlife.

24 | Bodycount (2011)

Bodycount is the spiritual successor to Codemasters’ 2006 insta-classic shooter Black, features a high level of environmental destructibility, and has beautiful graphics. So what went wrong to earn it a spot on this list? A combination of things, as it turns out. The convoluted and pretty much pointless story, generic dudes with guns and character models, some less than stellar AI at times, and the simple fact that what was awesome in 2006 is mostly standard now kept the game from being anything spectacular. It isn’t the worst game on this list, but the dramatic letdown alone earns it a spot below some of the other titles.

23 | Avatar: The Burning Earth (2007)

This particular game is a classic play for many people simply for the fact that it is a quick and dirty way to get 1000 gamerscore easily on the Xbox 360. Seriously, you can earn all five achievements in under ten minutes, as they are all combo-related ones. As far as the story goes, it coincides with the Avatar television show. As for the gameplay and much else in the title, they pretty much suck and are extremely boring at times (most times).

22 | Dark (2013)

Now, this one here had several interesting concepts going for it, although sadly none of them panned out. Dark is a modern day vampire story, a stealth oriented action game, and also a cell-shaded adventure with looks very similar to the art direction of the Borderlands series. Sadly a combination of glitches, boring gameplay, and very faulty and finicky controls landed this game nearly universal disdain and terrible ratings. Best left in the dark, I guess you could say.

21 | GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

Unlike the movie of the same name which was at least passably enjoyable, if not genuinely or accurately well-done, this game was better left unspoken of and not made. As with most if not all movie-tie in games, it sucks. The graphics are bad, the gameplay repetitive and bland, and the story very poorly thought out- even with the events of the movie to guide it along. So yeah, I hope you didn’t waste your money on this one for some reason.

20 | MindJack (2011)

As with many games on this list, MindJack isn’t utterly beyond help in terms of enjoyability, and isn’t completely terrible for the most part. It employs interesting mind “hacking” concepts as well as decent third person shooting mechanics, although nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Aside from that, the story is laughable and the graphics generally range from bad to FUBAR and off-kilter throughout the game. Also, mind-controlled silverback gorillas. Ahem, yes.

19 | Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (2007)

Oh Spider-Man, 2007 just was not a good year for you at all, was it? Friend or Foe turned the webslinger into an even more kid-friendly guy and his game into a poorly designed and poorly executed mess. The only good part of the game was the numerous shoutouts to comic book references ranging from Madame Web to Carnage, and that’s about it. Literally everything else, from the poor graphics display to the less than superb gameplay and story suffered though.

18 | Star Trek (2013)

Yes, this game was pretty bad, however it was surprisingly not for the reasons I thought it would be. Although poorly explained at times, the story was probably the strongest aspect of the entire game, as the gameplay and graphics obviously took a back seat. Good job getting Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto’s likenesses in the game however! That must’ve been really, really easy… (I jest). A new threat doesn’t seem so new however in the game, as there are obviously recycled elements from the first movie such as the diving towards the giant drill part, but aside from that I suppose the game is a solid ‘meh’ on a scale of ‘ermm’ to ‘what the flying space monkeys’. So…yeah.

17 | The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (2013)

Survival Instinct is a pretty bad game, but that isn’t for lack of trying. It’s concepts at zombie apocalypse survival are actual quite decent, however few are executed properly or as intended. The main things that keep it down are boring and repetitive gameplay and very poor graphics. Aside from that, it actually boasts a passing story and two semi-likeable protagonists in Merle and Daryl Dixon from the television show. However, it is a prequel, so it thankfully treads thus far unexplored territory as far as the two brothers stories go.

16 | Balls of Fury (2007)

Yes, just what I’ve always wanted! Another movie-tie in game to add to the list of really bad games out there from this past console generation! Oh, and yes- although it may not look it at all, this game was made on Wii…in 2007. So ignore the fact that it looks like it’s from 1990. How a single console can have games that look like this and then Xenoblade is beyond me. Poor art direction, poor story originality or even passable copying of the movie’s plot, and poor everything else bring this title down to gaming hell.

15 | NeverDead (2012)

This game really should’ve stayed dead and just been hushed up. While it looks decent as far as graphics go, which is probably the only good thing that can be said for it, the game plays very, very, very poorly at everything else. The concept is neat enough although it feels overused about ten minutes into the game, and you eventually tire of exploding apart every time you get hit and having to do the humpty dumpty to get put back together. Just do yourself a favor and go play Too Human instead- even it is better than this game.

14 | 007 Legends (2012)

James Bond hasn’t had the best of luck in terms of games since Goldeneye to be honest, and with this game, we now know exactly why it seems- he hasn’t learned his lesson(s) still. Quantum of Solace may have been pretty meh, but Legends easily apes it by outdoing it in nearly every way, poorly that is.  Including random missions from each of several movies may have sounded interesting and made for an interesting concept, but it tears the fragile story asunder as well. Oh, and the graphics look bad, the gameplay is poor, and most everything lacks quality except voicework as it features many actually talented actors- see Judi Dench and Benecio Del Toro for example.

13 | Beowulf: The Game (2007)

Well, this game could’ve been worse, but not much worse. It’s only saving grace is a decently intriguing story that continues on even after the movie (yeah, remember that one?) ends and follows the rest of Beowulf’s life as King of the Danes- as legend would have it as well. Aside from that, poor gameplay, graphics, and a generally unpleasant atmosphere suck the life and fun out of the rest of the game, if there was any to begin with.

12 | Clash of the Titans (2010)

This game has been described as a hack and slash style game, which I feel is at least marginally accurate. It has also been described (as per Wiki) as a game having no plot, since the plot segment of that page is empty. I feel this is also extremely accurate, as with the poorly crafted 3D monstrosity of a movie released to (wait for it) the same name. This isn’t simply another movie tie-in game however, as this game’s poor quality goes well beyond that of the movie’s. No story, low quality visuals, and poor design choices make the gameplay irrelevant and it wasn’t worth it anyway, so don’t play this, please.

11 | Crash of the Titans (2007)

Oh how the mighty have fallen… Well, both Sierra and Crash Bandicoot it seems anyway… Whereas the Crash games used to be pretty good and interesting and unique, the later iterations traded all of that for a quick cash and grab and sub-par, mediocre gameplay. Crash of the Titans is no different, what with its short length, lack of any truly ‘new’ substance, and low quality of gameplay and design. Therefore, it earns the spot right under the very similarly titled Clash of the Titans.

10 | Eragon (2006)

What a shame- a pretty good book series not only ending on a sour note, but spawning both a movie and game that were both equally abominable in their own ways. At least for the game’s side of things, we know that to be because it had poor graphics, gameplay, and story. And the fact that it followed the story of the book and movie makes that all the more unforgiving. I mean, just look up reviews of the thing- they’re atrocious for a reason! Also, curious that the name Eragon is one letter away from dragon, and the series concerns…dragons. Hmm…

09 | Iron Man (2008)

I guess it’s a good thing this game wasn’t called Invincible Iron Man, because nothing about it is in any way invincible at all. The graphics are way below standard, the gameplay sad, the story hard to describe even though it follows the movie’s plot, and the rest of the dreary misadventures would make fans cry harder than Iron Man 3 and Mass Effect 3’s ending put together- it’s that bad. I hope you didn’t decide to purchase this Robert Down-Under of a crap heap. The rust bucket flies better than this.

08 | Jumper: Griffin’s Story (2008)

Decent story, bad movie, really bad game- Jumper sure knows how to jump about on the spectrum of bad to worse in terms of media it seems. I think Reiner will agree with me in saying that this game gives ET a run for his money- it’s that bad, enough said.

07 | Blackwater (2011)

Score wise, Blackwater may have been beaten by Jumper (in terms of a lower score), however the fact that the developers crafted this game and then boasted about it being better than Modern Warfare in some ways earns it every bit of this spot on my list. You really thought it could even compete?! The graphics are laughable, the story laughable, the gameplay nowhere near passable, and the entire thing taken together is a trash pile worth of crap. I hate to break it to you, but this thing is as close to broken as it gets. It’s BAD. Also, apparently on-rails shooting mimics real-world scenarios. Yeah, um okay.

06 | Hour of Victory (2007)


2007 was a rough year but it also had some good games as well, this not among them. Hour of Victory is well-known for being a broken and completely buggy game for a good reason- it is. It’s received some of the lowest overall scores of all time, and thereby earns its place here easily. The graphics are poor, the gameplay still poorer, and the rest of it- from sound to story is virtually nonexistent. So it’s pretty victorious if those were the main goals.

05 | Vampire Rain (2007)

Even a game about it raining vampires would be better than this terrible mess. The game is literally a bad joke, as it can’t do anything right, or so it seems. There are no redeemable qualities to this “stealth” title that pits your poorly armed team against invincible vampires who defy convention and can come out in daytime as well. If they find you, you die, if you move, you die. Basically, you die. And that’s not because the game is difficult, but because it sucks- pun intended.

04 | Rogue Warrior (2009)

What seemed like an interesting premise conducted by a well-known veteran turned out to be a terrible travesty of video game justice. Something definitely went rogue in the process of making this game, as it’s very poorly crafted- by Bethesda too of all people! Not only did I expect better, but I was in fact surprised at just how truly horrifying the game is when it comes to sound, mechanics, and graphics. They’re pretty darn bad.

03 | Conflict: Denied Ops (2008)

It may not have received the worst average review scores of the games on this list, but do not let that fool you- this generic romp is definitely one of the worst. The title itself spouts generic all over the place and sets the tone for the type of game to follow. Not a single trope taken is original, and each aspect of the game is poorly crafted to begin with. It has some higher up ranks beat in terms of graphics, if just, but they easily outweigh it in gameplay and all else, sad as that is.

02 | Ride to Hell: Retribution (2013)

Somebody needs some retribution for creating this game, or allowing it to be created… This misogynistic game- and it is, oh it is, portrays women poorly, as to be expected of that. It brutalizes most sentiments found in any sensible game, makes too many “jokes” for its own good, and generally sucks. Remember GI saying it would be a contender for worst game of the generation? Well yeah, it’s really far up there- and close to the worst. Seriously though, like- you have fully clothed sex in your game and you expect to be taken seriously? No, just no.

01 | Sukeban Shachou Rena (2009)

This game barely sold 100 units in the first week, was recognizably terrible, and therefore banned from ever being sold again outside (by Japan) and never imported to the US to be continually sold because of that. It’s BAD. Cat mini-games may sound alright, if they work, which these don’t.

Honorable Mentions | Two Extras I Couldn’t Fit In

Damnation-

Bullet Witch-

 

I hope that you guys have enjoyed this lengthy blog! I know you’re probably suffering right alongside me, having had to witness these terrible games at work in the brief explanations, but I promise you it can’t get any worse than this…this past generation anyway…on consoles… Until the next time!

 

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Grady P Brown - Author

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