Thursday, October 30, 2008

Inspired by Faith

Looking over Leah Alexander's Sexyvideogame Land blog this evening, I came across her recent article pointing us towards her look on Faith from Mirror's Edge that she wrote up for Kotaku. I highly recommend reading it for it's quality stuff; as we have come to expect from her.

Specifically I wanted to take notice on one aspect she brings up: our relationships to the characters we play as. Now her main focus for the article is looking at how we perceive video game characters and if we want them to look cartoony or not. Though her mention of the connection we sometimes feel stuck out to me. She writes:

Games are intended to be engaging, personal experiences. We don't just watch them, we play, and because of that, game characters must be more than visual art - we must be able to connect to them, or the experience is hollow. So while your character preferences will always have telling clues to whisper about who you are and what you're attracted to, at the end of the day, it becomes about who you'd like to become.
I found this part of her article the most interesting because it made me think if I have ever felt this way towards the countless characters I have controlled. Now I fully agree that the way we play our characters, "[Tell] who we are" (think Fable 2), what's more to think about is hetr idea that these characters and actions we cause them to take show, "What [we're] attracted to."

I made the comparison to Fable 2 - let's branch from that. I specifically made my male character more skinny which in turn gave up on strength. It should be noted that doing this gave me no positive upgrades in the game, I just wanted my guy to look slim as he hacked his way through bandits. What made me do that?

Now don't for a minute think I had a connection to my character in Fable 2. I find it's harder to have a "relationship" with a user generated one over a preset character. Maybe this is just strictly opinion based but I find that user generated characters don't leave a lasting effect since they didn't make a statement in the games look. A game company can't advertise your custom character the way say Konami can for Snake. Having the preset character already gives youa glimpse of what they're like before the game's release and you're not stuck there trying to play as someone who is to resemble yourself.

Now of course there is the idea that you're not modeling this new editable character after yourself, instead you're making him how you want to be - "What you're attracted to". This shows how most characters fall as archtypes - guys are usually strong and tough/muscly, while the females are slender and well-endowed. Though there is always the case where it is just a game and you could care less if this reflects any of your ideal personality goals in life; shooting hookers in GTA4 may be fun but you would never attempt it in the real world. We can't shy away from this being a parallel to our personalities though, something made us do it, and finding it fun can link the two ideas.

But back to the main point. Have I ever felt a connection to a video game character? From what I can think of at the moment, no. Though I'm sure I have an I'm just drawing a blank due to the late hour. Or maybe I can't because no game has been able to reach me in that way, so is it the game companies fault for not creating the game based around me - the consumer? Not exactly, it just means I am probably not enjoying the game as much as I would have if I had felt a connection to the character I controlled. Being able to emphasize with the character when they are sad and sharing in their joy would be a great thing; it would mean the developer has done their job because instead of just watching the story unfold and the actions take place - I'm almost experiencing them. I think it's safe to say that when we find this "relationship" between our virtual puppets, we will find the game an overall better experience; and thus, enjoy the game more.

Leave some comments on your ideas or if you have ever felt this connection to a character.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blowin' Up

Looks like I have become bigger than I thought. With that said I should also point out that the Comic Book Bin is also bigger than I thought. I say this to you because when being bored one moment yesterday, I decided to search up my name (full name) on Google. To my surprise, the fourth link - fourth link - brings you to all my articles over at the Comic Book Bin.

I hope this is going to be a trend!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Coming Up

So to let you guys know, my Fable 2 review is up over at The Comic Book Bin in case you want to see the edited version.

Now on to what I meant this post for. Since I have finished reviewing Fable 2, it only makes sense to move onto my next game for review purposes for the CCB.

I will be receiving Wii Music sometime this week if my boss can get it for me. So that should be quite interesting. My first remarks at it are that it looks like something I should play, but won't really enjoy it. We shall see.

The next game I am going to be trying to get is Mirror's Edge for the 360, this one might not be obtainable because appearently EA isn't the nicest when it comes to giving games out. Once again my boss is going to be trying -really hard - for me to get it.

And last is that I will be recieving Prince of Persia: The Fallen King for the DS. This is another game that I don't think I will enjoy judging from the past DS Prince of Persia games. I was hoping to get the main game for the 360 but my boss really wants it. Oh well, I'll just buy it.

Apart from the games I'm getting for review reasons; I plan to pick up a few on the side which I will also review. I'm way looking forward to the new Tales of Symphonia. The first game was amazing and is probably one of my top GameCube games. The other I plan to pick up is Animal Crossing, which will come with Wii Speak. So if you are planning to grab it, let's meet up and fish or something.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Review: Fable 2 - 8

(I don't know why the font always looks weird when I write my review in Word first)

Welcome to the world of Albion, where one man’s actions decide the fate of the world. In Fable 2 you’ll find yourself in a vast environment rich with new experiences, great scenery and thrilling adventures. The choices you make throughout your life’s journey will not only affect yourself - but the entirety of the game. Fable 2 does a great job of keeping the player interested and throwing humour at them left and right, but it sets itself back by being filled with technical bugs here and there.

Fable 2 has your character move throughout the world performing different quests so that you can further the progress of the game. Though the biggest aspect of this game is its concept of moral choices. From the beginning you will be able to perform different acts based on whether you think it’s right or wrong. Choosing the morally right option will make your character more pure; while choosing the opposite will further your character towards a life of corruption. Not only will these choices affect how the people in various villages and towns treat you, but you’ll notice the environments will change as well. Performing good tasks as a child at the beginning of the game will see that your home town is flourishing when you grow up. On the flip side, doing bad deeds or harassing your childhood home will cause it to later be barren and bleak.

The huge focus on these choices is what makes Fable 2 so intriguing to play and continue through to not only the end, but hours upon hours afterwards. The game skips a set of years every now and then and because of your past actions, the world will have changed. Exploring these changes is what makes coming back to the game so fun. For the majority of your actions you’ll just be deciding whether you should: steal from this man, kill these bandits for the farmer or help find someone’s missing son. Though later in the game you will be faced with choices that may even make you pause the game and take a moment to think. Questions like: should I feed the prisoners and risk being punished and loosing experience points? Or should I starve them to death and risk the corruption points?

Another reason you’ll want to keep exploring these new regions and shifting environments is the sheer beauty of them. From the beginning of the game you’ll constantly find yourself surrounded by gorgeous landscapes. From the beginning scene of your home being covered with slow falling snow to running through the fields while the game’s morning sun peaks through the trees and bathes you in light, it’s magnificent. Fable 2 indeed pushes the 360’s graphical capabilities to almost rival that of the PS3.

A new addition to Fable 2 that the first didn’t have is the ability to do online co-op now with your friend or anyone really. The person who is joining gets a certain amount of money and experience that the main character gets. This sounds good on paper but when it’s actually not that good played out. The camera is completely set to the first player and it’s hard to control so you’re always dealing with a bad angle. You also don’t get to use your hero when you join again, instead you’re made to use a template like character. A cool thing about the online instructiveness though is you will be able to see your friends running around in your world set up as orbs. So you could be walking down the street and see the gamerpic of your friend come moving by. You can interact with them through things like giving gifts or even talking to them if they’re close enough.

Though Fable 2 is an extremely addicting and a fun game, it does suffer from several technical problems. The game is riddled with frame rate issues so you will always seem some delay in the game whenever something finishes; whether that be quitting a job or finishing a battle. Several times I had quit my blacksmithing job and while it saved and loaded the town market for me, half of the screens images where missing and replaced with a solid back drop. Luckily it did load the remainder of the town for me after a few moments. Another thing that really hurts the game is that some of the actions of say enemies won’t be fully brought out. More than once I had an enemy look like it was gliding over to me – instead of walking.

Also one thing to note is that for quite a bit of the beginning of the game (more than just the child introduction section) some of the audio was missing. In places where my dog should have been barking for me to go find some buried treasure, he remained silent, but he still had the “Dig Spot” words above his head. It even got bad enough that when I was in combat, as an adult, every time I attacked something it wouldn’t make a noise. The experience for me was really hurt from going through a half silent game. It’s not very fun killing bandits to the sound of background music alone.

My biggest disappointment is the setup this game has for its store system. What I specifically don’t like is how they don’t tell you if you already have this item or if the sword you’re buying is actually worse than the one you have. In order to get around these issues you need to open up your own inventory and look at your current items and the stats they have. Doing that every time I want a new gun is terribly annoying and I don’t want to have to memorize how much damage my current pistol does or if it’s a fast moving sword..

The last issue I found with the games technical aspect was the villagers themselves. Since I had chosen to be strictly as good as I could be - everyone loved me. And they loved me so much that they began to follow me around. This is fine until I would enter something like my house or a store. I had so many people following me one time, I couldn’t leave the building. What made this more annoying is I couldn’t walk into the people to move them out of the way.

If you don’t feel like fighting, why not go buy a house, or in fact buy everything – and I mean everything. Almost anything in this game that resembles a building or a merchant stand can be bought, which does lead to one of Fable 2’s biggest flaws. The money in this game becomes so easy to get, you will never have to worry about it. Since buying a house means you can rent it, and buying a store means you get whatever it can bring in, every five minutes you will receive some money. So far this doesn’t sound like too bad a thing, but you should know that you will also be getting money when the game is turned off; therefore, every time you go back to playing, a big lump of money is waiting for you. This gets rid of the need to go out and grind for some money, or even use the various jobs offered. If ever you can’t afford something, go do a quest and I’m sure you’ll have almost enough.

Apart from that, the replay value in this game is enormous. There will almost always be at least three different quests you can choose to go on, two different jobs to take up or you can just mess around with customising your character. You can buy new weapons, flirt with the ladies (or gents) or go put on some make up, change your hair or even buy new clothes. The character customisation in this game is huge and great. The actions you do will even affect how your body is; therefore, if you sleep way too much you’ll end up fat. This even made me choose to not upgrade my hero’s damage because I thought he didn’t look to good bulky. I decided I wouldn’t buy any fatty food, whether it healed me more than celery or not. There are so many different ways to make your character look and act like you want. You should basically never be bored with Fable 2 since there are so many things inside its world.

Overall Fable 2 does an incredible job of making sure your having fun with your game and that when you come back to play, you stay for a while. It’s a game that everyone should be able to enjoy, whether you just want to cause damage in the town or grind your way through the blacksmithing job for endless money. The possible huge consequence will always be in the back of your mind so you will need to make sure your going on the path you really want. Many a time you will find your own morals being tested just to get a bit more cash. If the action doesn’t draw you in, the striking landscape and cityscapes will. Fable 2 is a great game and is definitely worth the money you’ll put down on it.

Overall: 8/10

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Who wants a Ranged Weapon? You do!

I received Fable 2 3 days ago and so far it's pretty good. I have found a few things I don't like about it, and of course I have found some things I really like about that. I won't go into any detail or reveal them because I'll save them for my review. I'm planning on getting the review up on Monday - that is, if I can power through it this weekend. I'll upload it and here and of course it will also be up on the Comic Book Bin.

If anyone wants to get some coop sessions going this Friday or Saturday, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Because I could only think of 2

I thought I would take some time out of my busy schedule of trying to finish Grand Theft Auto IV before Fable 2 arrives to share with you My Top 2 Xbox Live Arcade Games With The Worst Leaderboard Setup.

I guess it would be important to state which type of leaderboards I'm talking about. The two I think of when it comes to leaderboards is the in game ones, which can range from just one general thing related to the game, to a whole bunch of different leaderboards for specific aspects of the game. The other would be the leaderboard that you can see from the Dashboard which is generally really generalised; I'm going to be talking about this one.

For those of you that don't know what a leaderboard is, don't worry, I will inform you. Leaderboards are a section of a game that shows how good you are incomparison so your friends or to everyone in the world. It will rank you on things like ''ammount of kills'' or ''highest score'' and so on.

Without further adue:

Sean's Top 2 XBLA Games With The Worst Leaderboard Setup

1. Castle Crashers
So the way this game's leaderboard is set up is it shows your highest level character and ranks you based on it. Now let it be known that the level cap for this game is 99. So everyone who has a character at level 99, you are tied for first. Congrats!

My thoughts for a better way to setup this ranking system would to have either shown the total level all your characters combined are, or maybe show how many enemies you have killed. Even something like, total damaged dished out would have been something cool to brag about.

2. Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2
The way this game works is very good when looking at the in game leaderboards, but the dashboard setup annoys me. It shows your total score of all your games combined; I guess this would be the only way you could really do it. The reason I dislike this is if someone has beaten my score on a specific game mode, but doesn't have an overall better score than me, I'll never know till I go into the game.

The best way to fix this in my opinion is none existant, or at least I haven't thought of it yet. Something around the lines of the ammount of enemies killed overall would be ok, but that number would be incredibly big and I think a little much.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How to get an ONSQ

This is actually really funny and true in each way. Hopefully you guys will find it good. This is the how to get an Official Nintendo Seal of Quality made by SomethingAwful.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What I did this weekend and what I played

So this weekend was all about the Grand Theft Auto IV. As you know this usually isn't my type of game and really, I can't say I was super happy about playing this game so much this weekend. I think I'm around 2/3 done and it was okay but nothing amazing to me. I think I'm sticking with Crackdown being that one game that I like most from the sandbox style games.

What did you guys play this weekend?

Today, Transformers was on, so of course I watched it (who wouldn't??) and then I realized that I needed it on DVD. This is probably where your saying "but Sean, you already own it on HD DVD!" and yes that it true. Though I wanted a copy for when I'm traveling and for my computer or the TVs in my house without my HD player. I guess when I get a Blu-ray player I'll need to get it on that too since I demand a perfect copy of Transformers.

The next thing I bought was NHL 2K7; let it be clear that I still dislike sports games. I bought it used for $3 so I thought that was a fair trade. I haven't started it yet and judging from all the games I need to get through at the moment, I won't for a bit. Man when Fable 2 gets here I'm gonna be way behind.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


As you may have noticed, over the last couple weeks the sidebar of this site, specifically the main introduction section, has been changed to say I now work on a couple other sites.

The first is The Comic Book Bin which like it sounds, focuses a lot on comics; it does contain a section for video games too. I work there as a game reviewer and you can see almost all the reviews I've posted here up on that site. I very much like working for them as the people I've spoke to all seem really nice. The best part has to be that I can receive some games in the mail, which I am quite looking forward to. Currently I'm waiting on Fable II, so you can look forward to my thoughts on that.

The next site: TalkXbox is also quite fun to work for and like the name implies it focuses mostly on the 360. I'm a news reporter there and you will usually see my posts on the main page when you go there.

I will also update this site when I can, though as you may have noticed, I am slowing down. I haven't given up though! I will keep this site alive.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


So I beat the endless set list 2 on Rock Band 2 last night with the help of Cory "missing that unison bonus" Purdy and Gryphon "I'm not taking my shirt off" Anderson. Needless to say, I ache inside. So it's the next day and we're doing it again this time on medium for another achievement. This one requires never failing or pausing a song, so hence the medium.

So far song:

13/84: We've started palm strumming and silent druming.

14/84: 3 stars and Gryphon has yet to hit a 4x combo. 100% guitar solo with the elbow.

21/84: This is hell.

32/84: Guide came up by itself, I'ma kill something.

So we stopped for the night, we couldn't take anymore of Rock Band after that. The next morning (today) I got up and started it again and by 3:30pm we had done it. All endless set list achievements are mine.

Thursday, October 2, 2008