Gender Swapping Heroes

This is another one of those hot button issues that’s making its rounds today. Again, leave it to Twitter to make me aware of another bit of outrage that the gaming community is up in arms about. I don’t make it a habit of talking about every single big deal on the Internet, but I have some thoughts on this particular issue. Be warned that this is a touchy subject, but you all should know me well enough by now that I don’t shy away from controversial topics. It’s political, it’s got some feminist angles, and there are most definitely two sides to the story. Let’s try to remember that I’m just one person full of opinions, and that doesn’t make me right or wrong, it just makes me a member of society and a person who thinks about big picture issues, even when they pertain to something as insignificant as gaming. With that said, let’s get into it, shall we?

Every year it’s the same story. Some game developer says or does something at a gaming conference, when all of the media is paying attention, and things get reported. Once the denizens of the Internet get their hands on the story, it’s game over. This time the developer in the fire is Nintendo, and the subject at hand is the fact that there won’t be a female version of Link in the new Legend of Zelda game. Here’s a link to a story that I saw on Twitter, where this conversation first developed and the issue was first brought to my attention. Read it here. I’ll wait.


I get part of the issue. Women want representation. So-called Minorities want representation. LGBT groups want representation. There is nothing wrong with wanting representation, to having someone you can relate to in the games that you play. A hero to look up to, no matter who you happen to be. I also have no problem recognizing that there are plenty of White Male “CIS” characters, and I am totally on board with a level playing field. That said, I do think that the gender swapping of iconic characters is wrong. Here’s why.

Remember Anita Sarkeesian? Yeah, you know who I’m talking about. If you don’t, a cursory google search will give you all the information you need. She has this little YouTube channel called “Feminist Frequency” and on it, she critiques video game design while looking through a feminist lens. At this point in time I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Sarkeesian, mainly because she has let the spotlight go to her head and I do believe that she’s more in this for the money than the actual betterment of society. However, she has played an important role in my life. Believe it or not, there was a time when I was a little less open-minded and a little more nonchalant about being an asshole towards anyone who was different than me. Between several blogging friends, Sarkeesian’s work, and some of my own research and desire to be a decent fucking human being, I feel like I’ve come a long way towards being a nicer and more tolerant person. But let’s get back on point.

Sarkeesian created a video nearly three years ago called “Ms. Male Character,” in which the main point was that creating a character that was a tweaked version of the male character is detrimental to the “new” character. The most prominent example was that of Ms. Pac-Man, which was simply Pac-Man with a bow affixed to his head. I’m paraphrasing here, and there was much more to that video, so I suggest you head over and watch it with the link provided above.

Let’s take a moment to think about this. Wouldn’t a female version of Link then, be exactly the same sort of concept? You’re merely changing the gender of the character, while the game remains the same? During the discussion on Twitter, points were made about how Link was always “gender-neutral” or that Link isn’t a character but rather a “postition,” so gender doesn’t even matter. I would argue though, that the original Legend of Zelda game was merely a version of the oldest trope in the book – the “damsel in distress,” and that Link is clearly a male in that instance. He felt pretty male in all of the games I played, but that could just be me projecting. Either way, it’s not just about Link here. If we zero in on the minute details of this one particular story, we’re ignoring the big picture, and that’s where Twitter conversations tend to derail. Hence, blog post.

We can look at more real life situations too; take for instance the recent Ghostbusters movie. In the original movies and even a cartoon show, all of the ghostbusters were male, and in the new movie, they have changed them all into females. For me, this wasn’t that big of a deal because I’m not a fan of Ghostbusters. On that same token, I’m not a fan of Zelda games or Nintendo in general either, so that has little affect on my mood either. Still, these examples correlate because you’re taking iconic, classic characters with lore and a fanbase and then turning them into Ms. Pac-Man. Ghostbusters with a bow affixed to their heads. You see where I’m going with this.

There… I fixed it.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like people are arguing for and against the same thing. I think the larger point here, is that there are games being created, games coming out in the not so distant future featuring awesome female leads. Horizon: Zero Dawn is one of them; one look at that gameplay trailer and I was floored. Not only was this a strong and capable woman, but she was dressed sensibly and fought like a bad ass to boot. I’m not complaining that it’s a female lead, I’m embracing it. Wouldn’t you prefer developers who are taking risks and creating new and wonderful things over developers who affix bows to the heads of their male characters? I’m not a woman, but I imagine that’s what I would want.


State of the Game: Holiday Haul Edition


It’s been quite a while since I had so many titles to talk about at once that it warranted a SotG post, having had bigger games to sink my teeth into as of late. Still, between my birthday last month, Christmas in a little under a day and having a few bucks to spend of my own, I’ve come out with a bunch of new (to me) games to play. Not like I didn’t already have a massive backlog and plenty that I’m currently playing, but that’s okay, the more the merrier! Right? Well… I guess the jury’s still out on that one.

So I’ve been plugging away at Fallout 4 since its release back in mid-November. I really like the game, it is my GOTY after all, but I noticed after I played it consistently for about a week, I started to taper off and experimented with other games. I’ve got about 40 hours into the game, and that’s a small amount compared to people on my friends list, so I know that I’m not the quickest out of the gate, but I have started to push the storyline further to the point where I’ve hit the “twist” part of the story. I won’t spoil it for you, but I think I’m starting to push towards the latter portion of the main questline. However, I have done quite a few of the side missions and various activities along the way, so I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what the wasteland has to offer. At this point I’m ready to finish up the main quest and then perhaps load up a bunch of mods and see what other fun I can have with it while we all wait for DLC packs to come down the pipeline. Here’s some various shots from recent adventures:

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There’s a few new videos relating to Fallout 4 on my YouTube channel as well. The other game I’ve been playing pretty regularly for most of the past month is The Crew Wild Run. I am still enjoying this one as well for when I want to progress in a different fashion, and sometimes you just need a racing game. It’s nothing that breaks the mold too much but I have enjoyed progressing through the world and upgrading my cars. There hasn’t been much in the way of a challenge thus far, though I haven’t done much PvP just yet. Looking forward to being able to unlock all specs and a bunch of cars to mess around with. Here’s some more shots from fictional USA:

As far as new games go, I had some extra money burning a hole in my pocket and as soon as the Steam Holiday Sale got started I knew there’d be something I could pick up on the cheap. I ended up buying Windward, which is a sandbox trade/pirate simulator, that has been on my wishlist for quite some time. There isn’t a whole lot there when it comes to depth, but it has various elements you’d find in other RPG and Indie games. The worlds are procedural or hand made by you, along with some other various factors that you can set up such as factions and whatnot. There’s “gear” in that you can upgrade you ship (buy new ships altogether too), there’s “quests” but most of them become repetitive after a time. There’s a bit of city building, there’s exploration, and best of all you get to blow shit up with your cannons. I played it for a few hours, and recorded some video but I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with the recording just yet. Overall it’s worth the asking price, and even better on sale. If any of you have this one, let me know so maybe we can do some co-op stuff. Multiplayer seems relatively dead on the hosted servers.

I also picked up the latest Humble Bundle, due to some prodding by Eri. Episode One of Life is Strange was a part of the $1 tier, and she has been pushing me to try it. So now I can, though I haven’t yet. Also included at that tier was The Last Remnant, which is a JRPG that is sort of old but looks rather interesting nonetheless. The first three Tomb Raider games, all of which I played way back when but haven’t touched since were ported to PC at some point and were also part of the package. Lastly, a game that looks neat but I know nothing about is Murdered: Soul Suspect. They all look like their worth spending some time on, but I haven’t gotten around to any of these just yet.

Today I was surprised by my sister and brother-in-law, who gifted me a couple of games off of my wishlist for Christmas. One was the Legend of Grimrock sequel. Simcha actually gifted me the first game last year around this time, but I never beat it — I got stuck on a difficult puzzle and never went back. I was just going to let the sequel collect dust for a while and try to go beat the original before playing it, but I had to check it out, so I did a while earlier. It’s very much the same sort of game but there is a combination of outdoor and indoor zones that makes it feel better. The combat and semi-action oriented way in which you can dodge and move around feels better than the original as well. The first boss I came across kicked my ass though, so I think I’m going to customize my party when I get back to playing it. The other game they gifted me was The Evil Within, which is the game that came out last year from the creator of the original Resident Evil. One of my buddies raved about this game so I’m glad I’ll finally get a chance to play it.

Apparently the pattern of being unable to wait to give me gifts persisted, because my Dad ended up sending me a copy of Grim Dawn, which is a new-ish ARPG that is just about to full release next month. They are calling it “feature complete” at this point, but it is still tagged as Early Access for now. So far it reminds me of older D&D inspired games, Diablo II and Path of Exile. It has that dark and gritty aesthetic, but it feels faster paced than PoE. It feels more on par with Diablo II and III. Either way I played for a couple of hours, hit level 15 and called it a night, but I’m liking what I see so far. There is a system of upgrading your weapons and a devotion tree that remind me of systems from PoE. Then there’s the skill tree that is more reminiscent of an MMO really. There’s also the ability to dual-class, and that is pretty neat if you ask me. I rolled a Demolitionist, and the went with a secondary of Occultist. Basically I’m a pyromancer mixed with a marksman that has a crow for a pet. It’s weird, but cool. Here’s some screens from that title as well:

So at this point, I’m really trying to divide up my time as best I can, but there simply isn’t enough time in the day for all of this. Add in the fact that I’ve been playing League of Legends semi-regularly, Diablo III has a new patch + new zone coming, there are betas/alphas I’ve been participating in, and I have no time. That’s just going to get compounded as time goes on. But hey, that should mean plenty of content to share with you guys, right? See you soon. Oh, and I probably won’t post for a couple days, so Merry Christmas everyone!

Sony Playstation: 20 Favorites

Yesterday was a big milestone for Sony’s Playstation console, as the system reached twenty years of age. In those twenty years we’ve seen the birth of some fantastic franchises, four consoles plus revisions, multiple handhelds, the evolution of the Playstation Network, including cloud software, streaming and a bunch of other cool shit. But it all had to start somewhere, and twenty years ago, on September 9, 1995 the original Playstation console launched in North America.

For a trip down memory lane, you can see videos, pictures and get some written history of the console at the Playstation Blog.

The author of that post asks “Where were you 20 years ago?” I was in junior high at the time. I didn’t end up purchasing my own PS1 until about ’98, but there was a “family console” in the house that I had limited use of. When I received Final Fantasy VII for Christmas in ’97 it was apparent that I would need my own console lest no one else would have use of the TV. I still played my Sega Genesis in my room though, and it was traded in so that I could purchase that PS1 of my own. Friends owned one as well, so there were a plethora of games I played throughout its lifetime, but my absolute favorites come from that period of time while I owned the system. The following is a list of 20 of my favorite PS1 games to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the console. As there are something like 2500 titles, it’s obvious that I couldn’t choose all of the best games for the system, and like any favorites list this is completely subjective (this is also in no particular order, just how they came to mind). With that said, let’s dive into the list!

1. Final Fantasy VII

This game was literally a console seller back in its day. The family had a Playstation in the house a bit prior to its release, as we had originally purchased a Sega Saturn and then abandoned that ship as it was sinking. So no, this wasn’t the first Playstation game I had played, nor did I have my own console prior to owning the game, but I did purchase one shortly after receieving FFVII as an Xmas gift. Still, my original statement rings true, as I’ve heard many a story where FFVII was the reason why people bought a Playstation. The characters, the storyline, the combat, the materia system, the new-at-the-time full 3-D polygonal RPG was something everyone wanted. It still holds up in certain aspects to this day, but man those graphics are horrid. The hand-painted backgrounds still look great, but the polygon work is atrocious to look at. Thankfully, as was announced at E3 2015, there is a remake in the works, and this story can once again be introduced to a new generation of gamers.

2. Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy VII was my first experience with the franchise, as I never played the original on NES (though I always wanted it) and didn’t own a Nintendo system after that, so the US versions of IV and VI (called II and III in NA) weren’t available to me either. After playing VII, I played all of the prequels via emulation to get a feel for them. I didn’t complete any though, so my love for the series was still mainly tied to VII. When VIII released, a friend of mine picked it up and through watching him play it, I was disenchanted. I never played that game since, though I hear it isn’t as bad as I once thought. When IX came out, I was skeptical but found that the game felt more like VII in every way, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It is actually the last Final Fantasy game I’ve played all the way through. I loved the character designs, the sense of humor, and the more high fantasy setting (compared to the steam-punk feel of VII) of the game.

3. Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics is still one of my favorite turn-based tactical RPGs of all time, right up there with Shining Force 1 & 2. I’ve raved about this title many times and have placed it on other lists from years past. The job system is a great idea and brings back that feeling of customization of your team from the original Final Fantasy game, along with the ability to promote characters into other things (Shining Force implemented this idea as well). Otherwise it’s got a very religious and politically charged narrative, awesome grid based tactical combat, and the typical RPG tropes of levels and gear. I still loved it, and can still play it to this day with a high level of enjoyment. I have since played further games in the series and find them to be enjoyable as well.

4. Suikoden

Suikoden is one of those games that is sort of rare. I would never have heard of it were it not for my best friend at the time who was extremely invested in JRPGs. In many ways, Suikoden was a traditional JRPG, it featured running around on world maps, turn based battles with menu systems, and quests to complete. However the game also featured some grand strategy, a headquarters that you had some control over and a staggering 108 characters that can be recruited for your force. That was the big collection quest of the game and something we’d be earning achievements for today. Some of the characters were hard to come by or required certain actions to be recruitable. It was a big task, but one that I endured happily. The series has had a number of sequels over the years but this is the only one I played. I still recommend it!

5. Resident Evil: Director’s Cut


I didn’t have a Playstation yet by the time Resident Evil first released, but it was always a game I had my eye on. To that point, it had been a very long time (like back in the days when my Dad used to play Shadowrun and Uninvited) since a game had truly scared me while playing it. By the time I had my own PS1 and money to buy games with, the Director’s Cut had been released and though I don’t know specifically what’s different between it and the original version, I loved it. I picked up the game just before Halloween that year (probably 98?) and spent the night at my friend’s house playing it into the wee hours, in the dark. We had trouble sleeping to say the least. But that spawned my love for the franchise and eventually lead to…

6. Resident Evil 2

…Picking up Resident Evil 2. RE2 did everything the original game did but better. Now there were two playable characters. The story was more involved, the creatures more gruesome, the jump scares more unrelenting. The tension this game would create is something very few games managed to muster for a long time. The voice acting and dialogue was an improvement over the laughable original. This was the final Resident Evil game I would play on the PS1, though I did watch a friend play the third game a bit here and there. There have been six games in the series so far and I’ve enjoyed them all in varying degrees, but I think 2 and 4 were probably the best of all time, and I should also note that most of the spin off titles were pretty terrible.

7. Gran Turismo 2

I played the original Gran Turismo at a friend’s house and though I enjoyed parts of it, I didn’t really see the appeal. It wasn’t until the sequel released and I picked it up on sale at some point that I was hooked. You can’t tell by looking at screen shots now, but Gran Turismo 2 was the prettiest game you could get on the system. The lighting effects, the polygon counts, the courses — they were all magical. The controls also shined, as the game was toted as “The Real Driving Simulator” and was supposed to have super realistic physics. There was a lot of depth in this game, with the ability to buy a junker car, fix it up, win some events, buy better cars and soup them up, rinse and repeat. I have fond memories of playing the endurance races with a buddy of mine, where we would switch off every ten laps. It was quite the accomplishment to 100% this game, and I managed to do it. Further entries in the series have been good, but none hooked me as well as this.

8. Street Fighter Alpha 3

This is still probably my favorite Street Fighter game of all time. We will see if Street Fighter V can knock it off of its pedestal, but I somehow doubt it. Of course I played most Street Fighter games starting out in Arcades and then on consoles, including SF2 + iterations, SF3, SF4, SFA1-3 and most of the Capcom vs. games, though not all of those came out on the Playstation obviously. The first two alpha games were pretty cool, but Alpha 3 had the most characters and melded the combat system into something so perfect and technical I fell in love. I played this game so often with friends that I became pretty damn good at it. I don’t think I’ve been as good at a Street Fighter game since, not counting the cross over titles that would come shortly thereafter.

9. X-men vs. Street Fighter

One of the first cross over games put out by Capcom (along with the Marvel Heroes one), I loved this game instantly. Not only could you play as some of your favorite Street Fighter characters, but also some of the coolest X-men characters? Sign me up! The combat was faster and a bit more loose in my opinion, but the game was a blast! Further iterations included Marvel vs. Capcom 1-3, Marvel vs. SNK 1-2 and others, but this was one of the first that solidified the concept and made me a Capcom fighter fanboy.

10. Crash Team Racing

Crash Bandicoot was Sony’s answer to Mario. He was the big time cartoony mascot that would become the face of the console (and coincidentally, Naughty Dog are still making face-of-the-franchise games). He had three base games and maybe other spinoffs, but the one I enjoyed the best was his version of Mario-Kart, Crash Team Racing. It had everything you would expect from a then-modern day kart racing game. There were the host of recognizable characters from previous iterations, go-karts, weapons to kill each other with, and crazy tracks. CTR was a little ground breaking with the whole world map concept, where you drive around and then go to the individual races, and also had a system of collectibles that you needed to open up certain things. Getting 100% on the game was a challenge and I loved it. There was also four player local multiplayer, so many sessions at my apartment were had, racing against each other or doing battle in the arena mode. Good times.

11. Twisted Metal 2

Credit where credit is due: The original Twisted Metal was a revolutionary concept. The car brawler hadn’t really been created yet, and as a first party title, Sony nailed it. Twisted Metal 2 was when things got really fun and interesting. Though I preferred the darker tone to the original game, the sequel kept some of that and opted for more brightly colored environments. Things were more wide open, there were hidden areas and destructible environments, along with environmental dangers. Each character had its own story line with comic book like panels that would play out between levels. Each would end quite horribly though, as Calypso isn’t a nice guy. Me and friends played the shit out of this game, but I actually had a more personal favorite:

12. Twisted Metal 3

Twisted Metal 3 was my favorite on the original Playstation. There’s one simple fact for this: 4 player splitscreen. Of course, playing with a small portion of a TV that’s already small enough (let’s face it, tube TVs weren’t ever that big) was a pain, but my youthful eyes could handle such torment. My best friend at the time had two younger brothers and another of our mutual friends would go over to their house with me and we’d have epic battles that usually ended in someone rage quitting. This was the point in time that the development went over to 989 studios rather than Sony themselves so many said the series tapered off at this point only to be revived by Sony once again with Twisted Metal Black on PS2. However, this was the high point for me.

13. Tomb Raider


I’ve never been a huge fan of the Tomb Raider series. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the original because it pushed so many boundaries, not only giving us a female protagonist who was tough as nails but also because we were just then fully exploring what 3-D worlds could be like. After the original though, I just stopped caring. It was the same game over and over with only one or two new mechanics added in each time. I largely ignored the series until the recent reboot, which seems to have captured the magic of the original without feeling exactly the same.

14. Grand Theft Auto 2

Admittedly, I haven’t ever played the original GTA. I only picked up GTA 2 because it was one of those “greatest hits” deals were the game was dirt cheap. Yeah, I’ve been a frugal gamer for a long time now. Anyway, this was the last game of the main series to be done with the top down view, and despite that limitation it was still a ton of fun to play. You still have the same mechanics of story missions ranging from assassination to escort to racing, and the ability to go off the rails and just blow shit up. It was a bit harder to see things coming while you race around in sports cars though, so you probably didn’t pull off the same level of stunts you will in GTAV. I still loved this game and spent a lot of time with it, only to be blown completely away by GTAIII. But that’s a story for another day.

15. Breath of Fire IV

Breath of Fire was another series of games that made its start with Nintendo but then moved onto the Playstation. I didn’t play any of the other games in the series, though friends tell me they were pretty good. I wasn’t smitten with JRPGs (outside of those found on the Genesis) until the PS1 days, so this was the first game of the series I picked up solely on the word of my buddies. I wasn’t disappointed, as the series featured gameplay similar to Final Fantasy but stuck to 2-D anime style graphics. The main protagonist had the ability to shapeshift into dragons and that was cool right off the bat. This game isn’t magical like some of the others I have mentioned, but it was still a solid RPG on the console.

16. Tenchu: Stealth Assassins


There was a post I wrote sometime last year about how this game was one of the few titles that features stealth mechanics that I really enjoyed. Somehow playing as a ninja is cool, but playing as a spy/soldier (Metal Gear Solid) or assassin (Assassin’s Creed) doesn’t appeal to me. Whatever the case, this game mixed a number of mechanics that I rather enjoyed and also featured a multiplayer death match mode that was quite fun. The storyline takes place in feudal Japan and was interesting from start to finish. I didn’t play further games in the series but I’d definitely play a reboot!

17. Twisted Metal: Small Brawl


One of the later purchases I made towards the end of the console’s life cycle, TMSB was Twisted Metal played with remote-control cars. Pictured above is the kitchen level, where you literally play in a kitchen blowing each other up. Other levels had similar scope and it was just different enough to make it fun. The game was pitched more to the kiddies, had a cutesy feel and lost the doom and gloom of other games in the series, but still managed to keep the car combat tight. I disliked Twisted Metal 4 and all of the carbon copy clones that came out during this era, but TMSB managed to reinvigorate my interest for a time.

18. Tetris Plus


I know, I know, it’s Tetris, and everyone knows what that is and has played a billion variants. This one just happened to be the one that came out for Playstation, I got via a greatest hits discount, and played the shit out of. Seriously, I still went back and played this even after I had a Playstation 2. I would still play it today if I owned it. It was classic tetris that we know and love, but then had a story mode featuring this cute adventurer guy who would die if you didn’t get him to the floor, in a variety of different puzzling setups. There was also a 2 player head-to-head mod where you attempt to last longer than your friend, while also dropping the spike trap lower and lower. It was just enough of a twist to have infinite replay-ability.

19. Theme Park

One of my earlier experiences with these sim management games, though not my first. I did play Sim City and other games like this on PCs prior to playing this, but it was my all-time favorite on the Playstation. Theme Park was fun because you could create your own dream theme park (and what kid doesn’t dream of doing that?) but then were tasked with managing it. You had to hire people to pick up trash, to maintain rides, to sell concessions and tickets, and yadda yadda. It was simple yet complex, and each new playthrough provided different results. I still enjoy these types of games from time to time.

20. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2


Yes, that’s Spider-Man skateboarding. That was a special costume you could unlock in the game. Tony Hawk came out at a time when I had already tired of skateboarding in real life. As such, my interest in the game wasn’t that high, so I skipped the first title altogether. When the sequel came out, I played it with friends and ended up loving it. It ended up being less about the skateboarding, and more about what crazy shit you could pull off and chain together to get the highest score. Playing through the game’s career mode was only a means to open up all of the levels and characters. Playing against your friends to get that high score was where the magic really set in. I probably spent more time with Pro Skater 3, but on the PS2. Still, this was my first entry in the series. I should also notate that the Tony Hawk series (along with Gran Turismo and some of the Need For Speed games) had some fantastic soundtracks that introduced me to a bunch of new artists.

So there you have it. 20 of my favorite PS1 games. Did I miss any of your favorites?

Was given Plant randomly. Don’t really care for plant. The speed is good, but feels weaker overall. My daily average is now world 3, and I’d like to push that further. Need more practice!

The State of the Game #19

I made the trip out to my Dad’s house this past weekend, leaving on Friday and getting home today. As such, my PS3 collected dust this week, and all of my gaming was done on either my laptop or my Dad’s PC. Having recently upgraded, his computer stops the shit out of mine, but that also meant that I could get into some things I have yet to try. For a moment, it was like being a kid in a candy store.

Initially the idea was for me to play some EQ2 and maybe some of the other MMOs he has that I haven’t touched. I did log into my EQ2 account and wandered around for a bit, but I was hard pressed to play much, because I knew as soon as I left I’d be unable to play anymore. The same went for the other MMOs, but I was still interested in giving Rift, Neverwinter and Guild Wars 2 a try. Unfortunately Rift and GW2 have limitations on character slots, and he had his all filled up, so though I was given the option to play whatever I wanted, I didn’t want to jump on a character that was already started. So he showed me some things in those games, and that was that. He didn’t have Neverwinter installed (it flew under his radar somehow) so I downloaded that and gave it a whirl, and I could see where it would be a game I could enjoy, but it did seem a tad on the boring side. I really didn’t get far enough to give a proper assessment, so I’ll leave the MMO commentary at that.

What really got my goat was the Blizzard games that have been out for a while now that I hadn’t played before. The titles in question are Starcraft II and Diablo III of course. I haven’t touched either game series for years, probably since the 90s when the last iterations released. I was always more into Starcraft than Warcraft, despite usually having the opposite taste (I’m usually more into High Fantasy than Sci-Fi). The Diablo series was always a favorite as well, and despite playing all of the other main competitors it sucked me in more than any action-RPG has in quite some time.

I started with Starcraft, mainly because that was like crack to me when I was a teenager. Despite the updated graphics and some differing mechanics, after the tutorial it all felt like old hat. I was seriously obsessed with the game back then, and it all came back to me — like riding a bike. I played through 6 or 7 missions and got a pretty good feel for the game. My thoughts, are that it is still awesome, and really the only RTS I’ve played in years. There has never been a good replacement for the original Starcraft in my eyes, until now, and it’s more Starcraft. Unfortunately my time was limited, so I only played those few missions in the campaign and no multiplayer. Multiplayer is usually where it’s at. Plus with the staggered campaign releases (no I didn’t play any of the Zerg campaign, but they were always my favorite) it’s the only way to play the other races from what I understand. Overall the gameplay was all that I could have hoped for, in that it really stayed true to the original. The menu interface being replaced by moving about on your ship in between battles is pretty neat, but it’s still just a dressed up interface. I did enjoy the research element along with the armory, where upgrades can be purchased without having to do so in-game. Research was unique also because you had to actually locate the resources during missions, and then could allocate those resources towards differing upgrades based on the opposing races’ technology. This is a must-buy once I build a new rig.

Diablo III is where I spent most of my weekend overall. Like I said earlier, I was amazed at how it sucked me in, when I’ve played so many action-RPGs over the years. Torchlight was so-so. Torchlight II was better, but still not crack-like (though I’m tempted to go and actually finish it now). Path of Exile felt like the spiritual successor to Diablo II, but D3 really took hold of me. When I saw the character classes I was unimpressed. All of the classes seemed like the usual and the only thing that stood out was the Demon Hunter. A ranger of sorts, the DH was equipped with ranged weapons (1 or 2-hand crossbows, regular long bows), and his abilities had to do with ranged attacks, evasion, or traps. This is what was expected, and though I played through at least 2/3 of the first act, I ended up deciding to go with another character. I remembered that I had a lot of success with the Necromancer of D2, and I also loved the Witch in PoE. As such, I rolled a Wizard, and man did I fall in love. I literally played all day yesterday, and ran through the entire first act and much of the 2nd and ended up being level 32 when I finally quit before the server went down for a patch early this morning. I can’t remember the last time I sat and played a single game for that long in one sitting, but it was well worth it. Aside from the fact that it was on my Dad’s account, so he just got a power-leveled Wizard for free (your welcome). Graphically, D3 wasn’t quite as dark as its predecessors, but it was still moody. The controls were simple and responsive, and I loved all of the crazy abilities my Wizard had, and I wasn’t even all the way through the game. The new advancement tree was well done in my opinion, and allowed for much customization. I missed out on the whole Auction House debacle, so I really have nothing negative to say about this game at all. That’s saying something. This is also a must-buy when I have the ability.

Lastly, I was doing my dailies for Hearthstone and my Dad hadn’t ever given the game a shot, so he decided to download it. He ran through the tutorial and got his Mage up to level 10 and then we challenged each other to some games. Surprisingly, he won the first game. I used a custom Rogue deck and for some reason he snowballed and I couldn’t pull myself out of the hole. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t win another game. I rolled out some of my better decks and creamed him, and then thought better of it. I went back to the basic pre-constructed decks but that didn’t make a difference. In fact I seemingly did better with those than my own decks. This is part of the trouble of constructing decks, sometimes they just don’t come out quite right, and the flow doesn’t happen unless you get luck on your side. Those basic decks are pretty finely tuned despite not having some of the cool effects the expert cards come with. Either way, it was a lot of fun being able to play with someone I know for a change. It was doubly fun to be able to rub it in face to face shortly thereafter as well.

That was about it for this week. On the horizon is The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 2 which released today (glad I picked up that season pass) and the Tomb Raider reboot, which was the freebie this week.

March IGC

March is shaping up to be another pretty decent month for the Playstation Plus service. I’m glad that Sony decided to support the PS3 for a while, those of us who haven’t purchased a PS4 yet are still getting a ton of new games to play. For PS4 owners, a game that was the first I ever purchased off of PSN is coming to the new platform. The game in question is Dead Nation. This is the “apocalypse edition,” so I’m assuming that it’s the original game plus the DLC that released for it all rolled into one. Dead Nation is a zombie-themed over head shooter, in Smash TV style. It was a great game, and I had a lot of fun with it, so I’ll still get it into my Download list for a possible future playthrough.

On the PS3, we’re getting the Tomb Raider reboot, which is a game I’ve been wanting to play for a while. I actually purchased a used copy for my friend for Christmas last year, and was going to borrow it later, but never got around to it. Now I will have my own copy, so that’s a plus. I was a fan of the Tomb Raider series back in the Saturn/PS1 days, I played the original on the Saturn and the next two on the Playstation. The original was a whole new world of gaming, the story was great, the open world (that wasn’t really open at all) felt huge, the combat was fun, and the puzzles weren’t super annoying. Fast forward to games like Uncharted and it’s a dinosaur, but it was awesome at the time. The sequel added some new features and was still fun, but by the third game I was pretty much done with Lara’s adventures. I know there was a fourth game on the first PS, and at least a one or two through PS2’s generation, and one that I know of that released previously on PS3. I never played any of those games though, it was another series like Call of Duty that became a rehash and I grew tired of it (though this was before all of the modern day cash grabs with DLCs and whatnot). So my relationship with the series was jaded, but I am willing to give this reboot a chance. Especially for free. And Because Boobs:


The other two PS3 games are indie titles that released last year. The first, Thomas was Alone, doesn’t look like a game I’m interested in whatsoever. It’s pixels. And Puzzles. Or something to that effect. I might give it a whirl but I’m not expecting much. The other title is Lone Survivor, and it’s supposed to be a 2-D survival horror game, which is one of my favorite genres. The game also reminds me of an old school NES title, “Maniac Mansion.” I believe that game was a port from computers of its day, so the interface is different of course, but check out these pictures and tell me you don’t get a similar vibe:

Maniac_Mansion_-_1990_-_Jaleco_Ltd. screenshotI

23 years does make quite a difference when it comes to pixellated 2-D art. Nevertheless, I intend to dive into that game whole-heartedly upon release. Because of late 2-D + Indie has been a win. 

The above two titles are also cross-buy, so Vita owners will get those two games along with Unit 13 and a Monster Hunter iteration. I do wish I had a Vita, I probably have 100 games for it already. Monster Hunter is also a series that I always hear buzz about but have never tried personally. Unit 13 is a title I’ve heard of but really know nothing about so I’ll leave it to you to read about it elsewhere. All in all, a decent looking month is ahead.