Sunday, November 29, 2009

What I'm Playing (11/29/09)

Dragon Age: Origins, Uncharted 2, Left 4 Dead 2. Also, I was away much of this week due to Thanksgiving, so I had some time to play some good iPhone/iPod Touch games, including: Doom Classic, Doom Resurrection, Bookworm, Earthworm Jim, Metal Gear Solid Touch, Snood, Wolfenstein 3D, and, of course, Paper Toss. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Weezer Albums

I will now proceed to list Weezer's albums from my favorite to my least favorite:

1. The Blue Album
2. The Green Album
3. Pinkerton
4. The Red Album
5. Raditude
6. Maladroit
7. Make Believe

Any other Weezer fans out there who want to weigh in?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Greatest Games of the Decade: The Year 2003

The list for 2003 is a short one for me. In fact, out of all the years of this decade, this one has the fewest games to make the list. I'm sure there were other good games that came from this year, but looking over a few different lists of major releases from this year, there were only two games that caught my eye as ones that I played and thought were great games. The greatest game of this year is one that I only played for about a week (in which time I beat it and played through all of the optional content), but it completely enthralled me while I was playing. I would play all day and into the wee hours of the morning (I was home for break from college and didn't have a job at the time). So even though I only played this game for a week, I put a lot of hours into it. It was a short, but very hot, fling.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Quick Facts:

Platform: Xbox, PC
Genre: RPG
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: LucasArts
Release Date (North America): July 15, 2003 (Xbox)
Rating: T

Another great Bioware title (noticing a trend in my favorite games here?) with a great story and cast of characters. I wont give away too much here (though anyone who hasn't played this by now probably isn't going too), but this game has one of the greatest plot twists ever, and I'm not just talking about in video games. I'm talking about any form of media, including movies, TV, books, plays, etc. That's how shocking it is. And of course, a plot twist cant be great unless it has a great plot to twist, so like I said the game has an amazing story. The game takes place a few thousand years before the movies do, during the reign of the fabled "Old Republic" (hence the game's name) and their conflicts with the Sith Lords and other various factions. While fantasy RPGs (Baldur's Gate, NWN) are great, there's something about the world of Star Wars that seems to make things even cooler. That may not be true for everyone, but for someone who fell in love with Star Wars as a little kid from the first time they saw it on VHS (thanks, Mom!), having a game take place in that universe and being able to use things like the Force and lightsabers is even cooler than a game that takes place in some fantasy world (no disrespect to Faerun of course).

The character customization in the game was also great, with lots of different classes and jedi classes to suite your play style however you like it. And, like Baldur's Gate II before it, this game was notorious for your decisions affecting the world around you and even the characters that traveled with you in your party. Of course, being a jedi, you could eventually choose to follow the Light side or the Dark side, and whichever path you picked would greatly effect the outcome of the game. And certain characters in your party liked you better depending on whether you were good or evil. If you were evil enough, you could even permanently kill people in your party to intimidate the others and set an example. Stuff like that is still deeper than a lot of the games that come out today.

Honorable Mention:

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (PC, Xbox)- The only other game that I truly loved from this year also happens to be a Star Wars game, though a far different one. While Kotor (Knights of the Old Republic) was an RPG, this game was an action game (I believe you could switch between a first person mode and a third person mode). Also unlike Kotor, this game is part of the Jedi Knight series of games (that started with Dark Forces and Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight), and this series takes place a few years after the Return of the Jedi. Jedi Academy was a lot of fun, with lots of cool weapons and force powers, great levels, and a decent story.

So 2003 was short but sweet. That's the way it goes sometimes. Comments are always welcome, and stayed tuned for 2004!

What I'm Playing (11/21/09)

A good friend of mine will occasionally ask me "so what have you been playing lately?" I usually think for a few seconds and then name a few games I've been playing recently. This gave me an idea, so a new thing I'm going to start doing on my blog is list what games I'm currently playing. I'll try to do this once a week either on Saturday or Sunday, and I'll list the games I've been playing and any that I'm planning on playing for the next week. Not many people may care about this, but if one of the games I list is something you want to know more about, feel free to comment and I'll let you know about the game and what I think of it. Also, feel free to comment and let me know if you're playing any of the same games, or any other games you're playing. This little intro here will only appear this one time, as this is the first time I'm doing this. From next week on I will just list the games I'm playing. So without further ado:

Dragon Age: Origins, Demon's Souls, Uncharted 2, and if I have time (which I probably wont) Left 4 Dead 2, Modern Warfare 2 (online), and New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360)

"Believe the hype."

We all know about this game. I dont need to say much about it here, because chances are anything I could say here you've already heard. This game is the sequel to the immensely popular and successful Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and the amount of hype and coverage it's received since it was announced is the most I've ever seen for a video game. In the first day of being released, this game sold over 4.7 million copies in North America and the UK alone (breaking GTA IV's previous record in the process). And the best part is that the game actually lives up to the immense amount of hype that was being given to it, a relative rarity for games that receive this much coverage and have such high expectations.

Quick Facts:

Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: First Person Shooter (FPS)
Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November 10, 2009
Rating: M

Everything about this game is great. It picks up where the first game left off and improves upon it where it needed improvement (which is very few areas). The gameplay, grapichs, and all other techincal aspects are perfect (as to be expected from a Call of Duty game), but what really sets this game apart is (like the first game) the amazing story and characters. Many FPSs, especially "wartime" FPSs sacrifice real story and assume that delievering fun gameplay will be enough to sell the game (*cough cough* World at War). This is actually somewhat true, becuase if a game (especcially an FPS) is awesome enough most players (myself included) are willing to push a lackluster story (*cough cough* Halo 3) aside and enjoy the game just for the gameplay. But this is where few FPSs, like Modern Warfare 2, get set aside as the best of the best, because they give us the fun gameplay and a great story and characters which we are bound to remember. I believe that this combination of two elements is true for all modern games, not just FPSs. In my experience and opinion, the best games are the ones that include both great gameplay mechanics and a memorable story and characters, and not just one or the other. Modern Warfare 2 definetly suceeds in this respect in a way that few games truly do.

So the campaign mode is great, and so are the other two modes (Spec Ops and multiplayer). Spec Ops is a mode that allows 1-2 players to do short missions (some of which are taken from levels in the campaign) together. This mode is Infinity Ward's answer to gamers who cried out for a co-op option in campaign mode, and it works very well. They didn't want to sacrifice the story and intensity of the single player mode by having a friend there with you the whole time, but they also understand that gamers wanted to play some of these missions with their friends. The result is Spec Ops mode, and I think it's a great success.

The online multiplayer for the game is similiar to Call of Duty 4, which means it's awesome. There are a lot of new features and options for ranking up (which I wont get into here), and I like the changes they made to the ranking up/perks system.

If I have any complaints about this game, it's only that a) the story mode was a little too short, and b) a few of the story missions seemed to drag on a little too much or not offer quite enough variety. I finished the story on normal in about 6 hours, which isn't terrible, but it isn't great either. I suppose I could go back and start trying to beat levels on veteran mode, as this would certainly add a lot of playtime, but I dont think I have the heart or patience to die that many times (especially because I'm not a CoD god by any means). As for the individual levels, they were all good, but in a few of them I felt like I was doing the same thing for just a little too long. I can only go down the same suburban street killing enemy soldiers for so long before it starts getting boring; I can only defend the inside of the same cabin for so long (constantly dying in the process) before I'm ready to start ripping my hair out. But these are minor complaints for a game that offers so much replayability (Spec Ops and online multiplayer) even after you're done story mode.

In Summary:

Pros: it's everything you've come to expect from an Infinity Ward Call of Duty game, and somehow even managed to live up to the obsence amount of hype. 'Nuff said.

Cons: campaign mode is a little short, levels can be a bit repetitive at times. But these are both minor complaints when you look at the whole scope of this game.

FINAL SCORE: 5 out of 5.

Note: All reviews on this site are solely the subjective opinion of the author. If you disagree with my review please feel free to post in a polite manner and state your opinion. I welcome respectful discussion on my blog and would love to get feedback on my review and also read yours. Thanks!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Greatest Games of the Decade: The Year 2002

The game of the year for 2002 is a game that is very dear to my heart, being the game that I've probably put the most time into in my whole life, and the only game that I actually made a few "friends" online playing the game that I had never met in real life (think The Guild, even though I never actually met these people and stopped talking to them once I stopped playing the game). It's the most customizable game I've ever played, and had my favorite multiplayer ever, even though it wasn't actually made by the company that made the game.

Neverwinter Nights

Quick Facts:

Platform: PC
Genre: Role-Playing Game (RPG)
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Infogrames/Atari
Release Date (North America): June 18, 2002 (PC)
Rating: T

All aspects of the game included, Neverwinter Nights is probably the game I've played the most time in my life, especially once you factor in the all the expansion packs that came out for it. The single player game throughout the series is good and definitely worth playing. The characters in the game may not be the most memorable (besides, of course, Deekin), but the story and gameplay are very good. But that's not the only reason I love this game. The multiplayer for this game was amazing.

The game came with a full toolset that let people create their own mods and even whole worlds and then host them online using their own computers as dedicated servers. The toolset that came with the game included most of the things Bioware used to create the actual single player game. For people that actually get into coding and all that stuff, you can really do a lot with the world you want to create, and even for people that dont know how to do all that stuff (like me), it had an easy enough interface that you could learn some tricks and make some areas. And once someone created a mod and put it online as a server, they could log in not only as a player but as an all-controlling Dungeon Master (a D&D term) and play along with or even against the players by spawning monsters, items, and many other things all while staying invisible to the players (if they wanted to). It's really hard to explain the awesomeness and all-encompassingness of this game to someone who's never played it. To people who have played some other Bioware games but not this one, it plays and looks a lot like an earlier version of Knights of the Old Republic or the recently released Dragon Age: Origins. You can still go online in Neverwinter Nights today, more than seven years later, and find online communities that are still playing user-made mods. I started playing online in the same worlds with the same people and became part of a large community back when I used to play this. This is where I put the most of my hours playing this game, logging on to the NWN servers every night and seeing where my online friends were playing. There were some awesome servers and mods online and a lot of cool people to play with, and best of all, it was all free. Looking back, the online component was a lot like World of Warcraft before there was World of Warcraft, but it was free, and players could create their own worlds and stories and control them on the fly as people played them.

Honorable Mentions:

Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC, Xbox)- Not a perfect game by any means, but a very ambitious and good game. The game is in a completely open world, even more so than its successor Oblivion. There are even fewer area transitions, and for its time the world was very well made and detailed. It's not perfect though, as the combat is not very good and there were a lot of glitches/problems with the gameplay. Still, this was a big game for this year, and laid the foundation for Oblivion.

Warcraft III (PC)- An RTS that I still occasionally play, it has great gameplay, great online play, and a great story and characters (something unusual for many RTSs).

Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

Metroid Prime (GC)

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Multi)- I only played this one a little (I'm not a big fan of stealth games), but I've only really ever heard good things about it, and it laid a foundation for several Splinter Cell games to come afterwards.

Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to comment/post. Stay tuned next week for the best games of the year 2003!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Greatest Games of the Decade: The Year 2001

On to the year 2001! This was a year when the PS2 really was in its prime, as will be noted by all the honorable mentions. But the game of the year comes from Microsoft's new kid on the block (at the time), the Xbox:

Halo: Combat Evolved

Quick Facts:

Platform: Xbox, PC
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Bungie Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date (North America): November 15, 2001 (Xbox)
Rating: M

Halo was the first video game I put a lot of time into on a console since I had owned my Super Nintendo. Also, I was never a big fan of shooters until I played this game. Now, they're arguably my favorite type of game. This game (and the following sequels) and the experiences I had playing it are a big part of that. Everything about this game was great. The gameplay, the graphics, the campaign, the soundtrack, and especially the multiplayer. This was pre-Xbox Live, so there was only split-screen and system link, but that was more than enough. I played this game non-stop my first semester of college. All the guys on the hall did. It was how we bonded. And the only reason we stopped playing it was because Halo 2 came out eventually. This game not only succeeded by itself, but also laid the foundation for one of the most successful (both critically and monetarily) game franchises of all time. And (though some people do not agree with this) many people feel that Halo: CE single-handily saved Microsoft's new Xbox from dying out right after it started due to the fact that the video market had been dominated by Nintendo and Sony (especially the PS2) for so long. I feel that even though the Xbox might not have died out right away without Halo, it's hard to picture the Xbox 360 being where it is now on the sales charts if no Halo games had ever been made. And it all started with Halo: CE.

Honorable Mentions:

As I'm obviously more partial towards Halo, and I never owned a PS2 up until about a year ago, many of the honorable mentions for 2001 are games I've never played, or played very little. But going through the list of big games that came out in 2001, it's easy to see that the PS2 was still the dominant console by far. The following games are games who have done so well and been so praised that even someone who hasn't extensively played them knows about their quality and the impact they've had on gaming over the years. So without futher ado, the Honorable Mentions:

Ico (PS2)

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2)

Final Fantasy X (PS2)- I have played this game a fair amount, and though I wouldn't say it's one of my favorites (I'm not a big fan of JRPGs in general), I can understand why people love it. I'm not even close to finishing it, but the world and story are captivating so far, and I know that for the time the graphics and full voice work were unprecedented.

Devil May Cry (PS2)

Silent Hill 2 (PS2)- Apparently one of the scariest games ever (if not the scariest). I will have to play it someday to see if that is true.

That does it for 2001. Feel free to comment and/or list any of the games you remember loving from this year, and be sure to check back soon for the year 2002!