Tuesday, June 7, 2011

E3 Press Conference Impressions

Although E3 2011 officially kicked off today, all the major press conferences are now over. Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony all went yesterday (Monday), while Nintendo went today (Tuesday). In the following paragraphs I'll briefly sum up my thoughts about the press conferences (or at least what I can remember), and give a grade to each one.

Microsoft- This gets my award for best press conference. Mass Effect 3 looks great and the way it will use Kinect (voice commands) looks like it might actually be worthwhile. I'm not a big Gears of War fan, but if I was I would have been excited to see Gears 3 in action. And Ice-T is pretty badass. Most of the Kinect stuff looks mildly cool, but a lot of it is obviously aimed at a younger demographic than me. Even though I don't know if I'll play it, I think it's very cool that Minecraft is coming to 360 with Kinect.

As someone without cable TV though, I am very excited about Live TV coming to the 360. This will obviously depend of how much it costs and if there are any good channels, but I'm definitely interested. The new dashboard that will come out this fall looks like an improvement over the current one too.

The Halo 1 remake looks okay, but I doubt I'll get it when it first comes out. Halo 4 really caught me by surprise though, and they already announced it's going to be a new trilogy (so 4, 5, and 6). I'm not a big Halo fan, but it was pretty cool to see Master Chief in action again, even if it was only a teaser. Also, the small part of the new Tomb Raider game they showed looked pretty cool too.

On a final note, the whole beginning of the Microsoft press conference started with a live gameplay showing of Modern Warfare 3. Here's my question: does anyone care about Modern Warfare/Call of Duty anymore? Am I the only one completely tired of it? Unless something drastic changes, I have absolutely no plans to purchase MW3 this holiday season. I really think they need to give Call of Duty a break before they wind up running that franchise into the ground just like they did with Guitar Hero.


EA- A solid, if unspectacular press conference. Mass Effect 3 looked good (coming out March 6, 2012), Battlefield 3 looked good (coming out Oct. 25, 2011), but I'm a little upset that we still don't have release date for The Old Republic. We have a date for Mass Effect 3, which is definitely coming out next year, but we don't have a date for TOR, even though they still say it's coming out this year. I smell B.S. If I don't get a release date very soon, there's a very good chance that I will not cancel my pre-order. And like I said before, Battlefield 3 looks really good and like it's ready to take the throne from Call of Duty. And I for one can't wait for that to happen.

When they first brought out Ray Lewis, Clay Matthews, and Peyton Hillis, I thought "Hey, this is cool!", but near the end it started to get awkward. As for Madden, I probably wont be buying this year's copy: A) Because as a general rule I buy sports games every other year (and I bought last year's), and B) Because there might not even be a football season this year, and I refuse to support the NFL at all if they cant get their crap together. Besides that, nothing really interested me. I don't play FIFA, Need for Speed, The Sims, or anything else that I can remember them showing.


Mr. "Huge Douchebag" Caffeine

Ubisoft- Since I've been watching E3 (which actually isn't that long), Ubisoft has always had bad press conferences. The mistake they continually make is instead of having game developers talk about their games and occasionally make the "not-funny" joke that no one laughs at, they hire a semi-professional comedian to host the event and make constant "not-funny" jokes that no one laughs at. "Mr. Caffeine" filled that enviable role this year. In fact, the only funny part of the press conference was how much of the FarCry 3 demo they had to "bleep" out because it contains so much foul language (also, because it was live, one F-bomb definitely slipped though. I wonder if G4 will get fined by the FCC for that). Also, Randy Pitchford did come out to pitch a new game Gearbox is doing with Ubisoft (Brothers in Arms: Furious 4), and that's the only thing that will keep this press conference from getting a "F".

As for Ubisoft's games though, because I don't really play any of their franchises I'm not really a good person to judge them. However, lack of qualification and understanding has never stopped me from judging anything before, so...


Sony- If there's one thing you can say about Sony, it's that their press conferences are always stronger than their firewalls and encryption. Seriously though, Sony had a pretty good press conference, and I liked how the first thing they did was apologize to their customers and developers. I did want Kevin Butler to be there though, and I'm disappointed he was MIA. But Uncharted 3 looks great (no surprises there) and the PlayStation Vita (the new PSP, pictured above) looks absolutely amazing. And it looks like Sony learned their lesson from originally pricing the PS3 at $600, because the Vita (Wi-Fi only model) will only cost $250, which is very reasonable considering the tech.

My favorite part of the press conference though would have to be when Kobe came out and played NBA 2K11 with the Move. Not because of the Move (which I still think is extraordinarily lame), and not because of NBA 2K11 (which I've heard is very good but never played myself). It's because it reminded me that for years I've been telling Lee Brewer that Kobe's my boy and that he's much better than LeBron, while Lee defended LeeBron for years until finally recently admitting that I was right. Sup, Lee?

FINAL GRADE: B- (for Sony)

FINAL GRADE: F- (for Lee Brewer calling LeBron years ago)

Nintendo- I'm very "meh" about the Nintendo press conference. I guess all the upcoming 3DS games look cool, but I don't own a 3DS nor do I have any intention of buying one (if anything I'd wait and get the Vita for the same price later this year). Skyward Sword will probably be great, but unfortunately I've never been a Zelda fan, and Skyward Sword probably won't change that.

Also, Nintendo did such a good job explaining the new "Wii U" that I had only one question at the end of the press conference: "What the hell is this thing?" It's basically the new Nintendo console with HD graphics, better online functionality, and a controller that's a mix between a PS3 controller and an iPad. Seriously (the picture above is an actual picture of the new controller). It's definitely... interesting, but its success will really depend on if developers take advantage of the hardware. That was the same case for the original Wii, and unfortunately most of them didn't. But we'll see. Either way it wont be out until holiday 2012, and if it's anything like the Wii you wont be able to find one in store until summer 2015.


Also, on a side note, I saw the live E3 demo for Skyrim twice, and that game looks more and more amazing every time I see it. Can't wait.

As always, feel free to chime in and let me know what you think, especially if you watched some of this stuff. But feel free to even if you didn't

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Impressions From PAX East 2011

I, along with a friend and my wife, got to attend PAX East in Boston this year. I had a great time (besides all the lines... and the Broadway T stop, but that's another story), and I figured I'd take a few minutes to give some brief descriptions of games that I got to see or demo. There were many, many more games there than what I have listed here, but I'm only going to write about the ones that I remember and feel like I have something informative to say about.

Bioshock Infinite- This game is still a while away, and I heard the creators talk about where they got their inspiration from more than I got to see any actual gameplay. Even so, I have full faith this game is going to be amazing.

Brink- Didn't get a chance to play this one (the lines were out of control), but looked interesting. It's not exactly what I had pictured in my mind, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. It actually reminds me of Team Fortress 2 more than Call of Duty or anything like that. It's definitely a class-based squad shooter, with stuff like medics, engineers that can build turrets, etc. It still looked fun though, and I'm sure there's a lot more to the game than the small multiplayer demo that they had on display.

Duke Nukem Forever- Didn't get the chance to play this one, but watched some other people play, and it looks like it will be exciting and hilarious. It's also definitely an adult game - don't buy this one for your kids or little siblings. The booth itself was hilarious, they had portraits hung everywhere of Duke in ridiculous scenes: climbing Mt. Everest, space-walking, smoking a cigar while holding a huge fish he had just caught, etc. The game will probably seem a little dated when it comes out, but I'm definitely still looking forward to this one.

Homefront- Played a single-player demo of this. It was cool, but the game handles and feels pretty much exactly like Call of Duty. The story looks like it could be powerful though, and I didn't get to see any of the multiplayer. Hopefully that will offer something fresh.

Hunted: The Demon's Forge- This is a fantasy hack 'n slash game, but it handles and play a lot like Gears of War. It really emphasizes two player co-op (also like Gears of War), and the short demo my friend and I played was cool, if not amazing.

Kingdoms of Amular: Reckoning- This game looks very promising even though it's a ways off (scheduled to come out sometime in 2012). It's a pre-alpha build and already looks very good graphically. From the live demo I saw, it seems like it takes the best parts of both the Fable series and Oblivion and merges them together. This game is the first game coming from the studio Curt Shilling founded (38 Studios), and the story of both the game itself and the whole history and lore of the world of Amular are being written by R.A. Salvatore, one of my favorite fantasy authors. Definitely looking forward to seeing more of this.

Lord of the Rings: War in the North- Made by some of the people who made the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series, this game actually reminds me a lot of that, only with next-gen graphics and a Middle Earth setting/story. It's emphasizes three player co-op, which is kind of strange (you figure they'd make it so four people could play at once like most games). The characters you can control are an elven archer, a dwarven warrior, and a human who can do a little of both. The demo I got to play was cool, but like Hunted, I wasn't really blown away or anything.

Mortal Kombat- Didn't get to play this one (I'm not a big fan of fighting games anyway), but it definitely looked like they're taking this game back to it's roots, which is a good thing.

Nintendo 3DS- The two games I got try on this were Street Fighter 3D and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. While both of those games played well, the 3DS itself is what really blew me away. I've heard for a while now how awesome the glasses-free-3D technology is, and it really works. I actually tried this shortly after seeing a small demo of Crysis 2 on a giant 3D TV (using glasses), and while the 3DS obviously has a much smaller screen, the effect was exactly the same, but without the glasses on the 3DS. While the 3DS is awesome, I really cant wait until they perfect this technology enough to make big screen 3DTVs that you don't need glasses for. And I think we're a lot closer to that technology than the people who are buying expensive 3DTVs and glasses right now realize.

Rage- I got to see a live demo of some of the single-player for this game, and it did not disappoint. Let's just say that there has been a lot of hype for this game (especially in my mind), and what I saw in the demo did disappoint me in the least. In fact, I think I'm even more excited for this game now then I was before, I didn't think that was possible.

Red Faction: Armageddon- Played a small "destruction" demo, where you basically had to cause as much damage in as short a period as possible to win prizes (I got a t-shirt out of it). Obviously there will be more to the game than that, but as far as I could tell it looked and played exactly like Red Faction: Guerrilla, which was a good game when it came out two years ago. But I think a lot of people will be disappointed if Armageddon turns out to be Guerrilla 1.5. I really hope they've added a bunch of new stuff and improved on the first game.

Star Wars: The Old Republic- Saw a little bit of this game, but unfortunately didn't get to play the demo (like Brink the lines were out of control). It still looks promising, but the question now is when is it going to come out? First it was April or May of this year. That's obviously not going to happen now. All they'll say now is "still 2011", and some rumors have placed it coming out in September. Mass Effect 3 is also supposed to come out this holiday season, but I wouldn't be surprised if both these games wind up getting pushed back to 2012. Old Republic's been in the works so long now though, I feel like they need to release it sometime this year or else it's going to turn into the next Duke Nukem Forever. God forbid.

That's all I can remember seeing from PAX. Hope you found something interesting in here, and thanks for reading. As always, feel free to post any comments or questions you may have.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Top 11 Upcoming Games For 2011

Although we are already two months into 2011, I present to you here my list of my most anticipated video game titles for this year. These are games that are currently set to come out in 2011. Video games often get delayed, and chances are at least one of these (if not more) will wind up coming out in 2012, but as of right now they are all slated to be released this year. Along with each game, I'll list which platforms it will be coming out for, and the current release date/window. Enjoy.

11. Brink - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - May 17

Brink is still somewhat of a mystery. It's a new IP (intellectual property) which also means it's the start of a whole new game franchise (assuming it doesn't bomb). This game has been delayed a couple of years now, but everything I've seen about it so far looks awesome and really ambitious. What's most interesting about Brink is that whether you're playing offline single-player, co-op with your friends, or online competitive multiplayer, you're always still playing the "story" mode. Assuming you have an online connection, missions in the story mode can actually be played against other people who are playing their own story mode at the same time. Like I said, the game is still very much a mystery, but if all the cool new things they're trying to implement come together and work well, this could be the start of a whole new genre in games.

10. Duke Nukem Forever - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - May 3

The Duke is finally back. I've played some of Duke Nukem 3D over the years, and while the gameplay and graphics are obviously dated (it came out 12 years ago), Duke himself still cracks me up. Duke was created as an over-the-top parody of a lot of 80's and 90's action heroes, so it will be interesting to see if he is still relevant and funny (my guess is yes, at least to the latter). The game, while in development for 12 years, was finally picked up last year by Gearbox (the makers of Borderlands) who will be finishing it. This game's legend has grown to epic proportions, and many people's expectations will probably be too high for what the game can actually deliver, but as long as this game makes me laugh and gives me a good time, I'll be satisfied. Hail to the King, baby.

9. Battlefield 3 - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - Holiday

This game was only recently revealed, but everything I've read and the small bits of gameplay footage they've already shown are amazing. I really enjoyed Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (especially the multiplayer), and while this game will build on that, it looks like it's going to take it to a whole new level. The new game engine (Frostbite 2) looks amazing, and is really improving everything, like graphics, destructible environments, lighting, and even ridiculous stuff like individual bullet trajectories when you fire your gun (seriously). I have no doubt the multiplayer is going to be awesome; if DICE (the game's developers) can craft a great single-player campaign too, and add some fun co-op content, then Call of Duty might finally be dethroned as the king of military shooters.

8. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception - PS3 - November 1

Uncharted 2 blew everyone away with its gameplay and story, and I'm sure Uncharted 3 will carry on in that tradition. The trailers for the game so far look very interesting, and there are very few things as exciting as a good Indian Jones-like story, which is what the Uncharted series mainly is. Not much about this game has been revealed yet, but don't be surprised if it gives Uncharted 2 a run for its money on how many "game of the year" awards a game can win (note: Uncharted 2 won like ALL of them in 2009).

7. Batman: Arkham City - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - Late Summer/Fall

Arkham Asylum was a huge surprise just because of how good it was. Past Batman video games have all been pretty bad, and while I didn't think Arkham Asylum would suck, I didn't expect it to be as amazing as it was. It turned out to be easily one of the best games of 2009. I have full faith that Arkham City, like its predecessor, will not disappoint. And who doesn't want to be the Bat?

6. Crysis 2 - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - March 22

I've been looking forward to this one for a while. I never really played the original Crysis (I just recently got a computer that could even run it), but most of what I heard about it was that the graphics were amazing, the gameplay was really good, but that the story (while not bad) left something to be desired. While they've improved the game's engine (which will improve things like gameplay and graphics), a big focus for this game has been on the story and the single-player campaign, and everything I've seen looks really good so far. Crytek (the game's developers) have also gone on record saying that this game will have the most advanced enemy AI in any game ever. It still remains to be seen if that is true, but if it is, you can expect a really challenging game where the computer can actually tactically coordinate its attacks (hopefully not too well though, or else we might all wind up feeling as over-matched as Ken Jennings).

5. Portal 2 - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - April 19

I actually just played through the original Portal again, and that has made me even more excited for this game. The single-player is a complete game all by itself this time around (the original came as part of The Orange Box), which means even more ridiculous puzzles, and more interaction with one of the greatest villains/misunderstood-self-aware-hilariously-murderous super-computers ever: GLaDOS. This game also features a seperate co-op campaign, which looks to be very interesting (it features the robots pictured above as the playable characters). Here's hoping this game will be a HUGE SUCCESS (hint: it will).

4. Dragon Age II - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - March 8

I loved the first Dragon Age, and this one looks like it's going to be even better. They've decided to take the series in a new direction with this game, with a darker art style and gameplay that is similar to Bioware's other big franchise: Mass Effect. I'm a big Mass Effect fan too, and now that I've played the Dragon Age II demo, I think this is really going to make the game that much better than the first one. They have limited your customization options (mostly in the fact that you have to play as a human now), but I think it will make for a much better story with a much more compelling main character (who can actually talk now).

3. Rage - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - September 13

A post-apocalyptic, open-world, first person shooter from the makers of games like Doom and Quake. It will also have a lot of driving/racing and vehicular combat. Like Crysis 2, this game promises to have great graphics, gameplay, and enemy AI. From what I've seen of the gameplay so far, if the story/world is half as good as those other things, this will be a great game that will consume a lot of my time. It also will include competitive online multiplayer, and possibly some sort of co-op mode.

2. Star Wars: The Old Republic - PC - Sometime in 2011

I'm not really a fan of MMOs, but I cannot wait for this game. It's like the perfect storm of gaming: Star Wars, George Lucas not being involved, Bioware, leveling up, and playing online with your friends - all wrapped into one. Like all the other games on this list, everything I've seen and heard so far has been really exciting, and even though this is Bioware's first attempt at an MMO, as far as I'm concerned they have a near-flawless record when it comes to video games, and that wont change here. Part of the reason I dont normally like MMOs is because of how much time you have to invest in them, but that's a sacrifice I'm more than willing to make once this game comes out. Goodbye, marriage. It's been real.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - November 11

The semi-sequel to Oblivion, the next game in the Elder Scrolls series takes place around 200 years after Oblivion, when a great, ancient evil (dragons) has returned to the world and threatens to kill everyone, or something along those lines. While Oblivion was a great game, it did have some shortcomings (which are much more obvious if you go back and play it now, 5 years after it came out), and it looks like Bethesda has really made it their mission to correct all of those, while adding a lot of new stuff (and borrowing some ideas from their very successful game Fallout 3) too. They just released a trailer with some in-game footage, and the world is breathtaking. If the gameplay and story are as improved as they want them to be, then Skyrim will be one of the greatest games ever (at least in my eyes).

There's my top 11. Two games that just barely missed the cut are L.A. Noire and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Both those games also look like they're going to be awesome. Had I made this list in the beginning of the year Dead Space 2 definitely would have been on it, but because Dead Space 2 has already been released (and is amazing, by the way) I don't consider it an "upcoming" game anymore.

On an interesting side note, no games for the Wii made the list, or even came close. Seriously, what's coming out for the Wii this year? The only thing that comes to mind is the new Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword, but I'm not a Zelda fan so that doesn't really do anything for me personally. There are plenty of games that are going to come out in 2011 that haven't been announced yet; like obviously there will be a Call of Duty game in the fall (probably Modern Warfare 3), and there's also been a lot of rumors about a new Halo game being done by a new studio (possibly a full remake of Halo 1). If I don't know about a game, obviously it's not going to make the list. But besides Skyward Sword, there's nothing I can even think of for the Wii. Yeah, Nintendo is going to make a crap-load of money off the 3DS, so they'll still be okay financially, but I don't really do handheld games, so (like Zelda) I don't really care as much about that. What this leads me to believe is that Nintendo is going to announce a new home console at some point this year, probably at E3. That's right, you heard it here first. That's my prediction. Whether it's the Wii 2 or some completely brand new name, I think they'll announce it at E3, which means it wont actually be out until around the holiday or sometime in 2012.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and as always feel free to post here (or on Facebook) what you think. Comments, questions, discussion, and corrections are always welcome!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Top 10 For 2010

Even though 2010 is well behind us now, I've finally gotten around to doing my list for my favorite games of the year. I'll list the games here, from #10 to #1, with #1 being my favorite (thus also my "Game of the Year"). Along with each game, I'll list the applicable platforms and the date it was released (obviously all games were released in 2010). So here are "My Top 10 For 2010". So clever.

10. Rock Band 3 - PS3, Xbox 360, Wii - October 26

The game that perfects the music genre. This game has all of the good stuff of the previous ones without any of the bad. It also adds new features like keyboard and three-part vocal harmonies. It has a good track list and the ability to import most of the songs from Rock Band 1 and 2, along with all DLC. This is really a well made game, but it's ashame it didn't sell well. I think that's more the fault of people getting tired of music games and already owning earlier Rock Band/Guitar Hero games, because it's certainly not the fault of the quality of this game.

9. Madden NFL 11 - PS3, Xbox 360 - August 10

Easily the best Madden since '06 (when they switched to the next-gen consoles). The addition of GameFlow was genius, and the gameplay and physics keep improving every year. Throw in some great online features like Online Franchise and Co-op mode, and the single player "Madden Moments" and regular franchise, and you've got yourself one of the most solid Madden titles ever.

8. Call of Duty: Black Ops - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - November 9

While not a huge departure from the series, this is another game that takes what's great about the previous games, gets rid of the bad stuff, and adds a few new things to keep it fresh. The multiplayer is the best of any CoD game, with a bunch of new modes, a cool new money system, and a ton of customization options. The single player campaign, while expectedly short, was one of the best of the series, second only to maybe CoD 4. And dont forget my favorite part: Nazi Zombies. Or, I guess just "Zombies" now since we're not in WWII anymore. Whatever.

7. Fallout: New Vegas - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - October 19

It took me a while to warm-up to this game, but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. This is essentially Fallout 3.5; the same game engine with a few new things and a whole new setting and characters. I still prefer the actual game world of Fallout 3 to this, but New Vegas definitely has better characters (Felicia Day!) and a better main quest (side quests are arguable). Also all the new things they added, like iron sights and hardcore mode, were a nice touch. I'm definitely looking forward to DLC for this game in the coming months.

6. Dong Kong Country Returns - Wii - November 21

I loved the original Donkey Kong Country for Super Nintendo back in the day, so I'm sure nostalgia has something to do with this pick, but there's no arguing that this is a very good game (check Metacritic if you don't believe me). The art and level design are awesome, along with the music, and the game is just a lot of fun to play. There's even co-op and a few new features added.

5. Limbo - XBLA - July 21

This game is only available on Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), but it is definitely worth playing if you have an Xbox as this is easily one of the best downloadable games I've ever played. It's a 2D platformer with some cool mechanics, and every aspect of the game's design in great. You really have to play this game for yourself to understand why it's so great, it's one of those that's hard to describe to someone who's never seen it. It's a pretty short game (about 4-5 hours long), but it only costs $15. I would definitely recommend this if you have an Xbox.

4. God of War III - PS3 - March 16

"Gimme yo' head!"

The incredible end to the God of War Trilogy that does not disappoint. The graphics are amazing and the action and combat are intense. This game probably has the most epic boss battles of any game ever. Every level is a brand new adventure in dominating everything around you, and I mean that in the best possible way.

3. Red Dead Redemption - PS3, Xbox 360 - May 18

Basically Grand Theft Auto (GTA) meets the old west, but that doesn't truly do it justice. Try as I might, I've never really liked any of the GTA games (they're just not my thing), but I loved Red Dead Redemption. The single player is more than just an open world were you blow stuff up, run people over, and occasionally do a mission. It's a beautifully realized recreation of Southern Texas and Northern Mexico in the early 1900's, and the characters and story are all great to complement the awesome game world. There's a lot of variety in the single player so that even though the campaign is long, very rarely do you get bored. There's also a multiplayer component, which lets you play competitively or cooperatively with your friends. I never really got into the old west and cowboys and stuff like that, but this game actually made me start to appreciate the genre a lot more (although I still need to see The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly). Also, the "Undead Nightmare" DLC that came out for this, though not technically part of the original game, was very well received by both critics and fans.

2. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty - PC - July 27

The best RTS (real time strategy) game I've ever played. Everyone knows the Starcraft series has great online multiplayer, and this game doesn't disappoint on that front. But it also has a great story and single player campaign, and every mission (I think there were around 25) was interesting and contributed to the plot in its own way. It never felt repetitive. That's really what makes this game stand out above the rest for me. SC2 is also probably the most addictive game on this list: I can play online for hours and hours, always having that mentality "just one more match!".

1. Mass Effect 2 - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - January 26 (PC & Xbox)

As soon as I beat this game (which was almost exactly a year ago from now), I knew it was going to be my favorite game of the year. And it's not because I had already made up my mind, or because I'm some kind of Mass Effect fanboy. I just realized that I loved this game so much that the chances of me liking any other game that came out last year as much as this one were incredibly slim. Mass Effect 2 just has it all. Obviously it's still considered mainly an RPG, so its strengths lie in its story, characters, and the relationships between those characters. It delivers on all those fronts. What really put ME2 over the edge for me was how much they improved the gameplay from the first one. You could really also say that this is a third person shooter - the combat and shooting mechanics are tight, and the biotic powers and special abilities work very well. Bioware added in a lot of other improvements too, like the new inventory system. So the gameplay was fantastic, but it still was the story that was the strength of this game. I mean, depending on your choices during your playthrough, you and any/all of your crew can die by the end of the game. That's pretty insane. All of this, and even some other stuff I haven't mentioned, is why Mass Effect 2 gets my Game of the Year Award for 2010.

Because I wanted to keep the list at ten, there were two games that got cut and left off, so I figured I'd give them a quick honorable mention here. They were Halo: Reach (#11) and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (#12). Both were very good games that I enjoyed both the single and multiplayer of, but unfortunately they just missed the cut.

So there's my top 10 list for 2010, and my 2010 Game of the Year. Thanks for reading through, and as always comments are welcome!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ranking the Bond Films

Over the last few months, I've watched all 22 of the James Bond films in order, usually one a week. Bond is one of my favorite film franchises, and I figured since I had now seen them all pretty recently, I would go through and rank them. I'll also provide a few of my thoughts for each movie, along with who played Bond and what year that film came out. So, here is my list, in order from worst (#22) to best (#1):

22. Die Another Day - Pierce Brosnan, 2002

Nothing they did to Bond while he was a prisoner in North Korea for 14 months is worse than watching this movie.

21. The Man With the Golden Gun - Roger Moore, 1974

This movie has a cool premise, and the way Bond defeats the villain at the end is great. Unfortunately the rest of the movie is not so great and all the acting besides Moore is pretty awful. I would love to see a remake of this one with Daniel Craig and another great actor as Scaramanga (the villain).

20. A View to a Kill - Roger Moore, 1985

Roger Moore was 57 when he filmed this (his last Bond movie). He actually aged pretty well, but still... come on. The plot is pretty lame and the main Bond girl is annoying. This is the 80's at its worst. The only redeeming thing about this movie is Christopher Walken as the villain. Everything he says cracks me up, even when he's a bad guy. It's just the way he talks. He could be saying he's about to burn down an orphanage with everyone inside and I wouldn't be able to help myself. Hilarious.

19. Live and Let Die - Roger Moore, 1973

Roger Moore's first Bond film, while having some good parts, falls short overall. The movie drags out way too long with a 30 minute boat chase through Louisiana that is more reminiscent of something you'd see in "The Dukes of Hazard" (and I mean that in the worst way possible), and the American redneck sheriff (who returns in The Man With the Golden Gun) is the worst character to appear in all 22 Bond films. And that includes Halle Berry. On the plus side, Jane Seymour is pretty fine as Solitaire, and this film has my favorite Bond theme-song of all, "Live and Let Die" by Wings.

18. Octopussy - Roger Moore, 1983

This film, while not awful, is also not especially memorable. And I say that because I really can't remember that much about it now. Although I liked the female lead (Octopussy), the whole "hot girl cult" thing was pretty lame and far-fetched (yes, even for a Bond movie), and Roger Moore "saves the day" while in full clown makeup. Yes, you read that right. Dressed as a clown. So let's move on.

17. Tomorrow Never Dies - Pierce Brosnan, 1997

Bond takes on an evil media tyrant that wants to start World War III between the US and China so that his company can have exclusive media coverage of the war. AKA Fox News. This movie is alright, but once again not especially memorable or cool. Although it's not a great movie, it does hold a special place in my heart as the first Bond movie I ever saw on the big screen.

16. License to Kill - Timothy Dalton, 1989

Without giving away too much, what makes this movie ultimately fail is that it strays too far from the usual Bond formula, as Bond breaks with MI6 to go on a revenge mission to kill the man that hurt one of his closest friends. That sounds like it might not necessarily be a bad thing, but throw in some poor acting and the 1980's and you've got a movie that just doesn't make the cut. It's not all bad though, as there are some cool moments.

15. Moonraker - Roger Moore, 1979

Bond in space. If those three words don't set off alarms in your head, then consider yourself lucky you've obviously never seen the end of this film. After the huge success of the first Star Wars film, the makers of Bond decided they would try to piggyback off of that to make some extra money. I actually like the first 2/3 of this movie, but the end gets awfully ridiculous. Poor Roger Moore: he was a good Bond, but most of his scripts put him in plots that were just unsalvageable (and you can say the same thing about Pierce Brosnan).

14. Diamonds Are Forever - Sean Connery, 1971

Sean Connery returns after a one-movie break for his last (official) Bond movie, and manages to keep most of his style although noticeably older. A decent Bond movie - not bad, but not great.

13. The World is Not Enough - Pierce Brosnan, 1999

Brosnan does a good job, I absolutely love the girl villain in this film (played by Sophie Marceau), and we get to see more of Judi Dench as M (which is a good thing).The male villain is ok, but what really kills this film is Denise Richards as nuclear physicist "Christmas Jones". She was awful and completely unbelievable in the role: no one smart enough to be a physicist would marry Charlie Sheen.

12. On Her Majesty's Secret Service - George Lazenby, 1969

George Lazenby's only Bond film; many people aren't even aware this movie exists. Connery "retired" after You Only Live Twice, and Lazenby was chosen to be the next Bond. He does an okay job and the movie is actually pretty solid, if not spectacular. As soon as the movie was finished however, Lazenby announced he also was retiring from being Bond, because of the hard filming schedule and because he was sure that now he had made it and could get other big roles. How'd that work out for you, George?

11. You Only Live Twice - Sean Connery, 1967

James Bond goes to Japan and other parts of eastern Asia to hunt down and try to infiltrate Spectre. This movie has some good and some bad. We first meet Blofeld in this movie, and there are a lot of cool gadgets. The movie drags on though, and while they made a noble effort to make Sean Connery look Japanese, I didn't really think it worked that well.

10. The Spy Who Loved Me - Roger Moore, 1977

One of Moore's better movies, this one has a great opening and a good female lead (who happens to be Ringo Starr's wife). We also first meet Jaws, and the locations they used were all cool. The middle-ish of this movie drags on for too long though (the long, drawn out battle on the ship).

9. The Living Daylights - Timothy Dalton, 1987

A solid action movie with some good plot twists. The acting is all pretty good too. As Dalton's first Bond film (out of only two), he plays a more introspective and quiet Bond, while still maintaining Bond's suave and lethality. This is Bond film that tends to get somewhat forgotten, but I would definitely recommend it if you haven't seen it.

8. Quantum of Solace - Daniel Craig, 2008

The most recent Bond film and a direct sequel to Casino Royale (Craig's first film). As far as action and cinematography go, this is the best Bond of the whole series. It lacks a great plot like Casino Royale had, but the story is still good enough to hold its own and not get in the way of a great action movie. Craig also gives another very good performance.

7. Thunderball - Sean Connery, 1965

A little too much of this film takes place underwater for my taste (especially at the end), but overall it's a very good Bond film. The female villain is great, and this movie has some classic moments in it. And the main Bond girl, Domino, is one of the best looking in the whole series.

6. For Your Eyes Only - Roger Moore, 1981

In my opinion Moore's best film, it has a good story, good characters, a great plot twist, and I love the ending. Sure, the American ice skater girl is annoying as hell, but no movie is perfect.

5. Goldfinger - Sean Connery, 1964

Many people rank this as the best Bond, and while I don't fully agree with that I will say that it's up there. Connery is probably at his prime as Bond in this one, and you have a great villain with genius plan and an awesome henchman (Oddjob). My two gripes with this movie are: 1) Bond spends most of the movie as Goldfinger's prisoner who oddly continues to keep him around despite all his mischief, and 2) I'm not a big fan of "Pussy Galore" as a Bond girl, or a name for that matter (I just think it's stupid). Overall Goldfinger is definitely one of the finest Bond films though.

4. GoldenEye - Pierce Brosnan, 1995

My favorite Brosnan film, and one of my favorites overall. GoldenEye had a large task: it had to show the world that Bond could still be relevant and entertaining in a post-Soviet-Russia world, and it did the job wonderfully. Sean Bean plays a great and complex character, Brosnan does a great job as Bond, and it has a great script and supporting cast.

3. Dr. No - Sean Connery, 1962

The first "official" Bond film, Sean Connery took the role and never looked back. He managed to be suave and cool while still being a beast, and set the precedent by which all future Bonds would be judged (whether fairly or not). This movie also features Honey Rider, who is my personal favorite Bond girl, and the movie has one of my favorite quotes in all the Bonds: "That's a Smith & Wesson, and you've had your six." The banter between Dr. No and Bond is some of the best in any Bond movie as well.

2. Casino Royale - Daniel Craig, 2006

Daniel Craig's first Bond film is a beyond-triumphant return for the British spy after some pretty bad Brosnan movies. The movie is dark and gritty and doesn't try to hide it, while still keeping a great sense of humor and wit. As a reboot of the franchise, we see Bond as a newly appointed "double-0" agent on his first assignment which turns out to be a very important one. Throw in some great villains, lots of intrigue and poker, and one of the best Bond girls in Vesper Lynd (who is not only gorgeous, but also smart and complex), and an outstanding performance by Craig, and you've got the second best Bond movie ever. The opening of this movie is also my favorite of any Bond film, and they all usually have pretty good openings.

1. From Russia With Love - Sean Connery, 1963

My personal favorite Bond. The plot is great with plenty of intrigue and suspense without going overboard. Just the right amount of comic relief and dialog, and one of the best fight scenes in all of Bond (the one in the train car). Along with Goldfinger, Connery (also my personal favorite Bond) was at his peak as Bond in this film. The Bond girl, while not a particularly strong personality, is one of the best looking, and Connery has more than enough personality for both of them anyway. The "briefcase" gadget Bond gets from Q, while not highly futuristic or anything, is also one of the best overall gadgets in the series. This is the closest Bond gets to being perfect, and it also has a great opening theme song.

There are my rankings for all the official Bond movies. And since I'm on the subject I'll also quickly list how I rank the actors who have played Bond:

1. Sean Connery
2. Daniel Craig
3. Pierce Brosnan
4. Timothy Dalton
5. Roger Moore
6. George Lazenby

I think all the Bonds had their strong points and were good in their own way. George Lazenby gets the short end of the stick just because it's so difficult to judge based on only one movie. For the same reason it's hard to place Timothy Dalton (2 movies) and Daniel Craig (2 movies so far, with a 3rd in the works).

I hope you found this enlightening and/or fairly amusing. I'd love to hear from any Bond fans out there and get your thoughts. Let me know what you think, even if you've only seen a few of the movies.