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The Worst Things About the Best Games

As a gamer, you start your gaming life not caring about the ins and outs of why you are doing whatever it is you are doing in that game in front of you.  You shoot first and probably never ask questions.  You pull potato chips out of garbage bins because… you need the scientifically proven healing power they provide, right?  As you grow older, you keep playing these games but eventually things will trickle into the back of your mind.  What is my motivation for the character I am playing?  Why am I killing so many people?  Better yet… why does the overload of this video game world have so many people willing to run out of rooms and die for him or her?

At the end of the day, none of those things really matter.  We will keep playing and always accept so many of the tropes and inconsistencies video games are subject to.  Let’s face it, if you want to continue to enjoy gaming into your adult life, you just have to live with it.  There are so many games that make so little sense when you pick and prod at them, but some of these games are still not only good games, but great games.  As I’ve grown older I’ve become far more analytically of the games I play.  Here are some of my personal favorites with some of the massive issues I perceive to be within them.

Note there are major spoilers in here.  If you haven’t played the game, skip the paragraph.

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Welcome to Rapture

Bioshock (PS3) – Review

As a somewhat frugal gamer, I did a ton of research and waited for all of the next gen systems to have at least a year under their belt. After much deliberation and internal arguments, I went with the PS3. You may think this is a bizarre way to start a review, but here is why it is/was relevant. When deciding what system to purchase, I desperately wanted to play Bioshock. I love FPS games, read all of the positive things about it, stared at screenshots and ended up fascinated by it. My PC couldn’t handle it and I only had enough money for one system. As bad as I wanted to play it, I went with the PS3 and just hoped that I’d be able to get my hands on Bioshock one way or another. Well, my patience paid off. Roughly a year after the game was released to rave reviews on the X-Box 360 and PC, PS3 owners finally got their hands on one of gaming’s recent marvels.

Bioshock is one of the most creative, innovative games that I have ever had the pleasure of playing. The world that is created is original in its design and inhabitants. There is nothing here that has been seen in a video game before.

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New and Retro

Monster Cereals – The Return of Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute

From a time period ranging from the late 90′s to early 2000′s, I called the (available) monster cereals the “Holy Trinity of Cereals”. Count Chocula was basically Coco Puffs with marshmallows and the berries, Frank and Boo, were unique (name me another fake strawberry or blueberry flavored cereal) with a fairly intense, if unnatural, fruity flavor.

At some point, I strayed away from cereal for breakfast (have you had Nutella and peanut butter toast? You won’t eat cereal anymore, either) occasionally going back to the Holy Trinity around Halloween, when they were easy to find. At some point I noted a decrease in quality or maybe a poor memory of what I used to eat. The oat pieces became way too light and airy and the marshmallow to cereal ratio went from a perfect 60/40 (in favor of cereal) to what now feels like a 75/25 ratio. Regardless of what my memory told me was a downgrade from what I knew and loved, continuing to eat a box of each a year was a nice treat and helped to make the Halloween time of year much more Halloweeny.

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Should You Eat Cap’n Crunch Treat Bars?

Hopefully we are all over the bombshell that was dropped on us in June of this year…. Cap’n Crunch isn’t a Captain,  he’s a commander.  Now that we all realize part of our childhood was a lie, we can move on and get back to eating some Commander Crunch, which I admit doesn’t have quite the same ring Cap’n does.

In today’s market of snack food for children (or nostalgic 30-somethings) companies are turning everything into some form for bar.  You can get oatmeal in a square bar, Count Chocula in a rectangular bar or even 1/3rd of your fiber from a bar that doesn’t taste like cardboard.  Given all these bars, it’s no question the Cap’n had to be included.

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Reveiw: Maria Mena – Weapon in Mind

Sometimes you find something in a place where you did not expect it to be.  An atheist at church.  A dog at a cat rescue.  Another thin analogy within a blog.  Maybe the last one is to be expected, but this is what Maria Mena is to me.  I didn’t know I’d be looking to a Norwegian pop star for some of the most honest lyrics and emotion surrounding everything from relationships to growing up as a child in a broken household.  This is a blessing and curse for Maria as some of her lyrics come across heavy handed, at times narcissistic or at their worst, even whiny, but more on that later.

From a musical perspective, Maria is hard to compare to your everyday American pop singer.  There’s nothing overly complex vocally or within the musical backing.  It’s a lot of piano with a random smattering of synths, guitar and drums.  Very rarely upbeat, but not always a complete drag either.  She’s a bit like late-90′s Tori Amos if Tori Amos was completely uninterested in being unique and with a voice that is subtlety beautiful.  You won’t hear Maria go on any ridiculous Mariah Carey runs and that’s fine by me.

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Duke Nukem Forever Review

Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nostalgia isn’t always a good thing. Yeah, it’s nice to look back on your younger days and think, “Wasn’t that great.” In the world of video games, we are able to go back in time very easily with access to all sorts of old school games. Sometimes it’s fun to remember the roots of gaming history, but the vast majority of time, the memories of your favorite games are a lot better than the games actually are. Duke Nukem has become a victim of people’s memory. Everyone remembers Duke as the bad ass, cigar smoking misogynist. Duke didn’t change. Gamers did.

When a game has a 12 year delay, it’s impossible to meet expectations that have been built out of nostalgia. I like to compare people’s thoughts on Duke Nukem 3D to a fish story. Every time that fish story is told, the fish gets bigger and crazier. Every time someone recounted their days with Duke’s last game it seems to make the game sound better and better. Also, when you have a 12 year delay on a game, that means people are 12 years older. That means that some of the poop jokes, T&A and one-liners you loved when you were a teenager become less funny. That means that mindlessly shooting aliens might get a little boring when the FPS genre has grown to much greater heights. What a 12 year delay doesn’t mean is that the game has adapted to everything people now expect or hope for “their” game to be.
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Assassin’s Creed III Review

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Games released on a yearly cycle tend to be bad for innovation, but good for the developer/publisher’s pocketbooks. Every year a new Call of Duty is released and every year it breaks last year’s record for pre-sales and first weekend sales, regardless of how much or how little has changed. Regardless of whether the changes within are for the good or for the bad. Assassin’s Creed is another series following that yearly release cycle and has since Assassin’s Creed II, when the series made a huge jump from a great idea to a great game.

Little was added to the world of Ezio and Desmond Miles after the second installment with the action taking place in the same world with multiplayer added and a few new games within the game to dive into. Fast forward to 2012 and people who may have skipped the last 2 games because they didn’t appear different enough from ACII (I am one of those people) may have finally gotten what they want.

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