Up until last year, I didn’t write much about video games. Hell, after writing articles about a few indie games, I called it quits to focus on being lazy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t play games. Whenever I’m able, there will be a controller in my hand and many a mother being called a whore. Despite being very enthralled with the hobby, I just never wrote that much about it.

Just for shits and giggles, I thought I’d take a stab at it. This article (along with a few other choice submissions) led to a brief affair with the website nerdbacon.com. Apparently I’m welcome back if I wanted to write more reviews, but I’d have to actually write something instead of doing what I was doing, which was nothing. I doubt I’d go back. Doing nothing is awesome.

Maybe I’ll write more about video games in the future. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll eventually lose weight and make the lives of countless unfortunates bearable with genie living in the crevaces of my chiseled abs. Maybe I’ll finally write an article without spell check holding my hand. ONE of these things is DEFINITELY going to happen.

Until then, here’s my first published (second written) article about video games:

 

I don’t review games. Don’t get me wrong, I love videogames. When I get home after work, the first thing I do is fall on the couch and fire up one of the games I haven’t gotten to yet (that’s assuming that I didn’t plan something with the little lady, or get roped into something else). If I’m not reading a book on the train, I’m playing my 3DS to compensate for the time I don’t get to play with one of my home consoles. Each month I get my Game Informer, I follow the big gaming events like E3 and TGS as closely as I can, and I’m attending PAX East this year (3 day pass bitches!). Even though I’m a big fan, I don’t review games.

We have a…’special’ relationship…

The big question is probably “Why?” Even though I have a lot to say about many different topics, and I certainly have my opinions on videogames, I just don’t have much to write about. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a modern game, or something retro, when I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard…fuck pens) nothing really great jumps out. I usually go off on tangents and analyze technical features the way I’d analyze character motivation. This shit just doesn’t work when you’re playing as a gun wielding super soldier. That’s why I turn to others who can sum up what I want to say better than I ever could.  There are plenty of writers to choose from, so it’s not like anyone’s lacking anyone’s opinion. Instead of focusing a lot of time and attention towards something that I’m probably not going to be happy with, I just step aside.

There was a time, many, many moons ago, when I considered doing this very thing as a career. Don’t take this too seriously though; we’re talking about the confusing early teens here. This was also the time when I thought that working at a videogame store was the greatest job anyone could ask for (during my college years I finally understood why all those clerks chuckled at me). This was the point in my life when I believed that if I got really good at something, people will like it (lack of experience), I believed that I could do anything (undeveloped frontal lobe), and that I knew that if something excited me, it would excite others (unbalanced dopamine levels). No one (sane) strives to live out their teenage dreams. That’s like being a teenager and trying to live life like a toddler.

Though, some people…

It’s been a while since I attempted to review a game. I wrote a few pieces that I don’t remember being too bad. Maybe this once I’ll indulge in something that my past self would badger me over if he were next to me today (I can hear him now…his cracking voice telling me that writing about science and analyzing societies daily encounters is ‘stupid’). Let’s experiment, shall we?

Here’s five videogame reviews from the time I stopped writing my own until now.

 

5. Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)

I always thought that the Wild West was a great setting. After the Western became less popular, the only people who seemed to take a shot at bringing it back were older filmmakers who wanted to refine their earlier work, and bigger production companies who needed more variety in their February schedule. It didn’t help that people’s want for realism transformed the once low budget ‘sure fire’, into a more expensive ‘period piece’.

The videogame world took a few stabs at bringing back the genre, but no one gave a shit. Even when Rockstar took their first shot with Red Dead Revolver, still wind milling their giant cocks from their success with Grand Theft Auto 3 and Max Payne 1 & 2, no one cared. Reviving a dying genre isn’t easy, and being plagued with bugs and mediocrity sure doesn’t help.

Then, a couple of funny things happened.

For one, Rockstar must have really like the idea they had and set out to fix what was wrong with it. They stopped dicking around with paying homages, and worked out a great story filled with great characters. They made the controls tighter than a joke regarding child pornography. It does no good for anyone if you need to swap out a weapon and the hero takes a second to think before pulling out a banana (or a gun you didn’t want…whatever). To top things off, the world became a big open place loaded with tons of things to do. All this effort was put it to do one thing: make you feel like a fuckin’ Cowboy.

And it worked.

It also helps that a few good Westerns made it to the big screen, and people liked them (though since they’re fighting aliens now, I predict that this trend is over)! They could finally see all the awesome things the genre had to offer. When Red Dead Redemption launched, it broke records. Extensive advertising was required to get the name on the public’s tongue, since Rockstar really didn’t want to lose such a huge amount of money on someone’s pet project, but the fact that it was a good game kept it on the sales chart long after they made their money back.

And that kiddies, is how Rockstar kept thousands of people away from the sun during the summer of 2010.

 

4. Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader (GC)

“Yeah! Look at this wide open level I can fly around and explore! Stay near the convoy? Fuck you! I’m exploring! Mission failed? That is one shitty convoy…”

I had a lot of conversations like this with myself. For every aspect I found fun, there was something else that made me feel like I was a kid being dragged away from my friends for dinner. Flying games don’t normally do much for me, but I make exceptions on occasion. While I had a lot of fun zooming around going “pew, pew!”, I was constantly reminded of why this genre annoys me.

Every game needs variation. Depending on the genre, there’s certain objectives that make sense to add, and some that don’t. Making a star ship sneak around to make stealth kills makes about as much sense as shooting a soldier into the air with an arm full of bombs and telling him to knock birds out of the sky. When I’m told to blow shit up, I blow shit up good. The moment I have to escort something, or fly around objects to make an escape, I’m going to end up exploding over and over until I get frustrated and ask my brother to beat the level (I do this as a grown ass man). For what it is, there’s a lot of variety, especially when you unlock shit, but most of it reminds me that the time I’m spending grinding through some thing I don’t like could be spent helping the needy…or eating pizza. Probably pizza.

The encounters are epic, and Rogue Squadron 2 does a fantastic job of making you feel like the odds are against you, while kicking ass at the same time. Deaths due to design flaws are practically non-existent. Intuitive controls give even the most novice of pilots a chance to dodge blaster fire, or escape the pesky Tie Fighter tailing you. The only way you’ll find yourself spending more time in pieces then in the sky is if you’re piloting the weak ass A-Wing, or your’re me (when I pilot an A-Wing, the game just shakes it’s head and blows it up for me).

Even though there’s no lightsabers or force lightning, Rogue Squadron 2 feels like you’re a major part of the Star Wars universe. There’s more to the Rebel’s struggle then Luke’s little family squabble, and since a pretty big part of Star Wars is that shit goes down in space, that’s where the action really is. Rogue Squadron 2 had enough going for it to keep me playing, so I can only conclude that it’s one of the greatest flying shooters every made (if you correct me, I’ll only call you a pussy, so don’t bother…pussy).

 

3. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2)

The first Metal Gear Solid did an amazing thing to me…it made me understand a cliché. More specifically, it made me feel a cliché. When PR ramps up for any given product, you’ll start to hear shit like, “It’s revolutionary!” or “It’ll clean the stains left by your disabled, elderly dog!” Rarely are the promises every realized. Once the credits of Metal Gear Solid rolled, my thought was “This changed everything I except in a videogame.”

The nanosecond the sequel was released, I played it for every waking hour for two days straight. Once those credits rolled…I felt like I was kicked in the nuts. They took one of my favorite things ever made and fucked it up so badly, that when I hunted down another copy of the original, the only place I could find one was the rape center where it come off the street shaking and crying.

Forget the game play. That was everything I wanted from a MGS title. Sneaking around the improved AI meant rethinking old tactics. Allowing me to actually aim at guards, instead of watching a laser go off screen and praying to seven different gods that I hit something, was a welcome addition. Everything that made playing MGS was back, if not improved. But MGS wasn’t just a game…it was an experience.

The ‘experience’ of Metal Gear Solid 2 is akin to riding in a luxury limo, eating complimentary lobster and drinking the finest champagne, then being dropped off in the worst part of Detroit. Everything outside of the game play took what you wanted to see and did the complete opposite. Love playing as Solid Snake? Well here’s Raiden! Enjoy the radio banter that fleshes out each character? How about some useless chatter mixed in with a whining ex? Did the story engross and intrigue you? Well, it meant NOTHING! It was all a set up to this convoluted abortion center of ideas!

I don’t think the Japanese know how to make a sequel. This shit happens all the time. The sequels that work often share the name of the series and little else. Those that keep going either bounce around time, never truly continuing the story, or run the story into the ground by adding new elements, they having to somehow explain them from game to game. Each time we buy a new entry, we hope that they’ll finally tie up everything from the last game. They never do…

…and that’s why I ended up buying 3 & 4 when they came out too.

 

2. Bio-Hazard Battle (Genesis)

Okay…how do I describe this one? You play as giant, alien, robot sperm in a post apocalyptic world where dick monsters and other minions try to kill you before you…something, something…

It ends with a screen telling you that the last few levels could only be unlocked by beating the game on a harder difficulty level. Make the dicks harder before…

Nope. This one is over.

 

1. Castlevania (NES)

This game is the shit! You’ve got monsters! You’ve got a creepy old castle! Fuckin’ Dracula is the one trying to fuck up your day! There’s no bullshit love interest, or kidnapped princess…there’s no pussy villagers that need to be saved, or any need to collect anal beads of power to win (it’s coming to the Zelda series, just wait and watch)…you walk into a castle, find that blood sucking bitch, and say “Hey! You stop that right now! Don’t make me whip you in the face! Aw shit, you’ve done it. I’m gonna put a red wig on you and call you Sally, because you’re about to be adopted by my fist!”

That’s why you rush through the front door! More like saunter, you’re really fucking slow, but that’s probably just because your balls are so big! Your handy whip…well, noodle…smacks the shit out of some zombies! Then it becomes useless. Okay, upgrade that shit! yeah! I died. It’s okay, I still have that…I don’t. I’ll just upgrade it again. Only one upgrade before the boss…well, shit.

These bosses are awesome though! Watch me beat…wow. That one hit took almost half my life. Now I’m dead. Let’s try this again…nope. The shorter whip is useless against anything but the zombies. I’ll let myself die and start over at the continue. The only enemies are ravens. C’mon, kill me…c’mon! The ravens didn’t kill me, but since I fly backwards for some reason every time I’m hit, I fall into one of the various pitfalls. This happens so often, I wonder if these holes are giant magnets that attract blinking assholes. Then again, they’d be easier to avoid if you didn’t fall like a fucking brick after a jump.

Go through the level again, and back to the boss. What tactic should I use? Great. Dead again. That didn’t work. Go through the long grinding again, and…nope. Dead again. Let me try a new tactic. I’m going to rush in and spam certain special weapons and mash buttons and hope they die before I do. That worked. Next level.

Repeat until you gouge your dick out with the broken pieces of a tea set, or you find the game amazing enough to never finish.

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