Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Working Up The Nerve to Play Demon's Souls

By Kirk Hamilton

Sometimes I do this thing with extreme horror movies where I get obsessed with reading reviews and features online, even though I know I'll most likely never see the film. It happened with Funny Games, for example - here was a movie that, from all accounts, was so misanthropic and sadistic that I couldn't possibly imagine sitting through it, and yet... I found myself tracking down every last review, critical takedown, and traumatized recounting.  I did the same thing with The Descent, but actually wound up seeing that one, and it's now one of my favorite movies.

I'm also taking this approach with the recently-released PS3 exclusive Demon's Souls. Considering how much content is left in Dragon Age: Origins, I'm not really feeling the need to buy another RPG at the moment, but all the same, the critical response to Demon's Souls has me so intrigued/interested/freaked out that I know at some point I'll play it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ray, Egon, Peter and Winston? You Guys Disappointed Me Most Of All

By Kirk Hamilton

It's easy to sit around and talk about favorite games of the year.  There were a lot of great games that came out, and some truly astounding moments of gameplay.  But this year, more than any before it, featured a couple of really notable disappointments, games that I purchased feeling all but certain that I would enjoy them, only to realize that I'd made a grave mistake.  One in particular stood out as the biggest heartbreaker of the bunch.

Yep, my biggest letdown of 2009 was Ghostbusters: The Video Game. (Which, can we take a moment to reflect on the lameitude of that title?  Were they going for retro or something, with the "video?" Jeez.)

Like many folks my age, as a kid I was obsessed with all things Busting-related. And I know, you're thinking, "Me too!"  But I ask you - did you ever make a proton pack out of boxes, wooden dowels, and duct tape?  Were you on a first-name basis with the librarian because you so frequently came by the library to do some busting?  Oh, you were?  Um... well then... yeah, maybe you do get where I'm coming from.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

“A fractured and demoralized project that lacked direction, milestones, or cohesion."

By Kirk Hamilton

...or, at least that's how Taramell Isaac described Duke Nukem Forever when he joined 3DRealms in 2006, nearly a decade after they started development on the game. Three years later, after spending over twelve years trapped in the most frustrating, doomed, and widely-ridiculed development cycle in the history of gaming, 3DRealms finally shut the project down and closed their doors for good.

You can read all about it in Clive Thompson's excellent, tragic Wired Magazine Piece that just went up.  Since it covers the long, long, loooooong death rattle of The Game That Wouldn't Launch, it's a painful read, but fascinating, and features a couple of rad illustrations by Olly Moss, including the one above.

I can think of no other medium in which such a lavish, drawn-out failure can occur. By the article's accounting, George Broussard, the co-head of 3DRealms, undid himself at every with non-stop second-guessing and mid-stream horse-changing. And so the years ticked by, and expectations grew and then diminished, and oh my god it sounds excruciating.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Five Great iPhone Games from 2009

By Kirk Hamilton

2009 was a pretty huge year for the iPhone, no question about it. Between the billion and one games that came out, the billion and one that were already out, and the launch of the 3GS, it would appear that mobile gaming has a new king.

A bunch of cool games came out this year, and five actually caught my attention enough for me to play them for an extended period of time (I even finished a few!). Here goes, my top 5 iPhone games from 2009:

5) The Secret of Monkey Island
I don't know what it was that possessed Lucasarts to begin re-releasing the games they put out during their classic adventure game heyday, but whatever it was, I am thankful for it! TSOMI is one of my favorite games of all time, and while the iPhone port lacked the polish and graphics of the updated version that came out for consoles and PC, it made up for it by fitting in my pocket. I'm not sure I made a lot of friends by cracking up as much as I did on the bus, but re-living Guybrush's adventures was worth it. It was, however, good that I mostly remembered the gist of the puzzles, because some of them are obtuuuuuse.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Beware the Half.com NARU Scam

By Kirk Hamilton

I can't believe I fell for it. In retrospect, it seems ridiculous - I guess I'd just grown so used to the awesomeness of purchasing used games on Half.com that I let my guard down. Sigh.

Here's what happened - I was (excitedly) ordering Uncharted 2 off of Half.com. I found a bunch of copies for sale, and one that was a good price and shipped from California, which meant I'd get it faster.

Without a second thought, I hit "purchase," confirmed the info, and watched as a half hour or so later I got confirmation. When the next day passed without any shipping notification, I got a little nervous. Then I looked at my seller, and realized that he/she had zero feedback, and was selling no other items. I sent a polite email inquiry.  I didn't hear back.

Whoops.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cage The Elephant Has Gaming's First Hit Single

By Kirk Hamilton

I really dig Borderlands. The game itself is, as you probably know, this weird mash-up of First Person Shooter and Diabloriffic loot hunt, and gameplay-wise, it's sort of a mix between Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, and World of Warcraft.

One notable thing about the game was how it came from nowhere, a new IP in a sea of great sequels, and still managed to stand out enough to become a critical and commercial success. I think that two things contributed hugely to this positive reception - the new art style, and, somewhat surprisingly, the theme song.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 Tries to Talk Me Out Of It

By Kirk Hamilton

It's evening in my room
Over in the corner, by a stack of envelopes
sits a copy of modern warfare 2,
spun for five hours and then ejected
perhaps never to be loaded again.


It's not inherently difficult to sell a game on Half.com, but something about doing it so quickly, when so much of a game remains unexplored feels... hasty. And so the little green box calls out to me, listing reasons why I should keep it around.

But our multiplayer is so deep and expansive!

Yeah, but I suuuuck at it. Also, I can't stand this feeling that permeates so much of the competitive multiplayer on Xbox live, a feeling of... Constant Defeat via Anonymous Proficiency.

M4W - Do you like chili?

By Dan

Just kidding; not a personals ad.

I thought to myself, "Why should Kirk have all the fun?" And so here I am. Here, and ready to write about games. On this, the first full day of this blog's existence, my fiancée has already discovered this plan of ours and passed her judgment ("Oh my god, you guys are complete nerds"). No matter! Games need to be written about, and we shall write about games.

Friday, December 11, 2009

This Is Only A Test

By Kirk

You know what I really like? The weird pressure that accompanies writing a blog's first post. I mean, this is really just a test to get the layout on this thing going, but still, it feels somehow... important.

Well, new blog, here's to you. This should be fun.