Posts Tagged ‘xbox’

Today kicks off my week of spring-break, only to open the front door and find about 3 inches of snow piling up. Yeah, snow. I know this spring break is a tad early in the year, but I was definitely not expecting this. I live in Atlanta for godsakes! Anyways, I actually love days like today. The inclimate weather leaves me with nothing to do but hole-up and play video games.

A couple days ago, I hit up Xbox Live and downloaded a slew of new game demoes just to see whats out there. Resident Evil 5, Fear 2, some Tom Clancy wannabe flight-sim, and a few others. Fear 2 was kinda cool, nothing new. Everything else was pretty bland.

However, there was one game that stood out: Braid.


I must’ve played the demo 4 or 5 times through, with it never getting old. Today’s snowy weather was the icing on the cake. I plopped down the measly $15 (actually closer to $18 due to stupid Microsoft points, thats another topic though), and haven’t been more satisfied by a game in some time. I’m normally not even a big platformer fan, being the self-proclaimed “worst Mario Brothers player on Earth”, but there’s magic in this one. I’m sure there are plenty of reviews out there that outline what makes this game so much fun, so I’m not gonna go in to it right now. All I have to say is that for any of you who haven’t played Braid, skip the reviews, skip the youtube videos, and just download the demo. It’s free, and it’s much more satisfying than some metascore.


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Master Chiefs Everywhar!!

Master Chiefs Everywhar!!

Really? I mean, really? I have not even played the demo for Halo Wars yet, and I already know what the prime downfall of the game is. I wish someone would tell me what marketing genius decided to adapt the Halo franchise to the RTS genre on a platform that primarly controls with two thumbsticks.


I consider myself a PC gamer first and a console gamer second, so I’ve never given past console RTS’s a chance, given that I could always just go play C&C or Starcraft instead. My opinion is that if you even have to mention the controls in a review, the game has failed. Control issues with a game amounts to the same as when you have that brat kicking the back of your seat in a movie theatre. It removes you from the game, and constantly reminds you that you are not actually a badass space marine, and that you should probably be writing a term paper or doing the dishes instead of wasting your life with an xbox. The immersion factor is what motivates you to procrastinate your daily responsibilities and not feel guilty. When you’re having a good time, it is time well spent. Period.

With this said, why would Microsoft allow a developer to take their flagship franchise, the almighty Halo, and drag it through the mud. Perhaps they feel that the Halo name is so strong, and that the sheer marketing momentum of a new Halo game will overcome the complaints of control issues, and still produce a profitable (albiet not fun) product. Perhaps they are correct. However, if this is their strategy, then it will only produce short-term success.

When it comes to an RTS, the mouse and keyboard always wins. You’re not going to rush anyone when you’re too busy fumbling with shoulder and directional pads. And guess what, when it comes to an FPS, the mouse and keyboard also always wins. No matter how skilled you get with those thumbsticks, when put up against the precision of a mouse, you lose. You lose bad. Like headshots-while-flying-through-the-air-and-shit bad. I’m sure there’s some crazy Korean kid out there with Master-chief sneakers that can prove me wrong, but he’s putting a lot more effort into getting good with a gamepad than I would ever have to put into getting good with a mouse and keyboard to pwn him.

However, this is no secret. Gamers know this, and game developers know this. I predict that this is the main reason you can’t play Left 4 Dead on Xbox Live against PC players. It would no longer be fun. The console gamers would have a severe handicap, at which point, the game no longer competes based on skill. In fact, a few companies have attempted to remedy this issue by manufacturing controller adapters for the xbox. According to the review, it even works!

With this said, I will attempt another prediction. Even if you were to get Halo Wars to work flawlessly with a mouse and keyboard setup, all control issues aside, you would be left with a mediocre RTS. The developer focused so much on getting the controls right, I have no doubt that game quality was sacrificed. When I watch youtube videos of squads of Spartans (Master Chiefs) attacking enemies, I can’t help but think of continuity errors. For the last decade, Bungie has showed us that a single Spartan (you) can single handedly beat everyone’s asses. But in Halo Wars, you need a squad of these fellows, and they probably die a lot.

(EDIT: Shortly after writing this blog, I came across this article: http://rtspcgames.com/gaming/halo-wars-controls-better-than-a-pc-rts/.  I think someone is lying to us…)

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So I find myself in an odd place between being a casual and a “hardcore” gamer.

When I was younger, with fewer obligations, I was able to get fully immersed in video games, spending countless summer vacations in front of a computer screen. However, now my time is much more limited. I still play games, but I am often left with a guilty feeling. I know rather than becoming proficient in the different races of Sins of a Solar Empire, I should be working on a school project, or studying, or doing laundry or whatever countless tasks you can think of to obligate my time. Due to this, it takes a lot for new games to really bring me enjoyment. Not only does the game itself need to be good, but it must have a certain level of addictiveness in order to make me overcome that feeling of guilt. I suppose this makes me a little over-critical of a game the first time I play it, however, this is how it has to be. Due to my time constraints, games with save-points are pretty much out of the question. I need something I can pick up, get into, and then put down just as fast without losing any progress. I know that this quality is what puts me closer to the casual gamer status, and I do, in fact, find myself gravitating towards more casual games like Boom Blox  and various DS titles. However, I do occasionally set some time aside to get into an RPG or RTS, and despite the guilt they bring, in them I find the most satisfaction.

I guess the point of this is a semi-introduction to my current state of approaching games. I assume I am not alone in these feelings as there must be plenty in my generation who grew up immersing themselves in videogames, only to grow up and find that the real world tries to steal them away from you with all of its needs. I guess that’s just how it is, and we’ll all have to just deal with the guilty feeling. For some reason, the idea of writing about the games I’m playing, or anything gaming related seems to make me feel better about wasting several hours in front of the computer or xbox. So this blog is just my feeble attempt to shake that guilty feeling that I am not doing anything productive by playing computer games. Enjoy.

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