Monthly Archives: January 2010

Sonic Hate: Game Previews Are Just Advertisements

Dark Void is out and – surprise surprise – receiving middling reviews from the online gaming press.

Gamespy: …”jetpack fans will have to settle for half-baked.”

Destructoid: “The best parts of the game are mediocre and the worst parts are abysmal.”

IGN UK: …”Every bit as disappointing as expected.”

Totally and utterly non-shocking, unless you happened to read the preview coverage of the game from these same online sources:

Gamespy: “Dark Void takes game mechanics that are very similar to what other shooters have done in years past but keeps things fresh with its unique focus on aerial combat and vertical level design.”

Destructoid: “Unless Dark Void completely jumps the shark with some sort of retarded plot twist or ridiculously out of place gameplay mode later in the game, I think that they have pretty solid win on their hands.”

IGN UK: “From what we’ve seen so far, these disparate game elements combine seamlessly, making for an incredibly fresh, genuinely exciting take on the shooter genre.”

I am sick to death of this. Every game gets hyped to the hills in preview coverage. Every MMO might have what it takes to knock WoW from its throne. Every third-person actioner is a gasp-a-minute thrill ride that will leave you breathless. Glaring problems are described as hiccups needing to be ironed out before the game ships. This bullshit pre-game carnival barking is universal in the gaming press, as predictible as it is omnipresent. Any gamer could probably write a passable game preview without even trying the game out; we’ve all read a few dozen stupid hyped up game previews before. We know all the lingo. Fresh. Promising. Puts a new spin on. Cover system.

I understand why it happens. Game sites don’t want to piss off the people who send them review copies and allow them into preview events. They want to be able to cover upcoming games that will nab them page views from interested readers. Maybe it would even be nice to get a pull quote in the game’s print advertising. If they want all these perks, they have to make nice about the game, at least until the first day’s sales are in the till.

But it needs to end. Continue reading

Chat Box

Sonic Rob: Apple just announced their new tablet
Sonic Rob: the website calls it “magical”
FyreHaar: good lord
FyreHaar: kill that marketing dude
Sonic Rob: yeah
Sonic Rob: I just keep thinking of the chicken fucker in South Park
Sonic Rob: “Oh, that’s a very magical tablet!”

Rant: CNN Plays The Game Blame Game

“After Tragedy, Dr. Plays Video Game Blame Card”

Here’s my question for this doctor. Were you treating this kid?

Oh, you weren’t?!?!? Then shut the hell up. His family is in unknown depths of grief, his friends, his school and his community are desperately trying to keep it together in the face of a tragedy they can’t understand. You are not helping anyone. You are an opportunistic famewhore. There is a special circle of hell reserved  for those who profit from the grief of others and you have a prime spot with your name on it.

Also, as you weren’t his doctor, how do you know he played video games at all?? Maybe his family doesn’t even own a console or they actually supervised his playing and limited his time. Maybe he had depression, it’s a disease, have you heard of it? Have you ever done a study on the social effects of video games and that it’s entirely possible they actually help lonely, isolated kids by enabling them to socialize with people of a like mind outside of their immediate geographic milieu and help them be appreciated for their personality and skill set rather than be ostracized for not having the right jeans or BMI?


My sincere condolences to the child’s family and community.


[ht to Destructoid]

Make Me Play Videogames Field Journal: This is Killing Me

This experiment has been underway for all of 5 days, and I am already deep in the pit of game variety withdrawal. I desperately want to play something, anything, that is not Far Cry 2. Mass Effect 2. Super Mario Brothers. Daikatana. Beer pong.

It doesn’t help when the Baker plops down on the couch next to me, two steaming plates of homemade dinner in hand, and says “Hey, we should play Wii Sports tonight.”

And yet, I’m starting to not want to play other games. I am developing an appreciation for Far Cry 2 as I marinate helplessly within it. I think I may not have paid so much attention to a game in quite some time, and the sensation is fun. Or maybe I’m just succumbing to some video game version of Stockholm Syndrome.

I’ve actually completed all of the side quests for the moment, which is good; somewhere in Optional Mission Valley is where I usually lose focus and wind up straying to another game. My style is already changing, and I’m seeing results: steady progress rather than an early burst followed by drifting torpor.

Oh God, I want to play Samurai Warriors soooooooo bad.


Quick Review: Jonathan Coulton Live 1/23/10

Got to see JoCo live at the Great American Music Hall on Saturday January 23, 2010.  I couldn’t procure a ticket for Mr. Sonic Rob so I went with some nerdy friends.

As we loitered in the vestibule trying to decide if we should go upstairs or stay downstairs to find a good table (it’s all table seating), a staff member approached and asked “How many in your party?” He then led us to a table normally reserved for people who buy dinner tickets, which are twice as expensive. This table was in the second row back from the stage. Let’s hear it for aimless milling leading to desirable consequences!! Continue reading

Sonic Fyre Episode 4

Someday we really need to find a way to turn one of these podcasts around in less than a month. This podcast was originally recorded in the second week of December 2009. It was then burned to a series of wax records, placed in a steamer trunk and covered in concrete, thrown from the Golden Gate Bridge, buried in Pacific sediment, fossilized, left to sit for a geographic age, excavated by paleontologists, exhibited in the National Museum, and then stolen and placed on the Internet for your amusement. Enjoy.

>> 00:30 Benediction and movies talk. Fantastic Mr Fox. Sherlock Holmes pre-watching jitters. Everyone hates Avatar without ever seeing it.
>> 08:17 Books. Fyre talks about the Cannonball Read. Rob saw Twilight, which was based on a book.
>> 13:14 Recapping events at Ümloud.
>> 20:14 Games of the month. We talk TF2 and the Dante’s Inferno demo. Fyre tries to be Hater of the Week. Analog gaming is briefly mentioned.
>> 43:25 Rob talks about Madden NFL 2010 for ten Goddamned minutes straight. Rob earns the Hater and Lover of the Week titles simultaneously.
>> Music for this episode is “Fakeout” by Derek K. Miller

SonicFyre-Episode-4 MP3 57:52 70.4 MB

Chat Box

Sonic Rob:
Sonic Rob: this guy is an asshole
Sonic Rob: the monk he talks to says something that actually seems profound to me
Sonic Rob: and the writer takes it in an entirely different and shallower direction
Fyrehaar: wow, what a douchey interpretation
Fyrehaar: he’s a monk, dude; he’s talking about enlightenment
Fyrehaar: spirtual understanding
Fyrehaar: inner peace
Fyrehaar: faith
Fyrehaar: what an asshole
Sonic Rob: I guess the author is like “Well, that’s what a monk levels up in. I level up in ignorance!”
Sonic Rob: do you level in an absolute sense, using the same scale and criteria as everyone? Or is it an internal growth?
Sonic Rob: I think gaining a level is when you reach a real milestone in personal development
Sonic Rob: not when you complete some arbitrary amount of collected units
Fyrehaar: Gaining a level is when you notice that you are a better person
Fyrehaar: when you say “hey, last year I would have blown my top over that, but this year I can take it with equanimity”
Fyrehaar: it’s easier with fitness
Fyrehaar: but levelling doesn’t take daily variations into account
Fyrehaar: and your level can go down in some things but not in others
Sonic Rob: gained skill “cope with asshole”

Prediction for 2010: I Will Spend Money on Games

Yeah yeah, it’s that time of year. The time when games bloggers have to talk about what’s coming up this year, as if we know. Rather than insult your intelligence with a list of “predictions” that really consists of a] poorly-camouflaged retreads of last year’s news (i.e. “Nintendo will release more white plastic accessories”) or b] the grindings of my own personal axes (“Bobby Kotick will rape your mom”), let’s just skip the whole deal and talk about hype. Specifically, the games where hype has gotten my attention and has me honestly interested in a title. Or at least given me something to say about it.

I was kind of embarrassed about this list when I first drew it up and had a look at the big picture: a dozen sequels? That’s what’s on my mind? Honestly, man, where are the exciting fresh ideas? Where are the daring experiments? Where are the new IPs?

Well, I don’t know. Where are they? These are the games I’ve heard about, so these are the ones I’m excited for. It may be that there are some really great indie titles coming out in the next few months, or that there are some really intense franchise-starters getting ready to make their mark, but I haven’t heard of them yet. If you don’t like my list, suggest something really innovative in the comments. You’d be doing me a favor! List starts after the jump.
Continue reading