Character Flaw: Prototype’s Alex Mercer

I was unable to resist the lure of GameStop’s big sale two weeks ago, and picked up a number of games that I hadn’t been interested in buying at full price. One of these was Prototype, which never really looked to be worth $60 or even $30, but became a bit more sexy at $20. I played the game for a while during the voting period for MMPVG2, and a gap week review may be forthcoming at some point, but there’s an aspect of the game I’d like to take a moment to discuss right now.

Alex Mercer, the protagonist of Prototype, sucks. So, a problem for the game.

Before I get too deep into this, let’s be clear that I don’t want to bag on Prototype as a whole. It’s a fun game, a fine budget title. As a playable character Alex controls well, and while I reckon I’m only about halfway through it, the story is engaging if a bit familiar. It’s just too bad that every time Alex says or does anything in his role as the main character of the story, I check the extensive movelist for a command to make him smack himself in the face.

Continue reading Character Flaw: Prototype’s Alex Mercer

Analyst: Lack of Twilight Video Game Means Girls Still Don’t Go to GameStop

The Baker and I spent the weekend in Seattle, holding hands with Lenin, eating delicious donuts, and not buying any of the chittering horde of Forks, WA-themed Twilight merchandise currently swarming across the touristy parts of Seattle. Oh hell no, they have no shame about that shit; Twilight is the biggest thing to hit Washington state tourism since Bigfoot. You can buy Twilight shirts (pick a team! Go Edward! Go, um, Cody or whatever his name is!), mugs, chocolate, tampons, training bras, the whole nine dismal yards. Just about the only thing you won’t find available for purchase in Seattle’s finer schlock-pits is a crap-ass Twilight video game, thank Christ.

In an odd coincidence (see what I did there?) MCV reports that analyst Nick Gibson is wondering why nobody has licensed out a crap-ass Twilight video game yet:

With the franchise yet to penetrate the games market, Games Investor Consulting analyst Nick Gibson has told MCV that publishers are missing out one of the most lucrative properties available.

“Given how hot a property it is, Twilight could easily present a seven-figure exploitation opportunity, especially if publishers look at taking it beyond retail gaming and considers network gaming,” he told us.


“It may well be that the rights holders aren’t aware of the potential benefits as they haven’t explored the games market before,” he said.

“It’s not unheard of – although it is increasingly unusual in this day and age.”

The analyst predicts that a Twilight game would have to be targeted carefully in order to be successful, rather than rolled out to the typical gaming audience. But he claims there is still a huge potential market out there.

“Given the demographic Twilight appeals to, there probably isn’t a huge crossover between them and Xbox 360 or PS3 fans,” said Gibson.

“The brand’s appeal could actually extend significantly beyond the expected teen girl market and into the 20- to 30-year-old female market, which has a very substantial crossover into gaming.

So at least he has the good sense to know that a Twilight console title would be laughed off of the shelves and into the bargain bin within mere minutes. And indeed, social network gaming a la Farmville certainly lacks the pubescent, testosterone-fumed treehouse atmosphere of your average video game retail shop. I’d go so far as to say that if one wanted to leverage the Twilight brand into the video game medium, soaking Twilight fans for their lipgloss money on Facebook would probably be the route least likely to fail.Come to think of it, I’m surprised there aren’t more licensed games on Facebook. There are thinly-veiled knockoffs of other franchises and generic taps into the pop culture zeitgeist, but I can’t really name any big licensed properties that have a Facebook gaming tie-in or what-have-you. It seems to me that it would be easy enough to bash out a Flash-based grind-fest a la every Zynga game ever with minimal effort; perhaps that wave is still just gathering force.

The future’s looking so bright you gotta wear shades, eh?

[h/t Edge Online]

What’s my name?

A new weekly feature on handles.  Name yourself carefully lest Sonic and I mock your handle mercilessly!

To start, observations on the nature of handles. A handle is about self definition, naming yourself for an entire segment of reality. Pretty heady stuff! People go for the unique, the funny, the intimidating. Here at we appreciate the multifaceted handle. The handle that can be read and interpreted in multitudinous ways.

Continue reading What’s my name?

Back on the horse

After technical difficulties kept me away for several months I started playing Dawn of War II again this weekend.

The online multiplayer (not Last Stand, haven’t gone there yet) seems to be populated solely with noobs and douchebags. There were a couple of exceptions but the strongest trend I experienced this weekend was what I’m calling the “First Shot Concession.” This consisted of my side losing the first clash of forces, which usually comes in the first 30 seconds to a minute of the game, followed by one of my teammates wanting to concede. I did concede when the match was truly out of our hands but never in the first minute. Nothing has really happened by then.

I get the sense that this sort of player thinks that playing a losing match is a waste of time. At least one of the times I put the smack down on a first minute concession we kept a much superior opposing side on their game for at least ten more minutes, ending with a score of 0-124 . For the uninitiated, that’s pretty damn close considering we were getting our asses handed to us most of the time.

I’ve had a great time playing matches I eventually lost. There is a fantastic feeling to losing a match and coming to the scoring screen and finding out that your moderately experienced team held off a team composed entirely of maxed out, all the way leveled up “pro” players. That you made them work for the victory.

So for all the players out there here’s a point to remember. It’s about playing the game and having fun regardless of the outcome. If you don’t feel that way, go back to Modern Warfare where you belong.


Make Me Play Video Games Field HQ: What Rough Beast

While my progress in Far Cry 2 has been slow and steady, it is certainly real, and I’ve spent some time thinking about the contestants for the experiments still to come.

That got me wondering why exactly it was that I ever stopped playing FFXII in the first place. Nostalgia, misty memories and a certain amount of remaining franchise goodwill had me seriously thinking that I’d missed out by dropping my controller and abandoning Vaan, Ashe, and Penelo, never returning to their story in the four years since. What made me quit this game that was apparently so full of fond memories for other gamers after only a few hours of play?

And then I stumbled across a post on Gamasutra from last October that brought it all rushing back to me:

An Eternal Recursion of Idiocy

Final Fantasy XII, a game with a fair share of both wildly successful and completely backwards game design, isn’t the first to do this to its players, but it is certainly one of the worst. Specifically, it is the weapon called the Zodiac Spear (specifically, the secret of obtaining it) that is an example of game design that is so mind-numbingly cynical that even reading about it causes me to feel mentally cross-eyed.

Secrets exist to be discovered. Some don’t, but they aren’t intentional, and they range from the merely embarrassing KotOR II to GTA’s multi-million dollar cup of hot coffee. But it isn’t often that a secret is paradoxically meant to be revealed but also impossible to find on a player’s own.

The Zodiac spear was not intended to be discovered through natural play or even unnatural play.

Continue reading Make Me Play Video Games Field HQ: What Rough Beast

Sonic Apprehension: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Comes To Film

The award-winning Swedish film based on the critically-lauded thriller novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is coming out in the US next month! Fucking A!

An American remake is already planned! Fucking why?

There are rumors about a Hollywood version of the first novel.[7][8] Yellow Bird executive producer Søren Stærmose confirmed in an interview with the Swedish newspaper Expressen that negotiations for such a version are taking place. These would not be simply US remakes of the Swedish films, but rather new Hollywood films based on the books. In the interview, Stærmose stated that the US films might be produced similar to the Yellow Bird co-produced Wallander TV Show starring Kenneth Branagh, shooting in Sweden using English-speaking actors. He also said that it is up to the director, and the story could just as well take place in another country, such as Canada.[9] According to The Guardian, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt are all interested in playing the central role of Mikael Blomkvist;

Oh fuck.

and producer Søren Stærmose of Yellow Bird, who holds the screen rights to the books, has been approached by directors including Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, and Martin Scorsese. [10] [11]

Oh fuck.

Continue reading Sonic Apprehension: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Comes To Film

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 Sonic Hate: Game Previews Are Just Advertisements

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]

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”