Monday, July 30, 2012

Not again, never again...

It looks like my Xbox 360 has suffered considerably. By considerably, I mean it has the three red lights of death. This exact same problem happened to me in 2007, and was sent to Microsoft for the Xbox 360 to be repaired.  I was hoping the problem would never happen again. But here we are, five years later and the red lights of death come back in random fashion.

I was enjoying a play session of Grand Theft Auto IV (I was replaying it recently to get prepared and hyped up for the coming Grand Theft Auto V) and everything was going smoothly. Suddenly, out of no-where, my game crashes. I got off the couch and restarted my Xbox, hoping that a simple restart would fix the console. Unfortunately, things don't always go as one would hope. After restarting the Xbox three times in a row, I saw the very same blinking red lights I saw five years ago. By that time, I really was upset. 

Afterwords, I contacted Microsoft Support and explained my problem to them. Turns out the  warranty for my current Xbox is expired, and I would have to pay a pretty hefty fee for my console to get fixed. As if right now, I'm not sure to pay the fee to get it fixed or to save the money and buy a brand, new Xbox 360 Slim. If things go well, I might pull over to the latter. But because of current financial issues, the two options might have to be delayed for another time. 

This current generation of gaming is probably the worst I've ever experienced. When I had my PlayStation one, it never broke on me. Not once. Same thing with my PlayStation 2. Even now it's in perfectly working condition, with absolutely no hiccups and no crashes. With my 360, I had to get it fixed once. Now I have to get it fixed again - this time with a fee attached. 

I'm not sure if I'm going to do this or not. I might have no choice but to send my current 360 off to Microsoft's workbench. After that's done, and after this experience, I think I'm done with the Xbox line of consoles. In fact, I'm through with console gaming all-together. I'm already through with hand-held gaming, and I'm not interested in the Xbox 720, the PlayStation 4 and the Wii U. My PC can provide a much bigger and clearer resolution than any console out there. It needs a new graphic card, but that's about the only little juice this thing needs. 

Kirby Pink is now signing off...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What if KotOR ended like Mass Effect 3?

Or what if Knights of the Old Republic had a horrible ending that's similar to Mass Effect 3? 


We all know that the ending of Mass Effect 3 was a disappointment. But what if BioWare also made Knights of the Old Republic's ending exactly like Mass Effect 3's? We'll never know... unless this video shows us. This is basically a spoof of the ending of Mass Effect 3. I recreated the ending in KotOR and was curious to see how it would turn out. I'd like to share this with you guys, and see what you think. 

Video Game Endings: Why They Suck

Whenever I play a video game, I always get immersed in the experience. No matter how awful that said game may be or how poorly optimized it may be, I always get sucked into the visual world within that said game. For example, a 2005 action shooter called The Getaway: Black Monday for the PlayStation 2 was very poor in the technical department. It had tons of glitches and game breaking bugs. But I didn't despise it, in fact I love the game. It brings back so many nostalgic memories of when I was a kid and that's probably why I replay it from time to time. 

But if there's one thing that does take me out from an immersive game-play world, it would be its ending. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim took me at least three months to beat the game (including all the guild quest-lines) but when I finally finished, the main story that is, I was disappointed. Before the ending of Skyrim, I was sucked into the fictional universe of Skyrim. So much so, that I never wanted it to end. Unfortunately it ended on such a bad note, that I can't bring myself to replay through the experience again. 

Another example of such a poor video game ending is Dragon Age II. While the original Dragon Age had a fantastic approach to its ending, the sequel delivers on a whim. The amount of plot-holes and the lack of a satisfying closure (even if it was a cliffhanger) really does make the experience of Dragon Age 2 seem meaningless. There's two DLC's to Dragon Age 2 that helps continue that experience but they're rendered useless because of the poor plot-line that they follow. They're not as great as Dragon Age Origins DLC packs.

What my point is, is that most video games (both present and past) have such horrible endings that the experience in playing those games are rendered meaningless. I can pick out ten more examples of horrible game endings and detail them, but I won't do that. Instead, I'll simply list them in a proper numbered list. It's more convenient this way.

10. Splinter Cell: Double Agent
9. Splinter Cell: Conviction
8. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
7. Assassin's Creed (the first one)
6. Call of Duty (all games end on such an abrupt notice)
5. Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic (the first one) 
4. Driv3r 
3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution 
2. Halo Reach
1. Mass Effect 3 

There are more out there, but these are the top ten that I can name off the top of my head. Most of them are subjective to personal preference, but my ideal game ending would be one that takes all of your choices into considering and puts them to work. Every choice you make throughout a game should have a consequence at the end. For example, if you kill character A, his death should be connected in some meaningful way at the ending of a said game. 

This is an RPG route, and is suitable to games that take a non-liner path progression. For games that are liner, good video game writing is all that's required to make their endings more enjoyable. The Metal Gear Solid series are a perfect example of such perfect game endings. Everything that has happened in the plot is taken into consideration at the end. After the climax is finished, every plot-hole is cleared up by most characters in a form of a codex call or a cut-scene. Afterwords, a small epilogue plays out and the screen fades to credit sequence. 

Not every game has to go this approach. Depending on the genre of said game, it can be very tricky and expensive to make a perfect ending. But the problem is that so many games end on cliff-hangers and rely on either DLC packs or sequels to continue where that said game left off. This is a very cheap move on the developers part and is something consumers should be intolerable towards. Before being able to make the perfect video game ending, we have to first re-organize and re-evaluate what the term "DLC" really means. Because so far, in the industry, only Bethesda knows the full definition of DLC and knows where to apply it to in a game. 

Lets follow their example. Hopefully, in about ten years from now, video game endings should be a problem of the past.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Mass Effect

It seems like only yesterday since I've played the first Mass Effect game. With the hype surrounding the last entry in an otherwise fantastic trilogy, I've decided to start off my "review" career (if I'll ever have one) by stating my thoughts and opinions on the specific aspects of the very first Mass Effect game. So, without anything more to say, let's begin. 

Mass Effect is an action adventure RPG that came out in 2007. The storyline focus on Commander Shepard and his crew stopping an alien race called the Geth. The story takes place in a much larger universe created by BioWare. There are a lot of alien races including turians, the asari and volus. There is a lot more to the list, but it's safe to assume that racial variety exists in the Mass Effect universe. 

While the story seems like a typical science fiction adventure, the undertone of the plot is more sophisticated because of the first games foreshadow of the Reapers; an ancient galactic artificial intelligence that wants to destroy the universe. Their reasons and intent are unknown and not much detail surrounds them in the first game. More detail surrounds the antagonist, Saren, and his Geth minion. Your job as Commander is to stop both Saren and the Geth. 

Along the way, you will find interesting companions and NPCs who will join you on the ride. Two of which are with you at the very beginning of the game. More and more characters will eventually come to your side and join your crew on the SSV Normandy, Commander Shepard's ship. The first two companions are Ashley Williams and Kaidan Alenko. These two are the only human companions that will join Commander Shepard. Everyone else is a member of one of the many alien races in the Mass Effect universe. There is Tali Zora Vas Neema, who is a Qurian. Than there is Garrus, who is a turian. Than there's Liara who is an asari doctor. Finally there's Wrex, who is a krogan. Wrex is probably the most popular squadmate in Mass Effect. So popular that he won an award for being the best original character of 2007. 

You got your assignment to stop Saren and the Geth. You have your ship, the SSV Normandy along with your crew. So what's stopping this game from being perfect? Well, there's a lot of issues that hamper Mass Effect. Most of these are technical issues such as poor optimized textures. Others are more severe, with game breaking glitches and bugs. One of which is when your character stops firing his weapon, even though it hasn't overcharged. However, despite these technical problems, BioWare released countless patches to fix everything up. Did they succeed? Well, considering that I have not faced a single game breaking bug since the last patch, I can safely say that yes, they did succeed. 

The more prominent problem with the original Mass Effect is the repetitive nature of its game-play. Shooting bad guys from behind cover is fun and all, but having to do it in environments that are continually reused and recycled is not fun. Especially when you tackle on the game's side-quests. Every planet is reused over and over again. All that remains different are the textures. The in-game codex explains this issue as these planets are uncharted and colonized. Unfortunately it doesn't help fix the issue and does a big blow to Mass Effect. 

Despite these problems, Mass Effect still remains as one of the best games of all time. The presentation, the atmosphere, the characters and the journey are so very memorable that you'll want to replay Mass Effect over you've completed it. There are stuff that you just won't pick up on your first play-through, and you'll want to replay it to experience everything you've missed the first time around. Granted, you'll be frustrated, but this feeling of frustration is more like being frustrated with a portal puzzle than a genuine feeling of frustration. In short, you'll have fun, but you'll be annoyed. 

Ultimately, I give Mass Effect a 9/10. One of the best RPG's I've ever played. Too bad the sequels never lived up to the exception of the original.   

I'll also take this moment to explain my rating system. Normally, most people use a point system to rate their games. I don't, and will use the classic 1 to 10 system. Here's a rundown list of my rating definition. 

0 - Abysmal, don't buy it. 
1 - Horrible, don't buy it. 
2 - Has a few redeeming qualities, but suffers from so many problems. 
3 - Has a few redeeming qualities, but fails to exceed. 
4 - Balanced and okay, but suffers from too many problems. 
5 - Decent but mediocre. 
6 - Fun for a weekend, but fails to exceed. 
7 - A good game, that will keep you occupied for a long time. Suffers from some problems and balance issues but still a solid title. 
8 - A great and fun game. It will keep you busy for along time. 
9 - A near perfect game. Fun and original. Only two problems keep it back from reaching perfection. 
10 - Perfect. No flaws, no mistakes, nothing. Everything is flawless and fun. 

Only one game has reached my level of perfection and that is Dark Cloud.

Friday, July 20, 2012

New Plan

I've come up with a plan that should work. As I said before, I was thinking of two ideas to pursue: a review/video game based show, or a weekly Let's Play of me commenting on aspects of said video game. Right now, I'll be putting the Let's Play off-hold because there's a lot going on right now and I really can't focus my attention on it. Maybe because it's my voice or my narrative coherence. I'll be practicing a bit, but don't expect anything for a while.

My other idea, however, will go as plan but will not be a show. Instead, I'll be writing up weekly reviews on this blog and will provide as much specific insight as I possibly can. Each review will be done on either a weekly basis or a bi-weekly basis. It largely depends on when I finish that said game. If everything goes well, than the review will become a show. For now though, I just want it to remain small. 

Kirby Pink signing off... 

(P.S: My first review will be Mass Effect 1 and will be up shortly).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yes, I was gone. No, I don't want to apologize.

Alright, first I'd like to say that while I was gone for a long duration of time, I did come up with some ideas for a couple of new projects that I want to work on. The first project is a review/video game show using in-game machinima as a set piece (not sure which game will be used though). I'll show you an example of a review/video game show. 

The above is basically a review done by Angryjoe, on his own game review show called "The Angryjoe Show". It was his videos that helped me come up with my own idea of a review show specializing in reviewing video games. What remains to be seen, however, is if I'm actually going to do it or not. There's a lot of obstacles in the way and if I can overcome those obstacles, than chances are I'll probably go for it. 

Another idea of mine is more weekly and frequent. It's in the same league as my review show idea, however it's different. Essentially, this second idea of mine involves me playing video games, while narrating my thoughts on specific scenes. A "Let's Play" basically. I'm more inclined to this idea than my review show one because it's more easier and has less obstacles in the way. Plus, you can be creative with the content you're making and add some humor, or a joke or something. Hell, I'm probably going to add tones of twists to my "Let's Play" videos if I ever get around to making them. 

So that's it then. Be sure to say tune for further information and conformation if any of this is going to happen or not. Kirbypink is signing off.