Randy Pitchford, It’s Time to Take Accountability

Every form of entertainment and art – including music, film, television and yes, video games too – work in roughly the same way. It starts with an idea from one person and snowballs from there. Sometimes that one person is the only one involved. Sometimes by the end well over a thousand people will have been involved directly. At the end is a product that is released to the public to purchase. However, at any one time there are hundreds of similar products fighting for the customer’s limited finances. So how does a customer figure out if something is worth buying or not? They turn to critics who will review said products and give an overall opinion of the product. These critics hold a lot of power but are rarely respected.

Nobody wants to read a bad review of something they have slaved over for years but constructive criticism is a necessary evil in any industry. Without it you will never learn to improve, doomed to make the same mistake over and over. The recent comments of Gearbox CEO, Randy Pitchford have highlighted exactly this. The game in question – Aliens: Colonial Marines – was ravaged by critics and players alike for being dull, way too short and for being nothing like the preview images and videos. It was buggy as all hell and the “intelligent AI” of the Aliens was so bad you had just as much chance to see one do a little dance for you than it attacking you.

As mentioned all the promotional footage for the game made it look nothing like the final result – I’ll let Jim Sterling tell you all about that – but Pitchford has continuously refused to admit any wrongdoing in what happened with the game. He even has the nerve to put the blame on the “sadistic nature of gamers”. Pitchford said: ““I read it in this way: we moved those people, we touched them – even the person who hates [your game] so much, you’ve affected them.” By saying this it is clear that he seems to think that a huge backlash against the game was somehow a positive – another way of saying “all publicity is good publicity”.

What he fails to see that he will ALWAYS be synonymous with what happened to that game – even if it turned out Gearbox outsourced the game – Pitchford was the face hyping the game up. This wasn’t another Duke Nukem Forever – another game Gearbox put out – where people were expecting a terrible game. There was real excitement – the game was fairly successful on preorders alone. It wasn’t until the game came out that people saw the real truth. Pitchford is ignorant to the fact that his name is now damaged, Gearbox’s name is now damaged and that will have a large effect on the reputation of their brand.

Except it would never have come back into the gamer’s consciousness if Pitchford just stopped bitching about it. It was just this week he made those comments and now the backlash is starting all over again. A simple “sorry, we screwed up” wouldn’t go amiss but at this point it seems too late. Pitchford is not the only developer to blame the consumers and critics instead of themselves and their team. People don’t like to admit their wrong but they need to – otherwise they lose the trust that a lot of this industry is built on. We trust heavily scripted gameplay trailers, we trust the hype from developers but then at the end we also trust the critics who tell us if a game is garbage.

However, as Sterling mentioned in the video I linked earlier, gamers’ tend to have a fairly short-term memory but its time that we treat the people that break our trust with suspicion. Pitchford’s words and lack of accountability has put me off him, his company and their games. Hopefully others will follow suit until Pitchford earns our trust again instead of simply demanding it.

Advertisements
Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT Review

About once every generation there is a game that stands above the pack. A game that will transcend the gaming industry and become ingrained into culture. Minecraft did it. Pokémon did it. Sonic Boom didn’t do it but it tried, bless it. Game of The Year 420BLAZEIT will do it. From the moment you start the game you know you’re about to be rocked to your foundation just by looking at the title screen:

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 16-59-36-55Of course because I am a serious journalist I got the special pre-order exclusive version of the game, the “Rekt Edition”, which unlocks several new weapons, Snoop Dogg and the ability to start the game. For those who did not preorder, this is as far as they will ever get.

The story is one of the most complex ever seen in games whilst the script is Oscar-calibre stuff.

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 16-59-57-78

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 17-00-14-26

The game has come under fire for some subtle in-game advertising that is featured in the game but frankly I barely noticed it. Don’t worry, I am a serious journalist and will not allow such advertising to intrude my review of this modern classic. So we take the Mountain Dew™ Ghetto Blaster and we start our mission.

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 17-01-28-02

As you can see the game does something no other game does – you don’t have to pause the game to see the controls. In fact you can’t pause the game, which is great it means the fun never ends until it ends. We have a score and two meters: one for hungryiness (which can only be satisfied with some delicious Doritos™) and your thirst4Dew.

You make your way through a couple of rooms of soldiers whose faces and/or helmets are replaced with various things that represent the worst of humanity such as Hitler’s face or a fedora…

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 23-20-51-46

However once we kill these soldiers the objects disappear leaving their masked face exposed. GOTY is trying to send a message here by suggesting that we never think to look beyond what our enemy looks like – we never think that there might be a human being underneath their uniform or that they are simply fighting for the same reasons we are. Instead we see them as caricatures and thus dehumanising them enough to not feel guilty when we shoot them down. 420BLAZEIT delivers a moral so hard hitting I almost cried into my Mtn Dew Game Fuel™. You simply can’t get this kind of social commentary in any other form of media.

The graphics are amazing, just look at this…

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 23-04-17-86

See how super realistic the upside down twins are? You simply cannot get these kinds of graphics on a console. This game is truly next-gen – the PS4 weeps as it knows that it cannot compete with the ultra realistic styling of GOTY 420BI.

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 23-10-19-37

Towards the second half of the game you start walking past a large number of gold piles – bundles of golden bricks stacked higher than you can reach whilst being surrounded by crates of Mountain Dew. This is another underlying message of GOTY – greed. It is suggesting that the Illuminati are exploiting the human race to make money – by forcing them to buy basic human essentials such as Doritos and Mountain Dew – things humans need to survive. It is then using this money to secretly run the world and oppress us so that we never rebel against our mysterious overlords. This game isn’t just a piece of light entertainment – it is a call to arms for every gamer to stand up for their rights and fight back against the Illuminati. This. Is. Art.

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 23-12-57-32

The gameplay is open ended – there are apparently multiple endings (as a serious journalist I went through the game a grand total of once) and I’m not sure why but I was strangely drawn towards the left option

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 23-17-34-10

The supporting cast will pop up and give you continued encouragement and support as well as providing some of the more emotional moments of the game. I don’t think I will ever forget the time Sonic ran around the screen as the word YOLO popped up. Speaking of YOLO – this game is Dark Soulsian in its difficulty – you only have one life which makes it harder than Dark Souls and because I am a serious games journalist I have to find some way to compare it to Dark Souls. Except from now on I will compare every game to GOTY instead.

Finally I reach the final area of the game – Shrek’s Swamp and engage in the most thrilling boss fight I’ve ever encountered in a game…

GAME OF THE YEAR 420 BLAZE IT 2014-11-17 23-21-20-25

In a battle reminiscent of the fight against The End in ‘Snake Eater’, I had an epic sniper battle (using a shotgun) against Shrek (if you squint and focus just below the crosshairs you might just see the ogre himself). This one went all the way to the wire except he never hit me because enemies cannot hit you if you are lying on the ground. Which is genius because……..I don’t know actually, that seems a bit of an oversight…much like how the guards oversight you and thus miss every shot GODDAMN IT’S GENIUS!

I won’t spoil the tearjerking finale but it has all the emotions and plot twists that Hideo Kojima could not even fathom. I am looking forward to playing Game of the Year: Game of the Year Edition already!

As the game ended and kicked me unceremoniously back to my desktop I took a while to reflect on what I had just experienced. Not only do I feel like a better person but I now feel like I have purpose again. My whole life I thought I wanted to write for a living but I now realise that is selfish of me. I need to devote the rest of my life to doing something a bit more realistic – fighting the Illuminati. So thank you GOTY, thank you for showing me the light.

In conclusion, this game is a work of art and as a serious gaming journalist I cannot give this game any less than a perfect score.

Final Score: 8/10.

(You can download GOTY 420BLAZEIT right here: http://www.gameoftheyear420blazeit.com/)

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Indie Games, Review

The Magic of Summer

We’re halfway through this wonderful little period known as summertime! We have been conditioned ever since children to love the summer – I mean, six/seven weeks off school? Result! Thus summer become synonymous with freedom – freedom to do what we want, freedom to live by our own rules and freedom to run rampant outside until the inevitable Scottish summer rain started pouring down and then we were stuck inside playing video games for the next five weeks and six days. The summer holidays are home to some of the happiest times of my life and every year, as soon as June rolled around, life always seemed to get a little brighter.

Then I grew up.

I still think summer is the best season – longer days, no uni work and occasionally I get to feel a slight warmth in the air. However something’s missing from summer these days and it took me a little while to understand what it is – the freedom.

As a child I would spend most of my summer holidays with my best friend – we’d go on little adventures all over the village and the only boundaries were our own imagination. If we weren’t adventuring then we were kicking a football around or playing golf in the field near my house. Granted we probably spent just as much time indoors playing Final Fantasy but that was the point – we could do whatever we wanted.

We didn’t have to worry about rent, bills, food or other boring adult crap. We only worried about how we were going to make today more awesome than yesterday. Unfortunately “boring adult crap” has become mostly what’s on my mind.

The last truly great summer I had was 2010 – I had just turned 18 so most of the days were spent getting far too drunk. 2012 and 2013 I worked full time and as for 2011 – well it sucked but that’s not a topic for today. The summer of ’10 was probably the last one I truly felt like I was free.

So far this summer I have spent half of it worrying about how I’m going to pay for my upcoming rent and the other half lethargically grinding my way through the day searching in vain for a cure for boredom. That’s not to say I’m depressed or miserable – I have a job I enjoy and friends to liven things up. However there is a part of me that misses the days when I had not a single care in the world. I miss the days when I could just spend the entire day playing Final Fantasy and not feeling guilty over “wasting a day”. I miss the true magic of summer – I miss the freedom.

Now there is one way I could solve this conundrum – I could just get over the fact that I’m getting older and live with the fact that summer is no longer magical now that the childish naivety has been lifted from eyes and replaced with the disgusting sight of reality. Or I can say “screw that” and work towards making the most of the second half of this summer. Perhaps I am wrong and I still have what it takes to have a truly excellent summer. Perhaps I do indeed have that freedom. Perhaps I have just gotten lazy in my old age.

Well I’m sorry Time, but I ain’t got none for you this year! I’m not quite ready to fall victim to age. I hereby decree that this (second half of) summer shall be MAGICAL!

Now excuse me, I do believe I have a day to waste playing Final Fantasy ahead of me.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

“Macho Man” Randy Savage Retrospective Stream

A couple of months ago I decided to stream a bunch of Ultimate Warrior matches via WWE 2K14. During that, someone in the chat suggested doing a similar one for Randy Savage. The idea is that I play through his greatest matches in WWE (in chronological order) and throw in some backstory in between each match. Two months later I did exactly that in what will be the start of a series of WWE streams up until the next WrestleMania.

On the week of a WWE PPV I will do a stream based on either a wrestler (i.e. Randy Savage) or an event (i.e. MITB, Royal Rumble). The next one is scheduled for a rough date of 26/6/14, but that may change to either the day before or day after. It will revolve around the Money in the Bank concept – where we will play through every “cash-in” match as well as figure out who was the greatest MITB participant ever.

Here is the stream where I was joined by fellow wrestling fan Martin and eventually Jack and Dale too:

 This is where I stream video games if you’re into that sort of thing and this is where I talk about video games if you’re into that sort of thing.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Video Games, Wrestling

Max Payne Review

 

It has been nearly thirteen years since Max Payne shot his way onto our computers – in the middle of a slow motion diving jump whilst shooting off an entire clip of his gun into the faces of bad guys, naturally. It received a massive amount of critical acclaim as well as a very strong commercial performance. However, has the game held up to the tests of time or has it lost a lot of what made it brilliant back in the day?

The short answer is: yes, it holds up brilliantly. It is a third-person shooter and the shooting is mostly fine – there was a couple of times when I was aiming at someone lower or higher than Max and the reticule would just snap back to the middle, but I imagine that’s less of a problem on the PC version. The famous ‘Bullet Time’ not only makes things look cool but can save Max’s life in certain dangerous fights. Most of the fights are fairly easy – you will rarely be troubled for ammo or painkillers (the game’s healing items) – but they can get fairly hairy towards the end.

The gameplay is solid but it is the story that really grabs your attention. The world of Max Payne is a dark and gritty place and the story well matches that mood. It starts with Max – at this time a NYPD officer – coming home to find his wife and baby murdered. The killers were junkies high on a drug called Valkyr. The game does not shy away from its Norse mythology with references to Valhalla, Ragnarok, Aesir are the most notable in the game but there are plenty others for fans of mythology to hunt for.

Aesir are a big part of the Max Payne universe – being a large pharmaceutical corporation.

Payne transfers to the DEA in an attempt to solve the Valkyr case but three years later finds himself framed for the murder of his partner whilst being hunted by the mob gang he infiltrated undercover. That’s just the start of Max’s troubles as he faces a number of trials and tribulations in his quest for revenge and redemption – he is betrayed, captured, attacked, drugged (which leads to one of the most interesting sections of the game which I won’t spoil) and ends up in the middle of a conspiracy.

It’s not all bad for Payne he does make a couple of friends – the assassin Mona Sax and the mysterious Alfred Woden – but ultimately Payne is a one-man army. The game takes a lot of elements from Noir films and cutscenes are presented via comic book panels narrated by Payne – brilliantly voiced by James McCaffrey as he would be in the next two games. We also hear Payne’s inner monologue throughout the levels giving more exposition or hints as to what to do next.

A lot of the voice acting is decent but there is a lot of stereotypical Italian-American accents to be found – at times it’s like fighting an army of Joe Pesci’s. However that’s okay because Max Payne is a game that embraces its clichés and flaunts its influences like Charlie and his Golden Ticket – it waves them in your face even going as far as namechecking the likes of Bogart and the Maltese Falcon and John Woo – the main influence for the combat. The occasional hokey voice acting can be attributed to just another example of them paying tribute to the noir films of old.

Graphically the game still doesn’t look terrible – especially for 2001 standards. The only real complaint can be placed upon the faces of characters which are essentially like photographs stuck on the model and that causes Max to look like this throughout the game:

That face belongs to Sam Lake – the writer of Max Payne. He also plays Max in the comic book scenes.

For those of you, like myself, who has never played Max Payne before is it worth picking up right now? Yes. Definitely. It is easily one of the best stories I’ve played through in any game and even the gameplay has aged pretty well. It’s like a Woo-esque action flick with a noir story – how can you go wrong? I played the PS2 port – via the PS3 as a ‘PS2 Classic’ – but there are a huge amount of systems you can play it on: Xbox (and 360), iOS, Android and even a GBA port was released in 2003. Ultimately your  best choice would be on PC (£5.99 on Steam) however the entire trilogy is usually on sale during Steam’s summer sale if you want to wait for a bargain.

The first game was obviously successful enough to be  granted a sequel which I will also play and write about in the future. Max Payne was also made into a movie…so I will be giving my thoughts on that as well because I’m a masochist – I like Payne.

Final Verdict: Play It!

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Video Games

Indie Game Review: Speedrunners

There are games in which every minute detail has been designed to elicit a reaction or an emotion out of the player. The developers will put everything they have into leaving you an experience that will resonate within your memories for the rest of you life. By playing that game it will enrich your life and give you a new point of view.

SpeedRunners 2014-05-27 21-32-14-06

Speedrunners is not one of these games – it is pure unadulterated fun. Take the controls of Super Meat Boy, mash them up with Mario Kart-like power-ups and you get a fast paced racing game where the aim is to be the last man standing. Lag too far behind and you will be eliminated.

Once the first person has been eliminated – or a certain time has elapsed without an elimination – the screen will get smaller and smaller. This adds to the frantic tension as the runners cannot afford to make a mistake lest they lose.

SpeedRunners 2014-05-27 22-19-31-83

Fall behind into the red mist and it’s all over

Speedrunners is a very simple game to pick up and play – not including the directionals there are only four buttons – and this simplicity works perfectly for this kind of game.

It is in Early Access at the moment so there are a couple of bugs – though watching my character occasionally clip through the wall and then be launched at super speed off the screen is hilarious – but these will be fixed. In addition to the pre-made levels people can also submit their own levels and once this game gets a community behind Speedrunners will have almost unlimited replay value. Not bad for £6.99 – or £22.99 for a four pack.

Speedrunners is a ridiculously fun game – especially with two or three other friends on Skype at the same time. It’s definitely worth a purchase.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Indie Games, Review

My Favourite Video Game Villain: Revolver Ocelot

As some of you maybe aware, I am a part of a podcast called The Loot Drop. In our most recent episode we discussed our favourite video game heroes and villains and I attempted to explain why Revolver Ocelot was my favourite before I was RUDELY INTERRUPTED REPEATEDLY AND ALSO BECAUSE IT’S QUITE COMPLICATED TO EXPLAIN. So I said I’d write a blog instead. Unfortunately I am on record saying this so here it is, I guess.

Revolver Ocelot is easily my favourite video game villain of all time – heck, he’s one of my favourite villains in any medium. When you truly digest his story you quickly realise how amazingly convoluted his character is. Without that though he’s still a cool cat (HEH COOL CAT…OCELOT…IT’S A CAT…HEH). He’s designed like a classic gunslinger in MGS1 – that’s cool. His voice – that’s cool. His balding mullet – that’s…not so cool. However it is his overall character and motives that I love the most. It’s so needlessly complicated. So I gotta explain why he’s so complicated now, don’t I? Sigh…

Let’s start at the beginning – Metal Gear Solid 3.

*naturally SPOILERS AHOY so if you’re interested in playing the MGS series and you haven’t yet WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? Go play it. Now. I can wait. You won’t? Well then I’m not going to write this until you play them. Get the hell outta of my sight. No wonder you’re single. And adopted. AND DEAD.

But if you’ve not played it I’ll try my best to explain JUST ENOUGH so that you’d get it. It won’t be easy though…*

Ocelot is the son of The Boss and The Sorrow who was born in Normandy. During the Allied invasion of said Normandy. In WW2. On the battlefield. He was then taken by the Philosophers not long after childbirth. He worked for the NSA before defecting to the Soviet Union where he quickly rose through the ranks to lead his own group of elite soldiers – the Ocelot Unit. There he worked under Volgin – leader of GRU. However by the end of the game it is revealed that he was secretly working against Volgin by spying on him for the KGB. AT THE SAME TIME he was also working for the CIA. He also formed a strange admiration of the future Big Boss. All of this is important to remember. This is the beginning of Ocelot’s rise to becoming the greatest trickster the world has ever seen.

Between the events of MGS3 and MGS1 – Ocelot helped form the Patriots alongside Big Boss, Zero and friends. However he kept up appearances as working for the Russians whilst still “spying” for the Americans – the post-credit scene in MGS 1 has him talking to the US President – the future Solidus Snake. Still quite simple…

However, in MGS1 he loses his arm after Grey Fox cuts it off. So naturally as any normal person would do…he cut off Liquid Snake’s arm and had it attached to himself. So OBVIOUSLY he started getting possessed by the spirit of Liquid Snake. Obviously. We’ve all been there. MGS 2 he finally publicly betrays the Russians, and Solidus and reveals his true intentions as an agent of the Patriots. Then Liquid Snake fully takes over and runs away in a Metal Gear. But at least Ocelot’s story is no longer convoluted – he works for the Patriots and that’s it. Right?

Well a sad thing happened. Ocelot realised that he had no one left to trick. He tricked the Russians. He tricked the Americans. He tricked Dead Cell (you know, the terrorist group run by the former President of the USA. Keep up!). The only one left to trick was…HIMSELF.

So he cut off Liquid’s arm, replaced it with a prosthetic and then HYPNOTISED HIMSELF INTO BELIEVING HE WAS STILL POSSESSED BY LIQUID. He then used this to trick the world into hiring his mercenary companies that he owns all of a sudden in order to trick Solid Snake and friends into effectively shutting down the Patriots.

To summarise Ocelot’s tricking history in simple terms: he tricked the Russians into thinking he was with them but then tricked America into thinking the same thing then he tricked them both when he helped form the Patriots then tricked the Patriots by tricking the President into believing he was on HIS side but then tricking everyone into believing he was still with the Patriots and then tricking himself into thinking he was Liquid so he could trick the world’s governments into funding PMC’s so he could trick Snake and friends into shutting down SOP and thus the Patriots and thus plunging the whole world into chaos and trick his last trick before dying. Except Sunny modified the virus that shut down GOP and so technically, in the end, Sunny tricked Ocelot. So really…Sunny’s the world’s greatest trickster…

EXCEPT SHE’S NOT. And if you need proof as to why, here is a graph I made that proves without a shadow of a doubt that Ocelot is the greatest trickster who ever tricked a trick.

OCELOTGRAPH

That should clear everything up.

Until next time, folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes sir. The entire internet bought it. Yes sir they actually believe that I think Ocelot is the greatest video game villain of all time. No sir, my cover is still in tact. Martin knew my true identity but he’s been…disposed of. Yes, thank you….MR. SENATOR.

 

This is a long-winded way of saying “I’m gonna talk about my favourite video game characters more in the future”.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Video Games