Month: December 2011

But Seriously, Why do I Care About Upcoming Video Games?

This is Not My Collection, Thank Goodness

I recently posted about the games coming out in 2012 that I’m looking forward to.  The real question is why. I already have an embarrassingly large backlog of games to play or beat.  Looking just at the titles from current gaming platforms I have the following for just the Playstation 3:

  1. 3D Dot Game Heroes (first played a couple of days ago)
  2. Assassins Creed 2
  3. Brutal Legend (unopened)
  4. Bulletstorm
  5. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (in my defense, I played about 10 hours and realized I hated this game)
  6. Child of Eden
  7. Darksiders (unopened, owned for at least a year)
  8. De Blob 2 (first played a couple of days ago)
  9. Demon’s Souls (in my defense, this game is apparently just not fun)
  10. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (unopened)
  11. God of War Collection
  12. God of War 3
  13. The House of the Dead Overkill: Extended Cut
  14. Killzone 3
  15. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom (unopened, owned for at least a year)
  16. Monster Madness: Grave Danger
  17. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit
  18. Nier
  19. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (unopened, owned for at least a year)
  20. No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise
  21. Portal 2
  22. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time
  23. Resident Evil 5 Gold EDition (unopened, owned for at least a year)
  24. Resonance of Fate
  25. Rayman Origins (just bought this)
  26. Shadows of the Damned
  27. Saints Row the Third (playing this a lot lately)
  28. The Sly Cooper Collection
  29. Split/Second (unopened, owned for at least a year)
  30. Transformers War for Cybertron (unopened, owned for at least a year)
My sister jokes about how at one point, after my XBOX died, I handed off my games to her and quite a few of them were still in the original shrink wrap. While most games I buy are at reduced prices (about 50% of full retail or less, especially in the case of games in my Steam library)  it still seems like a problem for me to keep accumulating games when I have so many to play through first.
So why do they accumulate? Do I not enjoy playing video games as much as I think I do? Was I not very interested in these particular games as I thought I would be?  Was it because I saw a bargain and jumped on it, for fear of not being able to get something I was (mildly) interested in at such a price later?  That’s patently ridiculous; if I wait years to play a game I would have been better off buying it when I’m about to play it.  With rare exception, game prices go down over time. 
Still, this week has been a banner week for me cracking open neglected titles.  I started playing 3D Dot Game Heroes, De Blob 2, and Overlord (on my PC.)  All three have pretty positive starts.  Who knows, in a year’s time I might even have beaten one of them. 


I know broken tier is an (unofficial) way of classifying characters in fighting games (such as the recently released Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.)  It means the character is exceedingly powerful/cheap.  So two good things here: first is that Rocket Raccoon apparently (unfairly) dominates in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and also a website named Brokentier, which I hadn’t heard of previously but I assume exists for fighting game discussion, will be producing a shirt celebrating this fact.  Man, between this and that purple raccoon hoody I learned about last week I’ll be able to totally deck myself out in raccoon awesomeness.

It Was a Weird Year for Movies

I watch a lot of movies, but this year’s lot stands out in my mind as being particularly weird.  I saw several movies that seemed to relish in awkwardness.  They were all good, sure, but had bizarre, uncomfortable qualities.  My picks:

1. Drive
Advertised as a high-octane driving/crime movie along the lines of the The Transporter or Fast & the Furious series this ended up being a character study of … uhm … someone?  The man character could easily be interpreted as being mentally handicapped or perhaps a man exercising remarkable restraint based on past experiences.  The movie made a whiplash-inducing tonal shift part way through, jarringly switching between a kind of sweet-natured slice-of-life and almost exceedingly graphic crime drama.  The music and presentation only further screws with the audience by referencing elements of the 80’s (from the font used on the poster to the very synthesized music.)

2. The Guard
Another one when where the music often worked to make things feel not quite right, this film’s score evoked classic spaghetti westerns however it had a bad habit of kicking things into high gear when nothing was happening.  On the side of characters and dialogue, the impenetrable accents (which were probably just fine for the English) only further confounded humor based on rampant racism and a hero of very questionable moral fiber.

3. Hanna
I remember after watching this movie someone remarked that it seemed very European.  I’m not entirely sure what that meant, but I appreciate the sentiment that it just didn’t seem American.  Weird uses of color, sometimes using some very harsh lighting schemes along with direction that pulled some bizarre stunts (the camera circling around for no apparent reason, not even dramatic effect, during an escape sequence, or having a character on screen syncing his actions with music he wasn’t hearing, etc.) give the proceedings an dream-like quality that was certainly intentional but still not expected from what appeared to be a simple action movie.

The Video Games I’m Looking Forward to in 2012

I can’t say that I play a lot of video games, but I sure do own a ton of them.  My current backlog is 25 games deep and that’s only the PS3 titles. 

Wow.  That’s a very depressing fact.
Anyway, here are the ten games I’m most looking forward to buying and hopefully playing next year (in no particular order):
  1. Bioshock Infinite – Surprising, considering I thought the first game was vastly over-rated (although it I did buy it on sale and felt I got my money’s worth.)  I sat out the sequel on account of it looking like more of the same.  The promotion for the newest one seems to have moved beyond the whole “we’re not an FPS, we’re an RPG” shtick that the idiot fans of the first ate up with a spoon and going more towards “we’ll show you some really remarkable stuff, from zipping around a city in the sky to weird alternate reality aspects.”
  2. Anarchy Reigns – Brought to you by the nut jobs behind Vanquish and Bayonetta comes the sequel to the largely ignored Madworld.  These guys aren’t classy; they don’t make anything that approaches profound but they make games that embrace gaming. At the very least, I know that this game will be all-out fun.
  3. Soul Calibur 5 – I’ll probably just get this out of habit.  I liked Soul Blade and Soul Calibur and continue buying the sequels even though by all accounts they just keep getting worse.  I doubt I’ll get this as a day 1 purchase (few games warrant that to me anymore.)  It’s a game series where most of the characters fight with large, usually insanely designed weapons with sharp edges … but nobody ever gets cut.  
  4. Mass Effect 3 – I had no interest in Mass Effect. Then Steam put the two games on sale for $10 each and I was curious enough to play them given all of the overwhelmingly positive reviews I’d seen for the games.  I hated the first game and, like Bioshock, found it completely over-rated. The whole branching conversation aspect was good, but the combat was very poorly designed and in the end not fun. Considering that most of the actual game playing in an RPG is combat, that was a significant problem.  Then after beating the first game I moved on to the sequel and found that everything I’d hated about the first game was improved.  Combat was far more fluid, the direction for cinema sequences was much more dynamic, and the graphics were much less bland.  I loved it.  Sign me up for the end of the trilogy.  
  5. Journey – From the team that brought Flower to the PS3. What’s it about? I don’t know, but it apparently involves walking.  Since they’re the same people who made a game where you play flower petals caught in the wind compelling I trust in their ability to make this something good. 
  6. Lollipop Chainsaw – The developers of this game, Grasshopper Manufacture, are also amazingly good at making games that embrace being video games.  Narrative usually takes a back seat to wild presentation and fast-paced game play with healthy doses of comedy, with their standout title being the No More Heroes games.  It’s an action game about a chainsaw wielding cheerleader clearing out a school full of zombies.  I’m in, regardless of how played out zombies may be.  
  7. Final Fantasy XIII-2 – I didn’t hate Final Fantasy XIII.  I found the story no more idiotic than any of the previous games and the linearity was no less irritating.  What I really appreciated was that it actually tried to make the combat fast-paced.  Gone was the rote, menu-based combat replaced with something almost arcade-like. I also found the characters more interesting than the typical emo crapfests that personified the series in previous entries.  Also, FF13 had one of the most awesome cinematics I’ve ever seen in a video game.  So I’m looking forward to its sequel, albeit grudgingly.
  8. Dragon’s Crown – I can’t say no to such gorgeous 2D gaming, even if some aspects are a little embarrassing
  9. Armored Core 5 – I like From Software.  I they made what were to me two of the most memorable games for the original Playstation, King’s Field and Armored Core. Their more recent Souls games haven’t been my cup of tea but I’m glad they’ve been successful for the company.  Now it’s time for them to get back to what they do best and have robots go smashy smashy. 
  10. Transformers Fall of Cybertron – HOLY F—ING S—, THE DINOBOTS!!

RACCOONS IN THE BOOKS: All Alliteration Amaze

I was pleasantly surprised to find a book titled Rascal Raccoon’s Raging Revenge on the shelf at my local comic book store this weekend. I had never heard of it, but of course it was a must buy based on the title alone!

The book is okay.  It’s never terribly funny–it’s best jokes are based on digs at corporations–but it is fun.  The art is very sharp but doesn’t quite capture the look of the cartoons it tries to be based on; it’s actually not detailed enough.  

The themes it explores are very similar to last year’s Megamind; what does a villain live for after he’s gotten rid of his rival?  However, given the tropes being addressed (this one being inspired by Looney Tunes while Megamind was based on superheroes) they end in somewhat different places despite hitting some very similar story beats.  The whole thing felt somehow rushed; I suppose it’s due to the writer feeling there was no need to world-build.  The characters are mostly stock if you’re familiar with the material that inspired the story.  Yet some of the characters have no clear analogue to the inspiring material (interestingly, the three women in the story) which made their presence confusing.

Additional Material

  • Art of Wag, the website of Justin Wagner (artist of Rascal Raccoon’s Raging Revenge)