Friday, December 31, 2010

TL;DR Top Games of 2010

This was a good year for games, folks. It was kind of hard to put together a top list because there were a few REALLY good games, a lot of pretty good games, and even the disappointments weren't terrible, they just had a lot to live up to and didn't meet our lofty expectations. I was going to put together a top list for each individual contributor to the site, but (gasp!) I got lazy and decided to consolidate things into one big list. 

One thing that didn't surprise me is that between the contributors that submitted top tens to me is that there were about five games that were universal that we enjoyed, there were a few others that we all enjoyed that others either didn't get a chance to play or just missed out of our top ten. That is a pretty good thing considering there was a lot of lesser titles that came out that actually performed well. 

Before I reveal the site's top games of the year I wanted to highlight some of the games that let us down this year. Lord Bling did a good job of outlining a few of our letdowns but I wanted to highlight a few more that didn't float our boat:

  • Modern Warfare 2.  If we existed last year, this would have been the game of the year, but the implosion of Infinity Ward, combined with overpriced map packs, and not doing anything about getting rid of hackers and exploiters really made the game unenjoyable into 2010. 
  • "VIP" Code Bullshit. EA packaged codes to access multiplayer content in their new games, forcing those to buy used to pretty much pony up an extra $10 to access stuff that was already on the disc. 
  • Crackdown 2. The first game was originally one that we all bought only because of the Halo 3 beta, but what we found was an enjoyable experience. Maybe we should have kept those low expectations going into the sequel. It very much seemed like Crackdown 1.1 with more orbs and no real story. Fell very flat.
  • Star Wars Force Unleashed 2. Maybe we (by we I mean apparently mean just me) actually fooled ourselves that the first game was good enough that the next one would be worth investing. It really wasn't. There was nothing new, it was short and it wasn't very challenging. 
  • Medal of Honor. One of the few games that actually improved the more one played, this was just a lot of hype that it was going to be the CoD killer. It couldn't even surpass EA's other military shooter of this year in Bad Company. The fact that one studio handled the Single Player and another handled the multiplayer just did not work. 
  • Handhelds. Here's a spoiler: No hand held games made this year's top 10, which is really disappointing for that market. With the Nintendo 3DS and PSP2 supposedly on the horizon, maybe studios are waiting on developing good games for those platforms. There really wasn't any that were developed for these. 
  • Destructoid. Usually a great site, some reviews were purely irresponsible and stupid for putting ridiculously low ratings for some under-performing games, while giving undeserving high ratings for over-hyped titles such as:
  • Splinter Cell Conviction. We said so earlier this year. 
Here are a few games that had a good year but that just didn't quite make the cut:

  • Alan Wake. An overtly Stephen King story in a video game. It was very inventive in its story telling. I had a review written but never posted. I'll post it here soon.
  •  God of War clones. Games like Dante's Inferno, Castlevania, Nier were pretty solid titles that followed the whole hack and slash, mystical, mythical, quick-time-event formula pretty well. Most will be pretty affordable and enjoyable now or in the near future. 
  • Racing Games. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. Blur. Gran Turismo. Mod Nation Racers. Although none made our over all top ten, if you wanted anything from Arcade to Sim, you were well served by this year's crop of good racers. 

Now the Contributors of TL;DR present:
 TOP TEN GAMES OF 2010


This was the only PC game that made the list and it took over ten years to finally drop. Blizzard really didn't reinvent the wheel and they didn't have to. 
Even though this is technically just episode one of at least a three part series that will encapsulate the second Starcraft, this one improves upon what made the original great without screwing up. The single player gives a bit of choice in the story with some great tech upgrades, and the multiplayer provides a good mix of quick and campaign long games. While you may need to upgrade your PC just a bit from your 1998 Compaq that ran the first game, you won't have to wait another decade to enjoy the next installment of this saga. 


This Xbox Live Arcade title is an inventive platformer that really entertained, scared, and challenged us. I really enjoyed its simplicity and while being delightfully disturbed. Presented in a chillingly beautiful black, white, gray, soft focus and clear, you are a boy in shadow with creepy glowing eyes traversing a sometimes dead silent landscape. Sometimes the puzzles don't really present themselves until you're wondering why you've died three times or so in the same place, then you need to figure out what you need to do to escape your predicament. Your eight legged freak friend is also your constant nemesis who will not cure your arachnophobia. 


8. BAYONETTA.
No, its not an over the top Devil May Cry ripoff, its its own over the top game with a ridiculously hot protagonist doing ridiculous moves in a beautifully orchestrated bloody romp. I actually had this and Vanquish at a tie on my top ten since they are both developed by Platinum Games, but Bayonetta was the longer, higher received game so it makes the list. 
One other thing about Bayonetta is that it can be painfully difficult to traverse. At some point I had to drop the difficulty down to Easy because some of the stages were ridiculous to try while you were down to next to no health and didn't have the points to buy more healing potions. 


7. HALO: REACH
Not a perfect or life altering game like the first few Halo games were. It also lacked Master Chief and any progression in the Halo Universe (spoiler: its actually a prequel).
What it was, ironically, was a fitting ending to Bungie's run in the game that made Xbox. Much more polished than Halo ODST, you were placed in an elite squad that is the first encounter with the Covenant on the Planet Reach. It was a great mix of face pace and slow and steady. 
Multiplayer provided a lot of variety from co-op firefight to a few game variants that provided balanced character classes that needed more skill than just one overleveled character dominating everyone. 


6. GOD OF WAR III
Kratos is back and kicking ass again. 
With great graphics from beginning to end, Kratos roid rages through Gods and whores. I kind of wish this game was called Gods and Whores, by the way. Who wouldn't buy it? 





5. ASSASSIN'S CREED: Brotherhood.
Picking up pretty much immediately where the last game left off, you are left to take care of business in Rome. 
Merely the fact that this game sticks to AC2's award winning blueprint is enough to make this one a top 10, but what really kicked ass is the implimentation of a whole new style of multiplayer. 
Not that stealth multiplayer is a new concept, Brotherhood adds a lot of suspense in who is trying to track you down while you are trying to kill a target yourself. The only knock on multiplayer is trying to get a party together in a game, otherwise Ubisoft delivered another great chapter in the Assassin's Creed universe. 


4. BATTLEFIELD: BAD COMPANY 2
Probably the most complete military shooter of 2010. DICE really did a great job of blending a funny and challenging Single Player campaign (even taking a few shots at Call of Duty) along with a great multiplayer system that actually had some skill needed to take long shot kills (Bullet Drop: a novel concept video game developers)
Battlefield then released a Vietnam expansion last week that created only added to the multiplayer experience. You get through there and you can tell your friends that you were truly in the shit. (No offense to those who were actually IN the shit.)



3. CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS
Before this year, whenever you saw a Call of Duty title and "Treyarch" on the box, you either groaned or was in no hurry to make a purchase. I will totally admit, that most of us were dead wrong on this. While the Single Player campaign was both ridiculous and short, Multiplayer has actually become more enjoyable for me than Modern Warfare 2. Nevermind the fact that you are using red dot sights and scopes during the Cold War, or you are acutally using a crossbow with explosive tips, or can throw a tomahawk across a map to kill another human, Black Ops is not only a lot of fun, but with the Theater feature you can post all your bullshit kills onto Youtube for your title as internet tough guy of the world. 



2. MASS EFFECT 2
Probably the best Role Playing Game of the year, Bioware continues to improve upon its award winning space opera that surpasses the original. 
You return as Commander Shepard reincarnated and assembling your badass team to take on the Reapers who are pretty much going to destroy everything in your universe. 
Mass Effect 2 is a superior story with superior characters; each one unique in its backstory and each character is brought to life by remarkable voice acting. I found myself entertained to the maximum exploring each character's abilities and talents. The decisions you make in this game will impact not only how the game concludes, but will carry over into Mass Effect 3, as were the decisions you made in the first game carried over into ME2. 
(By the way, Mordin singing Gilbert and Sullivan and offering interspecies oral sex tips are pretty much one of the funnier and greatest moments in video game history.)


1. RED DEAD REDEMPTION
Though this is technically a sequel and one can argue that this is Grand Theft Horse, 
Red Dead offered a great mix of role playing, action and a great story about one man's journey of trying to find peace in the chaos and tumult of the old west. 
John Marston is one of those memorable characters that you really feel for as he goes through some crazy adventures through New Austin and Mexico.
If the main story wasn't good enough, Rockstar added things like Multiplayer Poker, and the Undead Nightmare DLC pack, which is its own alternate universe style Zombie story which is both entertaining and challenging. Red Dead Redemption claims the top spot after being no lower than second on everyone's top ten list. If you don't own it you really need to. 

____________________________________________________
Individual Top 10's:

 Miles
1. Mass Effect 2
2. Red Dead Redemption
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops
4. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
5. Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty
6. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
7. God of War 3
8. Limbo
9. Halo Reach
10. Platinum Games (Bayonetta/Vanquish)

NIN
1. Red Dead Redemption
2. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
3. Mass Effect 2
4. God of War 3
5. Halo Reach
6. Enslaved
7. Heavy Rain
8. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
9. Call of Duty: Black Ops
10. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

DIRTY GMR
1. Red Dead Redemption
2. Call of Duty Black Ops
3. Mass Effect 2
4. Alan Wake
5. God of War 3
6. Fable 3
7. Bayonetta
8. Limbo
9. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
10. Singularity

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

COGS!




Man, this game... WTH was I thinking when I bought it?

Always been a fan of puzzle games and this one has its teeth in me pretty hard.

Basically a take on the old slider puzzle games from when you were a kid, this game puts steam pipes, gears and chimes on the sliding pieces which you must then rearrange to solve the puzzle. Simple right? HELL NO! This crap is in a 3d environment and in some cases, moves made on one side of the puzzle affect piece on the opposite side.. SOOOO in some cases you are trying to solve multiple puzzles simultaneously in 3 dimensions.

There are 50 puzzles (51 actually I think if you include the "End Credits" puzzles). These puzzles can be played in 3 ways:

Inventor Mode - no time limit but Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded based on the time it took to solve and number of moves used.

Challenge Mode - Puzzles solved in Inventor Mode are unlocked in this mode. There are 2 categories:
-Timed - You have 30 seconds to solve the puzzle.
-Moves - You have to solve the puzzle in 10 moves or less.

I'm about 15 hours into this game.. I've solved all the Inventor Mode Puzzles, All the Challenge Mode Puzzles (Both Timed and Moves)... and yet the game still haunts me... Why you ask... Those God Damned Steam Achievements!!! I've earned 13 of 18 of these cursed things (as of this post)... with the last 5 being uber-pains in the ass with like 1% or less of people earning these achievements.

Sigh...

Anyway, its a great game if you like puzzle games. Its on Steam and currently bundled with 4 other games (which I haven't even downloaded yet because I'm so obsessed with COGS!) for only $4.99, a price I think that's fair for just Cogs alone.

Watch the vid if you think you may have some interest in this game. Mayhap I'll earn the remaining achievements soon and move on with my gaming life.



PEACE!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lord Bling's Top Ten Video Games of 2010

Just in time for the end of 2010, here is my top ten video game list for the year. Looking back at last year's list, I think I would've made one small change. At the time, I had no way of knowing that Activision would charge $15 for each downloadable map pack for Modern Warfare 2 (with 40% of each one being old content). Map packs up until that point were never more than $10, so the higher price and the old content put a bad taste in my mouth. I also had no way of knowing that Activision and Infinity Ward would have a soap-opera-like falling-out which is still taking place today. Whether it was directly or indirectly because of it, the level of technical support and online bug-squashing would not be comparable to Call of Duty 4. With this knowledge, I would have to say that Uncharted 2 was my favorite game of 2009. That's what makes these lists fun. It's a small snapshot in time of my favorite hobby. Speaking of time, I have to caveat this list by saying there are a few games that I regrettably didn't get the chance to play this year, so they were not considered for this list. Those games are:

-- Enslaved (I liked the demo, and Ninja Theory told a great story in Heavenly Sword)
-- Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (Loved the original on PS1, and it got good reviews)
-- Alan Wake (I got a copy for Christmas, so I'll be diving into it soon)
-- Singularity (a highly overlooked title from the summer that got some Bioshock comparisons; it's on the way from GameFly now)
-- Gran Turismo 5 (Reviews were hit-or-miss, but you know what you're getting with this series, and what you're getting is a top-quality racing simulation)

Okay, so the caveats are out of the way. Let's dive into 2010!

10. Pinball FX2. I absolutely loved Pinball FX when it hit Xbox Live Arcade a few years ago, and the sequel is just as good. They gave a free table away if you download the game launcher, and free is awesome. They also put out a Marvel table 4-pack recently, and the tables are all fun, but very different from each other. The only negative I can put on this is a couple of tables (Rome, Biolab) have a female voice actor who's really bad, but I just stream my own music so it's not too distracting. Voice acting notwithstanding, this is the best video pinball simulation ever made, and will be sapping a LOT of my hours in 2011.




9. Halo: Reach. I had very low expectations for this game, because I didn't care for ODST. I liked what they were trying to do with the pacing, and the score was fantastic, but the hub world was beyond annoying and killed the entire experience for me. However, since this is Bungie's last Halo game, I figured it would be more of a love letter than an experiment. Fortunately, that's exactly what it is. The story isn't a surprise to anyone who's paid attention to the canon, but it was handled well, and has some nice ties back to the original game. I also liked the different loadout choices in multiplayer, as they enhanced it without radically changing the experience. It's not a shooter I'll 'reach' for very often, but I could still hop into a game right now and enjoy it.



8. Bayonetta. So THIS is what happens when a famous game creator goes to an S&M bar after taking a near-lethal dose of LSD. At least, that's how I imagine the first production meetings went. This game makes Devil May Cry look like digital Lunestra. There's a story, but like most Japanese action games, it's not worth paying attention to. How much story do you need to be ready to punch a god through a galaxy? The controls are tighter than the slots at the Vegas airport, and the level score leaderboards can really hook the perfectionist crowd. Even the end credits are different and brought a smile to my face. Full disclosure: I work for the publisher that made this. However, a good game is a good game.



7. Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Think of a survival horror game. Now take away all the weapons! Yeah, this game is INTENSE. They took the best parts of H.P. Lovecraft and made them interactive. It's not a run-and-gun like most other survival horror games, and it's all the better for it. The contrast between light and dark is what really makes it great. The longer you stay in the dark, the more insane your character becomes (and the screen fades in and out and sound is warped, as if it's happening inside your head). Staying in the light gains back sanity, but stay in it too long and evil beings might track you down. The sound design is flawless, and if you have a good pair of surround sound headphones, it will destroy you. I'm not kidding. During my last session, I heard something behind me, and I turned around and had this staring back at me. As you might understand, I can only play it in 20 or 30 minute increments before it becomes too much to handle. It may not have any replay value, but at $20 (or less if you catch it on a digital promotion), fans of intelligent horror will find it worth every penny.

6. Fallout: New Vegas. Yeah, it's 'Fallout 3' in Nevada. Yeah, it shipped buggier than an Alabama August. However, Fallout 3 may be my favorite game of this console generation, so being 'more of the same' is hardly a strike against it. The Vegas setting isn't as compelling as D.C., and aiming down the sights isn't as big of an improvement as I'd hoped. Still, it delivers on almost everything else. The weapon modification system is better than the 'blueprint' system in the last game, and the ammo creation is deeper anyone could've hoped. Also, the standing you'll have with different factions leads to a lot of second-guessing and 'what-ifs' before choosing quests. I haven't put nearly as much time into this game as I'd like, but I've been saving it for later, like a rich chocolaty desert.


5. Mass Effect 2. This is at or near the top of many other people's lists for 2010. However, because it's so story-driven, I don't find it has the replay value that other people think. I have a version of the story that I played, and to play it again for other endings feels like a 'choose your own adventure' book instead of a great role-playing game. Speaking of, in many places, the sequel feels more like a third-person shooter than an RPG. Having said all that, I can still put it this high on my list because it's THAT good. The graphics and audio are top-notch. The story is worth the price of admission alone, and being able to load your completed save from the first game and have it affect what happens in part 2? That's a real game-changer. They recently announced the final opus in the trilogy, and like many of my friends, I'll be there the day it releases with my sixty bucks in hand.


4. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. I didn't get to play Assassin's Creed 2 in time to make my Top Ten list last year. It was a shame, because I would've made room for it. The first game had potential but didn't quite deliver, but the sequel improved upon it in every major category. Now, a year later, we have another sequel, but it follows the same character from part 2 in the same country. Is it worth your time? If you played part 2, absolutely. The story picks up right where that one left off, and eventually takes you to Rome, which was teased at the end of part 2. Rome is a phenomenal setting, and the playable map is gigantic. A few of the later missions are too 'trial and error' for my tastes, but by that time, you'll be invested enough in the story to want to push through. Plus, if a mission is too hard, this time you have assassin recruits that you can summon to assist you. It gives the player a feeling of power that's quite addictive. The swordplay controls have been tweaked again, and are even better. Then there's the score, which is another masterpiece from Jesper Kyd. On top of all this, there's a new multiplayer mode, which is different from the 'shoot first, ask questions later' that we get in so many other games. Unfortunately, that part still needs some work. Many matches feel controlled by luck and random spawn points than skill, and the party system is iffy. Since this year's Splinter Cell lacked a true PvP mode, I was hoping this would take its place, but it's not ready for that. Still, as a first try, it's promising. If you found anything enjoyable about Assassin's Creed 2, you should pick this one up.

3. Call of Duty: Black Ops. This might be the biggest surprise on my list. Considering how much of a mess the last Treyarch CoD game was, Black Ops is a big improvement. The single-player campaign uses a flashback format, which brings a nice variety to the level design. The 'Nazi Zombie' mode is more complicated, and the 'War Room' level you get after you beat the campaign is full of lulz. Then we get to the competitive multiplayer, which is the true meat-and-potatoes of the series. At this point, I can't honestly say it's an improvement over Modern Warfare 2. Most of the maps are just big squares with lots of entry points. That, combined with the nerfing of long-scoped weapons, leads me to believe that Treyarch has zero-tolerance for snipe-campers. As someone who snipes in most first-person shooters, "I resemble that remark!" Still, there are some improvements. Having to buy weapons after you unlock them isn't ideal, but gaining XP and CoD cash is addictive, especially with the Contract system which can add a whole new level of pressure to games. Treyarch has done a commendable job of patching online glitches, and I would even say they've done better than Infinity Ward did with MW2. Then there is the Theater mode, which allows YouTube video uploading of any footage from your last week's worth of games that you choose. This is by far my favorite feature that came out of gaming in 2010, and I've waxed poetic about it already on this site. My YouTube account is filling up with great kills and funny moments, and I couldn't be happier. Activision announced the first downloadable map pack coming to Xbox in February, and it doesn't look like old content will be in this one, so I will probably be paying the $15 for them. If that's not a compliment, I don't know what is.

2. Red Dead Redemption. The haters were vocal about this one as soon as it was announced. "It's Grand Theft Horse!" "No one buys Western games!" True, and up until May 2010, true. Then this game finally shipped, and every other game that released that month felt the ripple effect from this juggernaut. The RAGE engine that made GTA IV look so pretty AND intentionally ugly works even more wonders here. The story, while lagging a bit in some of the Mexico levels, is still worthy of Peckinpah or Leone. The soundtrack is perfectly evocative of both the untamed West and Mexico. The multiplayer took what worked in GTA IV and added an improved level progression system. It's hard to say if this game is as good as GTA IV, but it mainly comes down to the player's taste. However, I can say that the last couple of hours in the single-player campaign are flawless. I wouldn't dream of spoiling it, but I'll just say that you won't expect to be doing what you're doing, but it makes perfect sense and adds a ton of gravitas to the final mission. Then they pull a switcharoo that will have your head spinning until the credits roll. I was so impressed with the ending that I kept playing afterwards until I got 100% completion. If a few hours in Mexico hadn't dragged, and if I'd spend more time with the multiplayer, this could've easily ended up at the top of my list this year.

1. Battlefield: Bad Company 2. When this game came out in March, I was quietly impressed, but didn't expect to spend a lot of time with it. Fast forward nine months, and it's the only game from the first half of the year that still gets regular play.

I've been a fan of the Battlefield series for a while. I really liked Battlefield 2 on the original Xbox. It was the first console game to bring sprawling maps and a variety of vehicles into a modern military shooter. It was a little buggy, but was unlike anything else out there, and got a LOT of my gaming time. The next console game in the series was Bad Company, and it was worthwhile. It introduced a level of environmental destructibility that hadn't been seen in a shooter since Red Faction. However, it released in the wake of Call of Duty 4, which flipped the script by bringing role-playing level progression to the shooter genre. All of a sudden, blowing a hole in a wall with a noob tube came in second to unlocking the next weapon or emblem.

As any regular reader of this blog can attest, I played Call of Duty 4 for two years straight. However, since then there's only one FPS that's had a comparably long shelf life, and that's Bad Company 2. The maps are enormous, and sniping across them feels amazing (especially since the gravity of the bullet is taken into effect). The advance-and-retreat style of play in Rush mode feels more like real war than any other game type in any other shooter out there. The enemy spotting system has completely changed the way I think in-game. I find myself pushing the back button while aiming at opponents in other shooters, then cussing at the developers of the other games for not having a tagging system. And then there's the four different character classes, which are as balanced as any shooter since Team Fortress 2. You're given as much XP for doing class-based team actions as you are for getting a kill, and sometimes even more so. The level progression system isn't as polished as some other games, but that also means the higher-level players aren't playing it for achievements or new weapons, but because it's THAT fun. DICE has done a great job of supporting the game with free content, and there's the Vietnam expansion that released last week, which will have me playing long into 2011.

What keeps me coming back to this game? Everything feels rewarding. Playing as an Assault class soldier and dropping ordinance for appreciative teammates who have been defending a position? Spawning as an Engineer and planting mines that destroy an incoming tank, or using your repair tool to fix an attack chopper while it's in-flight? Controlling a UAV mini-copter and slamming its blades into an opponent's face? Playing as a Medic and using defib paddles to revive a recently-deceased teammate? Being a sniper and calling in a mortar strike on a building that houses an objective, then watching the building collapse, taking out the objective and every opponent inside? Strapping explosives to a four-wheeler and driving it into a broken building full of bad guys, then leaping off at the last second and pressing the detonator? These are the most satisfying moments I had in gaming this year, and for that, Bad Company 2 deserves to be at the top of my list for 2010.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order):

-- Vanquish -- It's a short ride, but a very fun one. Rocket-sliding up to a robot and flip-kicking it is just as fun as it sounds.
-- Metro 2033 -- While it's basically S.T.A.L.K.E.R. without the RPG elements, the graphics were immersive and the story was surprisingly affecting.
-- Super Meat Boy -- Comparable to N+ in terms of difficulty, but with a lot more personality. Some levels felt like the devs weren't playing fair, which is the only reason why it didn't squeak into the top ten.
-- Alpha Protocol -- Could've been a big hit if it didn't ship so unpolished and buggy. The story was solid, and some of the dialogue was laugh-out-loud funny. Steven Heck gets my vote for Gaming Character of the Year.
-- Limbo -- This year's Braid, without the rewinding. Minimalist graphic style works very well. If you don't hate spiders now, you will after playing it.

BONUS LIST -- MOST DISAPPOINTING (in no particular order)

-- Splinter Cell: Conviction -- In what felt like an attempt to gain more mainstream sales, they tried to make it a run-and-gun stealth game. They also took out the cult-garnering-yet-high-learning-curve Spies vs. Mercs mode from the multiplayer. As a humongous fan of the series, these were both very bad decisions. Let's hope they get Sam Fisher back on track in the next one.
-- Medal of Honor -- Devs who worked on the original Medal of Honor games left EA to form Infinity Ward, who made Call of Duty. Call of Duty became immensely bigger than Medal of Honor. Now was EA's chance to respond with a revamped modern-day game. They hired DICE to do the multiplayer, which got a lot of peoples' hopes up. What we ended up with was a spotty single-player campaign and a weak Battlefield-lite multiplayer with fewer character classes and no destructible environments.
-- Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days -- I'm one of the few people who defends the original Kane and Lynch. The controls were a little loose, the cover system wasn't very good, and the squad mechanic was worthless. However, the story was one of the best in this generation, and the longer version's ending was worth getting to. So I had a small level of enthusiasm for a sequel. I shouldn't have. The grainy YouTube video look of this one is cool for about five minutes, but doesn't replace the lack of plot, and the controls are still weak.
-- Just Cause 2 -- The most bug-filled game I played this year. It crashed so many times, I brought a broom into my game room so I didn't have to get up from my chair to reset my Xbox. Audio dropouts during cutscenes are so common, you'll think you're playing a silent movie. Then there's a save glitch that wiped out almost seven hours of gameplay. I don't know if they've fixed any of this stuff since then, but considering I paid full price for it back in March, I don't really care anymore.
-- Dead Rising 2 -- Another sequel to a promising game; another epic fail. Once again, the save system and mission structure get in the way of the fun. The multiplayer is only good for campaign cash farming. It's still surprising to me that someone can make such a beautiful looking game about killing zombies in unique ways and make it such a chore to play.
-- God of War 3 -- It looks great, sounds great, and plays great. So why is it down here instead of up higher? Simple: They turned Kratos, one of the greatest characters in video game history, into a one-dimensional rageaholic. You might think this is a minor complaint, but as video games become more and more of a story-telling medium, connection to the lead character is important (especially when it existed so strongly in past games). Fortunately, the PSP game that released this year (Ghost of Sparta) helped reinstall his pathos while still maintaining most of his anger.
-- I almost added Fable 3 and Crackdown 2 to this list, but I finished both games so I'm giving them a pass (although both were completely phoned in).

I'm looking forward to seeing the lists from the other contributors, hopefully in the next week or so. Happy New Year, bitches!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My new gaming obsession

Call of Duty: Black Ops came out recently, and much to my surprise (and delight), it doesn't suck. The multiplayer is more balanced than Modern Warfare 2, and the customization is deeper than any other console FPS. On top of all that, there's a 'Theater' mode where you can take screenshots from any point in any game you've played in the past seven days. This has become extremely addicting.

Here is a close-up of one of my assault rifles. Not only can you choose from a ton of different camo styles, but you can create your own emblem and have it put on your rifle, as well as having your clan tag carved into it.


Here is me shooting some fool point-blank in the chest with a shotgun:


I ran up behind this dude and shanked him like it was my first day in prison:


Theater mode also has the ability to make 30 second clips and upload them to the site. Then you can link your YouTube account to the site, and then videos automatically upload to YouTube. No longer do you have to explain that awesome kill to your friends, or that funny moment. You can show them, from any angle. More games need to have this function!

Here's me sneaking up behind a camper ... ERRRR, 'an opponent who is utilizing strategic placement', and shooting him in the head with an explosive crossbow bolt:



Here's me getting a lucky semtex stick kill on another camper:



Here's my fat ass falling on someone and killing him, then slicing up his Juggalo friend:



And finally, here's me team-killing the creator of this blog, and giving his corpse a close-up view of my crotch:



My problems with World at War were many, and I wasn't shy about making my feelings known. However, Treyarch was working on more than one game at the time. They were spread thin, and it showed. Black Ops was their only project for the past two years, and while it's not perfect, the improvements are major. Treyarch, my hat's off to you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How awesome would your games look on THIS?


THE GREATEST TV EVER MADE (available to consumers so far)


Every time I go to Fry's, I walk by the 55'' version, and it stops me dead in my tracks. The picture quality is unmatched. However, I already have a 65'' Mitsubishi DLP in the living room, and I didn't want to downsize. Then I saw that price, and OMG, STICKER SHOCK set in. I'm gonna wait a while. Still, the long-term plan is to get this, and move the Mitsubishi into my game room. One of these days, it WILL happen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

REVIEW: Vanquish

I always appreciate a time where I can just kick back, relax, and kick some ass. 

When I first saw Vanquish back in May of this year, my first thought was "Gears of War" meets "Robocop" meets cocaine. Seeing a futuristic over-the-shoulder shooter may have looked like visual porn, but I wasn't quite sold on how it would play, what the story behind it was, and how it would play with friends. When the playable demo came out last month, it was the same thing I had already seen, but getting hands on was a different story. This was going to be some fast paced, intense action that I hadn't seen in a while. Not only was the demo level engaging with crisp controls, but there was a lot going on screen which showed me the game had potential.

For the most part, the retail version did not disappoint. 

This is the second game to come from Sega's Platinum Games developer with the critically acclaimed Bayonetta dropping 10 months ago. You will notice a somewhat similar feeling with Bayo with the Arcade-type presentation (I say 'Arcade' because you are "scored" at the end of each mission); there are a lot of visual stimuli going all over the screen, and the difficulty curve goes from shallow to controller-shaped-dents-in-wall difficult. Vanquish is, however, refreshingly more "western" in its execution ditching the really cheesy cut-scenes to slightly less cheesy cut-scenes (and the annoying as hell faux-Joe Pesci character).

Cuidado; Piso Mojado.
In talking about the game there are two things I need to say up front: Yes, there is no multiplayer. I'll address that in a moment. Also, I really have no idea what the hell the story is about. You play as Solid Snake Alex Murphy Sam Gideon, a dude with a bad ass mechanical super suit who is about to wreck shop on some bad guys. I mean, is there really much else you need to know story wise? Not really. Anyway, you are the tip of the spear of a rag-tag group of soldiers looking to fight a combination of robots and mechs. Sam's suit is capable of switching modes of weapons nearly instantaneously, he can power slide across the floor using rockets, he can do some bullet time slow-mo action when his suit depleted of energy either by damage or activation by the player. There are a good variety of weapons as you progress through the game, and each one serves a useful purpose from a plain old assault rifle, to heavy machine gun, to lazer cannon, to sniper rifle. Everything works well in combat. There is a pretty good cover system, but what is a little unique is that some cover can be destroyed, so you have to move around, strategize, flank, and overcome. This especially holds true in some boss battles, which not only come at end of levels, but some pop up mid-level, too. 

Visually, if you already don't have ADD, Vanquish will take care of that for you. With a smooth framerate, there is a lot that goes on screen, and it all looks really pretty good. There are points in the game where there are seemingly endless amount of baddies, and you can take them out with a weapon that locks four missiles on various targets, as a Thunderdome-reject style tank is barreling down on you. I can't remember having any camera issues or control issues; Vanquish does a good job in keeping the game enjoyable. There is also a good variety in level design. The differing environment kept the combat from getting repetitive, as I never felt bored or bogged down- everything moves fast. The game comes up short on playtime, but honestly, my suggestion is to play on harder difficulty- that way you are well challenged, and you get upwards of 8
hours of gameplay in. 

Pew! Pew! Pew!
So yeah, there is no multiplayer. Honestly, that doesn't bother me. I think multiplayer would have felt tacked on, and after Bioshock 2, I'm good with a stand alone strong Single Player game. I mean this is a game that was really easy and fun to play, I didn't even care about all the plot components. There is even a point in the game where you are crawling in the belly of a mech-stratofighter and you happen along a small room with a robot disguised as a boombox and a few band guys just dancing. Hilarious, and just a reminder to not take things seriously, just kick back and enjoy the ride.

Again, one dude that did NOT enjoy the ride was the review over at Destructoid. I hate to pick on them, because I do enjoy their website, but when a game is hitting an 83 on the Metacritic, and you drop a 5/10 on it, then you pretty much come off as a troll. I'm not saying you have to be in lock-step with everyone else on the internet, but at least you need a little bit of perspective. Again, in reviewing a game, or anything, you need to present what the game is about, what you think the developers are trying to present, and what works. Whether or not you like a game will affect how you review it, but there needs to be enough objectivity that it shouldn't sway it into a category of "Mediocre". There are plenty of games that I weren't keen on but I'm not going to say they straight up suck if there are things about it that are technically sound, and enjoyable.

What makes things worse is when there is no consistency throughout reviews. For example: Buggy, Glitchy, Obsidian developed Fallout New Vegas is worthy of a 9/10 rating from their site, but Buggy, Glitchy, Obsidian developed Alpha Protocol nets a 2/10. Now, I will concede that Fallout New Vegas (TL;DR review pending) is better than Alpha Protocol but the difference isn't 9 and 2; that is ridiculous. Vanquish deserves better as well.

TL;DR - For Sega fanboys, Vanquish is Space Harrier meets Zillion meets a lot of fun. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

DLC REVIEW: Borderlands Claptrap New Robot Revolution

If you had told me that so far I've played more Borderlands this year than Modern Warfare 2, I would have thought there was some sort of game crashing bug, Gearbox was handing out free candy, or told you that you are a complete moron. In May, I threw a quick post together about how I was still enjoying Borderlands, but things didn't really kick into full gear until over the summer when I was determined to finish the third downloadable episode 'Armory of General Knoxx'.

I was in full Borderlands mode when the fourth installment of Downloadable Content released a few weeks ago. "Claptrap New Robot Revolution' takes you to a few new environments and introduces you to a few new (and some old) enemies. Quick summary: The Claptraps are getting kind of sick of being the 'Butler Bot' of Pandora and have risen up to overthrow everything and kick some ass.

No matter what playthrough you begin this episode, everyone is going to be tough. I played through on a level 61 character and all the baddies were at least level 60. If you play alone, prepare to die a few times. Claptraps have taken over all the bad guys so all the humanoid enemies hey are imbued with cybog-like abilities in terms of strength and weapon skill. There are also a few varieties of Claptraps that will kick your ass, roll up on you and kamikaze you into a quick death. As with everything Borderlands, Co-op is the best way to go; I suggest having characters that have good up close weapons, some rocket launchers that do electrical damage, a guy who can sustain damage and heal, and someone who goes around and collect dropped items.

Speaking of collecting, you will do a lot of it. We never really found a large amount of really good weapons that you can find in General Knoxx's Armory, or ones that Crawmerax drops when killed. You do have to collect a bunch of bits and pieces of Claptrap entrails as a mission, and it gets a little tedius. Its not really as entertaining as the 'Braaaaaaaaains' mission in Dr. Ned's Zombie Island, maybe because Dr. Ned was more entertaining in that you can line up four zombies, blow their heads off and ...brains!

I honestly felt underwhelmed when completing this DLC. Its much shorter than either Dr. Ned or General Knoxx, and I think its shorter by a long-shot. I played through the whole thing, went back and brought a few friends up to speed and finished all withing 5-6 hours? I didn't feel that it added much in terms of story, or even humor. I know that may be nit-picking but humor is something that I really enjoyed about Borderlands. There are some funny bits toward the end but it's not really all that entertaining.

There also isn't a lot of re-playability in the game. Dr. Ned is good because Zombie's are fun, and The Armory is really really good because you can go back and kill Crawmerax unlimited times to find good loot; or you can enter the Armory up to three times, as well as traverse a very large map. Upon completing the DLC's main storyline, all there was really left to do was gain a few collectibles that claptraps dropped and even at the time of this review, the Xbox 360 Achievements associated with getting things like pizza boxes, 3-D Glasses, bobbleheads and oil cans are glitched.

At 800 Microsoft points, you get much less than you did with the like-priced other DLC's. At 560 or so Points, this would be a good deal. At 800...eh...

TL;DR- Unless you are a fanboy (which I profess I am), pass.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Undercover (Videogame) Boss

I always hated the premise for the show 'Undercover Boss'. If you work at a company and you don't know what your CEO looks like, then there's either your memory sucks, or the company you work for is way too big and impersonal.

But Undercover Videogame Boss? I'm in.

Monday, October 4, 2010

REVIEW: Dead Rising 2

Hey everyone! My name is Lord Bling. Well, not in real life. If it were, my parents would be complete assholes. Anyway, most of you regular readers probably know me IRL, but if not, here's a quick introduction: I work for a video game publisher, my Xbox Live gamerscore is high and nerdy, and violent games help keep me from killing people in the real world.

For the past few years, I've also been posting on a blog that Miles links to here, called 'Ryan the Angry Midget and Friends'. I went to college and worked with Ryan, and we post all sorts of things about sports, politics, and random humor. It's not for the easily offended, but if you like that blog, chances are good that you and I will get along just fine. I'm the resident video game guy on that site, and tonight I posted my review of 'Dead Rising 2'. Miles asked that I cook up some copypasta here for the TL;DR crowd. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

"Zombies. Who doesn't love 'em? The zombie movie has made a comeback in the past decade. A couple of them were pretty good, and they helped coax George A. Romero and his Harry Caray glasses out of retirement. There's a zombie TV series starting on AMC this month called 'The Walking Dead'. And, they're the perfect video game cannon fodder. Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 sold millions each, as well they should've. They're great games.

Another strong-selling zombie game is Dead Rising. Set in a shopping mall, your job is to find out what caused the undead outbreak, but you only have 72 hours to do so. It was a great setting for a zombie game (even if it's taken lock stock and barrel from a classic Romero film). Great graphics, especially for a launch-window game, with hundreds of zombies on screen at once. Tons of objects that can be used as weapons, and you can level up your character for multiple playthroughs. So why did I hate it?

The game did everything in its power to get in the way of the fun. They give you an open-world setting, but they restrict you with a timed mission structure. The missions are given to you via text, at the bottom of the screen, and almost always when you're in the middle of another mission. 90% of the gameplay is 'escort missions'. Just the word 'escort mission' is enough to make most gamers groan, and the ones in Dead Rising are no exception. They make sense in the scope of the game, but the survivor A.I. was terrible, and rarely fought for themselves or made any effort to keep up with you. And the biggest deal breaker for me? The save system is archaic and broken. You have to walk into a bathroom to save your progress. On the way to every bathroom are tons of zombies. If you're low on health and don't have any food to eat, you may not survive long enough to get to a bathroom, which means whatever progress you've made since the last save will be lost. After this happened a few times in a row, combined with everything else, I gave up on it.

The worst part of all of this? Before Dead Rising shipped, they released a demo on Xbox Live. In the demo, you had 30 minutes to go wild in the mall and kill zombies however you wanted. It was a blast! Playing the demo only set me up to be disappointed by the restrictive final product. But then Capcom announced Dead Rising 2 last year, and I felt optimistic.


Set in a small Vegas-like town, you're given the ability to combine two objects and create a new weapon. This replaces the ability to take pictures that was in the first game, which I rarely used. This got me (and a good amount of gamers) excited. Put a shotgun together with a pitchfork and create a 'boomstick'! Put a propane tank with a box of nails and create an IED! Put a coat hanger with a wheelchair and create a rolling abortion machine! Okay, so you can't make the last one, but trust me when I say the possibilities are almost endless. On top of the weapon system, and the new setting, I also assumed that they'd fix the broken save system and the mission delivery method. So how did they do?

I hate it.

While it takes place in a gambling town, most of your time will be spent where? In a shopping mall. That's right. Your safe house exits into a mall, which may as well be a copy / paste job from the first game.

The load times are atrocious. They were bad in the first game, but they're even worse here. The screen freezes up when you're trying to get to the main menu. Every time you walk through a door? Load screen. And you'll walk through doors a lot, so I hope you like loading screens! Every time you save the game, the screen freezes for almost 15 seconds. It makes you think your Xbox is crashing. Not good.

How do you get your missions? Via text, at the bottom of the screen, usually when you're in the middle of another mission. Again, you're fighting for your life against a horde of zombies, while escorting survivors (who admittedly have improved A.I.) and you have to 'answer your walkie-talkie' to hear about some other survivor you need to save. Wait, did I say 'hear'? I meant 'read'. Does someone at Capcom have a problem with voice acting? Other than cutscenes, there's hardly any of it in this game.

The save system? Still shitty. They give you three separate save slots instead of one, but you still have to run to a goddamned bathroom to save. Note to developers: It's 2010. Most games have aggressive auto-checkpoints, or are like Elder Scrolls IV or Fallout 3 (autosaves, and save at any point you want, into as many save slots as you want). Make an effort to keep up with the competition. If you make gamers work to save their progress, you failed as a developer.

Combining items to make new weapons? Yeah, it's pretty cool. However, you have to take these items to a 'maintenance room', so you can't just do it on the fly. This adds to the tedium that the game seems to relish.


They added online co-op, but it's limited and basic. They also added an online multiplayer mode, but it's stupid and feels tacked-on. It's a reality game show where contestants have to kill the most zombies. It ties into the beginning of the single-player campaign, but it's just a set of mini-games that make Fusion Frenzy 2 look like Mario Party. I like that you can carry over your prize money to the single-player, but it doesn't make the game modes fun. I had troubles finding a game, and I was playing on the first weekend after the game released.

I really wanted to like this game. I played for quite a few hours last weekend, but it just kept getting in the way of itself. If you're a fan of the first game, by all means, pick up a copy of Dead Rising 2. If you weren't a fan of the first, stay far, far away."

TL;DR -- Dead Rising 2 sucks

Sunday, October 3, 2010

REVIEW: Halo Reach

At first, I was a skeptic.

In 2002, I was working at a retail store in Lawrence, KS, riding my high of having the latest and greatest in next generation gaming. I went home from class and work every day to the delights of...Medal of Honor Allied Assault, and SSX Tricky. I was a complete PS2 fanboy at the time, rebuffing all attempts from my co-workers to invest in Microsoft's HUEG monstrosity and its silly little game called 'Halo'.

When I finally pulled the trigger (let's face it, it really didn't take a LOT of convincing for me to purchase a new console), I ate my words in a bad way. Halo was one of the most impressive games I had played to date. The single player campaign, which was a great combination of immersive environments and storytelling gave way to 3 AM rocket-fights with 15 of my friends (ok, 2 friends and 13 people I didn't know). When Halo 2 came out a few years later, the addition of Xbox Live expanded the scope of multiplayer, leading to many legendary online matches, clans, and game variants (Troy, Jihad). There are still many people on my XBL friends list from the old Halo 2 days.

In 2007,  Halo 3 launched, anticipation had built back up, we all played the Beta (and managed to discover a decent game in Crackdown in the process), we were ready to go back in for another few years of multiplayer madness. However something happened: Call of Duty 4 came out, and offered multiplayer game play that not only rivaled Halo, but exceeded it in many ways. We didn't have to deal with 'Halo Jumping', tea baggers, and  the l337 Combo, to the extent that Halo dragged us down. Halo 3 stayed at the top of the Xbox Live leaderboards for quite some time, but eventually it was eclipsed by Call of Duty, and even all but forgotten when Modern Warfare 2 launched. Microsoft and Bungie tried to counter with Halo 3: ODST. It didn't work. The campaign was lackluster, and although the introduction of the Firefight multiplayer mode was refreshing, it just didn't have the punch.

I had become a skeptic again. When Halo Reach was announced, I kind of rolled my eyes and fed myself a big spoonful of apathy. And while I was always outwardly quick to defend the franchise from straight up hatred, I was not necessarily ready to sprint to my local game store and reserve the game.

What helped me in preparation for Reach was a combination of the intrigue of a few changes in multiplayer, and, quite frankly, the letdown of other first person shooters on the market. Modern Warfare 2 started out strong, but I honestly haven't picked that game up in months, right along with Bad Company 2. I guess I was ready for something fresh, ironic considering the franchise is nine years old and the last game released wasn't interesting.

In case you haven't been keeping score, Halo: Reach is a prequel. The player is the newest member of Noble Team, a team of rag-tag and gruff Spartans. Not quite as bad ass as Master Chief, each one has a certain uniqueness about them. Are you bearing witness to the destruction of the planet Reach by the Covenant.

When I played through the campaign (yes, we are finally getting to the 'review' portion of the review), I was hit by a bit of nostalgia. No, Bungie didn't re-invent the wheel, but the environments are expansive, gorgeous, and had good level design. As with the problems in most prequels, you have to deal with technology that is supposed to be inferior to Master Chief's arsenal, so you get the old school assault rifle, pistol, and the new single-shot designated marksman rifle (which I found a salvation in the Campaign, and a pain in the ass in Multiplayer).

As you progress through the story, you will find something that is both interesting and something you can follow. Its pretty simple: fight the covenant, realize the covenant is kicking your ass, find something that can potentially best them in the end, and escape with it so that humanity has a chance to survive later. No flood, no Arbiter, no problem.

Colony Wars, anyone?
Bungie included a few new things in the experience that mixes things up. One is a space mission that seems kind of out of place, but isn't poorly done and has some challenges. The other, and more lasting is a variety of "classes" in which you can spruce up your Spartan. You will find these augmentations during the campaign and can choose them straight up in some multiplayer games, but you can be able to rocket around, sprint (I'd forgotten after playing CoD for 3 years that you couldn't 'run' in Halo--until now), create an armor barrier, go invisible (only if you walk r-e-a-l-l-y slow and don't fire a machine gun) or replicate yourself in an interactive hologram, Total Recall style.

There is a good variety of gamplay in the single player campaign. You can mix it up with sneaking around and sniping, running and gunning, and just plain running. I beat the campaign on Heroic and had to use an interesting blend of tactics in order to advance through some of the trouble stages where you find yourself with little to no ammo. Four player co-op does well, at some points you actually have to strategize how you are going to defeat hordes of bad-guys, elites and hunters (by the way, if you are going to play co-op, be a real gamer and play on Legendary).

Chuck Norris Spartan doesn't sleep; he waits. 
Multiplayer has a bit of customability to it. Firefight is horde mode co-op game type where you can take on legions of covenant in a contained area. Invasion is rather enjoyable, as you are either attacking and defending certain checkpoints, ultimately ending is an attempted smash and grab job. There are also a slew of variants in game type that you can vote on (as opposed to veto) that can incorporate classic slayer, to using to various abilities I mentioned earlier.  Right now, my favorite is using the Hologram. Its great to get a read on where people are as they fire onto your fake image, or when someone does have the drop on you, hit the holo to evade their fire. I've also found renewed success with the sprint class, although I've also found renewed failure against many of the transplanted Halo savants. Its always been a game I've been 'OK' at, but when running up against the MLG wannabe's who are dome-rackers with the DMR or Needler Rifle, it just becomes frustrating. Not the game's fault; just some people need to get a life.

You will notice that I have left out the Forge and Theater parts of this review, as I am about to discredit myself completely and say I haven't paid much attention to either. There are many players who pretty much immerse themselves in those, and come up with some very good presentations in both their own level design and videos.

Going back to my previous post about the beta, I want to readdress a few things:

  • Most of my 'meh's from the beta are pretty much not 'meh's anymore. Character classes spruce things up, The visuals are great, and I haven't run into the new '1337 combo'. I still wish the sniper rifles didn't have a reticule so pros can no-scope, and I wish the world took note of how awesome a sticky grenadier I am, but those are minor gripes.
  • I do wish weapons were a little more unique, not necessarily more powerful. I love the needler rifle and yet the DMR drives me crazy in MP because slower single-shot weapons that take multiple shots to bring someone down are tedious. 
  • I previously said that Halo is still relevant and can still evolve, and I'm beginning to wonder if that is true. Yes, Halo: Reach is one of the best of the franchise, and with Activision's struggles with their flagship, this could have some staying power into the next year, but what after that? Bungie is now done with Halo, and Microsoft is taking it to another one of its internal studios. Unless they can redefine the franchise by finish story and bring back freaking Master Chief, bringing through some more customization in multiplayer, add a lot of unique (a mix of vast and smaller, NOT retreads of old) maps, then do we really need it? 
I think the answer to the last question is going to be "you may not need it, but we sure hope you'll buy it." Perhaps since this Reach is a step in the right direction, the next one will just continue that path. Then again, with all that is coming out at the end of the year, I doubt I will still be there to put in the time, energy, or patience. 

TL;DR- Tonight, we dine on Reach, Tomorrow we dine at Arby's.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nintendo 3DS Games in Action.

DO. FREAKING. WANT.
(via Kotaku)

TS;DR There really isn't anything more that I can say about what the potential here is. I have friends that have played it at E3. The launch line-up looks pretty good, although they are mostly recycled franchises. Like I've said before; as long as quality games keep coming, then this is going to be a very hot item.

Your move, PSP2.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Summer of Slack

Sometime, life just a funny way of getting in the way of all the fun. I had such grand plans to start a gaming blog, get it rolling, play some games, give my thoughts on that and other things and share it with the internet world.

It lasted 3 months. Life took over.  Or a regression toward the mean.

I had a lot to say and didn't really have the time or energy to say it. For one, work kind of took over for a bit, then stuff at home, and then I just got lazy. Its pretty easy to get sidetracked.
Then on the recommendation of a friend, I decided to download Trials HD; it was all downhill from there.
That's me.

Where the hell have I been all summer? Playing an XBLA game from last summer. I honestly don't know if I've ever gotten more out of a fifteen dollar video game.

For the un-addicted, Trials puts you in the seat of a motorcyle/dirtbike and you have to traverse a various assortment of stunt tracks, trying to not take a spill nor be too slow. The physics of the game are what's going to get you: you can easily flip your bike one way or the other if you don't lean the right way. You also can't go full throttle the entire time, either. You have to run up ramps that require precision speed and handling, which is time consuming to learn, but rewarding to master.

You always know where your friends stack up.
This game alone would have been enough to suck me in, but there are mini-skill games that take this thing over the top. Mini games are unique running from a ski-jump (distance), to a game where you have to run as far as you can before you explode in flames, to one where you have to stay on one wheel before your front wheel falls off (technique).

[Going to take this moment to brag about my top 1% distance in both original and DLC ski jump game. Brag.]

This game also brings out the competitive nature in the player. You will get better because you not only want to get gold medals in all the events, but you also want to beat your friends. That has driven me these last few months to improve my game, read up on strategy, and spend hours upon hours trying to improve my skill and be number one on my friends list leaderboards. This is a game one can pick up, think they can play for just a few minutes and next think you know its 3 in the morning, and you are certain this next run will be your best.

As for this blog, it will be back. I've been doing more than playing Trials this time. I promise the three people that read this that there will be some more content coming in the next few weeks. There is a lot to talk about.

TL;DR- I'm lazy.