Category: Articles

It’s July, and for a gamer that means three things.

  1. Less and less excuses to stay inside and play games.
  2. Less and less holidays for gamers to give or receive new games.
  3. Less and less and even less reasons for publishers to release brand spanking new games to retailers.

These are the ingredients to the ever dreaded summer draught that plagues the industry annually like a migrating flock of money eating locus. True, the vast majority of gamers are no longer teenagers and children, but until the big players in the current industry mold adjust their business models to compensate for that, most of the big budget games aren’t going to be released until at least October. That includes the vast majority of the titles I showed you on my E3 bulliten are in that pile, and on top of that, the last PS4 contest I ran left my wallet bone dry. So here I am – no games to buy and no money to buy them with. At least not from the triple A world. That’s why I’m going to do something different this summer; Today, on the first day of July, I will begin what I like to call Retro Month. From now on, every July, I will be unearthing games that have been out for a while and reviewing them based on both their historical merits, and how they stack up to today’s standards. August, meanwhile, will from now on be Indie Month. The theme there will be nothing but reviews of Indie titles; games that have a low budget, come from a small, obscure team, and/or can be found on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstaion Store, Steam, or App store exclusively. I might even be able to get an interview with an Indie dev with insights on how to break into the industry. This way, I can save my earnings by playing games I already own and then buying games for cheap quickly and swiftly.

Let Retro Month…Begin!


2011-11-12 16.50.28

If the title of this article and the big picture wasn’t enough of a hint, we are going to review a certain kind of system for you today. It’s the system that resurrected the game industry from what was then certain extinction. The crash of the 80s was a kiss of death for companies like Atari, Colecovision, and the likes of which you will never hear of because they died before they went public. To this day, they are unearthing the remains of E.T. for Atari, a game so bad that they literally took all the unsold copies and buried them in the desert. Such stories are not only common then but are common in the now, and history would repeat itself had the people who changed it for the better not become the kings of the new world.

For you see, after the games market collapsed, mainstream america and it’s media declared video games a dead fad. A reasonable estimate at the time, since fads that come and go have pretty much illustrated both the latter half of the 70s and the early 80s (Pet Rock, anyone?). It was the general consensus of just about every pundit on 1984 prime time that the video game fad had come and gone and the world was ready to move on to more important things, like computers. The fact that computers usually had interactive games on them was rarely discussed. What was normally discussed was the booming economy of Japan and the corporate powerhouses whose imported goods were quickly flooding the US markets. Products that came from the land of the rising sun were quickly starting to outnumber American made products, and no more was this apparent then the arcade. Among them, a great and ambitious game called Donkey Kong was king of the pizzeria, and was making a killing for the toy company that made it. You may have heard of that company; they call themselves Nintendo these days.

To make a long history lesson short, the designer of the game Shigeru Myamoto wanted to try something ambitious, CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi (died fairly recently) went along with it, and one extremely clever Market campaign and 60 million sales later, the game business was back and made Nintendo it’s king.

2011-11-12 16.50.28



This little system that could is what started it all; the Nintendo Entertainment System. NES for short. For many of you, it was probably your first real taste of what video gaming is all about. Join the club, ladies and gentlemen, and don’t mind the crowd. My professor for video game design Ryan Morrison said it best when he described us as the Nintendo generation. Like generation X, we proud ourselves on being different and often define ourselves by our entertainment choices. We also tend to have our views shaped by the technologies that made our generation possible, and which continue to affect our world. The ballads of Super Mario, Metroid, and Zelda have repeated themselves throughout the ages, and they all had their first adventures on our TV with this little cartridge machine.

I won’t lie to you; unearthing this thing from my mother’s basement was a blast from the past. Games I fondly remember playing over and over again in the days of yore resonated within my mind as I search through each cartridge. I had it hooked up to my room fairly easily, and it took a lot of patience just to get the thing working. Not surprising, since the game is almost as old as I am. For the record, I turned 27 this year, and I started playing this thing when I was two years old. As Gabe from Penny-Arcade once said, this system is old enough to drink.

God, that was a long introduction. Is everyone still with us? Good. Lets begin the review then.

Real quick though; this isn’t about the quality of the system. Period. For it’s generation, this machine was a revolution in gaming. The review is more for what that revolution was, and how it might affect you if you get the same nostalgia bug that bit me and decide to unearth your own. Enjoy.


Beautifully Simple


Often Unreliable


Gaming History Piece


That’s it. If your wondering where the rest of the review is, know that this time I’m trying something different. I have a seperate article linked to each line of words on the Seven Word Synopsis, and all you need to do is click on one to see a better description of what I mean. If the hits come off this thing pretty well, I will model all my reviews after it.

Next review will be about the game that made this system a legend. That’s right; a retro review of



I was wondering when this would happen. Seems inevitable; new consoles come out, new games come out for it. Plus, since Call of Duty is considered the game among games by publishers, it’s no surprise that Activision would launch one for next gen. Given the rising emphasis on future tech in the franchise itself, it’s even less surprising that they named it what they did and have it take place in the future. To top off this move by Activision’s PR machine, we have Kevin Spacey as… Some business guy who might wanna become a dictator? Whatever. He’s obviously going to be the “bad guy”. In a game that isn’t particularly good at making memorable bad guys.


Kevin Spacey

Cynicism aside, this does look like it will at least be another festival for the eyes. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has next generation graphics that shine like diamonds on the surface of every object. The special effects flare up like sparks of nova on the sun. And the animations, even on the face, look not only detailed but are rendered both realistic and expressive. Somewhat. Kevin Spacey seems to be the core of this games star power, and will more then likely get the lions share of the acting. While his body movements are fluid enough, his face seems to be stuck in one place, at least in the trailer above. The E3 trailer that debuted  recently suggests better animations for the face of the soldiers; a good thing, since even with Kevin Spacey as star, we will most likely see a lot more high tech soldiers then him. Speaking of which…


One thing that actually does have me at least a little excited is the new weaponry they introduce in the game. They are making it even more high-tech then before, since this takes place in the year 2054. They seem to take a hint from the GI Joe movies nobody loves so much and gives the marines of 2054 mechanical exoskeletons that make them stronger. A little gimmicky, but it serves the purpose of simplifying melee and allows you to manipulate the environment more. They already ripped out car doors to use as a shield and kick open doors that are barred. I’d like to see what that kind of strength can do to a person’s head-or a robot’s arm. Confirmed is a battery powered rifle with infinite ammo; assuming you don’t overheat it. Also confirmed are grenade that can change their function with a push of a button. Such functions include the classic frag grenade, a thermal image device that shows the position of every enemy in bright neon, and a neat concept called a smart grenade, which basically makes the grenade rocket propelled and home in on a nearby target. That could be useful for throwing around corners. You also get boosters, which are like a limited jet pack that soften your fall. This will probably annoy veteran gamers, but my favorite feature showed thus far would probably be the shield drone. Apparently, you can link yourself somehow to  drone, and control it as you move around. The shield drone moves right in front of you, blocking enemy fire, highlighting targets, and even lowers it defenses when you aim your weapon, so you can fire back when you have the shield on. Definitely a better option then the old riot shield of yore.

Heavy Gunner

It’s not confirmed completely what the main story is, but from viewing the source website, it is strongly implied that it has heavily to do with private military corporations, or PMCs. Call of Duty wouldn’t be the first game to do this, as Metal Gear Solid 4 comments heavily on their usage and was published more then half a decade ago. I would bet good money that the scene with Kevin Spacey is at the headquarters of a major mercenary corporation, and the backstory has something to do with his character’s company becoming a national threat in some way. How remains to be seen exactly, but I bet most of the guys shot up in the E3 demo were mercenaries of a rival corporation.

High Tech

IN closing, this looks to be a fun game for the average adrenaline junkie, mediocre for the narratively inclined, and another staple of the COD franchise to all parties involved. I could get into detail about how it recycles the Michael Bay zeitgeist of american white guys saving the day from something scary and different for the umpteenth time, but that is another article for another time.

If that kind of trailer didn’t make your mouth water, you aren’t a fan of Batman or the Arkham video game series. I happen to be both, and as a word of warning, I am pretty excited about this new game based off of this trailer alone, so don’t expect me to be %100 percent impartial.


Then again, any nerd worth his word is going to recommend this game based off of Facebook hearsay alone. Memes expressing positive emotions ranging from satisfaction to pure ecstasy are littering their comment boards, and the trailer above was released only recently.

The excitement is not without reason, either. Rocksteady studios, the guys who make the Batman Arkham series the Batman Arkham series is back in the game. Literally. They are the original studio that made the first game Arkham Asylum and the legendary Arkham City. The only Arkham games that haven’t made its mark was its last game Arkham Origins and the Blackgate game for handheld systems, and that was when Rocksteady took a hiatus. Having the team back along with Kevin Conroy as Batman puts most of my misgivings as ease right off the bat. Add an in game Batmobile with amphibious assault capabilities and your golden. I sure as shooting am not the only person who feels this way about it either.

This is, of course, the industry hype machine hard at work. Actual gameplay footage have not even been released yet, and already people are ready to camp outside to wait for their copy. Hundreds of thousands of people. We probably won’t see any actual gameplay until E3 shows it off to the public. I’ll be sure to update when that happens.

What I will say about both the trailer and the screenshots included herin is that they are beautiful. Gorgeous. Trickles of rain practically sparkle on the reflective shield plates of the Bat mobile as the glowing headlights shine through the front wheels. Harley Quinn’s color scheme is as bright and well contrasted as ever, and her smile is practically photogenic. While it is easy to dismiss pretty much the entire trailer as a non interactive cut scene or movie reel, the game is only launching for PC and both the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which have the technology to make this look possible. This is probably going to be the most graphic intensive Arkham game of the series, and if the hype is to be believed, the final one.53152bdca7a36

From a Narrative perspective, it makes sense to make this the last hurrah for the trilogy, although I have a nagging suspicion that if this game does as well as they hope, Warner Bros. is going to make at least five more games in this series with or without Rocksteady. It happens all too often; A game completes its story, goes gold, and to make even more gold the publishers milk it for as many publications as possible, with plot lines that jog in place. They do this to make money, secure the brand, and keep the interest alive long enough for the team to possibly come back to make lighting strike twice. That’s why they made Halo 4.

A bigger concern then the possibility of the Arkham game mill churning long after the series finale is the the villain they made for the game. While the prospect of a super creative team like Rocksteady adding a new villain to a franchise that is famous for having some of the best villains seems promising, the concept they are pitching us seems to be more then a little lack luster.

He is literally called the Arkham Knight.

They are basically just making a Dark Knight Doppelgänger. While the comic book and video game industries are no stranger to having heroes literally face themselves, the fact that they pretty much just redesigned the character slightly seems a bit lazy if not repetitive. Whats more is that if the screenshot below is any indicator, they might have an even simpler premise for the new villain that is even less original then you might think


That’s right; he’s got a gun in his hand. While being anti-death and anti-gun is almost at the core of Batman’s being as a character and a central part of his moral compass and internal conflict, this scenario has been played out before again and again in comics and animated movies. Ever hear of the Red Hood? If you have, you probably are already seeing a bunch of parallels stack up with him and the Arkham Knight. If you haven’t heard of the Red Hood, all you really need to know is that he is a resurrection of an older version of Robin who rides a motorcycle, wears a leather jacket and Red Hood/Helmet, fights crime, and isn’t afraid to kill criminals with guns. WB even released a straight to DVD animated feature starring him and the Joker as primary antagonists. The center conflict was why didn’t Batman kill the Joker even after the Joker killed Robin. Yeah; that kind of thing actually happened in the comics. The resolution was that once you kill a person, you can’t take it back, and that Batman always finds a way to solve problems and fight crime without killing anyone. If the Arkham Knight turns out to be Robin, and they end up arguing about how to protect the city without killing people, the fans are gonna roll there eyes, and I will be the first in a very long line to do so.

But frankly, even if the game’s storyline is a little hackneyed, it will have shine to spare and plenty of side missions and amusement to more then make up for it. I already am seeing some good design decisions being made, and most of them revolve around the brand new mechanic that much of it’s PR is centered around-the Batmobile.


The way they made the Batmobile seems brilliant. While it is cool that you can basically drive over water, that speaks more of a smart design decision then simply a cool mechanic; it solves the problem of crashing the car into the water and negates the need for invisible walls outside the game’s world border. Plus, it would make sense that a billionaire vigilante who wants the best tactical advantage over the worst of the worst super criminals to invest in a vehicle that can double as both a performance car and a speedboat. Chasing criminals over multiple kinds of terrain should be a breeze. It also seems to incorporate a pretty standard feature in the Batmobile that works both as a game mechanic and a way to avoid design problems. It uses AI to control itself and come back to Batman. This has been done before, with things like Epona’s song in Zelda, so it shouldn’t be hard to execute it. Plus, giving it commands like a Titan in Titanfall makes sense both from a development point and from the story mode. Batman is always controlling his car remotely in all his iterations, often to good dramatic and tactical effect. I look forward to speeding over the water, ejecting from my Batmobile, gliding over the bridge, and letting my trusty vehicle take most of the damage while providing cover fire as I dive down on a sniper. Genius.

Plus, even if the core villain seems a little weak, the central plotline holds some promise. The voiceover at the beginning of the trailer more then likely30e3662ac42f11e3b4b60002c955ec9a_6 belongs to the Arkham Knight, and it may very well be him/her declaring martial law. The villains seem to be taking the city by storm in a way that seems less stilted and preachy then the end of Dark Knight Rises. Plus, having multiple gangs cooperating and arming themselves suggests some kind of truce to their power struggle suggest something big is going on. That, and the mass evacuation over the bridge, plus the armed gunmen chasing down cops rather then vice versa. The Joker is rumored to reappear in this game despite the ending to Arkham City, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his ugly face under the Arkham Knight’s helmet (Spoiler alert!). Rocksteady made great plot twists and drama in the past, and they might do it again one last time.

The website says it will be released in 2014, but rumors are starting to circulate that there might be a delay in its release to 2015. They are unconfirmed at the time of this post, but in the event they are true, I would actually be thrilled. Yes, I hope they do delay the game another year and so should you. Why? Because good games take time, and great games take a lot of work and a lot of time. The Sistine Chapel wasn’t built in a day, and if it was, it wouldn’t be the Sistine Chapel. Rocksteady would be wise to put their labor, their love, and some TLC into this project, and if they need another nine months to give birth, so be it.1c5bbed8a3f911e3b7650e1e7e7c6e3f_6

I will be reviewing this game as soon as I can.