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            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

Call Me Lameish – The “Virtue” of Hardcore Mode

Monday, October 25th, 2010

When I heard Fallout: New Vegas was going to offer a “Hardcore Mode”, the particular gland in my body that harbors my perversion for masochistic challenge swelled with anticipatory trembling. In HxC, the simulation of post apocalyptic survival becomes brutally accurate and unforgiving. Your character must be fed, hydrated, and well rested if they hope to survive their sojourn over the irradiated plains of the Mojave Dessert. Failure to sate these integral human appetites will result in crippling handicaps that leave you limping across the sands like a wounded fawn, the likely prey of any number of ravenous, disfigured, nuclear-abominations.

Shit gets real.

Naturally, this sort of masochistic dogma isn’t one the vast purchasing public subscribes to when it comes to how they spend their leisure hours, so HxC is optional. I contend, however, that anybody playing the game on “regular” mode is doing himself or herself a great disservice. Consider the following anecdote:

To ensure a nice humble onset from which you can enjoy the fulfilling process of character development, you begin your existence in the universe of New Vegas by GETTING SHOT IN THE HEAD. I awoke to the face of a man who had been kind enough to fish the bits of bullet out of my skull. I can only hope he was a qualified medical practitioner. After fending off a pack of invading bandits from the town of my savior, I began my virginal foray in to the Mojave Wasteland. I soon discovered that since I had awoken atop the good doctor’s table, I hadn’t eaten a single thing. I was weak from starvation and I was marching headlong towards the men who’d put one bullet in me already. Necessity drove me towards a den of coyotes burrowed in to a rock face. Rather than risking a frontal confrontation, one that my mal-nourished husk of a body would not likely survive, I crawled through the irradiated muck on my belly and picked them off from afar.

Their meat would suffice, but there was a chance that entering the den would yield further spoils. Rifle held tight, I stepped cautiously in to their acrid lair. As my sight adapted to the shadowy hollow, I heard the hushed baying of a much smaller creature. Coyote pups, born to a more harsh and brutal world than their parents I had butchered. Cowering in a corner, the braver of the bunch bore his fangs, snarling. I looked at them and I understood for a moment that we were alike. Both of us, wide-eyed and ignorant to what fathoms the evils of this world could descend. Would our fragile selves weather these trials and continuously emerge stronger and wiser than when we had begun them? Or would some roving giant crush us without thought or emotion in the common pursuit of survival? There we both stood, huddled together in a black pit, with the frigid wind of an unforgiving world howling just past the cave’s narrow mouth.

Their meat was sweet.

In any other game where morality is a factor, butchering infants is unanimously considered nothing short of nefarious, but in New Vegas… -in Hardcore Mode, we are humbled. Morality is shown to be luxury of the entitled. While there is a difference between picking the bones of a sacked caravan and pulling the trigger point blank on a 6-month-old blind orphan, it is a subtle one. I found HxC to be an examination of poverty and moral relativism. It allows the players to find their own answer to the question: in a nation of have-nots, is theft still a crime?

New Vegas has successfully created one of the most effective interactive story-telling experiences of the post-apocalyptic genre. You walk from your shelter in to a world where morality and ethics were vaporized along with the highways and high-rises of the old world. For the second time in its existence, America is once again a frontier; an untamed wilderness steeped in constant, un-sleeping peril. It is against this lawless backdrop that the game then hands the pen to you, the player, and bids you answer the question: what happens next? When civilization is erased and the contemporary human entity steps out to have their eyes stung by the dawn of a new day, will we prove that we have extricated ourselves from the destructive, base compulsions of our evolutionary infancy? Or will our delusions of reason as being the only definitive characteristic of our species be brought to a violent and humbling end?

New Vegas shows us that as a species, we are capable of both, but in our medium,

it all depends who’s playing the game.

Call Me Lameish will return next Monday  with a fully illustrated review of Fable 3.

Sunday Soapbox: It’s Only $15, You Cheap Mother Fuckers

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Hello website. Apparently you exist.

I’ve forgotten that most things exist. I’ve been working later than desired/expected this week and I’ve been doing fun, but time consuming things this weekend, so this is my first chance to sit down and write something when I’m not wiped from work or not somewhere else.

I heard a rumour that Lameish was going to post impressions of Fallout: New Vegas, but he’s caught onto one of the primary rules of the site quickly: Never follow-through on a promise. That’s our only unbreakable vow to you readers.

Anyway, I just played some Majora’s Mask music on the piano and it felt amazing but MAN is that music ever haunting and good at creating an atmosphere of loneliness. That’s usually the mood I like while playing the piano, but Majora’s Mask just took it to the next level. Song of Healing and the moody, slow version of Song of Storms are fucking beautiful and haunting as hell.

Anyway, I was going to write a Scatter Storming as you can probably tell from the rambles, but I have something specific to rant about.

Actual Editorial Starts Here

With the recent releases of DeathSpank, DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue, and Costume Quest, people have been complaining more and more that these games have the “hefty” price tag of $15.

Fuck the fuck off.

Obviously your money has value and you don’t want to throw it away, and the argument of games being overpriced as a whole might have merit somewhere, but complaining that “1200 Microsoft points is a little steep for a 6-15 hour game” blows my mind into pieces.

This is a good deal.

Considering the spectrum of pricing for video games, I – and many, many others – have no problem laying down full price for Uncharted 1 and 2. I beat both those games in a combined 3 sittings. I had a short, but very positive experience. I don’t even really want to replay the Uncharted games at all and I don’t have any interest in the multiplayer that was only available in the second one anyway.

Gears of War 2 is another example of a $60 game (more in Canada) that I beat in (essentially) one sitting, and it’s a game with broken multiplayer. That game has a bunch of fans and (too much) critical acclaim. And while you hear the issue of cost, “overpriced” is not the most common complaint issued against the game.

For some reason, when any game is released to the PSN or XBL at $15, the internet explodes with angered rants and comments that the price is practically robbery, and it’s almost the only comments heard about the title.

Perhaps it’s because the retail market pricing is a little more fixed, and because $15 was unheard of before Braid in the downloadable space. Still, paying a quarter of the price for a lot more than a quarter of a game isn’t “a little too steep” in my books.

$15 is a meal and a half at Wendy’s, it’s 3 round trips by public transit in Toronto, it’s the price of 3 cups of coffee if you go to Starbucks. It is not a whole lot of money compared to what most people spend on a routine basis.

Obviously games like Fallout 3, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect (to name only a few) can give 40-100+ hours of gameplay. But good games of such massive size aren’t common and are of incredible value. And that’s assuming I put hundreds of hours into these games. I often don’t have the time anymore.

Even if Costume Quest – which I’m playing right now and enjoying – does only end up being 6 hours if played once, that’s $2.50 an hour for a fun game. Even a 20 hour retail game ends up being 3 bucks an hour. And 20 hours is often considered to be a solid length for non-shooters.

And don’t give me the “I can trade in for retail games” argument. Not only can you trade in for points cards (at least in North America), that argument also doesn’t diminish nor change the value of the title itself. Sure, perhaps you can’t afford $15 if you’re unable to trade in for a points card, but that doesn’t mean that the game is too pricey.

Seriously, I’m over $15 downloadable games getting shit on for being a great deal.

South Park – “Insheeption” Review

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

So, how many of you have seen Christopher Nolan’s summer blockbuster, Inception? Quite a few of you? Good, because if you haven’t, much of the humor found in the latest episode of South Park will be lost on you. As you know if you follow the site, I loved Inception. I loved it a lot, and anyone who dares spoof it better do a damn good job. Thankfully, South Park did a damn good job.

The episode begins as a spoof on “Hoarders.” Or that’s what I read after the fact, at least. I’d never heard of Hoarders, so I had no idea a spoof was even taking place. Our friend Stan is outed as a Hoarder, and after a hilarious scene where he tries (and fails) to clean out his locker, he’s sent to talk with the school counselor – Mr. Mackie.

Mr. Mackie doesn’t often get the spotlight, but boy do I ever love it when he does. It turns out that Mackie is a hoarder as well  - when Stan questions him about a month-old empty milk carton, he explodes into rage and shouts at young Stan that he will “rape him in the mouth.” (The scene is as hilarious as it sounds.)

So, a specialist is brought in. The theory is that a buried emotional trauma from the past is what is causing Stan and Mackie to have the tendency to hoard things. Oh, and there’s also a sheep herder who gets dragged into the counseling session. I’ll say it again: Sheep “herder.” The joke is pretty obvious. The Sheep Herder hangs around for the entirety of the episode. Gimmicky as he may be, I found his defeated, confused presence rather amusing.

And then the Inception spoofing begins. During the therapy session, Mackie begins vividly dreaming of his childhood – so vividly, in fact, that both Stan and the Sheep Herder are sucked into his dream. From that point, the episode becomes an intriguing – and hilarious – look into Mackie’s childhood. And, yes, a young Mr. Mackie is every bit as hilarious as it sounds.

And that’s not all. Soon, practically the entire cast from Inception appears to save the day. And, of course, to explain all the awesome complexities of what’s going on. South Park takes a shot at Inception’s admittedly convoluted plot, here. After listening to cartoon Leonardo and friends explain all the intricacies of dream levels, Mrs. Marsh exclaims “just because something is needlessly convoluted and complex doesn’t make it cool!”

I still love Inception, though.

And, because I can’t bear not to mention it: Randy Marsh. After heroically diving into the dream to save his son, Randy manifests in the dream as…. a butterfly. After listening to Stan’s plea for help, Randy responds: “butterflies have no concern for such things, Stan! I’m gonna go find some butterfly poon!”

Priceless.

The episode contains only a single comedic fail, and that’s in the form of Freddy Krueger’s superfluous appearance late in the episode. The scene where the specialist attempts to recruit him is kinda amusing, as is seeing a cartoon Freddy Krueger with a hillbilly beard. Still, it’s not funny enough to justify how entirely pointless he is to the story. After the recruiting scene, he has maybe 20 additional seconds of screentime.

The scene where Mackie finally finds and confronts the trauma that caused his hoarding disorder is appropriately disturbing, just as we’d expect from the guys at South Park. You’ll be laughing and feeling bad for it, which is more or less the reason why I love South Park so much. Of the three new episodes, Insheeption is definitely the strongest.

SCORE: 8.5/10

Hey! Look! Listen! #64 – Dream of Californication

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

“I’m not going to bore you with three paragraph non-introductions like Riddles did with his Hey! Look! Listen!…”

Seriously, what a jackass. You guys enjoy my lengthy introductions, right? They’re a nice personal touch, right? I’m an interesting person, right?

Wrong? Well fuck you too, asswipe.

David Jaffe Responds to EA Louse

Remember last week when I wrote about the Tragic Rantings of EA Louse? Y’know, the guy from Mythic who worked on the Warhammer MMO and said that BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to fail epically?

Well, while the man may have had some valid complaints, he was also a butthurt sap who was about to get fired. What I mean by that is: his perspective is far from unbiased. So, it’s hardly surprising that David Jaffe has taken the opportunity to call him out on a few things. You can read Jaffe’s blog entry here.

Jaffe’s a pretty straight shooter, I have to concede. His point about the dancing is spot-on, and mirrors what I thought myself. And this is coming from Jaffe, a guy who’s worked on plenty of games, and most likely worked with plenty of less-than-stellar dev teams himself. He knows what he’s talking about.

I mean, he created God of War. And for that he will remain immortal.

Perhaps wrongfully so.

D’OH

Check Out This Video About Black Ops’ Multiplayer

Awwww yeah. I’m admittedly pretty stoked about Call of Duty: Black Ops. Call of Duty’s online multiplayer is the only competitive online game that I’ve ever become moderately addicted to. Y’see, I don’t tend to be the type of gamer who obsesses over any single game for an extended period of time. So, the fact that Modern Warfare 2 has taken up so many days (days) of my time is an impressive thing.

Is there *anyone* else out there who likes Call of Duty? Nobody? Too bad,watch this (highly informative) video anyway.

November 9 can’t come soon enough.

Capcom Defends Dante Redesign

Okay. Between myself and Ethos, I’m the bigger Devil May Cry fan. I’ve played through the entirety of the first two, and a good chunk of DMC3. I like the series quite a bit, so naturally I paid attention when Capcom unveiled their flashy new series relaunch. However, as you may have noticed, I said nothing – nothing until now.

I’ve been doing this thing long enough to have learned to avoid knee-jerk reactions. They often end up making a fool of you, and I’m not partial to being made a fool of. So, when a developer or publisher does something that  rubs me in every conceivable wrong direction, I force myself to take a moment, step back, wait for the initial shock to wear off, and then see what I think.

When Capcom unveiled the new design for Dante, I hated it. I hated it just as much as the throngs of angry gamers who set the internets ablaze with their vitriolic complaints.

But I remained silent.

Until now.

The new Dante sucks. He sucks, he’s terrible, I hate him. Why’d they do this to him? Why? How? Please, can’t anyone tell me why?

Maybe Christian Svensson, Capcom’s VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development can tell me.

The original concepts that came back for Dante were actually extremely close to the Dante everyone knows and loves,” Svensson explained. “The feedback that came back from [Keiji] Inafune and [Hideaki] Itsuno was, ‘No guys, this needs to be completely different, we need you to go much further and be much more creative.’”

And literally dozens of potential iterations later became what we as a team felt comfortable and actually happy with.

Okay… so they wanted him to look different. Fine. What Capcom needs to understand is that we’re not furious because they changed Dante. Necessarily. Rather, we’re furious because they changed Dante into such a douche. Seriously, could they have come up with a (pardon my language) faggier look for everyone’s favorite demon slayer? Dante is a wisecracking badass, not a fucking brooding grease-haired emo F*GGOT.

Again, pardon the language. I only deem it necessary in these dire times. Sucker Punch was wise, and responded to the outcry of their fans. Hopefully Capcom will do the same. Because I do not want to look at that for eight plus hours.

Man, I Love Back to the Future

I do. Even the second installment, which many people seem to disdain for whatever reason. In my opinion, the second movie is the second best. And the first is the first best. A cookie if you can figure out which I think is the third best.

Granted, it is somewhat amusing (and disappointing) to look at the second film’s depiction of the year 2015. And, while we may still have four years or so until we reach said year, this video from Landline TV more or less has it right. Poor Doc Brown. The guy deserved better.

Somebody *did* make a Hoverboard, though. We have that.

Ba-hahahaha: EA Wants to Kill Babies

Well, not really. However, the unfortunate placement of this pop-out ad for Medal of Honor makes it appear so:

Oh, I love it.

Irregardless of any and all rumors of baby-killing, Medal of Honor managed to sell 1.5 million copies in a week. What? In spite of its “shameful” 75% aggregate ranking?

What a spoiled, spoiled industry.

I’ve Seen This Trailer 82372 Times Before

I know a lot of people are excited about The Last Story. I should be too; it’s Hironobu Sakaguchi. The last game he made was Lost Odyssey, and I loved the shit out of it. Hell, I even enjoyed Blue Dragon for what it was. (Braces).

That said, this trailer looks like it was pieced together from every other JRPG trailer ever made. Ever. The fact that it’s all in Japanese doesn’t help its cause.

So, why would I end this HLL with a boring video that I didn’t even enjoy? Well, one half to appeal to the hopeless JRPG nerds in the crowd. (I can smell you.) And one half because I hate you. I hate you all.

Nah, not really. I had fun writing this. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

~Riddles

Call Me Lameish – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Review

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Once again, my apologies for the tardiness.

Only hours before making this post, I turned in the $75 EB Games gift card my parents were nice enough to get me for my birthday, and got my hot little hands on my very own irradiated little copy of Fallout: New Vegas. I’ve yet to extricate the new and exciting fetid aromas of the Capital Wasteland from their vaguely sexual, cellophane bondage. I’ll be providing a detailed report on my body’s various responses to said aromas on next week’s CML. For now, here’s what I thought of Enslaved: Journey to the West.

-Lameish

Welcome to New Vegas Week

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

It’s comforting, perhaps, to know that however miserable one’s life may be at any given moment, the life of a certain Ludwig Van Beethoven was far more so.

Seriously, the guy is a classic(al) downer. (Classical, get it? Ha ha. Ha.) I bring this up because as I write this, a documentary about him is playing on my TV. Why? Dunno, ask Charlie.

Anyway, now that we’re past the cold open, welcome to New Vegas Week! I say “welcome” because that’s pretty much all I can do. My experience with the Fallout franchise is practically zero (I never played Fallout 3, though I do own it.) And, while I have moderate interest in giving the series a go, it won’t be this week.

At this point, you might be wondering why I’m being such a pill. Well, I have a reason: the day before yesterday, I bought (wait for it) Kirby’s Epic Yarn for the Wii. Yes. I bought a Kirby game. For the Wii. Have I lost my mind? No. It’s true, Kirby’s Epic Yarn isn’t the sort of game I’d run out and buy, generally speaking. But I did, for a reason I’ll reveal at a later time, and I’ve played through quite a bit of it already. It’s… a lot of fun. A lot of fun, actually. Look for some impressions soon. Ethan has the game as well, so maybe you’ll even see some of those super gimmicky IM-pressions, eh?

Oh, yeah. Fallout. Um… well, frankly, at this point I’m seriously wondering why we made this New Vegas Week. I guess Fallout is sort of a bigger deal than Kirby. And I think Lameish has the game. Maybe Ethan does too? Or will? I don’t know. I’m off to play more Kirby.

~Riddles