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by Ethos

2009 Game of the Year Nominees

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

So… this is 2010, eh? Funny, it feels an awful lot like 2009.

But seeing that it’s only the second day, I suppose I can continue to give it the benefit of doubt.

So, have you all been enjoying our Best of 2009 picks so far? No? Well good, because they’re not over yet. Today, I have the pleasure of announcing the nominees for Riddlethos’ Best Game of 2009. They should hardly come as a surprise to anyone who follows our site at all, but nonetheless, here they are:

ac2logoAssassin’s Creed 2

Ubisoft’s second entry in their popular new franchise improves on the original game in practically every way. The result? A fantastic sandbox experience that leaves you hanging for the inevitable third entry.

arkhamlogoBatman: Arkham Asylum

Nobody really saw it coming, but for a multitude of reasons, here it is on our Best of 2009 nominations list. Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best licensed game ever made, and sure to be the start of a fantastic franchise.

flowerlogoFlower

I’m including this because Ethos told me to. I could copy/paste any one of the 9234 gushing posts he’s written about it, but I really don’t feel like it. It’s on our Best of 2009 Nominees list, so that should say enough. Right?

mw2logoModern Warfare 2

What list would be complete without the self-proclaimed “biggest game of 2009″? Lucky for us, Modern Warfare 2 actually lived up to its hype, and well-deserves a spot here.

uncharted2logoUncharted 2: Among Thieves

What can be said here that hasn’t been said a number of times already? Naughty Dog knocked it way out of the park with Uncharted 2, and both me and Ethan have been singing its praises for months now. So, if you’re surprised, you clearly haven’t been following the site long.

Place your bets, Riddlethosians. Best of 2009 Week will conclude tomorrow, with the sure-to-be-earth shattering final announement. Be there! Or… don’t. I really can’t threaten a consequence one way or the other.

Most Surprising Game 2009 – Riddles

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

batman_arkhmasylum_boxartBatman: Arkham Asylum

Wait, didn’t I just get done talking about this one? It seems I’m about to give Arkham Asylum yet another award: Most Surprising Game of 2009.

While I doubt anyone knew what a splash Arkham Asylum would make in the gaming world, it probably came as more of a surprise to me than most. Why? Well, to be honest, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the game during its development. Buying it was an impulse purchase based on positive feedback from fellow gamers. I really didn’t expect much more than a good licensed game. What I got was one of the best action-adventure titles of this generation.

Practically everything about Arkham Asylum is polished until it shines. The free-flow combat system is an absolute joy to control, and manages to never get old throughout the entire experience. The detective aspects, including “detective mode,” are brilliantly conceived. And as I’ve already mentioned, the atmosphere is the best I experienced in 2009. It’s the perfect Batman experience. In fact, I’ll go further still and call it the best licensed game ever made.

I definitely was not expecting that. I really can’t wait to see what Rocksteady does with the franchise from here on. Next time, I’ll be purchasing on day one.

Runner Up: Dead Space Extraction

Best Atmospheric Experience 2009 – Riddles

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

batman_arkhmasylum_boxartBatman: Arkham Asylum

It’s funny, because I actually haven’t talked a great deal about Arkham Asylum since its release way back in August. Everyone else certainly has been, though, and rightfully so; it’s one of 2009’s best games.

Arkham Asylum is dripping with mood, and perfectly evokes the feel of the very best Batman comics. The mood is established instantly with the game’s opening – as you escort the Joker through the many levels of Arkham Asylum, listening to his insane banter as the credits roll, you develop an increasing feeling of unease – and that feeling turns out to be justified.

Throughout the game, the Joker remains in almost complete control. His constant messages over the Asylum’s intercom confirms this. And as the game goes on, Arkham’s descent into utter madness is visible – and occasionally disturbing. A particular sequence called “The Green Mile” comes to mind.

The graphical presentation is key as well. You might recall that Arkham Asylum was my runner-up for 2009’s Best Visual Experience, and it’s certainly deserving in that. It might lack the visual variety of, say, Assassin’s Creed II, but Rocksteady’s visual depiction of Arkham Asylum is spot-on perfect, and particularly appreciated if you’ve read the comics.

I should probably cut this off, but honestly, it feels good to finally talk about this game. Arkham Asylum was an easy pick for my Best Atmospheric experience in 2009.

Runner Up: Dead  Space Extraction

Hey! Look! Listen!

Friday, December 11th, 2009

HLLfinal

Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to the 31st editon of Hey! Look! Listen!

Man, can you believe we’ve put out 31 of these things? I can’t. I say “we” because, shamefully, Ethos has been forced to step in at a few different times in the past. Regardless, it’s a fairly impressive feat. Let’s see if we can’t keep it up.

Introductions! My name is Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and I just got done eating some delicious Chinese food at Chef Wang’s. Silly name aside, that place is standalone proof that there is some culture in Murfreesboro. Or decent Chinese food, at least.

But I tarry. Let us proceed to the odds and ends I’ve assembled today.

New Final Fantasy XIII TV Spot

I figured I’d start today off with something exciting. This TV spot is short, uninformative, and in Japanese. However, it’s also quite pretty, and is composed of almost entirely new footage.

Shitty pop song is… shitty.

ffxiiiFinal Fantasy XIII Is Not Perfect, According to Famitsu

Given how rarely they USED to award perfect scores, Famitsu’s gone a little overboard with the 40/40 rankings in the last few years, at least in my opinion. I think they know it too; and perhaps it’s just my suspicious little mind at work, but I almost feel like that’s the ONLY reason they awarded Final Fantasy XIII the just-short-of-perfect score of 39/40.

Three reviewers gave it a perfect 10, while one fucker just had to go against the tide and give it a 9. Here’s some of what he had to say:

“Unquestionably the highest echelon of event and movie scenes. Moreover, changing Optimas on a dime, the varied abilities and being able to use multiple magics at once bring real exhilaration to the battles. That high quality is unfortunately offset by a story that stays linear until the midway point. The lack of gimmicks during the middle of the game also worried me.”

Maybe we can chalk it up to a poor translation, but his complaint over a “lack of gimmicks” makes no sense. Neither does his comment on the “linear” storyline. Last I checked, FFXIII was a Square Enix RPG. Not sure what he was expecting.

I know it sounds like I’m angry that FFXIII wasn’t given the “prestigious” 40/40. I actually could care less, I’m just a little confused by the above paragraph. Also, I really do get the feeling that a 40/40 was purposefully avoided, for one reason or another. (Final Fantasy XIII.net).

gameinformer - CopyDead Space 2 Details Emerge from Game Informer

My life, people. My stupid subscription expires the month before the only cover story I’ve cared about all year is published. “Sigh” doesn’t even begin to describe it. But while I may not have a copy of the mag, IGN does, and they were nice enough to sum up the more relevant points of the article.

The biggest change, reportedly, will be the location. Instead of a cramped spaceship, Isaac will be navigating a massive space-station, aptly named Sprawl. A change in location is absolutely necessary; I just hope Visceral manages to create the same sense of unease that came with the Ishimura’s darkened hallways.

In other news, Isaac will, in fact, have a voice in Dead Space 2. Like, a voice that speaks lines of dialogue.  ”He’s a little bit more of a veteran, and he’s going to have a voice,” executive producer Steve Papoutsis told Game Informer. “He’s going to relate through dialogue and story, and have more of a take-charge attitude this time around.”

Hm. I tentatively approve of this decision, I just hope Isaac doesn’t spend too much time talking to himself. It could work against the game’s atmosphere.

According to IGN’s paraphrasing, Visceral will be adjusting the pacing of the sequel so that players don’t feel “vulnerable throughout the entire game.” In fact, at times players will feel “superior.”

Maybe, hopefully, something was lost in translation, but that information right there is not entirely welcome to me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a sense of hopelessness and vulnerability all but defines the survival-horror genre. When I play Dead Space, I don’t want to feel like I can take on anything; I want to feel like surefire death is around every corner. I recognize it’s a little early to get up-in-arms now, though. I’ll wait until I see more from the game.

Finally, the combat in Dead Space 2 will remain largely the same, utilizing the same system of strategic dismemberment. And as rumored, there will be an online component to the game. No details were offered, though, other than the expected – you’ll be able to strategically dismember your friends. And hey, that could be fun. (IGN).

ps3slimPlayStation 3 Hardware Sales Still Unprofitable

We all know that Sony’s doing a lot better in the console race these days than they have in the past, but the question of whether or not they’re turning a profit has remained untouched until now.  And sadly, the answer is still “no.”

iSupply, an electronic market research and consulting firm, recently came out with a report on Sony, their PS3, and all costs involved. And to be sure, what they have to say is largely positive. First, manufacturing costs for the PS3 have been cut down to roughly $336.27 per console, which amounts to a loss of USD $31.27 for each system sold. Now, compare those to numbers from October of 2008, when the PS3 cost $100 more, and Sony was losing $49.72 on each system sold.

“In light of these factors, the PlayStation 3 probably is already at or near the tipping point for profitability,” said Andrew Rassweiler, director and principal analyst for iSuppli. So yeah, Sony’s still losing money on the PS3. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and they’re shooting for it. (iSupply, IGN).

Arkham Asylum PS3 Sales Surpass 360 Sales

On that note, let’s have some more positive PlayStation tidings! According to the ever-watchful NPD group, the PS3 version of the AWESOME Batman: Arkham Asylum has sold about 10,000 more units than the 360 version has. Apparently the PS3 versions free DLC , which allows you to play as the Joker in challenge rooms, made all the difference. Makes sense, I suppose. I bought the PS3 version, but I never even looked at the DLC. I don’t really count, though, because I buy almost all multiplatform games for the PS3. (IGN).

Dante’s Inferno Gets Special Souped-Up PS3 Edition

Jeeze, the PlayStation 3 is just on a roll in my column today. EA has recently announced that PS3 owners will be receiving a “Divine Edition” of their upcoming action game based on the classic writings of Dante. The Divine Edition will come with developer commentaries, a Wayne Barlowe digital art book, the soundtrack to the game, and a digital copy of the complete Longfellow translation of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. And best of all, it keeps it’s $59.99 price tag intact. Yes, 360 owners, EA just told you to go fuck yourselves in the most graceful of ways. Be enraged. Oh, wait… I probably don’t have to tell you that. Anyway. Check out the FREAKIN’ SWEET boxart below. (IGN).

dantesinferno

Seriously, this boxart makes me more excited for the game than anything else has.

Let’s End This on a Hilarious Note…

I’m guessing this video was from the late 90s, because if my memory serves me, that’s when every single parental figure in my life was trying to tell me that Pokemon was a craft of Satan himself. Lucky for them, I never really gave a shit about it anyway, but I still found their desperate attempts to make me despise it humorous. ALMOST as humorous as this video. Enjoy! (Everything is Terrible).

That’s all for now, Ladies and Gents. I enjoyed writing, as always, and I can only hope you enjoyed reading. ‘Till next time!

Hey! Look! Listen!

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Is it time for yet another one of these things already? My goodness, how the time flies. Sure, it’s only been like two days, but it seems SHORTER STILL.

Still trying to get the sleep schedule back on… uh… schedule. Not working out well so far. I blame Mike Babasick.

I know none of you know who that is, I just wanted to say his last name because it’s a source of eternal amusement to me.

Ahem. We must move on.

It IS pretty...

It IS pretty...

PS3 Slim Sells a Shit Ton
I know I had a similar story in my last HLL, but this time Sony has actually commented on the spike in PS3 sales since the release of the Slim. In a statement from Sony:

“Our top retailers have reported a 300% lift in PS3 hardware sales and an increase of 140% in total hardware revenue across the PlayStation portfolio when comparing the first week of September to the week before the $299 price adjustment”

Who knows what the actual figures are, but a 300% increase can only be a good thing. We attempted to comment PS3FTW for comment, but uh… we were unsuccessful. (Kotaku.)

Batman: Arkham Asylum Sells a Shit Ton
This honestly came as a surprise to me. According to the publisher DC, Eidos’ Batman: Arkham Asylum has sold almost two million units. (Kotaku again.)

Good news, because it’s well-deserved. Hopefully, Arkham Asylum’s success will set an example for future publishers of licensed titles; it’s literally a bar-setting title.

We'll catch those damn piraters, Gordon

We'll catch those damn piraters, Gordon

Batman Hates Piracy
It’s true. The PC version of Batman: Arkham Asylum proves it. Evidently, a glitch has been deliberately placed into the game’s code to ensnare those who download the game illegally before its release on September 15. Cheshirec_the_cat, resident of the Eidos forums, wrote:

“I’ve got a problem when it’s time to use Batman’s glide in the game. When I hold “,” like it’s said to jump from one platform to another, Batman tries to open his wings again and again instead of gliding. So he fels down in a poisoning gas. If somebody could tel me, what should I do there.”

Instead of some helpful advice, Mr. Cheshirec_the_cat instead received a verbal bitchslap from forum administrator Keir:

“The problem you have encountered is a hook in the copy protection, to catch out people who try and download cracked versions of the game for free. It’s not a bug in the game’s code, it’s a bug in your moral code.”

Shyit. I can feel the burn from here. Still, it’s difficult not to chuckle at Mr. Keir’s “holier-than-thou” stance on piracy. In fact, it’s often difficult not to chuckle at the industry in general for the exact same thing. 1UP

omg this is so offensive

omg this is so offensive

Courtney Love Apparently Still Does a Lot of Drugs
My apologies, I couldn’t resist. Anyway. Um. By now I’m sure you’ve heard that Kurt Cobain of Nirvana will be appearing in Activision’s upcoming Guitar Hero 5. Apparently there’s been some slight controversy as to the “appropriateness” of such a thing, seeing as how the dude’s dead. I never quite bought into that personally, but Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, has… and she’s PISSED. Just read what she wrote on her Twitter:

“For the record this Guitar Hero shit is breach of contract on a Bullys part and there will be a proper addressing of this and retraction.”

Later, she added:

“WE are going to sue the shit out of ACtivision we being the Trust the Estate the LLC the various LLCs Cobain Enterprises.”

Bitch obviously means business. However, her story doesn’t quite line up with what Activision told Kotaku:

“Guitar Hero secured the necessary licensing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love to use Kurt Cobain’s likeness as a fully playable character in Guitar Hero 5.”

Who to believe? Who to believe? Personally I’m hoping this turns into a huge, hairy, newsworthy ordeal. Sadly, I think this entire ordeal can likely be attributed to what I titled this post. (Kotaku. Again.)

This is a screen of the game, not the boycotters.

This is a screen of the game, not the boycotters.

Left 4 Dead 2 Boycotters Sell Out
Familiar with the (rather large, loud, and annoyingly prominent) Left 4 Dead 2 Boycott Community? You know, all the people who somehow think Valve is stabbing them in the back by releasing a sequel so soon? (As they place their reservations at GameStop for Modern Warfare 2?) Well, apparently they were such a pain in Valve’s ass that they actually INVITED two of these fuckers to their offices to try the game out for themselves. No joke. Users Walking_target and Agent of Chaos got to play L4D2 for an entire day, and report back to their community about it. And guess what? They actually liked it.

That’s not the interesting part, actually. The interesting part is that, upon reporting to their community, they were instantaneously branded as sellouts, traitors, faggots, and the like. I’ll just let Steam community user “N1MM duz it” do the talking:

“valve has turn the leaders of this group into there puppets .. they got them to change their minds and trying to influence us. open your eyes !!!”

Yes. Indeed. Open your eyes, N1MM duz it. Perhaps you’ll realize what a moron you actually are.

Oh Hey, Little FFXIII Tidbits from Kotaku
Sheesh, I’d love to know how many references Kotaku gets from us these days. That aside, if you’re the type just dying to whet your appetite for Final Fantasy XIII even further, these two articles might interest you. First, PS3 controls for the game have been revealed, so if you wanna know exactly how you’ll control the game, check out this article. And if you’re REALLY desperate, check out these little snippets from the new trailer that premiered at TGS.

Yikes. That one got long. Hope it kept you entertained throughout. But if it didn’t, I don’t really care. I had a blast writing it all.

Oh, and my count is still at zero, and I’d be surprised if it got any higher.

I am Better at Video Games Than Riddles

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

I was just on the phone with everybody’s favourite Riddles and we were talking about the Batman game that we’re both playing through. I’m a little further than he is, and he was describing a boss battle that was giving him trouble. After some investigation, it turns out that I beat that battle with more ease than he did…and we’re playing on the same difficulty level.
Then I reminded him of the time that I beat he and his friend at Call of Duty: World at War in two straight games when I had never played the game before. He and his friend had played. Many times.

Riddles got terrified and refused to talk about it any further because this means we came to a horrifying conclusion: I am better at video games than Riddles. The world is a scary place, and this new fact confirms it.

But MY conclusion? Suck it, Riddles!
crying_baby
Chai Count: 1

Batman Update and the Chai Count Begins

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

I was just telling my friend, abe80 about how Batman: Arkham Asylum and I have a strange relationship.
I get really excited to play the game. I look forward to it and when I turn it on, I have an absolute blast with it. However, after about an hour or so, I get suddenly bored. I’m still digging the story, the gameplay is still fresh, and collectibles haven’t been so fun since the new Prince of Persia, but for some reason, I have a huge compulsion to put the game down after only a moderately meaty session.
Perhaps an hour or two seems like a long time, but may I remind you that I beat inFamous in about 4 or 5 sittings and Uncharted in a single sitting. Also, I went through my second playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus in a single sitting, and Mass Effect would keep me up until 6 in the morning when I had work the next day. So when I love a game, I usually go at it non-stop. However although I really only have good things to say about Batman, and there’s no reason for it, the game doesn’t hold my attention for more than a few hours.
Go figure!
Anyway, I had my first Grande No Water With Whip Tazo Chai today, so I’ll be posting the current count at the end of every post. And maybe I’ll even convince Riddles to get one! I know for a fact that he has a Starbucks VERY close to his house, and that at least two cute, and one super-hot barista work there. He has no reason NOT to!

Chai Count: 1
joker

‘ELLO GUV’NAH! – September 4th 2009

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Here we go you glorious bastards (NOT A REFERENCE TO A MOVIE BECAUSE I KNOW HOW TO SPELL “BASTARDS”)! The first regularly scheduled ‘ELLO GUV’NAH comes as a present to everybody, except for the British people I offend. Let’s dive in.

batmanlogogameBatman: Arkham Asylum-
Yup, everybody loves this game. Riddles, abe80, The Broken Finger, Nate Liles. I can understand it, the controls are tight, the level design is well thought out, and Mark Hamill kills it as The Joker. And while I’m definitely quite enjoying it, the game can’t really hold my attention for more than an hour or so before I start shrugging my shoulders a bit. I don’t blame anybody for jizzing all over it, I just don’t feel exactly the same way. I’m glad I got it, though, and I hear the experience is pretty short, so I’m sure I’ll beat it.

Suikoden-
Suikoden_USThe one that you can get off of the PSN, not the DS one that I am very slowing inching towards defeating. Except for the item management system, I’m really enjoying this classic. It seems like Suikoden will be a series that I’m going to be getting into. Late in the game, perhaps, but there are at least a number of titles I can look forward to! In any case, this PSX original -besides having the greatest box art ever- is exciting so far and I’m not even at the point when I assume I’ll be in control of my own castle and commanding armies! I’m not really big on the whole 108 playable character hook, but like with Tierkreis I’m sure I’ll find the 10 or so that I really like and stick with them.

ff12_logoFinal Fantasy XII-
I have no idea what compelled me to pick up this title again. I was in the middle of a second playthrough that I stopped about 18 months ago and I’ve jumped right back in as if no time had passed. All this when I just got a PS3, have both modern HD systems and the new Metroid Trilogy for the Wii. Oh well, while I constantly wish for the graphics to look better -they were so good on the PS2 that it just ends up looking like a incredibly shitty PS3 game instead of a great looking PS2 game- the battle system is as addicting as ever, and the cutscenes still blow me away. Seriously, until Uncharted, no game rivaled FFXII in its scene direction, voice acting, and animation. What a waste that (excepting Balthier, Larsa, and maybe Fran) the characters were all boring sacks of shit. But seriously, while any conversation between Ashe and Basch might as well be about sawdust, I’m still glued to the TV. Let’s hope FFXIII combines X’s great story with XII’s great scene direction.

Flower-
flowerlogoYeah, I don’t care that I play this game all the time, this segment is about what I’ve been playing, and I’ve been playing Flower, goddamn it! After watching In Good Company, I felt the second dream was the perfect way to settle the residue emotions from the movie. With its grey beginnings and themes of colour and drab optimism, this level has definitely grown on me the most since I first discovered this game earlier this year. Later, I boosted an already great mood with the game’s perfect finale dream. Anyway, there’s only so much even I can say about this gem.

That’s it! That’s all I got! Suck it!

Batman: Arkham Asylum: The First 1.5 Hours

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

I always tried to imitate this pose.

I always tried to imitate this pose.


As a small child, I loved Batman more than anything else in the entire world. As soon as my little mind could comprehend the alphabet, I was reading Batman comics. Concurrently, I was watching the 90’s animated series religiously. I also wore a cheap Batman mask/cape combo every single day. This was before videogames, before Marvel comics were introduced, and before I could write a coherent sentence. Batman was my life.

Admittedly, I really haven’t followed Batman for the last decade or so. Other than his recent escapades onto the big screen with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, I don’t have the slightest clue what the character is up to these days. But after playing through the first segments of Eidos’ Batman: Arkham Asylum for the PS3, I can feel old emotions re-surfacing.

The love to hate eachother...

They love to hate eachother...


First and foremost, this is the most authentic feeling comic book game since Activision’s 2006 title, Ultimate Spider-Man. And while I haven’t played much, it’s clear that Arkham Asylum outclasses that, and all super-hero games, in every conceivable way. There are no traces of a cheap cash-in to be found here; from the moment the game begins, you feel like you’ve stepped into the shoes of the Dark Knight himself.

The premise should be familiar to most. Batman brings the apprehended Joker to Arkham Island, where the grand Arkham Asylum is located. The opening scene really is fantastic; you follow along as the Joker is wheeled back to his cell, listening to his insane rantings while the opening credits roll on the right side of the screen. Anyone who watched the aforementioned animated series will feel right at home, with Mark Hamill reprising his role as the Clown Prince of Crime. He has gotten a little more vicious, however; unlike the animated series, Arkham Asylum isn’t toned down for the kiddies.

Combat is just as brutal as the rest of the game.

Combat is just as brutal as the rest of the game.


Needless to say, all hell manages to break loose, and you find yourself fighting for your life against hordes of pissed off inmates. Combat is fast, easily controlled, and feels an awful lot like Assassin’s Creed thus far. Like Assassin’s Creed, it’s crucial to utilize the counter-attack feature, which is extremely easy to do. It’s fairly simplistic from what I’ve played so far, but it’s a lot of fun, and more advanced abilities can be purchased as the game progresses.

Aside from combat, the detective aspects of the game are interesting as well, if a little far-fetched. How Batman manages to trace a man halfway across the asylum by picking up his alcohol trail is beyond me, but it’s cool nonetheless. There are some light platforming elements present as well, which are enjoyable if only because you get to glide and use Batman’s infamous grapple gun.

After spending a mere hour and a half with Arkham Asylum, I can’t wait to jump back in. The setting and atmosphere are gripping, and feel just like a Batman game should. The gameplay is fast, fun, and appropriately varied. It’s weird to say this, but it honestly makes me feel like that Batman-worshiping kid again.

While Arkham Asylum installs…

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Okay, thus far, I have FAILED UTTERLY at playing anything Xenosaga related. Turns out it’s because the Slim PS2 has trouble playing DVD-9 discs. (Dual-Layer discs). Hence why my copy of God of War won’t work either.

Sooo I was about to pop Xenogears into my PS2 when I realized that I didn’t have a PS1 memory card, which is required to save/load PS1 data.

So NOW I am a) installing Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PS3 (look for some initial impressions soon) and b) ripping Xenogears to my computer so it can be transferred onto my PSP. (Thank you, Lusipurr, for making this a possibility.)

I promise at some point this week there will be some sort of actual content for your reading pleasure.