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            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

3/7/2011

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Well, I feel gypped.

Why? I just paid $6.99 for the recently-released Dead Space 2 add-on, Severed. Two new chapters! Play as a new character! Sounds groovy, right? Wrong. It is not groovy. In fact, it’s a bit of a damn disappointment.

Severed puts you in the shoes of Gabe Well, a Titan security officer who is desperately trying to reach his wife during the Necromorph outbreak. What ensues is two chapters in which you re-tread levels from the Dead Space 2 campaign. No, seriously. You walk backwards through them this time, but that does nothing to hide the fact that they’re the same exact levels from the campaign. It feels a bit cheap. Especially since it’s all extremely straightforward; the gameplay in Severed stays strictly focused on combat. There’s nary even a hacking mini-game, except for one at the end.

However, in its focus on combat, Severed can be entertaining. The super-satisfying limb-blasting combat is still here, and it’s still great. There are some decently challenging and hectic encounters in Severed, I will concede. However, none of it is particularly difficult – on normal difficulty, I only died once or twice.

But yeah. It can be entertaining, but it is not worth seven dollars. No sir. Not at all. I recommend against buying it. You’d honestly be better off just replaying some levels from Dead Space 2.

Ahem. But yeah. Aside from that. Dragon Age 2 comes out tomorrow.

Actually, it comes out in like 33 minutes. I don’t have it reserved, though, so I’ll be waiting until tomorrow morning to get my copy. I don’t work until 5 p.m. so that’ll give me a good chunk of time to play  it.

And in other news… the Crysis 2 demo is fun. Looks to be far more promising than Bulletstorm.

That’s all for now. I’m still alive, well, and occasionally playing games. What more can a man ask for, eh?

~Riddles

1/30/2011 – I’m Hungry and Poor

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

But mostly hungry. Yesterday, I consumed nothing except energy drinks, cake, pie, and ice cream. No, I am not kidding. I went to work at 1PM CST, and grabbed two Amp energy drinks on the way. I drank one on the way, and one a few hours later to make it through the rush. It worked rather nicely, actually; I was pleasantly alert and energized for nine straight hours. Which is good, because we were fucking busy, as that place tends to be.

Around 10pm or so, I realized that I hadn’t eaten a thing all day. I realized this as someone was offering me a third of a Key Lime pie. I love Key Lime pie, but I wasn’t sure how wise it would be to eat lime-gelatin when I had nothing but sugary energy drinks in my system already. What to do, then? Well, eat it of course.

Not all of it, just a slice or so. But that was enough to give me the most intense sugar rush I’ve ever experienced, ever. To the point of discomfort, really; for about 15 minutes I felt like I’d just railed a bunch of fucking mephedrone. But oh, it gets worse.

At around Midnight, when I was finally almost done, a few of my fellow employees were munching on a massive slice of white cake. I had no choice but to partake, because I was still hungry, and I love cake. Plus the sugar high had worn off a little, and I didn’t want to crash quite yet. The cake was alright, but it had that nasty-ass decorative icing on it that tastes like silicon. Mostly because it is silicon. Made of sugar. The point being, it was disgusting.

I finally left and returned to my apartment, where I was able to relax a bit – though I still had no food. So, what to do? Drink some beer and watch Planet Terror, of course. After approximately 20 minutes, I’d forgotten I was ever hungry.

And on a side note, Planet Terror is awesome. Utter ridiculous fun, I can’t believe I’d never watched it before.

After the movie ended, I was still starving. So, what to do? Kill the Ice Cream in my freezer, of course. Why? Because I’m an idiot.  I then attempted sleep. It did not go very well. I was wired, once again. Although, at the least, I had temporarily satisfied my hunger. Eventually I managed to catch a wink or two. And then I woke up starving. And I’m still starving.

I could go get some food, but I have very little money, and it would be more financially prudent to wait until I go to work and eat something there. Something other than Key Lime pie. A Sunday evening should be more laid back, giving me the time to do so.

The point of all this, I suppose, is to illustrate how awful my eating habits are. And they are indeed awful. It’s a wonder I haven’t wasted away and died. Or contracted diabetes. The latter is actually fairly likely as an eventual possibility.

*DEAD SPACE 2 PLOT SPOILERS*

In other news, Dead Space 2 is still awesome. Except for the part where it pulled another bait-and-switch in the plot. Y’know, like the way it did 783 times in the original game? It took longer this time, but that actually makes it worse. I know the game has to, y’know, go on, but it’s still a slap in the dick when a game is like “oh, hey, that objective you’ve been working towards for the last five hours or so? It’s been rendered utterly moot, move on please.” Come on, writers, it can’t be too difficult to construct a plot that facilitates a 12-hour game that doesn’t go like this:

“Isaac! Activate this thing so you can go to that place!”

“Oh fuck, you need this thing to activate that thing! Go all the way over here now!”

“Oh fuck, I’m dead now so I can’t give you further directions! Listen to this guy now!

Ad nauseam.

Note, the above is not meant to be a plot summary of any kind. Just an example of how ridiculous this sort of plot structure becomes, especially after two games. I mean, come on, Isaac can talk now; can’t he make his own decisions as to where he should go? Why does he feel the need to trust and obey every disembodied voice that gives him an order? I don’t understand.

I also don’t understand the purpose of the air ducts. Or whatever they are. At certain points in the game, you have to yank a plate off the wall and crawl through a claustrophobic maze that has the appearance of a futuristic air duct. Sounds like a good opportunity for some scares, right? Claustrophobic necromorph combat and whatnot? Not happening. You crawl from point A to point B, come out the other side, and resume play. It adds nothing aside from an alternate means of traveling from one room to another. It makes no sense. I mean, iunno, maybe it will at some point. But right now it does not.

But all of that makes it sound like I hate the game, which I do not. I really, really like it, actually – it’s the best game I’ve played since Mass Effect 2. To end on a positive note, I love the jetpack for the Zero-G segments. Moving around zero gravity in three dimensions, with a fully rotational camera, is honestly mind-blowing. It feels amazingly elegant, and creates some gorgeously cinematic camera angles for the action. Even with that being said, it’s difficult to explain why the jetpack is so much fucking fun – you’ll just have to try it yourself.

But, I do still miss the controlled jumps. Because they looked cool too. And they made for good evasive maneuvers in combat. Not sure why Visceral didn’t include both as means of transportation.

Work in 24 minutes. Good thing I live 15 minutes away. Before I go, I have to ask: where has Final Fantasy X been for the last eight years of my life, and why have I never attempted a replay until now? That game is fucking awesome, even if the voice acting sucks. And shit, XIII’s voice acting was worse, for that matter.

~Riddles

Dead Space vs Dead Space 2

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Alright! I’m off work, I don’t work tomorrow, I have a WORKING check card (i.e, I actually have access to my fucking money) and since approximately noon Thursday, I’ve been the proud owner of the Dead Space 2 Collector’s Edition. What does all this mean? It means we can start talking Dead Space.

But, while it may appear that I’ve been entirely unproductive thus far, that’s not quite true: over the last few days, I’ve played through the original Dead Space for a second time. Originally, I just wanted to start a PS3 file so that I could unlock the Plasma Cutter in Dead Space 2, but I ended up remembering how completely awesome the game was, and decided to play through the whole thing.

I defeated the final boss at about two in the morning on Thursday. And roughly thirteen hours later, I started Dead Space 2. So. Being in the process of playing the games back-to-back, how do they compare to eachother?

Dead Space: Two Years Later

Let’s talk about the original Dead Space. Yes, I know it’s over two years old at this point and the world is ready to move on to the much-hyped sequel. But the original Dead Space deserves at least a little attention – mostly because the game is still really, really good. That’s not to say that I expected a two-year old game to feel dated; I  just didn’t expect the experience to be as engaging a second time. It was – and possibly even more so.  I was thoroughly engaged yet again, for another death-dodging 12-hour romp (or creep, I should say) through the metallic, blood-stained hallways of the USG Ishimura. Even though I knew the mystery behind all the horrors around me, I was still more than happy to experience them again. And even though I’d played through it all before, the game still scared me on more than a few occasions.

Dead Space is a textbook example for building an immersive and palpable atmosphere within an interactive medium. It takes a few pages from BioShock, (as many games do nowadays) builds a similarly atmospheric experience and rounds it out with a more focused, in-depth narrative. As you should all well know, for me to compare a game with BioShock is an honor indeed. The concept behind Dead Space isn’t quite as original, or “intellectual,” shall we say, as the ideas behind BioShock’s narrative. But as a game – dare I say it – Dead Space might be even better. (And for what it’s worth, I can say with certainty that it’s miles better than BioShock 2.)

Honestly, it’s difficult to find issues with Dead Space. Writing, acting, combat, exploration, puzzle elements, graphical presentation, and sound design are practically flawless. There are, perhaps, some minor flaws with pacing and mission design at times – the primary annoyance is that you end up feeling like an errand boy, with disembodied voices directing your every move. Your every attempt to get off the ship is thwarted by some awful coincidence or catastrophy, and after a while it starts to wear rather thin as a plot device. It all culminates in the awfulness of Chapter 10, “End Of Days,” which sees Isaac running back and forth through a suspiciously small area and fighting way too many goddamned Necromorphs, all while – literally – searching for keycards. Come on. Really?

But aside from being an hour or so too long, Dead Space is a class act. And, as all who have finished it know, it begs a sequel. A sequel that I now own, and have played a bit of.

In Which I Describe the Dead Space 2 Collector’s Edition, Lament How Much it Cost, and Use Many Parentheses

Allow me to take a moment here to discuss the fact that I bought the Dead Space 2 Collector’s Edition. It comes with a PS3 port of Dead Space Extraction, (which, ironically, might convince me to invest in a Move)  a replica Plasma Cutter (which I have to admit is pretty cool, even if it isn’t life-sized) the original soundtrack (which I frankly doubt would be an enjoyable listen outside the context of the game) a “concept art lithograph” (which essentially looks like a Dead Space postcard) and a downloadable Zealot Force Gun and Suit (which I’ll probably be too lazy to ever download or use.) So, was it worth $80? (Almost $90 including tax, and almost $100 if you count the Subway sandwhich I bought while I was out.) Nah, probably not. I just wanted to buy a Collector’s Edition of something, because I’ve never done it before. It felt kinda good. Also, writing all those parenthetical statements amused me.

Dead Space 2: The First Three Hours, and How They Compare to the Original

Okay. It’s actually many hours later now. I’ve played more Dead Space 2. I’m roughly halfway through Chapter 4, and I’ve written down two full pages of notes and then some. (It’s something I tend to do.) So, I’m equipped to talk about it… a little bit, anyway.

Dead Space 2 is a similar, yet different beast. From the outset, it’s clear that Visceral had no intention of re-creating the original Dead Space in terms of atmosphere. Yes, it’s still creepy and unsettling in nature, environments are shadowy and blood-stained, lights flicker, there’s a bunch of unnerving shit written on the walls, and Necromorphs still like popping out of vents and ducts to scare the living fuck out of you. But it’s a few big things, and a variety of little things, that make Dead Space 2 stand apart from its predecessor.

I’ll go ahead and name the big big thing: location. In place of a claustrophobic spacecraft, Dead Space 2 is set in a massive space-station colony known as Sprawl. The atmospheric shift is notable. You’ll walk past windows and be treated to the sight of a massive, futuristic cityscape, complete with Star Wars-esque hovercrafts flying about. Inside, you’ll make your way through residential and commercial areas of the station, with futuristic schools, restaurants, and hobby-shops. At one point, I even found myself inside a child’s room – crude crayon drawings were taped to the walls, lullaby music was playing, and holographic ponies danced on the wall. Frankly it’s somewhat bizarre to see, particularly after having just completed the original Dead Space. But, it serves a purpose – children, like everyone else, are not spared the hideous effects of the Necromorph outbreak.

I’m not saying any of this is a bad thing. Like its predecessor, Dead Space 2 is a deeply atmospheric experience, and I’m totally into it after a few short hours. I’m merely noting the drastic differences, and how they affect the feel of the game.

Aside from the obvious shift in location, more subtle additions tend to alter the feel of the game. As promised, Dead Space 2 features more brutal, fast-paced combat. It also features a lot more ammo. A lot more. I’ve yet to even come close to running out. This may not be the case later in the game, but as of now, the resource-conservation aspect of gameplay is pretty much gone. It’s not gone entirely – med packs, for example, seem to be less plentiful. And while Stasis now regenerates slowly, it does take a good bit of time, meaning you still have to ration it wisely for individual battles. But, frankly, neither of these things are of much consequence when you’re free to pump as much ammo into an enemy as your heart desires.  Again: this could very well not be the case in another five or six hours. But it’s the case for now.

I’d be remiss, however, not to mention that combat in Dead Space 2 is still challenging and hectic. You will still fear for your life, and you will still die. By my experience, at least.

This article’s running a bit long, but before I conclude, I’ll touch on one final subject – a subject many might consider the “elephant in the room,” as it were – Isaac’s newfound vocality. To put it simply: I like it. I wasn’t sold when it was first revealed, because I always considered his silence as one of the primary components of the original games’ atmosphere. And I still think that – but it’s not a component of Dead Space 2’s atmosphere, and it doesn’t need to be. This is a different Isaac. He’s been through this shit before, he hasn’t been able to catch a break for over three years, he’s tired of it all, and he has some things to say about it. He doesn’t whine about how shitty his situation is or how terrified he feels. In fact, he’s sort of a defiant sonofabitch, which I like. I appreciate Isaac’s vocality in Dead Space 2 for the same reason I appreciated his silence in the first game: it contributes to the game’s intended atmospheric feel.

Also, I’d be remiss not to mention: occasionally our friend Isaac brings back the silent schtick, and that’s always satisfying to see. Sometimes, he’ll sit silently through a radio or video transmission, content simply to listen – suggesting that, perhaps, he’s just the silent type in general. Makes sense.

Pointless Internal Monologue

That was quite long. Hence why I decided to separate it into segments signified by BOLDED LETTERS. I almost considered breaking it into two articles, but then I realized that would be fairly pointless. Just like this paragraph.

Conclusion

Ahem. I will be playing more Dead Space 2 very soon, and I’ll probably write more about it too. Sound off below with questions, concerns, or opinions about the game if you’re playing it.

Limbo

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Still an awesome game

No, not talking about the game this time. I’m talking about this website, and the current state it happens to be in.

I’m here not to apologize, but to inform you all that things will be back on course in due time. We still fully plan to go through with the Best Riddlethos awards. So, if you were hoping you’d be spared them, I’m sorry to crush your dreams.

Ethan’s had a difficult past week, and I’ve been working a lot. And now I’m actually somewhat sick which is just… fantastic.

Ahem. In other news, I re-bought Dead Space for the PS3. Why? Not sure, I think partly because my friend has my Xbox 360 copy, and partly because I’m becoming like Ethos.

Oh, wait, I remember now. The Plasma Cutter. If you have a Dead Space save file, then you automatically get the Plasma Cutter in Dead Space 2. And while I completed the original Dead Space on 360, I fully intend to buy Dead Space 2 for PS3… soo… you can probably get the picture.

But man, I’ve been replaying Dead Space for the first time, and it’s still awesome. I can’t wait for 2.

Although this trailer, replete with Smashing Pumpkins, sorta rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Pumpkins, but uh… this trailer kinda makes the game look like Iron Man in Space.

That’s all for now. I hope the lot of you are enjoying your 2011 thus far.

Dead Space 2 Demo Impressions

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, Riddlethosians.

I know “Christmas Eve Eve” isn’t a thing in reality, but I’m making it a thing now. Take note.

Also take note of the fact that I’m actually addressing you now, not my dark and private memoirs. Don’t know how that thing got on the site, but I blame Ethos. Somehow.

That aside. Ignoring the irony of the fact that I’m writing more on Christmas Break week than I have the last two weeks, I’m here to talk about the Dead Space 2 demo, which is available on PSN and Xbox Live right now.  To download the thing, I had to rig a fantastically impractical setup, in which the cords connecting my modem, PS3, and TV are stretched across the room.

A pain, yes, but I really wanted this demo. And the Mass Effect 2 PS3 demo, just for the hell of it. And Warrior Within HD.

But the Dead Space 2 demo was highest on my priority list. It’s my most anticipated game at the moment, and I couldn’t wait to get a look at the sequel. After playing through the demo once, my initial reactions are – unsurprisingly – quite positive.

It’s certainly Dead Space as we know it. The controls, menus, aesthetics, and overall feel of the demo invoke the original Dead Space – but I don’t view this as a bad thing at all. I was amazed at how immersed I became in a half-hour demo.

First of all, the game is still creepy. Sure, it’s familiar, but the atmosphere is still masterfully constructed, just as it was in the original game. Isaac’s voice is very rarely heard – you’re still in dead silence most of the time. And, for the record, Isaac’s voice is hardly offensive when it is heard. Judging from this demo, it seems that Visceral has struck a good balance.

After the atmosphere, the game’s most striking feature is its graphics. Simply put, they are phenomenal. I suppose I haven’t played the original Dead Space in some time, but there seems to be a noticeable jump in quality. Everything shines with a detailed polish I haven’t seen since God of War III  – environments, the hideous necromorphs, and especially Isaac’s Iron Man-esque suit.

Speaking of environments, there seems to be some interesting variation in the locales this time around. The first part of the demo sees Isaac tramping through the same sort of metallic, blood-stained hallways that we’re all used to – but, at one point, you encounter rooms decorated like a religious temple. The demo only gives scraps of dialog and story exposition, so I wasn’t able to piece together the context. Needless to say, I’m anxious for the full game so I can do just that.

Most of the mechanics were familiar to me, but the demo also briefly introduced the new zero-gravity hoversuit segments. It was a painfully short section, and it left me wanting to play around with it more. You might recall, the original Dead Space only allowed you to launch from one surface to another in Zero Gravity rooms. Not so any longer – with the fancy new Jetpack, Isaac can freely maneuver through zero gravity. It’s a lot of fun, and it creates some extremely cinematic camera angles for the action.

The demo is decent in length, but ended far too soon for my liking. Dead Space 2 looks to be covering some familiar ground, yes, but regardless it looks to be another tightly-controlled, atmospheric, and cinematic sci-fi experience. My Christmas is coming a month late this year; Dead Space 2 releases on January 25.

Check out the video below for a refresher course on the Dead Space story. It’s the opening video for the demo, and it’s pretty sweet. Beware of srs Dead Space 1 spoilers, though. I WARNED YOU.

Hey! Look! Listen! #67

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

I wrote this entire article before writing an introduction. Why? I don’t know. But now it’s 1:27 PM CST, on Saturday, which is 33 minutes before I have to be at work. And I just got out of bed 27 minutes ago. And I need a shower. And I really don’t want to go to work.

But anyway, yeah, here’s my gift to you for the week. Unfortunately I’m a little too poor to buy Epic Mickey at the moment, although I sure would love to.

But that’s enough. Good day to you all, and please to enjoy below.

Dead Space 2 “Scarier” According to EA Boss

Worried that Dead Space 2 will be sacrificing scares and atmosphere for the sake of bigger guns, bigger action, and multiplayer modes? Yeah, so am I. But hey, John Riccitiello’s played through Dead Space 2 already – and he says that the game is, in fact, “scarier” than the original.

Now, seeing that John is the CEO of EA Games, I can’t help but think that his opinion’s a little biased. Or maybe “biased” isn’t the right word; maybe he’s just lying, because even if it was less scary than the original, it’s not like, y’know, he’d ever say that.

Or maybe he’s telling the truth, and Dead Space 2 will be even scarier than the original game. Maybes, endless maybes.

Speaking personally, I’m excited for Dead Space 2, but I’m fully prepared for an experience akin to BioShock 2. I mean, at least the setting is fresh, but I still get the feeling that there may be a lot of “been there, done that” involved. And there’s a multiplayer mode.

While we’re on the subject of EA Games…

EA Is So Stupid

EA has polished its image quite a bit in the last few years. I’m not entirely sure how they did it – fresh franchises like Dead Space certainly helped, as did undeniably strong, if familiar products such as Battlefield 2. But, at the end of the day, they’re still a money-hungry mega-publisher, and their most audible figures tend to be… well, ignorant businessmen. Like Frank Gibeau, president of the EA Games label. Recently, Mr. Gibeau had some things to say about a few of EA’s more financially disappointing franchises: Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space.

About Mirror’s Edge, he had this to say:

“There were issues with the learning curve, the difficulty, the narrative, and then there was no multiplayer either.

“The key learning from us was that if you’re going to be bold with that kind of concept, you need to take it as far as it can go in development.”

Hm, well, most of that sounds legit, except… no multiplayer? Listed as a con? Outside of money-speak, I’m not sure you can list the lack of a game mode as a detriment to its quality.

He also mentioned Dead Space, which, while profitable for EA, didn’t meet expectations. Why didn’t it? Well, much of the same reasons, it seems:

“It made money for us, but didn’t hit expectations. We felt like we had an IP that struck a chord, and one that hit quality, but again it missed multiplayer modes.

“So when we re-worked Dead Space [for the upcoming sequel], we looked at how to make it a better idea, how do we make the story more engrossing, how do we build [protagonist] Isaac as a character, how do we make this game a success online.”

Hm. This rubs me the wrong way. For several reasons.

First off, I know this guy is speaking in terms of cash, and I shouldn’t expect anything else. The truth of the matter is that a game without a multiplayer mode doesn’t hold the same wide appeal as a game that does, particularly in this day and age of social gaming. I get that, I really do.

However, being an individual who appreciates videogames as an art form, it pains me to see them broken down into individual money-making components. A multiplayer mode does not make a game better. A multiplayer mode, in fact, can cloud a game’s focus and make it worse.

What these quotes display, though, is an obvious but painful truth: more so, perhaps, than any other entertainment industry, the game industry is hopelessly intertwined with commercialism. You do not, for example, hear Paramount Pictures’ CEO Brad Grey spouting off about how the latest Transformers movie failed because it didn’t have enough explosions and boobs. Now, I’m sure statements like that are made behind closed doors in Hollywood all the time, but they’re smart enough not to say them publicly.

Frank Gibeau saying that Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space fell short due to a lack of multiplayer modes is essentially the same thing. And it was publicized. And nobody (except me) thinks anything of it, because that’s the way this industry works.

Perhaps, though, I’m overreacting.

Hey, Guess What: Comcast Sucks

It’s sad, but true. And… well known amongst the residents of the states. Comcast, quite simply, has a monopoly over broadband internet in the United States. And they abuse their monopoly well. And I’m only saying this for the sake of you non-American readers who might need a little context before I jump into this story.

Recently, it was made known that Comcast is squeezing a certain networking company – Level 3 Communications – for extra cash. Why? Level 3 recently signed a deal with none other than Netflix to become their primary provider for streaming video.

At this point, you might be wondering what, exactly, Level 3 Communications is. An excerpt from a New York Times article offers a simplistic explanation: Level 3 is a “highway” through which internet traffic travels; Comcast represents the on/off ramps of said highway. Make sense? At least a little? Good.

Now. As you can probably gather, since their deal with Netflix, Level 3 has been pumping quite a bit more data through their pipes. So. Comcast forced them to pay for it.

Mind you, now: Comcast forced one of its partners to pay a toll in order to deliver content that Comcast’s own customers requested. Seems a little fishy, eh?

“With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a ‘closed’ Internet,” said Thomas C. Stortz, chief legal officer for Level 3. “Where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content.”

Yeah, that sounds about right. Very timely, this is, because it cuts to the heart of a big issue in the United States right now: Net Neutrality. And, since Comcast is our tyrannical internet king, they’re intrinsically related to it.

However, not ones to take insults lying down, Comcast retaliated with this vague nonsense:

“We are happy to maintain a balanced, no-cost traffic exchange with Level 3. However, when one provider exploits this type of relationship by pushing the burden of massive traffic growth onto the other provider and its customers, we believe this is not fair.”

Yes… but… the customers requested this “massive traffic growth.” Level 3 was meeting a demand. Which is exactly what Comcast should be doing. If Comcast is going to turn around and gouge a partnering company every time I stream a Netflix movie, then what the hell am I paying them $80/month for?

I’m trying to see how this possibly makes sense, and I’ve arrived at the conclusion that it just doesn’t, and Comcast is evil. These are exactly the sort of people who shouldn’t be in the process of merging with NBC Universal. I get the weird feeling that NBC.com’s download speeds might getting a lot faster in the near future. Unless the FCC actually does the right thing, and sets proper ground rules for this sort of thing.

The internet belongs to the people, goddammit.

This is like Mapco charging the local Hummer dealership every time one of those gas-guzzling monsters rolls through and fills up.

An Inception Video Game is (probably) Happening

Skeptical as we all (rightly) tend to be about licensed videogames, you can’t deny that the surrealistic world of Inception provides a wealth of potential for a videogame. If done right, that shit could be, for lack of a less depraved term, off the chain.

So, we can all be tentatively happy and wary of the fact that Christopher Nolan is, in fact, working on an Inception game. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the director of last summer’s biggest film had this to say: “I always imagined Inception to be a world where a lot of other stories could take place. At the moment, the only direction we’re channeling that is by developing a videogame set in the world.”

The article goes on to say that Nolan is working with a “team of collaborators,” and that any Inception game is a “longer-term proposition” at the moment.

A “team of collaborators,” eh? I like the sound of that. It makes me imagine a table surrounded by game geniuses, hashing out a way to bring Inception to the interactive world with bravado and style.

On that note, if you were to choose a dream-team of collaborators to work with Nolan on such a project, who would they be? I happen to have a few ideas:

1. Ken Levine. The man who behind BioShock, one of the single most atmospheric games ever created, surely, could work wonders with a concept like Inception.

2. Patrice Desilets. Creative director behind Assassin’s Creed II, which remains the greatest sandbox game I’ve ever played. An Inception game, in my opinion, would absolutely require an open, non-linear world.

3. Amy Hennig. The creative mind behind Uncharted. A brilliant writer, and clearly knowledgeable of how to construct some of the greatest videogame setpieces of all time. Something an Inception game would need a lot of.

If I thought long and hard enough, I could come up with a longer list. Those are just from the top of my head. Now it’s YOUR turn!

Aren't they cute?

Life as we Know It Redefined

Before we begin, let me warn you that this is probably the most out-there story to ever grace Hey! Look! Listen! It’s not about videogames in any way, really. Regardless, I feel like its something that people of our kind might appreciate.

The definition for life itself has been changed. That’s right.

In Lake Mono, California, there’s a certain microbacteria known as GFAJ-1. This bacterium has long been known to breathe Arsenic, a compound that is poisonous to every living creature on the planet, save a few microbes.

Well. NASA announced last Thursday that GFAJ-1 wasn’t only breathing Arsenic. It was substituting Arsenic for Phosphorous, one of the essential building blocks of life as we currently define it. That is to say: this particular microbe is using a poison to build DNA, RNA, proteins, and cell membranes.

Now. Obviously. This changes everything. Life exists outside of the pre-existing requirements we’d identified over the centuries. Extra terrestrial life just became that much more of a possibility.

Think about it: if a life form here on earth can formulate its very DNA through means poisonous to every other living creature, then what sort of bizarrely unconventional life must there be out there?

I’m no scientist, so I’m not going to bore you with further discussion; go to Gizmodo for a more in-depth discussion. But, truth be told, this something I find extremely interesting, and honestly, quite exciting. And I hope you can as well.

EA’s Awesome Plan to Dethrone Call of Duty

Call of Duty is a massive brand name. It’s picked up a lot of momentum over the last four years or so, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Competitors, such as EA’s recent Medal of Honor reboot, have very pointedly tried – and failed – to take it down. At this point, the world is forced to wonder when and if a suitable competitor will ever give the franchise a run for its money.

Well, the boss of EA (who’s now made *two* appearances in this very column) has a plan. Oh yes.

His plan?

“Make a better game,” Riccitiello told Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo during an interview. “And make a better game again.”

Alright, well, perhaps there’s more. Later in the article, Riccitiello went on to say:

“What I’ve witnessed a couple of times in the games industry is the way you unseat a market leader is you make a better game a couple of times in a row. ”

The mind behind EA Games, everyone.

Well, to be fair, I’m unsure if I should be more baffled at John for saying that, or at Totilo for writing an article entitled “The Plan to Dethrone Call of Duty.”

Thoughts?

Wii Speak Peripheral to be Phased Out (In All Likelihood)

“The Wii Speak microphone is still available at limited retail locations,”  Nintendo told IGN. “Additional shipments can be made if consumer demand increases.”

HA

HAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Ahem. That’s enough. I’m over 2000 words. Let’s hear it for the longest HLL OF ALL TIME.

Yeah. Alright, well it’s Friday night. Time to uh, DO STUFF.

Lazy Saturdays #07 – Restless Heart Syndrome

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Hello, citizens of Riddlethos; and welcome to the seventh edition of Lazy Saturdays. As per usual, it is I, Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and I’m here to spice up your dull, dull lives with some links followed by short paragraphs of casual banter. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Well of course it does, the question was rhetorical. Dummy.

Huh lordy. Once again, it’s about as lazy as you an get here in my dilapidated apartment here in Murfreesboro. The blinds are drawn, my desk is an unbelievable mess (seriously, if Ethos didn’t still have my camera in Toronto, I’d take a picture to show you. It’s that epic) and to compliment the scene, I have not Green Day playing, but Of Montreal. Yeah, it’s that  kind of day.

Microsoft wants to shoot lasers into your eyes for the sake of 3Dokay, now that’s just kinda weird. I understand that in order for 3D to work, it has to lose the glasses. But when it comes to images being beamed directly into my eyeballs, I can’t help but feel a tiny bit uncomfortable. The technology is still in prototype stage, though – currently only two people can watch 3D at one time. So, I don’t suppose we’ll be seeing televisions with this technology on wal-mart shelves anytime soon.

Now you can “Like” things wherever you goI think we can all agree that the day Facebook implemented the “like” button was a life-changing day for all of us. No longer were we required to type a semi-coherent comment in order to react to the thoughtful statuses or wall posts of our dear Facebook friends; with the “Like” button, human conversation and communication has been distilled to the absolute, bare essentials of a gut reaction.

Don’t you love the internet?

Immediately, the denizens of Facebook cried out for a “dislike” button. Balance, after all, is everything. Facebook has yet to comply, meaning that for now at least, we are required to actually type “dislike” in the comment box. But, as unfair as that may be, perhaps the new “Like” rubber stamp will make up for it – at least, in part.

All the ease and convenience of Facebook’s “Like” button, in the palm of your hand. Use it anywhere, anytime. Now, if only there was a “dislike” stamp…

Hellz yeah: check out the first Dead Space 2 gameplay trailer – Gawd I can’t wait for this game. E3 2010 is all but here, so the first wave of videos and trailers are beginning to appear on the internets. My favorite one so far? This bloody montage of everyone’s favorite Isaac Clarke dismembering necromorphs. Here’s hoping we see way more of this when the show starts.

Eh? They’re still making Final Fantasy XI expansions? – Apparently the answer to that is “yes.” I had no idea. Stumbled across the name in my RSS feed. It’s called “Vision of Abyssea” or something weird like that. Here’s a piece of artwork from it.

I didn’t feel like removing the IGN watermark. Besides, there’s no bad blood between Riddlethos and IGN as far as I know. What’s a watermark among friends, right?

Anyway. That’s enough from me for now. Solitude + Of Montreal is putting me into an odd, trance-like state. And, it’s time for me to crack open Adobe Premiere and see what makes it tick.

So long for now, darlings!

Lazy Saturdays #03

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Well, it’s a good thing I never formally accepted 7’s challenge, because I don’t see myself finishing Nocturne this week. I’m frankly not good at gaming binge sessions. I can play for five hours at a time max before I have to take a break and do something else; it doesn’t matter what game it is, or how much I enjoy it.

I am very much enjoying the game, though. And, because of my immaculate awesomeness, I was able to defeat the infamous Matador on my third attempt. He was a tough bugger, yes, but my team was tougher. Just make sure you have a Magatama that nullifies Force. A Demon that does the same can’t hurt either. And finally, make sure you’re awesome. Like I am. (Probably the most difficult part.)

Also, I forgot to mention this in my previous write-up, but I love the fact that the game has no voice acting. Not entirely sure why, but I just find it oddly refreshing to return to the days of reading text. Anyone else feel me on that one?

I’ll be writing a bit more about Nocturne in tomorrow’s Sunday Soapbox, so look forward to it. For now, let’s try to spice up this rainy Saturday with some fun links.

All GameCrazy Stores Being Liquidated – Huh. Sad story. I’ve never been one to hate (too much) on GameStop, but it is kinda disturbing to see its competitors drop off like flies. And GameCrazy actually holds a special place in my heart for one reason: it was the first actual videogame store I ever went in. Growing up, my family made frequent trips to the local Wal-Mart for all our shopping needs. Right next to said Wal-Mart was a Hollywood Video store, where we’d often rent or buy movies. In said Hollywood Video was a GameCrazy  - and I’d visit it frequently. I don’t know if I even knew about GameStop at that time.

Ah well. There’s still Play and Trade for whenever I’m in an anti-GameStop mood.

Roger Ebert Hates 3-D - and frankly, I can’t blame him too much. The link is to a NewsWeek article in which Ebert carefully and elegantly lists nine different reasons why he thinks 3-D movies are bad. I won’t summarize it here, but it’s absolutely worth a read  - the man may not know a videogame from a drinking game, but he certainly knows the film industry.

If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, at least skip to Ebert’s final point, in which he discusses Hollywood’s tendency to resort to technology whenever they’re in a slump. (Color, 3-D, Widescreen, 3-D again, et cet). The point he makes is that Hollywood is perpetually trying to offer theater experiences that can’t be had at home, and perpetually failing – i.e, HD is now practically standard, widescreen’s been standard for a long time, and 3-D is already on its way to being a home experience. So, how can Hollywood break this vicious cycle? According to Ebert, it’s a technology known as MaxiVision48, which projects at 48 fps, essentially doubling image quality. I’ve never even heard of MaxiVision before, but Ebert seems to swear by it – in his own words:

The result is dramatically better than existing 2-D. In terms of standard measurements used in the industry, it’s 400 percent better. That is not a misprint. Those who haven’t seen it have no idea how good it is. I’ve seen it, and also a system of some years ago, Douglas Trumbull’s Showscan. These systems are so good that the screen functions like a window into three dimensions. If moviegoers could see it, they would simply forget about 3-D.

Strong words. But maybe he’s right?

You Should Check Out the Official Dead Space 2 Site - I’m generally not much for official game websites, but this one’s nice. There’s an audio log to listen to, a memorial for those lost in the “terrorist attack” on the Ishimura, some official artwork, and more.

Man, apparently the rain here is bad. Like, flash flooding bad. Oh well; I’m perfectly safe in my hidey-hole of an apartment.

‘Till tomorrow!

Must-See: First Dead Space 2 Teaser Descends

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Fuck. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES.

If you love Dead Space as much as I do, you must see this new teaser. If you don’t love Dead Space as much as I do, then you should watch it anyway because it is AWESOME.

Dead Space 2 is still tentatively set for release in early 2011. Can’t come soon enough for me.

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!