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Member Since 07 Sep 2004
Offline Last Active Jul 13 2018 10:28 PM

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Blog PenguinMaster > DRM and the Preservation of the Arts

Posted 24 May 2013

DRM's biggest problem isn't consumer rights. It isn't price control. When you give up full control of a game to a company they control its very existence.

On April 15th 2010, Microsoft discontinued support of Xbox Live for original Xbox games. At this point all downloadable content for original Xbox games was unobtainable for anyone that didn't already h...

Blog PenguinMaster > This Year Sucked: My Top 10 Games of 2012

Posted 08 December 2012

1) Syndicate
Good, but not great. A solid shooting engine with nice atmosphere but boring characters. A huge stepdown from The Darkness and The Chronicles of Riddick (two great games by the same developer).

2) Resident Evil 6
Capcom is starting to catch up with modern shooters, but still has a ways to go.

3) Assassin's Creed III
Possibly the best Assassin's Creed yet, but the formula is getting stale and the game takes far too long to get to the good stuff.

4) Far Cry 3
An improvement over Far Cry 2... but not by enough. The atmosphere and characters are enjoyable, but too much of the game is the same boring open world stuff that was in Far Cry 2. The game lacks focus.

5) The Darkness II
A decent shooter, but it can't hope to compare to the first game. Characters are too stereotypical mobster and the villains are terrible. The entire game is far too bright: often I can't tell that I'm stepping into a lit area.

6) Alan Wake's American Nightmare
Everything about it is worse than the original, but it's still fun.

7) Dead or Alive 5
Despite coming out 7 years later, the game looks worse than Dead or Alive 4. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same.

8) Mario Party 9
The best Mario Party yet. I don't really have anything bad to say about it... but it just isn't the type of game that I play a lot.

9) Hitman: Absolution
The core mechanic of the Hitman series (the disguises) has been broken. Combine that with worse level design and the game just can't compete with the previous games. The game felt very similar to Splinter Cell: Conviction (but much worse). While becoming more action-oriented worked fairly well for Splinter Cell, it didn't for Hitman.

10) Halo 4
Looks fantastic (a first for the series)... but otherwise it's pretty typical Halo. Halo 1 was good (but definitely overrated), Halo 2 was terrible, each game after that has been an improvement but still not as good as the first one. The new enemies are bad and the new guns are terrible. While the new enemies aren't any worse than the flood, fighting anyone with the new guns is worse than fighting the flood. When using the usual guns the game is definitely better than 2, 3, ODST, and Reach.

I'm hoping New Super Mario Bros. U isn't a letdown, but it's the only game I care about on Wii U so I won't be getting one anytime soon. 2013 is looking very promising and 2011 was fantastic... I guess all the great developers need time to make their masterpieces and 2012 happens to fall in the middle.

Blog PenguinMaster > Top 10 Games of the Year - 2010

Posted 08 January 2011

1) 007 Blood Stone
If you're playing this game as just another cover shooter you're playing it wrong. The best feature of the game is the melee attacks: you can take down any enemy with a single button press. I always like effective melee attacks in shooters and this is the absolute best implementation. When this is combined with the sprinting and focus shots (which you earn with melee) the game becomes a very active and fast-paced shooter, bested only by Uncharted. If you spend the game hiding behind cover you may die less but you won't have much fun either.

2) Rock Band 3
I don't really have a lot to say about this one. I continue to be a big fan of the Rock Band games. With each iteration the mechanics are slightly improved and the set list gets worse. I didn't really care much for the keyboard but that has more to do with the instrument than the game. Regardless since each Rock Band game can import almost all the songs of the previous titles Rock Band 3 is the best one by default.

2) Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction
A big change from previous games, which may or may not be a good thing. This game is much faster paced and has much more fluid animation than the previous games. I try to play the game as stealthily as I can, but it often isn't really made for it. I still had great fun with this game and have beaten it 3 times so far. It has great level design and great atmosphere and those have always been some of the most important things for the series.

8) Alan Wake
Check out my review here: http://www.cheapassg...log.php?b=16074

3) Red Dead Redemption
Not as good as I expected, but still quite good. The game has too many slow-paced missions with too much slowly riding from one place to another with company. But the similarities to Grand Theft Auto IV (one of my absolute favorite games) make the game very fun. The atmosphere is typical Rockstar which is very good, and the shooting engine from GTA4 returns, it's a bit downgraded because you can't zoom in and there are no automatic weapons but it still remains one of the best shooting engines.

6) Super Mario Galaxy 2
Very similar to Super Mario Galaxy but much better level design. While too much of Super Mario Galaxy relied on the gravity gimmick (which I never cared for), Galaxy 2 returns to form and just delivers great 3D platforming. I don't think the game is quite as good as Super Mario 64, but easily trumps Galaxy and Sunshine.

5) Donkey Kong Country Returns
This almost captures the greatness of the original trilogy (which I have played recently, I'm not relying on nostalgia). The controls are worse due to having to shake the wiimote to roll, some of the new gimmicks are a pain in the ass, and the co-op is horrible and needlessly difficult, but the level design is almost as good as the original. I'm glad to finally see a return of 2D platformers, this and New Super Mario Bros. Wii are the only great 2D platformers since the Super Nintendo and I just hope there are more to come.

10) Mass Effect 2
I don't play a lot of RPGs, but Mass Effect 2 is the best western RPG there is. The game plays similarly to the first one but with a vastly improved shooting engine that still can't compete with Uncharted, GTA4, or Gears of War. Excellent dialogue and characters.

9) Heavy Rain
Great story, excellent atmosphere, and fantastic graphics. I've been a fan of adventure games since the early 90s and there just haven't been many lately. This is certainly the best serious adventure game I've played and the story, while a tad predictable, will keep you hooked. Unfortunately trophies have ruined the replay value. I feel like I want to get the ones that require multiple specific choices throughout the game so I have to focus on specific actions while playing... it takes away from both choice and narrative.

10) Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
If you liked Sands of Time and Two Thrones, you'll like this. Apparently every other Prince of Persia game will be a rehash of Sands of Time. The atmosphere is pretty much just like Sands of Time and Two Thrones and the level designs pretty much the same too. The combat has gotten worse, dealing with hordes of enemies now, but I never played any of these games for the combat anyway. The platforming is improved due to being faster and more fluid.

Blog PenguinMaster > Review: Alan Wake

Posted 09 August 2010

Alan Wake has one strange story, but the game itself is not particularly unique. Let's start with a brief rundown of the story. The game revolves around famous writer Alan Wake, while on vacation in the small town of Bright Falls his wife goes missing and strange occurrences happen in the night. Possessed people start to attack him and his primary weapon is light. The story is very unusual and rarely makes any sense. As the game progresses more and more questions are brought up as only a few get answered. By the end of the game hardly anything really has a concrete explanation, but the game warns about this as soon as you start it up with a quote from Steven King, “Nightmares exist outside of logic and there's little fun to be in explanations, they're antithetical to the poetry of fear.”

Despite the aforementioned insanity, the story and atmosphere is highly engrossing and great fun. It kept me enthralled throughout the game and wanting to continue just to see what happened. This was essential to the fun of the game as a large portion of the game is devoted strictly to the story. The game is broken down into six chapters and in most of the them you play part of it during the daytime and part of it at night. Since the enemies of the game derive their power from darkness you don't face any of them during the day, at these points you talk with various characters and get more insight into the bizarre circumstances of Bright Falls and more back story of your own character and a few others.

Additional atmosphere is created through the use of televisions and radios throughout the game. Some of these further the story and often bring up a lot of questions in the game others are just amusing in their own right. Of particular interest is the game's Twilight Zone parody, “Night Springs,” it is even more bizarre than the game's own story and never tries to make any sense but is often very funny. The story alone is enough to make the game interesting, but how is the gameplay?

The gunplay in the game has a solid engine. You fight the enemies by making them vulnerable with your flashlight or lantern and them you can take them down with a few gunshots. The guns have a nice feel to them and it never gets to the point where you feel like you're just going through the motions, but the game is very repetitive. There isn't much variety in enemies or in weapons: you have the same handgun throughout the entire game and there are only three other shotguns and rifles. The repetition is made significantly worse by the environments of the game. The nature of the story means that all the combat in the game takes place at night in dimly lit areas, but more could have done regardless. Bright Falls is a small town in the wilderness, the largest portion of the game takes place in the woods and this is not a very interesting place to be. You also go to industrial areas and small shops and houses, but those aren't that exciting either. If only the game had more variety it could have been a whole lot better.

Graphically the game looks quite good. The characters and environment are highly detailed and the lighting is some of the best I've seen in recent memory. The look of the game constantly pulled me in and the only time I had any issues with the graphics were occasionally weird facial animations: they just looked unnatural. Overall it certainly is one of the better looking games, not up to the level of Uncharted or Heavy Rain, but it holds its own against other big releases.

The sound is quite good at keeping the atmosphere as well. Sound effects pack a punch and there it always sounds like there is something eerie going on... in a good way. I don't have surround sound so I can only speculate how good that would sound. But I never felt that the sound design did anything to distract me from the atmosphere of the game.

Overall the game is quite good. The story will keep you guessing up until the end, and beyond. The shooting engine is very well designed. My only major gripe is the lack of variety. I was hoping for even more from Remedy, the developer of my personal favorite game: Max Payne 2, but I may have set my expectations just a little bit too high. I still had a great time with the game while it lasted and I will probably play the game at least once more, it'll just be over a longer period of time so the repetition isn't as obvious.

8 out of 10