Archive for February, 2010

Mistaken Identity, Part 2: Ugly Cousins

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Zell from Final Fantasy VIII

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Zevran from Dragon Age: Origins

While that is a valid point, I would like to again highlight the fact that both characters are orphans.  Therefore, we don’t really know what lies in their past.  Perhaps Zevran and Zell are cousins, and their grandparents are humans, and one rebellious daughter decided to get freaky with an elf.  Or, perhaps Zevran is Zell’s grandpa?  With all the love children Zevran most likely created, it’s certainly possible.  Maybe we just don’t know that Zell has a little bit o’ elf in him.

And the last bit of obvious evidence…?  How about the fact that they both like hot dogs?  One literally, and one a little more…figuratively?

Don’t groan.  You know you think it’s hilarious.

-Kat

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Video Games and Relationships: Heavy Rain, Bad Company 2, Demon's Souls

As I was doing some work around the house this morning my thoughts invariably went to the world of video games (as they usually do).  I began to anxiously anticipate the arrival of Heavy Rain, the release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and ultimately rested on the fact that I will spend most of my gaming time today working at Demon’s Souls since the aforementioned games have yet to be part of my collection.

As I thought about all three games I began to think where they fit within the scheme that is my life. Some have choices that have no clear right or wrong answer and some don’t really require much in the way of decision making beyond the question “Do I use the door or make a hole in the wall?”. Some require careful thought and understanding and some require you to run in guns blazing leaving a lifeless wake behind you everywhere you go.  As I thought about each of these I was struck with various aspects of my life that fit within these very same descriptions.

Demon’s Souls and Team Sports

Back in college I played Rugby. I had the luxury of seeing it from two distinct viewpoints in my time there. When I started we had no coach and little understanding of tactics. We just ran fast, hit hard, kept getting up, and had fun after the game. We didn’t win many games but we sure won the socials. Eventually we grew to dislike our losing record and asked an old alumni of ours to help us out and be our coach. BTW: That really was my coach.

He taught us the nuances of the game, the skills, the tactics. He taught us how to read a pitch, a team, and the weather. The man taught us how to appreciate the game on a whole new level. It was the first time a coach had really taught me to understand a game on every possible level and what we were doing. Last time I checked Black Rose was undefeated in their last regular season and lost in the finals.

Demon's Souls for PS3When I first purchased Demon’s Souls I had no cable and no internet. I picked it up as I was moving into a new house (literally on the way). I had read all the hype and thought “Okay, it’s brutal, you die a lot, but how bad could it be?” Bad. Very. Very. Bad. It was like a baby taking it’s first steps:

  1. Walk a few feet.
  2. Fall.
  3. Okay bad guy there. Remember that.
  4. Walk a few feet.
  5. Kill bad guy.
  6. Walk a few more feet.
  7. Fall.
  8. Okay bad guy there. Remember that.
  9. Repeat process.
  10. Weapon breaks.
  11. Fall.
  12. Wtf…now what?

Then the cable company came by and gave me my wonderful internet and a whole new video gaming experience opened up to me. This game took me through the same journey as with Rugby. I started blind, running fast and hitting hard. When I logged in I read messages, watched other players failures, watched other player’s successes. I learned how to play the game. It was learning to understand the game that helped me to be better at it.

Demon’s Souls is not a Devil May Cry style video game where you run in, clear a room, be stylish, pose, and move on. You have to be calculating, understanding, and take your time. You need to plan, you need to see your next steps, think about your next action. Learn what the level is doing, where the bumps are, and exploit them. Learning how to play the game and learning how to play the game properly make all difference in the world.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Friendships

To be honest I am probably not the person you want in your squad, on your team, or in the same map as you. I am not the tactical player (which is why Demon’s Souls took so much getting used to). I am the guy who grabs the vehicle that makes the biggest boom and lays waste to a city. I am, for lack of a better word, out-of-control.

Kool Aid Man through wallThis is relatively indicative of my close friendships. Take last weekend. I walked into a friends house and put a hammer into his wall. We were removing the wall so it was acceptable. We then proceeded to do our best “Kool-Aid Man” impressions for the next twenty minutes before realizing that we were covered in drywall and that probably wasn’t the best thing for us.

A member of my wedding party used to take great pleasure in the fact that he owned a cattle prod and enjoyed using it on all of us. He took aim at me point blank with a potato cannon filled with wet paper towels. He put a live blue crab on me while I slept in my bed one morning.

Other friends and I would take turns punching one another in a game that was lovingly referred to as “the punching game” (creative I know). We had to institute a rule in our college house that banned fireworks from being used inside. This included using them outside and “accidentally” having them explode inside.

Walking into the house was an exercise in reaction time and potential property damage thanks to the “Sack Game.” We would hide in the hopes that we could give someone a surprise tackle.

We turned the inside of our house into a.) slip n’ slide b.) bocce ball court c.) paint ball range d.) 18 hole pitch and putt golf course including the “up the stairs bank off the window and roll down the hallway hole 13”. We didn’t get our security deposit back. In fact we owed more money.

Bad Company takes me back into my college mentality of “hell with it, go through the wall.” I’m not a sniper. I like to use explosive devices and lots of them. I lob grenades. I unload clip after clip after clip to kill one guy when it would be easier to stop and aim. Thats how I game. It may not be the best way, smartest way, most normal way, but it’s entirely a reflection of my closest friendships and how we interact with one another.

Heavy Rain and Romance

In every romantic relationship there are questions and problems that come up that have no clear and defined answer. In every romantic relationship there are moments that are as fuzzy as a kiwi and uncertain and unstable as Gary Busey. Often times there is no right answer and if there is you don’t know what it was until a long while later.

Heavy Rain for PS3 has tough decisions

Is there really a correct decision here?

Heavy Rain for the PS3 seems to have a lot of these moments. Moments where the right answer isn’t clear and if it ever becomes clear it will be so long after the fact that you won’t be able to do anything about it.

It’s not a game full of action, excitement, and stabbing. It’s just a game full of life, enjoyment, subtlety, finesse and a little bit of boobage.

It’s this aspect of of Heavy Rain that makes it most like a romantic relationship. It’s not going to be for everyone just like every relationship is not for everyone. It’s not a run and gun style video game. It’s going to make you react fast and deal with the consequences. Some gamers are going to love it, some are going to find it to be just okay, and others are going to hate it. Personally I can not wait for this game to get here. I’ve played the demo many times over and each time it makes me want the full release more and more.

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Show us what you got: Video Game Pick Up Lines

Ohgren attempting a pick up line

Oghren is my hero.

Every now and then you come across a nice pick up line in a video game. While most are trite and contrived, every now and then you find a real gem.  Take for instance my man Oghren. When he meets up with his special lady friend he gracefully uses the line “Are you a baker? ‘Cause you got a sodding nice set of buns.”  Doesn’t quite have a sense of eloquence about it, however it gets the job done. It conveys the appropriate message, it adds a bit of humor, and it’s even rather complimentary once you get past the totally uncouth manner in which it was stated.

Oghren really has a way with words. That lil’ “sword polisher” really can make me laugh.

Other times you find a great one liner. Something you read and have to think about later and wonder if you really did in fact see that.

Well, now it’s your turn to show us what you got. Share with us your favorite in game one liners and pick up lines. Either fire an e-mail off to PolishTheConsole@GMail.com, hit us up on twitter @ConsolePolisher or just use the comment section below.

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Final Fantasy VIII: Squall’s Dead

Final Fantasy VIII (FF8) happens to be another one of my favorite games of all time.  FF8 was my first introduction into the world of role playing games, and boy was that a wonderful experience.  I know a lot of people have issues with FF8, that it tends to be very controversial, and well, I’d like to throw an extra wrench in it.

 

Squall Iced

Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

I stumbled upon a theory and possible interpretation of FF8 the other day, and at first when reading through it, I was furious.  The idea is that Squall, the main character, essentially dies at the end of the first disc, when Sorceress Edea stabs him with the ice shard.  What happens from then on is basically ‘life-flashing-before-your-eyes’, except with a twist.  Instead of seeing what he’d already done, Squall sees the neat closure to the adventure and story they started in the beginning.  Essentially, everything from Disc 2 on is all just a dream.

Again, when I first saw this link, I wanted to scream.  I wanted to kick the computer.  I wanted to pound on the keyboard and yell that it wasn’t true.

But the further I read, the more I started to see how it was plausible, if not necessarily likable.

It’s true that once out of Disc 1, the twists and surprises start rolling in.  And, strangely enough, a lot of these twists connect the characters together.  All the main characters, minus Rinoa, all grew up together.  The Guardian Forces cause memory loss, which is why no one remembers each other.  Edea is married to Headmaster Cid.  Etc, Etc.  It almost seems…too neat.  Too tidy.

Squall's Dead

Squall's wholy. And potentially dead.

Even if I prefer the neat and tidy wrapping up of the story, with all characters happy, I have to admit that this theory made me think.  Made me wonder.  Is it possible…that everything was just a dream?

Check out the site and theory for yourself at SquallsDead.com.  What do you think?  Does the theory hold up?

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Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening: No Romance, No Tenting?

Ohgren attempting a pick up line

Oghren is my hero.

Well WTF BioWare? Listen, I totally share Kat’s sentiment towards you guys, but I also share the sentiment that I love perving out. on Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening’s website they have a rather handy FAQ:

1.7 – If I had a romance in Origins, does it carry over into Awakening?

Romances do not carry forward in Awakening, because you are away from your previous life fighting a new threat.

Now this is to be expected unless you wind up marrying and taking over the crown in the end. For male protagonists you’re primary romantic interest (Morrigan) is off with your child in the woods and there is no guarantee that Leliana will be with you at the moment.  Even if she is there is go guarantee your love interest will fit in, have the right skills, or be needed in the new campaign. But then I read further:

1.8 – Who can I romance in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening?

There are no romances options available in Awakening. The story is focused more on the mission at hand and the new threat to Ferelden.

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"I DO WHAT I WANT!"

Come on now. You mean to tell me my character isn’t going to go looking for strange when off in a new land? You apparently don’t know my character very well. Let me clue you in. She’s an angry bitter whore of a city elf who does what she wants. Sure the primary male main character I have is a fine upstanding fella, but the girl? She’s gonna find a way to tent. Mark my words.

What the FAQ does say that really makes me excited is that:

1.9 – Which Dragon Age: Origins NPC will be returning?

Besides Oghren who plays a large role in Awakening, there are cameos and returning characters…

For me, Oghren was phenomenal comedic fodder. We had some wonderful analogies and misunderstood references. I laughed for hours when I heard Ohgren use the term “Pike Twirler”. I actually looked at my fiance and asked if she wanted to “grease up the ol’ bronto”. She said no. I think it worried her a little.
(thanks to reddit for catching the above typo. you’re always there for me.)

When asked her opinion Kat (who may be BioWare’s biggest fan…she may even be stalking them) responded with:

Learning the fact that you can’t romance in DA:O-A…almost makes me feel like…eff that. Totally takes the wind out of the sails.

While we are still going to purchase and play the crap out of it because…well…that’s what we do, we will still feel like something is missing. Like the game is slightly incomplete. While it’s entirely possible that we wont even notice the lack of tenting I am still going to miss it.

To check out the FAQ you can find it on the Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening website.

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