Archive for July, 2010

Video Game Pin Ups: Sarah Kerrigan

Thank you StarCraft. Back in ’98 you took my senior year of high school and made it special by introducing me to a very special girl.  Not only was she attractive, intelligent, motivated, and dedicated but she was also part of an elite fighting force. Sure at one point she got taken away by the Zerg but in a way…that just makes Sarah Kerrigan hotter.

sarah kerrigan star craft ghost

I could make a joke about "guns" and being between her legs...but I wont

I know we haven’t done one of these for a while, but frankly…we got busy. Anyway, here we are with Sarah Krerigan; StarCraft’s leading lady and undisputed winner of every “hot Zerg” contest. Seriously, Kerrigan stands literally and figuratively above the entire horde. While she may not be everyone’s cup of tea people have different taste. Some like their tea iced. Some like their tea with honey. Some like their tea with tentacles and a zerg rush. I like mine iced with lemonade. The ol’ Arnold Palmer.

Sarah Kerrigan: you win the Ass Stamp of Approval for the whole month.

Ass Stamp

Bring on the Zerg Rush

Sarah Kerrigan Startcraft Hydralisk

Who's a good puppy! That's right you're a good puppy!

sarah kerrigan starcraft 2

Am I the only one who finds this totally hot?

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Scaredy Kat

In light that it was my birthday yesterday – whoo hoo!! – I decided that it’s about time to dedicate a post all about me.  And video games.  And well, since all you readers know about my obsession with RPGs, it’s time to tell you about another obsession.

Scary video games.

And yes, I know this is a pervy blog, but haven’t you all heard enough about my insatiable love of Alistair?

It’s strange because I really have a love-hate relationship with scary video games.  I love reading about them, about the plotlines and the strange freaky twists, but I absolutely, positively cannot play a scary game.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  It just doesn’t work.  I also don’t watch scary movies, but it’s honestly 10x worse when you’re actually playing a game.  Because a game will put you in the drivers seat and allow you to control the hunted and haunted, it’s much scarier than just watching something you can’t participate in.

Let me relay an experience I had just a few years ago.  I was probably 21 when BioShock came out, and a co-worker owned it and kept raving about it (not Wadoobie, by the way).  I’d heard about how great it was, but I hadn’t actually learned anything regarding what the game really was about.  So I asked my co-worker if I could borrow it, and he obliged.  Later that night, I sat down to play, ready for an amazing game.  The eerie Start menu had me a little on edge, but I settled into the opening sequence fairly easily.  I’m sure everyone remembers how the original BioShock starts?  You’re on a plane, looking at a book and perhaps a picture, and then – *BOOM* – explosions, and your plane goes down in the ocean.  Okay, swimming around in the water isn’t too bad…man is it just me or does this guy breathe really heavily?… and then I found the structure.  And then I walked down.  The record ‘Under the Sea’ plays with a crackling, static-y tone and continues to give the off kilter feeling that something isn’t right with this picture.

Click for BioShock's Intro

And then I, like all players of Bioshock, took mini submarine down.  As you float by, your view allows you to see the ocean creatures, and then the majestic city of Rapture as you approach.  Of course, as you get closer, you realize that maybe Rapture isn’t so Majestic after all.

Click for BioShock Intro Part 2...aaaaand amp up the creepiness

When you arrive at your dock, you can’t see much.  But what you can see…is horrifying.  The person sent to check you out is killed by someone who sounds and moves like a crazy person.  And then when that crazy person notices you, and jumps on your sub and starts scratching away, well.  It’s pretty obvious.  Anywhos, so when I got to that part, I was hyperventilating.  Yeah, I’m not so good at scary.  I paused the game and literally threw the controller away from me.  I couldn’t handle it.  I jumped up and walked away from the tv, shaking.

However, I had some friends come over later and they started playing it, and I was (sort of) okay with just watching it.  If it got too freaky I would jump up and walk away for a little bit.  And then, intrigued by the interesting storyline, I looked up information on the game online.  I read every single one of those radio log entries.  It was fascinating; but there was no way I could play it myself.

Look, it's Kat playing BioShock!

So what’s wrong with this picture?  Actually controlling the character and the game and encountering all these scary things is too much for me, but I’m okay with watching others, or watching a clip online (with the sound off), or reading about the storyline.  (Eternal Darkness is really interesting – as are all the ‘Sanity Effects’ – what a great idea by Silicon Knights)  In fact, I’m obsessed with reading about scary games.  I just won’t play them.  Ever.

I guess I’m just a Scaredy Kat.

-Kat

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Dragon Age II – Magic Use Concept Art

While concept art doesn’t reflect how a game actually looks and performs this one certainly looks like fun. In Dragon Age: Origins we had a magic use system that I was a fan of. If you were throwing lighting around a battlefield anything that got in its way would be hurt. This means party members, friends, or foes. I was a fan. It provided a sense of consequences and planning.

That being said, this new concept art from BioWare clues us in a little into what BioWare hopes to do. Firstly I like the continual use of clothing and armor that looks like it may billow in the wind. That’s fun. I like when my clothes billows because it is buffeted by gusts of wind. It’s really why I wish it was socially acceptable to wear a cape.

Secondly, magic might behave a tad differently and it just looks fun. I really want to get my hands on a flaming spire projectile of destruction. But alas…this is just concept art. The finish product remains to be seen.

Dragon Age II - Magic Use

What a fun way this mage must have to both bake and slice bread

On another note, I’m throwin’ a  “Happy Birthday” to PtC’s own Kat Tiki! Congrats on turning…wait…wait a minute…she controls my paychecks…that wouldn’t be smart. Anyone else feel like singing?

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Video Games that Miss the Multiplayer Mark

Love a game or hate it there is one thing in particular that brings every user back for more. The thrill of adventure.

Video games have multiplayer, anymore that’s almost a given. Multiplayer gives people the chance to go out and pit themselves against other people from around the world or it allows for a collaborative effort to achieve victory. But there are some games that either miss the mark, or totaly skip the online process altogether.

There are plenty of games that feature an elite group that is special in its power and abilities. These groups are revered through out the world that they inhabit and rightly so. In many instances they allow for tremendous character customaization that allow for you to literally recreate yourself in that world and develop and grow your powers until you become an unstopable force of nature.

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Who doesn't get warm fuzzies from this?

Okay before we get hit with a teeming mass of nerd rage let me just say that I’ve been a Ghostbusters fan since the movie came out. The game was like a culmination of my entire childhood gloriously shooting forth like an overcharged proton stream of pleasure. My fiance (Meg) lives in constant fear of the morning that I awake and begin singing the Ghostbusters theme song becuase she know’s its a pretty fair bett I will be planted in front of a television slinging traps like Mel Gibson slings racial slurs.

Even the multiplayer is fantastic. There is just one tiny, ever so minute flaw. I wanted to be a Ghostbuster. Sure, the Rookie was interesting, looked like a nice guy, someone that I could relate to, go out, grab a slice and a brew with. But he wasn’t me. I like me. I think I would make a great Ghostbuster.

I sincerely hope they make a sequel and allow for character customization. I may very well need to change my shorts if I ever hear that news. My poor family would be inundated with photos of me when I brought down a most wanted ghost, or that time I managed to bag 20 ghosts without damaging any property. Sure…they would hate it, but I would be in pure nerd heaven. The only thing better would be Bill Murray sitting next to me giving me a high five and a one liner.

Dragon Age: Origins / Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening

Dragon Age: Origins was a fantastic concept, you join an army of Grey Wardens only to have it wiped out at the start of the game. Sadly, you are left with two in all of Ferelden to face the blight. But when the game is done what is left? The same story told with different choices and outcomes but no additionaly play through ever really felt like the first.

The blight wasn’t totally destroyed and neither were the Grey Wardens (as shown in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening). I was so hoping for Dragon Age II to announce that once and it would allow for your Grey Warden to join the rest of his Bretheren to fight the blight in a whole new world, allowing for Grey Wardens from all over the world to work together.

Games such as Resistance 2 stood out with fantastic multiplayer that was objective / mission based and required players to work as a team to meet a common goal. It wasn’t just about killing everything that got in front of you, it was about using your skills and assets to work as a team to accomplish something.

Dragon Age could have beneifted greatly from this style of online play. I mean lets face it, I spent how much time building up my Grey Warden for what? To say, “Hey lookie there…I get to make a new one!”

I was part of an elite group of soldiers and never really got to see any others (save for 3) until I had to buy an expansion. It never quite felt like a true army.

However the inlcusion of some multiplayer where Grey Wardens from all over the land came together to stop a growing mass of Darkspawn before things really got out of hand would have made it even more personal and significantly upped the continued play of the game. It would have allowed for a Grey Warden to live on past the blight. Heck…even a little tenting could take place

Solid multiplayer would have taken a fantastic game and sent it shooting deep within the annals of gaming history with the brute force and all of the concern of a run away train. It could very well have set a benchmark for all games to come.

Any Star Wars Game

Star Wars - Old Republic Sith

That just looks like trouble

Thank friggin goodness for Old Republic. Yes, it doesn’t really do well in this setting becuase it is in fact an MMORPG but to date almost all single player Star Wars games miss the mark.

You have Jedi, you have Sith, you have Bounty Hunters, the Mandalorian, and more than we have words with. You have an entire galaxy populated with elite groups of warriors. Even as high level as Empire and Rebellion have great potential for online multiplayer perfection.

Again, the impending release of Star Wars: Old Repubilc should have every Start Wars fanboy gamer in absolute heaven.

Mass Effect

Similarly it would have been fun to be able to experience the full potential of a Spectre force. Though by nature Mass Effect’s Spectres were supposed to work alone it would have been fun to see a gathering of Spectres on the Citadel station hearing a call to arms from a near by system. A job that only a small band of Spectres can take on.

Since Mass Effect seemed to go a big rubbery one over using elevators as a loading screen you could even get a briefing on the mission while you rode the elevator to the Normandy.

Once on planet Spectres could start out together in an intial push until things quiet down a bit. Then each has their own misison to accomplish. As they split you still hear chatter and can see one another at various points. Once individual tasks were complete a full scale epic final push would take place. Completion would urn you pride, failure…mockery in Spectre History.

Transformers: War for Cybertron

While not my favorite game, I am just a sucker for Transformers. They are almost as fantastic to me as Ghostbusters.

Once I heard I could make my own Transformer for online play Meg heard me excited tell her that and began to worry that this would be just like Ghostbusters: The Video Game. “I’m not going to see you for a few weeks am I?”

While the customization wasn’t quite as impressive as I had hoped it was still customization. I mean it’s not like I can very well expect them to offer an vehicle line up on par with Gran Turismo to choose from. It’s good, it’s solid, and it works.

But where’s the fun? It’s fairly standard, online play. I’m not knockin’ it, but it just didn’t live up quite as much to it’s potential. It’s kinda sad to say but when it comes to online fun, LittleBig Planet can run circles around Transformers: War for Cybertron. That’s right when it comes to online play Sackboy can kick Prime right in the Autobot twig and giggle berries.

But why do some game companies not engage in multiplayer when there is so much possibility? Well there’s a mutlitude of reasons. Some being time, money, and desire to focus on the single player game at hand. Sometimes for the company, a full tilt boogey single player game is infinately more important to them than offers a rich and rewarding experience. But what then when the characters have a yerning to live on past their single player campaign. What then when we want to run the right past the finale and into continued glory?

Maybe someday all games will (by default) allow for a fantastic multiplayer experience or at a mimimum pull an Assassins Creed and say “While it wasn’t in the original game, here’s the good mutliplayer aspect.”

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Dragon Age II – Facts About Hawke: Now with more screen shots!

BioWare, oh BioWare. You are really throwing out a veritable metric ass load of information as of late about Dragon Age II. I for one am delighted to receive said information and spread it around. According to Game Informer:

1. Hawke will be a voiced character.
Unlike Dragon Age: Origins, the player’s character in Dragon Age II will be fully voiced. This opens the door for a more cinematic approach to dialogue and creates an identity for the character outside of the text you see on-screen. It also eliminates those awkward scenarios where you feel like your character should be reacting, but instead just stares blankly without so much as a grunt.

2. Hawke is human.
Yes, that means that you won’t be able to select Hawke’s race. However, just because that one aspect of Hawke’s backstory is set doesn’t mean BioWare is eliminating character creation. You can still choose your class and customize your appearance. When we visited BioWare’s studio, we only saw (and heard) the male Hawke in action, but the team promises that players can select either gender for the character.

3. Hawke didn’t just survive the blight…he escaped it.
As the Grey Warden from Dragon Age: Origins was fighting darkspawn, Hawke was living in Lothering. Fans will remember that the small village was raided and destroyed (an event that occurred off-screen in Origins), and Hawke was one of the survivors. However, rather than stay and fight the darkspawn menace, Hawke flees Ferelden and heads north.

4. Hawke is the Champion of Kirkwall.

Kirkwall is a major population center in the Free Marches, a collection of city-states north of Ferelden. This means that at least some of the action in Dragon Age II will be set in Kirkwall itself, though Hawke will also spend time in other areas of the Free Marches. What exactly Hawke does to earn the honorary title of Champion, however, is up to you.

5. Hawke drives the story.
Dragon Age II is not about killing an ancient evil or about quelling another blight; Hawke is the driving force behind the narrative. Over the course of the game’s 10-year timeline, players’ actions and choices will determine Hawke’s history, relationships, and regrets…all in service to answering the larger question: Who is the Champion of Kirkwall?

So we learn that Hawke is (potentially) a deserter who rises to become the Champion of Kirkwall. Obviously (as shown in the images below) he still has to contend with the Darkspawn, but is it on a grand scale like the Grey Warden? The games take place (or at least begin) around the same time frame. Given that Dragon Age II is a decade in duration (I can’t wait to see how long this bad boy is) it will obviously end some time after, perhaps even after Awakenings.

Will there be rumblings and rumors that tie into Origins? Will we see a Witch of the Wilds with a small child (around 9 or 10) that bares a striking resemblance to a certain Grey Warden?

Oh so many questions and oh so little time to answer them all. But BioWare didn’t just stop at giving us some new information. They were also kind enough to oblige us with some fancy pants screen shots:

Dragon Age II - Hawke with Sword

I swing my sword from above my shoulder...that's how Hawke rolls

Dragon Age II - Hawke - Ogre Finishing Blow

It's true...the Hawke can fly

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