Archive for March, 2011

Okay, mistakes were made. But what were they?

I read a post by Jim Sterling on GameFront that got me thinking about journalism and popularity contests. The very nature of Journalism is a popularity contest. We report what people want to read. Rarely does mind blowing journalism pop up that shakes the core of an industry. People write things to put proverbial butts in the proverbial seats. It’s why entities like Google and Bing exist in the first place; to wade through the BS and find the core of the information.

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Reddit, Digg, Twitter, N4G, hell even Facebook are asking to be constant targets of blackhat SEO tactics in the video game world to help push a site up in both rankings and pageviews. This isn’t the first time that something like this has been done and it certainly will not be the last.

The websites in question absolutely didn’t keep a close enough eye on their brand to make sure that its integrity was upheld in the online communities. They failed on that and failed big. You have to watch what people say, do, and communicate with or about your property while online. Their crime is piss poor brand management.

However they all owned up to it. Yeah GamePro had fun with it and more power to them.

It’s definitely true that we’ve had some power users recently spamming content on our behalf. We have already stepped in and asked those people not to do this in future.

The reality of the situation is pretty straightforward – Reddit can be gamed, it was gamed by people on our behalf, and those people got busted. We take full responsibility for engaging those people. And yes, we’re apologizing because we got busted. Damn you. We’d have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids. So give us the kicking we deserve, and we’ll look forward to seeing what the conspiracy theorists will come up with.

We’re hoping that the more reasonable of you will respect our honesty regarding our deferred dishonesty, but we’re sure some people will run riot with it, which is to be expected – and in some places celebrated – on the Internet. Ultimately, we respect Reddit and its community, at least the ones who don’t live under a bridge and forget to take their meds. We also believe in our content, but in future we want you, not spammers, to be the judge of it.

A Statement from GamePro *But not verified as GamePro

A long standing source of journalism shouldn’t have to grovel at the feet of the overly opinionated online denizens that are so quick to issue a verbal smack down under the anonymity of the internet when they find an opinion that makes them feel that they have been the least bit befouled. Was anyone really hurt? You got to read something you may have enjoyed. If you didn’t enjoy it then okay. Is your life any worse by it?

I don’t blame the video game websites for wanting to perform better and get bigger numbers. That’s half the fun of a website. It’s the reason they exist. If they didn’t then they wouldn’t be able to employ much of a staff and you wouldn’t have seen them in the first place.

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Maybe you should downvote a little more.

I also don’t blame “MasterOfHyrule” for doing it. He got free stuff and enjoyed it. Can you blame him? Apology accepted. I would wager that well over 80% of gamers lashing out at this situation would have done the same thing. Forgive and move on. It’s really not that big of a deal. It’s easy to hide behind your scruples until the situation is presented to you. Granted he did it to an absolutely staggering degree and when caught he reacted rather juvenile in his attempts to discredit but ultimately he owned up as well.

As a gamer, a website owner, and a full time SEO I admit that I see problems like this from a very different view. What I have yet to see and what would ultimately impress upon me a wonderful and much needed apology is a “we may want to update how we rank things” from Reddit. It is absolutely, as Jim put it, a popularity contest. But what is the best gauge of popularity?

I don’t want anyone thinking I’m saying Reddit is bad, evil, or in any way shape or form anything other than a delight and a phenomenal way to spend an entire day. I’m simply saying that if it wasn’t so easy to game then perhaps this wouldn’t have happened.

Nobody in this dance is as nefarious as online sentiment would make them out to be. They are nothing more than symptoms and effects of a much larger problem. The question is how does a website guard against being gamed for the purposes of personal benefit? Simply put, it can’t. Everything can be gamed. It’s the reason the big players don’t release their ranking algorithms.

Until we find a way to measure popularity and validity without influence you will continue to be gamed. You may not notice it. You may not see it. In some instances you may not even mind it. But you will be gamed. Sucks don’t it?

Afterthought Edit:

Mad props to Deimorz for not just noticing something was up but also for sticking to their guns. Fairly impressive. You get our “Ass Stamp of Approval” for the week.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Dragon Age 2 Review

Here’s a little known fact: Polish the Console was essentially founded because of Dragon Age: Origins. We spent so much time having random conversations that stemmed from Dragon Age: Origins that we said “Hey, lets make a website out of it.” Dragon Age quickly became a series that we knew that we were going to follow closely and with much excitement. When they announced Dragon Age 2 we all felt that it seemed quick but we didn’t care. We couldn’t wait. It was more Dragon Age.

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That's a man on a serious mission

The more information that we heard about Dragon Age 2 the more we couldn’t wait to play. It’s very existence had us brimming with excitement. We counted down the days until its release like giddy school children count down to spring break. We even considered using up our sick days at the office to camp out in our basements and do nothing but play Dragon Age 2.

Dragon Age 2: Controls

While the controls aren’t revolutionary they are still quite good. Bioware chose to keep their tried and true Dragon Age scheme but give it an added punch. When playing Dragon Age: Origins the presence of an actual player wasn’t always needed. You could just set it to attack something and go make a sandwich while the game took care of itself. You took care of using talents and spells but overall it was an experience steeped in the command mentality of “Go kill that. Okay now go kill that.”

They chose to step up the game a bit by making it more action oriented. Instead of letting the game play itself they gave direct control to the user. No longer to you select who to attack, you attack EVERYTHING. Every swing of the sword / knife / staff is dictated by the user. For me this makes for a more solid and interesting method of gameplay. It makes the user feel as if they are really in control and not just making decisions for someone else.

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Dragon Age 2’s controls get a 4 out of 5

Dragon Age 2: Gameplay

Dragon Age: Origins was absolutely epic. There were long stretches spent attempting to accomplish one goal. Hours were spent in the Deep Roads and a Fade. You moved from area to area amassing a large army to fight an impending threat. You were picked to save the world from being overrun by evil and quite frankly that’s not something you can wrap up in a weekend and still have time to have dinner with the family.

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Does anyone else find the Qunari to be really attractive in this Dragon Age?

Dragon Age 2 takes a different approach. You are not fighting a horde of darkspawn on your way to stop the Archdemon. You have fled Ferelden during the blight and are now trying to create a better life for you and for your family. You get caught up in numerous political problem in the grand city of Kirkwall. You begin to amass a sizable fortune as a business man and because of this your status in the city is elevated and people begin to look up to you and your accomplishments. As you venture through your time as Hawke you really get a sense that Bioware has matured in their story telling for Dragon Age 2. It’s not just about questing and killing. You’re helping a city mired in political problems elevate itself and depending on how you play you can assume the role as it’s leader. Your actions bring about large political changes and ultimately seal your fate as a savior or a villain.

But it is because of these problems that you also don’t ever really leave. That’s a big change from Origins where you went quite literally all over the kingdom of Ferelden to get your job done. In Dragon Age 2 you spend you time either in Kirkwall or in the surrounding area. There’s isn’t much in the way of exploration.

When you do finally get the chance to explore and go cave diving you begin to see some of the problems when you release a game a little too quickly. Literally every cave and every house are exactly like every other cave and every other house. Some have doors that cannot open and start you in different areas but that is the only difference between them. They are literally exactly the same. This does a great deal to completely remove any sense of realism in Dragon Age 2.

While there were epic battles there were no epic quests. Bioware seems to be going after the casual gamer by making everything short and sweet and able to be wrapped up in 15 – 20 minutes. While this helps keep the game churning along at a decent clip it does very little to give you sense that what you are doing is really important. Important things take time. The take great effort. They take more time to complete than I take in the shower in the morning.

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Dragon Age 2’s gameplay gets a 3 out of 5

Dragon Age 2: Graphics

Dragon Age: Origins was not known for being the prettiest game at the party. In fact it was quite the opposite. It was known for being ugly, graphically underpowered (on consoles) and more or less visually unappealing. While it’s still not going to win any awards for being stunning they did definitely improve on what they had. This is most evident with the cameos of past party members. Textures are a little more realistic than they previously were and this is something to applaud, especially given the short time frame between releases.

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My dog gives me this same look when he steals my shoe

That being said it has not elevated itself to a level where playing it will make you say “Wow that’s beautiful”. It will make you say “Okay that looks better” but it just doesn’t open up the way it could. When you look at games like Mass Effect 2 that are visually amazing and compare them to Dragon Age 2 you notice that things just don’t look quite right.

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Dragon Age 2’s graphics get a 3 out of 5

Dragon Age 2: Story

As we said before this isn’t a tale of fighting. This is a tale of growth both personal and political. It’s a tail of rising from your station to help a city regain it’s storied magnificence. It is a tale of a man (or woman) who finds their family name sullied and tarnished by a “black sheep” that you must work to rectify.

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Just look at how awesomely brooding Hawke is

It’s a story that is more grown up and seems to reflect a mentality of “not every problem needs to solved with bloodshed”. That’s not to say that you won’t be throwing down and picking fights you do in fact do this. But you’re drawn into the middle of an unwanted Qunari presence as well as a violently growing schism between mages and templars.  You don’t get to sit on the sidelines or straddle the fence this time around. You witness injustices on both sides but still have to make a choice as to where you stand.

But Bioware is never just about the main story. The side quests in Dragon Age 2 are very interesting as well. When you start to engage your companions and learn more about them you find very interesting stories of kidnapping, hatred, fear, and avarice. You watch their stories unfold and in some instances you come to see that they are responsible for a great piece of the mess you find yourself in. When you’re not interacting with your companions you’re helping others to solve their problems but on more than one occasion this is not a one time quick fix. Their problems stay with you throughout your 7 year journey. The people you help or hurt in year 1 will pay you a visit later on your journey and they are going to have a fairly strong feelings about you. This idea that decisions have larger outcomes is something that I personally always enjoy seeing played out in a game. It makes the decision that much more nerve wracking to the point that I actually sat there thinking “what the hell should I say” for five minutes on more than one occasion.

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Dragon Age 2’s story gets a 4 out of 5

Dragon Age 2: Overall

Overall Dragon Age 2 is a solid game that is a step up in very many ways from its predecessor. The main story is more interesting and even the side quests are engaging and interesting. However there are a great many flaws that take place that cannot be overlooked. The entire game feels rushed and hurried and just not finished. Because of this the entire game suffers and what could very easily have been one of the greatest games of the year falls short. However it is still a very solid game that was wildly fun to play and fantastically interesting to watch unfold. For this reason we have to give Dragon Age 2 a 4 out of 5

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Rating: 3.3/5 (9 votes cast)

Star Wars: The Old Republic PAX East Trailer “Fate of the Galaxy”

PAX East is kicking off and already we have been given a little bit of Star Wars goodness from it. Whenever a new gathering of video game greatness starts off everyone is hoping to see some new and fantastic bit of information or a new trailer that wets our appetites and leave us wanting more.

Fresh from PAX East we see another trailer for Star Wars: Old Republic. Rather than talk about it now, lets get the exciting part over with. Drink it in, revel in it, and enjoy:

What we have here is a stellar bit of footage that lets us see a little bit of all facets of gameplay. We see some in game environments, get to take a look at a little bit of the combat, and we get to see a little bit of what many are hoping is a fantastic game that hands down deserves the label Star Wars.

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Will this be the embodiment of all my Star Wars dreams? Here's hoping!

While this trailer doesn’t show us anything truly new it does certainly do a fantastic job of reminding us of how much fun this game is supposed to be. We know the story, we can’t wait for the story, we also can’t wait to get our hands on a fired up lightsaber to start tearing shit up!

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Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

L.A. Noire: Choose Your Pre-order Carefully


Basically, this is exactly like Grand Theft Auto, except it's 1947 LA.

For L.A. Noire, you’d better choose your pre-order carefully…but of course, you don’t need to worry about it too much.  For one, we’ll lay out all the details for you and include links to easily accomplish your pre-ordering.  And secondly, eventually the content included with pre-orders will be released as DLC.  But who knows when that will be…so in the meantime, here are the details on pre-ordering bonuses!

Rockstar Games Store – If you decide to go straight to the Rockstar Games store to purchase your copy of L.A. Noire, all you’ll end up with is a t-shirt.  I’m not kidding.  Kinda sad, considering they’re one of the teams helping to create the pre-order content.

Amazon.comPS3 / XBox 360 Amazon pre-order customers will receive an exclusive suit and a pistol.  The Broderick Detective Suit is meant to help your hand-to-hand combat, as well as boosting your resistance to damage.

Best BuyPS 3 / Xbox 360 Best Buy also offers an exclusive suit and a pistol.  The suit included with your Best Buy pre-order, however, is the Sharpshooter Detective Suit.  This one is a no-brainer, helping improve your aim with rifles and pistols.

Wal-Mart PS3 / XBox 360 Customers who pre-order from Wal-Mart receive an additional case for you to solve, called ‘A Slip of the Tongue’.  The case includes an initial car theft, which ends up leading to one of the largest cases of stolen cars in the city ever.  Sounds interesting, but what does a slip of the tongue have to do with anything?


This guy kinda makes me laugh. Despite the fact that he's pointing a gun in my general direction.

Gamestop PS3 / Xbox 360 – Gamestop seems to offer the largest array of pre-order bonuses, including an additional case to solve as well as a mission.  The case is called ‘The Naked City’, which has you investigate the supposed suicide of a young and gorgeous fashion model.  But with her being so beautiful and apparently naked, how will you ever get past the autopsy?  The mission you’re given with the bonus content is known as the ‘Badge Pursuit Challenge’, which has you hunt down 20 hidden police badges all over L.A.  Each badge provides 5 XP to help you gain Intuition Points.  If you successfully find all 20 badges, the ‘Button Man Suit’ will be unlocked, which provides additional ammo for all weapons.

Target – When you pre-order L.A. Noire from Target, you will receive a $5 gift card.  On top of that, if you purchase the game in-store during the launch week, you will get a Rockstar Games t-shirt.

L.A. Noire will be available for Playstation3 and Xbox 360 on May 17th.  And I’ve gotta say, I’d most likely pre-order L.A. Noire from Gamestop.  Where will you be pre-ordering?


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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Killzone 3 Review

Killzone has always been a special game for me. It continually brings back wonderful nostalgic feelings. When I was in college the original Killzone came out for the PS2. I never actually played it since my console had a rather nasty problem at the time but I sat with my friend Jim and watched him play it. I was in awe. Everything from the AI, the graphics, the background, it was all mesmerizing. When Killzone 2 came out it was a no brainer for me. I played it, I loved it, I went nuts for it. It brought back those feelings of “we really should be studying but that’s just not gonna happen tonight.”

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This could end poorly

Once more a new Killzone experience came into glorious existence and I was more than ready to pick up a copy and rock out. I have been a total Killzone fanboy and I have loved every minute of it. Admittedly part of me held the copy in my hand and said “This will be a 5 out 5 across the board. This is going to be that good!” Did Killzone 3 live up to expectations? Well lets find out shall we?


(Note: All controls are non Playstation Move) Out of the box the controls for Killzone 3 are pretty much what you would expect from a FPS. For me I had to tweak and adjust them a little bit to make them more “Wadooberific” but as far as layout is concerned they were pretty standard.

When Killzone 2 came out it came out swinging with fantastic use of the motion aspect for PS3 controllers. While Killzone 3 focused on showing the precision of the Playstation move they seem to have totally neglected showing off what else you can do with a Playstation controller. They just tacked on what worked before with no real innovation. You can call it a little non-Move jealousy but because of the lack of innovation I was fairly let down.

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Killzone 3’s controls get a 3 out of 5


When you’re not walking around shooting in Killzone 3 you’re flying around shooting, or riding in a large mech shooting, or driving around shooting. There is an on-rails shooter aspect to a few of the missions you undertake but they are so breathtakingly beautiful and so well executed that you almost forget about the whole on-rails aspect. When you were off rails and it was just you and a gun you had action that was so intense that I found myself jumping up and yelling at my television in excitement and glee.

What turned me off however was that it was a little too glitchy. From audio that would skip or just my shots not registering when they hit the target it became a deterrent. However as I continued to play they seemed to work themselves out and by the end the game was smooth and perfect.

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Killzone 3’s gameplay gets a 4 out of 5


Visually amazing. The biggest complaint people had with the last Killzone was that it was relatively small when it came to the color palate. They addressed this by throwing you into the middle of a lavish jungle with reds and subtle undertones of blue. We expected a lot from Killzone 3’s graphics and they delivered quite well. What we have to remember about Helgan is that it’s a dying planet. Expecting some lush and verdant forest isn’t what that planet is about. It’s a world built on hard work and cold stone. It’s a cold and dying world with no beauty. To put us in the middle of a flowery colorful field would seem very out of place. However the factories inject a little color into our lives. Perhaps it’s the Helgan way to make the workplace more appealing than anywhere else. But once you find yourself inside of a structure you begin to experience a little more than the browns and greys.

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Notice the vibrant colors...wait a minute

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Killzone 3’s graphics get a 5 out of 5


The story felt as if it was very fragmented. Parts of it were gripping while other aspects were not fleshed out enough to really make me care. There is a gripping and interesting political struggle going on behind the scenes in the wake of Scolar Visari’s death between Admiral Orlock who commands the Helgan military and Johan Stahl a weapons manufacturer for the Helgan Military. Each wants to run the show and will do so no matter what it takes.

Then there is the story that centers around Sev who was introduced to us in Killzone 2. They are stranded on Helgan and waiting for a ride when they learn of a plot to lay waste to Earth. It’s a fairly standard first person shooter plot. “Space marine must save humanity from evil aliens”. Yes I know the Helgan were once human but lets face it, they really aren’t anymore.

Nothing in it really blew my skirt up, but when they cut to the goings on of the Helgan power struggle you see something potentially great and full of intrigue, deception, and great planning that almost pulls the game through with flying colors.

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Killzone 3’s story gets a 4 out of 5


Killzone 3 is a fun game that is a must have for any Killzone fan. It’s fun fast paced and has half of a really outstanding and interesting story. Visually it’s a glorious display of what the PS3 can handle and while I’m sure it was wonderful with the Playstation Move, when it comes to a regular old SIXAXIS it’s pretty much a rehash of what worked so well in Killzone 2. Killzone 3 sits at the cusp of greatness but never quite gets stands up and reaches for it.

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Killzone 3 gets a 4 out of 5

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)