The Cycle of Games

Tanya brought up The Sims 2 and how she never gets around to playing it, despite wanting to.  I have the same game and have been a huge Sims fan since the decade began.  And I’ve realized something.  The Sims is crazy addictive but that addictiveness (usually) passes after a short while.  I’ll explain this in stages.  This can also be applied to any video game you have ever bought.

Stage 1:  Exposure.  The Sims has crazy appeal.  Who doesn’t want to create themselves or other people they know and control their lives?  Imagine you’re picked on by someone four times your size in school.  Instead of shooting them up in real life, you can just create them in The Sims, fence them in, and watch as they slowly piss themselves and starve to death.  Or have them try to cook a meal without any cooking skill, which starts a fire and they burn to death.  That’ll teach you to pick on me!

…Sorry.  Anyway, the point was The Sims has an extreme casual appeal.  People see it, they want to play it and they get hooked!  This leads to stage 2…

Stage 2:  Addiction.  A game with tons of appeal is going to be addicting.  People want to play it and that’s all they want to do.  Oddly enough, this is the path most games take.  They have something a buyer is interested, than the player devotes time to playing the game.  Gamers will spend more time on some games than others.  World of Warcraft has been out since 2004 and people who bought it opening day are still playing it!

The Sims isn’t nearly as addicting as WoW, but it will sap away a few hours of a day if given a chance.  I remember playing The Sims for the first time.  It’s all I wanted to do.  Create sims, run their lives, and when I got bored, start anew.  If I got bored making people, I could also make downtown lots or vacation spots.  Of course, when people get tired of a game, this leads to…

Stage 3:  Abandonment.  Once a game is beaten, there’s little left to do with it.  Sure, there’s probably an unlockable or set of collectibles (find x amount of these hidden throughout the game) but people are still playing through the same game over again.  Multiplayer expands a game’s lifespan but eventually, people move on to newer titles and the servers get discontinued.

With The Sims, this stage comes rather abruptly.  People play the hell out of The Sims for a few weeks/months…and then stop.  They don’t touch the game again until another expansion.  I don’t know why this happens like this.  Some theorize it’s because of the game design.  Once the player reaches the top of a career path (or wherever they want their sim to be), what else is there?  I don’t buy that theory because they can always start another family and repeat the cycle…  I don’t know why I stopped playing.  I had a bunch of created sims in college (they’re about halfway through) and then…never bothered to load up the game again.

Anyway…

Thoughts on The Sims 3?  I remember being hyped for The Sims 2 and when I got it, realized they had taken out a bunch of features from the original game’s expansions.  No pets!?  It was like going back to the first game with better graphics.  The original game feels so limited without the expansions.  Why take them out?  Well, to make more money but still…

The Sims 3 will be the same way.  Features from the expansions that gamers have come to appreciate will be gone, only to be reintroduced in a later expansion.  I think I’ll wait for The Sims 3 Deluxe Edition or one of those bundles where you get everything in one box.

Scream, from my soul
Fate, mystified
Hell, forever more

Day Off

College being canceled yesterday was super sweet.  Let’s make it two days in a row!

This reminds me of those times in school where teachers (and some students) would always bitch about having time off.  Instead of enjoying free time, they would remind the majority of us that we would be going extra days in the summer.  So what?  The last few days of the school year are nothing but exams, so adding extra days just adds filler.  Besides, summer break seems to get shorter every year anyway.  Shortening it by a few extra days won’t exactly hurt.  And there was always that rumor about the board changing the schedule to a year-round one, but we’d only be going four days.

I was always irritated when parents/teachers/students reminded me of that.  “You’ll be going extra days in the summer!”  Sorry, I’d rather have a day off now.  Winter has always been a cooler season than summer, anyway.  Besides, this time off gives me extra time to finish psychology work and Huck Finn.  Speaking of the latter, this will be the third time I’ve read the book for school.  One would think there would diversity, not repetition, in learning.  One would be wrong.

Almost every species in the universe has an irrational fear of the dark, but they’re wrong because it’s not irrational.  It’s what’s in the dark.  It’s what’s always in the dark.

No We Don’t

Sorry, it seems the only place I can escape from Obamania is the Internet.  Sad, right?  I’m trying to watch the Ravens-Steelers but CBS is advertising the hell out of the Presidential Inauguration.  Where was this advertising four years ago?  Eight years ago?  Twelve?  Sixteen?  Twenty?  And so on and so forth.  The way it’s being flaunted about, one would think we were coronating a king and not inagurating a President.

So I thought not watching the news would help.  Well, I don’t watch the news anyway but thought, worse come to worst, I’d only be limited to hearing about the coronation in ads.  So when I was watching the NFC Championship game, I only heard about the coronation in short 10 second clips.  Clips that bragged about how FOX news is the number one source for coverage.  Nothing too horrible.

Then the AFC Championship comes on CBS.  They don’t just advertise their coverage of the coronation.  They use his campaign slogans when they brag about their TV line-up, have their logo redesigned to look like the one our future President used on the campaign trails.  Then at halftime, renowned liberal Katie Couric shows up to talk about the coronation at halftime.  There is just no escaping this!

So I turned the game off.  I can watch the play by play on NFL.com.  Or just ignore the game completely and watch something else.

Lynda, you’re sweet.  From what I’ve seen of your world, do you think anybody votes for sweet?

BRCC Act 4

I can’t think of a Sonic game that had a stage with 4 acts.  If summer classes are taken, there will be an act 5.

I’m fiddling around with numerous features, particularly tags.  If people come here to read games, they can just click a tag on the left side of the page and read any gaming-related post.  I’d also have to open up the posts from the last several years (they’re all either private or protected, which allows a select few to read them).  I close off posts from the last year for a few reasons.  One, because no one goes back to read them anyway and two, I don’t want to deal with spam.  Yes, there are people who will comment gibberish on an old post for no real reason other than to annoy.  Or someone will stumble on an old post, like it, and link to it, flooding it with new comments that are would be more akin to trolling.

I have 15 credit hours this semester and am actually working part-time now (over 20 hours).  That many credit hours is the most since first semester last year and I ended up dropping a class.  Online classes are better and easier to manage, though…and one class ends around spring break (only 8 weeks) so this semester shouldn’t suck too much.  And speaking of college, I still need to fill out the apps to Bridgewater, UVA and EMU.  I haven’t made a decision and was going to fill out the application to the college I did choose, but that’s out of the question now.

Hey Colonel, I guess we are the support, huh?
…Looks that way, Sergeant!  Let’s get to it!

Gears of War vs. Gears of War 2

No Xbox 360 owner’s game collection should be void of Gears of War and its sequel.  After spending a few days playing the hell out of both of them, there are several differences (minor and major) between the original and its sequel.  I won’t cover every detail but here’s what was noticeable.  I haven’t tried out any Gears 2 multiplayer and have only seldom played Gears 1 multiplayer, so no comparisons will be drawn there.

The campaign in Gears 2 is a tad easier than Gears 1.  Case in point, hardcore difficulty is actually beatable without a friend!  The original Gears handed me my ass multiple times on casual (the “easy” difficulty).  Some would be quick to say I suck but I defend myself.  The friendly AI in Gears 1 is pretty atrocious and has trouble killing mere grubs.  The AI has been ramped up a bit in Gears 2, so while the enemies are smarter, you’re allies are just as smart.

Also, I was overly reliant on the Lancer.  In Gears 1, the shotgun is actually better.  In a few ways, Gears 1 suffers from “Halo syndrome”.  The assault rifle is unusable because, in both games, the shotgun is a better weapon.  Hell, the only reason people use the Lancer is because it’s got a chainsaw bayonet attached!  And when you’re fighting shotgun-toting grubs that take a ton of ammo to take down, you can’t get close to chainsaw them because even the slightest touch of shotgun shell lowers the bayonet.  Sneaking up on them is almost impossible because you’re allies will blow your cover.

This isn’t to say the original Gears of War is bad.  It’s fun and I love playing co-op…but after playing through the game on casual, I won’t touch the game again unless I have someone else to play with.

Speaking of the Lancer, the weapon’s renowned chainsaw bayonet has actually been toned down.  No, not weakened as a weapon (still instant kill) but the blood effect that shows when you chainsaw a grub in half.  Gamespot has the evidence here.

There was more examples I had in mind but it’s late.  Perhaps I’ll update this post later…

What do I look like, a fucking botanist?

2008 Game of the Year

The first post of 2009.  And it’s about games.  Predictable?  Anyway…

A new year means numerous awards are being handed out for the previous one.  Numerous gaming sites have awarded their “game of the year” title to certain “worthy” titles.  Only three sites are on my shortlist; Gamespot, GameFAQs and Game Revolution.  Gamespot gave their prize to Metal Gear Solid 4.  Not a bad pick, by any means, but in their reader’s choice poll, they left out quite a few titles.  Seriously, the choices are Braid, Burnout Paradise, Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, Left 4 Dead, NHL 09, No More Heroes, Resistance 2, The World Ends With You, and Metal Gear Solid 4.  Two major titles are missing from that list, Gears of War 2 and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  So much for reader’s choice…  On the other hand, GameFAQs lets readers vote for their picks in their polls (since there’s no editor) but I’m sure we’ll find out why Gamespot left Super Smash Bros. Brawl out of their reader’s choice voting.

Game Revolution awarded LittleBigPlanet as their best title.  It’s a PS3 game where you play as a walking sack named Sackboy.  God, and people made fun of the Wii for its stupid name (and rightfully so).  Ok, so I haven’t played the game, and at $60, I’m not about to.  The consensus, though, is that the story is short and an Internet connection is required to enjoy the game.  Lame.  Multiplayer and single player should go hand in hand…unless it’s the latest Battlefield game.  Fallout 3 was runner-up to LittleBigPlanet so I guess I should be grateful.

As for my picks, Metal Gear Solid 4 definitely gets the PS3 game of the year.  Resistance 2 comes close because I’m a fan of insane multiplayer.  Gears of Wars 2 wins the Xbox 360 game of the year without a question.  Super Smash Bros.Brawl was the number one game for the Wii last year because it was the only Wii-exclusive game that came out that was worth a crap.  Ok, Ok, by “worth a crap” I mean “worth paying attention to.”  Mario Kart Wii was a let-down and every other title came out on another console or was too gimmicky/casual.  Wii Music, anyone?

Before I pick the game of the year, I want to hand out some dubious award.  And the losers are…

Most Overrated:  There are two games deserving of this title.  The first is Fallout 3.  Even when we don’t compare this game to the original titles (an absurd notion, since the 3 clearly indicates sequel to the previous installments), Fallout 3 is what would happen if Oblivion experienced an apocalyptic nuclear exchange.  Well, Oblivion was a good game, so what’s wrong?  Well, the numerous issues that marred Oblivion (the crud AI, conversations that belong in a C-movie, for example) are still present.  Add in absurd quests and it’s amazing this game has gotten great reviews.

Oh, and Grand Theft Auto IV is also heavily overrated and is our second winner.  Gamespot gave it a perfect 10, yet the PS2 titles play better.  The controls suck and they took away some of the fun of the previous titles and retained all the things people hate about GTA.  You have to pay attention to and play through a lackluster plot, utilize a cover scheme that was ripped off from Gears of War, and the difficult missions.  Missions that should you fail, you have to drive all the way back to the starting location, no matter where the hell you are in the city.  Maybe Saints Row and its sequel spoiled me but Grand Theft Auto does so many things wrong.  How can a ripoff do better than the material it was ripping off?

No catchy title but a dishonorable award should be given to LittleBigPlanet.  I can’t like a game that got delayed because of one song that might offend members of a certain religion that won’t be named here.  The kicker is that the song was written and sung by a guy who is a member of that religion.  I can only hope his new year’s resolution was to find a better religion.  Anyway, after they took the song out, American members of that religion complained about restrictions on freedom of speech.

I’ll try a dubious title for the next one…  Game That Was Cool Until You Paid For It and Realized How Much It Sucked.  I actually had a game in mind until I thought of Fable 2.  I subsequently forgot about the game I was thinking of.  Fable 2 has a few minor additions from the first one but still plays roughly the same.  Sure, the choices you make matter (a refreshing concept in a role-playing game, something the first game lacked) but they still amount to stupid-good and stupid-evil.  Y’know, where the “good” options make you into a doormat that’s willing to make everyone’s life better and “evil” choice results in murder.  Good thing I didn’t pay for Fable 2.  I didn’t pay for Mario Kart Wii either, another game I was considering.  No, that wasn’t the game Fable 2 pushed from my mind.

I’ve run out of dubious awards so let’s just get on with it.  While the console awards were exclusive-only, let’s throw multi-platform titles into the mix!  Fallout 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV have no chance but they could have been in the mix, otherwise.  Saints Row 2 does, though.  In fact, Saints Row 2 has to have been the most fun game I’ve played all year.  Sure, there are “better” titles (Gears of War 2 is a quality game) but the most fun?  It has all the components needed.  Freedom to do just about whatever the hell you want, character creation and customization, a meager plot (more is better, but it was enough) and tons of fun.

Ah the hell with it, Saints Row 2 wins my pick…and my heart.

This is our city.  We do whatever the fuck we want to!