I seriously love the PS4’s ability to snap photos at any time. It’s a godsend to have it capture footage or just a quick screenshot whenever I need to.
The joke was made time and time again. Mostly by my friends in the gaming industry. Or at least, the question was given more times than I could count. “Hey, played that game yet?” Panzer Dragoon Orta. And no, I haven’t played it. I’ve never owned an Xbox. Until recently. Hello there, namesake. Used, on amazon, like new. Sweet.
Every tie some video game has been optioned off for a movie, there is a flurry of activity among the video game community- one of either hope or pessimism (currently, the latter is being used more often than not) for the project. Unfortunately, the film projects have one of two results- either the film languishes in development hell for one reason or another (see the film projects for Bioshock or Metal Gear Solid for two films stuck in movie development hell.) while others come out to somewhat mediocre results-see every video game movie ever made. Seriously. There was a Tekken film. No one remembers it because it went direct to DVD. I saw it and I slightly hate myself for doing so, even if it was just to see how weird it was to have people in those silly outfits. Seriously though, a woman wouldn’t even dare try to fight in assless cha-okay, you get the idea. Mass Effect has just been optioned for a film with Legendary Pictures. This is a unique new opportunity for video game movies- giving the original creators some input into the creation of the film. I doubt Shinji Mikami or anyone at Capcom were given key roles or consulting opportunities when it came for Resident Evil films, for example. I do believe that to make a video game movie work properly, there needs to be a balance set- one between that of the original game designers and that of the creative team of the film- screenwriter, director, et. al. It’s a tricky tightrope to follow, but even with some creative input from those who originally created the story, balanced with the creative team behind the movie, magic could be made. But besides that- what fascinates me most is the possibilities for the Mass Effect movie- what could come of it if it came to fruition. The game was open ended, and gamers came together with different tales of their Mass Effect experience. I would like to submit my own idea to where the Mass Effect movie should go- something in my own part of the Mass Effect experience. Shepard (the main character), should be a woman. Okay, so it’s not entirely unheard of- I understand that. And the majority of the advertising for both games feature the standard male Shepard (or maleshep, as a couple of ME fan friends of mine have informed me to the lingo of the fans), and the adversity the character presents in having to save the world. So why this femshep?
The world of science fiction films is crowded with the idea of the one male hero fighting adversity for the good of their respective “universe” so to say- everyone from Captain Malcolm Reynolds(Serenity, Firefly) to older classics like George Taylor (from Planet of the Apes). The male hero fighting for good in the face of so much adversity is a world to which comes natural to the science fiction genre in films. Let’s mix it up a bit and place a female Shepard into the role. After all, when you think of a female hero in science fiction, most minds turn immediately to Ellen Ripley of the Alien films. And that character is almost thirty years old at this point- have there been no other real sci-fi super heroines. Okay, maybe Buffy, but she was more fantasy character than sci-fi. Some of the Firefly characters were quite strong, but they weren’t the main character- only playing second fiddle to Nathan Fillion’s Malcolm Reynolds.
Why not allow the female Shepard not only face adversity as being the only human ever to become Spectre (an event that occurs early in the first game)- facing adversity not only to her race- but her sex- thus facing adversity within her own people. Make that battle to gain acceptance and understanding from those in the Citadel- and in that universe- that much harder to accomplish.
It would be a difficult sell, yes, perhaps, then going safe and filling the tropes of science fiction films to a strong male lead, but to challenge the audience to respect this Shepard would indeed shake things up.
The Mass Effect experience was the ability to shake things up- to allow players to choose their own path and make their own moral experience. Why not shake it up and allow the central character- the protagonist to which Ashley, Liara, and Garrus and the other secondary characters- rally behind to save the universe with- be that of the fairer sex? To have a female character that not only has the distinct problems to attempting to save the galaxy already discriminated as a human (a already looked down upon group within the Mass Effect mythos, as humans are relative newcomers to the galactic political-sphere), but to receive further discrimination from those within her race as a woman– if done correctly, could create a rallying character to which is sorely missing from the realm of science fiction. The story was written in such a way that playing as either sex would feel natural to the player. The same could be said of the movie- having a female lead may be difficult- especially for those who were used to playing through the Mass Effect with the male Shepard.
Unfortunately, that can’t be the case anymore. At Comic Con, Bioware had a panel for the film, in which they confirmed that the movie will be about the origin story of a male Shepard. Now to go and say that this plan is a bad one is a foolhardy move on my part- who knows, the film may be an amazing success. I would have just liked it if there was a challenge on the behalf of those involved to create a new science fiction heroine in their already vivid, expansive universe, basing it on a story already known by the fan base created so far. But that’s just my thought as a writer, just a compilation and musings of someone who would like to see the Mass Effect story make the jump to the silver screen effectively, by challenging itself to become the next great sci-fi universe in film.
With the latest generation of video games, the ability to create virtual avatars have become commonplace. The Xbox 360 has its avatars. The Wii has its Miis. And the PS3… well, it has its Home Avatars (that’s almost a second thought behind the first two). All of these avatar creation systems have the same damn problem. Curly hair. They can’t do curly hair. Not one goddamn bit. I have natural curly hair- a byproduct of my Mexican heritage. It’s always something I’ve been proud of. I would drive my straight haired mother crazy as i would show off the locks as they naturally occur (I’ve only straightened my hair only once, and that was for my sisters amusement. I love my curls, and never want to do it again, but knowing my sister, I’ll probably have it straightened again for her joy.) My mother would curse me as I’d put heavy amounts of gel in my hair in the morning to shape said curls perfectly. This hairstyle is one thing I’m rather proud of, but unfortunately, It isn’t very well quite reflected in these virtual avatar creation systems. In fact, trying to find any curly hair style (outside of an afro) is virtually nonexistent. And god only knows how I’ve tried. Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, The Sims, The Sims 2 (although that might have been the exemption, I remember being quite happy with the results there), Saints Row 2… the list seems to roll on and on, finding myself frustrated with the lack of curly hair and ending up creating something completely crazy instead. Go to your favorite game with a create a character system. Go on, do it. The choices are utterly normal or crazy, with nary a curl in sight, to the dismay of myself and my curly haired compatriots. In the meantime, I’ve found a worthwhile substitute for Playstation Home and Xbox Live.
Every year, I have looked forward to E3- not to the show itself, but to meet with friends who come in to the city for the show and hang out with them- it’s been the tradition for close to four years now. But this year- I got the chance to go to the show itself, to check out the games inside. While I’ve been to plenty of other conventions (Comic-Con, for example), E3 is an entirely different beast. The sensory assault on every last one of your senses can be overwhelming, even maddening- from the blaring sounds of the music from each booth, to the giant panel screens to the overall electricity that filled the west and south halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Even some of the… smells can be rather… rancid, but that’s due to the fact that some nerds have never heard of deodorant. (As for taste- I made a mistake to eat some of the overpriced food at one of the stands there. Never. Ever. Again. I was desperate! And hungry).
I figure this would be a good place, if any, to talk about some of the games I saw, including some of my favorites.
The best (that I played.)
1. Uncharted 3: So… I was looking forward to this game already. I’m jonesing for it like a bad addict- I need me my adventure game. I’ve beaten Uncharted soundly, and I’m incredibly close to beating the sequel 100%. The multiplayer was the only part of the game that was being on the show floor- parts of the single player was being shown to the press only. That was only slightly disappointing to me at first, because I wanted my time at playing the single player element of the game, the strongest point of the whole Uncharted experience. But the multiplayer shows a distinct level of polish I hadn’t expected- the maps shown, were impressively detailed. One took place in some sort of broken down church- parts of it were on fire. Running through the map, I had gone into part of the church, only to have the fire break the wooden floor underneath me in the middle of a firefight. There’s even a map (I didn’t get to play it, but I wish i did) taking place on a plane trying to take off- one team starting on the plane, the other, on trucks driving alongside the plane. I don’t do it justice, to be honest- watch some of the on the floor videos to see for yourself.
2. Aliens: Colonial Marines: I went to this line originally because I was trying to find someplace comfy to sit (shuttup, I was walking ALL DAY)- and being an Aliens fan, I wanted to give this game the benefit of the doubt- being burned by the mediocre performance shown by Aliens vs. Predator last year, I was reticent to accept anything in this license overall.
And jeebus chrieeest, I was so wrong. Fans were packed into a small room for a demo of the game, given by a visibly nervous producer- He stuttered from time to time as he professed the fandom the developer, Gearbox Software, had on the game as a company. He presented the game as a labor of love, and it shows. Presenting what seems to be the opening of the game, the player takes control of a silent space marine sent to investigate the ruins of LV-246, the planet to which Aliens was set upon. When the control center from the original film appeared- half exploded and derelict- that labor of love showed. The game played without a HUD- relying on items in game to provide what once littered the player’s screen. The pulse rifle has the ammo count in an LED on its side (true to the mythos), and the player pulls out a motion detector, almost like the flashlight from Doom 3, to find the aliens quickly approaching the once quiet marines as one by one, the other marines were picked off around you.
The team also showed off drop in, drop out co-op as another member of the team joined in to a maddening firefight within a large warehouse, ending in the main character being picked up by a giant xenomorph before cutting to darkness.
It captured the atmosphere perfectly- I had my doubts, but this game has now become one of the games I look forward to next year.
Weird note: The producer also mentioned that the game was already running on the development systems available for the Wii U. The producer brought this fact up on his own- no one asked- divulging that information voluntarily. He then hesitated bringing up why that version wasn’t shown- he made it seem that Nintendo didn’t want to show it off just yet, and proceeded to ask for no more questions to be brought up on it.
3. Starhawk: In the same small block where Resistance 3 and Uncharted 3 had its multiplayer, the team from Starhawk was presenting a game of capture the flag. I had been a fan of Warhawk, so I had to see if this game had continued the style of the original. Controls remain largely the same, as well as the overall… feel of movement, design, etc. New to the Battlefield-esque gameplay was an RTS element- players in field were able to create walls, turrets, and buildings out of “rift” energy- basically, materials they could collect by hanging out at their base, completing objectives, or killing enemies. Being able to build a couple of walls, turrets, and then a garage for jeeps, it became apparent on how much team effort would have to go to defences. As buildings were dropped out of the sky, dev team members present commented on the ability to kill enemies by simply dropping buildings on them. There’s a definite influence from Section 8 here- even using dropods to enter the map. I want to see what the development team can pull off in terms of story, however- as much fun as warhawk was, I’d love to see how much fun a single-player campaign is with these mechanics.
4. Saints Row The Third: Another game I dismissed, shook off for being a GTA clone. Their prescence at the show was everywhere– ads all over the convention were always around the corner, and there was a free car wash and parking by scantily clad girls advertising the game across the convention hall ( I, for one, was uh… hesitant to do it. I parked around the corner, my wallet lighter, but uh… some of my dignity still intact.). Either way, I hadn’t had much hopes for the game, but after seeing the hands off demo of the game, I immediately bought Saint’s Row 2 off of the Xbox marketplace in anticipation of this game. I have beamoaned before the loss of Grand Theft Auto’s humor, giving in to a more serious storyline.
Saint’s Row already looks like what the successor of the PS2 GTA games should have been, while not taking itself too seriously. The standard animation for the playable character to enter into a car is jumping with both feet in through the window. It looks ridiculous- almost insane to how much of the game is designed. I watched the demo with glee, cackling like a little schoolboy when someone was punched in the nuts, distracting my friend Dali from Sidequesting. The same demo shown at the show was given to the people over at IGN- <a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecQXBq06t4s” ontarget=”_blank”>See it for yourself!
Saint’s Row the third is being advertised as a “guilty pleasure”. And I’m looking forward to it. There were some disappointments, however. I honestly wanted to see something interesting to be done with the remake of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater on 3DS. It would actually give me a game I would want to buy for the handheld. I got to play it for about thirty minutes, which I spent mostly trying to figure out the controls. It suffers from the same fate many of those PSP first-person shooters had- the lack of that second joystick kills you. Having to aim with just your face buttons was an excercise in utter frustration, especially when there are people shooting at you in the midst of many alarms I tripped as I referred to the sign showing the controls to figure out which button let me crouch (it was up on the d-pad, I think.). Maybe. something could be made of this game before its release- but at this point, that excitement I once had for the game has now dried up. Another game I was just…. ambivalent about was the new Need For Speed game- Need For Speed: The Run. Now I applaud EA for trying something new for this game series- it’s been in a cycle that it hasn’t been able to shake itself from, the fatigue of sequelitis bringing fans like myself to pure frustration. I really did hope they could have pulled something off in terms of story here, but it feels… flat. At least from what I saw. There’s apparently parts of the game that took place on foot- one to which a producer quickly… pulled back by saying “Don’t worry, it’s only like, 10% of the game!”. The game itself runs on Frostbite 2, which makes it look spectacular, but apart from that, the story just kept me… ambivalent. The story is about some guy named… Jack? He’s on the run for doing… something. (They didn’t specify what was going on when we played it). And the mafia has a helicopter chasing you for some reason. Do I want something better? Yes, of course- I’ll hold off judgement until the game comes out. But for the most part, it feels like NFS is getting a new shine on the series by a tepid story campaign filled with a linear story and Heavy Rain-esque QTE moments. There was a variety of other games that probably escape me, or have been espoused time and time again on various sites on their quality. For me, I’m happy to see the videogaming industry pumping out more quality games for everyone to enjoy. If you want more coverage, I’d recommend checking out SideQuesting.com or Joystiq.com for complete coverage from what I consider to be the best journalists in the biz.
Although I am slightly biased on that.
Why isn’t there more of news reports in the Pokemon world have reports of children dying? Think about it. there are probably thousands (maybe millions) of kids running about with pokemon fighting against one another. Unsupervised. Often bullied by grown men waiting in the low grass, stalking them and waiting for them to pop up before challenging them to a duel. These same children fight with pokemon that more often than not, battle with flame, electricity, and poison. Why don’t the kids take more pre-emptive measures to protect themselves during the battles instead of standing on the sidelines like nincompoops? There’s no good parenting in the Pokemon world. Or pedophiles, I guess. I really need to stop letting my mind going off on these random tangents.
I don’t even know how to start this apart from these words:
Thank you, Joystiq Podcast Appreciation Group. Thank you for your generosity.
A little background: my Playstation 3 died around june/july of this year. From what I can tell, the temperature sensor is conked out. The system is completely and utterly dead. It’s a 60 gig console with the backwards compability, so I figured getting it fixed would be an easy thing.
Well sure, I’d be easy. After $150. It was out of warranty. I grumbled a bit, and saved the money needed to fix it. I waited a while to do so, saving small incriments of money from my part time job. In waiting, I was even mentioned as one of those rare cases of a broken PS3 on the Joystiq podcast.
Unfortunately, my car died. I lost all the money I had saved for the PS3 to fix the heating coil (first time I discovered cars HAD heating coils).
Then any money I had at that point disappeared as the car broke down AGAIN-major components, including the oxygen sensor and part of the engine, melted (the temperature sensor failed after I Ieft the mechanics, causing much of the car to overheat.). My car, my precious LaFonda (or Joystiq One, if any Joystiq members were present.), had put me into debt considerably.
A couple of friends offered to help me out with the system repairs, as they had played the console more than once, but they seemingly dropped out over a series of issues. I had resorted to playing games rarely- playing my wii on short bursts and looking at some of the games I bought after the fact (I have a collector’s version of Resident Evil 5 that hasn’t even been played yet.). I gave up on fixing the system and decided to wait until December- where christmas money would be spent to pay off the black monolithic console that was reduced to a very heavy paperweight.
Today, I went to an Uncharted 2 event. Frazzled and annoyed that I got lost twice, I waited in bumber to bumper traffic with an eve shorter fuse. Waiting completely stopped on the 101 freeway, I received this message on my phone- a Facebook message from a fellow JPAG member, Alex Raymond:
After you told me the other day that your PS3 was broken and you didn’t have the cash to fix it (and frankly the fee is ridiculous), Randall and I rallied the JPAG and a bunch of us pitched in and raised $175 for you to send in your PS3 and have it fixed. Just send me your email address and I’ll be able to hand it over via Paypal!
I lost it. I checked my phone six, seven times over, trying to see if all this was true. I couldn’t believe it.
I lost it. I cried right then and there on the freeway. Crying as a police officer drove by, giving me a stange look upon seeing my face. I was overjoyed, shocked at the generosity, the compassion the JPAG (and some Joystiq writers!) had given me with this gift. I’m crying right now as I try and type this all out on my Blackberry.
Thank you again, JPAG. You really do make me proud to call you my friends. I don’t know what to do to repay you all.
Christ, I need a tissue.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Yesterday was the date, ten years prior, that the last Sega video game console was released. 9/9/99 was the date the Dreamcast came into the world and revolutionized video games. i wrote a little story about my very first memory of my Dreamcast over at Wing Damage.com: http://bit.ly/3tjoz It’s thinking, baby.
The title above can not be any more succinct- i love little big planet for bringing back my childhood. Sounds completely mundane out of the amounts of praise to which the Playstation 3 exclusive game has been receiving (or lack therof, in certain places), but it’s certain levels in the midpart of the story mode of the game that have me flabbergasted, thinking about my childhood in Mexico. I was born in Mexico, and I grew up there until I was seven years of age. My mother, a white woman born in southern California, fell in love with my father, a man from Mexico city. I grew up in Mexico for a number of years, until about the summer of 1994, when my mother took me to the United States. My memories of that time are very jolted together, and it’s hard for me to remember everything in that time I grew up the bustling metropolis. I’ve been on a stint as of late to try and remember my time there, but as most of my memories go, they’re mostly visual, mis-mashed together in ways I can’t begin to decipher. My friends in Mexico. My extended family. The private school my mother had to work at so my sister and i could afford going there and receiving a decent education. The small pushcart/go-cart I used to drive in the parking lot of my apartment complex, swerving about moving cars. It’s all tucked away in my brain- I just don’t remember half of them. There will be times when I see something and it just… clicks. I remembered the first game system I played it was the NES, at a friend’s house. I remember the wall surrounding the apartment complex i lived at- the concrete walls with the tops of the walls covered in broken glass as a safety measure. These memories are all locked away in my brain, and it’s hard for me to remember everything. My past life in Mexico is slowly unlocked by visual cues- I remembered the glass on the tops of the walls after seeing a similar wall in South Cenrtal LA. Playing Little Big Planet, however, brought me back to my memories of my childhood roots, unlocking them. It was The Wedding levels that hit me the hardest. The design of the levels have a distinct Mexican style to it, especially that of the Day of the Dead celebrations held every year around November 1st. The distinctive design of the calaberas adorning the entire levels, the flowers given to the graves of the dead as to honor their heritage. I looked at the screen, the bobblehead eyes of the calaberas staring at my ryu-adored sackboy as it remained frozen for a second, as i sat my controller down and began staring at the screen, at the stage before me. It reminded me of the ofrenda my mother made every October, a small shrine of sorts in the home where you leave offerings to relatives and friends who have passed on. I distinctly remember my mother setting down a can of budweiser beer (a rare thing in mexico those days, if my mind serves me correctly) as an offering to my great uncle Joe, who worked for the Budweiser company as a delivery man. I sat back and tried to remember the last time my family even did an ofrenda. It was probably middle school. I felt guilty I haven’t set down that Budweiser can in such a long time at the ofrenda in offerings to my Uncle. The song playing in the background of the level (youtube link) reminded me of the cassete tapes of Mana my mother had. (to this day, she hasn’t bought any of the tapes in digital form, the only mana album she still owns is the unplugged album that has had an insane amount of play in our stereo). The memories just flooded back to me, and I remembered visiting the grave where my grandmother was buried- the amount of vendors parked outside of the graveyard selling flowers, candles, and other sorts of offerings as the hustle and bustle of the graveyard as families tended to their respective graves. I had forgotten about it entirely. I had to stop playing the game. It reminded me too much of a heritage i had forgotten for some time. I spent some time outside, finding my mother taking care of her plants. I asked her about the ofrenda, and she had to pause to think about it. “Can we do one next november?” I asked meekly. I didn’t explain why until later, but she smiled and nodded. Playing a video game made me think of my identity- one of being of two worlds, of being white and being mexican at the same time, and i just felt… completely lost about both. Since playing Little Big Planet, I’ve taken upon myself to go and try to relearn spanish (got an B in spanish 1, going to take spanish 2 in the fall) and I may take a mexican history class I saw in the class listing earlier this week. Who knows. I would never had been spurred on to do this if it wasn’t that goddamn adorable game.