Monthly Archives: July 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic (Close, but no credits)

A scene from the one of the cinematics that gave the game notoriety.

For years, the nightmares were endless. The obnoxious and difficult interface, the slap in the face to historical accuracy, and the nonexistent plot were just a few of the horrors. Although, I was able to remove Star Wars: Galaxies from my computer, I was unable to remove the terror from my soul. I had just gotten myself away from World of Warcraft, I was in middle school at the time. I was looking for a new MMO and one set in my beloved Star Wars universe seemed perfect at the time. I didn’t know how wrong I was. Seeing all the Jedi run around during the Galactic Civil War was very unsettling. The “Galactic Market”, Galaxies‘ form of an auction house was barren and difficult to use. I had heard good things about endgame content, but the grind process it took to get to that point was unbearable. It was heartbreaking to see that game limp along the way it did. I’d say the final shutdown in late 2011 was a mercy killing.

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Critique of realism (how Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto have taken the fun out of warfare)

I consider myself an escapist. And video games are a wonderful medium for escapism, as you can explore new worlds with fascinating characters and stories with the press of a button. That explains the appeal of video games. They’re a gateway to a new universe that you can interact with. And why would you pass that up? I mean, let’s face it: real life is pretty bleak. When you turn on the news, you’re met with headlines detailing despair and suffering. One of those headlines that has been prominent over the last few years was the conflict in the Middle East. Let’s take a look at that situation. There was a war fueled by oil and for oil that destabilized the region, terrorizing those who lived there, and caused unrest and protest back home. We can agree that it was overall, a bad thing. So why is almost every recent first-person shooter about the conflict in the Middle East?? What is the point in reminding people of the turmoil that war caused by having them play through it? And why does Call of Duty find it necessary to kill off as many player characters as they can? Thanks for reminding us how easy it is a life can be taken away while in service. That’s a nice feel-good endgame moment right there.Even if the game doesn’t revolve around the conflict in the Middle East, most modern shooters are military-based. Think about the most popular shooters: Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War,  Medal of Honor. Apparently some rule exists that in only members of the armed forces are allowed guns in video games. The only difference between some of these games is that in some you are shooting Russians and terrorists, and in the others you are shooting aliens. Either way, the game is saying, “Hey look, foreigners! Kill them for your country! Hooah.” There’s a big difference between modern warfare shooters and WWII shooters. Everyone can agree that Nazis were evil and had to be stopped, so gamers should have no issue peppering a Jerry with their MP44. I certainly didn’t. But when today’s wars are met with so much controversy, why fan the flames?

From massacring Russians to betrayal in ten minutes or less

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Pandemic Studios (What Could Have Been #1)

What Could Have Been is a series of segments about studios whose doors have closed, the games that could’ve and should’ve been made, games that might’ve done them in, and other studios who could fill the void.


I’ve decided to begin with Pandemic Studios, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts. Radical was just recently shut down, so it’s still a little too painful to discuss. The closing of Pandemic is one of the many reasons why I was pleased to see The Consumerist “award” EA with the title of “The Worst Company in America.”

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The Simpsons Hit & Run (a GTA clone that recognizes its own lack of intelligence

Try and get this image out of your head.

My family has a few traditions that we’re quite proud of. Beer at five o’clock, frequent extended Lord of the Rings marathons, and a love of cutting remarks and sarcasm that stems from our British roots. I know, we’re soooo cool. But one of our great obsessions is with that of the Simpsons. From the gatherings to watch the two re-runs played at five and six (with our beers during the five o’clock showing of course), to the comics I have stashed away in my closet, to the endless repetition of our favorite quotes, our #1 being “everything’s comin’ up Milhouse!” This infatuation of mine is a big reason I’ve decided to dust off the old Gamecube and stick in The Simpsons: Hit and Run. But surprisingly, this is a game that can resonate with gamers who haven’t even seen an episode of The Simpsons. Sure, some of the lines and references will go over your head, but the game is still over-the-top in all the right ways, and is vital to the game library of someone who enjoys reckless driving and destruction. And if you haven’t seen an episode of the show, since apparently you’re living in a cave with an inexplicable source of wi-fi, I place a curse on you until you ‘ve seen at least three seasons. You know what, go watch the whole series right now. I’ll wait. Continue reading

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Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 (And why it’s above your expectations)

Thug cover

Your Destruction Tour team captains

Activision has done pretty well for itself in the past few years. Franchises like Call of Duty, Spyro, Guitar Hero, and Prototype have propelled the company to soaring heights. And when Activision joined with Blizzard and it’s triple-threat juggernaut of the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo series, the newly formed, and unoriginally named Activision Blizzard struck fear into the hearts of all the other publishers. But Activision doesn’t have a perfect record. A few genres have slipped through their grasp, one of them being skateboarding. EA’s Skate series, with its emphasis on realism and the highly praised “trick-stick” control scheme, has knocked the former king Tony Hawk off his throne. But if Tony Hawk is the Michael Jordan of the board, with American Wasteland, Project 8, and Proving Ground being his days with the Wizards, (and Ride being his recent horrible season as GM of the Charlotte Bobcats), then Underground 2 would be his last days with the Chicago Bulls. Continue reading

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