The will likely be spoilers, but should I talk about something super new I'll warn ya. But consider this a pre-emptive warning! You're WARNED!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Atari 2600 box art

Talking about the loverly box art for Haunted House the other day got me jonesin' to check out and post some more Atari 2600 I did! Man, even Tic Tac Toe looks cool.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim gameplay trailer!

Bethesda Softworks dropped the official chock full o' gameplay trailer for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim today. Umm, I know the word is totally overused nowadays, but...this shit is epic!

My introduction to the world of Elder Scrolls was Oblivion, and it's still the only game in the series I've played for (far, far) more than ten minutes. (I know people loooves 'em some Morrowind, but it's clunky and difficult and frustrating as all hell on the Xbox...especially if you experienced Oblivion first.) It took me a while to get into it, and for a while I was tempted to put it down completely. I'd never partaken in a game so open-world and sandbox-y before, and it took some getting used to. To be honest, I never felt completely attached to my character or the main plot, but damned if I didn't thoroughly enjoy the world (despite the flat NPCs)..."world" being the key word. There's just so much out there to see and do in Cyrodiil- with hundreds of hours logged, there's still more to be discovered. Kind of amazing, really.

Skyrim is definitely on my must-get list (it hits 11/11/11). I'm hoping that those beautiful graphics of the trailer are matched to some compelling characters this go-round; if so, well. I just don't know what I'll do, but I'm sure I'll tell you all about it. WOW.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

OG survival horror

I love that thanks to Xbox Live, I have the option to play game demos at the price of no price. I will try any game for free. Any game I say! Recently I tried out the demo of the recent remake of Haunted House because why not? The original game, made for Atari 2600 and released in 1982, is likely the first survival horror game. I don't think I ever finished it- my disembodied eyeballs trapped in the Graves mansion, dying a slow death and eventually eaten by bats. In a strange way, I hope this is my real life fate as well.

The remake maintains the same premise as the original- search the mansion for pieces of an urn and defend yourself from ghosts, bats, and spiders with nary more than the light of a match. The graphics are decidedly improved, know. You might expect that they would be considering the hardware advances that have happened over the 30 years between versions. 30 years. 30...years. THIRTY YEARS.

I can't lie, the demo was fun, if totally aimed at kids. Characters say things like "OMG!" which...blehhhhh. I'm not the target demographic, certainly, but the demo was enjoyable enough, maintaining the spirit of the original game.

Okay, secret revealed: while I did download and play the demo on a whim of curiosity, I'm really just using that fact to write something where I can post box and ad art from the original game, both of which are so good:

Beauteous! I love the way video game box art used to really fuel the imagination and despite the terrible graphics of the games (graphics, I should note, that were astounding at the time), the entire game world was fleshed out in my nerdy head. Maybe it's just kids that have that ability, I don't know. The box art was technically misleading, I guess, but to me it was always more a flavor-enhancer. Like Mrs Dash, or MSG!

Oh! And perhaps best of all is that all of this Haunted House talk led me to a startling discovery: you can play the original game on the new game's website. Perhaps my disembodied eyeballs will make it out of the mansion after all...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Demo done!

If you're not me and therefore not making out with your body pillow that says DRAGON AGE on it every night (that's a joke) (probably), then you may not know that the demo for Dragon Age II dropped today for Xbox 360 (Gold members only, which is pretty dopey), PS3, and PC. I knew, though. OH I KNEW. That shit has been downloaded and pa-layed, my friends. And what? Was it disappointing? Or was it superappointing (which should be the opposite of disappointing)? Am I anticipating the March 8th release date more, or will I only acknowledge March 8th as Cynthia Rothrock's birthday? Hmm?

Oh please, like you don't know. When the demo ended- roughly 1-1.5 hours after I'd begun- I was, how you say, extremely bummed that I had to stop. This is good, as it has me greatly anticipating my chance to mainline this game in a couple of weeks. Well, anticipating it more, I should say. Let's face it, BioWare would have had to really gunk up the works for me to come away from it with a serious case of the sads...make no mistake, though- things have indeed changed quite a bit since your first foray into Ferelden.

As you probably know by now, Dragon Age II eschews the more customizable main character creation of its predecessor- here, you are Hawke. Whether male or female, Hawke is human and, over the course of the game, will become known as "The Champion of Kirkwall". However, class, first name, and appearance remain up to you, though the appearance customization menu was was disabled for the demo. No matter! Default FemHawke is a babe. The bearded DudeHawke is a hottie too, so I'll likely stick with the defaults during playthroughs. For my first venture into DAII, I played rogue, as usual. I'll likely play again as a warrior and mage just to check 'em out.

Sessy rogue FemHawke and her...ah...well-endowed sister

The game in its entirety will take place over a decade, from the darkspawn invasion/destruction of Lothering (as sort-of seen in the original game) through...well, who knows what? Something that happens ten years later, duh. There's an interesting tale being told - now live out the tale format as Varric, one of Hawke's companions, relays the Champion's exploits to a Chantry seeker. I'm curious if this broken-up, back and forth style of storytelling will put a damper on the immersion as we skip over chunks of time.

As the game begins, Hawke and her family- mom, brother, and apostate mage sister- flee Lothering shortly after the disaster at Ostagar and events that took place in the first game. Battle your way through some Darkspawn and meet a few companions, including the warrior Aveline, who...well, if you listened to Leliana's lengthy tales in Dragon Age, then you know the story of Aveline's namesake. Mind you, none of that really has any bearing on anything (that I know of, yet), but it's a nice bone they've thrown to nerds like me who do things like, you know, listen to all of Leliana's lengthy tales. Make your way to Kirkwall and meet up with another companion- Isabela, who you'll probably remember from an encounter at The Pearl in the first game. She's of a totally different design and voice in DA II, though she still seems to enjoy bedroom shenanigans and she'll likely be a love interest for a Hawke of either gender.

Ah, and lest I forget, there's an appearance from a familiar face who...let's just say I've seen the character in DAII promotion art and I didn't realize that she is who she is. That's no doubt unclear, so to be specific, I'm talking about this character and specifically, this piece of art:

It's good to keep yourself in the dark about things sometimes; when she uttered an instantly recognizable line upon appearing onscreen, my mouth dropped open a little bit. I was all, like, WHAT. You know how I do.

Gameplay has changed more than a bit from Dragon Age. Gone is the KotOR-style "hit A and let the character do its thing until you want to make a special move" combat approach, replaced by a lot more button-mashing. Though you'll level-up a few times during the demo, abilities are limited; my gameplay was basically AAAAAXAAAAAYAAAAAX...but then, I'm admittedly quite horrible at tactics and squad management. Even as a rogue, I tend to get in and get my melee on. The combat animations in DAII are much faster than those in the first game- it's positively frenetic, and the backstab is entirely badass. As you fight wave after wave of Darkspawn and a couple of ogres, there's a good chance your entire party will be laid to waste.

As Dragon Age II puts you in Hawke's shoes, your character actually speaks this go-round. This, of course, means the implementation of that love it or hate it device from Mass Effect, the conversation wheel. "Good" or "bad" replies render your character kinder or fiercer, and push your companions towards one end or the other on a "friend-rival" scale. It's early yet, but I like this so-called Hawke. I'm okay with being a character with a specific background.

The graphics...well, I'm reserving judgment on those. The character animations and cutscenes were terrific. It's got a different look and feel than Dragon Age, but largely it seems to be an improvement; the environments along the way from Lothering into the Korcari Wilds were pretty dull, however- purple-ish, burnt out sand dunes as far as the eye could see. The demo ended before I could dig into Kirkwall, so who knows how it'll be. The scale certainly seemed to be much larger than Denerim; hopefully it'll be well-populated and feel like a real city. My one HUGE complaint is that text is all but impossible to read on a standard-definition television. I know there are only five of us left rockin' the SDTV, but it was really a hindrance.

The new mechanics will take some getting used to, but that's to be expected. The storytelling looks to be top-notch, on par with what I've come to expect from BioWare. Sure, I'll miss the old gang and my Grey Warden, but I'm sure to fall in love with this new crop of heroes as well. Why, I bet I'll love 'em almost as much as I love my Dragon Age body pillow!

Man, that's so creepy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Yes, I love Mass Effect

I know, that's BIG NEWS. But really...I've had art on the brain lately and thus, art coming out of my hands lately (or, to be more precise, art coming out of whatever implement is in my hands), and the latest thing I done did is a card of Jack (aka Subject Zero) from Mass Effect 2 during the escape from Purgatory. Here it be, hot off my desk!

My personal website is undergoing...mmm, technical difficulties at the moment, so I can't point you to my batch of Mass Effect cards, which are posted over there. What I can do, however, is re-post them here! That, my friends, is the power of computers.

I love (most of) my Mass Effect 2 companions, but...sniff...I miss (most of) the OG gang.

Nerd out.

Happy Birthday, Link

Wow. The Legend of Zelda is 25 years old. I don't see how this is possible, since I clearly remember playing it on my NES when it came out and I just turned 21...but whatever. I don't get science.

For what it's worth, out of all the stick figure sketch cards I've done, this is one of my very favorites. *tear*

I've never been a huge Zelda-head. I never completed the first game. I was more miserable at the second game, the strange side-scroller The Adventure of Link. Never finished Ocarina of Time, never played Majora's stuff is out of my grasp console-wise. I did, however, really dig (and finish-GASP) The Wind Waker, which caused all sorts of nerd rage when the game's whimsical art style was revealed.

I haven't played anything Zelda-y in years, but this Birthday has got me all a-jonesin' to. Link is a gen-u-ine video game icon, and I'll be damned if the original theme song doesn't float through my head once in a while. It's ingrained, for better or for worse.

Anyway, if you care at all, is celebrating Zelda all week long. If you don't care at all, then I bid you good day. I SAID GOOD DAY.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

survival horror's not dead

You guys, Watch this.

I don't know anything about Dead Island regarding gameplay style, story...anything, except that it's got zombies. Right now, I don't care- I'm gonna just bask in that amazing trailer that's more evocative than 90% of the zombie movies out there. Wow. Great.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Man, that's professional LARPing

YOU GUYS I decided to post something abut Dragon Age today, which is totally weird, right?

See, the thing is, Dragon Age II is so close now, I can't think of much else. Well, I mean "much else" in a gaming context. I don't mean that I'm sitting on the edge of my bed, staring at the wall, forgetting to eat and making a mess (yes, that kind of a mess) because I'm dreaming about Dragon Age II.

Okay, maybe I mean that a little bit. But really, I mean that I've tried to play other games lately, but they don't seem to work out for the long haul. I'm all, "Metro 2033 I like you and all, but you're not Dragon Age. I think maybe we should just be friends because let's face it- when March 8th rolls around, I'm dumping you anyway."

As the release date draws nearer, news items are posted on The Internet with frequent frequency and this does not help quell my fever. A snippet of gameplay here, a screencap there and I'm taking to my fainting couch.

Today's unexpected DA news (well, unexpected by me, anyway) is that a live-action webseries called Dragon Age: Redemption is coming.

The six episode series is written by (and starring) Felicia Day, known to most folks as the mastermind behind the hit webseries The Guild. Redemption will follow the story of elven assassin Tallis (Day), as Dragon Age-y stuff on a "quest to capture a renegade magician".

I haven't read much of the fan reaction to the announcement, but I'm sure that the idea of translating a beloved game property into a live-action series has plenty of nerds all ten kinds of up in arms. The opportunity to be up in arms, after all, is why The Internet was invented. This nerd's arms, however, are down. Or sort of down, I guess, since I'm typing. Why? Not only because The Guild is proof of her writing abilities, but because Felicia Day plays the GD game and she loves it. Over at USA Today, she opines: "[Mass Effect and Dragon Age], bar none, are my favorites now. The storytelling in games has gotten so sophisticated. I'm a huge fantasy novel geek, too. Dragon Age really is like living a novel." It would seem to me, then, that her enthusiasm for the game series will translate to the web series. What's not to look forward to? I mean, there are going to be elves and shit! This is only a good thing.

Of course, Morrigan disapproves...but then Morrigan disapproves of everything.

Mind you, the fact that I greatly anticipate Dragon Age: Redemption doesn't diminish the fact that I'm completely envious that Day got to write a Dragon Age webseries. I'm dealing with it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

seven...err, nearly three minutes in heaven

YOU GUYS Dragon Age II is out in less than a month. Less than a month! March 8th! There's a downloadable demo coming on February 22 that will allow you to play through the game's prologue. Personally, I'm unsure if I'll play the demo, or if I'll just wait and mainline the entire thing when it arrives.

The point of all this is, I didn't think I could get more excited about this game, but then this three minutes of footage showed up and...well, is that a metaphorical boner in my pants or am I just happy to see this?

Sorry, that was gross and didn't really make any sense. Still: OH YES MARCH 8th.

What class do you prefer playing? My first preference is rogue. I like to get all up close and personal ooh deadly melee style, and, much like Jill Valentine, I consider myself to be a Master of Unlocking.

(via Topless Robot. Thanks to John Cowan for the tip!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

i am totally scientific

After asking you guys to answer some questions yesterday, I figured it was only fair that I answer them myself, too. Before I do that, however (I know, so exciting!), please- keep answering in the comments on that post! It's all quite enjoyable to read. Y'all loves some FFVII, huh?

Let's do this.

What's your favorite game genre (RPG, FPS, etc)?

Hmm. HMM. This is a tougher question than I thought. Survival horror? 3rd person adventure? RPG? RPG. Yes.

What's your favorite game of all time ever ever EVAR? Just one game. ONE I SAY.

Oh man, this is even tougher! Mass Effect. There, I said it. No wait, Dragon Age. No wait, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Dang, that's two...okay, MassEffectDragonAge. That works!

If a game features moral you generally play it
good or evil?

I always play through as "good" the first go-round, then "evil" with a different character the second time. My impulse is nearly always to be helpful and nice, even know, it's not as if I'd be mean to real people or anything. But in a game, when it comes to, say, helping orphans or not, though, chances are I'm going to help them. It's usually a smart idea, too, as the "good" path tends to open up more missions and quests.

That's not to say there aren't times when I love being bad even on a goody-goody journey. I've punched plenty of people and stolen from them and more. Being bad in these games is frequently hilarious, which is why I need an "evil" playthrough, even if my behavior is sometimes cringe-worthy and totally over the top (I mean, have you ever executed Shiala on a Renegade run in Mass Effect? That's some cold-blooded shit!).

Do you play more than one major game at a time? Or play a game 'til its conclusion then move on to the next title?

I generally play through from beginning to end, lest I put a game down for too long and realize I have no clue what I'm doing when I pick it up again. Sometimes I'll break up a game by playing something that has no story to speak of (Rock Band, etc).
What's the first video game you remember playing?

Combat on Atari 2600, baby.

Which systems do you currently own/play?

Xbox 360 gets nearly all my love, but I still bust out the PS2 and GameCube, and I have a Super Nintendo sitting in my closet. I'd love a PS3...someday. And a Wii, too.

Do you participate in online gaming?

I'd have to say no, as I've only done it once. If I chose to engage in some online shenanigans, though, I'd only do it with people I know, even if I only know them in a cyber-fashion. The idea of jumping into a round of Halo with a bunch of unknown gamers gives me both the heebies and the jeebies.
Are you a release-day purchaser? Do you trade in games and buy used?

If possible financially, I'm definitely release-day for a few select series (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, anydamnthing from BioWare), but otherwise I wait for massive sales and price drops. As such, I'm generally way behind the curve on these things (who knows when I'll get to Dead Space 2?), but I don't mind.

I used to trade in games all the time as a means to save money on new titles, but I've stopped as I've really regretted getting rid of some games. For a few reasons, I've also stopped buying used unless the game is very old and out of print: you don't save much on recently-released games; I'd just...rather have new; publishers don't get any dough from used sales. I'd rather the people that make the game get some of my money rather than all of it going to the store selling it.

Oooh, I loves me some Resident Evil.

Are you more a console gamer or a PC gamer?

Console, although I have a couple of simple time-killers on my computer. My Mac is...well, it's a Mac, so there aren't a ton of games made for it, and besides- my Mac be old and it can run many games. I've nothing against PC gaming and if I could afford to make that happen for myself, I certainly would.

Do you play any "casual" games, such as the Zynga titles on Facebook (Farmville, Whateverville)?

None of the 'Villes, although the new Dragon Age game that'll be on Facebook is awfully tempting. I've played a few flash games in my day, though.

There. I think we all feel much closer now, yes?

Monday, February 7, 2011

totally scientific

Hey, game-players or people who do not play games: take part in my Curiosity Questionnaire by answering these questions in the comments. If you want. Could be fun. Maybe.

Curiosity Questionnaire!
  1. What's your favorite game genre (RPG, FPS, etc)?
  2. What's your favorite game of all time ever ever EVAR? Just one game. ONE I SAY.
  3. If a game features moral you generally play it good or evil?

  4. Do you play more than one major game at a time? Or play a game 'til its conclusion then move on to the next title?

  5. What's the first video game you remember playing?
  6. Which systems do you currently own/play?

  7. Do you participate in online gaming?
  8. Are you a release-day purchaser? Do you trade in games and buy used?
  9. Are you more a console gamer or a PC gamer?
  10. Do you play any "casual" games, such as the Zynga titles on Facebook (Farmville, Whateverville)?

Hooray, Curiosity Questionnaire!