Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Five: Video Games of 2014

  • It's not too late for a best of 2014 post, is it? It is? Goddamnit. Oh well, as long as I'm clearing the queue...
  • Do you remember when the Nintendo 3DS was first released back in 2011? The launch line up was lousy. The next year was a gaming wasteland with few titles to remind us why we wanted the systems in the first place. Now when I look at the 3DS library, I see more great games than I could ever play. But it did not always seem this way. For a long time, I regretting impulse buying that little device. That is the same feeling I have as a PlayStation 4 owner. Sure, there is a game here or there that I greatly enjoy. But it is still in the process of becoming a console worth owning. As such, most of my favorite games were played on PC, Xbox 360, or the afore mentioned 3DS.

  • Tomb Raider (2013) - When I picked up my PS4 last year, I looked forward to playing an updated Tomb Raider on the new console. Only I discovered that past me picked up the game during a Steam sale. I thanked past me and started playing. Tomb Raider was a great experience. It was just broad enough to allow for exploring, even though the main path through the game was entirely linear. The story was really good, even though it pushed Lara into cold-blooded killer mode much too quickly. It's the most fun I've had with a Tomb Raider since Legend and I'm looking forward to the sequel, assuming it comes out on a platform that I can play it on.

  • Dark Souls II - It is strange to say that Dark Souls II was a disappointment and then put it on my list of top games of the year. It was the hollow to Dark Souls' humanity. Nonetheless, I played from start to finish and keep my attention the entire time. It was a game that I wanted to fall in love with. Like its predecessor, the combat was measured and brutally punishing. Overcoming its obstacles felt like a genuine triumph. It may not have been everything I wanted it to be, but it was still worthy of the Dark Souls name.

  • Destiny - Another best game of the year that pales only in comparison to what could have been. Destiny should have been the game of the year. All the pieces were there, but it didn't come together. But even though it wasn't the game many of us wanted it to be, I find myself going back to it time and again. I compare it to the first Assassin's Creed. That was a flawed game that taught Ubisoft how to make an amazing sequel. I strongly suspect that Destiny 2 will be the game we all hoped for. But in the meantime, I have patrols to complete and bad guys to punch.

  • World of Warcraft (Private Server) - So, I reached level 60 on my home WoW server and took my character into Outland. From one point of view, that means I am absolutely crazy for playing a massively multiplayer game in a way that defies the genre. On the other hand, it is gratifying that I can bend the game to my will. It may not be more than a curiosity, but it has been one that kept me entertained time and again all year.

  • Disney Magical World - I didn't expect to fall for Disney Magical World the way that I did. It looked like a Harvest Moon game with Disney characters. But it turns out to have a lengthy quest system and a surprising fun combat system. Also, I had a lot of fun playing dress up for Cinderella's various balls. I haven't finished it yet because there is so much to do. But I was happy to find a far deeper game than I expected.

  • It has been a strange year for gaming, and a terrible one for the gaming community. I hope 2015 will be brighter for all.

© 2015 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Random Shots: In Memoriam - 2014

  • Once again, it is time to look back at those we lost in 2014, the people who made our lives a little brighter

    • Justin Carmical, 42, aka JewWario, YouTube instructor on playing Japanese games on western consoles

    • Greg Martin, box cover artist for several Sega, Hudson, Capcom and Namco games

    • Kenneth Melville, 65, co-founder of Digital Pictures, developer of several FMV games including: It Came from the Desert, Sewer Shark, Make My Video: INXS, Make My Video: Kris Kross, and Corpse Killer, as well as developing Total Annihilation: Kingdoms.

    • Joel Green, 5, the inspiration for Ryan Green's game, That Dragon, Cancer.

    • Matthew Crump, 40, game developer, coordinator of the SXSW Gaming Expo

    • Masato Masuda, 48, game developer, creator of Pro Wrestling (NES) and the Fire Pro Wrestling series

    • Python Anghelo, 60, artist, game and pinball designer, best known for Joust, Bubbles, Pin*Bot, Cyclone and Taxi

    • Douglas E. Smith, 53, creator of Lode Runner

    • Ralph Baer, 92, developer of the first video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey
  • Farewell. You will be missed.

© 2015 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 7, 2014

News Filter: Blizzcon 2014 - The Ongoing Saga

  • It's Blizzcon time again and I can't help but get excited. I'm going to use this space to blog about the news as it happens. Is there anything you're looking forward to?

  • The biggest news is obviously the announcement of Overwatch. It's a Team Fortress 2 inspired shooter that I will probably never play, but it sure looks beautiful. The cinematic looks like something I would watch in a theater, it's that good.

  • It was good to see a bigger announcement about the final Starcraft II expansion, Legacy of the Void. If anything, I'm glad that they are finally bringing that game in for a landing. Blizzard does things on ValveBlizzard time, but I'm still glad they are done. Maybe I'll try playing the campaign one of these days.

  • And, of course, more news about Hearthstone. I continue to bounce off that game every time I try it, but I'm glad it's being supported in several different ways. I thought the Curse of Naxxramas expansion was fascinating, but a traditional expansion seems like a good move.

  • So that was Blizzcon. What did you think of the announcements?

© 2014 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Random Shots: Failure of Character

  • About two months ago, an eternity in internet time, I wrote an impassioned defense of the term "gamer". I have always identified as a gamer. Games have helped me through hard times. Games have given me opportunities to make friends when I might otherwise find it difficult. So as the GamerGate mess was just forming, I decided to toss in my two cents.
  • I was wrong to do so.
  • A lot of what I see in GamerGate is people in pain. People like myself, hurt by the very people that they thought of as allies. I understand it because that is what I felt. I was confused because I did not know why I was being attacked for being even tangentially tied to the horrific events that were underway. In the midst of all that, I rushed to my own defense as though it was ever really about me.
  • But instead of speaking, I should have been listening. Instead of writing, I should have been reading. GamerGate has never been about me. It is about the pain and suffering inflicted by people I might once have called friends.
  • And so, far too late, I apologize. I hope that those who identify with GamerGate come to realize that their lashing out as though they are the victims will do more harm than good in that long run. The gaming community may be irrevocably damaged now, but I don't think it's too late.

© 2014 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Played Lately: Destiny - Alpha, Beta, and Launch

  • The hype got the better of me. After reading, listening, and watching so much about Bungie's new magnum opus, I had to try Destiny for myself. So when the Destiny Alpha opened on the PlayStation 4, I downloaded as fast as my wireless router would allow.
  • The Alpha had potential. There were a few missions to play in the Old Russia, Earth, zone. I wanted to see them all. I rolled a Titan, the soldier/tank class, because I am terrible at shooters. I needed a class that would let me play a little dumb and still survive encounters. I didn't play a lot, but I had fun trying to reach the level cap.
  • The Beta also showed potential. I almost didn't get in, but the folks at NeoGAF had my back. I played as much as I could and even made it to the bonus mission on the Moon. My daughter, who normally will not give up her reign over the television, sweetly let me log in with just fifteen minutes left to access the mission.
  • And that brings us to launch. The game, as launched, has a lot of potential. I've been playing since Destiny came out. I stay up to late, trying to complete one last mission, one last patrol, one last bounty.... Even though I agree with the middling reviews, the game is still enough fun to keep me going.
  • All the way up to level twenty. I can't stop playing the game. It don't help when my daughter asks if we can visit "our friend" (my character) to see how she is doing. She cuddles next to my so I can protect her from the bad guys. She points out loot chests when she spots them. So sometimes I'm playing just so she can watch me jump around on the Moon. AnjinM on PS4 if you want to help keep her entertained.

© 2014 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.
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