I finished out New Vegas a couple days ago, and looking back, I have mixed feelings about the ending. It may be worth nothing (for the benefit of my one reader) that the rest of this post contains spoilers, so if you don't want to know what happens in the game but really want to know how I felt about it, we can talk about it this weekend. I like to start by saying that I really did enjoy the game. The observations I made in earlier posts held up surprisingly well, even after 60+ hours of play time. The hardcore mode was a good way to play though the game. Although it was a little frustrating at times, the extra elements added a bit of practicality that kept you from getting too lazy. The faction system was kinda cool, but it didn't add a whole lot to the game's experience. It essentially had you choose a camp, and you could get the people in that camp to like you and eventually the ones in the other camp wouldn't like you. I might be interesting to try and play it so everyone liked you, or play it so everyone hated you (I guess that would be the Yes Man route). I was also surprised by the number of companions you could have. I figured you'd get presented with a few at the beginning of the game, but new people kept randomly showing up. There's an achievement for recruiting all followers, but I didn't get it so I'm assuming there are even more of them out there. I didn't completely exhaust the game, there's still DLC I didn't get into and I haven't explored the whole map yet, but after completing the quests left in my journal, I was ready to move on to the end. I went the pro-NCR route, which is what I saw as the good-guy path. I have a hard time playing the bad guy in games unless that's your only option, and RPGs usually give you an option. I'd need a lot of extra hands to count the number of KOTOR and KOTOR II playthroughs I've done, and I didn't do more than one dark jedi playthough with each. I guess it's just not my style. Besides I didn't want to kill everyone in the Brotherhood of Steele, and Mr. House wasn't giving me that option. The ending itself seemed a little abrupt, and not super conclusive. Starting it, I thought clearing out Caesar's forces from the damn and their staging camp would be a kind of first step toward an invasion of the main legion camp with the help of Mr. House's robots. Instead, you just kill Caesar's lieutenant and his support, walk to the gate, and boom (literally) you're done. You have a few lines of dialogue with the general and then the game ends. You don't even get to continue playing post-dam-battle, you have to load a save that's before the final sequence. That was weird to me, because - again - the final battle doesn't really wrap anything up. Maybe they figured they would have to reflect the shift in power and consequences in the environment afterward, but it's not like that's going to happen right away; Caesar's still in his camp and pissed off, the robots maintain the strip, outlying pockets of remaining groups still exist where you haven't killed them, nothing really changes. That was really my only problem with the game; a lot of good gameplay building up to a kind of lack-luster ending. Still, I will likely return to my pre-finale save game when I'm feeling like playing another RPG. I know there's still a lot I could do in that world, and it would be interesting to see if taking some bigger steps toward the ending I wanted on my own has any effect on what happens after the end. It would be pretty impressive if it did.
Today is turning into a really busy day, so this week's comic cover post is going to be a little short unless I get on a rant about something. This is a recent offering of Avenging Spider-Man, and it's hard for me to pass up any Spider-Man/Deadpool team-ups. The cover itself was a team effort by Shane Davis, Mark Morales, and Matt Hollingsworth. The series is one I'm barely familiar with; it's pretty new, starting a little under a year ago. What really interests me about it is the style. Each issue is a little bit different thanks to a rotating cast of pencilers, inkers, colorists, and sometimes even writers. The stories depicted are also similar in that respect; the issues seem more like a collection of separate stories rather than a coherent arc. I don't know if this is by design or coincidence (like I said, I haven't sat down to read any in this series), but the random draft appearance does make it a bit more intriguing. Also, Spider-Man/Deadpool covers.
Hello, and welcome to the final post in my Looking Ahead series. I was surprised that there isn't more titles dropping in the time leading up to Christmas, but at least I was able to find one I was interested in.

Far Cry 3 - December 4th

I've played every Far Cry game in the series, and I'm really excited to see where they go with Far Cry 3. Far Cry and Far Cry 2 were so different that there is no road map that might tell you where 3 will end up. Far Cry 2 was also (in my opinion) a big improvement over the original, so I'm anxious to see if there's a similar kind of betterment with this next iteration. However, that desire to see something new is a little marred by my hope certain elements that made Far Cry 2 awesome stick around. Of course, I'm talking about fire. It seems like such as simple addition to a game, fire that actually spreads, but I don't think it's something we've ever gotten in a game with one potential exception. It was kind of amazing to see an explosion catch a building on fire, which spread to neighboring buildings and dry grass. It added a whole new exploitable element to the environment; a tool that was never fully at our disposal before now. Being able to throw your last Molotov on the ground behind you to create a wall of flame between you and the literal army pursuing you was awesome and effective, and I hope there's more stuff like that to come. Also worth noting, the Far Cry 3 booth at PAX probably had the best promotion of the expo. Each morning, they gave a free copy of the game away to the first 50 people to get a mohawk from a girl they had working at their booth. It's a bit of a price to pay, but it's also a free game. I hadn't seen a vendor do that for a long time, and I really appreciated it. So yeah, shout out to whoever at Ubisoft came up with that one.

Hoping to cut down on spam comments

September 25th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Site Development - (0 Comments)
I just installed a plugin called Spam Free WordPress in an attempt to cut down on the obnoxious volume of spam comments I've been getting over the last month or so. I guess it's nice that my blog is getting enough exposure to the Internet to warrant spam, but I came home to a little over 50 spam comments pending review this last weekend and I'd just like a system that's a little more proactive. Unfortunately, I'm a little concerned that this plugin may be a little too proactive. It's actually acting as a block instead of a filter, which is nice because I don't have spam comments filling up a database, but it may also mean that there's no log of what's getting blocked (at least it doesn't seem like there is). If a legitimate post get's denied, there's no way for me to know, unless that person contacts me to tell me. Fortunately, I know the only person who actively reads this, so if it happens to them, they'll probably just tell me the next time I see them. I usually get a handful of spam comments a day, so I should know how it's working by tomorrow morning.
Today, we're continuing my Looking Ahead series with what's coming out in November. There might be other games dropping at the start of the holiday season, but these two are the ones I'm most likely to pick up.

Post-modern warfare?

CoD Black Ops II - November 13th

If you're disappointed in this choice, I really don't know what you'd expect. My first game review on this site was a Call of Duty title, and in it I outlined the reasons behind my affinity for the franchise. Such as it is, I'm optimistically excited about Black Ops II. Truth be told, I haven't looked into it much at all. In this iteration, I believe the intent is to be set in the future. While this is certainly not the first attempt at this in the genre, it is a first for for a Call of Duty title. Granted, they have little in the way of new time periods to exploit; and with Turrok's relative stranglehold on dinosaur-era shooters, the future seems like the next logical choice. Kidding aside, I am looking forward to Black Ops II. A lot of my time playing games is spent wading into the maw of an RPG. I've spent an ungodly number of hours playing those in my time, and sometimes it nice to have a break and play something with a linear story line where I don't have to manage character relationships. I know that at the very least this title will provide that periodic, necessary diversion, but I was pleasantly surprised by Black Ops I, and I'm hopeful that I'll be surprised again.

Because America, that's why.

Assassin's Creed III - November 23rd

Oh yes. This is exciting. Like really exciting. This was one of the few things I waited in line for at PAX this year, and even though it was just to watch a gameplay demo (and get an inflatable tomahawk), it was totally worth it. One of my friends had a pretty impressive Ezio costume, and the grin on his face when he got called up to be showcased by one the Frag Dolls was priceless. He was less impressed with the demo, which apparently had been out for a while by then, but I (who generally avoids those kinds of things) got to see gameplay for the first time. All the new elements they showcased were money. There are new weapons, you can free-run in trees, and you can assassinate people from moving carts. The new weapons are a point of interest to me, and not just because it reveals new ways to do something repetitive. In Revelations, Ezio's arsenal of weapons felt a little OP'd by the time you started using your one-shot hand cannon against an almost exclusively melee enemy force. The block/counter mechanic took quite a bit of fear of death away from the start, but assassinations still required a bit of finesse. Cut to the most recent title where you still have your counter-kill security blanket, and you can also select your favorite, extremely accurate ranged weapon to take your targets down with relative ease. So I'm hoping the new weapons available to Connor spice things up a bit, and I also hope the greater abundance of rifles in the hands of your enemies gives a player greater pause when thinking about breaking cover.
This week's cover is Supergirl #55, and I'll admit, I haven't read it. I was a little low on inspiration this week, and I haven't gotten a chance to run to a comic shop in a while, so I reached back into the pile of cover images I accumulated while putting this site together and pulled out this one. Unlike a couple of my friends whose first big date together was a Smallville tour through British Colombia, I never got into the Superman universe (comics, TV, or otherwise). The closest I get is Justice League, and it's not quite the same. Still, when I came across this cover, looking for some DC covers for a header graphic, I thought it was one of the cooler designs I had seen. At first I thought it was a kind of shattered mirror image, with the cracks separating the different elements. Looking at it a little closer, I could see that it was actually the viewpoint of Supergirl looking at Bizarro Supergirl through a field of broken glass. I think it's a really cool concept that translates into an awesome cover. Supergirl #55 was was Amy Reeder Hadley's introductory cover to the series, where she did several covers before working on (coincidentally, given my last comic cover post) on the new Batwoman series. Hadley has a website, a blog, and recently completed a Kickstarter project for a Halloween Eve comic book. It's all definitely worth a look.
Welcome back! This marks my next post on upcoming games that I'm looking forward to. Yeah, Borderlands 2 was really the only oddball one that I could care less about.

Resident Evil 6: President Evil

Resident Evil 6 - October 2nd XBox/PS3, PC TBD

Ok, this is exciting! I'm a Resident Evil fan to the point where I really enjoy it and pretty much everything that has to do with it, but I'm not at all militant about how it's presented to me in terms of cannon accuracy. That last part may cause some to disqualify me as a fan, but trust me, it's a lot easier this way. It's a lot less stressful, and it allows you to enjoy things you probably wouldn't have otherwise enjoyed. That being said, I'm blissfully optimistic about Resident Evil 6. I'm a little less optimistic about the lack of a PC release date. I've learned that this kind of thing comes with being a PC gamer, but it still kinda sucks that I have to wait an unknown amount of time to play something on a system that can actually present a game to it's fullest potential. My girlfriend suggested just getting it for both console and PC, and while that seems wasteful to the Depression Era values previous generations have passed down, I'm seriously considering doing exactly that. It would have likely bought two PC copies anyway for my girlfriend and I to co-op (an, but the lack of release date makes me unsure of how long I will be able to make myself wait. I'll probably end up waiting. I've got more games than I know what to do with right now, and there are a lot of good games coming out that don't feature this particular dilemma. Case in point, the fact that I can write this post and several others about games that only interest me without having to look beyond four months.

I don't have anything snarky to say about
this. It just looks awesome.

Dishonored - October 9th

You can check out the trailer on their website, it's all you need to see to get excited for it. Nearly everything about this game looks incredible; the story line, the setting, everything. I saw it at PAX and I while I checked out a little of their demo, I didn't have the courage to get in line and wait, for fear of spoiling something in the game. Unfortunately this time, my fear has prevented me from assuaging the only real doubt I have concerning this game, which is the gameplay itself. I know, kind of a basic element upon which the whole game hinges, but it's a caution I am going to dismiss regardless. My worry arises from this being a first-person oriented Bethesda game with a focus on melee combat. Anyone who's played the Elder Scrolls series, or really any melee-heavy RPG, knows where I'm coming from. Still, what I've seen is more akin - thankfully - to Mirrors Edge than Skyrim when it comes to the combat, so I'm hoping this will pull through for the better. And I'm sure it will. The nice thing about Bethesda is that they make good games, and I'm sure this won't be an exception. Besides, the worse case scenario that the combat is a little too reminiscent of some of Bethesda's other titles still means that it'll take away a substantial portion of my life. Just like every other Bethesda game I've played.

No, it doesn't stand for Big Friendly Giant.

Doom 3 BFG Edition - October 16th

If you first saw this a PAX, you were probably thinking the same thing I did, "Didn't they already do this? Are they rebooting a reboot?" Well, all signs are pointing to yes at this time. The new edition, featuring an updated engine, gets an HD facelift as well as some other considerations. I'm am less sure about my acquiring this particular title, simply because I've already played it. I know it comes with some extra missions, but it's still the same game. I remember it; it scared the shit out of me. It's one of the few times a game has genuinely terrified me; it's in elite company with Silent Hill and it's damn inside-out dogs. It's going to a take a bit of encouragement to go through that again except with more realistic detail. It's going to take a relatively cheap price tag, but I don't think that's something I'm going to get. When the developers are emphasizing that this is a new game and that they've done a lot of work to make it more than just a re-release, this tells me that one of two things are probably going to happen:
  1. It's a new game, and it has a new game price tag, OR
  2. It's the same game as before, and it has a new game price tag.
One thing gaming conventions (yes, I'm still talking about PAX two weeks later) is that they get you thinking about the future, usually in that wishing it were here now kind of way. For me it's a bit of a mixed bag, but overall I'm pretty optimistic. So here is the first of several posts featuring some of the more high-profile (and still relevant to me) titles currently scheduled for release before 2013 and my personal feelings towards them.

Borderlands 2 - September 18th

I'll cut to the chase and say that this is not a game I really care about, but I always feel like I should. I played quite a bit of the first Borderlands when it came out; and I liked a lot of things about it (mostly the blended shooter/RPG elements), but there were a few things I just couldn't get past. First, was the enemy spawn patter that just never changed. Every time you left your first little town, TA-DA! Here come 4 or 5 dooders out of a little canyon pathway to a base on the right. What's that you say? You just cleared that base out 30 seconds ago? Well too damn bad, because you just left town and that means it's enemy spawn time. In my opinion, a major hurdle of any action RPG is avoiding, or at least disguising, the redundancy inherent in a game where your mission/quest/thing options are to interact with an item (retrieve/deliver it, activate/deactivate it) or interact with a person (talk to them, kill them, or talk to them and then kill them). Maybe if there was some kind of explanation for it, even a weak one, I probably would have stuck it out, but it added points where you were constantly being grounded in routine. What has impressed me about Fallout 3: New Vegas (yes, I'm still playing that after 10 weeks) is it's ability to make the things that I've been doing over and over again seem new and meaningful. I've spent 10 weeks taking a long time to go from point A to point B so I can do a relatively simple task and then fast-travel back to point A. but I'm having fun doing that, and I didn't have fun doing in it Borderlands.

What's he going to do when they get to Borderlands 3? Do you think they'll give him an extra arm?

Also, I wasn't super crazy about the animation style, and that was kind of it's shtick. It's not that they didn't do it well or anything like that, it's just that I don't like it in many - if any - games I play. I don't even like TF2 very much for that reason, despite it being a great game. The spawn things is probably something that could be done differently in Borderlands 2, but the art style just leaves me with absolutely no urge to acquire it. I don't know why I even decided to write about it (especially this much) in this psudo-segment (haven't decided if this is going to be a thing or not). Maybe because other people like it so I should write about it for them, but I know who my only reader is, and they don't like it either. I guess I just want to note that while I don't particularly care for it, this is still a good game; and it's release in four days is worth noting.

Wednesday’s Weekly Comic Cover: Batwoman #5

September 12th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Comics - (1 Comments)
Batwoman #5 I'm glad I remembered this one. I saw this cover a month or two ago on a Wednesday after writing the comic cover post for that week, and I told myself that I'd remember it for the following Wednesday, but I didn't. Luckily, something about it stuck and I thought of it immediately after seeing the cover for the latest Batwoman issue earlier this week. This cover is for Batwoman #5, and in addition to being incredibly beautiful, I also find it a little unsettling. Kate Kane's turmoil is depicted so well that you can't help but internalize that emotion a little, or at least not in my case. This cover, and the others in Batwoman's flagship series, was done by JH Williams III who has a website you can check out if you're interested. Williams also just won two Harvey Awards this past weekend at the Baltimore Comic Con for Batwoman, one for Best Artist and one for Best Cover Artist.

Brought to you by someone who definitely did not also make NFL Blitz.

Injustice was one of the few games I waited in line to play at PAX this year. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I'm usually not big on things that just give me a glimpse of something I'm really interested in like trailers or demos. However, there are a lot of exceptions to this tendency of mine, and fighting games (where there is no story to spoil) are one of those exceptions. Truth be told, fighting games are really the main reason I own a console; my affinity for computer gaming has claimed the remaining genres. Not that I haven't tried fighting games on a PC. I have and it was a mistake, but I'll digress. Injustice is a head-to-head fighting game set in the DC Comics universe. It's being developed by NetherRealm Studios, who you may recognize from last year's Mortal Kombat title, because when you're eight or nine games deep in a series, you might as well just start over with your numbering convention. This may also sound familiar to those of you who remember the Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe crossover title from 2008, but lucky for us, that was a different developer. Moral Kombat vs. DC Universe was developed by Midway, the people who brought you what was always the loudest and most obnoxious game from your childhood arcade / bowling alley / sports-themed pizza buffet restaurant.

The absence of Midway games in development probably means no Big Head Mode for Injustice. Sorry.

Regardless of whether know who the developers are, if you have played the most recent Mortal Kombat game, you'll instantly notice similarities in the look and feel of Injustice. The dark but polished look of the character designs (at least from who was playable at PAX) and the character movement was almost identical in the classic forward/back, up/down options with minimal running. The Soul Calibur series is a good contracts in terms of movement and combat styles, I think. Injustice doesn't seem to be trying to keep up with the level of gore you expect from it's Mortal Kombat counterpart, but the combat is a lot of fun. Characters introduced so far seem to fall somewhere on the acrobat/strength-focused/gadget-focused Venn diagram. My girlfriend and I played as Harley Quinn and Nightwing, respectively, and as I was getting my ass handed to me, I got the impression that there are a lot more extra combat elements than what we were able to discovery from a single round with no other information. On a couple exchanges, the combat would become more cinematic (beyond what you see with a lot of grabs), and it seemed to do this in the form of special attacks for a single character as well as kinds of mutual attacks that trigger some kind of quick-time or button mashing challenge between the two players.

While I don't think we're going to see a spine removed, it's still pretty intense.

Again, we didn't get much opportunity to experiment, but even the normal combat was fun. Your choice of characters gives you a lot of variation in terms of weapons or no weapons at all, and even individual characters give you options on how you want to use them. For our experience, Harley had a interesting mix between acrobatic combat and weapons like pistols or a giant hammer and Nightwing had two different play styles based on whether he used his two Eskrima sticks separately or joined together as a staff. Really, there was little chance I wouldn't pick this up, and there's also little chance that I wouldn't spend a fortune on DLC if they keep adding characters to the roster. It's the characters I'm really in this for, and I'm guessing it also is for 99% of the people who eventually buy this game. Games like this mix the childhood joy of nostalgia with the adulthood joy of decimating your opponent. This game in particular also provides a medium to settle those "who would win in fight between..." discussions, and allows you to champion your hero and kick the crap out of anyone who doubted that they were the best. Not that it will likely help you and your friends settle those discussions, but you can still have fun trying.