Video Games' Best Endings

Friday, July 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm
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No matter how good a video game is, if the developers don't stick the landing, there's the potential to seriously tarnish an otherwise outstanding experience.

Whether the game is five hours long or requires more of your time than a season of Lost (speaking of bad endings), those final few moments are often what players remember the most. A mediocre game can turn into a well-remembered classic thanks to a solid ending and, conversely, a brilliant adventure can shift gears to lackluster if the pieces don't fall into place nicely by the time the credits roll.

Mass Effect is a good example of the latter. Never mind that the series gave gamers dozens of hours of top quality entertainment over the course of several years. A large, vocal branch of the audience was displeased with how Mass Effect 3 ended and, as a result, argued that the entire series had been ruined because of it. I'm not sure how 15 questionable minutes can overshadow 100 glorious hours, but I gave up on trying to understand mankind a long, long time ago.

I've been thinking about endings a lot this past week which, of course, got me thinking about which video game endings really stick out in my mind for being the best. So as not to speak too vaguely about these titles, I'll go ahead and throw up a giant SPOILER ALERT right now. If you don't want to know about one or more of these endings, just skip that section. Otherwise, let's begin. Or end?...Now I'm confused.

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Mobile Gaming Doesn't Compare to Portable Consoles

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm
After years of kicking, screaming and doing anything within my power to avoid upgrading to a smart phone, I finally took the plunge recently and got myself one of these newfangled devices. Being the person I am, however, what I was most interested in was how this bad boy would stack up as a gaming machine.

Over the past several years I've heard many games journos herald the end of portable gaming, stating that mobile was the wave of the future and, with a smart phone in your pocket, who needs a dedicated gaming device as well?

Keeping in mind that I've only been at this smart phone gaming for a week, I'd like to go on the record as saying that I couldn't disagree more. Yes, mobile gaming is on the rise and is absolutely here to stay but, when it comes to gaming on the go, nothing I've played compares to the experiences offered by Sony or Nintendo's portable devices.

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Video Games' Best Daddies

Friday, June 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm
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Father's Day was this past weekend, which got me thinking back to all the good times I had playing video games with my dad back in the day. This, in turn, had me pondering the role of father's throughout video game history.

Some were pretty horrible. Zeus spent quite a bit of time making Kratos' life a living hell in the God of War series. And then there's Dracula from Castlevania, whose own son sought to destroy him. And what about Resident Evil's Wesker? That dude was a real monster (literally). Chances are once again pretty good that the chapters devoted to his son in Resident Evil 6 will be devoted to hunting him down and wiping him from the face of the Earth. Unless Wesker is actually dead this time, which I have a hard time believing.

Dads can make decent villains. Then again, the guys can be pretty dang awesome heroes, too. Continue on, dear reader, as we take a look at some of my favorite dads in the world of video games.

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Musings on E3 and Childbirth

Friday, June 15, 2012 at 9:58 am
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At about 5:45 a.m. on the morning of June 4, I was heading down the road with my family en route to the hospital in Lake Havasu, Arizona. My sister-in-law was scheduled for a C-section, and my new nephew, Landyn, was expected to enter the world at around 8 a.m.

The little guy came on schedule, but with a bit of fluid in his lungs. As a result, Landyn had to be put into an oxygen tank for the first day of his life. We weren't able to hold him yet, and that was seriously tearing at the old heartstrings.

I stared through the window as my nephew kicked the air, occasionally popping his eyes open for a quick, blurry peek at the world around him. I made my way into the room my sister-in-law would call home for the next few days as she recovered. Only an hour or so out of surgery, she was still pretty groggy from the morning's ordeal.

Eventually she turned on the television and started flipping through the channels, not looking for anything in particular.

"Wait, go back," I said as a familiar logo featuring a pair of letters flashed across the screen. I had forgotten Spike would be broadcasting E3 content this year and, I'm a little ashamed to admit, my morning was suddenly brightened by the fact that I could jump in on the EA press conference that was about to kick off.

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Taking my Game to the Tabletop

Friday, June 1, 2012 at 9:07 am
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We're taking the discussion away from the living room this week and moving it into the dining room, shifting focus from games of the digital variety to the physical sort you play at the table.

Early 2012 has been a little slow for me in the new games department and it looks like the summer drought is going to be in full effect, so I don't expect things to change over the next few months. To fill that time usually reserved for the latest AAA hotness, I've found my interests shifting to tabletop games as of late.

As a kid, I moved away from board games because video games pretty much streamlined that whole process. Nowadays, I find I'm incorporating more and more tabletop games into my routine for the exact opposite reason. Occasionally I want a more tactile experience than video games can offer, and I'm finding there really is no substitute for the experiences you have sitting around the same table with a group of pals, rolling dice, moving markers, and hurling good-natured insults at the person sitting to your immediate left.

Read on for more table top ramblings and a handful or recommendations for you gamers looking for an alternative to having a controller in-hand through the entire summer break.

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PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale: My Dream Roster

Friday, May 25, 2012 at 11:47 am
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PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale could hit store shelves this year and, honestly, I'm getting pretty dang excited about that fact.

At first I found myself in the camp that felt the game was just a smidge (or several hundred smidges) too similar to a certain other melee game in the Nintendo lineup. But after some deep soul searching, I realized that that's exactly what I wanted out of this particular game: A proven brawler formula populated with more characters I've grown to know and love over the years.

Sony has so far announced six of their Royale combatants, including Kratos (God of War), Fat Princess (Fat, um, Princess), PaRappa (PaRappa the Rapper), Radec (Killzone), Sly (Sly Cooper) and Needles Kane, a.k.a Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal).

What this roster says to me is that players can expect a well-rounded group of characters from a wide range of genres and series, including some that we might not expect. There's perhaps nothing more absurd than the idea of PaRappa riding down the God of War of his skateboard or Fat Princess calling on her minions to pummel a Helghast officer, and it's those types of interactions that has me so pumped to get my hands on this game.

With E3 just around the corner, chances are pretty good that we'll be hearing news on another batch of playable characters in the coming weeks, which got me to thinking: Who would I like to see make the cut?

Sony staples like Crash, Cloud, Solid Snake, Nathan Drake, Lara Croft, Jak and Ratchet seem like no-brainers. But what other characters might make an appearance? Here's my wish list. Feel free to add yours in the comments section below.

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Rusty Hearts is Pretty Dang Rad

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 10:00 am
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One of the things I dig most about this gig is having the opportunity to share something that catches my eye with my fellow gamers. As of late, said super-awesome thing has been the free-to-play action adventure MMO, Rusty Hearts.

I'm taking a break from the typical rant this week to give you folks a hands-on rundown of the title. I hesitate to call this a review because, even after sinking more than a dozen hours into Rusty Hearts, I'm still only just scratching the surface of what the game has to offer.

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Starhawk's DLC Maps Will be Free? More of this, please.

Friday, May 11, 2012 at 10:00 am
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For-pay DLC, specifically map packs, is one of those things that has the potential to harm an online community about as much as it has to help it. While it's great to see a game receive post-launch support and I personally have no problem paying a reasonable price to receive that content, it has been my experience that said content frequently splinters a game's community, sometime to the point of a premature demise.

LightBox Interactive and Sony apparently agree and are trying something new and potentially very risky with Starhawk for the PlayStation 3, which hit store shelves earlier this week. It was announced via the PlayStation Blog that all upcoming map packs for Starhawk will be free to download. In a generation where it is not uncommon to pay a few bucks to turn Chun Li's dress pink, I honestly had to do a double take when I first read that headline.

Like I said, it's a risky move. And I, for one, am eager to see how it pans out. Starhawk could become the basis for a whole new way of doing post-launch business in this industry, or it could be prepping to crash and burn.

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The Games That Define Me: Part Two

Friday, May 4, 2012 at 10:00 am
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 Some games stand out as being truly important to me. These aren't necessarily my favorite games or the ones I think should be included in an all-time top 10 list, but rather the games that are notable for having a genuine impact on my life; both my life as a gamer and my life as a grown-ass man.

This is the second and final entry in a series highlighting the games that helped define me. You can check out the first entry by clicking this handy little link.

My goal with these articles is to let you know a little bit more about me by discussing the games that helped get me here in the first place. Be sure to join in on the conversation by letting me know which games have meant the most to you in the comments section below.

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The Games that Define Me: Part One

Friday, April 27, 2012 at 10:00 am
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I like to think that every gamer's life is punctuated by a collection of benchmark games. These aren't necessarily your favorite games or what you would consider the "best" games, but rather the ones that truly stand out from the pack because of what they meant to you, your life and your involvement with this crazy little world of joysticks and pixels.

I'm talking about the games you really remember; the ones that helped you through the tough times, introduced you to a genre that would rule the next decade of your life or brought you closer to your friends and family. They're the games that made you think about this hobby in a whole new light. They made you feel something and question the world around you. Or maybe they were just really, really fun and devoured an ungodly amount of your free time.

I think knowing what games matter most to an individual and (more importantly) why, can help us understand one another a little bit better. If nothing else, it could make for some interesting conversation.

Following is the first in a two-part series highlighting the 10 games that helped define my life, both in the general sense and as a devotee of the industry. I'd be interested to hear yours, too. Feel free to list them in the comments section below.

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