Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Too Human (360): I've Never Given Up On You

As of 11am Central Time (the time this post goes up) my good friend (and boss at Evil Avatar) Nick Puleo has this interview with Too Human creator Denis Dyack available in both MP3 and transcript form on both Evil Avatar and sister site Co-Optimus that Nick runs.

I proofread the interview yesterday and the first question obviously stood out for me.
Nick - So we'll start with the big one: Are we going to see Too Human this year?

Denis - Yes! Our Launch date is officially going to be August 19th.

Finally! This game is finally coming and it is coming pretty quickly in just over 3 months from now. I've always believed in Silicon Knights and Dyack himself. This is the 2nd game that has gone through multiple systems and delays for the company. Eternal Darkness did quite well (check out my review from Console Gold a long time ago that was actually featured on Silicon Knights website for a long time) and I always believed Too Human would be a great game even with the E3 2006 fiasco.

Reading the interview I come away with the belief that this is going to be a game that is going to surprise everyone. Nick told me when he came back from the MVP Summit a few weeks ago that he thought it looked awesome and looked very different from what he had last seen. I know many people out there have put this game on the back burner, but be prepared for it to go to the front burner and get red hot.

It is disappointing that there is only 2 player co-op instead of 4, but I think Dyack does a good job of explaining why they did this. It sounds like the character classes and the balancing of them in relation to speed was problematic. I'd honestly rather have a really well done 2 player co-op experience than a problematic 4 player co-op experience.

This game is also sounding like everything Hellgate: London wasn't when being compared to the Diablo games. It also sounds like the other 2 parts of the trilogy may be coming on the next Microsoft system, but I still have hopes at least the 2nd one would find its way onto the 360.

Just be ready for this game because I think it could be one of the greatest examples of a turnaround in gaming ever.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Unscorable Game

I worked long and hard on getting everyone together and edit all the pieces that turned into the Evil Avatar: Liberty City Diaries piece that was put together for posting last Monday. Some of my co-writers on the piece asked about putting a score on the review and I noted that this type of game doesn't deserve a score and we should just hone in on our experiences with the game. There weren't any people that went against what I said, but once the piece went up there were many forum users that were asking where the score was. Personally, I feel the GTA series as a whole is unscoreable (I made up a new word..woo!). There are other games out there that share this power (another recent one is Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii), but GTA is easily the most visible one.

The fact that 29 sites gave its top score to the 360 version and 20 did the same for the PS3 version simply shows that these games just cannot be scored. All of these magazines and online sites of course have to give the game a score, but really is it going to make any difference to the consumer? They're going to go out and buy GTA IV, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 4 no matter what it gets scored. These games just rise above the review process. What strikes me as odd with both GTA IV and Brawl is how much people just default give it the top score. I haven't played Brawl, never really liked the series, but I have played GTA IV and it certainly does not deserve the top score. If I was to do an actual review of it for Evil Avatar I would most likely give it a 4/5 or 4.5/5. It has a lot of wonderful things in it, but there is also a lot of missteps that keep it from being the "be all, end all" of videogames.

I hated the last GTA, San Andreas, yet 30 sites gave the PS2 version a perfect score. Although it was the largest of the GTA games, I just didn't like some of the directions Rockstar North went with it. I would have scored it a 3/5 or 3.5/5 at Evil Avatar. The whole keeping CJ healthy (or not healthy if you're into that), which was a core mechanic to the game, was a total turn off to me as was the story itself.

Bottom line is why even give scores to these games? Why not just talk about the experiences you had and whether you liked it or not. I like what we did with the Evil Avatar: Liberty City Diaries piece and am glad we attributed no score to it (honestly it would be hard to equate 12 scores into one final score and people not fly off the handle about it). Maybe more places should take note and not score these games that are guaranteed to be picked up by the public no matter the score given to it. Why make a fool of yourself giving it your top score when you could easily give your reviews on the game with no score?

We're Back

Yep, it's been a while readers. As you can see the layout has changed a bit and I hope to finally start having more regular posts. On the right side is now the publications I write for as well as reviews of movies and games that I've been playing with links for those that are published. Any more questions, feel free to ask.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

12/28/07 - The Day Marvel Pulled a Wall Punch

Last Friday will be a day that will live in infamy for comic books as a whole. It was, at the exact same point, Marvel's (or should I say Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada's) stupidest and most brilliant move ever. Spider-Man was retconned by 20 years in our time (who knows how many years it actually is in comic's time) and the 6 plus years that J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) has written Amazing Spider-Man. We no longer know if "Sin's Past" (I will get to this somewhere in this post since it does relate very closely to "One More Day") even happened, if Ezekiel ever came to Peter or even, going way back, if "Kraven's Last Hunt" ever really happened.

Most of us guessed early on when "One More Day" (OMD from now on) started (and even when it was first announced) exactly what was going to happen, but it was extremely sad to see that everything we guessed would happen came true with one stray thing we never saw that I will get to later.

Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson made a deal with the devil (Mephisto in this case). Let that sink in for a while. Remember that Joe Q was against having Peter and MJ divorce because it would send the wrong message to the younger readers. Instead he decided a pact with the devil was a far better message to send to younger readers. Good one there Joe Q! We all know Joe Q has been against the marriage for a long time and in one felt swoop he gets the ending he so desperately wanted. He says that the need for a single Peter Parker had much more story potential than a married Peter Parker has. I call bullshit on that, but what do I know?

You may ask where the brilliance in this move comes from. Joe Quesada was smart enough to totally destroy the Spider-Man universe, but have the next arc, "Brand New Day" (BND from now on), be headed by some of the best and brightest in the Marvel camp. Starting off will be Dan Slott writing and Steve McNiven penciling for 3 issues. Then Marc Guggenheim writes and Salvador Larocca pencils, then Bob Gale (best known for writing Back to the Future) writes and Phil Jimenez pencils. Finally Zeb Wells writes and Chris Bachalo pencils. This also enters the cycle of Amazing Spider-Man coming out 3 times a month. I am going to guess given the delays in OMD that these guys could be several months ahead of schedule with issues. Many people would love to drop the book from their pull list over OMD's finale, but then you look at the talent coming up and the fact that the arcs will hit hard and fast and you can't help but see it through at least through the Slott/McNiven issues, the first ones up, right? It's a tough game to play because Joe Q is counting on the issues bought increasing because of the great creative muscle behind the "relaunch" and that will validate him doing the DC Wall Punch on Spider-Man as a whole. It's an evil circular cycle and one that every comic fan has to choose to take or not. One thing I highly doubt is that an increase of new readers will come from this simply because Peter is single again.

The saddest part of the OMD ending is that JMS leaves the book on a low note. He will be blamed by many for the ending much like he was blamed with the "Sin's Past" weak reveal that totally screwed the innocence of a character long dead (Gwen Stacy). Thing is neither flub was his fault and we can lay all the blame for both at Joe Q's feet. "Sin's Past" was supposed to reveal that Gwen Stacy's twins were indeed Peter Parker's children. This is logical given the title of the arc, but instead Joe Q wanted to keep Peter somewhat pure and editorially mandated JMS to have Norman Osborn be the father of the twins. This goes down as one of the biggest mistakes in Spider-Man history and I wonder how pure Peter is going to be now that BND starts up. Supposedly there are plenty of new women along with MJ in Peter's life in BND. Is he going to live the chaste life or is he going to get down and dirty with some of the girls? If it's the latter it will make most of us laugh at Joe Q's attempt to keep Peter innocent during "Sin's Past". It is also very obvious reading the last two parts of OMD (and the extra Joe Q writing byline) that although the words may come from JMS that Joe Q is standing right over his shoulder saying what needs to be portrayed.

So, what does the ending of OMD leave us with? A whole bunch of questions that supposedly will start to be answered with ASM #546 coming in a week and a half. It is an extra sized issue that supposedly will give us info about the new people in Peter's life and, we hope, explain how exactly he can:

1. Still be part of the New Avengers
2. How the reversal of his unmasking couldn't have changed the outcome of Civil War
3. Any number of other questions

There are lots of questions and they stack up each and every day. I feel sorry for former DC editor Steve Wacker (who did half of 52 before moving to Marvel) whose task it is to sort out this mess with continuity that Joe Q has left him.

The lone hope is that this will be just as short of a change as Peter's unmasking (which supposedly had TONS of story potential, but only lasted a little over a year thanks to the Civil War delays), the Other powers and the change to Iron Spidey was. That's the hope at least, but who knows what is going to happen. In some small way I hope this is just Peter and MJ in Mephisto's little world living through "eternity" until they come together again. Maybe that is what MJ whispers to Mephisto, that she wants Peter to be in a world he can be happy and he is no longer in the Marvel Universe as a whole (but can be explained away as being gone for a few minutes from the MU after everything wraps up). That's a big wish though I think. However this could be very akin to the X-Men's "Age of Apocalypse" or the end of Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men where this is indeed an alternative universe and everything is on the up and up in the regular universe. We can only hope though.

The lone plus to the ending of OMD is that Harry Osborn is alive again. In many ways it is akin to Aunt May resurfacing years after supposedly dying in ASM #400, it's just that this is a retcon. Are they trying to say that since Peter and MJ never married that Harry didn't go crazy during Inferno (if Inferno even happened that is, remember this retcon affects the MU as a whole) and eventually die?

I am interested in what Brand New Day is going to bring, but I also hope many people are outraged enough by One More Day that they don't pick up the 3 times a month ASM. That will send a message to Marvel, but I have a feeling with the creative power behind the new arc that people will at least try the first 3 issues with Slott and McNiven.

Just pray this doesn't last very long...