Archive

Archive for February, 2010

Mistaken Identity, Part 2: Ugly Cousins

February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Prompted by the Squall’s Dead post, Wadoobie and I were discussing some of the characters and finer points in Final Fantasy VIII.  Being that Dragon Age: Origins is one of our favorite games, we started comparing some of the features – let’s face it, we were talking about FF8’s lack of perving – and we stumbled upon an odd similarity involving two characters.

Make that multiple odd similarities.

Including being annoying, having face tattoos, being short, having blonde hair, orphans, names that start with ‘Z-E’…

Zell from Final Fantasy VIII

Can't you see Zell's pointy ears?

In case you haven’t guessed yet, I’m talking about Zell from FF8 and Zevran from DA.

We’re about 90% sure these guys are related.  It’s kinda hard not to see the resemblance once you realize it.  Just visualize with us for a minute:

Both of these slightly annoying, less than wonderful characters were orphaned.  Zell was later adopted by dear Ma Dincht, while Zevran was plucked up by the Antivan Crows, a warm and fuzzy group of assassins.  Coincidence?  I think not.  They share features, such as the blonde hair and face tattoo – and their tattoos are on the same side of their face.  This also points to some sort of shared blood.  Even their names are similar, starting with the same two letters.

You may be thinking, ‘This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!  Zell is human while Zevran is an elf.  How can they be related?’

Zevran from Dragon Age: Origins

Zevran loves...hot dogs...

While that is a valid point, I would like to again highlight the fact that both characters are orphans.  Therefore, we don’t really know what lies in their past.  Perhaps Zevran and Zell are cousins, and their grandparents are humans, and one rebellious daughter decided to get freaky with an elf.  Or, perhaps Zevran is Zell’s grandpa?  With all the love children Zevran most likely created, it’s certainly possible.  Maybe we just don’t know that Zell has a little bit o’ elf in him.

And the last bit of obvious evidence…?  How about the fact that they both like hot dogs?  One literally, and one a little more…figuratively?

Don’t groan.  You know you think it’s hilarious.

-Kat

Video Games and Relationships: Heavy Rain, Bad Company 2, Demon’s Souls

February 23, 2010 1 comment

As I was doing some work around the house this morning my thoughts invariably went to the world of video games (as they usually do).  I began to anxiously anticipate the arrival of Heavy Rain, the release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and ultimately rested on the fact that I will spend most of my gaming time today working at Demon’s Souls since the aforementioned games have yet to be part of my collection.

As I thought about all three games I began to think where they fit within the scheme that is my life. Some have choices that have no clear right or wrong answer and some don’t really require much in the way of decision making beyond the question “Do I use the door or make a hole in the wall?”. Some require careful thought and understanding and some require you to run in guns blazing leaving a lifeless wake behind you everywhere you go.  As I thought about each of these I was struck with various aspects of my life that fit within these very same descriptions.

Demon’s Souls and Team Sports

Back in college I played Rugby. I had the luxury of seeing it from two distinct viewpoints in my time there. When I started we had no coach and little understanding of tactics. We just ran fast, hit hard, kept getting up, and had fun after the game. We didn’t win many games but we sure won the socials. Eventually we grew to dislike our losing record and asked an old alumni of ours to help us out and be our coach. BTW: That really was my coach.

He taught us the nuances of the game, the skills, the tactics. He taught us how to read a pitch, a team, and the weather. The man taught us how to appreciate the game on a whole new level. It was the first time a coach had really taught me to understand a game on every possible level and what we were doing. Last time I checked Black Rose was undefeated in their last regular season and lost in the finals.

Demon's Souls for PS3When I first purchased Demon’s Souls I had no cable and no internet. I picked it up as I was moving into a new house (literally on the way). I had read all the hype and thought “Okay, it’s brutal, you die a lot, but how bad could it be?” Bad. Very. Very. Bad. It was like a baby taking it’s first steps:

  1. Walk a few feet.
  2. Fall.
  3. Okay bad guy there. Remember that.
  4. Walk a few feet.
  5. Kill bad guy.
  6. Walk a few more feet.
  7. Fall.
  8. Okay bad guy there. Remember that.
  9. Repeat process.
  10. Weapon breaks.
  11. Fall.
  12. Wtf…now what?

Then the cable company came by and gave me my wonderful internet and a whole new video gaming experience opened up to me. This game took me through the same journey as with Rugby. I started blind, running fast and hitting hard. When I logged in I read messages, watched other players failures, watched other player’s successes. I learned how to play the game. It was learning to understand the game that helped me to be better at it.

Demon’s Souls is not a Devil May Cry style video game where you run in, clear a room, be stylish, pose, and move on. You have to be calculating, understanding, and take your time. You need to plan, you need to see your next steps, think about your next action. Learn what the level is doing, where the bumps are, and exploit them. Learning how to play the game and learning how to play the game properly make all difference in the world.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Friendships

To be honest I am probably not the person you want in your squad, on your team, or in the same map as you. I am not the tactical player (which is why Demon’s Souls took so much getting used to). I am the guy who grabs the vehicle that makes the biggest boom and lays waste to a city. I am, for lack of a better word, out-of-control.

Kool Aid Man through wallThis is relatively indicative of my close friendships. Take last weekend. I walked into a friends house and put a hammer into his wall. We were removing the wall so it was acceptable. We then proceeded to do our best “Kool-Aid Man” impressions for the next twenty minutes before realizing that we were covered in drywall and that probably wasn’t the best thing for us.

A member of my wedding party used to take great pleasure in the fact that he owned a cattle prod and enjoyed using it on all of us. He took aim at me point blank with a potato cannon filled with wet paper towels. He put a live blue crab on me while I slept in my bed one morning.

Other friends and I would take turns punching one another in a game that was lovingly referred to as “the punching game” (creative I know). We had to institute a rule in our college house that banned fireworks from being used inside. This included using them outside and “accidentally” having them explode inside.

Walking into the house was an exercise in reaction time and potential property damage thanks to the “Sack Game.” We would hide in the hopes that we could give someone a surprise tackle.

We turned the inside of our house into a.) slip n’ slide b.) bocce ball court c.) paint ball range d.) 18 hole pitch and putt golf course including the “up the stairs bank off the window and roll down the hallway hole 13”. We didn’t get our security deposit back. In fact we owed more money.

Bad Company takes me back into my college mentality of “hell with it, go through the wall.” I’m not a sniper. I like to use explosive devices and lots of them. I lob grenades. I unload clip after clip after clip to kill one guy when it would be easier to stop and aim. Thats how I game. It may not be the best way, smartest way, most normal way, but it’s entirely a reflection of my closest friendships and how we interact with one another.

Heavy Rain and Romance

In every romantic relationship there are questions and problems that come up that have no clear and defined answer. In every romantic relationship there are moments that are as fuzzy as a kiwi and uncertain and unstable as Gary Busey. Often times there is no right answer and if there is you don’t know what it was until a long while later.

Heavy Rain for PS3 has tough decisions

Is there really a correct decision here?

Heavy Rain for the PS3 seems to have a lot of these moments. Moments where the right answer isn’t clear and if it ever becomes clear it will be so long after the fact that you won’t be able to do anything about it.

It’s not a game full of action, excitement, and stabbing. It’s just a game full of life, enjoyment, subtlety, finesse and a little bit of boobage.

It’s this aspect of of Heavy Rain that makes it most like a romantic relationship. It’s not going to be for everyone just like every relationship is not for everyone. It’s not a run and gun style video game. It’s going to make you react fast and deal with the consequences. Some gamers are going to love it, some are going to find it to be just okay, and others are going to hate it. Personally I can not wait for this game to get here. I’ve played the demo many times over and each time it makes me want the full release more and more.

Show us what you got: Video Game Pick Up Lines

February 20, 2010 1 comment
Ohgren attempting a pick up line

Oghren is my hero.

Every now and then you come across a nice pick up line in a video game. While most are trite and contrived, every now and then you find a real gem.  Take for instance my man Oghren. When he meets up with his special lady friend he gracefully uses the line “Are you a baker? ‘Cause you got a sodding nice set of buns.”  Doesn’t quite have a sense of eloquence about it, however it gets the job done. It conveys the appropriate message, it adds a bit of humor, and it’s even rather complimentary once you get past the totally uncouth manner in which it was stated.

Oghren really has a way with words. That lil’ “sword polisher” really can make me laugh.

Other times you find a great one liner. Something you read and have to think about later and wonder if you really did in fact see that.

Well, now it’s your turn to show us what you got. Share with us your favorite in game one liners and pick up lines. Either fire an e-mail off to PolishTheConsole@GMail.com, hit us up on twitter @ConsolePolisher or just use the comment section below.

Final Fantasy VIII: Squall’s Dead

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Final Fantasy VIII (FF8) happens to be another one of my favorite games of all time.  FF8 was my first introduction into the world of role playing games, and boy was that a wonderful experience.  I know a lot of people have issues with FF8, that it tends to be very controversial, and well, I’d like to throw an extra wrench in it.

Squall Iced

Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

I stumbled upon a theory and possible interpretation of FF8 the other day, and at first when reading through it, I was furious.  The idea is that Squall, the main character, essentially dies at the end of the first disc, when Sorceress Edea stabs him with the ice shard.  What happens from then on is basically ‘life-flashing-before-your-eyes’, except with a twist.  Instead of seeing what he’d already done, Squall sees the neat closure to the adventure and story they started in the beginning.  Essentially, everything from Disc 2 on is all just a dream.

Again, when I first saw this link, I wanted to scream.  I wanted to kick the computer.  I wanted to pound on the keyboard and yell that it wasn’t true.

But the further I read, the more I started to see how it was plausible, if not necessarily likable.

It’s true that once out of Disc 1, the twists and surprises start rolling in.  And, strangely enough, a lot of these twists connect the characters together.  All the main characters, minus Rinoa, all grew up together.  The Guardian Forces cause memory loss, which is why no one remembers each other.  Edea is married to Headmaster Cid.  Etc, Etc.  It almost seems…too neat.  Too tidy.

Squall's Dead

Squall's wholy. And potentially dead.

Even if I prefer the neat and tidy wrapping up of the story, with all characters happy, I have to admit that this theory made me think.  Made me wonder.  Is it possible…that everything was just a dream?

Check out the site and theory for yourself at SquallsDead.com.  What do you think?  Does the theory hold up?

Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening: No Romance, No Tenting?

February 18, 2010 9 comments

Well WTF BioWare? Listen, I totally share Kat’s sentiment towards you guys, but I also share the sentiment that I love perving out. on Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening’s website they have a rather handy FAQ:

1.7 – If I had a romance in Origins, does it carry over into Awakening?

Romances do not carry forward in Awakening, because you are away from your previous life fighting a new threat.

Now this is to be expected unless you wind up marrying and taking over the crown in the end. For male protagonists you’re primary romantic interest (Morrigan) is off with your child in the woods and there is no guarantee that Leliana will be with you at the moment.  Even if she is there is go guarantee your love interest will fit in, have the right skills, or be needed in the new campaign. But then I read further:

1.8 – Who can I romance in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening?

There are no romances options available in Awakening. The story is focused more on the mission at hand and the new threat to Ferelden.

eric cartman - i do what i want

"I DO WHAT I WANT!"

Come on now. You mean to tell me my character isn’t going to go looking for strange when off in a new land? You apparently don’t know my character very well. Let me clue you in. She’s an angry bitter whore of a city elf who does what she wants. Sure the primary male main character I have is a fine upstanding fella, but the girl? She’s gonna find a way to tent. Mark my words.

What the FAQ does say that really makes me excited is that:

1.9 – Which Dragon Age: Origins NPC will be returning?

Besides Oghren who plays a large role in Awakening, there are cameos and returning characters…

For me, Oghren was phenomenal comedic fodder. We had some wonderful analogies and misunderstood references. I laughed for hours when I heard Ohgren use the term “Pike Twirler”. I actually looked at my fiance and asked if she wanted to “grease up the ol’ bronto”. She said no. I think it worried her a little.
(thanks to reddit for catching the above typo. you’re always there for me.)

When asked her opinion Kat (who may be BioWare’s biggest fan…she may even be stalking them) responded with:

Learning the fact that you can’t romance in DA:O-A…almost makes me feel like…eff that. Totally takes the wind out of the sails.

While we are still going to purchase and play the crap out of it because…well…that’s what we do, we will still feel like something is missing. Like the game is slightly incomplete. While it’s entirely possible that we wont even notice the lack of tenting I am still going to miss it.

To check out the FAQ you can find it on the Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening website.

Virtual Reality Video Games: Holy Sh*t I Can Smell the Dwarf

February 18, 2010 1 comment
Virtual Reality Video Games

"Turn your head and cough." Doctor Mario just isn't the same as it used to be.

While Kat was writing the post Virtual Reality Video Games: Population Control we got to talking, and as of right now I have some serious unanswered questions about VR and gaming. Lets just start out with the most open question:

“How immersive will VR be?”

If Dragon Age: Origins was virtual realty would that mean that video game developers would actually have had to create…well…Alistair penis? Video Game design and development meetings certainly would take a whole different turn wouldn’t they? “What should Leliana’s nipple to boob ratio be?”

“We need to pick a design for Morrigan’s hair.”
“We did that last Thursday.”
“No her other hair.”

For the sake of realism all the motion capture work would have to take it to the next step. Can’t you just picture it now: Man covered in full body motion capture suit. Little white ball on the tip ‘o the tallywhacker. Would the actors dispute the size of their motion capture?

Would someone actually have to decide what Leliana’s crotch smells like? I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume they aren’t going to decide cinnamon and Day Lilies.  Who has to determine that? Nerds everywhere (myself included) would LOVE to be a video game tester, but not if video games go virtual.

“Oh man, someone needs to crank down the funk on body odor for Niko. He’s going to make people vomit.”

Would this make in game showering mandatory for in game interactions? For every smell level you increase your charisma drops one. That would be an absolute pain in the ass. Imagine Fable III taking the touch mechanic one step farther into the smell mechanic. If you come home smelling like the town whore your wife bitch slaps you with a wooden spoon.

“Why do I smell stale beer and canned fart?”
“That’s just Oghren.”

Would you be allowed to turn smells off? That might be nice. I really don’t want to know what a sloth demon smells like. Desire demon maybe. Sloth demon no.

Would playing a simple game like Mario be huge stress release? You’re running around, punching bricks, jumping angrily on things. I bet getting shot out of a cannon is a rush. I wonder where the raccoon tail attaches to my body. Also I wonder how I wag it to fly. Do I have to actually EAT the mushrooms to grow bigger? I don’t like mushrooms, can we change it to gummy bears? Can I just touch the mushroom?

For Kat, VR means population control and getting to “experience” Alistair. For me, it means I have to smell the dwarf.

Virtual Reality Video Games: Population Control

February 17, 2010 1 comment

To feed off Wadoobie’s last post about 3D Gaming, I’d like to take the evolution of gaming in the future one step further: virtual reality gaming.  With the latest technology becoming more and more powerful (Google Earth, anyone?  Or how about that story of the Dan Woolley who was buried in rubble in Haiti who used his iPhone to treat wounds and stay alive?)  I’m starting to believe that virtual reality gaming really isn’t so far off.

And I’m incredibly excited for it.

…but should I be?

Virtual Reality Helmet

Isn't this part of the Big Daddy suit from BioShock?

Imagine the future advanced world of virtual reality gaming.  Step into a room, or put on some glasses, and you’re instantly transported to a unique, breathtaking world all around you.  Imagine Final Fantasy; how it would be if you were there, and could interact with – touch, smell, FEEL – this world.  Virtual reality would absolutely revolutionize the world of gaming.  People who wouldn’t usually be drawn to gaming would at least give it a try, and more than likely would be enraptured by it.

Picture then what might happen to those of us who already love gaming.

Personally, I think it would be like a drug.  We’d be itching to get our next ‘fix’, we’d lose track of time, we’d start missing work.

We’d end up like  Zhang who died from a 7 day gaming session.  Or the South Korean who forgot to eat and sleep while gaming.

I can honestly say that if Virtual Reality Gaming became, well, a reality, I would go into my gaming world and probably wouldn’t come out.  I wouldn’t want to leave if I could enter and play a game like Dragon Age: Origins in virtual reality.  Um, hello…touchable, kiss-able, romance-able Alistair?  Yes.  More of that, please.

On that note, would you be able to feel pleasure and pain in the games?  I’m not sure I want to actually feel a blade cutting my ribs, or a punch on my jaw.  Or…death.  But I definitely want to feel the ‘romance’ scenes.

What do you envision for virtual reality gaming?  Will you be able to ‘feel’ in game, like feeling the wind whip over you as you gallop on your chocobo across the plains?  Will you be able to touch and determine the texture of a tree, or feel sweat running down your back, or taste the coppery, bitter blood of an enemy you just splattered?  Will the ‘romance’ and ‘tenting’ situations become more involved, showing a whole lot more and will you be able to experience it?  And in that case, will some games be reduced to smutty sex simulators?

And since virtual reality games sound way more fun that real life, will virtual reality gaming become an unexpected population controller?

-Kat