TF2: the Pyro

January 2nd, 2008

Speaking of the Pyro, he's an odd one. His flamethrower is not only incredibly gratifying ("I'm on fire! Doktorr!"), it's a devastating weapon that covers a wide area. In a way, he's the opposite of the medic. The Medic dispenses a short-range defensive buff to teammates, while the Pyro spits out a close-quarters dose of pain to the opposition.

TF2: the Medic

January 1st, 2008

Next, let's consider the Medic. Your team does have one, right? If not, get one of the 4 guys playing Sniper to switch. More on that later.

You have three sets of classes: offense, defense and support. Use your Engineers to lock down vulnerable areas in your base, and leave the offensive stuff to the classes meant for it. That means Heavies and Soldiers. They take point, which means soaking up damage, and the Medic's place is at their side.

TF2: the Engineer

December 31st, 2007

Ah, the sentry: the gift that keeps on giving. In the hands of a good engineer, this little number is a mechanized fountainhead of suppressing fire and mayhem. Managed by an incompetent, it's a just a big paperweight.

The Cake Is A Lie

December 27th, 2007

"The Enrichment Center once again reminds you that android hell is a real place where you will be sent at the first sign of defiance."

–GLaDOS

"Zombine," get it?

October 31st, 2007

Meet Alyx Vance. She's one of the main characters in Valve Studios' Half-Life series. She's also something of a rarity in videogames in that she's an actual character, as opposed to the 2-dimensional caricatures of women that dominate the genre.

For great justice…

October 12th, 2007

Of course, I'm playing Halo 3. The single-player campaign, while entertaining, really isn't anything more than a training ground for the real meat of the game, which is the multiplayer.

There's a mishmash of a story involving the Covenant's invasion of Earth to retrieve the Ark, Cortana's imprisonment with the Gravemind and of course, the great question: how is it Master Chief can fall from space at escape velocity and survive, but he dies if he slips off a 30-foot embankment?

Well, that last one is never answered, but the rest wraps up nicely. Stick around after the credits for a nice little bit of closure.

Jack's Back

September 24th, 2007

Tonight marks the release of Halo 3. I'll risk the possible lynching by a crowd of angry, pitchfork-toting fanboys and say it: I never really got what the hype was about.

Sure, it's a competent first-person shooter, and the online capabilities are excellent, but c'mon, it's pulpy space opera with guns. It's good, but it's not exactly the reinvention of the wheel or anything.

Anyhow, Master Chief's back, riding a wave of advertising hype and testosterone into the videogame equivalent of Return of the Jedi. And, of course, Jack Thompson's back as well.

Xbox 360 repaired

July 31st, 2007

Well, I've got the 360 back. It took Microsoft a bit longer than expected, but three weeks isn't bad. Of course, I had the misfortune of having it malfunction just before they acknowledged the prevalence of the problem and extended the warranty to three years. As a result, mine was only one unit being returned in a deluge of others, so this was to be expected.

Still, three weeks or so isn't too bad of a wait considering I was dealing with what amounts to a massive corporate recall.

Ring of Death strikes LonelyMachines

June 21st, 2007

…and they said it couldn't happen here.

"I can see my house from here."

May 13th, 2007

Crackdown has gone through an odd life-cycle. It didn't get much of a promotional push, and first impressions didn't help it, either. On the surface, it appears to be a Grand Theft Auto clone with slightly better graphics (of which there are only 46,178 titles available). What's more, Microsoft chose to bundle the Halo 3 beta key with it. That kind of move usually smells of desperation, and it's usually reserved for titles that just can't hack it on their own merits.

Despite all these things, it's turned out to be one of the most enjoyable titles on the 360 at the moment, and it's garnered itself a certain amount of worthy dark-horse status.

If video games cause violence…

May 1st, 2007

Image by Scott Ramsoomair

Ah. Killer 7. In gaming circles, this title is highly controversial. It embodies the "game-as-art vs. game-as-entertainment" debate more than any other. Sure, games like the worthy Okami and Ico both qualify as "artistic," while also being engaging, but no other game I can think of wears the look-at-me-I'm-art-with-a-capital-A badge with such brazen pride as Killer 7. You either love it for its loopy, entrancing story and its quirky graphics, or you hate it for its weird control mechanics and obtuse nature.

Of course, it didn't sell very well. You can still find it in the used bins, and I highly recommend at least trying it for the sake of experiencing something unique. That's probably where it would have ended for Killer 7, as a weird cult title with major stylistic ambitions.

That is, until Jack Thompson got ahold of it.

Games we need to see

March 3rd, 2007

Over the last couple of decades, there's been a discernable cycle of creativity (or lack thereof) in Hollywood. It goes like this:

Find a director or a screenplay with some degree of originality
Throw some money at the project and hope it pays off
If a=yes, make as many clones of said project as the public can stomach

When GOTO 1 is no longer an option, the Hollywood establishment falls back on the tired practice of "remaking" old movies and television shows, often with no respect for the original property. We're then treated to a few summers of half-baked retreads until something new and bankable comes along.

In some respects, the videogame industry is quite similar. Sequels are easier to make than new concepts, and it's far safer to fall back on proven formulas than risk it on new ideas. If you've got a movie license, then it's even easier: just smack some tired old game mechanics together and string along the story.

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