Amy review notes

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Presented here are the notes I jotted down (well, typed) while playing Amy. Some I’ve deleted in retrospect, others I’ve expanded since beating the game, most are presented as-is. Think of it as a stream of consciousness way of expressing what I tried (and probably failed) to do with the 1000ish words in the review (which you can read over on Joystiq). Spoilers ahead, I suppose.

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The coming tide

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My entire career hinges on two things: Chris Grant and the letter Q.

It was a fluke that I even found Joystiq at all. In 2006, I was working for a manufacturing company as a project scheduler, my first real job outside of college. My office was in the back corner of a double wide trailer stationed outside an empty warehouse north of downtown Tulsa. As you can imagine, the position wasn’t exactly thrilling, and I spent a considerable amount of time browsing the web. All the usual suspects were blocked by my office web filter, meaning I couldn’t cruise my usual standby, IGN, for gaming news. One site, however, wasn’t blocked: Joystiq.com.

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Ruminations are incoming

Photo on 12-18-11 at 5.43 PMA lot of things going on this week, leaving me ruminating on the current state of things. First thing’s first, this place is going to need a sprucing up. Can anyone out there recommend a sweet WordPress theme? Should I stick with this one? Tell me, internet. TELL ME!

Review: Limbo

limborev1Reprinted here my Limbo review as it appeared on Joystiq.com

When trying to work out the best way to describe Limbo, I keep coming back to Edvard Munch. I’ve always been fascinated with Munch, an artist most famous for painting The Scream. It’s his other works, however, that tend to stick with me, particularly his Madonna. As a work of art, Munch’s Madonna presents the viewer with seemingly disparate imagery, at once both alluring and disquieting. It’s dark, a little disturbing, and yet it’s also engaging and beautiful.

That’s Limbo.

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Review: Alan Wake

wakereviewtopReprinted here my Alan Wake review as it appeared on Joystiq.com

Alan Wake begins with a quote by Stephen King: "Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear." The line is spoken by the protagonist, novelist Alan Wake, and it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate opening. It’s a game spent in search of explanations, answers to the puzzling questions put forth by its narrative. It’s a very simple, effective hook — an author’s horror thriller is coming to life. The twist? He doesn’t remember writing it.

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Review: Bayonetta

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Reprinted here is the Bayonetta review I wrote for Joystiq.com

The first thing you should know about Bayonetta is that the story is entirely unimportant. It makes no sense. At all. Period. There’s something about two warring clans, one of witches and one of sages (Light vs. Dark — yada yada yada). There’s a “journalist” who inexplicably carries a grappling hook; an ancient god that’s being resurrected; and, at one point, there’s even a dance-off.

Now, forget about all of that. You’ll be skipping through it on your second playthrough anyway. And that’s really the point. If you like action games in the vein of Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, you’ll probably start your second playthrough of Bayonetta exactly when I did: immediately after the first.

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Blood: The Last Vampire

blood-the-last-vampire-poster-largeWhenever the ol’ Netflix queue runs out of TV episodes to ship — Annie and I just watched the first two seasons of Mad Men — I’m often at a loss. What movies should I rent? My first choice was Zombieland, but that’s not out yet. So what’s a consumer to do? The nice benefit of Netflix is that you can rent crap without feeling bad about it. If you rent a terrible movie, it’s not like you just blew $8 bucks on it. So, I picked the live-action version of Blood: The Last Vampire. To my incredible surprise, it’s actually pretty damned good.

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Review: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

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Reprinted here is the Silent Hill: Shattered Memories review I wrote for Joystiq.com

I’ve played every game in the series and a few years ago you might even have caught me defending the Silent Hill movie. When I first heard that Climax was re-imagining the first game in the Silent Hill series, and putting it on the Wii, I was a bit nervous. When the company revealed the logo and announced that the rust laden, nightmarish Otherworld was being brushed aside for an ice world, I was downright scared. After gathering some more info and trying the game at E3, all fears were assuaged. This was to be the great white (black?) hope of the Silent Hill series.

Having spent two evenings with the game and completing the story for the first time, I’m conflicted. Was it good? Yes. I’m just not sure it’s Silent Hill.

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This is me testing things

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Look at my fancy new theme!

Game of the Year considerations

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It’s getting to be about the time of year that we — we being “Joystiq bloggers” — have to start thinking about our choices for the best games of the year (this one being 2009). Off the top of my head, in no particular order, here are some of the games likely to make it into my top ten:

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Shadow Complex
  • Halo Wars
  • Street Fighter IV
  • Halo 3: ODST (For Firefight, if nothing else)
  • ‘Splosion Man

It’s worth noting that I haven’t played a fair amount of the games I need to play. Assassin’s Creed 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Uncharted 2 spring immediately to mind. It’s also possible that Torchlight just might make it on there once I sink more hours into it.

Anyhway, the point I really want to get to is this: I think ‘Splosion Man has to be my pick for overall game of the year. I don’t know if that’s radical/crazy/pretentious, but it’s my choice. The reason I say it has to be my pick is simple: I had more fun playing that game than any other this year. Throw out production values. Throw out the “games as art” debate. Throw out writing. It’s not that ‘Splosion Man didn’t excel in any of those areas — it did — but the simple fact is I enjoyed it more than anything else this year.

I’ll save more commentary for later, when I get my thoughts in order, but I had to share. Please, give me your thoughts on the best games this year. I could use the help.