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Know Your Gaming History: Where Did the Term Game Gods Come From? September 30, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Histories.
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I think there are a lot of people out there that want to know more about the history of gaming, but don’t know where to begin. I do not believe I would be any good to anyone without a full history of the industry I’ve been covering on this site for over the past year, nor do I think anyone should dare put a key to the keyboard that isn’t fully versed on what they’re writing about. As someone who has been following the history of gaming for the past ten years (and sharing some of that information with all of you) I would like to share with you a few of my favorite sources for gaming history.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of disinformation out there (even from normally genuine sources). We live in a world where I saw a documentary on The History Channel call the original Playstation the first (compact) disc game console, and that’s just completely incorrect. Compact discs have been used in game consoles since the days of the CD-i, 3DO, and Sega CD, all of which came out around 1991 (some of those first came out in Japan) whereas the original Playstation launched in December, 1994 in Japan.

So where can one find good information about gaming history, and where did gaming start? Well, I don’t want to give a whole lecture about the history of games in general (that might be for another day) but I would like to float out some great sources I’ve found over the course of my life which still hold up.

Anyone who visits the site regularly knows I throw around the term “God” as a nickname for a select few of game developers, and I’m sure some of you wonder why. Thais because there was a list of game developers published who at the time were considered the best in the field (many who are still fondly remembered) and called the “Game Gods.” For those of you curious where the original list of what game developers were called “Game Gods”, that came from an article written ten years ago for PC Gamer Magazine, where they comprised a pretty lengthy list of some of the best game makers, who worked on some of the best PC Games at the time, and called them the “Game Gods”. Guys like Warren Spector, John Carmack, Tim Schaffer, Sid Meyer, and Wil Wright made that original list, which is why whenever I reference them in my work they have the nickname of God. The list was later expanded a year later to what they called the “next” generation of game gods, focusing on a younger generation of game developers they believed showed a lot of promise, and that list included American McGee, CliffyB and Stevie Case.

There was a G4 show later on called “Game Gods” but they profiled guys like John Romero, which was kind of odd since they interviewed genuine game gods (Carmack and Spector) to talk about someone who lost his title after making Daikatana. Although, to G4’s credit, according to Masters of Doom, Romero had been calling himself “God” openly at the high points of his career. While I would not consider him a God (I don’t think he was featured in the original article), he may be the origin of the term.

There’s no question that while some of those developers have retired from game development, most of the guys who made the original list are still at the top of their field and have released tons of hits after the article had been published. The next generation on the other hand was a bit more hit or miss. While CliffyB has since graduated to full God status with the Gears of War franchise, Stevie Case left the gaming business for many years, and American McGee would never get the same high praise for a game after the release of Alice.

I don’t think PC Gamer ever made another list after the next generation. I cancelled my subscription about a year ago after a ten-year run. I don’t know, the magazine had some pretty awful redesigns over the years and lost some of its charm for me, but some of those older issues I’ll still site back to. Nowadays the term Game refers to more than just PC, and I think the list should be rewritten to take into effect console developers and the developers who created the foundation for gaming as it is today, like Gunpei Yokoi and Shigeru Miyamoto. Also, plenty of new people have stepped up over the past ten years to take a swipe at that title, and probably have earned it, including David Jaffe, Sam Lake, or Hideo Kojima.

I think for this new millennium a new list must be made. Any takers or do I have to do everything myself?

Psychonauts Recieves Mac Version, Major Patch and iOS Companion Today September 29, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Released in 2005, Psychonauts was considered to be one of the most beloved games of the last generation of gaming.  It was quirky and exciting, with a great sense of humor enjoyed by players and reviewers alike.  Initially released on the PC, Xbox and Playstation 2, it did not get the initial sales such a highly rated game deserved, but for the past five years reviewers across the internet (including myself) look back at the game as one of the staples of the last gaming generation.

If you want to hear more about my thoughts about the game, you can feel free to check out my Top 5 Psychonauts Cutscenes Video.

Today, a major patch was released for Psychonauts, the first in years.  Why the patch?  Well, ownership of the game has reverted back to its creator, Tim Schaffer, who was responsible for games like Grim Fandango and more recently Brutal Legend, and money from the sales of the game are now going directly to him.

Also, today marks the release of the game for the Mac platform, which you Mac users can purchase through either the Mac App Store or STEAM.  With the Mac Pscyhonauts release has come a bevy of new features that have come across the platform for the Psychonatus PC Steam users as well, including Steam Cloud Saves, minor tweaks to the Meat Circus difficulty, and most importantly, achievements!  PC owners of this game through Steam will have their games automatically patched with the new features, Mac users will get them upon install.

Finally, a Psychonauts companion program, dubbed the Vault Viewer, has been released free of charge for the iPhone and iPad, and it contains all of the images from the in game mental vaults, as well as developer commentary!

Now, there have been some pretty great reviews of this game over the years, but for those of you who haven’t played it, I would like to defer you to one of my personally favorite reviews of the game, done by Lindsey “Z” Briggs, who is better known as Little Miss Gamer.  Joined by Lee from Still Gaming (who seemed to be recovering from his condition where he was stuck in only two dimensions), this was one of the final reviews she did, and she went out with a bang.  Check it out!

Batman: Arkham City Joker Trailer September 28, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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With the lengthy list of Batman’s infamous rogues gallery being extended for pretty much every new trailer of Batman: Arkham City, this new trailer just serves to remind everyone that the very first villian shown in the very first trailer for the game is still in this game, and he’s got the voice to go along with it.

The Joker, the most famous of Batman’s villians, is coming back to Arkham City, and from the looks of it, he is not well, still in recovery from what Batman did to him at the end of Arkham Asylum.  Joining him is his very famous personal pep rally girl, Harley Quinn, sporting a brand new outfit this time around.  I guess a girl has to keep up her appearances.

For those keeping count, other than The Joker and Harley Quinn there have been confirmed reports of Catwoman (who will be playable), Dr. Hugo Strange, The Penguin, Two Face, The Riddler, and Mr. Freeze, just to name a few.  Also, Poison Ivy was mentioned in the E3 demo I witnessed.  While she herself didn’t appear in the E3 demo, some of her plants did, and I was told she was the one who gave the task to Catwoman.

Batman: Arkham City is coming in October, 2011 to Xbox 360 and PS3.  The PC version is coming in November.

Thoughts on the Halo Reach Title Update and Halo Anniversary September 27, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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At PAX’s HaloFest, 343 announced they were going to be doing a major title update to Halo Reach.  Their goal, was to bring Halo Reach as close to the feel of Halo: Combat Evolved as possible, and they believed their work on Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (which is coming in November) was instrumental in helping them capture that feel.

From what I read, the title update is going to COMPLETELY revamp the whole game.  This means that there will be more than just bloom tweaking options (although that is coming), the gameplay is going to be altered.  Most of the stuff I’ve read involved tweaking to armor lock, but 343 did say that they were also making the pistol more in line with Halo 1’s (something that Halo developers have been saying they wanted to bring back since Halo 3: ODST).

I really don’t know how I feel about it.  I do think it’s a little unnecessary to do a title update THIS drastic to gameplay a little over a year after the game released (especially since the game has had no problem selling since it released).

Another cool announcement about Halo Anniversary is the game will feature firefight, and since the game is running it’s gameplay almost entirely on Halo 1 code, it will capture the Halo 1 feel exactly.  In my experience, having firefight in Halo 1 is a very smart move.  If there was one map that Halo 1 fans would want firefight on, it would be the entire Silent Cartographer level.  When Bungie did their hour-long documentary, hearing Bungie and press talk about the early test version of that level brought a lot of people to ask if it could become a firefight arena.

Me?  I’m just happy that developers answered my request to take some of my beloved games from the previous console generation and update them to run on modern widescreen HDTVs.

Also, there was something else to come out recently, and that is the first look at the new Warthog.  No longer the M12-LRV, this is a beast that has been upgraded with all new futuristic technology for the next generation of Halo.  I’m a huge fan of Top Gear, and for a car this awesome, the host of Top Gear just had to break it down.

It kinda looks like a puma.  The new Warthog is going to be first seen in the game Forza Motorsport 4.

Halo Reach is out now exclusive to the Xbox 360.  The title update is probably out by the time you read this.  Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is coming in November, 2011, also exclusive to the Xbox 360.

RAGE Console Installation Information September 27, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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id Software has officially announced what it will take to install the beast known as RAGE onto your console.

The final game has been confirmed to be on three Xbox 360 discs, making it’s installation footprint for all three discs over 20GB.  This is a pretty hefty amount, but id assures everyone that you can get away with just installing one disc at a time as you play.  When you make it to the next disc you can delete the previous installation and just install the next.  Still, people without hard drives might be in some serious pain over this one.

The PS3 version of the game will require an 8GB installation.  I haven’t seen an installation that big since Metal Gear Solid 4, and that was only after downloading and updating all the optional files and Metal Gear Online updates!  This is a required installation, so it sounds like you better start clearing up some hard drive space for this one, or consider installing a bigger drive..

RAGE is coming in October, 2011 for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.

The Darkness II What is The Darkness Trailer September 27, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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2K has done it again, and released a very stylish new trailer for the upcoming game, The Darkness II.  This trailer is comprised of more than just prerendered or in-game graphics, it features a good look at their actor capture technology as we see just how someone with this technology can narrate the story of the very first game.

The narrator’s fear and paranoia while telling the story really impresses me a lot, and it looks extremely natural, as if the actor’s performance was translated perfectly to the game character.  I also really liked the comic style panels that flashed scenes from the first game, I wonder if the final version of the game is going to use them.

The Darkness II was recently delayed and is now coming Feb 7th, 2012 to PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

Gears of War 3 Epic Edition Unboxing and Review September 23, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Reviews, Site Videos.
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You’ve been waiting two days for it, and here it is.  The Gears of War 3 Epic Edition for the Xbox 360, all one hundred and fifty dollars US of it!

First off, Maniac cracks it open and does an unboxing of everything that’s in it, including the Limited Collector’s Edition, which is also included with the Gears of War 3 Epic Edition.  I have followed the Gears of War series since it’s very beginning, and while doing the unboxing you might catch the tidbits of one of my best gaming stories.

People have asked me to do reviews for these Collector’s Editions for quite some time, and so I have started to do them.  A quick reminder, I rate Collector’s Editions on a scale of Required, which means “you must go out and buy this right now.”, Fanboys Only, which is self explanatory, and Don’t Bother, which is also self explanatory.  The factors that go into this decision include price, as well as the quality of what’s included with it in comparison to the price.

Remember to stay tuned after the credits for a hilarious postscript!

Gears of War 3 Epic Edition Size Comparison September 21, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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The Gears of War 3 Epic Edition continues the trend of Microsoft publishing ENORMOUS Collector’s Editions (with an enormous price to match), that have been shared in games like Halo 3 and Halo Reach.  I’ll do my review and unboxing of the game a little later, but I want you guys here to have some idea about just how big the box this game came in is, and how it compares to other Collector’s Editions I own.

I actually did the math to compare the volume of each of the largest Collector’s Edition boxes I own, and let me say that it is definitely up there, on par with the size of the Halo Reach Legendary Edition, and easily beating out the size of every other large Collector’s Edition I owned (regardless of shape).

Of course comparing the Halo Reach Legendary Edition box to the Gears of War 3 Epic Edition box was kind of pointless, as there is a clear winner to the largest Collector’s Edition box, and that’s of course for the Rock Band Collector’s Edition which included the game with guitar, drum set and microphone.  I don’t have any of the Guitar Hero World Tour or Band Hero Collector’s Editions so I can’t compare those, but Rock Band 2’s CE box was somehow made smaller.

But, for a game that shipped with no extra peripherals, It’s STILL a pretty big box!

Gears of War 3 Release Day September 20, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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For the three of you who may not know, today marks the release of the biggest Xbox 360 exclusive game of the year, the highly anticipated Gears of War 3.  Don’t know what that is?  Take a look at this!

Unfortunatly I was not able to participate in the midnight release festivities of the game, but I already had the Epic Edition of the game reserved and went in to pick it up as soon as I possibly could, which was this evening.

I had a slight concern that GameStop would have given away my copy of the Epic Edition since the game had been on sale since Midnight (when Grand Theft Auto 4 launched GameStop sent out a letter telling clerks not to even bother honoring Preorders).  So, COG tags on, and wearing my Gears of War 3 hoodie jacket with a Crimson Omen on the back, I went out to collect my preorder of Gears of War 3, and I have some rare good words to say about GameStop’s staff from when I was there.

You can expect an unboxing of the game tomorrow!

Gears of War 3 is out now exclusive to the Xbox 360!

25th Anniversary Metroid Prime Trilogy Run Final Thoughts September 20, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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It took a month.  I played through all three games, getting 100% completion in each one, scanning every item, and getting every bonus credit. Now that it’s all done, I wanted to post up my thoughts about this site promotion, what I thought about the games, and if I may do something like it again.

Happy Birthday, Samus!