Monthly Archives: December 2009

Top 5 Most Anticipated Games in 2010

Ah, 2009 is drawing to a close. It’s been an interesting one, filled with lots of games and excitement, as well as some disappointment. This was the year that I finally got an Xbox 360 and moved into the current generation, playing games that were mostly released one or two years ago. Oh well. I’m not rich, and we all know it. Besides, sometimes it is fun playing catch up.

But 2010 looms, and here’s the top five games I’m most looking forward to:

5. Final Fantasy XIII

If you haven’t heard, there’s a new Final Fantasy game coming out. Also, if you haven’t heard, then chances are you’re probably dead. Or undead. One of those. Anyways, this one looks amazingly flashy and kind of a bit like Final Fantasy VIII in some ways. It has a more science fiction tone to it than actual…fantasy. The fact that it’s coming to multiple platforms is great, and I’m definitely intrigued by a lot of the screenshots/videos that have surfaced. Battles look intense. I just worry that it is far too linear because I loved how much freedom the player was given in Final Fantasy XII, and to lose such a thing would be like taking seven steps back.

4. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

This has the potential to be my favorite mash-up of LEGOs and something else. Reports say that a lot of the camera issues have been fixed in LEGO Indiana Jones 2 so hopefully they brought that over in this one. Exploring Hogwarts is sure to be a blast, and even though it only covers the first four books there’s bound to be tons of stuff to do, collect, and see, all while casting a few spells. I’m sure this’ll be yet another LEGO game that flares up my OCD. Stay tuned for that.

3. Fable III

Fable II taunted us with lots of promises, and the game turned out to be…pretty good. Not great, not stellar, not the end-all, be-all. Just pretty good (with lackluster DLC). But that’s okay because there’s a sequel in the works, and this time you’ll play the ruler of all the land. Are you going to be a kind king or an evil queen? That’s up to you. Hopefully the consequences from these choices drastically affect those around you…otherwise, it’ll just be the same ol’, same ol’, but with slightly new clothes. Still, I’m looking forward to it because the humor of Fable II still sits in the back of my mind, chuckling to itself, and I really enjoyed a lot of my time in Albion. The combat, however, could use a little more spunk, as could the menu system. Actually, I have a long list of things that could be better, but nonetheless I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

2. The Scott Pilgrim videogame

I absolutely love this graphic novel series, and considering how stuffed it is with videogame mentions and adorations it is only perfect that it’s becoming a videogame itself. My hope is that it’ll be a 2D side-scroller, something of a throwback to Mario or Sonic or even Streets of Rage, but truthfully…I’ll be happy with whatever it is. Glad to know that there’s even input from Bryan Lee O’Malley, the series creator, which gives me hope. Will probably release around the same time as the motion picture. And maybe there will be a “hot coffee” moment starring Kim Pine? Maybe? Man, I’m creepy.

1. Fallout: New Vegas

Mmm…more Fallout. Granted, Fallout: New Vegas is not being made by Bethesda, but I have confidence it’ll be designed in the same mold (and greatness) of Fallout 3. Plus, Nevada is a great setting, considering there’s plenty of desert to explore, and I can only imagine the Vegas Strip destroyed, the hundreds of slot machines in ruins, the ghoul hookers looking for a nightcap and a bite. So long as this one has just as many options and freedom, I’m buying it the day it’s released, something I rarely ever do.

What games are you most looking forward to in 2010?

Christmas loot

I made out very well this holiday season, finding the following beneath the Christmas tree:

Touchmaster 3 – Haven’t played any yet because I’m going to be doing a half-hour handheld review for The First Hour. I did, however, look over my fiancee’s shoulder a few times as she jumped between games. Seems like an interesting mix of mini-games. More to come later…

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks – Only an hour into the game or so (just received the whirlwind tool, to be more specific), but I’m looking forward to more already. I’m not quite as put off as I was upon initially starting The Phantom Hourglass.

Lastly, I got this big boy:

Bioshock – I tried the demo a few months back and enjoyed it more than I expected. So now I’m ready to head deep underwater into the throwback city of Rapture. Wish me luck. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m not terribly great at shooters unless they are a mix of RPG/shooting.

These three should keep me busy for quite some time. Plus, there’s always Fallout 3. Always…

Just hanging out

Before heading home for the holidays, I made a very big decision: I decided not to bring home my Xbox 360.

I’m only visiting my folks for a few days, and so far they are pretty packed full of stuff to do. I did, however, bring my Nintendo DS, and am enjoying visiting some games I let fall to the wayside (Scribblenauts, namely), but part of me misses the ol’ Xbox and Fallout 3. I guess it is officially an obsession. Oh well. It’ll be there when I get back. Yet any Xbox games I open Christmas morning will be FULL OF TEASE.

Mario’s closet is brimming with awesome

The kick-ass artwork above comes from Albino Raven. Love it. If only my closet was this cool. Sadly, I basically wear the same seven button-down shirts over and over…though buried deep in the back, I think, is a hand-me-down Raccoon Suit.

Do not feed the trolls

It seems that this post is getting a ton of hits and incoming links so it is only natural that the next step would be…troll comments. You know of them, I’m sure. They consist mostly of flame attacks and nastiness, serving no point whatsoever except to possibly illicit anger out of the author of said post. Luckily, I hold the power here and I don’t get mad easily. So I have to smile big and wide knowing that after these hateful sacks of sadness and anonymity typed up their lengthy diatribe they saw the following: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Now, I don’t want to give trolls too much credit here, but they have to know that their comment will never see the light of day. Let’s all laugh at that, shall we? Unless you’re a troll. Then no one will hear your piggy guffaws.

Shadow Complex supports minimalists

Taking a tiny break from Fallout 3 (please don’t die from shock at that statement; I haven’t yet), I’ve gone back into the thinly veiled world of Shadow Complex. Now, I’ve already beaten the game twice, once just going along with things, and the second time to collect 100% of the items on the map. I basically have two achievements left to get: Minimalist (Complete the game with less than 13% of items) and Serious Complex (Level up to experience level 50). Both are definitely an uphill battle, especially if you’re one of the types that grows bored playing the same game over and over and over…

Luckily, Shadow Complex is a blast.

And random, too.

Take, for instance, the following scenario. Sneaking down a set of darkened barrack-like halls, I ran into an enemy soldier. Since I was close enough for hand-to-hand combat, I jabbed him twice in the face and moved to the next room…only to die a quick death from many, many guns. Going back through the same room, I instead killed the initial guard with a grenade…to only die once again in the next room. The third time…I popped the soldier quickly in the head with my pistol and planned my subsequent moves much better.

I also completely forgot how stunningly beautiful and haunting the gameworld is, and yes, I’m talking about when whatshisname has to swim back through some previous rooms now flooded and there’s dead soldiers drifting in the water with this quiet, atmospheric piano in the background. So good, people. So spooky. Much better than a hundred retail games have ever gotten it. Quote me on that if you must.

But yeah…Shadow Complex is a game worth replaying and revisiting because it is never what you expect it to be. I won’t be going after these achievements simultaneously because it is nearly impossible to gain a ton of XP, but not explore and gather extra items. So first up is…Minimalist. I’m at 7% and doing well. Then it looks like I’ll be playing through for a fourth time, which I don’t mind one bit.

I’m a Silver-Tongued, Glitch-Using Devil

I did not get to play many videogames over the weekend because, well, I was a little busy getting engaged. Didn’t even turn my Nintendo DS on once! How about that? Caaaaah-razy, I know.

But I did manage to make some more time last night for Fallout 3. Still trying to finish up some achievements and good karma-focused quests before I start over with a new, evil weasel of a character. After sneaking around for an hour and more or less getting nowhere (found one more bobblehead in Vault 108), I did the worst thing ever:


Well, took advantage of a glitch to be more specific. See, I was sitting at around 43 successful speech attempts, and you need 50 to unlock the following achievement:

Silver-Tongued Devil (20G): Won 50 Speech Challenges

Basically, if you go to Little Lamplight, there’s a kid sheriff there named Knock-Knock. Ask him to tell you a joke, use your intelligence to guess the answer, and then select the [Speech 100%] response. Rinse and repeat. You can do this as many times as you need to. Something, perhaps, Bethesda should have caught.

So I did it six more times until I heard that infamous ping, the very same ping that echoed in my head as I tried to sleep last night. It just doesn’t feel right, “achieving” what I did, but I was worried that I’d run out of proper speech options at this point, and I didn’t want to have my evildoer being all talky in my next playthrough. His/her speech success is most likely going to involve a rocket launcher to the face.

Not terribly proud of this, but I guess in the end it doesn’t matter.


Ah, Jumping Flash! No, I’m not exclaiming. The ! is just part of the game’s name, as well as the feeling I get when I realize that I traded this quirky gem during my transition from Playstation to Playstation 2. Why? Because, as far as I can tell, there’s never been anything quite like it since.

Releasing in 1995 for the Playstation, Jumping Flash! was a 3D platformer played from a first-person perspective. You are a robotic bunny named Robbit that is out to stop an insane astrophysicist named Baron Aloha from turning a bunch of worlds into private resorts. Yup, that’s the plot. I said it was quirky. To stop this low-life, Robbit must find the Jet Pods that propel each world and reunite the Crater Planet. Basically, you will jump, shoot things, jump, jump, shoot things, jump, and jump some more. There’s a lot of jumping to do, outpacing the shooting by several miles. Good thing this wasn’t called Step Aerobics Flash!

Robbit can jump up to three times: once off the ground, then in mid-air, and then a third time in mid-air, allowing him to reach crazy heights. What’s neat about this is that, as Robbit jumps, the camera tilts down to his feet so you see the ground (if it is still visible) below you rather than just staring at sky horizontally. This was pretty impressive the first time you did it, and gave the player an amazing sense of freedom.

Level designs varied, with the funnest being the one set in an amusement park with a roller-coaster as your launching point. In every world, Robbit could pick up a bunch of power-ups like rockets and cherry bombs, as well as hourglasses to extend the time. Yes, levels were timed, which made jumping around more exciting and intense, especially when the clock was ticking down and you were flying high.

Graphically, it is what it is. Polygon count is low, the sky is a static wash that never changes, and the enemies were cutesy animals like penguins and bomb-tossing beetles. It’s an early PS1 game, and it shows. Thankfully, the gameplay more than makes up for things.

Alas, I can’t recall too much about Jumping Flash! other than the main hub levels. I do know that at the end of each world, there would be a boss fight, but shake me silly because I don’t remember doing any of them. I suspect you had to shoot them somewhere special (keep it clean, people) and that jumping was involved.

It seems there was a direct sequel, Jumping Flash! 2, as well as some games loosely-based on the gameplay concept. It’s a shame that the series itself is so underrated and did not find a stronger fanbase. Given today’s consoles and technology, something truly great could be achieved here if developers were interested. Take this, add some Mirror’s Edge, a pinch of love, and go to town.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

Achieving Them All

There’s a really interesting article over at Kotaku about a 24-year-old stay-at-home mother named Kristen who is the No. 4 ranking player, worldwide, in Gamerscore. Currently, she’s at 166,365 GS. Man, and I thought my 8,000+ GS was impressive /sarcasm. She’s achieved this mountain of a score from “boosting” and playing a slew of terribly reviewed games.

And it’s all for the boasting.

Because in the article, she is quoted as saying that, “Like, maybe 65 percent of the games I play I don’t enjoy.”

This part bothers me, mostly because I can’t really wrap my head around it. Let’s break it down. More than half of the games she plays…she doesn’t enjoy. Yet she journeys onwards. Pushes through the tedium thanks to party chat and other boosting gamers. Me? The minute I hit a wall or the game becomes a chore (hello, Eternal Sonata), I shut it off and move on. Because I paid a lot of money for my gaming system, as well as its games. And for that amount of money, I deserve to be entertained–to a point. A lot of entertainment is actually determined on us, the consumer, to bring something to the table. I guess, in a way, this Kristen, this CRU x360a, is entertaining herself with every ding that sounds when an achievement unlocks (even at the cost of playing Night at the Museum 2 and games in Japanese), but I don’t know. It seems like a lost cause, and I worry for the day that revelation reveals itself.

Now, I like achievements. I do. They can be great enablers, and I’ll often skim a list of them for a game I’ve bought to see if there’s any gameplay tactics or tricks I should be keeping an eye on. Sometimes you are rewarded for just natural progression, other times for trying something different. They are nice pats on the shoulder, and while I’d love to unlock every single one in every game I have, I won’t. The games I truly enjoy, sure, most likely, because I just have to have more and more of said game, but finding all the flags in Assassin’s Creed will never happen, nor will I be completing Mass Effect three more times or whatever.

After all, there’s a reason achievement whore and achievement chore rhyme.

Fallout 3: Status Report (Level 30)

Previous status updates include:

  • Level 10: Where I grew up in a vault, chased after my dad, and hightailed it to faux-Alaska for a bit
  • Level 20: Where I found my dad, learned of his plan to purify the Capital Wasteland, and got probed by some aliens

And here we are now…Level 30. Experience-wise, I can go no further. I’ve gotten all the perks I can get for my super-duper messiah, and enough ammo to shoot whatever I want, wherever I want, how ever many times I want. Bottle caps up the who-ha, too, thanks to the Fortune Finder perk. Which is a shame, because I now feel like everything from here forward is pointless (maybe that’s too harsh a word), a little less satisfying because there’s no more XP to earn.

[Some vague spoilers to follow]

But let’s talk about what I’ve been up to these past final 10 levels. Well, to start, I “took it back” wherein I, some Brotherhood head honchos, and Liberty Prime stormed against the Enclave in order to retrieve the G.E.C.K. they originally stole from me. This was a pretty epic fight hampered by the fact that I roleplay a sneaky sneak, meaning I basically hung back and watched my friends do damage. After that I continued on to wipe out the Enclave entirely (though, as a few continue to pop up later on in the game, this is not accurate), and then decided it was time for a change of scenery.

Enter: Point Lookout, Maryland.

What a creepy and quiet place. Now, the bombs did not drop in Maryland, but the state certainly has been affected by radiation. There’s shovel-weilding inbreds and a host of ghouls, as well as an abandoned amusement park pier and some unnerving caves full of coffins and booby-traps (“That’s what I said, booby-traps.”). The main missions involve protecting a mansion, and then picking a side between a foul-mouthed ghoul and Mother Brain. I was level 25 when I arrived, and I found it harder in the beginning and a breeze to complete come the end. It’s really more of the same, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to Fallout 3, but I would’ve liked more enemy variety and quest choices in this DLC. There’s some sidequests which I started, but left to the wayside, returning to the Capital Wasteland to finish up some miscellaneous tasks.

That’s right. Miscellaneous tasks…at this point, it’s all I have left besides a few quests which I won’t do until I replay as an evil-doer (specifically, “Strictly Business” and “You Gotta Shoot ‘Em in the Head”) . I’m missing two Bobbleheads at the moment, need to kill three more Super Mutant Behemoths, and win some more Speech challenges. Once those are done, I’m starting all over to play Fallout 3 completely different. And this time I mean it because I said the same with Fable 2, but just found it to be the same game with a slightly different outlook. Evil woman avatar is basically good male avatar that scares people away. No terrible punishments. I really do get the impression that, in Fallout 3, your character’s actions (i.e., your actions) truly have consequences, making the world real, making the experience real.

And that’s it for now. I absolutely love this game, probably the first I’ve absolutely loved in awhile since Suikoden II and Super Metroid, and I can most certainly assure you I’ll be back once more to summarize the entire experience Fallout 3 brings to the player, and to the genre. Don’t think I’ll do status updates for the evil character though. Unless she holds a Chinese assault rifle to my head, that is.