Tag Archives: Gears of War

Some collectibles are better than others, but these stink

worst collectibles to collect rain gd post

There’s no shame in saying it, but I like collecting things. Both in real life and via my digital, interactive entertainment. That’s not to say I’m a hoarder, but if you give me a list of items existing somewhere out there, I’m most certainly going to try my darnedest to find them all and happily cross each one off. This most likely stems back to my younger days, on family vacations in Avalon, NJ. Besides playing a lot of Yahtzee by the swimming pool, I signed up for every scavenger hunt offered by our hotel that I could, and these often involved finding innocuous items like a specific type of seashell, a pair of sunglasses, and so on. I have fond if fuzzy memories of running around the hotel grounds like a maniac, looking for things and screaming with joy when they were found.

That said, as a player of videogames, sometimes finding items is not fun. Yeah, I know. What a hot take. Personally, I don’t need to be told specifically where each collectible is on the map, like in later Assassin’s Creed titles where you can just purchase these waypoint symbols from a shop. I prefer discovering them myself, but I also like knowing, generally, how many are in an area or which ones I’ve already found. Some record-keeping is vital, that way I don’t need to take mental notes as I pick up each shimmery doodad. The fear of leaving an area for good and suspecting I missed something is enough to lock my feet in the dirt.

Also, while not required, I greatly enjoy when the collectibles contain something else to them other than being a thing you gnab, such as some bit of additional in-game lore. Like in Tomb Raider and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, you find a thing, say a rusty knife, and that’s a collectible for sure, but you also have to interact with it and discover a hidden symbol to bring out story details. The collectible becomes more than just an object to pocket. Heck, at least collecting all those miscellaneous gizmos in Tom Clancy’s The Division got me some sweet, colorful outfits.

Because of recent actions, I’ve decided to put my brain to the task of coming up with a bunch of collectibles that absolutely stink. These are either not fun to find, do nothing for the player in the end, or maybe cover both of these issues. Regardless, boo to them, and boo to me for attempting to collect (some of) ’em. It’s a skill in others that I greatly admire, the ability to walk by these shiny sprites and polygons and not even care. Teach me how.

Gears of War – COG tags

COG tags are a mainstay of the Gears of War series, but they only become easier to track and find starting in Gears of War 2, which introduced the war journal, a sort of in-game notebook for keeping tabs on a number of things. However, for the first Gears of War, all you get is an X out of Y line when you pause the game. That’s it. I beat the game back at the end of 2013, with something like one-third of the COG tags found.

Recently, I glanced at the Achievements list to see if there was anything I could potentially pop before deleting the game from my Xbox One for forever and saw that two were related to finding the rest of the hidden thingamajigs. Alas, I basically had to follow a video guide to find each one, level by level, because I had no memory of the ones I had already picked up. Also, barely nothing happens when you bend down to grab these COG tags save for a less-than-impression sound cue. Obviously, this was early on in both the franchise and console generation, and figuring out how to implement collectibles was still in a nascent stage.

L.A. Noire – golden film reels

I’d have to go back and confirm this, but for some reason I feel really strongly that I only ever came across one of these 50 gold film canisters scattered about L.A. Noire‘s sprawling Los Angeles. They all contain names of films from the 1940s and 1950s. That’s cool. However, the problem is that they are extremely well-hidden. Maybe too well. In my search for hopping into the driver’s seat of every car in the game, 95 in total, another stinker of a collectible of sorts, I thought I explored a good chunk of the map. I guess not. I have no idea if finding all 50 golden film reels does anything for Cole Phelps and his ultimate destiny. It’d be cool if you could take these reels back to the police station and watch a few scenes during your coffee breaks, but I’m sure the licensing around something like that would be nightmarish.

Rain – lost memories

This blog post’s origins began with Rain, a game I completed on the first day of 2016. The collectibles in Rain are in the form of lost memories that the player can find to learn more about the young boy’s past. That’s fine and dandy, and there are 24 in total to collect, but here’s the sick kicker–these only are available to find after beating the game. Also, these only appear once you are in the exact location, which means you can’t spy them off from a distance; you have to know exactly where they are to start.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I burned my lunch hour to collect them all of them in a single go, following an online guide and abusing the checkpoint system so that I did not, in fact, have to play through the entire game again. Sorry, Rain–you have some great things going for you, but you are not that amazing or varied of an experience to go through again simply to now be able to collect floating orbs that give you the slimmest of slim story details to a story fairly slim on details to begin with. Ugh.

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga – Blue Minikits

Speaking of ugh, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Here’s the thing. I’m totally and 100% completely used to collecting a number of things in all the LEGO videogames, from red bricks to gold bricks to characters to studs and so on. That’s just part of the flow, of going through levels and seeing what you can’t grab just yet, returning with the right characters/powers to pave the way. It’s been like this since day one. However, recently, Melanie and I worked our way through LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and it truly was like going back in time.

As part of our climb to hit 100% completion, we had to find 10 blue minikits in every single level. Sounds tedious, but not tough. Except it is because there is a time limit, and sometimes missing one blue minikit means replaying the whole thing over. You are also not able to use any cheats, which means having to deal with enemies while frantically scouring the scene for blue minikits. Most are hidden somewhat in the open, and others are dastardly wedged behind objects in the environment. The hardest level, without a doubt, was “Speeder Showdown,” where you kind of need luck on your side to progress swiftly and the extra five minutes was not enough. Took us multiple attempts, but the job is done, and, as far as I know, this type of gameplay hasn’t shown up in other LEGO titles.

The Last of Us – All of Them

Amazingly, there are four types of collectibles to hoard in The Last of Us. Specifically, 30 Firefly pendants, 14 comic books, 85 artifacts, and 12 training manuals that improve your crafting skills and such. I’m pretty sure only the last set has any impact on gameplay, and the remainder are just things for Joel to bend down, pick up, and pocket away for no other reason than to give you something to do in-between moving from a safe space to an area full of Cordyceps-inspired monsters. A few help flavor the world, for sure.

Okay, I just loaded up the game–evidently, I found 95 of 141 as of when I last played, which is way more than I initially assumed. Not sure why it felt so low in my mind, but maybe I was thinking of Trophies, which the game is stingy with. Oh well. Either way, these are pretty obscurely hidden throughout the game, and the artist in me really wanted to be able to open the comic books and read a few pages instead of just staring at the covers.

I know for a fact there are many more that I’m not touching on, like the flags from the original Assassin’s Creed, score pieces from Eternal Sonata, and kissing 50 women from The Saboteur.

That said, I’d like to know what collectibles gave you the most grief. Join the conversation below in the comments.

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Gears of War 2 continues its virile fight against the Locust horde

gd impressions on gow2 xbox 360

A part of me somehow knew that if I waited long enough I could get all of the Gears of War games for free thanks to Xbox’s Gaming with Gold program. Well, not exactly free, as I am paying money to be a Gold member, but free from the outside looking in. It started out with the first Gears of War, which I played through and found myself dumbfounded over how this became a popular, blockbuster series, even if I was having fun with the active reload mechanic. I find it perfunctory and fine, but nothing amazing, and you can feel free to call me names in the comments (if I approve your abhorrent name-calling comment for all to see, that is). Then Microsoft gave out Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment, but I was holding my breath for the second entry in the series so I could at least play them in some sort of sensible order. Lo and behold, it was a freebie for February 2016, completing the path forward.

Gears of War 2 takes place shortly after the end of the first game. The Coalition of Ordered Governments continues its fight against the Locust horde, who are attempting to sink all of the cities on the planet Sera. Sergeant Marcus Fenix leads Delta Squad down into the murky depths of the planet to try to stop the Locust from destroying Jacinto, one of the last remaining safe havens for humans. I feel like, other than the part about sinking planets, you could use this same description to summarize the first game, too. Either way, there are a couple of small side stories to explore, such as what happened to Dom’s wife Maria and a civil war brewing between the Locust and the Lambent.

Gameplay remains largely unchanged from the first Gears of War, though you can now pick up fallen enemies and use them as cover against incoming bullets. These are lovingly referred to as meatshields, which I approve of greatly. Regardless, you’ll push forward in linear levels, hiding behind cover and popping out of it to shoot the bad dudes. You’ll also have an AI-controlled partner with you for most of the missions, and I assume this character can also be controlled during the co-op campaign. I found Dom, at least on the “normal” difficulty, to be mostly a waste of space, especially during that boss fight against the Leviathan. Truth be told, and maybe this has to do with my recent practice with the Gears of War 4 Beta, I did pretty good in the campaign, only seeing red a handful of times, and those really only occurred during the two separate fights against Skorge, as I wasn’t sure exactly of what to do. Okay, okay…maybe an unseen Ticker got me now and then as well.

Alas, I’m still not enthralled with the running and gunning of the Gears of War series. I liked finding the collectibles in the levels, which should not surprise anyone following Grinding Down, as well as when you got to ride a Brumak near the end and just massacred everything in front of you. There’s also one level inside a giant monster where the focus is not on pelting Locust with bullets but rather surviving all the weird internal organs.  Those stand out as the highlights of the campaign for me.

Since beating Gears of War 2, I’ve been dabbling in its multiplayer modes. For various reasons. One is to clean up some Achievements I’m close to getting, like performing all the different execution methods or using proximity mines to kill ten enemies. Two…is that I fully expect to never return to Gears of War 2 once I start playing the third one, which I’m in no rush to load up, and so I want to make sure I get everything out of this game that I can. Or rather, that I want. I managed to get into one online multiplayer game with real-life people and had my butt handed to me swiftly, and so now I’m sticking to local matches against bots, as well as the Horde mode (solo and on “casual” difficulty). I also plan to pop back into the campaign and grab the remainder of the collectibles, considering I already got half of them my first time through this brown, brown world.

I’m definitely not immediately launching into Gears of War 3, even with the way this campaign ended on a cliffhanger. I’m okay waiting a bit. There’s plenty of other games currently in circulation too, such as Sunset Overdrive, I Am Alive, and Saints Row IV. In the meantime, if you are in the mood to play some Gears of War 2 and want to help me progress through Horde mode (I crashed into a wall around wave 6), hit me up on Xbox One.

Five things make a post, and I quit thee from my thoughts

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Well, it’s that time again. No, not filing your taxes, though that is coming up in a few months. Sneaky bastard, always creeping up on people like that. But I digress–it’s another roundup post so I can touch on a couple of things real fast without having to devote an entire post to each topic separately, especially since some are less than interesting to analyze. That might not seem like much to you, but for me, I can only string together words so many times in a week without my creativity and passion melting away, and this is the best solution I have.

All right, here we go. Five things.

No more Knytt

I tried. I really did. I probably put in around four to five hours for Knytt Underground‘s chapter three alone, which is, more or less, the main meat of the game, and I literally got nowhere. The point of the final third act is for Mi Sprocket to ring a number of bells–I think it’s five or six–to stop the apocalpyse from happening, and this time, the map is your ocean. You are no longer limited to where you can go, especially now that you also have the bouncy ball powers of Bob at your side. Except that’s not true at all. I constantly hit wall after wall, sometimes literally and other times in the form of locked doors or NPCs requesting specific items to let me pass. Look, I totally understand the point of a Metroidvania game, but for some reason, this one really irked me. It never felt rewarding, and I was never rewarded for anything I did. Quests fizzle out, and you can do a crazy series of bounces and magic power jumps only to pick up some description-less item for your hard work.

All of that said, dang. Dang, dang, dang. I really loved the look of the game, and getting to a new screen was a pure joy, until it just became one new frustrating roadblock after the other. According to the Trophies list, you can beat the game without ringing a single bell, but I’m sure that’s even more difficult than the mainline goal, and so my saved progress will remain underground for good, never to be seen again.

Gears of Insanity

I uninstalled Gears of War from my Xbox 360 this weekend. Before I did that, however, I completed its first act again on its most difficult of difficulty settings, the properly named Insanity difficulty. Usually, I never try the high-end difficulties, as the challenge always seems too brutal, too unfair, but I was curious what it’d be like and whether or not I could do it; turns out, I could, but at the cost of constantly reloading checkpoints, grumbling about useless AI-controlled comrades, and dying in flashes of uncontrolled chaos. Knowing what the remainder of the campaign looked like, I was not interested in finishing it a second time on a much more savage level. Oh well. At least now I made room for Sleeping Dogs and whatever else Gold members get for free this month.

The Fishiest Grind Yet

Some bugs and fish are simply better than others in the world of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and a lot of that determination depends on what season we’re in. For summer, you want to catch emperor butterflies and all kinds of palm tree-clinging beetles. For the fall, um…I don’t know. Mushrooms, I guess. And for the winter, you want to keep your eyes glued to large shadows in the river at night, because if you’re lucky you can snag a stringfish, which sells at Re-Tail for a whopping 15,000 Bells. In the mighty words of George Takei, “Oh my.” Or should that be OH MY GOSH?!

So yeah, I wouldn’t say I’ve been actively trying to grind out stringfish, but I do walk the river-line back and forth a few times each night before I let the Sandman take over. Still upgrading my house, planning to upgrade town hall, and Bells come and go, but will always be desired.

The Purpose of Art

This is the year that art and my unprofessional game journalism come together, as y’all can probably already see with the comics I’m doing for all my completed games in 2014. I also plan to re-tinker the look of Grinding Down from top to bottom, so expect some new pieces of art to pop up periodically over the next few weeks, as well as some other elements to disappear. Did anyone notice that I got rid of my large list of Achievements? No, didn’t think so. Anyways, I’m still trying to figure out what I want here art-wise, as well as working on other comic projects, but I eventually want this blog to really stand out as something unique, even more than just silly words on images as post headers.

Broken Age Breaks Out

Here’s something crazy: Double Fine’s Kickstarter-funded Broken Age releases today. Well, Part 1 (of 2), that is. Double well, only for backers, which Tara and I are, meaning we will get to play what I can only describe as a visually astounding old-school point-and-click adventure game. I’m excited to finally see the thing in playable, watchable form, as I’ve been following the documentary videos closely now for two years, seeing its creators struggling to produce something both small and grand, something beautiful and instantly recognizable. Hopefully all my adventure game playing will aid me in solving puzzles high up in the sky, as well as in space. You never know what Tim Schafer will throw at you next.

The Half-hour Hitbox: December 2013

Gears-of-War-1 hitbox post cover

Some inside baseball: I put this post together piecemeal across the whole month. That means that when I play a game and find myself not interested in writing a large post about it–or suspect that I won’t down the line–I add it here, find a picture, and write a quick sentence or two about it. Alas, sometimes I don’t do that last part though, as I’m just not in the mood at that exact moment, and so I’ll have to come back to it, which can be hard, especially for smaller experiences, such as Isaac’s Odyssey, a game I am finding it hard to remember what happened, save for the atrocious grammar I had to read.

Truthfully, I’d rather put this all together in one go, to keep the writing thematic and consistent, but that seems like an impossible task. I get exhausted just searching for Google for decent screenshots. And then there’s too much to juggle in terms of what each game is and does, and I’d be super worried I’d forget something. I want to be able to give everything its due, y’know.

Maybe I will rethink how The Half-hour Hitbox looks for 2014, but for now, let’s end the last month of the year as we have with all the months that came before it since this feature began. To the games!

Oíche Mhaith

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What a horrifying experience. I’m not even sure how it qualifies as a game because all you basically do, as a young girl, is walk around your house, get berated by everyone, watch your father go on a murdering spree, and then play with some strange device that allows you to swap personalities between your father, mother, and dog in hopes of making everything right. We’ve already seen the darker side of Terry Cavanagh’s mind in Hero’s Adventure, but this goes nineteen levels deeper, and I’m very put off. You might get more out of this than I did, but if you do, well…I’m now concerned for your state of being.

Annie Android: Automated Affection

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Evidently, one of the first little games Ben Chandler ever made, and it certainly is little. I mean, like a resolution size of 320X200. I had to tinker with my computer to make it larger so I could actually read the text and find items, but it still looked good to me. It’s about an android called Annie and the love she wants, which is a fella called Mailbot. Unfortunately, RoboHQ has assigned her someone else as a partner, and off she goes, to control her destiny. It’s pretty fun with some silly characters, like the robot pretending to walk the dog in the park, and the puzzles aren’t too tough, though one required precise timing, and sometimes my clicks missed the mark. An 80s-esque soundtrack full of bumps and thumps plays in the background, and there’s even vocals for the title screen song. You can download the game right now.

Gears of War

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Well, I played the first Gears of War game, and I hunkered down and ran through it on the easiest of difficulty settings. Whatever, don’t judge me. Or you totally can. I don’t care, because I don’t really care about Gears of Wars. It’s macho shoot alien monsters in the face tough guy stuff, and all the dialogue is trite and predictable, and every male character is this unshapely mass of muscle and armor. Same goes for the Locust. In fact, on a few occasions, I mixed up one of my allies with an enemy because they look almost identical, and it’s hard to keep track of everyone when they are so drab looking and moving around an even drabber scene of ruined rubble. I was able to play a single online match–surprisingly, not many people are still playing this game despite it being a freebie for December for Gold members–and that was simply okay. Just like with Battlefield 3 over the summer, I can now confidently say that this is not my thing.

Samsara Room

Samsara Room for hitbox

A strange, otherworldly point-and-click game that sees you traveling from one dimension to another all while still being stuck in the same room. The puzzles are intuitive enough to keep you at it, and I enjoyed how the perspective changed each time. Samsara Room‘s ending is abrupt and completely unsatisfying, but getting there is intriguing enough for me to make up my own conclusion. Plus, music by Kevin MacLeod, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite indie game composers. It’s just so relaxing.

Isaac’s Odyssey

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You are a guy trying to escape your dorm room to go to a late-night Comic-Con party. Maybe there’s some Game of Thrones actors boozing it up there or something. Isaac’s Odyssey consists of only two screens and a lot of tiny objects to find and use. It’s not bad in the gameplay department–if a bit old-school–but the writing is simply unbearable. Every sentence either contains a spelling error or strange turn of phrase, and eventually all this overtook my like for clicking on items and using them to solve puzzles. I did eventually escape the dorm room, but that’s the end of the game. Yup, you don’t even get to go to the fancy party. What a dud.

Calm Time

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Chances are, if I had known what Calm Time was ultimately going to be about before I clicked “play,” I probably would’ve skipped it. Instead, I watched in horror as a party went to shambles, and I was the driving force behind the chaos. There’s some direct storytelling here, as well as a basement full of indirect–and all of it is creepy. There’s minimal music throughout save for a creepy piano tingle and some jarring TV-like static, but less is more here, and I can honestly say that the whole experience gave me the shivers. The uncomfortable, I’m-a-monster shivers. Whether that makes Calm Time a good game or a bad game, I really don’t know.

Shoot Many Robots

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I think the name Shoot Many Robots is awesome and does a fun job of explaining exactly what you do in this wee downloadable freebie for the Xbox 360. Some levels have you going left to right, and other levels are a single room where you have to survive wave after wave of attacking robots. In short, you shoot robots. Sometimes you punch bullets, too. There’s two main weapons and different kind of backpacks to equip for your dude, which grant various bonuses, and it’s all well and good, but there isn’t much else to do otherwise. I do however enjoy the cartoony graphics and honky-tonk slash metal soundtrack.

Hero in the Ocean

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A really cute puzzler set underwater. You control a tiny, yellow submarine in search of stars–three per level–and a helpless sea-diver. Each level adds a new puzzle element, such as lasers and unlockable doors, but it’s never overwhelming. By the end, you’ll be a pro at each thing, able to swim swiftly past all the dangers and pick up those shiny trinkets. I found all 45 stars and saved everybody, so go me. Alas, there’s some clunky writing like “you found secret area,” but that can be overlooked for a solid little game that never becomes too much to handle. Plus, the single music track that keeps looping is awesome, starting off slow and somber and building into something bigger than that. In fact, I’ve been listening to it on repeat as I put this paragraph together. I also hope this isn’t taken as an insult to those that made it, but Hero in the Ocean would make a perfect mobile game, too.

Temple Run 2

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Speaking of mobile games…this kind of came out of nowhere. The day before Christmas–or was it actually on Christmas day?–Temple Run 2 was released for free on the Windows 8 phone. Mmm. I love free games, especially ones with relatively easy Achievements. And that’s what Temple Run 2 is–a fun, easy-to-pick-up endless runner with a handful of poppable Achievements and enough challenge to keep you going and try for one more run. I played this a lot during my Christmas vacation, mostly because my sister was squeezing the most out of her time with my Nintendo 3DS. It’s pretty good, though I probably couldn’t tell you the differences between this one and the original. I’ll probably end up removing both from my phone soon enough, once I’ve had my fill of running, jumping, sliding, and tilting.

The Walking Dead, Episode 1 – “All That Remains” (season 2)

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I just finished this up on Sunday and haven’t even gotten around to writing a haiku for it, but I will soon and will probably write a bigger post about the newest season and how brutal it has already started, but for recording’s sake, it’s here. I also bought the The Walking Dead‘s season 2 pass and am excited for more, if that gives you an early indication of my impressions.

The Half-hour Hitbox is a new monthly feature for Grinding Down, covering a handful of videogames that I’ve only gotten to play for less than an hour so far. My hopes in doing this is to remind myself that I played a wee bit of these games at one time or another, and I should hop back into them, if I liked that first bite.

Most of us have Gears of War we never use

gears of war Xbox 360 final thoughts

Let me be blunt and say this: I can’t believe that Gears of War became a series, and a popular one at that. Well, according to Wikipedia, which probably needs some updating, the game has since sold over 5 million copies as of September 2008–meaning it’s probably much higher–and currently stands as the fifth best-selling Xbox 360 game. Yowza. Really? Really? Y’all on crazy pills.

Gears of War takes place on the planet Sera, but it might as well be Earth. The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) is a minor political party there, and its soldiers are called gears, despite the obvious coggers sounds a whole lot cooler. The Locust, an alien race, suddenly attacks humanity, a day infamously known as E-Day, and the COG gears do what they can to ensure the survival of human civilization. Flash-forward fourteen years, and the COG is the only human government left on the planet. Former COG soldier Marcus Fenix is reinstated into the military after spending some years in prison for abandoning his military post for…personal reasons. His friend Dominic “Dom” Santiago successfully extracts Fenix from prison, reuniting him with the rest of the Delta Squad in hopes of finding a special device that will help eradicate the Locust’s underground caverns.

So…more or less, the film version of Starship Troopers. Which should not be a problem for me, as I actively enjoy both the film and Robert A. Heinlein’s futuristic military YA romp where soldiers with guns shoot opposing alien bugs. Yes, even the chapters devoted to simply describing powered armor. Alas, Gears of War, despite that grandiose plot summary, is devoid of life, character, characters, and details to make everything greatly interesting.

Right. Let’s do this. I played through Gears of War over the course of several sittings and on the lowest difficulty setting of Casual. It’s highly linear despite the occasional choice of going left or going right, and you, as Fenix, move forward, hide behind shattered walls and car husks, and peek out to shoot at alien monsters also doing the same thing. Once all the shooting is done, you’ll get some story beats, with either a cutscene or Fenix listening to someone tell him what to do via an earpiece. Basically, it’s all about moving forward, finding other members of the Delta Squad–who are constantly getting split up so that it can be just you and one other dude for co-op reasons–eventually leading to Fenix returning to his father’s house to find something a potent anti-Locust weapon. Somewhere in the middle of all that there’s a single vehicle mission, which has you driving and shooting light via a turret at Kryll, highly aggressive flying carnivores that thrive in the darkness. Throw in a couple of boss fights, a few of which don’t actually have you fighting something directly, and that’s the game in a nutshell, replete with a tease for more to come.

Ugh, I don’t know. I just found the entire campaign to be a hollow experience. Fenix and his fellow men are simply big shoulders and massive arm muscles that occasionally grunt and ask a question or make an action movie-like one-liner, but never strive to be real. Fenix, especially. I couldn’t care one bit about him because he just comes across as a brooding mass that refuses to say anything. This was especially apparent when we get to the part where he returns to his family’s home, which is being destroyed by the Locust, and there isn’t a single comment from him. Like, come on. Emote. Be a human being. But no, this is machoism all over again and shares the same problems I saw in Vanquish.

Here, have some positive talk. My favorite thing about Gears of War is the active reload. When you reload your weapon, you have a split-hair second chance to hit the button again and have your gun immediately back in action with a full clip. If you fail this, your gun jams and it takes longer to fix. Each weapon has a different active reload bar, and it made the firefights much more exciting than they actually were, even if it was just a little mini-game between Fenix and his weaponry. I found the sniper rifle to be the trickiest to reload speedily, and that was my key to victory at the end of Act 5.

Strangely, I’m curious about Gears of War‘s higher difficulty settings–Hardcore and Insanity–though I have to imagine it results in just Fenix taking more damage faster and enemies being bigger bullet sponges. I might at least try to play Act 1 again on a higher challenge, to see what that’s all about, as Casual was very much that–an easy walk with the occasional death, mostly because I lingered too long in the open or didn’t run through the Kryll-infested darkness fast enough. I don’t expect to do very well though, but I at least want to try because immediately after that I will be uninstalling the game from my Xbox 360’s hard-drive and moving on to greener pastures. Yes, there’s the multiplayer element to consider, but I was only able to get into one match after many, many attempts, and that’s because I don’t have certain DLC that others do and man, that’s stupid. Borderlands 2 really spoiled me with those compatibility patches.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #62 – Gears of War

2013 games completed gears of war

Big, burly bro-men
Out to stop the Locust Horde
Take cover, fire

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

The Bulletstorm demo is for dick tits and dick tits only

I’ve talked about my prowess before when it comes to run-and-gun first-person shooters; in short, I’m usually no good. Can’t target quick enough, can’t figure out how to snipe and stay on the move; can’t really work with a team. I like to play much slower than that, planning everything all out, meticulous inch after inch. Still, I had heard some interesting things about Bulletstorm, a new FPS from the makers of the Gears of War series, which I’ve never touched, and a demo recently hit Xbox Live for GOLD members. Gave it a download, and then I gave it a play. Here’s an account of pretty much how it went.

You’re given access to only one Echo. Not sure what an Echo is, but there’s more than one of ’em. Anyways, before you can kill with skill, you’re treated to a cutscene of sorts that plays as a tutorial and introduction to Bulletstorm. It’s self-aware, voiced by space pirate Grayson Hunt, who I can only describe as a generic meathead, and totally full of itself. Tara’s response the minute it was over? “Laaaaaaame.” You heard it here first, dear readers. Lame-a-rama. Actually, it’s also offensive and crass, as well as perfect for serial killers in training.

Your character is partnered with two computer-controlled players, and you basically explore different sections of a collapsed building, shooting brainless enemies and racking up points. Points are the point. The whole “kill with skill” is a strong concept except you’re not really rewarded for being clever. Rather, so long as you have a high cruel streak, you’ll begin earning points for kicking an enemy and then blowing his head off or throwing them into a spiky ceiling or even sending a train right through an entire line of ’em. These are called skillshots, and each has its own point value. Evidently, you can also shoot right up their asshole, but I was unable to achieve this. The guns are very ho-hum, but Grayson does have a neat electric leash that can toss enemies your way, prime for the kicking or shooting. That leash kind of made the demo worth it. Kind of.

There are 45 skillshots available in the demo, and over 130 in the final build of the game. Some that I earned include Voodoo Doll, Boned, and Flyswatter. Fun names for devasting actions.

And that’s the demo. Ten minutes or so of shooting, moving forward, shooting some more. I think I got like around 3,000 points or so. Yup, total n00b fail! But I really worry for the game because I can see the demo being the entire game with a hapdash of a “story” tossed in for no one’s sake. I can only imagine that Bulletstorm goes like so: cutscene, shoot up a section of dudes, cutscene, shoot up a section of dudes, cutscene, and so on. The variety is in how you kill enemies, but that’s probably all you will do. Kill enemies with weapons. For hours on end. Maybe to some that’s enjoyable, but repetitive gameplay, by nature, gets stale fast.

Bulletstorm is irrefutably juvenile, and the demo is all I probably needed to experience…ever. And for fun’s sake, here’s some phrases used affectionately during the demo to hit home their target audience: pasty, bean bag, butt hole, and, the new cult favorite, dick tits.