Gaming Bravado isn’t an oxymoron (But it is just as lame)

Over on Kotaku Leigh Alexander, Sexy Videogameland blogger and news director at Gamasutra, gets a few things off her chest when it comes to bragging rights for gamers.

She wrote a wicked article about the bogus boasts every gamer has broadcast throughout their gaming career. And while it’s a little harder to lie these days given that every achievement or unlock can be tracked online, just about every gamer who’s owned a console before this generation can attest to padding their resume.

I remember when Halo: Combat Evolved came out waaaaay back in 2001. I was known in my neighbourhood as the one kid no one could beat (Especially as oddball). So when I heard a friend of a friend would routinely play the campaign on the hardest difficulty on the hardest level, I knew I had to man up.

The only problem? That level was really hard. And halo would track to see if you had beaten it on each difficulty setting, and I still hadn’t. So for a long time I told everyone I did, but always made sure to play Halo at their house lest anyone find out how much of a fraud I was.

Now a days, anyone could look up my gamertag and check to see which games I’ve beaten completely (Call of Duty 4, waddup!) and which ones I’ve given up on entirely (Fallout New Vegas, 1 achievement unlocked, oops).

Like Alexander says, it’s all silly, and we do it to fit in, or hold ourselves up in the crowd. And for a group of people who aren’t known for showing off physically, this is all we have left, so stop bugging us about it.

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The Duke is back. Get. Fucking. Stoked.

We all have games that bring us back to a simpler time of gaming. Finding a flash version of Super Mario brothers, or busting out a ’64 and playing Godleneye or Super Smash Bros. But for me there’s one game that really gets me feeling nostalgic.

It’s the Duke, he’s the man every alien fears, and every lady wants to be with. He kicks ass and chews bubble gum, and he is frequently out of gum. After saving the world way back in 1996, he disappeared and the world waited for a sequel. It was going to be called Duke Nukem Forever, and that soon became the most telling thing about it’s development cycle. It became the Chinese Democracy or Detox of the gaming world. And now it’s on the verse of release. And with the Axel Rose project actually seeing the light of day, (even in it kinda sucked) and Dre finally showing somehting concrete from his album, (Even if it does feature Akon) I feel like the last running jokes of the 90’s are finally about to die. But Unlike the music world, I feel like the Duke can deliver on more than a decade of waiting.

Why am I so confident? It’s becuase I watched this trailer

It gets everything right. The guns, the swagger, the humor and of course, the lovely ladies.

It hits all the right buttons in the perfect way. The nut shots, the strippers, the massive amount of blood, it’s all there. How can you forget, being a nine year old, playing Duke 3D, I could press the space bar and see stripper boobs (tasseled, but whatever) kick aliens in the buts and blow up giant pig cops with C4. And this was at a time when a game like that could be rated T for Teen.

I’m also confident becuase of the team behind it. Not only is gearbox software a solid development team, but it’s president is a dude who worked on the original Duke 3D! There’s a love for the game, and the spirit of the game that shines through in this trailer. Not to mention the duke themed pick up truck sections!

May 3rd can’t come fast enough.

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What gets your Heart pumping?

It’s always cool when some takes their passion for science and applies to everyday life. It’s even cooler when they apply it to Halo (Ok, so maybe it’s open to debate if that counts as “cooler”). But a dude posted this on reddit. He tracked his heart rate during a 6 minute game of Halo: Reach and charted the results on a sweet looking graph.

What surprised me the most was not how high his heart rate got, but how much it drops when he died, or even when he armor locked (it makes him invincible for a few seconds). I’ve always noticed my heart seemingly beating in my throat during intense games, but I never noticed how heart rate would be affected when my character dies.

Now if only this could count this as exercise… I would be jacked.

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Crysis 2, feels familiar, looks incredible

It’s no secret that the shooter market is more than a little crowded. With the big players churning out blockbusters like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo in the last year it’s hard to make room for a new face in the shooter pond.

One way to get your foot in the door is to build a game that borrows liberally from games that have established a winning formula. But aping the a successful game franchise can backfire, take Techmo’s Quantum Theory. It’s basically Gears of War, it’s got big guys with big guns running from cover to cover, growling and acting tough. Unfortunately, few people were impressed.

So I was a little conflicted when I heard the developers of Crysis 2 making some big claims about the next installment of their eye melting, system punishing shooter series. But today I got a chance to try out the multiplayer with a free demo for Xbox live gold subscribers.

Crysis 1 was a PC only game with many claiming it’s graphics couldn’t be recreated on a console. But with it’s sequel going multiplatform I can confirm that the sequel lives up to the original’s benchmark for graphics quality. I can also attest to how shamelessly it’s borrows from the tried and true multiplayer formulas of Halo and Call of Duty.

But first, the good things. Like I said, this game looks amazing, the guns have a good weight and feel to them, they don’t bounce around like in Medal of Honor or DICE’s other shooter Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and aren’t as static and floating as Halo or Call of Duty’s. The fiction of the game also gives purpose to the perks and game play quirks. The soldiers walk around in futuristic Nano Suits that let the players move faster, jump higher and even harden your armor or go invisible.

Those all sound like the armor abilities from Halo Reach right? Well, ya, it does all fit into the fiction, it’s hard not to notice the similarities. It gets even harder when you start playing. It’s a mix of the control scheme from Call of Duty (I literally didn’t have to look at the controls. Want to run? Click the left control stick. What to melee? click the right tumbstick) and the medal system of Bad Company. That doesn’t even mention the perks, gun customization, and kill streaks.

But that also means it’s fun as hell. There is a bit of an issue with the sluggishness of the controls, but that might just be from lag. either way Crysis 2 looks like it could set the benchmark for graphics on consoles. It’s just won’t revolutionize the multiplayer formula.

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You’re Mom might hate your game, but should you care?

So the new commercial for the upcoming survival horror game Dead Space 2 has hit the airwaves, and let’s just say, mothers of the world aren’t all that thrilled.

Needless to say, it’s an awesome commercial, it plays up “it’s only cool if you parents hate it” as well as alluding to how incredibly violent the game will be. But you have to wonder, this game is rated M for mature, meaning the game was intended for an audience 17 and older. So while the game is made for adults, the ads are definitely made for people who still live with their Moms.

So wait, maybe that does still apply to a lot of the adults who will play this game.

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Never Heard of video games before? Watch the history of games in 4 minutes!

One of the reasons I started writing here was so that some people I know (read: my Mom) could get a better sense of video game culture.  I’ve always believed that understanding a culture means understanding the history of that culture.  The downside is that history is boring.  Luckily this video is not!

It’s a university project from Germany. It’s almost like someone awoke from a time capsule and said, “Where did all these video games come from? How did we get here?”

It fun, short, and I’ll give extra nerd points to anyone who can name all the games (no cheating and scrolling down)

History of Gaming from Florian Smolka on Vimeo.

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Addicted to gaming in the best kind of way

The editors over at IGN just compiled an article confessing to all of their most embarrassing moments in gaming addiction.  And in a word, they’re awesome.

They run the gamut of everything you expect from nerdy gaming stories.  From bringing up games on first dates, to locking your self away when a new game comes out, to only changing your clothes so other people won’t know you’ve been doing nothing but playing WoW all day.

Which brings me to one of my favourite stories about my love of gaming.  It’s a story of extreme (misplaced?) dedication, and nerdy fanaticism that is heart warming in a way only a gamer could fully appreciate.

Travel back in time with me, back to mid October 2007, Halo 3 had been out for almost a month and was rocking the collective socks of all the gamers I knew, except for my self.  I didn’t have an Xbox 360 at the time, and thus could not “finish the fight” for my self.  I had to wait patiently while all my friends played online and saved the universe.

This was very hard for me, I didn’t want to read any reviews or watch any videos lest I ruin the end of a trilogy I had put so many gaming hours into.  Keep in mind, I got Halo the day the OG Xbox came out, and even lined up to get Halo 2 at midnight.  So after waiting for almost a month, and with my anticipation at a fever pitch, I was fighting to contain my self when my friend Matt told me he was bringing his 360 and Halo 3 to his dorm room, down the hall from me.  I couldn’t let a golden opportunity like this slip me by.

Just a typical night. Playing Halo 2, ignoring pretty girls.

So that afternoon everyone came over to Matt’s to check out his new tv and play some split screen Halo 3.  It ruled, and I found that my Halo 2 skills would translate pretty well into this HD entry into the series.  But the best news was yet to come.

That night, everyone was going to head downtown for drinks that night.  This was good becuase I was still 2 weeks away from turning legal, and with a baby face like mine, there was no hope of finding a convincing fake id.  So when time came for everyone to get in the waiting cabs, I made my move.

“Hey Matt, is it cool if I just, play a few rounds of Halo 3 after you guys leave?”

“Yea sure, just make sure the door’s locked when you leave”

A fair request, but as it turned out, that wasn’t necessary.  From when the whole gang left at 11pm, until 5 am when they all stumbled back in, I was in Matt’s room playing the ever-loving shit out of Halo 3.  I had been waiting to play this game for a long time, not just that month after release, but really since Halo 2 had come out and ended on a cliff hanger 3 years before.  Once I was alone with this game I didn’t pause, get up, pee, drink, or eat.  I was determined to finish the fight and I was so satisfied that I barely noticed the hours fly by.

I did however, notice my friends stumbling down the hall.  And I distinctly remember one of the girls say, in a completely joking manner,

“Could you IMAGINE if John was still playing that game when we came back”

The group was still laughing when they got to the door while I had to sit there and wait for the inevitable embarrassment of how true she was.

However, I had three things going for me. One, I knew that, well it is pretty funny that I’ve been sitting here for the last 6 hours playing Halo.  Two, my friends were, drunk, like really, really, pass out of the closest soft thing drunk.  Which quickly happened. And three, I wasn’t going to stop just becuase I got a little embarrassed.  I mean, come on! I still haven’t completed the game!  And damn it I was going to finish this damn trilogy.

That’s part of what I love about being a gamer.  Even when we do things that are so undeniably embarrassing, we can still wear it like a badge of honor. We’ve grown up being ridiculed for our passion so we can laugh at our selves for our dedication.  It also brings us together, every gamer has a story like this one.  Which is what makes it even easier to talk about these ultra nerdy moments becuase you know someone will have an embarrassing story to top yours.  Or in my case, you’ll have an other gamer waiting in the wings to share your enjoyment.

So I played for another hour to beat the game, watched all the credits, and felt damn satisfied.  But here’s the kicker, Matt’s roommate was still up. After watching the credits roll he looked at me and said,

“Want to do some co op?”

“Damn right I do”

And when I headed to bed at 7am that day, just as the sun was coming up, I realized somehting.  This all-nighter will never be topped by anything I ever do in my university career.  It never was, and still hasn’t been.

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