Help! I’m Playing XCOM 2 Again…

I have a love-hate relationship with XCOM 2. When it was first announced Firaxis gave the pretty strong impression that the game would not be coming to consoles. And that made sense. Despite XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within both being released on consoles, the game was a much, much bigger seller on PC. Most of their sales and profit had come from PC, while the console release was a dud.

So me being a huge fan of the first game, looked into if my PC could handle it. It turned out that my computer met the bare minimum requirements except for the graphics card. So I upgraded my graphics card so it could also handle the minimum requirements, and then waited patiently for release. And in February 2016 I got to play XCOM 2 on my computer!

And it was a mess.

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Reference Player One

A little bit ago a full trailer for the Ready Player One movie was released and let me tell you, the resulting discussion from everyone made a whole bunch of old feelings resurface. Namely just how much the book sucked and how awful a thing it is despite its popularity. If you don’t know what Ready Player One is or haven’t heard of it, here’s a quick summary: it’s the future and the actual world sucks, but there’s a virtual world called Oasis where everyone can go and be different people. The creator of Oasis hid an Easter Egg in the virtual world somewhere and whoever finds it inherits control of all of Oasis, so there are people who dedicate their lives to finding this Easter Egg so they can become the world’s most powerful person.

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The Peculiar Future Obsession of Video Gaming

Last Thursday were the Game Awards which are basically the video game version of the Oscars – a selected group of games journalists vote on the best games of different genres released over the year, along with other categories like vocal performances, soundtrack, etc. The Game Awards only loosely resemble the Oscars though as they are a work in progress. From 2003 to 2013, Spike TV produced the Video Game Awards (VGAs) and much like anything you’d watch off of Spike TV it was mostly a trainwreck every year. Spike “cancelled” the Video Game Awards in 2014, which led Geoff Keighley – a games journalist who usually produced and hosted the VGAs – to create and fund The Game Awards on his own. Since this is only the fourth year he’s done it, he is still working the kinks out of the system but it has gotten progressively more professional since Spike stopped being involved. Of course we haven’t reached Oscar level of professionalism yet though – for example, you’d never see this happen at the Oscars, but it sure did happen live last Thursday!

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Top 100 Games of All-Time: Honorable Mentions

I’ve been working on a project for a little while now and while I’m not 100% ready to start on the full scope of it yet, I’m going to go ahead and talk about it now for multiple reasons. One – just to gear myself up into this massive undertaking and by putting it out in public I’ll create some momentum. Two – because nothing else is really jumping out at me to talk about video game wise right at this moment. And three, because I love ranking things.

I’m working on my top 100 video games of all time.

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Overwatch’s Failure at Casual Competitiveness

I briefly touched on the new mobile game South Park: Phone Destroyer in the first post I did for this blog. Since then I’ve put a lot more time into it and I’m actually enjoying playing it a lot. The game itself is a weird tower defense/RPG/beat-’em-up/card collecting hybrid where you, as the New Kid, have a deck of cards that you use with your phone to summon other South Park denizens. Collecting cards and upgrade items allows you to make your cards stronger like an RPG, and the main campaign is a side-scrolling beat-’em up where the cards you summon automatically attack enemies on-screen. If you, as the New Kid, die from enemies on screen, the level ends a la tower defense – but as long as you’re alive you can keep summoning your cards over and over ad nauseum to complete the level. It’s surprisingly fun and engaging for a free-to-play mobile game as one person observing me play it actually said “wow, that looks like it needs attention like an actual game and not a phone game.”

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Movie Theory: Anatomy of an Action Scene

While I love video games, I also love movies. And I’ve unilaterally decided that every now and then, when there isn’t anything inspiring me to write an article about games, I’m going to throw in an article about one of my other loves. So I’m going to take a little break from video games today because I want to talk about movies. Specifically, let’s talk movie fight scenes. Some movies do them well. Some movies do them terribly. I’m going to share some of my favorite fight scenes from movies and explain a little bit about why I like them but also what makes them good from a cinematography standpoint.

Warning, there will be spoilers for the movies if you haven’t seen them in these fight scenes. Obviously.

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Poking and Prodding – A History of Video Game Exploitation

In late 2008, Bobby Kotick – the CEO of Activision Blizzard – was quoted as saying the following after his company decided not to make sequel follow ups on certain intellectual properties they acquired: “With respect to the franchises that don’t have the potential to be exploited every year across every platform with clear sequel potential that can meet our objectives of over time becoming $100 million plus franchises, that’s a strategy that has worked very well for us.” This caused an uproar in the gaming community – using the word “exploit” in your strategy for games was not something you want consumers to get wind of. But Kotick’s vision of “exploiting” yearly franchises was something that would be pretty regular in the years to come – not just for Activision but for other companies. Running games into the ground while they’re popular and milking every last cent out of the consumer before throwing the IP onto the trash heap and moving on was profitable for the big names.

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