Category Archives: Video Games

Videogame review: Dishonored (2012)

Dishonored

Genre: 1st person shooter/ adventure

Developer: Arkane Studios

Difficulty: Average (depends on approach to completion)

Play time: 10-12 hours (expert gamers depending on approach to completion), up to 25 hours (casual player)

Thanks to my blogging pal Eric at The Warning Sign, I decided to take some time out of my busy life and expand The Blog of Big Ideas to the review of videogames. This is something I had been planning to do ever since I started the site but I just had not gotten around to doing so.

With all of that said, here’s my review of one of the most satisfying and entertaining games I’ve had the chance to play in recent years: Dishonored.

Continue reading Videogame review: Dishonored (2012)

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My life through videogames (part 2)

Continued from a previous post that you can find here

In my early teens, I received yet another gift from my parents, the occasion was probably Christmas. It was the Nintendo 64.

I had more games for this console than I ever had before. I enjoyed a plethora of games, among which I can recall Perfect Dark (incredibly entertaining shooter), Donkey Kong Country 64, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64 (which didn’t leave as much of an impression as the Super NES predecessor) and, most importantly what some consider the best game of all time: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

For me, it was the first encounter I have had with the famous Link. Until then, I hadn’t had the pleasure to enjoy the RPG mostly because I did not know English very well (my first language is Spanish). Once that limitation was out of the way, The Legend of Zelda came to me by pure peer pressure as I was repeatedly told by friends and gaming magazines that it was one of the best games ever put together. Always a sucker for the greatest accomplishments in any art form, I followed what the vast majority was saying and I decided to purchase it, just a few days after its release in my home country.

I guess what followed can only be described as an adventure that kept me interested and that challenged me with contrived puzzles and incredibly large environments I hadn’t had the pleasure to enjoy until that point. I can still remember the cut scenes, the bosses, the endless dessert and the many types of costumes you could wear that would give you special abilities. The Legend of Zelda was, above all, an aesthetic accomplishment that pushed a sweet simple story through gorgeous visuals and richly detailed environments that still look decent today. The game remains one of the most influential and iconic developments in the history of video-games and I could not agree more with the consensus.

Being a fan of soccer, I enjoyed a title called International Super Star Soccer (sounds important doesn’t it?), which quickly became MY favorite sports game EVER. It was, to that point, the first soccer game that allowed me a greater amount of control, letting me direct shots, control the swerve of the ball, control the power of shots with amazing accuracy and even do very complex dribbles that heavily relied on the quickness of my fingers. Of course, the game was not particularly pretty to look at, and there were ways to do “trick goals”, but it mattered little as the accuracy of the control was beyond anything I had experienced until then.

As it turns out, the countless hours spent playing ISSS 64 made me a true expert. To this day, my cousins talk about how dominant I was like it is some kind of legendary feat that has not been attained since. Friends and cousins tried many times to defeat me, but they always came up short. In fact, I am confident, without fears of appearing incredibly childish and full of myself (too late for that anyway), that at my best moment with that game, I could have beaten even the most talented gamer out there. It was a kind of mastery I have not reached ever since. It was almost as if the game was perfectly suited for my style of play.

The Playstation 2

A few years passed before I had my hands on the next generation of consoles. My pick, above competitors like the long-forgotten Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Gamecube and the new XBOX was, as my title says, the Playstation 2.

What can I say about the Playstation 2? I still play with it often and, with great patience, I have amassed a decent-size collection of titles as I waited, for years, to get some of the best games at a lower price. In fact, I have been slow to catch up to the times and since I’ve gotten this console, I have seen the XBOX 360 and the Playstation 3 be born and grab all the headlines as they are clearly the two most advanced video game engines currently in the industry.

Here is a brief summary of some of my favorite Playstation 2 games:

Gran Turismo 3: when I purchased the console, this was the game that came with the box. It was one of the first releases and it certainly helped catapult the new Sony console to be the most successful console of the 132-bit generation. It was a racing game of gorgeous visuals that offered players a great variety of vehicles of all kinds. Unfortunately, the almost endless selection of “wheels” was counterbalanced by a very limited variety of tracks and options.

Tekken Tag Tournament: I was never the best when it came to fighting games. I was always the guy that was pushed around by gamers who mastered an endless array of tricks and combos that left me agonizing after just a few seconds. It had happened with Street Fighter and with Mortal Kombat, and to a lesser degree with Killer Instinct. However, Tekken allowed me to develop as a player and be a great opponent to even the most talented of gamers because there was less of an emphasis on crazy combinations and more on cool and effective moves that were not particularly hard to use.

Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City and San Andreas: I owned them all and I was able to finish III and San Andreas. This, of course, is another highly influential game that has left a mark on gaming history and even on American culture. In fact, it was hard to avoid, when in college, the many references that guys and even girls would make about the famous game, not to mention the several get-together I was a part of where the only entertainment on offer was the game on the TV screen. Beyond the fame, GTA was different and highly addictive. Its seemingly infinite cities grew larger and more detailed with each installment and, with that, the amount of fun. Its loose gameplay allowed everyone to roam around for hours on end simply causing mayhem in new entertaining ways. The stories that drove the game forward were amoral and they idolized violence like no other game before it, but they were framed and produced with a great deal of care and artistry that made it a must-have for every gamer out there.

To be continued on another post…… tune in for more Playstation 2 games and my adventures with the Wii

Niels

My life through videogames (part 1)

I have had a video game console for as long as I can remember.

My first was the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), the asian version that is. Seeing my dad bring a big box into the house in the middle of the day for my 6th or 7th birthday still constitutes one of my clearest and fondest memories of early childhood.

For the NES I probably amassed a collection between 5 to 10 games. The one I remember more clearly was the ultimate classic: Super Mario Bros. I can still remember it being very challenging, as it still proves to be for later generations of gamers. In fact, it was one of the few instances in which I required my dad’s help in defeating the last few levels of a game, especially the interminable and labyrinthine 8th level of Bowser’s Castle. I can also picture grasping the NES pistol that served one and only one purpose: to kill as many ducks as I could in the other NES classic: Duck Hunt.

Of course, as every other kid, I quickly evolved to the subsequent Mario adventures. The first was Super Mario Bros. 2 which I think is severely underrated and, of course, the gran daddy of all NES titles: Super Mario Bros. 3.

My adventure with the Super NES is a little more clear in my mind, and lasted a bit longer. As it often happens, the newer generation made the older obsolete and my original NES quickly started to gather dust in the shelf. It was a gift masterminded, once again, by my dad, who would start not long after this, to be wary of my ever-increasing addiction to gaming.

At that time, I developed a friendship with a neighbor whose collection of games greatly surpassed mine in number. I, unlike him, was forced to select my games very carefully and methodically due to my parent’s hesitancy to continuously fund my new gaming fanaticism. As a result I was left with only a couple of games to choose from and I was forced to use this friendship, like any selfish kid would, to expand my gaming horizons by constantly borrowing some of his games. I remember times in which I conveniently ceased to visit him for weeks or sometimes even months in order to avoid returning one of his games.

With Super NES I greatly enjoyed games like Super Mario RPG which is one of the lesser known titles involving the famous plumber, but still incredibly fun and interestingly different to its predecessors; Doom with its cool levels, bosses and constant gunfight; Megaman X with its cool and interesting concept; fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 3 and other lesser known tittles like Super Tennis in which I completed the lengthy “tours” several times and spent countless hours developing fictional tournaments; much like I did with Super Soccer in which I managed to beat the very difficult special team simply called “Nintendo”.

My true favorites

Above all other Super NES games was the true classic: Super Mario Kart. It is probably the first time I can say with certainty that I was severely addicted to a video game in a way that is hard to describe. It was the kind of addiction that launched me straight to my room after I got back from school, often disregarding the food that was sometimes waiting for me at the dinner table (even if I was hungry). With Mario Kart I developed an affinity for racing games that I still have today. As an only child, I was left to race mostly by myself, using this time to improve my skills to use them later against friends and family. I practiced constantly and, with that, came an expertise that I had never reached up to that moment. I was clearly superior to anyone who dared to race me, often putting them to complete and utter shame. I remember my favorite character/driver was Koopa Troopa and my favorite track was Bowser’s Castle 3.

With Super NES there was also a game that I hold dear in my heart for personal reasons. The title was Ninja Gaiden and it was a game that brought my dad and me closer, frustratingly trying to beat it together without much success. In fact, the game, as it is known in gamer circles, is famous for its crafty story lines but especially because of how challenging it was to beat it. I still have mental pictures of some of the imagery, even though I haven’t played in at least 15 years.

To be continued on another post….

Niels