Belonging

[Despite this not being about video games as a whole, what I am experiencing in this piece of self reflection could be something important for others to read as they tread through a space of insecurity. It’s okay. We are all human living in a time of uncertainty. It is okay to be anxious as I am.]

I have always found myself on the precipice of epiphanies. I’m always torn on subject matters because I tend to split myself onto multiple sides. Perhaps my biggest struggle that has been brought to light is the innermost feeling of unsatisfactory work. Besides that, it’s the struggle of coming to the realization that even though I am valued, I am still resting on the outskirts of the club. Even though I am along for the ride, I feel more like the wheel than a spoke, but I only feel like this as the reality could say otherwise.

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Xbox Event: My Thoughts

In the first of a series of digital events, Microsoft held an online event showcasing series of game trailers. These trailers were used showing in-game graphic capabilities that utilized the Xbox Series X hardware. This event was approximately one hour long total, with the first 27 minutes displaying a series of trailers while the last half featured interviews with the creators behind some of the games we saw.

The lukewarm affair was met with a slew of criticisms. As much as I love Microsoft and the work they have done in the past, this event is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to building up my excitement for the future of Xbox. My feelings may be quelled for the time being, and in this moment of clarity, I have to say that Microsoft is at least trying to get people excited, and that is much more than what other companies have been doing lately.

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Half-ass Completionist

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A couple of days ago I thought it would be fun to do something I have never done before, because these days all I have is time.  I decided it was time to fully explore the expansive universe that is Kingdom Hearts.  I played the main Kingdom Hearts games when they initially came out; 1,2, and 3.  But the ones in between I missed out on.  Getting the full experience is something I figured I could dedicate time to now. Plus the ending to the third one was lukewarm to me but incredibly awesome to die hard fans who purchased several devices and endured many years of exposition.  So why not give it the old college try? Much like college I discovered something about myself and gained some additional pounds. 

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Final Fantasy 7 Remake Spoiler Free Review

 

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When I was young and didn’t feel like going to school, I did what every kid would do: try very hard to convince my parents I was sick.  After spending a lot of time putting on the most lackluster performance of someone being sick, I finally convinced them to let me stay home.  I spend the better part of the day laying in bed, playing Final Fantasy VII. When kids worried about their test scores and what Nathan was going to do during lunch, I pondered the events that would transpire after I left Cosmo Canyon.  Ah, to look back on the problems I had when I was young.

Final Fantasy VII was the first game that impacted me on an emotional level.  It was the first game that made me think about what a story consisted of. It introduced me to the concept of storyline twists, what villains were made of, and what it took to become a hero.  It showed me that people change and evolve, and perhaps people that didn’t care about others could become attentive and strong leaders. The game taught me about loss, how to cope, and how to move on.  

I know that I was not the only person to have similar experiences with this game.  Final Fantasy VII became a staple in video game culture to the likings of Legend of Zelda and Mario.  Cloud Strife, with his giant buster sword became an icon, and so did his counterpart: Sephiroth. Seeing an eventual remake of this game was a no-brainer.  But what time is the right time?

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The Price of Power

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Back in December of 2019 a lot of speculation on the next console for Microsoft was put to rest.  During the annual Video Game Awards, Microsoft revealed the newest addition to their family: The Xbox Series X.  The most powerful console that Microsoft has ever made.  Sure, this is rhetoric that we have heard before, but it’s not necessarily false.  Let’s be honest here, every console they release should be the most powerful console they have ever made.

Several months later and we have all been waiting to hear what Sony was bringing to the table.  With the huge instant success of the Playstation 4, we are all eager to hear more about the Playstation 5.  Will our wildest dreams of next generation power come into fruition?  Will the rumors about full backwards compatibility down to Playstation 1 games hold true?  We had a lot of question, and still many remain unanswered, but as of recently we have a clearer idea of what Sony will be focusing in on with the Playstation 5 (PS5).  Continue reading “The Price of Power”

Killing In The Name of Ubisoft

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Is this your content roadmap, Ubisoft?

Division 2 released a month or two at this point in our video game history, and it got great reviews upon it’s launch.  This comes off the dead horse that is the launch of Bioware’s latest game, Anthem.  Neither game is the same in any element or form, but they came out so close together that I cannot help but make a brief comparison.

It goes without saying that Anthem tripped and fell face first directly into the proverbial wood chipper.  Division 2 grew off the failure that Bioware and EA presented on their own behalf.  Recently, Division released their first raid for the game, and Anthem is still gasping for air.  With more content coming in The Division within the next few weeks (including a new specialization that includes a badass minigun), I have to take a step back and recognize that Ubisoft is slowly killing it’s own game with another game. Continue reading “Killing In The Name of Ubisoft”

Jedi: Fallen Order

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“Hell has frozen over” is the only thing that I can think of.  Upon my last post about this very same thing, it took me hours to put together my thoughts, cite sources, and more.  I thought that I was going to have a well planned and thought out argument about the stance that EA has taken when it comes to their attempt to keep the Star Wars license.

I was wrong.

Yes, you guys get to read the phrase that I only uttered to my wife when I say we don’t have something and she finds it.  Usually I take pride in my thoughts and predictions but the fact remains that EA and Respawn has taken a complete 180 degree turn from what I was expecting.  Looter-shooters are the current hot trend of the year, and to see EA turn that concept around and release a single player game that is devoid of multiplayer functionality as well as no microtransactions doesn’t make me think that hell has frozen over, but it is is now just a gigantic ice cube.  I don’t know what Respawn did to melt the icy heart of Andrew Wilson, but I would like to know the tactic.  Perhaps they pointed out that every game that did have a multiplayer component (Battlefront 1 and 2) just didn’t take off?

Respawn has been known to deliver great campaigns.  After all, the team is responsible for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and 2.  They helped deliver great experiences such as the “All ghillied up” mission which remains as a modern masterpiece and a pure example of how to build tension.  They were also responsible for the “No Russian” mission that despite being controversial, helped usher in a new form of maturity into the modern gamesphere.

I will also not hesitate to mention Titanfall 2’s campaign, as that is another great example on how to tell a great story while not taking away from the action.  Titanfall 2’s campaign is a short and sweet package that anyone can overcome within a day’s time, and even though it lacks the complications that we have grown accustomed to, Respawn did a great job of making me feel immersed in a world that I care deeply about.

This is why I have faith in Respawn.  They are not the Bioware of yesterday.  Passion to make good games seems to be something that is almost lost in the AAA industry.  Granted, every so often we get these tiny love letters of games released, it’s something we do take for granted.  Independent games seems to be where passion thrives these days.  It’s unfortunate that small studios will never be able to pump out games as graphically pleasing as Red Dead Redemption 2.  I’m not saying they never will, but I have yet to see something so graphically superior.  Alas, we cannot forget that for every Anthem and Division that lacks story, we always have an Undertale, Firewatch, or Soma.

(Granted I wasn’t a huge fan of Soma but a lot of people liked it so I wrote it.)

I cannot help but be excited for yet another holiday season filled with the spirit of Star Wars movies, games, and grapes.

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Google Stadia: Are We Ready?

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For years we had several video game systems come and go like the wind blowing over meadows in a bright sunny springtime day.  Every breeze shook up the fields, some as light as the Atari Jaguar and some as disruptive as the Nintendo Wii.  But as the game console companies started to become killed off like characters in Game of Thrones (I miss you SEGA), we have become so used to three major companies having control over the gaming market: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.

So it is strange that a company like Google would announce a gaming platform that doesn’t meet the traditional concepts of a box that sits under your television.  Then again, Google has never been a company that has lived up to the status quo, they have “disrupted” various platforms and continues to shake things up when it comes to their direct competition on the PC utility front: Microsoft.

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Maybe it’s us… No, it’s the players who are wrong!

Years ago I used to wake up at the crack of noon, grab myself a drink from the local convenience store, and binge the hell out of World of Warcraft (WoW).  I’m not talking one or two hour sessions, I’m talking about days!  I would play WoW like it was my job.  I spent a good part of my 20’s leveling and getting raid ready, year after year.  It wasn’t until the Cataclysm expansion released that my life in WoW became somewhat stagnant.

I can’t blame Blizzard at that time, but today I very well could say that thing.  Cataclysm was just the start of the inevitable downfall of one of my most favorite (and most played) games of all time.  How often I dream about going back to the game but I just cannot seem to attach myself to what is essentially an abusive relationship, especially the state that the game is in now.

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The Elder Scrolls Online: In Talos We Trust

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There comes a time in a major franchises life where someone high up on the corporate latter has a fascinating idea.  They decide to take said popular franchise and turn it on it’s heels.  Ladies and gentlemen, that game is Elder Scrolls Online: a game that no one asked for.

I consider myself to be savvy when it comes to MMO’s.  I used to spend my late teens and early twenties staing up till the late hours of the next morning, raiding till my eyes bled.s.  My gaming life consisted of people I never met in person but talked to on a nightly basis.  I would think about the game, and dedicated moments of my life into researching how I can play my class better.  Eventually, I drifted away from it.  I could feel that sensation returning a little bit with ESO.  Something was pulling me back into virtual landscapes taken up by gold spammers and political conversations between characters called “Cheese Wizard” and “alkdhdf.”  Although under ESO’s rather glamerous exterior lays a rather dirty secret… but the game isn’t a total disaster.  When it’s not filled with annoying bots, the game does get rather fun, albeit a bit awkward when you’re the only one who can save the world… and there are thousands of other people doing the same thing.

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