Dammit now I might actually want Black Ops...

It's something that sounds like it could only be a fan-made mod, but the newest Black Ops dlc, Escalation features a mode called "Call of the Dead", which features zombies. And yes, zombies are the new overbearing horror trend, I'm sure there will be an angsty teen drama featuring zombies any minute now. But what possibly makes this zombie kill-fest stand out is who you can play as. Buffy Summers, the most ass-kicking monster slayer of the last couple decades. Danny Trejo's cheesy action character Machete (and while I don't care much about Machete, Trejo himself is pretty damn awesome), horror icon Robert Englund and some dude from the Walking Dead (who I'm sure I will care about when I actually get around to watching the show). Pretty good fanboy dream material if you ask me. Now just add a few more legendary ass-kickers (say Bruce Campbell) and I'd be very sold on this whole idea, and considering the last FPS I actually bought was Halo 3, that's saying something.

Now last time I talked about how the rpg slate for 2011 seems pretty goddamn lacking this year. While that still may be true, there is one game I completely overlooked that might be one hell of a good timesink. That would be Dungeon Siege III, which is shaping up to be an awesome-looking dungeon crawl and it should be out in a just a little over a month. Hopefully there will be some awesome rpgs announced at E3 which is in June that will be out this year and this can keep us rpg nuts busy in the meantime.

Finally, while the virtual console on the Wii is a bit of a missed opportunity, with no upgrades whatsoever to the classic titles, the 3DS version will actually do something different, releasing many of its classics with a 3D mode, starting with Excitebike which owners will get for free. This seems like a pretty good idea, we'll see if that really pans out with other titles.

Ok that's it for today, should be another post up tomorrow or Friday. In the meantime, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Epic Monster War


Where are my rpgs at?

Seriously, I finished Dragon Age II a couple weeks ago and there is pretty much nothing to look forward to for MONTHS. The only ones really set in stone are Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim, both not due out til NOVEMBER. I really thought we had gotten past the point of having to wait months and months between rpg fixes. Didn't this all change when Final Fantasy VII hit and basically brought the genre up to a whole new level of awareness? I'm not even talking big series, where are those quirky off-beat under the radar releases? Sure there are some on the horizon like Tales of Grace and Disgaea 4, but they just have a vague release date of sometime in 2011. Most likely, they'll come out around the same time, making me skip them so I can afford the bigger titles. 2010 was pretty much a banner year for rpgs, with tons to choose from on nearly every console out there (except for the Wii, but the last Nintendo home console with a decent rpg line-up was the Super NES, so anybody expecting a solid rpg experience on that was an idiot).

Sure, like any good rpg gamer I've got a few games I don't mind playing through again (actually having quite a bit of fun rediscovering Dark Cloud 2 at the moment), but I haven't really needed to do that for the last few years, there has always been something that I missed out on or at the very least something in the very near future.  For some reason 2011 is the year of the starving rpg gamer, desperately hungry for our next fix. I guess if I get real desperate, there's always Pokemon Black/White...


What Nintendo needs to do with Project Cafe/Wii 2...

Whatever the hell you want to call it, everybody's pretty much in agreement that in the next couple of months Nintendo will be unveiling their next system and that it will be out well before whatever Sony or Microsoft has planned next, probably in the next year. Sure the Wii was a resounding success, catering to that oh so hard to capture casual market in a level never before achieved. But any reasonable Nintendo/Wii fan will tell you that the Big N did plenty of things wrong with the Wii, and these are crucial critical things they need to fix if they want to stay ahead of the pack:

Make Some NEW IP: Hey we all love Mario, Link, Zelda, Kirby, etc. Nintendo has a very reliable stable of icons they can release for their systems and the faithful will buy it like there is no tomorrow. But how long have these characters been around? Nearly all of Nintendo's stable have been around since the SNES era or earlier, without much in the way of anything new. Now granted, nearly all studios that have been around awhile have venerable series they rely on, but new ideas need to be developed or else things get stale pretty damn fast. Just make sure the usual Nintendo magic is applied, and they'll be just as welcome as any of their current big stars.

Satiate the hardcore base: Now Nintendo's appeal to the masses worked very well, but it came at the cost of alienating a whole lot of people who had been loyal to them for years and with good reason. Oh sure, there has been a trickle of core titles throughout the Wii's existence, but it's some pretty long dry spells in-between. It's why sites (including this one) are basically constantly justifying owning a Wii, because it's this generation's fondue set. If Nintendo comes out with something gimmicky with no real depth, the public will probably just respond with "meh", and the hardcore, already being spurned once, won't be fooled again.

Figure out a cohesive online system: If there is one area where Nintendo has royally screwed up, it's in their online system. Potentially there's nothing wrong with it-Tons of unique channels, online play, and tons of classics along with original titles through Wii Ware and the Virtual Console. But the execution is horrid. The friend code setup is an insane joke that has no plausible justification. The Virtual Console and Wii ware are both half-assed efforts with little to no push behind them and many of the unique channels are gimmicky one-note ideas that never go anywhere.

Ok that's all I got for today, should hopefully have another post up between tomorrow and Sunday. In the meantime, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Pokemon Tower Defense


Stan Lee has lost his goddamn mind...

Ok  this is a day later than I expected, but I plan to make it up by posting at least 3  times this week, and as my schedule has become a tad less hectic lately, I might try to keep that up. Anyways, this isn't brand new news, and it's not even that surprising, but Arnold Schwarzenegger is getting back into entertainment after his political career. He plans to turn this whole "Governator" persona into a franchise. Comics, a cartoon, a videogame, probably even a movie. Now Arnold doing this is pretty easy to believe, it's a shallow marketing opportunity that smacks of the worst of Hollywood board meetings where they focus on how to make money rather than making a good product, and Arnold has never been concerned with making something for the Academy. The real insanity is that his partner in all this is Stan Lee. Let me say that again STAN THE FUCKING MAN LEE. The same dude who brought us pretty much all of Marvel's legendary heroes.

Now, some will say this is selling out, which seems like a decent enough theory, but why? He's already made his money and continues making money selling out with producer credits and cameos in nearly every Marvel movie. No a much more reasonable explanation is that he sees himself as a devoted fan would-That he can do no wrong, much like say everything George Lucas has done in the last decade or so. He's not just throwing his name in this, he's pushing it like it'll be the next big phenomenon. This is something that could actually damage his legacy. It's actually that bad. Schwarzenegger has no such risk here, his creative cred is absolutely zero. Really the best we can hope for here is that no company in their right mind will pick it up and it will be quickly forgotten. Stan Lee can just be that weird old guy who keeps popping up in Marvel movies and used to great comics rather than the man who brought about the goddamn entertainment apocalypse by being one of the creative forces behind "The Governator" franchise.

All right, that's it for today. Hopefully I should be back tomorrow or Wednesday with a post about Nintendo's new rumored system. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Abduction


A word about solo & co-op gaming...

So recently many big follow-ups to epic series were "disappointingly" confirmed not to have co-op and be a single-player only experience. Arkham City (follow-up to the best super-hero game ever, Arkham Asylum) Mass Effect 3, & Elder Scrolls: Skyrim  all have been confirmed to be single-player only. There seemed to by a lot of general disappointment in these games focusing on being solo experiences. Why? Why is that even an issue? These games are focused on strong experiences that are played solo. Why must co-op (or multi-player in general for that matter) be shoe-horned into every single game? This would seem to pretty much be the result of games by committee, shoving in everything to try and appeal to the widest audience possible, yet really not pleasing anyone.

Very few games that include both multi-player and single-player manage any sort of balancing act between the two. The Call of Duty games boast excellent multi-player, but extremely shallow and short single-player. Uncharted 2 boasts awesome single-player, but extremely underwhelming multi-player. It probably would've been a much better idea to scrap it altogether and make more single-player levels. Fable II's co-op mode is one of the most half-assed

Really in today's market there is really no reason to mesh these two clashing styles of gameplay experience together, there is a market for multi-player only games, and there is still a big market for a stand-alone solo experience, and not just rpgs. So hopefully companies will realize this too and actually think about whether something is a actually a good fit for a game rather than shoehorning something in there that detracts from the experience of having a more tightly developed core mode. And the best way we can ensure that is to actually buy games that reflect that.

Ok that's all for today, I should hoepfully have another post up tomorrow or Sunday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Rise of the Planet of the Apes


The Top 8 games I want to see on the 3DS...

Sorry this is a bit later than expected, but I spent most of my free time this week finally finishing Dragon Age 2. It was a fun game and I plan to go through it again at some point (especially with this year seemingly incredibly light on rpgs) but probably not before I get through another playthrough of a few of my older games (i.e. I had just started up Dark Cloud 2 a little before DA2 hit, I plan to get back into that before I get into anything else). Anyways, the 3DS is out and a lot of exciting games are in the pipeline for it. Here are 8 I think would be a great fit for the system and its capabilities.

#8 Super Smash Bros.: Nintendo's premier fanboy dream come true really deserves a solid on the go edition. Being able to play online on the road would be extremely awesome. Street Fighter IV showed you could pull of an impressive 3D fighter on the system. 3D could also possibly ad a whole new dimension to the fight, or just be a really awesome way to see the game.

#7 Wario: Formerly a portable mainstay, Wario's been oddly quiet since about 2007. Sure, there was the criminally overlooked Wario Land: Shake It on Wii 3 years ago but that's it. He could really use a solid portable entry and the new 3DS is the perfect opportunity. And not another goddamn minigame collection, not that those haven't been fun, but I'd like to see Wario back as the greedy platforming bastard he is known to be, in full 3D.

#6 Sonic The Hedgehog: If you have only been paying attention to the blue blur's console efforts, you might think its best to just put the poor guy out of his misery. But Sonic has managed to keep his dignity on the portable end with a solid series of games, and he could continue to do so on the Nintendo 3DS. And while most series on this list would benefit from 3D being a huge part of the gameplay Sonic would probably work best sticking to basics, but it could still be fun checking out the old school gaming in 3D anyways (like Rayman)

#5 Professor Layton: I could only imagine what kind of insane brain teasers would result from giving the Layton series a whole new dimension to work with, it's already arguably the most maddeningly brilliant puzzle series ever, yet manages to not be completely nonsensical in its solutions, so the a 3rd dimension to the puzzles would probably just make you feel even stupider.

#4 Ace Attorney: Admittedly the main draw of the Ace Attorney games is the trial portions, which would most likely not benefit much from any kind of 3D aspect. However the investigation portions where you try to uncover evidence have always been rather lackluster and incorporating 3D could be a fantastic way to beef them up both visually and game-play wise.

#3 Star Fox: Yes the are remaking Star Fox 64, but I think what we all really want is a brand new glorious chapter in the Star Fox series if for no other reason than the entire flight combat genre has virtually nonexistent the last generation be it portable or home consoles. A proper sequel, possibly even with online multi-player would be the return to glory Fox truly deserves.

#2 Advance Wars: An incredibly solid series of turn-based strategy games. They don't necessarily need a real graphical upgrade, the basic presentation has always worked well. But incorporating 3D could add a whole new layer to the already fantastic combat. Either way its a great series that has been dormant for a few years and is due for a return.

#1 New Super Mario Bros.: I'm sure there will be plenty of games featuring Mario on the 3DS during the course of its life, but one I would particularly like to see is New Super Mario Bros done the way it really should be, whether it's a remake or an all new game. That means online multi-player, a ton of new levels (possibly dumping the midly amusing minigames) and incorporating 3D in a way that really invigorates the gameplay.

Ok that's the list, hopefully should have another post up early next week. In the meantime here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars


The Top Ten Bioware characters

With their latest epic rpg, Dragon Age 2 now out, regardless of what you think of their games, it's hard to argue against the fact that they create wondrous universes filled with mostly awesome characters. Here in my opinion (in no particular order) are the top ten characters their epic games have produced so far:

10. Kriea: Easily the only actually interesting character from the rushed (and incomplete) but still very fun Knights of the Old Republic II, Kriea did her best to turn your character to the Dark Side, often presenting rather compelling arguments for doing so. And if you tried to turn her to the light? Yeah, she wasn't going for that, being one of the few Bioware characters in history you couldn't turn no matter how you tried.

9. Urdnot Wrex: Wrex could've been another brawny brute with not much in the way of brain matter, like so many other warrior race characters, but  there are some serious brains to go with that brawn, along with a real complex drive to save his people from themselves. It also says something when one of the biggest accomplishments in a game is how hard it is to talk him into not turning on you at a certain key point in the game, which makes him one of the more complex characters indeed.

8. Zevran: Being someone who is usually a rogue, other rogues importance as far as battle has always been dubious at best for me personally, so it's hard to vouch for his awesomeness in battle. However his hilarious dialogue be it flirting with Wynne till she is about to light him on fire or trying to help Alistair with his inadequacies in the sack, the random conversation snippets make him one of the funniest characters to keep around.

7. Alistair: Normally someone like Alistair would be the cocky self-assured hero. But Alistair is insecure, unsure of himself and very self-effacing, making him a great foil for many of the other characters. Plus he actually really grows throughout the journey in Origins into his own man capable of leading an army (or possibly king depending on how things go).

6.Varric: Easily the standout character of Dragon Age 2, telling the tale of Kirkwall's champion as he sees fit, and really it's up to you whether or not his story is truthful. Varric is greedy and ambitious, but also all about family, even family that traps him and leaves him (and subsequently you) for dead in the Deep Roads.

5. Morrigan: Whether its trading hilarious barbs with nearly all your party members, disapproving openly of your attempts to help others or just getting you (or Alistair) to conceive a possible anti-christ with her, Morrigan is a welcome respite from the usual party members that seem to be either completely good or complete bastards depending on how you roll in most Bioware offerings. She's not really bad per se, but like most real people she makes some questionable decisions in the name of finishing the mission and living to tell about it.

4. The Illusive Man: The only character on this list who is not a party member (though I've no doubt he could kick some ass if needed) the whole of the Illusive Man is an extremely compelling mystery. What are his true motives? Does he really care about humanity or is he just out for himself? Why doesn't he crush you like a bug if you don't do things his way? Only the briefest of hints are given about him at all, making him a compelling presence that hopefully will be plenty influential in Mass Effect 3 as well.

3. Garrus: The former space cop turned vigilante is one of the best all around party members for both Mass Effect games. He managed to piss off 3 separate gangs enough to convince them to team up to take him down(which they have little success in). Frankly he's just an all around bad ass, even after he gets half his face blown off.

2. Mordin: Easily my favorite Mass Effect character, Mordin is highly intelligent, funny and can kill you before you get within 100 yards if he so wishes. He doesn't kill indiscriminately but has no qualms doing so if it justifies the means. Pretty much every conversation with him is extremely entertaining, especially when he chooses to belt out in song.

1. HK-47: Easily the best character out of the KOTOR games, arguably the best Bioware character of all time, HK-47 is pretty much the template for characters that openly despise meatbags (i.e. anything living) and do it gleefully. He won't kill you for doing good, but he makes it pretty clear that if it wasn't for his programming he might just kill you for the hell of it.

All right that's the list. Hopefully another post will be up by Wednesday. In the meantime, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Hangover 2