January 10, 2013
by Dan
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Halo Mega Bloks Mega Fail

 

 

In this TBGSE video discussion we will be talking about Halo Mega Bloks. Halo Mega Bloks are Halo themed toys similar to Legos that are meant for children, despite being based on an intellectual property intended for adults.

Special Thanks to Mike Pouch for the excellent chiptune version of the Halo theme. His chiptune interpretation was what the intro for this video needed and all praise be upon him.

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

December 20, 2012
by Dan
2 Comments

Call to Action, shooter ceasefire is not enough

 

 

“I never worry about action, but only inaction.”
-Winston Churchill

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut has prompted GamerFitNation’s president and founder, Antwand Pearman to create the Day of Cease Fire for Online Shooters event. Pearman is asking gamers to show support for the victims by not playing any shooters on Saturday.

He said that this event is not intended to raise money for victims. It is also not meant to be any admission of guilt that the gaming community should feel when these kinds of shootings occur. “We are simply making a statement that we as Gamers are not going to sit back and ignore the lives that were lost,” said Pearman. “Instead we will embrace the families with our love and support.”

I think the sentiment behind this event is commendable and on sentiment alone I would like to support this it, but I think there is something lacking from this kind of display of support; action. What this event is asking people to do is not play any shooter video games on Saturday to show support. How about a call to action instead. I’m not saying money, but time. If we take one day and instead of playing video games — not just shooters, which was a strange distinction — and spend that time doing something worthwhile to help our communities we could make a real difference. We could do something. Our time spent could actually benefit someone else in a meaningful way.

I understand that by asking very little from gamers the Cease Fire event could get more support. It’s easy to “like” something on Facebook and on Saturday play Journey or the new Skyrim Dragonborn DLC instead of playing Call of Duty, Halo, or Farcry. By setting the bar low we can claim an amazing number of gamers are showing support as a community in wake of a tragedy, but there would be little behind it besides numbers. The victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook have received an outpouring of sympathy, but sympathy is only the first step. We can do better. We can do better as a community. We can do better as people.

If the events of the shooting have moved you, then let them move you to action. If they reminded you of the value of life and community, then let that reminder become a benefit to share. If you feel sorrow for their loss, then bring hope to those in need. Inaction is easy, whether it is good intentioned or not. Action is the challenge. Action has meaning. Let us take action together.

Call to Action

I share the sentiments expressed by Pearman. I believe the gaming community can accomplish great things and show a great deal of support, but I am proposing we take his sentiments and go one step further. I am proposing that on January 18-20 we as the gaming community take action. There are many ways we can make our communities a better place to live. On these days, one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, we will honor the memory of those lost by helping those around us. I would be proud for you to donate money or supplies to a good cause, but what I would ultimately like to see is donating blood or volunteering. You can volunteer at a school, homeless shelter, senior center, or animal shelter. By making the event span three days I’m hoping we can get more action. Surely you can find some time to spend. Planning it this early will give people some time to call those places they would like to volunteer at. I would suggest you get started on this soon. Many of the places that encourage volunteering also require background checks, so plan ahead.

There is great good we can accomplish when we are rallied to a cause. Our gaming community can do great things. You can even go home at the end of the day and play your shooters knowing that you made the world a better place.

Please join me on January 18-20 for Call to Action.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

December 14, 2012
by Dan
0 comments

The Spike TV Video Game Awards were finally worth watching

 

 

Every year, nearly every website, magazine and TV show about video games does their “best of” lists and every year we find ourselves discussing the highlights and low points of the past year. Now, I’m not going to ever do a “best of” segment, because I think they are kind of silly and I don’t feel that I’ve played enough of the games that came out this year to compare them at any reasonable amount. It’s this reason that makes me incredibly leery of awards that were voted on by fans since it tends to go to the games that sold the most copies.

Every year we hear many game journalists angrily decrying the idiocy that went on at the Spike TV Video Game Awards and condemning the lack of respect for the medium. Instead, the show tends to focus on stereotypes, celebrities and childish humor. Like last year when they “teabagged” Michael Condrey, co-founder and chief development officer at Sledgehammer Games, after winning an award for Modern Warfare 3, but was unfortunate enough to be onstage when Infinity Ward creative strategist Robert Bowling exceeded his allotted speech time and ran offstage to avoid the embarrassment. Oh, yeah and Charlie Sheen stood there grinning at the entire scene.

Every year though I see the show getting a little bit better… and this year it finally happened… After ten years, the show finally behaved with a level of legitimacy and respect for the medium, for the most part. Everyone won an award that deserved one and while the show was entertaining, it also focused on people in the industry and an awards show should really be about the people nominated for the awards. It even attempted to avoid immaturity and negative stereotypes surrounding the medium and having a live orchestra play scores for many of the trailers really played up the artistic side of these games. This is a monumental step in the right direction considering there has actually been a big, televised awards show on the air now for ten years, despite its shortcomings.

You have to keep in mind that there is no network that would probably appease gamers with an awards show. No other network has a staff that covers games except G4 and most of the criticism that is leveled at Spike is also frequently leveled at G4. Spike advertises to a certain demographic and they need to at least try to make sure that their content lines up with their other shows. These kinds of events are expensive. I mean Samuel L. Jackson can’t be cheap and they need to make sure that the show makes good on the investment, so I do expect a certain amount of pandering. This year they finally managed to have a respectable balance and while the show is nowhere near perfect and much of the past criticism is still true, I had much less criticism than in years past.

Even the awards themselves are fairly meaningless since the industry’s most respectable awards are the Game Developers Choice Awards which are handed out at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and the Interactive Achievement Awards from the DICE summit in Las Vegas. The VGA’s are actually pretty harmless when you think about it, considering the only people who watch them are gamers and most of us know that they are just another list of awards that someone is doing. I can only think of a few times in which I’ve had a conversation with a non-gamer about the VGAs and it amounted to little more than small-talk. At the end of the day, why does this list of “the best of” mean any more than any other random website’s?

So, why do we make a big deal out of the VGAs? They are big and represent what we could potentially have for our medium. We want there to be a grandiose gaming awards show that’s televised globally. We want there to be some kind of shared respect for these achievements. We want to see the developers awarded for their work and we want to publicly show our appreciation for their efforts. Unfortunately, we don’t have a true event like this. As I said, there are other awards that are actually more meaningful in the industry, but none that make a spectacle of it like the VGAs. We want our Oscars and unfortunately that’s not going to happen anytime soon, so until then we get the VGAs.

After ten years of the Spike TV’s Video Game Awards the show finally was able to not be crap and that makes me feel a little better about the future. Maybe by VGA 20, we will get what we ultimately want. I doubt it, but who knows.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

December 6, 2012
by Dan
0 comments

The Best Games Ever: Sid Meier’s Pirates!

 

In this video addition to our series discussing some of the best games ever we are talking about Sid Meier’s Pirates! originally released in 1987 for the Commodore 64. Through open-ended gameplay and random encounters  the game encouraged exploration and multiple playthroughs. The mix of strategy, role-playing and action blended together to complement the expansive digital Spanish Main that Sid Meier constructed with historical accuracy. While Sid Meier’s Pirates! may be an achievement of early gaming many people have never played the more original variations or have any idea what kind of an accomplishment this experience was when it was originally released.

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

November 21, 2012
by Dan
1 Comment

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 is great, but not an improvement

 

 

It’s November. Which can only mean one thing, a new Call of Duty. This year we get the Treyarch variation and along with it we get a new time period, the year 2025. Don’t let the future setting fool you. This is still Call of Duty, complete with all the over-the-top action, gun battles and adrenaline fueled destruction. Every year I find myself asking this same question though, “Is this a better Call of Duty than I’ve been playing for the past year?” It’s early on, but sadly enough this year it seems like the answer is no.

I’d like to preface the rest of this review with the statement that I love Call of Duty. I know the series has a ton of haters out there. Artsy gamers don’t like first-person shooters. Halo fans like their FPSs with a little more sci-fi elements mixed in and Battlefield enthusiasts prefer their particular brand of realistic FPS. I like all games and have spent a considerable amount of time with other FPSs. Halo at one point was a contentious issue with my future-wife. But since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare I’ve been spending most of my time with my friends playing Domination.

The campaign’s narrative is a mess and I can’t imagine coming into the series without having played the first Black Ops game. Not because the narrative from the first game is continued into the plot of the second one, but because I already know the characters, so there is less for me to absorb. Black Ops 2 stars David Mason, the son of Alex Mason, the protagonist from the first Black Ops. The story jumps around from the Cold War in the 1980s to 2025 with David Mason. In the 80s, sometimes you’re Alex Mason again and sometimes you play as Frank Woods, one of the CIA Special Forces guys from the first game.

In the first Black Ops, Frank Woods dies, but now we learn that this was a hallucination by Mason due to his being brainwashed by the Soviets. OK. I’m not even going to try and explain most of the plot for Black Ops 2. It’s too strange and it doesn’t help that the perspective keeps shifting from Alex Mason to Frank Woods. Alex Mason is also still hallucinating and seeing Viktor Reznov, a WWII Russian hero he met while in Soviet captivity that originally appeared in Call of Duty: World at War. I also found it incredibly odd that there is absolutely no mention of David Mason’s mother. As frequently as people die in Call of Duty I can imagine her just having been killed in a gunfight with Canadian separatists while at the grocery store getting milk. After a little bit I developed a theory that David is actually just a clone of Alex, which is probably a more plausible situation than normal childbirth considering all the other really crazy shit that happens throughout the series.

In the future, David Mason is trying to stop a terrorist named Raul Menendez, who has some connection to Woods and his father. The U.S. is also at war with China, Russia and a few other Asian countries I think, but it’s a little confusing. Lots of people betray lots of people. Bad things happen to people who have names. Worse things happen to people who don’t have names. You fight terrorists all over the world including through an aircraft carrier and in the middle of a battle for Los Angeles. I was actually really sad, because the Los Angeles battle was awesome, but it felt like it should have been longer. The aircraft carrier battle has to be the highlight of the game for me as I’ve always wanted to have a massive battle on an aircraft carrier. Now that I can scratch aircraft carrier off my list I’ve officially run out of awesome places to fight a Call of Duty battle.

While the actual story is a mess it does have some high points. If you enjoy learning about military history like me then you will notice a few nice touches involving the invasion of Panama and fighting drug lords in Nicaragua. Manuel Noriega is an excellent villain and I’m glad he makes an appearance. Oliver North makes a few appearances, which makes sense since he was largely consulted for the game and while I may have my issues with North he seems like the right kind of guy to talk to about shady military operations conducted during the Cold War. I found the inclusion of David Petraeus incredibly interesting and if not for the ongoing scandal surrounding him, his inclusion would probably spark a few interesting stories on more mainstream news outlets.

Since the game’s story jumps around so much at times it’s pretty hard to follow. I know that all Call of Duty games jump around, but this one is crazy. One specific instance was when I started a mission as Menendez and escaped from Noriega. I then begin to try and fight my way back to rescue my sister. Along the way my drug cartel army shows up and fights alongside me, but I didn’t know they were allies, so I inadvertently killed most of them. It also doesn’t help that they look a lot like Noriega’s men except they are wearing different hats. Right when I get used to shooting a certain kind of character wearing a certain kind of hat, the game switches to the perspective of Woods, where he’s frantically trying to capture Menendez, only now I’m Woods and I’m shooting at the guys in the wide-brimmed hats who were just my allies when I was Menendez and being helped by the people I was just slaughtering by the dozens with a machete. I also swear to God one of the cartel soldiers was named, Burrito. I only saw him for a few seconds before he was blown up, but my game clearly showed his name as Burrito.

One of the more interesting additions to the campaign are the Strike Force missions, in which you command various units while they try and complete objectives. You can choose to direct them all from a tactical point of view or take control of individual units and direct them from the field. I initially thought this was incredibly fun since I could command drones and use their various abilities to wreak havok. Unfortunately I quickly learned that your SEALS are incapable of defending themselves and I was constantly having to fight the entire battle from the perspective of one lone Rambo. It also didn’t help that I kept encountering bugs that prevented me from moving any of my SEAL units at all and the highlight of the experience became when I completed a mission because my units suddenly decided to rescue me at the last second in my one-man assault.

The one major improvement on the campaign that I can absolutely say impressed me was the ability for the actions I took throughout the campaign to have consequences later in the story. They are mostly minor details and we are not talking about anything near the level of an RPG, but this was a welcome change from the more linear aspect of the past installments. At one point I replayed a level three times before I was able to change the ending to the one I wanted to continue with. Even the Strike Missions affect the progression of the story. I’m glad to see some new innovations in the Call of Duty campaigns and this seems like something that is worth continuing.

Multiplayer

Treyarch has taken the multiplayer formula from the first Black Ops and expanded on it. I’m still not sold though on whether it’s an improvement. I can definitely say though that this is not an improvement to Modern Warfare 3. The multiplayer is fun. It is Call of Duty at its core and it’s been a blast. I also know this Call of Duty is made by Treyarch and MW3 was made by Infinity Ward, but it doesn’t matter. After all the personnel issues IW experienced, Treyarch took an active role in developing MW3 and I should expect some of the improvements that MW3 incorporated. On top of that, its technically the same series and it’s not 2011 anymore. This game has to compete in 2012. I’m not even talking about massive changes. I’m talking about a few improvements that MW3 incorporated. For example, the changes to the scorestreak system. MW3 had three different categories; assault, support and specialist. Each offered unique ways to influence the battle that you could tailor to your playstyle and the most amazing aspect was that you could set them up individually for each class. I could have a few classes that use support, which continued my score even if I died, so I could consistently get points to help my team. This encouraged me to take risks that didn’t necessarily guarantee long killing sprees. And by having the ability to set up scorestreaks for each loadout I could have classes that worked with my expectations for that loadout. I could have a class that I knew were a guaranteed 3-4 kills and I could have classes that were set up for longer streaks. Having one list of scorestreaks for all my classes is a step backwards and it’s an unnecessary one. This seems like something Treyarch could have changed in a week, but ignored. After some discussion at TBGSE we came to the conclusion that by allowing different scorestreaks you could earn a powerful scorestreak, die, then change classes to another set and chain them. That’s possible, but it would be an easy fix by not allowing points to carry on after you die or if you change to a class with a different scorestreak.

Originally I thought the addition of the new pick-ten point system for my loadouts was going to be a mess, but after working with it I realized it’s only slightly less restrictive than the past. Now each loadout has ten points available, a gun is a point, a perk is a point, an attachment is a point, a grenade is a point, etc. Certain perks called wildcards muddy the waters a little. If I want to run with two perks from the same slot I need three points including the wildcard perk allowing me to do so. Now I can run three attachments on a gun or carry two blocks of C4. I’m not sure if this is an advancement for the series or not. It’s a little different, which is OK. I feel like I can do some more unique things with my loadout than in the past, but the game prevents me from getting really crazy and carrying around an absurd amount of concussion grenades, which was my first crazy idea. This may not necessarily be an improvement, but it’s definitely different and I can tell Treyarch was toying with something new without going overboard.

The second largest issue with the multiplayer is the order in which you unlock perks. I’m specifically talking about the Ghost perk. Ghost makes you invisible to UAVs and prevents you from showing up on the mini-map as long as you are moving, which is a small change. The UAV is the first scorestreak available to you. It is the most prevalent and easiest to acquire and yet the one perk that counters the UAV is the very last thing you unlock in the prestige. That means you spend your entire time leveling up without having the most effective way to counter the most prevalent scorestreak in the game! You do have a few less effective options, shoot the UAV down, run counter-UAV, or run the pre-set Operative class that has Ghost as a perk. The pre-set class is actually a decent class, but maybe I want to have my own class with Ghost. We also realized that if you decide to prestige, you had better not pick a sixth create-a-class slot as your reward, because then you lose the Ghost class as your sixth class deletes the pre-set Operative class. Why does Treyarch do this? Infinity Ward has figured out the magical way to let us keep the pre-set classes. If you were unlucky enough to make the wrong decision and get rid of the Operative class without getting Ghost, then I feel a great amount of pity in my heart for you and I hope you have sympathetic friends who will be amenable to carrying you through your entire second prestige.

Another masterstroke of a problem is the way you unlock everything in the multiplayer. Treyarch really really wants you to prestige. And the way they are going to force you to is by not allowing you to unlock everything until your final prestige. Each prestige you only get 55 unlock tokens, which give you access to equipment and perks, but there are about 90 things to unlock. If you want to be able to unlock every piece of equipment and perk then you have to get through all ten levels of prestige at which point everything becomes available to unlock. I understand that you want us to prestige by allowing us to get more create-a-class slots, but not allowing me to get access to everything until the very end feels less like an incentive and more like a punishment.

I have a much longer list of other aspects of multiplayer that are either not improved upon or are clearly regressions from the previous installments. I could continue to list them, but I feel that these issues I’ve already covered make up the bulk of my displeasure. With only a week of playing the game I shouldn’t have this many major issues with the new Call of Duty and that may be something that troubles me greatly. This far into every other installment I had yet to find much fault with the multiplayer. I was still awed by the improvements and still excited to try out something new, but this feels less new and less improved. At the end of the day this is great multiplayer. I enjoy it and I’ll enjoy many more hours of it, but I have a feeling that after the shine begins to wear off I’ll be back on the MW3 servers looking forward to next November.

Zombies

I wanted to make sure to dedicate at least a small portion of this review to Zombies. I’ve never been a huge Zombie fanatic in the series, but I will admit that Treyarch is getting to be great at the Zombie part of Call of Duty. This time around the Zombie levels are more creative, deep and interactive than ever. The variation in the different types of Zombie games adds a wonderful variety. I especially love the transit game which involves trying to fortify a bus while you hold off the undead hordes. I’ve been involved in a few epic standoffs as the bus hurdles through the darkness with my team clinging to the roof as we become overwhelmed by the undead. I found this to be a much more exciting final stand than hiding in a corner and hoping the zombies stop before two people accidentally reload at the same time. If any aspect of the new Call of Duty title was improved on I would definitely say the Zombies are better than ever.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

November 15, 2012
by Dan
0 comments

Why have you failed me Nintendo?

 

 

Sometimes people email me and say nice things about my work. Unfortunately, the standard that I’ve come to accept though is usually more akin to misspelled criticism about some random thing like my inability to live up to their mad herding skills. One email I recently received was curious about what game I was most disappointed in this console cycle. I know there is still a year and a half left of this cycle, but it got me thinking a little about one constant disappointment over the past several years, Nintendo.

You have to keep in mind that for something to be a disappointment there has to be a certain amount of expectation. Duke Nukem Forever actually exceeded my expectations since the game was actually completed and shipped in a format that people could play. I had a small amount of disappointment in the first Assassin’s Creed since I was expecting something more like Assassin’s Creed 2, but I still love Assassin’s Creed despite its shortcomings and I feel that it was a wonderful first attempt for the series.

When the Nintendo Wii launched I was incredibly enthusiastic. The integration of motion controls gave me hope that I would be entering a new generation that could bring more than simply prettier graphics. It could bring me something creative and fun. I remember first playing Wii Sports and thinking about how Nintendo made a simplistic tennis game incredibly fun right out of the box. I had fanciful visions in my head of new places for this technology to go once other developers started unlocking its potential. I remember playing Wii Golf for hours with my friends and I immediately imagined a few installments using this same mechanic only doing some crazy mini-golf theme. Wii Sports was the beginning of something that only needed to be explored.

I’ve never actually owned a Wii though. I lived with people who owned them and I had free access to them. After I moved away I would borrow or rent one every now and then to play a few games and keep up with the system, but nothing actually compelled me to purchase one. I always assumed that after a few more games came out I could justify the purchase. It’s not that there were bad games on the Wii it’s just that there weren’t enough great or unique games and there was a noticeable lack of games living up to the expectations that I had envisioned when I first played Wii Sports.

A few months ago I seriously considered purchasing one, but then Nintendo did something that only cemented my original decision not to bring the system home. They started releasing all their Wiis without them being backwards compatible. It was a ridiculously stupid dick-move since it required taking features away from the console and actually shipping less capable consoles. This was a massive deal-breaker for me since one of the main reasons I was intending to purchase one was that I could play my favorite GameCube games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Kart Double Dash and spend some more time playing old Legend of Zelda games from my Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition. I’m a huge Zelda fan and the two Zelda games on the Wii are almost enough to make me invest in a Wii, but I’ve already played through Twilight Princess and spent a little time with Skyward Sword so what do I actually get?

The Wii versions of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. were abysmal. Both of those series had always walked the line between skill, random overpowered abilities and luck. I expect a ridiculous amount of blind luck in a series like Mario Party, but in Smash Bros. and Mario Kart there needs to be a balance and the Wii installments were more about random blind luck. Mario Galaxy was fun, but not incredibly awesome and a week of playing it was enough for me. I’m sure there there are a few more games on the Wii that would be entertaining, but not enough for me to jump in.

Ultimately the lack of expanding upon the expectations I first saw with Wii Sports is the biggest disappointment. When Microsoft first saw the Wii they immediately went all-in on the potential of the device and built the Kinect. I own a Kinect and I enjoy playing games on it and using it to work out. I have some issues with it, but I feel like it’s moving in the direction of where Nintendo wanted to go when they first set out to build the Wii. The Wii has only barely advanced upon its motion controls and has become a magnet for party games and shovel-ware.

The Red Steel series is something that added onto the disappointment of the motion control concept. A first-person shooter built around motion controls that utilizes the Wiimote and Nunchuck for shooting and sword-fighting. I was able to overlook the terrible controls in the first installment with the expectations that the second would live up to its potential, but the second Red Steel was just as bad. I’ve yet to see another series that really tried incorporating the motion controls ambitiously into an action game like that. I’ve seen other action games that utilized the motion controls, but none with the potential of Red Steel.

Here at the end of the cycle I’m looking at so much missed opportunity with the Wii that’s it almost saddening. Does anybody remember this video with Johnny Chung Lee? Look at all the cool stuff he did with his Wii clear back in 2007! Do you know what Nintendo did with this? Nothing! Microsoft hired Lee to work on their Kinect where he became a major part of their development team. Last year he jumped ship to Google and the internet has been rampant with speculation as to what he’s doing for them. My favorite theory is that he’s working on the Google Goggles. Great job Nintendo. This guy is better at demonstrating the potential of your Wii then you. You let him go work for your biggest competitor to develop the thing that Microsoft specifically made to compete with you.

The Lee debacle is the icing on the cake. When I first saw that video it confirmed to me what I was expecting from the Wii. When Lee jumped ship to Microsoft to work on the Kinect and Nintendo kept turning out stupid party games. It greatly contributed to my decision to hold off on the Wii and save my money for the Kinect. In the end, the Wii had so much potential. There was so much I wanted to do with it and it only succeeded in half-hearted attempts to make me interested. Sure, in the past six years it’s managed to release a few more titles I would love to play, but comparing it to the mountain of games I don’t have time to play on my Xbox 360 and PC is ridiculous. What happened Nintendo? To make me this uninterested in your console is an epic failure that almost had to be intentional.

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

 

November 8, 2012
by Dan
0 comments

Do the Dew

 

 

There is a stereotype of gamers that we like Mountain Dew. You may have recently been enjoying Halo 4 while drinking some Mountain Dew in the hopes of getting the double experience it offers for your multiplayer character. Part of it could be that Pepsi has latched onto gamers through ad campaigns pushing Mountain Dew as the gamers choice for hardcore gaming. But I think there is some truth in the idea that gamers actually like Mountain Dew. I know because I am a core gamer, but I’m also probably addicted to Mountain Dew.

My Facebook profile picture

As I write this and most other content that shows up on TBGSE I drink lots of Mountain Dew. Right now my glass is empty and I’m contemplating going to get more from the fridge in my living room that only holds two things, Mountain Dew and a wide variety of beer. That’s right, I have a fridge in my living room full of Mountain Dew and beer. Sorry ladies, I’m taken. How I’ve been able to keep my fridge in the living room through the years I’ve lived with my marital partner has actually kind of amazed me. We’ve never seriously fought about it. It may have to do with the fact that until recently we’ve not had nice furniture, so a mini-fridge made just as much sense as an old chair and a broken couch.

Seeing Master Chief on my Mountain Dew this fall came as no surprise since the gaming/Mountain Dew pairing started with Halo 3 in 2007 when Pepsi released their first Mountain Dew Game Fuel. The Game Fuel bottle prominently displayed Master Chief and inside the bottle was a strange overly-sweet, orange liquid that tasted like melted gummy worms. It was disgusting. One of the main reasons it tasted so bad was that one of the main ingredients in Mountain Dew was missing, orange juice. Most of the popular flavors of Mountain Dew are actually made with orange juice and it’s probably the reason I like Mountain Dew so much. I drink orange juice for breakfast and in the evenings. It goes great with so many other things like vodka, rum and gin.

In 2009, Pepsi worked with Blizzard to promote World of Warcraft with another version of Game Fuel which tasted equally bad for the same reasons. They actually released two WoW Game Fuel bottles, but one was just the original orange Game Fuel from 2007 with a different label on it. The other blue one tasted like a failed attempt at Pepsi Blue. Apparently they believed that gamers don’t care about flavor, they only care about caffeine, sugar and bottle-art.

Last year they invented a third, horribly bad flavor when they released their promotion with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I was all over this one since there were codes that gave you double experience for periods of time that were on all of the flavors of Mountain Dew and not just the disgusting game-fuel flavors. When the promotional codes finally expired I had hours of double experience that went unredeemed since there was some kind of limit imposed on how much I could use in a week.

One of the reasons that Mountain Dew is associated with gaming actually began before Pepsi started chasing publishers around. In the 80s and 90s Pepsi started trying to market Mountain Dew to teenagers by associating the beverage with extreme sports like skateboarding and rollerblading. For those of us that remember the 80s and early 90s, this kind of makes sense, because skateboarding was considered incredibly cool and it frequently ended up appearing in kids’ shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Skateboarding and rollerblading was predominantly done by young men or teenage boys, so the marketing campaign was much more effective at appealing to boys.

Boys from the late 80s and early 90s may not have been skateboarding, but they were definitely playing video games. Schoolyard fights would erupt over a disagreement between Nintendo and Sega in this time period. I know because I once was involved in a brawl over my reluctance to declare Sonic a far superior game protagonist compared to Mario. In a bit of irony, after the fight began I punched the kid in the face and when he collapsed on the ground I emulated Mario and jumped on him, then yelled that he should have run like his hero Sonic. I actually liked Sonic. I just liked Mario better.

When that generation of boys were in their late teens they were the same ones who were driving the video game market. When they were in their twenties they became the Halo players and the WoW addicts and pushing Mountain Dew onto these guys was incredibly easy, considering they had been drinking the beverage all along, now they were only being rewarded for drinking more of it. This goes back to the idea that the gaming demographic are guys in their late twenties and early thirties. Kids in their late teens are drinking much more sugary and caffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull and Rockstar.

So if you’re saving the universe from intergalactic evil  over the next few days while drinking Mountain Dew, try not to spill it on your nice furniture. The Code Red can stain pretty bad and if you spill it, you should immediately freak out. If you’re playing with teammates when this happens, going AFK while you clean up the stain is totally worth a loss. Just hope that your friends are understanding enough to know that you cost them victory while you were saving your couch. If you spill one of the Game Fuels on your furniture then don’t worry. Anybody who actually drinks that stuff can’t own nice furniture as you have no sense of taste.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

October 17, 2012
by Dan
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Video Discussion: Takin’ It Easy, How Easy Mode Only Helps Your Game

 

 

In this video discussion we’re talking about the comments by Assassin’s Creed 3 Lead Designer Alex Hutchinson during an interview with Edge Magazine in which he said, “A lot of games have been ruined by easy modes.” It’s unfortunate that Hutchinson believes this, because I feel having an easier difficulty setting makes your game more appealing to less competent, but still incredibly interested gamers. Having comments like this ensure that our hobby stays an exclusionary one and discourages people from getting interested in gaming.

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

October 9, 2012
by Dan
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The Worst Quests in Guild Wars 2

 

 

In this video, we’d like to highlight the worst quests in Guild Wars 2. We have no idea why these horribly bad moments made it into the game, but we’d like to add a little bit of humor to the situation when you find yourself in the midst of boredom. No game should feel like work and I think ArenaNet should pay us to play these sections.

 

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.

September 27, 2012
by Dan
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OSU study shows that gamers who team up are less combative

 

 

A recent study from Ohio State showed that gamers who play cooperatively are better team players when game time is over. In fact, the effect is so powerful that it will get Ohio State students to work on a team with Michigan fans. I would be very interested to know if the effect is powerful enough to overcome the burning hatred of Kansas and Mizzou. I know games are awesome, but even cooperative Halo has its limits.

Ohio State University Professor of Communication David Ewoldsen and co-author of the research originally got the idea for the study from watching his sons play games.

“When I watched my sons playing together, afterward it would be a much more positive environment than if they were playing competitively, and then half the time they’d end up fighting,” he said. “And ultimately what the idea came down to was which had a bigger effect, cooperating with a real human or killing a virtual creature? And I always thought that cooperative behavior with a real human is going to override that killing of the digital creature.”

His experiment incorporated Halo 2 and Unreal Tournament 3. He had some students play Halo 2’s campaign by themselves, some play cooperatively with a partner and a third group played head-to-head Slayer matches against each other.

In the Unreal Tournament 3 experiment he only had two groups. One was head-to-head competition and the other was cooperatively. The cooperative group tried to play up the angle that maybe players would be less chummy if their teammate proudly wore a Michigan shirt for a study that used Ohio State students. He found that the addition of the rival had no effect of their cooperation. If I had been forced to play Unreal Tournament with a Mizzou student, I would have betrayed him and then laughed as the entire situation devolved into something unworthy of university backed funding.

After the gaming sessions ended, the players were given four dimes to start off with and were told that they could either keep all of the dimes or give them to another player. Each dime given to another doubled in value.

“The idea is that you can be selfish and keep your dimes or you can give them away,” he said “and if each person gives their dimes away they get more money, so that’s the measure of cooperation.”

Both studies showed that participants who had been playing cooperatively were more quick to hand their dimes out to the other player with the understanding that they would get more money.

“So if you’re nice, I’ll be nice. If you’re nasty, I’ll be nasty,” Ewoldsen said. “And that’s the strategy that leads to cooperation in the long term.”

Unfortunately, the flip side is that when players were more combative with each other, they continued their combative behavior after the game ended. While the article on the study doesn’t discuss it, I would be curious to know how long this effect continued and if it was more dramatic if they played the game for longer periods of time. For the purpose of the study there was only 20 minutes of gaming, but the effect could have been more dramatic if there had been even more.

This would help prove why we are such great friends at The Best Game Site Ever. We played hours upon hours of Halo on teams, so much that we are still feeling the effects of it today. Nothing brings you closer together than having one of your best friends yell down the hall at you, “That’s right, run away bitch!”

 

Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.

For updates from The Best Game Site Ever, “like” us on Facebook or follow us at Twitter, where we discourage trolling, but encourage debate.