Storytelling in The Walking Dead game and the problem of the “interactive movie” genre

Let’s get something straight: The Walking Dead game is not a bad game. But I don’t think it’s a great one either. It is so filled to the brim with flaws and mechanics that are the exact opposite of what I personally want out of video games. The whole concept of a video game where I occasionally press buttons, have to solve puzzles that really aren’t that well designed, and make decisions, it doesn’t entirely appeal to me. If anything, the concept of making decisions is the only thing I’d want to keep, we can throw everything else away and start from scratch and make a completely different video game. I can barely even consider The Walking Dead game a video game. To me, it is using the medium I love very poorly, despite having good storytelling.

The storytelling in the game is quite incredible; I don’t think I can deny that. I did get attached to Clementine and Lee as characters and genuinely felt for them in someway…but I feel like I could have cared way more for them if I was actually playing a real video game. When the game has to stuff in bad puzzles and sequences of just walking around to fill game time, it detracts from the experience in a multitude of ways, especially because a lot of the time nothing else is going on in the game unless I force myself to talk to people which typically aren’t even that interesting side conversations in the first place beyond the main story of the game.

One of the things that has become more and more a mainstay in video games are side conversations that characters have as you play the game, whether it be in Bioshock or The Last of Us, side conversations are going to add to the experience significantly. Understandably, those games I’m sure have much higher budgets than TellTale may ever have for their games. Regardless, I don’t think that completely excuses gameplay that simply isn’t fun most of the time and makes me impatient and makes me wish I could just skip over it all to get to the actual story and decision making that makes the game what it is.

Frankly, the gameplay of the first season already bored me by the time I hit episode three or so, I was sick and tired of it and just wanted to see what would happen to these characters instead of actually playing the game which isn’t what a video game should make me feel. I should feel like I want to play the goddamn game. The strange thing about the first season of the game is that it got amazing reviews pretty much all across the board, which baffles me. Of course, people can have different opinions and the game is subjective as a whole, but it seems strange to me that so many people aren’t bothered by the gameplay of this first season. Besides the story, did you REALLY enjoy the gameplay? I mean, it’s almost hard for me to see how people could thoroughly enjoy the gameplay of something that isn’t really a video game. This isn’t what I want video games to be. Hell, it could almost be a choose your own adventure book (though it’s still better than that).

400 Days, the sidestory DLC that branches in between of Season 1 and Season 2, may be one of the pointless video games ever designed. It’s probably an hour long or so and essentially contains five side stories set in The Walking Dead game universe that are barely even connected to the main game and the stories seem to make sure to cut off right before they have potential to actually become more interesting. Afterwards, they poorly connect all of these stories in an absurd way that makes little to no sense in order for the player to “feel” something more for these characters; yet, I feel nothing at all for anyone in this game. I could care less about a single person in any of these stories because I have no idea who they are, we spend so little time with any of them, the gameplay gives me even less of a reason to care considering most of it is just button pushing to make choices or pushing an analog stick sometimes. 400 Days is a strange experimental exercise in storytelling that bombs in every single way and is seriously one of the most pointless games I’ve ever played. It serves no purpose for anyone. I have no idea why it exists nor will I ever.

Season 2 doesn’t exactly do much to improve upon either Season 1 or the abysmal 400 Days. Instead of controlling Lee, you play as Clementine. I have to admit that it is a bold move to allow the player to control Clementine except it’s in a game where you barely play a video game. One of the few good things about Season 2 is that it cuts out most of the awful puzzles and extremely boring sequences found within the first season, instead most of the game is small action sequences or simply pushing buttons to make conversation choices. Do I like this better? Sure, it cuts out really awful, useless gameplay that does NOTHING to immerse me into the game. But this more simplified “gameplay” also does NOTHING to immerse into the game or the story.

I found myself lacking in any actual empathy or really caring about the characters in this story-especially the newer ones who are so shallowly developed through conversation after conversation of bickering and arguing instead of any personal moments to help me connect with these characters further. Not only is the gameplay a problem this time around, I also found the story writing to be a problem and caught in a vicious cycle of repetitive arguing which is obviously realistic in an post-apocalyptic setting, but there’s a point where it loses its flare.

Don’t get me wrong; The Walking Dead Season 1 and Season 2 aren’t awful video games. They just don’t understand the medium, in my opinion. They think this is a medium that needs to borrow so heavily from cinema and add “gamey” things like conversation choices in order for it to seem “unique” in someway when in reality, it’s sort of a shallow experience where I don’t really care too much about the characters in the end, at least that’s how it made me feel. When the gameplay simply is a drag to play through, isn’t that a sign that your game is riddled in problems? Because I find it pretty hard to believe that people could enjoy playing these games that much. Developers are going to need to find a way to properly balance the idea of these story-driven games. Instead of making me feel like I’m playing an interactive movie, make me feel like I’m playing a video game, one that actually has good gameplay and a good story. Gameplay and story need to work together if you want something that is meaningful and impactful. (And seriously, 400 Days is so laughable. Oh my God. I’m sorry. I needed to make another jab.)

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book Passing Out Pieces for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

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Best Small Moments in Video Games

A lot of games nowadays are filled with massive setpieces and giant cinematic extravagance and that is all great and fine or whatever…but what about the small or quiet moments found within games? The ones that may even be better than those massive setpieces? The ones that may actually stick with you by the end of the game? I think if we actually look at some of our favorite games, these are the moments that are actually the best. I figured I would put together a list of some of my favorite small moments in some of my favorite games (most of them being fairly recent releases).

Bioshock Infinite: “God Only Knows”

Right from the start of Bioshock Infinite, I was onboard. As soon as the game launched us into Columbia and an absolutely beautiful score began to play, I knew this game was going to be something interesting, but I had no real clue of what I was really going to be playing. My suspicions truly began once “God Only Knows” started to be performed by a barbershop quartet in Columbia. The game takes place in 1912. “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys was released in 1966 on the fantastic album Pet Sounds. How in the actual hell is this barbershop quartet playing this song right now? It made me realize something was so completely off about the world of Columbia. I had no idea what it actually was when this song played, of course, but it is the first thing that raised this suspicious. And every time I go back and listen to this version found within Bioshock Infinite, chills are sent down my spine, it’s absolutely hauntingly beautiful and is representative of what Columbia is: a twisted world that represents America in a disturbing time, among many other things.

Bioshock Infinite: “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?”

I had to single out another moment found within Bioshock Infinite. The crazy thing about this moment is the fact that it is optional, just as “God Only Knows” could potentially be. That’s the insane thing. This game isn’t the same with either of these moments excluded. This moment is one that I consider a calming moment found within an intense game, we have struggled through bullshit (with more to come) and insane happenings (with seriously more to come) and this moment comes out of nowhere. It is quiet, content, and a moment of rest. It’s so utterly beautiful and satisfying on all fronts and is one of the most memorable parts of the game. This song holds so much weight and the beautiful cover is just absolutely captivating. And beyond that, the song wasn’t picked for no reason, it has such an absolute revolving meaning to the game itself and yet, still manages to be this wonderfully quiet moment.

The Last of Us: “Giraffes”

I may not have put this one last, but it may be my favorite small moment in any video game ever because it evoked tears. It made me tear up (well, more than one moment in this game did, this game makes me all sorts of emotional) and it’s so goddamn simple. It is the literal definition of the calm before the storm. This moment comes toward the end of the game, we are about to get into the last hour or so of the game filled with the most difficult and terrifying fight sequences (of both infected and Fireflies). We’ve gone through (obvious spoilers coming up) the death of Tess, Sam, and Henry, the near death of Joel, a frightening man named David, and we’ve seen this father/daughter relationship between Joel and Ellie become something so utterly beautiful, real, honest, and sincere (through multiple other small moments and large ones that I could talk about for days on end). And finally, we get to calm the hell down. Mind you, this happens right after the events of winter, which is arguably the most emotional tense season of the game. The giraffes come out in this beautiful large field and you can’t help but smile (or cry) and sit there for a while. From what it sounds like, most people who played the game actually sat there for a while. That’s the amazing thing. You could have just rushed right through this giraffe moment if you really wanted to, yet, most players didn’t see a reason to, it is too beautiful a moment to sacrifice in a video game that takes you down some of the most emotionally stressful moments I’ve ever experienced.

Infamous 2: “Beers”

The Infamous franchise is one near and dear to me, the first two games are some of my favorite games ever made, not only for their amazingly fun open world super power infested craziness, but also for the story (okay, not so much on the story-front for Second Son, unfortunately). The bond between Cole and Zeke is pretty goddamn beautiful, I have no other way I can describe it, and this mission late into the game that mostly just consists of a cutscene of Cole and Zeke watching a movie and drinking beers, really shows that goddamn beautiful bond off. It’s so utterly simple in its execution and is one of the few moments in a video game that really shows what a close friendship is actually like because it dares to be quiet and content with itself and simply just show these characters…I don’t know…being actual people and just…relaxing? It’s pretty damn awesome.

Metal Gear Solid 2: “Philosophical Ending”

Wait a minute, how can I use an ending to a video game as my favorite small/quiet moment? Well, Metal Gear Solid 2 is one crazy goddamn game, it also happens to be one of my favorite games of all time (and is my favorite of the franchise). Sometimes the game can appear to be nonsensical, absolutely strange, and pointless, but it isn’t. It isn’t at all. The ending of this game is by far one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced in any piece of art because it isn’t afraid. Instead of trying to build up some crazy twist like so many plots do or trying to do something focused just on character, it cuts right to the point: this is the meaning of life. This is what people are about and what we should be doing and what is necessary for us to really live on and be something more than just…well, people. It’s sincere, and people are afraid of that sincerity. And I still consider it this beautifully quiet moment because that’s exactly what it is, it uses this platform of a video to give a beautifully quiet philosophical and very necessary moment in a game filled with zaniness, it decided to turn things down for the moment and settle everything quietly, and what this really comes down to, is it manages to produce one of my favorite things ever written in fiction, not just in video games, simply because of its ability to wind things down and cut to the point with no fear.

What are your favorite quiet moments in video games? What did you think of my picks? Like them? Hate them? Let me know in the comments.

Did you enjoy this post? Follow my blog for (almost) daily posts on video game news, opinions, reviews, and a bunch of other stuff!

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Call of Duty

I haven’t played or bought a Call of Duty game since 2010’s Black Ops. I was sick and tired of the same game every year and supporting this business model. So I took it upon myself to boycott Call of Duty…until now. A couple weeks ago, I popped in Modern Warfare 2 (one of my favorite games of the last generation) into my Playstation 3. I had day’s worth of gameplay on the game’s PVP multiplayer, which is a lot for a gamer that mostly plays single player games. I played a couple of matches in Team Deathmatch and suddenly realized that this is the most fun I’ve had playing video games in months. I was having stupid amounts of fun getting kills with an ACR, running around only knifing people like an idiot, and sprinting around with a shotgun as a sidearm because the developers of this game were insane.

Video games have been slipping away from me for the past few months and suddenly; I was really enjoying games again. I missed this feeling of excitement and rush that video games used to bring me, and now I went and did something I vowed never to do again: buy another Call of Duty game. I went ahead and bought Advanced Warfare (and wrote a review here…shameless plug) and I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

The game isn’t perfect by any means. Some aspects of the multiplayer are ridiculous and absurd (System Hack scorestreak, awful spawns, the game maybe being a bit too fast), but the game is still some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing a first person shooter online because of that ridiculousness.

Sure, the campaign and the co-op are same old, same old, and aren’t the reason you are probably buying these games in the first place, but I still have been coming back to the PVP almost every single day and playing for a decent amount of time each time. Is it that different from most COD games? No, not really. It adds some new gameplay elements and has probably the best class set-up system the series has ever had, but it still keeps the same core gameplay…and I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that I’m okay with that. It used to piss me off, the laziness these developers had when they could make better games and I still believe they could be making better games, but I’m okay with it now.

I used to be one of those people getting angry with Call of Duty and its yearly bullshit, but I’m okay with it. People are going to love these games regardless of what I have to say about them and more power to them because I sort of understand once again. I’m having a blast with Advanced Warfare…and that’s okay that I am.

What do you think about Call of Duty as a franchise? Have you played Advanced Warfare? Do you boycott/not play Call of Duty like I once did?

Did you enjoy this post? Follow my blog for (almost) daily posts!

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something or laugh I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

Sony unhappy about scalped 20th Anniversary Playstation 4 Consoles

Sony released 12,300 of the 20th Anniversary version of the Playstation 4, which was extremely difficult to get (for obvious reasons). This has led to overly inflated prices on the secondary market.

“That’s not what we want to see happen,” Playstation UK boss Fergal Gara told Eurogamer. “It’s inevitable some proportion of that will happen, and very hard to prevent it completely.” “We did think things through. But in each and every case, the way you get hold of one of these consoles requires some fan knowledge, so we’re trying to tap into the people who love the brand the most, and put them at an advantage, because they’re the people who keep us in business, who inspire this whole 20 year legacy.”

To pick up an inexpensive unit in the UK you first had to track down the pop-up store, bring a piece of Playstation memorabilia, and say the secret phrase: “I crashed my bandicoot.” (Source: Polygon)

I’ve got a crazy idea: make a couple more! I know it’ll make this special edition PS4…well…not as special, but who cares? I’d rather the secondary market of price gouging not hurt people’s chances of getting one for a fair price in the first place. The console is obviously beautiful and if I didn’t have a PS4, I would have probably tried to get one myself (and failed miserably I’m sure), but I just think it’s really silly to not just make more. There’s obviously a market for these Playstations if they are selling for absurd amounts of EBay that Sony would rather not happen. I don’t think anyone is crazy about the price gougers and price scalpers who ruin these things for everyone. It’s a console made for an anniversary, a console made for the fans, and why not just let the fans get them? It’s impossible to prevent, but it’s at least worth a shot if they made more units.

What do you think about the anniversary PS4? Does it look awesome or what? Do you think Sony should simply just produce more to stop price gougers?

Did you enjoy this post? Follow my blog for (almost) daily posts on video game news, opinions, reviews, and a bunch of other stuff!

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Review: Reinventing the franchise or same old, same old?

Yearly franchises are a hard thing to judge and give a real review. Most reviewers aren’t willing to give them very low scores because they still tend to work every year, they provide a decent quality gaming experience (at least for the most part). Call of Duty has been the mainstay of that idea and Advanced Warfare is no different. But is the game actually doing enough to justify being called one of the biggest changes in the franchises? Well…no, not really.

I think it’s safe to say that most people understand the Call of Duty formula at this point: A campaign with mindless action movie fun, a co-op mode that is wave after wave of survival, and a multiplayer mode filled with an extravagant amount of game types to try out where you shoot other people on the Internet. And most people are buying these games for the latter. Regardless, I still think it’s incredibly important to discuss the campaigns of Call of Duty, specifically the one found within Advanced Warfare.

For one thing, the campaign has two really great actors in it: Troy Baker, the biggest actor in the gaming business (played Joel in The Last of Us, The Joker in Batman Arkham Origins, Talion in Shadow of Mordor, among an absurd amount more), and Kevin Spacey…who you might have heard of. He’s in that one popular Netflix show the kids are watching. Having Kevin Spacey in your video game pretty much displays how big Call of Duty has become, it isn’t a joke, and Spacey does give a great performance…in a campaign filled with bad writing.

The campaign has glimmers of hope: it looks beautiful. I played on the Playstation 4 version of Advanced Warfare and it is absolutely beautiful to look at in every single way, from big Hollywood explosions to long drawn-out landscapes to the facial expressions of Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker, the visuals are no joke. If anything, the campaign is worth playing because it’s pretty to look at. But what about the gameplay and the writing I mentioned earlier? Same old, same old.

The game has a new gameplay mechanic called the “Exo Suit,” which is also prominently used in multiplayer and co-op but I’ll get to that later. The Exo Suit gives the player the ability to double jump, strafe forward, down, left, and right, and sometimes other abilities used with a technique called “Overdrive,” which seems to only be used to slow down game time…and that isn’t anything new in first person shooter game design, it’s actually quite old. The Exo Suit wants to be something desperately innovative but it isn’t even used prominently enough to justify itself. It comes across as really cool for about the first hour or so and then it becomes a thing that is just there. It has no prominence or place and very little usefulness in a campaign that you spend just mowing down A.I. after A.I. that aren’t very smart. The campaign is no different from any other COD campaign: you will shoot at enemies, duck after getting hit, recover, and shoot at more enemies, and then at the end you’ll have a really cool big action piece where you get a cool ability or gun. It is literally the same formula being done, over and over again and nobody seems to care.

I do care because I think the first person shooter campaigns found within COD games could be more interesting, especially because Advanced Warfare wants to be more interesting but fails to execute it properly. Even in the writing, I was baffled that the game-for at least a little bit-took an ANTI-military stance. The typical formula of a COD campaign is that you are cool guy silent protagonist (except in cutscenes in this game’s case and the only reason I’m assuming they let the character talk is because they got Troy Baker to play him) who is in the U.S. military, which is by far the coolest military in the world (according to the game). It’s borderline propaganda and a bit scary. But in this game, you start in the U.S. military but eventually join Atlas, a private military corporation ran by Kevin Spacey’s character, Jonathan Irons. And for a hot second there, I actually thought this game would do something baffling and criticize the military in someway…it doesn’t. I won’t go into it further to avoid spoilers. (Even though I’m writing this review extremely late…I got the game late, okay?) But let’s just say I was extremely disappointed in Advanced Warfare seeing as it actually had potential but devolves into COD nonsense within two hours.

It’s almost as if the designers just don’t even care about the campaign (which wouldn’t surprise me). They haven’t evolved the formula of these campaigns in years. They run, beat by beat, exactly the same. It’s extremely depressing to see a lack of innovation in a franchise that has potential to say something because it has such a large audience and fanbase. All I can really say fully about the campaign is that Advanced Warfare moved very SLIGHTLY in the right direction…but does nothing truly new with itself.

Co-op play in Advanced Warfare is still really fun. Currently the only mode available is Exo Survival. It’s a 4-player co-op mode (at least online it is) where each player can choose between a Light Exo, Heavy Exo, Specialist Exo, and it is played on the multiplayer maps found in the typical PVP modes (which I will discuss after this). The Light Exo focuses on SMGS and Assault Rifles, has the fastest movement speed, full range of boost abilities but has the lowest Armor, and it has the UAV scorestreak enabled. The Heavy Exo has a focus on heavy weapons, slowest movement, limited boost abilities, highest armor, high damage, and has the Goliath scorestreak. The Specialist Exo has a focus on Shotguns and Sniper Rifles, normal movement, limited boost abilities, normal armor, and the Sentry Gun scorestreak. The vary in class choice actually makes co-op more dynamic and more interesting to play whether playing locally on your own or with two people, or playing online with up to 4 people. The mode has upgrade points that you can use in between rounds in order to upgrade weapons, scorestreaks, Exo Suit abilities, etc. If anything, the co-op has plenty of features that make it worth checking out, at least for a little bit. But is it anything more dynamic than most co-op survival modes that have been done before? Absolutely not. It’s another same old, same old mode that is about mowing down A.I. and hopefully not dying. The Exo Suit abilities do not add anywhere near enough reason for this mode to keep you playing for a very long time. Overall, is this mode bad? No, it isn’t. It can be quite a bit of fun, but it’s the lack of innovation that makes it painfully hard for me to highly recommend it.

And now I’ll move onto the PVP online-also known as the reason most people buy Call of Duty games. I have to say, I’m more impressed with this than I thought I would be. The Exo Suit abilities do add at least something somewhat interesting to the game and how it’s played and I still find myself coming back to play a couple matches almost everyday. The game still has the typical slew of game types that people enjoy with a few new ones as well. Regardless, I haven’t found myself getting too attached to the new game types and find that still jumping into Team Deathmatch or Domination is the way to play Call of Duty online.

Domination has become something far more dynamic with the Exo Suit abilities. The pacing of this game as a whole is extremely fast, everyone is moving at light speed. For one thing, everyone has infinite sprint, sprint never runs out. And I think that was a good choice, it makes the game extraordinarily faster than most first person shooters dare to be. For one thing, Call of Duty was already one of the fastest first person shooters around. This game dared to speed it up even further. It even speeds it up further by having the Exo Suit used as a fully realized gameplay mechanics that allows players to double jump and strafe just as you can in the campaign. Does it work? Sort of. It adds something special to a mode like Domination, everyone is getting to capture points so quickly that the game is such a fast-paced craziness of fun where you have to be constantly thinking and deciding where to go.

But when you get to certain modes like Team Deathmatch, it can become frustrating. For one thing, expect to be shoot in the back. A lot. Like really a lot. For another thing, expect fairly crappy spawns because of the game’s pace. People spawn near each other from the opposite team and people just come up behind you on a constant basis that can make the game utterly frustrating to play. Now I don’t consider myself a great COD player, I’m average at best, but even I can see some of the flaws of this overly fast-paced game. I like the concept and it is executed decently in plenty of ways, but it still fails at providing a certain amount of balance that needs to be there, I still find myself getting far too frustrated more than I should be by things that feel like the game mechanics fault rather than my own ability to play the game.

Regardless, Advanced Warfare’s PVP is as good as Call of Duty has ever been. Will it change your mind if you aren’t already into Call of Duty? Probably not. It could if you want a shooter that is extremely fast, but otherwise you’ll probably still be disinterested in the typical Call of Duty mechanics that thrive in the game. The Exo Suit abilities of being able to double jump and strafe aren’t enough to justify playing the PVP if you don’t already like Call of Duty very much. Even the new Exo Suit abilities that you can activate with the click of L1 aren’t that interesting either. A vast majority of them are absolutely pointless and I’ve found myself almost exclusively using Exo Overclock, which allows you to move EVEN faster for a limited amount of time. In a game that is already focused on speed, I might as well go even faster. The other abilities just seem to have little to no use in a game where you need to constantly be on the move or you’ll probably die. It’s disappointing to see an interesting concept fail to have much use when they could have been unique. I think it’s still growing pains in trying to figure out how to use these abilities for future games.

The last two things worth pointing out in PVP are the class set-ups and character customization. The class set-ups run on a 13-point system, which is pretty clearly inspired by past COD games as well as The Last of Us multiplayer. The point system makes class customization take far too much time (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you’ll just be spending a lot of time sitting at the custom class menus) and allows for a far more dynamic game, from allowing you to have three gun attachments or having four scorestreaks or two perks in a single slot, you can run with so many different combinations that are worth experimenting with. I’ve yet to find a class set-up that I can stay with fully because there is so much worth trying out. If anything, that is one of the most positive things I can say about the multiplayer: You have plenty to try out in class customization alone that will make you want to come back and try out new things. The character customization is more of a gimmicky thing than anything else. It has no impact on the multiplayer itself but you can customize your character with different clothing and you can be male or female, it’s still interesting to have this ability even if it isn’t that interesting. The game also has supply drops that you get sporadically as you play that include clothing as well as customized weapons that you can equip to class slots, they tend to lower a stat on the gun and replace it with a higher stat, so essentially you’ll be playing a trade-off game if you equip one of them.

As a whole, Advanced Warfare is the most interesting Call of Duty has been in years. The campaign has a glimmer of being something hopeful but ends up failing miserably and becomes the typical Call of Duty campaign except with more Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker. (Which is a good thing I guess?) The co-op is fun but same old, old. The PVP is more dynamic but will do nothing to drawn in new players to a franchise that is becoming stale. I for one decided to jump back into Call of Duty with this game. I haven’t played one since Modern Warfare 3 and I am still having a good time with Advanced Warfare. I’m just disappointed at a game that has potential to be so much more (it had three years of development) but still miserably drops the ball. All I can say is, this is the largest glimmer of hope Call of Duty has had in years, and I still have hope for this franchise. I do have hopes that this series could become more dynamic and Advanced Warfare at least attempts to show that.

Pros:

+Solid performances by Troy Baker and Kevin Spacey

+PVP is still as fun as ever

+New dynamics in PVP add something new to the franchise

Cons:

-The campaign devolves into typical Call of Duty nonsense

-Co-op is same old, same old

-PVP is still dangerously unbalanced and maybe too fast paced

7/10

Did you enjoy this post? Follow my blog for (almost) daily posts on video game news, opinions, reviews, and a bunch of other stuff!

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

The 2014 Video Game Awards Review/Overview

Well this was a surprising change of pace. The Video Game Awards are considered notoriously awful. Most gamers unanimously agree every year, but we watch them anyways out of spite and make jokes about how bad they are on Twitter as they happen. This year was a bit different, might I even say, they were worth watching? Actually decent? Actually something that didn’t feel shallow, corporate, and almost poke fun of what it is supposed to be giving a tribute to? Dare I say even better than that thing called the Oscars that nobody really likes either? I am quite surprised.

The show opened extremely well, with a decent tribute about gamers and gaming as a medium becoming the largest one in the world. And then we cut to Koji Kondo, composer of the music found within Zelda and Mario, playing Super Mario Bros. music. What the hell else could you want? Seriously, this was awesome. The thing is, Koji Kondo has never really gotten the limelight at these types of events before (at least I don’t think so) and seeing this happen is a beautiful moment. This man has composed some of the most memorable music ever put into video games and he finally got a moment to shine on stage.

Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, comes onstage to discuss Mario Maker, the new app/mod/game that allows players to create their own Mario levels with multiple different skins, such as New Super Mario Bros, classic Super Mario Bros. styles, etc. The game has been revealed before, but seeing more of it is still awesome because it looks absolutely fun. I don’t necessarily plan on creating levels myself, but I will gladly play everyone else’s levels (and spend plenty of hours doing so I’m sure).

Geoff Keighley, the organizer of the Video Game Awards for many years and video game journalist, then more properly introduces the show and is essentially the glue/host of the entire show. He does a pretty good job of it too.

Kiefer Sutherland, voice of Big Boss for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, comes on stage and actually gives a really sincere speech on video games and how the medium is really incredible and doing more than movies: it’s actually evolving and becoming something more every single year. It’s weird when they have a celebrity come on stage at these types of shows and he isn’t a complete asshole or pretending to like video games. He seemed completely genuine about everything he was saying. It was really great.

Hideo Kojima comes on stage to talk about Metal Gear Online, the online component of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Some gameplay of it was shown and it looks absolutely marvelous. I was a fan of the MGSIV Online component and I will gladly spend some time with this one. It looks far more dynamic and more well realized this time around with more gameplay mechanics and components in abundance.

Tim Schafer, founder of Double Fine Productions, came onstage to give the best performance award and also pokes fun at the older editions of the Video Game Awards by stating that he doesn’t look as good as celebrities giving video game awards, which was a nice jab and a very necessary one for all the bullshit over the years found on these shows. Trey Parker won the award for South Park: Stick of Truth and also states how this is the only time he’d win over Kevin Spacey (who was nominated for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare). This stunt by Trey Parker might as well also be called the most badass mic drop ever. In the history of everything. Ever. Seriously.

A new game was revealed from the creators of Gone Home (a game I still need to play…waiting for that PS4 version) titled Tacoma. Very little of Tacoma was shown in the reveal trailer, but it is a new science fiction game.

New footage of Bloodborne was shown, a game that I wasn’t really that excited for, but seeing this new footage made this game jump up to my list of most anticipated games for 2015 (which I wrote about here). The footage was absolutely gorgeous and the game looks like a blast. But I do hope it won’t be as painstakingly difficult as something like Dark Souls, which is made by the same developer (From Software).

Conan O Brian for some reason introduces the first game of the year nominee (Dragon Age: Inquisition). He also introduces all of the nominees later on throughout the show. Yeah if we could just not have that next year, that’d be great. I haven’t played Dragon Age either (actually even better, I haven’t played ANY of the game of the year nominees).

Something called Banner Saga 2 was shown. I have no idea what this is, but it’s something?

Destiny wins some awards for online gameplay (which I’m sure some people are angry about) and music (which I’m sure people are okay with).

Boogie2988 (which I was super excited for to see onstage. This dude deserves all of it. An extremely humble, genuine, and considerate YouTuber who truly loves video games passionately) and iJustine (meh) appear and give an award called Trending Gamer out. TotalBiscuit wins it. I know almost nothing about TotalBiscuit. Jeff Gerstmann should have won (because Giant Bomb is one of the best gaming sites around…like by far. Listen to the BombCast. Just do it. Now).

A game titled Hazelight is shown, which is developed by the developers behind Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (a game that I didn’t like anywhere near as much as everyone else did), and it should have also won the award for worst trailer ever. All it managed to show is two people in a train together. I’m not even joking.

A strange, trippy performance of video game music was performed; it was sort of good, sort of bad, sort of confusing.

Dark Souls II has its little game of the year nomination video. I haven’t played this game either.

A game called Adrift was revealed, a science fiction first person game that sort of looks like the movie Gravity, but with video games instead. Um, it could be good? The trailer wasn’t amazing by any means, mostly because it didn’t show enough.

Two comedians come onstage, make some (mostly) bad (and unnecessary) jokes and present the award for best mobile/handheld game. Something wins. (Hearthstone maybe?) I don’t even remember. Who cares I guess? I still don’t necessarily watch this show for the awards…is that bad or good?

The Regginator comes back onstage and gets some more awards. Why not?

Also, some game called Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is shown, a 3DS game, I had no idea what the hell I was watching when I watched it.

A game titled Before is revealed, a game with some cavemen/cavewomen are shown and repetitive music is played over it. But hey, the game looks beautiful and some amazing visual landscapes are shown. I have no idea what in the actual hell the game is though.

Troy Baker comes onstage. I like Troy Baker. Who doesn’t?

And then we get into the real slump of the show. Battlefield Hardline has a long, absurd reveal and a long, absurd music performance. Yes, you did hear me correctly. MUSICAL PERFORMANCE. A SONG. FOR A BATTLEFIELD GAME. What is going on here? This was actually maybe the worst part of the show. For one thing, I don’t really care much for Battlefield and then some random, mediocre song plays for a really, really long time.

And then we give the award for competitive gamer. I really don’t care, if you’re into Esports, that’s cool. I’m not.

Some dude from Imagine Dragons presents the award for best sports/racing game (aka we said fuck it and just put two genres together) and Mario Kart 8 wins (deservingly so).

New footage of The Order: 1886 is shown and I have no idea how to feel about this game. I want to be excited for it because it is a Playstation 4 exclusive developed by Santa Monica, but the game just doesn’t interest me very much so far. I hope that’ll improve. (Maybe during the Playstation Experience Keynote tomorrow? Hopefully?)

Something about MLB The Show is shown. Yawn.

They slowly tease us with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End but nothing is shown for obvious reasons, Playstation has their own keynote to worry about tomorrow.

Until Dawn is shown, a Playstation 4 exclusive horror game that is basically everything I hate about video games shown in a single gameplay trailer. Basically, it’s Button Prompt: The Video Game, also known as, LITERALLY EVERYTHING HORRIBLE ABOUT VIDEO GAMES.

Footage of Lara Croft and The Temple of Osiris is shown, a game I could care less about, but I know some people really liked the previous entry in this top-down shooter series of Tomb Raider games. (Or do we call these Lara Croft games? I have no idea.)

A trailer for the new Destiny expansion is shown. Some people are into it, some aren’t, and I think that’s basically the general consensus of Destiny at this point.

Elijah Wood does the voice of his character from Broken Age and breaks the 4th wall and such about the Video Game Awards. Who would have thought that Frodo and Ryan from Wilfred would be saying things at the Video Game Awards?

Far Cry 4 wins best shooter. I haven’t played Far Cry 4, or Far Cry 3 for that matter. Man, I need to play more video games apparently.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft gets its little game of the year nomination bit. Uh, that’s cool? I know almost nothing about this game if I’m going to be honest.

Footage of The Witcher III is shown. I also know nothing about The Witcher series of games. Man, I REALLY need to play more games.

The Games For Change Award (aka games that had some actually real life commentary on things and isn’t just shooting things for a couple of hours) is given out and is given to Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Did I mention I haven’t played this game either? Regardless, The Last of Us: Left Behind should have won. Because I said so. And Ellie is the shit (I’m really doing a good job on being a games journalist right now).

Footage of No Man’s Sky is shown, also known as one of the most interesting games for 2015. I’m so damn excited for this game. How could anyone not be? I also find it crazy how this game is getting such incredible coverage at basically every major press conference; it’s weird that such an ambitious, bizarre indie title is being pushed for the AAA market. But hey, I’m all for it anyhow. This game is going to absolutely amazing if it’s half as good as it’s supposed to be. Oh, and some music from the game is then performed.

A trailer for a new Godzilla game is shown. Moving on.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor gets its little game of the year clip. Did I mention I haven’t played this game either?

After all of this, Neil Druckmann comes on stage to give the award for industry icon. The winners being the founders of Sierra, Ken Williams and Roberta Williams, they also gave a long history lesson on Sierra, which I found quite intriguing and truly interesting despite the fact that I have never played any of these classic Sierra games. It truly made me want to play them. Also, a new entry in the series of King’s Quest (one of Sierra’s most popular franchises) games gets a trailer and looked pretty great. I have nothing snarky to say.

Lindsey Sterling gives a performance of music from Dragon Age: Inquisition and it was quite beautiful, even if I haven’t played this new fangled Dragon Age video game the kids are talking about.

Shovel Knight won best indie game. Did I mention I haven’t played this game either? I’m really out of the loop.

Bayonetta 2 gets its short little game of the year video. Oh, I haven’t played this game either.

A new game titled Human Element gets a proper trailer. It looks like a first person shooter. Made by a guy who used to work at Infinity Ward (Robert Bowling). It just looks a little bit cartoonier. What I’m trying to say is that this doesn’t LOOK THAT EXCITING, OKAY?

A short video is shown of Eve Online players having real conversations during their games. Also known as completely nonsensical blabbering to me because this game is so complex and I’d never ever actually try and learn how to play it because I don’t have that kind of time, seriously though, I commend the people who dedicate so much time to a game with so many layers, it’s really amazing.

And finally, after ALL OF THAT, game of the year is finally given out. Dragon Age: Inquisition gets the win. I guess I’m supposed to go play it now according to the Video Game Awards, right? I have no idea. I won’t lie; I sort of just wanted Bayonetta 2 to win because it would have been absolutely insane if it did.

But the show wasn’t over yet! (Gladly? Not gladly? I don’t know.) I guess gladly because we got some new Zelda footage! Sort of. We have two sweet old Japanese men sitting on a couch together (these men being Shigeru Miyamoto, you might have heard of him, and Eiji Aonuma, you might have heard of him too) talking about the new Zelda game as some footage is shown on the TV. It looks really pretty, but you can tell that the game was nowhere near the word finished because they weren’t willing to give us any close shots of any footage whatsoever. They also mention that you can eat apples in the game. YOU CAN EAT APPLES! GAME OF THE YEAR 2015! They also mention that the horses can avoid running into trees. YOU CAN AVOID RUNNING INTO TREES WHILE RIDING HORSES! GAME OF THE YEAR 2015! I kidd, kidd (they really did mention this though), the game looks pretty great, even if I’m coming from the perspective of a non-Zelda fan. Miyamoto also stated that Star Fox Wii U was coming along and would be out before the new Zelda, both being released sometime next year. But no footage of Star Fox was shown, unfortunately.

The show ends with a final performance of Koji Kondo…and Imagine Dragons? What the hell is going on here? This hip band called Imagine Dragons is performing beautiful Zelda music with the composer of said music. Seriously. This is super weird and awesome and came out really great actually. And then Imagine Dragons slipped into their own music and even that wasn’t too bad.

Geoff Keighley comes back and bids the show farewell. And that’s that. I just summarized/reviewed the Video Game Awards for 2014 for some reason (so you didn’t have to watch them), and I hope you enjoyed it. The Video Game Awards as a whole were decent. This is the best point they’ve ever hit and I can only see them improving this even further if they keep up at this pace over the next couple of years. They’ve cut out the bullshit celebrities and the bullshit corporate sponsors and it seems like a show that is truly designed for people who actually enjoy video games and not some shallow, weak form of that. I do commend Geoff Keighley for organizing a show that actually didn’t turn out too bad. It had a couple decent reveals, it wasn’t littered in cringy, bad attempts at comedy (which was probably my favorite thing to be omitted), and it truly came across as genuine. He seemed like he really wanted to make a show for people who play video games and that is a great thing to see. I now feel like I can truly look forward to the Video Game Awards. I never thought I would type that sentence in my life.

You can watch the entire show below if you really want to:

What did you think about the Video Game Awards if you watched them? Like them? Hate them?

Did you enjoy this post? Follow my blog for (almost) daily posts on video game news, opinions, reviews, and a bunch of other stuff!

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

My Top 10 Most Anticipated Games Of 2015

2015 is a pretty huge year of video games and will more than likely be the year that Xbox One and Playstation 4 finally hit their stride. It only makes senses because both consoles have two of their biggest IP’s coming out with a sequel: Halo and Uncharted. These are the two games that are going to help form what the console generation will be like further down the line. But beyond that, there is a huge set of releases. From new Nintendo exclusives (who have already done a pretty good job hitting their stride in their 2nd year with the Wii U) to great 3rd party software such as Batman: Arkham Knight or Mortal Kombat X, 2015 is shaping up to be a massive year with (hopefully) not broken games. (2014, you will go down in history as the year of broken games.) I figured I’d make an extensive list of some of the games worth noting that are potentially being released in 2015. So let’s get this started:

10. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (PS4) (TBA)

I know almost nothing about this game…and that is the way I want to keep it. The small amounts of footage that have been shown at different gaming events have convinced me enough that this game is going to be interesting. I already love post-apocalyptic settings and the whole minimalist approach to the reveals of this game has kept me incredibly interested in what this game is truly about.

 9. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Wii U) (February 13th)

I remember playing Kirby Canvas Curse, a game that came out for the DS that is similar in style to Rainbow Curse. I didn’t love Canvas Curse per say, but I’m still excited to play this game on the Wii U, because I think it is so perfect for this platform. From the absolutely gorgeous graphics and art style to the Wii U Gamepad controller being used in full stride, I think this title will help show off the Wii U and the unique things it can do. Also, more Kirby games is never a bad thing, Kirby is awesome.

8. Saints Row: Gat out of Hell (PS4, PS3, XBOne, Xbox 360, PC) /Saints Row IV: Re-Elected (PS4, XBOne) (January 20th)

The Saints Row franchise manages to be one that is constantly argued about. Some people think it’s not worth playing because Grand Theft Auto is better, but I’m part of the camp that thinks Saints Row The Third is one of the best open world games I’ve ever played. I’ve yet to play Saints Row IV, so I plan to buy the Re-Elected edition of the game which is a remastered version for PS4/XBOne that comes with all the DLC, including the new one Saints Row: Gat out of Hell which revolves around Johnny Gat trying to rescue the Boss from Hell after being captured by Satan.

7. Star Fox (Wii U) (TBA)

The only “true” Star Fox game I’ve played is Star Fox 64 and that was on an emulator. That didn’t run that well. And I wasn’t using a 64 controller. So needless to say, I’m a bit excited to play a “real” Star Fox game…probably for the first time if I don’t play anything Star Fox related before this game comes out. I find it baffling that it has taken Nintendo THIS LONG to release a real Star Fox game. Let’s put something in perspective: Fox McCloud, Falco, and Wolf are some of the best Smash Bros. characters and have remained massively popular because of Smash Bros, how would it have been that hard to be like, “hey, let’s make a new, real Star Fox title!” I find it a bit crazy, but hey, we’re getting one! And I think it’s safe to assume that the Wii U will be an incredible platform for it.

6. Yoshi’s Woolly World (Wii U) (Spring 2015)

This game looks beautiful. I could just end this here. For the art style alone, I want to play this game. Badly. But beyond that, the game looks like a really great platformer with plenty of fun gameplay mechanics worth being excited for. Again, this is another franchise with a bit of a revival on a main Nintendo platform; we haven’t had a main Yoshi title on a home Nintendo console since Yoshi’s Story. That was 1997. Also, the developers of Kirby’s Epic Yarn are behind this new Yoshi game, Good-Feel, and I think they have a knack for making really stylized and fun platformers at this point to provide a fun game for everyone to play. If anything, it’s games like this that make me realize how fun and beautiful games can be in the first place, and that’s why I really look forward to it.

5. Star Wars: Battlefront (PS4/XBOne) (Holiday 2015)

Who isn’t excited for this game? We have a new Star Wars movie coming out (that had one amazing teaser trailer) and we have a new Battlefront game coming out. And it’s been one hell of a long time since we’ve had one. This game is going to be massive is my guess. It’ll be so stuff-packed with features and great online play that it will take awhile to swallow everything found within this game. It’s going to be mash of great fan service, fun gunplay, and just Star Wars goodness all around. I’m sure I will be spending tons of hours playing this game, more than likely online, and have an absolute blast. And the thing is, I’m not even a hardcore Star Wars fan, I just really love the original trilogy and it sort of ends there, I don’t dabble in the extended universe much and I despise the prequels. But none of that even matters. I can’t wait for this game.

4. No Man’s Sky (PS4/PC) (TBA)

What do I even have to say about this game? It sounds like the most ambitious game to be released in quite some time. It is an open universe game where you explore different planets and you can share details of these planets online with people. The game also constantly generates different and unique planets to explore as the game goes on which sounds incredibly ambitious and I have no idea if it will fully work, but I don’t even care. Who knows? Maybe it was just the way the trailer was cut together with the music and everything that makes me excited for this game, but it doesn’t matter, this looks like something we need more of in the games industry.

3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4/PS3/X360/XBOne/PC) (TBA)

I have yet to even play Ground Zeroes and I haven’t played some of the MGS games in years so I don’t even completely remember all of the plot (who does?), but who cares? This is a next gen Metal Gear title (kind of…I mean it is unfortunately a past gen title as well which is probably limiting the game from its full potential) and I’m extremely excited. The fact that the game is open world is pretty insane as well. Did anyone really expect a fully open-world Metal Gear game? I didn’t. I just never thought the franchise would ever go that route and that makes me excited for this game even more so. As a whole, I don’t even know much about the game, I’ve avoided most of the trailers and content shown of the game simply because I’d rather go in (mostly) blind and have a blast.

2. Batman Arkham Knight (PS4/XBOne/PC) (June 2nd)

The two Batman Arkham games I’ve played (City and Asylum) are two of my favorite games of all time. From the buttery smooth combat system to actually feeling like Batman to the really well written stories, Rocksteady has crafted an amazing franchise. Though I haven’t played Origins (I plan to before Arkham Knight comes out), I still want to see how the series will evolve through this new title. The only footage I’ve seen was shown at E3 this year, which is basically all I need to see anyhow. It showed me the perfect amount of gameplay and convinced me with ease that this game is going to be one hell of a good time (I was going to buy it anyway…I didn’t need to see anything to be convinced). I have absolute confidence that this game is going to be one of the first true next gen titles, it isn’t limited by past gen console development, and they were willing to delay the game significantly to make a better title for everyone. I truly think this will be the best game in the franchise.

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4) (TBA)

The Uncharted franchise is near and dear to me. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of my favorite games of all time. I love basically everything about the game, from the characters to the writing to the cinematic extravagance to the fun gunplay; the game is what I love about a lot of big budget games. Naughty Dog just hit it completely right with this franchise. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was a pretty great game as well, though I still love the 2nd game much more, and I really can’t wait to see a next gen Uncharted game (and Naughty Dog game). All we have so far is a single trailer that shows no gameplay. It doesn’t matter. That’s good enough for me. That is all I needed. Naughty Dog is (probably) my favorite developer in the games industry right now. The Last of Us had a huge emotional impact on me and means a lot to me (which you can read about in my Top 15 games of last generation post here) not only as a gamer, but also as a human being who feels things or something. I now look forward to every single Naughty Dog game with absolute excitement and will gladly fork over my 60 dollars in support. (And besides, Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, the lead directors for The Last of Us, are leading this project now…how can I not be excited?)

What the games are you’re looking forward to most in 2015? What next gen consoles have you purchased? Which ones do you plan to purchase? I have a PS4 and I’m getting a Wii U…and I probably won’t bother to get an Xbox One. Let me know in the comments below!

Did you enjoy this post? Follow my blog for (almost) daily posts on video game news, opinions, reviews, and a bunch of other stuff!

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).