Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Sites 67

What’s up readers. Here are this week’s Sunday Sites. The election day passage of prop L, a measure prohibiting the sitting on sidewalks, is most detestable and is restrictive of an extremely innocuous use of public space. A protest against the proposition is underway and has garnered much attention from high-school students. A reflection on the recent Schwartzenegger v. EMA case by the editors at the Escapist. Awesome meme, spent several hours browsing this site. Funny and true. Ignore the incendiary URL and title, but Mr. Yee’s attempts at ruining the lives of game developers and ruining the enjoyment of game consumers is very, very alarming.

Friday, November 26, 2010

100 Free Games (pt. 2)

I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving. To troll retailers hoping to profit from Black Friday, here are another 25 free games.

74. Alien Swarm – If you have a Steam account, then you already have this free game. A top-down cooperative shooter based off an unreal mod, Alien Swarm is reminiscent of classics like Smash TV, but with modern twists inspired by Valve’s Left 4 Dead.

73. Desktop Tower Defense – An open-source take on the casual tower-defense genre, this a simplified RTS built for quick-play.

72. Nethack – A timeless classic from the early 80s, this open-source dungeon hack has been alive forever and is still widely supported.

71. Secret Maryo Chronicles – This is a shameless rip-off off of Super Mario World, but a good shameless rip-off. Very fun physics and 2D platforming inspired by the best.

70. Zelda Classic – A fan-project to add levels and remake the original NES Zelda as a ROM.


68. fl0w – Jenova Chen’s ambient Flash game is an alternative piece that really cannot be understood without experiencing it. As the precursor to fl0wer, creative gameplay revolves around developing a creature by navigating around an ambient environment

67. I Wanna be the Guy – Allegedly developed during a drunk flame-war, this 2D platformer is a sarcastic tribute towards incredibly difficult 8-bit action games. Considered by many to be the hardest game ever made, this is an indie classic.

66. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory – Another freeware classic, this objective based shooter might suffer from long-load times, but its legendary heritage makes it worth consideration. Its influence in Quake Wars is apparent.


65. Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden – this is a sarcastic parody of classic action-based JRPGs and is a pretty decent RPG itself. Excellent writing and a wonderful sense of humor makes this awesome.

64. Doom – The single most influential PC game ever made, Doom has an expansive variety of WAD files and mod support.

63. Penumbra: Overture – Although Frictional is more well known for their recent Amnesia: The Dark Descent, their first survival-horror game, Penumbra, is widely considered to be one of the most disturbing games ever made.

62. Marathon Trilogy – the precursor to the Halo franchise, Marathon is a 1990s shooter in the vein of works like Doom.

61. Battlechess – I remember playing this gem at three years old on my dad’s 1990 mac. This abandonware chess-sim features awesome hand-drawn sprite graphics.

60. Fallout – The classic post-apocalyptic RPG was free on Gametap last year, but has since been pulled. Keep your eyes peeled to see if this game returns to the free-section.

59. Silkroad Online – This Asian-themed MMORPG provides the same addictive play as other MMOs with an emphasis on trade.

58. A.P.B. – The commercial failure of this hybrid shooter-MMORPG forced realtime worlds to sell APB to make it a free-to-play title.

57. Need for Speed: World – EA’s second free-to-play microtransaction-based game is part of the veritable NFS franchise, which had since dipped since Carbon, this MMO-racer features great online play and graphics.


56. Vindictus – Yet another Nexon MMO, Vindictus is far more refined than one would expect from Nexon. The graphics look incredible based off Valve’s source engine, with gameplay based off Monster Hunter and brutal action, this game has incredibly high system-requirements.

55. Portal: The Flash Version – Portal was a true classic that displayed more creative ideas than the last two years of FPS gaming combined. This indie Flash tribute replicates the incredible concept on a 2D plane.

54. Fortress Forever – Fans of Team Fortress 2 might be interested in this Half Life 2 mod, remaking the original Team Fortress in the new Source engine.

53 Goldeneye: Source – Even with the incredible Wii remake stealing its thunder, Goldeneye: Source is a more authentic recreation of the classic multiplayer shooter and its N64 aesthetic.

52. Beneath a Steel Sky – This is an abandonware classic adventure game working on ScummVM, an open-source emulator project working off of LucasArts games.

51. One Button Bob- An obscure Newgrounds classic, this is a puzzle-platformer featuring innovative and creative one-button gameplay.

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50. The Spirit Engine –This is an extremely polished amateur indie RPG, a sequel, sold for profit, is available for $10. Cheap enough to support some talented developers with an ambitious vision.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Sites 66

Well, here are this week’s Sunday Sites. Up next, my review of Goldeneye 007 for the Wii, followed by Part 2 of Explorations in Gaming. :):):):):) A fascinating essay on free will from the creator of Awesome.!+Mail ignore the cutsey format, this one here is scintillating

Red Steel 2 Review

In 2006, Ubisoft revealed Red Steel to the world at the E3 conference. Under the promise of next-gen graphics, revolutionary swordplay and mature content, hype for the game reached a fever pitch. Upon its November release, many were disappointed at its poor presentation, clumsy controls and ugly graphics. Nonetheless, as a Wii launch game, it moved over a million copies, justifying a sequel.

With last year’s release of the Wii MotionPlus peripheral, motion control received new potential. With greater sensitivity and accuracy, true 1:1 control was made possible. After an impressive demo in Wii Sports Resort, Red Steel 2 brings Wii MotionPlus into a traditional, hardcore-oriented action game.

Most Improved Sequel… Ever?

As other game critics have pointed out, Red Steel 2 improves over the original in nearly every conceivable way. Gone is the Urban Yakuza theme, replaced instead with a Wild-West Meiji-era aesthetic that is as creative as it is beautiful. With cel-shaded graphics resonant of Borderlands (great game by the way), Steel 2 features some of the best graphics on the Wii. An excellent frame-rate keeps the action smooth, which is critical for this type of game.


Red Steel 2 does not comfortably fit into any established genre of game. It can be played like a first-person shooter, but by simply moving the Wiimote through swings, stabs, pushes, parries, blocks and evades, Red Steel 2 becomes much like a first-person hack-n'-slash beat-em-up. Surprisingly brutal moves push the edges of the T rating. Through a combination of motion-controlled special moves, I was able to knock a foe into the air, pull out a shotgun, fire into his torso and send him diving into the ground with a downward slash. As I landed, I swung my controller backwards to impale a foe behind me, pulling out a pistol to stun another enemy and jump into the air to attempt to vertically bisect him, finishing him off with a slash at the legs to knock him eight feet to the side. Needless to say, Red Steel 2’s motion combat is some of the most visceral on any console and the best since the original No More Heroes.

Incredibly stylish animation makes the combat even more enticing. The game runs at a smooth 60 FPS, leaving the gameplay precise and accurate. Special moves require combinations of button presses and gestures to pull off and the extra time spent raising money to acquire these abilities is worth it, all the special moves look awesome and hold incredible versatility in combat.


Despite the three paragraphs I spent gushing praise for this sequel, Red Steel 2 isn’t without its problems. For one, the exaggerated gestures required to fight leads to inevitable control problems. Sometimes the MotionPlus would fail to read my gestures correctly (although this was extremely rare). More significant however, is that such exaggerated gestures would frequently yank out the Wiimote from the Nunchuk, leaving me unable to move and forcing me to pause the game to reconnect. Given the exaggerated motions needed to fight properly, yanking the nunchuk loose is a serious problem in Red Steel 2, though this isn’t the fault of the developers, it still does detract from the enjoyment of the game in minor ways.


Red Steel 2 features about seven overworlds in each of its seven chapters. The fundamental structure of the game is mission-based, the player takes missions at a safehouse and explores the overworld to complete it. Despite the game’s excellent art-direction, the overworld is comprised almost exclusively of rectangular rooms and linear corridors, leading to some repetitive level design. Even more disappointing are the sidequests that the player can take for bonus cash. Sidequests are comprised of repetitive collection missions, forcing the player to activate a specified number of Comm Towers or tear down a number of wanted posters. This would be forgivable if the sidequest structure was more varied, but the fact that these quest-types reappear in every single chapter frustrates to no end. The lack of a full-overworld map is frustrating, turning these poster-hunts into a matter of wandering around the level, hoping to find a well-concealed target.

In Conclusion

Red Steel 2 is not a bad game, in fact, it is very much the opposite. Its a unique action game that could only be experienced with motion controls featuring stylish combat, great art direction and some of Wii’s best motion-combat. In spite of the technical and mechanical success that Ubisoft has achieved, Red Steel 2’s minor problems detract from what could have been one of the finest games of 2010. Recommended for the adventurous. 3.75/5

Thursday, November 18, 2010

100 Free Games (Part 1)

What’s up readers? There is a massive free-to-play scene online through microtransactions, open-source projects, Flash, Java and freeware. Some of these are amazing, most are horrid. Here are 100 of the best, free games available anywhere.

100. Combat Arms - A multiplayer online FPS game with a massive community consisting of over a million free accounts. Hundreds of weapons and a multitude of customization options, a whopping 25 maps and 14 gametypes makes this one of the most popular microtransaction based shooters available despite its occasionally imbalanced weapons and hack prevention.

99. Battlefield Heroes – Fans of the Battlefield and Team Fortress series will be pleased to see a free-to-play version with simplified and more accessible gameplay. Art style is fantastic despite the lack of a first-person mode.

98. Runes of Magic – This blatant World of Warcraft clone makes up for what it lacks in originality for highly refined MMORPG gameplay, excellent graphics and detail.

97. Lord of the Rings Online – An incredibly deep, expansive MMORPG set in one of the richest and most imaginative universes to be conceived in the past century. A lack of PVP options doesn’t tarnish the fun.


96. F.E.A.R. COMBAT – For those who have played F.E.A.R., an excellent horror-themed FPS, the excellent multiplayer-mode is now free-to-play, bringing with it F.E.A.R.’s many innovations.

95. Quake Live – 1998’s Quake III Arena is considered to be many to be the greatest online-multiplayer FPS game ever made, spawning (no pun intended) countless open-source projects. The lightning-fast gameplay of Quake III, speed, fluidity and balance has been translated perfectly into a web-game. As a result, Quake Live is now the go-to FPS for competitive gaming circuits.

94. America’s Army - A recruitment tool created by the U.S. government, the intentions and background of this game is questionable. Nonetheless, it is a highly-refined and realistic FPS based off the highly regarded Unreal 3 Engine.

93. WarSow – Much like Quake Live, this competitive FPS holds its own through its innovative movement options, sporting first-person parkour years before Mirror’s Edge made it mainstream. An attractive cel-shaded style is both beautiful and fun.

92. Sauerbraten – More a game-development project than an actual game, this open-source project sports simple gameplay, but exceptional map-making and design tools. The engine is customizable, accessible and versatile.

91. Nexuiz – Whereas previous FPS have emulated Quake III, Nexuiz emulates Unreal Tournament’s style of gameplay. A grounded art-style and variety of weapons makes this an excellent multiplayer game.

90. DOTA Allstars – An RPG-themed Warcraft III mod, this exceptionally popular multiplayer game features refined gameplay and fine balance.

89. 8-Bit Killer – Fans of retro-styled games will appreciate this game’s NES sensibilities applied to a modern FPS model. This is a memorable and bold indie game.

88. N – This is a Flash-classic, a physics based platformer that everyone has played.

87. Far Cry – Crytek’s 2004 classic is available as an ad-supported free download. Its incredible graphics, intelligent AI and open level design laid out the work for Crysis.

86. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – This 2003 classic is an exemplary piece of poignant storytelling and linear platforming

85. Command and Conquer Gold Edition – EA’s pre-Starcraft RTS provides refined gameplay with excellent sprite-based 1990’s graphics.

84. Ghost Recon – The 1990 stealth shooter is freeware now.

83. Trackmania – A 3D arcade racer, its freeware and happens to be the single most played racer on the PC.

82. The Battle for Wesnoth – An open-source classic, a turn-based strategy RPG with extensive community support.

81. 5 Days a Stranger – While Zero Punctuation is more well known for his hilarious reviews, his freeware PC Horror Adventure game is a wonderful and terrifying horror game.

80. Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat – This Half-Life 2 mod is one of the most complex multiplayer shooters I have ever played. Its high learning curve and realism puts to shame all other “realistic” shooters, objective based online modes are impressive.

79. Dystopia – This is another Half-Life 2 multiplayer mod with wonderful art and amazing complexity. Like Insurgency, maps are objective based. The main gimmick here is the ability to “Jack-In” into the virtual world, entering a Tron like trance where virtual objectives must be completed.

78. Company of Heroes: Online – This RTS was the 2006 PC Game of the Year. The multiplayer portion of the game is now free-to-play and supports microtransactions.

77. LinCity – A highly sophisticated City-Sim in the vein of Sim City 2000

76. Cave Story – This is an indie classic heavily inspired by 8-bit NES classics. Highly regarded, this 2D action/adventure platformer is not only one of the greatest freeware games ever made, but one of the best.

75. Minecraft – The flood of Facebook statuses can’t be wrong. The web-version of Minecraft takes the Java language to its limits to create an addictive, pixilated 3D indie experience.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Sites 65

Well, after another month in limbo, Sunday Sites is back again. Why Video games are definitively better than girls When games are sold like guns Geek Heaven, this school is awesome. Fake Capsizing Boat trolls the high seas A Modern Warfare themed DoomWAD. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Schwarzenegger v. EMA - Transcripts

Today is November 2, 2010. Earlier today, the Supreme Court of the United States held meetings to discuss a recent challenge made by the Entertainment Merchant’s Association to California’s currently held violent video-game law (which was the subject of a previous open-letter to the SCOTUS). Game-journalism site Joystiq has created a scintillating summary and transcript of the court proceedings. From my interpretation of the script, it would seem that the Supreme Court justices, particularly Scalia, Roberts and Sotomayor, are supportive of the First-Amendment protection of video games.

Another interesting point raised by the justices is the question of a double-standard for protection of violent works as opposed to sexually explicit works. Roberts compared video-games to traditional art forms of narrative and film. Sotomayor also noted that children’s cartoons, another piece of commercially developed entertainment, offer no redeeming value beyond that of entertainment, and are still afforded First-Amendment protection.

And on a lighter note, the Goldeneye revival for the Wii has recieved surprisingly positive reviews, praising its authenticity to the original game’s aesthetic design.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I know I am a bit late for this, but…

Up stepped Renteria, and what happened next was a gift from the gods, who had tortured Giants fans every autumn after 1954. The wait is over. The Giants are champions. ~ Ben Schpigel

Political Endorsements 2010

What’s up readers. Its been a crazy past two weeks, after being detained at Disneyland, watching the Giants reach the World Series, helping a friend in need and watching in trepidation for tomorrow’s Schwarzenegger v. EMA, it is time for the bi-annual Political Endorsements. Given the timeframe that I have for the post, I will do only selected propositions and candidates.

2010 Gubernatorial California Candidate: UNDECIDED






Oh yeah, and one more thing GO GIANTS!!!!!