People may recognize Tetris as a highly addictive puzzle game in which the player drops various blocks known as Tetrominoes along a vertical grid. EVERYBODY has played Tetris at one point or another. Creator Alexey Pajitov is the mastermind behind this wonderfully crafted game that dominates all formats of gaming. Whether it’s on home consoles, PC, or mobile devices; EVERYBODY has come into contact with Tetris. The game is undeniably a masterpiece not because it’s a great product, but because it also reflects a small microcosm of… life?
It may sound absurd, but it’s completely true. Late one night I decided to boot up Tetris for at least a round. I could’ve been playing anything else in my collection but no, I gravitated towards Tetris. In the midst of my insomnia-fueled Tetris session I reflected back on my day. That’s when something sort of clicked in my head…
I thought back to how much simpler life was when I was younger. Like everyone else, it all started with baby steps. Early years are all about establishing a foundation for yourself. Finding one’s footing is an integral part of growing up. Sure there’s bound to be some booboos but nothing that can’t be patched up by a little Flintstones bandage.
As we grow a little we begin to build on top of our previous experiences. “Testing the waters” as they say. We learn to be judicious about our actions and really get an idea of what makes the world around us tick.
With age we naturally become bolder and explore other possibilities. It is human nature to challenge and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. Without the necessity of risk, our life would grow stagnant and dull. It’s all about looking ahead and staying focused.
A beautiful masterpiece. Truly.
As I was handed the shifty and somewhat curious M. Jordan’s shoebox, wrapped in newspaper and sealed together with an obnoxious amount of tape with a few sprinkled staples to add some character, I could only guess what my good friend Kevin had gotten me for the holidays.
I tentatively peeled the newspaper back and opened the Jordan’s to see the glory that is my new refurbished and remastered Sega Genesis, which hopefully, in turn, would soon be mastered by me.
“Oh my gosh, Kevin!” I shrieked in complete excitement. I gasped, shuttered, and gazed at the sky and thought about the possibilities that have opened up now that I have this Sega.
A pack of four fantastic games and a cheap cableless TV and I’m set. The console came armed with some Disney classics like “The Lion King” and “Toy Story” along with a Power Rangers themed fighting game, and to round it off with what makes Sega, well, Sega is some classic Sonic action completing my set.
The best of which is the “Mighty Morphing Power Rangers” game. A line-up of tiny, pixilated characters ready to be chosen and a whopping six stages to prove your worth was what I had to occupy me over this break. Unfortunately, I was womped time after time by my good, yet ferocious friend, Paula. Alas, the game itself was a winner and it will most definitely be making it into my bag when I return to school. I will use this break wisely and gear up for my competition next semester.
My friend Kevin knew that the game console and accessories would become one of the top presents I’ve ever received and he is very much correct. However, after receiving the gift, I remembered and regretted selling our game console in the first place. I thought of all the times I watched my brother play and beat Sonic. In fact, I rarely ever played my old Sega Genesis, which I think makes the entire experience that much more special.
Come on now, what else did you expect? All the other nominees for Game of the Year are very good in their own right and are no less deserving of your attention. However, Mass Effect 2 was chosen Game of the Year for several reasons. Bioware has trimmed the fat off of the series’ first outing and got back to what made the Mass Effect franchise great. Not simply because it’s a wonderful experience from beginning to end, but because it is quite possibly the most important game of this generation so far.
What makes Mass Effect 2 so special? How can this game be confidently declared Game of the Year? Without spoiling too much, it’s the perfect marriage between RPGs and shooters. It is not an RPG disguised as a shooter. There’s no shoddy dice-roll business happening behind the scenes in the combat. It has a great tactile feel and plays pretty much like most other third-person shooters on the market. Clever button-mapping and hotkeys will allow players to put down baddies and unleash biotics in no time. Squad management is a manner of deciding which teammate uses what power on the highlighted opposition. The menu system slows down the action around you and lets you get in and out without any fuss. This allows for fluid continuous action. Did I mention that this is also an RPG?
Mass Effect 2 has ridden itself of the massive inventory that plagued the first title. It vouched for a simple upgrade system that involves recovering the research needed to upgrade your weapons, abilities, armor, and tech. Powering up your character and party is a hallmark of good role-playing design. The customization of the RPG genre is largely intact without the unnecessary congestion. These are merely gameplay aesthetics that pave the way towards the larger experience that is Mass Effect 2.
Role-playing games have always maintained strong story elements and characters. Bioware has fused those long-standing traditions of the RPG genre successfully into a shooter. The world, no, the galaxy that the team at Bioware has put together is rich in mythos. Imagine yourself staring at a single planet, pulling the view out to the solar system it’s a part of, pulling back further to reveal the larger nebulae, and then opening up to the view of the entire Milky Way galaxy. The galaxy is for you to explore and the immensity of the characters that populate it are there for you to interact with. The sheer scale of it all is simply mind-blowing. Not only is the universe memorable, but so are the characters.
The alien and humanoid melting pot provides excellent social commentary. There’s an underlying intrigue between races that link all of them together in one way or another. They all have deep-rooted history. It provides an interesting contrast to our own world (ya know, the real one?) Some alien races have prejudices against other species. Your character being human gets the brunt of this and makes for an interesting experience when face to face with other-worldly species that don’t exactly think highly of your standing. But how other races view you is dictated by the player’s choices. Players can choose to be a humble ambassador on behalf of humanity or they can just shove the business end of a gun in everyone’s faces. The narrative is player-driven, so decisions may impact you in a good way or may come back to haunt you later.
What’s a role-playing game without an excellent cast of characters to occupy your party? Nothing. The personalities you’ll be recruiting to your cause are well-crafted and the drama that surrounds them pulls you in and doesn’t let go. BioWare has pulled out all the stops by creating some of the best characters in the industry. Period. They all have tribulations they’re trying to overcome and you’re in the position to help them in order to earn their loyalty. This is a clever set up that allows the player to further their rapport with their virtual comrade. And they become truly that; a comrade. Nearing Mass Effect 2’s endgame, the very characters you’ve become so acquainted with are ultimately at risk.
Humanity is on the brink of extinction and a race known only as the Reapers is systematically eliminating human colonies around the galaxy. This ancient threat lies beyond the Milky Way and the effort you’ve placed into gathering your team will be put to the test on the enemy’s doorstep. Yes; the team you’ve formulated and bonded with in 25+ hours is now putting their life on the line. Literally. Any of your team members can perish on this epic suicide mission. You will have to play to your squad’s strengths and you’re the one calling the shots.
Tough choices aplenty, the success of missions (and sentient life as we know it) weighs on the shoulders of the player him/herself. It’s quite daring of BioWare to have the players risk the very personalities that makes the game so rich. But it is this very design aesthetic that forces players into realizing what is on the line. It’s genuinely stirring to see a member of your party bite the dust. The ending to Mass Effect 2 is epic as epic can get and is worth the price of admission alone. Plus, the sum of your choices and the actions you’ve taken during the course of Mass Effect 2 will go on to affect the events of the sequel. Awesome. Simply awesome.
Mass Effect 2 cannot be praised enough. It improved upon everything that made the first Mass Effect great. It removed all the unnecessary contrivances that slowed down the first title and made it immensely playable. The explosive and frenetic combat easily compares to other third-person shooters and simultaneously maintains it’s RPG roots. Not only does it run smoothly and looks damn good, but the story and it’s characters are memorable and ranks among the best in 2010. It is a lengthy and deep adventure that will suck you into additional playthroughs. Bioware has created a sweeping sci-fi saga that not only elevates the Mass Effect franchise, but role-playing games in general. The experience is completely fueled by the player’s actions and in-actions. Hands down it is the complete package. Gone are the days of dice-rolls, inventory management, and number crunching. Bioware throws the middle finger at all those dated elements and allowed the experience to take over instead of statistical algorithms.
Mass Effect 2 is the harbinger of great things to come in the role-playing genre. BioWare boldly takes the action-RPG genre to new heights. Undeniably it is a gaming experience that shouldn’t be missed. Without a doubt, Game of the Year. Do yourself a favor and buy this game.
Yes, I am full-grown man and Yes, I still watch pro wrestling. In fact, as I have gotten older, I’ve started watching more wrestling then I ever did as a kid. I still watch Raw every monday and I try to watch Smackdown! whenever I can on friday nights. Yes I’m fully aware that its “fake” but I don’t care, I still love it. Also, it’s not fake, its staged. There is a difference.
I like to consider myself a “Smark”, a portmanteau of the term “Smart Mark” or someone who understands the innerworking of the wrestling biz. I grew up in Northeast Philly watching ECW on channel WTGW 48 during the years of Tommy Dreamer vs Raven, Taz and his Path of Destruction and Mr. 420 RVD (as a young kid, I had no idea what 420 meant but now I look back and a laugh at how ridiculously Van Dam was during his promos). I stuck with ECW until the end and I openly wept when Vince McMahon revived and destroyed my ECW. I still wear my ECW whenever I’m feeling nostalgic.
I also grew up during the “Attitude Era” of the WWF. I remember screaming my head off for Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Headbangers and The Undertaker. I watched Raw is War faithfully every monday but for some reason, I guess I grew too old for Rasslin’ so I stopped watching from about 2001 to 2005. I remember sitting in front of my Tv one night being bored and I flipped on Raw and I remembered how much I loved wrestling and I fell off the wagon again and became a Wrestling fan once again.
As much as I love WWE (still feels weird to say especially after that awesome Old School Raw with the old logo), I have to say I LOVE the indy scene. I’m a huge fan of Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerilla and Chikara. The guys in the indy leagues aren’t huge but they make up for with amazing Athletism. They do things that the WWE could never get away with and they make Wrestling fun again. It’s a strange mix of Drama, Humor and Awe-Inspiring Athletics. Chikara Pro is especially my favorite. It’s like a live action Comic book. Over the Top Heels, Guys in Luchador Masks, Fighting ICE CREAM CONES! I can’t put into words how Chikara changed my views on wrestling. The WWE is trying make wrestling PG and more family friendly, but they really should watch Chikara because they understand how to make Wrestling Fun.
My final thought about Wrestling is about my favorite wrestler in the world. Bryan Dani…I mean….Daniel Bryan. Here is a guy who went from wrestling in front of 50 fans in high gyms to 500 fans in a Bingo Hall to 50,000 fans in Japan and now he’s wrestling in front the of the entire world in the WWE. He is a guy who treats Wrestling like an art form, he trains in MMA and he honestly makes you forget that wrestling is booked because of the amount of passion he has for his craft. I had the honor of meeting him at a Chikara show and I was amazed at how humble he was for all of his accomplishments. He got shafted when he first joined the WWE, jobbing to everyone on the roster but now he’s garnering praise from Jim Ross, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, William Regal and he could on his way to being one of the top guys in WWE. His success feels like my success because I’ve been his fan for years and I’ve seen him grow from an Indy legend to a WWE United States Champ.
So yes, I am a grown man and I can proudly say, I love Pro Wrestling. Now, if you excuse me, I have some Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 to play.
A YouTube user appropriately named, “TheInternetFTW” has constructed what is technically a working computer within the sandbox world “Minecraft”. For those not familiar with Minecraft, it could be categorized as a new-age development tool or creative suite; but it is actually marketed as a game. It allows players to manage and produce pixelated 8-bit tiles to literally create the world around them.
Other users have reportedly made cities that hang in the skies along with full-scale space stations, but TheInternetFTW has constructed a city-sized ALU or arithmetic logic unit. The ALU plays an integral role in any CPU, it is what makes a computer… well… a computer. It allows it to compute (roll eyes).
The creator demonstrates his contraption’s capabilities of performing simple math within the world. By throwing a couple of switches and careful placement of some torches, he was able to get the correct answer in due time.
The creator has gone on to say that construction, debugging, AND testing has gone on simultaneously within the game world. He went on to admit that the entire unit isn’t optimized thoroughly enough but is pleased that it functions accurately and properly. He also has plans to add memory and RAM, thus making it a legit computer. Creepy.
So what does all of this mean? Why the fuss? Essentially… because inside a machine, a human made ANOTHER machine. Something severely meta about that. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time. Just to think, a human can create an environment suited to their specific needs in territory as intangible as the internet.
Watch the video below. If your mind isn’t blown, you should be getting shivers down your spine.
To all five people who read this little blog, sorry for no updates. I just moved up to Millersville University on Wednesday and I have been insanely busy with orientation. It’s been a pretty exhausting past couple of days and today is the first day when I can just relax and hangout. Tomorrow, of course, is the first day of class so this might be the last time I can hangout and relax for quite a long time.
I was walking around downtown Lancaster city with my friends from the ‘Ville and we stopped at a small record store to check out what they had in stock. What I found there was maybe, without hyperbole, the greatest ever in the history of anything, EVER.
Brace yourself because you might be overwhelmed by the AWESOME
The Final Countdown by Europe on Vinyl. Awesome.