Batman Vs. the 2 Year Old

Standard

Lately, I have been playing through Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PS3. The game features impressive controls, voice acting, and the dark and gritty environments of Arkham Asylum itself. (Side note: At times the game has reminded me of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Both feature a dark color palette and stealth action mixed with all-out brawling.) If I were to make a Batman game this would be it.

Babysitting

Now I normally play video games once my son has gone to sleep. This way I can play guilt-free and enjoy myself with little interruption. The other night I was watching “the boy” as my wife was at Bible study. Trying to unwind a little, I popped in Batman and started killing the bad guys. As my two year old sat there watching me play, a small thought entered my brain, “should you be playing this in front of him?” I quickly dismissed the thought. I was enjoying myself far too much and wanted to progress further in the game. My son soon lost interest in watching me play and went and grabbed my wife’s “hi-pad”. As he sat there playing his educational games, I continued my quest to return order to Arkham Asylum. Something nagged at me though later on in the night; something that has caused me to question the very games that I enjoy and use to de-stress.

My son is used to the sugar-coated worlds of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Veggie Tales. He has never spent much time watching something set in the hellish environment of a prison. In fact, I know that he never has outside of what he has watched me play with Batman: Arkham Asylum. This has led me to ask the question:

What type of an example am I being to my son?

PS3

Ever since purchasing a PS3 last year, I have indulged in hours filled with high body counts, floating flower petals, and exotic locations. The PS3 has taken me to places that Nintendo’s Mario would never dare tread. But at what cost?

Last night, I went to bed playing The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass on the DS. The cell-shaded graphics, brightly-lit landscapes, and fun gameplay reminded me of why I enjoy Nintendo games. Here was a game I could easily play in front of my son. Though there might be evil in the world of The Phantom Hourglass I ultimately know that good will triumph.

Closing Thoughts 

In closing, I do know that there is a difference between maturity levels, adult vs. kid appropriate material, etc. What I am trying to focus on here is two things:

What type of an example am I setting for my family with the games I play?

Do I really have to indulge in games that feature mass amounts of violence to be satisfied as a gamer?

The Bible is clear in it’s call to:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. – Philippians 4:8 (The Message)

The Bible only wants us to fill our minds with the best, the beautiful, and the things worthy of praise for us. What does that look like in your media choices? This is something I’m going to have to think more about.

Lunch Time Detective

Standard

I witnessed a hit and run accident over lunch today. A red Lincoln convertible smashed into a guy who had stumbled out of a local bar. There was blood all over the ground. The victim even looked as if he had been impaled by the car’s hood ornament. As I took in the scene with disbelief, I couldn’t help but ask myself:

Was this just a simple accident or were matters far more sinister being played out?

My lunch with Rockstar’s L.A. Noire was just another typical day in the LAPD’s Traffic Division. Another day of seeing people at their worst all the while putting the bad guys in jail. You did know that there were still bad guys out there right?

As the case progressed, the victim (the one laying in the street in the above picture) seemed like someone who had been bumped off as a matter of convenience. The convenience being a wife who wanted to hook up with another man. My lunch hour ended before I could solve the case. However, I did engage in a high speed pursuit with the driver of the Lincoln. I can only imagine the damage bill I racked up as I took out street lamps, side-swiped cars, and almost hit pedestrians. My partner, whats-his-name, was screaming at me over my driving. He apparently hasn’t lived in California too long.

Little Big Lunch

Standard

Over lunch I had a chance to sit down and play some Little Big Planet. Ended up getting stuck on a level where I was flying with a jetpack and having to transport dynamite. Let’s just say that I didn’t pass the level and my wife and I were left laughing over the explosive results. Notice that the word “results” is plural. 🙂

Below is some music from the game to enjoy.

A Night with inFAMOUS

Standard

Last night, my wife told me to sit down and play some video games. So I listened. Without losing time, I quickly launched inFAMOUS on my PS3. In the hour and a half that I played I:

  • Liberated hostages/ parts of the city
  • Fought massive onslaughts of Reapers
  • And restarted power stations below Neon City
All of the above contributing to the awesome feeling of being a super hero. Towards the end of my play time, I ended up fighting the games first boss, Sasha. She came across as a bad ex-girlfriend… Below is a video of the encounter uploaded by someone on youtube. Please note that I am not playing through the game as evil, as the person in the video is. Instead, I am the people’s champion, a good guy.

Sasha put up a pretty mean fight!

Note: One thing that bugged me about this encounter was the amount of language coming from both Sasha and main character Cole. The cuss words seemed out of place.

After the fight, I decided to call it a night. My left hand was slowly starting to go numb and my index finger (used to hold down the targeting button) wasn’t working like it should. Funny, I haven’t played a game that has caused both of my hands to hurt like that in quite sometime. Minus the occasional language, inFAMOUS is proving to be a fun game that really makes you feel like a superhero.

PlayStation Store Strikes Back May 24th

Standard

Barring any additional problems, Sony plans to bring the PlayStation Store back online next Tuesday, May 24, according to a memo sent to the console’s publishing partners. – Gamasutra

I am honestly not sure how I feel about this, especially in light of yesterday’s news of Sony being hacked again. Sony has not won back my trust just yet.

Personal Conviction

Standard

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.- Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

I got into an interesting conversation yesterday with a good friend. He has been recently convicted by God to get rid of the things in his life that do not necessarily praise Him. For my friend, this looks like getting rid of some movies, books, and even music.

21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent [emphasis added] and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. – James 1:21 (NIV)

Kratos wants blood...

After talking to him, I got thinking about the stuff in my own life I have walked away from due to personal conviction. For example, I played through the original God of War on the PS2. I loved this game! In playing it though, I noticed that it brought out a thirst for what I would call “blood lust” within me. I just wanted to kill, kill, kill. Not only that, but the cut scenes in the game featured what might as well have been soft core porn. There was one time when I was playing that my wife saw one of these cut scenes, she was appalled…I was embarrassed. Soon after I beat the game. I made my wife promise me to never let me play another game in the series again. I simply did not like the all encompassing worldview found in the game. The gameplay was another matter…

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world [emphasis added]. – James 1:27 (NIV)

More recently I have walked away from playing through the game Darksiders on the PS3. The game had everything going for it minus a highly spiritually convoluted storyline. Heck, I could have even looked past that! What really killed it for me was that the game forced you to offer blood sacrifices to demons. It was then that I ejected the disc and never looked back. I know, as a Christian, that God would never consider such acts, even done virtually, to be honoring of Him.

5 You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God… Exodus 20:5a (HCSB)

Beyond the realm of video games, I have also dealt with conviction over books I have read. The best example I can think of is George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series. A few months ago, I rushed through the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones. I loved how Martin was able to weave political intrigue with such a rich cast of characters. What started to bug me though, as I moved through the 1000 pages of the book, were the explicit sex scenes found therein. In the end, I concluded that Martin’s brutal fantasy world was not one I needed to be a part of. Reading what amounted to bits of pornography was not good for my mind nor my soul; Nor was it honoring to my wife and my God.

Being a Christian is tough. The price for following Christ often means making choices that you don’t want to make but know you need to. I have not always followed the Holy Spirit’s prompting when it comes to things I need to walk away from. But the times I have listened to that prompting have lead to an even closer walk with the Lord. So I encourage you to put down that which you know you shouldn’t be touching. God will give you the strength to walk away.

13 No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

In conclusion, the conversation I had with my friend has bought me to prayer. I am now praying that God would help me figure out what “moral filth” I have allowed into my life. I know that removing it will not be easy but am reassured that God will see me through.

Sony – Slowest Sinking Ship Ever.

Standard

Dear Sony,

My personal information is running amok on the Internet! I have now received the first piece of SPAM related to your most recent debacle. Luckily, I can actually read and was able to see that you wouldn’t be using an email address like:

nment at soe dot innovyx dot net

This morning I learned, via The Ancient Gaming Noob, that your problems are more widespread than originally believed. Which makes me wonder, what the heck you have been doing? I would think, as a company, that one of your first and foremost priorities would be to secure your customer’s personal data. How could you have allowed for hackers to even obtain access to such things? You’re an electronics giant for the love of Godzilla! Capable of creating such things as the Walkman and the PS3!

It is time to put the big boy pants on Sony. We live in a digital age. Grow up or pass the company name onto someone else more deserving. Your squandering a legacy.

Sincerely,

Bryan

PSN Failure

Standard

Dear Sony,

Where do I begin? Ever since purchasing a PS3 last year, I have loved your product. The box says that “it does everything” and the PS3 truly delivers. So here I was, enjoying the blu-ray and AAA games on your console, when suddenly the PlayStation Network goes out. Okay, I can deal with that. What I can’t deal with is finding out, almost a week later, that my personal information “may” have been compromised. By may, I mean my:

  • Name
  • Address (city, state, and zip)
  • Country
  • E-mail address
  • Birthday
  • PSN password and login name

All of the above have been “possibly” stolen from your system? What? You don’t know if whoever it was got my credit card information too? This is not acceptable. One of the first laws of business is to admit your mistakes upfront. This is especially true when it affects your clients and their personal banking information.

As of this morning, I have cancelled my credit card and have another one being reissued. I wish that I could somehow charge you, Sony, for my time and energy spent going about this task that never should have happened. Can you imagine if this had happened with Apple and iTunes?

My PS3 still sits faithfully by my television, waiting to connect to the Internet. While I appreciate the steps you have taken as a company to rectify this error (ie: shutting down the network), I do not appreciate the lack of communication on your part. My faith in Sony as a company has been shaken. Who is to say that this won’t happen again? I love my PS3, but I don’t love it enough to have my identity stolen and sold in some dark virtual alleyway. So what are you going to do, Sony, to regain my trust? I need something. A token that you are working to make sure that something like this never happens again. Ever. You can start by sending me an email telling me what I have read on different news sites. That is the least you can do.

Sincerely,

Bryan

Nepal

Standard

Nathan Drake and I arrived in Nepal last night. The city of Kathmandu has become a virtual warzone. Slowly, we have fought through the city streets in search of the temple that leads to Shambhala. Along the way, we have met up with Chloe–I don’t trust her!–and are now trying to find a good vantage point to locate the temple. Hopefully all goes well…

Rotating between Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Red Dead Redemption, my PS3 is certainly getting a workout. Modern gaming sure is rad!

Sunday, Sunday

Standard

It is a nice and toasty 89 degrees outside today. Hurray for Texas in the springtime!

So far, I have spent my Sunday going to church, hanging out with friends this afternoon (got to play Shadows Over Camelot for the first time), and now just relaxing. The house is nice and quiet due to my son being down for a nap. I can’t imagine what life will be like when he finally stops taking those…

Last night I dove into Red Dead Redemption on the PS3. First off, I would like to give developer Rockstar massive kudos for keeping the game relatively clean thus far. The lack of language and even sexual content has shocked me after dabbling with several games in the Grand Theft Auto series. Such restraint Rockstar! Keep it up! Second, I am not a huge fan of open world GTA-like games. Red Dead Redemption is slowly making a believer out of me. The game is a fulfillment of all of my childhood fantasies of becoming a cowboy. Love it! So far I have herded cattle, rounded up rustlers, and kept a garden free of varmints. I will most likely be writing more about this game in the future.

That is about all for this relaxing Sunday. See ya on the flip side tomorrow!

Costume Quest: The Demo

Standard

This is how blurry the text reads on my TV. Is this normal?

Yesterday, I had the chance to finally sit down and play through the Costume Quest demo (PS3). First off, I loved everything about this game! The storyline was hilarious and the art direction, with the big expressive eyes, reminds me of one of my favorite games, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Overall the demo showcased the imaginative worlds and humor developer Double Fine is known for. If it wasn’t for the blurry text on my TV (I need to upgrade), I would buy the game.

Off with a Bang!

Standard

The opening to Uncharted 2 is simply breathtaking. Our hero awakes to find himself covered in blood, a victim of a terrible train wreck. As you guide Nathan Drake up through a train hanging off a cliff, there are several moments where you wonder if he is going to make it. Now of course he is going to make it because he is the main protagonist of the series…but still! I wish more games started off with such a fantastic opening scene to get things going. I guess though all games can’t be that way, after awhile such a thing would come across as contrived. Anywho, I am really enjoying Uncharted 2. Have a good Saturday everyone!

Demo Friday

Standard

Today has been a demo day for me. First up on the list was Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution on the PS3.

The only other Sid Meier game I have ever played was one of the first Civilization games. I found that game to be dull, complicated, and had absolutely no patience for it. Civilization Revolution, on the other hand, plays at a faster and more entertaining pace. I was so engrossed in my fight against the Aztecs and the more recent discovery of the Egyptian culture (I was playing as the Romans) that I became a little angry when the demo came to an end. What would happen to my cities of Bryantopia, Bryansville, and Awesome? I guess I’m going to have to buy the full game to find out.

The next game on my demo tour was Ron Gilbert’s DeathSpank.

Unlike the humor found in the Monkey Island series, I just couldn’t connect with DeathSpank’s humor. I found myself continually skipping through the quest text, bored. The combat was fun and the controls were tight. Overall, just not my thing.

Dreams

Standard

Sorry the picture is so grainy…no flash photography was allowed in this part of the game. Might scare the zombies!

I do not do well with scary stuff. Take for instance a sudden twist in the Uncharted storyline last night. Everything had been going along swimmingly, when suddenly a past Nazis influence was introduced. Poof! Cue the supernatural elements such as killer Zombies -thankfully not armed with weapons, yet!-. After battling through darkened corridors with only a flashlight, I finally thought I had gotten away from this demonic horde. I was wrong. Very wrong. The game’s developers then decided to chuck not only zombies at me, but terrorists as well. A deadly combination burrito. Without the cheese.

Jurassic Park. Apparently not a fun place considering all anyone does is run and die.

All of the above to say that I had some pretty intense dreams last night. I dreamed of a zombie apocalypse that was somewhat akin to the movie Jurassic Park. Except this time…all of the golden retrievers died.

Dreams can take us to the wildest of places. Sometimes making sense and other times not. I am thankful not to live in a dream world…the nightmares are far too intense.

What crazy dreams have you had recently?

Shank: The Demo

Standard

Ultra violent. Gritty. Extreme.

Awhile back I downloaded the demo for Shank, an old school side-scrolling brawler of sorts, on the PS3 (also on PC and 360). The game follows the title character through the dirty streets of some nameless town (at least in the demo). Shank is after THE BUTCHER, a luchadore that beat the crap out of him and stole his girl. Wrought on revenge, through any means necessary, Shank battles to win not only his pride but his woman back. Sound like a typical Tarantino script? I’d say yes!

So the demo starts as Shank begins his road of bloodshed and violence. Ultimately ending with him killing the wrong masked wrestler. “WHERE IS HE?!?”, Shank yells questioningly in rage. Fueled by Shank’s anger, I can only assume that he completes his mission by the game’s end.

Overall I enjoyed the demo and wish it had been longer. The game’s M rating has me questioning just how much sex and language are in the rest of the game (the demo really didn’t showcase anything but violence). As of right now, I’ll be passing on Shank.

Fridays with Nathan

Standard

Awhile back, Nathan Drake and I set out on a whirlwind trip to discover some secrets related to a relative of his. We found an ancient temple, a submarine in a waterfall, and even back tracked through the same ancient temple just to escape with our lives. Exciting stuff huh? Not really. From there our relationship, and adventure, started to get complicated. You see, the difficulty, in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, has suddenly spiked. I went from killing a handful of goons to small jungle legions of them. Certainly not cool. For now my adventures with Nathan have come to an end…but I am sure they are only just the beginning of a long and frustrating future. Cheers!

1:50pm Update:

There is that scene in The Matrix where the character Trinity suddenly finds herself in need of being able to fly a helicopter. Almost instantly, the knowledge is given to her via download, and she is ready to fly!

After posting earlier this morning, I now realize I was having a Trinity-like moment. My gaming skills had yet to adapt to the game, Uncharted, at hand. After spending a few hours playing, I finally have the feel of the game and am flying quite nicely. Massive gun battles, crazy stunts, and a love to rescue are just the order of the day. Good times.

Final Fantasy XIII: Next Gen?

Standard

Run down a linear path, fight 20+ times, and watch a movie. Wash, rinse, repeat.

For a game representing the next generation of role playing games, Final Fantasy XIII sure doesn’t deviate from the established formula. I mean sure, the Paradigm shifts are fun and the battles are quick and breezy, but where is that next-gen wow factor? One could argue that:

  • The graphics are amazing. This is true.
  • The battle system is an extremely polished version of what has come before (what has worked and what hasn’t). This is also true.

But what about the storyline? The heart and soul of the game. Already, in my few hours of game play, I have found myself trying to figure out what exactly is going on. I have even visited wikipedia in an effort to unravel this mystery. This isn’t a good thing. Past Final Fantasy’s have grabbed ahold of me straight from the beginning. Take for instance Cloud in Final Fantasy VII. The game opens with Cloud, on a train with the terrorist group AVALANCHE, going to blow up a Mako reactor. At the time I didn’t know what a Mako reactor was, but I sure wanted to see it blow up! Simply epic. Similarly, Final Fantasy XIII begins on a train that quickly devolves into an endless escape sequence. Questions such as:

  • Why are we running/ escaping?
  • Where are we? Are we apart of the good guys? Are we bad?
  • Why do so many people have to die from all of these suspended roads collapsing? Surely someone thought that building such roads could be hazardous.

Soul burning questions (okay, not quite) aside, these questions are just not as compelling as going to blow up a reactor. No, I’m not bashing Final Fantasy XIII. I have kept playing it to see if the story becomes any clearer/ gets better. So far, I have learned that the story involves the main characters trying to figure out how to defeat a curse by figuring out exactly what they have been cursed with. This could be interesting I guess.

The graphics and battle system have kept me going thus far. But I wonder if ultimately I am wasting my time. I will not deny that this game certainly represents a step forward for the series, but I also wonder if it could represent a step back as well.

Darksiders

Standard
Update: Looking back, I don’t think my criticism of this game was healthy. Read this.
Press Start:
War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, has been accused of somehow beginning the end of the world early. Stripped of his powers as punishment, War must traverse what is left of the Kingdom of Men in order to seek out and eliminate The Destroyer.
Ideology/ Worldview:
Darksiders envelopes itself in a world of distorted Biblical allusions. No where is God mentioned, even though the entire story is loosely based on the book of Revelation. Instead of God ruling supreme in the game’s world, the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse act as some sort of cosmic referees between the forces of Heaven and Hell. Which come to think of it, this game also exhibits a mixture of Eastern mysticism with focus on balance, and yin and yang. Also present are altars which require blood offerings.
Interaction/Gameplay:
Slaughter monsters and collect their souls to feed to demons. Beyond that, lots of flashy swordplay which evokes games such as God of War or Devil May Cry.
In the End:
As a Christian, I feel personally convicted over playing this game. The flippancy with which demons are interacted with and treated (as if it were a normal thing to interact with demonic creatures) sickens me. I also dislike having to feed “souls” to demons in an effort to buy them off/ obtain information. Darksiders is a dark game – surprise! – based on a pseudo spiritual mythology. While I am willing to overlook certain aspects due to their fictional nature, I am unwilling to treat Hell and demons with such a non-serious attitude. I really wanted to like this game (graphics and gameplay are fun) but in the end find that I cannot recommend it for myself or others.
Due to Darksiders intense spiritual nature, avoid at all costs!

– Level of Impact Rating –
Medium: Casual play. Does not require large chunks of time.

Sold

Standard

This is one of those mornings where I am not too sure what to write about. Lately, I have been selling off my video game collection. So far I have managed to ebay my:

  1. Virtual Boy
  2. PS2
  3. Dreamcast

All had been sitting on various shelves, wasting their plastic lives away. So instead of letting them choke on dust, I figured that I would much rather sell them and let someone else play with them. No use keeping something if your not going to use it, right? So now I have a bunch of money saved up. What to do, what to do…

I‘ve been going back and forth between getting a PSP (to feed my handheld gaming fix) or a PS3. Either way, it looks like its going to be a Sony life for me (yo ho!). Now if only these early Black Friday deals would feature some sort of deeply discounted PS3 bundle. Here’s to dreaming huh.

Happy Tuesday!