Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Game of the Year 2010 Candidate 1: Red Dead Redemption

I have an interest in giving some reviews on some of my favorite games both old and new in addition to my other columns.  We are knocking on the door of December and it's about that time I give some analysis of my favorite games I played over the year.  There is a couple titles that are out or coming out that I want to check out but I narrowed down my candidates of my favorite games of the past year.  I'll individually rate them, and try to come up with a criteria on how to grade them.  I figured just use three to four main categories, depending on the game.  Story, which is obvious, but all games don't really drive on a story so it's the most objectionable.  Presentation, I'm thinking of using this to bundle in the graphics and sound, maybe change it later.  Gameplay, which is definitely necessary and replay value, is the game worth the store value.

Box art featuring John Marston
 Red Dead Redemption

I'll do my best to generalize these spoiler free.  In a nutshell, you play as former outlaw John Marston.  He is forced to do some dirty work for the US Government and retrieve some outlaws that he used to run with back in his days.  The trade off is that by completing and satisfying agents they will let him resume a life with his family whom is being kept captive as collateral.  If you are familiar with Rockstar Games, notably the GTA series then you can expect that you'll run into several interesting people.  Among them are a snake oil salesman, a schizophrenic grave robber, and a cocaine addicted professor from the East.  They really add an extra dimension of depth to the story as they have you get involved in their affairs in exchange for helping find who you are looking for.  For the most part, you'll find yourself getting sucked in as you anticipate certain pinnacles throughout the game.  One instance towards the end, it somewhat slows down, but you should be urged to play until the credits roll it will be worth it.  Hard for me to gauge it, overall it's enjoyable.  It can be inconsistent, especially towards the end.  The characters are worth while for sure.

Rockstar nails it with this one.  The sceneries of the Old West and frontier are life like as it comes.  Being in Mexico feels like Mexico and being in the mountain feels like the mountains.  The bar been set years ago, so it's no surprise that the map you explore is very large and feels like every inch of it is uniquely modeled.  The music is pretty good.  Inspirations are clearly from Spaghetti Westerns.  It also is appropriate concerning what you do, being in a shootout is going to sound more intense than riding solo across the desert.  As mentioned above the game is full of interesting characters, Rockstar does a great job on making them memorable.  The models of the games important characters are well done and they have natural movements during cut scenes.  The voice acting is top notch, Rockstar is probably one of, if not, the best with script writing and the acting of them.  It gives you that movie feel.  Even certain missions when you are required to ride to a certain location for a couple minutes with someone, the banter between them is enjoyable and gives out some important insight on the characters and their backgrounds and current well beings.  Not exactly perfect, not many is but very good attention to detail.

Now this is the part that makes you feel like you are in the old west.  There is a good variety of things you can do in this game.  Like the GTA series, there is a great amount of side missions and activities for you to take part in. Games like poker, horseshoes, and dice are present if you feel like it.  Winning will reward you too with new outfits and cash.  Horse riding is a huge part, it's somewhat rigid at first but you'll find yourself flying from point A to point B with no problem in no time.  It can be mundane going across the map, but the developers considered that and let you quick travel to any visited town by either going to a save spot or even just camping on an open area.  Trust me that helps a ton and keeps the pace of the game up to tempo.  Now when you think of Westerns you think of shootouts and duels and well just shooting things in general.  This is what makes the game good, you'll feel like you are performing an action scene most of the time.  It uses a duck and cover style that is becoming popular in this generation.  It works smooth and easy, when in a shoot out aiming the gun will invoke an auto aim.  The AI is just smart enough that they will duck out if they can, so this is where the Dead Eye comes in.  You'll learn to love the Dead Eye, which is when time slows down and allows you to precisely target your foes allowing you as many shots and your clip holds.  When you exit the Dead Eye watch the fun unfold and they drop to the ground.  You'll really feel like a bad ass when you drop a group of gunslingers during a horse chase using the Dead Eye.  The game provides plenty of variety in both the main and optional endeavors. 

Replay Value:
There is no question that this game delivers a lot of content that makes you want to stick around if you please.  The game itself takes from 16-20 hours depending how you choose to play it.  More likely the later half, because you'll find yourself dabbling with the side missions.  Afterwards, you can roam and take care of any other loose ends that you might want to take care of.  The game also has an online multiplayer, which is interesting.  The main hub is well the whole map and you can choose to explore it or go into a multiplayer showdown with different types of games you can play.  You level up and get points by performance, the more you level up you unlock more skins, faster horses, and better weapons.  While in the hub you'll have a small group of others on the map with you, if possible you can bring your friends along.  There is also gang hideout that you can take down for leveling points, you and the other players can team up if you want to help clear it out.  And if you choose you can hunt the other players also for points.  It's certainly not the most popular for of online play that is available, but it's definitely unique.  It should also be pointed out that for extra money there is DLC available.  I'd recommend the Undead Nightmare which combines the wild west with a zombie apocalypse.  There is no doubt there is plenty of do afterwards, you'll get your money worth for sure.

Overall: 9.6

Survivor Series Hangover on Raw

Gotta love technology, I finish my Raw recap and my WiFi goes out and I lose it all.  But I'll be a trooper and finish this or else I'll have me a restless time trying to sleep.  I certainly don't plan on reviewing any Raw, but if I feel there is a special occasion then I shall do so.  This is one of those occasions.

Raw kicks off with Wade Barrett and the rest of the Nexus.  He is generating more heat in Orlando than their cross state rival, bad pun intended.  By the way, the Heat lost to the Pacers in a blowout.  Anyways, he says that John Cena gets one last chance say bye to the fans.  The Apple GM, has something to say. Wade will get another shot at Orton and it will be tonight on Raw.  Well maybe Barrett should reconsider letting Cena be on TV tonight, don't you think?

Michael Cole announces a third member of the Raw broadcast team and it's the injured CM Punk.  I was anxious that it would be JR, but this is just fine in my book.

Next week we have another 3 hour Raw dedicated to a King of the Ring tournament.  Sweet! In order to compete you have to qualify and they kick it off with Sheamus and R-Truth.  Truth is coming back out to his old theme, I guess the time for getting "buck" is over.  Eve still comes out with him too.  The Celtic Warrior takes the win and opens up the road to becoming the Celtic King.

We get some backstage riff raff and then our next KOTR qualifier.  It's the Big Zeke vs. The Miz... wait it's Alex Riley.  I guess the Miz has a case of the limber tail and doesn't want to fight.  So we get a match and a conclusion of who will be before it starts.  Zeke wins easily.

John Cena comes out for his farewell.  He gets an HBK like treatment, I suppose to make it seem legit.  He gives a speech that has some genuine emotion.  He then separates the crowd between women and children and men over 18 to have a classic dueling Cena chant.  That was pretty funny.  I was hoping that he made a veiled joke about considering finding work at a certain wrestling fed in the Orlando area, but no free shill for Dixie.  Cena leaves the arena to applause from his peers.

Back to business we are treated to a rematch of last night's opener between Ted and Bryan. This time a KOTR spot is on the line.  Bryan is followed to the ring by a Bella and she cheers him on to a victory over Ted.  The other Bella comes out and they fight over DB if you want to call it that.  He has them hug it out and he walks away.  Remember when Lance Storm and Dean Malenko were given the ladies man gimmick.  Yes, I'm sure they don't want to remember that either.

Natalya comes out as champ for the first time and gets a match with Alicia Fox.  Punk awards Fox a 9.8/10, leaving off 0.2 due to her horrid outfit.  Nattie makes quick work of her and makes her tap from Uncle Bret's move.

John Morrison and Melina are backstage chatting, perhaps they are laughing about Joey Mercury.  JoMo has a match with the fresh heel Tyson Kidd.  Two great performers going at it, Kidd is given the generic heel music.  Morrison wins and completes the Raw side of KOTR.  Tyson certainly has the talent to be a solo performer but does he have the tools, in reference to Winston Zeddemore.

Main event time and Orton makes his way out, but the Nexus have a trick up their sleeve and it's simply beat the hell out of Randy before the match.  Orton is selling a knee injury and Wade waits patiently.  The champ doesn't go down easy to the Nexus leader but he nails the wasteland.  Cena evens the odds and gets payback for his newly acquired pink slip by costing Barrett the win.  The rest of the Nexus chase him away.  As things stabilize we are treated with a Diamond Cutter from Randy Dallas Page.  The match is over but the clock says 9:57, connect that to the sold knee injury, the Miz's refusal to wrestle earlier pretty much keeping himself out of the KOTR and we can paint this picture.  AWESOME!! 

Out runs the Miz and Orton has a that "you gotta be kidding me look".  The Viper is cornered and injured, but still can be deadly.  The Miz works the knee, but has a brief battle with Orton, he tries to connect and RKO.  Not this time, the Miz counters it with the Skull Crushing Finale.  NEW WWE CHAMPION!!

It's always nice to see someone win the title for the first time.  There is some little girl in the crowd who is pissed and doesn't feel the same way as I do.  She also became a meme within the IWC thanks to the people in the truck focusing on her.  The Miz deserves it, it's up to debate if it's too soon or not.  I don't think so, he worked his ass off.  From arguing with Coral on MTV to fighting in a Dixie Dogfight, he's come a far way.  I mean really far.  One thing that's better than being on the Real World is being WWE Champion, and he's the only person on the planet who can verify that.  The Miz joins a list that includes Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, and The Rock.  He's literally living the dream.  A pretty cool edition of Raw, but until next week I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Survivor Series 2010

And in no time here is my first post.  Survivor Series 2010.  I'm running most of this off the top of my head, so excuse me if I have forgotten any notable features or segments.  And here we are to the November tradition, which was nearly canned.  The event took place in Miami but was viewed by us in a packed house at Valparaiso.  And it kicked off with a title match.

United States Championship
Daniel Bryan vs. Ted Dibiase

Solid opener by these two.  Still am unsure of the logic that Ted gets a PPV title shot just because he attacked the champ on Raw, but hey it's wrestling.  It's things like that which make it great.  Ted has been somewhat bland since going solo.  Not horrible in the ring, but seems to have trouble finding his niche.  The pairing with Maryse makes for an interesting union.  DB has been outstanding.  He is on fire at PPVs and is undefeated so far if I'm not mistaken on PPVs.  Whether it's on Raw or not, he's put on a show.  Ted taps out and Bryan remains champion.

The Miz comes out and cuts a promo on the Miami Heat and compares them to the Nexus.  He teases cashing in the MITB.  Spoiler, this isn't the night.  I think the Miz has been slightly on the back burner since losing the US title, but certainly not forgotten. 

John Morrison vs. Sheamus

JoMo is looking to teach Sheamus a lesson for being a bully.  I like Morrison, one hell of an athlete.  It always seems he gets lost in limbo when you think he's going to move up on the food chain.  Sheamus no doubt last years break out star, really looks like a star now.  I kind of found it perplexing they didn't make this a traditional Series match for the Raw side, but regardless they put on a good match.  Johnny wins and it really felt like an upset.  Pretty good match, Sheamus really worked him but was unable to put him away.  Wonder what direction both men go from here.

Intercontinental Championship
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kaval

And the trend of solid solo matches continues.  You want to talk about someone who has upped his game it's been Ziggler.  Sure his name is ridiculous, but the man has put on some good matches.  And they made him credible, I can't recall when he won the IC strap. It's been awhile, I think they are making it seem somewhat more legit.  Between Ziggler and Bryan it's like the old days when the midcard titles where the workers title.  I'm loving it.  Kaval finally got his big break and got a chance to dance on PPV.  His offense is fun to watch, the live crowd didn't seem impressed, their loss I suppose.  It wasn't the World Warrior's night, Ziggler walks away with the title.  Another good match.

Traditional Series Match
Team Rey vs. Team Del Rio

This is the type of match that made this event special.  I question having Bragging Rights being the precede PPV since the main event is an over glorified SvS match. I feel like it devalues this PPV.  Anyways, alright match.  Not horrible.  I question making Rey and Big Show the survivors.  Rey was a survivor along with Edge at BR.  Why not make the home town person MVP a survivor if they wanted the faces to win? Rey's workrate is top notch, but I get annoyed by how he's nearly impossible to put away.  Cody's "Narcist Prince" shtick is great.  So far, the show's been good.

Diva's Championship
Natalya vs. LayCool

I didn't really pay close attention to this match, but it's nice to see Natalya win.  Her emotion seemed legit.  With her lineage, you know she loves the business.  She's not treating the E like a stepping stone like we seen others in the past do.  Say what you will of LayCool, but I like them.  Beth Phoenix returns to help out Natalya fend off LayCool. 

World Heavyweight Championship
Kane vs. Edge

First but most likely not the final match of this feud.  Match was nothing remarkable.  We see a double pinfall ending and by default Kane retains the title.  Edge is pissed off and takes it out on the champ.  Next months event is TLC and Edge is known for being a ladder specialist.  You can count on that they will have a ladder match, that way there will be no draw.  I don't mind Kane's title run.  It's nice to see the title be held for actually more than a month.  The problem is that his matches have been slow. 

Tag Team Championship
Nexus vs. Kozlov and Santino

Mere filler in order to rest the live crowd in between the main events.  Nexus wins, but not without interference from the whole group.  I like this tandem of Slater and Gabriel, probably the best two people that they can choose from the whole crew.  I like Gabriel in the ring, I hope he gets a decent singles push after the whole Nexus thing is over.

WWE Championship
Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett

The big story of this one is that John Cena is the special ref.  If Wade Doesn't win the title then Cena is fired, but if Wade does win then he is free from his duty in the Nexus.  Match was alright, the overshadowing story of Cena was the main focus.  I read and heard several possibilities of what could happen.  Quite frankly they went with the lamest outcome.  Orton RKOs Wade and Cena does what's right. OK, I'm fine with that but then Barrett gets away and Cena salutes Orton and Randy does the same back.  The crowd cheer, both of them and Barrett doesn't get his come upping that Cena promised.  No heel turn, but at this point it would be illogical.  We all sat there waiting for something to happen and the screen fades to black.  We all know Cena isn't getting fired for real, it's pro wrestling.  People got "fired" several times only to come back.  For what it's worth, we need to tune into Raw in order to see the aftermath.  My issue with this Cena/Nexus feud is when I get anxious that it's gonna take a twist it doesn't.  The Cena being ordered by Barrett was good on their part. Perhaps it's not over, we'll see.  I'm sure Cena will be back no later than the Rumble.  If anything the ending was awkard.

The show was overall solid.  Strange ending, but pretty damn good under card.  Now we have TLC and then the we take the exit onto the Road to Wrestlemania.


I'll make this short and sweet, but this is my new blog.  I am still trying to think of a more clever title for this blog, but for now this will work.  Since I joined Twitter, I eventually have found several sources of blogs about Pro Wrestling and Video Games.  I love to read what other people have to think and I always wanted to write some thoughts on certain events or games that I watched and played.  The subject matter doesn't have to be contained within those boundaries, but will serve as the foundation.  I hope to get some readers, which I figure my friends will be interested to read my work.  And most importantly, I'm going to have fun with this.