All About OrkHammer007
The Art of (Real-Time) War: Using Sun Tzu's principles for real-time strategy games.
After teasing the hell out of the kids for a few weeks, my wife finally let me hook up the Wii she got the kids for Christmas.
The reactions were varied:
Wife: "Now I can go out and get Wii Fit!!!" (I restrained myself pretty well by not correcting her, and calling it "Wii Fat.")
The little ones: "Cool!!!" (They're younger than 10, and the Wii's target audience, so I let that one go, too.)
Teenage son: "Pretty good. Let's see what this puppy does." (...I have officially failed as a gamer parent.)
I kept my mouth shut. Over the past few weeks, I've seen exactly 4 games out of the entire Wii library that I have any interest in whatsoever. It's as if the developers have completely and utterly abandoned those of us who have had a Wii inflicted upon us.
Worst of all, the odds of getting a real gaming system in the near future (like an upgraded PC) are slim-to-none. It's enough to make me want to scream.
That's why I need your help. The games I may be interested in are "No More Heroes 1 and 2," "MadWorld" and "Dead Rising." If anyone has any other ideas, let me know.
Oh... no, I am not interested at all in anything with Mario, Zelda, or Metroid, and I really can't stand JRPGs (not enough character customization). Anything else is fair game.
Author's Note: It has been a long time since I did one of these, so if it seems a bit rough, bear with me.
Also, this isn't the place to argue whether or not this is, indeed, a new decade. Technically, it's still the first decade; psychologically, it's the next one. It's not big deal.
Finally, as always, my views are my own; feel free to disagree.
(NOTE #2: Thanks to BrunoBRS for pointing out that it was Nintendo and not Microsoft that refused to release "Manhunt 2" w/ an AO rating; that has now been corrected. )
It's the rarest sight in the gaming world... rarer than the unicorn, or Loch Ness Monster, or Bigfoot. It scares the console manufacturers so much that they refuse to allow a publisher to distribute any games that receive one:
In the upcoming decade, I would like someone, once and for all, to release a game with one of those on the box. Furthermore, I would like to see it done that way on purpose, not accidentally like "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." It has nothing to do with wanting to play such a game: quite honestly, I doubt I would play such a game unless it had a compelling story, or fell into one of my preferred genres. It has more to do with the continued misperception of gamers as immature, and shattering that stereotype once and for all.
Just to recap, two games have stumbled into this "forbidden zone" of gaming in recent memory:
"GTA: SA" did so inadvertently, when intrepid gamers (doing what they do normally) stumbled on the "Hot Coffee" sex minigame. The furor that followed (further inflamed by then-Senator Hillary Clinton) resulted in a re-rating of the game, which caused retailers to pull all copies from the shelves, and Rockstar/Take-2 to re-release the game with the "offending" content removed.
"Manhunt 2" received the dreaded "AO" on its first trip through the ratings process. Nintendo and Sony put their feet down and said, "no release on our consoles." Subsequently, the game was recut to eliminate the "objectionable" material, the game was re-rated M, and everyone was happy (though PSP owners were very happy when they were able to hack the game to its pre-ESRB-friendly state).
Why Do We Need An AO Game?
In the long run, the continued caving-in of the games developers/publishers is hurting the adult gamers who crave something other than the standard generic shooters and rhythm games (the "safe" bets). I would have gladly paid to play "Six Days In Fallujah" for example, simply because it promised to be a lot more than "just" another shooter; the perception that immature teens would treat the events in the game too lightly led to its cancellation, however. Slapping an "AO" on it would have ensured that the content was experienced only by those mature and responsible enough to handle it.
Another benefit would be treaing adults like responsible individuals. Too frequently, the media blasts violent or sexually explicit games because "the kids might play them." If we're old enough to maintain a residence, a car, and a job, what makes you think we're not old enough to keep an AO game out of our kids' hands?!?
Finally, games would be put in the same category as such media as movies and music, and therefore not given "special" restrictions that they don't warrant. The idea that a computer-animated decapitation is somehow more disturbing than any of the hundreds of thousands that can be seen in the movies is laughable... or that viewing a naked 3D animation of a woman is more "damaging" than watching "American Pie" uncut on cable.
How Can This Be Achieved?
This is the "pure speculation" part of this editorial; you can likely skip it and still not miss anything of substance.
As far as I can tell, there are only three current developers who could pull this off:
Rockstar Games may seem to be the easy bet here. They've proven that they are perfectly willing to not only push the envelope, but set the thing on fire if it gets in there way. What they haven't proven is their willingness to stand behind their games and fight for them as they intended them to be played; each time the dreaded "AO" comes their way, they make cuts to keep their "M" alive.
Relic Entertainment may seem like a baffling choice, but their real-time strategy games are as bloody as it gets at the moment; it wouldn't take much to push their Warhammer 40,000-licensed games to the next level of violence. If certain aspects of WH40K were implemented into "Dawn of War" the rating could very easily hit the AO mark.However, the impersonal nature of RTSs may actually work against such a high rating.
Bioware is my pick for the first AO game, simply for two reasons: "Mass Effect" (which allows you to take another character to bed; if it went a tiny bit further, BOOM!) and EA Games, which came to Bioware's defense over the ME controversy and actually has the resources to leverage the console manufacturers into loosening their restrictions.
Of course, there's always the possibility that a big-name developer could create the needed game on the PC (where the AO restriction doesn't apply), hype it enough to make it into the AAA sales category, and bypass the (decidedly skittish) retailers by making it digital sales only. It's very slim, but it has potential.
A big-name adult game needs to happen at some point in order for gaming to be taken seriously as a medium, in much the same way as movies and books are taken seriously. I'd like to see it in te next decade, and I'd really like to see it succeed.
Last August, I got to see Creed live for the first time ever. I have wanted to see them for a while now, and their spectacular implosion at the beginning of the decade put that on hold (I thought it would do so for good).
It didn't start well: the opening bands were unknowns: a local band named Lunica (or Lunika? they didn't really make that clear) who played a kind of hard rock with violins(!); Like a Storm, from New Zealand, came next, and basically played grunge covers and swore their heads off (which jarred harshly with Creed's styIe). If their intentions were to make us thankful for the headliners to step on the stage, they did their jobs; if they were looking to sell records... not so much.
What's frustrating is, for the dates following Saratoga, Staind replaced them as openers. I would have preferred that to the schizophrenic mess I was subjected to.
Creed stepped on the stage, though, and blew us all away.
You may not like their music, or their message (that always confused me: how can you be against a world of equality and love?!?), but if you ever see them live, that will not matter: on stage, in person, they stop being a band, and transform into a phenomenon. It's hard to put into words how much singer Scott Stapp's charisma and guitarist Mark Tremoni's on-stage chemistry combine to create a perfect storm of music and showmanship that sweeps you up and transports you.
The only negative? They played one song from "Full Circle," which they had not released (neither the song nor the CD were on hand to listen to for two more months); either they needed to release the song ("Overcome") before the tour, or refrain from playing it.
Otherwise... even 5 months later, I'm still blown away when I think of that night.
My son talked me into taking him to see Trivium at a local club venue (Northern Lights) in November with my cousin's oldest son and their friend. I'm not repeating that mistake any time soon... it ******* hurt.
For the record: I'm not a fan of Trivium. I saw them live in 2004 when they opened for Iced Earth, and was more impressed with the band that was on before them (Beyond the Embrace). The only reason I was there was to act as guardian for three underage kids who wanted to see their favorite metalcore band... which happens to be Trivium. *sigh*
It started okay: the first of the four bands on the ticket was Dirge Within, a band I had never heard of. They impressed me a lot with their stage presence and musicianship (enough to go out and find their debut album, "Force Fed Lies"... not great, but solid groove metal that reminds me somewhat of Machine Head).
The next band up was Whitechapel, a deathcore band... and that's when things got rough. Their fanbase is the kind of hardcore crowd that considers it an honor to put someone in the hospital, and they don't care who. Consequently, we ended up at the edge of two mosh pits, and got pummeled quite a bit before security started to clear things up.
In the span of 45 minutes, the night went from "cool!!!" to "anyone got an aspirin?" My cousin's kid got the worst of it: the next day, my son (who's in the same homeroom) informed me that he'd discovered a chipped tooth and a broken nose.
To make matters worse, Whitechapel sucked. It was like 3/4 of an hour of listening to someone vomit while WW III was going on around them.
Then Chimaira hit the stage... and they owned the stage. Trivium could just as well have headed back to Florida at that moment, because they were NEVER going to top Chimaira that night (I'll admit to a bit of anti-Trivium bias on that score, though, to be fair). I had never heard Chimaira before that night (never heard of them either), however, and I have regretted it since. I actually went out over then next month or so and picked up their entire catalog on CD, and have been listening to them pretty much non-stop since... yes, they impressed me that much.
(If you're a fan of Machine Head, "The Impossibility of Reason" is a solid introduction to what I firmly believe is a truly amazing group of musicians; I might just write up a review of all 5 of their discs in the next week or so.)
Once they left the stage, Trivium came on and my brain just checked out. The kids had fun with it, though, so it was (sort of) worth it.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra's annual show came through in mid-December, and, as usual, we went to go see it. As usual, they put on an amazing show... but there was a definite change in the atmosphere from previous years.
For one thing, the second half of the concert was devoted mostly to music from their new album, "Night Castle." The new CD is good, but very dark; because of that, the resulting mood was kind of anti-Chrstmas when a "Night Castle" song was played. As my friend put it, "I wouldn't have been surprised to see Lucifer strut out on stage in the second half with a guitar and join in."
Now... on to the games:
So far, "San Andreas" has impressed me the most gameplay-wise. There's so much to (too much, it seems like sometimes) that you just can't get bored even if you try. I really wish it had "Vice City's" soundtrack, though (there's nothing quite as surreal as shooting random civilians to "Peace Sells"...).
As far as controversial content, though... I don't get it. What makes GTA such a target? I can pretty-well guarantee that there's more violence in a Troma Team film, and more sex in "Basic Instinct," than I've seen in "San Andreas." The language is a bit raw (in fact, that, to me, is the most off-putting aspect of the game... not the use of obscenities, but the prolific use of them: after a half-hour, I was kind of bored with hearing f-bombs and n-words thrown around, and wanted just a plain old-fashioned "what the hell?!?" to pop in and make my day), but so what?
There is an editorial in there, though... I'll see if I can refine the details in my head a bit more, and try and pop that up in the near future (I'll not make any guarantees, though... I've learned my lesson on that score).
Until then... later, my... um... can't use that one, and it confirms that I need to switch back to GTA III and finish it soon.
My Recent Reviews
Jun 17, 2013 4:06 pm GMTOrkHammer007 began Following Dragon Age III: Inquisition
Jun 17, 2013 4:05 pm GMTOrkHammer007 began Following The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Jun 17, 2013 3:22 am GMTOrkHammer007 added Dragon Age II to their owned game list
Jun 13, 2013 12:49 am GMTOrkHammer007 added Torchlight II to their now playing list
Jun 13, 2013 12:49 am GMTOrkHammer007 added Torchlight II to their owned game list
May 10, 2013 11:59 pm GMTOrkHammer007 began Following Dishonored
May 10, 2013 11:59 pm GMTOrkHammer007 added Dishonored to their owned game list
Apr 23, 2013 11:36 pm GMTOrkHammer007 added Sid Meier's Civilization IV to their owned game list
Apr 23, 2013 5:34 am GMTOrkHammer007 added Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II to their owned game list
Apr 23, 2013 5:33 am GMTOrkHammer007 added Dungeon Siege III to their owned game list