Archive for the 'Journals' Category

Aug 07 2013

Retro Game Road Trip: The Search for the New Leads Me Back to the Old

Published by under Journals,Video Games


Last week, the New York Videogame Critics Circle held their second annual community meet-up at Brooklyn’s premiere barcade, Barcade. Here in NYC, we call a barcade a Barcade, okay?

I headed over there after work to check out the scene, my calling cards tucked safely away in my case shaped like Han Solo frozen in carbonite. I was all geared up to schmooze with the best of them until I remembered I’m pretty much the worst at networking. I managed to socialize a bit, the results of which I’ll explore in a companion piece to this one next Monday over at Gamemoir.

Paul posted about it last week, but if you’re out of the loop, Gamemoir is co-edited by our very own Benny Bedlam. I’ll be contributing a piece there every Monday, and I hear tell other Unreality writers will be providing some guest posts. So why don’t you come up and see us sometime?

Back to business: the organizers of the Critics Circle event hinted that some independent game developers would be showing off their wares, and I was stoked to check them out.

Continue Reading »

One response so far

Mar 18 2013

How the Mass Effect Series Changed My Life


One week ago, I posted an article about my five favorite DLCs from the Mass Effect franchise to celebrate the release of the Citadel DLC. I started the piece by briefly mentioning how the series was special to me and how it’s the reason for so many significant things that has happened in my life. Paul suggested that I write about it in more detail for my next piece, and I happily agreed to do it. Growing up, I was inspired by numerous stories, movies, and video games like many other kids out there. Harry Potter inspired kids to break the boundaries of creative writing while Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones gave us dreams to venture into the depths of the unknown. Yet, it’s rare for us to actually find something that inspires and touches us so deeply that it changes the course of our lives towards a whole new direction. Sometimes people never find it at all, and we consider ourselves lucky whenever we do.

If not for Mass Effect, I would have been in another continent right now trying to walk a different path. I wouldn’t even be writing this piece right now if not for the game. Therefore, this isn’t just some fangirl piece that lauds the game itself but a story about how video games can be so much more than entertainment when it changes a young girl’s life for the better. Continue Reading »

9 responses so far

Dec 15 2012

The Far Cry 3 Journal: Day 6

Published by under Journals,Reviews,Video Games

 (whoops this was supposed to go up yesterday, read journal #1 here first)

Two journals in one week! Well, let’s just say I’ve been playing a hell of a lot of Far Cry 3 lately. The completionist in me had to do every hunting, assassination and racing challenge, in addition to clearing the entire pair of islands from enemy bases, so I’m guessing it took me a little longer than most get through the story after about 20 hours of gameplay.

This entry won’t be nearly as long as the first, which covered a large part of the central premises of the game. When I last left things, I guessed that I was about 40-50% done with the game, and was curious to see how it evolved from there. And does it?

No, not really, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, the game can get a touch repetitive, as you do the same sorts of side-quests over and over to get cash and XP, but that said, I was still having fun until the very last soldier on the island had been eliminated. Unlike most open world RPGs where enemies respawn an infinite number of times at the various landmarks, there’s something very gratifying about killing bad guys and having them stay dead for good. Continue Reading »

6 responses so far

Dec 11 2012

The Far Cry 3 Journal: Day 3

Published by under Journals,Reviews,Video Games

Admission time, I’ve never played a Far Cry game. Why? Well, I’m not sure really. Part of me kept getting the series mixed up with “Crysis,” another jungle-set game that I assumed my PC could not run. But now that everything’s on consoles, I missed catching up and will just have to start with the first game.

I’m not sure what I’m missing in terms of backstory, but I don’t feel lost as at least this new plot appears to be somewhat starting over from scratch. If a longtime player wants to let me know what this game has in common with the others past “shooting things on an island,” I’m all ears.

This is turning out to be a rather long game, hence the need for a journal installment rather than just a straight review. I’ve been at it for a few days now, and I’m pretty sure I’m around 40% done, despite putting in a ton of time so far. Continue Reading »

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2 responses so far

Nov 16 2012

The Black Ops 2 Journal: Day 3

Published by under Journals,Reviews,Television

It’s that time of year again, and no I don’t mean the impending food and presents holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas respectively.  Rather, it’s November, and a new Call of Duty has been released to rain down care packages and drone strikes on all the little boys and girls.

How many hundreds of millions will this latest installment rack up? I have a hunch this will be the first title in a while to actually NOT set a record in the franchise, as that day has to come one of these years, but we’ll have to see. Rather, I now begin the process of reviewing the game, a few days after purchase.

Again, like with Halo 4, a multiplayer FPS takes a little while to review, hence the journal installments. You can’t really play a dozen matches after beating the campaign and be in the best possible informational position to review it. As such, I’ll let it sink in a while and these will be my initial impressions.

The major focus of this first entry will be about the campaign, which I always beat before heading off to multiplayer. It can be a good way to sample guns and new gear, but really, it’s pretty far disconnected from multiplayer where you actually have to do stuff like you know, aim. Continue Reading »

Pages: 1 2

2 responses so far

Sep 26 2012

The Borderlands 2 Journal: Day 8

Published by under Journals,Reviews,Video Games

Read Journal #1 here first.

Well, my journey through a revamped Pandora is finally complete, my first one, that is. Borderlands, like Diablo before it, has always been about multiple playthroughs with different characters on different difficulties, trying to reach max level where the greatest gear lies.

But you know, I’m just not sure I’m up for that.

The original Borderlands had a problem. It was relatively short, and felt like you had to play the game through twice to get the full experience. Borderlands 2 no longer has that issue, but it has a different one instead. It’s not short in the least, rather it’s quite long for a single player (or co-op campaign) game, and I believe my playthrough clocked in at about 25 hours with every sidequest I could find completed. Compare that to the 10-11 hour length of an Assassin’s Creed or Dead Space, or the 4-6 hours of Halo or Call of Duty.

And you know, that’s great. Because of the length, Borderlands 2 actually feels like a complete game, where the first one didn’t. By the end, you feel satisfied with the journey you’ve made spanning dozens of huge areas of the map, and it’s perfectly acceptable when your time with the game comes to an end. Continue Reading »

9 responses so far

Sep 19 2012

The Borderlands 2 Journal: Day 1

Published by under Journals,Reviews,Video Games


If you read that in Claptrap’s voice, you’ve probably been waiting for this game as long as I have. The original Borderlands was a breath of fresh air in an era of sequels, even if it was borrowing its endless loot dropping and gear hunting concept from Diablo.

But Borderlands was its own game, an RPG FPS the likes of which had never been seen before, or since, for that matter. The animation was unique, the combat was intense and the story was…well, it had its moments.

As such, Borderlands 2 has been a hugely anticipated title for years now. It’s a co-op game in an era which usually frowns upon such things, especially when split screen is involved. Not only can you play with friends, but it’s what the entire game is designed around. It’s much, much better to play in a group than it is to fly solo. Continue Reading »

14 responses so far

Sep 05 2012

The Guild Wars 2 Journal: Day 10 – The Hunt for Fun

Published by under Journals,Reviews,Video Games

Read the first journal here.

It’s been a little over a week to let the glow of Guild Wars 2 fade. My initial impressions from both the beta and first few days of playing were largely positive. The game seemed to improve in many ways upon a genre I really didn’t like. But is that enough to make me like the genre?

The answer would seem to be no.

No matter how much Guild Wars 2 tries to dress itself up, it’s a more traditional MMO than it lets on, and for me at least, that’s a net negative. To sum it up in a word would be “repetition.” Another word would be “repetition.” Care to try for a third?

There’s just something about this game, and subsequently this genre I suppose, that seems so shallow to me. Story is exceptionally light, which is supposed to be forgiven as “that’s not what these games are about.” In turn, you would think you’d have to make up for the lack of a real plot by having gameplay be incredibly dynamic and engaging. Continue Reading »

16 responses so far

Aug 28 2012

The Guild Wars 2 Journal: Day 3

Published by under Journals,Reviews,Video Games

It was a strange feeling, to actually be looking forward to an MMO. I’ve avoided the genre like the plague for years now, first for the reason that I thought my addictive gaming personality couldn’t handle the skinner box nature of it. But I dipped my toe in the pool with Star Wars: The Old Republic, and found that not only was I not addicted, I didn’t even like it.

It would be unfair to judge all MMOs based on the rather terrible SWTOR and ten minutes of World of Warcraft, so I’m not writing the genre off altogether. And after being invited to the first Guild Wars 2 beta months ago, I thought I might have found a game in the genre that would actually innovate and shape the genre into something I could tolerate.

I’m three days in to Guild Wars 2 now, which is technically six days in, considering my time with the beta. Not much has changed since then, as evidenced by the fact that I picked a human noble once again and followed the exact same plotline for ten levels that I had previously. Continue Reading »

8 responses so far

Aug 24 2012

The Diablo 3 Journal: Day 89 – The Patch

Published by under Journals,Reviews,Video Games

This is definitely the biggest callback I’ve ever done in a “Journal” series of reviews, but one I felt necessary with the recent “relaunch” of Diablo 3 with patch 1.04.

When we last left off, the game was over. As in, there was nothing else to do, which is a problem considering Diablo 2 sustained enthusiastic play for the better part of a decade. The issue was that once you hit level 60, there was nothing to do but grind for gear…which would allow you to grind for gear faster and easier. An endless cycle of pointlessness.

Patch 1.04, in the works for a long while now, has tried to fix that. Now, the good old days of taking forever to level your characters to max are back. There are now 100 “paragon levels,” each adding a few points to your stats and giving you 3% magic find and 3% gold find per level. It’s been calculated by top players that it would take you a solid month of 14 hour a day play to reach level 100, so needless to say it’s added quite a bit more play time. Continue Reading »

6 responses so far

Jun 05 2012

The Diablo 3 Journal: Day 22 – The End

Published by under Journals,Video Games

Read Journals #1 and #2 first.

This is how my time with Diablo 3 ends, not with a ragequit, but with a whimper.

This will likely be the final journal installment chronicling my time with Diablo 3, at least for a good long while. After having a decent amount of fun initially, I learned many things about the game as I progressed in difficulty and level, and have come to realize that it’s fundamentally broken for anyone wishing to play it for a prolonged period of time the way we all did Diablo 2.

In short, unless some serious changes are made, this will not be the decade-long phenomenon that D2 was. Read on to see why.

Continue Reading »

22 responses so far


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