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Author: Paul Sandhu

Co-host of VGH.

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Not Postal 3

Yep, believe it not there are a few developers out there that thought releasing a game 5 days before Christmas is a good idea! There are some heavy hitters coming out this week. First up is Running With Scissors’ magnum opus Postal 3. I’m glad RWS was able to push this game out the door as I have been dying to continue the saga of The Postal Dude. *Hopefully we’ll be treated with some stunning revelations regarding his past history with the shady organization known as FedSex. I know that when I was finished with Postal 2 I immediately began an online petition/campaign demanding Postal 3 be rushed out as quickly as possible as I just had to see the conclusion of The Postal Dude’s journey. It’s probably for the best that Running With Scissors ignored my email campaign, and instead spent the last 7 or so years polishing the title so we’re almost guaranteed to be treated to something special this time around. I simply cannot wait!

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All I want for Xmas: Paul’s List

Hey hey everyone! It’s time for my list of awesome stuff to get me your special loved ones for Christmas! Instead of attaching images of the products themselves, I decided to let YOU dear reader know exactly how I would react if you bought me each item. Let us commence!


5. Movies/TV: Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Bluray set ($50 USD): I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, so when the release date for the totally expected Extended Blu-rays was announced I circled the date on my Calender.  Of course once I saw the MSRP of the set, I proceeded to burn my calendar with some lighter fluid and matches. Thankfully, the price of the set has come down to a reasonable $50 and will even ship for free from Amazon. So who is going to do a back to back to back Lotr marathon this year? I sure am! Fly, you fools (to amazon.com to buy it)!

Lord of The Rings Reaction

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Batman: Arkham City review: Fists are my shark repellent

Batman AC Concept Art

Back in 2006, British film maker Christopher Nolan revived the ailing Batman film franchise with the brilliant Batman Begins. The rest, as they say, is history. In 2009, British developer Rocksteady took the video game industry by storm with their incredible Batman: Arkham Asylum and created the greatest superhero game of all time. Conclusion: the British know something about Batman that the rest of the world clearly does not.

Arkham Asylum hit so many high notes with its perfect blend of engaging hand to hand combat, tense stealth set pieces, a fully fleshed out game world, and an interesting narrative. Rocksteady showed a masterful hand with their interpretation of Batman’s universe and it was my game of the year in 2009.

Arkham City has finally arrived. The bar has been set quite high; did Rocksteady do it again?

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Xenoblade Chronicles: You say Monado, I say Monado.

Mechonis vs Bionis

Editor’s note: Xenoblade Chronicles is not currently available in North America at the time of this writing. Paul’s review is based on an imported copy of the game.

Guys, this is a tough review for me to write. If you’ve listened to VGH #20, then you heard me gushing over how incredible Xenoblade is. As a fan of the genre I was absolutely floored that a developer could release a modern day JRPG that dismissed the conventions of yesteryear while also updating its gameplay mechanics to be more in line with the modern day gamer’s tastes. Why did it take me so long to write the review?  Xenoblade is absolutely MASSIVE. I wanted to write this review when I was a “paltry” 50 hours into the game, since I figured I’ve nothing more to see and I had a pretty firm grasp on what the rest of the game was going to be like. D.J. was awesome enough to suggest that I complete the game before reviewing it, so I took his advice to heart. When all was said and done, it took me roughly 75 hours to complete.

Word on the Internet is that is that Xenoblade is the best JRPG to come out in a decade. It’s the savior of the genre. On Metacritic, It’s the 6th highest rated game in Wii history with a 93 overall, eclipsed only by the likes of Super Mario Galaxy and other Nintendo staples.

For a while there, I thought that I was going to feel the exact same way as majority of people that have played Xenoblade. But if you need a sound bite that sums everything up nicely, Xenoblade Chronicles is a masterpiece that never was. Just a fair warning folks, Xenoblade is a massive game, and even without delving into everything I want to talk about, this review is going to run a little longer than our usual fare.

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The First 15: Ico HD

A grand adventure

What is The First 15?

Well, a couple of weeks ago I received my copy of the ICO HD collection and for some reason I though it might be fun to write down very detailed notes of everything that was happening on screen. I don’t even know what compelled me to do this, I suppose I just wanted to conduct an experiment. The introduction to any game is absolutely vital in grabbing your attention. A developer can really set the tone for your entire experience with their game so it’s of the utmost importance to deliver something interesting right off the bat.

In its simplest form, The First 15 will act almost as a “preview” to a title’s review (if we choose to review it of course) but in the larger scale, it might be really interesting to see if there are any similarities between games that succeed at hooking players with their introductions and which games do a less than stellar job at digging its claws into you. Do The First 15 minutes of a game really make or break an experience? Or can a game that stumbles out of the gate turn into a classic? What about games that have incredible introductions but later falter? In any case it’ll be interesting to see what kind of conclusions we can come up with (if any) once we’ve accumulated enough data.

Just a fair warning, since we’ll be jotting notes as we play, some of these posts might read more like a Cole’s notes version of what’s going on in the game but hopefully we can properly convey what we’re feeling and what’s going on as we play. Another warning, if you feel that what happens in The First 15 minutes of a game will constitute a spoiler… well it’ll be “spoiled” for ya.

The First 15 starts immediately after a dream sequence in which Ico is climbing a stair case, it’s thunder storming and  when he reaches the top of the stairs, he sees a cage… with a black figure in it. The figure is dripping a black, “tar” like substance. It oozes out of the cage. A black shadow appears on the wall behind Ico and grabs him, and forces him “into” the wall, then Ico wakes up from his nightmare…

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Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer – Paul’s thoughts

The worst case scenario

So it was confirmed today that Mass Effect 3 is going to have a multiplayer component.  Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect series confirmed via twitter that at the very least we’ll be having co-op multiplayer missions. He didn’t say anymore than that though, I assume it is because any more details would surely break the 140 tweet character limit. True to form, posters on the official Bioware forums have exploded with their typical acerbic attitude (P.S. don’t visit the official Bioware forums unless you want your head to explode.) But honestly, I cannot see the reasoning behind such anger other than maybe being upset at Bioware for being so damned hesitant to confirm the multiplayer rumours over the last couple of months. But even so,  people just need to freaking relax. Side note: I like how the release date delay till next year makes a lot more sense now!

So what do I think of this announcement?

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution – What a game.

It’s difficult for me to write a review of Human Revolution without calling back to the original Deus Ex and its sequel. Deus Ex is still widely regarded as nothing short of a masterpiece for its execution of a groundbreaking mix of various game play and storytelling elements. In fact, 11 years later, I have a hard time thinking of many games that have matched Deus Ex in that particular regard. It isn’t easy to make a sequel to a game of such outstanding pedigree as the luke warm reception to Invisible War will show you. What Eidos Montreal has pulled off with Human Revolution is a pretty rare feat in this industry. They’ve not only paid homage to an incredible game, but they have eclipsed the original title in many ways.

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BGM Mode: Overworld Themes

Zelda~

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of RPGs. Right now I’ve been playing a metric ass ton of Xenoblade Chronicles and the absolutely gorgeous soundtrack got me thinking of some of my favourite Overworld themes from games of yesteryear. Near the end of Episode #20 of VGH Randy asked me what an Overworld theme was, and of course I didn’t answer him because I’m a jerk! But seriously, an Overworld theme is just the music plays while your adventurers (usually in an rpg) traverse the world (map)!

(Note for Randy, the song that plays in DQ9 when you’re running around between cities would fit this criteria)

Xenoblade doesn’t really have a traditional rpg “Overworld” per se but the music is simply incredible and inspired this weeks BGM Mode. So it may or may not get two slots this week. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the game currently has my soul in its grasp.

But lets kick things off with what I consider to be the greatest/quintessential Overworld theme of all time, and it doesn’t even come from a traditional RPG!

The Legend of Zelda – Overworld Theme – Koji Kondo

You may have heard this song before. Over 20 years later and Koji Kondo’s masterpiece still resonates with gamers. Nothing more needs to be said.

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BGM Mode: Blizzard Tunes

Stay a while and listen!

Welcome to the first installment of VGH’s new music themed blog posts!  Here at VGH we love game music, that was made pretty obvious way way back in VGH #8: Blips and Bloops. So we’re going to continue our unabashed adoration for all things Bloopy (and some Blippy stuff too) on a regular basis now. In this first installment of BGM Mode, two of our hosts will be showcasing a few of their favourite music from various Blizzard  games. Blizzard always seems to have such incredible production values for their games and I think it is safe to say that their sound tracks are among the best in the industry in terms of quality from start to finish.


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Even More Blips and Bloops: Paul’s Selections – Part 1

My apologies for the delay in getting this blog post up! I recently had a bunch computer related issues last week and was unable to work on anything. As I mentioned in VGH #8, game music is my favourite genre. This will be part one of my game music blog posts. Today I want to showcase some of my favourite game intro music and a few of my favourite composers. Let us get on with it shall we?!

 

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