July 2005

More GTA:SA News

July 22, 2005

The dreaded AO label that San Andreas has been awarded is pretty much the modern day equivalent to the Scarlet Letter for a game. After the ESRB re-rated the game, retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and even Gamestop pulled the game from store shelves. Rockstar says they will have a new version of the game available in a few weeks that does not contain the ability to access the “sex minigame”.

There are threats of lawsuits and fines going around and around. I honestly don’t even care anymore. Rockstar screwed up and made a mistake. The ESRB needs to start playing the games they rate and they need to clarify the rating scale or drop it and adopt the MPAAs ratings system.

With all that crap out of the way, what is everyone going to be playing this weekend? I am going to try and get in a little Starfox Assault and maybe a little Flat Out. Did you guys know that Starfox Assault has the full version of the NES Xevious on it? Why didn’t anyone tell me? I have been trying to get around to SA, but didn’t realize quite how good it was. I am a huge Xevious fan to boot.

Podcast Episode 2 should be online Monday or Tuesday accompanied by a contest or 2.

So it appears that the ESRB has decided to slap an AO rating on the current verision of GTA:SA citing explicit sexual content in the form of the “Hot Coffee” Mod that everyone has been talking about lately. Current versions of the game will be re-rated and Rockstar is quickly trying to remove that code so they can resume production of the game.

I never really mentioned the whirlwind of publicity this ordeal as getting because I thought it was stupid. For starters, it was dumb of Rockstar to shift the blame and act like the code was a full mod and not in the game. They got punk’d when someone found it in the PS2 version. I also find it stupid that GTA is being singled out because there are plenty of other games with explicit sexual content that aren’t getting ripped apart, but I guess if Rockstar had not been so retarded to begin with it may not have come to a head like this.

I can see it now… eBay is going to be full of people selling “AO” rated GTA games capable of letting you “Be the Man” in the now removed sex mini-game! Defending this industry and it’s actions is getting harder and harder.

Upcoming Contests

July 20, 2005

I just wanted to let everyone know of a few contests we have on the horizon. The first contest is going to be a sound clip contest. We will be hosting a 2 second sound clip from an old NES game. The winner will be randomly selected from those of you that correctly guess the game it is from. We will either be drawing 2 winners or do this on 2 or 3 separate occasions over the next 2-3 weeks.

The second contest we are running is from the mind of our very own Wraith and he will be providing the prize for this one. The contest is as follows and is a tad bit hard to understand. The goal of the contest is to take as many pictures as possible of signs in the real world that have video game references. For example, out in Castroville, TX there is a street named Harvest Moon. This would obviously be the name of a game and qualify as an entry. These pictures have to be original and anyone that is found to be stealing pictures from somewhere else will be disqualified.

I will let everyone know when the contests are going to begin.

Uh yeah, disregard the title of this post. However kidos we do need some more emails for this week’s podcast. Although we need regular emails, we also need emails regarding your take on “Violence in Gaming”. Keep them clean and make them nice and to the point. We want to read your take on that during our segment this week. It’s a tough issue to tackle so we want your help.

Keep it real yo.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/batmanbegins/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Movie-to-game adaptations have long since been the whipping boys of the gaming industry. Having not yet seen the [i]Batman Begins[/i] movie, I figured I would go in with a blank slate and no preconceived judgments. Now coming away from the game, I can safely say I would rather not see the movie if it is anywhere as bad as the game I had to play.

[i]Batman Begins[/i] is a stealth-based action game that makes use of fear and stealth as its primary weapons. The game takes you from the monastery in the Himalayas where Bruce Wayne learned his extensive array of martial arts skills back to Gotham City to track down a madman known as Falcone to try to unlock the mystery behind a new hallucinogen he is smuggling in.

The game does a great job of capturing the dark overtones of the new film, and the voice acting is provided courtesy of the cast of the film and is quite good. You will also be treated to cut scenes from the movie to advance the plot in the game.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/batmanbegins/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]The graphics on the PS2 version of the game were pretty standard fare, and I did experience quite a few slowdowns and lags during my time with the game, but that is often the case with my PS2.

The controls for [i]BB[/i] were easy and straightforward. Batman has two attack buttons that you can use to string together neat combos of attacks when fighting one or more enemies. You will also get to make use of interrogation techniques and final moves to finish off your enemies. Oftentimes, you will be forced to interrogate an enemy multiple times before being given the option to finish him off. When these are available, you will be alerted by a note in the top right of the screen. This is typically where context-sensitive hints will be shown, such as grapple points and various other things.

My main complaint with the game was all related to how linear it was. Most games have some sort of linearity because there are triggered events that advance the plot. Many of these games don’t feel linear due to their expansive environments or the fact that you can free roam until you are ready to advance the plot. [i]BB[/i] lacks an expansive environment and the lack of areas to explore make you follow their strictly linear game path out of pure necessity. After playing a few levels, I got tired of finding the “alternate” path, stealth-killing one or more enemies, and using the environment to raise the area’s fear meter and then ambushing the remaining enemies. While this sounds like it might be fun, it gets utterly boring after the tenth time.

I mentioned that stealth and fear are a huge part of the game, so let me explain. As you kill enemies, you build up a reputation that increases the fear in opponents. The higher the fear factor, the less likely they are to actively attack you. Using a crane to take out a group of them raises the fear factor of the area causing them to drop their weapons and be slightly disoriented.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/batmanbegins/ss05_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]Along the way, you will also collect and use various gadgets, such as a grappling wire, flash bangs, and bat-styled ninja throwing stars. The use of these items will also be limited to times to which the game allows you. That got a little irritating.

True Batman fans may be able to look past the shortcomings of the game and find an enjoyable experience, but I took the linear gameplay and inability to use weapons unless prompted as a sign that you were barely playing a game and merely watching a promotional tool for the new movie. The game just didn’t do it for me and basically ruined my interest in the movie as the whole fear gimmick seemed very cheesy. I can’t honestly recommend that anyone run out and buy [i]Batman Begins[/i]. If you absolutely must try it out for yourself, feel free to rent it, but this one is probably enjoyed over a weekend and not worth the purchase.