Monday, April 30, 2012

Top Four Most (Un)Satisfying Types of Video Game Endings

#4. It Was All a Dream - So you've spent hours playing through a game and finally make it to the end only for it to be revealed that everything you just did was just someone's dream? What?! Games (and movies for that matter) that all take place during a dream are a half-assed way of ending things. Developers are telling their fans one of two things. Either they weren't created enough to actually come up with a gripping narrative or they were lazy. This ending type has been used over and over and over again and by big time games, too. There have been Super Mario, Final Fantasy, and Zelda games that have all been a dream. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

#3. You're Left Wanting More Game - I don't mean you want more game, so you can keep on playing, but you want more game, so you get a new ending. Far too many games have ultimately ended like this; the original Borderlands was this way. The point of the story or so players thought was that there was a something called "The Vault" that contained unimaginable treasures and alien artifacts. However, *spoilers* when you got there some giant monster pops out of it and when you killed it The Vault closed, never to be opened again. When credits appeared after Halo 2's ending, many people were hoping that it was just a joke and that there'd be more after the credits; there wasn't. Sometimes I wonder if developers really don't know that these endings are bad? 

#2. Your Character Dies at the End - As in real life there is death in video games and that is to be expected. However, just like in real life we don't want death to fall upon ourselves or those that we care about. When your character permanently dies at the end of a video game it is as if you and a close friend of died simultaneously. While playing a beloved video game character people tend to connect with them and put some of themselves into them; it's why they are beloved in the first place. As a gamer, the last thing that I want to happen is to pour hours into a game or game series only to have my character die. Whether it is a noble death or not, it's still death and death should never be associated with household video game names . . . like "Commander Shepard."

#1. The One That You Wish Was All Three . . . The Mass Effect 3 Ending - *all spoilers* Mass Effect 3's ending(s) did leave players craving more and their characters did die at the end, which is why some of us wish that the entire series was all just a dream. If the game was a dream then we could at least pretend that Commander Shepard was still alive (or didn't exist), that the ending didn't come down to choosing between red, blue, and green, and we wouldn't have to 'rage quit' the game via turning off our consoles in stunned silence. By the time I was nearing the end of the game I had already heard that the ending was infuriating to most, but I had made sure not to find out what actually happened until I played and I hoped that the ending wouldn't be so bad to me. At first I thought,"OK. What just happened?" I was able to remain pretty calm and even though I didn't like the ending, I didn't think that it was earth shatteringly bad, but time changes things. The more I thought about the ending, the more I re-watched the 'various' endings, and the more time I spent thinking about plot holes (like how all of the members of your crew that you can bring into battle were in London, but somehow made it back onto the Normandy) the more I thoroughly despised the ending with a passionate hate that I normally reserve for things in the real world. The biggest reason why the ending was so terrible is because gamers were lied to. We were all promised "A story that diverges into wildly different conclusions based on the player's actions in the first two chapters" and we got the polar opposite. Nothing that players did factored into the 'choice' that they made at the end of the game. None of the three endings or ending cinematics were fundamentally different. Although there are 'three different' conclusions to the series, they all look and feel exactly the same. No matter what players choose, Shepard dies (or at least loses his/her physical form), the Reapers are no longer a threat, the mass relays are destroyed, and the Normandy crash lands on some unknown planet. After receiving flak from thousands of enraged fans, Bioware has decided to work on "Extended Cut DLC" that will "expand upon the ending." Time will tell if anything really changes or if players will be left with a bad taste in their mouthes and tainted memories of the Mass Effect experience. No matter what happens, gamers will not forget the initial ending that they played through and that's not a good thing.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Want More of Moore

As a quarterback, I love Kellen Moore. He has spent his last four years as the starting quarterback at Boise State; winning more college games than anyone before him. I know that winning and production in college does not directly translate to success in the NFL. I also recognize that he is only 5'11" and most successful quarterbacks are at least 6'2". He is also a lefty and most people heavily favor right-handed quarterbacks, forgetting that quarterbacks can roll out to their left, too. He does not have the strongest arm or the feet to be a threat outside of the pocket. However, there are plenty of reasons to like him.

Moore is the son of a coach and has a very high football IQ. He understands different offensive concepts as well as what opposing defenses try to do to stop him. He is a natural leader, he is confident, but not overly confident in his own abilities, and always says the right thing. Moore makes the players around him better. Although lacking elite arm strength, Moore does possess elite accuracy and that should count for something. I know that Moore does not fit anyone's prototype, but is that such a bad thing?

I am not saying that he will ever be a hall of famer or a pro bowler, but he does have something to offer an NFL team and if I was a general manager, he would have a spot on my roster.

You've Got to be Joshin' About Johnson

I cannot believe that Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson has not been picked in the NFL Draft. I know that he isn't the fastest, strongest, biggest, or most talented defensive back in the world. I am also aware that I am not an NFL scout or general manager. However, I am a bit of a football geek and even though Johnson is not the flashiest player, he was still able to hold his own against elite wide receivers.

Justin Blackmon out of Oklahoma State was the top wide receiver in the draft, going fifth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. His worst game of the season came in OSU's lone regular season loss. Who did they lose to? Iowa State. Who shadowed him all game long? Leonard Johnson.

In Pro Football Weekly's 2012 Draft Guide Johnson was projected to be a second or third round pick. On Johnson was given a grade of 72.2 out of 100. Let me put that into perspective. My favorite NFL team, the Chicago Bears, had picks in every round except for the fifth. In their six picks they only drafted two players with a higher grade than Johnson and those were their first two picks. They drafted corners in the sixth and seventh rounds; neither of them received grades above 47.0.

It has never been indicated that Johnson has any character issues or off the field concerns. He was a three and a half year starter and did not have any injury issues. He has no 'red flags.' Why have all 32 teams looked past him?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Another "Brilliant" Idea: Downsizing Pro Sports

Professional sports leagues have always gotten bigger and bigger, adding more teams. I think now would be a good time to eliminate a few franchises.

Charlotte Bobcats (NBA) - Does this team really need to exist? Michael Jordan is considered by all to be the greatest basketball player of all time, but he is a terrible executive. He is a co-owner of the team and has helped run the organization into the ground. To be fair, they've never been too far above the gutter. The Bobcats are perpetually bad and they just ended this season with a 23 game losing streak. More importantly, the 2011-2012 Bobcats finished the season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.

Kansas City Royals (MLB) - I know that the Royals have had some good years, but most of those predate  my birth and I'm 21. The team is in a small market, does not have a lot of money to spend, and does not like to spend what is does have. Free agents don't want to go there and the players that they do develop leave. Every year they tend to be the bottom feeder of the AL Central. They show flashes of life at times, but never fail to disappoint.

Cleveland Browns (NFL) - It's true that the Browns have made some important picks in the ongoing NFL Draft. If they end up panning out, the Browns can be removed from this list. However, since the Browns are horrible and tend to draft plenty of busts, it is fairly likely that they will remain on this list. Cleveland does posses four NFL championships, but they all took place before the Superbowl Era. The Browns have never actually played in a Superbowl, let alone won one. The Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns' division rival, has six Superbowl championships. I would not want to be a Browns fan and have that rubbed in my face all the time. What makes the Browns even worse is that they can be a tease. In 2007 the Browns went 10-6 and their starting quarterback at the time, Derek Anderson, made it to the Pro Bowl. The team missed the playoffs by one game, but showed some promise. The next year they went 4-12. During the 2010 season, running back Peyton Hillis had a breakout season and made it onto the cover of Madden. This past season Hillis spent much of the season injured, proved to be ineffective when healthy, contemplated leaving football, and was cut after the season ended. Cleveland fans have it rough.

Does there really need to be 32 teams in the NFL? Are there enough good basketball players to have 30 competitive teams in the NBA? Do enough people in America care about hockey to warrant having 28 teams? I don't think so.

You Know What I Just Realized?

Even if you cutout all of the overly sexualized lyrics from "I'm in Miami Bitch" by LMFAO or take out the vocals altogether, the song would still sound filthy. That's impressive and kind of awesome.

Is It Wrong? 2.0

Is it wrong to know all of the lyrics to a song except for the chorus? That's how I am with "Yes" by LMFAO.

The "Suck For Luck" Campaign: The Ending

Last night the Indianapolis Colts selected Stanford quarterback, Andrew Luck, with the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Colts earned the rights to the first pick by going 2-14 and finishing last in the league. Future hall of fame quarterback and long-time Colt great, Peyton Manning, is now a Denver Bronco. Everyone says,"You can't replace a legend," but that is exactly what Luck will have to do t succeed. It's official; their campaign is finally over. They sucked and they got Luck.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Top Four (Non-Playable) Video Game Characters That I Love

#4. Mario Auditore (Assassin's Creed II) - There is little remarkable about this particular Mario, but that is kind of the point. He is the uncle of Ezio Auditore, the game's main character, and he is always there to lend a helping hand. His villa serves as the Assassin's home-base throughout much of the game and is where Ezio's mother and sister live after they are forced from their home. The most important thing that is does is train Ezio and help him follow his father's footsteps by joining the Assassin's fight against the Templars. For most, Mario Auditore is a simple and possibly, forgettable character. So, why do I love him? Simply because of something he says when you first meet him, "It's a-me, Mario!" This shout out to Nintendo's beloved Italian plumber is my favorite video game reference of all time and has earned Ubisoft's Mario a place on my list and in my heart.

#3. Deckard Cain (Diablo Series) - In Diablo, Cain is your Dumbledore, your Gandalf. Unlike the other two, he has no magic powers, but he is old and has a bushy white beard. He also happens to always be wearing a cloak/robe and is the most knowledgable character in the game. Another link between the three is that Dumbledore did die, Gandalf almost died, and the introduction to Diablo III leads you to believe that Cain has died, until you start playing. During the Diablo series, Cain has served as the players' main guide and source for information. Blizzard even released a book titled The Book of Cain that is supposed to be written by Cain and tells about everything that he has witnessed first-hand as well as all of the knowledge he has accumulated about Heaven, Hell, and Sanctuary (the equivalent to Earth in the game). Besides Diablo himself (or herself if you believe certain theories about the upcoming third game), he is the only character featured in every game; Diablo wouldn't be the same without him. Blizzard also linked a game mechanic to Cain to make him even slightly more important and badass; he'd identify your items for free. What I (and many fans) love most about Cain is his voice. Cain's voice has become the voice of the series. His most famous soundbite is, "Stay awhile and listen" and if you place Diablo II at all, it is a line that you will hear frequently. Despite how many times I've heard it, it never gets old; I love it.

#2. Claptrap (Borderlands) - I love Claptrap. I hate Claptrap. I love to hate Claptrap and that's why he's soared all the way up to #2 on my list. Claptrap is a talkative, boxy robot with a single wheel for a leg and two arms. He is the face of the Borderland franchise and is somewhat of a mascot. There was very little dialogue in the first game, so at time it was refreshing when you'd come across a Claptrap in town. The problem was that they'd never shut up, which is why Claptrap is a love/hate character for virtually everyone that's played the game. Like Cain, Claptrap had a game mechanic tied directly to him. Occasionally, players would come across a broken Claptrap while they were out and about. If they found that Claptraps missing piece and fixed him, they'd be rewarded with an additional inventory space. However, the entire time you were around the broken Claptrap he'd be yelling, "Help me! Help me!" and wouldn't stop crying for his life. At first, it was just sad, but after awhile it became annoying. By the time you put 30 hours into the game and finally beat it, you hated Claptrap with a passion. There was good news though. Gearbox later released some DLC called Claptrap's New Robot Revolution. During this DLC, players got to do what they had wanted to do for quite sometime; kill Claptrap. Borderlands 2 is set to release this September and it is sure to provide me with more reasons to love hating Claptrap. Until then, I get to enjoy him dance to some dubstep (about 2:24 in).

#1. Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect Series) - I must start by saying that I have never played as a female Commander Shepard or FemShep, so I have never played as a character that pursued a romantic relationship with Garrus. Moving on. Garrus is the man that other men dream of being like and women dream of being with. He shows compassion and understanding when he needs to, while also being a ruthless badass that accepts nothing less than perfection on the battlefield and works to cleanse the galaxy of villains and scumbags alike. People speak of him in hushed whispers. Upon being seriously injured, he decided he didn't feel like dying. He chose to keep his scars just to look even more awesome. He knows how to brag without coming off as arrogant. My Commander Shepard caught him getting it on with Tali vas Normandy, so clearly he has a way with the ladies. He never questions or doubts you. He always has "calibrations" to make and he knows it. Some of his dialogue and cutscenes are the most satisfying in the series. He is one of only two characters that serve as a member of your crew on the Normandy in all three games. You really get to see him change and develop as a character. He starts out as a C-Sec (Citadel Security) Officer, later becomes a powerful vigilante wittily named "Archangel," and ultimately becomes Commander Shepard's most loyal ally and best friend (if you let him anyway). When I first heard that ME3 was going to have multiplayer and that you could play as all races, I dreamed of creating a Turian and making him as close to Garrus as I could. Unfortunately, the multiplayer part of the game doesn't really work that way, so I'm left dreaming of what it would be like to play as Garrus. Before heading into the finale of ME3, your brief goodbye with Garrus fuels you to want to bring the galactic war to an end even more so you can share a drink with him. Now that Bioware is making changes to ME3's ending (after thousands of fans expressed their disappointment and rage), maybe we'll all finally be able to have that drink. Garrus Vakarian is the most interesting Turian in the Galaxy and I love em'.

I Need My Ears Checked Again

Until fairly recently, I thought that the phrase "Nip it in the bud" was actually "Nip it in the butt." It still made sense to me.

I Need My Ears Checked

I always thought that "Swap Meets" were called "Swamp Meets." I literally just found out that I was wrong.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Aren't There Male Groupies?

Over the years, women have made great strides in leadership. Although their numbers are still lower than men’s, more and more women are obtaining leadership roles both inside and out of the workplace. However, some industries are still being largely underutilized by women; I believe that the music industry is one of them. More specifically, I feel that there are not enough women involved in rock music. If women take advantage of all of the different career opportunities available, it can only help women as a whole advance.

Various factors have contributed to women being held back in the rock industry. If you do not have what others perceive as being ‘good looks’ you might not get a serious chance. Hard rock magazine, Revolver, has an annual issued titled “The Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock.” This issue is oftentimes the only chance a female rock star has of even being featured in the magazine and the emphasis in on the women’s looks, no her music.

Also, unfortunately not all men take women rockers seriously and sometimes that is directly tied to their looks. Looks are something that women have to battle and most male rock stars do not have to deal with. If you type “top 10 female rock stars” into Google’s search box, the second result is “My Personal Top 10 Sexiest Female Rock Stars.” That definitely says something about the reception of women in the rock industry. However, like in sports, women hold themselves back, too.

In our own class discussions it was revealed that almost no one in our female-dominated class actually follows women’s sports. You cannot really hope that women’s sports can grow without supporting them. The same can be said for music. Very few people could name more than one or two women in rock. compiled a list of the ten most influential women working in rock today and the only one that I have heard of is Evanescence lead-singer, Amy Lee. Lee is known in large part because of her looks and is on Revolver’s aforementioned “Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock” list. I listen to hours of music every single day, consider myself somewhat of a rock connoisseur, and I only know about a small handful of women in the rock genre.

When it comes to women in rock, there may be a difference between the perceived glass ceiling and the actual one. Unlike boys, girls are not encouraged to pick up a guitar or bang some drums around, lead singers of bands are referred to as “frontmen,” and women are expected to be ‘groupies,’ following a band around instead of actually being in it. There are built-in limiting factors that make it difficult for women to breakout in the industry, but I believe that if women are patient enough to alter their approach to the rock genre, they can overcome these factors.

It is true that oftentimes, lead singers get more attention than their fellow band members. Amy Lee of Evanescence, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, and Lacey Mosley of Flyleaf are all lead singers. However, that does not mean that the rest of the band gets ignored. Despite this, most women in rock sing lead vocals and very few play guitar, bass, or drums. I think that if more women become drummers or guitarists, they can raise and eventually break the glass ceiling.

Women taking the role of the lead singer has its pros and cons. As previously mentioned, being in front of the microphone does give you a greater share of the spotlight, but it also provides more criticism and pressure. This can provide women with a fast-track to leadership within their own band, their genre, and the music industry as a whole. It also plays right into the hand of gender stereotypes.

Appearance is already something that women in music, like most other industries, have to struggle with. If women are quite literally under a spotlight, sex appeal becomes a difficult issue to avoid or overcome. It is a lot easier to not be looked at as an object when you are hiding behind a set of drums. A very general stereotype that some men hold is that women cannot do everything that they can do. Women can prove this stereotype to be false if great female guitarists, drummers, bassists, etc. arrive on the rock and roll scene.

The amount of women in a given band can also play an important role in the success of women. A band consisting of only women could be viewed as a gimmick and people might not take it seriously. Should a band only have one woman, like most bands with women in the group do, then that lone woman could be seen as the ‘token female’ in the group. Both of these scenarios create significant barriers for women that are already in a difficult career and face other gender-specific obstacles.

Simple biological differences mean that it does take a certain type of woman in specific marital and financial situations to have a shot at making it in the rock industry. If in the industry, a woman clearly is not a ‘housewife,’ but that does not mean that they have a husband that is willing to stay home a raise kids. Should a female rock star have kids, she will be forced to take the off-ramp and might not be able to ever get back on again. A situation like this would not only affect a given woman and her family, but her band as well. It is not as simple as taking a few months off from an office jobs. Tours could be cancelled, albums could be delayed, and the careers of a band of musicians could even be over. If a band is not living through a full touring life cycle and recording new music regularly, it is easy to get left behind and forgotten since music is so competitive.

You may be thinking, “music is great, but what does it have to do with woman and leadership?” Music serves as a platform for all kinds of opportunities. It can give you a voice and allow you to spread your opinions and ideas. It also allows you to become an activist. For example, pop goddess Lady Gaga led a campaign to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Suzi Parker of Politics Daily reported that after Gaga was escorted to the MTV Video Music Awards by four members of the Service members Legal Defense Network, a group committed to "ending discrimination and harassment of military personnel affected by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" more than 107,000 people visited their site within three days.

Women in other genres, such as pop, have been able to truly become leaders; Beyonce is in the same vein. However, there are currently not any women in the rock industry that have done the same. Technology and going digital has greatly altered the music industry over the last decade which could lead to further change. Having a female lead guitarist in a band that enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may not be too far away. Although the toolbox is not full, women do have some tools at their disposal and the potential to become leaders in rock and beyond. Maybe there will be male groupies following women rockers across the country and reverse gender roles.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why I Fail (Even Worse) at Zelda

This week is Gamesradar's "Week of Love." Today they posted the 25 best Gamecube games of all time. Guess what's number one? Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

Not only do I fail at Zelda, but I apparently missed out on the greatest gaming experience available on an underrated Nintendo game console. I would have been fine with Wind Waker being number two or three, but one? By failing at Zelda, I have failed as a gamer.

; (

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top Four (Almost) Unbeatable Video Game Weapons

#4. Golden Gun (Goldeneye 007) - The Golden Gun only came with two bullets, but it was the lone weapon in the game that provided its wielder with a one-shiot-kill. When armed with one, you were feared by whoever was sitting next to you (online gaming didn't exist yet). The only thing holding you back was your own accuracy.

#3. Blue Shell (Mario Cart Series) - Blue Shells automatically lock-on to whoever happens to be in 1st place, which is hugely useful as long as you aren't already winning. Certain games in the series have made Blue Shells dodgeable, but it takes skill. Launching a Blue Shell can completely change the outcome of any race. 

#2. Tactical Nuke (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2) - Tactical Nukes in MW2 proved to be quite controversial. When the killstreak is used all players' characters are killed, the match ends, and the team that used the Nuke wins. Once someone has one, there is absolutely nothing that can be done to stop it. The only think keeping this weapon from being #1 on this list is that fact that it is incredibly difficult to get. It takes a whole lot of skill and luck to amass the 25 consecutive kills required to get this killstreak (and of course you had to unlock it and select it, too). Unlock the others on this list, I have never acquired a Tactical Nuke, but I have been on the receiving end of one. 

#1. Master Ball (Pokemon Series) - You may not consider the Master Ball (or any Poke Ball) to be a weapon, but I do. You use it to capture a "pocket monster" that you then use to fight on your behalf; sounds like a weapon to me. What makes the Master Ball great is that it automatically captures whatever Pokemon you used it against. In the original Pokemon Gameboy games (Red and Blue), it was the only way to catch the legendary Pokemon, Mewtwo. Even though the Master Ball is invincible, you only get one. If you don't hold onto it (and save it for Mewtwo), then all you can do is waste it. The Master Ball has taught millions of gamers an important video game (and life?) lesson: hold onto what is most important to you.