DLC should be a no brainer for game companies.

Downloadable content should be mandatory in the marketing of all games in the future. If you want to keep your title alive for longer than 3-4 months, it is the best way. For example, Assassin’s Creed 2 recently put out The Battle of Flori. I loved Assassin’s Creed 2 and the thought of playing new levels or memories has my mouth watering. Even if it is for a short time until the next one, I will be there for every downloadable deal.

The mere adding money to a title and keeping money flowing into the game studio just makes sense. I pay $60 for the game and then every 3-4 months drop another $5 on a map pack or player skins = Cha-ching in their wallets. Even when the title goes on sale, newer players will buy the DLC to keep up with the already established community.

Zipper, Infinity Ward, Ubisoft, and Dice, should be  set up to maximize their customers playing experience. I hope they would do so. Like I said, I would plop down the cash every few months for new material on my favorite games.  If I know that a game, that I am interested in, offers good DLC, I would be more inclined to buy the game.

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Call of Juarez : Bound in Blood

I received Call of Juarez : Bound in Blood with high hopes. I love a good western and the thought of blazing my way through old west towns seemed very appealing. The story is based around Thomas and Ray McCall. Two brothers that fought in the Civil War, deserted their troop to save their family homestead, and became outlaws. Their younger brother William narrates the story. Through out the game you choose between the two brothers. Each brother has different strengths, such as Ray can open doors, Thomas can climb trees. I knew it was downhill when I realized that one of the brothers could not operate a doorknob.

Pros : Great scenery and graphics, large amount of weapons, and you get to wear a cowboy hat.

Cons : Horrible voice acting, bad controls, choppy cut scenes, and checkpoints every 20 feet.

The script must have been written by a sixth grader who just learned how to swear. Normally, “dirty” words do not bother me. Cussing should be used where it fits. There is no reason to say GD about every person or object. It lingered in the air and often made you ask “Why?” There was no reason for some of the dialogue. The banter between the brothers is often annoying and petty. You gain no feeling for the characters and could really care less if someone dies.

Since each brother has different strengths and weaknesses, they have different controls. This proved to be difficult during firefights that were, for some strange reason, were “just because.” The AI was bad, you could run up to them and they would not see you. Stranger still was that after shooting someone pointblank with a cannon blast, that they would stand up and continue fighting. –  “Tis’ only a flesh wound!”

The pacing of the fights seemed strained. Once you got to the objective there would be a delay to find out where to go or what to do next. Some parts of the action sequences did not add to the action. For example,you are in a stagecoach, running through the town. You are told to get out and push a cart out of the way, the game tells you the control but nothing happens. You then are told to get back on, you turn the stagecoach around and go the way you came. This is an ammo waster.

Due to poorly thought out controls and gameplay, I had no interest in finishing the game. It drained the fun right out of the wild west ride that it should have been. My advice would be to save the cash.

iPad = My iPod

Seriously, everything that Steve Jobs showed, I am currently doing on my iPod Touch. I am sure that the programs will be more in depth. Where is the multi-tasking? How about image editing with Photoshop? Maybe something that would allow quick thumbnails for design projects?

I do see this making a huge impact in the educational and office side. Schools and Universities can port all text books over to iPads and send those out instead of text books. Imagine every school with up to date text books! Wow! This could turn into the ultimate office product for businesses. I do believe my wife would do well with one. For Mr. Common Man, not so much.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time

Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank franchise has had a great journey so far. Critics have always been nice to them. With good reason though. They are quite enjoyable and deserve a place in your console. This isn’t to say that this current installment is without fault. There are some areas that are bland or just not as strong as other areas. I will get to that later.

The game picks up from Ratchet & Clank : Tools of Destruction. Clank was “captured” by the Zoni and Ratchet is now in search for him across the galaxy. Clank is sent to The Great Clock on behalf of the evil Dr. Nefarious. Nefarious is trying to learn the secrets of the clock so that he can control time. The Zoni want to protect the clock and keep the universe on time. Okay, so now we have a main purpose of the game : stop Nefarious and join Rachet and Clank.

Ratchet and Clank have two different but similar gameplay mechanics and missions through out the game. Ratchets area is straightforward shooting, mild puzzle solving, acquiring different weapons, and flying around the galaxy helping others. Clanks is more confined in the Great Clock. He has to fix destroyed areas, fix time problems on other planets, and solve section puzzles. Now it is the puzzles that cause the first problem in Clank story. Clank is able to make “copies” of himself to assist in the puzzles. These copies will hold buttons, lower/raise platforms, and open doors. You work your way up in difficulty, but some of them just seem like time wasters. This can become frustrating. Timing of your “copies” is everything. Luckily, there is an easy out if needed. You can bypass some of the puzzles, but it will cost you. Clanks gameplay seems to be just for adding time to the game. Some of it makes sense to the story, but in general, feels useless.

With Ratchet there is more excitement. Shooting and flying around the galaxy trying to hunt down Clank and Dr. Nefarious. Upgrading weapons require bolts (money), it is not difficult to get bolts. They are in everything you shoot, smash, or destroy. Side missions, mini games, and an awesome gladiator style game in the Battleplex will help in getting a fat wallet. The different moons that you are able to visit in each galaxy sector are quite fun.

The environments and level layouts are creative. The graphics are mesmerizing and very detailed.  The space scenes are gorgeous.

An easy 15 hours can be spent in the game. I  do not see any true replay value afterward, maybe if there had been a multiplayer aspect. Leveling up each weapon seems useless and after the game is over, some of the larger more destructive weapons can be transfered into a Challenge mode. You will end up using the same 2-4 weapons all the time.

Ratchet & Clank : A Crack in Time is a great weekend rent.

Game Ratings and You : Based on a True Story

“Say there little Johnny, I see you are playing Modern Warfare 2. That sure is violent and pretty foul mouthed. Where did you get it?”

“Mom bought it for me for my  12th birthday.”

“Did your mom also get you a pack of cigarettes and a subscription to Playboy?”

Moral of this story – Parents, pay attention to the rating system on games.

My thumbs are sore.

I know. Another blog about video games. But hear me out on this.

Let’s face it, gaming can be, for some of us, an expensive hobby or lifestyle. Sure , it is not crack, even though we get addicted to certain games and break out in cold sweats thinking about them. It would be nice to know if the games that get great reviews are really worth it to the casual gamer or the one that budgets the games they rent or buy.

That is why I am here. I am not the best gamer in the world, but I know a good game when I play it. Sometimes hype can make certain games seem golden. I will find out if they are pure gold nuggets or nuggets wrapped in gold foil.

Games that I will be addressing over the next few weeks : Ratchet & Clank -A Crack In Time, Assassin’s Creed 2, Brutal Legend, Modern Warfare 2, and Borderlands.

My plan is to keep a review a week, maybe more if time lands in my lap.