Author: Matthew Kaplan

Why Demon’s Souls isn’t GOTY material and other strange tales

Demon's Souls Screenshot

Forgive this bit of Scroogery on Christmas (hey, it's not my holiday).  I'm mostly reacting to Gamespot picking Demon's Souls over Uncharted 2: Among Thieves as Game of the Year for 2009. It's a positive reaction to the action-RPG title that I've seen elsewhere, so I'm not entirely surprised. But I also feel it's the latest in a series of hyperbolic reactions calling the game "new" and "inventive," when what I really think people are reacting to—both positively and negatively—is the game's difficulty.

A PlayStation Portable Buyer’s Guide

Jeanne D'Arc Screenshot

It's been a tough week for Sony's handheld (at least in the States). NPD sales figures revealed that both the PlayStation Portable and Go variant have been sales busts as of late, and the highest-selling PSP title cracked only the top 150. Well, I'm here to offer some holiday cheer for PSP owners and Sony-philes in the form of an extensive Buyer's Guide. The PSP is a favorite platform of mine: I've purchased the console itself four times over, and have (sadly, depending on your perspective) played a majority of the games available for the system.

What if Mario were a Jew?

New Super Mario Bros. Wii Art

One can very reasonably argue that religion does not play a role in most video games (other than those which are "edutainment" or pointedly religious to the point of proselytizing, ala the Left Behind series) for the same reason that many cultural and ethnic factors do not: It's just not part of what we look for in an avatar. You don't really see a "Buddhist" slider in the Elder Scrolls character creation screen, after all. But is that really the case? That games remain pleasantly ignorant of religion and ethnic culture because we will them to do so?

Matt’s Year in Review, Part III: My Favorite Games of 2009

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Screenshot

Big surprise, I know. Uncharted 2 will inevitably rack up countless Game of the Year honors and will be forever remembered as a crowning jewel in the PlayStation 3's game library… but it will deserve every glowing remark, every spot of praise. While I was similarly fond of the first Uncharted game, Uncharted 2 expands upon the successes of its forebear with even more stunning graphics, breathtaking set pieces, and some of the best voice acting and writing in the business.

Tilt

SlamIt Pinball: Big Score Screenshot

Confession: I'm a pinball nerd. Even worse, I'm also a video pinball nerd.

My new obsession is Technetium's painstakingly detailed pinball simulator, SlamIt Pinball: Big Score (shown above and available via Steam for a mere $5). The re-release of the Williams collection on PS3 and 360 was terrific. Zen's releases on those systems have been quite stellar as well. But they ain't no Big Score.

Matt’s Year in Review, Part II: The Most Overrated and Underrated Games of 2009

Street Fighter IV Screenshot

I should note that by "underrated," I mean under-appreciated or overlooked by the media and public. These are games I feel deserve just a spot more attention than they initially received, or sold very poorly relative to their quality. Similarly, my selections for "overrated" games are not necessarily massive hits or top-tier critical choices, but I do feel each one undeservedly dominated a specific part of the gaming conversation at some point or another this year. They're not bad games; just not as good as they could have been.

Matt’s Year in Review, Part I: The Most Disappointing Games of 2009

Ghostbusters Screenshot

In my opinion. If I've learned anything from countless flames and attacks by trolls during my time on the Internet, it's that prefacing highly subjective statements like "Most so-and-so" with "In my opinion" usually dampens some of the aggression. In the next few posts, I will be going over what I feel are the most disappointing, overrated, underrated, and downright best games of the year. Naturally, this is just one humble blogger's take on a rather eventful year, and I will be more than happy to receive any disagreements, diatribes, words of encouragement, non-sequitors, and excoriating rumors regarding my manhood in the comments section. Just please remember to keep it somewhat civil.

Around the Blogosphere: Game Bloggers Offer Comments on Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Screenshot

I've already posted my take on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's now-(in)famous "No Russian" chapter. I was not content to simply post my own thoughts on the matter, however. Given the uproar and truly interesting commentary that has sprung up around the game sequence, I wanted to survey a few of my fellow bloggers regarding their own opinions and experiences. I received a handful of responses to my request for commentary: Some authors had played the sequence in question, some had not. Some felt quite strongly in the positive, others in the negative. Some responses were longer pieces, others were short remarks or pointed me towards an existing blog post.

That Bay State of Mind: Modern Warfare 2’s boom-filled campaign

That Bay State of Mind: Modern Warfare 2's boom-filled campaign

As first-person shooter campaigns go, it's definitely in the 95th percentile of enjoyable shooting galleries. But it's also a campaign that worries me. While playing through the brief solo mode (roughly five hours), I couldn't help but be reminded of the stereotypical Bay film: Things blow up, uber-macho soldiers shout, the player performs wild stunts (like jumping into a helicopter for the umpteenth time), and loud orchestral music plays. It doesn't seem to matter that the plot is poorly paced, makes very little sense, and no characters are developed. If I'm a typical M-rated gamer, all I'm supposed to care about is that I shot people and stuff blew up real purty.