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Showing posts from 2012

Shootings and Shooters

It would seem that my fantastic orgy with Treyarch's superlative Black Ops 2 has come to an end.  All things considered, it was a good run for me - and I will be returning sooner rather than later.  However, it was time to take a break and move on.  Interestingly, instead of switching to a different genre, as I am wont to do after burning out on a title, I continue to remain on a shooter kick.  When I saw an ad for the critically-acclaimed Borderland 2, I recalled that I really loved the original, but never finished it (as is often the case with me; I eventually lose interest when some other shiny bauble is released).  But now I have returned in a quest to finally find the Vault so I can move on to the sequel.  After spending a few hours in it again, all I can say is:  "Man, I forgot just how great a game this is!"  I love its wonderful (and daring!) shaded-cell art direction (Gearbox will forever have my respect for being the first game dev in a long time to abandon th…

If James Cameron Made Black Ops 2

[Yes, this is going to be another Black Ops 2 article.  No, Burke's Joystick is not turning into a BlOps 2 blog.  It just happens to be my flavor of the month. :) It also happens to be relevant in various ways to the mission of this the next posting will demonstrate. ] 

What do you suppose would happen if someone invented a product so fantastic that is garnered over a billion dollars in sales in around two weeks time?  Do you suppose that if someone did accomplish such a business feat, that he/she would be the recipient of a lot of mainstream media attention? Probably, right?
Let's be more specific:  let's suppose that James Cameron made another movie - call it Avatar 2: Feline AIDS Strikes Back - and it made another billion dollars, but in less time then the original film.  Do you think that - just perhaps - Cameron would be the toast of the town?  That Time, Newsweek, ABC News, TMZ, Entertainment Weekly, etc. etc. would be lavishing the filmmaker with cover s…

Why the Maps in BlOps 2 Pwn those in BF3

[WARNING 1: Image heavy blog posting follows!]
[WARNING 2: BF3 fans should be prepared to have their minds blown!] 
When I had moved on from the tried and true Battlefield: Bad Company 2 to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, something immediately struck me about the difference in maps: those in MW3 were so much more vibrant than those in BC2. MW3's maps were not only more colorful, but the locations had a "lived in" feeling. That is, the art design of the maps successfully communicated the idea that people had actually lived in these locations prior to the arrival of the bad tempered soldiers; that the terrain players merely saw as a good camping spot or a wonderful sniper's nest were much more than that: they were formerly homes and businesses of the now displaced citizenry. it just made everything seem much more believably tragic.

Unfortunately, the maps is BC2 lacked similar depth to them. While they superficially resembled homes and storefronts, in…

Black Ops 2 & The Washington Times

Part of my mission statement for this here blog is to get "video game-shy but politically active adults...interested in gaming (it's no longer kid stuff, you know!)."  The paratethical notation is particularly key here as I know from experience that a lot of "adults" (I'll let you define that as you see fit) avoid video games because they believe the subject matter is on par with an after school cartoon (aka: James Cameron's Avatar).  In other words, when the over 40 crowd thinks of a video game, it is likely to be Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario Brothers type of stuff that is more evocative of a cartoon than a movie.  And while there is a lot of that going on, particularly in the console sphere of gaming, a lot of adults do not realize that there is also more serious fare in the offering, the type of stuff that if it was made into a TV series, they would probably be more than likely to give it a watch.  I have always believed this to be one of the great …

Cordis Die! Initial Thoughts on the Black Ops 2 SP Campaign

I knew there was going to be something special about the single player campaign in Black Ops 2 when the game began with this emotionally powerful video:

Indeed, it seems that such intense emotional energy is the driving force behind the entire BlOps 2 story, not surprising when David S. Goyer, co-writer of The Dark Knight Rises, has penned the script. 

Black Ops 2...Starring Oliver North?

[Stand by for a lot of Blacks Op 2 content coming to Burke's Joystick!  I am finding it to be representative of what is best about gaming:  it is thought provoking, exciting, and wonderfully produced!]
Imagine my surprise when during one of the early moments of Treyarch's superlative shooter, Black Ops 2,  an animated character walks up to me and I am struck by a sense of familiarity.  I think: "I know this guy...."

"Hey!  That's Oliver North!" I exclaim.  And, sure enough, he is introduced as just that!  How cool is that?
Why would that be cool, you ask?

A Tale of Two Storms

No matter how hard I try to keep this blog updated, it seems like life is determined to side-rail me.  First, I had that family emergency that dominated September and most of October, and then my area gets hit with a possible candidate for Storm of the Century!  But I must persevere, for in the words of the great Catholic G.K. Chesterton:
"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." 
Having quoted that, Hurricane Sandy was certainly more than an "incovenience" (does that make it an epic adventure for the optimist?  Am I now Bilbo Baggins?).  This storm blew through my community like an iron fist, toppling countless trees, smashing roofs, smashing cars, and, of course, destroying the electrical grid.

Speaking of which:  for all of you weekend survivalists - you know, the ones who like to pretend they are starring in their own episode of The Walking Dead - being without power for an extended period o…

Act of Video Game Valor

I am not what you would call much of a "movie goer".  Never was, for that matter.  Rather, I am the type of person whom would much rather wait a few months so I can watch a movie in the comfort of my home instead of in a sticky-floored, teenager-chatting movie theater...and for top dollar, no less.  No thanks,  I can wait.

This is why I have just gotten around to seeing the actioner, Act of Valor (AoV).  When I first heard the pitch for this movie, I was excited:

When a covert mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA operative uncovers a chilling plot, elite, highly-trained U.S. SEAL teams speed to hotspots around the globe, racing against the clock to stop a deadly terrorist attack. Pulse-pounding combat sequences, cutting-edge battlefield technology and raw emotion fuel this unprecedented blend of real-world heroism and original filmmaking -- a thrilling tribute to the skills, courage and tenacity of the world's most revered warriors.
This sounds just lik…

Poll Results / New Poll: Who Will Win the White House?

Still trying to get caught up with this blog after a trying month and a half....
One bit of old business concerns the results of the last poll I conducted.  If you recall, the question was:

If Mitt Romney was a character from a video game, which character would he be?
The people have spoken!  The winner, with 66% of the vote, is....

Of Fools and Fools

I missed so much over the past month.  Sorry about that.  However, I did come across two things that have been stuck in my craw and I just need to address.  First, this guy:

Yeah...Glenn Beck.  I have a love/hate relationship with this guy.  On the good side, Beck did yeoman work on his (alas, appropriately) short-lived show by bringing the wisdom of the Founding Fathers to life like no one has on television in a long, long time.  On the bad side, Beck fell victim to Bill O'Reilly-itis (the demagogue O'Reilly being his mentor at FOX News, of course) and quickly developed such a huge ego that he brashly took credit for everything good that occurred in this nation's political life since the start of his television show, including the rise of the Tea Party, the rejection of Obama, and the re-discovery of America's brilliant founding principles.

Nonetheless, I still feel compelled to defend Beck for no other reason that the Left hates him so (so he still must be good for …


I iz bak!

Amazing how everything can change in a matter of minutes. For me, the world turned upside down about three week ago when my father had a heart attack. I never saw it coming as my father had no history of heart problems. Nonetheless, there I stood in the local emergency room early one Sunday morning wondering how we wound up in such dire straits. Interestingly, neither the ambulance techs, nor the emergency room doctors, could definitely conclude that my father was having a heart attack as the EKG was inconclusive, and my fathers symptoms were not the classic symptoms of a heart attack (pain down the arms and/or jaw, trouble breathing, etc.). In fact, for some three hours, the docs were thinking gallbladder attack or a bloodclot in the lung (his only symptoms were a severe pain off near his shoulder, and falling blood oxygen levels). However, the blood test showed that at some point he did have a heart attack.

Rats Leaving the Sinking Ship

As I watched (suffered through?) the Democrat National Convention, I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't watching a gathering of people expecting a November victory as much as I was watching what is sometimes referred to as an "Irish Wake" - that is, a raucous celebration during a time of mourning.  As with the biblical amalgamation "Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die", I had the distinct impression of people forcing themselves to be happy on the eve of a crushing defeat.  This feeling was only reinforced when there was that whole platform controversy that resulted in the following awkward moment for the party:

Call of Duty: Not for Limey Coroners

A tragedy and a travesty to report today:
First, the tragedy:  Details are emerging about a 14-year old boy who had committed suicide last year in the UK.  As reported by The Telegraph, Callum Green hung himself with a school tie after claiming "he was being bullied at Audenshaw High School in Audenshaw, Manchester."  As I wrote in my piece on The Hunger Games, or as Pink Floyd satirized so long ago, the government-run school system, be it in America or the UK, is increasingly becoming a place of desperation, bullying, and lower and lower academic standards.  Tragic.
Now the travesty:
The results of the coroner's inquest have now been released and the results are...a joke?  Despite Green's girlfriend saying that "he wanted to run away from home and have a baby with her", and despite having a fight with his "mum" and being "grounded...for staying out late with his girlfriend the night before", and even despite the fact that his mother …

Of Freak Shows and Empty Chairs

The above image is one I concocted for the 2008 Democrat National Convention.  At the time I wrote:
I was going to write a blog entry on all the shenanigans going on at the DNC Convention. You know, the bald-faced lies; the radicalism; the Marxist rhetoric; the vicious verbal (and almost physical) assaults on some FOX News correspondents and conservative columnists; the consistent portrayal of America in the worst possible light by leftist demagogues; the Obama cult of personality; the Clinton cult of personality… well, you get the idea. But in keeping with the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, I decided just to post this pic....
Turns out I was right then.  Unfortunately, it looks like I am going to be right again, judging by the conga line of freaks (as The Great One would say) who are going to be headlining 2012's convention.  What has become of the party of Truman?

In other news....

Gaming the Hunger Games

I confess to knowing next to nothing about The Hunger Games.  So when the movie was announced last year, and a subsequent wave of excitement swept across the internet, I was intrigued to say the least.  As I dug into it a little more and learned that the novel involved a futuristic death sport, I found myself becoming excited as well.  It's not because I am a sadist but because I am a gamer - that is what most games are about these days (but more on that later)!  So, I was also enthused...well, until the movie premiered and I started seeing things like this:

Screaming teenage girls and soccer moms are not exactly the first things I think of when the term "death sport" enters my mind.  I started to have serious misgivings....

Poll Results: Obama is Most Like Arcturus Mengsk

The results are in for Burke's Joystick first official poll!  If you recall, the poll question was: If  Barack Obama was a character from a video game, which character would he be?  The choices were: Pac Man
Capt. John Soap MacTavish from Call of Duty
John Henry Eden from Fallout 3
Jim Raynor from Starcraft
Kane from Command and Conquer
Gordon Freeman from Half-life
Arcturus Mengsk from Starcraft
Commander Shepard from Mass Effect
Vladimir Makarov from Call of Duty
The people have spoken!  The result:  Arcturus Mengsk from Starcraft!

This is a wise choice.  Truth is, the political rhetoric of Arcturus Mengsk, versus the latter reality, are quite similar to what we have experienced from Barack Obama.

Gamers: Please Don't Vote

Let me tell you a story:
Back when I was a prisoner in a government-run public school, one of my social studies teachers said something profoundly stupid, so profoundly stupid that I remember it to this day.  During a discussion on the importance of voting, he said:

It is important for every American to vote.  Remember, it doesn't matter for whom you vote, just as long as you vote!
Now, even back then when I had little political knowledge or interest, that statement just sounded so...wrong to me.  I mean,  "it doesn't matter for whom you vote"?   In other words, it's not the outcome that matters but the process?  I remember scratching my head over that at the time, just knowing at some ineffable level that that was the type of statement that summed up everything that was wrong with the public school curriculum.  Taking that to its logical conclusion, it means there is no qualitative difference between casting a vote for Adolf Hitler or George Washington.  Really?…

Science Fiction & Gaming 1: On the Zerg-Infested Screen

[Note:  I am sorry that I haven't had much to post here the last week or so.  Don't worry, this blog is not done yet!   Rather, I just needed a break to handle some matters.  Eyestrain headaches were starting to kick in from the writing I was doing here and elsewhere, plus I found myself spending more time that I thought possible finding and installing a new video card toy for my old PC - what a difference it has made in my CoD:MW3 performance already!   Lastly, it is the closing days of summer, so I didn't want them to go to waste as I have all fall, winter, and spring to blog!
Moving on....
One of the reasons I love modern gaming is that I find it to be a hypothesized science fiction future made real in the here and now.  We don't look at it this way because like most science fiction that has become science fact, we sort of just accept it as another humdrum facet of the modern world.  I mean, imagine taking such incredible titles Battlefield 3, Call of Duty, & Sky…

Spec Ops versus Media Matters

I'm not a soldier, but I play one in video games.  If there is one thing countless hours spent in such shooters as Call of Duty, Battlefield, Arma, and Red Orchestra have taught me its that soldiers are most definitely NOT wimps or cowards.  I mean, as much as the media likes to constantly say that the FPS genre teaches kids that war is fun, the truth of the matter is that anyone - kid or otherwise - who has spent a few hours in a shooter quickly learns that warfare, particularly modern warfare, is deadly business, a message quite distinct from Hollywood and its action movies where the hero never gets much more than a flesh wound - I'm looking at you, Expendables 2.  It is for this reason that I have always believed that the modern shooter is probably the greatest tool for promoting peace the world as ever seen.  Video gamers have seen the virtual horrors of war and have no desire for it to play out in real life.
It is for this reason that real life soldiers, particular those…

Biden & Battlefield

"This week Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a senior center in Iowa. Which explains why the seniors were like, 'Is this Hell?'" –Jimmy Fallon Poor Joe Biden.  Personally, I think our VP is a rather nice fella.  Unfortunately, he just isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.  We knew this long before he was ever VP - I mean, he was caught plagiarizing time and again.  Then there are all those wonderful gaffes caught on film:

And liberals like to make fun of Palin.  Wow.  
Well, ol' Joe did it again with this incredibly racist statement a few days ago:

Remember when Bill Clinton complained that Team Obama "played the race card" on him?   Well, it looks like they were planning on going back to that well in their desperation to talk about anything but Obama's abysmal record.  Unfortunately for them, this time they went too far and needed to put Joe back in the attic
Now, what has this got to do with EA and it's Battlefield series?  Well, today…

The Fallen Enchantress Obama Bug

Tomorrow looks to be a fun day as the long expected Beta 4 for Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is due out.  I know what you are thinking:  isn't that the sequel to 2010's biggest gaming flop?  Well, not exactly.  To be exact, Fallen Enchantress is the ambitious stand alone expansion to Elemental:War of Magic.  That is, it aspires to become the game we all hoped EWOM was going to be before the whole thing crashed and burned, and then some!  And let me tell you something: based on Beta 3, there is good reason to be optimistic that it will succeed. 
Initially, I wasn't that optimistic - Betas 1 & 2 were merely marginal improvements on the EWOM formula at best.  However, Beta 3 surprised me with its noticeable shift in quality.  Instead of coming across as a grade 'C' Civ clone, Beta 3 made FE finally feel like its own game - and quite an interesting one at that.

Homefront...The Movie?

Did you hear?  Kaos Studios' first person shooter experience, Homefront, is going to be a movie!  Really!  Check out the trailer here:

Okay, I wasn't truthful with you.  Yeah, the above trailer is from the remake of Red Dawn.   Funny thing is, this might as well be the movie version of Homefront as the two plots are identical!  Check out the Homefront trailer:

Yeah, try and tell me the Red Dawn remake isn't Homefront in disguise....

Everything I Needed to Know about Politics I Learned from Medieval 2: Total War

My interest in how gaming and politics often mix isn't a new one.  For example, take this editorial I wrote in 2008 (then, like now, we were on the cusp of a big election) explaining how a solid strategy game like Medieval II: Total War could actually be an edifying experience when it comes to explaining the political art of nation-state politics.  While M2TW might no longer be the top dog in the strategy genre (Crusader Kings 2 would be my new champion), the lessons that M2TW taught me are as valid now as they were in 2008...or 1008 A.D. for that matter.  
Someday I really need to revisit this topic using CK2....

The New Face of Gaming

The above photograph, taken by Brant Ward, comes from an article entitled Struggling GameStop reinventing itself.   The article is an interesting one, detailing how GameStop plans on incorporating the sale of refurbished products into its core business.  But what really caught my attention was that photo.  That's no kid buying video games!  Truth is, despite what the mainstream media might lead you to believe, THAT is closer to the real face of gaming than any photo of a raging teenager.  As I wrote in my blog's mission statement (find it on the right sidebar), gaming isn't just kids stuff anymore!  In fact, according to the most recent data from the Entertainment Software Association, the average age of the gamer is now 30 (down from 37 - a strange statistical blip considering the nation is getting older and not younger), with 37 percent of all gamers being over 36 (and 25% over 50, according to another survey I read last year - sorry, can't find the link).

Kotaku, Super PACs and Games as Propaganda

Ya know, when I first started this blog I was doubtful that I would have much fodder to work with on a day to day basis.  It really was just a lark for me to combine two of my passions - politics and gaming.  However, if the last two weeks or so are any indication, it looks like I might be on to something as I haven't been at a loss for material lately.  Even more interestingly, others have begun to mine the political-gaming angle since I started this blog - you can thank me later. ;)   The most recent foray into the world of politics comes from Kotaku.  In a recent entry entitledSome Americans Think A “Super PAC” Is A Video Game. Most Don’t Know What One Is, they write the following....

CoD: Black Ops 2...Starring Barack Obama?

Well, this is interesting.  It seems Frank Woods, one of the devs of the original Call of Duty: Black Ops, has been spilling the beans regarding all sorts of details concerning what content will be packed into Black Ops 2.  Amongst the many tidbits is a reference to the Commander-in-Chief himself, Barack Obama:
U.S.S. Barack Obama – An aircraft carrier.
Clearly, in the near future world of Black Ops 2, the current president will have an aircraft carrier named after him.  Interesting, that, seeing how Obama might preside over the most damaging defense cuts in US history due to Obama's inability to balance the budget during his four years in office.

I will say that I am a bit disappointed that Obama won't actually be more of a part of BlOp2.  I mean, I would love to have a mission where the player needs to quadruple the US deficit in three years!  I wonder what type of kill streak that would earn you? I also wish VP Biden would make an appearance, too.  Maybe a double kill coul…

Space: The Final Conservative Frontier

Have you ever noticed how every space game represents the conservative ideal?  Rarely do you find a space-themed game where the player needs a space ship just to pick up his government cheese at the nearest space welfare office.  Rather, be it Eve Online, the X-series, or Space Pirates and Zombies, the gameplay always revolves around the player setting out on a new life free from the hassles of the old world, one where he is free to pursue fame and fortune as he sees fit.
These thoughts were brought to mind after trying my latest space squeeze, Evochron Mercenary.  Check out the game's description: Trading commodities while sneaking past hostile forces, racing the best pilots in the area, mining for diamonds, negotiating for survival, spying for a curious energy company, cleaning dirty solar arrays, transporting an impatient passenger... and that's just on a Monday. The life of an independent mercenary is rarely without excitement. At times, you may choose to work under contr…

I'm Still Only in Saigon

"How many people had I already killed? There were those six that I knew about for sure. Close enough to blow their last breath in my face...." - Captain Willard, Apocalypse Now
Yeah, you are probably already thinking that this is gonna being an Apocalypse Now-themed entry.  Not really (hint: it's actually gonna be a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3-themed entry!).  It's just that I spent the weekend watching that classic war movie and realized I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.  I mean, I used to watch a VHS copy of an ABC broadcast of it over and over again as a kid.  Couldn't get enough of it!  What fascinated me then, as now, is how Francis Ford Coppola took the Vietnam War as turned it into a moody, nightmarish and almost science fiction-y trip into metaphysical madness.  To this day, the opening sequence of that film gives me the chills:

The foreboding jungle, the dream-like sound of the helos, the weird colored smoke, the Doors singing about "the …

A Different Kind of Biased Review

So, yesterday I posted an entry on Stardock's release of The Political Machine 2012.  Not surprisingly, some reviews have begun appearing on this niche title over the last few days.  Leading the review pack, as always, are the fellas over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.   Now, if you are not familiar with them, RPS is a wonderfully witty site that covers computer gaming and news with a particular focus on PC gaming.  However, RPS, being largely staffed by our English cousins across the big pond, does display a typically European left-wing bias whenever the subject touches on politics, as seen in their involvement with the politically juvenile propaganda game, Curfew.  Not surprisingly, their review of The Political Machine 2012 displays a similar bias as well, albeit, knowing how these guys work, I suspect more than a little of it was designed to create a dust-up for their amusement.  Anyway, just thought I would post some excerpts here.

Political Machine 2012 Released

This one sort of sneaked past me.  Seems Stardock's US presidential election simulator The Political Machine has been released!  I haven't played this game since the 2004 version was released...or was it 2000?  Regardless, I do recall enjoying my experience with that title since it did seem to capture the essence of a modern political campaign, dirty tricks and all!  Unfortunately, I never did devote as much time to it as I should have.  Why?  Well, because I am a political junkie.  Sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but here is the thing:  when you are an avid watcher of politics like I am, the last thing you want to do after slaving over a hot political stove all day is sit down and game politics!  I guess it is sort of like a football player leaving the grid iron after a long, tough game and then sitting down in front of their Xbox to get in some time with Madden NFL.  I need a break!  

New Poll: President Obama as a Video Game Character

Time for a new poll!  Here it is:
If President Obama was a character from a video game, which character would he be?
Pac ManCapt. John Soap MacTavish from Call of DutyJohn Henry Eden from Fallout 3Jim Raynor from StarcraftKane from Command and ConquerGordon Freeman from Half-lifeArcturus Mengsk from StarcraftCommander Shepard from Mass EffectVladimir Makarov from Call of Duty
If I missed your choice, let me know in the comments section.  You can find the poll at the bottom of the page.  I look forward to reading the responses.

...And yes, I will conduct the same poll for Romney.

Journalists Could Learn a Thing or Two from Call of Duty

Back in June, there was an investigative report on FOX News concerning how America's increasing reliance on drones could present a severe security risk in an age of cyber-warfare.  It is a good report, so give it a quick watch here:

Pretty interesting, right?  But here's the kicker: if you were one of those slack-jawed video gamers, you probably were already well aware of this possibility because of Treyarch's forthcoming title, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.   Remember this from May (i.e., one month prior to the FOX special report)?

But how can this be?  After all, aren't video games all about mindless violence?

Obama: The Meme Maker

That's right, ladies and gentlemen!  Only 100 days to go before this nation gets a chance to correct a big mistake!  Boy, how the "hope and change" time flies.  Almost four complete years into President Obama's first (and last?) term, and he has yet to create anything.  Oh, I know how he likes to tout all those jobs he saved or created, but the truth is that America is suffering a net loss of about 1 million jobs (the link shows a net loss of 1.6 million, but as of June the figure is now closer to a 1 million net loss.  Just trying to be fair here.), making President Obama the worst job creator in American history (with a net loss of almost a million jobs, perhaps "job destroyer" would be a more accurate term for him?).  I guess that $800 billion Keynesian "shovel ready" jobs bill wasn't so "shovel ready" after all (even Obama has conceded that!).  
So what has Obama managed to create?
Well, quite unexpectedly...memes!  You know, t…

Visiting Bag End

I've been in a hard fantasy mood lately. Don't know why it is hitting me in the middle of summer as medieval fantasy gaming is usually something I save for Fall. Why? For me, when I think of the Dark Ages / Medieval periods of history - and when it comes to gaming, I find most fantasy titles to mix the two periods together - I also think of a time of figurative twilight, when everything is in decline and long dormant monsters begin to stir to the dirge of creeping despair. With that in mind, I find Fall to be the perfect seasonal counterpart for fantasy gaming, what with its darkening skies, chilly nights, and dying foliage. Part of the Earth is literally in decline during Autumn. Even the name "Fall" conveys this attitude quite accurately.

Anyhoo, my seasonal clock must be running fast because July has been a month of frenetic fantasy gaming for me. Of course, with over 8% unemployment, skyrocketing national debt, a crumbling culture, the p…