May 29th, 2009 5:33 pm | by Ryan Fleming News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

GamerVania: Your Week in Video Games

Tags: Gaming

E3 is coming! E3 is coming! If you aren't eagerly expecting E3 like a kid on Christmas morning, then, well, you probably are well adjusted. For the rest of us, E3 is THE video game event of the year. Remember when you were a kid and you stayed over at your friend's house for an all night gaming session? A copy of Nintendo Power on the ground, a stack of games next to you, and a full supply of insanely sugar-heavy snacks that probably cut a few inches off of your potential height? Now take that image and expand it by 1 million—and add every cool new game and piece of hardware in the pipeline, plus throw in the feel of a giant concert, and you have a rough idea of what E3 is. It's Burning Man for video game nerds, minus the hippies, but with an equally pungent smell. It is very doubtful that anyone would ever throw underwear at Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima, but if it were ever going to happen, it would happen at the E3 Expo held June 2-4 in LA.E3 is where all the big games are debuted, new hardware is unveiled, and scantily clad women dress up like video game characters to entice press to come check out their “booths” in a sad attempt to make gaming sexy. (Look, we all like our video games, but no one is buying that a model is going to throw herself at a guy because of his Mario Kart hi-score.)

Unfortunately I will not be at E3 this year. I know, it seems wrong, but that's the way it is. It is a press-only event, and I did not receive an invite If, however, you the readers would like to—I don't know—email the editors at Willamette Week for the next few days in a relentless effort to encourage them to send me to the convention, well, who I am to say not to do it. In your emails, please be sure to include recommendations of good hotels and ask for a giant expense account. Just to give you all the best coverage possible, of course. [Ed note: Fat chance Ryan.]

Not surprisingly, the week before E3 is not traditionally a huge release week in the gaming industry. That doesn't mean that there are no solid releases—in fact there were two very good games that came out this week, including a PS3 exclusive, a Wii exclusive and a DLC that slipped through the cracks. Onward to the games!

Game of the Week

inFamous (PS3)

In the continuing console wars, there have only been a handful of games that have tempted me to buy a PS3, and this one just made the list. That being said, if I rated games with a point system, I would take off one point for having to listen to my friend berate me with taunts of “oh, so now the PS3 isn't so crappy now is it? Where's your 360 now?!” as I borrowed their system to play this game. Once I managed to tune out my friend, I was able to settle into a very cool game.

In inFamous, you play as Cole, a bike messenger that somehow survives a blast that wipes out thousands of people in your home of Empire City. After the blast you discover you can now avenge all bike messengers hit by cars, as you can control electricity, have super strength, and can move like never before. Once you spend a few minutes utterly annihilating everything nearby you just ‘cuz, you find that you have an entire city to roam through, more sections unlock as the game progresses. The story itself is compelling. Cole is a solid character and the comic book style presentation works, but you also have the ability to be a good guy or a bad guy. As you play, you frequently come across an area where the game stops and asks you to make a choice. The choices are different each event, but they generally involve either helping people or hurting them. The options are usually pretty cut and dry, but it offers an interesting twist on the story, which is fairly cool. All in all it is a title that is worth putting up with the loyalist taunts of PS3 owners everywhere to borrow their system and play the game.

Best Value of the Week

Boom Blox Bash Party (Wii)

Boom Blox
Another exclusive title, this time for the Wii, that I almost passed on due to the fact that it is ridiculous. Although, as I discovered, not in a bad way. Boom Blox Bash Party (a title I had a great deal of trouble asking the clerk about at my rental place, but at this point they all probably consider me borderline insane anyway, so what ev) is another game in the long line of "Nintendo being silly" releases. Legend has it that Steven Spielberg, director of such classics as Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, Hook and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, wanted a game that his kids could play but was repeatedly disappointed with the offerings available. So he did what any incredibly powerful Hollywood magnate that could probably have me killed with just a nod of his head would do: he decided to start a company to produce games.

Boom Blox etc etc, is a family game, and a fun one too. It's designed to be played with multiple people in the same vein as Mario Party. Describing the game does not do it justice. You build up blocks and knock them down. But that is like saying Tetris is a game where you arrange pieces—true, but misses the point. It is a simple, but massively addictive game, and while the single player version is fun in its own right, this is a party game. It isn't perfect though. The controls can be awkward at times, and some of the games do get a bit old. It can't quite reach the level of variety that Mario Party offers, but it is a worthy addition to the genre. On a side note, it is remarkably difficult to find Steven Spielberg directed projects to make fun of.

DLC of the Week

Chronicles of Riddick: Attack on Dark Athena Map Pack (360, PC)

I will always have a soft spot for this game. It was one of my favorite Xbox titles, and it was the very first game I wrote about for this blog. So please don't begrudge me for featuring this DLC, which includes five new maps for the multiplayer games. Despite decent sales and solid reviews of the game, the Assault on Dark Athena multiplayer never really took off. You can usually find a game to jump in, but the majority of the players are the ones that stuck around and got really good, while the casual online gamer never had a chance. So for new gamers looking to try a new online game, your experience might be similar to the whale in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that suddenly appeared in the air, gazing at its strange new world, fascinated and enthralled with the new sights and sounds it was seeing. Awestruck by the new reality it was suddenly thrust in, it laughed with joy before it met its newest friend, the ground, and died horribly. Yeah, it might be like that the first couple of times you try to get online. For the stalwart though, the maps are solid, and if you can get past the learning curve, you will have a huge selection of games and maps.


  • E3 begins next week! Rumors are already abound that the new PSP will be unveiled, as well as a PS3 slim. Expect debuts and trailers for the big releases, including: a new Halo game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and a new Tekken. And a booth babe will give her real number out to an event goer. I find the booth babe thing hard to believe, so I think it is in the best interest of everyone that I be sent there to investigate. (please?)

  • The Guitar Hero website is reporting that the newest game in the series, the cleverly named Guitar Hero 5, will be available September 1st. This is just one week before Rock Band's eagerly awaited, high profile release of Rock Band: The Beatles hits stores. Surely the timing is just a coincidence

  • One early piece of info from E3 is news on the newest GTA IV DLC. Gamespot reports that the newest DLC will be called “The Ballad of Gay Tony,” and will focus on the flamboyantly gay mobster from the original game. The DLC will cost $20 on Xbox Live, or can be purchased with the first DLC, “Lost and the Damned” on a disc for $40. It is due sometime in Q3, just in time for the Fall season of protesters to gear up for it.

  • I am a both ashamed and proud to admit that I have bookmarked the website for the Bioshock 2 website, and finally it paid off. The Official Bioshock 2 website has set a release date of November 3rd for 360, PS3, and PC. Expect a new trailer at E3, and so expect me to gush on like a deranged fanboy about how awesome this game looks. All coming soon.

  • CNET news reports that Microsoft's Zune will be announcing new details at E3 this coming week. It is expected to compete head to head with the iTouch, but no word yet on when/if they will release a ZunePhone, or when the annoying commercials will begin to air to make you feel self conscious for not being able to afford the new Zune.

  • Capcom recently announced that its hit Resident Evil 5 has sold the pants-crappingly huge number of 5 million copies worldwide since its release in March. reports that the sales helped push Capcom's fiscal earnings near $1 billion. No word on whether there will be a Resident Evil 6 yet—hahahahahahahahahaha…. Oh, sometimes I kill me. It is a safe bet that you can expect a Resident Evil 6, 7, 8, 9, and possibly 10, with decisions to be made on 11-29 in the next few years.

Image: Gaming babes at the epic E3 Expo.
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