Saints Row The Third – Why It’s One of the Best Things to Happen to Games in The Recent Time

While most games today strive for utmost realism and seriousness, once a while a game comes along to remind us that games can also be just fun while relentlessly beating story, character development and realism in the face one after the other in a never ending cycle of madness as they lay in its basement handcuffed to a radiator.

Saints Row has been considered a GTA rip-off by some, very wrongly so if I may add. GTA has always been somewhat grounded, even San Andreas, if compared to this game. The comparison of the two is unavoidable, just like comparing MK and SF – happens often and only idiots would have few enough brain cells to find them comparable. Yes they are in the same genre, yes they are both open-world gangster games, or fighting games, respectively, but they set out to accomplish very different things. The former are silly, over the top GAME-games that exist for the sole purpose to entertain, while the latter take themselves more seriously and deliver a serious and grounded experience.

Saints Row The Third was the parachute that saved me as my game-o-philic side was dragged down to earth by the boringly ‘badass’, ‘gritty’ and ‘realistic’ games. As summer started I promised myself to play all they games I’ve been missing out on during the school year, and some well-received stuff from the none-too-far past. A couple of games in I started enjoying them less and less as they were all almost the same, thematically, serious and grounded as if by 1000 pound chains.

THEN FUCKIN’ KABLAM – I’M FALLING THROUGH THE SKY OUT OF AN AIRPLANE WITH DUDES FALLING BEHIND ME, ATTEMPTING TO SHOOT MY FACE OFF AS I ATTEMPT TO DESCEND FURTHER TO CATCH MY LADY FRIEND, WHILE AVOIDING FALLING DEBRIS, AS I HAVE THE SOLE PARACHUTE!!!

It took my breath away and I was grinning giddily throughout the first grand missions… I knew that I found something to rekindle my love for videogames. This game didn’t give a crap about fitting into any mould, it had no self-imposed restrictions and it went full-throttle with the freedom it had. Throwing people 10 meters to watch them crash into an ongoing car or try to knock down as many people as you can with the ragdoll body of your projectile buddy, beating cops with meter-long, floppy, purple dildos, shooting mascots in the face on a Japanese game-show styled reality murder-game while they run at you with bats, dildos and guns… THAT is what this game’s about and it doesn’t try to explain why that’s okay in that universe, because it just doesn’t give a damn – it’s fun and that’s all that matters. A mini-game where you drive around with a tiger, trying to avoiding crashes as they make the kitty nervous and it mauls you – yeah, that’s a thing, and you just try to not fucking love it, I dare you.

All the missions are over the top, forcing the players into the most ridiculous circumstances that can still be comprehended without heavy drug use and the mini-games are not tiresome, in fact they’re infinitely replayable and awesome, a height most mini-games barely ever even manage to come close to. I don’t want to get into all the mini-game types that are in this game as not to spoil the sense of discovery of these fun mines, but rest assured, there’s not a single crap one, all of them are purely great.

This game doesn’t take itself seriously at all and delivers what it sets out to deliver 120% – fun, and pure unfiltered fun. If you’re feeling that games are kinda boring you, perhaps, or maybe you think that all modern games are far up their own asses with how seriously they take themselves give Saints Row The Third a try and it’ll blow those feelings and assumptions right out of the water with a kiloton explosion. Also did I mention that you can streak and it is in itself a mini-game? Yes, absolutely.

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On F5

I recently started playing Deus Ex: Human revolution on PC. Having completed it on PS3 on hard, getting both ‘Pacifist’ and ‘Foxiest of the Hounds’ trophies I knew how awesome it felt when a bunch of hard trophies pop up when I complete that game…which I wanted to repeat on the PC (as the achievements cascade if they are received in a rapid succession – just imagine seeing them in all their glory together on the screen…simply mesmerizing).

First time around on the PlayStation it was excruciatingly mind-numbing and hard because I forced myself to play the game by the hardest rules that are rewarded by trophies, all at once. I can’t say that I memorized everything from area layouts to individual guard AI, in fact I remembered it rather poorly, so it cannot be accredited to the ease of my second play-through on PC. I didn’t remember strategies for individual situations at all, I rolled with the punches on my second run the same way as I did on the first, but it was a lot easier.

It was not the kind of ease that made me feel awesome for kicking the game’s ass, it was the kind of ease that made me hate myself and the F5 key. Quick save. At first it seemed a blessing as I no longer had to replay 5 minutes over and over again just to screw up again in the end, now I could save before any daring action I was about to make and after every successfully executed one. It felt great being able to go through the game quickly by saving every 10 feet or every 5 seconds, knowing that if I mess up akin to Snookies dad contraception malfunction I could just quickly hit F8 and within 10 seconds I would be booted back to my most frequent safe position (unlike her dad to whom I express my deepest condolences) and would not be doomed to repeating a bunch of corridors and whatnot.

Soon the game lost its punch and the feeling of accomplishment it gave me when completing a particularly hard section was long gone because now all I was doing is replaying short moments and there was no fear or struggle to do my best not to mess up. After all, I would be set back only a tiny bit.

I believe most games have rather fair checkpoint systems, and unless they are clearly broken and stupid there should not be a reason for quick saves. The checkpoints are mostly cleverly put and with the purpose to make the player dread repeating a huge stretch again if he messed up, without being unfair. When not using them as the primary save points the game’s difficulty falls apart and with it a sense of achievement we are all out for when gaming. It makes patience and skill redundant as long as you’re not dumb enough to be able to complete one tiny scenario without messing up.

I cheated not the game, but myself by doing this and in turn stopped enjoying the game as much, as it no longer presented itself a challenge, just a tedious chore because when you take away gunfights from the game all it has to rely on is stealth. And once the difficulty of successfully stealthing about between far-apart checkpoints is gone the fun and thrill is gone with it.

So, please, take my advice, and do as I say – don’t save every step with your F5 key.

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Splinter Cell: Double Agent Review

Boring things first: this is the 4th main entry in the Splinter Cell series, the first in the current generation of consoles and the last in the original format of SC, the “Essentials” PSP game excluded, because, let’s not sully the name of this better-than-just-good series with that atrocity.

Pros:

  • This game definitely does add a lot more fluidity to Splinter Cell as a series in both the action and looks. The character model does seem a bit more realistic in the way it moves and behaves in general which is just nice to see and the environmental interactions look more realistic.
  • There are quite a few additions in terms of environmental usage, the most vivid one in my memory is knocking on ice while under water to attract the attention of guards to that place so that you could break the ice as they stand atop it, sending them down into the water and to finish off the job with a satisfying single stab which sends them sinking down to the ocean floor, which even though is present in very few missions was rather enjoyable just because it broke away from the general conformity of the game. Not to mention that the underwater parts of missions are very bearable, so it does deserve some commendation for that.

Cons:

  • Boring storyline which follows Clancy’s regiment of betrayal and bullshit plot twists.
  • 4 LEVELS ON THE SAME FUCKNG MAP WHERE THE MOST FREQUENTLY PERFORMED ACTION IS JUST TURNING OFF LIGHTS BECAUSE YOU CAN’T KILL OR EVEN KNOCK ANYONE OUT. BULL FUCKING SHIT.
  • The voice acting is rather laughable, which actually enhanced the game for me because it gave me a reason to laugh rather than hate the hell out of it. Some voice actors pull on ridiculous accents and others just sound as enthused as a rock.
  • The in-game graphics cut-scenes are some of the worst things that you will ever see: at least on the PC, perhaps it is different on consoles. Not only is the movement completely unsynchronized with the audio but the animations are clank as hell IF THEY EVEN BOTHER TO HAPPEN.

Proper review-thing:

Sam Fisher joins the terrorist cell JBA (after his daughter IS RAN OVER BY SOME CRIMINAL GUY AND HE GOES ALL-OUT EMO! OH MY GOD SPOILERS!) to prevent something something while still working for the CIA, which right away makes sense of the game’s title. The story is something I could not care for although I generally have a pretty major bone.rar for stories in games; the Splinter Cell series are usually not the case because I find the plot twists and the hyper-serious approach outright laughable, which I guess makes it a pretty good B-movie type deal.While not liking the story it is very easy to make fun of it, so thank you for that Ubisoft even though this entertainment is not intentional.

The game does take you to multiple different locations just like every Splinter Cell and most of them are very enjoyable, especially the snowy maps, ether because they are just made a lot better than others as they aren’t the usual corridor crawling crap that we get most of the time in games nowadays and actually have some ingenuity and interesting ideas or just because I am a huge Metal Gear fan and stealth+snow=happiness. But the problem and essentially the reason I hated this game lies within the JBA HQ map or at least the amount of time that we are made to spend here. Over a third of the game is situated in this boring-ass map with boring-ass side quests, a time limit and for the most part inability to kill or knock anyone out which turns this into an absolutely no-fun endeavor as well as a waste of time. This is one of the most lazy things a game like this could do because instead of giving many different mission on different maps we’re made to suffer through sneaking around, no, sorry, MOSTLY WALKING AROUND THE COMPLEX BECAUSE YOU’RE ONE OF THE TERRORISTS, SO YOU CAN JUST CALMLY WALK IN MOST AREAS. And the side quests mostly consist of finding some documents or installing a hacking device of some sort or a dumb bomb-making minigame. Lazy-ass developers, I damn you!

On the other hand when the game does throw you into a good map it does so pretty well, at least, if not funominally. The stand-out map for me was the one with the terrorist camp and ship in the North Sea because at first you were free to swim and walk around the icy wilderness amongst the icebergs and stuff, which is indubitably fun and different and then sneak around the huge ship – both on top and below the deck, which had some interesting areas and set pieces. Also breaking the ice under some poor sucker is always awesome and I never quite got tired of it.

The big new thing in this game is the “trust” system. Sam has a trust gauge for the NSA and the JBA where optional objectives add trust points and ignoring a primary objective takes trust points away. While the optional objectives are generally pretty bland and boring sometimes a no kills or no alerts objective pops up which is always super fun to carry out, not to mention that it forces you to play the game the way it is actually meant to be played. As one could have guessed that due to there being a trust meter for both factions there will be binary choices – one that satisfies the JBA and one that satisfies the NSA. These choices add trust to one faction and subtract an equal amount from the other. Of course when the trust depletes the mission fails, which I never found to be the case as it’s rather easy to uphold the trust as long as you don’t go pants-on-head retarded, so it’s fairly easy to just chose whatever you want to do depending on what you want, not having to strategize depending on the trust level of ether of the factions.

The AI is not revolutionary in any way, but is not idiotic either. For the most part… Whistling a guard to your location is still the easiest way to make sure the kill will be easy and quick, and getting rid of enemies was never a problem, even on hard difficulty, as long as even a minimal amount of planning is performed.

Overall the game is fine. I would never go as far as to say that it is on par with the original trilogy, but comparing it would be unfair, as a game should be judged by itself, not whether it lives up to the legacy of its predicesors. I did certainly hate the completely-devoid-of-fun JBA HQ sections, but the rest of the game did a fair job for making up for that shitcake.

It is definitely worth one’s time if they’re a dedicated SC fan and want to have all games under their belt or at least enjoy stealth games in general, while it won’t likely strike any chord for people outside those groups. Meh, fine game. Play it. Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you.

P.S:
My first review in all its mediocrity. Sankyu for reading.

Tea Critic- Ahmad Earl Grey vs Lipton London Earl Grey Black Tea

As any tea gourmet knows earl grey is pretty much the Batman of teas. It’s dark, punchy, gritty unless given a bit sugar and everyone can say it’s their favorite without getting any negative feedback apart from them being called out as the boring boring-person they are.
First off, I’d like to say I do love Batman, and after my childhood hero Spiderman he is the next in line of favorites, but earl grey always have been, is, and always will be the number one tea for me, unless some other flavor gets a way better movie trilogy.

Back to the point now, earl grey has unlimited potential. Well, within its own constraints, but you know. Never mind, it’s not unlimited, but it’s pretty impressive. It can satisfy any tea-necessity, be it plain and strong or sweet and calming, or in fact anything in between. Depending on how it is applied it can deliver very different sensations, and for this reason it is the perfect tea.

But if it is perfect, what’s the difference between the different types and brands of tea? Two or more things can’t be different but perfect, you say. Well shut up and listen, you’re not an expert. And I’m a misguidedly self-proclaimed one, but still better than you. First, let us get to the meaning of perfect -something without fault. So this would apply to ether variation of earl grey. All good in this department, let us move on.

I have narrowed down the best types to two: Ahmad Tea – Earl Grey and Lipton – London Earl Grey Black Tea Super HD Remix GX. Ahmad is the top notch of what earl gray stands for – plain taste and versatility, while the best word to describe the Lipton version atop what I have said about the first one is “zesty”. There aren’t many differences between them. None that you would understand, anyway, apart from one distinct feature: IT HAS TINY PIECES OF DRIED LEMON.

I know it sounds crazy, but I checked it with Science, and it all checks out, it is actually feasible. It delivers a slight tingle to the flavor, without destroying the taste like the addition of ordinary lemon juice would do due to the enzymes it contains that destroy the tea-taste-things within the mixture. With this it takes a step just outside the line of conformity of earl grey tea, but its real life equivalent rebelliousness would be somebody constructing intentionally grammatically or logistically incorrect sentences while screaming FUCK THE POLICE with their inner voice, because, well, are we damn barbarians to scream such rude things?

So to sum up I would like to say that the Ahmad Earl Grey tea definitely does what is sets out to do in its respective field, but for those who want just a bit more out of their boring routine London Earl Grey Black Tea can deliver that tiny bit more to make them feel crazy like an office worker undoing his top button and letting his tie down 1cm.. But seriously – dried up lemons… also let’s just erase the Spiderman trilogy from our collective mind.