Act V, Scene III

I haven’t had material enough to update ye ol e-diary very consistently, or at least not as consistently as I used to with crazy stories about night life, video game culture and working for a soulless corporate machine that manipulates children in a fun way. When I do post, it’s hard to stay on the topics I silently agreed with myself to post about when Shane unleashed the glorious bounty of user generated content onto all of us, but praise be to the HZG for it.

My philosophy with The Rest of the Dharma was pretty much only to post things that I couldn’t sell to other people, ideas that were half thought out, and the occasional personal bull. Unfortunately, with two steady (paying) gigs elsewhere, a day job and the slow trudge towards my inevitable masters in finance currently underway, I’ve had little crazy scratch left over to put here besides the occasional expression of boomer hate. Writing without an editor and with almost zero boundaries has been a great, personal experience, and I have a feeling I’m going to miss it the next time something I submit freelance gets the swiss cheese treatment because I used the word "cock" too many times while writing about MMO habits in Hong Kong. But I just don’t want to stay half committed to something my heart is in, but none of the rest of me can be in.

I will miss my little psychopathic avatar up on the header. That guy is so cool. But cool internet stationary does not hard work inspire, or something. So it is with much sadness I bring my sixth blog to its wimpering end. Behold the death of the Dharma, see you on the boards, Generation Jones.


Good thing we have all those strict zero tolerance gun laws on college campuses, or this would have happened. For the second time in under a year. Yep, people who go nucking futs and have the urge to pop a cap in twenty or so human beings sure are deterred by the ephemeral idea that they might be arrested if they bring a gun with them on to campus grounds.

Jesus Christ. I’ve been crying for about a half an hour. It might be that I’m just sick and deliriously emotional from the Heath Ledger cocktail I took to sleep through my coughing fits, but DAMNIT. What kind of monster can do this? How can people like that even exist in this world? The shooter isn’t even the person I’m the most angry with. I want to Lorena Bobbitt the worthless idiots who thought that bureaucracy could stop something like this from happening.

Horrible tragedy.

The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning

If you’re playing a game, and you’re progressing through every level without wondering what to do next, it was designed competently. If you’re playing a game, and are having fun, it was designed well. But if you’re watching a five year old play that game, and not only is he having fun, but he’s beating it, and screaming "Watch out, Spyro!" during cutscenes and laughing at David Spade, that’s a great game.

Such was the case with the last Spyro game, The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning. As the title implies, this game was a reboot of the franchise, whose roots go back to the original Playstation. Released in November 2006 for last gen consoles, sales for the game did okay, but with the changing of the guard from the PS2 and GameCube shifting to the PS3 and Wii, and with the X-Box 360 already gobbling up its predecessor’s wall space, Spyro didn’t bring in the numbers it could have if it was released as a current gen title. It received many awards for its platforming elements, and many GameCube centric media outlets gushed over it as the system’s last true hurrah. A Nintendo DS version was also released, which utilized the tiny handheld’s hardware extremely well.

In other words, Spyro didn’t under perform because it was a bad game, but because it said, "GameCube," "X-Box," and "PS2" on the boxes instead of "Wii," "360" and "PS3." It really is a great game, and deserves a chance from anyone who enjoys cute dragons, platforming games, or both.

The game features a great cast of voice actors, including one of my favorites, Jeff Bennett, better known as the Chuck Norris of the Star Wars universe, and my least favorite, Cree Summer, who just does her Suzy from Rugrats voice every time she has a voice acting job. The title character, Spyro, is played by Frodo. David Spade plays himself as the sidekick, a lovable, fast talking dragonfly who young children can imitate, apparently, very easily. Rounding out the main cast is Gary Oldman, who plays a dragon version of Sirius Black. And yes, that’s as awesome as that sounds.

The story is about Spyro, a young, three foot tall, purple dragon who grew up believing he was a dragonfly. After a temple that housed dragon eggs was raided, an elder dragon sent Spyro’s egg down a river, Moses style. When some baboons invade the swamp he grew up in, Spyro accidentally breathes fire saving his adopted brother, a firefly/dragonfly thing named Sparx. From there, he learns that he is a dragon, and Sparx and Spyro leave the swamp to find out what happened to his people.

The gameplay is probably two thirds beat em up, one third platforming, with a couple really neat rail missions that has Spyro flying through the sky, or chasing after an underground train. It’s simple button mashing and hopping from point A to point B, and should be accessible to just about anyone.

The narrative is pretty thin, and the expressions on the models are pretty limited, and usually that would be a bad thing. But that just makes it great PG rated entertainment, as everything is very simple and easy for young gamers to understand. There’s some cartoon violence, but no adult themes, no cursing, and even the game’s villain sounds like a six year old girl, and is revealed to be about as harmless at the end.

So, all in all, Spyro is a solid platformer. More impressively, it’s an entirely appropriate game for young children. With a market clogged with M rated games, it was refreshing to play something that wasn’t about space marines or hardcore gangstaz for a little while.

I should note that while The Legend of Spyro was built for last gen systems, there are a few ways to rig a solution so you can play it on current platforms. With a downloadable patch via X-Box Live, the game is playable on the X-Box 360. Early PS3 SKUs can also play the game, as they have a PS2 emulator built in, but that feature has been cut from current PS3 units. The Wii can also run the GameCube version, but you’ll need either a GameCube controller, or the Wii’s classic controller in order to play the game properly.

Hey, baby, maybe you should lose some Mass Effect.

"I live by two rules. One, never kill someone without a reason. Two, I can always find a reason to kill someone." – Saren

Mass Effect: Revelation is a prequel novel to the video game of the same pre-coloned name, set twenty years before Eden Prime is made to look like the Lars family farm post imperial entanglement. It explains the wilder crap that happens in the video game, but the author, Drew Karpyshyn, is more Kevin J. Anderson than Stephen King. While he was writing the book, he was also leading a team that wrote the story and dialogue for the game, a task which equaled about five full length movies worth of script, so the existence of a 300 page novel from this same man is an impressive feat. It’s fun to read if you’re at all interested in the Mass Effect universe, but as a stand alone Sci Fi novel, it’s kind of ass.

From the first chapter, there are a lot of glaring inaccuracies and assumptions made about genetics, physics and human progress. The physics stuff is easy to overlook because it’s science fiction, but the other stuff is mind bogglingly awful. With one paragraph, the book demands that you assume that in the span of only two hundred years, a people who are today willing to detonate themselves and their own children because of their belief in God, as well as those who are slightly less devout, all said "filk this" just because some alien ruins were found on Mars.

Also, again in this short time span of 200 years, humanity has so interbred between races, that we’re all caramel skin toned, and blondes are extinct. This is a lot of bull, from a social and genetic perspective. This stuff is made to explain that humanity, more or less, is at peace with itself, and is ready to unite against galactic threats. That’s fine, but you don’t have turn our society into the dumbest parts of TNG to do it, Drew.

These aren’t the only annoying inaccuracies. Military actions are described with the grace of a High School paper’s acne riddled sports writer describing a football game. This is coming from a man who reads, watches and plays anything with Tom Clancy’s name on it, and whose best friends are mostly real soldiers, so maybe I have higher standards when it comes to the technical stuff. It’s all really naive, but I guess you could argue the soldiers are incompetent?

There is a lot to love about Mass Effect: Revelation. The story boils down to being about aliens shooting each other in the face. My favorite character, Sklarr, is a Krogan – a species of bloodthirsty giant lizards with cute little tails. They’re like upright walking dinosaurs with thumbs, and are incredibly powerful and mobile. Every time Sklarr enters a scene, somebody is going to get their elbow broken, or head caved in like a melon. The main antagonists are Batarians, a species that isn’t seen in the Mass Effect game, because by the end of the novel, they’re so pissed off at humanity that they’ve resigned from the galactic government and go off to do their own thing. They’re a species of super manipulative, xenophobic bastards who apparently evolved from four eyed hammerhead sharks. A lot of detail about their culture is given, as well as a lot of hints that they’ll be back in a sequel to mess things up for humanity.

The two main characters are David Andersen and Saren, both of whom play huge roles in the Mass Effect game. This shows Andersen, who was played by Keith David in the game, when he was young and just a grunt. He’s charged with finding Kahlee Sanders, a scientist who left a top secret lab a day before it was apparently destroyed in a terrorist attack. He’s the king of cool, and keeps an even head whether he’s carrying a wounded soldier out of an exploding building, or when Sklarr grabs him by the throat and nearly snaps his neck in half. With his courageousness and conviction to do his duties even at the expense of his personal life, Andersen is perhaps the only military character Karpyshyn got right. On the other hand, he’s the hero of the story, so he’s the only one he needed to get right, and the feebleness and expendability of other soldiers in the book further highlights his heroism.

Saren is also a soldier who keeps his cool, but in an evil way. A turian, a race of lobster-like people who are very similar to humans in social respects, he hates humans because we kicked his species’ ass after making first contact. He does everything he can to screw with humans diplomatically, and kills many innocent people along the way. The game kind of goads you into feeling sympathetic for him, but this book proves that Saren has always been a prick, and you should savor any pain you get to lay down on him as Commander Shepherd.

Overall, this one thinks Mass Effect: Revelations was a bumpy ride. It’s a quick read, and there are a lot of flaws, but if you can take it in as a stupid action, science fiction novel, there are parts that are really enjoyable.

Conan the Guy Who Can’t Jump Very Well

Gather around those of you who would listen; I have a tale to tell.

I finally got Conan from my queue. It’s been in such high demand from Gamefly, that I’ve had it as my number one pick for two months, and only now received it. It is a mature title, and features over the top violence, nudity, and Ron Perlman. Final verdict: it is okay.

Gameplay wise, Conan is a blatant, unapologetic God of War ripoff. This would be alright, because God of War was a great game, even if I loathed the story. It takes some great things about Kratos’ saga, and then fucks it all up with elements from Super Mario 64. Seriously. This game goes back to the earliest formula for gamer woe – Jumping Puzzle + Shitty Camera = Woe. This might have been due to the developers’ time constraints with making their publishing deadline. There is a lot of polish on some elements of the game got, none at all on others. This includes the most annoying bug I’ve ever stumbled upon. They forgot to include a sound effect in one of the levels about halfway through the game, so an annoying beeping noise that may have been a fire alarm plays instead, at 500% volume. Despite this and while later areas got kind of confusing, some parts of the game play fantastic. I’d dare say Conan sometimes surpasses every hack and slash game that has come before it. Other times, it’s like getting a whiff of flaming sulfur.

They also have a really nice, intuitive flow that never breaks up the action, and when played on easy, even a forty year old friend did okay. I didn’t get "stuck" trying to figure out what comes next until about two hours into the game. The one weakness in the combat system is that enemies sometimes don’t feel the giant sword you just cleaved through their body. They take damage, but they don’t react and continue with whatever they were doing before you taught their torso the riddle of steel. This isn’t a very nice aesthetic, and is a real pain when you’re trying to pull off a more gory combo. On the plus side, the moves, when successful, are pretty brutal. For example, one of the earliest moves you can learn, X X B, has this description.

"Conan rips the guts out of a smaller enemy with his bare fist."

The story is not horrible. An asshole sorcerer betrayed his noble brother and started eating his own children to achieve immortality. The good brother saved one of the kids and magically imprisoned the evil brother with a jewel – which Conan steals on one of his splunking expeditions, accidentally freeing the sorcerer. The bad guy somehow infects entire nations with the Black Plague, a disease which causes men to become violent maniacs and turns their eyes Sith yellow. Conan now has to kill shitloads of people in order to make things right, while stopping every once in a while to look at titties. Awesome.

I’ve always meant to dive into Robert E. Howard’s work and the Conan universe, because I’ve loved the movies and cartoons since I was just a Bodhi Hobo, but it’s something I keep putting off. I don’t know if this is an original story, or an adaptation, but the cut scenes are perhaps the best part of the game. When Conan first meets a warrior queen, she has him at arrow point, and says, "Don’t move or I’ll kill you where you stand." Conan keeps on walking, muttering, "I’ll do as I please, woman." The delivery of these lines is part of what makes the game so great, and the actors better do a good job, because there’s only four of them: Claudia Black from Farscape, Ron Perlman of everything that’s awesome, some voice over actor who does all the "Ugh!" and "Nngg" and various arrow-through-the-throat-type-gurgling noises, and a girl who plays all the chained up naked women. But really, if you think about it, that’s all you need.

Conan definitely isn’t a bad game, but it definitely could’ve used a few more months in the oven. It’s certainly a popular game, and even though it got lost in the sea of last year’s big releases, it’s still selling really well. Here’s hoping that there is a sequel, and the developers will improve on what went wrong, and continue to improve on what was great, in Conan 2.

Hype machine 2008 –

Life imitates art, Hollywood imitates life, video games imitate Hollywood. That’s right, most of this list is made up of sequels. There’s no excuse for the dearth of original titles getting the limelight this year – except that original titles tend not to sell very well, so nobody publishes them or makes them. That’s okay, though, as there’s plenty of quality non-original IPs to go around.

You’ll also notice that almost every game on this list was delayed from 2007. Between Halo 3, Gears of War PC, Unreal Tournament 3, Mass Effect, Assasin’s Creed and a host of other extremely good titles erupting on the market last year, there wasn’t a lot of room for more competition. A lot of these games were delayed by marketing people, and that’s fine – but imagine if they weren’t? It’s looking more and more like 2008 is going to be a slow year, with Sony and Microsoft shooting their annual wad around last Thanksgiving. And they aren’t going to come out of their tryptophan nap until June.


You may also notice that there are ZERO TITLES FOR THE WII ON MY LIST, OMG WTF BRB FBI!? Well, there’s a reason for that. The Wii is the most successful console, but the games people are making for it this year… is, well, it’s kid stuff. They’re G rated films, the other platforms have hard R’s. They’re a dinner of popcorn and a fruit roll up, the other platforms are steak with potatoes and a lovely little side salad. There’s a lot of good coming out for the Wii, but only if you aren’t sick of your Wii. Me, I need a break and play big boy games every once in a while – you know, games that have well rounded stories and mature themes, in addition to being insanely fun, whereas the Wii is just insanely fun.

Anyway. On with the list.

10. Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)

I’ve written before about how this franchise was driven into the ground for its western audience by its creators’ desire to appeal to its eastern audience. It was a great stealth, action, conspiracy driven story that was literally gayed up, made more preachy, and eventually became a joke with its over the top characters and stories. And by "over the top," I mean they make the Roger Moore era Bond films look like historical documentaries. If the people behind XMC made a spy movie, it would come out like Metal Gear Solid 2.

With the addition of two western voices to the dominantly Japanese development team, there may still be a small shred of hope for Metal Gear Solid 4. There are only a few new elements being introduced to the franchise, such as an updated camera system and better gunplay, but those are really important devices to North American, European and Aussie gamers. This is also significant because the last three games in the series played almost exactly the same, with only a few balance tweaks made here and there. In many ways, this will be the first genuinely new Metal Gear Solid since 1998. The only way this game can be screwed up is in terms of its story and characters. Money says that will happen, but I’m thinking positive and giving MGS4 my ten spot.

9. Halo Wars (360)

There are two camps of people who don’t like Halo: People who feel that it is just an average game, and people who don’t like shooters. Well, some of the people in that second camp may finally nun up and join the Covenant with Halo Wars, an elaborate real time strategy game that takes players through some campaigns which were unseen, but vaguely referenced, in the original Halo trilogy.

Rather than every structure simply existing as they do in Command and Conquer and other RTS games, its the little things that will bring Halo Wars to life – such as the ability to zoom in and watch your marines go about their business and training while idle. The game features all of the strategy and elaborate resource management that Starcraft players yearn for, while delivering a highly detailed, yet easily accessible, command experience. Not your average heartless God game, Halo Wars will use the emotional weight involved in sacrificing and losing human lives to motivate players to think before they act, as canonically, humanity was all but annihilated by the end of the third Halo game, with only 100,000 humans left in the galaxy, out of about 30 billion.

As a side note, I have a friend who is really excited about this game. He owns a lot of HaloClix, including the two foot tall Scarab behemoth tank you see firing the giant green laser up there. He’s planning on recreating screen shots from Halo Wars using his miniatures, and starting campaigns off that way with his friends.

8. Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (PC and 360)

I’ve kicked my MMO addiction. Six times now. Age of Conan is looking to become number seven. Boasting incredibly violent gameplay, Hyborian Adventures is looking to adhere canonically to Robert E. Howard’s vision of Conan’s world, not John Milius’. The game is set after most of Conan’s adventures, when he is reigning from his throne, and there is a lot of brutality going on in his kingdom. The player character’s first ten levels are played in a single player campaign wherein people can learn the ropes and feel like they’re developing an epic, heroic character.

AoC is a beautiful game, but the attention to graphical detail wasn’t paid so much to lush jungle environments or impressive ripple effects, but rather in realistic maiming and decapitating. Arcs of dark red blood spurt from headless necks, but glug out like a milk carton that had been turned upside down out of radial arteries that suddenly don’t have anything to flow into besides dirt. Sorcery is also available in addition to more traditional blades, and let’s just say that arrows stick into flesh very convincingly, and blunt weapons do what you’d expect them to do to someone’s temple.

7. Mercenaries 2 (360, PS3, possibly PC)

The original Mercenaries is a vastly under appreciated gem of the last generation of games. It was speculative fiction, wherein the Coalition invaded North Korea instead of Iraq. Starring Phil LaMarr (Marvin from Pulp Fiction), Jennifer Hale (a woman whose voice you’ve heard many times, most recently as the female PC in Mass Effect), and Peter Stormare (the guy from the Umpimp ze Auto commercials), Mercenaries was an insanely action packed, open world, third person shooter that allowed players to take the fight to the NorKs on the ground with an AK-47, from the countryside in a hijacked tank, from above in a rocket armed helicopter, or from way the hell far away, with a pair of binoculars and a favor owed to you from someone who can call down an air strike. It was an excellent experience, but a lot of people were turned off from it because of the grey, dreary landscape of the energyless dust bowl that is most of North Korea.

Pandemic has remedied this with Mercenaries 2.

The mercenaries from the first game are back, and they’ve smelled red gold in Venezuela. In addition to the massive bombing strikes that could level entire city blocks in the first game, the mercs have the Promethean gift on their side. A country of vast jungles infested with blood thirsty foreign guerillas with flame throwers and napalm bombs at their disposal?

Obviously, there was a lot of political fallout. In addition to being banned in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has accused the developers of being western propagandists, and threatened to take them to international court for attempting to spark a rebellion against him. He even got his supporters to petition Bono to stop this game from being made. Chavez has also cited this game’s existence as evidence of an impending U.S. led invasion of Venezuela. Environmental groups have also opposed the game’s existence, citing its encouragement to damage the environment as being a dangerous influence on duh chil’ren of ‘mericuh.

I might buy two copies.

6. Soul Calibur 4 (PS3, 360)

Soul Calibur has always been a solid fighting franchise, and the influx of reliable sequels every two years and the advancement of the game’s story in each addition have made it unique among other games of its nature. Taking place in the 18th century, Soul Calibur follows the stories of the world’s best weapon masters as they encounter each other, and duel to mortal peril amongst supernatural forces. Every melee weapon fighting style is represented, from Wolverine style handblades, to nunchuks, bo staffs, samurai swords, western rapiers and many other conventional pieces of weaponry. I’m especially looking forward to this installment because of the addition of a new weapon.

Lightsabers. That’s right, Yoda and Darth Vader will be available as unlockable characters in this installment. The rumor mill says that Yoda will be exclusive to the 360 release and Vader will be exclusive to the PS3 release on the game discs, but each character can also be unlocked through downloadable content on the Playstation network and X-Box Live, probably for a small fee. The rumor mill has also churned that these aren’t the only Star Wars characters that will be popping into Soul Calibur IV, with odds on Luke, young Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Maul, and the Emperor being announced as additions further down the line.

This isn’t the first time that the Soul Calibur series has crossed into another universe. Soul Calibur II included Link (from the Zelda games), Spawn (Yes, that Spawn) and Heihachi (from the Tekken series). A lot of people have been panning the decision to include these Jedi and Sith, but I think it’s going to be a lot fun to see Obi Wan Kenobi face off against a traditional samurai. Maybe getting chopped in half will teach him to stop spinning around so much.

5. Grand Theft Auto 4 (PS3 and 360)

A lot of people are totally sick of this franchise. GTA3 was a controversy magnet that let bad parents and juvenile idiots deflect criticism for their behavior. "How’s I supposed to raise my kid with all this Grand Theft Auto in the Nintendo and Beavis and Butthead on the MTV? Durrrr." What is worse about the franchise is that GTA3, and it’s expansion, Vice City, aren’t very good games and don’t stand up to the test of time, meaning they actually were popular because they were intentionally controversial. GTA: San Andreas, a semi sequel to GTA3, fixed a lot of things that were wrong with the gameplay, most notably it’s camera system and a deeper RPG system, but also embraced and even glorified many negative stereotypes about black culture. It was cartoonishly offensive.

GTA4 seems like it is going in a different direction, with the choice to play a noble street sweeper as well as a ruthless thug. It centers on the mythical Russian mafia in New York City in current day. Both having the story set in a real place and in a current year are departures for the series, which usually takes place in generic amalgams mimicking another city, in an equally generic time setting (mid 80s, early 90s, late 70s). There probably won’t be a departure with regards to the crime and violence that are essential staples of the franchise, but that’s not so bad – having a sprawling crime story worthy of Scorsese will be enough of a breath of fresh life for Grand Theft Auto 4.

4. Fable 2 (360)

Nothing on any platform comes at all close to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Nothing. Not Two Worlds, not the original Fable – nothing. Fable 2 is aiming to do what Fable couldn’t because of the original X-Box’s hardware restrictions. We’re essentially getting a finely polished remake of the first game, which will deliver on promises Peter Molyneux made about it – eight years ago. Luckily, just as Molyneux’s ego outweighed his ambitions back then, those ambitions are still really impressive. Expect a beautiful, deep game set in a fantasy Victorian era with plenty of sandbox gameplay, with relationships that will make you feel like the love of your life and your best friend are Sims.

3. Too Human (360)

Finally, an original IP is on the list! Or, you’d think so, but, sadly no. In many ways, Too Human is the least original IP on this list. Why? It isn’t a sequel to anything, it isn’t a spin off series, it isn’t a Star Wars knock off, so what’s so unoriginal about it?

Too Human is the classic Ragnarok story, adapted into a Sci-Fi setting.

The game focuses on Baldur, who is usually a briefly mentioned outsider in retellings of the story. This will supposedly give the narrative a unique spin, in addition to the cyberpunk elements. Baldur must defeat techno-giants by leveling up and upgrading his skills, and also replacing parts of his body with machine parts. Therein lies the theme of the game – how much of your body can you replace before you’re more machine than man? And how many mechanical advantages are you willing to shunt in preserving your humanity? The developers were previously responsible for Eternal Darkness, which was hands down the best survival horror game of the last generation. That didn’t catapult the company to success… because it came out exclusively for the freakin’ GameCube… But the good news is that there are some really innovative minds and writers working on this piece, and it will surely be art.

2. Tie – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Indiana Jones 2008.

I admit it, I changed this to a tie just so I could have Metal Gear Solid 4 in my top ten. But there actually is a lot of connection between these two games to justify the tie. Besides the obvious fact that these are both George Lucas properties, and are both being developed by LucasArts, Indy and the Vader’s apprentice share some exciting new tech that will probably become standard in future games. The Euphoria engine allows for intelligent skeletal models, meaning that you can make a stick figure using these AI protocols, script in appropriate behavior in simple if->then form, and let the models control themselves. This allows for more realistic "acting" on behalf of the model’s body movements. So, people will roll when they fall, or brace themselves, or lash out at anything to hang onto, etc. It’s really exciting stuff, and it’s going to look great. The other awesome new tech coming in both these games is Digital Molecular Matter, or DMM. This allows for incredibly realistic environments that will splinter, dent and react overall realistically to the stresses of combat and other physics based puzzles. Particle board will break like particle board, bamboo will stretch like bamboo, dirt will leave impressions like dirt, and steel will dent like steel. It’s going to look fantastic, and in games with amplified force powers, rocket launchers, ancient traps and other things that make us go "Woah!" in movie theaters, we’re really going to see what it can do.

1. Alan Wake

To the right of David Lynch and to the left of Stephen King, you’ll find Alan Wake. This game was described to me as an elaborate, interactive fever dream – the kind where you feel like you’re living your life, but everything is slightly off. Your wife is not your wife, the switch on the wall doesn’t turn on the lamp you think it will, and being alone is just a lot scarier. This is going to be this year’s definitive psychological horror tale, and that’s why it is my number one.

Its the story of a writer who, after being widowed, drives to a quiet mountain town to see if he can cure his insomnia. His grief and lack of sleep drive him insane, and things go downhill for him from there. As with Max Payne, Remedy’s previous bread winner franchise, there is a lot of word play and poetry. In Max Payne 2, there was a TV show playing in the ambient noise every once in a while which had a title character named "John Mirra," as in, "john mirror," as in the face you see in a bathroom mirror. Alan Wake, with his insomnia, is pretty obvious – "I am awake." The town he flees to is called "Bright Falls," as in, things are going to get a lot darker.

The icing on the cake? There’s a lot of speculation that the game stars Christian Bale. Hard not to see the resemblance.

So, there’s the list. I take no responsibility if one of these turns out to be total crap, a bunch of these games get delayed to 2009, or something gets canceled. Just remember, if you pre-order anything, you’re an idiot.

As transcribed by The Cheat



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