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A little over a month ago, I began counting down my favorite games across the last generation of consoles. If you missed the last couple entries please click here.

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Watch: Bayonetta’s 2008 announcement trailer

#5 Platinum Games and Bayonetta - 

In the lead up to this week’s writing, I was busy scouring my shelves trying desperately to pick some lesser alternate candidate to crown in 5th place, my reasoning due to my reticence to place yet another Platinum games title onto this list. I fought it, but ultimately nothing stood above it without me hoisting said understudy onto my shoulders and coaching it with a nickel’s worth of borrowed, cheap athletic wear slogans. The number 5 slot on this list is goes to Bayonetta, and not some hastily assembled upstart puppet regime, which exists solely by the aid of my collarbone.

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Listen: Bayonetta soundtrack – The Gates of Hell

What it comes down to, for me, these days, concerning video games at least, is the level of absurdity, and Bayonetta wastes no time in dialing up the unfathomable, all the while willfully inebriated on the most magnificent of homebrew hooch. Why do stand-up in some dingy club, when you can tour those punch lines outside of its regulated confines, megaphone-main-street-parade style? This is one touring company not to miss, and Kamiya’s cast is a line of color so bizarre, slanted and captivating it’s no matter that his fuchsia rejects his mustard yellow; it’s all about that final shade… the mixture together, and I would wager a guess that Bayonetta is one of the only set of players to talk as loudly as its dressed, the only troupe with real personality for a thousand miles in every direction on any map. Without the characters, you’ve already doomed yourself to drown, but Kamiya’s all-hours house party attracts a very particular, and strikingly peculiar crowd to a room, and all of them are well beyond the dog paddle.

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Listen: Bayonetta soundtrack – Mysterious Destiny

Kamiya’s actors, however, make up but one single facet on his already-heavy key ring. Platinum redefined the pace and expectation of the action genre, adding an emphasis to established MPH on the highway. Everyone knows that when you’re out on a long road trip, it’s unlikely you’ll stick to the recommended postings: you’ll speed, and Platinum treats Bayonetta as it would a tire to the asphalt. Bayonetta discards the pace that the beat-em-up genre set for action games some 25 years earlier: NO MORE WALKING! Now you will get where you’re going in half the time. You won’t feel even a bump, and you’ll be in the best shape of your life.

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Watch: Bayonetta’s Wicked Weaves

Again, I could go on and on and ON about all the things this game does right, but I won’t because Platinum nails it where it matters most, and that is in the hand. Exactly 10 years ago, Tecmo’s Team Ninja completely overhauled the genre with Ninja Gaiden, a game I have played and beaten numerous times and on all its available difficulties. It’s still something I play every year without fail, and it feels tremendous even now when you wrap your fingers around it. BUT… Kamiya has exceeded even that title, usurping the throne while its complacent king sat idly by, staring at his trophies of old. When it comes down to it, the most important position is the one of power, the one that rules. This is Bayonetta’s coronation. Here’s to the centennial, the legacy to come… Long live the queen!

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Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love.  He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake.  Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

There are a handful of things I excel at in video games that I struggle with in real life. Here is my story.

Looking for Things

I can spend hours looking for things in games. I’ll search every corner, nook, cranny, drawer, wardrobe, desk, chest, closet, basement, car, crate, vending machine, computer and body for any item, regardless of how important its acquisition is to my character’s advancement. In real life, if I have to look for a specific shirt, I wear a different shirt. If I can’t find where I stored the new tube of toothpaste, I buy another tube of toothpaste. When I leave behind my water bottle for the twelfth time, I buy my thirteenth water bottle.

Running

All players should have the ability to run in games. Commander Shepard in Mass Effect couldn’t run. That was annoying and has, no doubt, prevented more replays of that game than just my own. In real life, I would be the first to die. Not only am I unable to run very far, I hate every second of it. In grad school, I ran for several months before I realized how angry it made me. There was no release of aggression, just a massive surge of it. I love the freedom of running and jumping in games. That does not translate to real life.

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Saving Money

I will save every last scrap of gold to buy that one item I want, whether it’s a weapon, a property, a piece of armor, crafting equipment, upgrades, a car, or whatever. I save currency, resources, potions, upgrades, almost to a fault. Not true in real life. I save some cash, yes, because if I’m lucky enough to retire, it’d be cool to not be broke then too. Games and electronics take vast amounts of my cash reserves. And I’m okay with that, mostly.

Making Passionate Impromptu Speeches

So fabulous at this in games. I’ve pumped up so many armies and forces before battle, leading them to glory. I’ve saved people with my words. I’ve prevented crimes, encouraged happiness, soothed nerves, calmed the grieving and cut down the arrogant. I’ve inspired good and defeated evil, all with my words in games. I’m not as great at this when it comes to real life. I tend to say things wrong, and my words get all twisted when I’m on the spot. I’m fine if I have the time to plan, but that’s not very impromptu now, is it?

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Organizing

I can keep a handle on my inventory. Perhaps this is one reason I disklike playing survival horror, where resource management is often the only way to beat the game… to say I struggle with organization is like saying the Pope is a bit religious. My desk is a disaster (although far, far, far from the worst, I’m happy to say), my house is more or less a mess (I haven’t unpacked from a trip I took two weeks ago), and the only way I can manage to pay bills on time is by doing auto-pay. In many ways, I’m horrible at being an adult.

Relationships

Let’s just leave this one alone.

Dying/Death

There are times I’ve died in horrible situations; for instance, you and that boss are both one hit away from ending a 20-minute battle and the boss strikes first. Or, deaths in games like X-COM are brutal, where dead means dead. I came dangerously close to losing my hardcore wizard in Diablo 3 at level 69 ½ (the goal is 70). But, you know, I can just play again. It might not be quite the same experience, and you might not get all the same gear on the second play-through, but you get to try again. In real life, I’ve lost friends, family, colleagues and pets. It always sucks, as I imagine you know.

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Following Directions

Let’s face it: I’m horrible at following directions in and out of games.

And you?

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Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cat June Bug and loves gaming, with or without friends.

A little over a month ago, I began counting down my favorite games across the last generation of consoles. If you missed the last couple entries please click here. This week, we have number ten and another tie.

#10 Electronic Arts Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space

I was skeptical when in 2008, video game publisher Electronic Arts announced a duo of high-end titles that were promised to be made and delivered both clean and sober. At the time it seemed too far fetched an idea, and I erroneously dismissed the news entirely. I have nothing against Electronic Arts, but a troubling portion of their previous finished products seemed to end up litter on a very unfinished highway. I won’t delve into all that though, because I am not here to dwell on anybody’s past transgressions. The past is the past, and when someone or something makes a public appeal to make things right, or boldly strives to change ways and habits… you have to at the very least give them a chance to succeed.

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Listen: Mirror’s Edge Soundtrack – Still Alive

Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge both had to fight for my attention, challenge other games more prominently placed for my dollars, and destroy the preconceived notions and prejudices I had placed upon them with no formal sense of reason. While downloading the demo for Mirror’s Edge (downloading, not playing) I sat mildly mesmerized by a PS3 system theme that features the title’s protagonist Faith. That color wash of hot red, the skeleton etching of buildings in the whitest primary dashes, it’s a moment that lasted long enough for me to figure out the allocation of funds to pre-order it, and short enough for me to act immediately on the impulse. The scales rose instantaneously from unregistered pulse to live, blistering fever. I NEVER played that demo, and I didn’t have to. It was all a feeling: there was just something about it.

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Watch: Dead Space’s Announcement Trailer

Dead Space had an even easier time in its rounds of discussion. The game was quick to remind me that there was a complete dearth of REAL survival horror games, and it quickly ran down the litany of failures the current damaged crops had to offer. Dead Space provided an accomplished, fairly decadent spread of airlocks, zero suits, and dismemberments, but what made it stand out was the emphasis it placed on its total isolation. It understood fear is most prevalent without a partner, without another face, and without assurances made solid with another body in close proximity. Mostly, you hear the Dead Space cadet Issac Clarke breathe and gasp for hours on end, and that sound is one of the most UNNERVING things I have ever had to endure. I never considered physical fatigue to be in and of itself an element of terror, but ask yourself, how long can you run? Issac Clarke can run about 30 feet, and then what happens? He’s tired. And then what happens? Well he’s not running anymore, and he considers the cramp in his abdomen to be a much more pressing concern than the legions of cobble-headed Belial giving chase at his back. Dead Space brilliantly simulates the prepping of an assault with trembling hands as they fumble for triggers and safety locks. No one is ever REALLY prepared, and Issac Clarke is the terrifying embodiment of a chicken loose in space with its head cut off. I haven’t been more petrified playing anything in the six years since its release.

Both Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space are beautiful games where design and imagination dictated and trumped all concerns for market viability, and the greatest compliment that I can give to any piece of software is to say I will commit to return to it annually, knowing instinctively that when I do, it will have lost none of its luster.

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Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love.  He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake.  Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

The video game industry has an ongoing identity crisis. Mostly, I’m able to watch this from afar, keeping industry drama firmly at arm’s length. Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of this crisis is manifesting itself in video game soundtracks.

In recent years, as the industry has blossomed, some AAA games seem set on hiring famous film composers to write music. I feel this is a loss that compromises the identity of the enterprise.

For several reasons, the game industry struts around like the red-headed stepsister of entertainment. I often liken this film breaking away from theater in the early 1900s; over time, ideally, these feelings of inadequacy will fade. Yet, since video games make absurd amounts of money, above and far beyond the music and film worlds, I’ve struggled to understand the inferiority complex.

Hiring film composers hardly brings more respect or recognition to games. Consumers certainly buy soundtracks as a result of the composer, but how often will someone actually buy a game as a result? Who purchased Mass Effect 3 because of Clint Mansell? Who bought Halo 4 because of Neil Davidge? Who bought Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 because of Hans Zimmer?

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Did developers make back the exorbitant fees wrapped up in hiring these men (calling a spade a spade), purely from consumers buying soundtracks because of their music? That is so incredibly unlikely. Did they get bragging rights for hiring Zimmer? Yep. Good for them.

The most profound music in games was written by game composers. Or, quite simply, composers who aren’t famous for their films. They’re composers who are famous for their game music. They excel at writing game music. Film composers don’t.

A film composer can write a beautiful theme, but how often will they be the ones to innovate or improve game music? And let’s face it, when Mansell or Zimmer or Reznor get hired, they aren’t writing the bulk of the music. They might write a theme or two, and that’s it. The real game composers fill in the gaps, which is equally as tragic, scoring minutes upon minutes more than the film dude did. The game composers still write the bulk of the music, and get far less credit than they deserve.

Outside of bragging rights, there is no rhyme or reason for hiring outside the industry. There is plenty of talent within it. It’s not like I need to list names like Soule, Kyd, O’Donnell, Schyman… but there you go. Some of those insanely talented composers have been replaced by film composers.

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The message sent? We want real entertainment composers. Video game composers don’t have enough talent, or skill, or name recognition. I think that last part is key: the name recognition. Hiring someone like Zimmer sends conflicting messages. To the rest of the entertainment industry, it’s a “Look at us – we hired Trent Reznor because video games are a big deal.”

To the fans, however, the message is, “Hey, we’re gonna go ahead and hire someone from outside the industry so we can get attention from the film folks”.

Again, how often do consumers buy a game because of the famous dude (spade a spade) hired to do the music? Perhaps they buy the soundtrack, but it seems outrageous to assume that this will make a pub/dev enough additional money to warrant the decision.

Game music makes games special. It always has. Hiring huge names for millions of dollars means the industry loses one of its unique attributes: composers who’ve spent their lives playing and studying games and game music; composers who strive for the best interactive experience musically. Let’s keep those folks in the game, so to speak.

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Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cat June Bug and loves gaming, with or without friends.

So, last night I beat Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor WITHOUT DYING – my first perfect playthrough of a game ever! And boy was it dramatic. So many close calls: locking swords with enemy captains, leaping up castle walls to avoid charging caragors, like three or four of those “last chance” counter-attacks (phew). Man! I’m amped up folks!

To celebrate, I’ve put together a brand new Sumthing MIXTAPE. MIXTAPES are when we take gameplay from one game, and mash it up with one of our soundtracks from another. Today’s MIXTAPE pairs ten minutes from my perfect playthrough of Shadow of Mordor *brushes shoulders off* with a few songs from Michael McCann‘s delightfully atmospheric Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack. And because a little Jesper Kyd never hurt anybody, we kick things off with a track from Hitman: Blood Money.

0:03 – “47 Attacks” by Jesper Kyd (Hitman: Blood Money)
1:20 – “Icarus – Main Theme” by Michael McCann (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
6:40 – “Barrett Boss Fight” by Michael McCann (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
9:18 – “Penthouse” by Michael McCann (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
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MIXTAPE is a mash-up of one game’s soundtrack and another’s gameplay. Contact us if you’d like to submit your own MIXTAPES and be sure to suggest some mixes for future entries in the comments below. Turn it up!!

I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing Destiny over the past few weeks. My Hunter is level 26+, and if you’ve played it, you know it takes a tiny bit of devotion to level up your character.

I enjoy the soundtrack, and it nearly always hits the mark. My praise overshadows my criticism.

Additionally, I’m only addressing the soundtrack to the game, not the song Paul McCartney wrote for the credits.

Speaking generally, the audio team did an amazing job implementing the music. Never does the music stop or start suddenly. The loops always wrap up perfectly, and the transitions are flawless. I’m such a stickler for this, because there are some terrific soundtracks that are more or less ruined by how the music was put into the game, and that’s a crime.

Totally not the case with Destiny. It’s really, really well done.

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Destiny’s soundtrack runs the gamut of symphonic to electronic music, with the occasional choir used to great effect. That gamut will be evident in my favorite tracks, listed below. However, this is one of my complaints with these massive soundtracks: it’s clearly impossible for one human being to undertake the arduous task of writing so many hours of music for a giant game. The only solution is to bring in more composers. In Destiny’s case, and so very many other blockbuster games, the musical narrative gets lost.

Thing is, even when Destiny’s score wanders, I tend to enjoy where it goes.

Truth be told, and this is huge for me, Destiny’s combat music is outstanding. Some of the battle music is foreground music, not at all intended to serve as a backdrop. Instead, the music is present and obvious in the best possible way.

My favorite track, however, might be the simplest in its sound. It’s called “Deconstruction”, and I’m so incredibly happy that the person who made this exists.

Next favorite is called “The Great Unknown”. Tonality is a bit ambiguous here, which is the best part, but it sounds a lot like a mode called lydian-mixolydian to me, which is one of my favorites. You get that raised fourth scale degree with a flat seven and it sounds super neat. A band called Elbow does a great song in that mode, I think it’s called “Ribcage”. But regarding “The Great Unknown”, the choir is great and the atmosphere is awesome. Here’s a nice long loop for you.

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I pretty much love all the music you hear when you’re wandering around the tower.

Regarding combat tunes, there are some great ones. I love love love “The Temple of Crota”. I also enjoy “Dust Giants” and “End of the Line”. The dudes I play with online love “End of the Line” too. The best part of “End of the Line” is how it builds during the first big battle in the Sepiks Prime mission. It’s done SO well as the battle builds in intensity – it’s quite remarkable. Ooooh, and I love the “Sepiks Prime” tune too (it’s definitely one of my favorite missions).

On occasion, I feel like the score sounds too terrestrial. I recall the first time I heard guitar and drums, I was momentarily pulled away from the magic of Destiny’s universe. I liked the music though, even if it felt slightly anachronistic. In some ways, the overt acoustic sounds like brass, strings, electric guitars and drums serve as a tether to the human elements left in Destiny’s time. If all we heard were synthesizers, we’d lose that touch. When I consider it like that, I’m content.

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Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cat June Bug and loves gaming, with or without friends.

Three weeks ago, I began counting down my favorite games across the last generation of consoles. If you missed last week please click here. This week, we have our 6th place title.

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Watch: Heavy Rain Launch Trailer

#6. Quantic Dream and Heavy Rain - While I would like to agree with the moniker developer Quantic Dream chose for their 2010 release Heavy Rain, I feel more inclined to believe that this official title was the product of something completely lost in translation. Heavy Rain DOES communicate beautifully the idea of a very cold dousing, one that’s particularly weighted and somewhat threatening. What it fails to address, however, is the severity of its own flood, and how it’s one of the most dangerous and unpredictable forces in all of elemental nature. To be simply “Heavy Rain” suggests an umbrella would suffice to defend against it. No no, I would have chosen “Driving Rain“. It may not have been as flashy for marketing ads and trailers, but it leaves you with some kind of lingering question, and maybe a stronger image as to what sort of malady awaits you behind its doors.

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Listen: Painful Memories – Heavy Rain Soundtrack

There is an official definition of driving rain, and for the most part wind plays an even larger role than before. It’s much more violent, much more angled, and the area of dispersion is much, much larger. That doesn’t do it justice though, either. To demonstrate what driving rain really is, let us use a real world example. It’s October of 2002, and my band and I have just left Austin, Texas for Detroit, Michigan. It’s a 24-hour drive that we will make in exactly 24 hours with no stops, no rest, and absolutely no comfort. An hour into the drive, which we had begun at midnight, it suddenly begins to rain. As we travel further through the night, rain mutates to storm, and the water begins to genuinely threaten the integrity of our already battered hull. The volume of liquid pounding on our windshield makes the contents of the road ahead resolutely indecipherable. At this moment and for the next 90 miles, we’re steering absolutely blind. It’s one of the truest sensations of fear I have ever felt in my life, where even the most innocent and shrug-able maneuver could spell disaster for everyone inside our van, and it could happen at any second. There is no real control; there is no real protection, and there is no real way to know if we will live through the next hundred miles, or be dead in two. In essence, a good driving rain is the equivalent of the brutal exclamation point present in every moment of our lives: We will NEVER ever be in control. This is what Heavy Rain is all about.

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Listen: Driller Thriller – Heavy Rain Soundtrack

Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain takes the consequences of everyday living, momentary unions of chance, and the mounting ever-expanding stockpile of sobering evidence leading to our own conviction. We’re all damaged, we’ve all made mistakes, and the limp we walk with is the proof of our own transgressions against others. Heavy Rain, rather than dress its survival horror with broken blood capsules and Aleister Crowley scribbles, chooses to drain its victim’s sanity by way of depleting personal dignity. You’ll have bottomed out whole before you’ve reached even the halfway point of director David Cage’s story, and much like the driving rain I spoke of earlier, for every moment of the straight line you attempt to walk, you’ll be bent with wind. Money doesn’t change everything, but circumstance does, and in Heavy Rain, those changes are instantaneous and constant with eyes open or shut.

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Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love.  He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake.  Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

Two weeks ago, I began counting down my favorite games across the last generation of consoles. If you missed last week please click here. This week, lets talk 7th place.

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Listen: Batman Arkham Asylum Soundtrack – Stealthy Bat

# 7. Rocksteady Studios and Batman Arkham Asylum - By 2009, I had given up completely on Batman in video games. So it was very strange to me when I found myself literally scrambling to grab the very last copy in town of the collector’s edition for Batman: Arkham Asylum. It was days before Christmas and the weather was all sleet and ice, but that hadn’t stopped me from going to some fifteen different stores even though I was freezing and utterly miserable. It took me about 5 hours with traffic and interminable lines, but I did manage to find that last one calmly perched above the register at one of the most out of the way GameStops in the city. It pays to drive around.

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Watch:  Batman Arkham Asylum’s second trailer

How I found myself in this predicament is simple: I didn’t believe in the hype. I bought a regular copy of the game upon its release somewhat begrudgingly. I shoved it to the back of my nearly stuffed Christmas vault and thought about returning it for weeks. I poked fun at it, scoffed at the idea that there would ever be another Batman game to rival the perfection that was the Sunsoft 1989 Nintendo original. I created a world completely insulated from the truth and reality that was plain for everyone else to see: Batman: Arkham Asylum was in fact the greatest Batman game in the history of the medium. Somehow, enough of this overwhelmingly positive critical reception infiltrated my semi-permeable membrane of a solution that was both exceedingly negative and bordering on outright mockery. Rocksteady had my number, and as I sloshed around in this late December freeze… they also had the last laugh.

The moral of this story? NEVER believe your own B.S.

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Listen: Batman Arkham Asylum Soundtrack – The Overworld

There’s not much that I can add to what has already been rapturously repeated by the gaming press about Arkham Asylum and its successively brilliant sequels, but what I really want to drive home is the fact that this IS the ONLY way for you to actually become Batman in any way, shape or form. Rocksteady’s Dark Knight places as much emphasis on stealth and restraint as it does on the knuckle-on-knuckle, seven-on-one confrontations. Batman is, after all, a detective first and Arkham Asylum forces you to drag out both pen and paper old-world style to solve its most difficult of obstacles. I could go on… unexpected branching paths, blah, blah, blah, formidable enemies; objectives are fresh and non-repeating, you’ve heard all of that before. Ugh. BUT.

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Listen: Batman Arkham Asylum Soundtrack – The Abyss Of Fear

What I really want to talk about is Batman’s walk, or better yet his crouch, or even better than that his grappling hook, or what about his takedown? Being. That is what is most important here, and the most fundamental too, because it is the KEY ingredient sorely missing from these twenty long years of middling-to-awful Batman games. Rocksteady are the only ones to realize that this IS the Dark Knight, and that every other hero on the planet is just some wound-up jerk who’s visited and raided thrift store aisles and happened upon some variant form of colorful Underoos. These rejects, they’ve not thought it through: inevitably, by wearing that costume, they’re going to get hit. One night of cracks to the head might not be enough to put them off, but after a week of blows, surely they’ve started to reconsider and even begin to feel silly about the whole thing. There’s only one true hero, and Rocksteady’s camera is one that captures the view from beneath Bruce Wayne’s legendary cowl, and not from the outside looking in. You feel that power because you have it… all of it.

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Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love.  He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake.  Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

I had an interesting and, at times, heated discussion with two of my friends last night as we battled our way through a couple Strike missions in Destiny.

If you’ve not paid much attention to Bungie’s newest conversation starter, loot is incredibly difficult to acquire in Destiny, unless you farm for it. In Destiny, farming often involves standing with a bunch of random strangers, aiming at a cave in the distance and shooting anything that moves inside. At a certain point, everyone runs out of ammo, so you dart up to the cave, collect all the drops, run back to the standing spot and do this ad nauseam until you score a handful of interesting items. The longer you shoot at the cave, the more loot you’ll get.

It’s not a very fun way to play the game, but it’s effective if you don’t feel like playing the game the way Bungie intended.

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And that’s the sticking point, where my buddy, “Super”, got all fired up. He doesn’t think highly of grinding in a game to get loot. He thinks he gets loot the “straight” way – by playing levels and advancing accordingly.

The problem with his plan is this: Bungie doesn’t award you loot for playing well, at least not from what I’ve witnessed. If you play in the Crucible (PvP stuff), you’ll quickly note that the player with the most kills or the most impressive K/D rarely gets anything at all, let alone a legendary drop of some sort.

I farmed for a couple hours on and off yesterday, and I find it particularly boring in Destiny. A game like Diablo 3 or Skyrim is built on the presumption that players will farm until their eyes bleed. During the load screen, Diablo 3 even tells you that if you’re dying, go back and replay levels to gain XP and to find better loot. How can it be considered cheating, if the game actively recommends you do it?

Bungie, however, is most certainly not recommending that players farm for loot, which brings me to Super, and his soapbox tirade about earning loot the “right” way.

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Do you remember how you could trick Call of Duty 4 into landing in a 1v1 match with your buddy? I can’t remember exactly how, but my friend Ross and I spent hours in 1v1 together just so I could get all my headshots, and so I could prestige all the way to 50. It was much, much harder to prestige in CoD4 compared to, well, any other CoD since. I suppose I call that cheating.

And Super has a point: the players that grind the caves in Destiny and then move on to the Crucible to kill everyone with their questionably acquired legendary fusion rifle really are cheating. But on the other side of the argument was Mazey, and Mazey doesn’t have all the time in the world to “play the game right”. Mazey, who IS the dude in the Crucible who kills the most people and has the highest K/D, got sick of getting stiffed out of loot. We played together for hours Saturday night, and Mazey got ONE item after about 9 rounds of Control. I got far more loot than that, and I’m routinely in the middle of the pack (I made my peace with that years ago).

A lot of this boils down to the American way of keeping up with the Joneses. We all want to have the best, and when we see others who have what we want, we often try to find the simplest and quickest way to get it.

Given that there are 8 billion games coming out this fall, we all need to get to level 30 as quickly as possible, so we can move onto grinding the hell out of the next game.

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Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cat June Bug and loves gaming, with or without friends.

Last week, I began counting down my favorite games across the last generation of consoles. If you missed last week please click here. This week, we have a two-way tie for 4th place.

# 4 Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture (TIE)

No More Heroes / No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

 

NMH A

Listen: NMH OST – The Virgin Child Makes Her Wish Without Feeling Anything

Rolls of toilet paper are what I remember most about the 2008 launch of Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture’s No More Heroes. In the games industry, big software releases are usually celebrated events, or at the bare minimum, people are taking pictures in expensive clothes. At the very least, someone’s posing, and music‘s playing. Here, minutes after the release of No More Heroes, Suda 51 has rolled out of bed, gone down to the nearest and most arbitrary of newsstands, and decided instead to grinningly push reams of two-ply into the hands of disinterested passersby. Oh…but someone DID take a Polaroid.

NMH B

Listen: NMH2 OST – Shoegazer Watched The Stars

This is Grasshopper Manufacture, take it or leave it. No solicitors welcome, and there is no room for speechless praise. You get toiletries… not Ezra Pound! Gone is that grand statement of arrival, that torturous harangue of expected social engagement, and that sliding, filtered scale of rewards for a job well done. Suda 51 and his adroit development house actually practice the tenets of Punk Rock, so rather than choose a payday of the most sordid type of lucre, and offer a worship tax to some Madonna of publisher marketing dollars… they make the game THEY want to play. And do you think for a minute that the Sex Pistols would have stood around celebrating Never Mind The Bollocks with journalists? NO! And like the house that built it, Suda 51’s No More Heroes is a deeply outspoken iconoclast whose only real desire is to pelt your house with eggs, and is thoroughly content to grate loudly on your very last nerve. This is prank calls, downed mailboxes, flatulent noises of the body and every off-color, crassly constructed joke known to man. No More Heroes isn’t a champion of the liminal, nor imperceptible game experience, and Grasshopper’s NMH protagonist Travis Touchdown knows but one type of volume: one that is raised notches higher for every five minutes of film. You’ll never forget him, you won’t ever want to, and only this studio could have smuggled this brilliant otaku, this idiot savant, under radar and onto market shelves.

NMH C

Listen: NMH OST – Shinobu

Suda 51’s brutish meta masterpiece champions and then seemingly challenges the very lowest of lowbrow humor as its full mooned 16-hour duration thrashes and writhes with such indefatigable, youthful presence that you’d not be faulted to think it a live garage performance in some rug-burn basement. Suda 51’s No More Heroes draws a rather fervent cult from those both lanky and awkward, marginalized and disaffected, shut-in sociopaths and the very cruelest of class clowns. Its humor is unrepentant hilarious grime, its political correctness lagging and non-existent, and its distillation of late 70’s early 80’s pop culture unrivaled. No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle are two of the VERY BEST games to hit shelves in the last ten years. Period. This is neither the classy starched bowtie of the musical Maurice Chevalier, the fuss of head dress as seen on Yul Bryner’s Rameses nor the celebrated masks of Tyrone Guthrie’s take on Oedipus Rex. No, not this. Abandoned drive-in showing Band Of The Hand, They Call Me Bruce and Better Off Dead on a loop? Closer.

The question really is, where would you rather be? I thought so.

Stay tuned…

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Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love.  He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake.  Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

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