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Letter From The Editor

Adam Sessler - Supreme Court

It’s cold in Washington D.C. Okay it’s cold by L.A. standards, which, to me, is very, very cold. I broke down and bought gloves and a cap that somehow transformed me from cable personality into someone in-between performances of a dinner theater production of Newsies.

But cold does not impede the judicial system and neither does scheduling oral arguments at the Supreme Court the same day as a major election dwarfs coverage of a case that not only has impact for the videogame industry but our understanding of the protections afforded by the first amendment.

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Adam Sessler On Kevin & Bean Tomorrow!“It is very rare that I hate someone as much as I do Adam. However I am sure he is a very nice racist man. If you ever find yourself in Vegas Adam stop by BIGGY's BURGER SHACK and I will fix you up a real nice bowl of Dick soup.

Oh and E3 2003 I am the one that threw the T-shirt at your face and me and the crew were screaming SUCK IT SESSMASTER as loud as we could. Fun times I still wish Tina Wood had your job.”

-- From the comments section of the Dante’s Inferno review, posted by GreedyMcNasty

There’s something about (what I assume is) a grown man having so much contempt for me that an incident where I was apparently assaulted by a cotton t-shirt should stand out in this individual’s mind for the past seven years. And enough so that it appears to this day he wants to rape me, but not enough so that he’ll take the effort to find me…I need to make myself available to him.

I remember that E3: I met Robin Williams, we first learned that Paul Allen was soliciting offers from companies to take TechTV off his hands, and Dave Perry waved happily at me, despite the thorough drubbing we had just given his Matrix game. I bet I smiled more.

The modern era of media has mandated that repositories of information must concede their passive authority of objectivity, which has held true for the past few centuries, to a more fluid setting where additional content is blindly solicited. The initial work is now an organic entity continually shaped and contextualized with corroborations, refutations, misinterpretations, personal agendas and declarations of intellectual superiority based upon a singular experience. Somehow that original piece is insufficient. Schopenhauer, never a friend of the democratically-minded, may have finally elicited my sympathies.

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Mass Effect 2

The past few days have been a strange out-of-body experience, as I have been awake for long stretches but not exactly cognizant of anything around me. This is the situation when one is presented with a large game and a clear timeframe for a comprehensive playthrough before the review must be written and posted. It’s not the most pleasant experience -- my eating patterns get muddled and my eyes start to hurt -- but it’s not all that bad either, as being that absorbed in a game is a benefit I can only claim when it’s an act of obligation, not choice.

If you haven’t figured out, the game is Mass Effect 2, which I will not comment on until the review is posted on Tuesday. Patrick Klepek will chat with me about the game as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m warbling about it on Soapbox too.

That being said, ME2 has significance outside of the game itself. In light of the acclaim and sales of the first outing, one could term the franchise a “blockbuster,” making the late January release date something of a curiosity. Really, it’s the first of many curiosities including BioShock 2 and other major titles releasing in the early part of the year, which traditionally has been reserved for smaller and less notable releases. If ME2 is a strong seller, we could see a wholesale change from the heavy emphasis on the holiday season for major releases to a more even spread throughout the year -- something I’ve been advocating for some time now. Given that the average age of a video game consumer is in their late twenties, a reliance on holiday gift-giving to trigger purchases seems naïve and a product of the games industry once being lumped with toys.

If ME2 or the other major releases don’t sell as well as expected, which could happen not due to quality, but a preponderance of strong titles being released too close to one another at a time of the year when people tend to be more conservative with their pocketbooks, we could see this glorious experiment come to a tragic end. From where I’m sitting I cannot tell how it will all shake out but, at the very least, This January, February, March, and April will be months to remember.
 






Working with everyone on X-Play’s 1000th episode is turning into an interesting affair. I have relived some very wonderful moments from the show, scratched my head trying to recall what we could have been thinking when we did things…and then there was yesterday.

A guy on the show asks me, “Adam, you said that your first episode of GameSpot TV aired on July 4th, 1998, right?” 

“Yeah…why?”

“We found it”

“...crap.”

Of course I had to watch it. John Romero is in the show, there’s a review for Unreal (the first one), and it was hosted by this young-looking man, with hope-filled eyes and one remarkable head of blond hair, all full of volume and heft, covering his head.

So, make sure to tune in on February 1st. Hopefully you won’t cry like I did.

Speaking of things from bygone times that date ourselves, we’re celebrating the 5th anniversary of Resident Evil 4, the game that revolutionized the franchise and stands out as one of the greatest achievements of the last generation. We’ll have a retrospective on the site. With an eye towards things a little more new, Tuesday, January 19th is our 1/2 hour special on Mass Effect 2 -- it's one helluva sequel, and you can find additional interviews on the website the same day. That will be in addition to our Dark Void review which, for anyone who loved Crimson Skies, is a game we’ve had our eye on for some time.

Alright, off to play Mass Effect 2 for our review on the 26th.  Maybe someone’s vision of the future can erase all these images of the past from my mind.


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Happy New Year. Okay that’s done with.

It’s nice to spend a couple of weeks doing absolutely nothing. Turned off the BlackBerry completely, watched a few movies, ate a few meals. Slept in. I’m already nostalgic for last week.

Played a few games as well. Primarily I checked out the God of War Collection, thought I’d brush up on the last two games with the imminent release of part III. I have to say, the high-def translation is astonishing and easily justifies the $40 price tag because the gameplay holds up very nicely…well, most of it. If in GOW III there’s a puzzle akin to the “move the block on the floor and jump on it from some demented perspective before the spikes shoot below you” sequence from the original GOW, I might cry.

With these high-def presentations of PS2 games in mind I truly hope we’ll see Ueda-san’s ICO and Shadow of the Colossus to coincide with the (hopeful) release of The Last Guardian this year. Also, it would be really nice to have all the Jak, Sly Cooper and Ratchet games get a similar treatment…are you listening Sony?

On the topic of God of War, X-Play’s Matt Keil pointed out to me that with Bayonetta, Darksiders, Dante’s Inferno, and GOW III, that we’re in the midst of an interesting trend in games to start off 2010…end of days spiritual warfare. Typically I like to pop on my cultural studies beret and figure out what social condition is motivating such a trend, but all I can come up with is that gods and their minions are kinda cool. 

Using the end of times as an appropriate segue, February 1st will be X-Play’s 1000th episode (that’s just X-Play, if you count Extended Play and Gamespot TV you’ll spend a lot of time counting). To celebrate, we’ll be running some of our finest episodes from the past all day long, and we’re letting viewers decide what those episodes are. Come to the site on Monday, peruse the 20 or so options, and vote for your favorites. In an effort to influence the balloting I would like to highlight the “Homeland for the Holidays” special that I wrote with Guy Branum -- it rarely airs, and there’s a reason for it. Great things can come from some very dark places.

Alright, that’s all…time for more Bayonetta.

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Letter From The Editor: On The Brink of 2010

That’s it. I’ve played them all. (Okay, mostly the good ones.) The mad rush to get everything under the belt to declare game of the year winners is over and I’m nothing but a more confused man for it. As I write this, we will be beginning the initial balloting to come up with the short lists in our categories which will be posted on the site Monday. You can begin your quibbling then and prepare to crescendo to a fever pitch on the 15th of December when X-Play will have our Best of 2009 episode.

But with all these games behind me it’s time to turn to 2010, and honestly, outside of games, I’m more than happy to put the last decade in a box, never to open again. One of the titles that pleasantly surprises me is Brink, which has been up on our site all week long. I’ve been aware of the game for some time now, but it wasn’t until we received the videos that I fully appreciated how ambitious the title is with campaign-based multiplayer from both sides of the conflict, resulting in the chance that you are actually playing against other people as you proceed through the story. This has been attempted before but has never come to fruition. In fact, it does make me think of Sony Online’s well-intentioned Planetside, but not in the failure way. It puts in perspective that the dream of the MMO-Shooter should be slowly approached with baby steps. Also, I finally put together what the game reminds me of visually: Timesplitters. Check out the videos and lemme know if I’m crazy for thinking that.

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"Hell Week."

Sessler PumpkinThat’s been the unofficial phrase around the office here. Not because of Halloween -- no, Halloween is the Official Holiday of Getting in the Way of Playing all the New Releases. Hell Week has been the term for all the work that’s gone into the explosion of stuff on the website this past week. Having said that, man I’m enjoying it. Television and the Internet are not necessarily the same thing and my rather rapid instruction on the ins and outs of overseeing editorial on a website has been humbling. Thank you to everyone who busted their ass and probably wanted to kill me when I came up with another idea. Thank you to everyone who came to site and proved that if it’s good, they will read…or watch…or comment.

If you haven’t seen the shocking panoply of goodies that posted in the past week, give yourself about an hour...you’ll thank yourself.

Me, I’m going to the bar.


-Sess
 
















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Letter From the Editor: This Website Is About To Explode

Okay, it’s clearly the end of the year. I’m waking up and it’s dark out. I inadvertently put on long sleeve shirts and only realize I live in unseasonably hot Los Angeles five hours later. I am about to be crushed under the mountain of games that are being released in some uncontrollable death march of entertainment.

Things are good, though, as you’ll see next week (10/26). Around the Internet you may see banner ads featuring yours truly and my wonderful better half on X-Play, Morgan. You see, we’re promoting G4tv.com. Why? Because we want to. Because we’re truly proud of how it has evolved this year and we want you to come visit. Please.

Actually it’s rather impressive what you’ll find on the site next week, as there is a bevy of goodies for you to admire. It’s a bigger bevy than what you’re used to. By the way, what’s a bevy?

Monday we have a big look at Assassin’s Creed 2. Morgan took it upon herself to endure the hardship of going out to Florence and Venice, Italy to meet the team behind the game. We’ll have several videos of her interviews with new footage. Having already watched them, I finding myself significantly more excited for a game I already was looking forward to. Also, given that “Next-Gen” has pretty much become “Gen,” we’re looking at the three major consoles and how our initial perceptions have changed from their launch. Yes, the comments section will be open for further insight.

Tuesday is a Fat day for game releases, so enjoy a trove that includes Tekken 6, DJ Hero, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time and Forza 3. Oh it doesn’t end there, catch our special Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 coverage with new interviews from Infinity Ward and a never-before seen co-op Spec Ops mission that’s cool to watch but insanely fun to play. Think Black and White with heavy ordinance.

Wednesday is a Left 4 Dead 2 spectacular. Abbie Heppe rallied herself to up to Seattle and inside of Valve for a special look at the company and the game, bringing back new footage and insight to help better prepare me for the coming zombie apocalypse. Come by for a rotten-body load of videos. Also, we take the opportunity to look at the use of episodic games from Valve's intermittent masterpieces with Half-Life to Telltale Games’ reliable output…remember when this was the future of gaming?

Thursday we’re giving a glimpse at two upcoming 2010 games: The delayed and mysterious Bioshock 2 and two exclusive videos of Heavy Rain, quite possibly one of the most ambitious titles I’ve seen in years, which may finally answer the questions about video games truly functioning as interactive stories…while looking freakin’ awesome at the same time. With such mature games on the horizon we’ll also question why similar fare has such a difficult time on the Wii, despite developers trying again and again. All that and our review of the new GTA IV DLC, The Ballad of Gay Tony.

Friday is our finish line and we’re closing it out with a celebration of World of WarCraft’s upcoming 5-year anniversary. Morgan popped down to Blizzard’s headquarters to chat with five members of the team, past and present. They ruminate on the development, launch and the phenomenon that followed. Even for a non-WoW fan like myself, it’s fascinating to get this insight into one of the most significant games of the past decade. Plus, because we love you, we have exclusive footage from Mass Effect 2, a game that’s at the center of my gaming desires.

So, I hope your interest is piqued, your appetite whetted, your…bell eagerly awaiting a ringing. We’ve been rowing the oars of a Roman slave ship to serve up our smorgasbord of coverage. Enjoy your final week of October -- right now, I’m taking a nap.

Yours in servitude,

Adam
 

Letter From the Editor: 11 Years & Counting

Firstly I would like to thank the numerous readers and viewers out there who offered their congratulations and best wishes for my 10 years of hosting a show about videogames.

In the interest of full disclosure, though, I have something I need to say:

It’s been 11 years.

I’m hazy on what bureaucratic formality occurred a decade ago, what form was signed, was desk was granted, who starting calling me by name but it seems clear that Adam Michael Sessler was associated with a start date some time in September of 1999.  The mind doesn’t boggle as to how it all went down. 

The truth is, the first episode of Gamespot TV aired on ZDTV on July 4th, 1998, taped a week earlier in a studio on York Street in San Francisco.  Why someone thought it was appropriate to premiere a new television show on a fledgling cable network on a national holiday still strikes me as curious and the results were as inauspicious as one might expect.   For me, I thought the world had changed.  That night I wore what I deemed a nice shirt and went out to a fancier bar than I usually frequented and stood around thinking someone might notice that guy from the teevee.  I went home three hours later slightly drunk, many dollars poorer and unrecognized.  Welcome to cable.

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I’ve been getting a lot of crap from people about the fact that the last few LFTDs have been centralized around the events we’ve been attending, and for the most part it’s because being involved with the planning and then attending these shows more or less takes over a good chunk of my life. The last couple of weeks and months we’ve been architecting our assault on Tokyo Game Show, which is the last really big show of the year. And for the last few days, there’s been a number of us finalizing into the wee hours of the evening what I believe is one of the best schedules I’ve seen for this show in a long time.

Letter From The Director: Tokyo Bound

The timing of this show pretty much destroys the space time continuum, and I suggest you adjust your clocks because Tokyo is 16 hours ahead into the future! Perhaps download some widget thingamabob to get on Tokyo time to be ready for our non-stop Tokyo coverage! Or just click here if you’re lazy sauce.

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PAX 2009 was my first PAX and may already be my favorite show of the year. Granted, TGS hasn’t happened yet, but there were a few reasons why I think the Penny Arcade folks should be commended for what they’ve accomplished as far as a video game show.

Most people would compare PAX to something in the realm of “it’s a Comic-Con that’s focused on video games that doesn’t smell as bad.” While completely true, and I think I can speak for everyone that went about being happy about the lack of “dude smell” – it’s a show by gamers, for gamers. Granted, as press we got some great content out of the show, but PAX isn’t for the press. It’s for the gamers. And as a gamer, I think that’s fantastic.

Letter From The Director: PAX Is Changing The Game

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After a stint on the home team during Comic-Con a little while ago, it was time to get my hands dirty again and get back into the field. Hitting the road – whether it’s DICE, GDC, E3, QuakeCon, GamesCom, Tokyo Game Show  – these are the things that I live for in this industry. Regardless of the team only getting 3-5 hours of sleep per night, and is exhausted after knocking out each day of the show – there’s something that each of us laugh about when the day is done – we are so f%$&ing lucky to be able to do what we do.

Letter From The Director: Looking Back At GamesCom

Looking back a few days after returning from this German show, it’s amazing to see how massive it’s become. This is Europe’s only real big show, and even though there have been European shows in the past (such as ECTS), Europe isn’t going to let all the video game fun happen in North America and Japan any longer. Each year it gets bigger and bigger. Just seeing what the major companies debuted at this show is a testament to why GamesCom is becoming an important yearly event. Sony pulling back the curtains on the PS3 slim and debuting the new PSP store and Minis, to Microsoft and Peter Molyneux not only announcing Fable II episodes, but Fable III, GamesCom is becoming another outlet to announce big new things.

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Letter From The Director

Did you know that if you search for "Letter from the Director" in our search engine, you'll pull up a game called "My Little Flufties?" What has Billy been writing about?

Fearless Leader is in Dallas for Quakecon this weekend, so I've been given the green light to cover his weekly column while he and Leahy exchange long dissertations on the merits of national health care over the BYOC area's super-fast network. I also heard something about a rodeo.

I usually find out what Billy's column is about late in the day on Friday, when he gives Patrick the final draft at 5:58PM for proofreading and the rest of us are halfway to the local watering hole. But this week has been so jammed full of planning for GamesCom in Germany, BlizzCon in Anaheim, PAX in Seattle, and even Tokyo Game Show (in Tokyo, I believe), that I haven't had the proper time to develop a thoughtful topic of conversation.

So let's talk about us. Or more specifically, let's talk about friendship.

Earlier this week, we broke the story that the reason why the Xbox Live friends list is limited to 100 spots is due to a small but fervent population of Halo 2 players. Because that game uses the old Xbox Live infrastructure (a good word to use if, like me, you have no idea about the actual technology), and about 10,000 people are still playing it regularly, Microsoft is reluctant to pull the plug and raise the limit. That means the 101st closest person in your life will continue to be shut out in the cold, playing against the computer in UNO and wishing that they were invited to your Weekend at Bernie's II viewing party.

Outrageous, right?  ...right?

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In our second episode of TheFeed: Nightcap that we dropped this week, a disagreement occurred between Patrick Klepek and myself about the story in Red Faction: Guerrilla. What bothered me about the narrative was that it was too generic, and I predicted what would happen plot-wise in the first 10 seconds of the intro cutscene. It bummed me out. The story in Red Faction: Guerrilla isn’t engrossing whatsoever, and it’s making it really difficult to press on through hours and hours of missions.
 
Patrick’s take on it was that he said I should just press A, skip the cutscenes, and move on because the gameplay is entertaining enough to drive you through the open world game. Should games get a free pass if the story is weak, but the gameplay is compelling?

I think not.

Letter From The Director: What's the Story Morning Glory?

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Letter From The Director: Showtime

With our Comic-Con coverage still flowing, and the first batch of our Best of Comic-Con footage set to go live today (and a majority of our staff still feeling the effects of said show), we’re already looking beyond that event to the next slew of big events in gaming. Although DICE and GDC and a few gamers’ days round out the Spring, now that E3 is relatively back in its normal slot (well, a month later) it seems like E3 will kick off the next phase of big game shows.

August is a doozy of a month and G4 will be travelling the globe to cover it all. There’s a number of smaller gamers days kicking off this month, most of which I can’t speak about yet – but there’s one or two I really wish I could attend. However, unless I learn to teleport in the next few weeks, I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t do everything.

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