Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The 25 Best Games of Every Console Generation (Since the 5th)

God damn it I love doing lists. I'm only putting this on here as to not let a worrying amount of work I did during my breaks at work go to waste.

5th Console Generation (1993-2001)
25. The Sims- 2000
24. Mario Kart 64- 1997
23. Half-Life: Blue Shift- 2000
22. Resident Evil- 1996
21. Duke Nukem 3D- 1996
20. Quake III: Arena- 1999
19. StarFox 64- 1997
18. Star Wars: Jedi Knight- 1997
17. Warcraft 2- 1995
16. Half-Life: Opposing Force- 1999
15. Final Fantasy VIII- 1999
14. Unreal Tournament- 1999
13. System Shock 2- 2000
12. Deus Ex- 2000
11. Final Fantasy IX- 2000
10. GoldenEye 007- 1997
9. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask- 2000
8. DOOM 2- 1994
7. Super Mario 64- 1996
6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time- 1998
5. Starcraft- 1998
4. Diablo II- 2000
3. Metal Gear Solid- 1998
2. Final Fantasy VII- 1997
1. Half-Life- 1998

Sixth Generation (2001-2005)
25. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess- 2006
24. Super Mario Sunshine- 2002
23. Star Wars Battlefront 2- 2005
22. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind- 2002
21. Resident Evil 4- 2005
20. Jade Empire- 2005
19. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes- 2004
18. Warcraft 3- 2003
17. GTA Vice City- 2002
16. Star Wars: Jedi Outcast- 2002
15. GTA III- 2001
14. Max Payne- 2001
13. Metal Gear Solid 2- 2001
12. GTA San Andreas- 2004
11. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker- 2003
10. Super Smash Bros: Melee- 2001
9. Shadow of the Colossus- 2005
8. Metal Gear Solid 3- 2004
7. Halo 2- 2004
6. Final Fantasy X- 2001
5. Knights of the Old Republic II- 2004
4. Metroid Prime- 2002
3. Halo: CE- 2001
2. Knights of the Old Republic- 2003
1. Half-Life 2- 2004

Seventh Generation (2005-2013)
25. Half-Life 2: Episode One- 2006
24. Gears of War 2- 2008
23. Halo 4- 2012
22. XCOM: Enemy Unknown- 2012
21. Half-Life 2: Episode Two- 2007
20. Batman: Arkham City- 2011
19. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion- 2006
18. The Walking Dead- 2012
17. The Last of Us- 2013
16. The Elder Scolls V: Skyrim- 2011
15. Mass Effect- 2007
14. Fallout 3- 2008
13. Dishonored- 2012
12. Batman: Arkham Asylum- 2009
11. Mass Effect 3- 2012
10. Halo 3- 2007
9. GTA IV- 2008
8. Deus Ex: Human Revolution- 2011
7. BioShock Infinite- 2013
6. Red Dead Redemption- 2010
5. GTA V- 2013
4. Portal- 2007
3. BioShock- 2007
2. Portal 2- 2011
1. Mass Effect 2- 2010

Eight Generation (2013-Now) (lol)
22. Murdered: Soul Suspect- 2014
21. NBA 2k14- 2013
20. Titanfall- 2014
19. Hyrule Warriors- 2014
18. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD- 2015
17. Sunset Overdrive- 2014
16. NBA 2k15- 2014
15. D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die- 2014
14. Mario Kart 8- 2014
13. Massive Chalice- 2015
12. NBA 2k15- 2014
11. Wolfenstein: The New Order- 2014
10. Evolve- 2015
9. NBA 2k16- 2015
8. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes- 2014
7. Shadow of Mordor- 2014
6. Destiny- 2014
5. Dragon Age: Inquisition- 2014
4. Bloodborne- 2015
3. Smash Bros Wii U- 2014
2. Batman: Arkham Knight- 2015
1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain- 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Top 200 Games

1 Half-Life 2. Valve Corporation, 2004.
2 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. BioWare, 2003.
3 Halo: Combat Evolved. Bungie, 2001.
4 Portal 2. Valve Corporation, 2011.
5 Metroid Prime. Retro Studios, 2002.
6 Mass Effect 2. BioWare, 2010.
7 Portal. Valve Corporation, 2007.
8 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords. Obsidian Entertainment, 2004.
9 Halo 2. Bungie, 2004.
10 Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Blizzard Entertainment, 2001.
11 BioShock. Irrational Games, 2007.
12 Final Fantasy X. Square, 2001.
13 Half-Life. Valve Corporation, 1998.
14 Super Smash Brothers: Melee. HAL Laboratory, 2001.
15 Final Fantasy VII. SquareSoft, 1997.
16 Shadow of the Colossus. Team Ico, 2005.
17 Halo 3. Bungie, 2007.
18 Dishonored. Arkane Studios, 2012.
19 Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Eidos Montreal, 2011.
20 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Konami, 2004.
21 Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar, 2010.
22 BioShock Infinite. Irrational Games, 2013.
23 Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar, 2013.
24 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Konami, 2015.
25 Fallout 3. Bethesda Softworks, 2008.
26 Batman: Arkham Knight. Rocksteady, 2015.
27 Grand Theft Auto IV. Rockstar, 2008.
28 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Bethesda Softworks, 2011.
29 Metal Gear Solid. Konami, 1998.
30 Mass Effect 3. BioWare, 2012.
31 Starcraft. Blizzard Entertainment, 1997.
32 Mass Effect. BioWare, 2007.
33 Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady, 2009.
34 The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Nintendo, 2000.
35 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami, 2001.
36 DOOM 2. id Software, 1994.
37 The Walking Dead. Telltale Games, 2012.
38 Halo 3: ODST. Bungie, 2009.
39 Batman: Arkham City. Rocksteady, 2011.
40 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Nintendo, 1998.
41 XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within. Firaxis Games, 2012.
42 Max Payne. Remedy, 2001.
43 Halo 4. 343 Industries, 2012.
44 Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Valve Corporation, 2007.
45 Halo Reach. Bungie, 2010.
46 BioShock 2. 2k Games, 2010.
47 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Bethesda Softworks, 2006.
48 Half-Life 2: Episode One. Valve Corporation, 2006.
49 Super Metroid. Nintendo, 1994.
50 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Nintendo, 2003.
51 Super Smash Bros Wii U. Nintendo, 2014.
52 The Last of Us. Naughty Dog, 2013.
53 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Nintendo, 2011.
54 The Walking Dead Season 2. Telltale Games, 2013.
55 Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Retro Studios, 2007.
56 Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Blizzard Entertainment, 2014.
57 Dragon Age: Inquisition. BioWare, 2014.
58 LA Noire. Team Bondi, 2011.
59 GoldenEye 007. Rare, 1997
60 Dragon Age: Origins. BioWare, 2009.
61 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Rockstar, 2004.
62 Fallout New Vegas. Obsidian Entertainment, 2010.
63 Bloodborne. FromSoftware, 2015.
64 The Stanley Parable. Galactic Cafe, 2013.
65 Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. LucasArts, 1997.
66 Dark Souls. FromSoftware, 2011.
67 Gears of War. Epic Games, 2006.
68 Star Wars Battlefront 2. Pandemic Studios, 2005.
69 Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast. Raven Software, 2002.
70 Resident Evil 4. Capcom, 2005.
71 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Konami, 2008.
72 Destiny. Bungie, 2014.
73 Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Raven Software, 2003.
74 Dead Space 2. Visceral Games, 2011.
75 Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Retro Studios, 2004.
76 Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment, 2003.
77 Star Wars Battlefront. Pandemic Studios, 2004.
78 Unreal Tournament. Epic Games, 2000.
79 Gears of War 2. Epic Games, 2008.
80 Jade Empire. BioWare, 2005.
81 Super Smash Brothers: Brawl. Nintendo, 2008.
82 Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty. Blizzard Entertainment, 2010.
83 Grand Theft Auto III. Rockstar, 2001.
84 The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Nintendo, 2006.
85 Final Fantasy IX. SquareSoft, 2000.
86 Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Monolith Productions, 2014.
87 Batman: Arkham Origins. WB Games, 2013.
88 Dragon Age II. BioWare, 2011.
89 Lost Odyssey. Mistwalker Studios, 2008.
90 Tomb Raider. Crystal Dynamics, 2013.
91 Final Fantasy VIII. SquareSoft, 1999.
92 Borderlands 2. Gearbox Software, 2012.
93 Wolfenstein: The New Order. MachineGames, 2014.
94 Pokemon Red and Blue. Game Freak, 1998.
95 Final Fantasy XIII. SquareEnix, 2010.
96 Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonic Team, 1992.
97 Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm. Blizzard Entertainment, 2013.
98 The Elder Scolls III: Morrowind. Bethesda Softworks, 2002.
99 Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker. Konami, 2010.
100 Super Mario 64. Nintendo, 1996.
101 Left 4 Dead 2. Valve Corporation, 2009.
102 Dead Space. Visceral Games, 2008.
103 GTA IV Episodes. Rockstar, 2009.
104 Sleeping Dogs. United Front Games, 2012.
105 The Old Republic. BioWare, 2011.
106 DOOM 3. Epic Games, 2005.
107 Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes. Konami, 2014.
108 GTA Vice City. Rockstar, 2002.
109 Gears of War 3. Epic Games, 2011.
110 Left 4 Dead. Valve Corporation, 2008.
111 Evolve. Turtle Rock Games, 2015.
112 The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Nintendo, 1993.
113 NBA 2k12. Visual Concepts, 2011.
114 Final Fantasy XII. SquareEnix, 2006.
115 Mega Man 2. Capcom, 1988.
116 StarFox 64. Nintendo, 1998.
117 Hitman Blood Money. Eidos Interactive, 2006.
118 System Shock 2. Irrational Games, 2000.
119 Perfect Dark. Rare, 2000.
120 Final Fantasy X-2. SquareEnix, 2003.
121 Half-Life Opposing Force. Gearbox Software, 2000.
122 Mario Sunshine. Nintendo, 2002.
123 Roller Coaster Tycoon. MicroProse, 1999
124 Final Fantasy VI. SquareSoft, 1994.
125 Mario Kart 64. Nintendo, 1997.
126 Fable. Lionhead Studios, 2004.
127 Guitar Hero II. Harmonix, 2006.
128 Tony Hawk 3. Neversoft, 2001.
129 Duke Nukem 3D. Epic Games, 1996.
130 HL Blue Shift. Gearbox, 2000.
131 Super Mario Bros 3. Nintendo, 1988.
132 Metal Gear Rising. Platinum Games, 2013.
133 Guitar Hero III. Harmonix, 2008.
134 Street Fighter 2. Capcom, 1991.
135 Alan Wake. Remedy, 2010.
136 Castle Crashers. The Behemoth, 2008.
137 Luigi's Mansion. Nintendo, 2001.
138 Smash Bros. HAL Laboratory, 1999.
139 Max Payne 3. Rockstar, 2012.
140 Rogue Leader. Factor 5, 2001.
141 Sonic & Knuckles. Sonic Team, 1994.
142 Final Fantasy IV. Square, 1991.
143 Dead Space 3. Visceral Games, 2013.
144 Massive Chalice. DoubleFine, 2015.
145 Super Mario World. Nintendo, 1991.
146 NBA 2k11. Visual Concepts, 2010.
147 D4. Access Games, 2014.
148 Mario Kart 8. Nintendo, 2014.
149 Injustice: Gods Among Us. NetherRealm, 2013.
150 Mortal Kombat 2. Midway Games, 1993.
151 Republic Commando. LucasArts, 2005.
152 Sunset Overdrive. Insomniac Games, 2014.
153 NBA 2k15. Visual Concepts, 2014.
154 Mortal Kombat. NetherRealm, 2011.
155 Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. SquareEnix, 2015.
156 Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. KCEJ, 1990.
157 Assassin's Creed 2. Ubisoft, 2009.
158 NBA 2k13. Visual Concepts, 2012.
159 Mortal Kombat. Midway Games, 1992.
160 Quake III: Arena Games, 1999.
161 Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. SquareEnix, 2008.
162 Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. Ubisoft, 2010.
163 X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse. Raven Software, 2005.
164 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Infinity Ward, 2007.
165 Soul Calibur 2. Project Soul, 2002.
166 Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness. Blizzard Entertainment, 1995.
167 The Sims. Maxis, 2000.
168 Resident Evil. Capcom, 1996.
169 Crackdown. Realtime Worlds, 2007.
170 Advent Rising. GlyphX Games, 2005.
171 Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. Sonic Team USA, 2002.
172 Halo Wars. Ensemble Studios, 2009.
173 NBA Live 2000. EA Sports, 1999.
174 Murdered: Soul Suspect. Airtight Games, 2014.
175 Brutal Legend. DoubleFine, 2010.
176 X-Men Legends. Raven Software, 2004.
177 Banjo-Kazooie, Rare Software, 1998.
178 UFC Undisputed 3. Yuke's, 2012.
179 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Infinity Ward, 2009.
180 Rogue Squadron. Factor Ward, 1998.
181 Destroy All Humans! Pandemic Studios, 2005.
182 Lord of the Rings: The Third Age. EA Redwood Shores, 2004.
183 Episode I Racer. LucasArts, 1999.
184 Prey. Human Head Studios, 2006.
185 Tekken 3. Namco, 1997.
186 Resident Evil 5. Capcom, 2009.
187 Fable III. Lionhead Studios, 2011.
188 Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. LucasArts, 2002.
189 Madden NFL 2004. EA Tiburon, 2003.
190 Skate. EA Black Box, 2007.
191 Soul Calibur IV. Project Soul, 2008.
192 Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike. Factor 5, 2003.
193 Mario Party. Nintendo, 1999.
194 Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. LucasArts, 1996.
195 Saints Row. Volition, 2006.
196 Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. Capcom, 2007.
197 The Force Unleashed. LucasArts, 2008.
198 Hyrule Warriors. Team Ninja, 2014.
199 Titanfall. Respawn Entertainment, 2014.
200 Hitman Absolution. IO Interactive, 2012.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Five Best Bulls at Every Position Since 2000

Since I suffered my way through a Cubs version of this, here's the Bulls one, which is even worse!

1. Joakim Noah, 2007-2015   (6.1 VORP in 13-14)
2. Ben Wallace, 2006-2008  (5.2 VORP in 06-07)
3. Tyson Chandler, 2001-2006 (2.8 VORP in 04-05)
4. Brad Miller, 2000-2002, 09-10  (1.6 VORP in 01-02)
5. Kurt Thomas, 2010-2011   (0.9 VORP in 10-11)

Honorable Mention
  Omer Asik, 2010-2012
  Antonio Davis, 2004-2005
  Eddy Curry, 2001-2005

Power Forward
1. Elton Brand, 1999-2001  (3.0 VORP in 00-01)
2. Pau Gasol, 2014-15   (3.2 VORP in 14-15)
3. Donyell Marshall, 2003- 2004   (2.3 VORP)
4. Nikola Mirotic, 2014-15  (1.5 VORP)
5. Taj Gibson, 2009-2015  (1.2 VORP in 14-15)

Honorable Mention
    Carlos Boozer, 2010-2014
    Tyrus Thomas, 2006-2010
    Othella Harrington, 2004-2006

Small Forward
1. Luol Deng, 2004-2014    (3.6 VORP in 06-07)
2. Kyle Korver, 2010-2012   (1.7 VORP in 11-12)
3. Mike Dunleavy, 2013-2015  (1.8 VORP in 13-14)
4. Andres Nocioni, 2004-2009  (1.7 VORP in 05-06)
5. Ron Artest, 1999-2002   (1.0 VORP in 00-01)

Honorable Mention
    Jalen Rose, 2001-2004
    Eddie Robinson, 2001-2004
    Eric Piatkowski, 2004-2006

Shooting Guard
1. Jimmy Butler, 2012-2015    (4.2 VORP in 14-15)
2. Ben Gordon, 2004-2009    (2.4 VORP in 06-07)
3. Jamal Crawford, 2000-2004   (2.2 VORP in 03-04)
4. Ronnie Brewer,  2010-2012  (1.7 VORP in 10-11)
5. Fred Hoiberg, 2000-2002   (1.7 VORP in 00-01)

Honorable Mention
    Thabo Sefolosha, 2006-2009
    Keith Bogans, 2010-2011
    Larry Hughes, 2008-2009

Point Guard
1. Derrick Rose,  2008-2015   (6.0 VORP in 10-11)
2. Kirk Hinrich, 03-11, 13-15   (3.5 VORP in 06-07)
3. Nate Robinson, 2012-13    (1.9 VORP)
4. DJ Augustin,  2013-14   (1.4 VORP)
5. Jay Williams,  2002-2003   (-0.1 VORP)

Honorable Mention
    Chris Duhon, 2004-2008
    CJ Watson,  2010-2012
    Jannero Pargo,  03-06, 08

The Five Best Cubs at Every Position Since 2000

In lieu of studying for my finals (and because the 2015 Cubs are exciting as shit), I decided to try and put the current young Cubs in proper context with their forebears, and since my pre-2002 or so Cubs knowledge is shaky at best (I turned 13 in 2002 and honestly wasn't a huge sports fan until then), I'm just going with the logical cutoff. I'll throw five guys at every position, but I'll make note of others worthy of at least mentioning. For guys who declined over their Cubs tenure, I'll just consider their best season as their entry, with their other years listed. This is going to be depressing.

1.  Geovany Soto, 2007-2012 (3.7 WAR in 2008)
2.  Miguel Montero, 2015
3.  Welington Castillo, 2010-2015 (3.1 WAR in 2013)
4. Michael Barrett, 2004-2007 (2.9 WAR in 2005)
5.  Dioner Navarro, 2013 (2.0 WAR)

Honorable Mention
 Jason Kendall, 2007
 Henry Blanco, 2005-2008
 Todd Hundley, 2001-2002
 Joe Girardi, 2000-2002
 Damian Miller, 2003

First Base
1. Derrek Lee, 2004-2010 (7.0 WAR in 2007)
2. Anthony Rizzo, 2012-2015 (5.6 WAR in 2014)
3. Mark Grace, 2000 (3.0 WAR)
4. Carlos Pena, 2011 (2.5 WAR)
5. Fred McGriff, 2001-2002 (2.4 WAR in 2002)

Honorable Mention
 Bryan LaHair, 2011-2012
 Hee-Seop Choi, 2002-2003
 Matt Stairs, 2001
 Daryle Ward, 2007-2008
 Ron Coomer, 2001

Second Base
1. Mark DeRosa, 2007-2008 (4.2 WAR in 2008)
2. Eric Young, 2000-2001 (3.6 WAR in 2000)
3. Mark Bellhorn, 2002-2003 (3.9 WAR in 2002)
4. Mark Grudzielanek, 2003-2004 (2.3 WAR in 2003)
5. Darwin Barney, 2010-2014 (2.4 WAR in 2012)

Honorable Mention
 Emilio Bonifacio, 2014.
 Todd Walker, 2004-2006.
 Mike Fontenot, 2007-2010.
 Bobby Hill, 2002-2003
 Arismendy Alcantara, 2014-2015

1. Starlin Castro, 2010-2015 (3.1 WAR in 2012)
2. Ryan Theriot, 2005-2010 (3.0 WAR in 2008)
3. Nomar Garciaparra. 2004-2005 (1.1 WAR in 2004)
4. Alex Gonzalez, 2002-2004 (1.0 WAR in 2002)
5. Ricky Gutierrez, 2000-2001 (1.8 WAR in 2001)

Honorable Mention (begins vomiting)
 Neifi Perez, 2004-2006
 Cesar Izturis, 2007
 Ronny Cedeno, 2005-2008
 Augie Ojeda, 2000-2003
 Ramon Martinez, 2003-2004

Third Base
1. Aramis Ramirez, 2003-2011 (4.8 WAR in 2007)
2. Kris Bryant, 2015
3. Bill Mueller, 2001-2002 (2.3 WAR in 2003)
4. Luis Valbuena, 2012-2014 (2.8 WAR in 2014)
5. Jeff Baker, 2009-2012 (1.6 WAR in 2009)

Honorable Mention
 Jose Macias, 2004-2005
 Cody Ransom, 2013
 Mike Olt, 2014
 Jake Fox, 2007-2009
 Donnie Murphy, 2013

Left Field
1. Alfonso Soriano, 2007-2013 (6.7 WAR in 2007)
2. Moises Alou, 2002-2004 (5.9 WAR in 2004)
3. Matt Murton, 2005-2008 (2.8 WAR in 2006)
4. Chris Coghlan, 2014-2015 (2.3 WAR in 2014)
5. Tyler Colvin, 2009-2011 (1.8 WAR in 2010)

Honorable Mention
 Rondell White, 2001-2002
 Tony Campana, 2011, 2012
 Reed Johnson, 2008-2009, 2011-2012
 Brian Bogusevic, 2013
 Micah Hoffpauir, 2008-2010

Center Field
1. Kenny Lofton, 2003 (2.1 WAR in 56 games)
2. Marlon Byrd, 2010-2012 (4.0 WAR in 2010)
3. Corey Patterson, 2000-2005 (5.0 WAR in 2004)
4. Juan Pierre, 2006 (3.1 WAR)
5. David DeJesus, 2012-2013 (2.1 WAR in 2013)

Honorable Mention
 Dexter Fowler, 2015
 Jim Edmonds, 2008
 Angel Pagan, 2006-2007
 Sam Fuld, 2007-2010
 Ryan Sweeney, 2013-2014

Right Field
1. Sammy Sosa, 2000-2004 (9.9 WAR in 2001)
2. Kosuke Fukudome, 2008-2011 (2.4 WAR in 2009)
3. Nate Schierholtz, 2013-2014 (1.8 WAR in 2013)
4. Jeromy Burnitz, 2005 (1.5 WAR)
5. Jorge Soler, 2014-2015

Honorable Mention
  Jacque Jones, 2006-2007
  Cliff Floyd, 2007
  Todd Hollandsworth, 2004-2005
  Milton Bradley, 2009
  Dave Sappelt, 2012-2013

Starting Pitcher
1. Mark Prior, 2002-2006 (7.9 WAR in 2003)
2. Kerry Wood, 2000-2008, 2011-2012 (4.3 WAR in 2004)
3. Jon Lester, 2015
4. Carlos Zambrano, 2001-2011 (4.9 WAR in 2003)
5. Jake Arrieta, 2013-2015 (5.1 WAR in 2014)
6. Ryan Dempster, 2004-2012 (4.8 WAR in 2008)
7. Matt Garza, 2011-2013 (5.0 WAR in 2011)
8. Ted Lilly, 2007-2010 (3.9 WAR in 2007)
9. Greg Maddux, 2004-2006 (3.4 WAR in 2005)
10. Jeff Samardzija, 2006-2013 (2.9 WAR in 2012)

Honorable Mention
 Jon Lieber, 2000-2002, 2008
 Matt Clement, 2002-2004
 Rich Hill, 2005-2008
 Rich Harden, 2009
 Randy Wells, 2009, 2012

Relief Pitcher
1. Hector Rondon, 2013-2015 (1.6 WAR in 2014)
2. Carlos Marmol, 2006-2012 (2.8 WAR in 2010)
3. Joe Borowski, 2001-2004 (1.8 WAR in 2013)
4. Kyle Farnsworth, 2000-2004 (2.1 WAR in 2001)
5. Sean Marshall, 2006-2011 (2.6 WAR in 2011)

Honorable Mention
 James Russell, 2010-2013
 Bob Howry, 2006-2008
 Will Ohman, 2001-2007
 Antonio Alfonseca, 2002-2004
 Pedro Strop, 2013-2015

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Tribute to Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis System

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, the relatively new game from Monolith Studios, has received some rave reviews since its release in late September. While the combat is good, it also plays like a more forgiving, more skittish and jumpy version of the the Batman: Arkham series' finely-tuned counter fest. While the open-world exploration is also good, it plays like a less intensive version of the Assassin's Creed series' signature parkour. And while the story is good (and features probably the closest thing to an adaptation of the Silmarillion that we're ever likely to see), one can be excused from not being all that interested in Lord of the Rings lore.

No, what makes Shadow of Mordor fun and quite unlike anything I've played in recent memory is the Nemesis System. The game's protagonist, bland ranger person Talion, is killed at the story's outset and bonded to a mysterious wraith that keeps him "banished from death." Basically, whenever he dies, he is resurrected. What is interesting about this mechanic is what happens to the Orc or Uruk who kills him: if a random grunt manages to land the finishing blow, he will be promoted to Captain and take his place in a chess board-y "Sauron's Army" menu in the game, displaying all the current captains, their locations and their battle tactics. If the board is full, the new captain will challenge and incumbent for the position. If they win, they get promoted. If not, they die. What gives this mechanic flavor is that almost every one of these Orcs will be randomly generated from a set list of names, appearances, characteristics and voices, and they all remember their previous encounters with you. If one defeated you, he'll taunt you the next time you meet, referencing how he killed you, if you ran, if he ran or even just generally talk about weird shit and how much he wants to bathe in your blood.

I told you all of this to tell you the story of an Orc named Hoshu the Wrestler, and how he and I came to be the bane of one another's existence. Soon after the story proper began, I decided to start exploring the open-world a bit before diving into story missions. In doing so, I discovered a few captains and, ahem, interrogated their underlings for information about their strengths and weaknesses. In the middle of an interrogated a particularly terrified looking Orc, I was interrupted by a scrawny Orc captain named Hoshu. He barked something unremarkable about killing me. I saw the power level the game ascribed to him: 11. Not a pushover. Still, I wasn't going to take any chances. We started fighting, and I realized that he couldn't be countered. He knocked me down a few times and I fled, confused and unsure of how to best him.

Maybe an hour later, I was doing a side mission to power up my bow, one that I thought was detached from the rest of the open-world, as these sorts of side missions tend to be. Stuck in a ramshackle tent on a plateau between two groups of archers who had my name carved into their arrows, I started my grim work. After a few enemies fell, who should appear RIGHT BEHIND ME but Hoshu, the Wrestler, now sporting a wide-brimmed steel helmet and a cockier attitude. Living up to his name, he grabbed and threw me off the plateau, and before I could escape his throng of underlings, he vaulted from above and crushed me in one blow. It was my first death, and I was confused. Hoshu, the Wrestler was now level 12.

Interested, I used the minimap to look for some hint of Hoshu, finding him in one of the game's larger settlements trying to recruit supporters. I snuck my way through the outpost, finding the highest vantage point I could and fired a few arrows of glorious retribution into Hoshu's face. After a few hits, he noticed me and fled. I gave chase as best I could, avoiding his troops until I finally cornered him just outside of town. Avoiding his powerful melee attacks, I whittled his health down until I was FINALLY able to grab and interrogate him. Just as I was about to probe his mind before destroying it, someone hit me from behind and broke my hold. I turned around and dealt with a few brave underlings before realizing that Hoshu had straight up vanished. Sure enough, after my subsequent death, there he was on the update screen, taunting me and leveling up his power. Now he was level 13.

After reviving and using some of the currency I had earned to buy some upgrade, I set out on the warpath. Using the minimap to pinpoint Hoshu's position, I found him in the midst of an "ambush" side mission, where several jealous underlings attempt to assassinate a superior. Staying out of the fray, I peppered Hoshu's supporters with arrows until he stood alone against a half dozen angry usurpers. I took no small amount of glee in watching him stand alone before he dealt with his assailants. Suddenly, the game updated that in surviving his assassination attempt, Hoshu was now level 15. Then he escaped. Now he was level 16.

We'd had four encounters: one that he ran from, one that I ran from, one that he definitively won and one that he'd scurried away from by the skin of his teeth. I was PISSED. Next time I spawned, I made a beeline for his last position, only to find that he was simply gone. I looked for awhile, then decided to just carry on with the main game as best I could. After doing a mission for Gollum (yes, that Gollum), I was doing a little exploring in my new area and collecting some collectables. A lowly captain attacked me, and was dealt with. Just after I dealt the finishing blow, Hoshu burst onto the scene, snarling revenge and toting a cadre of 10 or so tough-looking dudes with shield. It started raining. It was ON. I tore through Hoshu's men like fire and vapor, flipping and dodging and using my newly acquired ground pound technique to dispatch everyone I saw. After a few exhausting minutes, Hoshu fled again, his health down to the lowest I'd yet seen it. Determined not to let him go again, I vaulted on top of a nearby ruin of sorts and put an arrow through the back of his head from distance. Finally, it was over. I made sure my game had saved, turned off my Xbox and went to sleep.

The next time I played, I was back at that area trying to scavenge the collectibles I'd missed last time, when Olrok the Collector, a sadistic, hedonistic slab or Orc I'd also been having tussles with shuffled his purring visage onto my screen for revenge. Suddenly, in the middle of fighting two captain, Hoshu re-appeared, filled with furious anger and toting a steel plate over one of his eyes, a trophy from our previous encounter. I turned and ran straight at him, ignoring Olrok, who was trying to flee. I fought him again, now level 17 due to his miraculous survival, and again he fled. The tide had turned in our rivalry. He tried to escape, and I put another arrow into his head, only this time, nothing happened. He was immune to ranged attacks now, the game told me. He was learning. Also, he was faster than I was, and he was escaping. Suddenly, as he ran down the craggy slopes, a Caragor, a sort of mounted annoyance that can be tamed, tackled Hoshu. The game updated to inform me of his fear of Caragors, and I the beast tossed him around like a ragdoll, I moved in for the kill. I picked off a couple encroaching Caragors and waited until Hoshu was near death, then intervened, dispatching the hunter and the hunted in mere seconds. I am become death, and Hoshu was dead once more.

Earlier today, when I picked my game back up after not having seen Hoshu for, at this point, several hours of gametime, I was presiding over a duel between two Orc captains. One, a fat bastard named Narug the Mountain, and the other Gorgum the Grim, who had killed me as a lowly grunt. Narug was the higher level, and I like Gorgum, since his grimness always led him to spout pessimistic drivel every time I saw him. He was this game's version of Eeyore. After I helped Gorgum win his duel, he fled at the sight of me, and while I considered letting him go or not, I was attacked from behind by a filthy looking masked Orc. At this point in the game I had unlocked a last stand sort of mode that let me counter my murderer's final strike into a killing blow of my own. As I killed this random usurper, I thought to myself "that guy looked sort of interesting. Too bad he didn't kill me and become the new Hoshu." Having decided to kill poor Gorgum the Grim, I set off after him. He's not too fast and not too good, so catching him would be easy. I didn't make it ten seconds before the masked Orc attacked me again, despite having just been cut down. This second attack did a titanic amount of damage, and as I crumpled down into the grass, I heard the Orcs around me chant a single name, over and over: Hoshu. I couldn't block the final blow this time and after reviving, I went to the Sauron's Army screen, and this is what I found.

Hoshu, the Wrestler. Legendary Captain, Power Level 20. "Seething with hatred for Talion. Eager for a chance to meet him again." The feeling is mutual, buddy.

That motherfucker. I can't wait to fight him again. We've got a score to settle.

UPDATE: Soon after posting this, I got a notification that Hoshu was hosting a feast in his own glory near the beginning area of the game. Remembering how spread out that place could be, I hastened there to plot my revenge. Remembering his fear of Caragors, I captured one, rode it to his feast and hid. After a couple minutes of watching his patrol route, I snuck up behind Hoshu and poisoned his grog. After he and his men were weakened, they began to fight, and though it took awhile, Hoshu eliminated his entire group, though it left him with less than half health. It was then that I struck.

Mounted on my Caragor, I rode after Hoshu like death, he fled in terror, which negated most of the skills that had made him unkillable. I ran him down and let my Caragor tear into him. After barely surviving, I grabbed him, read his mind and broke it. He crumpled to the ground, seemingly dead. I expected him to return. He never did. An anticlimactic ending to our rivalry, perhaps, but one that showed just how far I had ascended above petty conflicts such as the one with Hoshu. Later, near the game's conclusion, I was even more powerful, commanding a brainwashed Uruk army of my own. There had been other Uruks designated as my nemesis since then, but none of them had the lasting power of Hoshu. I had grown far too powerful, capable of felling lesser captains in a single blow. Now, when I defeated one, they never came back.

 When I moved on the castle belonging to one of the main bosses of the game, I was stopped at the gate by a small army of opposing Uruks. Leading them, was Hoshu, the Wrestler. Somehow back even after having been dead now longer than he had been alive in the first place. "Defeat your nemesis," the game told me, and I did. Hoshu tore into my own brainwashed captains, eliminating three of my five lieutenants before I could cut my way to him, and when I did, I fell upon him in a righteous fury, finally removing from him both his head and his life, for the final time. There was a short boss fight against one of the storyline antagonists, but it lacked the sense of finality Hoshu's death had finally given me. The game ended not long afterwards, and after it did, I barely did any of the sidequests opened up for me in the open world. My purpose had been fulfilled, as had Hoshu's. Glorious vengeance had been fulfilled.

What a fun game.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Terror Beyond Falling

Yesterday afternoon, news broke of the death by hanging of Robin Williams. He was 63. As one of the most beloved (and longest lasting) comedians in the world, Williams' death came as a shock to most, even those who knew how long and hard he has battled against his own demons. By now, more than enough has been said about the quiet desperation present in his work, and how his outward appearance as a manic funnyman was most likely a response to the crushing sadness he no doubt felt for his entire adult life. As someone who has dealt with depression for over half of my life, I understand both the temptation and the relief Williams must have felt at the end. It's true that the first thought most clinically depressed people must have had when the heard the news was a brief sense of relief to go along with the sadness. My mother fought breast cancer for over a year starting in July 2011, but it was her depression, brought on by both her disease and her disintegrating marriage, that nearly killed her and forced her to seek help.

Perhaps more broadly important, Williams' death has set off a widespread discussion of the true perils of depression, on twitter on the internet as a whole, with most people posting links to suicide helplines and at least the bare minimum of "everyone cares about you" or "don't give up." While there is absolutely nothing wrong with these sentiments, and they surely are welcome, one has to wonder how effective they truly are. While I'm sure someone uses them, there's not a single depressed person I know or have ever known that would even consider using a hotline. While this might seem counter-productive (why not seek help if you need help? No one refuses to go to the hospital if they break their leg), what I'm going to try to do is explain why. I've seen more than one person express sincere confusion and a lack of understanding of what, exactly this disease is and how it effects people. Its symptoms are as hard to describe as they are to experience, but I'll do my best.

For all the coverage of depression as an eminently sad thing, which it is, there's an aspect of it that never seems to be mentioned: how much of it is based on fear. Plenty of days, maybe most, I feel happy, capable and ready to take on the world. I'm not sad. I'm not bed-ridden. Yet, I know my depression is there, ready to take me, because I'm never not afraid. Afraid that I'm not good enough, that I'm not qualified, worthy, or even likable. Afraid that some day, everyone I know and rely upon for support, whether they know it or not, will uniformly reject me. I'm afraid that if that happens, I'll deserve it. It controls my life and the choices I make much more completely than the bouts of very real and crushing sadness I have to contend with every few days or weeks. The fear that something will happen that will force back into the cold, unfeeling maw that I claw myself out of is what drives me. It's why I rarely have nightmares, because I'm afraid enough in my waking life to compensate.

It's this feeling of general anxiety and inadequacy that makes me unable even to order a pizza, for fear that person on the other will know, somehow, how I'm feeling and mock me for it. Fear of rejection or mockery, fear of the uncountable stigmas associated with depression (or all mental illnesses), both in our culture and in our language dictates nearly every choice I make. It's why I choose not to go out most Saturdays, why I've almost never approached a professor for help, why I spent several hours during my first trip to Las Vegas Summer League in 2012 crying from nerves in an empty hallway, and why I've never asked a woman out who I wasn't already friends with. The concept of going outside my painstakingly established comfort zone is utterly alien. Thankfully, I've managed to expand my comfort zone over the past few years and carve out something resembling a normal life.

The two most important steps to dealing with depression, more important than any sort of medication or therapy could ever be, are first accepting the disease and then establishing a support structure to deal with its effects. The former is almost impossible for some people, as it seemed to be for my mother for the longest time, but it's the most important step imaginable. The second is less important by definition, but still critical and necessary. There's much made of the simple act of listening to someone's troubles, and though I can say from experience that it's very helpful, I understand how daunting a task it might seem. Perhaps more importantly, all we need is a friend. Someone to hang out with and to escape the pressures of the depressive mind is life-savingly important. I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually talked through any of my issues with the people I consider my best friends on the planet, either in my day to day life or on the internet. This doesn't mean they aren't my support structure. Even my dog has been stupendously helpful in this regard.

Robin Williams' fight is over, and believe me when I say it was a fight just as involved and dangerous as any other disease. He was afraid, but he was not a coward. He was hurt, but he was not weak. His daughter, Zelda, is less than two months younger than I am, and  now she is without her father. There's nothing that can repair her loss, but perhaps her loss can help other people, which I'm sure Robin would have wanted. Even without ever knowing him outside the relationship defined by his comedy, I can say that, because that's the relationship he wanted. That persona is what he wanted the world to see instead of the sad, angry and afraid man he surely was underneath. Depressives inherently distrust success. They know how fleeting it is and how likely they are to be right back where they started or worse when it fades. That a man as successful as Robin Williams could feel strongly enough to take his own life is testament to this.

All I hope is that the proper message comes of this. Telling people to seek help is good advice, but not as good as offering help. Or even just being their friend.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Five Best Xbox 360 Games by Each Year: Ode on a Grecian Xbox

Come this Monday, June 9th, Microsoft's Xbox One will debut at its new price of $399, which will prompt me to go to my local Gamestop, trade in my Xbox 360 and all my games, and buy one (and I might be able to do it without spending more than $80 or so of my own money, which would be nice).

As such, I thought it fitting to offer a small tribute of sorts to a console that I've owned in some form for eight years, a little under a third of my entire life to this point. After some (like five minutes) deliberation, I decided to write a little thing on the five best games I played during each year of the console's existence. 2005 doesn't count since I didn't own one then and there's like 5 weeks worth of games anyway.


5- Saints Row. Volition, Inc.

In plot, it is infantile. In tone, it is sophomoric. Also, it had one of the great demos in the history of gaming.

4- Prey. Human Head Studios.

Inventive isn't a good word for this game, but it tried to do something different, even if that something different was buried under a pile of same.

3- Hitman: Blood Money. IO Interactive.

 Blood Money is every bit one of those early generation console games that seems rather unsure of how to live up to the next-gen moniker outside of having better graphics. Still very fun and strange.


2- Gears of War, Epic Games.

Is Gears of War a great series? I don't know, but in 2006 I could have been convinced so. One of the first great cooperative games of the generation.

1- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Bethesda Softworks.

Looking at it now, you'd never believe that Oblivion was once considered the best looking game that had ever existed. In early 2006, though? It was mind-blowing. It was the first next-gen game I ever saw, and it almost single-handedly sold me on the concept.



5- Guitar Hero III. Harmonix.

Let's be honest: Guitar Hero is one of the stupidest things that was ever a gaming phenomenon. Have you ever watched someone play it? Damned fun, though.

4- Mass Effect. BioWare.

Compared to most games of its time, Mass Effect was ambitious in scope, depth and tone. It looks small and meaningless next to its successors, but it still has a cavalier sort of charm to it.


3- Halo 3. Bungie.

Halo 3 might be a bad game. I played it far too much to tell.

2- BioShock. Irrational Games.

Most any other year, BioShock would hold the top spot. This is a game that worms its way into your subconscious. At this point, it's hard to envision what things would be like without it.


1- The Orange Box. Valve Corporation.

Throw out the fact that Half-Life 2 and its first expansion are in this. Just take the new games. You have the far superior second expansion, the sequel to one of the great online shooters in history, and perhaps the perfect distillation of the art form (those being HL2 Episode Two, Team Fortress 2 and Portal respectively).


5- Dead Space. EA Redwood Shores.

Dead Space is a throwback to the halcyon days of survival horror, with one of the most immersive interfaces in the history of the medium.

4- Lost Odyssey. Mistwalker Studios.

Speaking of throwbacks, Lost Odyssey might as well be called Final Fantasy XI for how strictly it adheres to the turn-based formula. The last spark of a dying age.


3- Gears of War 2. Epic Games.

Is Gears 2 any better than Gears 1? Probably not. But it wasn't any worse.

2. Grand Theft Auto IV. Rockstar Games.

GTA IV was spellbinding when it was released. It's still the best representation of New York in the medium, and one of the best in all of entertainment.


1. Fallout 3. Bethesda Softworks.

Staggering in its scope, execution, detail, impact and solitude.


5- Left 4 Dead 2. Valve Corporation.

Essentially the same pretty enjoyable game as the year before, just in a weaker year.

4- Assassin's Creed II. Ubisoft.

I found it strange that ACII ranked up here given my dislike of the series, but this is its pinnacle.

3- Dragon Age: Origins. BioWare.

By all accounts a better game on PC still ends up pretty good here.

2- Halo 3: ODST. Bungie.

The shortest, smallest, and loneliest of the Halo games. Perhaps, in some ways, my favorite.

1- Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady.

The best superhero game ever created and probably the best Batman adaptation not to air on FOX in the early 90s.



5. BioShock 2. 2k Marin

What seems like the least necessary sequel of all time proves itself more than just commentary on a superior product.

4. Halo: Reach. Bungie

Bungie says goodbye to its flagship with a game half maudlin, half memorial.

3. Fallout: New Vegas. Obsidian Entertainment

I know several people who prefer New Vegas to Fallout 3. I disagree, but I can understand their reasoning.

2. Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar

When people talk about Rockstar becoming a more emotionally mature studio, RDR is what they mean.


1. Mass Effect 2. BioWare.

If ever a game series has improved  more from one game to the next, I haven't seen it. ME2 is a monolith of gaming, and a wonderful tribute to visceral late 80s-early 90s sci-fi.



5. L.A. Noire. Team Bondi.

It's weird looking and barely a game, but a more thorough tribute to film noir I have never seen in gaming.

4. Batman: Arkham City. Rocksteady.

It loses some of the focus of its more linear predecessor, but Arkham City features perhaps the most detailed open world in gaming, and also allows for things like this.


3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Eidos Montreal.

No better example of the wonders created by perfect synergy between theme, art design and tone has ever existed, I think.

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Bethesda Softworks.

Skyrim is the reigning king of free-roam, narrative-through-random-chance gaming until whenever the next Elder Scrolls game comes out.


1. Portal 2. Valve Corporation.

Portal 2 is one of the funniest games ever created at the same time as being one of the most interesting, well-written and inventive. A masterstroke.


5. XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within. Firaxis Games.

A triumphant return from a franchise I could barely remember. I bought this game after seeing one gameplay video, and was never disappointed.

4. Halo 4. 343 Studios.

Equal parts radical departure and cloying tribute, Halo 4 does the impossible by not being rent asunder by its seemingly oxymoronical design.

3. The Walking Dead. Telltale Games.

Some would tell you that The Walking Dead isn't a game. That doesn't change the fact that it's great, and far and away the best thing related to this series.

2. Dishonored. Arkane Studios.

It's like an oil painting. With teleportation. And stabbing. And lots of rats. So many rats.


1. Mass Effect 3. BioWare.

Yes, I still think this. No, I don't care about a shitty ending or shorter missions. ME3 gets me, and also gets bonus points for having the most surprisingly great multiplayer mode ever conceived.


5. Dead Space 3. EA Redwood.

It should be evidence of how great 2011 was that the vastly superior Dead Space 2 didn't make it but this occasionally lackluster game did. Still, when it was good, it was better than either of the others. When it was bad, it was different.

4. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.

Yeah, it's a 3 hour game. Yeah, it's basically a paid demo. I didn't mind (because I rented it). I am officially stoked for the main product.

3. Batman: Arkham Origins. WB

While it does do what everyone feared and play like an inferior expansion to Arkham City, no one ever explained why, exactly, that was a bad thing.

2. BioShock: Infinite. Irrational Games

In what will likely be the last BioShock game from Ken Levine, Infinite was polarizing, mesmerizing, disappointing, enthralling, surprising and ultimately, memorable. That's all I can ask.


1. Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar Games.

Look at this game compared to GTA IV. It's almost inconceivable that they were released during the same console generation. What a generation it was.

The 50 Best Xbox 360 Games

50. Alan Wake
49. Left 4 Dead
48. Injustice: Gods Among Us
47. Brutal Legend
46. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
45. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
44. NBA 2k11
43. Max Payne 3
42. Resident Evil 5
41. Dead Space 3
40. NBA 2k12
39. Assassin's Creed II
38. Hitman: Blood Money
37. Dead Space- 2008
36. Dragon Age II- 2011
35. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes- 2014
34. Dead Space 2- 2011
33. Final Fantasy XIII- 2010
32. Gears of War 2- 2008
31. Batman: Arkham Origins- 2013
30. Gears of War 3- 2011
29. L.A. Noire- 2011
28. Dragon Age: Origins- 2009
27. Gears of War- 2006
26. Borderlands 2- 2012
25. Dark Souls- 2011
24. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion- 2006
23. XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within- 2012
22. BioShock 2- 2010
21. Halo 3: ODST- 2009
20. Fallout: New Vegas- 2010
19. Halo: Reach- 2010
18. Mass Effect- 2007
17. Batman: Arkham City- 2011
16. The Walking Dead- 2012
15. Halo 3- 2007
14. Deus Ex: Human Revolution- 2011
13. Dishonored- 2012
12. BioShock- 2007
11. Batman: Arkham Asylum- 2009
10. BioShock Infinite- 2013
9. Grand Theft Auto IV- 2008
8. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim- 2011
7. Red Dead Redemption- 2010
6. Fallout 3- 2008
5. Mass Effect 3- 2012
4. Grand Theft Auto V- 2013
3. Portal 2- 2011
2. The Orange Box- 2007
1. Mass Effect 2- 2010