Backlog: For What It's Worth edition

Dig into our writing and you'll find the editors of Silicon Sasquatch are a value-oriented breed. As we've explained many times before, we buy the games we review and only rarely are we sent review copies from the developers and publishers themselves. Which is O.K. -- we know our clout hasn't developed enough to afford the more lavish side of videogame journalism and blogging: free crap.

But we've made do with what we have, and each time a game is dissected and discussed there's always an element of the worth of that product. That value assessment is approached in a multitude of ways; we might be looking at the cost of a DLC pack one day and judging the necessity of a sequel the next. Worthiness is a hard concept to grasp because it means so many things to people, especially when it comes to videogames.

So read this week's Backlog as us making statements on three things: downloadable content, pay walls and sequels. These are important, modern issues in today's software marketplace, and topics I'd like us to revisit in length down the road. However, we'll make do with skimming the surface for now.

Doug:

It's been a light week for gaming. What can I say? These things go in ebbs and tides, and between not buying much and not taking the time to play anything I already have, I don't have a ton to report back on.

I did download and play through the Mass Effect 2: Arrival DLC pack. My thoughts are here, but the long and short of it? Arrival has value because it's the DLC pack that sets the story up for Mass Effect 3. I love that it gave me a really good reason to put my ME2 disc back in, but as DLC, it's a little bit of a let-down. Overlord and Lair of the Shadow Broker were both so much better.

Other than that, it's been the usual staples for me: soccer, racing, football. I'm actually doing races in Forza 3 again instead of just screwing around with creating cars, and I think I'm going to start racing online again starting next week, so a few hours getting setups nailed in might be in order. In a strange, roundabout way, starting to learn how to prepare cars up to drift has taught me a fair bit about suspension setups; even though it's a very different discipline, reading about the interplay of shock, damper and sway bar settings provides some good ideas for more traditional circuit racing.

Also, this isn't strictly related to games I played this week, but this week's Giant Bombcast provided some absolute gems. I damn near pissed my pants and crashed my car on I-5 at the same time. Thankfully, some kind soul trimmed the Hot 97-parody insanity into a YouTube clip. EXCLUUUSIVE! Enjoy.

Nick:

With the sole exception of a thirty-minute cooperative Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light sesh (I'll let this abbreviation slide, because it's not "natch"...I hate that -Ed.) with Aaron, it's been a week of gaming vicariously. I've been meticulously combing through impressions of fancy things like the Nintendo 3DS and parts for a potential new PC upgrade.

However, I did make two major gaming-related purchases. The first is a no-brainer: I pre-ordered Portal 2 on PlayStation 3 with the singular intention of popping the disc in, syncing my PSN ID with my Steam account, firing up my free PC/Mac copy and going from there. The second is a long overdue expense: a year's subscription to Giant Bomb.

Doug and I are unambiguous in our love of Giant Bomb. It's an encouraging story of a few great game critics moving from the old, autocratic games press world and building something new and unprecedented. It's paid off in spades: for my money, Giant Bomb creates the best original games-related editorial content out there.

With the New York Times having launched its controversial pay wall system, I've been thinking a great deal about how much web-based news and editorial content is worth to me. But where the New York Times opts for a byzantine pricing scheme (someone please explain why iPad access costs more than smartphone access and must be purchased separately), Giant Bomb charges a paltry $50 per year.

That $50 doesn't get you a whole lot of significant perks, other than access to cool paid subscriber content like their weekly Happy Hour show — but even that's something that I'm frankly not a huge fan of. I'm paying the yearly fee primarily because I think what they're putting out for free is worth a whole lot of money, and I feel good about giving the Whiskey Media team money to keep doing what they do.

Silicon Sasquatch is not a business, and I doubt it ever will be. But I think paying for original media is going to become the norm, even in spite of the clumsy precedent the New York Times is setting. I have to wonder, as someone who's used to writing for no compensation, what the total worth of my work on this blog amounts to?

It's not a question I want answered. I really don't want to slap a PayPal link on the sidebar to beg for money. That's not why I write. But still, I have to wonder, all these thousands of hours and hundreds of articles later: What are my words actually worth?

Aaron:

Nick doesn't lie. We certainly played Lara Croft last week, and what we accomplished in that short 30-ish minutes was unexpectedly fun. I assumed that the game was going to feel like a so-so copy of Gauntlet, but the multiplayer added depth to the entire game itself. Honestly, I don't want to play it without a partner anymore.

Otherwise I've been up to my old tricks since our last Backlog:  leveling my Pokemon White team in the post-game world of Unova, starting a few games and never finishing them (Comic Jumper), buying more games and content that I won't be getting around to anytime soon (Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money and X-Men Arcade), pre-ordering a game I'm really excited for (Portal 2 [also on PS3]) and obsessing over The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Is that out yet?

Just a minute while I go search the web.

November? Shit. After Portal 2 I might have to stop playing games for a few months. I want to re-virginize myself.

And here's something I can't get off my mind: Should I buy Crysis 2? Is a Crysis game, the first being so frustratingly elitist with its then mind-boggling PC system requirements, relevant today? It seems the second one has moved past flexing its muscles in so many ways, if only because I have the choice of buying it for two console platforms that don't require overclocking and liquid cooling to up the framerate by 10 per second. I understand as a long-time PC gamer why the culture of upgrading a computer to its limits is exciting, but I don't have the patience for that these days. At least not for Crysis 2. Battlefield 3 is a different beast, and one that will be ceremoniously slain with my new hardware come this holiday season.

So I pose this question to anyone who's reading: Is Crysis 2, as a game and not as a technical demonstration, worth purchasing for a console platform like the Xbox 360? Some background on why I'm interested in it: I want a solid multiplayer experience that has persistent goals and ranks but isn't a Modern Warfare clone, and I want a singleplayer campaign that is memorable enough for a $60 investment, regardless of length.

I mention the Xbox as my choice if only because I know I can rely on Microsoft's service to keep me playing at high bandwidth (compared to Sony's [sorry, it's true]), and because as of this writing I have more friends with the game on the Xbox than anywhere else -- PC included.

Maybe I should just save my money for L.A. Noire.