Read 'em and weep.
So I think I'm getting slightly better at first-person shooters. Bioshock was good training apart from the unforgettable experience and, although I'm still getting fragged more often that I would care to admit, I feel as if I'm getting the basics down pat to survive a full fifteen minutes or more. I only now just need to work on ammo conservation and not haphazardly shooting everything that moves.... and missing my targets 45% of the time.
Of course, I wanted to go further than Bioshock, so I decided to try Resistance. I picked up all three Resistance games for my PS3 a few days ago, and have been playing the original Resistance practically non-stop. Resistance is certainly an old-school kind of first-person shooter, and nothing like all the third-person shooters I'm a bit more accustomed to. It's more challenging than Bioshock because the Chimera come in many different flavors and are far more aggressive. For a PS3 game, Resistance looks a little dated, and understandably so seeing how the game was released around the time of the PS3's first cycle; made even more apparent by the utter lack of Trophy support. Still though, as of this writing, I'm near the end of the game and hoping to start up Resistance 2.
No leapfrogging this franchise for me. I didn't want a repeat from Assassin's Creed---even though that game is vastly different in every way from a first-person shooter like Resistance. Storywise, I want to enjoy the games spoiler-free and, so far, it's pretty intriguing.
The next game in line for me possibly is Killzone. I understand there are three games in the series, like Resistance, and almost similar in style and substance. But Killzone has you shooting soldiers, not aliens, and it's far more grittier. Even though I do not typically buy first-person shooters on the PS3, these two franchises are solid Sony-exclusives that I couldn't ignore. A good thing I waited, too, because Killzone's dead-cheap. If you've played Killzone before and have varying opinions, let me know. In fact, if you can recommend other good FPSes for either the PS3 or the 360, I'm open to suggestions!
Thanks for reading. Now it's high time that I finished my business with the Chimera.
It was a while ago here in GameSpot that I had signed up for Raptr, and it was only yesterday when I revisited my old account for the first time in ages. But apparently, my account seems to have done quite well without me. All I had to do was play my games, and I'm at the top of many leaderboards. I'd forgotten how awesome it was. I also took the time to respond to the friend requests that I failed to get to the last time around, as well as make a few new ones (like widdowson91 for example)
It's a shame that GameSpot had taken Raptr off its rotation in favor of Livefyre, because Raptr is clearly better. It's like the Facebook/Twitter for dedicated gamers, and the response to Raptr has been favorable overall among the majority of GameSpot users, including nearly all of my GS friends.
I don't care about Livefyre because frankly it sucks, so I'm happy to be using Raptr again. Anybody who wants to be my Raptr buddy can find me under Asagea_888. It's easy
Keep calm, game on, and live long and prosper.
Jump the shark...what the hell does that mean? I don't know, it just sounded cool. Anyway, here's part two of my Gaming Cookies blog---served with a nice glass of warm milk and a nifty intestinal hemmorage to go along with it.
Gears of War: Judgment. Wasn't this game, like, $60 a couple of weeks ago? Usually when newly released titles get an early price drop, it's a sign of trouble for the overall sales curve. For consumers, it becomes an opportunity to get a $60 game at a moderately cheaper rate. For me, I got it used for under $40. I had my misgivings, but I ultimately decided now was the time to fully finish my Gears of War collection. I also saw that Tomb Raider 2013 dropped to just under $40. Square Enix had considered the game a commercial failure despite its pretty good sales record overall, and retailers responded in kind by slashing $20 off. Regardless of what Square Enix seems to think, I STILL believe Tomb Raider 2013 is an awesome game -- well worth the time and the price.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. Finally picked this up after failing to do so earlier in the month of April. Nintendo seems to be doing better with the 3DS than they are with the Wii U, which is obviously a good sign that they're not caving in to the pressures of people that are overwhelmingly prophesizing their imminent collapse. Seriously, they're only skipping E3, not signing their own death warrant. Anyway, it's games like Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon that are sure to help Nintendo in the long run. I'm enjoying my experience with it so far, so I do not fully agree with Carolyn's GS review. Don't let the lack of save points deter you from considering this game.
Persona 4 Arena. I'm not really all that familiar with the Persona series, so it probably wasn't a good idea to consider this. Then I remembered that it was a fighting game, and that's a genre I know all too well. (Long afternoons at a liquor store arcade spending quarters into a Street Fighter cabinet can do that to a brother.) And while Persona may not be Street Fighter, it is equal parts Persona and equal parts BlazBlue/Guilty Gear -- which is rather fitting because the game was developed by Arc System Works. That in itself gives the game a personality all its own, and it's a pretty fun fighter to boot. The gameplay vids were enough to convince me to add this to my collection. And it was at a sweet price, too. Bazinga.
Will Persona 4 Arena get me into the Persona series? Good question. I don't know if it'll convert me right away -- if at all -- because as much as I respect the series overall, I couldn't get into it. Still, you have to admire the Persona franchise for doing things differently with the Japanese console RPG. No kingdoms, no amnesiac country bumpkins, no warring nations and certainly no Sephiroth wannabes.
Before I end my blog, I wanted to share with you what almost happened with me this week. Maybe I was drunk (....just kidding, I don't drink beer) or perhaps I was overly caffeinated by Pepsi the night before, but something compelled me to look into that new Star Trek video game, and I was very close to picking it up for $60. As a kid, I loved watching the old Star Trek TV series with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, and I did briefly play a Star Trek Game Boy game on my friend's system. I'm not overly fond of the new reboot, but I thought the game looked pretty good. Then I read the onslaught of negative reviews. A handful of those wouldn't really dissuade me much if my judgment is sound, but nearly every publication to date was saying that this new Star Trek game was crap. It was so bad that Paramount themselves were reported to have created fake accounts on Metacritic and posting BS positive reviews to negate the streaming flow of negativity in an effort to drum up some support. Long story short, I changed my mind. I'll likely wait until it drops to $20, which I expect it will do very soon -- joining the likes of Tomb Raider and Gears of War Judgment.
But hey, I thought that Shatner/Gorn commercial was pretty funny!
Despite Nintendo's current challenges, the company remains committed to a turnaround and hopes to convince consumers of the Wii U's potential by introducing a cavalcade of first-party titles. Of course, for this month's two-part May Gaming Cookies, I thought I'd share with you one of my most recent gets----and a very special one, at that.
A lot of you may not recognize this right off the bat, but this was Nintendo's very first gaming system; known as the Game and Watch. As its name implies, it was a game system and a pocket clock rolled into one. And Ball was the first official Nintendo game ever to be made; (long before Mario, long before Samus, and long before Link.) The object is simple -- you're a juggler that moves left to right keeping balls in the air. Arthritic animations aside, the game was hugely popular with children long before the Game Boy was even conceived, and I can recall in my wee kindergarten days how every kid begged their parents to have one. Ball wasn't the only game to be released on this dimunitive little platform. Mario and Donkey Kong also had their own Game and Watch games, too.
I'm a Club Nintendo member as many of you know, so for this year, I decided to save as many points as I could to get my hands on this little piece of Nintendo history. My recent purchase of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon just about put me over the 1200 point requirement (about roughly 1280 points in total), and I immediately placed my order with 80 points remaining. Can't wait for it to ship!
I've already achieved my Platinum status, so all I need do is wait for the upcoming Elite reward. Hope it's a good one -- last year I got a set of Zelda posters.
Thanks for reading Part 1. Part 2 will come later this week, so if you don't mind, I've got some game buying to do.
It wasn't too long ago when my new friend Alicrombie went back to World of Warcraft. Well, I'm going back to something myself, and that's Skyrim. On the heels of a Legendary edition set to be released this Summer which contains all the DLC expansions and a crucial game update, I decided to make due on one of my New Year's resolutions (technically, it's no longer a 'New Year') and make a glorious return to Tamriel to finish what I started. Funny thing is---I never downloaded the DLC. I was too busy mopping up quest after quest after quest, and my Khahjit had been collecting cobwebs and eating mothballs.
Unfortunately, I soon discovered that the save file I had worked so hard to build up had disappeared. This might have occurred when I went in to have my 360 fixed. At any rate......I'm a man of my word. I said I'd play and try to finish Skyrim by the end of the year (the pre-DLC portion) and I'm going to do so -- even if I have to start fresh all over again. Given everything I've learned during my previous journey through Skyrim, I think it should be a fairly smoother trip overall. Fortunately for me, I had more fun than frustration getting to the last point I was prior to going on hiatus and having my 360 yellow-ring on me. Life's not fair, but complaining will get you nowhere. You simply have to start again.
Tamriel itself has changed -- not in the ways of expansions, but in the ways of bugs being patched. So hopefully my experience will be one with little to no crashes, though I did like the floating giants.
All this as Elder Scrolls Online is entering beta testing phase. Looks like I've got some catching up to do before then.
.....on Twitter! Yes, I've finally decided to cave and join the Twittersphere. Twitter is perhaps the most widely used social media website in the known world, and a pretty neat way to get to know people who like to publically share their personal breadcrumbs. For me, I'm mainly using it for getting information on gaming and other important elements in my life. I'm quite the busy bee and my time spent with a computer is sporadic at best, so I kinda need to be kept up to date with various things while I'm on the go -- which explains why I have the Twitter app on my iPhone
The background images you see are examples of the artwork that I do. In this case, it is a digital comic that I am currently working on using characters I've created -- some based on real people that I know in my real life. I think it's an interesting premise to be sure, and one that opens the door for incredible storytelling.
I know there aren't a lot of you who use Twitter, and that's perfectly understandable. You're more than welcome to visit my Twitter page anyway, even if you're not a registered member, as I will very likely tweet stuff not related to gaming per se (but don't rule it out!) so you'd get an insight on what goes on in my personal life--- provided that I choose to share it. For those of you that DO have Twitter, however, feel free to follow me and I'll do likewise with you. Twitter's a chance for everybody to get to know the guy behind the silly username of Asagea_888 (which really doesn't mean anything at all )
EDIT: Here is my Twitter account
If the Link doesn't work, just visit Twitter and key in @kungfubunny1978.
With all the gloomy weather over at Nintendo, a slight silver lining can be seen at last. I caught a glimpse of their latest Nintendo Direct yesterday morning and was quite impressed with their cavalcade of solid 3DS releases. The focus was directed mainly on the 3DS with several high-profile announcements. Although some games were missing from the line-up, the titles they announced thus far are almost certain to ignite a spark of interest among 3DS owners longing for solid titles. All the games are potentially awesome indeed, but here is just some of my own personal highlights of the Nintendo direct.
Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past 3DS was a bit of news that summarily shocked and pleasantly surprised me. This is Nintendo's first new Zelda game since Skyward Sword. Don't be put off by the title though -- because this new Link to the Past is no remake. This is a direct sequel to one of the greatest Super NES video games ever made. Since it takes place in the same universe as its 16-bit console counterpart, I'm lead to believe that the story transpires not long after the events of the original game. I also like the return to the top-down perspective as well as the return to traditional gameplay controls. No swinging a Wii remote and drawing with a Stylus. In my opinion, traditional controls are how the Zelda games were truly meant to be played, and I welcome it wholeheartedly.
This next game's got a strange title, but it's something I want to try out; Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. Given the shake-up over at Square Enix, the company needs to divert most of its focus on what it does best---console role-playing games. And Bravely Default is a nice little homecoming. I don't have a full grasp on how the game actually plays, but I'm really liking how it looks. The game looks to be a promising new IP for Square Enix outside of their Final Fantasy series.
Earthbound SNES is finally coming to the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console. Need I say more? People have long clamored to see Nintendo's other RPG franchise make it Stateside, but as far as it goes, Earthbound will probably be the one and only game in the series to see the West unless Nintendo decides otherwise. If Fire Emblem can make it, why not Mother? I know there's a fairly sizeable North American and European fanbase for the Mother series, and I myself would like to try this game out, too. It's a quirky little gem with a lot of innuendo, crude humor and a hint of adult suggestiveness all wrapped up in a seemingly cheery and bright setting.
Finally, I was most excited about another VC release for the 3DS; Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages/Seasons GBC; co-developed by both Nintendo and Capcom. In my opinion, these games were better than Link's Awakening because it was basically one big adventure split up into two parts. Or two games masquerading as one big adventure. Whichever the case, I used to have the original GBC games in my possession and look forward to striking the pot again.
All things considered, after a string of strike outs, has Nintendo finally hit a home run this year? There's no mistaking the fact that the Wii U is struggling to keep up. The 3DS itself did sell well, but it's still far below the numbers of the original DS. However, given the recent 3DS announcements that have successfully piqued my interest, it's fair to say that Nintendo's pulling a lot of the right strings.
Could it translate into better fortunes? We'll see in the months ahead.....
.....that I had to choose between Injustice: Gods Among Us or Gears of War Judgment as my last "new game" buy for the month of April. I kinda wanted to get Judgment so I could complete my Gears of War collection, but there have been mixed opinions about it. Probably not worth picking up for $60 right now, so I may hold off for a price drop. I decided, because I still love fighting games, to get Injustice instead.
My initial impressions so far is that it almost feels exactly like Mortal Kombat 2011. Only you can use the environment to your advantage by grabbing an object and hurling it at your opponent, or tossing them against the background, which I think adds depth to the fighting. It's really, REALLY over the top. And it's got DC Superheroes. The story's eerily similar to the one Marvel explored regarding the Superhero Registration Act pitting Captain America against Iron Man. Here, it's Batman against Superman. Not exactly a fair fight, but these two have fought before, so it makes for an outrageous plot.
I don't have a particular favorite character at the moment -- I'm merely testing the waters, and it seems like I'm using Wonder Woman a lot, even though I'm not very good with her. I like how she fights using two different styles, and I've already modeled my Gamer Card with her imagery. And Superman can be incredibly cheap with his eye laser and aerial ground punch; you can spam those moves a ton to both damage your opponent and quickly build up your Super Meter before landing your Super Move. The tutorials aren't very elaborate for beginners, so I had to learn through trial, error and experimentation. Injustice seems catered for more hardcore fighting fans, but it isn't so challenging that beginners cannot enjoy it on their own terms. There's still a lot I personally need to get a grasp on in terms of the mechanics. As of this writing, I still don't get the Wager mode.
I'm a little early on this game, so those are my basic impressions. Hope to have more in the future!
I was surprised, shocked and floored when Capcom announced a reimagining of one of their Disney-licensed Nintendo games based on a Disney Afternoon TV series I used to watch religiously as a kid. If you know Scrooge McDuck, you'll know Duck Tales. (Oo-ooo-ooo!) And if you loved both Duck Tales the video game and Duck Tales the cartoon, you'll be pleased to learn that Duck Tales Remastered, helmed by WayForward and featuring voice-over dialogue from the original TV show cast, will hit the ground running this Summer on the PlayStation Network, XBOX Live Arcade and Wii U's eShop.
That's pretty exciting. Duck Tales NES was a huge hit, and it garnered enough of a cult following to keep it somewhat relevant throughout the years. The game has been mentioned here and there around the water cooler from time to time. Launchpad McQuack, as most of you remember, had become the unwitting recipient of a GameSpot contest involving gaming's "greatest sidekicks". (He beat out Sully from Uncharted, for Pete's sake. SULLY!) And who can forget this iconic theme song? (Life is like a hurricane.......okay, never mind.)
In a way, I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't even bother to remember it because I can recall playing the game several times on my best friend's NES. The gameplay was basic, but it was a solid example of doing justice with the Disney license. It's just like how Konami made excellent video games featuring the Ninja Turtles; an era we may never see again--- even with the well-received Nickolodeon reboot.
If companies like Capcom can dig a game like Duck Tales out of relative obscurity for a contemporary reimagining, I can scarcely imagine the possibilities of other games sharing the same glory. And it's happening. As of this writing, Ubisoft is bringing out a remake of Flashback: the Quest for Identity and Sega teased a spot for a possible re-imagining of the Disney-themed Genesis classic Castle of Illusion. All well and good, but one game has stood out in my mind.
That game, my friends, is Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight.
If I started a petition on a message board to present to Capcom, and they actually listened, would it be possible that Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight can see a proper re-release? Mind you, I can divulge the most awful horror stories on how me and my best friend tried desperately to finish the game as impressionable middle school kids, failing numerous times because of its difficulty and clunky control mechanisms, and ultimately achieving our impossible goal only once in our entire lives. I dare say the game made Ninja GAIDEN look easy. However, no matter how many times Street Figher 2010 kicked our ass, we have only fond memories of our masochistic nightmarish experience. That said, I would very much like to see Capcom bring this game from out of the shadows. Originally, the game wasn't even a part of the Street Fighter continuity. But who cares? Capcom can make it work somehow. Capcom can make it a spiritual sequel---a de-canonized what-if scenario; just like the Ultimate Marvel comics which split one character into multiple different universes and story retellings. It wouldn't so much cause an uproar much less a fleeting curiosity among today's Street Fighter fans. And I'm sure SFIV uber champion Daigo wouldn't mind. Besides, the story of Street Fighter 2010 is awesome in all its absurdity. It has Ken being rebuilt as a cyborg with enhanced cybernetic fighting capabilities and the ability to "gatehop" between planets. Plus he sports a killer pair of Ray Bans. Plus, he actually wins the Street Fighter tournament over his pal Ryu. How's that for incredible?
In the game, Ken must avenge the death of his friend Troy, a scientist who was researching a dangerous strain of alien bio-matter known as Cytoplasm. The stuff apparently turned Troy into a puddle of waste on the floor, leaving a trail spanning five different planets. The Japanese version of the game was wholly unrelated to Street Fighter with a different storyline and different characters, but Capcom USA saw an opportunity to cash in on the popularity of the first Street Fighter---long before Street Fighter 2 even hit the scene.
I'm fairly certain Street Fighter 2010 has as much a cult following as Duck Tales, and Duck Tales was billed a game aimed for younger audiences. 2010 was marketed towards a much older crowd. As was another Capcom game that was recently revamped---Bionic Commando NES. So Captain Commando? I know you're listening. Street Fighter 2010 is a game that begs to be remade, and I would love to have it come back. I'm itching for some good old fashioned gameplay revenge......this time, with a PS3 controller. (...or a 360 controller. Whichever!)
Thanks for reading. I'm going to be rewriting this blog with River City Ransom, Little Nemo's Dream Adventure and Yo Noid! in mind. Yes, I said Yo Noid. PEACE!
.....those were Zachary Hale Comstock's last words. Does he live or does he die? I won't tell.
I will say that my time in Columbia is over. Just finished Bioshock Infinite last night. I came into it a week and a half later than most of you guys and managed to beat it in seven days. But I made several errors that prevented me from getting 100% on my first playthrough and didn't want to start over from the beginning when I had gotten so far. The very same thing occurred when I played the first Bioshock on my inaugural attempt.
In beating Infinite, you unlock a nice surprise that may, more or less, prompt you to replay the game if you're up to it. I could replay Bioshock Infinite simply for this reason. However, I'll leave the surprise a secret!
Not bad for 2013, I'd say. I've beaten Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, Tomb Raider and now this. That's three newly released games conquered soundly. Now it's time to go back to my dusty queue of other unfinished titles!
Both the PS4 and the XBOX 720 aren't even released yet and already they're getting a lot of buzz for things outside of what is typically expected. Thus, anticipation is heavily overshadowed by an enamored sense of worry over how these consoles are putting measures in place that might stop them from even playing games at all. The PS4 has had to deal with rumors regarding pre-owned games not running on the unit, and although Sony assured consumers that used games can be played on a PS4, it is far too early to tell at this point. Today, the rumor mill is churning over Microsoft's upcoming new console, and the issue stems with the concept of "always-online", requiring a game or a machine to be fully connected to the internet to function. A notable Microsoft employee took to his Twitter account to call into question gamer's concerns about 'always online', concluding with a rather snarky hashtag "#dealwithit". Granted, the tweet wasn't specifically aimed at the new XBox in particular, but his comments prompted an immediate pouring of outrage from both gamers and developers like Bioware, citing the launch disasters of both Diablo 3 and Sim City; two high-profile PC games associated with DRM (digital-rights management), which is the defacto technical term for "always-online". It also raised questions over whether or not the XBox 720 will fully adopt the feature, and that's not including the other possible fact that it, too, may not play used games. The Microsoft employee in question later apologized for his comments before changing his Twitter profile from public to private to avoid further scorn. So far, Microsoft hasn't publicly commented on the rumors and speculation. The so-called XBOX 720 is due to be revealed in a few short months, leaving many to wonder if Microsoft is purposely waiting until then to either confirm or dispel the rumors.
The industry never duly intended for "always-online" to be an affront to honest gamers, though it is certainly understandable why gamers may feel that way given the circumstances. It may have been designed as a countermeasure against potential hackers, pirates and opportunistic cheaters. These unsavory elements have been a collective thorn in the backside for both companies and their consumers, costing the industry millions---if not billions---every year. It may be that the industry is pushing for more social aspects to their games. They might have this assumption that gamers who play with others have more fun than people who game by themselves. Whether you like it or not, we're living in an era of Facebook and Twitter, where more and more people are glued to their smartphones and tablets, wirelessly keeping in touch with friends and strangers from every corner of the world. In a gaming sense, the industry probably wanted to force the idea of social networking in single-player games because they viewed solitary experiences as no longer being relevant or profitable in this day and age. Companies have made it abundantly clear that they are willing to adopt any newfound idea if it has the potential to generate a foreseeable profit margin, and you can only guess that they're also crossing their fingers hoping gamers will not cause too much of a fuss over it. Looking back, most ideas and proposals forced by the industry have been met with fierce resistance and criticism for fixing what was never broken, only to end up breaking it.
If every internet connection worked perfectly 100% of the time and every household on the face of the planet had access to the internet, always-online DRM would have been a fine idea. The reality is not every person can use the internet in their home, and it doesn't always work as intended; even for those who have top-of-the-line connections like DSL and FIOs. Another thing to consider is that not everybody wants to embrace the social aspects of gaming right away---if at all. That doesn't necessarily make them anti-social; it is merely their preference. When you think about these things, you come to understand why DRM and always-online is problematic in its current stages. Even more troubling is the possibility of games refusing to work at all if the internet decides to have a bad day. Case in point games like Diablo 3 and Sim City, and consoles like the XBOX 720.
When Diablo 3 first launched with the DRM component firmly intact, the high volume of people who purchased the game on day one lead to its in-game servers suffering from immense overcrowding, ultimately shutting down in various portions and preventing the entire game (even the single player modes) from running for a good several hours. Disgruntled consumers took to the message boards to vent their frustrations before Blizzard finally addressed the issue, but the damage had already been done. The same goes for the recently released Sim City reboot. The game launched with an impressive out-of-the-gate sales record, and that also lead to a debilitating server flood that crippled the single-player portion of the game almost entirely. Maxis argued that they could have deemphasized the digital-rights management, but they ultimately chose not to because it didn't fit with their vision. Angry gamers took to task those comments, claiming that their so-called "vision" of Sim City didn't correlate well with their own experience because disparaged servers stopped them from even accessing the game in the first place.
It's often said that the video game industry is slow to learn from their mistakes. In theory, there's some truth to that claim. The industry is aware of the problems associated with DRM and "always-online" components for single player games. Yet, I tend to think that they're more insistent and stubborn in their own beliefs than they are dumb or uneducated. They insist the idea can work, because they likely poured a lot of money into the idea, and their reputation in on an invisible thread. And, by God, they'll see to it that it's either their way or no way at all. So it's really not so much the industry turning an intentional blind eye to the concerns of gamers but, rather, the industry giving you a plate of lima beans and doing everything they can to convince you to eat them so that, maybe, you'd one day grow to like them. Otherwise, you won't be getting dessert.
However, it needs to be clearly understood by both game companies and gamers that, as it stands now, DRM and "always-online" is fundamentally and technically flawed. It becomes an even greater issue if an internet connection is required to even play games at all, and this is a concern that I have for Microsoft's upcoming console. If the rumors prove to be true, then Microsoft will need to answer to an influx of angry gamers who have thrown their lima beans to their puppies begging for scraps underneath the kitchen table. There's nothing inherently wrong with playing games with an internet connection so long as it fulfills its intended purpose well and doesn't serve as a distraction to the experience. But an internet connection shouldn't be a requirement to even run a game at all, because if it only takes a modem to ruin the fun for every single gamer on the planet, regardless of your preference, then we as consumers face a very bleak outcome. As I alluded to before with the industry in general, I don't believe Microsoft is stupid. I think it's very likely that they're perhaps stubborn and insistent. If all the speculation and rumors are to be believed, and should they be confirmed, then they're going to sell you the notion that DRM and always-online is the "way of the gaming future"---an appropriate and necessary measure that protects consumers and the industry at large. And they're hoping against hope that gamers will see it their way.
I can tell you right now that is far from being the case.
It's for real this time. No joke. I've FINALLY made it to the skies of Columbia after a week or so of being without my 360. They were able to fix the problem, so I shouldn't run into the Yellow Ring of Death again for a while---if ever. And you know what the first thing I did when I got my baby home? What else? I popped in Bioshock Infinite at about the same rate of speed as me making a mad dash to the restroom with a full bladder. I played it for quite a bit, reaching as far as finding Elizabeth for the first time and getting her to the relative safety of a beach, which is where my save is suspended as of this writing. Here is, at long last, my early analysis of a game that I had been waiting to play since Bioshock made a fan out of me roughly two years ago.
Columbia is a beautiful city. High above the clouds, it's every bit a technical and architectural marvel as Rapture was. In the opening stages of the game, I spent a great deal of time taking in the sights. Contrary to the dark and depressing underwater bubble of Andrew Ryan's dystopic concrete jungle, Columbia is constantly drenched in bright sun, crowds of people, tons of activity, and endless blue skies. You can briefly play mini-games at a thoroughfare which serve as a introduction to the game's FPS combat and Vigor system (infinite's version of Plasmids and Gene Tonics), or even listen to an acapella band belt a tune on a floating ship. Everything reminded me of the 1900s pre-era World War I---just shy of the Great Depression. And it was somewhat comforting to see people alive, well and running around in the streets----as opposed to the dead and rotting of Rapture's failed society.
Of course, beneath Columbia's erstwhile beauty and merriment, there's an ugliness to it. For one, the orderly yet corrupted social infrastructure of the city is facilitated by a white supremacist ideology. This is clearly evident during one crucial moment near the start of the game involving an Irish man and an African American woman, and the looming statue of John Wilkes Booth (the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln) that greets you in the building riddled with crows. I won't give away too much, but I can tell you right now that it's very difficult to watch---especially in a video game. Yet, Bioshock Infinite faithfully demonstrates the attitudes that did exist during the time period in which the game takes place.
As far as the game itself is concerned, Bioshock Infinite's a little like travelling to a place you've never been to and coming back home again. Given my past experiences with Bioshock and Bioshock 2, the first-person shooting of Bioshock Infinite was a natural extension. Considering the new environment high above the clouds, I had to get used to the idea that I'm no longer fighting splicers or Big Daddies. I've gotten much better at first-person shooters these days, so I didn't have a whole lot of trouble shooting and aiming my targets in the thick of a desperate standoff involving multiple enemies. The Vigors are also fun to use, too. My favorite so far is the Murder of Crows -- where you summon a flock of Crows to aggravate mobs and cause damage over time. Basically, Vigors are Plasmids with different names and different behaviors. Either way, just like the Plasmids and Gene Tonics were a perfect fit with Bioshock, Vigors are a great compliment to Infinite's solid FPS combat.
Bioshock Infinite is actually more challenging than the original games. There aren't first aid med kits to help you when you need them, and enemies are far more aggressive and dangerous. Bioshock Infinite is more open-ended than Bioshock, meaning you might come across a side-quest or two, and Columbia itself is a BIG world to explore. There are also objective-based achievements to watch out for, too, and the game keeps track of them as you progress. For example, you might be asked to perform a certain number of finishers using your melee weapon or find a specific number of video projectors.
You don't fight splicers this time. Thuggish human beings, police officers, deranged cultists and Lex Luthor wannabes are just some of the foes you'll run into, and I've faced and killed all the ones I just mentioned. I haven't scratched the surface yet. But, perhaps the most frightening enemy I've encountered in the game thus far is the Songbird. It's about as big as King Kong and can easily shred concrete like a hot knife through ice cream. It's supposed to be Elizabeth's loyal bodyguard and protector, but the enormous size and terrifying capacity for destruction it possesses is enough to convince me just how valuable this seemingly harmless young woman truly is.
As I said before, I've left off at a specific point after saving Elizabeth for the first time, so my journey continues. As soon as I'm able to finish it all the way through, I'll proceed with a detailed final overall impression when I get the chance to do so.
Well, March has come and gone, and April has officially arrived. We're midway in Spring, Spring Break's happening in various circles, and college kids are flocking to Mexico to get drunk and partake in wet t-shirt contests with the local ladies. While I may never join them in their raucous fun, at least I can stay at home and play video games. It's looking to be an exciting month, so here's what's been going on with me gaming-wise.
I picked up Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag today for the PS4. I didn't think I was going to return to the series after leapfrogging across the franchise proper and exposing myself to major spoilers, but I decided it was time to give it another chance at glory. My first few hours into it, I was thoroughly impressed with the gameplay mechanics. All the memorable stealthing, assassination, mini-games and side-quests (including one involving Jack Sparrow) were here in full effect. Overall, I think ACIV on the PS4 is the definitive version of a stellar game. Ubisoft also announced that AC4 will also be ported to the Nintendo 3DS with added features, a new playable character named Jack Sparrow and a trailer for Assassin's Creed 5!
In other news, given the fact that I'm unable to play Bioshock Infinite, I decided to visit my friend and try it out on his 360 just to get a feel for what I'm getting myself into. And man, was I disappointed. It was nothing like Bioshock at all! The controls were horrible, the story was garbage and the graphics were absolutely archaic by comparison to its predecessors. I was so disgusted that I decided to return my unwrapped copy, demanding my money back. Pitiful! I think Bioshock Infinite is one of the absolute WORST games I've ever played. I'd rather play Cheetahmen on the Nintendo than this drivel. Ha! I used my refund money to buy an even better game than that -- Street Cleaning Simulator. And I'm happy.
Anyway, I guess that's about it from me. April's still young, so I'm looking forward to getting my 360 back from the repair shop so I can smash it with a sledgehammer and post it on YouTube. Keep calm, game on ......
.......and sloof lirpa.
So I picked up Bioshock Infinite today from an age-old preorder ticket. I was not able to get the Collector's Edition, but at least it didn't cost me $100. That's the good news. The bad news is my 360 got the dreaded Yellow Ring of Death two days ago and I'm not going to be able to use it until after it's either fixed or I get a replacement. Who knows how long that'll take, but for the moment, I'm pretty much sidelined from 360 gaming, so I'll have to sit there with my Dr.Pepper and Egg sandwiches and be jealous at everybody else already running wild in Columbia and keeping Elizabeth out of trouble. Yet, I assure you -- my time will come soon enough.
I could have simply substituted for the PS3 version, but I already made up my mind that I was going to play the Bioshock series entirely on the 360, because in my opinion, the 360 is the more suitable platform for a game like that. Unless they're console exclusive to a particular system, I typically buy first-person shooters on the 360 by default.
I'm pretty much left watching gameplay videos to imprint the illusion that I'm playing along with you guys. There's no doubt that the game looks great and well deserving of the 9.0 rating here at GS. I have heard that a few people are upset by the mere docking of .5 extra points---i.e. it should have been a 9.5, not a 9.0. What's to take issue about? Van Ord poured nothing but immediate praise for the game. A 9.0 still earns its Editor's Choice label and should be highly regarded as a must-play title. Isn't that enough? A video game can be awesome, but there's no need for it to be near-perfect to still be great.
As soon as I get my 360 repaired, I'll finally be able to venture to Columbia. For now, my experience will have to wait. Until then, for those who have the game already, do enjoy it!
Only the truly hardcore of gamers can fool themselves into thinking they can handle extremely difficult games. I'm not one of them, but I decided to take a shot at one of the cruelest free-to-play MMORPGs on the scene today -- Wizardry Online.
Wizardry's an old role-playing game series that started in North America by Sirtech before somehow being assimilated as a Japanese RPG franchise. Wizardry Online's the latest offering into the burgeoning free-to-play MMO market with a style remarkably similar to Final Fantasy XI; incorporating traditional real-time combat and other MMO trappings made popular by its peers. In other words, it isn't any real different from anything else you've tried out there.
But those erstwhile similarities end with a frightening gameplay component; permadeath. In an MMORPG. MMORPGs are incredible time sinks. People spend hours upon hours of their time cultivating their character. I couldn't imagine what would happen if all their dedicated hard work suddenly disappeared with absolutely no way to recover it. Wizardry Online's the first MMORPG of its kind to introduce permadeath in the genre. Not only that, the game itself is boorishly difficult. Your character cannot auto-heal -- you are forced to either recover health at healing stations that are limited in use, invest in expensive potions, and deal with highly aggressive mobs. Fortunately, you're given some opportunities to save your character from permadeath should you get slain, but even that can be a gamble. In Wizardry Online, the threat of death in a video game gets about as frighteningly real as the threat of death in REAL LIFE.
You get one shot in a very difficult game and, if you blow it, it's over. Would you want to play a game like that? I would. Video games thrive on providing a challenging atmosphere, but I don't know of anything that can be more challenging than the threat of permadeath. In an MMORPG.
Bring it on.
.....because my rank says "Rise from Your Grave". (evil laughter, LMFAO)
Now that GameSpot allows you to embed YouTube videos into your blogs, I thought I'd do something fun in tribute to my effervescent Rank title -- a full longplay of the game from whence it came; Altered Beast. Known in Japan as "Beast King's Chronicle" and released in 1988 with a development team of only a handful of members, it quickly grew in popularity in the arcades, spawning a multitude of home conversions including an impressive Sega Genesis port (complete with the voice samples), and spinoffs like Project Altered Beast on the PS2 (released only in Japan and Europe) and Guardian of the Realms on the GBA. One of the boss characters, Neff, makes a cameo in Wreck-it Ralph.
Well, anyway.....some updates.
I've finished Tomb Raider with 100% Completion.
It wasn't easy, and I had to struggle a bit with the challenges, but throughout the entire journey, I had a blast. It was also quite an emotionally charged experience, too. Lara endures a cavalcade of punishment that would permanently sideline even the hardiest person on the planet, and she bears witness to some horrible sights. The game itself has a lot of gruesome, disturbing imagery that earns the Mature rating---much of it I've had to look away from. Yet, I still had to keep my thumb on the analog to keep Lara moving. Time and time again, she emerges from each and every obstacle stronger and more confident than ever. Maybe it's because she's mostly driven to save her friends rather than considering her own personal fears. And trust me when I tell you this -- you can sense she is frightened. To say she is oblivious to such a rational human emotion in the midst of these terrible obstacles would be the result of narrow-minded thinking. She chooses not to give in to it, because fear is merely a choice.
Sniping enemies using a bow and arrow is perhaps one of the biggest rushes I've ever had in a game. A bow and arrow is a rather primitive tool, but in the right hands, it can be a fiercely deadly weapon capable of some brutal headshots. I like how you can develop Lara's skill set, especially earning finisher kills. The one with the rifle is especially hilarious.
This is one game I won't soon forget.
I also completed Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate with 100% completion.....
......although the extra cutscene you earn for your trouble....well, far be it for me to express my own opinion in an effort to avoid spoilers, but for anyone still interested in getting the game, I hope yours is more favorable than mine. I'll just say that you do not necessarily NEED to get 100% to finish the game unless you're a rabid completionist type like I am, but if you do insist on doing so, at do it for bragging rights and all the useful upgrades. The exploration of Dracula's Castle is a nice throwback to the Castlevania games of old, but it usually isn't worth the effort finding scrolls. Life and Magic Upgrades are perhaps the more worthwhile item pieces to find as it will help you during boss battles and the final confrontation with the Prince of Darkness. The story is told in ad hominem in reverse, letting slip a few noticeable bread crumbs early on that will likely spoil a lot of the surprise. And as I said in my last blog, there is one particular plot twist regarding one of the playable characters that left me in utter disbelief and not in a good way. I felt it was a big disservice to the Castlevania lore -- even despite the fact that it is a reboot.
That said, do you need to play the original Lords of Shadow first? With me, personally, having beaten that game before going into this one, I was already made aware of a major plot point involving one of the main characters, so that came as little surprise. If you have not played Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate will likely divulge important spoilers, but it doesn't get into the nitty gritty details regarding how specific events occurred that lead to one of the more greater developments of Lords of Shadow. I would suggest anyone wanting to play the original Lords of Shadow to play that first along with both its DLC, but if you do not mind being a little spoiled, then Mirror of Fate may not pose much of a problem.
Anyway, overall, it was a good game, but not great. Hopefully, LoS2 will fare much better.
So what's next for me? Well, I eagerly await Bioshock Infinite and Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon (the only remaining March releases I plan on picking up) but in the meantime---remember when I said I was going to play a Final Fantasy game and finish it all the way through? I've chosen the one that will help me fulfill that very promise. The vid below will reveal all. Until then, keep calm and game on.
You guys remember to spring forward your clock? Spring is fast approaching, and around here, the weather is getting nicer after a slew of rainstorms. It was also a good time for me to pick up two high profile releases; Tomb Raider (PS3) and Castlevania: LoS Mirror of Fate (3DS) -- two games I had been waiting for. Sadly, only of the two games managed to live up to my expectations, while the other fell a little short. Which is which, you ask? Read on.
The first game I got was Tomb Raider 2013 -- a rebooted origin story of Lara Croft. Finding herself shipwrecked on a mysterious Japanese island, her journey propels her from an ordinary young whelpling into a tough-as-nails adventurer.
If there's one thing I can possibly say about Tomb Raider, it's the fact that it just might be a possible contender for my personal Game of the Year. Not since Lords of Shadow have I had this much fun with a rebooted franchise title. Here's the irony -- Uncharted borrowed elements from the older Tomb Raider games for inspiration, and this latest Tomb Raider consequently borrows heavily from the Uncharted series. However, Tomb Raider 2013 is far more brutal, gruesome and disturbing. Lara Croft is utterly savaged and beaten all throughout the course of the game. She gets impaled, smashed against walls, swept away in raging rivers, plummeted a good thirty feet from deathly chasms -- small wonder why you can hear her breathing heavily most of the time, even in quieter moments. The game is touted as foretelling the origins of the titular Lara Croft from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor and, given everything she goes through in just thirty minutes and walking away practically in one piece, it's not hard to see why. As for the gameplay itself? There's a ton of things to do and tons of environment to explore. There were several things that actually reminded me of Assassin's Creed, but Tomb Raider is much easier to navigate for me. Controls are surprisingly tight and platforming against the face of extremely dangerous situations is thrilling and responsive as it needs to be. I also like how you can upgrade weapons by using salvaging materials, strengthen your own character through skill points spread out in three different categories and raid optional tombs for bonus rewards. Simply put, Tomb Raider is nearly the complete package, and I'm eager to see where the franchise goes from here.
The second game I got was Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate. Taking place after the events of Lords of Shadow, the story follows three characters as they explore Dracula's Castle to defeat the Prince of Darkness, all the while revealing their own tragic fates as members of the storied Belmont Clan of vampire killers.
Despite its convoluted title, it is a pretty decent game. It is meant to be a bridge between the original Lords of Shadow and the upcoming Lords of Shadow 2, reintroducing three major characters of the franchise lore---Trevor, Simon and Alucard. The combat is quite solid, drawing obvious elements from Lords of Shadow, and the enviroments are gorgeous for a 3DS game. However, I felt as if the game suffered from a dearth of missed opportunities. For one, there's a particular plot point regarding a major character in the game that left me in utter disbelief. The storytelling, for one, revealed a lot of clues that ruined the element of surprise. And the exploration of Dracula's Castle involved some tedious backtracking for hidden items that don't do much to help your character other than a minimal EXP payout. Getting 100% will nab you an extra cutscene, and even that isn't worth the trouble. I don't know -- I had so many high expectations coming into this one, and it just feels as if the game fails to meet up to most of them. Still, for what it's worth, it's a good game, but not something you'd want to get in day one. I just hope now that Lords of Shadow 2 concludes the LoS saga in a satisfactory way.
So far, I'd say March is looking quite promising. Until then, keep calm and game on.
I remember that night as if it were only yesterday. It was around 12:00 AM in my time zone. Halfway across the world, my GameSpot friend @mufujifi introduced me to a relatively unknown indie game through the Steam network. It was a first-person adventure that took place under the cover of darkness with the player possessing only a flashlight, and everything was almost entirely black-and-white with shades of grey inbetween. The goal of the game was to find eight pieces of paper scattered all throughout a bleak and uncertain deep woods environment that draws obvious comparisons to those old Blair Witch movies. However, the player also had to contend with a bizarre looking boogieman creature who popped up entirely at random, designed to surprise you when you least expected it. Well, perhaps "surprise" is the wrong word. This creature will not attack or kill you, but the game ends when you stare at it for a lengthy period of time, and he will appear in more frequency the further you get and the more pages you collect. It doesn't appear to be any more frightening than that badly-drawn cartoon mummy you see on those Count Chocula cereal boxes. What makes this creature particularly scary is its element of surprise within a dark and foreboding environment, and you've got nothing but a flimsy, battery-run flashlight for company. So, this rather simple creature that looks like something my six-year old niece can draw with a blindfold on has the very real capacity of meting out a whole lot of "oh, s***" moments.
The game is known as Slender: the Eight Pages, and it is quite possibly one of the most psychologically scariest games I've ever played. Not so much the fact that it isn't about zombies or homicidal maniacs brandishing chainsaws, or the idea of it not being an exercise of resource management against horrifying odds. It's because of the mental strain of being constantly watched by something that hides like a diminutive cockroach under a kitchen stove, lying in wait to scutter from underneath its laurels to reveal itself to the unwitting. The creature in the game, called "the Slender Man", is an unsettling bit of imagery that has the ability to take the fullest advantage of your fears without ever needing to look like a monster.
Games like Slender are a stark indication that indie developers are looking into different definitions of horror to appeal to people that enjoy horror-based genres; something the larger third-parties have yet to be fully aware of. We live in a world where violent games like Resident Evil, Dead Space, and Zombi U are chalking up the horror amplitude with disfigured zombies, limited resources, mutant scourges, atmospheric scares, disgusting images, and lots of blood and intestinal entrails. Yet, most people don't realize that the horror genre, whether it be in games or otherwise, can be construed as many different variables outside of all that. In video games, horror can be alternately used as a pure psychological factor to draw reactions that aren't necessarily based on shock value. A horror game can successfully tap into a person's mental and emotional fears. In the case of Slender, there's the feeling of vulnerability and a fear of being watched and surprised in an uncertain environment or situation. In the case of the Fatal Frame series, the player snaps photos of ghosts who represent stigmas of very real deaths. Seeing a ghost that is clearly representative of an actual demise causes a almost knee-jerk fear of death and mortality.
Uncomfortable as this may all seem, psychological horror can actually work well in video games, and people who play video games like to immerse themselves fully in the experience to maximize their enjoyment. Just as it is with a burst of laughter, an adrenaline rush, a fit of rage or a need to solve a problem, the act of experiencing horror in all of its forms, not just merely through disgusting imagery or ugly zombies, is indicative of watching a movie or reading a novel; we experience these to BE scared, to BE surprised, to confront our fears. The same should hold true for video gaming as well, and the bigger industry giants will want to take notes from the little guys who are helping bring the horror genre back from the brink of relative darkness.
Que the evil laughter.
Hast thou felt it? The collective wind of eager anticipation, the aria of excitement not seen in ages. All emanating from one of the worst kept secrets in the video game industry -- the PlayStation 4.
They did manage to keep a few things under wraps to prolong the suspense. First off, we don't even know what it LOOKS like; apart from the touchy-feely Dual Shock 4 controllers and a Kinect-like sensor bar for motion-based games. We caught a glimpse of the system's performance through several trailers of upcoming launch titles. While not expecially mind-blowing, it was admittedly quite impressive enough to cast a shadow over the aging PlayStation 3. We gathered crucial bits of info about the PS4---such as the fact that it reportedly won't blocked used games as initially feared, but it won't support backwards-compatibility with PS3 games either. We still have yet to know a price point, the official release date and the design of the console itself. I suspect such things would be revealed at this year's E3.
Over the course of the next several months), I'm going to be studying the PS4 like a wheat germ under a high-powered microscope. Typically, I get excited over new consoles because they're a step-up from the ones before, but I always felt the PS3 just about tipped the plateau of what was humanly possible in console performance. High definition brought crystal clear images, and frame rates have improved considerably to allow for smoother gaming experiences. Heavy Rain pushed the limits of the PS3, inspiring third-parties and competitors to challenge themselves in creating an incredibly life-like experience using current-gen technology. But soon, the PS4 will succeed the PS3, boasting an impressive AMD next-generation Radeon GPU and a CPU 8 core "Jaguar" AMD. That's roughly comparable to the current round of well-equipped PCs. Might Sony be able to push things further than what we thought they had achieved with the PS3? Would there even be a need for a PlayStation 5?
Who knows? Performance and specs aside, the games are what really matter at this point. Still, it's hard to ignore what the PS4 can do with its hardware.
Are you guys excited about the PS4? Weigh in with your thoughts.
Bungie finally put out a teaser spot for their next big game post-Halo; called Destiny. They say it's supposed to be a first-person shooter that will allow players to create a character that will grow and evolve overtime, and the game itself will undergo an evolution that spans at least ten years. Sounds pretty ambitious. I suspect a massive promotional campaign and major hype surrounding this game. However, I'm left to wonder -- can Bungie reinvent the first-person shooter? You think Activision's got a potential hit on their hands outside of Call of Duty?
For now, Destiny seems like a promising concept. I'm definitely interested, but I want to see for myself just how good the game is, and what the screenshots and gameplay vids tell me. Expect lots and lots and lots of homework.
In the meantime, I'm going to be on the lookout for this in the months ahead. What about you?