Friday, October 29, 2010

PS2 Retrospective

There have been a number of great blogs out there that have been taking a look back at the PS2 and it's glory days as this year (this fall specifically) marks it's 10th year in production; I thought I'd lend my 2 cents on the subject.

Yep, it's been 10 years since Sony released their much anticipated follow up to their first whack at a dedicated gaming console and the it's still selling today despite sharing space with not only it's successor but also that of systems by competitor companies and handhelds that pack nearly as much power as the PS2 itself.

Sony took a gamble and decided that DVD was essential to the success of the platform which turned out very well for them as gamers all around the world were getting the bonus feature of being able to play their DVD movies on the system in a time where DVD player's weren't cheap and competitors weren't taking advantage of this for their systems at all. Looking forward was smart, but looking back was just as smart as Sony decided that integrating the ability to play your entire PS1 catalog on the machine with nothing more than a PS1 memory card was something they would love to do. Jump ahead 10 years and most systems are emulating this idea to the fullest extent. They took a great controller that evolved on the PS1 and tweaked it for the PS2 - producing (arguably) one of the best gamepads for years to come.

Solid first party titles and very strong third party support threw the system into the limelight as competitors struggled to keep afloat. The Dreamcast fell and the GameCube failed to meet sales expectations, all the while PS2 sales soared. Titles like Rockstar's (actually DMA Design) Grand Theft Auto 3, Konami's Metal Gear Solid 2 and Polyphany Digital's Gran Turismo 3 made the PS2 the system to own.

Later Sony introduced an online adapter for online play, hard drive attachments, tried out motion contolls with the eyetoy and even redesigned the system in a very small "slim" model. Which is still selling today, 10 years after it launched. It's total sales reach nearly 147 million units, the likes of which no other console has seen yet (even the uber-popular Wii sits at a mere 76million) and is the only sixth generation console you can still buy brand new in stores - as gamecube and xbox production halted the moment their successors came along. Hell, there are still new games being created for the system! Various sports titles still have PS2 iterations (which share similar code with the Wii versions) and a lot of titles from both the Wii and PSP get to see light on the PS2 which is great for anyone who is either A) on a budget or B) missed the PS2 in it's prime time.

Back in 2000, this blogger was sitting in the ripe awkward age of 14, still enjoying the hell out of his N64 and only dreaming that a PS2 would be a machine he would one day own. The summer of 2002 was the year that I actually saved up enough to get my vary own PS2 and it took quite a lot of work in various jobs that I could find to do and make money at. Once I did save up just enough to get exactly what I wanted, I headed into Walmart with my mother and asked the bald man at the desk for a PS2, GTA3, a memory card and lastly decided on Turok Evolution because it was cheap and I assumed another full priced game would not fit into my budget. My mom was the key ingredient because without her GTA3 would of been a no-go, geez being 14 sucks, eh? :P Anyways, I got that sucker home and without too much hassle I got it up and running - the rest is history! Haha, seriously tho, it was fucking amazing. My sister and I played GTA till our eyes were bleeding. We both beat the game and sunk, literally hours into the title which my list of titles grew very slowly (again, being 14 sucks right...).

Through out the years my PS2 was a godsend. Titles like Metal Gear Solid 2, Burnout 3, Final Fantasy X, Soul Calibur 2, Kingdom Hearts, Xenosaga, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, God of War, Killzone, DragonBallZ Budokai and many many many more ate away my time and made me love the machine. Lots of my friends had the system, we traded and borrowed games, playstation magazines came packed with demo discs and hardware wise I never had issues. At one point I thought my PS2 crapped out on me... but a quick look to the internet lead me to a tutorial on how to clean the dvd lens which after doing made my PS2 work perfectly again.

Sadly, I sold my original PS2. It along with about 30 games went to the hands on a long white bearded man who drove a huge purple pimp van. lol, that sounds odd... but that's exactly what happened. It was shortly after I got my PS3 and I was sure that with my new machine's ability to play PS2 games that I wouldn't need my old system... kinda sad that I made that decision.... but money was tight at the time... after buying a $700 PS3 :P

The PS2 is in my top 3 of favorite consoles of all time and so, Happy 10 years PS2. :) You earned it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

15 reasons 2011 will be kind to core gamers

Sure... 2010 was a great year for games, titles like: Alan Wake, Bioshock 2, Crackdown 2, Darksiders, Final Fantasy XIII, Just Cause 2, Mass Effect 2, Red Dead Redemption, StarCraft 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2 ... and the list goes on, entertained us for hours and hours while other titles like: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, CastleVania: Lords of Shadow, Fallout: New Vegas, Gran Turismo 5, Medal of Honor, Vanquish, Rockband 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops and others are just around the corner.

But, 2011 seems to want to up the ante and deliver an ever more action packed gaming year than the one preceding it. That's just with titles we know about! I guarantee you there will be many more announcements along the way that will keep our fingers busy for quite some time.

I however, wanted to focus some 15 top notch games (that we currently know about) I believe will rawk in 2011.

XCOM - 360, PC

This little title popped up at E3 and impressed the hell out of me. The era, the story, the unknown and a superb visual style to boot all scream unique.

The Witcher 2 - PC, 360, PS3

Thus far the team is merely working on the PC version but has promised to get to work on porting it over to consoles once the PC build is finalized. I'm currently enjoy the first one on PC and am pumped that it's getting a sequel. A sequel that looks fucking gorgeous and promises such freedom in story and playability that it's scary.

Batman: Arkham City - PC, PS3, 360

Batman: Arkham Asylum was one of my favorite titles of 2009 and I honestly can't wait for it's sequel. Harley is back and catwoman is confirmed too. Tons of other baddies and chaos under the Joker, what more could you ask for. Rockstead knocked it out of the park with their first game... one can only drool to see what they're improving.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PS3, 360, PC

These screen shots really don't do the game justice... as it looks insane in game, something terribly spectacular. The setting and the fact that we're dealing with a cyberpunk like world excites the hell out of me. It's about time we've had a modern take on cyberpunk.

Crysis 2 - PC, PS3, 360

The game is set to appear on consoles... and it does look pretty fucking sweet on both... but the thing shines like nothing else when put on a powerful PC. The first Crysis blew me away, not just because it looked pretty, but because there was just such a meaty engine behind a well crafted and played out story. Every weapon felt powerful, every environment alive and when you got to control things like tanks and turrets the whole thing blew your face off with it's awesomeness. I expect the same from the sequel.

Dragon Age 2 - PC, PS3, 360

The first DragonAge is something I wasn't sure I would latch onto... as it seemed to follow a style not unlike the old school computer RPGs of the 90s... which I've, honestly, had my share of. But, it really surprised me, as the characters were so fleshed out and made the story special because of such strong characters. Bioware knows how to craft, that's for sure. The new title hopes to hone in on the characters even more with one main character (male or female) and a story that weaves around him/her. All the power to them if the detail to characters is still on par with their other projects.

Final Fantasy Versus XIII - PS3

Sure... not a whole lot is known about the project... and who knows if it'll even meet a 2011 launch date... but I'm pumped for it. It reminds me a lot more of a FFVII like game, one that will rely a bit more on reality mixed with some fantasy, rather than a complete fantasy game. FFXIII was kewl... but really the excitement for this game crushes any I had for XIII. I'm just hoping to get my ass whoop on when it does drop.

Gears of War 3 - 360

As far as I know, Epic has dropped the PC was a place for Gears... but that doesn't mean you can't pick it up for the 360. Sadly it's been delayed till next Fall for a release, but that just means they will be polishing it to the brim, right? The girls git to bring the cans of ass whoop this time around and it's looking even more eye-candy is being merged into the project than the second episode. Time to rip some suckers apart! :D

Killzone 3 - PS3

I've enjoyed every Killzone title I've had my hands on, should KZ3 be different? Hopefully not. Killzone2's single and multiplayer rawked in big ways and the new title looks to improve where ever they can. Jet packs, mechs and a large variety of environments are the bullet points of the game which sounds like a TON of fun. Of course, the game looks better too, some people wouldn't of thought possible after KZ2's surprising visuals.

Mass Effect 3 - PC, 360 (PS3?)

Mass Effect is prob my favorite series of this generation, hands down. The way Bioware crafts it's characters and the story around them in a world that beaming with life really just makes my heart flutter. It's exactly what I look for in a game! Parts 1 and 2 I've played on the 360 and later got for cheap for the PC and so I'll prob continue with those for the 3rd part (as to copy over my save) but the idea that ME2 is hitting PS3s this January and there's a massive probability that the ending chapter will have a launch on the system is quite an awesome deal. No word yet on a surefire release date for part 3, but we can hope it's a 2011 release. Sadly no pics for ME2 - so here's some I picked from ME2.

Portal 2 - PC, PS3, 360

Ahh, portal :). Such a unique and beloved puzzle game like no other. It oozed such personality and the sequel looks to throw that into a blender with a helping of "HOLY FUCKING SHIT" and come out with something that'll make your jaw drop to the floor. The game looks tight... and I can't wait to see what they have in store with boss battles :D

Rage - PC, PS3, 360

Think Borderlands was kewl? Son, you ain't seen nuthin. :P The game seems to hit, spot on, that idea of a wasteland and bandits out for number one. Forget all the technical mumbo-jumbo with megatextures and all that crap, this game looks to really envelope the player in a world that grows around them, all the while looking superb.

MotorStorm: Apocalypse - PS3

I've got a confession! I LOVE the MotorStorm series. It's not the best racing series out there, it's not the prettiest one either, but man oh man is it fun (albeit sometimes frustrating). The team takes straight forward arcade racing and kicks it up a notch with superbly designed tracks featuring multiple paths and a unique multiple vehicle feature that makes each of those paths a possibility for success. The massive destruction, intense AI, great sound tracks and adrenalin pumping action really gets you into it. The next in the series looks to drop building on you! :P Also nice to see is a visual upgrade... which IMO we lost in the second game.

inFAMOUS 2 - PS3

The freedom, expansive powers, sublime twists in the story and a good/bad karma system of teh first game really made me fall in love with it. The second game features more powers, more answers in a branching story, more enemies and a visual bump up that really just blows the first game out of the water. Can't wait to get my hands on Cole again.

Little Big Planet 2 - PS3

I'm not so much excited for LBP2 as a game that the developers put together for my to go through... looking for story and all that Jazz. Rather, I'm looking forward to LBP2 for the stuff that us gamers are going to create. This second project in the series really is about opening up to that idea and letting gamers make the games they want. I've seen footage from beta levels where people have begun crafting RPGs in the engine.... and it works rather well. I wonder if the series will ever evolve into a set of tools to allow gamers to full on make their own games?

Most images courtesy