Thursday, December 26, 2013

Should I be concerned at my lack of resistance?

I jumped into the single player campaign on Killzone Shadow Fall on my PS4 the other day on something like Chapter 6 or 7, where I find myself navigating a structure that seems to be a kind of slums for the helghan people whom are oppressed by their government.

On entering the building, I'm given the choice to make a quick button press to prevent a man from sending a bullet through his scull at the protest of his wife. I instantly act, without knowing much about this man, to remove the gun from his hand and send him falling back with a smack. I kind of smile, pleased with the fact that I was able to help him out, as he's obviously distraught by his current living situation.

However, I then make my way up some stairs to a group of people laying or sitting around, some injured. A woman pleads with me to help her save her husband, to help in any way I can, as he lays on the floor bleeding. I walk around the couple looking for a button prompt that would allow me to somehow help (like in the previous situation), then look around the area for some kind of med kit or something to help the man. There is nothing. So I stand there, large assault rifle in hand, a bit mad that there is no way to help. Then, the wife changes attitude and in anger growls about my character (and his alliance) being just like the rest, that we're scum and don't care about the little people.

I put a bullet in her head.

Her body slumped over the husbands' and I was left, both a little surprised that the developers allowed me full control of my weapon (some games would prevent that in such a situation) and then even more surprised that my first reaction to an attack on my character, even verbally, was to pop off a shot to silence it. Sure, the game is a shooter and the helghast are the enemy, but it just kind of made me think when I so quickly popped off that round, about how that rings through my core.

If nothing else, it's something to ponder about.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My first go at PS4

Ahh, so things are heating up in gaming, as both Microsoft and Sony shoehorn out their next entertainment boxes. I got my hands on my PS4... a little later than I would of liked (I blame amazon for slopping shipping practices) and haven't spent a ton of time with it just yet (thanks to work and other obligations), but have played around with it enough to give a view on it.

The UI and over all experience is snappy and generally easy to use. Sadly, I'm missing all the little options and categorical menus of my PS3. I can't (yet, they say the UI is a work in progress) organize my games, dump un-used apps (music/video - unlimited springs to mind) into a folder Im never going to look at, or bring up option menus for stuff like I use to. I hope they work on that. The PSN store is really snappy and quick (looks like the PS3 upgrade, but much more streamlined), jumping in and out of games is painless and instant, grabbing video/screens to share is just as snappy. Updates start downloading automatically and only prevent you from playing online with the game if you dont have the update applied. Installs take a mere few mins and actually impressed me with their speed. I turned off the menu music and am considering doing so for the menu chime... it's not bad, I just prefer not to have chimes/music when Im using anything (be it phone or game system). One silly thing I ran into is weird artifacting and blockiness in the menus, which a little google hunting later, I found out was an issue with my TV and not the PS4; updated the firmware of my TV (yeah... I wasn't aware that was a thing either) and everything smoothed out and worked as planned.

The hardware itself actually looks kind of sleek and I'm surprised how little space it takes up. In comparison my PS3 (Slim ver 1) looks bulkier. The touch sensitive power/reset buttons hardly look like they're there and they hide the USB ports in the bevel/crack on the front design. An LED light strikes across the actual system itself to indicate power, standby, downloads, errors etc... its not bad looking, but I wonder if it'll distract during gameplay at night. The controller is... different. Feels wider, the grips have a nice finish, but feel much diff than the DS3 (which I guess Im just use to), the sticks feel better (both the top feel and movement), Dpad and the rest of teh buttons are good. The Share/Options buttons do indeed feel a little too flush with the controller and I have found myself clicking the touch pad in the middle, thinking its the options button. Little gripes, stuff I have to get use to. Sadly the new controller uses a Micro-B USB port and thus my old DS3 controller cables aren't useful, will need to buy some new cables for charging.

I only got 2 games (the lack of Watch Dogs and Infamous pained me) at retail, being Killzone Shadow Fall and Need for Speed Rivals. Killzone looks nice, but seem to follow a more pulled back story (something akin to Mercenaries on PSV?) compared to the other 'Epic Stuff' storylines of the other Killzones. Will stick with it, see how I like it. Best looking game thus far, IMO. Rivals is alright. So far it looks and plays like other Criterion NFS games (Yeah, I know Ghosts devd it, but you can tell a lot of criterion is in it)... which isnt bad, just not new. Not overly impressed visually.

I've also downloaded Reso-Gun and Contrast, both available for free on PS+, neither of which I've gotten to try as of yet.

While I'm glad to have the hardware and excited for the future of the system, improvements to the UI and such, the games coming along; I have so few games atm to really dig into that I find myself going back to my PS3 and loading up one of the hundreds (literally) of options of I have there, be it PS1, PS2, PS3 or PSN games. Soul Calibur 2 HD just hit on that system and I'm excited to rip into that nostalgia fest.

Cool system, love the snappiness, just need some additional control over the UI and for more games to roll out.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Game industry burnout?

Lets get the hell out of here any way possible

So, I'm making a conscious decision to pull back from the world of gaming in the sense of giving two shits about what people bicker about on the internet. I've been pulling back more and more over the years, cutting out forums, avoiding stupid places where people bicker about systems, comparing games and the like, but I feel like I need to pull back ever further because it just annoys me and ruins the fun of games for me.

As Microsoft/Sony join in with their new consoles for the foreseeable future, you've got PC elitist shouting profanities and putting said systems down (even before they're out), you've got fans looking forward to those systems shitting on the WiiU in a similar manner and even the small WiiU crowd digging in on things when they can.

My only question is... why?

1080p this and 60fps that, this game has better textures that game runs smoother, this port sucks, that port has cut content. Forget it, I'm done. I don't care. If a game I'm looking forward to boasts large specs and it happens to improve the game, awesome, besides that I just don't care. I'll be getting my PS4 this November, don't yet have enough confidence in the titles I've seen for the WiiU to purchase that and want nothing to do with the XB1. That's how my tastes are directing me and I'll enjoy the hell out of it my own way.

Peace. I'm off to enjoy gaming for what it is and forget the rest.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ouya - A good first try

Haha, typo is staying ;)

Ahh, Ouya. The little machine that could; the pet dream project which took off thanks to KickStarter. With a weird name, a tiny form factor and a focus on indie games, this little "micro-console that could" is an interesting piece of tech that I would say fits in as a niche product.

It's gotten a lot of praise for it's take on openness, adopting the Android OS, making all games free to try and opening their platform for indies to flourish.'s also gotten it's share of hate for its rough edges and from those who assumed it was going to be a contender for other home consoles from the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.


We'll start off taking a look at the hardware itself. The console is TINY! We're talking just under 3" cubed tiny. I guess that's not surprising, as it's basically the same kind of innards that you'd find in a Android based cell phone, but still, it's a bit jarring to fit the whole thing in one hand easily. It sits nicely by itself near your TV and only has one button that sits on top and acts as the power switch. The back has your HDMI, power and USB ports and over all the unit sports a pleasingly simple look, with a nice brushed metal case on all sides.

The controller is something akin to a 3rd party xbox360 controller and works, but is also kind of clunky. The entire back of the controller is a smooth matte plastic (which feels nice) and the front metal covers on either side (pictured above and below) snap off to give access to the 2 AA battery slots. This is a bit of an alien concept as a placement for batteries, but it's also kind of cool. The plates are held in snug with magnets.

It features 4 face buttons, 2 analogue sticks, a D-Pad and Menu Button on the face, with 4 top buttons (two of which act like triggers) and a middle touch pad (which is rarely utilized). The analogue sticks feel nice and firm and click down well. The D-Pad is okay (I've used both better and worse); The facebuttons (which Spell out Ouya) are decent enough, having a nice stiff click to them.

Users have reported issues with the face buttons sticking under the faceplate. I experimented with this to see if I could replicate. I could indeed, however, one has to be pressing really hard while also pushing that button to the side for this to happen and it's easily fixed by reversing.

The top buttons are leave a lot to be desired. The first 2 buttons click but feel cheap in doing so and the triggers feel terrible. The triggers sport a weak spring system that feels more at home in a cheaply made third party controller. Over all the ergonomic design is a bit rough. While it's not terrible, it definitely needs work and just makes your appreciate the amount of work that goes into first party controllers from the likes of Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo. Its big and your fingers never rest on the top buttons comfortably enough not to feel awkward.


On the software side of things, I've gotten a pretty extensive look at the unit as I got my hands on it a bit early (thanks to supporting their kickstarter project) and from the first time I turned it on... I was unimpressed. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and chopped the awkwardness up to being in a beta stage... but here we are going on 6 months later... and it hasn't improved much. You basically have a small menu consisting of some text lined up on the left side of the screen, clicking any of those takes you to a sub screen, but you're mostly just going to use the 'Play' tab. Which opens up into a fanned out list of games you can download and purchase.

Wholly unimpressed with their GUI.

The settings page is where you'll configure stuff and that's mostly it. One thing I've noticed (you'll notice it too when you're updating the system or playing around with the settings) is that the menus are, at times, stock android screens. I get that they're using Android at their core and are merely running their own 'Ouya' skin over it... but it screams lazy to me.

The rest of the GUI feels slapped together, is sluggish and over all just uninspired.

Finding games isn't too hard. They lump titles together in categories and visualize each with a small box which, if interested, takes you to the store screen for said title. Everything is, again, uninspired... but at least it works. You can jump in and start downloading games without too much hassle.

The games themselves, I don't want to get into too much, as whether or not you enjoy them is your own personal preference. I've tried out a few, but don't feel overly compelled to spend money on them. You're basically getting games that you see on other mobile platforms (Android, iOS), but one thing to note, is that you're choosing from the Ouya store and there is NO connection what so ever to the GooglePlay Store (which, silly me, I assumed would exist)... so forget moving your already purchased games (from your Android device) over to the console.... unless you're into tweaking the system. There are instructions online on how to 'side load' apps and games (read, run without official Ouya support) if you're so interested.

Ahh, SNES, How I love you so. Emulation on the Ouya is, thankfully, decent.

Myself, I've always planned on using my Ouya as an emulator. Thankfully there's some solid emulators on the system for the likes of NES, SNES, Gameboy, Genesis, MAME and even N64, PS1 and NDS. The later (N64 and DS especially) don't run all that well on the hardware but earlier systems are smooth like butter. Ouya even has their own Emulator app that allows you to purchase roms of games, proceeds of which go back to the original developers - which is a wonderful idea... but is plagued with a very poor selection which leaves the idea in the dust. Some emulators are better than others (Super GNES is by far the most visually impressive and best designed), but over all, emulation on the system is very decent.

Over All

The Ouya is an odd machine. Its design is clunky and obviously showing the young company teething as they enter the market. It is not going to replace any other home console of current standing, but it's cute, it's cheap ($99) and is great for emulators. It has games that at least everyone is going to sit down and find something to enjoy as long as you understand it's basically the world of mobile gaming hooked up to your TV. With that said, I like the novelty of it all and enjoy it for the purpose I have for it. It's not for everyone, as much as they'd (the Ouya team) like it to be and its got competition coming along, with rumors of Google preparing something similar, Valve slipping into the console market with SteamOS and their Steamboxes and Sony announcing the Vita TV, which at $99 has a large group of much more prolific games already lined up in a system that seems to do everything the Ouya does and more.

I can only hope that they're successful enough to make future iterations of the machine, improving and becoming their own robust product. As it is now, it kind of feels like the beta version of something better that's got a niche appeal.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My thoughts on Nintendo and their WiiU

Let me start this off by outlining that I do not own a WiiU and this is not a tear down of what I think about the machine from a player's point of view; rather, this is a look into the politics and happenings of what I see going on every day online and in the conversations I have with friends.

Also of note. I very much enjoy my PS3 and have been vocal about my lack of love for my Wii or how Nintendo has been going about their business for some time now (more or less since the N64). I also don't have an interest in purchasing a WiiU at the moment, either. However, I am still able to form a calm, logical opinion, regardless.

With that out of the way, lets talk about Nintendo's latest baby, the WiiU. Sadly, it's the talk of the internet... but not in a way that's good for Nintendo. Everywhere you go (ok, maybe not everywhere, but pretty close), you've got forum trolls and other such monikers tearing the system down, calling it shit, claiming Nintendo is out for the count. It's gone so far, that even Nintendo fans are frustrated and tired of defending the system against these kinds of comments.

But, there is where, I think, lies the problem, Nintendo fans shouldn't be the ones that are holding the weight of the system on their shoulders. Nintendo should be the one out there showing the world why the WiiU matters. In my opinion, this is where they are weak, where they need to focus on and above all, be it hardware, exclusives and so on, is the biggest thing holding people back from embracing the system.

So, let me reiterate, it's not the hardware that's holding the WiiU back. Yes, the WiiU hardware, from what every project points to, from what every spec we're knowledgeable about, from every example of software we've seen, is much more like the current generation of PS3/360 machines than it is a technological jump forward in terms of pure number crunching ability. Which isn't in any way an attack on their design, be it their choice of hardware, or their unique tablet/controller or the software that uses this tech; rather it's an observation that I think some Nintendo fans aren't grasping. The hardware (what's in the system) can be argued to be less or more powerful than our current generation (I honestly believe there's more they can push with the WiiU, that developers aren't yet harnessing the full power of it), but if anyone believes that the hardware is comparable (again, technically, not fanboy-ishly or in terms of fun games) with the PS4 and what Microsoft is planning on releasing in the near future, I... don't think you understand computer hardware and it's limitations. With all that said, the machine looks to be a wonderful system, if you count out the perceived importance of super powered consoles. The unique controller brings with it some interesting methods of play and the fact that a Nintendo system has joined the same hardware gang as the PS3/360 should put a smile on everyone's face as those PS3/360 gamers whom have enjoyed their systems for many years now get to experience a system with a slightly different flavor.

Sadly, however, rather than adopting that method of thinking, they're looking at future consoles and going "The WiiU lacks technical power freshness, why support it?". It doesn't help that big publishers like EA and Activision are voicing a huge lack of interest in the machine, various developers around the industry straight up saying they have no plans to support the WiiU with their upcoming projects and an extremely lackluster response from Nintendo to combat this kind of talk.

Which reminds me of a 2006/2007 Sony when they launched their $599 PS3 (here in Canada at least, that was the price) to audiences with lackluster support from third party developers. Every time you turned around, Sony was 'losing' a former exclusive title to multiplatform status, missing out on new exclusives that were hitting the 360 or getting shotty ports due to the complexity of developing for the system. Then the media took to it, for a long time, articles across the internet spelled doom for Sony and their big black box, the system couldn't be any worse in their eyes. I remember vividly, Gabe Newell's comment, something along the lines of 'Sony screwed up, the PS3 is the worst thing to have ever come out, they need to go back to the drawing board with it'. Gamers forget this, but Sony sure doesn't. It took them from their high horse of the PS2 days to the bottom of the ladder in a swift step. They struggled with it, struggled on how to promote their system to the world, they often tried to sell it as a blu-ray machine, a media hub and so on. It took them quite a while, but eventually they found their stride and their clear message of what they were selling and to whom. A price cut here and there and the system started selling, 360 exclusives started going multiplatform to Sony's box, new exclusives were formed, Sony went full force into developing superb first party titles, Sony worked on it's network structure, encouraged gamers, invented Kevin Butler and more or less was back on the train of good publicity with the world. Try telling that to a gamer today, whom picked up their PS3. Does it matter? Do they care? No. It was all fanboyism and politics of the industry.

Which brings me back to Nintendo. Articles attack it (the WiiU) on a daily basis, internet idiots run with it, fanboys (of other systems) bath in it as gold lining of their favoritism. Publishers are excluding the WiiU for ports, Exclusives are few and far between, gamers opinion aren't well formed and in the middle of it all, Nintendo doesn't know whom they want to sell to or how to promote their product. Sound familiar? It should.

Which brings me to my outlining thought. Nintendo needs to get their message and marketing strategy straight. They need to either come up with a plan on their own or bring in some help. They need to market the hell out of their system, they need to throw it in gamers faces and show them WHY the WiiU is important. Not only that, but they need to start communicating with developers on a stronger level. A friend of mine said in defense of some news regarding EA, 'Fuck those developers', which I think isn't a smart response. Developers are needed to propel hardware. I've also heard some argue that Nintendo is promoting the WiiU, with Nintendo directs and other info presented online... and I disagree with it's effectiveness. The people watching Nintendo directs and subscribing to Nintendo news... are Nintendo fans, the likes of which don't need convincing to buy the WiiU. Nintendo directs don't reach many other gamers and they sure as hell do nothing to reach a general audience. Nintendo sidestepping an E3 conference this year, too, feels like a big misstep that they could of used to launch their new promotion campaign for the system.

Once they've done this. Once they've shown people what the WiiU is, why it's special and how they're working hard to support it in every way, it will sell. It's not the lower hardware spec (compared to PS4), it's not that good games aren't being made for it, it's not that people have given up on Nintendo, it's the fact that even Nintendo doesn't know how to say 'The WiiU is awesome, have a look, will you?"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dead Island - A Review

I'll start this off by explaining that it took me some time to get into Dead Island. I remember hearing about it at the time of released, but really didn't give it too much of a look over. There are tons of Zombie titles and I assumed this was yet another shooter trying to make a buck on the idea. Reguardless of their intentions or aspirations, Dead Island is a game I thoroughly enjoyed and still continue to do so.

I didn't get Dead Island until it was super cheap on steam and even then didn't get around to playing it until a friend asked me to play it with her on the PS3. I enjoy gaming with friends when I can, so I sought out and picked up a copy for like $20 and played a bit with her. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was fun. We played up until part way though the city bit of the story and then it got put on hold. But I've since then decided to make a new character and go about things myself to learn better how to play and to further experience the game. I'm glad I did.

The game is heavily focused on melee combat over that of shooting. Granted, each character has their specialty and one of them even specializes in guns, but you can go through the entire game using very little firearms and even if you happen to go the gun centric route, finding ammo isn't exactly easy for a good 80% of the game. I, myself, stick to sharp blades with my Xian Mei character as that was her specialty. Regardless of your ability or chosen weapon, all of your weapons come from pick ups and modifications you make to those. It's a very cool dynamic, creating weapons with electric, fire and poison attributes, but the weapons degrade so incredibly fast (even with perks to allow you up the durability). What plays out is a juggling of gathering a set up of awesome weapons that'll help you mow through the zombie hoards, collecting crap to sell for cash and spending that cash to repair them once you find a work bench to do so. In that regard there seemed to be a little too much back tracking or searching for repair places, forcing you to leave quests on hold to make sure you didn't run into a situation with no weapons to defend yourself.

Everything is played from the first person perspective and it's quite refreshing to see your character do every action they need, from their own eyes. It gives a better sense of envelopment and makes you feel more like it's you playing the life of the character rather than controlling some would-be hero. Timing also works into that fold as you have to allow time for a character's animation to accomplish and plan attacks. If a zombie is rushing you, make sure you have the distance and time to swing properly; sometimes a nice kick to make the undead stumble sure does help and as you gain levels, unlock new abilities, you'll gain character specific attacks that seem to make things easier. My fav thus far is Xian's head stomp, in which she does a big jump in the air with both feet and lands square on a downed zombie's head, completely crushing it.

It's all about timing. You can survive most any hoard with timing (and a little luck)

There is your typical undead 'walker' that moves quite slowly, intent on gnawing on your flesh, but as you go on in the story, the types of enemies amp up in difficulty. The infected are just like the walkers, but with super speed and devastating arm bashing attacks, you can hear them coming as they scream at the top of their lungs on their way to you. Later on you run into bigger enemies whom will land devastating blows if you get near them, rush you and ram you to the ground, or even vomit poisonous bile on you, leaving you dis-orientated. You'll get accustomed to strategies on how to take each of these types of enemies down, but again, with timing, it can be tricky... and even as you get higher up in levels, it's not hard to have your health bar depleted quickly by a few walkers and some bad decisions on how to deal with them. Human enemies seem to offer much less a threat as they're a bit more predictable and for the most part stick to firearms as their chosen weapons. It's not hard to duck into cover and flank them or flat out put a bullet in their face with a pistol (it's mainly why I carried a pistol with me (just in case), it made clearing out nests of humans easier).

The first location seems quite tame in comparison to the rest of the game; A beach resort on the island of Banoi (a made up location) which is both beautiful and deadly. Zombies lurk everywhere and you get to spend quite a bit of time on the resort before being shifted off to a new location (which takes you through an infested hotel, a city, a jungle area and even a prison). All of which have a huge multitude of main and side quests you must complete for NPCs which help flesh out the story, give you helpful background information and more importantly, give you XP to level up your character. The character progression system is mostly centered around 'Perks' you get to choose at each level advancement. You don't much get to choose character stats, but you have choice of these perks which boost attacks and damage (among other attributes), allowing you to become a more efficient killer of the undead. You're going to need them, as mentioned above, the enemies are relentless.

You'll be spending quite a lot of time checking out these menus

You can enlist a friend (or 3) or some strangers to help you through the quests and they do help when every one is on the same page (friends work best in this regard), but it's kind of a mess when players want nothing more than to screw with you, kick you out of the game (even if you're hosting) or decide to play a later part in the game, which isn't the fault of the game or the developer, but it still sticks as a point of frustration. So.... more often than not, I stuck with my single player mode (which is exactly the same, sans help) which I hear is harder, but I didn't have too much issues with it as I like to take my time anyways and approach things with a bit of a tactical mind rather than rushing hoards in hopes I survive out of luck. Thankfully, Co-op is as easy as setting your player account to allow people to join your game and they can do so dynamically on the fly. It's much better than a separate mode that feels half cooked; especially when you can find decent people to play with.

At the end of the day however, the game has impressed me with it's atmosphere which sucks you in quite well and allows you to experience the terrifying idea of a zombie apocalypse from the eyes of a pretty average character. The game pulls the reins on you with weapon degradation and zombies that level up as you do, attacking you with some pretty powerful attacks so you never feel like a super powered hero whom nothing can touch. I've run into a few glitches that forced me to reset the system, but aside from those and the occasional douche-bag co-op partner, I couldn't be happier with the title. It's held my interest part way though with a friend, through an entire play-through by myself and still as I've started a new game with my finished character. Spectacular game, the likes of which I'm excited to see continue with the upcoming semi-sequel 'Riptide' and the prospects of a new title down the line.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My top 20 PS2 games

So, I was skimming over Roy's Top 20 PS2 games blog once again and it sparked my interest in doing a similar list, so without further ado, here is the list of games from the PS2 era that meant something to me. (Tried to include pics of gameplay for each, but it's hard to find screenshots for some games).

20. SOCOM: Us Navy Seals

There have been a ton of Socom games, 4 on the PS2, 4 on the PSP and even a couple (much different feeling) titles on the PS3. But the first one really sticks with me. It had a very unique feel to how it controlled and played, felt so fluid and thought out compared to most silly third person shooter titles. Giving orders to your squad mates was pretty awesome at the time too.

19. The Getaway

Ahh, the Getaway. I never beat the title because I couldn't deal with the horrible camera system enough to see it through. That said, it still makes the list because it was such a cool concept which made it fun to drive around London, England (recreated for the game) and had a very dark, cool story to go along with it. Not an easy game by any standard, it made it so much harder when the camera decided to do it's own thing while you were trying to evade or take out a bad guy.

18. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Ahh, Ghost in the Shell, how I love you. My favorite anime series enjoyed a decent game on each the PS1, PS2 and PSP (sadly it skipped the PS3), this version based around the 'Stand Alone Complex' TV series and kicked a lot of ass. It had a unique feel to it, but was set up as a third person shooter in which you controlled Motoko and Batou from the series in a story that lined up well with the series it's based on. Lovely to delve into fandom like this and it'll always be part of my favs.

17. Time Splitters: Future Perfect

Ahh, Timesplitters. A comical series that shared a lot of the awesome gameplay mechanics of the old Goldeneye and Perfect Dark series on the N64 (the dev team was made up of a lot of those whom worked on those projects). The multiplayer was prob what held me, as I played many hours running around gunning fools with friends and family, but the story was fun to play too. Just an awesome series all around that needs to come back! I would love to see a Timesplitters HD pack :)

16. Transformers

Forget the horrible movie tie ins, this game was THE transformers game before High Moon came out with War for Cybertron. Funny, that I hadn't even heard of it when I bought it on an impulse and I absolutely loved every minute of it. Felt like it drew from most Transformer references for it's world and played out in large levels set with tasks and bosses and pretty much complete freedom to go at it as you pleased with a number of playable characters. Some of the bosses were freaking mammoth!

15. Persona 4

I haven't played any of the others in the series, but Persona 4 really impressed me. It's weird, it's quirky, I don't like the limited day/night cycle (that's just a preference I have in games, don't like feeling rushed to complete stuff) but I really enjoyed being sucked into the weird world in which these school kids live and the nightmare like world they slip into and battle weird looking things in. It's just such an 'out there' idea compared to a lot of games I play and for that, I love it.

14. Primal

Primal had it's rough edges; it's camera wasn't perfect at keeping up to the action nor it's action incredibly fluid, but if you could play past that, you found a lovely story about a girl whom is sent into a comma after an attack on her and her boyfriend; said comma allowing her to enter another realm which needs help in balancing good vs evil in order to straighten out things in her own world. What plays out is a totally unique game with a couple of very endearing characters and a journey that is worth the time put into it.

13. Champions: Return to Arms

Couldn't find a proper screenshot worth using, but this title is easy to picture. Isometric kind of camera view in a fantasy setting not unlike a Diablo or DnD game, should set up a visual nicely. The gameplay is basically the same at the above mentioned titles as well and while I'm not huge on those kinds of adventures; my brother and I latched onto this sucker and destroyed it to the 10th greatness. We started and for 4 solid straight days (minus short bathroom/food breaks and a few hours to sleep) we took our characters (mine a warrior, his a mage) through each of the 4 difficulties (they allowed you to transfer characters from a finished game into a new game + sort of deal). We blew through every quest, side quest and arena challenge the game had and enjoyed the hell out of doing so.

12. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

I think, initially, I borrowed this from a friend and got hooked, which lead me to buying my own copy. While I didn't seem to click with Ratchet and Clank, I intantly 'clicked' with this game. Not sure exactly why, but I absolutely loved the world, the characters, the humor and the entire adventure. I didn't much care for the guns and focus on making the series more mature that happened in the sequels (though, are still very good games) but the first was pure whimsical platforming fun.

11. Tomb Raider: Legend

Tomb Raider is one of those series that I tried (before Legend) and couldn't really get into. I felt they were clunky and kind of uninteresting. But, Legend changed that. Legend had a fluidity to it that made it fun. Not sure exactly why I decided to give this one a try as I didn't have a great time with other ones, but I'm glad I did. I loved going through out the story and the central hub in miss Croft's manor was really cool, I spent a long time collecting unlockables and challenging myself to the acrobatics in place in the gym part. I think Crystal Dynamics breathed fresh air into the franchise with this title.

10. Killzone

Killzone got a ton of hype around the time for being 'the Halo killer' which probably hurt the game in some gamers eyes, but I loved the style of it and the enemies were instantly iconic. While later games in the series seemed to stick to a more structured format in story progression, the original Killzone really brought you across many different areas which I found refreshing. It also had 4 playable characters, each unique and cool. The heavy controls were a nice change too. The A.I was kind of dumb, but I didn't mind, the game was still fun to play thought a few times :)

09. Beyond Good and Evil

Gasp! Beyond Good and Evil. So refreshing, such a unique feeling game. Also one I commend for such a strong female lead character. BG&E is one of those titles that kind of went somewhat unnoticed by a lot of gamers, but loved by those whom found it. Sporting a wonderfully unique world and an equally unique visual style, the game focused on light third person fighting and first person photography. It's a unique mixture and worked well with it's story of a sort of 'government/big company abuse and deceiving of the people' political take on things which kind of got much more grand as things went on.

08. Xenosaga Episode 1: Der Wille zur Macht

Xenosaga was one of the first RPGs that felt like the RPGs of old to me while showing me a fresh new world to explore. I absolutely loved the first one and spent many many hours in it. I even remember spending a ton of time it the card battle mini game which made up a very tiny portion of the game. I remember there being a lipsync problem, but aside from that I had no issues with it. The space setting very much appealed to me, the anime esthetics and characters were charming, the music wonderful and the whole experience one I'll always remember.

07. Burnout 3: Takedown

Burnout 3 was the racer for me in the PS2 generation. The speed, the mix of pure arcady racing, boosting, an entire mode dedicated to destroying your car in spectacular crashes and racking up bonus points for causing mayhem as other cars pile up... pure awesome. The game still looks decent, plays wonderfully and is just much fun. I'd love to see an HD upgrade of the game for download.

06. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

All of the Grand Theft Auto games have a place in my heart as I marveled at GTA 3 for it's scope (that we didn't see so massively in the series before then), the sublime Vice City for it's setting and characters but finally, San Andreas for blowing the rest out of the water. The characters, story, scope, amount of things to do, customization, insane soundtrack, freedom... everything was just on another scale. I beat the title and must of put hundreds more hours into it, exploring, trying to ramp things on bicycles, making my character obesely fat and then annorexily skinny, jumping out of jets in attempts to see how low to the ground I could get before pulling a parachute and surviving, jumping off cliff for the same purpose... the list goes on and on with the amount of stuff you could have fun with. Lovely game.

05. God of War 2

The first God of War surprised me with how much I ended up liking it. GoW2 came very late in the PS2 cycle (compared to how soon after the PS3 came along at least) and boy oh boy did it take advantage of the PS2 to pump out an awesome game that looked spectacular. The story of Kratos continued and added so many new features and weapons that, it again, blew me away. I loved taking down bosses, ripping the wings from Icarus (I think that was GoW 2... lol) and going after Zeus. Love the series and this one really solidified that. Wonderful to look at, fluid control, action packed orchestral soundtrack, brutal gameplay and one bad ass character.

04. Soul Calibur 2

I was introduced to Soul Calibur 2 via one of those PlayStation Magazine Demo discs that accompanied the publication every month. It provided, I think, 1 or 2 levels and 2 or 3 characters, but that was enough for me to put hours of my life into. My sis and I played that vs demo a ton before I actually got a copy of the game (sometime later). Then I made it my task to go through each and every mode and hone my skills, learning each character, loving the game. I remember Kilik being one of my faves, along with Talim and could pull of just about any move they had and counter like it was no ones business. I've been a fan of the series ever since even if none have quite given me the feeling that SC2 did on the PS2.

03. Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts is a series that I kind of lost track of. With 2 PS2 games, a GBA, DS, 3DS, PSP and Mobile games... I'm lost on the story. But the original is one I will always cherish (along with the second one). Funny, that I got the game for Christmas, assuming my sis would dig the idea and it turned out she didn't at all, yet I loved it. The idea is kind of weird one, but one that worked so wonderfully for the team and Square Enix. Fantasy characters thrown into a story that takes them across the Disney universe of worlds and characters in a quest, more or less, for friendship and love. Can't get much better than that. The action, the story, the characters, music, theme, gahh, its all just so wonderful. Such a 'feel good' series.

02. Metal Gear Solid 2

Metal Gear Solid 2 was my first foray into the world of MGS and one of my first purchases after my initial purchased of a PS2 (which I bought with GTA 3 and Turok). It honestly blew my mind. The very cinematic, adult feel to the game, the sneaking around, the situations you get yourself in, the confusing story, the out of this world Metal Gears, the soft moments, the 'OMG Ive been spotted' rushes to safety or the leaving porn for guards to get distracted by - it's all added together to mix up one wonderful title. I've since been a big fan of the series and MGS4 stands as one of my favorite, emotional titles I've ever played. MGS2 comes in strong second to that and will always remind me of the feelings going through it.

01. Shadow of the Colossus

Ahhh, Shadow of the Colossus. Such a unique title. When you really get into the game, it's scary, it's wonderful, its beautiful, its lonely, it's exciting, thrilling, depressing and a ton of other emotions. The fact that I describe a game with emotions should tell that it's one hell of an experience. The premise is simple, you must take down 16 bosses in a giant landscape to gain the power to bring back a love of your life. What unfolds in anything but a simple premise. From the first Colossus you scale (the things a MASSIVE), to the end boss and sequence... it's all a surreal trip that leaves a lot of the messages and meanings to the game in your hands, hinted at with your journey but never spelled out to you completely. Love the idea. Wish more games took this approach.

That concludes my list. I hope you've enjoyed reading it, hope you can relate to at least some of them as I loved going through and thinking back on them.  Thankfully, some of these titles have been brought into the PS3 generation with HD collections (namely: Persona 4 (Vita), Jak& Daxter, Tomb Raider Legend, Killzone, Beyond Good and Evil, God of War 2, Kingdom Hearts (coming soon), Metal Gear Solid 2, Shadow of the colossus) and so a new generation can continue to enjoy them even if they dont own the PS2.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

This is my passion

There are a number of things in this life that I am passionate about; things that excite me, make me wait in anticipation, or ogle at in awe and gaming is by far one of the biggest. From the eyes of a child, I aided Mario in his quest to find the princess, mowed through hoards of Imps and Cyber Demons with the nameless hero of Doom, all until my thumbs and eyes hurt. Each experience being one I had outside of the home, at places where I marveled in the idea of owning one of these systems that could take me to these worlds.

But it wasn't until the SNES that my family was able to experience the world of gaming at home. Through out my life, I've always strived, from that moment I got my hands on the SNES, to own consoles, PCs and any other device that I could game on. Be it the addition of the NES to our ensemble, adding a PC capable of some gaming, the move to the N64 and then the PS2 or the explosion there after as I reached an age where I could work on my own to earn money to buy more systems and games I wanted (both new and old) to broaden my gaming experience. I was hooked by the worlds and adventures that I could explore in each of these systems, each seemingly more complex as the hardware evolved and today (well, the 20th of February, 2013 as I am slow at writing blogs) I got an eye full of what Sony is prepping for their newest foray into gaming, the PS4. I am pleased.

Now, for anyone who knows me, I tend to prefer the Sony brand of products, I very much like the way they spread out their talented developers to create varied experiences and games for their various systems. Franchises from Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, Guerrilla Games are all titles that I very very much enjoyed and mean a lot more to me than something like Call of Duty or Halo. Which isn't to say that I don't play anything but, as I own systems from every big player in the game and pack a decently powered PC as well for the same purpose. But, for my money, I've got a lot of trust in the way Sony tends to spend their resources and mix things up. So, I tend to get excited when I hear news from them.

That's what we got the other day, news. While some outlets complained that a solid release date was sidestepped, that the actual physical console wasn't show and that there's still some questions about services, price points and the like; I was quite pleased with the showing as it gave us a general look at the system in terms of specs and what the games will be looking like.

As expected, there's a large computational leap with it's new hardware, allowing rendering much more complex visuals and simulations. With a focus on making the hardware powerful, yet geared to be easy to develop for in the eyes of developers themselves; we should be seeing some special products comeing from them as the system comes into it's own. 

Sony really did exactly what I wanted them to do. They showed off bits of games that are in development for the system and deals they have with certain studios/publishers to bring the gamer a good flow of exciting titles to start getting busy with this holiday season. A new inFamous title is being crafted, a new Killzone title, we've got word that Watch Dogs with have a PS4 version, Assassin's Creed IV is rumored to be in the works for next gen along with current gen, the demo Capcom showed off was beautiful, The Witcher3 is going to grace the console, as is Diablo 3.

Everything I've seen looked great and I'm excited to get my hands on the unit. I've started to save already (figure $25/week (or even $25/pay) will add up quick enough to afford one without taking a big chunk out of my finances come time it launches.