Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The VGAs - Good, bad, ugly, and extremely questionable

The VGAs have finally passed for yet another year, and again this one was set to be the "best one yet!" by the one and only Geoff Keighly again and, what a show eh!.......right?

Celbrating 10 years. Wait, they've ran for 10 years?!?

There was a lot of speculation on what this would turn out like before it even began, and not only that, there was a fair bit of debate about some of the awards as well, considering that at the time of announcing them, The Walking Dead(which was in GotY and such) had an episode left to be released, and two of the games for the Wii award weren't even out yet as the Wii U hadn't hit anywhere! So they where questioned as to why they where added. No response was ever given from what i remember, but i still never agreed with the idea. Trailers flew everywhere, two new title announcements where thrown in the loop, some update trailers to games and some new content trailers shown as well. That was all good and fine, but this never felt like an award ceremony in the end. Before i begin, here's the list of awards and who won each(taken from Destructoid):


  • Game of the Year: The Walking Dead
  • Studio of the Year: Telltale Games
  • Best Xbox 360 Game: Halo 4
  • Best PS3 Games: Journey
  • Best Wii/Wii U Game: New Super Mario Bros U
  • Best PC Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Best Shooter: Borderlands 2
  • Best Action/Adventure: Dishonored
  • Best RPG: Mass Effect 3
  • Best Multiplayer: Borderlands 2
  • Best Individual Sports Game: SSX
  • Best Team Sports Game: NBA 2k13
  • Best Drviing Game: Need for Speed Most Wanted
  • Best Song in a Game: "Cities" by Beck, from Sound Shapes
  • Best Original Score: Journey
  • Best Graphics: Halo 4
  • Best Independent Game: Journey
  • Best Fighting Game: Persona 4 Arena
  • Best Handheld/Mobile Game: Sound Shapes
  • Best Performance by a Human Male: Dameon Clarke in Borderlands 2 as "Handsome Jack"
  • Best Performance by a Human Female: Melissa Hutchison in The Walking Dead as "Clementine"
  • Best Adapted Game: The Walking Dead
  • Best DLC: The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim - Dawnguard
  • Best Downloadable Game: The Walking Dead
  • Best Social Game: You Don't Know Jack
  • Game of the Decade: Half-Life 2
  • Character of the year: Claptrap from Borderlands 2
  • Most Anticipated Game: Grand Theft Auto 5


Now here's where the issues arise. Only six of these awards where shown during the 2 hour ceremony. Six. Take that as 1 every 20 minutes. This is disgusting. You've made an award ceremony more like an entertainment event and less of a congratulations for those that made these titles. What's more, if the situation with Jennifer Hale is anything to go by, we know that awards that where given away outside of the screened event weren't even mentioned to all the nominees. During an interview 45 minutes after the Best Performance by a Human Female was given out, she was told that Melissa won it. She didn't even know beforehand and was still hoping for a win. How terrible can you get at this? For an event that is 10 years old this year, they certainly haven't learned how to run it properly yet. It also tells me that these promises of Keighly, and Spike TV no less, are all empty and hold no solid ground.

The trailers shown throughout weren't bad i'll admit, and we got a good dose of them too. South Park : The Stick of Truth opened the event fairly well, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 got a good showing. The Last of Us was dated finally for the 7th of May next year, far earlier than i had expected it to be, and showed off a new trailer. Tomb Raider had a new trailer, but was kind of ruined by the camera going to focus on the orchestra more, as much i respect the music, we where there for the game. Halo 4 and Assassins Creed 3 showed off new content in the works for it, Halo 4 with the latter half of the Spartan Ops season, and AC3 with The Tyranny of King Washington, a "What if" kind of DLC focusing on if he was a tyrant instead of a hero, basically.

Watch as MGS reveals itself to you.

Finally, two new trailers showed themselves. We got The Phantom Pain from Moby Dick Studios, which we may as well just say now is Metal Gear Solid V. it was quite obvious by some of the tells on the screen as well as the title screen shown. Also, noone is fulled by "Joakim Mogren", Joakim is an anagram of Kojima, and Mogren is a reference to Project Ogre. All in all, say Hi to MGSV. One other title was announced, Dark Souls II. Presented by Jessica Alba, which was ok, but i felt she was a little out of place with the whole event. Dark Souls 2 has me both excited and concerned. It means more Dark Souls, which is never a bad thing, but at the same time it's not Hidetaka Miyazaki directing, but Tomohiro Shibuya, who's more well known for Resident Evil: Outbreak. He wants to make it more "straightforward" and "understandable" for players. This worries me, but a topic for another day.

We then got a fair dose of music from Tenacious D, Linkin Park(for Medal of Honor: Warfighters theme i think) and some orchestrated music from composers who worked on AC3 and other titles. All seems well and good right? Well, not really. Sure Samuel L Jackson presented it well, but where were the awards? where the heck was the respect to the other nominees for awards given out outwith the screened event? Where was this "return of a classic franchise", as it sure as hell wasn't Castlevania, as we knew it was there already. This wasn't an award show, it was an excuse to blow their budget on whatever big names they could get and make it look fancy, and as such turned into a show of nothing more than trailers, music, with nothing much else to speak of. If this is the way things are going to continue moving forward, i don't want to be a part of it. And i hope to hell that companies catch on, avoid all the glamour this seems to bring with it companies as best you can, it's not really well designed and it sure as hell ain't fun to watch either. Give us a proper set of awards, ones where all games are out for the public to vote on, where we don't need big names to make it fancy, because it doesn't need to be fancy in the first bloody place. Keep it clean, keep it simple, and keep it fair. Try it for a change, you may learn something. Oh, and don't tell NeoGAF what you are doing when you aren't, it's not always a good idea to get them angry, or so i hear.

Ah well, i guess we can take one major positive out of this. Micheal Pachter said The Walking Dead would never win Game of the Year. DIDN'T PREDICT THAT ONE WELL, DID YOU NOW?!?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 - The Egg of the King



Let's be honest, by now some of you may have at least heard the name "Berserk" thrown out there in some way, shape or form, and considering the series is nearing 23 years old(15 year old in terms of anime), that's to be expected. The main question here is, can this film be enjoyed by those both new to Berserk and those coming in from the manga and original series?  The answer to this is very much - Yes.

So what is Berserk? or rather, what is the Golden Age of Berserk? The golden age is where it all began, the story of Guts meeting Griffith, Casca, The Band of the Hawk, and the last few years of the hundred years war between the midland army and the Tudor Army, covering the many battles which the hawk are thrown into, and the struggles between as well. For those of you who are watching this film having seen the anime series previously, you won't get much new in this film, however you will get a far more action packed film compared to that. Not only that, but since it is a film instead, expect the gore/blood levels to be higher, so if you are a little uneasy with that, there is your warning.
Don't be thrown off purely by it being more action orientated however, fans of character development will get a good dose too with Guts, our tragic hero of the series, Griffith, the leader of the Hawk, and Casca, Griffith's Second-in-Command, who comes across as having a rivalry with Guts, and the bond you see start to form between the three, and the one formed with the Band of the Hawk as a whole. We get a good glimpse into Guts' past as well, and for the most part, it shows off as being extremely dark, and almost a struggle to survive. And this carries over to his stature and character here too, wildly swinging his sword as a mercenary in an attempt to earn a living. Griffith comes across, almost like his polar opposite to some degree, being far more refined in everything he does, and it makes for an interesting friendship/partnership between the two which is worth watching for in itself.  It's a good balance, one which i think could have done maybe a bit more coverage for the other characters, particularly Casca, who has a slightly smaller role here than you may come to expect, but it's well executed for the most part.

Guts and Griffith duke it out


I was expecting to be one of those fans who enter this film with me going "oh but this is missing, that is missing", being a fan of the originals, however you don't get that at all. Studio 4C do a brilliant job in getting all the important parts of the series into the film, to the point that nothing ever feels out of place, nor too rushed either. It all works. You get this feeling that this has been made with the intent of not only attracting the fans of the original to watch, but letting all those who have never had the chance, or maybe didn't see the appeal previously start here. The opening sequence itself kind of helps this too, in that it is extremely foreshadowing on whats to come, but in such a way that you don't get spoiled. Kind of to say "watch this, then come back begging to find out what this means after".  A tease, if you will.


The animation is very much unique. When Berserk was introduced to the audience, we where told that they had taken on this "hybrid" style, part of the film was done in CG, like bodies, horses, etc, whilst faces and limbs where traditionally animated. While this may sound fairly unappealing, it's quite stunning to watch. There are moments where i feel it lapses a bit, taking for example a scene where Griffith walks down a hill towards Guts, you see it fully in CG, and it doesn't look it's best.  However for the most part it's well done, and the CG mostly covers the background action while the animation is used to keep focus on the main parts of each scene.

The hybrid animation helps bring the battles to life so well

It's hard for me not to bring up the music of this film, as it's such a fantastic soundtrack to listen to. "Aria", the theme song by Susumu Hirasawa helps capture the sinister feel of the series and what's to come within the opening, whilst the rest of the soundtrack brings so much more emotion and atmosphere the film itself. What's more, it doesn't take long to get thrown into the music either. As soon as the film starts, you're hit by this epic seige of a castle, and the music captures the atmosphere for this perfectly, almost deliberately getting your adrenaline pumping for the rest of the film. That's the kind of soundtrack i love to see in a film, one that not only helps to bring out the best in the film, but pushes you to want to see more.


Whilst perhaps this won't bring much new to the table in terms of content, it covers the first part of the golden age well, never feeling rushed, and always keeping itself exciting. A film everyone can enjoy, just be prepared for a lot of blood and gore. Oh, and see if you can count the number of heads sent flying, i counted five.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil has always been revered for it's use of horror, heck it was one of the titles that brought the term "survival horror" to the table as a genre, and looking now, there is many a title that has followed in their footsteps. But in recent years, Resident Evil looks to have forgotten its routes, what made it such a beloved franchise, and moved more into action. Resident Evil 6 comes into play to "appeal to old and new fans alike" with horror elements and that which would appeal to an ever growing market of action fans. This is where the problems start.


The game splits itself into 3(4 when you beat the first three) campaigns, focusing on everyones favourite, Leon kennedy, back to deal with an outbreak starting in Tall Oaks, Chris Redfield, having lost his memory due to events 6 months prior to where the game focuses, and Jake Muller, a mercenary who turns out to be immune to the C-virus(i like to call his campaign Sherrys mode, since Sherry Birkin feels far more important) and is being safeguarded so an antidote can be made. Everything slowly comes to focus on a city in china where all hell breaks loose, but each feature different styles of play and atmosphere that they still feel a little unique. The stories aren't bad, and do have some pretty interesting and sad moments in them, so it isn't my main concern(though the characters do at times make it more annoying to follow). My main concern, is how each storyline is designed.
Leons campaign tries to bring back the feel of RE2, heck you could say RE in general, and for the first 3 chapters, captures it well. Heck, they stand out to me as the strongest chapters of the game. They capture a decent amount of atmosphere you used to get, and you face zombies(you know, those beasts that RE are famous for) instead of the J'avos in the rest of it. It is lost though later into it, but Leon is easily the best character in this. Helena is ok, but that's about as best a comment you can get. Leon is easily the best campaign of the game.
Chris' mode goes pure action, probably where the "attracting the CoD audience" comment came into play from Capcom, and feels tacked on. It has no feel of RE, bar chris being there. Chris and his partner Piers are bland, uninteresting characters that feel thrown in purely to get a reunion of the originals back in one game and someone to kick chris back into action. They probably tried to capture the idea of it not all being about horror, and now becoming slightly more military-like with it starting to go wide-spread, but maybe they tried that too much. It does have it's moments sometimes, like for example mid-way you have to deal with an invisible snake, no doubt a reference to the original mansion and the snake there, and it killing off chris' squad one by one from the shadows, but outside of that, i struggle to name any other memorable segments.
Jakes(Sherrys) mode is the most experimental, and as such the hardest to really judge. At first, i thought they where trying to go stealthy with it, but by the time you hit the later chapters, you realise, this feels like a movie. It's not bad, but again, it doesn't have any real horror in it. It does have a RE3 throwback in the form of Ustanak though. He refuses to die and has his sights set on Jake throughout. Very Nemesis against Stars-like. Stealth is there too, and it isn't bad, but you can just charge in for the most part too. They both aren't bad characters either, but still lacking a certain...something.

So what's the problem with all this? Instead of trying to focus on one or two things, Capcom tried to do too much. Of the three, you have an attempt at horror, an attempt at action and an attempt at making a movie-like style section. Sure they had a big team to work on this, but it's too much. I feel that, in trying to appeal to so many markets at once, they've shot themselves in the foot and are essentially pushing away more crowds than bringing in. I won't mention much on the 4th campaign, as you do need to unlock it, but it does host the freakiest boss of the entire game. A small consolation prize, you could say.

Ustanak, the Nemesis of RE6

So how is the gameplay? Mostly ok. However it's become yet another title in the "must have QTEs aplenty" concern. It's also linear in a bad way. All resi has been fairly linear, but this hasn't got rooms to the side to look into for extra bits, it's more corridor shooter-like. finish this area, see if there is an emblem(files, which you read in the special features section), move on, rinse repeat. You also have a lot of forced sections, running away, QTEs, you name it. It detracts a lot, and it's something quite obviously no-one has learned from yet. Do not force us into QTEs, or situations. Heck the prologue suffered from the same idiocy as Gaiden 3 did. "press back on the control stick, walk forward, press left, walk forward". Sure, it's a prologue, but let us look about. Removing freedom is not something you should EVER do in a title, period. Controls are reasonable too, though they neglect to mention a lot in the instruction manual. You really need to look online for a lot of the control shortcuts(protip: Hitting RB & X (R1 + square for you PS3 guys)on the 360 controller automatically creates tablets from herbs if you have them available), a bad move overall. But again, the moves feel like they are deliberately trying to make it more action like. You run as normal now, need to tilt the control stick slightly to walk. You now dash instead when you hold A(X). Also, i highly recommend you switch the targeting reticule if you do intend to play RE6, the default is pretty abysmal, change it to laser sight and you should be fine.
There is no weapon upgrades this time, no weapon progression either, something i quite liked from RE4 and 5. Instead, everything focuses on skills. Some are what you'd expect, firepower boosts, defense boosts, more critical damage. Others are aimed at making the game easier(and for a couple, harder) for some, getting tablets when your ally helps you up, better accuracy, or you can remove your targetting reticule as well for a damage boost. It's not a bad setup, all things considered.
For those that enjoy it, the one thing that hasn't really gone and been hit bad at all is Mercenaries. It feels like it used to, you against the clock to kill everything you can(this time with a limit, which makes for some good score attacks) whilst collecting time and bonus multipliers. It's still exactly as it was which i'm glad to see. You can equip a single skill for it as well, which may unbalance it a little i find, but not as badly as i first feared. Time bonuses can give more time, longer bonus multiplier, kind of thing. You can switch between them mid-game, but it does mean you could drop your combo, something you need to watch for.

You will spend a fair bit of time crawling and jumping to the ground


I'm yet to try online, and to be honest, i'm tempted not to try it full stop. If you even set it to consider xbox live or anything, you can't pause the game, even if noone else is in your game. I recommend you set it to offline so you can(why that's not default is anyones guess). Co-op is available in mercs and agent hunter(i'm yet to try) as well both, local and online. Local co-op is horrible, it doesn't even take up a full screen. When my brother and i tried it on the PS3 at home(a 40" TV), it left a lot of black bars/blocks all over the screen and these small wee screens for you playing. Whoever considered this a good option needs to be slapped. There was one other segment which annoyed me. The details you get from the files(unlocked by emblems) is not all there. You need a residentevil.net account linked to your XBL or PSN account to get every detail, and you can only get them on the website. Whatever happened to having everything in the game already?

My opinions here may not seem to suggest it's an entirely bad game, and for the most part, it's not terrible, but it's not good either. What makes Resident Evil.....Resident Evil? This should be obvious. Survival horror. That fear of going up against the unknown, watching your ammo, a dark atmosphere, etc. This doesn't happen here. Sure, there is this more global style fear of things happening...but it doesn't capture anything i remember and loved. Maybe i should approach this as the new way forward as capcom are trying to say it needed to go, but it doesn't work. It doesn't give me what i want from the RE franchise. Why can't they make a game ala Revelations? That captures the fear of another "raccoon city" style even, yet keeps the atmosphere and fear alive? Why do we need the Call of Duty fanbase to help us move forward? The design choices just don't add up for me, and i don't think they ever will. They have taken what resident evil once was, put it into 3 chapters, and made a title that may as well have a different name on it. It might even do better if it did. But because it tries to expand the world of a fan favourite, it has done nothing but hurt itself. Perhaps capcom will take from this and go back to what it once was, or they might try and use this as a way to say "out with the old, in with the new" and move in a direction which will do nothing but push away it's core player-base. All i can say is, if this is a sign for things to come, i fear for the franchise, not because it's going to make bad games, but because it no longer is Resident Evil.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Gaming news round-up 20th - 22rd August

Howdy and welcome to what i hope to be a regular feature on my blog, the news round-up. Unfortunately due to my work and how it's laid out, i can't get these out on a daily basis, so i'm going to throw these out twice a week and cover some of the slightly more interesting story pieces of each week, probably every wednesday and saturday. So without anymore waffling, let's get started!

The World Ends With You 2 teaser site?

At midnight UK time on monday, Square Enix opened up a new teaser site which contained a 7 day timer and silhouettes of buildings in the background. With this was a piece of music playing with a very urban style akin to that of TWEWY. Going by the url link having "subaseka", it was easy to assume that this was probably linked to a new TWEWY announcement(or if you prefer the japanese name, Subarashiki Kono Sekai) after the timer had finished. Too add more to this, each day that passes alters something on the site. The background gets lighter and the buildings more noticeable, and the music has, as of today, become a new iteration of the fan favourite, and possibly staple song from the series "Calling". Whether or not this actually hits as a sequel, an iOS remake, or a social game still remains to be seen, but my hopes lie on a full blown sequel back in Shibuya for the 3DS. Regardless, we will see the result in the next few days, and no doubt we will get a showing of it at TGS in a months time.

Calling~ you hear me Calling~

Teaser Site

New Final Fantasy XIII teaser site

Keeping that ball of teaser sites rolling, Square Enix announced earlier today that they would be revealing a new chapter in the Lightning Saga for Final Fantasy XIII on the 1st of September. Not much else is shown bar that the Producer, Director and Art Directors will be at an event in Tokyo to present these details as part of the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy. It seems to me that Square just love announcements of announcements this week, it's funny.

Teaser Site the Second

Ubisoft claim that their PC games have a 93-95% piracy rate

This kind of cracked me up. Yves Guillemot spoke with GameIndustry International earlier this week and claimed that the free-to-play games and PC games are getting roughly the same amount of income as one another. He mentions that about 5-7% of the F2P playerbase buy through micro-transactions and that those that purchase their regular PC games is about the same, and that about 93% to 95% of the rest of players pirate their games. This struck me as weird because, if a game is to be pirated, how would they know the actual numbers for that? A pirated copy wouldn't be connecting to their Uplay service, someone would have built a crack to by-pass it, so essentially, these feel like numbers taken out of a hat. I won't doubt his F2P numbers, but i doubt the accuracy of the regular retail title sales. Not only that, but they wonder why the PC market for them is so terrible. The DRM + delays + for some, bad porting cause PC gamers just to ignore such titles and purchase other titles elsewhere. The addition of their Uplay site/hub they are intent on bringing to their titles on PC adds insult to injury as it brings even more DRM to the table. If it wasn't for the large amount of DRM, i expect their "93-95% pirated games" would be far lower, and the sales far higher. It just doesn't add up.
Maths bit: If, say, that 5% was Assassins Creed 3 selling, say, 5 million. then at 100% sales, that would suggest a total of 100 million sales. Do you honestly see that being accurate? I thought not.

For the full interview, check it out on Gameindustry International

And finally for this edition...

Jay Wilson(Diablo 3 Director) hits at Diablo 1/2 Project Lead - David Brevek

Back on monday, The Diablo 1 & 2 Project leader David Brevek commented on Diablo 3 saying that it was "very different" from the game he would have created, also adding that they made a lot of advancements with Diablo as a whole, but it was "not the game i originally designed for Diablo 3". He commented on the skill system being a bit like a load-out system from a shooter and perhaps too generous, and that he wouldn't have chosen to allow items and weapons to power skills. He did also make a comment on the always online DRM for the game and said he wouldn't have made the same choices. All of these comments where fair game, considering he now doesn't work with them(please correct me if i'm wrong on this), and these comments where all made in an interview with IncGamers. The issue was that, not long after this hit the web, those that work at Blizzard, and those that did once previously all jumped onto facebook and commented on the interview in question, with Jay Wilson adding "**** that loser" which was quickly deleted soon after. This hit forums, reddit and so on fast, and soon became known worldwide. From what is known now, he has written a formal apology to David Brevek(which can be read here) and should hopefully be the end of the tale, but this all stemmed from the team of Diablo 3 jumping on what was easily just a mild comment on the game. He never once said it was a bad design choice, just one he wouldn't have gone with.

You can find most of the details for this everywhere, but if you want the image of the facebook comments + more details, check out the reddit post here and the image here

And that ends the news round-up for the week. I probably haven't mentioned much at all, but these stood out as major things to me. If you want to suggest other ways for me to lay this out, please leave me a message and i'll get on it. Until later!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Lollipop Chainsaw - Killing zombies with lollipop power



Lollipop Chainsaw has been out for nearly a good month and a half now, so no doubt a good few of you have picked up this already and had a good playthrough of it, much like myself. It's a pretty interesting style of game, and of course, pretty wacky, but coming from Grasshopper Manufacture, that doesn't even surprise me anymore, considering the other titles they've released(No More Heroes, for example). What got to me with this was, how underrated it's actually been. So is it actually as bad as some say?

Let's start with the basics, Lollipop Chainsaw at it's core is a hack n slash zombie game where you play as birthday girl Juliet, a cheerleader for the San Romero Knights...who just so happens to have her boyfriends head attached to her waist(there are worse ways to go, gotta say). The high school gets hit by this weird ritual in which zombies take over and you, being the badass cheerleader with a chainsaw, have to clear them out, essentially. Story wise, it's there, but nothing you need to rattle your brain over. It's basic in style, but that's all it needed to be for this game.

Combat is fairly clunky at the beginning. You start off with a series of basic combos, chainsaw attacks, pom pom attacks and your low attacks. That's about it. Don't attempt to guard either, since there is no way to do so. Fear not however, as you progress and collect zombie tokens either littered around everywhere or by killing them zombies, you can purchase new combos which improves the feel of the combat as well as makes it far more interesting as well. Health, strength, lock-on and recovery upgrades are available as well, but i'd suggest getting the combos first, as you'll be needing them more at the beginning. Getting good combo chains in as well as well aimed attacks can get you a flashy multi-kill animation where you get bonuses to your gold and platinum tokens(used for music, artwork and all the costumes) which fell pretty damn satisfying. My only gripe with them is that, after a while, they can be a little repetitive, but they don't remove from the flow of combat i found, surprisingly. You'd have thought that slowing everything down to show you 3-7 zombies heads flying off with rainbows spouting out of them would cause disruptions but there we go. Also, it's worth mentioning the Sparkle power, which is the meter at the bottom left which, when filled, makes chainsaw attacks insta-kill and you invincible, and the nick attacks. You fire Nicks head at enemies to stun them and make them vulnerable to your chainsaw attacks.


There are other upgrades you will get via story progression, the chainsaw blaster which is your gun, easy to use but i do recommend you turn off auto-aim, it makes it a lot easier, and the chainsaw dash. Chainsaw Blaster is annoying in a couple ways, one to get used to it, the second is that everytime you choose to use it, Juliet shouts "Chainsaw Blaster". granted there is enough variation in how she says it, but really? I think once every so often would've been a bit better.


The best thing i found about Lollipop Chainsaw was the aesthetic of the game. My god is it fantastic. Each level is designed with a different genre in mind, and it ensures the music follows suit to. One stage will have you listening to Dragonforce as you work your way to the punk rock boss, the next you'll be listening to viking metal whilst trying to get atop a flying viking ship. Also, i can't leave this section without mentioning how fantastic the music in stage 3 is. When you reach a certain section of the game where you need to kill hundreds of zombies to progress, you'll know what i mean. Fit so perfectly. The soundtrack was superb, well thought out and there isn't a song that is out of place within it.

Finally, the main other thing i feel needs mentioning is the voice acting. Tara Strong does a fantastic job as Juliet Starling, even if the "chainsaw blaster" line gets repeated way to often, but the praise has to be handed to Nicks voice actor the most; Micheal Rosenbaum. When i first heard he'd be voicing Nick in this, i wonder what the hell to expect. When i think of him at all, i think of Lex Luthor from Smallville, and just can't imagine him in more of a comical role, but he nails it, and in many ways, carries the game with it. Yeah, all the voice acting is pretty good, but he does stand out atop the rest.


Overall, i very much enjoyed Lollipop Chainsaw to the fullest, and go back to it often enough when i feel like killing with all that lollipop power. Sure, it starts off a little slow in terms of combat, and the story is basic, but it's not about a extremely deep and though provoking storyline. It's about a cheerleader zombie hunter equipped with a chainsaw massacring many a zombie in an attempting zombie apocalypse, with well placed humour and a fantastic soundtrack. It needed nothing else, and does exactly what it needed to, entertain.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Indie titles WHY U SO GOOD!?!?!?!?

I'll be honest here, up until early last year, i hardly played any PC games, bar the odd RTS here or there. but then i delved deeper into it all, and asides from the usual big named titles, i found my steam library turn into this mass of indie titles. There was a point where i thought, hey, hah, all i want is title x or title y on steam, big name stuff i mean, and never looked to cheap titles cause they looked meh. I can't get enough of them now.

Probably some of the major titles you'd think of when you consider the indie scene is Edmund McMillens Super Meat Boy the platformer where having over 1000 deaths before world 3 is common place. Or of course the game that took off flying and is still to really stop, Minecraft. It's become such a diverse and, i'd go as far to say very well respected scene now, that  owning them is normal now. I find myself with over 80 hours on The Binding of Isaac, 60 on Plants vs Zombies, and so many more on others. But i think i'm missing my own point, Why are they so good?

Awesomenauts - check out the theme song, it's so good

I think part of that could be that, as an indie developer, you have a lot more free rein over what you do. You can experiment a lot more with what you're doing than you would if you where stuck working on a AAA title like, say, Resident Evil, which has nosedived into the worst gameplay choices imaginable(going for CoD fans? really?) Take Awesomenauts, which is set to hit PC/Steam in the not to distant future. It's a MOBA(think League of Legends) style game at heart, but so different outside of that. Sure, it has you defending towers, taking out mobs, buying upgrades, it's a platformer on top of that. Aiming  and firing isn't auto either, it's all something you need to control yourself. It can easily change up the way the genre moves on depending on how well it's received(i think it did hella well on PS360, but i forget) and essentially push even more weird and exciting ideas to the genre. Yes of course we will have bad games come out of them, heck that always happens, but there are times like this particular title that things work out. Bastion brings in new ideas for story telling, through a narrator who tells everything as you progress. It means you spend more time enjoying the game, whilst listening to his fantastic voice, tell the story of Caelondia and the Kid trying to find a way to sort out the "Calamity".

Sure, you could say "oh, capcom can do this" or  "Ea did that", and maybe they can or have, but the titles have either gone under the radar, or they are too afraid to do something major to their main titles with the chance that they'll lose sales. It's horrible to say that, but it's not too far off the truth. Resident Evil 6, to bring it up again, is being made with the intention of "trying to bring in fans of CoD". They want that because it means more sales, which in turn means more money. The feeling i get from that is, they don't really want to keep the fans of certain series they have now, they just want to bring in more to keep up cash income. I honestly believe that'll do them more damage with that title than anything else.

I think i've kind of only scratched the surface with it all. Indie titles are becoming more and more noticed and more of them are turning out to be good. Some more so. If i can get more titles like Bastion, Trine, Braid, Limbo, Super Meat Boy, and at such a good price, i think i'll gladly support them all when i can. i feel my money is more well spend with them too, as not only am i getting my moneys worth, i feel like i want to return to the titles time and time again. I think AAA developers/companies could learn from them, if they could only let go of their damn pride and silly notions of being the only ones that can do x, y or z. Some of their titles may just turn out to be good, real good.

Also, Indie games have the best soundtracks. Just Sayin'

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Steam Summer Sale. - Wallets stand no chance

Steam finally got their Summer Sale underway on the 12th of July, after what several believe was a delay. Last year the Summer sale was the last week of June, so there was a fair bit of belief that it would be the same again this year. Regardless, it's finally kicked in, and the deals which will take all our monies has finally hit home, so what kind of deals should we be looking out for on Steam? Here's a few recommendations from myself as to what you should look out for over the next 9 days(ok, 8 and a half when this goes out, you picky people you);

Bastion

Many people who follow me on twitter probably know my obsession with this title, it's such a wonderful game i think everyone should go out and buy it. The story telling is brilliantly done via the narrator, who tells you pieces of what's going on and the lore around the world as you progress through the game. He'll comment on your use of weapons, you're clumsiness(falling off the stage), but never excessively. It's all well paced and feels like it fits perfectly into the game. The combat is a little basic, but it honestly doesn't matter. I sat through the game in one sitting, and never once got bored. That soundtrack is probably my favourite game OST of last year, no competition. My only other mention is, play through the game twice. You'll thank me later. Supergiant games deserve every bit of respect for this.


Sonic Generations

Sonic titles as of late have been a little....on the iffy side. And to be fair the skepticism over how they could return the series to it's former glory was always going to loom over it when including classic sonic, but i can safely say, they nailed it. The classic sonic portions of the game are just right, they feel like classic sonic. The physics aren't off, the momentum is right, the stages are well design, just what we needed. Even the stages from games like unleashed & colours have been redesigned to fit him. And yes, even modern sonic feels good too. The focus for him being more on speed is well balanced with classic. You never get too much or too little from it. Also, What a joy it is to hear Chemical Plant zones music again.


The Binding of Isaac + Expansion

Edmund McMillen has a lot of wacky ideas for games, and this is no different. You play isaac in a zelda-esque style dungeon crawler, with your treasure rooms, item shops + boss rooms and head down deeper into the basement. Sounds easy enough? God it's not. Every playthrough is different, and you'll never get the same combo of items twice(items hit about 220+ i believe with the expansion on top). Consider this. One playthrough, you could be firing homing tears whilst having a cube of meat orbit you, or perhaps you are firing a laser from one eye then using your equipped Shoop da Whoop Beam to get out of a pickle. It's never the same twice. And with so many references hidden in there, it's great. You really need to play it yourself to understand just how wacky an idea it is. Tears as your weapon, and the aim of the game? Kill Mom. Yup. For those interested in where the idea seems to have come from, look on wikipedia for the Binding of Isaac page, it's basically a HUGE reference to the story from the bible of the same name.
(Also, at the time of writing this, It's 99p for the game, £1.73 for the game + expansion + OST. That's it, no excuses)

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

I don't think i need to explain this one. It's a horror game known all over the internet for being one of the scariest games out in years. If you like/love horror titles, you need this.


Saints Row: The Third

THQ are having a fair few issues at the moment with restructuring and money issues, and i find that sad to hear when they have a gem like Saints Row: The Third in their collection. It's insane, over the top fun ala Grand Theft Auto, but unlike GTA, it hasn't gotten serious over time, just more mad. There is enough to do in this sandbox title alongside the main quests and DLC quests that you'll probably be at it for hours. And with the co-op campaign there as well, it's even better. If you need convincing by the way, go check out Jesse Cox(OMGFCata) and his playthrough, even just part 1. The start of the game is enough to get a good judge of the game entirely.

And with that, there is just a few games i'd suggest buying when you can. I could also have gone into depth with Terraria, Super Meat Boy, Sanctum, Serious Sam, Section 8, etc etc, but i'd be here all day. Let's just hope that our wallets don't suffer too much this time round, at least until the christmas sale.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Return to blogging, E3 + and beyond

Hey guys, it's been a while. I realise i had made a promise to you all that i'd make a blog on E3, and i kind of didn't. Sorry, there isn't really a good excuse to what i can say for that, i got caught up with a few other bits at the same time, and never got round to making a full blog on the matter. So what i'll do now, i'll condense everything worth mentioning from each of the conferences into a paragraph or two, and then move onto july news and my plans for the future of this place.

E3 - Microsoft


Microsoft once again got E3 off to...a start. It wasn't exactly spectacular, but they had made some decent choices in titles to show off. Halo 4 got the show off to a pretty good start, with a very Metroid Prime-like feel to the game. Very much welcome if you ask me. Has huge promise, and 343 studios can certainly capitalise on that. They moved onto the new Splinter Cell title which looks very splinter cell like, but with Kinect voice commands, much like what you saw in Mass Effect 3. Gears of War Judgement got it's teaser trailer reveal showing off Baird mostly, but we know that Cole train will feature as well, and it looks to be set prior to E-Day, so will make for an interesting sequel. After this, Tomb Raider was shown to be fairly nice looking, but it went fairly downhill from there. Dance Central 3 feat. Usher,  Fable The Journey trailer, Xbox Smartglass(controls xbox + extra features on a windows 8 smartphone/tablet), more 3rd party apps for the 360, Black Ops 2, you get the idea. It was a strong show for the first half, then died down after. We got some of the South Park game from Obsidian in there though, so it wasn't to bad nearer the end. Good news was, there was far less kinect this time round. They might have finally caught on how to use it properly

Sony


Sony was interesting, they where by far better than Microsofts conference, with strong showings of games like The Last of Us, Playstation All Stars battle Royale, God of War Ascension., Assassin's Creed 3(+ Vita 3) and the guys behind Heavy Rain showcased their new title, Beyond: Two Souls. They did however, try to get more coverage for what is quite widely deemed a flop, The PS Move. new games for the "Wonderbook" including one written by J K Rowling where shown off, however it didn't impress much. If they removed this and put in PSVita coverage instead, they would have been better off. All in all better than microsoft, but still fairly weak.

Ubisoft


Never was there a day when i though i'd say this but, Ubisoft stole the show. They showed off Rayman Legends for WiiU which looked fantastic. Keeping to the same style as Origins but incorporating the extra things that the WiiU will offer. Moving swiftly onto more Assassins Creed and then ZombiU was shown a little next to some of the other titles for WiiU. What stole it for them however, was the last title they showed off; Watch Dogs. I don't think i could do the game justice by my description, so i highly recommend you check out Youtube or a gaming site for the gameplay they showed off, it was...fantastic to say the least.

Nintendo


Finally Nintendo, who somehow managed to disappoint amidst high hopes. They even did two shows, one focusing on the WiiU, the other on the 3DS, yet still managed to show nothing of spectacular worth. The console itself looks fantastic, Pikmin 3 was shown off, Batman Arkham City Armored Ed was shown, ZombiU, NintendoLand and New Super Mario Bros for WiiU, but they didn't give us an extact date or price range. the 3DS show gave us Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, Kingdom Hearts 3DS, Luigis mansion 2, New Super Mario Bros 2 and Paper Mario, but it just wasn't something new or gripping.

So was there an outright winner? no. You could say Ubisoft for showing proper stuff, but honestly, noone stole it. I didn't see EAs, but all it had basically was Dead Space 3. I just hope the Tokyo Game Show can give us more from Nintendo.

Now, for this month and beyond. July has had a few decent announcements here or there. Many will know that Tales of Xillia has been announced for EU/US possibly alongside it's sequel but that is TBA, but no release date confirmed. Persona 4 Golden has helped the Vita get it's drive back, as you'd expect now it's released, Persona 4 Arena has 30-40 hours storyline content, and of course, there is the continued concern for Mass Effect 3 now that the extended cut DLC is out. That's just a taste of things, but expect a weekly update on news from here on out.

As for what i plan to do, i intend to do 3-4 posts a week, one focusing on my gaming at present, one on news, a review if i can, anime updates, and something else which i'm still considering. It may take me a week or two to get into the right state of mind for it, but please look forward to what i put up here, and if you wish to contact me at all, you can always find me on twitter @ARX7Laevatein or watching over everyone at  www.animeuknews.net.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Delays to writing, E3, gaming and er...distractions

So it's taken me a while to actually get fingers to keyboard for this, but here we go. I was intent on getting a post in when i had finished Zelda: Skyward Sword, oh yeah, i've completed it by the way, but i just never found a good amount of motivation to get my thoughts down for it. So here's a short version:

I loved it, it was zelda as i hoped it would be, but with an actual story stuck onto it. Zelda has always been one to have some kind of story, and it always has the same kind of idea, but it's never been fleshed out a lot. This had a lot of time and dedication put into it, you can tell. Link, albeit still the silent hero(and may he continue to stay that way) felt strangely deep in comparison to his previous counterparts(or should i say, later incarnations).  There was emotion attached to him, something they somewhat worked into twilight princess, but never put full time into. The fact that it felt a little darker nearing the end as well was nice, and the final boss, albeit a little easy on the regular difficulty, had an epic feel to it. I hope Nintendo keep adding improvements to Zelda like they did with this one. Not taking away from the formula, but adding. Don't go over the top, don't bow to pressure and rebuild from scratch, Keep to what has made it so iconic, and build up from there.

For those wondering, my replacement title for Zelda has been chosen, i'm now set to start working on Xenoblade Chronicles as of Tuesday of this week coming. I made a start and got the prequel out of the way, but now it's time to go into full swing. If i'm not back in a week, i've been lost to the game.

Now, part of the reason i've been so deterred in my updates for here, is due to watching a ton of anime. It's been months since i actually dedicated any form of time to the medium, and after having that spark re-lit by Planetes and Escaflowne, it's in full swing again. I'm enjoying the new season a fair bit at the moment. Sakamichi no Apollon has pacing issues later into the series, but is still a fantastic series to watch. If Jazz by Yoko Kanno doesn't get your juices going, i don't know what will. Space Brothers(Uchuu Kyoudai) is my join favourite. It's fantastic in it's execution(first episode is a tad slow though), and Mutta is such a relateable and loveable character, it's hard not to enjoy it. Just don't compare it to Planetes, it isn't really related bar for the space premise. Hyouka is very enjoyable, but i think it'll appeal to people who love series which you need to focus on(hence why i like it, for example). And of course, you can't forget Lupin III. I've still got 2 episodes to catch up on, but it's so much fun, full of style and feels like a Lupin series through and through, despite not actually focusing on him. If you have to watch anything this season, watch Lupin and Space Brothers.

Oh, my other distraction. Only hit this week. I'm playing Diablo 3, i don't think there needs to be much added here.

Now finally, for E3. I had originally re-opened my blog to get the conferences typed up onto somewhere for people to read and catch all the details if they where unable to stream the events. I'm going to do this again this year, and hopefully add some screencaps of memorable moments, or particular announcements. Any particular announcements you think will hit? what do you want to come our way more to the point? I want a new Metroid more than anything, alongside a confirmation of TWEWY2 from SquEnix. I can hope though. All that is left is to ask but one thing, Is your body ready?


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Persona 4 finished! And Dead or Alive 5 Alpha thoughts

It's been a long time coming, but i can now safely say that i have finished Persona 4. Yup, i have. Let that sink in for a moment. It's taken me since it's US launch to complete. Why? I honestly don't know, but it has. And i take pride in the fact i finished it as well. I loved the final two dungeons, the feel, the style, everything. The final boss i failed on once, and that was down to that god damned worlds end. If i was smart enough, i'd have caught on to how to avoid any real damage from it sooner, but there we go. IT'S DONE. Now, as for my next title aim. I'm going to a series older than Persona 4, i'm going to .hack. By .Hack, i mean the 4 part game series released in Europe. I'm onto the third title, which i believe is outbreak, so i've got that and game 4 to finish, which i'll zoom ahead with now i have the chance. I can't even remember where i left off with it, which is rare since i normally can vaguely recall what was what. I may even restart all 4, who knows.

In other news, something i've been looking forward to since i saw that amazing trailer for it, and that is Dead or Alive 5. Since i got the Collectors for Ninja Gaiden 3, i got the premium edition of the alpha demo, so i was lucky enough to have 4 characters to latch onto and try out. My first thoughts with it before i started was, what would this charge move do? Would everyone just spam it? Would the camera from the dynamically changing stages cause havoc in the combat? And of course, how much do the characters feel like they should?


Now, i'm a bit of a veteran player with Dead or Alive 4, i played a good 2-3k odd matches in my time, peaked at A+ online, oh so nearly had S rank, so i can safely say i was pretty decent at the game. So i thought i'd approach this with that in mind. I'm not saying i'm going to be giving pro advise here or there, hah, i can honestly say i'm not that spectacular, but i'll give what thoughts i can to you all. Also, this is played on 360, so i will compare to DOA4 controls.

The controls are basically exactly as you are used to if you played DOA4, however the button we used to use for taunting(RB) is now used for your new charge style attack. You'll recognise this as the flashy move you see some of the characters use. Y is punch, B is kick, X is guard/counter, A is grab, you get the idea, nothing new. They also feel pretty tight, nothing feels too uncomfortable to use, this is also considering i use the 360 control, not an arcade stick. I've never used one for the game, and doubt i ever will.

Stages are very well built, ok you only get one to work with, but there is so much to them. bashing into a wall can cause cans/buckets to fall on you disrupting you mid-attack, making you vulnerable. It can happen to both of you as well though. Then you can hit into more destructive elements of the stage and fall victim to everything falling atop of you. Falling of the side two puts you into the attacker/defender situation. If you are the victim of the attack and have to hold onto the ledge, you are given the options of guarding, or dodging. Attackers get attack or grab. Attack beats dodge, Grab beats Guard. Kind of makes sense.Works very well too, and can lengthen a match if the defender successfully guards it. it does no more damage than you would expect from falling in one of the original stages. The camera during all this, needs a little work. I think it works well most of the time, but there is some issues here and there where i think it could do with focusing more on the characters than the destruction around them. Sure, it'll affect both players, but its maybe a little bit unnecessary. I can see what they where going for, however.

Now onto characters. I'll do a more indepth piece on all four available in another post, so i'll just cover them in general for now. Each character feels like they are themselves. By that i mean, they feel familiar. If you used to main Ayane all the time, then you can easily pick this up, start a match with her, and play with very little issue. They do also feel fresh. Some of the attributes for attacks feel a little different. Combos are a little easier to chain up, and can be lengthened if you get a well placed hit into certain sections of the stage.The combat feels like it flows fantastically well, though sometimes the controls feel a tad unresponsive, sluggish you could say. It is Alpha though, so these small things will probably get fine-tuned easily enough.

Finally, that charge move. Fear not, it isn't a game changer. In fact, i think it adds a new element of strategy i'm excited to muck about with. You are able to dodge and guard the move, as well as being able to hit your opponent out of it mid-charge. I should note though, that the chances are, each character will have different attributs allocated to their own unique charge move. Ayane felt to me like she had a grab for hers, so blocking was out of the question, but dodging was still a choice. Everything for this move falls into it being situational. You will probably want to try and get a well timed juggle in to use it, or perhaps get your opponent down on the ground and keep enough distance away so that they can't kick you on getting up. It's got a lot of possibilities attached to it. My only fear though, is how useful it'll be in high ranking matches. I don't see it being used often early days, but later on, i could see it used more. It's way to early to tell, but i'm gonna experiment more with it as i go on.

I hope this has been a little informative, when it comes to Dead or Alive, i can get a bit carried away, hah. But if you have any queries or want me to check something out in regards to DOA5 and the alpha, let me know and i'll check it out for you, and hopefully come up with a good answer for you. All i will say is, look forward to playing it, it's very nice so far.

Until next time.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Sega x Capcom x Namco Bandai 3DS game - first details

With the official site revealing more later today, famitsu have got the drop on the details for Capcom x Sega x Namco Bandais game for the 3DS: Project X Zone. They never gave us much in the way of details, however we now know that the game is a strategy RPG which has the characters in the game work in teams of two for the combat in the game, though how else the combat works, we are yet to see. The great people over at AndriaSang got the first list of characters shown off on famitsu released for all to see, which in their teams of two, looks like the following;

Capcom
Ryu & Ken (Street Fighter 0), X and Zero (Mega Man), Demitri and Dante (Darkstalkers and Devil May Cry), Chris and Jill (Resident Evil)
Sega
Shinguji Sakura and Ogami Ichiro (Sakura Wars), Pai and Akira (Virtua Fighter), Kurt and Riela (Valkyria Chronicles), Ulala and Touma (Space Channel 5 and Shining Force EXA)
Namco Bandai
Sanger Somvold (Super Robot Wars), Jin and Ling Xiaoyu (Tekken), Kos-Mos and T-elos (Xenosaga), Yurie and Estel (Tales of Vesperia), Kaito and Black Rose (.hack)

They also got an interview with the teams working on the game over on their site too which maybe worth giving a quick read if you're interested in the title at all, as it details a couple of other small tid-bits in relation to the moves characters will have for example. This, you can of course read over on AndriaSang

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Capcoms Captivate 2012 - leaks + speculation

Captivate, Capcoms own style of press conferences/showing off of new titles and so on has been taking place recently, and has been set to finish as of today. Needless to say, this is when all the details start flying, but it came as a surprise that Sony leaked a good few pieces onto the web sooner than originally planned. So instead of waiting until we get all the details, i'll throw in what i know of the 3-4 that have been detailed so far. Let's get started

Resident Evil 6

The not-so-surprising surprise announcement back in January of the continuation for Resident Evil hit the ground running with a new trailer, which if you are fast enough, you can still watch over on ShopTo with a ton of story details. As a quick summary, Sherry Birkin and "Wesker Junior" are the third duo of Main characters in the story, as we all called ages ago, Chris looks weird, Ada seems to be one of the people running this new set of events going on, or so it seems. The Virus is now known as the C-Virus, and there is a lot to do with spawning things, clones and i dunno what. A lot takes place in china, leon and his partner fake their deaths at some point, and yeah. And before we forget, it actually changed the release date. We can now expect to see Resident Evil 6 on the 2nd of October this year. Quite a surprise, obviously they are further along in production than they had expected, and hopefully, this'll make up for the absolutely abysmal Operation Raccoon City released last month. I'm going to do a post later on resident evil speculation, since there is a lot you can cover with it, but i'll leave the details there for now.

Lost Planet 3

The biggest surprise, and i don't mean this in a good way, was Lost Planet 3. There is nothing much to see with the trailer, bar the fact that you may actually get a named protagonist this time round, whether it's any relation to the first game at all, who knows, but god, why are they making this? Consider it this way, Lost Planet 2 had absolutely terrible sales, it wasn't well received by anyone either, so why would capcom go and decide that this was a good investment? Surely this will only end with them making a loss? Or is there going to be a big game changer thrown in somewhere? I dunno, i'll wait for the full official embargo of details later on today.

If you want to see the trailer, you can find it here.

DmC - Devil May Cry

DmCs trailer showed very little in terms of combat, though it did at least show some, unlike the other two trailers released today. It more or less showed off the point of the TV show looking for Dante, and some demons. It has style, i won't deny it, but i still can't get used to the look of Dante. I just hope the gameplay makes up for it, and they can make the story at least link into him becoming the proper Dante.

Again, the trailer is found over here

Other than these three, not much else has been fired out. The patch for Street Fighter x Tekken is due out today, and that's about it. As soon as we get hit by the full details, i'll add them into another blog post later.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Gaming Updates + Watching anime again feels good.

So after a fairly slow start to my quest to completion, I'm set to finish Persona 4 tonight. For those wondering, i reached the final boss in the true ending route(i won't say anymore, i realise the anime is still to cover the true ending in an DVD/BD only episode releasing in August, so i'll stay silent), and gave it a bash. Needless to say, i now officially hate World's End followed by that Ghastly move, i forget it's name. It's a fantastically styled dungeon though, and the music very much suits the tone of the game now it's at its end. I've loved getting back into this, i really have. I literally blitzed the Magatsu dungeon in a few hours, completed all of december, and moved into the final day as well in about 7 hours total. I nearly forgot how long i'd been on it until i was bested by that evil final boss and soon realised it was hitting 2am. So i left the next attempt until i got home. Finding the time to finally kick back and get stuck into it again has been hard mind you, work throws more hours at me when i want to get stuff done, it's just my luck.

In other gaming stuff i've been doing. Since i don't get the time to focus on it just yet, i've played a fair bit of Torchlight since i got my new laptop. I started it a good while back, but never got really stuck into it since it can be a time sink and the gameplay is fairly repetitive, it is a diablo clone after all, but a very very good one at that. So when i can sneak in an hour or even less than that, i fire it up and complete a floor or two. Good fun overall, but i have one wee problem with it, the randomised loot. Normally, that'd never be a problem, but they have a fair few armor sets, equipment sets and so on throughout the game, and the chances of you actually getting a full set is slim because even that is fully randomised. I have to my name, 3 Midas Chains, 2 Gorgon gloves and 1 gorgon leggings as well as a ton of unique items. I wouldn't mind a full set of armor for my archer(currently dual wielding pistols), but at least the rest of the gear i have keeps me going.

Also, i finally started watching anime again! Quite Shocking in a way considering i hardly ever just sit down and watch something. But the new season has me interested again. I made a start on Uchuu Kyoudai, or Space Brothers as it is on Crunchyroll since it had caught my interest, and i'm fairly impressed. The show at first glance has this look as though it has fallen from the same tree as Planetes, another show i've been watching this week, but it's similarities are fewer and far between than you may expect. Of course, i'm only judging this off of one episode, it could easily start to have more as the series goes on, but at present, they both have some similar vibes, but are each their own shows. Space Brothers has a lot of humour too it, more than i expected. It's fairly light hearted too in many respects, which does compliment the humour aspect.
It's story focuses on two brothers who see what they think could be a UFO when they are kids, and this gives them their dream of going to outer space, the moon, and mars. The younger brother, Hibito gets his dream, but his older brother ends up unemployed and looking for a way to catch up and strive ahead. There is a few football(soccer)/sport references in this episode as well, Japans outting of the world cup, a win in baseball, and Zidane randomly headbutting another player. They are used fairly well too, and it makes me wonder if it'll be a kind of theme they may keep in check as the series goes on, since it certainly works. Again, i do look forward to this continuing, and hopefully, will get me writing a bit more on anime in this blog too.

The only other series i've watched recently is Gundam Age, which has been more of a catch-up than anything else. A lot of people where wondering if this series could live up to being a Gundam series, especially considering it being a little less dark compared to every other series, and it being animated by Level 5, who've always had that kid-like style to their art. It's been up and down, but i would definitely say it's a Gundam series, through and through. It takes a lot, and i do mean a LOT of stuff from both Mobile Suit Gundam(original series) and Gundam SEED, with so many references and influences in both arcs that it can be really hard not to notice them. It does beg the question, will we see that continue in to the third and final arc as well? I'd imagine we would, but what series would they reference? 00, Zeta, ZZ, Turn A, G, there is so many it can take from, it's just a case of what.

So that about wraps up my distractions for the week, if you have any recommendations on what anime for me to take a peak into this season other than Lupin III, Hyouka and Zetman, please let me know on here or on twitter, and i'll take a gander!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Quick blog - GAME administration + Ninja Gaiden 3 thoughts

So this is only a quick blog update for you all.

So you all probably know that the GAME Group have announced that they have gone into Administration. As much as i hate to see the loss of 2104 jobs in the UK because of it so far, i can't help but feel they put themselves into that situation themselves. They should have looked to be a bit fairer in their dealings with companies a bit more, at least from what i hear. But asides from that, the main thing that people want to know is, how badly has the administration been so far. They've closed down 277 stores at present, not just GAME, but gamestation as well. For a full list of what has been closed, i recommend you check out MCVs full list so far, which you can find over here. They've been constantly updating that article as new stores have closed and new updates have appeared, so keep an eye on their site for more details as they arise. It's worth noting, there is a pattern to what they are closing. Looking at the shops closed around us, we have the GAME in Stirling in the thistle centre closed down, and Edinburghs Princes Street store close. The Ocean Terminal one in Edinburgh(Leith) has been hit too, but that isn't as close by for me as the other two(i pass through stirling when i go from home to my flat). Why is this interesting? Well, these just so happen to be the biggest stores in each city. What has been left is the small Gamestation in stirling(which i prefer, far better selection) and the St James Centre GAME(far smaller, and worse selection). They are removing the bigger stores in favour of leaving the smaller ones, my guess is because the Rent will be far less, or the rent will be up for the other stores. So if you want to predict what will close, try going with the bigger ones. Means more jobs as well, which i again hate. We need jobs in this time, not less of them.



Onto my other topic of the day, one a little closer to my heart. Ninja Gaiden 3. Now, i loved Ninja Gaiden Black and the 360 Ninja Gaiden 2. Loved them. So when i heard Ninja Gaiden 3 was due to hit PS360 this year, i was hyped more than i expected. I was looking forward to this rich action-adventure/Hack-n-Slash game much like the two previews. Hard as nails, tonnes to do, lots of wee things to find and a good variety of weapons to work with. But....i never got that.

When i started the game, i got thrown into deciding which difficulty i wanted, Hero(easy) normal, or hard. I went for normal. I got thrown straight into a QTE. First thing you do. Hit X. Then, i get put into this scene where i can't walk left, or right, only forward. I have to jump off the ledge and, hit LB + right to avoid an attack, then hit y to do another attack. This wasn't a good start, Team Ninja, by any means. I thought, ok, this is the start, i'll let them off. Next thing i know, the game starts, and i'm pushed into another one, for jumping off a ledge this time into an enemy. Then combat starts. FANTASTIC. Let's see limbs....fly? Wait a second, why no dismemberment? Why no decapitations? What are these canned animations after every enemy kill? QTE prompts when killing too? What? I immediately questioned what was going on. This was not the Ninja Gaiden i remember, this was far from it. Combat had suddenly turned into this push for seeing canned animations for kills, or getting a QTE prompt. Enemies weren't even that smart either, they where easy to kill off, and i found myself finishing the first level without losing a life, nor losing even half of my health at any point. I was disappointed.

Ok ok, so that's the combat. What about the rest of it you ask? Okay. Everything is in an extremely straight line, so much so that you may as well remove the scenery, put in a straight corridor, and you'll do the same thing as you do in this game. There is NO Collectables. None, i'm not even joking. There is no items, no orbs or anything from felled enemies. You restore health by either using your Ki for a Fire Ninpo(which is a canned animation hitting everything nearby, i might add) or it will restore whatever ki you have left after you finish combat. You can't upgrade weapons, or sorry. Weapon. You don't even upgrade Ki levels or health, it's all fixed. What the hell? Why the hell would you take out everything that makes a game playable? YOU EVEN FORCE ME TO WALK AND DO ONE THING WHEN I WANT THE ABILITY TO DO WHAT I WANT. Scripted campaigns/story modes are things i expect from badly made/last minute campaigns for First person games ala Call of Duty, but this? this is beyond horrible. I should not be forced to do things like that, ever. Especially in a hack n slash game like this. You've made it Bare Bones, uneventful and..i think lackluster maybe being nice.

To this point, i should note i've restarted on Hard, and finished 2 chapters, and moved into the third. I've been at the game for less than 2 hours, i'm 2/7ths of the way through the game, and the only reason i had a problem was because, instead of giving us smart AI enemies, they give us tonnes of dumb AI enemies, and all at once instead of in waves. They try to make the game hard, but in the wrong way.

I'm sorry if i'm being considerably harsh with this game, but Gaiden black and 2(360) are two of my favourite games. Coming into Ninja gaiden 3, i had huge huge HUGE hopes, and so far i've been nothing but disappointed. I so wanted for this game to be a mish-mash between Bayonetta and Gaiden 2, but instead i've been introduced to this backwards title which does little more than annoy me as a fan of a series which has always been hard as nails, adrenaline pumping and gory bloody fun. It's none of those things now. It's just frustrating. I don't want to say this, because i adore Team Ninja and TecmoKoei, i really do, but do not buy this game in it's present state. Maybe a new version will appear if people see sense and it'll have everything added in, since it feels like it's incomplete and forcing to change itself, when it really doesn't need it. I'll maybe change my feelings on it when i finish the game, but we will have to wait and see. I'm just very very saddened by what i've seen so far.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Progress update: Skyward Sword + Mighty Switch force complete

I haven't really got much gaming done in recent weeks, playing a bit here, and a bit more there, so what i have got done, is get more of my Skyward Sword playthrough done, and i picked up, and completed Mighty Switch Force in the past week.

So, Skyward Sword. Where i left off before i started this "challenge", was 4 dungeons down and i was just preparing to enter dungeon 5(Ancient Ship i think it was called). loved the design for that dungeon, as well as the one before it, the Ancient Cistern, which had such a great feel to it. Heck did people know the design of the Ancient Cistern is possibly inspired by a short story known as The Spiders Thread? Check some of the details out, like the bit in which you climb a thread out of the dark depths of the area, it's quite fantastic.
At present, i've been working on getting a few of the side quest stuff done as well as searching for those heart container pieces, but i'm now just about ready to finish the game off. I have all the weapons, sword is complete, etc, etc. So i can't be too far away. Mind you, i said this after finishing the last couple of dungeons, and i'm still saying it now. Obviously it's longer than it looks.

Now, Mighty Switch Force, this was very much an impulse buy after i picked up the Soundtrack to the game through the fantastic Game Music Bundle - much like the Humble Indie Bundle, proceeds go to the composers of all the soundtracks available, as well as charities like childs play. This came with the second bundle alongside ones like Sword and Sworcery, Aquaria and many others. So giving the game a try, i had no idea what i was walking into, and neither did i realise it was actually a 3DS eshop game, for some reason i was led to believe it was DSiware. The games controls are extremely simplistic, B jumps, X shoots and you can use either A or the shoulder buttons to "switch". by switch, you'll find blocks which either appear phased in or out, to switch them from either form, you hit this and they'll be possible to jump on. My first gripe actually, and possibly my only one, is that there is no explanation on the controls or how they work. It throws you straight into the game head first and you need to work it out yourself. A small brief description of controls would have been nice.
In terms of the game itself, the storyline is basically; a group of criminals have just escaped imprisonment and have released some monsters in your way. You have to catch all 5 in each level to move onto the next level. That's it. What gives this an edge, is that you have a par time to hit with each level, and they are fast. Some levels have you finishing within a minute to beat it, so those with a love for time trials, this is your game.
Only 16 levels fill this game, so it will probably only take you an hour or two to complete the game, but chances are you'll be going back to get that star beside each level saying you beat the Par time. I did, and i am proud to say i've finished it 100%, and still go back from time to time to attempt to beat my times where ever possible. It's a worthy purchase for quick blasts of entertainment when you are stuck between work and more work, or travelling, and is only £5.40 on the Nintendo eshop as well, so not too hefty a purchase. I'd say, get it, enjoy it, and tell me what your best times are so i can beat them and laugh at you. Er...yeah.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

GAME/Gamestation mark down all pre-owned titles + more

So after my brother had called me telling me "hey, go to GAME, they have games there going for 50p" i had to wonder, eh? really? then he sent me a screen of some of the titles people had picked up and instead of thinking about it, dashed round to GAME to see what deals they had. So what did they have on offer you ask? Well, here's a few things i spotted.

  1. I picked up Space Marine for the £360 for less than 8 quid, i got it for £2 thanks to my GAME reward card.
  2. All PS2 titles that where available where on Buy-One-Get-One-Free, all of them, and i don't think i saw any of them going for more than £3.
  3. Games like killzone 2, Alone in the Dark, Super Street Fighter 4, Halo 3, Uncharted 2, where all less than £7-8 each
  4. Epic Mickey was unfortunately £10, I WANTED IT SO BAD, but alas, i never picked it up
  5. Consoles where only just starting to come down in price. We noticed that the PS3 was down to £99(40/60/80GB models) and the Wii was down to £39 quid.
  6. Titles for the 3DS weren't as cheap, SSFIV 3D was down to about £12, and that was the cheapest game on offer for it. Starfox was £17 unfortunately.
That's all we really saw, which is fairly huge in itself. We never actually saw everything reduced, since when i asked about some of the games, they had said a lot of them where still getting reduced and hardware was coming down as well.

Also please note, this is only GAME i've been able to check out so far, Edinburgh doesn't have a Gamestation at the moment, so i'll check the local Gamestation in Stirling on my way home and then fire up what the deals are on that side as well, though i expect they will be the same, just with more titles. So as soon as i see them, i'll fire them here.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Street Fighter x Tekken - CAPCOM! My rage, have all of it.

So Street Fighter x Tekken is finally just a few days away(2 days if you are in the states) from being released, so a few will have it by now. This is cool, i've got mine pre-ordered, was feeling pretty damn good with myself, ready to get back into the fighting game community, then suddenly it happened. The fantastic guys over at Destructoid published an article on the game, specifically for the 360 version, showing that not only was the alternate costumes already on the disk, the 12 DLC characters set to be released as part of the full Vita title are there too, and by that i mean the character models, prologues and endings. This drove me mad.

Now to clarify, the characters are Sakura, Blanka, Elena, Guy, Cody & Dudley(capcom side) and Lei, Christie, Jack, Brian, Lars & Alisia on the Tekken side, plus, the biggest kick in the teeth, Megaman and Pacman are on the disk too. Now, being a 360 owner, i always knew i was getting the worst deal for it, but to know that somewhere down the line, capcom where going to release megaman and pacman to us as well just made me want to rage. Sure, ok, they have yet to tell us if the characters will be paid DLC or not, but that's not the point. The fact of the matter is that the game has these characters, to whatever extent ALREADY ON THE DISK. If they are on the disk, i don't give a toss what kind of deal and money sony have given you, give us megaman and pacman for free, with the game at launch. The other 12? Well yeah, that's also an issue. The Vita will get them normally. Really? I mean, giving a handheld version of this game, which i might add, will never be used for competitive play, all these characters before the home console editions? and no less, for free? That is a sign that tells me capcom are just out to steal our money, and i'm not having that. They are going to have to offer these to me cheap or for free to get me convinced this will work. But chances are, everyone who is picking this game up and wants to get into it fully, will buy these characters. Heck, i want Sakura so i can get my dream combo of Sakura and Asuka into the frey, but i'm not more inclined to head to gamestation and cancel my order, and telling them why at the same time.

Mind you, this shouldn't even come as a surprise to us. Bioware/EA just did something as stupid as this with Mass Effect 3. If you buy the Collectors edition, you get the "From Ashes" DLC free with it. DLC which, i might add, had dialogue and data in the original data-mined beta xbox had leaked back in october-ish last year. This "Day 1" DLC has apparently been made after the game went gold, so why is this data on the disk already? And why can't you offer it to us for free much like you did to all new copies of Dragon Age for Shale, or Mass Effect 2 and Zaeed/Cerberus Network? I want to shout EA as loud as i can, but i may wake someone up, but you get the idea. We're constantly getting screwed around with thanks to this DLC system now in place. What happened to the days where we could get a full package, at the launch of a game, and be extremely happy with it, no problems whatsoever?
I can only think of two games worthy of being called "full packages" at the moment, and they are The Witcher 2 & Twisted Metal(PS3). The guys who made the new incarnation of Twisted Metal decided they wanted the game to be complete on launch, with no consideration for DLC. This is FANTASTIC. I'd buy the game to support them just for that mindset. A mindset i miss dearly. CDprojekt decided to release all DLC for The Witcher 2 as free updates, and heck, even the stuff being added to the 360 version is being included for free for the PC as just as regular update. THESE are the people we need in the gaming market at the moment, not money grubbing whores like Capcom and EA, who are out to use their franchise names to make a pretty penny over things we should get for free.

If you want to use the DLC market for stuff that is properly new and not even considered at Day 1, awesome, that's fine. You want to have costume packs or purely cosmetic extras as DLC? that's fine too, as they change nothing. But, especially with a fighting game, 12 characters which aren't included at launch, and have a decent amount of data on the game disk straight off is unacceptable, and i for one, am at wits end with it.

For those interested. Here is the Destructoid post which shows you the stuff that was leaked.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Persona 4: Update 2 + Metal Gear Solid 3D demo

So, it's only a quick update for Persona 4 this time round. I have just over half of the social links done now and i've been pushing my way through the extra bosses in each of the dungeons whilst completing requests along the way. Only got up to the 19th of November with it, but that leaves me open to starting the next story section in the next playthrough later today.

Asides from that, i almost had missed the fact that the Metal Gear Solid 3D demo was available on the eshop, so i took this chance to give it a try and see what i thought.

The demo itself is about 20 minutes long-ish at most, those who have played MGS titles before probably could get it down within 10 minutes maybe. Most of it was focused on stealth than anything else, but you will get a bit of a fire-fight at the end if you aren't careful. Control where..ok. I was given the impression at the start that all the controls where going to be on the main 3DS only, however once i got into the options, they do let you change to the CPP, which i found to be far more comfortable for the game in general. Having your camera mapped to your second circle pad rather than the ABXY buttons works a lot better, since it gives the rest of the buttons room to spread out on the controls, changing stance is now on B as well as up on the d-pad, for example. I actually can see this turning into something of a trend with 3DS games to some extent. Maybe not so much with Nintendos own titles, but with third party ones coming from capcom, or like kojima productions as seen, people will move to have the CPP as an available control scheme, or maybe even push to require it in the future.

In terms of gameplay. I had, to this point, never played Metal Gear Solid. What madness is this you say? Well, i just never found it took my fancy until the last year, when i saw MGS2 available for £3 whilst browsing through town. Anyways, i had no real idea as to what to expect in regards to the gameplay. Having most of the demo be stealth felt like it wasn't giving me much chance to see everything, but watching how camouflage worked and the level of detail put into the game to enhance that is very much respectable. When i got to the end of the demo, i found myself struggling to actually keep in stealth, and ended up engaged in combat. Firing at every enemy only to then realise, i've got tranqs which weren't knocking them out! I got a little fire up about this and just basically started to whack them in melee instead, finally taking them all out, and getting to the objective which ends the demo. How long do tranqs take to actually work anyways? Would be nice to know, since i was confused, thinking i need to hit them to get them to work.

The only other thing to really bring to mention was the 3D. at times, it was ok, but a lot of the 3D in the game was a little too strong. It got uncomfortable a bit too much and i found myself turning it off more often than i really wanted to. I didn't see an option to adjust it in the options menu, but i may have missed it. hopefully there will be so that i can enjoy it, much like i did with revelations' well balanced 3D.

Overall, hits and misses abound, it was somewhat enjoyable. I'll certainly consider picking it up, but i may end up waiting until it gets put on deal before i do, specially with so many other titles left to complete.