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.