The Scourge of Gamerovia

In the third age of written history, there was a time of technological proliferation. People gradually enjoyed a higher standard of living in Western countries, as each year came and passed, and their options for entertainment increased as well. Instead of going outside and doing things like “playing ball”, kids stayed inside – even adults stayed inside, mesmerized by the moving pictures on TV sets. More splendidly, they played electronic games, even before they had good graphics or enjoyable gameplay. The people rejoiced, for sitting on their collective asses was far more enjoyable than exerting energy to “do stuff.” Though the gaming industry floundered and nearly disappeared from the annals of history more than a few times before the third millenium, it persevered.

Though technology was around every corner and increasingly in their pockets, Al Gore had not  yet bestowed upon people the Internet, you know the thing from the 50s, and so the world was still a large place filled with ignorance and foreigners. Games were released on computer and when a game company wanted to make some additional money off of that game and add more content to it that they believed people would buy, and probably enjoy, they released expansion packs. Expansion packs were entire new discs, in entirely different boxes, and they were less expensive than the original game. They added whole new experiences to games, and were loved by many. If a game did not merit an expansion pack, well then, it was not that good. Expansion packs were not downloaded; the developers were not a millisecond away, and patches in the early days took some time to be released.

Insert absurd stock photo here.

At the dawn of the third millennium  though, the modern Internet was descended from the heavens, and yay, the people rejoiced. Much revelry was had in sharing songs on Napster, allowing people to hear music they never would have heard before or would have had trouble hearing without knowing the right places to go and the right people. Patches could be downloaded easier. Web pages were becoming ever fancier – people could communicate without ever seeing each other. Tom Hanks could fall in love with Meg Ryan for the 13th time without her ever learning that he was the one who screwed her over in real life. People could shoot each other more reliably in online games. In fact, there were online games. Game-playing types rejoiced in what was often thought to be a great time to be bored.

Unbeknownst to the good Men of the West, an evil that ever lay dormant in the East had arisen from its slumber. It gazed across the land at the free men who so enjoyed their liberty and comfortable lifestyle. Over time it grew angry, disgusted; it broiled with hatred. Jealous of their freedom and readily available flags of all sizes, it lashed out and destroyed one of the most iconic landmarks in modern history, killing unspeakable amounts of innocents with its incredibly successful, dastardly schemes. Schemes so loathsomely toiled over that they violated the very laws of chemistry and physics. Schemes so well-crafted by evil geniuses that they slipped past the best army in the entire realm.

Much to the Evil Axis’ chagrin, however, its plan backfired. The Men of the West grew bold, impetuous, and incensed`. They grew angry and violent. They called upon the Eagles, and beneath their shrill cries, did battle in the arid wastelands of the East. More importantly, they developed interesting new technologies, and vastly improved the old. The IT bubble crashed and technology proliferated among the Western peasants like never before.

A new age of Internets was born, wherein everything was flashier, faster, cheaper, ubiquitous and most importantly: easy to access. The modern home entertainment console, called the game console, rose up again and struck upon the face of his older brother – the computer – a mighty blow. He proclaimed he would no longer suffer the elder’s theft of the spotlight, and worked to emulate him at the same time, that he may better replace him. The console accused the PC of being a nerd, and it stuck. Computer saw his friends become distant, saw them sticking their cords into other holes.

The years dragged on and the gaming stores all changed, virtually overnight. What once were walls nearly covered by computer game boxes transformed into smaller, sleeker, newer packages – packages not compatible with computers. Computer games were involuntarily re-located to the nethers of the stores. The word  Computer or PC gradually disappeared from written text in those stores. Trying his best to evolve, computer did it’s best to fit in, but it still stayed in the back – so alone. In time, computer learned that it’s only way to survive was to give itself willingly – to submit to conformity. It found new friends on the internet and they propelled its success back to the old glory days, helping him as a distributor, handler, and protector all at the same time.

When I was your age, this was a computer game store.

Then came the dark ages. A disease swept across the land, affecting first the computer’s younger siblings. It tore out their innards, took pieces of them and held them for ransom. They stumbled around, half-alive, half-conscious, stricken with amnesia and not quite sure what they were, as if their purpose was unfulfilled. Computer gazed  upon them, decidedly unworried. He felt no inseparable bond to them, no unconditional love. Unaffected, he continued about his business, living still in the shadow of the afflicted. Little did he know, he too would soon fall prey to the disease.

The Men and Women of the West noticed little. They continued to make use of such software, often times not realizing what lie before their very eyes. Many did not see the holes, the missing parts – the content held hostage by the most greedy of the plague spirits. Some saw what was happening and ignored it, hopeful that the plague would not grow into an epidemic.

Eventually what some feared came to pass, and the Great Scourge was made. It affected every game, and every person. Lobotomized games roamed the stores, cascaded across the shelves, and flashed their grotesque faces across the internet. Before long, there came a time when few remained who could recall a vision of games before the Scourge. Few could relive the memories of the games that once were. Many came to defend the Scourge, to support its way of being. Although they could not see it – as the Scourge had no tangible , audible, or visible form on its own – they threw themselves in front of it, ecstatic to perpetuate its existence, despite all the while being ignorant of what it was. Some of the older gamers, some younger – free spirits, all, in a sense – attempted to prevent it from spreading. Many suggested boycotts, or theft, but it made no difference. A greater number of them, yet, were hypocrites – they sought to make a stand against the plague in one place but welcomed it into their homes, or the homes of others, at the same time.

So it was that the Great Scourge of Gamerovia inserted itself into life. It refused to go away, it divided its victims, and stood on the precipice of immortality.

Is there any hope? No, seriously, is there any hope of returning gaming to the way it used to be, before the internet enabled every publisher in the industry to prey on consumers like a flock of raptors in a sheep farm? I don’t think so. Unless literally every gamer boycotts it across the board, DLC is going to continue. Frankly, some DLC is good – it is welcomed, and we want it. So how can we possibly establish a ruleset for the publishers by which the worth or value of DLC is determined?

One thing I think needs to be mandatory, one way or another, is an actual look at what the fuck we are buying. Xbox Live Marketplace offers you absolutely no preview nor information whatsoever on what it is you are about to buy, as far as DLC goes. If it’s a Rock Band song, yea, you probably know what to expect. If it’s an actual game, yea,  you get an overview and screenshots and community rating. PSN is the same way, you don’t see what you’re getting in the slightest bit. At the very least, that gives us some sliver of a clue whether or not this is worth our money. It’s not impossible to tell what you’re getting, and they aren’t necessarily tricking us into buying anything, but it’s undeniable that a preview would help them as much as it would help us. There is no store in existence at this point in time where you can’t get some preview of the product. We’re talking about the internet here. It’s all bits and pixels – there is nothing real, no risk of theft or copying, before buying.

We aren’t talking Oblivion or Skyrim or Fallout DLC where the PC version is easily torrentable. Consoles, consoles, consoles, oh for the love of jesus consoles. Primarily a PC Gamer as I may be, I own a PS3 and a 360 and a Wii and I own a lot of games for those consoles that I like to play or might like to play, if I had time. I might be even further interested in purchasing DLC. I’ve certainly done it before. I’ve bought DLC for Operation RC, RE5, RE6, Soul Calibur, and a lot of other games on console alone. I’ve unfortunately even bought CoD DLC on Steam before, much to my discredit. I more or less knew what I was getting with those – mostly on-disc locked content to be frank.

I read the sites like Destructoid, PCG, Kotaku, RPS, Gizmodo, and whatever else, mostly to pass the time because there is very little I read from either “game journalists” (idiots) or “gamers” (also idiots) about which I can pass up a chance to argue with them. I see people who say the same thing I do. Unfortunately, I also see people who say nonsense like “Just don’t buy it”. It doesn’t work that way. If you don’t buy it, someone will. If anyone buys it, it tells the publishers it’s perfectly fine to chop up a game into little pieces and charge you $150 or more for one game – ONE. One collectors edition with everything ever included? No, one base game, plus the extra 90 you pay for DLC.

Wonderfully enough this all ties into other marketing aspects for games. I’ve seen people complain about collectors editions, and they’re right. The majority of collector’s editions are rip-offs. Assassin’s Creed 3 came with a flag, a belt buckle, and a statue. While I’m into two of those things and those are why I bought it, it came with absolutely no ingame content (other than the boarding axe, oh wow). It didn’t come with a season pass. For $100 or whatever I paid, that’s unacceptable. Drake’s Deception was the same way. Tomb Raider collectors edition which comes out on Tuesday, I’m pretty sure that includes a minimal of actual game content as well.

A boycott will not work to stop these predatory practices by the publishers and those developers who are okay with it. So what exactly are we supposed to do?

XBL Password Recovery is terrible

I haven’t  used my Xbox in about a month, so I’m trying to connect it to a PlayFire account right now. The Xbox itself is fine. I’ve been paying for live for however many years and I can connect to it. I have no idea what my password is because you don’t need it. So I’m sitting here and now I have to  use this atrocious recovery survey Microsoft has where it asks me questions like: “What are the subjects of your recent e-mails?”

Really? Do you think I know that shit? Even if I used that email account, which I don’t because it’s not a real e-mail account – Microcrap made me create one because I typoed my email address when I originally created an Xbox live profile for 360 – which itself is because they wouldn’t let me use my same XBL name from 2005. Even if I used it, I wouldn’t know.

Here’s how this works. Show me my password, then die in a fire. That simple.

Uncharted: Drake’s Deception Review

Platform: PS3
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date:  November 2011
 

I imagine this game was majorly hyped and was supposed to be a big deal, but I’m kind of an infiltrator in the land of the PlayStation fanboys so I’ve pretty much been unexposed to all the hype surrounding anything except for Last of Us and the next Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes or Phantom Pain games. So it seems to me there was probably some disappoint to be had in the land of the PlayStations. Personally I found this game to be a disappointment, at the least, for a multitude of reasons.

Graphics:

This screenshot does no justice.

This game has plenty of graphics up it’s sleeve. It looks beautiful from start to finish, even though Naughty Dog’s palette is a little bit to saturated with pastels if you ask me. The character models and textures look better than the first two games, the animations are spot on, and the effects are great. As far as cinematics go, there are parts that blow the other games out of the water – specifically the entire sequence where you cause the cargo plane to crash. I have nothing to say about the visuals except that they are wonderful. Not stunning, no, PC still has better graphics, but this is about as good as it gets on PS3.

10/10

Storyline:

Deceptions story-line takes you back and teaches you a little bit about Drake because, frankly, they never revealed anything about him and you pretty much didn’t know who he was, nor who Sully was, or how they were involved. The relationship between them is key to the conflict between Drake and the villain of the game, so there are lots of flashbacks going on. The thing I will say about the villains, unfortunately, is that both of their deaths are very anti-climactic and unsatisfying. After the ending of Among Thieves, which saw the best villain death, I don’t understand why they went this route. On top of that, the end of the game unto itself is unsatisfying – there is no closure not to mention zero mention of what happened to two of the characters.

Throughout the story, though, the game does still adhere very well to the Indiana Jones formula and it makes for an interesting ride. You grow to love your protagonists more and hate the antagonists more. Plus the fact that they have endless troops to through at you makes it easier to hate them.

8.5/10

Game-play

One major game-play feature of this game surely pissed a lot of people off and got old very fast, so I’ll get that out of the way. The drugged out sequences. There are far too many of them. The sequences where you have no gun and are forced to run away from everyone, there are far too many of those too. Other than that, the game-play hasn’t changed at all from the first game. It’s still a rinse-repeat cycle of “Safe room, fight room” like it was in the first game. You find a room that is empty, it’s safe to be in. You find another “room” (area) that may or may not look safe, you have to fight people.

One very thankful addition is that you can now throw grenades back at people, so long as you press triangle appropriately. More often than not they don’t kill anyone but at least they don’t hit you, and you already have enough problems with all the people rocketing and grenading and sniping you, not to mention the mounted machine guns and shotgun guys. Despite what feels like ramped up enemy aggression, the combat is still not as insane as Drake’s Fortune, and so it doesn’t make the game unduly frustrating.

7/10

Bonus Features

There are none. Where Among Thieves had unlockable cheats, and free guns, Deception has nothing but maybe some artwork. It’s theorized they maybe did this because there are so many parts of the game where you aren’t supposed to have a gun, but regardless, I think it’s ridiculous if the previous game had unlockables and then the next game is completely devoid of them.

I give the game a 8.5 out of 10, but I have yet to play multi-player.

Luminous Engine

By now most people have likely seen the Agni’s Philosophy tech demo from the PS4 announcement, by Square Enix, so hopefully this isn’t news to anyone. It looks gorgeous, it really does. Unfortunately, the thing that upsets me every time Square Enix shows an engine demo or a tech demo is that the truth is right there breathing its foul odor down your neck every single time.

Square Enix cannot make games. So, this beautiful engine and this technology that a lot of really talented people worked to bring to life, is going to fall off the map within a year because the only game that gets made using this engine is going to be absolutely terrible. We’ve seen it happen time and time again, every time Square Enix makes a game. Even if the game isn’t terrible, in the case of FFX which was amazing (and also not made by Square Enux), the engine will be lucky to see more than one game – it will be astronomically lucky if it sees one good game. It happened last time with the Crystal Tools engine. FF13 and FF13-2 are miserably bad games, and there is no doubt in my mind that Lightning Returns will be even worse. As for Type 0, I can’t speak for that, and FF13 Versus will never come out. The entire FF13 project is a complete failure so who knows.

The images don’t do as much justice as the video, but they will suffice. I am interested in seeing what comes out of this engine, as the image quality continues to increase in video games to near-professional 3D Artist levels (I am not saying the artists in development companies aren’t professional, I am saying compare the game graphics to the artists character renders from programs like 3D Studio Max and the computer render wins every single time hands down), but I know already that I will be disappointed game-play wise.

If a developer like Naughty Dog or Ubisoft or Crytek – companies who undoubtedly know how to make beautiful scenery and gorgeous cinematics that don’t steal the show from the game itself – could get licensed to use this engine for a next-gen Uncharted game, or anything else, it would be the bees knees. Let them do that and make those launch titles, I would buy a PS4 with no hesitation whatsoever, even despite it’s already-publicized drawbacks like the fact that you need to keep your PS3 (not that I wasn’t going to).

Why Nintendo Struggles

Similar words have probably been slathered across the intertubes by every primate with opposable thumbs, but as a gamer it is my obligation to share my two cents because I can. Nintendo has taken on basically an untermensch status for a lot of gamers and a lot of the gaming industry, in the past decade or so, and it seems some people don’t understand why.

Nintendo started as a playing card company and tried their hand at several different business ventures for the next 100 years until they finally settled on consumer electronics, which turned out to be their calling. In the early days of electronic gaming, Nintendo was a huge deal along with Sega, Namco, and Atari, among other companies. They crafted and innovated the industry and nurtured it so that it could get where it is today. It seems to go without saying that most people aren’t going to even attempt to refute that fact. In the late 80s until the mid to later 90s, Nintendo was king. There was other royalty of course like Sega but Nintendo reigned supreme while even they eventually fell by the wayside.

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It seems to me there is a very obvious reason why this happened, at least in the eyes of my fellow “older” gamers. We grew up with Nintendo, the problem is just that Nintendo didn’t grow up with us. At the time they were pushing the limit of what 8-bit and 16-bit systems could do, or at least, the limits were being pushed by developers on their systems and they reveled in the spotlight, even with the Nintendo 64 which many believe to have been somewhat of a failure. Seventeen years have passed, and Nintendo does not share the love that it once had from consumers. It certainly shares the success, as you can see in the charts, but with the average gamer having grown up playing Nintendo, it seems that we can only look fondly on them with nostalgia, rather than appreciate their present efforts. We’re adults now, and Nintendo does not offer games for adults. It is constantly argued that games have not matured at all, but the fact is that they have.

Nintendo, to date, has still outsold each competitor in both the handheld and the console market, and I think that a lot of gamers, myself included, can’t really figure out why. As I said before, Nintendo did not grow up with us. The games available on their systems, in comparison, aren’t on the same level. They are less complex, less mature, and less engrossing. Aside from that, the Wii and the 3DS or DS are technologically inferior to the PC, the PS3, and the 360. It seems many developers don’t bother porting their game to Wii because it would handicap the game. Obviously this issue seems to have been resolved with the Wii U finally supporting full HD and being on par, resource wise, with the PS3 and 360, but the software support is just not there yet to perpetuate or gain the success of the new system. Its only games right now are things like Scribblenauts, Black Ops 2, or Nintendo Land or Mario. Other than Black Ops 2,  people just don’t find replayability or longevity in these games that are, in their minds, inferior. I spent some time playing Nintendo Land, which I found to be no fun at all, and Scribblenauts – which was humorous in its ability to let you create ridiculous flying tanks and whatnot – did not entertain me for more than 10 minutes. Zombii U is the only game I personally found to be interesting, and there is absolutely no way I’m dropping 400 dollars on a system that has one appealing game at launch.

The days in which riding Yoshi and facing simple jump-timing puzzles provided entertainment are long gone. In 2013, and recent years before, we have more interesting choices, Metal Gear Solid, Uncharted, Heavy Rain, BioShock, Half-Life, Portal, Dante’s Inferno, and so many other games, have interesting stories and gameplay that keep us engrossed and thinking both about their stories and their environments. Nintendo, as a first-party developer, just doesn’t turn out games anymore that can support their system. Unlike Sony and Microsoft’s consoles, where the best games aren’t necessarily first party and don’t need to be, Nintendo in the past has frequently bolstered the success of their systems by publishing first-party titles at launch and continuing to do so, like Zelda, or Mario, or Metroid. It seems at this point their lifeline is controlled entirely by Pokemon.

I truly believe that Nintendo needs to put a respectable effort into developing new IPs, and continuing established IPs like Zelda with new, excellent releases, in order to secure their place in the market. Reality proves me and everyone else wrong because they are # 1 in sales, but I don’t know how much longer they can last with a console that has yet to see one truly good game available, four months after its release.

There are other issues, too, such as the fact that Wii virtual store purchases evidently don’t transfer to Wii U. More importantly, there’s the overbearing fact that the Wii U relies entirely on external USB storage – storage which is inherently slow as everyone who has ever used a USB drive versus a SATA connection knows – to support virtual console games and anything else wanting to be stored on the system.

Time will tell, I guess.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review/Rage

I’m not impressed with this game, as it actually caused me to break my controller and I nearly returned it, because of that and just because of how infuriating the game is. As a disclaimer for anyone who didn’t understand what this game was, because people evidently can’t read, this is not a tactical espionage game.

I plugged in another controller from my roommates PS3 but it’s even more jacked than the one I broke – and mine’s broken! So I’ve been using that. Anyway, I haven’t finished the game yet and I’m pretty disinterested in doing so now. I raged at Monsoon because of how he is intentionally designed to win not by actually killing you, but by stunlocking you up and down, left and right across the plaza you fight him in. The same thing happens all too frequently in this game and although you do get the opportunity to get out of it by panickedly abusing the left control stick, it almost never works. When it does work it seems more like you just ran out of time and it had mercy on you, than that the game mechanics actually functioned. I thought Monsoon was the end of it, I was wrong.

Most frustrating boss ever.

Every boss in the game does this but Monsoon is the worst at it, and that highlights one of the things that majorly detracts from my ability to enjoy this game. Examine another hack and slash game, my friends, like Ninja Gaiden or Dante’s Inferno, both very good games. Dante’s Inferno puts you through hell, literally, and figuratively as you fight the enemies in each level. They are legitimately hard, even if you are used to the game and very good at it. The bosses are not so hard, not at all in fact. Satan was the easiest boss in the entire game (to me, he wasn’t easy but in relative terms he was). In Ninja Gaiden, boss combat was harder than the normal enemies (I’ll get to the reason why) but not so much harder that it was a radical departure from difficulty. Granted, both Dante and Ryu are undead supernaturals, but are we going to argue that?

In Rising Revengeance, the bosses are a completely tangential departure from the difficulty of the normal game. The game is easy . The game is so easy. It may be the fact that I’m using the fully upgraded Fox Blade but I switched to the HF blade and it actually does even more damage than the Fox Blade. The combat is not a challenge in the slightest bit after you beat the first chapter and you get enough credits to start upgrading. On that topic, Kojima/Platinum missed a major programming error (or they did it on purpose) in the game,. You can farm holo-chips for credits, over and over and over forever. That’s how I farmed about 400,000 in Chapter 1 to even unlock my DLC Gray Fox items. All you have to do is grab the chip, go to the customize menu, rinse repeat.

The reason the bosses are so hard is the exact same reason they are hard in Ninja Gaiden – they follow a set pattern of rules, which you can only expect, but that’s all they do – whether you have your sword shoved through their brain or not. You can be strong-attack comboing the boss to death and they still go ahead and do a move and hit you with it, unless they are staggered. They obey none of the game mechanics at all except for their move set and being stunned. You can barely block them and they repeat the same overpowered moves ad nauseam: so even if you do block them, you eventually fail to block in the future. In Gaiden though, you could at least buy healing items and you had multiple different things to expand your health bar and increase your survivability. In Rising Revengeance you have nothing. You have chapter-restricted upgrades that barely add anything to your health bar or energy bar and once you buy everything currently available, you can’t get anything more until the next time the shop adds items. I’m sure some of you disagree, and you’re wrong, but hack and slash games should not be made without a shop to buy healing items. If I recall, Dante’s Inferno didn’t have a shop, but it also didn’t throw repeated bosses at you on the same life bar.

Another terrible oversight/intentionally bad design in this game is that there is no dodge button. It is possible to dodge, but there isn’t a dodge function. In order to dodge you have to slide kick or jump or change directions and hope that it does the trick. As far as blocking, I must unfortunately continue to bring this up. The parry system is completely horrible. I am almost positive at this point that it only recognizes 4 directions on the stick – left, right, down, up. If you try to parry at anything other than a straight 90 degree angle on the controller, it simply will not work. You also have to time it perfectly as you cannot just hold parry, like any other legitimate game with sword combat in it. The game-play more often than not is simply broken and not cohesive, and it makes the  6 hours a hair-pulling journey through the depths of  your frustration threshold.

I was hesitant about this in the first place because I had been pretty thoroughly convinced the story would be awful and rudimentary, and I was not proven wrong. Let’s put it this way. At the end of MGS4 (Spoiler alert if you somehow haven’t played it) Raiden is basically with his family and he says forget it, I’m done fightin’. So then, who knows why he has a new enhanced cybernetic body and is fighting people. Okay, a cyborgs gotta do what a cyborgs gotta do, have to make money somehow right? So, midway through the game, Raiden breaks down and can’t deal with the fact that he’s killing the bad guys – something which apparently never occurred to him in the 6 or so years between MGS2, MGS4, and now this. He loses his shit and channels the former, inner Jack the Ripper. At this point in the game, which also coincides with the most ridiculous bad boss fight ever,  the story goes on that tangent, and you can very offensively tell this is where Platinum Games stepped in and took over the game. It is absolutely terrible, Platinum Games-esque complete nonsense from this point on. Then Raiden just goes “Ok I killed Monsoon, I’m back to normal mode.” You are? Last time I checked Jack, you just turned off your pain inhibitors, impaled yourself through the cyborg chest with your katana and got off on the pain.

The story is good enough to pay attention to, as in every Metal Gear game, but pales in comparison any Solid game. You don’t even learn the story until File 2, 3 levels into the game. Until then the only thing you know is it’s about revenge. The fact is, the story isn’t actually about revenge at all. You do kill everyone who screwed you over at the beginning of the game, but that’s only a sidenote.

If you wonder why I am so  hateful of this game – though if you want to see me really hating a game or movie, look for my RE6 review or my Resident Evil Paul W.S Anderson reviews – it’s for a few  very good reasons.

  • I broke a pristine condition controller because of this game. I haven’t broken or thrown a controller or gotten so angry over a video game that I’ve done anything like that since I was a teenager. It’s not cool.
  • I literally died a minimum of 50 times trying to beat Sundowner, not because I can’t beat him – because I had ONE nano-paste left after fighting both Mistral AND Monsoon in the same chapter, not 1 minute before Sundowner. Had five nano-pastes before fighting Monsoon, and even knowing how to kill him had ONE nano-paste left afterwards. I knew how to kill Sundowner, I simply had a ruthless bitch of a time doing it without a buffer zone to account for unexpected damage. When you’re on one extra health bar, if you don’t get him to 30% health while you’re still at 120% on your first bar, you lose.
  • The game mechanics just don’t work, it’s a game whose mistake-correction relies on QTE button prompts at it’s core and the only button prompts that work are Trangle/Circle. You can’t tell me that I’ve played and beaten the hundreds of games that I have, on hard mode and not – especially the modern games which rely on button prompts – but that I somehow don’t know how to use the buttons on the controller all of a sudden.
  • The camera, the camera, oh my god the camera! I have not seen a camera this absurdly dreadful since Super Mario 64. The camera constantly auto-centers, and in addition to that, it auto-focuses on everything except Raiden.

The game is fun when you aren’t on a boss, I won’t deny that – it’s like Ninja Gaiden with the added fun of Fruit Ninja. If you are good enough (not that hard with this game) at these types of games, you don’t need to block on normal enemies anyway, so the fact that the game mechanics don’t work is only an issue in boss fights. Unfortunately that’s an unacceptable flaw and unlike the game journalists, I score my reviews based on the game, not based on what everyone else scored them, so it takes a pretty huge hit from that.

The atmosphere of Rising is kind of ancillary to the game, it never really makes me feel one way or another that I am or am not in a Metal Gear game. In terms of music, the game doesn’t really match with Metal Gear, although I hardly even notice music in most modern games other than something epic like MGS4 or Uncharted. I will say that I do like the level design and the architecture. It does go along really well with Metal Gear, right down to the elevators with their ambiguous “Here’s a colored light” status bar that doesn’t actually tell you what floor you’re on. I also do like the character design, whether it’s Raiden himself or the various enemies. Most of them are mainstays from Solid 4, such as Gekkos and those little armed spybots, and of course there are Metal Gear Rays – one of them at the least. Which you thoroughly murder, because we all know Rays are little punks after how they got humiliated at the end of MGS2 and how you utterly annihilate one in MGS4 with a Rex.

Feed me spines!

The one thing other than game-play I have words about is Quinton Flynns voice in this game. I don’t even know what to think about it, during the Platinum part of the game he just sounds silly. Not like a whiner like he did in Solid 2, no, just silly.

I do like the game, by a two-thirds majority, but I simply can’t ignore the massive problems with it. I give Metal Gear: Rising Revengeance a 7 out of 10. The major game sites give it scores such as 8.5 so, if  you actually read this review, I’d beseech you to take mine seriously before dropping $60 or $150- if you are still able to get collectors edition – on this game. It is not worth a full price purchase, I would wait for it to be 20 dollars if I were you, unless you’re one of those kids that trades games at GameStop.

By the way, Raiden can kill an entire army with no arms, holding his sword between his teeth, so don’t try to tell me a Spanish samurai kicks his ass at the beginning of the game, it’s absolutely ridiculous. Overall this game kind of has the cohesion of a spaghetti western written by someone from the year 3050 CE. Frankly I’m disappointed that the archetypal western standoff music doesn’t start playing when you fight Sam in the desert.  It tries to be an action flick but there isn’t all that much action. It tries to be a hack and slash game but truth be told, you don’t fight a whole heck of a lot of enemies, and the weapon variety is lacking to say the least.

The customization is also lacking. When it says “Customize” Raiden’s body, I’d like to actually customize my appearance beyond the very rigid options. Maybe I’d like a ridiculous Samurai looking outfit or whatever..

Rising tries to include some stealth elements by adding in cardboard boxes and steel drums and distraction items to sneak past or fool the guards with, but when you have a gigantic badass katana, who is trying to sneak? Why would you do that? The only reason this game ever even got made is because Raiden had a katana at the end of MGS2 and you didn’t get to use it enough. They said they originally wanted it to be Gray Fox but the reality is no one cares about Gray Fox, he was in one game that most people didn’t even play. Despite all my bashing of it I did enjoy the game, but just because I enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s flawless.

The last boss is absolute complete bullshit for the first phase, which is no different from any of the bosses because they’re all complete  bullshit – and it’s not even necessarily because of the boss itself. Samuel is in fact the only boss in the game that is a remotely fair fight, everyone else knows magic, and it just gets even worse at the end. Suffice it to say, at the end – you have to do blade mode perfectly, or you’re fucked. There are no healing items throughout the game, it is almost entirely devoid of healing items. You do pick some up during some boss fights, but other than that there are maybe 4 in the entire game. By the time you get to a boss, even if you take no damage whatsoever from enemies, all your healing items are gone. So every single boss fight becomes a struggle for perfection because if you take any damage, you lose. Armstrong drops no health until phase 2 and you’re fucked if you take any damage or miss the blade mode, after that it’s home free except for the next blade mode.

Chrono Trigger (PSX)

 

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I’m aware the original came out when I was in elementary school. I’m pretty positive I know better than you, this is basically the only RPG in my life. I played it then and I finally own it again, though unfortunately not the real SNES cartridge. I did actually own the SNES cartridge and I sold it like a complete moron when I was in high school, along with my N64 and other SNES games. It may be sad but if I had a time machine, that’s one of the few moments I’d go back and fix. I’d keep the cartridge, go drop money on 2 or 3 more, and then I’d come back to the present, sell them on e-bay for an easy $200 to $500, and keep my original.

I’ve played this game at least 300 times, I generally play it more than once a year (play = complete) because Chrono Trigger is the best RPG ever made, with FF7, FF9, FF10, Chrono Cross, and Super Mario RPG also in that list. So the game is a 5 out of 5, 10 out of 10, whatever scoring system you want to use, hands down. Are there some plot-holes or story-line inconsistencies if you think too hard about it, or loose ends? Yes, all time travel stories have them because hipsters will always try to point them out whether they do or do not exist. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s the best RPG ever.

This review is specific to the PSX version which I downloaded on PSN – the one from Final Fantasy Chronicles, which itself is over a decade old at this point. It added anime stuff which was cool and added a little to the game, and I believe it added some weapons or something. Here’s the problem with the PSN port. A ZSnes ROM of this game runs significantly better, on anything – Xbox, PC, Android, any emulator even if it isn’t ZSnes – than the PS3 Playstation emulator does. It’s ridiculous, we’re talking 5 second delays every time the game has to load anything – and that’s every 2 seconds because it’s an RPG.

I’m pretty sure they also screwed with the music, evidenced by the opening theme which they butchered. I purchased the OST import from Japan about 18 years ago and I still have it to this day – the soundtrack has been altered. They also completely got rid of the  clock pendulum title screen from the real game, which is just entirely unacceptable. Nothing whatsoever needed to be changed in this game – additions are fine, not changes.

I don’t regret the 10 dollars spent, because I’d spend 100 or more additional dollars on this game, but this ROM is terrible. Thus, I give the PSN version (even the original PSX game ran fine because it was the disc and this is a terrible emulator) a 6/10.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

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I said there would be old shit on here.

This is the first PS3 game I owned and I never really played it until I owned my own PS3. I always died at the beginning of Act 2, because I would just shoot everyone immediately. Which is funny considering if you sneak appropriately and you wait 8 seconds, you can shoot whoever you want with the rebels attacking.

You can shoot whoever you want, said no one ever about any MGS game. Which is why I’m so pissed off (partially) that I’m doing this before I finish the game and before i even wrote an Uncharted 3 review. I am very disappointed in this game, not as a whole but certain things.

The story is great, I have no complaints about it. The graphics do switch between being awesome or plain sucking, but it was early PS3 and no console graphics are good anyway. That’s fine, it looks mountains better than MGS2, or 3, or PW, or MGS, and it looks on par with Rising Revengeance. The voice acting is about as good as it’s going to get, I stopped paying attention to that kind of thing in games unless it’s atrocious. As long as it maintains trademark ridiculousness from the MG franchise, like below, it’s fine.

Meryl. Meryl! Meryl. Crab…broke my knife! Stop saying that!

David Hayter sounds odd at certain points, and Quinton Flynn definitely sounds weird most of the game. It’s fine, I gave up listening to anything but the tone of their voice because MGS, as always, throws way too much story at you way too fast until the mandatory 2D art-work cutscene explains what they are talking about. Whether you’ve played the games or not you aren’t necessarily going to understand it either way.

As a smoker, this shit made me want to smoke every time. How did the anti-tobbaco lobbyists not attack Kojima?

For a 20 hour long interactive movie with a little bit of gameplay involved, the game is good up until Act 5, in which all semblance of fun or game disappears. It takes all the things that make the tactical espionage genre a genre and either slaps them in your face, forcing you to play stealthy in a way no Metal Gear has enforced so strictly before, or it absolutely throws them out the window. You start Act 5 in a permanent alert status and have to sneak perfectly to even make it any further. You can’t go into Caution, at all, in the first stage. If you kill someone or otherwise alert them, you’re done. Just restart from checkpoint because its literally impossible to win at that point. So you’re like “I see how it is, let me try REALLY hard to be stealthy and do the things that you didn’t have to actually do for about half the game.”

In Sons of Liberty, for example, if you got Alert status, it was still possible to get out of it by either killing the guards and hiding, or just plain hiding. There wasn’t a point of no return that you involuntarily crossed by will of the game designers.

What pisses me off is the gameplay, nothing else in the game, and I understand it’s “tactical espionage”. However, for a game that devotes half of it’s actual game-play to action sequences where you are allowed to kill everything and you are supposed to kill everything (well maybe less than half), the constant jumping between game-play types – especially when  you just finished murdering everything with a Metal Gear – is offensive and really just serves to piss you off.

The game did teach me one thing though. The Rex is a lot better than the Ray, whcih I guess we should have known after destroying like 500 of them in Sons of Liberty.

Overall I really like the game and I hope the MGS saga continues, and that Phantom Pain is Metal Gear Solid V. I don’t like how they left the game open ended but that does mean there’s a possibility Snake squeezes in another game before he dies – though doubtful. Phantom Pain looks to be Big Boss, or it could be Solidus or Liquid. MGS4 was a really good movie and a good game. I give the game a 9.5 out of 10.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Review

I didn’t play these games until years after they came out. I did the intelligent thing and waited to buy a PS3, because there was no reason to own one and really to this day, if it didn’t have a Blu-Ray player, I still wouldn’t. So that’s why you’ll see a lot of reviews of older games popping up on here.

People say Uncharted 2 was the best game of the franchise. After having played them all, I’m inclined to agree for a multitude of reasons.

Among Thieves starts you hanging for dear life over a snowy cliff, from a dilapidated train car that falls apart while you climb it. For those of us scared of heights but not really rattled when you can’t see the thousands of feet you’ll fall to your death – or those of us used to platformers, it’s not really a big deal, we’ve already learned Uncharted doesn’t let us die on platforming sequences unless we make it happen, but the overall desperation of the scenario is not lost. Admittedly I died several times throughout the course of the game because I wasn’t used to PS3, not having owned a PS since the PS2, so I would hit Circle and fall to my doom on several occasions in Uncharted, and I still did it a few times in Deception. It’s a pretty cool opening sequence, though you feel like “Uh ok I feel like I’ve missed 14 or so chapters of story here.” Then you don’t really get to do much before you pass out and are treated to some cinema.

Sure wish the graphics were that good,

I have to say I found the museum sequence completely predictable, though it was entertaining and I got to add some dialogue to my favorite lines in games:

There’s a guy above you, above you!

*Shoots guy with tranquilizer, and guy falls over your head into the sea/river*

There’s a guy below you, below you!

Where!?

That seriously confused me the first time and I was looking around like “What?”, before realizing it was humor. Then I guffawed quite a bit.

As far as game-play goes, the platforming is entirely easy and hardly any challenge at all – there weren’t more than maybe 20 seconds the entire game that I spent confused about where to go. The puzzles were also very easy, even with the cryptic clues, and the only time I wasn’t sure of what to do was the pressure plate puzzle. I’m not complaining, I don’t want them to be stupidly hard and non-sequitur.

One of the best things about Uncharted 2, if I had to pick one, is that the combat isn’t unnecessarily hard. In Drake’s Fortune you spent pretty much the entire game getting your shit kicked in, capable of dying at any time. At any fraction of a second, you could go from kicking ass to getting murdered and having to do it all over again. In Uncharted 2 they still have ass kicking enemies that can murder you, but even the armored guy with the mini-gun can be dispatched with the readily available RPGs. I’m a veteran of third person shooters and I have to say that Drake’s Fortune was a painful experience – I almost quit the game. Uncharted 2, even while a tank was murdering me and I was mysteriously getting insta-rocketed by enemies that couldn’t possibly have seen me, didn’t make me feel like it was trolling me for putting the disc in.

Combat mechanics were also much improved, like having three different ways to throw grenades. Honestly, one of the things that enraged me the most in Fortune was the end when you kill what’s-his-face’s lieutenant guy. He has a completely OP shotgun that fires like 30 shells before reloading and does way too much damage. Meanwhile, all his droogs shoot you and destroy the boxes you hide behind. In contrast, the boss fight in Among Thieves was entertaining, and not just a test of how many times you could shoot the same person in the head before you died. The villain himself was also much better.

The best thing, in relative terms, about Among Thieves versus the other games? It has bonus features beyond just artwork. You can cheat and get guns, infinite ammo, whatever. Now you can use whatever gun you want instead of over and over again having to make a decision which gun to stick with: Keep the AK which always has ammo or take the M4 and hope someone drops one soon? No more. This is desperately missed in Deception, we assume by design.

The graphics and overall scenery of Among Thieves are also much improved over the original. Admittedly Fortune had some cool set-pieces, like a German U-Boat in the middle of Panama, or the Fort, but that was about the entirety of them. Jungle, caves, and more jungle. Uncharted 2 takes you from some island, to the Turkish skyline, to the Borneo, then to Nepal and the Himalyas and Shan-gri-la. All the while, it’s all beautiful. The textures are much improved over the seemingly flat-shaded skins of the characters in Fortune, and over all everything looks better.

Shambhala, before Nathan destroys it.

As Nathan says in Deception, everything he touches turns to shit. So unfortunately while we are treated to these environments which Naughty Dog must have poured a hell of a lot of time and soul into, we only get to see the last area for about an hour before we blow it all up. It’s a shame in my opinion but at least we got to see it, and they aren’t exactly hurting for success.

I really like Uncharted, the entire series, but I’m not going to call it what it isn’t. Let’s be honest, it’s Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones is the best Indiana Jones movie: there are more like National Treasure and The Librarian, Indie does it best. The best Indiana Jones style novels are written by Matthew Reilly, such as the “7 Deadly Wonders” trilogy.

And, sorry Lara, Eidos, Drake is the best Indiana Jones game (Yea that includes you, Lego Jones.) The games follow the Jones story frame almost to the letter. Some guy, we don’t know much about him yet, is involved in something. People want to kill him, because it turns out people don’t like him, justified or not. It turns out he’s hunting treasure/knowledge. Other people want it. Guy teams up with people and trusts them, gets betrayed. He thinks he has the knowledge that only the secret elite-monk of hidden legend bestowed, but the other guys learned it too. The enemy spends the entire always with the advantage but the good guy wins, even though some people end up dying.

Again, no complaint from me. I can’t wait for what’s next after the Last of Us. I give Uncharted 2 a 10 out of 10.