The week in review: March 24 – March 30

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain are revealed to be the same game, Metal Gear Solid V.

Only casuals are shocked. This was highly noticeable if you were paying attention: There were parts of the Zeroes and Phantom Pain trailers that overlapped, specifically the FOX patches being thrown out of the helicopter and the characters shown in the trailers. Take a look for yourself. I am not impressed but I am excited. They have been showing off the FOX engine for quite some time and touting its photo-realism  As someone who has actually done 3D work in programs like Poser and Maya and Daz Studio and Carrara, the specular highlights are a sore thumb. Speculars are the “Shiny” highlights, basically, the reflections of light. Not necessarily reflections of images like you would have on glass or a mirror or a super shiny surface, just the highlights. While I admit the graphics look good, the in-game graphics don’t look much better than MGS4. They really don’t, and overall I feel almost as if I am just looking at clay; at Doom 3.

The trailer shows Xbox 360 and PS3 logos at the end. It seems the online community didn’t catch this or isn’t making a stink about it. MGS4 was pretty much a PS3-seller, and redefined modern cinematic games (right?). To think that MGS5 will come out not only on the same 7 year old system, but also on the other 7 year old system when it has for so long been a PlayStation exclusive (until the games are eventually ported to the other system which MGS4 never was) is offensive to even the least loyal of PlayStation 3 owners, like me. I got a PS3 and MGS4 was one of my main reasons, now you release the new one on the console I already had?

New Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is Wii-U Exclusive

Ninja Gaiden 3 came out last year to terrible reviews, and deservedly so. Since the original side-scrollers, Ninja Gaiden has always been a shining example of difficulty in games, being hair-pullingly frustrating, and psyche-destroying in it’s learning curve and it’s sheer difficulty. Ninja Gaiden 3, Tecmo/Team Ninja decided, should make a 180 and be extremely easy for new players. On the lower difficulties, it literally played the game for you, taking care of integral game mechanics like blocking. In addition to this, they tossed in an absolutely terrible camera and overall ruined the combat system in comparison to the Xbox and PS3 versions of the current-gen Gaiden games.

While the game remains extremely over-priced on purpose due to industry influences from retailers and others, Tecmo is brewing up a new release next Tuesday for a Wii U exclusive version, which includes a fair chunk of new content – mainly, a major role for Ayane, Kasumi, and Mojimi, who Dead or Alive gamers are already familiar with. PS3 and 360 get no such apologetic re-release. Tough luck.

Star Wars TOR finally gets an expansion.

It’s too bad it already went free to play and this won’t actually generate any profits for EA. The Hutt Cartel will feature plenty of new content. Does anyone still play TOR?

BioShock Infinite is out!

Ken Levine’s statement that the ending is amazing seems to be rubbish, according to a lot of people. Can anyone even afford to keep up with the new releases at this point? A review will follow once I have the game and time to give it a real review.

The Walking Dead Survival Instinct is sub-par

People are surprised, evidently. Other people rush to defend what little merit it has. There are good ideas and game mechanics unfortunately rolled up in a bad overall package, guilty by association. The game has received a 4.0 on GameSpot and most people don’t have supportive words for it.

Square-Enix projects a huge profit loss, CEO steps down

I don’t want anyone to be out of a job, specifically, but I do want Square Enix employees (the one who are responsible for the games, not the engines) to be out of their job at Square Enix. I want them to work somewhere else where they are free to tarnish a reputation or better yet, maybe make their own. The CEO I would not charge with guilt as far as Square Enix’s quality goes, but someone has to be the scapegoat, and who else but the CEO. I wish him luck. I do not wish them as a company luck, frankly.

Battlefield 4 announced, gameplay footage and trailers online

Good news, everyone! There is going to be another Battlefield game! In the same exact time period and setting! Shattering expectations and surprising the entire solar system, EA announced the newest game from DICE, Battlefield 4, with a long in-game trailer and another scripted cinematic trailer hitting the internet this week. There are modern guns and modern environments! It’s completely different from Battlefield 3! Where’s everyone going?

“We don’t want DICE to become a Battlefield factory.” said Patrick Soderlund, Vice President of EA Games, in November 2012. He continued on with a little more honesty.

“We do however want every last dollar you, and anyone that comes from your loins, will ever lay eyes on, as quickly as possible.”

Prepare for another round of pointless CoD vs BF battles this holiday season when CoD:MW4 comes out and the two games compete for sales – lines of bro-soldiers will stretch out of the GameStops. One can only hope they all get into a fist-fight and a large portion of them get arrested and must make way for actual customers.

EA shows up again in Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America Tournament”.

Again. This is from last week  but I just decided to do this feature so I thought this was worth a mention. After royally screwing the pooch from inception to current day with SimCity, just another in a long line of grievance-causing affairs, EA is in the running for Worst Company in America, again.

Read more at Consumerist. Shockingly, Ea is winning with a 92% vote over Anheuser Busch.

EA Cancels Dead Space Series

Despite denying the accusations (questions) that EA would be cancelling the Dead Space series for the forseeable future in light of lackluster Dead Space 3 sales, GameSpot’s “anonymous” source confirms the series has been cancelled. It is said the alleged cancellation is due to Dead Space 3, which did not perform as well as the floating skulls on the EA board hoped. EA has declined to comment as they do no such thing about rumor or speculation, a standard company line delivered by all companies in history. Coincidentally, every time a gaming company has said that in the past decade, the speculations and/or rumors have turned out to be almost entirely true or entirely true.

EA closed down Visceral studios Australia after the release of Dante’s Inferno, which for a period of time led to a scare in the fan community that Visceral was gone for good. Dead Space 2 of course came out about a year after Dante’s Inferno, proving Visceral was still making games. It seems unlikely at this point in time that another Visceral game revolving around a major literary phenomenon, for example MacBeth which had been mentioned as a cool potential idea, will ever come out. Visceral was said to have been in pre-production on Dead Space 4, but their fate now ostensibly hangs in the balance.

Read more at Videogamer

Dead Space Review

6a010536e486db970b011168f54dba970c-800wi When the game came out it was a breath of fresh air for survival horror fans. That’s what all the major game journalism outlets said, anyway. It more or less took the good parts of older games like Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and Fatal Frame, and mashed them together into one brilliant, cohesive monster. Much to the pleasure of all, it was one of those rare times where they were on the money.

M_DeadSpace

Environment:

Dead Space admittedly has one of the single best settings for a horror game. In space, no one can hear you scream. Right? Wasn’t that the tagline of Alien? The game felt like it was heavily inspired by Event Horizon, among other scifi films. Granted of course, Event Horizon was less a story of science fiction and more just straight “horror”. Sam Neill, the man who created the warp drive (whatever it’s called), eventually loses his grip on sanity and succumbs to the demonic possession of the ship, killing everyone along with himself. I’m pretty sure anyway, I don’t recall a single person surviving. Or did a couple people survive and then they spread the demons to the rescue ship? Anyway, it’s a great idea. It isn’t original by any means, you had four Alien movies by the time this game came out which had explored horror in space, not to mention Event Horizon and probably quite a few other books and movies.

Dead Space is one of those games where the graphics and sound actually are integral to the experience of the game. One of the most prevalent factors that reviewers had gawked about years ago is the darkness. The ship is almost always dark, and your measly little RIG suit flash light absolutely does not help. Lights are always flashing on and off, sparks flying from broken components, fires illuminate the eerie corridors of the ship, and the lights conveniently cut out at opportune times (on purpose of course, which eventually detracts from the horror as much as it adds) when a bunch of necros are about to attack you. The sound is also brilliantly done in the same way. The smallest enemy happens to make the most frightening sounds, which seems to be the way the game goes.

Comparatively, the least scary things in the game make the most frightful noises. A malfunctioning door, when

These sons of bitches, seriously.

These sons of bitches, seriously.

you don’t know what it is at first, will wrack your nerves. Is it a door? Last time it was a door, maybe this time there’s a monster that sounds like a door? I mean, Silent Hill 2 had enemies that were doors, so would that surprise you? Every little thing you knock over crashes against the floor or the bulkhead and makes you uneasy.

Another thing I know was very well done are the zero-G sequences, especially the unmistakable sound (or lack thereof) when entering a vacuum. It will often lull you into a sense of false security, running and jumping out into space to fight against your oxygen meter, thinking incorrectly that if you don’t hear any necros, there aren’t any. Wrong. Unintentionally I’m sure, there also rare moments when a bodypart from an enemy or random corpse gets stuck in a crack in the map and endlessly physics’ against the floor/wall, making so much noise and not clearly jiggling back and forth that you think it could potentially be an enemy. Above all of those, the most disconcerting element in the game is the constant whispers from the crew or from your former girlfriend.

Gameplay:

Unfortunately, the classic survival horror feel does not persist throughout the entirety of the game because of the game mechanics. For the first few chapters you stay scared or at least concerned, as you don’t have much ammo or any upgrades, and during this unfamiliar stage you feel you may die at any turn. You won’t though unless you absolutely can’t aim or melee and you don’t know how to hands. I won’t claim to be amazing at survival horror games: yea I can beat RE4, 5, 6 on professional, yea I can beat the old RE games on speed runs without shooting things, etc. If you can play pretty much any other game, you can’t suck at Dead Space. I died 1 time in the first 8 chapters from an actual normal enemy, and I died 2 times on bosses – one because I had no idea I was supposed to cryo-freeze him, and one because I had no idea how to actually use the kinetic gun.

She doesn't know how to hands.

She doesn’t know how to hands.

The game is terribly forgiving, at least on normal, if you get attacked. Isaac can take a hell of a lot of punishment when you upgrade his HP nodes. It’s also at this point in the game where you start having a crap-load of ammo. I walked around with probably 100 ammo for the force gun before i decided I had to use it to make room for something else. That doesn’t make it any less thrilling, though, as usually in the latter parts of the game you’ll have to fight several enemies and several different types of enemies, at that, simultaneously.

Dead Space does contain one major feature that I truly feel detracts from the survival horror aspect of the game, and unfortunately it has become a mainstay of the “genre” after Resident Evil 4, in an industry attempt to mimic what is considered [incorrectly] to be necessary for success. You can upgrade your gear, and purchase items and weapons at stores, which are conveniently placed pretty much everywhere. I am not arguing that in reality, any organism that provides evidence for the theory of evolution will do whatever it can to adapt and improve. Clearly that is realistic and a fact of life.

What I do argue against is that, especially on the Ishimura, you just happen to be able to buy items and upgrade your equipment. Traditionally, you have to get by on the items you find, otherwise you are screwed. Resident Evil 1, 2, 3, Code Veronica, Outbreak, Zero, Fatal Frame 1, Fatal Frame 2, Silent Hill 1, 2, 3, 4, Downpour, and Homecoming all worked perfectly fine without letting you buy items. It’s out of place and unrealistic that on a ship overtaken by a parasitic, flesh-consuming alien life-form, on which almost all humans are dead, you are still able to “buy” things from a magical shop terminal that somehow keeps producing items. I’m not just against it in this game. I’m against it in RE4, in MGS4, in Dead Space 2, and any other game where it stands against the illusion of the in-game reality. I will give MGS4 a pass because it is a part of the story-line and was made to make sense, but not the others. Many people, we call them casuals, cry about the change to the upgrade/resource system in Dead Space 3 where you actually have to find salvage in order to make stuff – I haven’t played it yet but this sounds much closer to how the game should work. It doesn’t ruin the entire game, no, but imagine if you couldn’t upgrade your inventory and suit. It would be much more difficult.

Story:

Dead Space reveals its story along much the same lines as older survival horror games did: again, like Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, Resident Evil, or even newer games like Amnesia. There aren’t overly long story cut-scenes or even quick-time events like there are nowadays. You read logs. You watch video logs. You hear people talk to you while you move. Some of them have been dead for a long time, some came with you to the USG Ishimura. It’s better that way, to absorb and seek the story, rather than have it shoved in your face when it is relevant and to have no inkling otherwise that there even is a story. Obviously Fatal Frame and Silent Hill, and older Resident Evil did have cut-scenes, but they were far less prominent than in their later iterations.

The story in itself isn’t anything spectacular or uncharted. once again kind of similar to science fiction tales that came before. It has some nice twists and, although things become more or less predictable, it still manages to stay interesting. In fact, with the subsequent Dead Space titles Visceral has followed the route of Capcom and decided they should retcon things, repeatedly. Visceral deserves credit where Capcom does not, as the story changes or “clarifications” they made in the sequels actually make sense and add to the universe. Story is not paramount in horror games; they can stand on the merits of their gameplay if need be. Dead Space certainly does, and I give it a 9 out of 10.

I consider this game a masterpiece in almost every aspect. I don’t agree with the new-school upgrade ability but it doesn’t completely ruin the game. The ship is beautifully creepy, from the scrawled writings of insane Unitologist or otherwise crew members, the creepy corruption growing everywhere, the lack of lights, the constant whispers of long dead people, the creepy sounds of necromorphs wondering through the vents, down to the poor souls absorbed into walls who will beg you to kill them. All of the zero-g and zero oxygen phases of the game seem completely organic and by no means a forced attempt by Visceral to show you the things they’ve done. The puzzles all seem perfectly reasonable and organic as well – a natural and expected obstacle aboard this ship, whether it is the asteroid release or the bunks in the sleep halls all pulled together as barricades. Once again, Visceral made a game as close to perfect as possible.

PS. I’m about to lose my fucking patience with WordPress. I have literally never had any problems formatting or text wrapping or doing any layout in the time I’ve used this site, but the past week it has been utterly dysfunctional. See my now broken gif placeholder for examples.

Too Many Damn Games

Too many damn games coming out too soon (as is the norm) and I can’t even finish one to review.

I got Tomb Raider and didn’t play much more than a few hours of it. I don’t really….care…at this point. It shall be finished, yes.

I decided I’m going to start playing Dead Space since I gave up on the beginning of Chapter 2, 3 years ago. The game was too scary/disheartening for me (which is a good thing) and I just flat out went FUCK THIS I NO WANT SCARES.

So I also pre-ordered GoW Ascension and got the other 5 games with it (except GameCrap hasn’t shipped yet).

Too many games!

XBL vs PSN Achievements

One of the chief reasons why PSN is significantly more terrible than XBL (expectedly as it is “free” – it’s actually not free) is that the trophy support simply blows in comparison. In order to sync trophies with the servers, you have to actually authorize your PS3 to do so – manually. On system boot. If there is a setting, I defnitely missed it.

XBL automatically updates your trophy info in real time. So, for instance, all the time I spent playing Tomb Raider or RE6 on my PS3 in the past 24 hours is absent from my profile. As soon as you get an achievement on XBL, boom, there it is – on your  network profile, on your local profile, on your screen.

Considering that PSN Plus is more expensive than XBL Gold and really gives you nothing except for free game rentals for the duration of your membership – otherwise known as paid monthly rentals – people need to examine the evidence. PSN is free, if you don’t want to pay for it, and it blows either way. I pay for PS+. I pay for XBL Gold. For my money, neither is worth it, but XBL would be more worth it, were it to have any value. Until it gives me free games permanently I’ll pay for it but not like it.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag reveal

So the Assassin’s Creed 4 reveal is Monday, which everyone should know by now. The time between the game’s existence being revealed by a Redditor and the time far more details came together was terribly short, about a week. Ubisoft had of course confirmed they were making another game, yea, but AC3 is still pretty new.

A lot of publishers are concerned about the developers turning into a Battlefield or CoD or whatever factory. Well, apparently Assassin’s Creed is the next game to join the yearly release club. If this game is as short as Brotherhood or Revelations, people are going to be very angry.

There are, of course, no details yet who the actual person in the present is. I’m thinking it’s John de Lancie, Desmonds father (Whatever his name was). It would make sense. Then again it could be one of those people we heard baout in Brotherhood BUT he’s directly related to Desmond, so it could only be Desmond’s father. He doesn’t have any other siblings.

What doesn’t make sense to me though is why Kenways blood-line appears to switch back and forth in the more recent years. Edward Kenway is an assassin. Haytham Kenway was a Templar. “Connor” Kenway was an assassin. So…..

Anyway, the trailer looks excellent. The game is, according to the commercial, going to be multiplat for PS3, Wii U, Xbox, and PS4, so you can guess it’s not going to take advantage of the new hardware. Seems like a mistake to me. By far not a selling point for the new console.