Resident Evil 4 HD

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Chances are you’ve played Resident Evil 4 about 194 times already.There’s nothing inherently wrong with the game but the fact is that even on a medium spec machine, which easily dominates the consoles this HD port was released on 2 years ago, the performance is going to be sub par.

I can’t explain why a game that runs at 1080p/60fps on a powerPC Xbox 360 machine runs like crap on a PC – obviously it’s the advanced FXAA and such – but it’s pretty ridiculous. Any time the particle effects become intense on the screen (So, basically, the entire last half of the game when you are being shot constantly and things are always exploding) your frame rate is going to drop into the single digits without at least a GeForce 7 series card.

Better yet, the game doesn’t even look noticeably better on PC at max graphics than it does on console. Other than that there are some occasional, weird glitches where if you use a controller, it will occasionally display the QTE prompt using the keyboard bindings instead of the controller, but that’s the only technical problem I ever encountered. It also lacks the option to adjust your controller sensitivity, but that isn’t a major problem that will stop you from beating the game.As far as the game, it’s RE4. Same stuff that was all in the PS2 port except it actually looks the way it was supposed to (You know, remember the PS2 port, and the original PC port by Ubisoft – el terriblay). RE4 ultimate edition comes with a PDF artbook and a 2 disc soundtrack, inherent controller support and the same achievements found on the console release.

If you’re a collector or completionist, I’d get this game, but just make sure your machine can run it.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster

If I recall correctly, this re-master was literally the one reason I got a PS3. Everything else was secondary. Unfortunately, I had to wait 3 years for it to come out after it was announced in 2011. FF10 is my favorite game in the franchise. Yes, it is. I have played every main FF game until and including the 13 trilogy and sorry, I don’t care for 7 or 8.

As someone who still owns two copies of PS2 FFX, the regular and the international version, I have the privilege of freshly remembering and being able to compare the games side by side – not that I have because lugging TVs around is wasted energy, but I can walk between rooms. Obviously, and that’s why we paid $40, the game looks better. The majority of the textures have been either upscaled or reworked and the game runs at a native 1080p. I’ve yet to ever notice any technical issue or framerate drop 100 hours in and doubt there are any.

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Several, but not all, characters have received a makeover. Lulu, Auron, Yuna, Rikku, Kimahri, Tidus, and Wakka allegedly all have new models. In the earlier stages of the game, it’s not noticeable. Obviously Wakka looks different from the moment you meet him but Tidus, Auron, and Kimahri all look the same as ever. Lulu does too, for the most part. Yuna is the weird one. Her head shape seems to change at will when switching between pre-rendered cutscenes (not the actual CG movies) and real-time rendering. Everything looks the same, as far as the main characters, just better.

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Therein lies the problem, if you call it that. All of the main characters were spritzed up. No one else was. Seymour, Mika, Kinoc, Jyscal, Jecht, and the 7 party members. Every other person in Spira still uses their original PS2 model and original textures. In scenes where the party shares the camera with extras, the difference is jarring. It isn’t necessarily a huge problem and I don’t think people expected a complete remake, but it comes out ugly when you visit highly populated areas like Luca.

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See how both Auroch’s players skin looks kind of like crap in comparison?

As many people are aware, FF10 was the first fully voice acted game in the series. Rest assured, the infamous voice acting from the original game has not been altered. You can still enjoy that awful forced laughing scene with Tidus and Yuna. You can still listen to Yuna’s frequently inappropriate Shatnering when she delivers her lines. Really, the voices themselves sound exactly the same as the original and that’s all I expect. It is funny though, to note that because this is just an HD Remaster of the International version, the lip animations were animated to the Japanese dialog. So, like your favorite kung fu or Godzilla movies, you get to watch their lips continue to move long after they finish talking. Fortunately, you can switch to Japanese audio.

As far as new content, this collection really doesn’t have any. The expert sphere grid, Dark Aeons, and Penance were all featured in the International release. As this is the international version, the only additional content is the Eternal Calm video and FFX Last Mission, which really don’t contribute a lot to the story.

The main feature of this release is the soundtrack. The original soundtrack has been completely re-recorded by the original artists in what often seems to be an orchestral arrangement. Whether you enjoy the revised OST is entirely up to how stalwart and close-minded you are, but speaking from experience, I would never go back to the original after hearing this. Everything has been cleaned up and recorded at higher fidelity. Each individual instrument can be identified now and personally, Seymour Omnis’s battle theme might be the most bad ass thing since FF7, including the original FFX version.

In regards to the gameplay, this version seems significantly easier than the original FFX release. I’m using the standard sphere grid. I beat every boss on the first try and not once did I ever stop in any area to level any more than random encounters forced me to. This was not the case in the original game and believe me – though I’ve since played International and even replayed FFX original multiple times and thus know the game by heart, I still had to grind during those playthroughs. Not this time.  Even the celestial weapon minigames seem easier.

I have one qualm and it’s not a big one but it is a compound one. Maybe two qualms. First of all, in order to get the last Jecht sphere and thus unlock Auron’s last Overdrive – Tornado – you have to return to Besaid, at which point you have no choice but to fight Dark Valefor. Allegedly he is the easiest Dark Aeon but even so, you would have to level for days and days to get your characters strong enough to take him on. Thus, you must use Yojimbo, which many including me feel is cheating. Either way though, it requires a lot more work than it should to get the last Overdrive. This leads me to my second complaint. There is no trophy for defeating all the Dark Aeons, or maybe all Monster Arena creations. There is a trophy for Penance and Nemesis, both of which were in the original International release just like the Dark Aeons, so I feel there should have been a trophy. It would also have been nice to get one for Omega weapon.

For $40, including the artbook and FFX-2 HD, there is absolutely no reason not to buy the last good Final Fantasy game.

Deadlight

 

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Platforms reviewed: PC, X360

I actually purchased this game on Steam, for about 2 dollars admittedly, long ago during a sale. I also have the free copy from Xbox Live, and have played both. The game plays exactly the same regardless of platform.

Deadlight is a 2.5D side-scrolling survival horror platformer made by Tequila Gameworks, a team including devs from Blizzard and SCEE (Sony Europe), as well as lesser known developers. I classify it as survival horror because technically it is, although the focus is far more on the platforming than on the actual threat of the enemies as opposed to 2.5D survival horror games such as Dark Matter. The game is built with the Unreal engine and looks rather decent for a 2.5D.

Graphically there are some differences, as you would expect, between the console and PC version. Everything generally looks the same but you can tell in the Xbox version that things are lower resolution and, obviously, it’s not running in 1080p. Unfortunately, that’s one of the downsides to the game. The PC version didn’t receive any special attention and so even at 1920×1080 or higher, the game looks similarly shoddy and jagged on PC. Ultimately it’s not a big deal nor will you notice because the gameplay will keep you busy for the short amount of time the game takes to beat.

The story of Deadlight is revealed mostly through a comic storyboard, and it kind of reminds one of Walking Dead (the book) in both manner and presentation. In addition to that, there are some in-game sequences, but none of them are pre-rendered or out of your control. You participate in flashbacks and dreams and nightmares. The story itself is somewhat contrite and doesn’t particularly do anything to distinguish itself from dozens of other zombie stories, so any regular enjoyer of this genre isn’t going to pay more than a passing glance to the plot. On top of that, it bears more than coincidental similarities to Walking Dead. The Rat’s son literally is Glenn, I’m just saying. Even acknowledging the frequent references to Dante’s Inferno – which I never finished – I’m not sure they really add anything to the plot. Then again, I never finished the Divine Comedy because it’s boring. I didn’t even finish Inferno.

So that leaves the gameplay. Fortunately, Deadlight is one of the more challenging platformers out there. It’s not Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden or Strider hard, but it’s also a different game and isn’t supposed to be. There are some absurd challenges in the later stages of the game which seem almost impossible to defeat except by luck, at least until you’ve beaten the game and are used to them. The platforming is fun and seems quite natural – nothing you jump or hang on ever seems out of place or forced. As for the weapons, in the later stages of the game they are pointless – which is also when you get the most ammo – until the end. At that point, the zombies are frequently infinite and serve as a distraction to solving the puzzles.

In order to completely unlock everything in this game, it will probably take at least two playthroughs and maybe a little less than 12 hours, but considering it was available for free and is frequently discounted over 90% off or even practically free in a bundle, there’s no reason not to try this game out if you like platformers or zombies.

 

Call of Duty

Call of Duty is the worst franchise ever.

The debate rages on all over the net and in real life. People who don’t like shitty games, versus people who love shitty games, with self-appointed adjudicators in the middle who should just shut up and stay that way. You’ll see it everywhere, whether it’s tangential or not to the topic at hand, it all boils down to Call of Duty. There are two major groups: those who absolutely hate it and all it stands for, and those who continue to buy it and proclaim it the most amazing thing ever.

Most of the people who hate Call of Duty have ample reason and first-hand experience to support doing so. I’m one of them. I used to be in a high-ranked CoD 2 clan, in the early years of last decade. We practiced and played CoD 2 all the time, to the neglect of high quality good games. It was a completely different game back then, when you were shooting German soldiers and Nazis. You didn’t have sticky bombs, mortars, predator drones, nukes, ballistic knives, or any of the other mountains of nonsense present in the past 6 Call of Duty titles, like attack dogs.

Let’s face it, the first person shooter genre is more stale at this point than a carton of cigarettes in Fallout, and those are worth more too – they’ll net you 35 caps or more. CoD only managed to succeed because it transcended World War 2, took an idea directly from many other games like Counter-Strike or Battlefield 2, and put a terrible new twist on it that has defined the industry for years since – not in a good way, either. After all, even when CoD came out in 2002, we had all shot more Germans than WW1 and WW2 combined, in games like Day of Defeat, Medal of Honor, World War 2 online, and many others.

Now, we’re shooting various ethnicities per game. Russians, Chinese, Cuban, American, British, Brazillian, French, whatever, the list goes on. All the while the gameplay stays exactly the same, The multiplayer stays disappointing.  These days, I’m starting to determine my age using the annual Call of Duty announcement, rather than my actual birthday. What do we have now? Advanced Warfare? Kevin Spacey, ooooh all the kids love him in House of Cards. We want our franchise to be talked about as much as Game of Thrones.

In order for your franchise to be talked about like Game of Thrones, you’re missing a key element:

People give a fuck about the characters and story in GoT. They hate the Lannisters. They hate the Greyjoys, and Roose, and they want to hate the Baratheons too. They loved or liked the Starks.  Entire book sagas and going on 40 hours of film give you that amount of time with these characters. Furthermore, they are brought to life by actors who are on film – not digitized, not voice acting. There is nothing any character in CoD could possibly do to make you hate them as much as Joffrey Lannister. Even so, the CoD franchise is bereft of any ability to deliver a story on the level of any TV show, even if you don’t hold Thrones in high regard.

And seriously, with the title? Advanced Warfare? Advance Wars, Modern Warfare, Warfighter, Advanced Warfighter, Future Solider, Future War, those were all taken so you went with Advanced Warfare?

Call me when you make Call of Duty: Jurassic Warfare. Call of Duty: Prehistoric Warfare. Call of Duty: Ancient Warfare, something that at least pretends to be different.