Category: Gaming


Like a bad Monday

Asura’s Wrath is an exciting game. Mythological adaptations fighting each other while screaming at the top of their lungs plus space ships? How can you go wrong? To be honest, I loved the game. On a basic level, the game works really well. The melee combat and Quick Time Events (QTE) work great, the voice-acting is… enthusiastic, the art style is really emotive, the core aspects of the game are great. It’s the extraneous stuff that really screws up the game.

The shooter segments are little more than you mashing buttons until a QTE occurs. Everything in these segments is a barrier between you and the next fight. While I can understand the placement of some random bosses to break up the story, these just seem odd to me. Similarly, story events between “episodes” are still pictures (drawn by different artists each time) with voiced dialogue. It’s little better than telling the story through random text files. Considering how great some of the cutscenes in this game are, it seems odd for them to resort to this.

When you’re in the melee combat segments, the game is great. Brutal and dynamic. Why the game couldn’t be just this is beyond my understanding of game design I suppose. It starts off relatively easy, seeming to skip from QTE to QTE, but the battles get harder and harder (if not bigger in scope), with more on the line. It reminds me more of Enslaved than Devil May Cry, however the controls are responsive and I encountered no glitches. Asura has a huge amount of unique animations for different enemy types, and Liam O’Brien’s yelling really brings out the brutality. Considering how short his effective range is I was surprised how smooth the combat was. The character animations remind me of Street Fighter IV, and you really see it when getting a close-up of character’s faces. Speaking of faces, what is Ganondorf doing in a Capcom game?

And from the darkest depths I heard a voice.... "Tingle Tingle Kooloo-limpah!"

Speaking of storytelling, why in the name of all that is anime are there episodes? Why not just continue to tell the story? If they wanted an anime, why not make an anime? It interrupts the action at the worst time, every time. Not only that, but they show a “next episode” preview literally seconds before the next segment is about to start. It makes me want to go to a restaurant and punch it so hard it turns into a TGI Mondays.

Every anime needs a hot-spring episode!

There is also a fundamental flaw in the presentation of the game’s story as a whole. They present a prologue telling you who the character is, what he’s fighting for, and what happens to set him on this path of revenge. Immediately afterward, there is a tutorial segment establishing that Asura has amnesia. Throughout the game he learns of his past. This is redundant and stupid. It’s poor storytelling, and ruins any attachments to the reveals later on in the story. Without the prologue, we would be learning about Asura’s past and the world at the same time as him. Instead, we already know, and so the reveals are negligible.

It's as if they were planning this all along...

That’s not to say the story isn’t good however. The tale of revenge, religious idiocy and awkward parenting is awesome while it lasts, and while short, combines some of the best elements from not only God of War and CyberConnect’s Ninja Storm series, but Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil 4 and Zelda as well. I’ll let you find those references for yourself.

Still, the real meat of the game is in the melee combat. The game has been described as an “eastern god of war” in some publications. While that certainly seems to be what CyberConnect went for (with a touch of shonen anime), it doesn’t measure up as a game. In fact there’s almost no “levels” in this game. You’re either in an arena combating enemies with melee or running through a rail-shooter segment. QTEs placed between cutscenes round out the levels. I swear to god the next time someone complains about Final Fantasy XIII I’ll simply reply that “at least it wasn’t as bad as Asura’s Wrath.” Only… XIII-2 seems to be doing the same thing as seen here. Oi…

In the end, this game tried to get me emotionally involved, but the episodic bullshit coupled with the sporadic storytelling quality kept it from being as good as it could have been. In the end, as badass as some of the characters are and as interesting as the story ended up, all I really wanted to do was punch things. Thankfully, this game delivers that in spades. Then again, maybe I should expect this from Capcom. Goofy storytelling that you shouldn’t take seriously coupled with typically good gameplay.

I think I’ll just draw from the wisdom of Augus: “Relax my son. Enjoy every moment: You fight, then eat good food. You fight, then drink fine wine. You fight, then sleep with beautiful women. Hell, fight with beautiful women! That’s what it truly means to live.”

As there were previously no pictures of Augus in this review, I was forced to rectify that.

Asura’s Wrath was developed by CyberConnect2 and published by Capcom.

If this review seems to have mixed opinions, it’s because Capcom.

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Press my nose to hear a sound!

Journey is a game that puts you into the role of a walking, beeping carpet. No I’m not kidding. You find yourself in the middle of a desert with nothing around you except a vague mountain-shape in the distance emitting light. You quickly move toward it! Or not. You could just sit there if you want (hit select).

Journey is advertised as an exploration game with no prompts except the mountain in the distance. I was intrigued by how thatgamecompany could make such a concept interesting, and unfortunately my fears were somewhat founded, though the experience was still mildly enjoyable while it lasted. If you ever wanted to explore unpleasant survival situations, this is the game. Hot desert, cold stormy mountaintops, and of course dark caverns with evil beasties.

Along the way, provided you’re hooked up to PSN, you will meet random people and help each other succeed at… stuff, such as jumping farther. There’s really no rhyme or reason for or against co-op in this game. While a partner can speed up your progress through the levels, the game is so short that having a partner could be counted as a detriment to the overall experience. You can’t team up with friends and can only partner with random people, though you at least discover their identities in the end-game screen. There is no dedicated co-op function beyond meeting passerby throughout the game. This makes staying together with particular co-op partners a chore, since they can be easily lost if you mess up on a platforming section. Add on that you can only meet one person at a time, removing any chance of hilarious amounts of identical walking carpets, and the loneliness really starts to set in. Having removed the chance for ridiculous human spontaneity, the game is forced to a near-identical progression of events in each playthrough. Unfortunate, and probably an intentional part of the design.

The only slightly competitive part of this game is comparing scarf sizes.... You might have reach, but I have flexibility...

The protagonist’s scarf lets you jump when it glows- allowing you to flap about like a bird, which is more exciting than it should be. It doesn’t usually last long however. You’re only given the ability to jump when you need it.

Sliding down sand-dunes is the best part of the game. The almost-sandboarding easily picks up the pace from the quiet traversal during other parts and provides a fun change in gameplay. It seems like an odd decision, in a relatively open “exploration” game like this, to give you limited ammunation for your jump function.

No dialogue, no directive. You can spend as long as you want screwing around, though it gets boring quick since it’s mostly just desert. While the game certainly is pretty, it’s still just a pretty desert/cave/mountain, and there’s really not much there beyond one or two secrets. In fact, the game is a lot more linear than advertised. While you might think you’re free to explore, it’s actually just very wide areas with invisible walls, holding next to nothing in them.

Considering how short and linear it is, it’s not quite worth the price of admission. They try to tell a story, but it’s simply too complex (something about a destroyed civilization and the main character being the avatar of their rebirth) without dialogue or exposition. Thatgamecompany has always been known for simple, expressive games, but this time they seem to have abandoned some of the experience for narrative, which is unfortunate. In my opinion I don’t think every subsequent game they make has to be bigger than their last, but they felt the need to do so here. I mean, Groundhog Day? Don’t they know time loops never end well? Or end for that matter…

I came into this expecting a profound experience, like what I experienced with Flower. While I did discover a flower in the desert (yay cameos), the experience wasn’t nearly as memorable for me as Flower was. But hey, maybe I’m just partial to flight sims.

Wait, didn't I already play Uncharted?

Journey was developed by Thatgamecompany.

 

Because this kind of game is more believable if everything is smaller and remote-controlled. Actually, that might not be too far off...

In my endless aggravation at being unable to play Mass Effect 3 or Journey, I downloaded this, since the series always gives me a laugh or two.

A tutorial level introduces you to the odd driving controls and the strangely fascinating experience of driving a virtual RC car. Not as intense as their full-size counterparts, but engaging nonetheless.

There is also an racing event that I took part in called “Night Club” that was easier to control than the tutorial, or perhaps it was merely my imagination. Regardless it was a fun game, and should prove entertaining for any racing fans, though I don’t see this selling that many copies. Motorstorm has always been a rental franchise to me.

Calibrations you say?

Got a minute? The Mass Effect 3 demo is out, and that means I get to ignore Valentine’s day in lieu of a sneak-peak at some fun space marine action. I also get to test out my new review formula, though it’ll have to do without funny internet pictures as I have to get up in 4 hours. Do tell me what you think in the comments. Especially if you disagree. After all, the reason I’m so harsh in this review is probably because I love this series so much…

In the demo you play through two levels; the opening mission, which is a terrible representation of the gameplay (you have no powers) but a great representation of why Shepard is shooting things, and a later mission that puts you around level 12 in order to give you a taste of the different powers at your disposal.

Being a lover/critic of Mass Effect I went ahead and tinkered with all the classes. Unfortunately the multiplayer is unavailable to PS3 users even if they have an EA account, so I was unable to experience that. For my playthroughs, I utilized all of the classes to see how things have changed. Not as much as I had thought they would actually. I don’t even want to imagine playing this on Insanity difficulty however, considering the how the enemies behave. Dicks.

-Class Breakdown-

Soldier is… crap I think. The one saving grace is incendiary ammo, which kills things extremely quickly. Adrenaline Rush doesn’t slow things down enough for me to really like it, though the damage boost is nice. Concussive blast, while fairly useful, recharges far too slowly. Grenades are normal frags, and not really noteworthy, especially since they are in such short supply. The melee is a punch reminiscent of God Hand’s punches, only with a holographic blade to the face. It’s just that satisfying. Unfortunate that the worst class has the best melee kill.

Sentinel is the class that can take damage and dish it out at close range. It’s main function is the Tech armor, which increases pretty much all of Shepard’s stats while activated. Better yet, when it’s depleted it explodes outward, damaging surrounding enemies. Add to that both Tech and Biotic powers, and Sentinel is the most versatile and arguably the best class in the game. Grenades lift oponents into the air for you to shoot at, replacing the Biotic pull in function. The melee is a satisfying decapitation move with two omni-blades.

Infiltrators are the stealthy snipers. They have a cool trick of automatically slowing down time when they zoom in with a sniper rifle, and the ability to turn invisible. Basically they’re all about the kill shot. In addition they have the ability to take control of enemy synthetics and light things on fire. Their grenades… are sticky. They stick to people so that they can’t run away when they explode. They’re my favorite, obviously. It would seem like the Infiltrator is more suited to long-range fighting, but it does have an interesting melee with an electrified omni-blade. Of course there’s also the option of cloaking, walking up to someone, and shooting them in the face before they realize you’re there. That’s always funny.

Engineers are specialized in tech powers. They come with the ability to control synthetics and mess with enemy weapons, but they go even further by having the ability to summon a drone into combat that distracts and sometimes incapacitates enemies. They also have the Sentry Turret in place of grenades, which is self-explanatory and useful for bringing added firepower to bear. They are masters of the electronic field but lack skills specialized in getting through fleshy enemies. The melee is essentially the fire punch from pokemon, only with a bitchslap rather than a punch.

Adepts are considered the Biotic powerhouses. Essentially you’re supposed to focus on using your powers when you’re an adept because your weapon proficiency is less than ideal. That was not the case in this demo, as you’re presented a full arsenal in the second mission. Nevertheless the adept class allows you to fullow manipulate the physics engine in this game to toss your enemies about like the rag dolls they are. While the signature move is the singularity, the pull move is notable for being specifically useful in taking out Cerberus Riot shield users. The grenade of choice is the cluster grenade, a biotic grenade that releases multiple fragments which cause a number of biotic explosions, sending enemies flying. It’s actually the most useful in terms of damage/area covered. The melee move is simply a palm thrust backed by a biotic shockwave.

Vanguards are by far my favorite class for one simple reason. Biotic charge, or “stinger” as I like to call it- Dante would be proud. There is nothing quite as satisfying in this game as zipping around the battlefield smashing foes and blasting them in the face with a shotgun. High risk, high reward. I’m going to die a lot as a vanguard. The vanguard also comes with some other basic biotic abilities and the fantastic incendiary ammo. While not exactly a glass cannon, this class is far more offensive than the rest, which makes for a significantly different playthrough from the others. In a departure from the other classes, Vanguard doesn’t actually have a grenade power. Instead, the Nova ability creates a shockwave around Shepard, utilizing his/her biotic barrier instead of a cooldown function. I didn’t really fancy it and stuck with Stinger. As for the Heavy Melee, it is surprisingly identical to he Adept’s melee in that Shepard backs up his/her palm thrust with a biotic shockwave.

As it stands, I played each class at least once in their “default” style, similar to ME2. According to numerous other reviews I’ve seen, it seems like it’ possible to vary the class playing styles further. BioWare encourages heavy tinkering and multiple playthroughs, so I figure there’s still a lot I haven’t discovered about this game (and not just because it’s a demo). One thing I found interesting and a bit disappointing was that I got the same weapon loadout regardless of class. Whether that is because of class customization later or because Shepard lugs all his weapons around like in the first game, I’m not sure, though I suspect the former.

-What I Liked-

1)     You seem to be able to run much faster in this game, not to mention the dodge roll.     Mobility in the previous games was inadequate in the thick of combat. Now it is simply as     it should be.

2)       Enemies are much more… mobile. Dicks, all of them.

3)     Guns make better sounds in this game! I swear they did a developer diary about this but it’s     cool to see in action.

4)     Heavy melee is an inta-kill move, and oh so satisfying after the malarchy that was the melee in the first two games. Still, I do have a major issue with it that I will go over…

5)     Wrex, Liara and Garrus. All in the same mission. Hell yes, these new characters can bugger off. Bugger, I tell you. I don’t WANT new people. All I want is some beautiful third persona quality time with Liara, Garrus and Wrex. And Tali. Maybe even Alenko. But not Ashley. She is so very dead. But back on topic, I’m playing this game for the returning characters, not these Gamespot wannabes.

6)     Character creation still has codes for making pre-built shepards. This is going to be hilarious, though admittedly if I truly wanted the best Mass Effect experience I’d play it on PC. Alas…

7)     Jennifer Hale’s voice is awesome. Again. Once you go FemShep you can’t go back.

8)     Character dialogue didn’t show up enough in the demo, but what I did see was promising. The fact that the conversation barely involved Shepard was also cool. For all the cool characters in ME2, they didn’t interact with each other enough. They just stayed in their corners of the Normandy, doing calibrations…

9)     I like the new loading screen. None of this blueprint crap, just Earth… burning… :3

10)     The game is a lot more cinematic. Characters rarely just stand around and talk, they’re almost always doing something while conversing.

11)     The character animations, while still using the same engine, are more elaborate. The cinematic scenes mean that you don’t have to stare at people standing around talking in the middle of warzone this time.

12)     Switching between weapons is smoother than before, and aiming is tighter.

13)     Biotics seem to be a bit more useful in is game than in ME2. Each class is given the proper tools to take down certain targets in one way or another.

14)     The majority of powers are the same as in 2, though the grenades and melee moves are new. Still, those who played through ME1 and ME2 will be familiar with most of the powers and will be able to jump right in.

15)     Based on some of the items I looted during the demo, it seems both weapons AND armor are customizable. That’s good, because armor customization was great in ME2… if you had the DLC.

16)     Your health no longer recharges like your shield does, which makes sense. You have toadminister Medi-gel to heal. Not sure if I like it, as it caused me to die a few times, but it does make things more tense and interesting.

-What I DISliked-

1)     Conversation options aren’t really there. You make a decision once or twice in the demo, but most of Shepard’s dialogue is pre-determined. Other characters’ dialogue isn’t affected much by your decisions in either. However, this is the demo we’re talking about here.

2)     The power trees aren’t really much more elaborate than the second game’s so much as they’re disguised to look complicated. What it boils down to usually is increasing the range or power of the move, or reducing the cooldown period.

3)     Melee combat is not some amazing new thing. Sure I like the animation, and it works pretty much perfectly, but it doesn’t quite have the “visceral” feeling certain other 3rd-person shooters have. It’s a feeble attempt to copy Gears of War that falls flat. No limbs are lost, there are no marks on your enemies, and blood stays inside your adveraries. It’s a war for the survival of the galaxy for crying out loud, we expect a little blood and guts!

4)     While the graphics are an improvement over the previous games, it’s not so amazing as I was lead to believe. The animations feel a bit off at times and the environments surrounding the levels seem a bit poorly done if you stare at them for a bit. I’m hoping the final product looks better, as I know demos are prone to being somewhat unfinished in this regard, especially in the case of Mass Effect 2’s PS3 demo.

5)     Why haven’t they rendered the Normandy’s windows… again? They’re odd block designs that don’t allow you to ascertain what’s going on. Maddening…

6)     BioWare still can’t get hairstyles right. Also for some reason the default shepards have unique features to their design that you can’t utilize in character creation. Wtf? This is the main reason I wish I could play the PC version. This game will be modded to all hell, and the community will end up making some fantastic looking Shepards. Perhaps someday… Preferably in a future where Origin has flopped and the series is back on Steam. 😛

7)     The demo did not allow you to select your weapons. I understand not being able to modify the weapons, but I would have liked to be able to pick particular kinds of weapons for the class I played. There is no sniper rifle in the demo and I was claustrophobic with the new AI.

8)     I find it grating that BioWare seems to have given no elaboration whatsoever about what happened at the end of the second game. How much time has passed? Why is shepard lounging about in a room? Why the heck would my shepard give these incompetent humans my gorramn space yacht? And most importantly, what the hell happened to my space hamster?!

9)     The scene with the kid was rather…. forced and annoying. What is this, a Michael Bay film? Ah… EA did hire him for Need for Speed didn’t they? Shit.

10)     What’s with these “action” and “narrative” modes? If people don’t want to worry about the story or gunplay mechanics, they shouldn’t be playing Mass Effect. Maybe it sounds dickish, but Mass Effect is a shooter RPG series. Play it for what it is dammit.

11)     Major powers all use the same cooldown period for each character. It’s aggravating, even more due to the fact that it was made this way on purpose for the sake of balancing multiplayer. I use adrenaline so I can’t use concussive blast? Using singularity means I can’t use pull? Why not give us a mana bar or something if this is how you’re gonna do it? Mass Effect has divurged from Kingdom Hearts and I don’t like it! At least Kingdom Hearts fixed their spell system… But it’s not all bad, since they did tweak it so that only actual powers are affected by cooldown. Medi-gel and Ammo powers are considered separate it seems…

12)     Why oh why can I not blindfire from behind cover? Stop getting up when you have no shields Shepard! Cover fire damn you! Garrus is bleeding out and Liara is being manhandled by Cerberus operatives who probably pre-ordered her figurine!

13)     I know this is an old thing that came up in 2, but WHY IS THERE AMMO?! It makes no sense in the universe of Mass Effect! Heat sinks are only barely acceptable on automatic weapons. There’s no good reason to use the system with your sniper rifle! This is one of my biggest problems with the series, and BioWare basically just ret-conned it before forgetting they ever changed anything in the first place.

I’ll be keeping my optimism in check for this one. I’m buying it day 1 on PS3 (which was graphically inferior to the 360 version, much to my infinite sadness), but I’m going to assume the worst as far as this game is concerned. I’m going to assume stupid decisions, broken gameplay, and another retarded final boss fight. I’m going to assume there will be more cheap scenes like the one with the kid, and expect less than half of my old party members to show their faces. Why? Because I assumed as much with Dragon Age 2. I was right about a lot of my assumptions about that game, but there were also some great surprises. I’m trying to be a realist or something. I look at where the Mass Effect franchise has gone, seeing facebook games, iOS games, sensational novels with glaring plot inconsistencies, eight-page comics that could’ve been part of the actual game story, and more!

I already know BioWare has sold out. I’m merely hoping that the huge amount of money EA has throw at this game is enough to make it a mildly cohesive experience. Who knows? Maybe Mass Effect 3 will totally blow my mind narratively. Or maybe it won’t. At the very least, I enjoyed playing the demo. Thanks for reading, but I should go. I was in the middle of some calibrations.

God that sounded forced…

What? I posted something?! Heresy, surely… but frankly, with a long list of journalism classes in my future I figure I should keep my writing ability somewhat sharp if only to make up for my terrible people skills when I’m forced to start engaging in interrogative conversation. But enough about me- on to gaming!

At least the gratuitous Spanish isn't DLC...

Every once in a while I feel compelled to play a game even if I know it won’t go well. I can just tell a game is going to be disappointing or stupid in some way, but I still want to play it for just a little bit because I’m excited by the trailers or something. Typically this happens when I end up playing a movie tie-in or something made by Michael Bay. Pffft racing games, I love them.

My ban-kai tops out at 88mph.

Bleach: Soul Resurrection, or Resurrecion if you’re feeling authentic, is a hackn’slash game based on the popular anime and manga whose name is basically unfathomable. It’s a fairly straightforward series where Soul reapers slay demonic “hollow” creatures for the sake of the innocent spirits they prey upon. Explosions and manly yelling abound. One aspect present in Bleach that makes it a staple of the current shonen genre is that most of the characters are extremely similar in terms of functionality. This is true of pretty much the entire series with nearly everyone having transforming swords, single-tone uniforms, and the universal ability to ignore physics. The protagonist, Ichigo, is basically the archetype for all the other characters in the series as well as in the game. He wields a sword that purifies his monstrous foes while making his more squishy targets bleed copious amounts of blood. Every other Soul Reaper, or Death God, is basically a twist on this theme, not to mention most of the in-game antagonists. As a result Ichigo is one of the smoothest characters in the game, and while many of the other characters have their share of hiccups, for the most part it’s a party of button-mashing goodness regardless of who you play as.

LIke Dynasty Warriors, without the capture aspect

As you could probably guess from any picture of him, Ichigo has a fairly simple playstyle- hitting things a lot with your sword. That’s the square button. There’s also a ranged homing attack (triangle) which drains your self-charging MP bar, and a special circle-button attack that drains it completely, forcing you to wait for the bar to recharge before you can use more advanced tactics again. As you take and deal damage, a side bar known as the Ignition gauge fills up, allowing you to enter a powered-up state with the L2 button that deals more damage for a limited time. As a bonus, if you use the button again while transformed, you use a special attack that basically annihilates everything on-screen at the cost of your transformation. Add to that a dash (R2) and block (R1) function, and you’ve got the basic set-up of a hackn’slash with tight, responsive controls that showcase on-screen in beautiful cel-shaded graphics. So what’s the problem?

From a visual standpoint, the levels are faithful cutouts of the environments from the game, those being Hueco Mundo, Soul Society, the skies above Japan and a hellpit. Unfortunately the minimap shows them for what they really are, that being simply-shaped arenas and hallways filled to the brim with assorted cannon-fodder enemies. Sometimes the game locks you in a specific part of the map and spams more enemies than usual, but it’s typically just a mad-dash toward the end. Oddly, however, time isn’t really a factor in your “score.” The game is mostly about collecting little green soul points from enemies and the environment, and spending them on a cheap (yet oddly more functional) copy of the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X. Essentially, the game is built around you hitting everything you see with your sword. Thats the square button, if you forgot.

Four sides of equal length, for those in need of a refresher.

Unsurprisingly, the story isn’t really the focus of the game; as with most anime tie-ins, it’s assumed that you have a basic understanding of the way the world is set up. This is even more apparent in the case of this game- it seems like the developers didn’t even consider that someone would play the game without being up-to-date with the series. Having read the manga myself I noted several major plot points and fight scenes were glossed over or ignored completely, to say nothing of the relevant characters that are missing. It could be understood if you assume that the game had a limited development cycle, but the fact that the campaign plays out flat and uninteresting isn’t going to endear anyone to the series. Add on top of that the generic half-related music and the terrible English voice acting that seems to derive sadistic pleasure from reciting random japanese phrases every other combo, and you might actually end up wanting some of your own characters to die if only to relieve your own boredom/sanity.

One area the game does excel in however is the visuals. As games get prettier over the years, most surmise that games will look more and more realistic. That’s debatable, but I think that the real potential for HD graphics is games like this. Cel-shading has been around for a while, but with this technology the characters literally look like they walked out of the show. It makes sense; if the developers aren’t trying to make it look realistic in the first place, they can be more faithful to the show and make everything look fantastic.

Admittedly, wishing for the protagonist's death isn't exactly a new thing in video games...

Admittedly the game is a little half-assed in some areas, but the game accomplishes what it set out to do. If you want to dash across familiar locales from the Bleach universe, cutting a swathe of destruction and high combos through hordes of hollows with little-to-no resistance, then you’re golden. Sure it locks all the characters in their most powerful states, and perhaps the cast of playable characters is on the lean side, but what you do get is perfect for what the game is- a beat em’ up. That, and a cash-in, but what franchise isn’t?

This should come as a surprise to no one, but if you’re not a fan of the series, you won’t know or care about anything happening in this game. I mean it should be self-evident from the moment you look at the box. Most tie-ins in the video game industry fall between mindless cash-grabs and a unique medium to tell an original story within the franchise’s universe, with the small chance of actually turning out to be a good game.

I'm not insinuating anything

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion was developed by Nippon Ichi Software.
Bleach is owned by Tite Kubo.
I own two cats and a dog-thing.

Had a revelation

Relevance greater than or equal to how comfortable my pillow is

I had a revelation recently. No, it doesn’t have (much) to do with the new Assassin’s Creed game that just game out, it’s more to do with life in general! So there I was, at three in the morning, sitting there waiting to either fall asleep or get a surprise text message (it was the latter, btw), when suddenly I realized the reason I could not fall asleep was because I was angry.

I wasn’t angry at the surprise text message, nor was I angry at the possibility of our government trying to kill the internet again. No, I was angry at not being able to fall asleep. The hilarious part was, my anger is what kept me awake most of the night. This kind of self-perpetuating hatred on oneself is the kind of thing that makes emo poetry and gothic lipstick prosper! Thankfully I’m in College and my feet hurt so I didn’t run out to the local 24-hour hot topic to buy aforementioned lipstick, but what if it had been some other random High schooler?! Where does it stop?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes it’s better to just not worry about things. Maybe you’re a social outcast and maybe you’re enjoying and unrewarding and irrelevant activity a little bit too much, but in the end if you’re not having a good time then what’s the point?

Totally re-enacted this shot for the lulz

Moving on, I did actually manage to beat AssCreedRevs this morning, and I have to say that Ubisoft has shown a rather embarrassing aspect of production here. They put so much thought and detail into the world, focusing on the culture and atmosphere and making it “authentic” that when they’re forced to come up with something on their own, it falls flat. Constantinople might be amazing, but the Altair segments are rushed and sloppy, while the modern day segments and the “first civilization” segments just seem silly in comparison. Even the segments exploring Desmond’s past are lazy in comparison. As much as I like the puzzle mini-games reminiscent of Portal, 3D tetris alongside Nolan North’s admittedly awesome narration don’t make up for the fact that Desmond doesn’t do anything in this game. Again. I at least wanted to play through his past in a way similar to Altair’s segments. Not to mention there are so many sidequests and hidden things that most people won’t even bother with. They’ve spent so much time on the detail that the core adventure is flawed. Overall I’d say a year isn’t quite enough to make a game all it could be. The game shows its rough edges despite the polish. Still, I enjoyed myself… while not sleeping.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations was made by UbiSoft. That pic is of a guy named Ted. I’m tired.

Thank you and goodni- …morning.

When I first saw footage of LA Noire, I focused on the driving and gunplay. Unsurprisingly, I was unimpressed with a cheap GTA rip-off (quite literal in this case). Then I found out it was actually being released by Rockstar and took a closer look. I honestly couldn’t tell whether or not it would be worth my time, since I’m not one who buys games for looking pretty.

Heavy Rain was fulfilling story-wise, keeping me hooked throughout the experience. When I decided to play LA Noire I was hoping it would turn out to be something similar in terms of story, if not gameplay. Most of the time I can see the ending of a game coming a mile away, so it’s those little surprises that really get me. Why did I remember Red Dead Redemption? Because the ending pissed me off at how realistic it was. Infamous 2 betrayed my expectations in a frankly hilarious way. Twilight Princess was bittersweet. Assassin’s Creed consistently leaves me wondering “what the fuck” at the end of each game along with its’ characters. It’s that little twist at the end, the little extra detail that really makes me remember a game.

I picked up LA Noire after a few non-gaming media sources mentioned it. It wasn’t quite like Heavy Rain, keeping me engaged in the overall story. Frankly I could predict Cole Phelps fall from grace when he got promoted twice in the first few missions. The thing that really interested me was how everything was interconnected. Between the newspaper sidestory with the doctor, to the stolen morphine being mentioned every other mission, to Cole’s precipitous career as an honest cop in a corrupt city, everything came together masterfully. It was the execution of telling the story in a variety of ways that was unique, even if the story wasn’t exactly the most mind-blowing thing ever. Then again, story is never the grandstanding selling point of Rockstar games.

Gameplay-wise, the fact that LA Noire is essentially a point-and-click game with 3rd person shooter and driving sections lends itself well to the narrative. The game is done well enough that they didn’t even really need the face-capture technology, despite how cool it is.Another reason the game was satisfying, however, was probably because the story is self-contained. All DLC is extraneous, and Rockstar felt no need to hint at a sequel. Everything about LA Noire is in the box. Excellent. As much as I love Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect, it’s a little irritating when you don’t get the whole picture after playing for over 40 hours. I just wish they’d polished the open-world aspects of the game a bit more. Frankly I got bored with exploration pretty quickly despite the novelty that is a 1947 Los Angeles.

The issue of having your own choices in games tends to be the childlike execution of presenting those choices. The original Infamous irked me because the game seemed to think I didn’t know right from wrong, and proceeded to color-code everything and make sure it was abundantly clear what I had to do to be a complete and utter asshole to anyone and everything to avoid being typecast as a good samaratin and not just a decent human being… with lightning powers. The second game continues this trend to a degree. Blue is good and red is bad, which is just another way of saying that everything is black and white. Where’s the middle ground? Oh, go watch TV you raging intellectual.

While the game presents heavy decisions aplenty to give you a boost in one karmic direction or another, it’s the smaller decisions that I feel really define a “hero”. I’m not even talking about choosing between good and bad. To use an in-game example, Infamous 2 allows you to stop random muggings on the street. If you beet up the perpetrators, you get a good boost. Injure the hostage, you get a bad boost. Sure, the heroic thing is simple to see, but I think it should be the fact that you stopped to deal with it at all that marks you as a hero. The way they present Cole in the game if you choose the villain option, I think you should get a bad boost if you either ignore the mugging entirely, or demand compensation after saving the victim. That is a show of not a villain, but a regular human. I don’t think they should take away the ability to be psychopathic villain who causes chaos and destruction for the hell of it, but maybe there should be more than just “good” and “evil”. What about “doen’t give a damn” and “doing things for one’s own benefit?” What if instead of just destroying the villain, you could take over his operation afterward? If you’re going to give the player decisions, mix it up! I’m not saying you need a gameplay tweak for it either, just a narrative difference in how the game plays out, or perhaps a difference in how people react to you.

Another issue about this is how it affects your powers in the game. Despite events that provide a clear reason for your powers to deviate in one way or another, Sucker Punch decided that it would be better if your powers changed depending on your karmic decisions. Honestly, this ended up making no narrative sense and just confused me. Were I Cole, I would want the ability to rapid-fire my lightning bolts regardless of whether or not I healed dying people on the street, not to mention chaining lightning seems like it would be universally useful even to a burning paragon of justice. Ultimately what I’m getting at is that I don’t see any reason for my karmic identity to be linked to my super-powers. These things should be separate, for a number of reasons beyond simple convenience.

Infamous certainly isn’t alone in these karmic issues (even the famed Mass Effect series is naively simple in regards to morality, and Force Unleashed didn’t even try to make things interesting), but the game that prides itself on acting out the super-hero fantasy should go a little farther to show the weight of these choices. Even if it’s mostly just an action-romp, it’s the little things that really flesh out a universe like this. I just think trying to make everything color-coded is a mistake. Shades of grey are what make lifelike characters more interesting than comic-book cutouts after all.  This is the reason why the movie reboots of the various comic book superheroes are so popular beyond simple nostalgia (and special effects)… in some cases.

The final decision of Infamous 2 switches things up not only narratively but also provides a decision where you’re screwed either way, which I loved. Heck, it’s this kind of storytelling that makes up Mass Effect’s bread and butter, and it’s nice to see that Sucker Punch actually put something like that in here. There’s actually a sense of “weight” or importance to it, even though it kinda comes out of left field near the end. That said, I’d find it interesting if a series continued based on the evil ending for once. The fact that the game points out in the end that no one actually thinks of themselves as evil is probably the best piece of the narrative, it’s just too bad that the rest of the game didn’t really highlight that fact.

Infamous 2 was developed by Sucker Punch studios, whom are hopefully not done with this series just yet, though I would appreciate the fact that it didn’t become a trilogy I suppose…

Short Heavy Rain Review

I’m wondering if I should just do all my reviews like this from now on. Perhaps elaborate a bit more though… play-by-play? Eh, regardless…

YMMV

Heck, I may even go back and make Ragecomic versions of my older reviews…. Assuming I can find the necessary motivation… 😀

Best I can tell, the anti-drug message involved stabbing it until it went away. Just like real life.

Growing up, I’ve watched most friends drift away from this fictional medium for the most part. Whether it’s not having a life or perhaps simply unnecessary stubbornness, I play more games nowadays then most people I know. Not only that, but I play games to the end, whereas most people would put down the controller and return the game. In my experience however, playing to the end has a unique payoff, a sort of fulfillment, however worthless it might be to others.

Screw you I have... pixelated memories?

Going into this game, I was mildly intrigued. What I had thought was just another hackn’slash fantasy turned out to be a unique take on the third-person shooter genre. It’s by no means polished enough to stand up to some of the more auspicious titles around, but it conveys its story well and keeps itself contained admirably while providing smooth and solid gameplay.

The story has you playing as one of two mercenaries, I’Lara the strategically-clothed elf with a love for explosions and Caddoc the oddly thoughful berserker human. Giving them both just enough of a background to get started, the story takes off with the both of them being hired to rescue some undead goth girl with an oddly mundane origin. Unsurprise ensued. At least it has a nice anti-drug message? :3 Still, I can’t tell whether or not I should applaud inXile for getting most of the backstory across in-game through the corpses you interrogate… while the banter between Caddoc did serve to flesh out the world rather well, the plot honestly felt like a side-story to what was honestly just two buddies trying to increase their k/d ratio.

Some of the dead people are more interesting to talk to than others

Aside from the necessarily modern spin on fantasy humor that is the game’s story, there is of course the graphics, which visually flesh out the story. Ultimately I was left to believe that this world is some kind of medieval Sera, and couldn’t help but wish for a trusty chainsaw bayonet. While not quite up to par of some games that it clearly takes influence from, the game is fairly pretty (and I’Lara’s physics are a nice touch I suppose), though close inspection will reveal a rough edge to most everything.

The Unreal Engine is actually fairly easy to pick out in any game it is used in. Whether it’s the physics of objects and bodies within the game world or the graphics of the environments loading at the last minute, the thing that really shows the influence of the engine is the gameplay. The fact that the game, which alternates between sword-fighting and cover-based shooting, does so in such a smooth manner is probably due to the influence of the unreal engine.
Yes, playing this game should remind some players of a the overblown curbstomp that is Gears, albeit with an enhanced emphasis on cooperation. Far from simply pointing and shooting, you have the option to annihilate your foes with bows, magic, and assorted sharp objects. The key is that all combat can be augmented by your partner at almost any time. Add to that the segmented co-op profiles and the experience can get interesting. In my experience any game that utilizes co-op well is good. This game, while most assuredly a suggested rental title, is very fun to play with friends. This is the most important influence it gets from Gears of War. The fact that the combat is simple, fluid and fun. There’s also the option to play as a half-naked elf hottie, but I have a feeling people will have already discovered that by the time they pop in the disc.

Remember, it's not slutty, just strategically placed.

Rounding out things is the sound. While the music is standard fantasy fanfare, the voices are actually done well. The problem lies with the character lines, which are a tad uninspired. I’ve often thought of not including a sound aspect in most reviews, as for the most part I really have very little to say about the sound unless the soundtrack or voice acting “grabs me”.

IN CONCLUSIONNESS (that’s not even a word)

Strawberries: A healthy of any spelunking lifestyle

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is straightforward and for the most part enjoyable. It’s not perfect, but it gets the point across well despite the general roughness. I would have to say that anyone looking for a unique co-op experience should definitely check it out, or even someone just looking for a unique take on the fantasy genre.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge was developed by inXile entertainment. The game also makes little to no mention of an actual forge. Ah well, maybe it’ll show up in the sequel.