7-ate-9 / Member

Forum Posts Following Followers
88 49 22

7-ate-9 Blog

Games withdrawal; SNES revival. (M)ass Effect.

I've been giving the Xbox a rest recently. It's been in the cupboard for around a week and shows no sign of returning to its spot beneath the TV. This is because I felt I was playing a bit too much and I'm thinking of giving it a rest until GTA4 comes out, though that's a while off and my will may cave in before then.

In the absense of the Xbox I found myself going elsewhere for a gaming fix thus proving my addiction! To begin with I got back into the fantasy Blood Bowl league at fumbbl.com again. Played a few more games with my Norse team, made a team of mad Orcs with names inspired by Chris Morris's "Brass Eye" series and other general goofiness, That lasted about three days but I kinda overdid it so I started looking elsewhere for a gaming outlet.

So I got onto downloading various console emulators and last week I managed to beat Shadowrun on the SNES for the first time in around 12 years. It was great nostalgia to play through this game again, one of the most memorable games of all time for me along with Fallout, but I also came to the conclusion that this game actually stands the test of time. OK so the graphics arn't that appealing anymore and the gameworld is a bit rough around the edges, the combat system maybe a little lacking, but hey as an RPG from the early 90's Shadowrun still manages to pull off the Cyberpunk/ Neuromancer/ dystopian future thing rather well. This particular setting is my prefered choice for an RPG, I'd love to see a modern version of this game (damn FASA for making Shadowrun a bloody FPS) or a similar Bladerunner style RPG would be awesome. While I'm talking about RPG's in general I'd like to say that I'd really like to see an RPG within the aforementioned setting where creating a non-combat orientated character is handled and rewarded just as well as the more violent course of action. I realise this would take a huge amount of planning and development but I don't believe I am asking too much to actually feel as though I can "role play" convincingly within the confines of a video game. Mass Effect comes pretty damn close but I have some issues with that game. I thought Deus Ex handled the choice of violent/non-violent approach well also, that game is exceptional.

Since this blog is a general discussion of stuff i might as well talk about my issues with Mass Effect.

I casually enjoyed playing ME and beat it at a leisurely pace over the new year. I could forgive the "ripped out of star wars" universe and clunky inventories because I was entertained by the dialouge which is incredably well acted by video game standards. However I couldn't help but feel hugely let down by the anticlimax of being able to explore multiple solar systems only to find one landable planet per system which always looked the same as all the other non-plot-involved-side-mission worlds housing 3 or 4 dudes to shoot and maybe a few minerals or pointless objects to salvage. My argument is thus: why make these planets accesible at all and create a dissapointing illusion of choice where opting to explore the galaxy at large ends up becoming a grind of uninspired fetch quests and identical landscapes when the other areas in the game are so well conceived and interesting to explore? In my opinion the time spent on these dead worlds should have been spent on making the main 4-5 locations even more detailed and immersive. Would it not be possible to actually make it feel like you have landed on a different planet that not only has its own flora and fauna, customs and whatnot but also has other areas upon the same planet where these things alter. Why do I have to fly to the other end of the galaxy to see snow for instance? Furthermore, why, when I finally reach the barren planet that looks xactly like the other one, am I expectd to drive around in the most retarded jeep contraption known to man: the Mako?

Well enough of that, I played through the game once and the thought of going through it again (and then again) to get all th achievements feels more like some kind of perverse punishment than fun. My time with that game is over. I give thumbs up to the plot, dialouge and voice acting, and music thumbs sideways to setting, atmosphere, gameplay and thumbs down to uncharted planet exploration, the Mako, the achievement points and the length of the main story missions.

Going back to the SNES emulator it has to be said that the vast majority of SNES titles are best left as fond memories. It certainly doesnt feel the same playing most SNES games on a PC. However if you have a rainy weekend and fancy a bit of retro gaming then give it a go, there are a few titles that are still great to play and it's certainly interesting to be reminded of how much/little games have progressed over the last 15 years or so. I found the ZSNES emulator (zsnes.com) to be easy to install and run. Coolrom.com is a good source for ROMS, though the big Nintendo franchise games such as Mario, Zelda and Metroid are unavailable from there. Out of the other SNES games I've tried so far the ones I thought worth playing, other than Shadowrun, were: Arkanoid: Doh it Again, Cannon Fodder , Final Fantasy 6, King Arthur's World, Lemmings 2, Ninja Gaiden Trilogy.

Unemployment Score

My Gamerscore has taken on a new meaning for me. I call it my unemployment score now. I have managed to rack up 19700 gamerpoints whilst all my friends who are currently employed have scores in the 3000-4000 region. I'm starting to feel like a social pariah. I hope someone gives me a job interview soon...

Release Lull shenanigans

I've been up to crazy things during the Christmas/ New Year transitional absense of new game releases. These strange behaviors have included homework (what?), housework (wtf?)and real life socialising! (yes i have friends and family) but when all of those alien activitives subsided and I wanted to go back to the real world of video games whatwas i left with? let's see.... games i've finished, played too much and got bored with already orgames that are too hard (Frogger), or too boring (Mass Effect),for me to make any more progress with. There are only four games I know that are coming out in 2008 that interest me so far: GTA4, Ninja Gaiden 2, Blood Bowl and Fallout 3. This lack of potential Xbox thrills has made me lookat my options and I've decided to delve into the archives of the Xbox backwards compatible (elbitapmoc sdrawkcab)list to see what games I missed out on when I was playing my PS2 (I traded the PS2 in to get my 360 last April). A lot of these games you can buy used on Amazon for bargain prices, here's what I've discovered:

PANZER DRAGOON ORTA:3rd person 3D shooter involving a lady who rides a dragon, flying, shooting down enemies, avoiding hazards and transforming into ass kicking magical beasties.PDO holds up remarkably well, the graphics look crisp and the gameplay is compelling and intuitive and will leave you wanting to come back for more. A great game fora stop gap, pick up and play. Highly recommended for fans of old school 3D space shooters like Star Fox.

SERIOUS SAM: Duke Nukem styled FPS with comic enemies and cartoonish graphics. Great to play local co-op story. Lots of power-ups and a massive selection of weapons: Pistol, double pistols, shotgun pump action, shotgun, double barreled, chainsaw, knife, tommy gun, laser cannon, rocket launcher, grenade launcher, super bomb, sniper rifle the list goes on. Plus you can carry all these weapons at the same time!!! Old school arcade themed run and gun game play with lives and levels, points and boss battles. Game doesnt take itself too seriously and you won't get bogged down in story. For fans of intense FPS action with an old school vibe like Doom, Duke Nukem and Timesplitters.

DOOM3 COLLECTORS EDITION: Balls to Doom 3, I mean why play an original xbox FPS when you could be playing one of the 1,000,000 next-gen FPS titles. HOWEVER if you can get the collectors edition of Doom 3, which i picked up for a fiver, you get the original Doom and Doom 2 into the bargain. If you have any nostalgia for these games from back in the day or you want a history lesson from the game that invented the death match and formed the blue print of todays FPS genre,get this game.

MORTAL KOMBAT: DECETION: Okay so it's a 3D MK game with a bunch of weird characters and some strange omissions, no Shang Tsung no Reptile no Kung Lao sorry I don't know the MK saga so don't know if any of these characters died in spectacular spike pit fatalities in previous installments, nor do I care, all I know is my favorite characters arent here! The single player Konquest mode is the epitome of GRIND and they make it compulsory by locking half the characters at the start of the game so you have to be a sucker and play the goddamn boring mode to unlock the rest of them. For fans of the MK series or for someone who wants a fairly entertaining fighter game to bash their friends with when they come over.

NINJA GAIDEN: Tough. Hard as Nails. Frustrating yet also the best game I've played in a long, long time. In fact THE best Action Adventure title I've ever played. Superior to Devil May Cry, superior to Onimusha, superior to Metal Gear Solid. Once you get over the punishingly vertical difficulty "curve" this game will become very rewarding and varied. NG has great production values, memorable boss battles, anin-depth fighting system, hordes of nasty and tough enemies and you can pick it up for a tenner. If you haven't played this game yet and are looking for a title to tide you over until the next-gen releases get rolling agian, look no further than Ninja Gaiden. (also try Ninja Gaiden: Black)

KINGDOM UNDER FIRE: THE CRUSADERS: Aside from the woefully bad voice acting and couldn't care less plot KUD is an ambitous and entertaining RTS/ RPG/ Hack 'n' Slash that combines elements of Dynasty Warriors, Warhammer Fantasy Battle and.. and... well actually it's quite incomparable to anything because KUD tries to do a whole bunch of stuff with varied success. What it boils down to is you take control of a military commander who is fighting with a regiment of troops at his/her back but you can also issue commands to your other regiments of knights, archers, spearmen, sappers and so on. If you're into options, leveling up and customisation than you'll enjoy the unit development system which is very deep and provides a lot of interesting routes for your units to go down for greater specialisation. The game can get a bit bogged down by the story and a lot of the missions can feel rather formulaic and you arent given free reign of the battlefeild but KUD is an entertaining game that I'd definately recommend it to anyone who'd like to try something that doesnt follow genre specific conventions.

So there you are. Obviously these games are not news but, if like me, you didnt get a chance to play older xbox titles because you played another console last-gen this run down may help to point you in the direction of a great game that you may otherwise have not considered playing. It's also a good to learn to appreciate a game in the absense of achievement points, seriously, ween yourself off the gamerscore and check out some oldie but goodies.

Freedom of speech in a corporate climate.

If all the furore about Jeff being fired over his Kane & Lynch review is true, and I suspect that it is, it is a very dark day for Gamespot. Not only has the site lost one of its most entertaining and knowledgeable staff but it has seriously compromised its integrity into the bargain.

My trust in this site has decreased so much that It wouldn't surprise me to see some sort of Stalinist revisionism over the next few days where Dead Men miraculously gets re-reviewed and comes up smelling of roses on a bed of $$$$$$ signs. The whole thing stinks of CNET's corporate relationship with Eidos when it comes to advertising paychecks.

Kane & Lynch has been advertised on Gamespot so inexorably (the site was even re-skinned in K&L images for a while) that for Jeff to actually "tell it like it is" in the review meant he had to stick his neck out and put his head on the block. Unfortunately, to complete the analogy, the axe fell and it cost Jeff his job.

I'm glad that Jeff valued his personal integrity and respected us, the readers,enough not to just feed us some crap about K&L being awesome in order to keep the publishers happy. It seems Gamespot has been in gradual decline all year and it is currently joining the ranks of IGN in the untrustworthyness stakes.

Greg Kasavin, a voice of objective reason,left in jan 2007 and now Jeff gets sacked amid a hail of controversy for slamming a lazy game and not letting Eidos get away with selling us second rate crap. Who do we have left to stand up for gamers who actually give a damn about the quality of games? To the other reviewers, if you care- walk out- make this place a ghost town.

Although i'll keep this account to see what happens to Gamespot over the coming months (I predict further loss of integrity with reviewers running scared from the truth) I will be finding a new main site to read my gaming news and reviews from now on. Eurogamer looks like a possible alternative.

Next time you want to give an honest opinion when money is involved- remember what happened to ol' Jeff!

XBOX 360 Pad is rubbish for fighting games.

Give me back my PS2 pad and Tekken or Soul Caliber anyday. The D-pad on the 360 controller is jacked and the sticks don't do the the job for me. That's all I have to say about that!

EDIT: IF no one knows what I'm talking about then try "command training" on Virtua Fighter 5 using the standard 360 pad. Then you'll understand me.

Which Reviewer to go with

Of course a game review is the view of a single person and is in effect quite subjective. Where a company is involved there may be some kind of committee that has an influence on the review but I don't know for sure about that (sounds a bit conspiratorial). Anyhow my thought is that it's good to find a reviewer that you generally agree with, someone you identify with that you feel has an approximate taste in games to your own.

Unfortunately for me Greg Kasavin left Gamespot a while back. I knew I could trust a Kasavin review, he seemed to like the same stuff as me- RPG's strategies ect and he had a review style that I could go with. I was thinking now Greg has left that Kevin is the most approximate reviewer to reflect my taste but I'm not sure. He seemed to like Assassin's Creed quite a lot more than I did and I was surprised to see Mass Effect getting 8.5 (from all the hype I thought it'd get 10!). I havent played Mass Effect yet though so the jury is still out on that one.

I find player reviews really helpful in informing my purchases too, and even customer reviews from Amazon ect because it's good to get a wide spread of opinion. If people from different communities are saying similar things about a game then I find it easier to trust the hype. Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect are good examples of games that have split opinion recently. Games are expensive so it's best to make the most informed purchase you can. I recently got into renting games too (I used to rent themback in the days of PS1 but I moved town ages ago and never got around to joining the video shop) I'm so glad when I rent a game over a weekend and beat it that it onlycost £5 rather than £45!

Multiplayer without friends

I hooked up with two friends yesterday for a gaming session, quite an irregular occurance but something we try to do once every couple of months.We all brought pads, games, beers, cola, junk food. After taking it inturns on Call of Duty 4 single player, which we're all really impressed with, we decided to get down to some multiplayer- that's when the problems began.

It seemed to us like the days of traditional multiplayer- with your friends in the same room-are over. We had, CoD 4, Rainbow 6, Halo 3 and we wanted a coop three player split screen. We were playing on a huge HD TV and either wanted to go online splitscreen or play a local game. Not once did we play a game with all three of us involved. CoD 4 doesnt except guest user invites on xbox live meaning we all needed individual accounts and Rainbow 6 and Halo 3 doesn't split the screen 3-4 ways.

So if you want to get all your friends involved in a game make sure you're all at home with a headset on. If anyone reads this can you suggest a game, that isn't a sports game, that we can all play together cooperatively?

Console wars: yadda yadda yadda

With every industry news related article on Gamespot comes the obligatory appendage of console wars comments about the current generation of consoles. Hundreds of remarks pertaining to one system outperforming or out selling the other, having better games and so on and so forth. I'm going to write what I think here to get it off my chest rather than entering the petty world of fanboyism, which i'll no doubt be accused of anyway!

If you have a good look at the library of the Wii,360 and PS3 at articles and at the upcoming titles to see us up to 2008 and count up the number of good and above rated games on gamespot it is plain to see the following advantages of the various next gen consoles:

Family Entertainment: Wii

Hardcore Gaming: Xbox 360

Online service: Xbox 360

Hardware Reliability: PS3, Wii

Exclusive licenses: Xbox 360

Installed user base: Wii

Value: Wii

2007 release line up: Xbox 360

Expensive paperweight: PS3

It amazes me that Sony haven't got their act together on the PS3 yet, i mean where are all the great games? ok and where are all the great games I can't play on another format? oh dear.Did Sony really think it could stay in the market on blind arrogance alone?

I loved my PS2 but before I chose to buy a next gen console I did some research and came to the conclusion that the Wii is for light entertainment, Xbox is where all the serious games are at and PS3 is over priced and sporting untested technology (blu-ray). Sony have a bit of a history of going with new formats and them not taking off (mini disc) so for me at least the jury is still out on blu-ray (there is no goddamn way I'm updating my DVD's to Blu-Ray, I only just finished updating from VHS!).Still once the PS3 hits it's stride it should be amazing, but will it manage to claw itself back from stumbling out of the blocks and crashing into the rocks? I hope so because Sony have a heavy reputation to defend, the PS2 dominated the market for years and it was and still isa seriously great console.

So although I own an Xbox 360 I'm rooting for the PS3,I want to see some amazing exclusive games that move the industry forward and really establish the PS3 as a proper next gen console with distinct brand identity. On that day I will buy a PS3. Until then I'm looking forward to the Christmas line up, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Kane & Lynch and Call of Duty 4 (most of which are available on both consoles I believe, but the 360 has them all so still no reason to get a PS3 at least not yet).

As a dorky partingcomment I'd just like to say that PCs always have and always will slay consoles!

Microsoft conditions you.

I want to see some serious psychological research into the XBOX 360's achievement point system. For the first 6 months of owning my console I found myself in the clutches of some kind of achievement point gold fever. Not only is this an excellent example of the creation of false needs but it can also supplant the traditional reward system that games offer. Now that progress and skill are numerically represented and open for comparison a new dimension has been added to the world of computer games akin to the "show me yours and i'll show you mine" world of myspace and facebook.

I have found myself playing games I would never usually touch with a barge pole just to get a few points out of them. What a brilliant strategy by Microsoft to sell more games by creating an addictive system. Even whilst playing games I do enjoy I have found myself performing brain-deadeningly dull procedures all in the pursuit of points, cheating in any way I can imagine in order to make the hunt for points more expedient. Some games are downright sadistic in their reward systems for example G.R.A.W has an achievement for killing 10,000 people in online multiplayer. Yes 10,000, have you ANY idea how long it will take to kill 10,000 people in online multiplayer? I never want to meet someone who has this achievement, what a sad creture he (for he is bound to be a he) must be.Fortunately this is a self correcting mechanism since I never will meet anyone with this achievement since they'll be on G.R.A.W, living the dream!

Researchers in the academic feilds are often snooty when it comes to analysing more visceral areas of culture, computer games are perhaps seen as too facile. If anyone has seen a proper, scientificreport on the psychological effects of games i'd like to see it. I say this before looking into the area myself, this is a subject that has been whilring around my head for the last few months. I'd like to collect some more information. In the mean time i'm salivating for the familiar sound of Microsoft achievement points, does anyone else find this sinister?