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Resident Reboot

In my previous post I wrote about how co-op play had made Resident Evil, a series in the horror genre, accessible to me. I ended up liking RE5 a lot, and was initially excited when I heard that the upcoming Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City would feature 4 player co-op. Then, I saw the gameplay…

It's generally a bad thing to judge something before you have played it, but from experience, I can pretty much tell whether a game is going to be shait or not after a few gameplay trailers. Or to rephrase, I can tell whether playing the game is going to be shait Yeah sure, the story may be fantastic, although being as this is Capcom we're talking about, it's not; and there may be many other things that are pretty alright, but the premise of the game and the shooting, just looks like a bland third-person shooter. No longer is the stop-aim-shoot, run away, repeat formula present, but instead you just kill a load of zombies and human survivors after the outbreak in Raccoon City.

"But Resident Evil is a great series of games, how can it suck?" you ask. Well, Resident Evil kind of sucked all the way up to the fourth one (the numbered one), and without it, Resident Evil may have been one of those franchises way overdue for a .45 in the back of the head. "It's never too late for something to stop being s h i t as Yahtzee once said (about this very series), but It's also never too late for it to start (as Duke Nukem proved), and my point is that taking away the one thing that makes RE special, the gameplay, and turning it into a boring TPS we've seen a million times is not the way to go either.

I say, lose the overcomplicated storyline, make it possible to walk and aim simultaneously, and for god's sake stop blending Resident Evil with Lost Planet!

Horror is only scary alone!

The horror genre is somewhat of a niche thing as most people don't like fear. That puts the survival horror genre in a difficult position. Either keep making the games scary, but risk losing money on wimps like me (silent hill) or mainstream the game so that people may not feel as intimidated by it (dead space). In my recent playthrough of Resident Evil 5 I noticed that Capcom found a third solution, adding Co-Op.

Some may argue that RE5 isn't a scary game either way, and they'd be right in a way, but the game is packed with tension that can be just as, if not more, terrifying. I never thought I would get to play this anyway, but I and my friend found it in the bargain bin with Burnout Paradise and Section 8 for $20 combined, so we said what-the-hay and went for it. But I digress; we played it and found that it's not scary at all. With the help of Skype, we talked and laughed about everything from sack-wearing, chainsaw wielding maniacs to indigenous zombies wearing tiki-masks.

The point I'm trying to make is that alone, I probably wouldn't have gotten past the first act, but playing Co-Op we stayed up 'till 2am and almost finished the sucker. I advise every horror game developer to add cooperative play to their game, not because games shouldn't be scary, but because it's a great way to draw in folks like me, and ultimately make more money!

Nostalgia and Nintendo

I've never been much of a Nintendo guy. Growing up I had the Playstation (one), so my nostalgia lies with Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and all those cherished franchises that never had much of future exept for the occational TwinSanity and Dawn of the Dragon bullcrap. I guess part of the reason lies with the fact that most developers evolve past their initial games. Naughty Dog and Insomniac are now doing bigger triple A titles, while the old mascots are given to the lesser known, lesser good devs.

The reason I brought this up is because there are certain franchises that, despite oversaturation, are still being given their due. This brings me, of course, to Nintendo. Nintendo has been in the game the longest, going all the way back to the 1980's when they released the NES (techncally since they made cards in the 19th century, but lets not go there). On that system they gave birth to series like Mario and Zelda. With each new release, they have gotten more and more fame, which is part of why they sell so unreasonably well. The problem is that not much has happened in terms of new series, and Nintendo keeps putting out new Zelda games and Mario spinoffs instead of creating something new and unique.

I think they're afraid, now more than ever. We live in a time of sequels where new titles are risky as they have no brand recognition. Nintendo knows this, and they have been doing extremely well because of it. New Super Mario Bros for the DS has now sold over 10 million copies. Is it because its such an amazing game? No, It's a standard 2D platformer with no innovative features, or even new ideas to speak of. It's a shame because Nintendo is a great developer. When they do release a Zelda or Mario It's usually really great, but think of what they could have done if they would just get over themselves and try to create something new. The thing is; Zelda is good, but it uses a lot of ideas that worked in the 90's, but the medium has come a long way since then, and to me it feels very dated. No voice acting (even in the upcoming Skyward Sword), No quest menu, clunky combat system and the same goddamn story we've been fed since forever.

I think, for a lot of people, it's about Nostalgia. They remember themselves playing on their NES, SNES, N64 or whatever, and most people underestimate the power of Nostalgia. I'm no exeption, I went back to Crash Bandicoot 2 from the PSN Classics store, and I loved it. Seeing some of the old levels brougt an eerie, almost deja vu sensation that really hit the spot. I recommended it to a couple of friends, but all they saw was a slightly above mediocre platformer with a funny-looking fox in jeans.

The strange part about Nintendo is that they are very innovative with their hardware. I mean, who can say they really had an experience with touch screens before the DS? I'm sure a couple of people, but what about motion controls? And they pretty much invented the joystick. They even tried 3D with the Virtual Boy, but I'm sure they would like to forget that. The point I'm making is that I think Nintendo is trying to conpensate for the lack of innovation in games by innovating their hardware instead. And I applaud them for that, but in the end a controller is just a way of connecting you to the game. And no matter how impressive the Wii's motion controls were the first time you tried it, it is quickly turned arouned when you realize how much of pain in the ass it is to move all the f*cking time just to do something that is much easier to accomplish by just clicking a button, you know, like on normal controllers.

I better stop writing now, but I'm sure this will send a lot, I mean the 3 nintendo fanboys who actually reads this crap, into furious angry rage-comment mode. Too bad I disabled comments then:D

Here's a thought.

It's been a while since my last random rambling, but I just came up with an idea I though was rather clever. But first, some mandatory introduction.

Pre-orders seems to be all the rage these days, with retailers dishing out arbitrary privileges for those stu- I mean hopeful enough to think that a game will be everything they dreamed of and more. I'm not saying pre-orders aren't worth it, oh wait, that's exactly what I'm saying. You see pre-orders are usually used to ensure that a game will sell even if it's utter shait, but people were smart enough not to buy something before they knew it'd be worth it. That's when some bloak said; "What if we gave them some free junk that they could not get otherwise if they pre-ordered it". The concept seems fair enough (if you strike the junk part from that sentence), but here's the thing, The items are usually piss in a bucket (not literally), designed to look good on paper, to lure those stup- ehem, optimists in.

I never pre-order. Not because I'm unsatisfied with the benefits, but because I'm a cynic. I assume every game is a dirty pile of condoms until it proves that it isn't. There are exceptions, though. I pre-ordered Red Dead Redemption last year because it was the only way I could keep myself from spending all my money within the coming weeks. When I received the game, it came with a set of golden guns, which again, sounds good on paper, but is quickly turned around when I got a better gun about 2 hours in, which is about 15 minutes after the shooting started. There was also supposed to be a warhorse, but the game didn't feel like giving it to me so...

On to the damn topic, then. Maybe pre-orders could let you receive the game a couple of days in advance. That way it gives people some actual incentive to dish out an extra $10 for the pre-order (at GameStop at least). This is especially convenient if you've been anticipating the game for a long time, and I assume you have, otherwise, why the hell?

I guess my point could have been about 300 words shorter, but Hey!;)

Stealth as a game mechanic

Stealth has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to game mechanics. It's a nice departure from the usual "point guns on enemies untill they fall over" mindset that most games tend to lean towards. Stealth also seems like the more sensible approach, and most real life combat situations are heavily focused on getting what you want without being seen.

Sneaking past a variety of henchmen loaded to the teeth with the latest weapons and armor, gives you a great sense of arrogance and downright douchebaggery (It's a word now, deal with it!), but it also makes you feel vastly more powerful than an AK-47 ever will. The reason for this is helped a lot by games like Splinter Cell: Conviction and Batman (the good one), where enemies will practically pee their pants in anticipation as their buddies disappear one by one. Still, my favorite form of stealth is when going completely unnoticed, and when they know I'm there it takes some of the fun out of it, and it feels somewhat like a failure.

The reason for writing this was partly because of an article I read on GamesRadar called "Things I'm sick of games making me do". Among these were tedious chores like hacking and lockpicking, but also stealth in games that werent centered around it. Now, I like Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell as much as the next guy, but I seem to enjoy games where stealth aren't a core part of the experience to be as, and in some cases more enjoyable. Of course there are exceptions like Uncharted 2, but that is because it doesn't work well to begin with, and the enemy AI cocks it up anyway. On the other hand games like, Fallout 3 and Oblivion, I really like because it doesn't force you to be stealthy, and the environment isn't designed to be "stealth-friendly" like... say... Splinter Cell: Conviction.

What I love the most (probably) about being sneaky in for example Fallout 3, is that whenever I sneak past a super mutant or plant a grenade in someones pocket, I always feel like I'm cheating the system in some way. It's kind of difficult to put in writing, but it's really satisfying to murder an entire town without anyone ever knowing. It's like the perfect crime.

Dead Space 2 multiplayer idea.

Dead Space was a great game, but felt like it needed multiplayer to be truly awesome (only kidding). Dead Space 2, like many sequels these days (I.E: Bioshock 2, Uncharted 2), includes a multiplayer where you can play as both humans and necromorphs. While this may sound tacked on, it has some potential.

When I first heard about this, I kept thinking about Left 4 Dead and if they pull it off, this may be more than something you'll play for more than 5 minutes. My idea, however, was incorporating more horror into the game than saay L4D. The fact that enemies could feign their death was a nice feature to Dead Space, and it would be even more awesome doing that ourselves. Stealth could also be a big part, especially for the smaller, more fragile necromorphs.

That is all, I just felt like writing this down because if it does happen, I want you to know I f u c k i n' called it.

Stop complaining about online pass.

I know this is not exactly news, but EA has been trying to stop people from buying used games (or at least trying to cash in on it) by charging $10 to play online, unless you have a code that comes with every new copy. This, as with anything that costs money, has created a lot of controversy around the interwebs, as well as in my real-life community.

First of all, let me just say that buying used games does not support the developer, it supports Gamestop (or whatever...). no money is being forwarded to the people making the game, which, not only is unfair, but makes you a terrible, terrible person (only kidding... sort of.).

Secondly, It's not unfair that the people making the game feels entitled to the money you spend on it. It's quite the opposite, and I think that it's totally justified what they're doing. The only people that can complain about this are people who buys a lot of games used, and I'm not gonna judge people for buying used games, but the developer deserves that money, and this is the second best thing.

Third: It only affects online play, and you can still play single player without paying, and who really cares about online anyway? I can see games like CoD being really heavy on multiplayer, but most games use multiplayer sorely as a gimmick.

Well, that's my thoughts on the subject, and I'm sorry about the writing (spent like 3 minutes on this, and I'm too lazy to rephrase things).

Design matters.

I haven't had a lot to post about in a while, but in my last post I wrote about how I'm very interested in the Alienware m15x. I told my friends about it, and to my surprise, they started ranting about how it's expensive and that I could get an equaly good computer for two thirds the price. First of all, I know that. I'm not stupid, I did my research and I know that they charge a lot for the design and all that, but what's wrong with that? I mean, we buy clothes, cars and many other products based sorely on how they look, so why should computers be any different? It shouldn't in my opinion.

I've had about 3 laptops in my time, and they've all looked prety generic. As a result, I grew tired of them faster because I wasn't impressed with what I saw. It doesn't matter that it has the latest tech under the hood, because I'm still looking at a black boring brick of a system. Granted, I do care about the performance, but why can't I have both a good looking and a techinically impressive piece of hardware? The answer for that is; I can, and I can't wait

On PC gaming and Alienware m15x

I´ve been pretty much ignoring the PC aspect of gaming ever since I quit playing WoW. Owning both the Xbox 360 and Ps3, I have rarely found myself in need of a third system. But I do need a computer, and since my current PC is dead as of writing, the search for a replacement have peeked my interest in a whole "new" dimension of gaming.

At first I thought of getting some cheap junk that would manage my daily internet browsing and schoolwork etc. Then I realized that why settle for bronze when gold is within grasp, because I have quite a bit of money that was originally going towards a car but fuk it. So I decided to go for a reasonably priced gaming laptop. Why a laptop? Because I love having my computer sitting on my lap when I do stuff, I bought a stationary PC back when I was really committed to WoW, but I found myself borrowing my brothers computer to the point where WoW and Steam was installed on it... Under my name ofc...

A friend of mine recently bought an Alienware m15x for 12 000 NOK (do the math), which is significantly less than what I expected for a brand that´s pretty much synonymous with PC gaming. I went over to his house to test it (as well as a number of other friendly activities). We tested MW2, Borderlads and L4D2, all ran smoothly on the highest graphical settings, running at over 50 FPS. We also tested GTA 4 which, unfortunately, chopped a bit at highest graphical performance, but when we scaled it down a bit, it ran smoothly.

So, I´m fairly certain that I will purchase the Alienware m15x as soon as I´m financially able, but I doubt I´ll be gaming sorely on PC from now on. PC´s are great for shooters because of the amount of precision, as for RTS´s and MMO´s because of the number of buttons and macros etc, but I still prefer a controller for most games. It will be nice, though, to buy a 75% off game at Steam, and actually be able to run it (Braid and Monkey Island is still just wasted space in my library).

Ideas for the 3DS

E3 is long gone, and we´re stepping into the period where we know of all this great stuff coming out, but most of it is in the distant future. Maybe the biggest surprise of the show was the 3DS, and though us involved gamers knew about the existence of a 3D compatible DS beforehand, we were shocked when we heard how great it works. Even though most people (including me) haven´t seen it in action, I doubt everyone else were lying about its functionality. Now, I know the big selling point is the 3D, but I´ve crafted some ideas on how it can improve on the already existing DS.

Socializing: Sites like Facebook and Twitter have become enormously successful these last couple of years, and both Sony and Microsoft has tried to cash in on the phenomenon. The thing is: People don´t want to update their profiles or check friends´photos on their Xbox or Playstation when they have a perfectly fine computer in the same room, which is exactly why it would work perfectly on the 3DS. Being as it is a portable system, people are going to bring it places like the bus or on vacation where they can´t use their computers, but they might have a 3DS with them. You could upload 3D images to Twitter and other people with 3DS´s sould see them, the touch screen makes it easy to type unlike on Xbox, and Facebook is already very popular on iPhone, so why the hell not?

3D movies: Movie theatres are becomming less important now that everyone owns a 50 inch TV with surround sound in their living room (ok, not everyone), which is why movie companies are making movies in 3D to try and make people forget that there´s no real reason not to just wait for the movie to come out on blu ray. If Nintendo makes an online movie service via the 3DS, or strikes a deal with Netflix or Hulu or something, we could watch Avatar in full 3D on the toilet if we want. And not only 3D movies, but regular ones as well.

Casual it up!: Being the hardcore gamer that I am, the word "Casual" makes me die a little inside, but that´s exactly the kind of games the 3DS needs. Why? Well, the whole concept of handhelds is based around being able to play whereever you go. Say I´m on a bus, I don´t want to play deep immersive games, I wanna play the in-and-out games that I can play for five minutes before doing whatever I was doing. I´m not saying they should focus sorely on the casual market, but let´s face it, a lot of the people who´s gonna buy will be the casual gamers. Nintendo should open their own casual games online store, kinda like the iPhone app store. Sell the games for $1-10 a pop, and everyone´s happy.

Quality over price: The tag line says it all, I would rather have a pricy device that´s great, than something cheap and underdeveloped. Put in a better camera, implement better Wi-Fi functionality, maybe an ethernet port if they are serious about online, upgrade the graphics card (which already looks a lot better than the DSi), and make a solid joypad (I haven´t tried it, but if it´s gonna be used a lot, it should be better than the PSP one).

Final words: At the time of writing, I have unfortunately forgot some ideas I had when I first started to think about this (on the bus actually), but my key points got through and hopefully the 3DS will be as magnificent as we all dream about. One last thing, though.

The design: this is a really small point, but I don´t care much for the design of the 3DS. It looks clunky, and not likely to fit in my front pocket in any comfortable way, so sleeker design will be my final words on the topic. Sleeker design.

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