Machiko_Mech / Member

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Machiko_Mech Blog

For every blog post title, a reference to a prolonged absence.

Well, I'm rarely away so long that I need to construct an outline for a returning post...

To begin, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I had very high hopes going in given my love for the series, the original in particular. I am rarely satisfied with sequels to games for which I have so much love, so it was to my delight that this game proved an exception to that rule. Terrific on all the important fronts: the graphics are terrific, with regards to everything in both fore-and-background. I was very impressed with the aesthetic choices and direction: the buildings, the weapons...everything looks right. More refined than they were in preceding games, but without looking so far from them as to seem alien or out of place for the series. Though some civilians looked a little plain (I think I saw a couple of recycled faces), it was not an unacceptable thing. The story was also quite good and was possessed of a twist that, while not quite as big as one I can think of in the original, still managed to blindside me in an enjoyable sort of way. Virtually every element of the gameplay, especially with something of a return to distribution of skill points rather than the dumbed down system present in Invisible War. The voice acting was quite good; when I originally looked into the history of the voice actor who performed Jensen's voice I felt I had cause for worry, but that was quickly assuaged as I began playing. All in all, everything satisfied. I am very fond of the Thief series as well, it's next coming down Eidos Montreal's pipeline; knowing now that the series is in such competent hands is quite the relief.

I've been somewhat busy with remakes lately; I picked up the MGS HD Collection and played through the second game, I'll return to Snake Eater later. Honestly, I somewhat wish I hadn't picked it up; the controls especially, have not aged well. Neither have a number of gameplay concepts...it's consistently frustrating to be spotted because...well, I think Gabe of Penny-Arcade put it best in describing the switch from sneaking to combat as passing through "some ****-greased chute into a dungeon for bad players."

For now, I've begun actively sprinting through Halo: Anniversary and am eagerly awaiting the Silent Hill HD Collection (the third entry is one of my favorite games). All developers should hope that their games hold up visually as well as SH3 does...the characters in particular still look and animate spectacularly. I've also played through Gears of War 3, finding it to be the best in the series by a comfortable margin (thumbs up for the inclusion of female Gears). The refinement of Horde mode in particular is deserving of praise: a perfect extension of the improvised player behavior of its last incarnation. The story as well, was much improved, not that one had to worry; it was always going to be in good hands with Karen Traviss. I've also sunk hundreds of hours into Skyrim, four characters in all so far, some used more than others. I never was able to get into playing as an archer in Oblivion, but in Skyrim that play route has made for a very satisfying adventure.

On that front, I purchased a new S model 360...my old model had long since run very short on HDD space and my power brick was making some very interesting noises on startup. I find that I like the new dashboard more than the last...they do always seem to make improvements to the formula that suit my tastes. And finally, on the handheld front, I bought and very much liked Aliens: Infestation. It's similarity to my beloved Metroid certainly contributed to this...and though I found the story a little lacking, I enjoyed almost everything else about the title...but not the length. It was, as most reviews of it will tell you, quite brief. I may replay it soon, though I'm now starting to turn my eyes towards the immediate future: Silent Hill HDC, Resident Evil: Revelations, Mass Effect 3...do I suspect another long blog absence?

EDIT: Picked up a 3DS game called Mighty Switch Force - a bit short, but balanced against very enjoyable gameplay, charming graphics, good music and SFX, a little brevity I can tolerate.

Patches can heal all wounds and other absentee nonsense

I don't exactly recall when it was that the Dragon Age II patch that fixed the problem much bemoaned in my last blog entry was released, suffice it to say that since its release I have kept busy. I've played through Dragon Age II almost five times since then and have long since pardoned early problems. It has been so long that all the gaming experiences I enumerate here that have taken place since my last entry will necessarily be somewhat summary in nature.

Hunted the Demon's Forge was, despite what reviews might tell you, tremendously fun. There were a few technical foibles certainly and since I, needing ready cash for another game was forced to grit my teeth and sell it back, can't tell you about replay value I shall simply say that it was a very enjoyable experience. The characters were a bit more likable than most reviews I've read state them to be, though I did find myself grinding my teeth whenever their dialogue strays toward the risque. But the gameplay was solid in most areas, the combat satisfying and the story sufficient.

I also played Alice: Madness Returns about which I can scarcely summon any complaint. Though I have read complaints in some quarters about the quality of the graphics, I think they made the right choice with regard to what they show and how they show it to you; I do not know that I could be made to believe that being able to see characters' pores in this game would have been to the title's artistic benefit. What some think of as bland textures I see as being appropriately detailed within the terms of the larger visual framework. The end result is a game that often looks like a well detailed and in-motion watercolor painting. The gameplay was also quite satisfying, albeit I must honestly confess that I think the game was an appropriate length; I suspect that combat gameplay was on the verge of providing diminishing returns as far as entertainment value is concerned. Speaking of time, I was surprised at how long the game was, or at least how long the game felt...the original seems so short by comparison.

Also, going against at least on previous proclamation to the contrary, I wound up becoming an early 3DS adopter. The call of good RE titles was too much for me to overcome it seems. I will say that I wish I had been possessed of the fortitude to resist the 3DS's siren song for a couple more months so that I might have benefited from this price cut. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries is good fun as you would expect, but I didn't expect that it would be the most exciting handheld experience I've ever had. Yes, it could have used more content.

I replayed most of Resident Evil 5 and part of Oblivion, I went through Costume Quest and its expansion (quite fun, if simple). Third Birthday may have been one of my greatest disappointments; I really did have high hopes for it. But finicky unsatisfying combat met with the evisceration of Aya Brea as a solid character made for a terrible entry. Dungeon Siege III was short and not particularly engaging, Portal 2 was very engaging but equally brief.

I'm extremely excited both for the near release of Deus Ex 3 (especially with the new reviews that have cropped up) as well as the far releases of Skyrim and Mass Effect 3. The news that the FemShep community has proved sufficient in both size and dedication to warrant some love in the form of not only a box appearance but an upcoming trailer was extremely welcome news - indeed, I find it hard to properly quantify my excitement in this matter. I suppose it would be simplest just to say, 'we made it.' I should also express my anger at the fact that some persons involved can't be happy with that achievement. Rampant indictments of all blonde women as abject fools made in the name of supposed feminism is neither intelligent nor accurate. To be blunt, it is one of the most singularly bigoted, vile proclamations I have ever observed. The claim that someone, because of the combination of their gender and hair color would not be able to prove to be an individual worthy of honor and respect, a person of integrity who was genuinely interesting is sheer absurdity of the highest possible order.

As Tycho of Penny-Arcade did well to point out, we are not speaking of an empty head or boring personage: Shepard's accomplishments speak for themselves, everything else is irrelevant. One cannot therefore put forward criticisms of her on that basis without a base opinion that consists as follows: no blonde woman can be a valid or noteworthy individual of worth. No matter what they do - if they save the universe twice (we hope three times) it would be insufficient to redeem them from the realm of scorn in which they are perceived to belong. Because of hair color. It seems from what I've seen throughout this discourse is that most people don't seem to be analyzing the attacks on blonde FemShep to the point where they realize the bigotry at the core of it. Those who do come to recognize it find themselves for some reason only slightly moved by it. Well, if you require assistance in that matter, take 'color of hair' and replace the word hair with skin. Even if on the hair basis you are not struck by it, by juxtaposing skin you can at least begin to understand the sheer irredeemable idiocy that is the mainstay of such a person's argument against her.

Continuing on -

Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse is quite good, I'm about halfway through it so far. Telltale did well in bringing the graphics forward a bit; it had definitely become necessary. Tried out Gods Eater Burst and while I like the character creation, the gameplay was something of a flaming wreck, the single stick of the psp really kills it before it can even get off the ground. My brother loaned me LA Noire and, like every single Rockstar game that came before it, my interest stalled out after only a couple of sessions of play.

Well, in any event I'm glad I'll not have to see 'March' at the header on the last blog entry anymore. Good gaming all.

A short anecdote on why not to rush games to market

DISCLAIMER: I am not enough of a blowhard to suspect that there is even the slightest chance that anyone from Bioware will read the following post. On an entirely unrelated note, Bella Nunita, that transgendered girl on Thailand's got talent was crazy beautiful. *AHEM* Now then:

I picked up Dragon Age 2 on launch day and played for 15 hours straight. Unfortunately I have come to find some +15 hours after reaching that first milestone, that I have in fact been punished for my purchase of the so-called Signature edition. A tip to those companies that put out deluxe editions of any of their products: make sure that your bonus content is bug free. It is a far greater...well, sin (believe me, I hesitate to use that word) to punish only the people who have shelled out extra money for your product by leaving said extra element of the aforementioned product anything other than bug free. Though, to be fair, they may have wound up messing around with their regular customers as well; both Sebastian, a DLC character and Isabela, a base character can cause corruption of the save file (if you make friends of them and then remove them from your party you recieve a permanent hit to your damage resistance, this can happen multiple consecutive times until the game has been rendered unplayably difficult). Ugh...pardon my venting. But I don't enjoy that I now need to wait months for a patch to be released just to continue playing.

Insert Tremendous Posting Absence HERE _____________________

Well, I've not been on here (in a blog-writing capacity) for an immense period of time. I've played plenty in the meantime...enough that it would scarcely admit summarization. So, on to the more recent, I suppose. Hard Corps: Uprising is a tremendous entry for the Contra series in my opinion; granted that opinion's source of origin is not generally a fanatic for it. I played the original Hard Corps, it was a tremendously punishing game, but it was posessed a similar unique property; unlike many other games which are punishingly difficult, this game does indeed provide a feeling of success and satisfaction upon completion of the endeavor. In the case of virtually every other game I can think of that substitutes difficulty for overall gameplay depth, I can think of only two games that provide that sensation rather than merely being relegated to a scrap heap of infuriation engines and they both belong to this series. I do not know how many, if indeed any, people who worked on the original also labored to create this successor title but, either way, a similar sublime balance has been achieved.

Gran Turismo 5 surprised me to a degree - I had almost bought the game for its graphics alone. I have a peculiar need to experience games of the racing variety once every year or so - the desire is quite intense, the last time I fell under its spell was in the case of PGR4. To be frank, I'm surprised at how much I have been able to adapt (not patting my own back there) to playing, much of that being attributable to the lengths to which one can customize one's vehicle, the tires being perhaps the most impactful. Though I can share to some degree a gripe I have heard from many others, that of recycled material (and my own biggest complaint, the failure of PD to bring back the Seattle Circuit), I must say that the problems feel almost trivial. I have finally arrived at this series - in a way it was always rather intimidating and my (extremely limited) exposure to the series before now helped it attain a sort of impenetrable aura; this is a simulation, not a game,,,you are not capable of embracing what this game entails and meeting with success. To be frank, I'm glad I'm over it. Now if only they'll fix this museum problem I'm having...

I can only hope that they'll add Seattle via DLC but the aforementioned hopes are quite slim indeed; all this talk from Kazunori Yamauchi about DLC was infected with something of an air of distaste ("we're making a complete product." and all that).

In any event hope all persons on the old friends list are doing well. Until next time.

"Spending Time in Preparation"

Five or six days, I happened upon Xbox copies of Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow - who knows when I purchased them, but I know I never got around to playing them somehow. In any event, having loved Chaos Theory and Double Agent and being excited to play the upcoming Conviction I was very pleased to stumble upon this treasure trove. I've played through them both in the past several days not unlike my cruise through Metroid Trilogy and I've settled upon the idea that I like playing specifically through a franchise with little outside interruption.

With more time in on Final Fantasy XIII, I think that if it continues as such I might place it somewhere in the middle amongst its siblings...apologies for the short entry, but I'm equally short on time at the moment. More later.

Final Fantasy XIII preliminary thoughts

Well, the most recent Final Fantasy experience has arrived and I've noticed a couple of things where I am at about 3 hours in. The first of which is that I believe this is the first Final Fantasy game which I actually picked up in short order after it's release; in the case of Final Fantasy IX and earlier, I was kind of too young to actually make a purchase. In the case of X, at the time it was released, I didn't have a PS2. When XI was released, I still didn't have a PS2 and what's more, I don't know if there's a game in the franchise I could care about less. That is to say, MMORPGs that have monthly subscriptions...well, the concept, in the words of William Shatner "it sickens me." With Final Fantasy XII, I believe I got it six months after it came out shortly after I picked up a PS2 (yes, yes I was late to that party).

The second and third thoughts have slipped from my mind as I am too drunk. Maybe I'll edit later.

EDIT:

Second thought came to me - I'm glad that before playing this I warmed up by getting in some FFXII - it gave me a sort of calm with regards to achievements; the few I've gotten have passed almost entirely without notice...it was a bit more carefree of a time, playing without any regard or worry for such things. Playing a game where I just made progress an no such things had to come into consideration made it a little less tense of an experience than it might have been otherwise.

Absence, Updates.

Final Fantasy XIII is but a hairsbreadth away...though I can't afford to get both versions now (I'll be getting the 360 version for starters) I will eventually own both in the future. I plan to buy the next RE5 DLC as soon as it's available (Lost in Nightmares was good, if a little insubstantial) as it looks like it will be more in line with the game itself. Darkside Chronicles is OK, I recognize that I mostly bought it out of weakness: I've desperately wanted Capcom to make a remake in the same vein as the original REmake, one of my favorite games on the Gamecube. While it does look quite good, the camera can be truly maddening, as the on-rails shooter genre often is for me: it removes large elements of control from the player and with little or no discernable improvement in other areas; it is not a trade-off, it is generally only to the game's detriment. In the case of Darkside Chronicles, it does add a small element of fear, but there's not enough benefit to make the sacrifice of being able to hit what you aim at worth it.

I just found out (I don't know how I didn't come about this piece of information earlier) that PSP games are region free, meaning I'm going to have to drop $60 on Darius Burst rather than just hoping that TAITO will release it here after Darius has had so long an absence on the market. I can still hope I suppose. I'll try to update sooner next time.

Dragon Age - the 50th Hour

I do believe I've come within spitting distance of the end of the game. Though it starts a little rough (balancing your party's opinions of you and such), it goes from feeling overwhelming, almost suffocating, to the norm; the burden just seems to dissapear as you grow accustomed to it. That said, it's not an entirely well stuctured lesson; in the beginning you may find yourself reloading several times to get the best outcome, which can spoil the feeling of it all.

To those of you who may have not yet witnessed this, it may well be the only thing of equality to emerge from the Rogue Warrior game.

On a short side note, Wet is a good deal of fun, with both great voice talent and a perfectly suited soundtrack to boot. The gameplay is fun, though I must ask myself how long it will remain so...I suspect it will last at least until I've wrapped the game up.

Machinarium complete, Dragon Age 20hrs and counting...

Machinarium was a very solid game. Not only did the gameplay avoid growing dull (as can sometimes happen with adventure games, at least for me) but more impressively, it managed to remain consistently charming throughout. I found out that it's marketing budget was something like $1,000...and more interesting to me, is the fact that the dev team consisted of a scant seven people...here's hoping those fellows do well. At the very least, the fact that the games review made the main bulletin on the PC page (I don't know whether or not it's still there). With any luck that will give them something of a sales boost and by the quality of the game they've turned out I feel they certainly deserve it. Oh, the other thing was that they financed it with their own savings. Geez...

I'm a sliver over 20 hours into Dragon Age...I took it up on the PC after the PS3 rendition fell well short of my expectations in a couple of key areas. When it looks better, plays better and runs better on my PC (which only makes the minimum requirements, not the recommended)...well, what is the point of the console iteration for me? The textures are watered down on the PS3, which makes the fact that the camera gets choppy just spinning around your character while standing in place that more egregious. What's more, the gameplay has more depth on PC...much of which stems from a different pace of combat and a screen length bar on which to place skills and items for quick selection and use. I suppose there's not much use in describing it all...gamespot /gameinformer etc. have all brought all those things to light already. In any event, the game is excellent in every element of its execution; just as I had, to be frank, expected (it is Bioware...).

More later, likely tomorrow.

Reading blocks...

Once every year or so, I begin to read again. The way I go about reading is multiple books in a tight-knit timeline, with a veritable drought following that chunk of time. Such as it is, within the past three weeks I have read the Thrawn trilogy (astonishingly, given how many Star Wars books I've read, I never read the trilogy that is generally considered the pinnacle of expanded universe prose) - five collections of Star Wars: Knights of the Old republic (the comics), Star Wars Omnibus: Tales of the Jedi (vol. 1). I'm currently working on rereading Star Wars: Specter of the Past, running through a graphic novel called Whiteout that I picked up because it looked interesting (and found out that it had a movie based on it that was a sound flop) Star Wars: The Paradise Snare and Knights of the Old Republic vol. 6...on the menu for the near future and KotOR vol. 7, Starcraft: Ghost, Star Wars: The Hutt Gambit, Star Wars: Rebel Dawn, Star Wars: Visions of the Future, Battlestar Galactica Classics...the Lando Calrissian trilogy (old, but will undoubtedly be somewhat entertaining and perhaps funny, as some of the older SW books are; see Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind's Eye)...

What types of books do you all read? And just as interestingly, do any of you read in blocks as well? Or regularly? Not at all?