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Dark Souls Prepare To Die edition


I'm quite thrilled after having picked up recently the PC version of Dark Souls, "Dark Souls. Prepare To Die" and I thought to share with you my first impressions.

After I installed the game and logged in to my GFWL account to activate the game, I noticed that in the PC version you don't really have the option to play the game offline, unless you use a local account and not a GFWL account. If you want to play the game via your main account that has all your achievements, your profile etc, you can only play it online. Meaning: play the game with a PvP style, getting invaded frequently and also summon allies to help you with battles. I'm a "lone wolf" and never play this way, I always play Dark Souls alone and without help, or invasions. I prefer it that way. So I can only play it with a local account that I created just for this reason. Not particularly happy about it, but not much of a problem either. I will just not score any achievements for this game. I think I can live with that.

Secondly, I tried to play the game with the keyboard and mouse, to see if it's any possible. After some practice I managed to reach the first easy boss of the game, where sadly I couldn't do much. I got used rather quickly to move with the WASD keys, control the camera with the mouse, strike with the LMB, but I simply couldn't simultaneously use the dodge button, which is crucial in this game. Also switching between weapons and spells is crucial for my style of play, which is assigned to other keys, and also consume potions, cycle betwen items etc, which are also important if you want to survive in later much harder boss battles. I guess theoretically it's doable for players that are used to play with the keyboard, but in my case this method is useless. When I switched to the controller I immediately beat the monster. I think this game, as most action games with complex commands, is meant to be played with a controller. If for some reason you don't plan to play it with a controller, be prepared for a hard task, or don't bother at all.

About graphics and resolution. Maybe it's just me, but honestly I didn't see any problem, the game looks fine. I even read somewhere in the web, that "if it wasn't for a mod that fixed the resolution problem the game would look like a PS2 title." I think it's just as good as the PS3/Xbox360 version. Perhaps I will try myself sometime later the mod, but I don't think it's so much needed.

About the frame rate. I guess I need to reach first Blightown to be able to tell, so I don't know. I read in a review that the situation is a little better, but the problem is not entirely fixed.

The game can run decently in a twin core average laptop with 800 X 600 resolution and also 1280 X 720 but with a slight, yet noticeable slowdown in cut-scenes. In a quadraple core desktop computer it can run without problem up to 1980 x1020 resolution. If I remember correctly it says on the back cover of the game that it has been optimized to run in quadraple core processors.

One good thing about this edition is that you have the option to make a full installation to the HDD and not have to use the dvd after that, which I always appreciate as a collector, since I hate the idea of wearing out the cd/dvd of games that I play for very long sessions.

Prepare To Die is a special edition that comes in a big box. It contains an art booklet which doesnt interest me, a poster that doesn't interest me, some postcards with characters from the game that don't interest me (lol), a "Behind the Game" dvd which does interest me, but I found rather poor, and another disk with the soundtrack of the game. That last one is the only extra that I like, since the game has beautiful music. Of course there are extra chapters in the game, extra bosses, new weapons and spells and other stuff that will come as a dlc for consoles in late October.

So in conclusion, if you love the game, I recommend you to pick up this pc version, which is pretty much funtional in general, unless you can wait until October for the consoles version. Personally I think I will do both. :-)

TEH updates!

In one of my many internet-quarells about the new trend-the new threat I call it- against gamers that is called Steam/Valve (a.k.a the "good cop", where the "bad cop" are all the other DRM based services) I remember someone very tactfully called me idiot because I said that I refuse to pay full price for a game and yet have to be online to be able to play it. I don't want to feel that I'm allowed to play my game. It's mine, I own it and I want to play it any time, with or without internet connection unconditionally. "You idiot, don't you know that there is an offline mode in Steam too?" Well, he has a point there, Steam does have offline mode. So Steam is not that obnoxious after all, right?

Recently I happened to be in a place without internet connection, so I thought that it would be a good opportunity to test that offline mode and play Portal 2. Yeah, let's play Portal 2, high quality entertainment for the next couple of hours! But Steam had a different opinion. To be able to play the game, I first needed to download the necessary update... So that's where the catch is, you can play any game offline, as long as we the Valve/Steam, haven't prepared any sweet little update for you. He, he,he. Update is good. It's for your own good. But, but...you said that I can play my games in offline mode! Let me play my 50 Euros/USD game whenever I want damn it! -No, absolutely not! Update first. Update, update, update! you listen? Update, and we will be friends again.

Well in that case, I have prepared myself a little update for Steam:

"You ridiculous little thieves! Stop that fairytale already, that you are supposedly better than the others. You are all the same **** Gaming world would have been a so much better place without you, or the likes of you. You all want to control my play with any possible means. So you will never get a rusted escudo from me again."

Some facts about the Silent Hill HD Collection

Yesterday after a small research on the internet about the unparalleled fiasco of the Silent Hill HD Collection, I came upon one very enlightening article in 1Up, about the process that is followed in the making of the HD remakes.

As many bloggers and fans have pointed out, the most revealing part of this article is this phrase from Tomm Hulett (producer of SH: Origins and Shattered Memories) when he answers about the Silent Hill HD Collection's problems. "We got all the source code that Konami had on file -- which it turns out wasn't the final release version of the games! [..] Ten years ago, a lot of game companies assumed the games were 'done' once development finished, and that they wouldn't need to use that data ever again."

So in other words, the Silent Hill HD Collection was based on incomplete beta versions of the games! That explains the big delay of seven months and some inexplicable problems that appeared in those remakes and that totally ruined the experience of playing a Silent Hill game, and from many aspects made them look inferior to the PS2 originals. That explains the patch on Day 1 of the release, and the upcoming patch that Konami promised. And Hulett continues: "During debug we didn't just have to deal with the expected 'porting' bugs, but also had to squash some bugs that the original team obviously removed prior to release, but we'd never seen before. [...] and I think at one point Heather (from SH 3) was..blue!"

What it doesn't explain is why Konami agreed to go ahead with this project. Why did they risk their reputation? And why they didn't cancel it once they realized what they were dealing with, or at least postpone it until the problems were properly dealt with, if those could be fixed that is. And why this serious project of the remake was assigned to...Jinx Games? The answer is: Indifference? Hope for easy money? Hope that things wouldn't turn out to be so bad after all? Hope that lady Luck would somehow protect them? I don't know. But I do know that this isn't Konami anymore, it's a shadow of its former self.

It's the same Konami that assigned the development of Downpour to an unknown team of developers, with the name "Vatra Games" that had only one game prior to Downpour in their record. It's the same Konami that allowed the main theme of Downpour to be performed by a universally unknown metal band named Korn.(while in previous games the music cover was the work of the inspired musician Akira Yamaoka) It's the same Konami that, as Jim Sterling pointed out with this video, they sceduled all their big releases of 2012, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (for Europe), Silent Hill HD Collection, Silent Hill: Downpour, and the Silent Hill: Book of Memories for the PS Vita to be out at the same time, all in a period of fifteen days in March..

Besides the HD remakes story, I had found some time ago an article in the Playstation Blog about the re-releases of the PS1 Classics on the PSN. It says there some interesting facts about the porting process, the bugs and the legal obstacles with the licences that have expired, which explains at the end why so few of those games found their way in the Playstation Store. Here is the link if anyone is interested.

Xbox 360: Final report.

On August of 2008 I bought an Xbox 360 unit with 10 GB storage memory. There were two reasons that lead me to this decision. First, there were no more decent new games for the PS2 and I needed to play games! (if you know what I mean. lol) not bad excuses for games and crappy ports from the newer and more powerful consoles. Second, the market proposition of Microsoft at that time was significantly more attractive than that of Sony PS3: 100 Euros cheaper, bigger library of games, and since Sony stopped the production of all the PS2 backwards compatible units, I had no reason to get a PS3 so that I could have one machine and play all my PS games from PS1 to PS3. Also in 2008 pc gaming was not so easily accesible, or affordable as it is today, where you can play now almost any game on an average laptop. So I chose the Xbox 360. (later I got a PS3 too..)

My very first Xbox game was Halo 3. I had no idea what game to buy with the new console so the employee in the electronics store suggested me to buy Halo 3. He said to me: "this game is fantastic, you will not believe in your eyes!" Indeed that game was fantastic. But with one note: you had to have some previous experience with shooters and with the series too. It proved to be a fantastic experience that ended too soon and with frustration. And motion sickness.

Over the time I slowly built a good collection of games. I started from the Xbox 360 Classics, like Command & Conquer 3, Dead Rising, Mass Effect, NFS: Carbon, GTA 4 and Forza Motorsport 2. A new world revealed itself before my eyes. A crystal clear and colourful world. At the same time I bought a flat TV set and I learnt some new words and new meanings like High Definition, Full High Definition, HD Ready, 1080i, high resolution, HDMI cable, composite cable, blue, green, red, white and red again cables, LCD TV, etc.

The Xboxmania lasted for about a year. Then slowly the PS3 became my first choice for new games. The reason: Truth to be told I never stopped to be a Sony boy. So when the PS3 library of games became bigger and a lot of exciting new exclusives hit the stores in 2009, I lost myself playing for endless hours with games like Demon's Souls, Uncharted and inFamous. However I kept playing games for the Xbox 360. And why not? Two great systems are better than one.

2011 was the year of overload. I started playing pc games too on my new computer, and I even bought a Wii. The latter didn't last for more than a month. Games, games, games everywhere and all the time. The Xbox 360 was not my first choice, but it was there waiting to be switched on. The last couple of games that I played on the X360 were games that I have already played on the PS3 and wanted to replay them. That was a sign that I couldn't easily find an Xbox exclusive game that interests me enough.

2012 was the year of no games. I rarely played any PS3 games these six months and almost none for the Xbox 360. The last game that I played on the Xbox 360 was Alan Wake. A survival horror game that I was curious to play for a long time, but I was always playing something else and didn't find the time. I enjoyed it for as long as I played it, but didn't finish it. And not because I didn't like it. But anyway.

So as a final report for the Xbox 360:

I played it from August 2008 until April 2012.

I currently own 47 retail copies of games (I traded a ton of others) and 8 digitally distributed from the Xbox Live Market.

I finished 34 games.

I earned 24.180 Game Points.

I achieved 100% completion in two games: Silent Hill: Homecoming and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

I also reached 950 points in Saw, 900 in Dead Rising 2, and 875 in Dark Souls.

From the records that Raptr keeps I see that I have spent:

Dark Souls: 159 hours, Dead Rising 2: 67h, Forza Motorsport 3: 52h, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: 49h, Fable III: 48h, Mass Effect 2: 48h and Plants vs Zombies: 40h.

As a final note I have to admit that I was one of the lucky owners that their Xbox 360 didn't break. I don't know how this happened. It overheated countless times, my cat used to sleep on it and cover with her fur the ventilation holes. Many nights I had fallen asleep and had forgotten it open. I always shut it down with the disk inside the tray and then booted it with the game in. (which is forbidden) It even fell once on the floor. Also I used one controller these four years, the one that came with the console, I never had to replace it. One could say the normal is not to break, no need to celebrate because your expensive Chinese console didn't die on you with a RROD; but things have changed dramatically that last decade I'm afraid.

So, thank you for all that fun and the good memories. Not exactly saying goodbye, you never know, but goodbye for now.

Peaceful gaming

Here is the situation: For the past couple of months I can't play any game. For personal reasons that are not related with gaming, I'm not in the mood to play games like I used to. I can't grab anymore the controller and play a 3d person shooter, or an rpg with dialogues and stuff. The only thing that I imagine I could play is point n' click adventures, or strategy games, preferably slow paced, or so called casual games, match three of a kind. etc. So I'm looking for "calm" games, I don't mind if they are deep, but I can't handle any pressure. Do you have any suggestions? Preferably for the PC, for economy reasons and convinience reasons, to sit relaxed and play on my laptop, but also for the PS3, PSP and DS, if you have something good in mind. Thanks!

And because I already own a ridiculously big number of games, there are chances that I already have it, but haven't given much attention to it, so hopefully I will not have to spend any money. :)

Also two days ago I made a short fan-video about Final Fantasy VII which I posted on YouTube. Please if you have the time and you are interested, watch it and tell me what you think about it, even if you didn't like it, so that I can make a better one in the future. (Also I hope I don't end up in prison because for the making of this video I shamelessly stole content of others.) :P

The fiasco of Sony press conference

Firstly to make myself clear, I didn't watch the other companies'...press conferences in this year's E3 event and I'm not interested to do so. I despise most video games companies, I could never stand and watch all this massive corporate bull.. and the violation of a medium that I love in live broadcast; the only three companies that I'm not allergic to, for the time being, are Sony, Konami and Capcom. I don't have any illusions for these three either, but let's say that I have fond memories from their games all these years.

The show started with a generic video clip showing scenes from generic shooters, generic Little BigPlanet scenes, generic sports simulators blended with Playstation Move TM and PS Vita TM scenes in slow motion, no doubt as a reminder of our duties as consumers. When this video ended at last Jack Tretton, president of Sony America, made his appearance on the stage all excited and slightly out of breath stating that: "if this video didn't get your heart pumping, then you came in the wrong place!" [the audience didn't respond...] No Jack, we came in the right place, but perhaps you all are working in the wrong job. Have you considered working in a bank perhaps, or as a car seller, or in real estate?

Next he made a small introduction about a new IP, "Beyond Two Souls", David Cage's new obsession- pardon me, game, showing a frame with Sony's three most iconic heroes: Nathan Drake, Cole McGrath and Solid Snake! What?? What do Nathan Drake and Cole McGrath have to do with Snake being in the same picture?! It's like taking a picture of Pele, next to Beckham and Roy Keane. And where are Crash Bandicoot and Lara Croft, or even the sadistic butcher Kratos, he is more iconic than Cole McGrath. Truth to be told, inFamous was the pleasant surprise of 2009 and Cole was a decent character, interesting one could say, but honestly there is nothing more. Especially after the disappointing sequel I thought the inFamous franchise was pretty much dead.

Next, we had the Playstation Plus and Playstation Vita propaganda part. As a gesture of appreciation towards the fans, Jack revealed that all those people that were in the hall watching the press conference will get one year of free Playstation Plus membership! Wow! And again wow! How generous on behalf of Sony! And...if I may ask, what is the impact of this gesture for us? Why should we care? What exactly is the message to all those Sony products consumers and gamers? No discount, no gesture of good will for all you millions of people. You lose! You get nothing! Because you didn't show the devotion that those 800 crusaders of Sony showed to us. The rest of you still have a hope: Try to find a seat in the next year's E3 show, and you won't be disappointed. Because only true fidelity counts for us.

Jack Tretton revealed another sensational news for Vita owners. They will have access to PSOne Classics! At last that unsolvable problem for the last four months finally found its solution. PS Vita users can now play in this holiday two whole PS1 games: Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy VII. Isn't that fantastic? Why stick with the old PSP where you have access to hundreds of PS1 titles, while you can move to the new and exciting world of Vita and enjoy two, not one but two, PS1 games?

A boring series of game-play exhibition followed, from various games, not much different from a typical "On The Spot" episode. In fact the GameSpot show with Chris Watters is much more interesting and entertaining. The last video that was shown was about "The Last Of Us", a new IP from Naughty Dog. All the way I thought that I was watching a game-play video from an improved version of Uncharted and Nathan Drake with beard, only to realize at the end that it was about a new game. That last video left me with a good impression. It also explained why Uncharted 3 was so weak compared to the previous two installments of the series. Naughty Dog developers put all their creativity and enthusiasm to "The Last of Us". Well, I wished this was Uncharted 3. The series surely deserved something better than the actual U3 that we played last year.

Cole McGrath the most iconic character of Playstation!! I can't swallow this. Anyway, take care.

PS3 is hot! Literally.

SONY PS3, the hottest console ever! Here is the proof: My cat chooses always the strongest source of heat in the house to sleep on to it. I just can't take her away from it. And even if I do it momentarily, she will come back to it in a matter of seconds.

(I hope the viewers of this page to be able to see the photo to understand what I mean. I'm a fan-boy, but not up to that extend.)

Resident Evil 3

Long time no see!

So many things have happened the last six months, I don't know where to begin from. But I prefer to talk only about games, our common interest and favourite hobby.

The last week I finished a little "project" that I had in my mind for quite some time: a series of 25 videos of my 4h:17' playhthrough of Resident Evil 3 that I posted on my YouTube channel. I always have a feeling of accomplishment when I complete a playthrough; not only I feel satisfied from myself, but I think that I contribute a little something to the history of games, by posting videos of great old games.

Resident Evil 3 is faithful to the Resident Evil formula. As the GameSpot review says: "you can't easily find a more formulaic game series." This is very true. What Resident Evil 3 succeeded was to perfect the formula without betraying any of the basic principles as they were introduced in the the first game in 1996. Pre-rendered backgrounds, the infamous tank controls, slow moving zombies, tough bosses, puzzle solving, back-tracking and above all resources management. The essence of the whole game is how to survive until the last boss battle without running out of ammo and health items in the middle of the game. I had to literally play ten times, or more, each little part of the game between one save point to the other, before achieving the best possible performance, wasting as few ammo and health items as possible. For example: Rush through the door, avoid the zombies on the right, take the key item on the table, make a U turn, head quickly back to the exit and proceed to the next room. Kill the dog, with one bullet, at the very moment it is ready to jump on you, collect the red herb, avoid the other two dogs, get bitten no more than once and run to the exit... And on top of that, a super powerful monster, Nemesis, every now and then to wait for you in the corner and chew your precious Magnum bullets and supplies of mixed herbs. This is what I call fun game-play: very hard in the beginning, but rewarding once you turn the tables in favour of you. At the end just before fighting the last form of Nemesis, I had stocked seven health items and countless of powerful ammo. A walk in the park. (lol) I was tempted to fight Nemesis with only my pistol, for the show off, but why not destroy him with style with the rocket launcher that I had saved just for this last battle? So I did. :-)

In other news, besides Resident Evil, I would say that during the last couple of years I have made a turn towards old favourite games of mine, that I needed to play again and study them more, in order to find perhaps my lost mood for good old gaming. At the same time I'm very disappointed with the direction things are heading in the video games industry. I have made a promise to myself, not to bother anymore with games, and games companies in total, that violate me as a personality and consumer, even if that means that soon I will have no new games to play. That's okay. The worst thing that could happen to me is to feel humiliated by giving in to any arbitrariness. I refuse to buy dlc, I refuse to sign in to accounts that I don't want to, I refuse to acknowledge to anyone the digital rights management, whether they are the "villains", EA, or the "good guys", Steam. I want games as they used to be and I have no intention to negotiate it with them. All those years I have spent a fortune in games, for my pleasure above all, but for their profit too. I think I have the right to speak and protest. My advice to the young generation of gamers is this: refuse and resist.

A message from Snake

Beep, beep!

Beep, beep!

-This is Snake, Colonel can you hear me?

-Loud and clear. What's the situation Snake?

-Colonel, I want to quit. And here is my recorded message to you:

"During my three and a half years of activity here in GameSpot I learnt a lot about video games, more than I could ever imagine, I met some very interesting gamer personalities, and I made good friendships. But as it happens with everything nice in life, this cycle has ended. Of course I remain a gamer, because that's what I love the most to do in my free time. Also I will still be reading my good friends' blogs whenever I visit the site, it's just that my presense here will be more discreet.

Thank you all for your time spent reading and commenting my blogs and reviews and for the constructive discussions that we had. Also a big Thanks to GameSpot for giving me the space to express my thoughts, about games and not only.

Bye, bye!"

-Just as I expected... You have to take the elevator to the surface.

-What elevator? Colonel! For god's sake, are you listening to me?

-But make sure nobody sees you.


Snake festival

Yesterday evening, I decided to watch again an old favourite of mine, a CGI movie masterpiece and a very long one, Metal Gear Solid 4. It's been almost three years since I first watched it and I wanted to refresh a little my memory. Too bad that the movie is frequently interrupted by playable sequences! This a movie, not any video-game, for god's sake! Luckily I have unlocked from my previous runs the stealth camouflage, so I don't have to actually play those sequences again, just pass through the levels being invisible and trigger the next cut-scene.

As a "MGS veteran", a PSOne devotee, and an aged-bitter old gamer, MGS4 is my game that I love to hate. For me it represents a high quality, yet egocentric and unbalanced production of Hideo Kojima, a game that defies the basic rule of video-games: to be a game. MGS4 is more of a "production". Typically it is a game, and a damn good one, but it's pretty much like the human brain; a sophisticated and powerful creation, that an average man uses only 11% of its power. The rest is cut-scenes. :lol:

Anyway, from the yesterday two hours playing session, I had the same reactions as I did three years ago; there were moments that I thought that this title is the best looking game of all times, a full 10 score, with advanced game-play mechanics and a very strong personality as a whole, in other words, a "game-winner", and seconds later I would shout with despair: "please, don't cut it now, don't throw on my head 10 minutes of monologues from Otacon!"

The week before I had the chance to play another MGS game, Peace Walker. I already had started playing it from 2010, but the frustrating controls of the PSP gave me so much hard time that eventually made me quit. This summer I decided to resume playing from where I had left it. I thought that since I can't do anything about the controls, I will have to accept this flaw as part of the game-play. And I'm glad I did. Because Peace Walker is a massive game, very much addictive, very much playable, despite the controls, with a very interesting story, and unlike MGS4 with reasonable cut-scenes, and with an artistic quality as a game of a very high level. With one word, I think that Peace Walker, is the ideal modern MGS game, a game that combines the stealth type game-play of MGS3-MGS4 and the new Mercenaries system from Portable Ops. If you have missed Portable Ops , it's the same idea of recruiting mercenaries that was followed in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood last year. Peace Walker will surely be the highlight of the MGS HD Collection, and this time it will make use of the PS3/X360 right analog stick, making it the absolute Metal Gear game.

Speaking of absolute games, two weeks before (I'm going backwards all the way in this blog), I finished something that I wanted to do since a long time: a video playthrough series of Metal Gear Solid on YouTube! I bought from eBay the PC Integral version especially for the purpose of capturing the game-play in a higher quality than the Playstation game. It was a hard work, playing over again and again some difficult rooms, until I achieved a good performance, with no alerts, and no wandering aimlessly in the screen. In my case, being a perfectionist and not a skilled player at all is a quite hard combination, but if there is one thing that I appreciate the most in video games, is they teach us that practice makes perfect.

Well except the Ninja Gaiden games! In this case you already start from being perfect and then you have to double this performance.