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ShinZero Blog

The backlog challenge

Recently I decided to clear out my backlog of unfinished games. I had about 15 games sitting in drawer that, for one reason or another, I hadnt completed. Either the main story/campaign was unfinished or I wanted to get more out of it, get some achievments etc. It became hard to justify making any holiday game release purchases this year when I had so many I needed to work on.

I decided to play them out in order of what seemed most appealing or effiecient. It didnt take to long before I was actually getting some things completed. With a new found purpose things were finially begining to make their way out of the "unfinished" drawer and onto the shelf for display.

Dark Souls (PS3)

If one were to make the argument that videogames were not art, point them to this game. Dark Souls challenges you in almost every way a game can. At its core this is a 3rd person Hack and Slash style RPG. To call it that though, truly does the game no justice. The gameplay is surprisingly in depth and combat can be intense. Building your character takes time but is an entertaining challenge. Dark Souls will test you. It asks a lot of the gamer and this is by design. You will die as advertised. The sense of adventure and exploration is turned into such an enticing gamble. You will often have to weigh the decision of safety or advancment. In the end the rewarding and often thrilling experience far out weighs any frustration you may have along the way. Just be prepared for a challange.

More later.

Hmmm? Meh!

Its been a while since ive written here and in truth I dont even know what I want to say. Ive been active as always with my number one hobby so it shouldnt be too difficult to let my thoughts flow.


The elephant in the room. Resident Evil 6 has recieved a lot of hype and the reviews of the game have recieved almost as much attention. of course listed its now notorius 4.5/10 score but in general the reviews have been mixed at best. Having completed the game its clear that this was indeed a very rushed game. Its not a "bad" game but it clearly needed a few more months in development in order to be considered "good". It manages to succeed at being an overall satisfying experience as long as you dont go into it with any sort of expectations. That, however, is difficult to do when the game is called RESIDENT EVIL. There is an old saying that goes "All publicity is good publicity" and its true. Whether fans ran right out and purchased the game because of its namesake or to see if its really as bad as the reviews say, the game still sold millions of copies world wide.

My personal take? Dont pay full price for it. Its a decent game made more fun with a friend but there are much better purchases availible this holiday season.


Uncharted 3 is a year old this week. Everybody knows Uncharted 3 is a great single player experience. What most people didnt know is that it also had impressive multiplayer offerings. Solid but more importantly, fun co-op and multiplayer options really gave this game some life. Naughty dogs consistent and ongoing support is beyond that of most any other game company. Its a shame so many gamers default to Call of Duty when there are thrilling new expeiriences to be had elseware.

I cant wait for The Last of Us.


The Wii U is coming out soon and I really couldnt care less. Ill have an actual review for Resident Evil 6 soon as well as some thoughts on other games ive finished recently in the next few days.

MvC3: Jill (Character DLC) thoughts.

Ive only had about an hour so far to mess around with the new character (Jill Valentine) recently added as DLC to Marvel Vs Capcom 3.

For those who don't know, Jill Valentine is a character from the Resident Evil series. A little bit of background. Jill was also a playable character in Marvel Vs Capcom 2. (10 years ago) However, the MvC3 version looks and plays completely different than her old self.

In Resident Evil 5, Jill is under the effects of mind control. She is almost feral in her movement and very fast. So when it came time to add her to the MvC3 roster it makes sense that she would resemble her most current incarnation (according to the RE:5 storyline)

With all that said I think they did a great job with this character. She seems to be aimed at more advanced players out of the gate. Nothing she does is very strait forward. She is very fast and seems to have a lot of mix up potential. (Basically she can go high/low/grab or cross up really quickly to confuse opponents).

So far ive found a couple very basic combo's that are very damaging. She has a simple combo that ends with a level 1 hyper and does about 500,000 damage. (Half of the average characters health bar). However, she is a glass cannon for sure. She needs to get in quick and she needs to confuse the opponent.

I'm looking forward to more practice time with her. I feel as though there is a lot of potential to be unlocked here. Lets hope I'm right

Fable 3 commentary.

Please note this is not a review. Its not going to be objective.

With that said I liked Fable 3 a lot. (Some annoying bugs aside) I played it for about 35 hours total and got everything from it I could realistically want. There was more to do but its all pointless filler. Ill explain.

Fable 3 starts you off by setting the tone for the entire game from the opening cinematic. The world has changed since the last time and the emphasis on the games story really starts to grip you pretty quickly. Before you realize it you're on the road to being a hero and not to far after, a hero King or Queen.

The game gives you a lot of choices from the very begining. As you start to shape your character and even the world, suddenly it becomes hard to put down. I wanted to be benevolent and loved by all. I managed to accomplish exactly that. My character worked hard, made all the right decisions, kept all his promises. In the end I was the hero I wanted to be and overall satisfied with my experience.

Unfortunately it all that ends way to soon. The game gives you a wealth of optional things to do, but outside of achievement hunting or boredom there is no reason to bother. There is not 1 but 4 gathering/collection quests. None of them matter to the story line. None of them impact your ability to finish the game. None of them impact your character progression. They reward guild seals, which are the games currency for upgrading your character; But I managed to get everything I possibly could without doing those quests. They are also tied to achievements so I suppose that's the extra incentive for some people but its not going to motivate me.

I despise it when developers artificially extend the life of a game in lazy ways. If they wanted to encourage exploration I can see perhaps one collection quest/achievement. Outside of that, there is already good enough reason to explore anyway (random treasure and loot to dig up). You can get married, have sex, have kids. Also all pointless to the games main story. This sort of thing is what I like to call "fluff". It adds nothing to the main game.

Its easier for developers to add these sorts of things. They dont have to create a new area to explore with relevant quests. All they have to do is add a bunch of floating keys to an area they already created and say "Hey, go back and explore the same place a few more times for no reason!"

That's not to say its all bad or even partially bad. In fact the game is great. I loved finishing the story and seeing my impact on the world. I love the refinements made to the game play and menu system (or.. lack of menu system). At its core Fable 3 is still a hack and slash RPG. Its not all that complicated to control and they manage to make dispatching of enemies flashy and satisfying. The only real variety in game play comes from the enemies you face. Some will be mindful of your spells and avoid them. Some will rush you down recklessly. You know what you're getting into with each type of enemy eventually but you never get stuck fighting the same thing for too long.

You can tell they put a lot of effort into making the player feel immersed in the game world. The game is pretty easy as a result. You don't get punished hardly at all for performing poorly. The charming, enjoyable world is what kept me coming back until I finally said to myself. "Wow.. I really don't have anything left worth doing".

To sum up, I think Fable 3 is a great game. I just wanted more of a main story to work on and less fluff. Back to Marvel Vs Capcom 3 for now.

More hate-mail please! (MvC3 related)

Im not what you would call great at Marvel Vs Capcom 3. I'm pretty good. I'm the best within my circle of friends, my online win rate is about 65%. I win more than I lose, but I often get my butt handed to me just the same.

The difference is, im trying to get better. I practice, I improve and I take losses in stride. Its Marvel Vs Capcom damn it the game is supposed to be ridiculous. Sounds weird but this is a game for the fighting game enthusiast. The person who knows the history of such games. The person willing to dedicate some time to it. You can tell me the game is "scrub friendly" and id be inclined to agree in some area's. It doesn't stop Justin Wong from winning every tournament he enters. Skill is still a factor, all they did was make entry level tactics and the potential to make a come back easier. None of that stops a good player from curb stomping a bad one. This is marvel, people WILL get annihilated, and often.

I read a lot of forums when im bored. Ive read non-sense like people expecting character balance patches... I cant stand this line of thinking. First off, as I said before this is a VERSUS series game. ITS GOING TO BE RIDICULOUS. That's the point. Dante is an easy example. So much crying over Dante. He's one of the most powerful characters in the history of video games, not just capcom games. Do you really want a watered down Dante? MvC3 characters are ALL nuts in their own way. Each character is representative of where they came from. This game isnt designed to be the epitome of balanced game play. Its designed to let you go insane with the characters you love in all their glory.

Which brings me to Arthur. I love Arthur. I have a zoning/trap team designed around supporting Arthur completly. Its not my main team its just a fun alternative. People hate it though. They cannot stand the fact that Arther plays exactly how he should. They cannot stand having to think outside the box to get their win. My favorite part about this team? I only use it to mess with people who spam projectiles with characters that DO have lots of other options.

Usually I run with Wolverine/Tron/Dromammu. Without fail though ill come up against somebody who thinks the only command their character has is a projectile. That the only assists that exist are also projectiles. No problems here, but dont be surprised if I switch to that same strategy then out-play you because ive actually put some thought into it.

Of course I'm the "spamming scrub" when that happens. I guess that's just what ill be then. Capcom isn't going to "fix" it and I'm not required to play the game the way anybody else wants me to. This whole "nerf this character, qq" is never going to happen. This is a fighting game, its not WoW. Characters don't get changed to suite the needs of the cry babies. If you want to get good at this game, do it the old fashioned way and stop waiting for some patch to make your life easier. MvC2 went for 10 years without once being patched or updated. If you want to carry some false sense of dignity, honor or morals into a fighting game be prepared to lose. As far as I'm concerned the only thing that exist in this game are the game mechanics and my win/lose record. I play to win, if you aren't prepared for my tactics, that's not my problem.

Wow - 360 - Stick

Alright its been a while so im just going to jump right in with what's on my mind. 3 fairly interesting things have happened in my own personal gaming scene recently.

1) I started a new character in WoW after about a year away from the game. The new character was a Warlock. Without hardly any effort at all, spread out across a few months I managed to get him to 80 and completely decked out in Epic quality gear. The Dungeon Finder feature in WoW makes it a breeze to find dungeon groups, collect badges and in general gear up. I reached a point where I simply wasn't going to get anything better without raiding. Raiding isn't exactly a hardcore event these days, but it still requires more effort then im willing to devote to the game again. PvP in this expansion is abysmal. So basically, once again, im done with WoW. Im disappointed that I was "finished" so easily but at the same time its nice to be able to play an hour here and there and actually get something accomplished.

2) Microsoft decided I needed more Xbox 360's. Well sort of. My original Xbox360 died. I got the infamous E-74 error screen while playing Left 4 Dead. Luckily Microsoft has an extended service warranty for that issue, since it's a known problem. Unluckily for me, however, is that because ive owned my Xbox360 longer then 3 years it doesn't apply to me. I guess a diehard fan camping outside in the freezing cold to get a 360 on launch day is somehow less important then Joe Blow who waited for the price drop.

The best part about the whole thing is, they shipped us back a "new"360, which was also defective. It didn't play DVD's. So we sent it back in for repair. Then they proceeded to ship us back that exact same 360 with the exact same DVD problem unresolved. So finally after 3 tries they offered to send us one more. This time it was express shipped to us. Then, I guess there was some computer error because they express shipped us another one. We refused shipment on that one. (They charge your account full price if you keep the express shipped box without sending a defective one back) So about 3 months and 5 Xbox's later everything is finally resolved. =/

3) This is my personal favorite. I purchased the Street Fighter 4: Tournament Edition Arcade Stick. It was a half and half birthday gift (Half from my wife, half from myself) I've had it for about a month now and I love it. I made it a point to only use the stick once I got it. You do yourself a great disservice by reverting back to a controller once you start learning the stick. It takes time to relearn how to play and rebuild muscle memory to perform moves reliably on a stick. Some people get frustrated and give up when they aren't instantly as good or better then they were on a controller.

Luckily for me, I grew up playing fighters in the arcades. I knew what I was getting into and it wasn't too difficult to get back into shape. I still need practice. I can say at this point that im probably as good I was previously, stronger in some areas, weaker in others. I feel like I have a lot more untapped potential on the stick. In the words of Sakura "Im only gonna get stronger!" and that's the most exciting/fun part of all. I cant wait for Super Street Fighter 4

Why Sega, why?!

Why can't you make an awesome 3D Sonic game? Okay, that's not fair, I did like elements of Sonic Adventure 1 & 2 for the Dreamcast. What elements might those be? The parts where you actually get to play as Sonic (or Shadow)

As a kid growing up I used to love everything about Sega. I thought the Genesis had some really awesome games at the time, and on the top of my list of favorites were, of course the Sonic games. I was never into the whole "console war" aspect of things; I saved the money to buy my own Genesis then Super Nintendo myself. I just like games; it just so happened that many of my childhood favorites ended up being Genesis classics.

So every time I hear about a new Sonic game, I get excited. Im almost always willing to try them out, even after many disappointments. I hold hope that one day, they might get it right. (Im talking the 3D console games here specifically. The 2D "Sonic Advance" games released on GBA for example, were pretty good)

My first question is. Why does Sega insist on not letting me actually play as Sonic in the traditional sense for the majority of the game? I don't give a flying hedgehogs ass about the other characters. I want to play as Sonic and I want to go FAST! Remember all the old Sonic games? Sure you could play as Tails and Knuckles later down the road, but the game play stayed about the same. (Minor differences between characters at best) Plus, lets not forget that they were simply options. You could play any Sonic game from beginning to end, as Sonic in the Genesis age.

From the Dreamcast into Sega's 3rd party era and onwards every time Sonic appeared in the 3rd dimension this would no longer be the case. More then half of Sonic Adventure for Dreamcast was about other characters who played nothing like Sonic. You never got a choice about who you could use, and in the end the "Sonic Adventure" had little to do with Sonic at all. I certainly wouldn't have bought the game if it were called "Lame cat characters awkward fishing mini game". Or "Knuckles dirt digging side quest"

Is it really that tough to just give me a full, gimmick free 3D Sonic game? The reason I bring this up is because ive been trying to play through Sonic Unleashed recently. This time around, you get to play as Sonic the entire time (At least so far) only now more then half the time, you're a "warehog". Meaning, you're still Sonic but the game play is completely different. It becomes some funky beat em up, platforming hybrid. Its not bad, its just repetitive and shallow. Plus, its not what I want to be doing.

I didn't cover all the games or gimmicks here, but I don't need too. The point remains the same. I just want to play, as regular old sonic, blazing a trail through levels at break neck speed! Somehow, even if Sonic Team managed to deliver this, the game would most likely fail on a technical level. Controls, camera issues and bugs are unfortunately a trademark problem for these guys as well. (yay falling through the world!) I plan to finish Sonic Unleashed asap, then ill get more in depth on that game.

I feel Unreal.

I remember being maybe 18 or 19 years old the first time I ever-played Unreal Tournament on the PC. My computer at the time was pretty terrible. I was lucky to get it up and running using the "software rendering" option. Which basically means lowest possible resolution with nothing in the way of bells and whistles. BUT! The frame rate was surprisingly good and stable. It wasn't pretty but that didn't stop me from enjoying, what would become my favorite shooter of the era, endlessly.

Time passes and just like you'd expect from any popular franchise, ports, sequels and spin offs were made. I was a member of Sega Net and actually bought the Dreamcast Keyboard and Mouse peripherals in order to play Unreal Tournament online with that machine. I picked up a copy of Unreal Championship for the original Xbox. Then finally, I got Unreal Tournament 2k4 once I had a decent gaming PC. The point is, I always loved the games and would play them on any PC or Console that offered a version.

Then nothing. I just stopped. Maybe it was a sign of the times. My attention drifted to other interests like my long-standing love of fighting games, MMO's, among other things. As consoles and computers got more powerful, newer and more innovative games took the forefront. Even Epic Games themselves unleashed new modern classics like Gears of War that seemed to trump anything Unreal related in my mind.

Then one day I was looking through my Gamefly queue. It was a little bare so I checked to see what was out there I might be interested in trying. Unreal Tournament 3 for Xbox 360 caught my eye. I didn't expect anything. In truth, I forgot about it until one day it arrived in the mail. I wasn't even all that excited.

It didn't take too long though, for that old familiar feeling to return. KILLING SPREE!!! ULTRA KILL!! MONSTER KILL!!! GODLIKE!!! HEADSHOT! It amazes me that such a simple formula has stood the test of time and is still just as fun as it ever was. The graphics are better, the controls more refined (especially for a console shooter) but it's the same tried and true formula I got hooked on 10 years ago.

I ended up buying it from Gamefly for just over 19 dollars after tax. I cant say enough awesome stuff about Gamefly, but that's a different blog entry. Most people will tell you that nostalgia is cruel. UT3 is proof that sometimes, things really are as much fun as we remember.

Recent Games in my Gamefly queue.

Civilization Revolution:
Turned out to be a pretty fun game. I must have sunk in an easy 20-30 hours between sessions. I wanted to try out several countries and try for the specific types of victories. I got a decent little chunk of achievements doing so as well, so there is that.

FINAL VERDICT: If I can find it somewhere cheap one day, ill grab it. Otherwise, im glad I had the experience, but im not really in a big hurry to play it again.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Why does nobody like this game? Sure it takes a bit to get adept at the controls but once you do? Its crazy what you can do in this game. I read complaints about how you couldn't just spam your most powerful abilities to win, really? You mean I have to think and evolve my strategies around the types of enemies im fighting? Blasphemy! Oh well, I enjoyed the game. It wasn't the be all, end all Star Wars game, but it wasn't half bad either. Plus, I really did feel like a total badass Jedi by the end.

FINAL VERDICT: Not in a hurry to buy it. Ive seen both the endings and completed all the achievements I cared to. That said, im not deleting the save file just yet.

Ninja Gaiden 2:
I love this game. The sequel I was hoping for. Everything I loved about the first game just amped up like you'd expect.

FINAL VERDICT: Plan to buy.

That was your E3 presentation? Really?

C'mon Nintendo, sell me a Wii.

For a company who's entire E3 presentation revolved around having something for everybody, they sure as hell missed the mark when it comes to me. Ive said before that I have no loyalties when it comes to gaming, only expectations. I expect Nintendo to deliver quality games like they always have in the past. So where are they?

Oh wait that's right; they seemed to have confused games with gimmicks. The casual game market might be a huge untapped resource, but as a fan I cant help but think they are going the wrong direction. I saw, maybe 2 things that looked interesting the entire presentation, and neither are good enough to sell me on the Wii.

The rest was rehashed garbage. Super Mario Galaxy didn't sell me on the Wii, so its sequel doesn't stand much of a chance. The 4 player Mario game might be good, but presenting this as a new and innovative concept is insulting to anybody who's been a long time fan. In case you missed it, they tried this twice before with 4 player Zelda and 4 player PacMan during the GameCube era. SquareEnix made a 4 player Final Fantasy for the GC as well... doesn't anybody remember Nintendo's big "connectivity" campaign? It sure seems like Nintendo forgot.

So what did they really show as at E3? Gimmick, after gimmick, going so far as to promote gimmick-improving gimmicks. I am tired of peripherals damn it. I want a real controller and real games. Its hard to get excited about Metroid when I know im going to hate playing it on a Wii-mote. I don't want a Wii-mote, I don't want to have to buy some accessory to make the Wii-mote more accurate. I don't want to use a damn steering wheel, or a balance board. I don't want to read interactive novels. I don't want to be a fashion designer. I don't want to work out. (with a game console anyway).

Then they spoke of 3rd party games, and how those developers have room to be creative with the Wii and DS. If that's the case, why are half the games being developed rail shooters? Because that's creative, right?.. Pointing my controller at the screen and shooting things with it. Didn't Nintendo pretty much get this right in the 1980's with Duck Hunt? This is innovation?

I get it Nintendo. You don't want people to be intimidated by the interface. You want Grandma, and Suzy and Joe Casual to be able to pick up and play your games. That's fine. Just remember, when those guys are long tired of their new toy, you'll have nothing but disappointed GAMERS left.

On the plus side Microsoft and Sony both had lots of awesome stuff coming. Again, no loyalties here, I just expected more from Nintendo. Ill be where the games are.

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