This is Jammer, the token female.
So I rented Killzone 3. It was pretty typical of standard FPS fare - big, loud, and stupid - and like other flavor of the month titles, Killzone 3 features an entirely forgettable campaign. That said, the game was still an enjoyable, though short, ride.
Perhaps I've been playing too many PC games lately, but Killzone 3's visuals didn't impress me as much as I thought they would. That isn't to say the game looks bad - on the contrary, Killzone 3 is one of the best looking titles on consoles, but it doesn't carry with it a 'wow' factor like say, Uncharted 2. The reason for this I think lies with the art direction. While there were moments where the game really shines (the jungle and final level were my favorites), Killzone too often succumbs to the dull browns and greys that have become stereotypical in the FPS genre. To the game's credit, the eyecandy is delivered at a nice, steady framerate with no noticeable screentearing or other visual hiccups. There are a handful of times where the game stutters, though these brief moments of imperfection are only noticeable since the rest of the experience is so smooth.
The gameplay of Killzone 3 is simple, as expected. You're in a zone and you need to kill some dudes. The game funnels you from firefight to firefight by way of linear pathways, and while you might be rocking a jetpack or controlling a mech, the core gameplay is always the same. While they're not pushing any boundaries with their game design, Guerilla Games does succeed in delivering intense battles against agressive AI. The Helghast menace never lets up in fights and always reacts in ways appropriate to the situation - they'll flank you, outgun you, and always keep you on the edge. It really heightens the immersion, and it's just satifying taking down an enemy you know can just as easily kill you.
Unfortunately, these fun forays into a hail of bullets are too often interrupted by cutscenes included to tell a poorly-told story no one cares about. The game covers a span of one-dimensional characters from the ISA and Helghan military, but fails to make you care about any of them. Quite a bit of screentime is also given to an internal power struggle amongst the Helghan elite, covered for reasons that still elude me even as I type this. The scenes only serve to show that yes, the Helghan are some bad dudes.
Outside of the 6-7 hour SP, Killzone 3 also delivers several multiplayer options from couch bro-op to the usual online play. The co-op in Killzone 3 really feels like a lazy, half-assed effort. For starters, there is no online co-op which is just an amazing omission in this day and age. Secondly, the co-op campaign is treated as a separate entity so you can't just toss a controller at your buddy and continue on from your own game. While there are serious missed oppurtunities with the co-op, taking out the Helghan alongside a friend does still seem like a good time.
The online portion of Killzone 3 comes with the typical deathmatch mode and Killzone's own objective-based warzone and operations modes. I didn't spend much time with any of these modes, but I did enjoy the objective-focused styIe of the latter two modes. The frequent shifts in tasks always kept things moving and brought teamwork to the forefront. While I only played for a bit, I did notice two issues: health and the overpowered marksmen cIass. The current player health is too low, players simply die too quickly and the game becomes about who sees who first rather than skill. Now about the marksmen - an invisible sniper just does not scream balance to me. Playing as the marksmen got me noticeably easier kills - I cannot begin to imagine what a player that's actually good can do with the cIass. Anyhow, I've rambled on about this game for much longer than I intended so I'll shut up about Killzone now.
I haven't been following El Shaddai so when I started up the demo I didn't know what to expect aside from trippy visuals. After playing the demo, I'm not exactly sold on the game, but I am interested more than I was before playing.
The first thing I noticed when starting up the demo is how long it took to get to the start screen. Usually this sortof thing isn't worth mentioning - plenty of games have company logos and whatnot on start-up - but the amount of time it took to get through all of the unskippable company screens was really noticeable. Unfortunately, the game also takes quite a while to load. But when the game does finally load up, you're greeted with some seriously nice visuals. The artstyIe is a unique one and one El Shaddai pulls off well.
The demo strings you along a linear path with combat sections along the way and the occasional platforming bit. The controls of El Shaddai are simple - almost deceptively so as the game is not easy. Combat is handled entirely by one button, though you can hold it to change up attacks. When enemies are downed, you can press L1 to trigger a short segment where you steal the enemies weapon, which you can then use to beat them up. The weapons you pick deteriorate over time, noted by their color (blue is good, red is bad). Simply pressing L1 will purify your weapon for further use, but while purifying a weapon you leave yourself vulnerable to enemy attacks. And these enemies hit hard. You can defend yourself with R1, if you time it right, but fail and you'll take serious damage and mess up your outfit. While attacks are handled entirely by one button, you'll have to use every ability in your arsenal to succeed in battle. The enemies' overabundance of health makes things difficult for all the wrong reasons, and the fighting ability you have in your posession just feels lacking. Your character controls well and combat is satisfying...but it's just not suited to the enemies thrown at you.
Granted, I don't speak Japanese so it's entirely possible I'm missing something here. The game clearly has potential, and I'm willing to give the devs the benefit of the doubt for the final product.
The Spring season of anime has rolled around and most of the scheduled shows have begun, save for a few. So far I've seen the first episode of three shows:
Yes, it really is a guy.
This is Kampfer, a returning show from 2010 about shifting gender roles amongst the youth of modern Japan and a battle against lesbian schoolgirls. Only two episodes of Kampfer are coming out this time around - one dealing with plot, and the other with gratuitous fanservice. This episode was the latter.
Kampfer is not a good show. Kampfer is stupid, completely over the top, and utterly unashamed in its pandering to viewers - all aspects that make the show an enjoyable watch. Like I said earlier, this episode of Kampfer was all about the fanservice, fanservice it delivered in spades. This one episode covered bunny costumes, a lesbian harem, the obligatory white curry falling on girls' faces while they're in a daze of ecstasy just because, and other stuff I'm probably better off not describing. So nothing too out of the ordinary for the show.
An anime of X-Men? Yeah, I know what you''re thinking and such thoughts are totally understandable, but this is actually good! The show kicks off with the death of Jean Grey (in Phoenix mode) and picks up months later when the remaining X-Men have split paths. When a Japanese mutant goes missing, Xavier reassembles the team for a rescue mission.
Aside from Xavier, the episode features Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, and Beast. This first episode does a good job of setting up character motivations, wasting no time in familiarizing viewers with the X-Men and their powers. The animation isn't anything to rave about, but it does its job and it does it well enough. The action scenes are directed well and aside from Beast, the character designs are pretty good. If you like the X-Men, or just want something good to watch I recommend giving the show a try.
This last one, Hanasaku Iroha, is show of the season from what I can tell. Basically, girl with crap life is forced out of her city home to an even crappier life at her grandmother's old-fashioned hot spring hotel. The first thing you'll notice with the show is how damn good it looks. The animation is top-notch and environments are wonderfully detailed; though I doubt they'll keep it up like this for the entire show, at least this first episode is real nice. The rest of the show is of high quality too - characters are likeable and believable and the story so far is interesting and looks to set up drama while avoiding the melodramatic. In the sea of moe currently flooding the industry, this kind of show really is quite refreshing.
If you've read all this (I know I wouldn't), then hats off to you!