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Sphire Blog

Sports, Games (Deus Ex Review) and Anime.

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Sport:

A quick blog about a few things. First off, in the world of sports and the English Premier League, a big 'YAAAY' that Newcastle have begun the season rather well. After more BS over the summer with big name players leaving the club. But the new guys have done well and the manager, Alan Pardew, has also been doing rather well. I still feel the players can improve a lot. Watching some matches, they seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. They should really have gotten over those mistakes, some of which were there since 2-3 years ago. I'm not native to Newcatle, but I've been a fan a for a long time, and while I do get annoyed when they play like crap, I never seem to be able to not support them. They're coming up against a strong Totenham team in the next match, which might see out first loss unfortunately. Still, here's hoping we have a brilliant season!

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The other sport I wanna touch on a bit is F1. It looks like Vettel will win his second drivers' championship this year at the next race in Suzuka, Japan. I've been a fan of his since he started in F1 with Toro Rosso, before he even won his first race. It's always great to see drivers work from the pack and become champions over time. It's been a great year for Vettel and Red Bull, if somewhat too dominant for the neutrals. Still, you take what you can get.

Games:

Looking forward to playing Dark Souls. Come's out here on Friday. I felt Demon's Souls was slightly overrated by many, things like difficulty and so on really overstated. I've seen Dark Souls has been getting great reviews, but I'm going in without expecting something mindblowing honestly. It'll be great fun, yea, and I love the atmosphere of the games, but if there are flaws that stand out to me, I won't be surprised.

The other game I'm a quickly touch on: Deus Ex

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I made a quick video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31KoAYAM2bg

but the audio's a bit iffy. Written review here: http://geekmandem.com/2011/09/29/deus-ex-human-revolution-review/

Basically, score: 8.5/10 for the PC version.

Anime:

Won't touch much on this. I may do a review (written or video) of shows I've seen this year. Best show from the summer season has been Dantalian no Shoka for me. It has its pros and cons, but overall a great watch. Might do a review of that first.

Of the shows starting, most looking forward to Working!! (season 2), Ika Musume 2, and Bakuman 2. A world of sequels, but I will be watching new shows too, just not too sure how I'll find 'em.

Till next time!

So I went to the EuroGamer Expo.....

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Heya,

So after my trip to Gamefest, I felt like going to the Eurogamer expo, as it looked to be a bigger expo. Luckily someone I knew was gonna be there around that time, so I had a place to crash. Overall Eurogamer was definitely the bigger show and more worthwhile than Gamefest. I went on Thursday and Friday, and Thursday was a pretty quiet and laid back day. Queus weren't all that long and such. Friday was more hectic. I can't imagine how Saturday and Sunday were. Thursday's queue:

EG

Friday's was about double that. But it didn't really take long to get in, so kudos to the organisers. There were a few journalist on both days, but it's not like I'm familiar with many. I briefly saw the Ginx girls, I was gonna say hi but they were eating and I didn't want to bother them. Too bad I didn't see them after that. I didn't see any GSuk staff, but again I'm not too familiar with them either so I might've missed them. Still, there were quite a few others. No idea what site/magazines those were from though. I'd expect Eurogamer themselves had one at least.

On to the expo itself, the layout was good, with everything visible for people who just wanna watch and not queue for certain games. The over 18 games had their own section, so no constant checking of ID everytime you got to a specific game (not that I was checked, but I'm sure it's less annoying to others than in Gamefest).

I got my hands on the PSVita! It was on show at the expo, thank God, but the way they picked which game you tried out was crappy. Random draw and I got...uh...SoundShapes I think it was called. I would've prefered Uncharted or Gravity Daze, but I don't think they even had Gravity Daze. Still, I got my hands on it, and I wasn't gonna queue all over again for another random draw. It feels very much like holding the PSP-slim, which is a good thing. And the analog sticks feel soooooo much better. Buttons were crisp too. Overall it felt like a well-built console. Didn't get to try out many of the features given the game didn't utilise much, but first impressions are good for now.

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The game itself was pretty average. I saw the title in some E3 videos, and it looked and sounded way cooler than what I played. The rhythm wasn't great, and the platforming felt mediocre. Granted I might have been doing something wrong, but many times I would jump, touch a surface and not stick for whatever reason. It got annoying. Briefly tried out the level creator which uses music tools, for which you use the touch screen. It was decent enough, but I'm not really into that or all that good. With the announcement of FFX HD, I'm more than hyped to get the PSVita. I'll want to see how SE incorporate FFX HD into the PSV, like whether they'll use transfarring or not. Which will sway how soon I get the PSV.

On to games, the first thing I got my hands (whoa) on was FFXIII-2. Mostly because the tube station was full of adverts for the game, which made me want to try it out even more. On the floor was the same demo that was at E3. Gameplay-wise, combat felt very similar to FFXIII, which I liked anyway. You had the quicktime events that kinda break up the flow, but I guess it helps add cutscenes to battles. It isn't all that bad. I even failed one (messing around with camera :P ) and the outcome was pretty funny. Failing doesn't mean you start over. There were also a couple of side-missions to do while roaming around before reaching the next point. You talk to people and they tell you about something, like there's a monster in a cave, and you can accept or decline to help. It was a bit weird since the person would kinda follow you through the cave or maybe more than one person could give you the mission or something.

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It also didn't look like you needed to go back to the person to complete it, just do what was asked. That might depend on the mission itself though. It also looks like you save from the start menu (kinda like how most games are now) instead of a save point. I like that. Didn't even see any save points as in FFXIII, so maybe that whole system is gone. There also seemed to be a difficulty level, as the word Normal could be seen after battle. I'm looking forward to the game. I've not looked at the most recent trailers to avoid spoilers, but I will be getting this game. Day 1 probably.

I tried a bit of Uncharted 3 multiplayer in 3D. I can't tell if it was just me and the position/distance I was sitting, but the 3D was bad. Maybe it was the tv. It wasn't fully clear and a few times the game would lose focus when I went to aim, which would be very annoying in game. I will say though, playing in 3D was kinda more fun than when I played the Beta in 2D. I hope the final build is way better. Speaking of Uncharted, there was a developer session for the game which I went to. It had one of the assitant lead designers or something and Nolan North, Drakes VA. It was a fun session, they talked about a few things that go on behind he scenes in making the game and so on. Then there was the exclusive showing of new gameplay in the desert (not strictly desert, in some ruins) which was decent.

U3

Soz, crappy picture quality. There were a few developer session throughout the 4 days. I'd have loved to have gone to the Bioware and Dark Souls one, but those were on the weekend. There was a Hitman one too, but I was on the floor queue for some game. And there were career sessions too. The same lead designer dude at the Uncharted session was at the game designer session. Pretty decent sessions all around for those interested. At a minimum, these sessions made the expo infinitely better than Gamefest.

Hmm, this has gotten long already. Battlefield 3 felt really good to play (PC version). I've never really played the series so it was nice for me. I'm tempted to pick it up. Skyrim looked pretty sweet. I didn't try it because the queue was long, but it looked really colourful, which I like. The character interactions were as dour as usual from Bethesda though, so some of my gripes with Bethesda games look to still be in. Still, it is tempting. Arkham City looked great too. Again I didn't try it because of long ass queues, but it looked sweet. I did try Rage, and promptly got a headache like 5 minutes into playing. That's all on me though since I get headaches easily and migraines too. Was kinda looking forward to it too. But it also felt like Fallout to a certain degree, and that I didn't like. So, not so tempted with Rage. Tried Ghost Recon Future Soldier (at least I think that's the name), and it was pretty meh, no real interest for me.

Others: Tried the AC:Rev multiplayer. It was alright, kinda fun. I've never fully liked the AC series, but I've played them all. I'll probably play AC:R sometime down the road. Next is Ace Combat, I played the helicopter demo. At first it was fun moving around and shooting. But not long after I found myself just doing the same thing over and over again with wave and wave of enemies. It got boring pretty fast. I don't think I'm wholly interested. I think I played Ace Combat 3 on the ps2, but it was never something I looked forward to. They had SSX too! It felt great to be able to play an SSX game again. The demo itself was pretty crappy, with a few bugs here and there and I think it was set so you couldn't fall or fail or something. But just jumping around pulling off tricks was sweet nostalgia.

Played a few racing games. Need for Speed Run was the more typical racing as opposed to the stuff shown at E3 with the guy runnig on foot and all. It was ok, nothing special. I can't remember if I mentioned it in the Gamefest blog, but there was also the new Ridge Racer Unbound, which was another clone of Burnout. Seriously, these games need to start finding their own identities. Burnout is great and all, but now they're saturating the market. There was also a a dude that brought a gaming chair for racing, full on with clutch and gear, and with 3 monitors in 3D and whilst everyone else had issues crashing around, I did a solid race on it. Not perfect, but better than a lot of others. And I haven't driven in a while.

R That's not me.

Lastly, I gotta talk about OnLive. They were there in conjuction with OnLive's launch in the UK. They had the longest queue on the floor, but it moved way faster than others. I was wondering why so many people were there, and it turned out because they were giving away the OnLive home console for free. So I joined in figuring it's something free, so why not. It's supposed to retail for 70 quid normally. Of course you can use OnLive on your PC by just downloading the app for free. But with the home console you can use it on your normal tv and get the controller and a couple other things too.

By the time I got there though they had run out for the day, so I got a voucher thing for the console which I have to use online. Too bad I gotta pay for shipping. So not exactly free, but 7 quid is still decent. At least, if I do actually get it. I haven't gotten a confirmation e-mail saying it's been dispatched, so I'll wait a couple of days and contact them to see how it goes. I don't really care for it, since I can use it on my PC if I so want, it was just something free. Plus they had free copies of PC Gamer mag which had free codes for a months free trial of the service. I got 2, :P but no idea if I can use both. They expire the 30th of November so plenty of time to use both.

The monthly subscription price is 7 quid a month (you should be able to easily cancel at any time) to play everything. You can also rent games for a day or two, but that seems a weak option against the monthly thing. You can also outright buy the game, so that you can play it through OnLive (so, still streaming) forever (technically). Your first game purchase is also 1 quid only. Normal price seems to vary, but I don't think they'd get many people buying games over 25 quid seeing as it's just streaming. They had some videos up of the games and I don't think it's all that bad. Have yet to try out the streaming itself, and it could really use more games, but even if it's just the simple indie/psn/arcade games, for 7 quid to play all those in a month isn't that bad. There's also all these partnerships with GS and Game, so who knows what we'll get out from that.

Okay, that's all. Geez sorry for the long blog. I didn't really want to split it up.

So I went to Gamefest....

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A blog!?!?!

Anyway, I went to Gamefest, which was a games expo thing in the UK over the weekend. And it was pretty average. I really wanted to get my hands on a PSVita, but there was no Vita on the display. Big disappointment there, though I shouldn't have been surprised really.

As for what was on the floor itself, a host of games really. A lot of the main up and coming games from EA, Capcom, Namco, Activision, Konami, Sony, Nintendo and MS. No signs of any jrpgs though, which was a shame too. Most of the main games from the main developers had queues, but I wasn't gonna waste time queuing up. Most of the lines were 2 hours waiting. Screw that. And I don't think the Bethesda one even had playable games, which would really of had annoyed me.

That meant I tried out most other games. Soul Caliber V, Ridge Racer, Journey, Fifa 12, some 3DS games and a few other random stuff. Best of all though I got to try out Dark Souls for a good chunk of time. No long queues, plenty of consoles and screens easily viewable.

DS DS

That said though, I didn't come away overly impressed by Dark Souls. It's very similar to Demon's Souls. The inventory, stats, language and gameplay looked practically the same (skimmed over it) as in Demon's Souls. So if you loved the first, it's more of the same. The thing is though, I reached a couple of bosses (I didn't find Demon's Souls all that hard, and if you found your way around without much trouble in the first game, I see the same here), and even those played very similar to the first game. One was similar to the boss of 4-1, the other to the boss of 3-2. You could even fall and die like you could in 3-2.

The other major thing I noticed would effect magic users, which I was in the first game (which made things way easier, as it looks to in Dark Souls too). No more MP bar, instead you get a quantity of a given spell (I assume these can be purchased, with your precious hard-earned souls.....), which is a shame since it meant conserving spells (they were still powerful mind you, when the enemy isn't heavily armored or blocking) and switching to a melee weapon when necessary. Which is kinda meh for a magic cl@ss.

I dunno if this was already known, but since I hadn't been reading up on the game, it was new to me. Too bad I couldn't test out multiplayer. I tried. I even layed down the summon call. But no one entered :( Either the game wasn't hooked up or people just didn't know what to do, haha.

Other than that, since there was no Vita, I messed around with a few 3DS games. And I've still not taken a liking to the system. Using the 3D always meant holding the handheld in such a rigid manner that it got annoying. Not using 3D meant all you had was a small screen. The 3D effect was decent enough in some games though, but it's the same for normal 3D, ie levels have depth rather than anything popping out at you (like say at 3D movie theaters). And controls without a second analog stick was cumbersome.

That's all I'm gonna post in this blog. Seems long enough as it is. I will say though that going to Gamefest and not seeing Vita has made me really want to go to the Eurogamer expo this week. And I think I will. Might as well feed the nerd gamer in me, it's not like these expos come around very often. Lastly, here are a few more pics.

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