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darkspineslayer Blog

New Upload: Playstation All Stars review!

Perhaps some of you are familiar with my recent youtube experiments, perhaps some of you aren't. This is the third in a new series of reviews, mainly unscripted, talking frankly about my thoughts on a game. We branch out to the Playstation Universe in the most direct way possible by talking about a celebration of that universe.

Please leave a comment, maybe a like. Subscribe if you want to see more. Until next time, Stay Classy Gamespot.

Metal Gear Rising review

Metal Gear Rising Revengence

Platform reviewed: PS3

Very few series in gaming can have the privilege of standing among the elite likes of Mario, Sonic, Megaman or several other long running franchises, and even fewer can boast such pedigree as Metal Gear. Kojima's opus has some terrifyingly devoted fans, so it wasn't particularly surprising to see some of them wary of moving from tactical espionage to blunt force. Platinum came through with something that is decidedly Metal Gear and all it's own at the same time.

Several years have past since the events of Metal Gear Solid 4 and the fall of The Patriot's hold on the world at war. Foxhound protege turned cyborg badass Raiden has returned to the battlefield with Maverick securities. Charged with defending an African Prime Minister and building their own army up, things go south when a mysterious cyborg duo working with Desperado mercenary group capture and kill the prime minister. Raiden is forced to upgrade himself to compete as he works to stop the ambitions of Desperado. The visual style is pretty on par with the last entry, and while not particularly spectacular at this point it does the job. The fact the game maintains a constant framerate when everything hits the fan is of particular note.

Rising is for the most part, amazingly light on the exposition for the series, keeping the few cutscenes it does have short and visually impactful. The occasional mid level codec conversations do result in the "hand to ear can't do anything" trope, but the pace is typically swift. Rising hardly has the most epic part of the Metal Gear saga, clocking it at six to eight hours. An in depth scoring system for each encounter and an overall rank for each mission encourage replayability, and the unlockable VR missions and currently free DLC chapters further the value.

Battle is flowing and stylish, involving the stringing of light and heavy attacks in a visual and visceral dance, controlling just as flawlessly as he looked in Metal Gear Solid 4. Slicing through legions of cyborgs is satisfying. The main gimmick of the combat, Blade mode is the major focus however. When the bar is charged, hitting the trigger brings Raiden into a stationary position in which time slows and players use the right stick to directly manipulate Raiden's sword. The mechanic can be used as a quick combo extender, deliberate slices can remove limbs from otherwise more dangerous enemies, and a swift bisection can extract a heal from an enemy while dealing a death blow.

This gauge manipulation is the central point of the combat and getting massive combos and taking on massively superior forces feels amazing. It's when the game leaves you one on one in boss battles where seems begin to show. There is no block button in rising, at best you can get an unlockable dodge manoeuvre. Defence relies on a skill the game calls parrying, where you direct an attack toward the origin of the enemy assault. The trick is the game does a terrible job of explaining the mechanic to you, and when it does click, it takes practice to master the touchy mechanic. It's possible to get through a majority of the game without it, but a threshold is crossed at a specific late game boss where you master the technique, or you won't be seeing the credits.

Metal Gear Rising displays the strengths of Platinum and the Metal Gear series in a visceral triumph of gameplay and style. Thought it can be demanding of it's players, the satisfaction of overcoming the challenges it puts before you is constantly rewarding. Metal Gear Rising cuts to the heart of gameplay and leaves you wanting more.

score: 9.5

Extra Life: Support the children

Hey Gamespot

So while browsing Facebook today, Nintendo of Canada's facebook page brought this charity to my attention, and it's something I thought I could believe in, so I decided I would give it a try.


On November 2nd of this year, I'll embark on a 25 hour gaming marathon to raise money for the Calgary Children's Hospital, and I need sponsors. You can give monthly donations or one time gifts, via Credit card. Money stays with the children's hospital and is tax deductible.

I've relied on this children's hospital in my youth, and know that many other kids have had the mispleasure of visiting a lot more often than I ever did, and are dealing with a lot worse than asthma. I think we as a gaming community know the joy that gaming can bring, the huge fantasy worlds that allow us to escape into a reality a little less harsh than our own. This hospital deals with kids that definatly need an escape. I encourage you guys to take a look, and if you can't donate than I ask that you share with someone. Let's help the kids.

http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=54660

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Gamespot. Game over man...

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/m/678/922/256/gamespot-dont-go-back-to-start/#next_action

Yes, A petition. I wrote a goddamn petition. Do I like going the whiny route? no. But I do feel the need regardless of where this petition or Gamespot may go to put out there just what I think about this. 

My biggest complaint, ditching user created boards.

User created boards may not draw the biggest traffic, but they offer something unique that I can't find on another site. The user created boards offer little pocket communities, some of which i've grown rather close to. Perhaps The Round Table dosn't draw the same traffic as Off Topic, but I havn't found a better group of people to discuss my writing with, and it's something I have started trying to get more serious about. Some of the guys on PUSH are really great people, and having a place to screw around outside of System Wars is great fun. System Wars Magazine and Pedal to the Metal, a couple of user created initives that rival gamespot's own content, have relied on Unions for planning. having to do all that via PM would be a disaster.

Signature limitations, GIFs and levels are disappointing as well, part of the Gamespot DNA. While I'll be disappointed if these remain perminant, I don't belive they will be as detremental to the community as the lack of UCBs.

all in all, I've put quite a bit of time and effort into my contributions to Gamespot. I really don't want to see it hit reset and lose everything that made it great. 

           -/depressingblog



A year in Inaba: Persona 4 Golden review

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A year in Inaba: Persona 4 Golden

What is the mark of a great game? Is it engaging gameplay that keeps you coming back? Flashy visuals and presentations that bring you into the world and won't let you go? A well written story and a loveable cast that you can't help but become attached to? Persona 4 Golden doesn't make that choice, but rather opts for the full package. The result of the amazing attention to detail is one fantastic game, let alone for the Vita.

Persona 4 Golden drops the player into the shoes of a transfer student, moving to small town Yasoinaba, to spend a year under the care of your uncle while your parents are working overseas. Just as school ramps up, a strange serial murder case rocks the small hamlet and weird dreams, headaches and a voice lead you to discover the ability to enter a world inside TV sets, a deadly world when fog covers Inaba and the apparent main method of the killer. Soon enough, you awaken the awesome powers of Persona, the power of the heart made manifest. You and your friends begin an investigation to pursue the killer, learn the nature of the TV realm and rescue the attacked who have been placed inside that world.

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It's a well written story that takes its time in all aspects. You as the player is thrown into this world with about as much instruction as the player character. The first several hours of the game are heavily structured, as you are introduced to some key characters, the world around you and the story, but once you get over the hump you get an almost overwhelming amount of choice. Choice in how to spend your days, who to spend time with, when to pursue the investigation, and when you simply need to study. The choices you make in day to day life have an impact on combat in the TV. By spending more time with certain people, certain types of Persona can get an experience boost when fused, yet another facet you are left to explore and learn on your own. The social links you build with your party members, classmates and general townsfolk provide a great deal of the character development and backstory to the people you meet, each one with a story to tell. This leaves a great deal of the story up to the player to write for themselves, but carries tangible benefits in combat to give a meaning to those who could take or leave the dialog as well.

Inside the TV is where you'll find the engaging, if fairly standard, dungeon crawling RPG gameplay. Forming your party from up to three other characters, you'll lead your friends through varied dungeon environments, climbing floors and battling enemy shadows. You can purchase or find new weapons, armour and accessories that boost your personal stats and grant helpful buffs to specific attacks. Winning battles grants you chances to draw cards for more money, experience, stat boosts or new Persona. These Persona can then be taken to a specific person to be fused into new Persona and pass their skills to ones that may otherwise not learn a specific move. The Pokemon-esque element of catching them all adds another addicting layer, and as the only character that can use more than one Persona, it behoves you as the player to keep mixing persona and maintaining a team that can handle any situation.

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Persona 4 presents itself in a fashion that deserves the name "Golden". Everything is crisp on the Vita's gorgeous OLED, bringing a vibrancy to the different environments. The colourful art style gives each major character a distinct personality, further emphasized by the amazing voice acting throughout. The story can swing from the silly, to the serious, to talking about boobs and back to serious again while feeling natural the whole time. The amazing soundtrack, the kind of j-pop that somehow you never get tired of, is expanded from the PS2 release and sets every mood perfectly. While the character models themselves sit with a static and blocky face, the close up for major characters that shows up during conversation shows an adequate range of emotion.

Persona 4 Golden is a compulsive experience that won't let go once it sinks it's teeth in. While it takes a few hours to really get moving, the payoff for those who can get through it is an immersive world, brilliant story full of memorable characters and engaging, if generic JRPG battles to back it all up. If you own a Vita and don't own Persona then your simply doing it wrong.

Score: 9.5

Used games and why they aren't the devil

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Ask Activision, EA, Ubisoft or any number of publishers around today, they will tell you used games are destroying their business model, that they cannot sustain themselves without a ten dollar cut, or more. These publishers who create amazing games like Tomb Raider, that have sold 3.4 million copies, and still arent breaking even. Even console manufacturers, Microsoft is getting the finger pointed here in particular are jumping on board to fight this plague. How could those naughty, naughty used games do such a thing? Well, thats just it. Used games are not the problem and have a right to exist.

First, lets get this ludicrous idea that used games is as damaging as piracy out of the way. There is one, fundamental difference between these two that ruins this argument. A pirated game is the result of a single copy being leaked on the internet and producing thousands. A used game on a shelf got there somehow (Hint: Key word is in the name, used games). Every single used game currently circulating represents a brand new sale at some point. The publisher received their dues when they received the money from that sale, and in a capitalist society that should be the end of it. At least in the USA, they even have a law to protect this act in the form of the first sale doctrine, which basically states that once sold to a customer for an agreed upon price, their involvement in the product and their say in what  one can do with it is over. After all, do you need to pay a fee to Ford when you buy a used car? the thought is ridiculous.

But these poor, poor publishers need to make money somehow, right? In this environment of AAA, multimillion dollar game development and 100 man teams who need to make money somehow, right? These poor games that cant break even on their huge, bloated costs, even with Downloadable content, marketing deals and advertisement campaigns that make sure you cant turn the corner without hearing about it. Games like Dark Souls, who managed a meagre 2.4 million sales. Wait though, Dark Souls was successful and made money. Imagine that, a game made money while the used game market was in full effect?

Could that be because Dark Souls was budgeted, and created with less money than it would take to buy a third world country and targeted to a specific audience? No, couldnt be that. Hitman Absolution, another Square game failed to meet expectations with 3.6 million sales, or Capcoms disappointment in Resident Evil 6, which couldnt even manage more than 5 million sales! Damn used games, damn them. Dare i say that many of these similar sob stories are less critically acclaimed than Dark Souls, and less successful since From Software actually made money on it. Money can be made, even with the used market out there. Could the blame somehow be on these publishers that need to insist that every game needs to appeal to everyone? Could these publishers somehow be asking too much from reality when they need a game to sell 6 or 7 million to break even? Nobody is being forced into these decadent, unsupportable business moves. There is really no excuse here.

Not everybody can be the quarterback, and not everybody can be Call of Duty, yet the mainstream tugs and pulls at the caboose of a train that has already left the station. These publishers have no choice but to charge so much and spend so much on these games. Well, weve already been over the exorbitant expectations of publishers, but a big boon for the used game is the fact it is usually cheaper than the new product. A popular retort is that video games are a luxury, that they arent needed for survival. This is true, putting the privileged attitude of such an argument aside, games are not a necessary part of life. However, whos to say how much your game is worth? If I return to the store, unsatisfied with or having recently completed a game that i dont wish to hold onto, but am interested in a new release on launch week when sales are at the most critical, yet i dont have enough money. How can i solve this conundrum? why not trade it in? I recoup a bit of my previous investment, make a brand new one and the publisher makes a brand new sale i couldnt have otherwise afforded, and would have had to pass on the new game until sales are no longer as big of a deal. Would we look at that, used games even have a benefit. Perhaps the game is a bit smaller, and doesnt offer quite as much as other games at $60? Could that game be more attractive to a potential customer who isnt looking to spend $60 in the first place? Silly, of course not. Used games are the devil, because they say so.

To the apologists, who shed a tear for the poor, billion dollar publishing houses like the stereotypical native shedding a tear over litter, take note that these publishers take advantage of the same capitalist system, yet cries fowl when that same system allows some control to the customer, they are whining about having their cake and eating it too. Publishers love to say that you dont own what you own, despite laws that contradict them, cry over not being able to break even on unrealistic sales expectations because they spent exorbitant amounts of money on development, and marketing, and still sell for $60, $15 DLC and online passes, and throw a tantrum when you try to make a little bit back on your investment. When you attack used games, you attack your own rights, and thats pretty saddening that there are people who would join greedy publishers in taking away the few rights we do have. All we have left, as consumers that should be pro-consumer is the ability to vote with our wallets. We can make the choice to support draconian DRM, always online and anti-used games technology. We only need to make the choice to use it, andwell as they say, the victor shall write history.

I think i'm getting the hang of this...

I'm still playing around with Photo editing. Doing most of it on my iPad, but some of it needs a PC. My newest Persona X Fire Emblem inspired sig is the result of this playing, i'm fairly happy with it.

Perhaps I should create a new profile banner, this one was around since the System Wars Bets days. Anyone know the dimensions?

In case anyone still reads these, God of War Asension first impressions!

Well, it's been forever since I've done a blog, and if anyone still reads these I hope they enjoy, but either way I feel the need to put this into writing. 

Let me preface this with statement of fact. I am a huge fan of the God of War series. When I say I'm a fan, I mean enough to invest the time to getting the platinum trophy in most of the series so far. There is a lot I like about Ascension so far, but it really has a great deal of problems that set it back. My first and biggest problem is the camera. Something I've never had a problem with before. It's because the previous games knew when the camera needed to be focused, and when it could afford to do a panorama. Ascension doesn't understand this at all. You'll be in the centre of a heated battle when all of a sudden the camera pans out far enough to be unable to see Kratos. This is simply sloppy game design.

second problem is the rage meter. The concept isn't bad on its own, it's the fact it's tied to what you can do in combat. Combat alway started pretty rigid in past entries, but quickly loosened up and flowed with the first or second level of the chains. This is thrown away with Ascension. Your full range of attacks is only unlocked when you have a full rage meter, a meter that is essentially tied to your combo.  This gives a little more emphasis on this portion of combat, but once again, the camera likes to screw you over, or you'll let a cheap attack fall through your flowing assault, bringing the difficult to build meter back to nothing. Once it's down, your available combo choices fall to what the first level blades have had in previous titles. It's rewarding when it works, but needlessly punishing and frustrating when it doesn't.

More to come when I finish the game and give it a review for SWM. It's not like the game is completely flawed. The visuals are some of the best on the PS3, and the set pieces are some of the best in the series. But these flaws and more have been bringing it down, to what has probably been my biggest disappointment in a long time, at least so far.

My friends, I need reccomendations for a Portable game!

Going on a long trip as of next friday, and i'm looking at picking up a new game for either my Vita or 3DS to accompany me. Problem is i'm having a hard time figuring out what will keep me busy. In an attempt to try something new and totaly not try to get some hits on my blog here, I turn to you Gamespot. Give me a reccomendation. I supposed iOS is on the table too, as at least my iPhone if not my iPad too will be going along with one gaming handheld. 3DS or Vita, and iOS. Lets hear something guys :)

BTW, my current libraries....
3DS: Super Mario 3D land, Mario Kart 7, Zelda OoT3D, Starfox 3D, DoA:D, and Kid Icarus

Vita: Stardust Delta, Escape Plan, Motorstorm RC, Resistance, Ninja Gaiden, Rayman, Metal Gear and Modnation