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polodoro Blog

Motion controllers, bleh.

Can't you feel it? This years E3 is going to be one to remember for sometime (at least a year anyway), with so many titles being mentioned needing clarification, inFAMOUS 2, Agent, Gears of War 3, COD: Black Ops, there is plenty to be tense about and there will undoubtedly be more reveals than you can fit in your pants. But I think this year is most notable for the motion controllers role.

Ultimately I think that a regular, normal, normal, regular controller will always best anything that involves motion, mainly because there is something to be said for pwning enemies without breaking a sweat, and for that reason I will be interested to see the public response to these controllers; but I find it hard to be optimistic. The wii's controller is two poorly designed, with a nunchuck, motion plus, vitality senser and a bunch of other useless trinkets the thing guzzles batteries like a battery guzzling gaming pad (hmmm?).

As for the Natal my problem with that is its complex nature. The thing takes a half dozen environmental readings to create a game input and with the frail nature of the XBOX 360 I wonder how well it will perform outside of a game demo. Also I don't see the main audience for the 360 being at all interested, they are a hardcore gaming bunch after all with FPS dominating the most sold on the platform. Then comes the Move.

Perhaps the most hopeless of the bunch, but then that wouldn't be saying much as they are all pretty terrible, this thing utilizes a coloured diode ontop of the controller which can be connected to a second coloured diode or a sub controller... The design is just ugly and a somewhat blatant copy of the Wii, which may explain the reason for its prefail, but my biggest gripe is that it seems to have no decent games and it just smells like a Sony propaganda novelty in the same field as the eyetoy; which was barely more than a web camera. At least Sony has its target right though, going after the wii's audience is definitely the right move and they are certainly the most experienced with motion controls, even thought the eyetoy was pretty shocking, but only time will tell to see how big a disaster this whole thing turns out to be.

Just to reiterate, E3 willl be made by the games not the novelty controllers. Uncharted 3 FTW!

The "Experience" Problem

I currently own 12 games on the PS3 and attached to those games are 8 sets of trophies, because 4 don't have trohpies. I currently have 3 platinum trophies which I spent labourious hours scowering 14th century Italy, running madly through a plague infected city and expertly examing dark caves in order to obtain (Assassin's Creed 2, inFAMOUS and Uncharted 2). However, out of the other six people I know, in the human world that have a PS3, none of them have a platinum trophy (well one of them does but it is for a WWE game so it doesn't count). I am more than happy to effectively waste my time collecting these trophies simply for the reason that I don't like leaving things incomplete however one of my friends recently pointed out that I could have a lot more fun playing a game for the sake of entertainment rather than braggin rights... And you know, after collecting 350 blast shards in inFAMOUS, I am starting to think he may have been right.

The problem is "Experience". That dirty little word that is attached to all gaming systems. By introducing a trophy system on the PS3 and an acheivement system on the 360 the developers have ensured they I have spent more time collecting feathers in Assassin's Creed than actually assassinating people, and that is just bizzare. It is strange how a reward system can completely change your opinion about a menial task; on the PS2 I never would have bothered but on the PS3 I think it is crucial, even if the reward isn't anything other than a new level.

Perhaps my friend is right and I should stop collecting these stupid trophies but I just can't stand seeing that a game is incomplete. I know that I would definitely have more fun if I did but I just can't bring myself to, part of me loves having trophies... Most of me loves having trophies, I have had arguably more fun viewing my friends ranking and comparing their trophies than playing games at all. Is that strange? I am no longer sure.

Either way as long as I am still enjoying myself I find it impossible to ever argue against next gen gaming.

Manga is very underappreciated.

You know what I love about truly great manga? Everything

People ask me why I think it is so good and I don't know what to say. It's simply brilliant through and through.

Take "Death Note" for example. That is undoubtedly my favourite series of all time. Both the manga and anima were perfect. The plot only takes one liberty, only makes one differentiation to the regular world, by introducing a realm of Shinigami, God's of Death, which each have a notebook that allows them to kill any human by writing their name into it, thereby extending their own lifespan. This all gets interesting when a shinigami, named Ryuk, drops his Death Note into the human world in order to amuse himself. The notebook is then found by Light Yagami, the smartest high school student in Japan, who chooses to use the notebook to rid the world of evil. In doing so he eventually becomes noticed by the public and given the name "Kira", taken from the english word "Killer", and the whole world stands in awe of his ability and the world's crime rates eventually begin to drop.

The only problem with the "Death Note" is that you must know a person's name and face in order to kill them and so when the world's greatest detective, "L", moves in on the case "Light" immediately realises what danger he is in and the battle of the wits begin as both "Light" and "L" are as smart as each other. This causes a ripple effect and some of the scenarious that are created from this paring are absolutely magnificent, it will leave you pondering for hours.

But I think the best thing about "Death Note" is that in it's very existence it questions every human virtue that anybody believes whole heartedly. The most intriguing thing about this series is that it is as much focused on "Light" as it is on his enemies so it is up to the viewer to decide who is truly doing the right thing; the murderer killing the criminals or the detective trying to save them. In turn this is a very direct question of people's morales specifically regarding capitol punishment and what we hide inside ourselves.

There is a million plot turns and the series lasts for 36 anima episodes, 12 manga books, 3 movies, 1 novel and a reedited version; all with different endings. The anima is probably the best with an exceptional musical score and brilliant theatrical techniques only seen in high quality opera.

And people stil question the quality of anima. That is just sad

Quicktime Events

A quicktime event was first defined in a game called Dragon's Lair which featured the most beautiful game visuals ever at the time as it was all pre-rendered. The idea of the game was to hit the buttons appearing on the screen as quickly as possible to prevent death, and while this may have been an interesting mechanic to begin with it has been truly misunderstood or meaningfully abused overtime. I never played Dragon's Lair but I have no gripe with it whatsoever, except for the fact that it launched the arch nemesis of video games... QUICKTIME EVENTS!

I would today define them as symbolic of everything that is wrong with the games industry. Quicktime events are the lazy developers method of making something epic and yet remaining interactive; and while this is often offers an interesting take on a preexisting formula, such as the interactive cutscenes in Assassins Creed, it can also be used for evil, such as the rubbish door opening in God of War 1 and 2 (lets hope they removed that from No. 3).

With modern technological advances you would think that games would be capable of becoming more complex but most triple A titles involve some form of quicktime events; infact some games simplify themselves so much that entire combat systems are based on quicktime events, trading gameplay for style. A very good example of this is the combat in Batman: Arkham Asylum; which while somewhat fun was incredibly lazy. The system feature 3 buttons one of which was barely used, one for attack, one for counter and one for stun. Some would argue this isn't a quicktime system but frankly any detailed combat system involves, weapon switching, multiple button presses and some way of regaining health (but the health is not my main problem at all), and yet Batman just uses a couple of buttons and slow motion to get away with it. That in my opinion is very lazy use of an otherwise excellent game.

And yet games like Batman are not even my main argument with the system. Take X-men Origins: Wolverine for example. Despite some poor reviews I am a huge fan due to it's God of War like gameplay and rediculous brutality and I would very much like to finish playing it one day... IF I CAN EVER GET PASSED THE DAMN SKYDIVING QUICKTIME EVENT! The way I see it is that this is an excellent game that the developers have ruined through their laziness. I have tried to beat this level for literally 3 hours over a period of 3 months and it is one of the most frustrating levels I have ever played. The event involves pressing circle, I estimate, at least 5 times a second which I am incapable of doing. I have gone as far as to try it on every finger without any sucess whatsoever. And all the developers have acheived is an intense hatred towards them.

There are countless examples of poor placement of quicktime events, such as Heavenly Sword, Spiderman 1, 2 and 3 and even obscure titles such as Lair (not to mention the thousands of games I haven't played). They are all boring and all frustrating. I just wish the developers realised how much misery they are causing.

James Cameron's: Avatar Film Review

I was lucky enough to see James Cameron's: Avatar yesterday in IMAX 3D. And take it from me, the film is unlike anything you have ever seen.

The film itself is quite lengthy clocking in at areound 2 hours 40 minutes, but I didn't even notice it was so long until the end. I just enjoyed it so much. Everything about the film is an asset, there are very few things I didn't like. The Film has a genius original score which is one of the highlights because of its strange sounding rythym and flawless blending. The special effects are imaculate and without question the very best ever to be created. Every part of the film looks realistic and beautiful beyond comparison. What I really think is great about these effects though isn't their beauty but the fact that they allow the story to progress while an action sequence is in progress. Unlike most science fiction films the effects aren't used as a mere bridge between the plot and the ending, they are the plot. The universe that has been crafted is just exceptional and there is rarely a moment where an effect is not involved. The action is absolutely incredible and after seeing the first sequence I gave a small applause out of excitement.

One of this films biggest assets is that the world of Pandora is a seminal masterpeice which is truly inspiring and immediately makes you want to take a holiday there, if only it existed. The plot, while somewhat contrive, is well thought out and scripted with clever dialogue and progression which never leaves you wondering what is going on and the 3D technique that has been employed is one of the greatest advancements in cinematic technology in history. The movie was so real, and not cornishly real like in old red and blue 3D, that it really did seem like you were apart of the universe. That said my eyes never got particularly or unbearably sore from looking at the massive screen or having the 3D images running around the dark cinema. The acting is also superb and it is great to see Sam Worthington in the lead role which he portrays enigmatically. This movie will undoubtedly fully launch him into the world of triple A film making.

Well done to the entire team behind Avatar. I can't wait for the Blu-ray version to come out. I have never bought a Blu-Ray movie before because I can't be stuffed watching movies over games generally (for instance my now second favourite movie is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves) but I will make an exception for an exceptional film. Rock on James Cameron!

The Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification - AKA The Fun Police

You know I am becoming incredibly tired of th OFLC's interference in the world of gaming in Australia. They may have started with good intentions but now it's like the board is being run by a group of historians determined not to let technology advance any further. It is quite sad that, supposedly, the smartest people in Australia can't open their eyes long enough to realise what gaming has become, what it means to so many people and just how important the industry is to the world's economy. More often than not these days games will outsell large box office enterprises and yet that doesn't even seem to phase the OFLC. No they continue to tear down gaming for all it's worth and maintain that they are correct in their judgement's no matter how often they are proven otherwise. Throughout the world we are seeing a revolution. Games are, finally, becoming common place and are advancing faster than imagineable. So many theatrical techniques and special effects today rely on the evolution of game design for their realism so it is no wonder that companies like Naughty Dog are capable of designing cinematical experiences like Uncharted 2 or that developers like Quantum Dream and Crytek can produce a new level of realism. And the obscurities do not end there. I can think of at least a dozen situations of the top of my head where the OFLC has blatantly screwed up and I am not making this up. For example and most recently, Left4Dead 2 had to be watered down to a soup because it contained (and I qoute) "High Impact Violence on Human's with a Rabbies Like Virus" and yet the same violence was allowed without exception into Australia in the form of Left4Dead 1. How can they justify destroying a games sequel (because frankly it was crap in Australia) when the first game which involved the same violence was completely allowed! And more importantly Australia is not a large market place so how many insults are developers going to take before they decide to boycot Australia for good. I really don't want to see that happen. Besides this point there are literally hundreds of cases where content such as drug names, for instance in Fallout 3 and GTA China Town wars, had to be changed in one game and not the other and many other cases where everywhere in the world the game has been classified as R18 and yet in Australia I was, and have, been able to buy them even though I am 15 years old. I would be happy to sacrifice some games for a few years in return for an R18 rating so if you think you are doing me a favour OFLC... think again. More than anything though I am sick of the blatant hypocrisy occuring in the OFLC. Michael Atkinson has repeatedly said he has almost complete support however almost every other board member is against him or too preoccupied to care. Then I also think about the result this is having on the Australian games industry. Can you imagine the pressure on Aussie developers not to over step their bounds, which are very very small, and at the same time create a decent game. This is probably the reason Australia is always stuck with the low budget movie tie in game for the Wii, PS2 and DS none of which anyone plays and also the reason why so many developers close down every year. I was hoping to get a career in the games industry but now if I want to do that I will have to travel overseas immediately on the hope that work will be available. It would be much easier to get a job as a neuro scientist.

And the thing that annoys me the most is that this is completely unecessary! Since when did our government become a regime? They really have no right whatsoever to tell Australian Adults they can't view anything at all. In fact in the OFLC's own guidelines they outline that "Australian adults should be able to see, hear and watch what they want." Why does this exclude the most popular medium on Earth?