What Is A Blog? A Miserable Pile of Secrets?
DarthHomer's rants & ravings on the game/movie/music/TV/whatever industry.
It started with a flurry of e-mails:
"mystic_knight has added you as a friend on Raptr"
"matsnibbs has added you as a friend on Raptr"
Naturally curious, I decided to see what the hubbub was about, and somehow, I got linked back to Gamespot. Seeing as I haven't done anything here for at least half a year, I decided to check out the forums...and it was the same old thing. But it wasn't until I had stumbled back onto my profile page, and seen my most recent blog post on here. It wasn't that I wasn't happy with what I had posted on here, but the fact that I left the series incomplete, when I had actually finished it.
So I guess to sorta satisfy my OCD, I thought I'd post this so that if anyone's curious, they'll be able to know what I've been up to. And it's better than having a post from an incomplete series as my last seen thing.
Basically, I've been trying to find a full time job. I finished with university, just got my degree (no really - I got it on the 29th of April), so I've been spending the last few months trying to look for a job. Fun times, I assure you.
A lot of my time has been spent with Level 3 - and a LOT has happened in the last six months. With the help of a mate of mine, we've remade the podcast and changed it into a format that I'm very comfortable with, and ensures regularity in both episode release and audio quality. And the podcasts are really fun to record to, which is the most important thing. I've also taken on a larger role on camera - providing more review and feature content. And then there's the fact that we're now broadcasting in Sydney via TVS (10:30 Thursday nights!), and the upcoming switch to digital broadcasting should make it a lot easier for everyone to watch the show.
So I guess I should come around to Gamespot. Why did I stop posting? Well, a number of reasons. First off, all of the above should fill in a lot of the blanks. Secondly, I was just frustrated with the site - all the technical problems and the overly enforced moderation didn't help in this regard...though maybe it's eased up a bit more, I've no idea. Thirdly, I'd discovered other communities, and the somewhat repetitious nature of the Gamespot communities was getting kinda boring.
Hopefully, I should be around here a bit more. I won't fully commit (because again, I have other stuff), but I'll stop by every now and again. If anything, I want to get to 10,000 posts before I can never post on the forum again - because that's just too damned perfect of a number.
So yeah. That should get you all back up to speed. For everything else DarthHomer, you can check out the following:
5. Killzone 2 (PS3)
Going back to the first time the PS3 was announced way back in 2005, one of the first things that Sony showed off was some footage for Killzone 2, a sequel to a game that while had some cool things about it, no-one really dug. But going back to the footage; despite it later being revealed to be pre-rendered footage, it was quite possibly the most stunning CG work that people had seen for a console, and while it didn't quite match it when it was released four years later, it's still damned impressive stuff. And easily among the best looking games on any console.
What makes Killzone 2 great is just how different it feels to most first person shooters currently available on consoles. This isn't the rabbit fast pacing of something like Call of Duty, but more of a deliberate, realistic pacing. It's slow, but definitely rewarding – as the game feels just fantastic. Everything has a good weight and feel to it, which is refreshing. And it feels very satisfying to shoot someone, which is all you can ask for a good shooter.
The other big different comes in the form of a cover system. It sounds like such a simple and pointless addition, but here, it totally works. And makes dying a lot less painful, especially when you know you can take cover successfully. It can totally change the way skirmishes play out. In fact, it's such an awesome addition that you do really wish for other games like it to have it, like Modern Warfare 2; or wish that other games that at least used it would do it right, like Rogue Warrior.
Furthermore, the game is just a blast to play online. Why? Well, aside from taking the same base game and allowing the customization elements you'd have in something like a Call of Duty game, there are plenty of modifications to ensure that it's a different, yet still fun experience. This includes major things like being able to run for infinite lengths, or smaller things like using your own music as the games soundtrack. They add up to make one of the more fun experiences on the Playstation Network.
If anything though, the only real thing that Killzone 2 doesn't do well is originality. Sure, there are some cool new features and what not, but there's very little originality, and does feel like yet another space marine shooter. But the games truly biggest success is just how much of an improvement it really is over its PS2 predecessor. And really, if you're looking for a great FPS experience that you can only really get on the PS3, Killzone 2 is right up your alley.
4. The Beatles: Rock Band (PS3/360/Wii)
Thanks to Activision, 2009 saw an absolute glut of Hero games, ranging from the excellent (Guitar Hero Metallica, Guitar Hero 5), some decent (DJ Hero, Guitar Hero Greatest Hits and the Guitar Hero On Tour games) to the absolutely pointless and execrable (Guitar Hero Van Halen and Band Hero). And despite this, only one Rock Band game was released this year, and proved to be easily one of the better games of the year. Also kinda helps that the game is focused around quite possibly the greatest band of all time.At a base level, it's still very much Rock Band 2, just reskinned and focused around the Beatles. Totally understandable, but where the real fun lies in just how much of a Beatles experience that Harmonix have crafted into the game.
The tour mode is the perfect representation of this, with all of the stages taking place over the different stages of the Beatles career, and all the unlockables are of note, from a lot of rare photographs to some curious little videos and what not.But where the game really shines is in the dreamscape levels. Because the Beatles were a studio band for most of the latter part of the 60's, the game attempts to recreate what the band were seeing when they were writing songs like "Yellow Submarine" or "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds". And for the most part, it does look quite nice.This is despite the latter levels not looking as spectacular as the earlier ones.
Though really, the one point that may disappoint a lot of people is the track list. Sure, it has representation from every Beatles album, but some key songs (like All You Need is Love, Strawberry Fields Forever, A Day in the Life, Help!) are missing, leaving you to purchase these when they are released as downloadable content; and at the moment – you can only purchase A Day in the Life and All You Need is Love.
Overall, the Beatles Rock Band is possibly the best rhythm game of the year. Sure, it doesn't do anything spectacularly new and what not, but it doesn't really need to. Plus, it's a fantastic way to get into the music of one of the greatest bands ever.
Game #3 - Red Faction Guerrilla (PS3/360/PC)
June 2009 might as well be known as the month where Sandbox games reigned supreme. Why? Because three somewhat remarkably sandbox games were released onto the market. You've got Sony's infamous, which was a good, though flawed attempt. You then have Activision's Prototype, which wasn't very good at all. And then you come to THQ's Red Faction Guerilla, which is probably the more interesting of the trio, for several reasons. For starters, there's no need for superpowers – though the sledgehammer you get for the duration of the game is pretty damned super.
The first part is that it's an interesting reboot of the Red Faction series. While the first two were somewhat decent first person shooters that never really did take too much advantage of the Geo-Mod feature that made it a big deal back in the day, here the Geo-Mod engine actually works to the games advantage. Destroying buildings and objects has an extremely large part to do in the game, and it never gets old. Never. And it's not the stock standard video game destruction here – tearing down buildings in specific places does affect how the building will fall over, so if you hit the supports just right, you'll have a much easier time taking the building than just randomly attempting to destroy the building. Or you could just drive a car into the building and use that to destroy it.
The second part is just the way the game feels. As an open world game, it compares very similarly to developer Volition's own Saints Row series, but improved in some regards. For starters, the 'respect' system where you needed to consistently fill up a respect bar (by doing activities) in order to attempt any missions? Not present. As long as there are missions available to you, you need nothing more to actually do them, with the last missions appearing as you drain control away from the evil EDF. You can do the activities still, and some of them you can do repeatedly to earn more salvage (the games currency) and get closer to achieving some trophies or achievements.
That being said, there are some elements of the game that don't quite work well in its favor. The first comes in the mission triggers – there's an alert system in the game where green means you're alright, yellow means that the EDF are onto you, and red meaning that the EDF are going to kill you. All well and good, but if you're driving out to go do missions, you need to have a green alert to do them. It's a pain, especially when it's tricky to shake off the EDF at times. Furthermore, the difficulty becomes absolutely punishing at times, which really does hurt the game some.
Overall, Red Faction Guerilla is a fantastic return to form for the Red Faction series (RF2 wasn't quite good), with the reboot working to create one of the most fun experiences you'll have in a video game. Sure, it's quite derivivative of Saints Row 2, but then again, is that really a bad thing? And also, it does get quite difficult at times, but that's put aside when you watch as you take down a massive building with nothing more than a sledgehammer and remote charges. Quite something.
2. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (DS/PSP/iPhone)
I'll be quite frank with you. I really didn't like Grand Theft Auto IV. Sure, there were some impressive things about it (such as the voice acting and the way that the game felt), but for me anyway, that was more outweighed by the bad (mission design wasn't up to scratch, soundtrack was very hit and miss, visuals were boring, police spawning was erratic and almost unfair, and the story wasn't too particularly great). In fact, the best GTA in recent years is a PSP and DS (and soon to be iPhone) game – Chinatown Wars. And it's amazing that it didn't sell – given that GTA is such a mainstream game, and that the DS is so absurdly popular. In the US in it's first month, the game sold less than 100K. Depressing.
The first thing that strikes you about Chinatown Wars is that it takes you back to a pre-GTA III era of gaming, but mixed in with some of the elements from later GTA games (such as the ability to use taxi-cabs and stuff like that). The second thing that strikes you is that it WORKS. Unlike the previous attempt at a GTA game on a Nintendo handheld, everything here just seems to work a lot better – from the multiplayer, to car control and just control in general. Hell, even the touchscreen specific stuff (for the DS version), actually works really well, even if some of it can be a little cumbersome.
Probably the most compelling thing about the game would have to be the drug trading mini-game. Put simply, it plays similar to the Drug Wars game that people have known and loved for many years, you buy low and sell high, control supply and demand, and just proves to be really quite fun. And hey, having it not edited for the Australian release was quite something. Plus, it's easily the best way to get cash in the game, because you really don't get paid enough for actually completing missions.
That being said, the game isn't quite right. For starters, ticking off the cops is way too easy in this game than in previous GTA games, if only because there are cops EVERYWHERE, and touching them is really simple. The music is also an issue...It's just not great stuff. While it is all licensed music, good luck knowing any of it. Furthermore, the combat's a little iffy, but then again, it's always been an issue with GTA. Oh, and there are still some niggles that make the combat still not quite right, but better than in past GTA's.
Otherwise, it's a fantastic experience and one that needs to be sampled on any platform. It's a really enjoyable, if not flawed, GTA game.
Here we go, my annual "Game of the Year" posts. Always look forward to doing these, as it allows me to look back on the year that was and analyze what games were truly exemplary in a year full of fantastic purchases for just about anyone. Should also mention that everything here is stuff that I've played, so I can't wax lyrical on anything that I haven't sampled (i.e Borderlands, for instance).
And here we go...
1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)
The Playstation 3 has been a joke of a console since before it even launched. I'm sure I don't need to bring up the $599, Ridge Racer and Giant Enemy Crab memes to remind anyone of that. And hell, for close to a year, there was very little reason for anyone to actually own one. But ever since then - the system's slowly been getting better and better, and the line up of exclusive software has been arguably the best of the generation so far. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a further example of that, and may very well be easily the best game released all year.
Uncharted 2 does many, many things right. It has some of the best characterization you'll see in any game, and while the story and characters can fall into stereotypes and cliches, that's the point - it's meant to be reminiscent of those pulp serials that helped inspire the Indiana Jones series of films, and really, is that a bad thing? When the game shifts to a cutscene, you're interested and excited to see what's going to happen next, and not only because the story, but also because of the visuals - Uncharted 2 is easily one of the best looking games you'll see on any console. It's no wonder why Sony went with the cringe inducing "it looks like a movie" ad campaign.
The gameplay has also seen some improvement. The difficulty now works better so that if you're playing on harder difficulties, it's still relatively manageable throughout the whole game, compared to the original, where it proved to be more of a pain than anything else. The gun combat has also been improved so that enemies don't take a ludicrous amount of damage to kill, but still doesn't feel right, compared to similar games like Gears of War 2, which has that whole cover based shooter thing down pat.
One are also worth commenting on is the improved stealth gameplay and multiplayer. Despite being initially thought as being terrible additions, they prove to be some of the best handled aspects of the game - the stealth isn't a required opiton to play the game, but it becomes incredibly useful later. The multiplayer is also one of the most fun games you'll experience on the Playstation Network, thanks to the fact that everything you can do in the single player you can do in the multiplayer, so jumping and climbing plays just as much of a role as taking cover or precisely shooting. It breaks the trend of fantastic single player games having unnecessary and often pointless multiplayer.
All in all, Uncharted 2 is easily one of the best games of the year, providing an excellent single player with a well thoughtout and fun multiplayer component. Looks absolutely stunning and matches that aurally to boot. And the best part? There's very little to actually complain about. Good news to everyone who doesn't own a PS3 - you now have your reason to pick one up.
So yeah. I haven't done this blogging thing for a while. Or done much around the Gamespot community. You may be wondering, what gives Darth? Well, there's been a few reasons why, so you'll have to understand.
Firstly, I've been very busy with the Level 3 stuff. Aside from all the behind the scenes stuff that I've been doing, I've also taken on a much more proactive role within the group as a reviewer and an interviewer. As you'd expect, it's time consuming stuff ensuring that I can come up with a decent review or plan out stuff to do for an interview. That, and I ran a booth and did stuff on the main stage of eGames for Level 3, so there's also that.
Secondly is university. I just graduated from a three year degree not too long ago, and thanks to that, I'm now in the middle of job hunting. Lemme tell you, it's not fun stuff. Not in the slightest.
Thirdly, and I feel most importantly, is that the community just hasn't been all that terribly fascinating for me lately. I mean, I'm sure I don't have to bring up that several of the more prominent members of the Gamespot AU community left due to some pointless and utterly stupid (like it always is) e-drama, which I'm not going to waste any more time bringing up. That, and some other people left due to stuff like Gamespots draconian TOS. One of which I'm literally talking to as I write this.
I'll still stand by that. I mean no disrespect to anyone who actually enforces it, because knowing (and podcasting!) with a few of them, they're generally good dudes. Just the TOS is so ridiculously draconian and overly strict that I'm honestly shocked it hasn't driven more people away! But that's irrelevant.
I came back here after a year long absence once because I'd just discovered the AU community, and fell back in love with the place. It was a great time, and the community was fresh, exciting and interesting - the absolute perfect kind of community. That was in 2007. Now? Topics are constantly being recycled, most of the people I've found interesting have left and gone elsewhere, and the problems with the site that have been there for the past few years? Still not fixed.
Honestly, I've half thought of just leaving entirely, because I'm rapidly become more and more disinterested in the community and have found more places to call 'home'. Places like The VG Press and Australian Gamer have been filling that void for me that this place used to. I mean, if you guys can give me a reason to stick around, I'm all ears. I really am.
But aside from that, I've been well and what not. I've just found less and less use for this place.
Let's face it, unless you're one of the many people whom enjoy picking up a sports game ever year with the little things added, or the holders of an IP or a publisher, most people do not look forward to licensed games. Not often because of the license itself, but generally because the game is poor. It's been the same year in and year out for the longest period of time now.
But it looks that as we close out 2009, that publishers and developers are starting to 'get' the fact that just because you have a cool and/or interesting license doesn't mean you can't release a product that doesn't reflect this cool and/or interesting license. Sure, we had a few of those in the form of Star Trek D-A-C, parts 1&2 of Watchmen: The End is Nigh, Terminator Salvation and the recently released GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but for everything else? Well, it's generally been pretty good.
The first one that immediately springs to mind is Activision's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The movie was one of the worst and most disappointing movies of the year. And yet, the game has been even more favourably rated. The Uncaged Edition (i.e. the super, over the top bloody one that was released on the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3) rates around the low to high 70% mark on Metacritic, and around 75-80% on Game Rankings, proving to be one of the more surprisingly good licensed games to be released this year. In fact, the one thing that the game did right better than the movie was that made you feel like you were Wolverine, which is something that really cannot be done with the movie. Oh, and made it bloodier - something that Wolverine fans would've loved.
THQ's UFC 2009: Undisputed is another example of this. Very few people were looking forward to the game before it came out (I was one of them), and then when the demo was released onto the Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Network, it blew a lot of people away - even more so since it was a completely different sport to what developer Yuke's (developers of the WWE Smackdown series, also from THQ) were used to. It scored even better than Wolverine, with an average score of 83 and 84% on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 from Metacritic, and an average of 83% from Game Rankings.
Hell, even rhythm games have had their fare share of great licensed games. Take Activision's Guitar Hero Metallica for instance, two IP's that are almost synomous with selling out. Average scores? 84-86% on Metacritic and 85-87% on Game Rankings, with many reviewers praising (and rightly so) at just how well Neversoft created an experience ripe for Metallica fans. And while it hasn't been released yet (as of the time of writing), MTV/Harmonix's The Beatles: Rock Band looks set to follow in this trend of an excellent band focused rhythm game.
Though the one biggest recent example would have to be Eidos' Batman - Arkham Aslyum. Eidos are not exactly the most popular publisher with the general gaming populace (one only has to look at the Gerstmann-Gate saga or the reports of managing the scores given by reviewers), and the developer behind it, Rocksteady Studios, had only one other game under their belt - the somewhat underrated (going by reponses to people who've played it) Urban Chaos - Riot Response. And the other factor going into this? There hasn't been an excellent Batman game in years, with people citing Sunsoft's late 80's NES adaptation of the '89 Batman movie or Konami's 1992 and 1994 adaptations of Batman Returns and the Adventures of Batman and Robin as the only really great Batman games. Everything else? Medicore at best, unbelievably awful or cancelled (as was the fate of the planned game based around the Dark Knight movie) at worst.
The response was almost impossible to believe.
Metacritic averages the critical responses at around 91-92%, with Game Rankings averaging it at around 91%. It's nuts. So nuts that the Guinness Book of Records actually NOMINATED the game for a World Record - the Most Critically Acclaimed Super Hero Game Ever. I couldn't be making this up if I tried. Though generally, it does seem quite deserving, as from all accounts - the game is quite excellent. Not perfect, but still one of the better games to be released this year.
This trend could extend somewhat to whatever few major licensed games are left coming out this year. EA's NHL 10, given the last two iterations, should still hold up as being a fantastic game. Another EA product, FIFA 10, also looks to continue the series recent trend of being excellent. I'm also having high hopes for THQ's WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010. Not only because it's THQ's last year as the publisher of WWE games, but because based on previews so far, it definitely seems like one hell of a game to go out on.
2009 has been one of the more interesting years for video gaming. We're talking about a year where some of the biggest and most interesting games scheduled to come out around this time have been pushed back to avoid conflict with Microsoft's Halo 3: ODST and Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, two games that although will sell ungodly amounts. Though the one trend that I pray carries over into 2010 is this trend of great licensed games. It can be done, which is the one think that everyone has learnt from this year.
EDIT: Had to remove a few of the links because of some ridiculous errors. Even when they're from the same parent company...
Not too long ago, I wrote up about a 3DO 'game' known as Plumbers Don't Wear Ties. It was bloody horrible, but yet, fascinating to me. I hadn't seen anything this bad before, especially from the 'adult' subgenre that could only really be found on the 3DO. Following this, I tried to search for some more information to do a write up for another game..but that proved fruitless. That, and I was incredibly busy at the time (due to Uni and other committments).
And then the Game Heroes put up video on Blonde Justice.
Now, given there are a lot of images, and the content I talk about is NSFW (well, slightly anyway), I've chucked it up on my other site, which you can check out here. Would love your thoughts guys.
Hopefully should get back to regular writing on here soon.
Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the Mega Drive's launch into Western territories...well, in America anyway. To celebrate, Sega have come up with a unique idea. They want to put another one of their classic games on the Xbox Live Arcade, and they're getting gamers to choose. You're probably wondering why no PSN release...well, it's probably for the better anyway. I mean, the last time Backbone (who'll end up doing the port, more than likely) did a PSN version, they knew their online mode sucked, but because it didn't sell well enough (according to them anyway), they won't fix it. Oh, and Backbone have a reputation for actually removing key features and doing relatively lame emulation work anyway...or it'll end up on a new multi-platform collection...but that's neither here nor there.
If you're interested in voting (you've got a week), the games are the following:
Streets of Rage
Toe Jam & Earl
Golden Axe II
Revenge of Shinobi
Not too bad of a list actually. All of these would make great ports (well...maybe not Golden Axe II or the original Streets of Rage), but you have to wonder, why are Sega even putting up the poll?
I mean, one of the choices is EARTHWORM FREAKING JIM.
At the moment (well, 12:55pm on August 15, 2009), Earthworm Jim has 46% of the vote. The second place game, Toe Jam & Earl, has 19% of the vote.
My god. You really have to wonder if there's even a point to the poll, seeing as EWJ has clearly won it...at this point anyway. It should be interesting to check back throughout the week and see whether or not EWJ will maintain its dominance.
If you want to keep up with it, you can check the site here
For the few of you that were wondering where my latest blog was last week...it turns out that I was busier than I thought I was going to be, and I needed more time to finish it off. But I digress. I just finished it, and it's a different style of writing for me - where I use a lot more pictorial and video evidence to help my point...as well as get a little angry. Due to these reasons, the entry has been uploaded to my Blogger blog:
The NSFW warning is partially due to the content in the game I talk about, but also due to me dropping some cuss words in there. Check it out guys, and please comment on both here and on the blogger page, if you can.
Hope to see y'all next week.
As a born and bred Melburnian, I've been born with the predisposition to despise Sydney and everything in there; much like how Sydney-siders (god, what a terrible name) were born with the predisposition to despise Melbourne and everything about it. When they get something cool, we complain and we conspire to get it away from us, and when we get something cool, they complain and conspire to get it away from us. But despite my hatred of Sydney, there is one aspect of it that I miss.
Let me explain the story proper. I've just started my last semester (well, Trimester, but that's irrelevant) of University. I'm a 3rd year student, and I'll be graduating soon. I finish in October, and after a couple of exams and the eGames expo, I've decided that I want to leave Melbourne and go somewhere - either interstate or internationally, for a trip. In terms of linterstate places, I'm considering going to places such as Brisbane or Sydney, but then I started thinking about the times I went up to Brisbane and Sydney with my family, which then led me to think specifically about the place I remember most about Sydney, Sega World - easily the first, and still the only interactive theme park in Austeralia.
Basically, the park was situated at Darling Harbour (right next to the IMAX theater, if I can recall correctly), and was described as "an interactive Disneyland". The theme park opened up in 1997, at a time where Sega wasn't really doing so hot in the West (their console at the time, the Saturn, wasn't doing as well as it should've). There were lots of rides such as roller coasters, motion rides and what not, but the coolest part of it? An absolutely massive arcade...or at least, collection of arcade machines. Say what you will about Sega, but they've got a reputation for some totally awesome arcade games. In fact, when we had visited the place, all of the machines were on free-play, which was incredible.
My one and only visit to Sega World (and still, my only visit to Sydney) took place in August 2000. I remember this specifically because we left the Saturday before the NRL Grand Final of that year (which took place on the 27th of August). We did all the usual tourist things - we hit up Darling Harbour, took plenty of ferries, visited the somewhat disappointing, and now closed, Wonderland; as well as visiting Homebush Bay to do a tour of the Olympic compund. And yet, I still have fonder memories of playing Virtua On: Cybertroopers or Fighting Vipers or a Japanese arcade variant of Puyo Pop than visiting the site where the 2000 Olympics took place.
I hadn't thought of Sega World in years, so it saddened me when I learnt the fate of it. Three months after I had visited, the park had closed down. The reason? The park wasn't making much money. The owners of the park were hoping that the massive influx of tourists coming to Sydney for the Olympics would help out quite a bit and save Sega World...but that didn't end up happening. As such, the park closed in November. All the arcade games and attractions were sold off...but few people came and the products sold for minimal value. One of the rides reportedly had sold for $60,000 less than its expected $200,000 price.
From there, the building was used as a variety of homes to various things - including notably a furniture exhibition warehouse, until October and November of last year, where the building was demolished. You can find footage of that on YouTube. That I found yesterday.
I guess you could consider Sega World something that was ahead of its time, where gaming wasn't as big as it is now, and something like this could work a little better. You could also chalk up its failure due to the whole death of the arcades that was happening at the time. But I still don't understand why people, especially tourists coming in for the Olympics, didn't help save the park.
Though there is a funny story to come out of this. When Sega Australia started up, its head mentioned that the site of where their office is overlooks where Sega World once was. It's kinda funny in an ironic fashion.
But what about you guys? If you went down to Sega World, did you have any fond memories or what not? Also, I wouldn't mind some travel advice or suggestions for places to go.
Everyone whom knows me knows that I love Tekken. While I've been anticipating the release of Tekken 6 for a couple of years now (and having a go at the new Bloodline Rebellion game every chance I can get), the soon to be released game has some interesting developments. One such has come from the game's director, Katsuhiro Harada, whom is quoted as saying from a Namco Bandai event that unlocking characters is oudated, thanks to online play. And as such, Tekken 6 will feature all 40 characters unlocked right from the get go. You can read more here
It's an interesting statement by Harada, at least to me. I'm one of the few people that actually doesn't mind unlocking characters in fighting games, mainly because for the most part, it's pretty easy to do.Yet apparently people are sick of it. I remember around the time of the release of Street Fighter IV, people were complaining that they had to unlock characters. In fact, people are still complaning - Gamespot AU's Randolph Ramsay just updated his Twitter mentioning that "Sometime today I have to unlock all the characters for the 360 version of SFIV again. As Shakespeare once said, life's a b****." Hell, the upcoming re-release of Marvel vs Capcom 2 has all its characters unlocked from the get-go.
I never quite understood why people were complaning. After all, three of the better (and more easily abusable) characters were already unlocked from the get go (Ken, Blanka and Sagat), and really, none of the more popular characters (such as Ryu or Chun-Li) were unlockable anyway - it was only the newer characters added to the home console version of the game.
A lot of why I don't mind unlocking characters in fighting games is that for the most part, it's both easy to do, and can get you using each character. For the 'easy unlocks', let's use Namco's Tekken and Soul Calibur series as examples. The method of unlocking characters in Tekken and in some of the Soul Calibur games is two-fold - either beat arcade/story mode a certain amount of times, or take part in a certain number of fights. In theory, you could unlock all the characters by just playing as the one character over and over again, but some of the unlocks required a bit more work. For instance, Tekken 5 had the character Devil Jin, whom was only unlockable by completing the otherwise unmemorable "Devil Within" mini-game or play around 500 or so fights. Because I've never beaten Devil Within (it's terrible), and I play more multiplayer than anything else, it's easier that way for me to get all the characters.
The example also applies to Soul Calibur III. Back when I had a copy of the game, there was a well known glitch where if you deleted or moved data from your memory card, your save game became corrupt. I was lucky enough that it didn't completely destroy all my progress, but one of the modes in the game - the new and hyped up mode "Chronicles of the Sword" was completely unavailable to me, thanks to the corruption. This was the only way to unlock certain characters and creation parts. As well as that, unlocking the sub-boss of the game was ridiculous - thanks to you being forced to go down a specific path for each character and not losing a fight. Not easy when the game is completely broken. Though thanks to playing a large number of fights, I managed to get most of the unlocks - save for the stuff you need to play Chronicles of the Sword.
So what of the other example - using each character? Here, the two examples I want to use are Virtua Fighter 5 and Street Fighter IV. VF5's sole unlockable character, Dural, could only be unlocked by beating arcade mode with each character. Considering that each character played differently from one another, it was recommended you spent some time in the training modes to understand how to play each character. Though the benefit you got from the game was that you technically never needed to beat the last fight against Dural. Either beating her or losing against her earns you a completition for that character, so it made playing through the game somewhat decent.
As for Street Fighter, it was only required to get the last unlockable character - final boss Seth. Unlike VF, SF4 features several characters that play practically the same (six in fact - Ryu, Sakura, Ken, Dan, Akuma and Gouken), so it's easy in that regard. Granted, you had to deal with a stupidly cheap boss in the form of Seth, but there were ways around it...by setting the game to 1 round, 30 second timer and on the easiest difficulty setting. Granted, people might think that this is annoying because they're forced to use characters they're not familiar with (or can't abuse like crazy), but really - it's better overall that you have an idea how to play as each character. Makes you a better player and all.
Despite this, there can be some fighters where unlocking characters is a pain. Marvel vs Capcom 2 is a prime example. Here, half of the 56 playable characters (well, technically 55) were made playable, with the rest unlocked via a mode known as Secret Factor. By playing the game, you'd earn points that were spent to go towards unlocking stuff - stages, characters, colours, artwork etc. But the problem was that it took bloody ages to do, and some of the more familiar and better characters in the game (such as Sentinel, Storm, Magneto, Akuma, Ken and more) were locked. Furthermore, each of the unlockables came in a 'tiering' system, and before you could move onto the next 'tier', you had to spend a certain number of points, which meant you had to buy stuff you otherwise wouldn't normally get (like a stage). So you could imagine how grateful I was to Capcom that the upcoming re-release includes all the characters already unlocked.
As for the online play making fighters outdated...I can see Harada's point. After all, it wouldn't be quite fair for someone to take on another player whom has the best character in the game unlocked. Super Smash Bros Brawl did it like this also - where online, all the characters were already unlocked. SF4 handled it in an interesting way, where if you had all the unlocked characters and your opponent didn't, they could use all your unlocked characters; which I guess is fair.
It's an interesting statement, and something that I'd love to discuss more on this weeks Level 3 podcast...should we do one. Though I'm interested in your take - should fighting games already come with all its characters pre-unlocked? If you've got an answer to this question, leave a comment. I'm interested in your responses.
Hey guys, thought I'd do something a little different this week.
I've been working on a review for the new Transformers movie. Granted, it's been out a week (well, a week tomorrow anyway), but seeing as most of y'all would have probably seen it by now, it's pretty safe to upload without fear of spoilers. Though there is the warning, just in case.
Oh, you want to read it? Well then, Head on over here
Thought I'd chuck this one up on my other blog, thanks to better image support and the fact that I can get away with saying a few nasty words.
Then there's the next blog about the movie, where all day I was told not to see it by various sources. You can check this one out Here
Have a good week guys!
I'm not too entirely convinced about the whole iPhone gaming revolution that various gaming websites are trying to convince is the real deal. Don't get me wrong - the quality of most iPhone games is certainly better than anything you're sure to get on a regular mobile phone in terms of how well the game runs and what not. But at the same time, and for someone who's had plenty of experience playing games on his iPhone (well, iPod Touch), it just seems like empty hype. Sure, there are great games on the iTunes App Store (such as anything by Ngmoco), but everything else is best left unmentioned.
Though the one area that I'm interested the most in are games that are well known on other platforms and adapted to the iPhone platform. This includes stuff from Namco (Katamari, Galaga & Pac-Man, of course), Sega (Super Monkey Ball, Golden Axe and Sonic the Hedgehog) and Capcom (such as Mega Man 2). And for the most part, they haven't been all that great. Sure, they're well emulated and what not, but the biggest problem comes in control. Sure, it makes sense for a game like Monkey Ball or Katamari to use the accelerometer to control the game, but for stuff like Sonic or Megaman...it doesn't entirely work. The 'virtual' controls don't work as well as they should, and it feels wrong to be playing something like that without a proper form of control.
Then I picked up Wolfenstein 3D...
I hadn't owned a copy of any of the Wolfenstein games (save for Enemy Territory), though I've played just about all the major ones. And hey, $4 AUD isn't a huge loss on something like this, so I gave it a shot. And believe it or not, I was pleasantly surprised that the game actually worked. Not entirely perfectly, but it worked.
I guess of the major reasons why Wolfenstein works on something like the iPhone is that you don't really need to worry about looking up or down. And the game can be controlled using three buttons. One that dictates movement, one for strafing and one to fire your weapon. You can't switch weapons (or at least, I don't know how to), and the game is pretty generous in terms of getting shots on an enemy or what not.
What's interesting is that id have opened up all six episodes, meaning that you can play the game at any point you desire. Wanna start at the final episode? Wanna start on the infamous Hitler boss battle? You totally can. Sure, you don't get the best weapons or much ammo to begin with (since it starts a completely new game should you do this), but it's still quite nice. And hey, being able to listen to your own music while playing is also quite cool too.
Though the one thing that relaly got to me was the way you moved. You can change it, but the default one sees you turning way more than you really should be - due to it being both a move/turn button. It's annoying, but you can always change it or try to get used to it. Though when id release Doom onto the App Store, I'm sure it'd be pretty much the same example.
If anything, Wolfenstein is a good example on how a classic game can control using the iPhone. It suits the platform perfectly, and is very pick up and play, much like most of the better games on the service. There are some control issues, but you can change them, or at least try to get used to them.
If you truly believe that the iPhone can be a great gaming platform, then pick this one up. If nothing more than to marvel at the fact that a fully unlocked and well emulated version of Wolfenstein 3D can be played on your phone.
Sorry for the terrible pun. I'm no Elektrixxx.
Also, massive news coming soon. I think lots of people are going to like it when I reveal it.
I love me the King of Fighters series. Fantastic series, has heaps of consistency between entries and always a challenging game. So my heart kinda sank a little upon the announcement of a King of Fighters movie. Because we all know how it's going to turn out. In fact, part of this blog has to do with that. Upon reading up on NeoGAF, someone had posted a picture of the supposed villain of the film, long time KOF baddie Rugal. Not a bad thing, I thought. Then I saw the picture with him and what appeared to be representations of two other KOF characters, Mature and Vice.
Since KOF isn't as big as SF, and hence most people don't really know about the series, here are some pictures to clarify:
This is Rugal (that'd be the dude in the middle)
This is Mature.
As you can see, two thirds of that picture don't look completely bloody ridiculous and actually LOOK somewhat like the characters they're meant to represent. Rugal...oh man. That picture is bloody hysterical.
Yeah, yet another creatively dull week. Maybe something cool enough with show up next week to stimulate my creativity.
So my little E3 experiment didn't go so well...eh, it happens. At least I know what not to do next time...
Speaking of E3, here's where I would be giving a post-conference talk as to how this will be affecting the landscape and what not, but instead, I'm going to do something a little different.
Last Sunday, I was a guest on Single Player - a radio show all about gaming on SYN 90.5, a community radio station. I talked E3 with the host, Donald for an hour, and just managing to fit in conversation and analysis on Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft's conferences.
Take a listen guys, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
This week, we're going to do something a little different.
Normally when I write during E3, I do a series of blog posts talking about every little nugget of detail that appears from E3. While it's good practice and what not, I find that I always miss some information that I've really wanted to talk about. So this year, I'm going to try out an experimental way of blogging (at least, to me).
Instead of writting a series of blogs, I'm going to write the one entry, and I'll update it with every little bit of information that I come across. Therefore, if you want my know my take on what happens, you'll need to check out this page frequently. This being my last week of university, and the majority of my assignments done, I should be good to update it pretty frequently.
So until, stay tuned for my thoughts on the Microsoft press conference!
UPDATE 2/6 - Microsoft/EA/Ubisoft Press Conference.
I'm impressed. This has been a pretty good day for news - hell, getting a NEW Monkey Island series is enough. And it's fantastic to know that a lot of these games that were previously rumoured (such as Forza 3 and Crackdown 2) have been confirmed. Crackdown 2 hitting PC's has made me very, very happy.
Honestly, the only disappointment to me is Halo Reach. Not saying that it could be bad or anything, but I'm more disappointed that Bungie, whom had this massive deal to seperate from Microsoft, are developing it. Wasn't the whole point of that to get away from Halo? Oh, and All You Need Is Love as exclusive DLC is complete crap. Shouldn't be DLC, or even exclusive, to begin with.
Furthermore, I'm actually kinda disappointed that there were very few 1st party exclusive games confirmed for the end of the yea from MS. The only thing confirmed (at least, to my knowledge), was Forza 3. Not a bad thing in the slighest, but I was expecting a little more. Though I guess Halo ODST and Forza do make for some big names...even if one of them isn't a new game
Though I need to read up on Natal (it kinda missed me the first time), and Metal Gear Rising (which will more than likely hit the PS3), it's going to be hard for either Nintendo or Sony to top it.
Oh, and I kinda would've liked to have had an announcement on Episode 3 than a new L4D...
Oh, and a rumour suggests that Rising is a PS3 and PC game. Rad. Here's hoping.
EA presenting an MMA game is going to be interesting. Here's hoping we can get some Fedor in there.
Hey Ubi...where's mah BG&E2? Seriously, good to see you're showing off Splinter Cell and Assassins Creed, but come on...
Tecmo doing an NBA game for the PSN/XBLA? Intriguing...
UPDATE 3/9 - SONY AND NINTENDO
One detail before I begin, turns out that Ubi's remake of TMNT: Turtles in Time is hitting the PSN. Yay.
Nintendo had a much better showing than than last year. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been any word the new 'Ravi Drums' that seemed to be the one thing that everyone took away from Ninty's conference last year.
Let's get their hardcore stuff out of the way first. The announcements of New Super Mario Bros Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are fantastic to hear. Team Ninja doing a Metroid game makes me even more interested - I cannot wait to see what these guys pull off. Though what took me by surprise was the announcement of a DS iteration of Golden Sun. Great to hear, let's just hope that Camelot learn that to make a good game, you don't need long and unskippable cutscenes to pad out the game.
As for the rest, well, it's the casual stuff that everyone else will eat up. The Vitality Sensor has me the most intrigued. Seems incredibly gimmicky, but could be interesting. Though the one thing that I really took away from the show was the confirmation of Mario & Luigi 3 coming out this year. Cannot wait. Love that series.
Let's move onto Sony.
They also had a good showing. I'd argue not as big or overly exciting as Microsoft's, but a good showing nonetheless. Hearing word on Rockstar's "Agent" game intrigues me (something about espionage in the 70's makes will always pique my interest). And hey, Final Fantasy XIV can't be bad for the people who loved FFXI (it's an online game).
The big thing to come out the show was easily the 'official' reveal of the PSP Go. I'm not entirely sold on it myself, but it's good to see that the PSP is getting more and more big titles - such as another Metal Gear game which sees you as Big Boss. Though I pray that the promise of GT Mobile for the October PSP Go launch is true. Oh. And good to hear that Sony are making use of their long dormant WRC license and chucking that into GT5...which has damage now. Yay.
Much like with Natal, Sony debuted a brand new motion controller...which I can't really speak about. I didn't watch the conference, and I kinda skipped over it whilist reading over live blogs. So no comment here.
That's it for now. Will update with any other random info.
It's E3 next week. As such,this will not be a predictions blog, mainly because I've got a feeling that I'm going to get so wrong, and I worry I'll get caught up in the whole "X won E3" stuff that I absolutely hate people mentioning and following. Also, pretty much everyone else will be talking about it next week, so really, what's the point?
But in case you really want predictions, here's what I think.
Sony will show something good. GT5 perhaps? Rumour suggests so.
I want to see what Microsoft have to offer for the remainder of the year. I really do.
Nintendo will also have a good showing. Not for the hardcore though.
And now for something completely different.
Back when YouTube was still an unknown website, one of the coolest things about it was that it was totally unpoliced in terms of content. While pornographic material was a no-no, copyrighted material was a-ok. Nowadays? Within moments of uploading something copyrighted, it'll be taken down off YouTube. No questions asked.
So imagine my surprise when I've learnt that YouTube are now offering full episodes of TV series to stream from their website. Upon clicking on it, there's quite a selection - mostly stuff that can be streamed from other websites (such as Star Trek TOS, Fantasy Island), but its the selection that took me by surprise. Aside from having a whole heap of anime (such as Ouran Host Club, Yu-Gi-Oh Uncut and more), what really took me by surprise was the fact that it had Sony's TV animation stuff on there - like Jackie Chan Adventures, the Starship Troopers CG cartoon Roughnecks and more. This stuff is hard to find on DVD, so I was elated that there was a place that I could legally watch it online with no strings attached.
Imagine the kick in the nuts that came after I tried to click on a few of these things.
Due to reasons of rights management, I cannot view these videos, simply because I live in Australia. The majority of stuff that I've been trying to access will NOT work, due to me simply living outside of the US. Star Trek? Nope. Fantasy Island? Nope. Britains Got Talent? Nope. Starsky & Hutch? Nope. XXXholic? Works..wait whaa?
Yeah, it's really confusing as to what works and what not.
In fact, one case in particular is weird. Take the anime's Full Metal Alchamist: Brotherhood or Darker Than Black. Both are up for streaming on YouTube, yet will NOT work thanks me living here. Yet I can go on Madman's site (the major distributor for all anime here), and watch the anime in question without ANY issue. Madman's site also doesn't have XXXholic up for viewing. You would think that licensers Funimation could've worked out some deals...but man, that is weird.
Good on YouTube for at least getting this stuff out there though, and legally too. Yet at the same time, I'd like some legal channels for watching some of this stuff too...
Bit of a different spin this week. I'm not going to be talking about gaming, or at least anything directly related to video games. Instead, I wanna bring light to something which I find incredibly awesome as a podcaster, as well as someone whom deals with a fanbase.
Late last year, I wanted to try interview Daniel Rizzo, probably better known as "ThatAussieGuyWithTheGlasses", a major contributor to That Guy With The Glasses, for the Level 3 podcast. You might know that site for the Nostalgia Critic webseries, the 5-Second Movies and more. While the initial plan for an interview didn't go as well as I'd hoped, we eventually got the interview done and as the months went on, become mates.
Dan's the producer for a podcast known as Transmission Awesome, which is the podcast for TGWTG. It's one of my favourite podcasts, thanks to it being so laid back and flowing quite nicely. He doesn't contribute much directly to the podcast, but makes sure that it gets recorded, edited and uploaded.
I'm bringing this up due to their live podcast they did today. While I didn't get to hear much of the actual show (it started at 9am, I needed to leave the house around 9:30), the podcast took about two hours to record, and for the most part - seemed like a fantastic show (there's a summary up on their Wiki page), what stunned me was what happened after.
After getting home from work, I needed to prepare for my own podcast, and for a lark, checked to see if they were still going. Surprisingly, they were. They were taking questions from audience members in their UStream chat (which was moving stupid quick - having 200+ people didn't help), and providing answers and laughs.
This kept going until 4:30pm.
If it hasn't clicked with you, these dudes were podcasting for at least 7 and a half hours. 2 hours of actual recording, and then over five hours of Q&A with the members of Transmission Awesome, as well as other writers/producers from That Guy With The Glasses showing up to take questions and deliver answers...and witty commentary. And it was all hilarious.
That's dedication to your fanbase right there, and that's really quite impressive for any live podcast to actually do such a thing. Talk about being close to your fans...
Yeah, thought I'd bring this up now, so I can focus more on homework.