Thursday, December 22, 2011

Boss battle

Sometimes when you're on the internet ... you *find* things. On rare occasions, they make you smile :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Difficulty : Irritating

It's human nature to want to improve in multiple areas, because by doing so we gain experience which can then use to adapt to various life scenarios and eventually overcome them. Essentially (and Darwinistically) it's what made us what we are now(yeah I admit we are not THAT great, but at least in Earth's domain I'd like to think that we are the most developped species :).

Games-wise that means that variety is more than just a fun factor of a game. It also helps improving our skills but more importantly, our inherent ability to adapt to various situations. Siituations that require us to use our acquired knowledge to overcome them, also known as problems. Problems vary in different factors and categories, but one common characteristic is most certainly the difficulty of the problem. As computer games are essentially consisted of problems variant in type, the game itself can be attributed the difficulty factor.

On that topic, I'd like to address the Demon's Souls difficulty hype all over the net. This is not a difficult game, but an irritating one. I'll just analyze my case.
I play for 30-35 minutes in a level defeating all the enemies along the way. Which proves my case that I posess the skills required to overcome the obstacles at hand. Then I encounter a boss for the first time. An enemy i know nothing of. To spice things up, he takes 3/4 of your health with one hit. Long story short - you die. Up to this moment I haven't found a statement on the internet that implies that someone defeated a boss first try(not before reading walkthroughs and strategy guides at least). So you're taken back from the beginning. Yes, you have to pass all the trials that you've proven that you're better than. Another 30-35 minutes of doing things you already did, solving a problem you already solved all for a CHANCE at the boss again. Which in 80% of the cases means that you'll die again, and go back from the beginning again. Imagine that you play FIFA and if you concede a goal you start at the bottom in the league table with 0 points, or each enemy's succesfull hit brings you back to level one. That does not improve your ability. That just makes you Sisyphus with a long way ahead of you. Not to mention the bossfights. Big healthbars and repeating the same attack pattern over and over. That's not a test of skill. That's a test of nerves.
And that's just the aspect of difficulty. I will not analyze the entertainment value, since it treads onto the grounds of subjectivity.(I mean , there are people with masochistic fetishes aren't there?)

So, to summarize what I'm meaning to say. Difficulty is essential in order to improve our skills (at everything, gaming included) but increasing to the severity of punishment does not increase difficulty, it only increases frustration. And frustration is the exact opposite of what games are about, at least for me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Deus Ex : Human Revolution

It's funny how some games drop the price more than others and there is no significant difference in quality (Yes I'm looking at you L.A. Noire). Before i continue i must say that i was a bit late for the original Deus Ex party, and hence i only have played for like 6-7 hrs or so, so all the comparisons to the original Deus Ex in the mixed reviews out there were kinda meaningless to me, but generally I knew what they were refering to.

With that said I want to point out a few things about this game. First, the game mechanics - It's really nothing new. The missions are resolved basically by a combination of several basic actions - disable guards and hide their bodies, hack computers, and look for air vent ducts. I know it looks limited and repetitive but in reality (okay, game reality) it's very well implemented. The buildings infrastructure is always different so the basic mechanics is complemented with substantial variety in enviroment, which requires quick switching of tactics and approach to the task at hand. Kinda like my first encounter with Tetris. A set of 2 actions resulting in so much fun. Well done.

A few short remarks about the story. I never got the impression that the player makes actual impact on the way things happen. It's like you always get from point A to point B in the story, but which route you take to get there is up to you. So the freedom of choice applies only to the methods but never the world itself (maybe a few different dialogue content but that's basically it). While I'm on the subject, the various dialogs based on person's character type was a fun thing for me. You get different responses by choosing the same dialogue options based on person's character traits (ex. if he's impulsive the chances are bigger that he'll respond with an outburst but then again he might not). So yeah, no walkthrough for these :)

I've heard tons of hate-speech about the boss battles, and though i must agree that they are a strange fit into the picture, for me, they were just the kind of variety I needed to break through all the hiding and sneaking.

All things considered, I enjoyed playing it. And I think so should you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Fallout stories

What i really want to talk about this one is actually the plausability and yet the huge diversity of the world depicted in Fallout 3. To be honest I’ve never experienced such a variety of situations you can stumble upon. That’s due mostly to the brilliant scenario, IMO. The choice of the setting is allowing practically limitless directions of development. Before I indulge, I just want to briefly describe the state of the world the game’s main storyline is taking place.

USA is engaged in war with China, and in the war reaches it’s escalation point when nukes start to fly destroying all, irradiating the entire Earth’s surface with massive radiation. People were forced to retreat to Fallout shelters that were built all over USA. After a certain amount of time they’re opened and people resurface to find entire new situation on the surface. The player is put in a role of one of the guys who comes out of the shelters.

First, this scenario offers a world of possibilities. People who stayed are suffering severe radiation symptoms (decay of the skin) and are shunned by the people who were not affected by the radiation. This actually makes a lot of sense, since the people who could not afford/couldn’t get to the Vaults were mostly farmers and in general people with low financial standing so in the chaos that followed the bombing they called upon their primal survival skills and employ unethical methods to continue their lives. Most of them, anyways…

The pinnacles of power are always formed around the money wells. The Enclave , who are self-proclaimed descendants of the US Government , (basically politicians and part of military) who are using the current situation to perform multitude of testing for their variety of agendas (creating super soldiers, silencing the speakers of the people or everyone with a potentially harmful opinion, eradicating their failed experiments with mutation) and the Brotherhood of Steel , which are essentially well organized technology scavengers ( formed also by part military/scientists) with an honor code embedded in their beliefs. There is also the mutants, who were actually humans infected with a virus developed by the Enclave, and a lot of other fractions - various AI’s and androids/robots , aliens, Raider gangs and groups  and whatnot. Add that to the fact that the world is on a crossroad, there are ideals and there are tools so basically everyone forges the world in his own direction.

So, back to my original point, basically just by providing a fruitful setting for the storyline quests and various situations the player can get himself into is tremendous. Every “what if” idea can sprawl a city/encounter on the map when that idea is brought to life ( and there are pretty awkward ones , like “What if I make my own state and name it after myself , where everyone does what I say” to the utopian ones like “What if we organized to defend people everywhere” ). To make the situation more real, every idealistic commune (a city or an organization) has individuals who think differently on the idea which they themselves are a part of. So you have a human-loving mutant, anti-slaver fighter with a knack for monetary, Brotherhood of steel member who does not share the zeal and enthusiasm of his fellows (a.k.a. he just works there) etc, etc..

All of the ideas implemented make sense and not seem “made up”.  But what’s more realistic is the painting of the humans as individuals in that big picture. For I think that in every human is the desire to be unique and at the same time the desire to be a part of something.  A game trait which for me (and whole lot of other people) is a solid base for building an immersive experience.     

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NBA Jam : On Fire Edition

Take basketball, inject it with adrenaline and you get NBA Jam : On fire edition. The core mechanics is basically copied over from the original NBA Jam, like other various ports  (College Slam, NBA Hangtime etc.) but it's polished enough to match the current technology standards. So there is no surprise there: 2-on-2 matches, highly exaggerated dunks, the timing of steals/blocks, on-fire bonuses, the weird playable characters... Everything is there with much more increased dynamics which proportionally increases the fun factor.

The game offers various play modes that earn you jam points, which you then spent at the store bying/unlocking stuff. Though it serves as some kind of motivation, the pure joy of playing against a friend outweighs all, whether it's a co-op game or VS one. It's one of those "Holy sh*t it is midnight already" kinda games. Though, the AI routine is pretty much reworked so it's much more human-like, so playing solo is also interesting but it becomes predictable after a while.

Another thing that really contributes is the commentary. Tim Kitzrow's voice plus some of the most hilarious one liners i've heard are absolutely fantastic. He even sings in some rare occasions :) This just speaks more to the effort that is made to preserve the things that are(were) fun from the original and just tweak it a little bit to improve on certain points. Most of the improvements are made in gameplay (various powerups and match modes that favor certain strategy like 3 pointers , assisted dunks etc..) and the effect they achieve is a substantial increase of amusement.

On other hand, this can certainly be viewed as "squezing a buck from already great game" but at least with this one you get the old school sport action in HD. The price is definitely worth it.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Ni no Kuni

I can't say that I'm a fan of Studio Ghibli's movies, but I never argue how cute they look. I also think their stories never lack depth, secret meaning, dreamy-like surreal atmosphere - just the perfect ingredients for an epic fairy tale. I just hope they get the recipe right.

Looks beautiful, combat system seems interesting, Ghibli's involvement promises some good storyline, that spells awesomeness for me! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

People die . Gamers ...

Never really thought of it till now. I got an eerie feeling reading the post .

"I may sound overly sensitive but this is what we will be eventually. An idle account. A virtual room filled with toys waiting for you to come back and play with them. Frozen in time."
On the other hand .. i guess it's better than nothing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is immersiveness necessarily a good thing while reviewing a game?

Usually when I do the things I like, i involve myself deeply with them. In some of them more than others, but for every one at least to a degree to temporarily reduce the importance of every other thing. Playing games is one of the things I like, and I do it whenever I can with great passion.
But onto the question from the title (which essentially is the reason for this post.)

Let’s have an example with a more .. realistic nature. Since not every one likes video games ( although i like to think that the people who visit this blog - all 4 of them, DO :) I’ll make an analogy with everybody’s familiar topic - relationship and romance. So, let’s say I have a partner whom I love very much, I love myself for loving her and I love everything because of that. Let’s say I’m immersed in her. I’m lost in her personality, or I think it’s more suitable to say that I’m *found*. Anyways I like spending time with him/her A LOT. Let’s say I am forced to form an opinion about that person. If I go with my gut, and form an opinion coming from my feelings and state of mind my judgement will be flawed because I’m in a position when the good trhings greatly outweigh the bad. On the other hand, if I try to judge objectivelly, I will have to break the immersive bond and will have to watch over from a distance. But then I will not enjoy myself as when I’m immersed, because I’m into “analyze” mode.

Now let’s take the same example with games. There is a game that you love playing, a highly immersive game, and you wan’t to make a review about it. If we put things graphically, where does the reviewer stand ?

1 - Grants him objectiveness but deprives him from the fun. He studies the game instead of enjoying it.
2 - Vice versa.
Ideally he should be somewhere in between, but is that really possible?
Or maybe he’s supposed to shift between them at certain points. If so, when?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Incubation : Time is running out

Unfinished business is a great motivator. Also one of the main reasons for re-playing an old game that I played and loved in the past. I remember that I bought pirated copy of this game in a compilation CD along with AAA titles like Quake 2 and such, without ever played a ... tactical squad action game before. But the game was corrupted near the very end , and there was no torrents back then so I was forced to quit it.

Anyway, i now got another copy (also pirated :) and had another go. This game is released 1997 so I would not comment the graphics and the quality of textures, I can only say that if you're into that retro style graphics the visuals will appeal to you. At least, they won't be a distraction.

The game itself is said to have a lot of stuff inherited from X-Com (which I can't confirm since I haven't played it) which means that you manage a team of space marines pitted against an alien threat. The game is essentially consisted of 2 phases, team management and combat. In the team management well, you manage your team :) in short : you can buy/equip gear, apply earned experience into several categories and all that stuff, and you can use your team members in the combat situations that follow. It's very simple, yet very addicting combo. The combat mechanics is relatively easy to learn, especially since the concept has been copied and improved over and over (I had the same out-of-the-world locked-in-a-room experience with Jagged Alliance 2 afterwards)

The singe player game has a relatively short campaign (like around 5-6 hours) but the missions offer a great variety and each require different approaches to reach the goal (defend position, reach certain point, survive, kill a certain alien..) so it's packed with fun and in most situation moderate strategizing for succeeding the mission. That's actually what makes it a fun game. Viewing it as a puzzle game.

I think it's ungrateful to rate a game from 1997 fourteen years later, and I also can't really recommend anyone to play a game this old but it was as I said - unfinished business :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Super Mario is not one of the best games

I'm really annoyed when i see a top 10 or top 5 list with Super Mario in it. I really don't get all the hype. I mean - Yes , I've played it avidly when I was a kid but a top 5 best game ? Really?

It would be like forming a top 5 list of best superheros per se, and put the stuff I was watching when I was a kid like He-Man in there or god forbid - Captain Planet (and yes , I've seen people actually do that :). Super Mario is a great game, really fun platformer, but IMHO it does not have best game material compared to some of today's titles. Especially since there are so much more developed platformers which even for people with different tastes are better than Super Mario in several (if not all) aspects of the game. 
Trine, for example. You can do shitload of things there, with multiple characters, as opposed to mainly  jumping, kicking bricks,collecting coins and stepping on several types of enemies.

Super Mario will always have a special place in my heart, but if we decide about games by heart alone then it's bad judgement. As it is with all things in life. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

King's Bounty : The Legend / Armored Princess

If i can single out the best 3 games ever made, the list will definitely contain Heroes of Might & Magic 3. It's such a perfect mix of cleverly made challenges that always kept me on my toes requiring careful planning strategy and optimizing combat effectiveness to beat the game (which I must say , I haven't done till this day :). It's no secret for me that King's Bounty : TL/AP feeds on the ideas used in Heroes of Might and Magic and the similar games, but actually the game is a spiritual sequel on the 1990's game King's Bounty (which I've never played). King's Bounty : The Legend also introduces some modification of the game segments that improve the overall player's experience.

King's Bounty : The Legend , and Armored Princess have too much similarities for me to make separate reviews for both games so whatever i say here goes for both games.

The player takes control of a hero general who explores the map in real time, and if a combat situation arises the time is stopped and combat is done in turn based manner. The combat itself can be easily described like some sort of modified chess version where the hero's troops take on the ones of the enemy. Of course, there's a billion things to take into account beside the raw combat stats of the unit, the unit's morale, the leadership of the hero, the special powers, strengths and weaknesses of the units, various magic and also randomized combat terrain with power up objects... The mechanism is not really that complicated, but it requires careful planning to make the most of the battle. The units can be of various appearances mostly represented by creatures from various mythologies, divided into several categories/races (Humans, Animals, Demonic, Elves...) but after the first encounter with them it's relatively easy to get to know their ability. That's basically combat mechanics 101. The fun part kicks in when the superb AI shows up. It is so cleverly done that it's designed to react differently to a different approach, so the battles are NEVER boring. Yes, in The Legend the enemy armies were largely consisted of same class (depending of the world/map the battle is taking place), so it's kinda lame to fight the same enemies over and over but it's corrected in Armored Princess.

Army management is just part of the story. The strategy part. The other one is the RPG. The hero can gain experience and level up, gaining talent points in 3 different trees magic, mind and might, each giving bonuses in different categories. The hero can also wear gear that improves his basic attributes (Attack, Defense and Knowledge) delegating the attack and defense benefits to it's commanding troops, and the Knowledge directly influences the effectiveness of the magic the hero uses in combat. Customizing specific gear to fit specific fighting styles or even single battles can be sometimes annoying but it's always fun to beat a challenge using your own intellectual prowess which is actually is a significant part of what gaming means.

This game is definitely among my top 10 games I've played, and I'm not sorry for every minute I've spent. If you're into RPGs and turn based strategies this one will definitely win you over. Just be sure to have some work vacation days available :)


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mafia 2

I'll just cut to the chase and say that I am very disapointed of this game. This coming from a guy who's played the first Mafia and find it one of the best games on the subject of crimeworks in general, if not ever. The game had it all - the cinematic appeal, the voice acting, the whole "mafia" mood, I can safely say that it was to games what The Godfather was to movies - a jewel.

Mafia 2 is almost like an exact copy of the first game, and it has all the "good stuff" but lacks the "for the first time" factor.

The storyline is best described with the caption of the last chapter "Per aspera ad astra", meaning that it describes the rise to power of a small time crook, to a key figure in the criminal world. Yes, the story has all the suspense, trust and betrayal, power struggles and everything but it's nothing new.

The gameplay mechanics is almost an exact copy from the first game, with a little touch from GTA. City map with various locations to explore, cars to steal, several different weapons and people to run over and everything does not pack much of a WOW, I think everyone would agree. Even the variety of the missions carries over from the previous game, torching the competition, illegal distribution and smuggling to the classic sleeping with the fishes kind. It's not that it isn't substantial , more that it isn't something new.

Also, overall the game is rather short.I finished it for like 10 hours or so, on Hard. I dunno what was I expecting, I guess I wanted something different, but instead i got the original Mafia. I think the "2" in the name is obsolete.


Monday, August 8, 2011

The world is saved (again)

An awesome youtube video from an IGN blog. There is no better way to put into words, all the feelings of epicness brought by playing video games. It's so great it's hilarious!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I must say I was a bit predetermined that this game will be kinda shitty, since I found out that lot of the people who played it compared it to Prototype. I don't have anything against Prototype, just that the fact that after you get the Devastator moves (which is kinda 50-60% of the game progress), the gameplay slides downfall into boredom.

So, with that in mind I was pleasantly surprised. The storyline is just the right mix of situations to keep you invested, though not enough to be the sole driving force throughout the game, but that's mostly because of the marvelous game mechanics. The key characters are nicely brought to life and are pretty charismatic each bringing their own appeal through interacting with the main protagonist. Also, loved the art style of the comic between missions!

The game mechanics itself offers a nice array of moves and powers, and the controls are mapped appropriately so very soon you can make incredible acrobatics with great ease. The terrain of the city offers great variety so it was always challenging to me in finding ways of using it to my advantage. The variety of the enemies is superbly done scaled to the players point in the game progress, just so new enemies will appear even at the near end of the main storyline.

I very much enjoyed this game, but as I said , I dived in with some very low expectations, to find an awesome game.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Thank you games

I've read many blogs about why games in general make you a better person, so I think it's time i gave myself an honest answer.
How games made ME, specifically a better person? What skill-set did they have an impact on?

Well the first one , and most obvious one is the language.
Since I'm not native english speaker, they familiarized me with a vast amount of words, not to mention the middle age English used in some of the old RPGs. Also, I remember playing some of the old adventures with a dictionary next to the keyboard :) Sigh , those days ( nights also )...
Thank you : Every game.

Second one is the sense of orientation and navigating a map.
The allmighty TAB ever since Doom (as one of the first game I've played) many of the games had it, and in pretty short time it comes natural to locate the vital points of the map, recognize the surroundings and discern my next course of action. Also , in cases of multiple routes to get to a point, to calculate the most effective(usually fastest) one.
Thank you : Every game with a map.

On to the pragmatical math skills and resource management.
Ranging from the basic buy/sell mechanics in many games to calculate the profit or the amount of funds needed to gain a certain item , the calculation of damage/hit-miss ratio to the more complex resource management in many turn-based strategies which enhanced my planning skills and also time management.
Thank you : Heroes of Might and Magic 2/3, Civilization 1/2/4, Colonization, Command and Conquer, Starcraft ...

Of course all the things that impact directly the character traits , like : Patience, Persistence, Reflexes, Problem solving, anger management :) ...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mass Effect 2

I totally agree with many of the reviewing sites out there when they say that this is one of the most highly praised titles in the last couple of years, or perhaps of all time.

The storyline is a continuation of the original mass effect saga, which in it's own is not something that stands out: adventures of a space crew, peril to humanity/lifeforms, intergalactic councils, space battles and many of the Sci-Fi cliches , BUT what does stand out is the way these things are presented to the player. The voice acting, the narrative, the personalities attributed to the characters - pure perfection.Sure some of the characters are more bland (especially the ones in the DLC packs..) but there are more than a few that shine. I won't spoil it for you but this could easily be a great movie/book material. Only, a video game offers more interaction than a book/movie so it makes it even more awesome.

As for the game mechanics, it's a rather interesting approach.
First , experience is gained solely from the completion of a certain mission. There is no +XP for play style(stealth/diplomatic/forceful) nor play skill (killing a certain enemy, or headshots). This eliminates (IMHO) one of the most boring parts of a RPG , grinding, at the cost of not rewarding , or at least not rewarding enough the skill of a player. The only reward for playing good is that you'll be able to finish the mission easier/quicker. Certainly an interesting approach.
Second, no reusability of the weapons that enemies drops. The crew has it's own weapons and through upgrades improves their performance. There are several weapons grouped by type and that's it.
Third, the character improvement is very simple. A few skill talents and assigning skill points gained through leveling up. Personally I preferred the Mass Effect 1 leveling system.

The combat is third person action, and is pretty dynamic. The AI routines for your teammates are up to the task, and in the later stages of the game can even turn the tide of the battle. The enemies are also great and they use the environment to their advantage well, so basically the variety in combat benefits from the level design, and also from the play style. There are some occasional bugs on the PS3 version but nothing dramatic.

Also, this is one of the games that makes playing a "bad boy" as equally rewarding as playing the good guy (if not more) unlike most of the RPGs. It's no Witcher, but the morality system is pretty good. Maybe it could use a bit from the Star Wars : KOTOR/Dragon Age , especially the part where the teammates disagree with the choices you make because of their own beliefs , but maybe ME 3 ...

Anyways, a MUST play.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gamer's meme

Yeah I know it's old, but still I laugh every time i see it.

See it here!

One of my personal favs:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Heavy Rain

One of the things being a gamer is the constant search for ways to entertain youreself, games or otherwise. Heavy Rain, when it first appeared was certainly a novelty in the way it tells it's story and having people interacting with it.

Speaking of genres, I guess adventure fits the most although it's something completely different at the same time. The game mechanics relies solely on Quick Time Events (QTE) - which means there is no inventory , collecting items , combining them and the sorts, Instead, depending on the timing of the buttons pressed the story progresses. And I think it's pretty interesting. Especially that the developers went one step ahead and introduced non-linearity into the mix, by adding some key events/situations that influence the overall ending. It's the first time I've played a game like this and it's pretty awesome. And I'm not decided on QTE in games (I've read numerous complaints from various gamers that they ruin the game etc). If they're not your cup of tea, this one's not for you.

The story, on the other hand offers several playable characters and is IMO mediocre. Classic detective/find the killer drama, to be honest I change the channel when i see them on TV, but strangely I was very curious as to the end of this one. But still, there was no wow-effect. Also, the inability for skipping scenes can be a little irritating if you re-play the game to see a different ending. Also, it's relatively short, 5-6 hours I think.

All in all, If you're into new experiences of playing a game I recommend this one, but it's kinda niche so you might end not liking it.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Red Dead Redemption

I rarely find a RPG game that has a western setting.. as a matter a fact I never recall playing one. Maybe that (among other things) is the reason that Red Dead Redemption got several Game Of The Year Awards in 2010.

Anyways, the game starts by presenting John Marston - the lead protagonist, ans he first contacts the western USA, in search for his ex-partners in crime (not THAT big of a spoiler, you get this in the first hour of the game or so :). His quest moves him through various parts of the world encountering some interesting characters, which in my opinion describes the era after colonization pretty well. The storyline is more or less ok, but on several occasion i got the impression that the lead character is being tossed around and even manipulated. I mean, for a man who used to kill and rob for the sake of money he's unusually well mannered and patient for a man with a lot more at stake (instead of threatening people in order to get the info/help that he wants, he performs numerous chores for them).

The world is relatively big and interesting, but with an interest-span of one playthrough, (After you finish the game, you get to free roam) so if I wasn't achievement whore-ish, I wouldn't roam it. With 60% of the game completed, I was able to see almost all of the random encounters, and encountered almost all the wild animals.

The action is pretty well done - there are a variety of weapons and a bunch of people to kill, what more do you need :) The AI greatly varies, sometimes I kill a gang without a scratch, other times the kick my ass. All in all, combat is a great challenge.

To sum it up, this is a great game and it really adds something new to the western setting.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom

Majin and the forsaken kingdom could easily be a PSN/XBLA game instead of a dvd/bluray one. It's just the content quantity and variety that it delivers is not that big :
- All in all there are several types of enemies throughout the game (less then 10).
- The puzzles are a bit repetitive and there's not real variety (If you can't solve one from your 3rd try, stop trying since you don't meet the requirements for solving it).

This game just reeks simplicity all over. Which is not that bad actually.. I'm guessing that a kid around 10 yrs with an experimenting nature will surely enjoy it, just that i miss that target group for around 20 years :). If assuming a kid's perspective the game offers quite the challenge and stimulates moderate amount of reasoning.And then there's the action, which is also simplified to several actions you can make. But from a perspective of a seasoned gamer like myself this game offers nothing new in terms of gameplay and game mechanics.

The storyline is also kinda bleak. A story of a kid and an innocent friendly giant is seen in cartoons for years now [1] [2], but this all confirms what i said about the gameplay - it's a game for kids. So, if you already bough it, like me, go and make some kid you know happy by giving it as a gift. I know i will :)


Monday, May 23, 2011

On RPG's : Open worlds and multiple choices

Open world, free roam and shit like that.
Many of the latest titles boast with this kind of stuff, but is it really worth it ? Does it impact the gameplay and overall improve the game?

IMHO, No. I get that there's plenty of stuff to do in an open world, but most of it due to unrelated-ness to the storyline or the lack of player motivation are deemed meaningless and kinda stupid. Let me elaborate, explaining some of the features of an open world.

1. You can go to any place in the map. I'm not even gonna elaborate the stupidness of this one . Yay, i climbed the mountain/ i reached top floor of that building / swam to that isle ... Bitch please.

2. You can kill random citizens. Yes you can. I can go on a killing spree and after 10 minutes of repeated massacres, I start to lose interest. Okay, it's very much possible, but it lacks purpose. I can kill enemies and get XP, or i can do that without the XP/get significantly less XP. What's the reasonable choice here?

3. Various mini-games. There are examples mostly present in rpg's . Poker Dice in Witcher , Quazi-blackjack in Mass Effect 2 , and many more. With these you can get monetary reward in terms on in-game currency , but due to the repetitive nature of the mini-games i never spend more than 30 mins AT BEST. The monetary reward was insignificant.

4. You can collect various in-game resources and afterwards sell them. That sounds awfully familiar. Farmville anyone ?

Not to be hater and all, but IMHO the openness of the world has 2 real benefits:

1. The possibility of making an error (Kill the wrong enemy , go to the wrong place, etc..) which is inherent ability of broadening the number of player choices. But due to the map navigation and automatic checkpoint marking that most games have, this possibility is effectively suppressed thus eliminating the purpose of the open game world.

2. The reward for exploring the unknown. Yes I'm talking about the Super-sword you get after going off the map and defeating/solving the puzzle of Demi-God X. Many of the old games had these moments, but nowadays, almost every game rewards the player with the best sword of the game after dealing with problems along the main storyline , so basically you don't need to waste time exploring, since you know that you'll get the real deal "by default". So the only real benefit from this is achieving it faster/easier. That's probably the best motivator when it comes to RPGs but i often feel cheated when i spend hour and a half for a piece of shit gear.

So for me at least , the open world implementations of modern games don't bring much to the table. I'm not into completely eliminating the open world option, just some adjustments need to be made here. Some other time ...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Batman : Arkham Asylum

Yo dawg, i heard you like Batman, so i recommend you the best Batman game.

When i think about it, I myself never had the "Batman phase" maybe cause I'm into superpowers and shit. But I cannot say that I havent watched all the movies and also the epic TV series with Adam West.

The thing that made me buy Batman : Arkham Asylum was all the cool fight videos, but I got quite more than i bargained for. Since the begining the game starts the storytelling of a what i think is a superb and truly Batman-like plot, with many of the well known characters making an appearance. Talking about the characters, the voice acting is beyond words. They bring the characters to life quite well. Also, the entire Arkham Asylum setting is extremely compelling.

The gameplay offers a wide variety of obstacles to overcome from sneaking, fighting, platform and some of them require a small amount of spatial reasoning. It's like you get 4 games in one with this one. The beauty of it, figuring them out really feels like you're Batman ( not that i know how's that like :). When i think about it, I spent a great deal of the game in detective mode, so there was a moment when a friend of mine thought i was fighting skeletons :)

What the game really takes to another level (IMHO) is the fighting/action part. I've never experienced such a great mix of quicktime events and fluid action. I mean it looks just like an action movie watching them from aside, but actually doing the combos is a MUST HAVE experience. The only thing that might use a bit work is the difficulty. I've played the game on Hard (hardest setting available) and I never played a segment more than 3 times over, and I'm really an average player when it comes to gaming. For a huge deal of them I was able to get on the first try. Also, maybe because of all the fun you have, it does seem a little bit short.

All these elements combined - an awesome pack of fun. I strongly recommend it!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes

"The simpler the game, the greater the danger you can get hooked."
When it comes to puzzle games i find this to be true. Of course there is other stuff but for myself I prefer it as simple as possible. Might and Magic is kind of a RPG flavored bejeweled-based puzzle game, and it still doesn't describe it well.

The rules of the game are simple : you connect 3 same-color tiles(soldiers) to activate formations . There are specific types of creatures that take different conditions for activating, and there is more. Some of the advanced creatures have special abilities which can more than come in handy, they can even decide the battle. It also helps knowing the abilities of the enemy in order to plan the defense well.

The goals can vary. Attack specific tile (in specific order or random), plain defeat of the enemy, or maybe present some situation with a specific goal to overcome it - similar to chess problems. The first ones can be fun especially when the tiles are moving so you have to take the timing into consideration.

The RPG elements are all over this game. The units you use gain levels and hence improve their abilities, the player can use various artefacts which give various bonuses and benefits, each hero has a special ability which is unique and much more. The gameplay is on a board-like layout with various encounters and objects on it, which motivates the players to exploring.

The storyline is decent, though it does not offer something spectacular it does not distract the player or damage the gameplay. I also liked the art : hand drawn scenery with manga-based characters make for an interesting world to explore.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Way of the samurai 3

It started with a random youtube search for gameplay videos of a samurai game. I wasn't impressed much, but i was aching for a decent beat'em-up so i put it on the list.

But this game is so much more. Way of the samurai 3 is truly a game about being a samurai, about the uncertainty of life, about self-improvement ( grinding comes to mind, but in a good way ) and last but not least - about skill. I've read all sorts of reviews on the net and most of them highly polarised. I can only speak for myself and for me it was truly captivating since I'm a fan of the samurai lore and I've got tons of anime and movies to prove it. My guess is the game appeals only to a certain group of people who share my interests.

Since the very beginning, i was plunged into a game with no commands list and didn't even know where to go, so I read the entire game manual (okay , only the english section). But the manual does not cover all of it, it just gives you a glance just enough to make you curious. There's a classic RPG vibe to the game progress, better weapons and more skills used in combos, weapon parts for customizing weapons and also a pleasant surprise - The difficulty. It is a great challenge if you're a no-walkthrough kinda player like myself and this game really offered a rejuvenation to my gamer self. The commands are relatively easy to get used to and you'll be having fun in no time.

Another thing that impressed me was the variety of endings. Truly an open perspective to the part of the world described in the storyline with all of the key figures having an influence in the overall outcome. I've rarely felt that I have that kind of impact of the things to come in any game. Ever. And yeah, the number is 21. 21 different endings.

If you're into swords and warrior codes and are up for a challenge, I strongly recommend Way of the samurai 3.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Assassin's Creed 2

Yeah, an(other) old one. What can I say, I guess I'm one of those guys that really gets his TODO Stack done. :)

I've never played an Assassin's Creed game so this was my first one in the series. The storyline is relatively captivating and slowly exposes the gameplay elements as you go. As for the storyline theme, I don't buy that Templar/Assassin shit in the first place so it's kind of a "Immerse Player Spell - Fail", but the game offers plenty of gameplay to compensate.

The Old Cities are very well translated into the game world, I looked it up a huge part of the buildings actually resemble the monuments that exist in the real world ( 10 points to Italy for monument conservation ), and I must add they look pretty awesome.

The gameplay offers a standard rogue scenario - Infiltrate, assassinate and in several occasions fight. What the game really shines is the usability of the interface. It's my first game of this kind and in 30 minutes I was already feeling like home. Excellent mapping of buttons-actions, extremely user friendly which is essential in this stealth like games that demand split-second actions. The equipment upgrade is also well done, though I didn't notice some drastical improvement over the initial weapon/armor sets in the actual gameplay.

The variety of missions tends to get repetitive, especially if you are a nitpicker and you finish every sidequest (like I am), but it's not to the extent of let's say Prototype.

All in all, it's fun and I asume it's more if you're into that Templar lore.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

I rate thee ...

How do you rate games? How can you express your own personal opinion and yet , retain the objectivism?
Well for me, the answer is obvious, I isolate myself from the collective hive of gamers and make my own judgement. I don't really care about other reviews and though I still read them for informative reasons, I always make an effort for them not to influence my decission.

Anyways, I started this post with a different but yet related point in mind.
I've noticed that when I play games I get bored by them. Yeah, "Thanks Cpt. Obvious" you'd say, but wait. How does that relate to grading a specific game title? Let's take a look at this graph.

For me it's the classic scenario. As I play I become more and more interested, till I reach some climax point and then I gradually become bored of the game. That's fine and it's pretty normal, because only unintelegent creatures laugh many times at the same joke and get excited by the same gameplay. Yeah , them and shooter-lovers (or they are the same ?!) :). Anyway, I look at the graph i ask myself :

WHEN do i form an opinion of the game ?
If the game is extremely enjoyable the first half , and then I become extremely bored, do I rate only the fun part or do I make some kind of median of all the fun I had ?
How exactly does the boring part influence my final judgement ?

As I grow older, It's only natural to raise my interest threshold, so basically this graph answers my question of "Why i don't finish my games, anymore?". :) When I rate a game, I always take the "boring part" into consideration to a .. let's say 2 point extent. So basically that means if a 10.0 title gets repetitive and boring after 50% of the game progress, I'd rate it 8.0 cause it still delivers a blast just not during the entire game. So, this means that that same game, will get the same treatment as the one who offers an 8.0 experience throughout it's entire walkthrough. 2 Points for consistence, that's not perfect, but that's how I roll. :)

Also , this poses another question :
What's the ideal duration of a game ?
How long do the game need to last , to keep you interested and make you enjoy youreself?

Well I can't answer myself that question, since I guess it's pretty subjective and in deep corelation with the reason I started to play. Sometimes it's a quickie, sometimes it's a desire for long and immersive experience (OMG , the double meanings :). Just as long as they're a perfect match, my want and the game's give.

What about you ?
How do you rate games in terms of the fun you had ?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gemini Rue

When i first saw this i screamed so hard that every jedi must've heard the disturbance in the force . As i watched the trailer all the King's quests , Police quests ,Indiana Jones's flashed before my eyes . Finally an old school adventure game!

Gemini Rue is as good as it gets , with the recent trend of re-making the older series (monkey island per se) into hi-def copies , truly a great refreshment of the if not extinct then slowly dying out genre. Classic point and click interface and cartoony drawn scenery spiced up with a pixelating touch make up for a truly nostalgic visuals .

Which kinda reminds me that Adventure games back then were all about storyline and intellectual challenges. What better way to integrate these two than a detective story. Here's when the action kicks in. At first i was skeptic about the action segments , but they do not ruin the gameplay at all they're just the right amount needed to break up the adventure stereotype. IMHO they're relatively easy and straightforward.

But , nostalgic atmosphere aside what i really liked about this one was the "game over" screen. Yes , it's so old school that you can actually die (and reload game). Sure , there is autosave feature so that you don't have to replay the game from the start , but it felt kinda nice.

All in all , If you ever get that craving for old school stuff , here's your portion.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Living together - The poll

Since i recently started living together with my gf, we took a poll to see what do we enjoy doing together, and the results i got were great (as I expected :) .

1. Watching movies with friends
2. Watching SF Movies / Co-op gaming / Movies and sex .

Friends, please come visit.
Game developers, please make more co-op games.

Let the movies and games begin. :)
Also, sex. :P

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A gamer's lament

I was trying to describe the feeling that was missing since i started gaming. You know , the thing that you barely find in today's games. Leigh Alexander gave me the answer.

"It was enough to pique our imaginations—hey, maybe that's it. The imagination. The more "realistic" games have gotten, the more "lifelike" they've strived to be, the less room they leave for our imaginations." Full article here

Read her blog . I know I will.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hard Corps : Uprising

I remember the days when i used to skip school just to hang around for hours in the local arcade. Watching all sorts of games come, take my lunch money and leave, I have to say my favorites were the platformers. The old school platformers with hand drawn graphics and 3 lives.

Hard Corps : Uprising was a pleasant sight for my nostalgic eyes , and just recently I spent my daily lunch money to get it :). I mean, 2d platformer, tons of explosions and lasers, anime artwork, Local Co-op, yup - the whole package. Although I've read reviews saying that it's kinda hard, but IMHO it's just about right to be challenging and yet rewarding. Most of the time when you encounter new areas you can easily manage, but the mini bosses require a bit of skill and adapting, but that curve is not too steep.

The artwork is superb , all sort of scenery will definitely keep you interested , and there's an awesome background-to-game-area transgression of various elements that not just looks visually impressive , but it also integrates well in the action segments.

The co-op is truly a rare commodity these days, but I'm impressed of how many of the PSN games have it. Thumbs up. Hard Corps is definitely multiplies the fun with the number of players, so grab someone and tape his hands to the controller. Or find someone online. I'll leave it up to you. :)

They could've added the other 2 characters in the base game pack, but if you get them, it's a money well spent. Specially the Sayuri chick, she brings some sword slicing to the table and makes it even more awesome.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Maps and generators
Awesome map generator and a MUST-use for every RPG/dungeon crawler .

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Uncharted : Drake's Fortune

Right after i got my PS3, it came wiht Uncharted 2 bundle so i couldn't help myself and started playing it. It was a decent game, awesome gameplay, Holywood-y storyline and all-in-all great fun. Recently i got a copy of Uncharted : Drake's fortune, the original in the series, so i decided to give it a spin.

The similarities with it's successor are more than obvious (which is kinda logical, since it shares the same base characters and stereotypes). The game mechanics is the same or very similar, so the fuck-yeah factor while taking out enemies is always present, furthermore i noticed that the enemies are sort of smarter than the sequel. they take cover immediately and shoot only when covered by another enemy fire, which is kinda challenging. But it still conforms to my theory (Hard is the new easy) for the modern games.

The graphics is more or less (okay , less) acceptable for today's standards, the camera does it's work and is really blending with the action segment you're performing.
The characters are all there. The sarcastic comments of Nate and his sidekick Elena are an action game cliche, but Sully's one liners really light up the show.

Not much to say here, just if you're one of those who got right on Uncharted 2 you'll enjoy this one too.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Games and movies, movies and games

I generally disapprove of the whole make-a-movie-and-a-game trend that's been going on this last several years, but i have an itch that needs scratching.

Samurai 7 is an anime from 2004 , and it's a variation of the plot from the movie from Kurosawa with the same name. Basically 7 guys get together to defend a village , and beat the shit out of giant mechas in the process.
Think about it :
- Samurai AND Giant Robots. That's a huge fan-base out there , with an enormous potential for awesomness.
- 7 Different characters. Whether it's a RPG stat-based character system , or a beat-them-up mechanics , there is a vast potential in stereotyping the characters, each with his own fighting style , strengths and weaknesses, or w/e.
- The setting and enviroment are a combination from japanese feudal age and modern technocracy setting . That's a huge space for experimenting right there.

Anyway , just an idea . You have one?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finally , an awesome mecha game!

Hawken , by Adhesive games.

What an awesome trailer , especially the moment where the sniper sits on top of a building and you can hardly distinguish him from the surroundings . The futuristic city in decay is marvelous , the combat is fun to watch . Too bad it's gonna be a First person shooter (I've made a resolution not to play FPS's on a console system , mostly because my experience with Bioshock and Borderlands).
But i might get it for PC , it has been aching for a good shooter.

Adhesive games , you go get'em.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Choose carefully

I can honestly say i'm proud of my choice of character. :)
Oh , and happy International Women's Day ;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What do you mean , you're playing a game ?

Ever wonder yourself the same question? Here's a comperhensive illustrated guide to gaming phases and a brief interaction advice. Although , i'm against interaction while gaming .

1. Chilled Gamer

While in this phase, the gamer is relaxed and not too immersed in the gameplay and is most susceptable to communication with the enviroment. His non-game mental processes are still running but with limited effectiveness. While in this phase :

- Open to every questioning method.
- Not more than 2 consecutive questions are advised.
- Avoid questions with more than 2 four-syllable words.
- There's a significant chance (if you ask the right question/get naked) that he'll pause the game and stop the gaming process.

Common response : "After i finish this level/boss/checkpoint i'll *do-stuff*"

2. Focused Gamer

In this phase , the gamer is in the process of resolving a difficult problem , and you need to be extra careful while addressing him. His mind is focused on the game and there is slim (or not at all) chance to get an answer. While in this phase:

- Yes/No questioning is advised.
- Not more than 1 consecutive question.
- Avoid using more than 2-syllable words.
- There's a significant chance that if you ask the wrong question ( or repeat the same one multiple times ) that the gamer will enter the next phase.
- If you get naked AND bring a friend MAYBE he'll stop gaming. Depends on the friend :)

Common response : "Later , Honey" , "I can't right now"

3. Gamer's Fury

Congratulations , you've had contact with the Angry Gamer phase. at this phase the gamer is a hazard to the environment and the people around him, and no communication of any kind is advised.

No questions or touching of any kind. Just leave the room .. in a calm manner. The quickest way for a gamer to enter this phase is
- power shortage , while not saved progress
- unintented (or intented ) deletion of saved games.

Common response : "Fucking fuck", "Fuckin' piece of shit" , and all the varations of using "fuck" and "shit".

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's news like this..

..That make me happy!
Unofficial NGP Price.

The unofficial leaked prices from Sony , for the new NGP Gaming system. It's not confirmed yet , but it'll moisten my dreams for sure :) .

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A test of skill and patience

I recently stumbled upon this site , and all sorts of things started to pop up in my mind. Some pleasant memories, some of them not. Okay most of them pleasant, or pleasantly rewarding i should say :) .

So to sum it up , i'll write a tribute to some of the moments that filled my rage meter . The ones that i can remember that is.

The first one i can think of , is Chapter 3 in Betrayal at Krondor . I've been roaming the area for about 3-4 days unable to find the entrance to the nighthawks hideout, until a friend of mine told me that you had to use the chess piece on some well and solved that for me. Yeah I know it's lame but i wasn't much into reading "the boring text", of course this changed that for me. :)

The second one , is Ming Xiao (Vampire : Bloodlines ), some sort of serpent/hydra creature. I spent more than 2 days of continuous save/load routine and the closest i got to beating it(her?!), i think is around 20% of his health before he got me. One of my two rage-uninstalls :)

The third one is the Lich in the Baldur's gate II : Shadows of Amn . The one that appears after completing the golden skeleton set armor. Man i was resolved to beat that mother fucker. I spent 2 days trying all the approaches i could think of , only to recently discover , that i was underleveled/underequipped for that battle . Such a relief , i thought it was me (which it was a way) :)

When i stop and think about it the appearance of a problem in the beginning ( 16 years ago ) presented more of a challenge , than it does now. That was just how i perceive it anyway. Now the effect it has on me is rage. I guess through all these years , i'm starting to lose it . Oh curse you super tough bosses and uber weird puzzles!