Otherwise known as, 'Oh yes, let's stir up that hornet's nest again!'
If you're a gamer and haven't been living under a rock, then you are probably well aware of the insanity that ensued over ME3's ending. Fans were livid about the ending choices (or lack thereof) given to them. This was due to many promises that their choices throughout the series would be reflected, and there would be 'no A, B, or C" ending. I won't get on that subject as it's been discussed to death, but I will say that I can see where the upset fans were coming from.
Regardless, Bioware admitted they needed to expand on the lackluster endings and promised 'Extended Cut' downloadable content. Their first mistake. You see, whether you agree that Bioware screwed up or not, their succumbing to the fans angry cries sets them up for a whole new round of attacks. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that a dev team listened to fans. However, Bioware is in a no-win situation here. Nothing they release (aside from a completely redesigned ending), can save them. Their releasing free DLC only proves to the angry players that they were right, which is a dangerous thing to do. It's lose-lose now.
The newly released DLC does help explain some of the questions fans were left with. However, I have an inkling that people will not be pleased with what they are being given, even with the newly added ending ('Refusal'). You see, everything included in the extended cut should have been packaged with the original game. On it's own, the DLC feels tacked on, something to shut the angry people up. It does what it's supposed too -help clear up questions, but with that, it shows us just how weak the series original finale really was. It brings up the question, why the hell wasn't all this included in the first place? Why did Bioware think that what they first gave us originally, was ok? The 'Refusal' ending feels like a passive aggressive attempt at pleasing the fans. I won't go into spoilers, but it most certainly appears that it was Bioware's subtle middle finger to the whiners.
It's a damn shame that the games have come to this. I have theory that the Mass Effect trilogy represents Bioware's assimilation into EA. The first Mass Effect, while not without flaws, had heart. When you played, you felt the passion of the development team. Mass Effect 2 changed up the game, especially combat. The game slipped more into the mainstream spectrum of combat and fighting.Not necessarily a bad thing, but a somewhat jarring transition from the original. The plot wasn't as strong, but that was ok, after all, it was the middle game of a trilogy. Then we come to the third installment, which introduced Day One DLC, multiplayer (which affected the ending itself), a Facebook game, and of course, a rushed ending. I won't go on an EA bashing rant -but if all that doesn't stink of them, then I don't know what does.
All in all, while I appreciate Bioware trying to appease the masses (which it never EVER will), I can't help but feel the DLC only hurts them more. Not because they were strong-armed into doing it, but because it's addition is just another heavy hit against the already present ending.
Music in games can have a lasting effect on gamers. A strong soundtrack can help make or break a game when it comes to deciding whether or not it is good. Personally, I know there have a been few times when I've said, "Well the game is shit, but the music is REALLY good."
I am a huge game soundtrack fan. Even if I hate a game, I'll give props if it has a decent soundtrack. That being said, I decided to compile a list of five boss battle themes that stood out to me. As I say, I realize not everyone will agree with what's on the list, but hey these are my stand out tracks. Oh, and of course, SPOILERS.
5. Lady's Tears II (Shadow Hearts: From the New World)
I wasn't the biggest fan of SH: FTNW, but damn did it have a good soundtrack. This piece always been a personal favorite (it makes for great writing music). It holds just the right amount of desperation and determination that you would feel heading into such a battle.
Hate or love the series (I adore it), the Xenosaga series boasted solid soundtrack. It changed composers hands (from Yasunori Mitsuda to Yuki Kajiura), but never faltered in helping set a scene. The music here was played during a final battle with T-ELOS, KOSMOS's rival (in a sense). To have such a peaceful piece of music played during such a poignant scene really set the battle apart from any of the others.
Nocturne kicked my ass more way than one, but I loved every second of it. The soundtrack only amplified the game's diehard nature. I basically love every piece from Nocturne, but Dante's battle music was amazing and quite fitting for his character.
One of my absolute favorites of all time. The intro to this song really captured the insanity of the character (Endrance/Elk) and his obsession with Mia/Macha. The bells that can be heard are not only reminiscent of Macha's first theme (from the first set of games), but that of wedding bells, which takes the creepiness to a whole new level.
An odd choice for a number one spot. Haunting Ground came out for the PS2 and pretty much flew under everybody's radar. It played in the same vein as Clock Tower 3. You had to hide from enemies, rather than fight and your main character could go into a panic if the enemy got too near. The game wasn't very memorable, but this one track always stuck with me. It belonged to the games second 'boss,' Daniella. To say she was a crazy bitch would be an understatement (slightly NSFW or life). Her music would only play if she was getting close to you, and hearing it automatically sent any sane person running for their life.
There you have it, my list. To be honest, all of these are interchangeable with many other songs from many other games, but I think it says something about the current ones that I thought of them first. Haunting Ground was certainly a wild card (even for me), but even hearing the song now sends a chill up my spine. I also realize, it's sacrilege that I didn't list any Final Fantasy music, but alas!
After a long and busy day at the office, I wanted nothing more than to come home and relax. I settled down at my computer, turned it on, and began to mentally run down a list of games I could play. NWN2, Tera, Swtor, another run through Dragon age, so on and so forth. Nothing was striking my fancy however. Frustrated, I begrudgingly settled on Dragon Age and began to play. It was then I realized it. I wasn't enjoying myself in the least, and yet, I felt compelled to play something...Anything.
Thinking it was just the game, I switched to another. Same feeling. Then another. Same. Despite my obvious lack of interest in playing, I refused to stop trying different games. Finally, I settled on something, and told myself, "Just play it. Better than nothing." I wasn't having nearly as much fun as I should have been considering this was an activity of entertainment. So, why didn't I just stop and go find something else?
Before anyone says, "It was probably the game, you need a new one." I have a whole slew of unplayed games. Xenoblade, Silent Hill, Harvest Moon, Tales of Graces F, Resident Evil Revelations. Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I was extremely excited for each one. However, half of those haven't even been opened. My desire to devote time to a new game comes sporadically (which is a whole different blog on it's own). But, I digress.
I was ready to sell my soul to ensure this game was brought over to the U.S.
My main point is this: when exactly did gaming become a chore? Don't get me wrong, I adore playing video games. But, there comes periods of time where I actually feel obligated to play (last night for example). I will ask myself, "Do want to do something else?" No, I don't, but then I get very little enjoyment out of sticking to games. It's a weird and frustrating experience to say the least.
The issue becomes extremely visible with MMO's. I mentioned in a previous blog that I have a strong love/hate relationship with the genre. That being said, during the small windows of time that I do play, it's like a second job. I'd sigh, huff and puff about having to logon. My fiance would look at me like I was crazy. "I don't get it. If you don't want to play, then don't." My response was always the same, "You don't get it, I have too."
What the hell? I have too? That doesn't make sense! I don't know if I was scared of missing something (at least MMO wise), or if I was afraid I'd lose the gaming streak I was on. It's absolute craziness, and yet its a fact about me that I know won't change anytime soon.
I wish I had a resolution to all of this, an answer or idea. But I don't. In a weird and twisted way, gaming is not only my escape, but a burden as well.
Having just finished Dragon Age 2 for the tenth time (yes - I know people hate this game. However, I enjoy it for what it is). I decided I wanted a more robust PC RPG. After poking around and doing some research (read: check forums), I narrowed my list down to: NWN1, Jade Empire, Baldur's Gate, and NWN2.
I must admit, I am a late late bloomer into PC gaming. Until very recently, I was stuck only on consoles. This means I have missed out on some great games during their 'prime.' I picked NWN2 because, well, hell, I don't know why. I want to play all the above listed games, but NWN2 was the first I went for. Maybe because it seemed more recent than the others. After all, I want to take baby steps.
I spent a good amount of time with the game last night and I am enjoying it a lot more than I originally thought. I hear a lot of stuff was cut from the game (poor Obsidian always getting the shaft), but I'm intrigued by the story and plan on devoting my free time to it this weekend. Although, this is the first game I've played that makes me feel like a complete and utter moron -and that was just with creating my character.
I understand the game goes by the Dungeons and Dragons rule set, and that's great, but man, I feel like a need a Phd to understand what points I'm allocating and what this skill allows and why that armor will actually hurt me more than help. Maybe I just need more time learning the system, but at this point, I feel so in over my head that I am almost POSITIVE I am going to gimp my character severely. I don't fault the game for this, after all that is the system it is based off of and it seems to work very well. I just think I need to spend a few hours learning exactly how it works. Something I'm not sure I'm ready to do for a game.
Regardless, as I said, the game is a lot of fun and I'm happy I decided to get into it. I am sucker for story heavy games and until I completely ruin my character stat-wise, I will keep trucking through. The only major complaint I have, one that actually had me turn off the game for a while, is the camera/controls. I can't stand the fact that my character seems to be controlled like the original Resident Evil games. Instead of following the direction the camera is facing, she will take off in another direction. It makes for a lot of running into walls and cursing on my part. I'm only a few hours in though, so hopefully I get the knack of it before I throw my computer out the window.
Horror games are a favorite of mine. I love the atmosphere they create and the games they can play with your mind. Below I've listed some of my top five creepy games. This was a tough list to compile, but I think it's on point. Also, just a heads up there may be potential spoilers! Don't say I didn't warn ya. Oh and a disclaimer. I know not everyone will agree with my list, but that's ok! Because difference of opinion is what makes us all special!
Let's get right to it...
5. Clock Tower 3 (Playstation 2)
Clock Tower is a series of games (oddly enough, CT3 is actually the fourth installment) that originated as point and click. CT3 was the first to introduce direct control over the protagonist.CT3 wasn't very well received. The combat (only available during boss battles) was clunky and the camera wasn't a friend.
You play as Alyssa Hamilton, a 14 year old girl who returns home after her mother specifically said not too. From there, some really bizarre events go down, and Alyssa suddenly finds herself transported back in time. Her quest is to find her mother, but of course that won't be easy. Gameplay consisted of you solving puzzles all the while keeping away from the Subordinates (each levels boss character). You couldn't fight them, only hide, run and throw the occasional splash of holy water at their face.
What got CT3 on my list is the fact of how visceral it was (especially at the time). You see a little girl get bludgeoned on screen, a woman and her son burned alive in a vat of acid. Not to mention the fact that until Alyssa was at the end of each level, you could not fight. You had to run and hide and pray the Subordinate didn't find you. Alyssa didn't have a health bar in the game, but a sanity bar. If the Subordinate gets too close (even while she is hiding), she will go into a panic, making controlling her nearly impossible and allowing the enemy to get a one hit kill.
The game didn't boast a psychological horror experience, but it certainly had me on the edge of my seat while playing. The fact that Alyssa was helpless combined with the relentlessness of the Subordinate made for a tense play through.
4. Silent Hill 3 (Playstation 2)
A well known series, Silent Hill (whichever number that may be) holds a special place in the heart of many gamers. Sad to say, the series has really gone downhill past the third installment (seen above), but I think a lot of us fans holds hope that one day, it may return to what it used to be.
Silent Hill 3 was a direct sequel to the first game. It followed Heather Mason (Aka Cheryl) who returns to the town to confront her past. Silent Hill 3 was not only bloody (the dark tones of red and rust used to color the levels), but it also toyed with your mind, making you wonder just what the hell was going on.
The dev team took seemingly innocent areas (a mall, an amusement park, a church) and transformed them into a hellish nightmare -which was perfectly fitting. The enemies you faced were not only grotesque but actually had meaning to their shape and form.
The far creepiest part for me would have to be the storeroom in the hospital. You don't realize what is happening, til suddenly it has completely overwhelmed you. You don't want to look away and yet you can't stop watching to see what happens.
3. Fatal Frame (Playstation 2)
Ah Fatal Frame. A personal favorite of mine. Nothing could scare me (not even the later installments) as much as this original game did. You play as Miku, a girl who is searching for her brother in a giant mansion in the mountains. Her brother (Mafuyu), had gone looking for his favorite novelist and never returned.
The Himuro Mansion (where the game takes place) is terrifying on its own without the ghosts. The dev team did a great job establishing atmosphere, the dust covered rooms, the creaks and noises, the way the light plays tricks on you, and the history of the house. Miku's means of fighting against the spirits is not typical, instead of using weapons or running away, she uses the Camera Obscura.
Everything about Fatal Frame was terrifying. If you idled around in any place for too long, a fight was sure to happen. The game burrowed deep into your mind, making you question every noise and object. When ghosts attacked, I found myself wanting to see them better and yet cringing away at the same time.
I know a lot of people will argue that Fatal Frame 2 surpassed this game, but I can't say I agree. The first game had a sense of claustrophobia; that you were trapped in the mansion and there was no way you were getting out. Despite having beaten the game a few times, I still get chills when I start it up again.
2. Silent Hill 2 (Playstation 2)
No list would be complete with Silent Hill 2 on it. A stand alone game in the series, it left Harry Mason behind and introduced one of the best characters ever created, James Sunderland. James is called to the town by a letter he received from his wife, his very dead wife. Despite that minor detail, he goes and delves deep into his own personal nightmare. I know I listed spoilers at the top, but I really don't want to give too much away for Silent Hill 2, as it really REALLY should be played by anyone interested. You can't just read about Silent Hill 2, you have to experience it.
Nearly every single thing in this game holds a deeper meaning than you originally think. After beating it for the first time, I scoured the internet reading plot analysis and interpretations. This is a game that sticks with you long after you have put it down.
The music/ambient effects of the game really stand out. Akira Yamaoka did a hell of job fitting the perfect music (or noise) for the scene. Grinding industrial wails or a haunting piano bring the whole world to life. Like I said, Silent Hill 2 isn't something you can explain. Everyone who plays it takes away something different.
It's amazing that a game from 2001 still holds up today. If you haven't played it, I highly recommend you go out and find a copy (but stay away from the HD release).
1. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC)
There we are. Number One on my list. Amnesia is probably the most terrifying game I have played. This is the one game that actually made me take off my headphones and walk away from my computer. I consider myself pretty desensitized to horror games, but Amnesia has a knack for scaring the hell out of me.
You play as Daniel, a man who wakes up only to find he has (can you guess it?) amnesia! Daniel has to make his way through a castle (and other areas) to find out just what the hell is going on. Like Clock Tower 3, Amnesia does not allow Daniel to fight the monsters he encounters. Instead he must flee or hide. Daniel also has a sanity meter which drops every time an enemy spots him, he is in the dark (which is a lot unless you conserve oil), or if he sees something odd.
Amnesia's atmosphere is unbelievable. The slow buildup of tension is palpable. I played as the game suggested I do, in the dark and with headphones on, and I didn't last long. You can't help but feel like you are Daniel while playing. Even starting up the game causes your heart to beat faster, knowing what you are about to go against. The fact you aren't supposed to see the monsters makes it even worse. Basically put, if you can see a monster clearly, you are dead.
Like Silent Hill 2, Amnesia is something that has to be experienced. It is truly one of the most frightening games I've ever played. Everything about it is creepy and the fact that you have to be constantly on guard only adds to it. I'm extremely excited for its sequel, A Machine for Pigs.
And there you have it. My top five incredibly creepy video games. I know a lot of people would argue with what is on this list, but these are the games that really stood out to me.
I hate MMORPGs. That is the first time I have ever admitted it, but it feels good to finally do so, as I've known it to be true for awhile now. Yet, despite this, that knowledge never stops me from falling absolutely head over heels in love with them. I read one write-up on the game, and I'm hooked. From World of Warcraft to TERA, the list holds a decent number of entries. Obsessing about games is like a drug for me.
For a more specific example, lets use Rift.
Um, yes please.
I had no interest in the game til one of my online friends mentioned it. Curious, I read a brief article explaining what the game hoped to be, and BAM. Suddenly, I was addicted. I lurked on their forums day and night, I went to the website multiple times throughout the day. Somehow, I managed to snag a code for their closed betas, and suddenly my weekend social life disappeared (I had one, I swear). At work, I managed to convince to five coworkers to pre-purchase the game, so we could all roll together at launch. I was one step away from getting Rift tattooed across my forehead.
Then release day came.
Suddenly, I wasn't so interested in the game anymore. I was bored with the content, and all those friends I had persuaded to buy the game, found I was never online (they weren't happy to say the least). I played every now and then, but my burning obsession was now tepid. There was no reason for it. I just had absolutely no desire to play the game.
The same thing happened with TERA. Read a few blogs about it, and suddenly I was pumped. Live Action combat, hells yes. A designated Roleplay server (shutup -I enjoy it), perfect. Pretty damn gorgeous graphics, where do I sign up? I pre-ordered the Collector's Edition the day it became available. Once again, the addiction had taken control. There I was on the forums, helping to figure out where the RP community should go for their shenanigans. Hell, I even created a guild that boasted a healthy roster. I was ready to go. I was going to be Miss TERA.
Exactly like this.
I didn't even make it past the betas. I kept saying, "I don't want to spoil the content for launch. I'll get into it then." All lies. Once again, there was no reason for my abrupt lack of interest, I just didn't want to play. Now, not only was I disappointing the friends I had convinced to play in real life (in all fairness, they should stop listening to me), but I had a guild of ~40 members to figure out what to do with.
These are only two examples. My list goes on and every time it's the same process. Obsess - Purchase - Discard. As I said in the beginning paragraph, the worst part is, I know this will happen, and yet it never stops me. Even while writing this, I know where my new hit will be coming from... Funcom a-la The Secret World.
A siren call I must heed.
Maybe, just maybe, this will be the game that goes the distance.