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5:05 PM on 09.13.2013

Tales of Xillia Review



Tales of Xillia

Current generation game, last generation ideals

Played to completion on Normal difficulty with most side quests completed


The Tales series has been a constant in my life since the venerable GameCube classic Tales of Symphonia hit in 2004. Symphonia is one of those defining games of my childhood. In the nine years since Symphonia hit US shores, Iíve become a completely different person. In contrast, the Tales of series has remained almost identical, and Xillia is no exception. It has everything youíd want in a Tales game: Fast paced real time combat, likeable characters, and a generic anime-esque plot. Itís a Tales game through and through, and I couldnít put the controller down.

Xillia opens with a choice. You have to choose which of the 2 main characters will become the actual main character of your playthrough. Picking the naÔve young med student Jude will reward you with the best all-around plot experience. Picking the mysterious beauty Milla grants you a less cohesive story overall, but has tons of interesting background information and character development tidbits. Either way you go, the main game remains the same.


Gaze upon your god!

Xillia has an incredibly slow start. Learning all the systems and experimenting with the brand new link artes, (Combo abilities involving 2 party members) keeps things interesting for a while, †but it doesn't take long for the game to hit a relatively long lull. I was bored for a lot of the first 20 or so hours of Xillia. The combat is fun but can get repetitive and the plot goes almost nowhere. Then somewhere around 2/3ds of the way through the game goes into overdrive. The story takes some awesomely dark turns and the boss battles come fast and furious. Itís suffers from whatís known as FF13 syndrome, although itís not nearly as dreary as that game gets. Even during the boring times you get the occasional funny skit or interesting side quest. Speaking of side quests, this game almost has a split personality when it comes to the types of quests handed out. On the one hand you have the standard fetch/kill quests that add almost nothing to the game. On the other hand there are side quests which consist only of going to specific spots and watching a quick cutscene. These quests are almost universally interesting and build the backstory of your traveling companions.


The humorous skits help fight the boredom

Itís hard for me to find any fault with the main cast of Xillia. Sure the dub could be better, but in the overall picture that doesn't even matter. The characters are so well written and believable that I fell in love with them at first sight. Jude seems like the typical naÔve protagonist at the start, but he shows himself to be capable and smart, and those traits only improve as the game proceeds. Milla plays the typical fish out of water type, but the execution is so great that you canít help but be drawn to her. She is by far the best female main character of the entire Tales series, but the real standout of the cast is the charming rouge named Alvin. His shifting loyalties and questionable actions keep the story interesting, but itís his awe inspiring end game actions that really make him so interesting. The only shame is that his standout scene is only shown during Judeís playthrough. The rest of the cast all have interesting and unique personalities, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about them all.

The music is still buzzing around in my head. The game has dozens of distinct pieces that remain memorable even after the game is over. If only the game looked as good as it sounds. It still boggles my mind how bad this game looks. The textures are muddy and bland and the environments have a ton of recycled pieces that become very noticeable after 40 hours. Considering the fact the game was made from the ground up for the PS3 itís strange that it looks worse the last game in the series Tales of Graces f, and that game is a Wii port! Itís not like it ruins the game, but it really brings me down when I see the same muddy textures reused for the umpteenth time.


Namco once again shows how to make relevant DLC

Tales of Xillia left me wanting more. The games comes to an end so quickly that I couldn't help but wish that I had a little more time to spend with my party. At 40 hours with nearly all side quests done the game is standard RPG length but not up to the Tales of standard. In those 40 hours of game time I spent more than half in a sort of haze, just playing like a zombie waiting for the next bit of stimulation. Then when the game picked up and summarily ended I was disappointed that it was over. Tales of Xillia has its flaws, particularly its severe cliffs and valleys, but it is a fine entry in the Tales of series.

  read


4:07 PM on 06.28.2013

An Ode to the Temporary Party Member

Temporary party members have long been a staple of JRPGís. It takes its place in the pantheon of tropes along with amnesia and crazy hair. In some cases an awesome character from the story will help you out of a tough spot with (usually) awesome abilities. Other times these characters will be in your party at the very beginning of the game, and then you realize they wonít stick around when they donít level up in the same way as your protagonist.†


This isn't going to end well

I would be remiss if I didnít lay out some ground rules in regards to this list/blog. First of all there will be spoilers for a lot of RPGís, including but not limited to: A bunch of Final Fantasy games, the Xenosaga series, Lunar Silver Star Harmony, and .Hack. Secondly, not all characters who are only around for a limited time count as temporary party members. For example, Aeris doesnít count because she is a main party member for a good chunk of the game and levels up with everyone else. When it comes to temporary members, I mean a character that is only in the party for one battle or one area, who doesnít learn skills in the same way as main party members, and more than likely has static equipment. With that out of the way, letís get on with the show.


Honestly there's no reason for Cloud to even be here

Letís start with the grandfather of the JRPG, Final Fantasy. My first exposure to the temporary party member is a common one. The game was Final Fantasy 7, the location was Nibelheim. It started out innocently enough with my various party members having a discussion at the inn. It wasnít long before we transitioned to the past, and caught a glimpse of the sexy beast known as Sephiroth. After a little chit chat between Cloud and Sephiroth, a battle with a dragon commenced. It wasnít long before I realized Cloud was a huge pussy compared to Sephiroth. On the first turn the Dragon killed me in one hit, and Sephiroth hit me with Life 2, a spell I had never seen before that point. Then the show continued when Sephy shrugged off the Dragonís attack and hit him for 3000 damage. When I got cloud to attack, it hit for a measly 100. This battle perfectly demonstrates why I love temporary party members. It gives you a glimpse of how powerful you can be in the future, while humbling you by showing just how far away you are from being strong.†


Good luck buddy

Moving on to the sequel, we get Seifer and his presence in FF8. Seifer is presented as your rival from the very start of the game, and goes on to become a reoccurring boss throughout. Early on in the game, you get a glimpse of what Seifer can do, and itís not †very impressive. Heís basically a clone of Squall with no distinguishing features. Once again the game designers show mastery of their craft. By showing that Seifer is on the same level as the protagonist, they can later set up how powerful he becomes in relation to Squall. By the end of the game, he becomes a formidable boss that takes your whole party to beat. It also makes you a little more familiar with Seiferís character. Heís not really evil; he just wants a purpose in life.†


Seymour is a huge asshole, but he's got the bite to back up the bark

Now letís jump to the best game in the series. In Final Fantasy 10, we get to utilize the primary antagonist Seymour in exactly one battle. This battle takes place before we learn of Seymourís sinister intentions, and is the second example of Seymourís skills. The first time we see Seymour in action is during a cutscene in which he summons a giant fish monster that absolutely destroys all the enemies you've been struggling with up to that point. Later down the line we get to see what Seymour can do first hand in a boss battle that would be impossible to beat without him. Like Final Fantasy 7, Seymour is basically an example of how powerful you can become later in the game. He possesses the upgraded versions of the spells you can use, and does exponentially more damage then you. He's also unique in that he has an overdrive made only for this battle that most people never see. In order to watch this overdrive, you will have to delay the battle for a good 20 minutes, just getting hit and healing over and over. Most players finish this battle quickly thanks to Seymourís power, so itís completely unnecessary for the developers to include this. To me thatís what makes this battle so awesome. FF 10 HD 2013/2014 GOTY!


Vergil always gets the short end of the stick

Xenosaga is balls out insanity. Making sense of the series requires a PhD in fucking crazy shit, and thatís why I love it. It also makes good use of the temporary party member. In the first game, we get Vergil in our party for a short while. Now by the time I played Xenosaga, I knew how to spot a temporary member. As such I knew once Vergil joined the party I knew the fun wouldn't last. He had only 2 basic attacks and no abilities. Even though I knew he wouldn't be in the party for long, I never expected that they would take him out the way they did. After helping you escape the Gnosis and getting all the way to the escape pods, Kos-Mos mows him down in a hail of minigun fire. The sole reason she does this is because he was in the way of her shots, and thus expendable. Itís an amazing cutscene to watch because it surprises you to see just how cruel Kos-Mos can be. It establishes the fact that Kos-Mos is a robot who follows her programming and doesn't have any human emotion.(Even though this is actually revealed to be false later on).†


"I'm a fucking badass!!"

Flash forward to Xenosaga 3 where we get to use 2 characters we've seen throughout the series finally get into the fight. Miyuki joins the fray with a fighting style almost the same as Shionís, utilizing the same weapon and abilities. While it was cool to finally see Miyuki show up, the best part was seeing Allen fight. Throughout the series Allen is established as the sort of wimpy guy who just wants to be safe and secure. He is shown to have basically zero balls and no physical prowess. Then in episode 3 he becomes the ultimate badass. He joins the battle with a futuristic crossbow and competently replaces Shion in the party. He doesnít have amazing abilities or anything, but the fact that heís an ok fighter completely blew me away. This also helps set up his amazing actions towards the end of the game, specifically when he jumps on a Gnosis and beats the shit out of it to protect Shion. Itís represents a complete transformation of his character, and it's a beautiful sight to behold.


It may be packed full of tropes, but it's still an amazing experience

Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is an excellent remake of the Sega CD classic. This game is classic JRPG at its finest; young boy on an adventure, legends of an old hero who saved the world, ancient dragons, and a malevolent villain who fucks shit up. It's an absolute tragedy that I only found out about this game last year. It was refreshing to play a game that so perfectly encompassed the entire genre. Anyway, the game opens with a battle between 4 very powerful characters and what is basically the last boss. Once again itís showing just how powerful you can become by giving you a party of full powered fighters to use. The twist in Lunar is that this party is actually the parents of the main cast, and theyíre powers almost directly correspond to their childrenís abilities. Trust me itís more awesome than Iím describing.


I'm still waiting for a .Hack HD remaster

Finally we get to a somewhat obscure RPG, .Hack. The thing that separates .Hack from the pack is that itís a single player game that takes place in a virtual MMO. Your character is actually a guy on a computer playing an MMO. As such you can check your email and keep a friends list of party members to call upon. At the beginning of the game you are raiding a dungeon with your friend IRL whose character is named Orca. Things are going smoothly as you follow Orca around and leech xp from his kills. Of course things take a turn when a powerful monster attacks Orca and the player. Orca tries to fight back but every attack misses and the monster swats Orca like a fly. Orca tells you to run but youíre character is frozen in fear. Luckily a mysterious spirit appears and teleports you away with a mysterious book in tow. Itís one of my favorite game openings because it so perfectly sets up all the MMO tropes the game follows while introducing you to it's unique storyline.†


I put this picture solely because I really love Kos-Mos

I think thatís enough of a rant for today. I know that there are probably hundreds of characters I've missed on this list, including some from the Final Fantasy series. If I missed one of your favorites go ahead and tell me in the comments, because I love me some honest feedback.   read


1:09 PM on 03.26.2013

Epic Games is the new Capcom



The recent release of Gears of War: Judgment got me thinking about just how quickly Epic Games has gone from a company who released free DLC to keep playerís engaged, into a company who releases games with disc locked content and microtransactions.



Since I was never much of a PC gamer, my experience with Epic Games started with the release of the original Gears of War. I was blown away when I played my first online round of Gears. No other game hooked me the way Gears did, I was playing the game 10 hours a day for weeks, enjoying every moment just as much as I did when I played that fateful first match. I actually enjoyed the game too much, playing became an obsession that had me ditching school and blowing off my friends. The only thing that got me away was the intervention of my parents after my Spanish teacher called home to say I had missed school for 2 weeks. My parents went straight for the jugular and took my games away for 3 months, leaving me only the Gameboy Advance I had stashed with a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics. When I got my games back, I of course went straight back into Gears, but luckily this time around I didnít feel the obsession I had felt only 3 months prior. When I got back in the game, I quickly noticed that a map pack had been released for the low price of free. At this point I wasnít very deep into the game industry, so I had no clue these maps were going to come out. In this map pack was the fan favorite Raven Down map, which became my temporary favorite. It wasnít too long after that the next pack came out, this time with a price of 10 bucks. I was a poor teenager with no credit card, so I was forced to skip this pack when it came out. Then after a few months Epic made the DLC free, and I was ecstatic. At this point I was playing different games, but I would still come back to Gears every few days. I was essentially in love with the franchise at this point, and was eagerly awaiting Gears 2.



Gears of War 2 arguably has the best campaign in the whole franchise. Unfortunately the same canít be said for the multiplayer. It was and still is a borderline broken mess. A lot of people abandoned ship and went back to Gears 1, but I stuck it out and came to enjoy the multiplayer immensely. The game came with a code for a map pack in the box as long as you bought it new, which I thought was a great idea. It gave incentive for people to buy new but it didnít punish used players. Looking back though I see the seeds of the problems with the Gears franchise today, which is Epic following the market trends to milk consumers out of every dollar they can get. Gears 2 eventually had 4 map packs that all cost money. It seemed that at this point Epic was done giving away free DLC to Gears fans. I was totally cool with this though, because I was a fan and the maps were reasonably priced. Towards the end of the games life, Epic earned back a little good will by releasing a super map pack that had every map ever released at a discount price. It was a great move that brought new and old players into the fray.



Gears of War 3 is a great game, it was packed with content that could keep players bust for 100ís of hours. This time around though, Epic made sure to throw some microtransactions in to make some extra dough. The game launched with 3 times as many skins to buy as there was to unlock. It was outrageous to me that Epic would do this. Then it came out that there were maps locked on the disc. Cliff Bleszinski then came out with a statement where he said ďIt's an ugly truth of the gaming industry. I'm not the biggest fan of having to do it, but it is one of the unfortunate realities." I read that as him basically saying that Epic is going to charge for this locked content and it will keep doing so in the future. Then on top of everything Epic put out a season pass for 30 bucks, and the first DLC it included was the on disc DLC. I felt completely ripped off at this point but the game itself was good enough to keep me playing. The next 3 DLCs promised in the season pass delivered, so I felt a little better about the game overall by the time the content stopped coming out, but I was still bitter about the whole thing. It turned out this was just a test run for the ďEpicĒ rip off that is Gears Judgment.



Gears of War: Judgment is a prime example of whatís wrong with the game industry today. After Gears 3 I was cautious about Judgment, and Iím glad I was. I rented the game and was appalled by the games lack of content. I was already on my toes thanks to the various pre-order bonuses and promotional items. If I wanted to get all the content I would have to pre-order from 5 places, buy some beef jerky and Brisk, and buy the season pass. In the vanilla game, there are only 8 character models. How the fuck did they make a game with 8 character models when there's 10 players in a match. Itís unbelievable how bare bones the game is without all the promotional items. Not only that, but the game has only 4 maps for deathmatch. 4 FUCKING MAPS! I was bored of the maps before my rental period was up. The Season pass is also a joke, it cost 20 dollars and you only get 6 maps and 2 game modes. Of course they attached permanent double XP to the pass to make fans buy it despite the lack of actual content. They also sell double XP as microtransactions, so you can pay a dollar for 10 matches worth. Itís disgusting what they've done to this game. The only thing they were missing was disc locked content, but it turns out that they have some of that too. Just today itís come out that the popular warzone game mode from the previous games in the franchise is locked on the disc, and is most likely one of the two modes included in the season pass. This game is the straw that broke the camelís back. Iím officially done with Epic and Iím done paying full price for games that are stripped of content so they can sell us it down the line. From now on Iíll stick with the companies I trust, but keep my eye open in case they shift downhill the way Epic has.
  read


12:10 PM on 01.27.2013

Bioshock's Museum of Orphaned Concepts

When I saw the announcement of the Bioshock Ultimate Rapture Edition, one thing caught my eye. A new feature called the "Museum of Orphaned Concepts" was added to the original Bioshock. Of course this was the first thing I wanted to see when I got my copy in the mail. So I decided to make a video so everyone can see this content, which I believe is incredibly interesting. The quality is terrible since it's from my phone, but you can still make out some of the awesome concept art that was thrown away before the original Bioshock came out.

Can't for the life of me figure out how to embed this, so click this link
WOULD YOU KINDLY   read


10:28 PM on 12.02.2012

IPL 5 Cosplay Roundup Featuring League of Legends!



Living in Vegas and being under 21 is basically the same as living on a tropical but not knowing how to swim. Thankfully, IPL came along and gave me the opportunity to ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING INTERESTING. After enjoying myself on Friday, I forced myself to work Saturday and miss out on the celebration. It was during the time I regretted not calling out that I had the idea to make a cosplay gallery. So I called my friends still at the event and asked them to get some pics for me to throw this gallery together. So, without further ado, here is a selection of some of the great cosplay of IPL !

First, we have a little set-up. A few picks of the venue to set the tone.....










To kick things off, we have a cosplay of Ahri from League of Legends.


Now a beautiful group shot featuring Nurse Akali, Ahri, and Elise


Next up, Taric and Dr. Mundo!


The Tommy-gun wielding Mafia Miss Fortune!


Seems like Miss Fortune is very popular, but I'll always love Dat' Ashe.


A wild Ezreal appears!


Headmistress Fiora dealing out the punishment.


The always stylish Vayne


Group Shot of Talon, Teemo, Katarina, and Battle Bunny Riven.


Bonus pic of Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw


Bonus pic the second of me with Jessica Nigri


What event would be complete without the swag?


Finally, we have a meme pic I made of my friend Roger. Included just to piss him off.
  read


7:00 PM on 08.16.2012

Getting shafted by Sleeping Dogs?



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFMYPBpxs6w

If you take a look at that video, you'll see the Police Protection Pack. Offered as a pre-order incentive to gamestop customers. (at least in the US) Based on that video, I and many others dropped down money at gamestop. As it turns out, that ad was a blatant lie. What you actually get in the game is one mission that is about 2 minutes long where you get driven around by a cop while you shoot vehicles chasing you. That's it. You don't get to use the armor, gun, or car in free roam. Also there are no exclusive police upgrades at all. It's just one 2 minute mission. I couldn't believe it when I played it. So I took to gamefaqs to see if this was the case with everyone else, or if I just missed something. I was directed to this link on the games official forums.

http://forums.sleepingdogs.net/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1322&start=15

In it, a community manager for the game states that as we suspected, you don't get to use anything that was promised to you. All you get is the mission. I'm legitimately outraged that they would make a trailer showing you using the items in the open world, but give you nothing promised. Plus despite the fact that the trailer says "exclusive police upgrades" there are none in the DLC.

Now they say they're looking into letting people use the DLC they way they clearly showed in the promo video, but it's not a sure thing. They haven't mentioned anything about the upgrades yet, so that's a wait and see.

What so you guys think about this?   read


1:18 AM on 08.10.2012

Battle.net was hacked. Change your passwords!

Apparently emails, security questions, and encrypted passwords were stolen. Looks like a real mess. They have a faq on the website with a lot of good information.

http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/securityupdate.html

I tried to send this to tips but for some reason google was blocking me from sending it.   read


7:13 PM on 07.02.2012

Best of the Year(So Far)



The Dtoid show recently made an episode about the best games that have come out in the first half of 2012. After watching the episode I got a flash of genius and decided to copy them but in text form. However, in an effort to be less blatantly ďinspired,Ē I will only list games that werenít mentioned on the show. So here is my list of the best games of 2012 (so far).

Alan Wakeís American Nightmare



Seemingly forgotten as soon as it came out, American Nightmare took the janky combat of Alan Wake and refined it into an arcade worthy action game. Story took second place to the gameplay, a twist most fans didnít see coming. After the somber Twin Peaks-esque original, most fans expected more atmosphere and less monsters. For me, this turn was for the better, and gave the game a smoothness its predecessor lacked. Weapons and ammo were plentiful, and enemies attacked in large waves. Despite the focus on gameplay, the story was a more than competent time travel tale that showed Alan Wakes struggle to triumph over his evil alter ego, Mister Scratch. An improvement in almost all sectors, American Nightmare is the sequel Alan Wake needed.

The Walking Dead



Telltale struck gold once again with its latest licensed adventure series, The walking Dead (note this is based purely on episode 1). Separating itself from the television show and comic series, The Walking Dead game takes an almost completely original cast on a journey to survive through the first few days of a zombie apocalypse. While there are a few action scenes here and there, most of the game is focused on the interaction between the main characters, and how people co-exist in a world full of zombies. Itís surprisingly interesting to navigate the social waters in a world that is essentially over. Choices come fast and furious, often with timers in tow, making sure that you canít wait to work out the best option; you just have to go with your gut feeling. Tough choices are the rule here, not the exception. Zombie games are a dime a dozen these days, but this one stands out. At 5 bucks, itís a steal.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier



Future Soldier walks a fine line between being too streamlined and too tactical. Fans of the series lament the direction this game has taken the franchise, but I personally love it. It takes out a lot of the things that slowed down the pace, and replaced them with an easy mark and shoot style system. It also throws in a lot of toys to help you along the way, including my favorite weapon of 2012, the Warhound. Warhound is essentially a Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell, a small mobile tank with tremendous firepower. Unlike the Tachikomas, you have complete control over Warhound, and it is the most empowered Iíve felt playing a game. Even though you only get it for one level, its glorious fiery destruction raining death missiles are so awesome, you canít help but smile as you wipe out enough people to populate a small town. Aside from that, the game usually has a strong focus on remaining stealthy via active camo, and the level design does a great job of making you feel like a badass invisible soldier. The only downside is the extremely stupid plot; youíd be better off just skipping the cut scenes here, even if youíre a story person like me.

Tales of Graces f



Finally we get to my favorite game of the year so far, Tales of Graces f. Like many others, I feel like Iím losing my love for JRPGs. Still, I got caught in the trailers and ended up pre-ordering the game, not knowing if I could really get invested in another RPG epic. I was completely taken in from hour one. The game had that RPG feeling Iíd been missing for the last few years. The characters drilled themselves into my mind the same way Cloud and company caught my eye over 10 years ago. It was love at first sight, and I ended up spending over 130 hours on the game, going for the platinum trophy. The combat system focused on switching between 2 different sets of skills while managing a point system that limited you from endless combos, but gave you enough to experiment. While the story was pretty generic, the characters had a soul I feel many games lately have lacked. The dialogue was funny at the right moments and sad when it was appropriate. A modern day JRPG classic, this will most definitely be on my GOTY list, if not the winner. Iíll leave you with this line, one of my favorites from one of the many great skits peppered throughout the game.

  read


5:00 PM on 05.18.2012

The Games of my Summer


Now available for the Apple II, Commodore 64, and Amiga!

Spring is soon coming to a close, and summer is nigh upon us. Summer is traditionally a bad time for the videogame industry. Most game companies seem to avoid the summer like the plague, instead opting to crowd the autumn season with the yearís hottest titles. There are, however, a few games that decide to brave the molten heat of summer to keep those disc drives spinning. Without further ado, here are my games of the summer.

Lollipop Chainsaw (06/12)



Coming in just before the official start of summer, Lollipop Chainsaw is a game about a chainsaw wielding teenage cheerleader who slices zombies into rainbows. The fact that this is an accurate description of the game makes me incredibly excited. After tons of serious games about the zombie apocalypse, a proper parody has been created at the hands of gaming mastermind Suda 51. All signs point to a hit in the humor compartment, but not much is really known about the gameplay. Regardless I will pick this up day one along with all the other people who love the idea of a hot chick hacking and slashing zombies.

Spec Ops: The Line (06/26)



Now hereís a game with a troubled history. Announced way back in December 2009, Spec Ops has seemingly gone through a complete redesign. Having been in the closed beta that started in late July 2010, I can personally say the game was horrible. Not long after said beta, the publisher went silent about the game, and nothing was shown about the game for almost a whole year. It seemed like it would go the way of the dodo and never see the light of day. Now the game is only about a month away, and has a demo out on the 360 marketplace. After my horrible beta experience, I wasnít too hot on the game, but then developer interviews started coming out that really piqued my interest. They described an Apocalypse Now-esque experience that showed the dark brutality of war. They expressed that they wanted the subtitle of ďThe Line,Ē to mean something to players. Curious, I decided to take a look at the demo to sate said curiosity. While the demo didnít blow me away, it showed the game to be a solid shooter with a focus on the characters that comprise your squad. I can now safely say that this game is on my list for this summer.

Persona 4 Arena (08/07)



I have a weird relationship with fighting games. I tend to get very hyped up when I see the next big title on the horizon, and then when I play them I usually give up after a few days of hardcore gaming. The problem is I donít quite have the patience to deal with the many hours of practice and losses it takes to get reasonably good at most fighting games. All my friends kick my ass repeatedly and I end up just taking the voyeurism route and watching tournament streams. The only fighting game I ever really got into and became good enough to win against my friends consistently was DBZ: Budokai 3, and that was almost 6 years ago. Iíve tried SSF4, UMvC3, MK9, and Tekken 6, and gave up on all of them not long after I picked them up. Now is the time to repeat that cycle with Persona 4: Arena. Iím hoping that my love of the Persona series might keep me playing long enough to become a competent player. That and Chie is a playable character.

Borderlands 2 (09/18)



Sneaking in just before cut-off date for summer comes the juggernaut of the bunch. Borderlands 2 is one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. Following up the surprise hit of the original, number 2 is ramping up to be a much bigger and much more streamlined game. I canít help but get excited about finding more guns and killing more skags. Iím definitely going to pick the Siren to keep up with my tradition of playing female characters if possible, and level the shit out of her. I already have a group of friends ready to take the fight back to Pandora. LOOT!

The Best of the Rest



There are quite a few games not on this list that I think deserve mentioning. The reason they arenít on the main list is because theyíre not quite day one purchases for me, but I still plan on playing them down the line.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 (6/26)
Anarchy Reigns (07/03)
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy (07/03)
The Last Story (07/10)
Darksiders 2 (08/14)
Sleeping Dogs (08/14)
Far Cry 3 (09/04)   read


10:03 PM on 05.17.2012

Soon the Long Summer Begins!


Goodbye mild temperatures :(

With summer rapidly approaching and temperatures rapidly rising, spring will soon come to an end. To mark the occasion Iíve decided to write a little wrap up of my spring as it relates to gaming. Tomorrow I will (hopefully) have up a companion blog talking about the games of the summer. For now, though, I would like to delve into my recent past and astound you with the games I played this spring.

Mass Effect 3



Weíll start with a game that wasnít technically released in spring, but was certainly relevant come March 20th. I played this game non-stop the week of release. By the time I came out on the other side of the tunnel I immediately went to the internet to see how the rest of the populace felt about the game, in particular the ending. I wrote a blog around that time expressing my abject hatred and borderline rage about where Bioware decided to take the franchise, so in terms of this blog Iíll leave my feelings about that particular subject on the on the cutting room floor. In other news, the rest of the game was incredibly rewarding. The shooting was tight and the choices made throughout the game left me contemplating my choices long after I put the controller down. I canít think of a better way to kick off spring.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City



Hot off the heels of Mass Effect 3 came what many fans feel was a huge disappointment for the Resident Evil franchise. Raccoon City, for me, wasnít the failure many people labeled it as. I got more than a few hours of enjoyment playing through the campaign and a small amount of multiplayer with 3 of my closest friends. The only slight disappointment for me was the lack of interaction with legacy characters from the previous games, that, and the obviously cut content that Capcom later sold as DLC. At least this time it wasnít on the disc!

Tales of Graces f



At this point in time, I was ready to get my JRPG on. Tales games are always on my radar, and this was the first new game to come to the west since Vesperia. When I first started the game I was very lukewarm on the whole thing, but it soon stuck itís talons in me. I was obsessed with this game throughout the month of April, and 140 hours later I had obtained my first platinum trophy.

Operation Darkness



I had heard of this game a long time ago, but never even thought about it since. Then one day I was at GameStop and saw a used copy of this game for only $8.99, and it was well worth it. Even though there is virtually no chance that I will finish this game, I have gotten more than enough entertainment out of it. Itís a WW2 strategy game that has werewolves fighting Nazi vampires and skeletons. If thatís not enough to get you interested, just look at the image above. Itís a werewolf punching Hitler!

Battlefield 3



I know Iím late to this party, but Iím glad I finally picked this game up. Battlefield 3 is a game of extreme highs and lows. One minute you might be taking down a helicopter by ramming it with a jet, the next you might get spawn killed by an enemy sniper from across the map. I rage a lot when Iím playing multiplayer games, but this game just shakes me to the core sometimes. Iíll probably still be playing this game throughout the summer, at least until I snap the disc in half in a fit of Hulk-like rage.

Left 4 Dead 2



One of my best friends recently gave me this game as a gift, and I always enjoy free shit. This isnít my first experience with the game, but itís definitely my most lengthy. I must have played the game for 4 hours just trying to beat Dark Carnival on Expert with my friend who bought me the game. Even though we died multiple times and never actually got past the last chapter, I enjoyed my time with the game immensely. Also did you know thereís new DLC coming on the 360? I must say thatís pretty impressive for a 3 year old game.

Prototype 2



Last but not least for the retail roundup is a little gem known as Prototype 2. I just started this game yesterday and I must say Iím surprised at how good this game turned out to be. The controls are a little loose and the game is incredibly easy, but it is some of the most visceral fun Iíve had in a game. Iím not too far and Iíve already torn up hundreds of Blackwatch troopers and got my tentacles into multiple helicopters and their pilots. Iím not sure how well the game sold, but I hope it turns out to be a success.

The best of the rest



In terms of downloadable games, two stood out to me among the pack. The first game up is Telltaleís The Walking Dead. This game came out of nowhere and blew me away. As my first Telltale game, Iím not sure how representative the game is of their other works, but I can say I really want to play Back to the Future now. The choices you make in the game are truly compelling, and the whole scene at the motel was great. Pick this up if youíre in any way interested.

The other game is one that became a phenomenon for the second time; Minecraft. Not being much of a PC gamer the XBLA version is my first experience with the game. I was instantly sucked in when I first started playing the game, mining my ass off for just a little more iron ore. Then about 10 hours later I lost the my initial drive and ended up just going for achievements, then once that was done I stopped playing altogether. From what Iíve seen and heard the PC version is vastly superior, but I doubt Iíll ever play it.   read


4:34 AM on 03.12.2012

Mass Effect 3's ending is Bulls***!(Spoilers!!)



SPOILERS!!!


I just finished my first playthrough of Mass Effect 3 and boy does it raise some questions. The ending here especially interests me. For the last hour I've been searching forums for opinions about the ending(s). I was personally super disappointed by the ending sequence that starts after sheperd is hit by the Reaper Laser.



The whole last sequence seems to completely change everything the series established. Every ending destroys all the mass relays around the galaxy. This action in itself makes the ending unbelievable. Considering the Relays are the only way to feasibly travel between systems the whole fleet you bring to earth is stranded for eternity. Many planets wouldn't survive without off world support and trade, and even if they somehow built a relay they couldn't use it without a matching relay. On top of that in Arrival for Mass Effect 2 it's shown that destroying a relay is catastrophic and would result in the destruction of nearby planets, like earth. Plus the citadel explodes over earth and would presumably be big enough do destroy most of earth when it fell.



Also it's not explained how Anderson gets to the Citadel in the first place as he is not ahead of you during the run to the beam. Plus there is literally only one path to the platform in the end so it's literally impossible that he could be on a different path as you are. Then when you confront The Illusive Man you kill him in a single shot, which doesn't seem feasible considering he's reaper controlled. Saren could take a shot to the forehead and live, plus you would think he would have some kind of barrier of shield.



Then comes the child reaper god. This makes zero sense. If the Reaper leader was part of the Citadel the whole time then why would the Reapers even need Sovereign to activate the Citadel Relay. Plus the face that he appears to be the same child that died on earth in the beginning of the game. You could make a case for the Reaper appearing as something significant to Sheperd, but it's still a little unreal.



Lastly there is a theory floating around that the ending is actually an hallucination. That sheperd is actually knocked out by the Reaper Laser and is imagining the events of the endgame. In this theory, the choices at the end of the game are actually Sheperd fighting indoctrination. The child is the Reaper inside of him and gives him alternatives but is really trying to trick Sheperd into embracing the Reapers. Here's a link that explains it better than I can and rallied me to believe the theory is correct.



http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/9727423



I really look forward to seeing how this theory evolves in the future.   read


12:06 AM on 02.12.2012

The Darkness 2 Review



The Darkness 2

Like disemboweling fish with fucking tentacles in a barrel

Played to completion twice on both Thug (Easy) and Don (Very Hard) difficulties (Xbox 360)

In the nearly 5 years since the original Darkness came out, it has held up surprisingly well. Although I only played an hour or so of it myself, fans continue to praise its virtues to this day. Now the long awaited sequel has appeared, done by a different studio and with a radically different look. Can it live up to the first games cult appeal?

The game opens on a high note, with a last stand sequence in where youíre dragged through a burning restaurant shooting frantically to survive. In the end though, youíre forced to embrace The Darkness to save your own life. From there you gain full control of the games protagonist, Jackie Estacado. Jackie starts the game as your typical mob boss, having restrained The Darkness for the past 2 years. Brief load screens covered by monologues fill in his backstory and set up plot points throughout the game.

The game is probably the most brutal game that has ever been created. Using his Darkness powers Jackie has the ability to tear up a battlefield and leave only gallons of blood and buckets of gore in his wake. The gameplay makes use of a system pointedly dubbed ďquad wielding.Ē Jackie can duel wield single handed weapons such as pistols and submachine guns, the quad part comes into play using the darkness tentacles. While the guns make use of your standard shooter controls, you also have access to 2 tentacle arms mapped to the left and right bumpers. Each tentacle has a specific ability, the left tentacle can grab and throw, whereas the right tentacle can slash directionally by holding the button and directing it with the right stick. Running through enemies slashing enemies in half while pumping lead through dual wielded submachine guns is one of the most visceral and satisfying experiences Iíve ever had in a shooter. Complementing this is the execution system, which enables you to kill enemies in the most graphic way possible. Itís easy to execute enemies; all you have to do is stun an enemy either by shooting them or slashing them, then grabbing them with your left tentacle. From here you have the option to execute the enemy to gain health, ammo, a shield, or darkness energy. Every single option has multiple executions ranging from the Butcher, where you cut someone in half then in half again, to an execution where you pull their spinal cord and skull right out of their body a la Sub Zero. On top of that you have a skill tree that over time will give you access to more abilities including a black hole that will suck up enemies in a certain range and turn them into red mist.


The start of one of the various executions, this is going to get bloody

All this killing is complemented by an excellent plot revolving around Jackieís control over The Darkness. Constantly throughout the game you are pulled into a mental asylum, manned by the characters from Jackieís life. Here you are put through scenes that lead you to question Jackieís mental health and how far the Darkness has taken over his mind. Jackieís deceased girlfriend Jenny makes multiple flashback appearances throughout the game, leading to melancholy scenes that show what Jackie had before his life became twisted by The Darkness. The story is far more important to the game then I thought it would be from pre-release media, and strings you along gracefully through the gore soaked gameplay.

The look of The Darkness 2 is a kind of variation of cel-shading that really gives the game a unique look among a sea of grey games. This look makes the game less brutal then it would be with realistic graphics, and really attaches the game to its comic book roots. The soundtrack is a great mix of background noise and some choice licensed songs that might bring a smile to your face. One thing to watch out for though is the lack of facial emoting on characters; it can really draw you out of the game amid the rest of the excellent presentation.


Quad wielding at it's finest

Alongside the single player campaign, thereís a co-op campaign called vendettas, which feature 4 darkness wielding characters running missions for Jackie alongside the main campaign. Each character has one of Jackieís abilities from the game and a darkness infused weapon with which to wreak havoc. While the co-op campaign can be fun with friends, it gets old quickly when you only have 1 unique ability and only about 2 hoursí worth of missions.

The Darkness 2 is one of the most fun and unique shooters to come by in the past few years. Itís both a breath of fresh air and a familiar friend. Itís solid throughout, but throughout isnít very long. With a 6 hour campaign and a low replayability co-op mode, the value proposition isnít very strong. Itís an excellent rental and a great buy when it hits the sub 20 dollar range. Despite that advice, I really hope the game sells well, because the ending sets up for an extremely interesting sequel that I sincerely hope happens somewhere down the line.

4/5   read





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