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4:36 AM on 12.02.2010

Attention! Calling all Valkyria Chronicles Fans! (That means YOU!!)

Man, I never get tired of this image! :3

Anyway, onto business! Recently, I have come across a rather interesting fan idea related to Valkyria Chronicles. Specifically, with regards to the composer of the music to all 3 Valkyria Chronicles games, Hitoshi Sakimoto.

It seems that some fans are trying to gather up fans of the game to wish Sakimoto-San a happy birthday in February but rather than go through the boring twitter/facebook route of tonnes of typed messages, they're looking to create a small book filled with messages for the composer and send it to him as a birthday gift! That's where (hopefully) you guys come in!!

The main details of the project can be found here. Basically, you just need to let the organiser know that you want to take part and then write a hand written message for Sakimoto-San, scan it and send it in. It will then be put into the book! If you want, you can also include any artworks you have as well.
That's it! I'm serious and please, before anyone says anything, my name is not Shirley!

Personally, I think it's a pretty damn cool way to send a message to show that we appreciate what Sakimoto-San has done. The VC games may have suffered with the move over to the PSP but music is one thing which has remained as good as it was back on the PS3 title and it's only a small amount of effort required on your part! So please, if you can, help the project out and send a message over to them to hand over to Hitoshi Sakimoto. Or else you'll make Hans cry. You don't want to make him cry, do you?

There is one more thing though. The organisers are trying to keep this little project a secret from Sakimoto-San so please try to avoid making too much noise about it on Twitter or Facebook in case he gets wind of it. It seems that things were a little slow off the ground because Sakimoto-San is a member of the Valkyria Chronicles FB group and associated twitter account and also has a decent command of english so they were trying to get the members of the group to take part without being able to tell them what it was! That's less of a problem over here. I don't think we have to worry about him reading a Dtoid C-Blog but let's try and keep it quiet. The walls have ears afterall!

Are you still here? Go! Think of something witty to say to the man!!   read

3:26 PM on 09.04.2010

Preview: Dead Rising 2

While a number of Dtoid UK members are off enjoying PAX and playing Duke Nukem Forever, Capcom UK held a small event at the Empire Casino in Leicester Square, London to showcase Dead Rising 2. Those of us who remained in Blighty made sure that the groups was represented so Wayne, Nik, Sebastian and myself went zombie hunting!

The Event

Capcom had booked a small area of the casino overlooking the main floor and had a few little bits of entertainment set up aside from the game itself.
In the front section, there was a blackjack and roulette table set up for us to use, going for the Vegas theme from the game. We were also give $100 worth of chips to use at certain points of the day and prizes were given to those who were able to make the most profit in the time allowed.

The top earner walked away with a Dead Rising 2 jacket, modelled after the biker jacket Chuck Greene wears in the game and the runner up got a poker set and drinks mixer. Personally, I think the runner up got the better prize!

Further back and we get to where the main game could be played. In total, there were around 14 Xbox 360 setups and 8 PS3 setups to allow the guests to play the game (no, I don't know why there were fewer PS3 setups). In the centre was a display for various weapons in the game (non functioning and blunt, of course. Except for the nailbat...) and a replica of the motorbike with chainsaws on the front used by Chuck Greene in the opening section of the game, the "Terror is Real" gameshow. Guests could have their photo taken on the bike with a number of "zombies" ready and willing to pose with them and make them look a little more manly!

To round things off, there was also a bar which served free soft drinks and alcohol after 5pm. And yes, we hit the bar pretty hard once the booze was available. It would have been rude not to!!

The Game

I had a chance to play both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 versions of the game and they were close to identical. I noticed a little jerky motion with the camera movement on the PS3 version when the screen was particularly busy but it didn't affect gameplay at all. Those intending to buy the game don't have anything to worry about with regards to which platform. They're both fine!
The game being played seemed to be near enough the full version. We started off at the "Terror is Real" game show (which provides the basis for the competitive multiplayer section) and quickly found ourselves in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Most players managed to get through the first 2 or 3 main missions before taking a break but there was no reason why one would not be able to go even further if they wanted.

In terms of gameplay, Dead Rising 2 played very much like a "by the books" sequel. That is to say, more of the same. It felt very much like a more refined version of the original Dead Rising in a different settings. Sadly, while that meant that some of the good things about the first game were made better, the bad things also remained. Many were refined to be less of an issue, but still an issue nonetheless.
At this point, I should say that I was not a fan of the original Dead Rising. I felt that it served more as an interactive tech demo, showcasing what Capcom could do on the 360 rather than a fully fleshed game to be enjoyed. Frank West was like a tank to control, long range combat with guns was a joke, the survivor AI was terrible, the psychopaths were frustrating and the pacing was absolutely terrible with the game giving you either too much or too little time to get to missions.
In Dead Rising 2, Chuck is a little easier to control, which is a blessing, but still somewhat sluggish (the less said about the motorbike controls during the "Terror is Real" show the better!). Gun combat is still useless and the pacing is still off, although they are more lenient this time it would seem. Sadly, miss the time window for a story mission and you get an instant game over like before so be sure to save regularly and be prepared to sit around and waste time in a specific area to make sure you're there for the mission when it begins. Everything else is pretty much as you may remember from the original game or the recently released Case Zero DLC.
Loading times also deserve a mention because there are quite a few of them and they are rather long! Expect a fair few breaks in play as you wait for the next section to load up unless the game gets optimised a fair bit before release.

As for our main lead, Chuck Greene, he lacks the charm of Frank West and isn't as fun to watch in the cutscenes. He puts on a stoic look and that's pretty much him for all the sections of the game we played. His backstory makes him look more noble and commendable. In fact, on paper, we should be able to rally behind this single father looking after his daughter rather easily but once in the game, he's more 2-dimensional and wooden than Charisma Carpenter in the Expendables!

It's not all bad though! When you boil the game down to the lowest denominator, killing zombies, there's a lot of fun to be had. A new feature of Dead Rising 2 allows you to combine certain weapons to create some really interesting weapons, from the obvious nailbat to the more interesting "freezer bomb," dynamite strapped to a fire extinguisher to make a bomb which freezes zombies and makes them easy targets. Our personal favourite from within Dtoid UK was the "drill helmet," a bucket with 3 power drills stuck through to the insides. The attack involved putting the bucket on the zombies heads whereby the drills would start, we get lots of red on the screen and, soon after, a headless zombie!
Customising Chuck was also very easy and rather fun. My threads of choice was a James Bond style tuxedo with no shoes. One player managed to unlock an oversized Blanka mask and was running around in that. Others simply opted to have Chuck running around in only his boxers or ladies clothing.

To say that Dead Rising 2 is bad would be a disservice. This writeup may seem negative but the overall picture is that Dead Rising 2 is a solid and somewhat entertaining game which is bogged down with a number of issues which may be accepted as part and parcel of the experience, much like the fixed camera view for the original resident evil games. It just depends if you don't mind them of if you find them annoying.
Or in even shorter terms, if you liked the first game and/or case zero, you'll love Dead Rising 2! If you didn't, there isn't anything here which will change your mind.

On another note, while playing the PS3 version of the game, I came across something a little odd...


Note that this interesting bug remained even when I went into a new area which required loading and also going back to the title screen and loading up the most recent save didn't remove it!! The only thing we didn't try was to exit to the XMB and restart the game from scratch!
But in its defence, we also heard that someone experienced the same problem in the 360 version and my first play on the 360 game required me to go back to the dashboard and restart the game because it crashed. Let's hope Capcom fix that particular issue before the game is released. They can keep the frozen zombies in there though. That was quite funny!   read

8:46 AM on 11.21.2009

Ultimate fail: Bandai Namco Gives us a Digimon RPG?

Earlier this week, Dtiods Dale North posted up a link to a teaser site for a new Bandai Namco RPG and then proceeded to wish for a new Xenosaga game.

Of course, due to various issues with the franchise, development team and whatnot that was always going to be impossible.
Nevertheless, a small group of vocal fans then chimed in with the support for the idea and started going on about how Xenogears was one of the best games ever made (which it is!!!)

But the timer is up now, and it's time to completely crush any dreams and aspirations anyone may have had when playing "guess the game from the really vague splash page)
Bandai Namco are doing Digimon story: Lost evolution and it's for the DS.

That, people is the mystery RPG!

Seems that it's a sequel to another Digimon DS RPG which was last seen in 2007. I wouldn't know since I don't keep up with this stuff. the series was released in Japan and the US but not europe so I guess it will probably follow this pattern.
I guess it was interesting to see that Bandai Namco have worked on RPGs
other than the tales series...


8:21 AM on 11.11.2009

Obituary: The Instruction Manual.

Dear Readers,

I believe that it is now time to take a moments silence to mark the death of a constant companion, one which has been with video games since it all began! The instruction manual.
For many years now, it has been in ill health and largely ignored but it has doggedly stuck by us like a travelling companion as we raided tombs, beat up aliens, took over liberty city and saved the world, again! Sure, the PC games have long forsaken the printed manual but it always had a home with the console games!
But now, it seems that it has reached the end of it's life and it's ready to go. Not with a bang, but with a whimper!

What caused this "sudden" revelation? What else, Modern Warfare 2! A quick glance at the instruction manual for the 360 version of MW2 shows that it's a whole 4 pages long. 4 PAGES!!!! Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Admittedly, the humble instruction manual was never an essential item for most games. Back in the 8 & 16 bit era, when 80% of all games were variations on the 2D platform game, all the player needed to know was what the jump button was and what was the other button did (usually shoot) so he didn't need to read the instruction manual to play the game. He could, however, read it to gain some backstory on the game setting, seeing as most games pretty much threw you into the thick of things!
The other, now forgotten, use of the instruction manual was due to it's last few blank pages where gamers would furiously scribble passwords, hints and cheats to help themselves along the way!
A look at my SNES Megaman X (and X2) instruction manual shows a mountain of passwords to let me progress from where I left off, back before the advent of the memory card!

There were some notable exceptions to the rule, however, where the manual not only was useful, but was required reading. Like in Flashback for the MegaDrive/Amiga/SNES

Flashback was one of my earliest memories of a context sensitive control system, where one button could do multiple tasks. I vividly remember reading the manual and it describing the "A" button on my megadrive as the "action" button. Pretty apt considering it was responsible for everything from operating lifts to jumping to shooting my gun!
The single button did so much it was impossible to work out everything by yourself so the manual became a "must read" as there was no tutorial to explain everything within the game.

But then, with increasingly more complicated controls, the developers figured it would be easier to created tutorial levels within their games which taught the player how to control their character in the game. And with it's last remaining use taken away from it, the manual started it's descent into oblivion!
Except when Gran Turismo came out in Europe...

Despite having the license system as a test and tutorial rolled into 1, SCEE chose to print a massive manual detailing everything you could ever want to know about driving and tuning your car in GT. In fact, very little content for for the game itself and it instead focused on explaining driving techniques and what the various tuning options would actually do to your car!!
The japanese version had to make do with the bare bones of controller layout and menu explainations.

Nowadays, it is almost expected for games to have either a tutorial level or popup notifications in game to help them learn the ropes just by jumping in. Storage media have long since rendered the password system of old obsolete and the storytelling abilities of the medium as a whole have improved so much that back history and settings can be done as part of the overall game itself so the manual is simply no longer needed!
The effort placed into making instruction manuals, even now, can often be clearly seen. Many games have quite in depth instructions, far more than what the tutorial provides yet players can easily work such things out for themselves with a little experimentation. One has to wonder "why make all that effort?"
Some recent titles have tried to spice things up a little, with the GTA series having fake "adverts" in their manuals to cryptically help the player and Metal Gear Solid 4 gave basic instructions in a (kinda cool) manga within the manual.
But these are the exceptions rather than the norm. Chances are, most instruction manuals in games are left unopened and are simply left in the box.
In some ways, it's amazing that they have lasted this long anyway!!

Perhaps is it now time for the instruction manual to move on. I doubt many gamers would notice if titles no longer included them in the packaging but I, for one, would miss them.

Goodnight Sweet Prince...   read

7:13 PM on 11.04.2009

KOS-MOS ver 4: saying "It's sexy" doesn't do it justice.

Crossposting FTW!!!!

Greetings true believers!!

It's not often that there is synergy between 2 of my loves, Model kit building and Video games but one just turned up and it's a doozy!
For some reason I feel compelled to share this little nugget after I posted it up on Tomopop. Not sure why it was never announced on the destructoid front page like when the persona figures did, but whatever!

Here is a look at one of my most recent purchases, straight from Japan. And lets just say she was not cheap!!

This is a resin kit of KOS-MOS ver 4 from Xenosaga Episode 3 from a Japanese company called VOLKS.
1/4 scale and reaching 43cm in height, she's rather big and very expensive to boot. I won't bore you with numbers but the kit itself cost more than a PS3 (that's before the slim btw) but she was so gorgeous that I just had to get one.

But an unfinished, unpainted kit probably isn't too interesting right now, so here's what it's supposed to look like (but won't) once I'm done with it.

You can find a few more pics on the volks website   read

6:18 PM on 10.30.2009

Eurogamer Expo Day 1: first thoughts!

Greetings True believers!!
For my first D-toid C-blog post, I thought I would share my thoughts on the games I played at the Eurogamer Expo which happened today. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any cool freebies like a PSP-GO as I was a miserable 4th in the queue...
In any case, here are my thoughts on the games I played today. It's pretty much a copy and paste job from my post on my personal blog, so it's a little wordy!
Next time, I'll try and add more pics. Honest!!

# Bayonetta: The organisers wisely chose to only display the 360 version at the show. Unfortunately, it was just the First Climax demo which has been available for a few weeks already so I already had my fill.

# Assassins Creed 2: Pretty much more of the same. Controls have been tightened and the number of moves have been increased, but all in all, itís very similar to the original. Those who likes Assassins creed will enjoy it while haters wonít have their minds changed. Those on the fence might find that the tweaks are enough to persuade them tho.

# Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Managed to have a go with 2 of the new characters, Tekkaman Blade (VOLTEKKA!!!!) and zero from Megaman X. Both seemed to fit in well with the established characters but zero was harder to get used to than I expected. And I still think the wii isnít suited for the game.

# SAW: It was pants!!! The game was pretty much you solving a problem which releases someone from a deathtrap and then moving to the next while picking up clues from jigsaw. The graphics were poor, the game repetitive and the puzzles far too long to keep your interest. One to miss.

# MAG: As a game, MAG was very generic and almost forgettable, but the underlying tech was pretty amazing. I only played on a small-ish portion of the game map but I could still tell that the map was damn large and fairly busy, even when compared to other FPS but I never noticed any lag or control issues!! Not sure if I would buy it but it does give plenty of food for thought!

# Lost Planet 2: Got a chance to play some competitive multiplayer at the Expo and the game still plays well and solidly. But I get the feeling that itís the co-op on which the final product will live or die!

# Left 4 Dead 2: The Expo gave us a chance to try out the new ďchargingĒ multiplayer mode, where the human team need to collect petrol tanks to feed a generator to keep it running and the zombies at bay while the zombies need to do their usual killing. The mode works pretty well, with a best of 3 format and the teams swapping over. The team which collects the most tanks by the end, wins! Extra time is added with each tank and thereís a ďsudden deathĒ rule where the game will continue until the humans no longer carry a tank among them.
Overall, itís still very fun but it doesnít have the impact of the first game last year and the itís very hard to justify this game as being a full blown sequel. Itís an add-on pack at best really, so I can see why some gamers are annoyed by it. Not sure if it warrants a full pricetag. Maybe valve should take a page from Capcom and their handling of Super Streetfighter 4!

# Danteís Inferno: God of War Lite, which brings me neatly toÖ

# God of War 3: Simple, engaging and ridiculously visceral and graphic. If this was an action/horror movie it would be one from the late 80ís where they used dodgy special effects to make incredibly fake but incredibly graphic death scenes! Like the one with the Cyclops or Hermes! It was still good fun tho and I think I will buy it when it arrives in March next year, just as soon as I play through the first 2Ö

# Aliens VS Predator: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. I was really looking forward to playing AvP and I got a chance to play as an alien in a deathmatch and also a predator hunt, where everyone bar 1 player is a marine. The odd one out is the predator and he scores by killing marines. If a marine kills the predator, he becomes the next one. Simple.
There are 2 main issues I had with AvP. The first was that the game felt a little sluggish with the controls. I think it could do with being a little more responsive. The other issue was the complete lack of balance between the 3 races. In deathmatch, if you are a marine, you may as well paint a target on your back and wave a white flag as a weapon. Aliens and Predators have access to what are known as stealth kills, attacks on the back of enemies which kill in a single blow. They are very easy to abuse and the only weakness is that it leaves you open for someone else to come in and stealth kill you! But the reward outweighs the risk so you just end up doing them anyway. Add the predators long range weaponry which is still stupidly powerful and can be used indefinitely and itís easy to see which race is the strongest by a large margin!!

# Dark Void: Disappointingly average. The Jetpack gimmick doesnít really add much to the game and didnít really open up many new possibilities for combat, but that may just be because of the early settings in the game. One thing which really annoyed me, however, was the fact that ledge climbing was context sensitive! You were not allowed to climb up to the next ledge unless the game thinks that you are in the right area to allow you to press the button. It meant a fair amount of endless shuffling just to be allowed to climb up cliffs!

# New Super Mario Bros Wii: A bit of a surprise hit here. 4 of us had a go and we had a right royal time playing the game as we helped/hindered eachother to progress in the stages. It was basically LittleBigPlanet with 4 players, 4 bluetooth mics and zero lag if you were playing online and with a group. With 4 controllers 3 mates and lots of booze, you could have a hell of an entertaining night, but on itís own, it doesnít cut the mustard.This game lives and dies on itís ďmore than 2-playerĒ multiplayer and given the difficulty in making the ultimate setup, while it entertained, none of us felt as though we would buy it!

# Heavy Rain: Out of all the games I played today, Iíd say that Heavy Rain impressed the most. It was rather refreshing to play a slower paced game than what I have been getting used to recently. There were 2 scenarios present, the FBI agent at the car workshop and the Private investigator in a convenience store. The FBI agent was the longer of the 2 and showed off combat and more timed scenarios while the investigator was more about character interaction and dialogue.
Contrary to what the developers have been showing (and demoing) about heavy rain, these 2 scenarios were incredibly linear. No matter what you did, it always led to specific events and either a resolution or your characters death. That was a bit of a shame but it was still sufficient to give players an idea on how the game system works. How the characters move and investigate their surroundings as well as how to choose options and how the game handles QTEs were all on show and they all worked pretty well and kept the player engaged.
Kudos should be given to Sony for having the balls to release a title like this as itís not a type of game you see nowadays. Itís a slow burner and a thinking game more than an action one. Without the instant access and gratification of action games in it, Iím not sure how well the game will be received but Iím looking forward to learning more about the origami killer!   read

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