I'm Infinitestrike and I'm from the UK. My gaming history basically started with a Sega Mega Drive, followed by the PS1, PS2, Gamecube, GBA SP, DS, Wii and XBox 360. I guess my favourite games are the Metal Gear series, Devil May Cry series, Bioshock, Crash Bandicoot series (PS1), Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Gears of War and Halo.
My favourite boss fights are The End, Psycho Mantis and General RAM. My favourite levels to explore would probably be any of the planets in Mario Galaxy.
My Gaming Backlog:
XBox 360 Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Saints Row The Third
Metal Gear Solid Collection
Alone in the Dark
Alan Wake:American Nightmare
Beyond Good and Evil
The Walking Dead Season One (In a moment of weakness I downloaded this because it was free)
Wii Rayman Origins
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
3DS Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
Ace Attorney: Duel Destinies
So, here we are again with another incarnation of Link saving Hyrule from the clutches of evil. This time round our villain is Yuga, a vain sorcerer attempting to revive Ganon. He’s a bit like Dr Steinman from Bioshock, completely obsessed with the notion of beauty, only instead of trying to hack people up he turns them into paintings instead. At the beginning of the game, Link confronts him and appears to suffer from the same fate, however it soon transpires that Link can turn into a painting at will and he uses this newfound ability to move between the worlds of Hyrule and Lorule.
This is the first Zelda handheld I’ve played through to the end (I still haven’t finished Spirit Tracks) plus I haven’t played A Link to the Past so this game seems fresh and exciting to me. You’re dropped into Hyrule without a word and are free to explore, which I’ve never experienced from the previous Zelda titles I’ve played. There’s no hand-holding. I had actually done most of the Eastern Palace before realising that I didn’t have a shield, went outside to save, then went off in search of one before returning to complete the dungeon.
The game is presented in a top-down view, the camera shifting to a profile view whenever Link enters the wall and becomes a painting. Most of the items and weapons can be rented from the beginning of the game. However, in order to be able to upgrade them, you need to buy them first.
Thankfully, Link isn’t lumbered with a prattling sidekick like Fi. Instead we get a weathervane that won’t shut up about taking a break because you’ve been playing too long. In a game that tries to encourage the player to explore Hyrule and Lorule with minimal exposition, this is an unwelcome intrusion. It detracts from an otherwise immersive world.
Most of the dungeons can be completed in any order. Unfortunately, I think because of this the difficulty of each dungeon appears to have been kept at a similar level. Personally, I only had issues with trying to work out how to get to the next dungeon and navigating the Ice Palace. I have not played Hero Mode yet, but the only change is that enemies do quadruple damage. On the whole I think the puzzles were cleverly designed and each dungeon varied so it never got stale.
The side-quests were also enjoyable, such as finding all the baby maiamais for their mother. For every ten babies you find, she will upgrade an item that you’ve bought. Other items, such as tunics are smartly hidden. There are also lots of references to previous Zelda games.
Overall, I enjoyed exploring the worlds of Hyule and Lorule. The kingdoms look and feel different: Hyrule is colourful and sunny compared with the dark and gloomy Lorule. It’s jarring to see a vast chasm in Lorule where rolling hills and trees used to be back in Hyrule. I also liked exploring their counterparts – for example the Sanctuary in Hyrule containing a priest is a cave with a philosopher in Lorule.
I would definitely recommend playing A Link Between Worlds. I loved every minute of it and I’ve never even played A Link to the Past. Nintendo have tried to change the usual set up of Zelda games and it still works. I really hope they incorporate these features into future titles. e’s sword did have an inverted triforce on it…
So, when the promotional images for Bioshock Infinite first came out I was interested to see that the game was going to cover racism. I wanted to see how the game was going to approach it. Were we going to get fully realised characters who happened to be ethnic minorities in Columbia? Or were they just going to be random NPC’s that needed to be saved and spout off the occasional line about being grateful? Well, thankfully, we didn’t get the latter, but we certainly didn’t get the former either.
(TL; DR: I found Bioshock Infinite’s portrayal of the Vox Populi and the racism in that time period to be disappointing and clichéd.)
Edit 20/12/2013: Took out the video and screenshot because I wasn't sure if I could use them, and I guess they weren't really necessary anyway.
Teach 'em young
The Vox Populi is a militant group opposed to Comstock and the Founders, led by Daisy Fitzroy. They are made up of Asians, Blacks and Native Americans, as well as the white working class of Columbia. They also happen to be ridiculously underdeveloped. For a start there are only three named ethnic minority characters in the whole game: Daisy Fitzroy, Chen Lin and Ty Bradley. All of whom die and are given limited screen time. There are no named poor white people; in fact you only witness them in the slums.
Ty Bradley: A Voxophone only character, Ty was a worker in Monument Island who did cleaning and maintenance in the restricted area where Elizabeth was kept. He is implied to have been killed by the singularities happening in the complex.
Chen Lin: A Chinese gunsmith living in Columbia who was secretly supplying weapons and ammunition to the Vox Populi. In one universe, Chen is Buddhist and his wife, May Lin, is Chinese. In another universe his wife is Sarah Lin, she’s white and he follows Comstock’s religion. Chen dies in all of the universes visited. That’s basically all you learn about Chen.
Daisy Fitzroy: I think we encounter two Daisy Fitzroys. The first Daisy Fitzroy hijacks the airship and offers Booker a place in the Vox Populi. He declines and she orders Booker to go and get weapons from the gunsmith if he wants the airship back. Then she shoves him off the airship. That’s all we see and hear from her in this particular universe. Booker and Elizabeth find Chen Lin but he’s dead. So, Elizabeth opens a tear into another universe where he’s alive, but the tools are somewhere else. While exploring this universe, Booker and Elizabeth remark that Comstock and Fitzroy are as bad as each other.
Wait, what? Did I miss a Voxophone or something?
Bear in mind that I haven’t seen Daisy do anything yet. At this point in the game, however, I have seen what Comstock’s guys have done to “undesirables”. The Fraternal Order of the Raven torture and kill people who aren’t white and you can throw baseballs at interracial couples at the raffle. Finkerton doesn’t pay the workers at his factory, leaving them homeless and starving. It’s obvious that Comstock has framed Daisy for the murder of his wife. Daisy chucking Booker off an airship is not quite the same thing.
Anyway, Elizabeth and Booker hop to another universe. Here, an alternate Booker joined the Vox Populi and was killed, becoming a martyr. Fitzroy is freaked out by the pair and decides to send the Vox Populi after them. In this universe, you can find some Voxophones that state that Daisy has been using children in the uprising. This honestly should have been mentioned a lot sooner and would have given a lot of weight to Booker and Elizabeth’s comments in the previous universe.
Daisy kills Finkerton and is about to murder his kid when Elizabeth intervenes and kills her with a pair of scissors.
Yes, Daisy gets disposed of very quickly.
She had the potential to be a great character, only her transition from well-meaning revolutionary to a child killer seemed forced and hackneyed. It just happens far too quickly; she doesn’t have enough screen time or Voxophone recordings. At the very least, they could have fleshed out Daisy Fitzroy in both universes so that you could tell the difference between the two. Look at Big Boss from the Metal Gear series. He used child soldiers on the battlefield and he’s still portrayed as a sympathetic, multi-faceted character. Also, Comstock genuinely cared for Elizabeth in his own twisted way, so I don’t see why Daisy couldn’t have been developed further.
Only two people in the Vox Populi get their own Voxophone recordings and that’s Daisy Fitzroy and Cornelius Slate. Preston Downs and Vivian Monroe start off on Comstock’s side and then join the Vox Populi. We don’t get to hear from anyone else on that side of the conflict, not even the poor white people. All the other Voxophone recordings are from the privileged, rich, white, upper-classes. You don’t even get to hear from other ethnic minorities and poor white people who didn’t want to join the Vox Populi. And why would joining the Vox Populi be the only option available to them? Wouldn’t it have eventually splintered into different movements, like how the Fraternal Order of the Raven are fundamentalists murdering ethnic minorities while the Founders are more concerned with keeping people in their place?
The Vox Populi are portrayed as murderers who scalp people. There is no nuance to them, no attempt to empathise with them. We don’t even know who took over the Vox Populi after Daisy died, he’s just a voice coming from a speakerphone. Conversely, the people on Comstock’s side get more character development. Even Finkerton gets more screen time then Daisy. I suppose you could argue that the way Columbia treats ethnic minorities and poor white people is a self-fulfilling prophecy: treat them like savages and they will retaliate savagely. But then, why would every single member of the Vox Populi behave in the exact same manner? As an example, early on in the game, Booker can hide in the house of a white, rich couple who are against slavery. There could have just as easily been scenes, say, where a member of the Vox Populi lets a civilian go instead of killing him/her. Or in one area you can hear a member of the Vox Populi ordering rebels not to kill civilians and only go for the Police and Founder soldiers. It would be a contrast to other members of the Vox Populi shouting about murdering everyone and taking everything.
Booker and Comstock are revealed to have Native American ancestry, but this is never expanded upon, and it’s not central to plot or character development. An alternate Booker can speak Sioux and translates for a Native American boy but that’s as far as it goes.
I didn’t like how the game reduced both sides of the conflict to “they’re both as bad as each other.” How is actively choosing to oppress people and treat them as less than human the same as retaliating?
The racism that occurred in that time period wasn’t explored thoroughly. It was basically set-dressing. Most of the characters you meet are on the privileged side. The ethnic minorities and poor white people get fobbed off with one slum level.
Now, to be fair to Bioshock Infinite, the way racism is portrayed is quite similar to how historical racism is portrayed in other mediums. For example, in TV dramas set in the past, the quickest way to show that someone is a bad guy is to make them ridiculously racist.
The quickest way to show that someone is a good person is to make them against racism and slavery.
When I say racism is used as a prop in the game, this is what I’m talking about. It’s the treatment and attitude of ethnic minorities being used to show the moral compass of a (usually) white person, to show if they’re a decent person or an evil person. We know that Father Comstock is the bad guy because he’s racist and he has whole organizations devoted to murdering ethnic minorities. Chen Lin and his wife get offed, to once again, show us that Comstock is brutal. Daisy Fitzroy becomes a monster because of Comstock’s actions and gets killed by Elizabeth so that Elizabeth can feel guilty over murdering someone and make us feel sympathetic towards her.
So, know we know exactly how evil Comstock is, let’s forget all about the racism and focus on multiple universes! And meta commentary on game design!
Yeah, I was expecting a lot better than this. For example, even though Assassin Creed 3’s gameplay was average and Connor was a bit boring, it still approached the themes of racism and revolution in much more balanced and thoughtful way. Granted, the American Revolution was a real historical event and there is lots of material and perspectives to draw from compared to a fictional city in the sky with flying, magical racists. Bioshock 2 ‘s DLC Minerva’s Den had Charles Milton Porter, who was a much more developed and well-written character. That one exchange with his colleague who tells him to splice white to get ahead in Rapture, tells you all you need to know about how he was perceived in society. I haven’t played Burial at Sea yet, so I have no idea if the topic of racism in Rapture will be further explored.
To summarise, I found Bioshock Infinite’s portrayal of the Vox Populi and the racism in that time period to be disappointing and clichéd. If you’re going to create a game that focuses on racism, please make sure your ethnic minority characters are just as developed and important as the white characters. Seriously.
This is the first Tomb Raider game that I've played since Tomb Raider II and Tomb Raider III back on the PS1. That was ages ago, but this reboot still felt very familiar. They've managed to keep the atmosphere while updating the gameplay.
The game begins when Lara’s ship crashes onto the island of Yamatai, which has been taken over by an insane cult called the Solarii Brotherhood. Unlike the previous Tomb Raider games I've played, Lara stays on that island and doesn't visit other countries. I really enjoyed the beautiful setting. You can explore the forests, the beach, the ancient Japanese buildings and the mountainside. There’s also a sense of history as you can see the shanty town and the fortress that the current crazed inhabitants live in, as well as the abandoned bases and shipwrecks from the survivors that were stranded in Yamatai before the Solarii arrived.
Lara starts off with no weapons at all, but you eventually build your arsenal up until she becomes a one-woman army. Lara automatically crouches when entering a combat situation and moves between cover seamlessly. This is very helpful as enemies go out of their way to flush you out; they'll shoot flaming arrows at Lara and send armoured goons after her. You can switch quickly between weapons on the d-pad and “scramble” to avoid enemy gunfire. When the fight is over, Lara straightens up and you back to exploring the island again. One issue I had was with the camera – during a one-on-one-fight, if I was targeting an enemy and scrambled to the side of said enemy, the camera would go directly behind Lara and I’d have trouble seeing where my opponent was.
One thing I really appreciated about this game is finding all the collectables (relics, documents, GPS caches) accumulates experience points which go towards acquiring new skills. Finding the hidden tomb and solving the puzzle also nets you additional skill points and experience. This is totally unlike Assassin’s Creed 3, the game I’d played before this one, where Connor collects feathers…for the sake of collecting feathers. Sure it’s nice to get achievements, but I’d like to see it have an affect on gameplay as well. The secret tomb puzzles also felt like the classic Tomb Raiders I’d played back on the PS1.
You can also hunt animals and look for crates that contain salvage in order to upgrade your current weapons. Some of the weapons have secondary uses as well. Lara can use the climbing axe to climb rocky walls and shoot a rope across gaps to climb across.
Plot-wise, I think the game was average. We see Lara grow from a vulnerable young woman to a hardened veteran. There is also an explanation as to why no-one can get off the damn island once they realise how dangerous it is. However, the crew of the Endeavour aren’t as fleshed out as Lara, and come across as two-dimensional. They get at least one diary entry each. I also didn’t think the head of the Solarii was particularly memorable either. I would have liked it if the Queen of Storms messed around with the weather a bit more. Something that was similar to how Groudon and kyogre messed with the routes in Pokémon Emerald.
Overall, I feel Tomb Raider was an excellent reboot of a much beloved series and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it.
Hitman: Absolution is fun, but flawed. It’s immensely satisfying when you find a way to kill your target “accidently” instead of garrotting them or using a silenced gun. You can eliminate targets by poisoning food, blow someone up by swapping the hot sauce for lighter fuel, electrocute a target and so on.
There are also a variety of levels – from the crowded streets of Chinatown, to a science laboratory and even a courtroom. Personally my favourite levels were hunting down Lenny’s gang and strolling through Chinatown.
However, there are moments which ruin the immersion. One of the first things I had noticed was you could kill guards in the middle of a radio conversation. In the Metal Gear Solid games there was no way you could do that without backup being sent.
Sometimes guards detect objects being thrown and sometimes they don’t, even if it is only a few metres away from them. When they do investigate, it’s in a totally unrealistic fashion. If someone threw a water bottle near you, you don’t inspect it thoroughly like you’ve never seen a plastic bottle before. You might take a quick glance and then head in the direction the bottle was thrown.
This is the first Hitman game I’ve ever played and was surprised that Hitman: Absolution felt more like a stealth game then an assassination game. A lot of time is spent ducking and hiding behind tables and pillars, thanks to a strangely implemented disguise system. In theory, Agent 47 is supposed to be able to knock out someone (say a policeman) and wear their clothes. As long as he keeps his distance from the people he’s impersonating he shouldn’t get spotted. What actually happens is as soon as you poke your head out of the doorway, a policeman on the other side of the room is immediately suspicious of you and you end up having to sneak around and roll behind cover as though you never had a disguise in the first place. You even get spotted when you’re impersonating someone whose face is covered by a mask. In this case, Agent 47 should really only be suspicious if he’s acting oddly.
The plot doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. In fact, I am sure that the developers came up with the levels first, then concocted a plot around the different locations. The second reason is actions the player takes isn’t reflected in some cut scenes. For example, there’s a level where Agent 47 infiltrates a wrestling match in order to interrogate one of the wrestlers on the whereabouts of a kidnapped teenager. But in the actual level, I shot him with a sniper gun. The game then jumps to Agent 47 kicking back at a Hawaiian themed motel and getting attacked by the Saints before heading to Hope. How did he know where to go? I never spoke to the guy, I just shot him.
I also didn’t really understand the point of the Saints. The entire hotel segment could have removed and it wouldn’t have any impact on the plot or gameplay whatsoever. The Saints are just wedged awkwardly between the two levels like a square peg in a round hole. They are far too over the top and contradictory – in the cut scenes they destroy an entire hotel with missile launchers yet in the actual game they are just wandering about in their fetish nun costumes.
In my opinion, I think they should have been far more trigger-happy, destroying scenery if they even caught a whiff of Agent 47, or, removed the hotel segment altogether and made them a constant threat. So while Agent 47 is sneaking around killing targets, there is also a Saint sneaking around in disguise, trying to kill him.
Overall, I feel that Hitman: Absolution is a flawed stealth game. I preferred the parts where you had to eliminate a target and work out ways to kill them. I didn’t really find running away from the police or goons as enjoyable, and even those segments could have been better if the disguise system was well thought out.
The announcement of Pokémon X and Y has been one of the few times I've genuinely been excited about a new Pokémon game. The last time this happened, I was 12 years old and a classmate had the American import of Ruby. I marvelled at its graphics and the new features such as tag team battles. I couldn’t wait to get my own copy. In 8 months’ time (North America got Ruby and Sapphire in March; Europe got them in November).
Since then, the later games haven’t made quite that same leap. Obviously, there have been major graphical and gameplay improvements since then, but they were added gradually.
The trailer for Pokémon X and Y definitely looks like a major change. Pokémon battles are now in 3D and there’s proper animation for attacks. Not to mention the games will be released worldwide in October. AT THE SAME TIME.
The trailer begins with Pikachu announcing the game. Interestingly enough, Pikachu is standing on top of the Eiffel Tower.
The first bit of in-game footage we see is our male protagonist looking at himself in the mirror. I’ll admit I'm not a huge fan of his design, he looks a like a plainer version of Hilbert from Pokémon Black and White. It does make me wonder if we can customize the way our trainer looks like.
I think that these three places shown are the Gyms. In the first one our protagonist is swinging from a rope onto a green platform. There are safety nets and signs telling you where to land, so I’m guessing that this is the Grass themed gym. The second one looks like the Bug Gym, with a bouncy spider’s web. The third one is the Psychic gym, only with a new twist on the teleportation pad. You don’t just appear in a room, the room reassembles around you. I think the red, stained-glass room with fire shooting out of the tubes is the Fire Gym.
Prediction: The first Gym is Rock, the sixth Gym is Ice and the last Gym will be Water or Dragon.
The Unova region from Pokemon Black and White and Pokemon Black and White 2 was supposed to be based on New York. Based on the buildings and architecture shown so far, I wonder if this new region is based on Paris (hence Pikachu standing on top of the Eiffel Tower) or Europe in general. In this scene on the left, our protagonist is wearing roller skates, which I don’t think has appeared in previous games before. The new region is also very green, like Hoenn from Ruby and Sapphire.
There’s a desert area. The buildings look like Mount Battle from Pokémon Colosseum. I think these are temporary science labs, maybe as part of an excavation site?
Here are our three main starters – Chespin, Froakie and Fennekin. I personally have always picked a Fire starter since Red and Blue. The first time around it was because I thought Charizard was the coolest looking one of all. It’s a dragon, what’s not to like about that? The second time around, when I picked Cyndaquil, I assumed that it would be a lot easier to find Grass and Water type Pokémon early on in the game then a Fire type. I wanted to make a balanced team. Now it’s just force of habit. I probably will pick Fennekin, and end up utterly disappointed if its evolution turns out to be a Fire/Fighting type Pokémon again.
Prediction: Chespin is Grass/Fighting, Froakie is Water/Ice and Fennekin is Fire/Psychic.
I realise that this isn’t the final game, but I wonder if the most of the HUD elements have been moved to the bottom screen. There’s no HP or Experience bar and there’s no text telling you the attack was super effective. There seems to be different animations for all the attacks and different reactions from all the Pokémon. The camera is also more dynamic.
When the first couple of Pokémon games came out, I was really interested in catching them all and seeing a completed Pokedex. But nowadays there just so many to keep track of, and some of them still can’t be obtained without cheating, like Arceus. I now find myself being far more interested in training, building a team and exploring the new areas. That’s something I like about the Pokémon series, there’s something for everyone.
Finally we have the legendries: Yveltal and Xerneas. I read that Ho-oh was based on the Pheonix, so I’m wondering if Yveltal is based on the Roc, an enormous legendary bird in Persian mythology that could carry elephants away. Xerneas’ design looks a bit like the forest spirit from Princess Mononoke. There’s only been one legendary grass type so far (I think), so it would be good to have another one.
Prediction: Yveltal is Psychic/Flying and Xerneas is Psychic/Grass.
I think there’s a third legendary beginning with Z and the final game for this generation will be Pokémon Z, as a reference to the X, Y and Z co-ordinates representing three dimensions. This Pokémon Z might be Physic/Water.
So there you have it, my speculations on Pokémon X and Y. What theories do you have, and what do you hope to see in the new games?