I've had a vita for about half a year now, and I was gonna do some sort of, review? of the vita...but I couldn't put it to words without sounding lame and pretentious soooooo....this isn't a review or like a first look. here's just some thoughts about the vita.
The playstation vita is a game system that plays games. Made by Sony, this is their second whack at the handheld market and boy is it awesome. Like waffles after a night of drinking the Vita is something I constantly find my self reaching for day after day. With the Wii U and 3Ds both in my grasps I've found my self still gravitating to this device above the others. But Why? First is the hardware. More powerful then the 3DS and it shows. It's so fast. It's sooooo fast. While playing a game, you press home and you're there instantly and can navigate to the store lightning fast, back to a game, put to sleep, wake up, play a game, press home, and so on. It's real subtle, but it makes all the difference compared to the relative sluggishness of the 3DS. The dual sticks , responsive touch pads and save for the shoulder buttons, clicky and all around good-feeling buttons, the Vita's hardware is possibly it's strongest suit.
I also love how simple the psn integration is, and how incorporated the vita is into the PSN system. My friends and trophies and the like are all synced up automatically as soon as I sign into psn. which is great. There's no hassle or work around to get things going, they just work. It's nothing deal breaking if it wasn't so, but it's just a nice nod from sony, to those of us who can afford both the ps3 and vita.
Along the same lines is the games you get with ps+, but i'll focus on the games wipeout, uncharted and gravity rush which are the 'instant collection' games offered. So as soon as you get ps+ you get them and boy do they rock.
Side note: Is any one else really surprised they offered such quality games? These seem like games people would totally be ok with buying outside of plus.
Wipeout 2048; a game I recently platinum-ed, is a standout to me. The controls are perfect and precise. The level design rewards aggressive combat play while simultaneously rewarding those who are focused on racing. The online is set up brilliantly too. Each level in the online mode has a set number of nodes, and each node has objectives. You get match made into a group, and to 'win' you just have to complete the objectives of the node. This means a guy at level 40, might need to win a race to complete the node, while you at level 1 just need to play. This system let's the well versed and rookies both progress their online campaigns without restricting the people in the lobby. So finding a match online is fast, and you can always feel accomplished afterwards, even if your mis-matched with better players.
Uncharted Golden Abyss; It's pretty good. It looks at least on par with uncharted 1, which is quite a feat. It's really impressive when you first load it up. Sadly that's probably the best thing I can say about it. The collection aspect of the series is ramped up to an extreme and it's where a lot of replay-ability comes from. They do this stupid random drop thing from enemies and I found my self farming certain sections of certain levels just to get one or two things to complete a set of collectibles. The chapters are set up in convenient 10 minute bits, which is good for an on-the-go romp, but the game play is pretty bland waves of enemies, and the platforming kind of took a step back from Uncharted 2 and 3, where there it felt more organic, here it feels like it's always a set path to follow.
Gravity rush; I'm sure people have heard it before but it's a big surprise. It's an open world fantasy game, where you change your characters gravity around you in a sort of sphere of influence, from there you can fling things, or yourself towards another location. The setting is pretty cool, like a steam punk Jetsons, a city above the clouds in a wash of destopian browns and greys, and the game play satisfy. The characters are pretty bland, hoenstly besides Kat, the leading lady, I don't remember any one elses name. There's a bunch of mini games too, collect all the objects in a certain time, kill as many enemies as you can within this time limit, or race through these gates with your gravity powers. They offer a decent distraction from the main story, and I never felt they took too long or were too difficult while hunting the platinum. There's some RPG bits, where you use points to level up your atk power or hp, so the side quests reward you with more points to spend, but the games not difficult so I don't know how needed they are.
Basically the system is awesome. The hardware is standout, the connectivity to psn is simple and hassle free, the games you get for ps+ are all good and wipeout was fan-freaking-tastic. I've also completed Assassins creed liberation. It was good, but a little buggy and I felt the overworld was too small and that the game was a bit lacking without sailing. They tease it by showing boats and hell it's gotta be the same engine as 3, sure looks it...
So there's some thoughts about a thing.....I really should do these way more often then like once every 2 years.
In serious, It's been such an exciting week for fans of microsofts xbox 360. The return of much wanted features, used games, never online consoles, being able to give your game to a friend with out worry of if he could play it or not, a lot in the proverbial console war has changed over the last few days. And at the bottom of it all is a super congealed pit of excitement on all sides.
Microsoft has done a terrible terrible job at representing what their intentions have been all along. It's no surprise people are up in arms about losing so much when in reality they've just sort of forced you to drive in the fast lane. Used games still sort of existed in the old world, just now you would be "restricted" to trade your games to your 10 closest friends. It was a silver lining among all the complaints.
And now it's gone. The family system is out, and the old school eb games/ gamestop
slash w.e store you are concerned about it still alive in relation to MS products.
Microsoft is the best? Xbox one wins!?!?! XBOX WINS!!!! XBOOOXXXX WINNNNSNSSSSSSSS XBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOX YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ARRRRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
In the digital age, it can be a hassle, and inconvenient to pull out the ol' SNES, dust off a couple games, and gamble on if they well work or not, let alone still have the battery left to keep your save file from 10 years ago. The solution to this first world problem usually is emulation, but even; who wants to use a keyboard sitting at your computer, and cheat with save states. That ruins that pure experience you got from the original system.
So enter the raspberry pi. A little credit card sized, 35 dollar linux computer that with a bit of tweaking, we can get exactly what we need. For those of us who don't know, the raspberry pi is an educational devices intended to help students learn the basics of programming at a dirt cheap price. The community surrounding the device however has exploded with content and enthusiasm, as a result we have awesome library of things we can install on the computer. One of those things is an SNES emulator.
So what we want here is for the pi to boot into a list of roms that when we select one, will boot the emulator up. We don't want to use a keyboard so we need it to accept Snes controllers. There needs to be a way to get back to the rom list with the controller after launching a game, and finally we want to run all of it off hdmi, which the pi just does, so let's just scratch that off the list now.
Through the use of a tutorial we can get half way there pretty easily. After installing whats called 'retroarch' on the pi, we get it to boot into a list of roms, get the emulator to boot on selecting a rom, and we have a reset function too.
To get futher along, we need it to use snes controllers. Now for the purist, there is ways to get regular ol' snes controllers to connect to the device via soldering and complex driver set up. For those less worried about it, there are snes usb controllers available on amazon, ebay, ect. And through a little bit more coding and set up of configuration files, we can get the controllers to play just like snes controllers, and flash back to the rom screen after launching a game with the press of start and select at the same time.
The controller (retrolink snes controller) is alright. It's kinda 'blocky' and feels a little bit less solid then a snes controller. I could confidently chuck a snes controller across a room in a fit of rage, but this one....ehn I dunno. I wouldn't do it without fear of breaking it. The shoulder buttons are particularly squared off and feel the most different from the original. The dpad is also rather 'shallow' and doesn't feel like you are pressing it enough.
The emulation itself is pretty good. There's unfortunately some slow down in a few more graphics heavy games. Super Mario world 2, star fox, run really slow to the point of being unplayable. Some stuff is middle of the road. Super Castlevania 4 runs great, but slows down when there's a lot of water on screen. Super Mario kart is a tad slow, but it's almost unnoticeable. But the vast majority of games run fine. The only other problem is the pi's power. It takes a low amount, and some t.v's pull more power then it can handle, and the device well lose sound, or freeze, or completely crash.
But yeah, this was a cool hobby project I decided to do. I got genesis games going too with a separate setup for those controllers. And it's still a computer after all, so connect a keyboard, press f4, and boot up a linux desktop complete with all the things you'd expect on a linux machine.
Going through my backlog at the start of the year before some of the Major releases come out has been quite the exciting expedition in entertainment. A true trudge through past pieces of particular software has led me to one title that piqued my interest intensively enough to stand out among most of the monotonous mediocre mishaps that I call stupid mistakes. Or what the average adult calls them, 'Games'. While the mundane menace of yet another moba, or the fast furious in-your-face action of an fps might satisfy some... the sultry, seductive simple solution to my satisfaction was supplied by software known as Mirror's Edge.
Mirror's Edge; made by Dice, better known to beguile boys with the business of the BattleField games, have creatively crafted a convincingly unique and utterly astounding usage of the medium, by throwing the pleasure of parkour platforming, into first person. Intertwined with the stylish visuals vivaciously popping with basic bold colors, the player is placed in a gorgeous metropolis. Simply put; The graphics of the game garner great expectations as you gallop gaily in the first few moments of the game.
Awesome application of alliteration aside, Mirrors Edge shines in the simplicity of it's gameplay, and how it rewards and punishes the player through it's own mechanics. Preforming a long chain of successful parkour moves keeps the player moving quickly through the level. It feels great, you move fast, and it gives the player a really fantastic sense of skill. Ultimately you are rewarded in the end with a short time through the level, which is the crux of the game, getting from point A to point B really fast.
And the perfect dichotomy to this is that the game punishes you with gameplay mechanics if you fail at the parkour. Say you are trying to jump over a fence and on top of a roof, you jump short and and at the base of the fence. The flow of your platforming is immediately thrown off. You have to reset your self, regain all your speed, and try again. It sucks, but it's awesome. It makes you feel slow and the overall time for the level increases, but it's awesome because it's directly because of the gameplay that you are punished, and you are punished in a contextual sense with gameplay. In this way it's brilliant. I love it.
The story isn't the strongest point of the game. It starts interesting with some hard look at privacy and the transfer of information, but it deviates from that pretty quick, and never really elevates beyond a passing interest. The gunplay in the game is there, it works, it feels a little out of place but you're never really forced to pick up a gun until one point in the game. Other then that, the music is fantastic, the character design is great, the voice acting is well done too.
Like I mentioned, i've been going through a lot of games in my backlog, and so far, out of everything, Mirror's Edge has really stood out as one of the best. Or if not the best, at least the most unique and interesting.
In the previous 2 entries we looked at some pretty unique games. One was an indie effort called Kerbal Space Program. The other was a more well known indie effort called Don't Starve. Today we'll take a gander at a glorious gift of gaming.
Xcom: Enemy Unkown
This reboot to the classic Strategy game, comes from Developers Fraxis Is the greatest AAA game to come out this year without a doubt. There are no games more worthy of praise and spotlight then Xcom. No Skinner box fps (BorderLands 2), No poor conclusions to epic tales (Mass Effect 3), No pathetic attempts at a Bioshock (Dishonored). Honestly, the high budget games this year sucked. Xcom is the standout among them all.
First, let's talk about art. The art in Xcom is outstanding and directly impacts how the player is involved in determining strategy, and how menu systems are presented in the game. For example, let's say you have 2 soldiers with a new weapon, the plasma type weapons, and 2 without. You are in the middle of a game. How can you tell? A lesser game would force you to look at a menu, see the stats of your gun, and then continue playing. What Xcom does brilliantly is reflect your load out in the art. Your Weapon looks strikingly different from a regular one.
This is reflected in Enemy design, Cover, Your characters class, body Armour, extra weapons. Everything that is important to your game is easily readable from a quick glance on the game screen. It's done properly, and it's done really, really, really well.
Gushing aside, the game play of Xcom is streamlined and fast, fun, difficult, and rewarding. It feels streamlined compared to other Strategy rpg games, you'll move as expected on a grid, snap to cover when available, and fire. Skills are laid out in the bottom of the screen and when you attack an enemy, easy to read big percentages appear on how much damage you can do and the likely percentage you'll hit them at. Things like Cover, Flanking, Weapon type, Distance all play into these values. What might seem simple becomes increasingly involved and complex as the game throws more enemies at you, and higher difficulty ones as well.
Executing a successful raid on an wrecked alien ship is fun too. Sending out a platoon of 6 of your best soldiers, planning each move perfectly and making it out without a scratch is a blast. Dealing with an excruciatingly difficult scenario, where the enemies flank you on all sides and you can't make it out of the round with anything but one critically wounded soldier is a painful thing. But making it out is still a rewarding experience.
Compound everything about the battles in Xcom on top of the base management system, and you'll start to understand the breadth of experience at hand here. You'll build ships to take down ufos, train soldiers for battle, study alien tech and build facilities to house satellites. All while looking at a world map and defending aliens where ever they land. The base stuff, and the battles feel completely separate. But yet they intertwine with each other perfectly, and you have to quickly rely on what you do in battle, for what you do in your time back at base, and vice versa.
Honestly. I could go on, and on about Xcom. It's the best experience from a "AAA" game (god I hate that phrase) I've had all year. I've put a ton of time into it, and I've lost campaigns, and i've got continuing campaigns, and so on. Hopefully, this all sounds like I'm gushing about a game I really like, because that's my goal here. I love Xcom. And I would strongly suggest you do two things. 1) Play the games I've recommended over the past month, Kerbal space program, Don't starve, and this here Xcom. And 2)...
Last time, we talked about a great indie game still in Alpha called Kerbal Space Program. Progressing logically foward, we are going to talk about a Slightly less indie, slightly more developed game still in Beta.
Don't Starve is the sum of it's part. One part rouge like, One part Tim Burton, One part Mine craft, one part zombie survival. Don't starve takes the best elements from each of these things and blends them together to make something both interesting, and compelling. You are thrown into an programmatically generated map, in which you collect resources to build structures and survive the night. Chopping trees and using flint to build a fire. Using a science station to refine lumber into blocks to build a chest. All while feeding yourself. The game has three basic lose conditions. Losing your health, Starving, and being in complete darkness. So as you go about your daily activities, you have to keep track of your stomach and feed yourself. As you explore, you'll encounter danger that would attack you. And compounded on top of everything, is the day night cycle, where if you would be in complete darkness, you'll get killed by....something.
The thing that truly stands out is art style. The Art in the game is truly, truly unique. Your character bounces out against the drab depressing background. The animals and insects look gloomy, the sound design complements the art style perfectly. Really It's brilliant. There's a central theme and mood of the entire game and it's never overstated, but it's always prevalent. I could go on, but pictures are worth a thousand words, and the art cries out to be admired.
The theme extends to one central point that I want to put forth. There are only lose conditions. You cannot complete this game, there is no end. You just survive until you don't. Again it's complemented by the Art design as well as the music. As you trudge through the forests, chopping trees, cooking rabbit meat, mining rock and so on, there is the seed in the back of your mind where you know, that this'll end at some point. That you cannot survive forever and eventually, you do starve.
The game, as I mentioned is still in beta. Updates are constantly happening slowly, but the mechanics of the game feel really solid. The controls, the feel, it's all spot on, so fear not. For 12 dollars on Steam you can pick it up, my copy came with a free second version to give to a friend. I don't know if that is still a thing that happens, so it would be worth looking into. Right now there's no co-op, but who knows what the future hold.