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6:26 PM on 11.18.2013

Playstation windows Vista. Something something Vita.

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.   read

9:09 PM on 06.21.2013


What every xbox 360 owner is thinking right now

I made this for dtoid!

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.



ps: fuck MS really has bad pr, even in the light of all the good news   read

9:57 PM on 03.24.2013

Snesberry pi. Emulation done right!

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.   read

8:05 PM on 02.08.2013

Mechanically Masterful: Mirror's Edge

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.   read

6:13 PM on 12.24.2012

3 Games you need to play: Part 3: XCOM Enemy Unknown

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)...

Have a safe, and happy holiday   read

6:27 PM on 12.18.2012

3 Games you need to play: Part 2: Don't Starve

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

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.   read

9:46 PM on 12.10.2012

3 Games you need to play: Part 1: Kerbal Space Program

In a puddle of tears and confusion, I've come to grasp with the fact that I can't recommend one single game above 2 others in my mind. After trying to stuff all 3 games in one blog, I've found instead of presenting a wall of text comparable to a masters thesis I'd break it up over the month of December. SO! In this short 3 part series, I'd like to go over those 3 games, each coming with a glowing recommendation from myself, and try and convince you that these games are worth your hard earned loonies.

But I digress, Here are my favorite games this year. (In no particular order)

Kerbal Space Program.

An effort in quick building, simple game play, easy controls, all on top of a robust and complex
physics simulator. In KSP(Kerbal Space Program) You are tasked with assembling a rocket, and blasting off to what ever destination you feel fit. Assembling a rocket is quick and rewarding. In a few short minutes you can have a multiple stage ship, blasting off into the orbit around Kerbin. (The games "earth"). W,A,S,D,Q,E control your ships direction, space changes ship's stages, ctrl and shift affect throttle. There a computers you can attach to your ship to help with this. It's all very simple, which
is half the strength of the game.

The other half, is the brilliantly complex and compelling physics system. It adds difficulty and challenge to the simple ship building. Sure it's easy to snap a solid rocket booster to a capsule and get a few hundred feet in the air, but the real-world esque physics demand more from your mind, and your rocket. Getting to orbit around the planet is a task and a half. Getting to mun (ksp's version of the moon) is one thing. Properly constructing a lander module to safely land and get back is another task all together. Since version 0.17 came out, they've added a substantial amount of planets and celestial bodies to explore. The recent release 0.18.1, has added ship docking (so you can build an international space station!) and the possibilities and challenges keep on growing.

Here is a quick little video I did when I first got the game. This is one of my first flights ever.

And after some progress, I finally managed to land on Mun. It was one of my most satisfying attachments in gaming. Because it's all on you. No hand holding, just your ingenuity, and skill. (also maybe a lot of luck.)You can check it here

Lastly here, I'd like to give a shout out to the sub reddit for the game. They have a great friendly community, with lots of information and can be found right here.

A simple ship building game, with impressive physics. Incredibly low barrier of entry, with a seemingly endless skill roof. KSP is a simply amazing game, made by dedicated developers, who are set on not releasing the full version until everything is ironed out. Get it while it's still cheap! The developers have indicated they are going to raise the price once more before retail release.   read

5:17 PM on 11.26.2012

Mechanically Masterful: Chivalry

No game I’ve played this year has nailed it’s core game mechanics like Chivalry Medieval warfare has.

In previous entries in this November series, I’ve highlighted games that have a lot going for them. Guildwars 2 has brilliant art direction and pleasant music, Battlefield has lagless net code, great sound design, and obviously the graphics are awesome. Chivalry has none of that. I’m not going to get into what game mechanics are again, please see my last two posts for more detail of what I would define game mechanics to be.

The sound design at the best of times barely breaks the barrier of bad. The Graphical assets in the game hardly inspire. The net code can get pretty bad, and the game has it’s share of bugs. But none of that matters. Not a thing. The gameplay mechanics are so great, and are executed so well, that the game is still, after all that is said, still brilliant.

Honestly, it’s the best example that I can think of to showcase how a bad game, can be made amazing by having a solid foundation of core game mechanics to base itself around. The level design is bland, but because what you are doing is so awesome, it makes a castle setting, or an arena setting really come to life. ‘A fight in an arena’ seems so cliché. Even typing it out was boring. But god dam the arena level in Chivalry is such a fuck tonne of fun.

The fighting in the game is played out in 3 basic parts, all of which are simple when separated out, but piled on top of eachother in the heat of battle, things get complex fast, and you’ll have to think on your feet to stay alive.

Part 1. Positioning The first step of any battle in Chivalry is position. Position is key. You’ll have to pick where you fight your enemy in an area that isn’t advantageous to your enemy, and gives you a clear stricking path. This means, looking at hills (there are a lot of mounds and raised platforms in the game), looking for obstructions so your swings aren’t obstructed. Fighting in and around buildings. Picking where you fight is paramount to survival.

Part 2. Timing The fight mechanics in chivalry are built around timing your attacks and block. You have 3 types of attacks, overhead, stab, and slash. Each to my knowledge to the same amount of damage, but all have different timings. Much like in a street fighter game, where you have heavy, medium, and light attacks for different purposes, Stab, slash, and overhead are used for different things. Stab gives you a quick lunge with a long reach, slash sweeps wide hitting a large area in front of you, and overhead is a long slow hit. Each can be used to throw off the timing of your opponent. If the block in time and parry you, you stagger and are exposed to a direct attack. So timing of your attacks, mixing up the range between you and your enemy, and changing from stabs to slashes, to overheads is key.

Part 3. Mind games Mind games in Chivalry, just like any other fighting game you've played, play a paramount part when you partake in battle. Running forward to feint a charge, just to back up at the last second and let your opponent swing at the air, thus exposing himself for a quick lunge to the chest, is how you start to rack up a kill count. Wildly slashing at your opponent pushing him close to a ledge, to all of a sudden switch to a kick, propelling him to his doom? Changing strategies, doing different things, tricking your opponent with different things….just….ugh….fucking love this game.

Seriously Chivalry is awesome. It’s not a perfect game as I noted early in this blog thing, but the game mechanics are so solid you are going to have fun no matter what. Even if you play it for a few hours and put it down, you’ll have a blast for those few hours.

PS: Bought a wii-u, add me @Lenigod   read

8:44 PM on 11.06.2012

Mechanically Masterful: Guild Wars 2

In the world of mmo's game mechanics often take the passenger seat to a skinner-box theory of game design. The notion that you have to do one repetitive task over and over until you eventually get a reward. Kill 100 mobs to get a level, Collect 1000 pieces of iron to get a new sword, get gear, get better gear, get even better gear. Anything to keep the player invested for a long period of time, with little reward actually given, yet tons of incentive to keep going. If you just level up twice more, you can use that sweet new shield. So you do, and you use it, and your happy. If you just kill that one last boss, it might drop that last piece of gear you need to complete the set. It does, and you move on to getting a whole new set of gear. It's an endless cycle of tedium. Often called the gear treadmill, it's constantly running forward without getting anywhere.

Generally mmo's find a lot of people wanting more, which is because the game design of them has been purposefully warped in such a way that it keeps people playing for thousands of hours, and keeps people paying thousands of dollars. Because of this, a lot of mmos take a hit in other areas to support that monetization model. Things that don't lend themselves to that golden chalice of continued support.

Guild wars 2 changes all that.

At it's core. Guildwars 2 well seem very familiar to world of Warcraft, or Everquest 2, or Final fantasy 14, or any other mmo. The art style is somewhat reminiscent of WoW(World of warcraft), there is that grand scale of things like in EQ2(Everquest 2) and to me the story and theme of the game feels a lot like FF14(Final Fantasy 14). But what GW2(Guild wars 2) does that WoW, or FF14 doesn't, is nail game mechanics.

What are game mechanics though? There is a popular misconception that game mechanics are rules. For example and since we are talking about it, how much damage you gun does to an enemy per bullet. That is a rule of the game. It take 3 bullets to kill some one for example. You can fire 10 bullets a second, that's a rule. You can have 32 people per team, that's a rule. What a game mechanic is, is the underlying architecture of the game. That is, it's what makes the game feel a certain way. How fast you can run, what your sprint animation looks like, the sound of your laboured breath, and the vulnerability as you put your gun to your side while you go full bore across an open field. All these things are the game mechanic of sprinting. Sprinting makes you feel fast, vulnerable, it has an intense tone to it, like this is something difficult to do, yet it's easily done, simply by holding shift.

So by my definition, rules of a game are small simple things. You jump only this high. You run only this fast. It takes 10 seconds to re-spawn. These are rules. Where as mechanics of a game, are large broad strokes. It feels like this to sprint, and you get this reaction from sprinting. Those big ideas, those are what I consider game mechanics, and Battlefield 3 nails game mechanics.

The main thing that is different, and what becomes immediately apparent, is the combat in the game. Movement, positioning, and dodging take precedence over the standard all out dps(Damage per second) fire fights of other mmos. (*Note. When I say other mmo's, let's just assume I'm talking about WoW, because I have the most time investment in that mmo) The way the game is played, at a fundamental level, is completely different. You are not spamming spells, over and over, just to kill a boss. In GW2, the game is more about, dodging enemy attacks, healing yourself, putting on some buffs, getting a few attacks in, and then repeating that process.

Almost all attacks require no target, rather, they are cast when you press them, and need to be aimed. Again, the emphasis in all this is on position. You need to be free of obstacles, need a line of sight, need to be the right distance. It's all daunting at first, but the battle mechanics in GW2 are brilliant. Add on top of all that how fast paced the game is. Where in other mmos you'd fight a boss who might have a few phases, each with a unique 'twist' to them, in GW2 those bosses are similar, but because the combat is so loose, fluid, and fast, the 'twists' come up a lot more often.

For example, there is one ogre-like boss, who has a giant mouth where his belly should be. You fight him in a giant arena, and he vomits fire balls at you that you have to dodge (The fire targets you so you must dodge, or take a lot of damage). Then he'll send a shock wave out in front of him (you'll have to be in a position to avoid that). Finally he well start to suck in air from his belly-mouth. You have to pick up the vomit fire balls, and throw them into his mouth to stop him, else he'll do a large area of effect attack (you'll have to be near the front of him to get a good throwing angle, see the pattern emerging here?). These 'twists' happen a lot. It's a lot of fun, it keeps you on your toes, and most importantly, the game mechanic of a regular mmo, where you are concerned about damage metres, is subtlety shifted to an area, where you are having more fun fighting bosses and enemies because the fights are more engaging, because of the mechanics of the game. It's not a focus on damage, it's a focus on fun boss fights. It's brilliant.

The other piece of the puzzle here is the platforming mechanics. Jumping, probably one of the most important things in an mmo, Is implemented extremely well in GW2. So much so that the game has jumping puzzles built right into it, with rewards at the end. Arena net really knew they hit something special, and it shows.

The problem other mmo's, and platforming games have, is either a lack of control, or too much control when you jump. The jump might feel off compared to the tone of the game. For a game like Killzone, The jump feels laboured, heavy, you don't jump very high or far. It's spot on for the game, and the mechanics for jumping in Killzone are great. For a game like Jak and Daxter, the jumping feels tight, not floaty, but nice and high, and very predictable, which is exactly what you want in a fantasy platformer. Where a game like Limbo, you can never quite tell if a high jump is going to end in a fall-death. It wasn't quite high or fast enough, or maybe it wasn't low and slow enough. It's hard to tell, but while limbo might be a fantastic puzzle game and amazing visual experience, it's platforming was lackluster. That right mix is a difficult thing to get, but GW2 nails it.

The jumping in the game is nice and high compared to your character. It feels like you can jump really high, but not unrealistically so. There's no double jump, or extra height mechanic, because even with the game being a fantasy one, its built in such a way that it's grounded in a realistic way. Gravity, jump height, speed and length of jumps feel spot on. You have a decent amount of control in the air (You can juke right, and left in the air, and then back again, think megaman). The platforming mechanics in the game are spot on, and it's a ton of fun to do platforming sections.

There is a lot to say about any mmo. The design choices are what people usually talk about. What the world looks like, the type of content, the basic design principles of the game, to the over arching design through the entire thing. How parties work, or how dungeons work, and in an mmo, more then any other game, these are extremely important things. GW2 has a lot of excellent design choices, some maybe aren't as strong as others, but GW2 has such strong game mechanics, and ones I enjoy so much, that I don't think I'll stop playing it for a long time to come.   read

8:34 PM on 10.29.2012

Mechanically Masterful: Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 has long since struck a chord in the long time series fans. Often praised for it's sleek animation sets, stunning visuals, and vast open maps, the other side of the argument abhors it's simple 'consolised' approach to what was supposed to be a return to form in the vein of battlefield 2. Complaints are often raised about the similarity between every gun, the battle log, and the obsession with blue tinting everything.

But what are these things rooted in but aesthetic changes? The animations of a game don't make Rayman origins better then super Mario world. The graphics of Gran Turismo 5 don't make it a better game then the original Forza game. Certainly poor design choices, bad audio, sloppy graphics are detrimental to a game, but those are only pecies that fit around one thing.

Game Mechanics.

What are game mechanics though? There is a popular misconception that game mechanics are rules. For example and since we are talking about it, how much damage you gun does to an enemy per bullet. That is a rule of the game. It take 3 bullets to kill some one for example. You can fire 10 bullets a second, that's a rule. You can have 32 people per team, that's a rule. What a game mechanic is, is the underlying architecture of the game. That is, it's what makes the game feel a certain way. How fast you can run, what your sprint animation looks like, the sound of your laboured breath, and the vulnerability as you put your gun to your side while you go full bore across an open field. All these things are the game mechanic of sprinting. Sprinting makes you feel fast, vulnerable, it has an intense tone to it, like this is something difficult to do, yet it's easily done, simply by holding shift.

So by my definition, rules of a game are small simple things. You jump only this high. You run only this fast. It takes 10 seconds to re-spawn. These are rules. Where as mechanics of a game, are large broad strokes. It feels like this to sprint, and you get this reaction from sprinting. Those big ideas, those are what I consider game mechanics, and Battlefield 3 nails game mechanics.

First and foremost of BF3(Battlefield 3) successes, is movement. Standard walking is at a brisk un-frustrating pace. You can move in all directions, without any hamper to your speed, and you can jump, go prone or otherwise without any frustration. It seems like such a simple thing, but the speed in which you can do things, is incredibly lack lustre in a lot of other games. Killzone 3 for example, while a great game, with a good sprint mechanic, left the normal movement, laggy and slow. There was an odd dichotomy of that game where you could sprint like a gazelle for minutes, but slowed down to the pace of paint drying as soon as you stop sprinting.

Compound this with the animation sets in BF3. Jumping over obstacles, while at first disorienting, is actually used as a sort of 'skip' It's fast, and while it might not actually be faster then a standard jump in the game, that simple mechanic of 'vaulting' over things, feels fast, it looks fast, levels are designed in such a way that there are lots of things to vault over, and you don't feel like an idiot, and vulnerable for vaulting over something. You get a cool animation, a reward, for doing so. It keeps the game visually pleasing. Other animation sets are similar. Reloading doesn't seem overly contrived, and feels fast. First person driving animations don't look obtuse, while still feeling necessary. All the animation sets in the game, add credence to their respective game mechanics underneath.

*Note. I'll give you the stupid death hand animation. While it's there to make the respawn time see less then it actually is, it's kinda dumb after just a few games, and most people i know agree, those extra couple seconds would be better spent in the load out screen waiting for the respawn timer.

Shooting, the most import thing in an fps, feels great. In every great fps game, each gun has a satisfactory feeling to firing it. The anticipation as you pull the trigger, the roar of metal and gunpowder as bullets fly out of the chamber, and the satisfaction of your smoking muzzle after the bullet is fired. The 'weight' of the guns feel proper. They look great, sound great, the recoil feels fair, yet difficult to manage. Every aspect of the shooting in bf3 is near perfect.

Honestly. There is nothing inherently wrong with BF3 at all. The shooting is great, the movement is superb, the animations in the game are spectacular, driving vehicles is immensely fun, getting kills brings a satisfying feeling, winning games feels rewarding, the experience system in the game is well implemented and keeps players yearning for more.

And since the mechanics of the game are so solid, the developers can do anything they want with the dlc. As has been the status quo' for the first 3 packs. They can make more of the same game (karkand), they can do a fast paced, quick mode, small level dlc pack (conquest), and they can do vast open huge worlds, filled with vehicles and explosions and ac130's (Armoured Kill) And it's always going to be fun. Even if there is nothing to destroy, even if there are no vehicles, even if the map was just a completely flat grid and it was only 1v1, it would still be fun. The mechanics of BF3 are so strong, that even if the game mode was don't kill any one, you'd still have a good time playing it.

Even if the game has at times poor level design. Even if it has unbalanced or 'too-same' weapons. Even with some of the more in-depth broken things with the games design, BF3 still comes out on top with the basics. There isn't a FPS that I can think of that feels better. It's that perfect blend of Chocolate and Caramel. While clearly not for everyone, I fucking love me some chocolate.   read

7:24 PM on 10.23.2012


Sony wins?

I'm back   read

2:24 AM on 02.05.2012

Vanquish review!

This game is the best! It even has a feature that is similar to when metal gear soild shook your ps1 controller while battleing mantis, in that it kills your ps3! It was so cool I never saw it coming!

Watch the video to find out more about vanquish?   read

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