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9:53 PM on 06.16.2008  

Metal Gear Solid 4 Impressions(Massive Spoilers)



So, after two consecutive playthroughs of MGS4, (one for story, the other for a No-Alert game), I have to say that MGS4 is truly an impressive game. But more over, most of my feelings and thoughts through out my initial playthrough were because I have experienced 20 plus years of Metal Gear history. Yes, MGS4's gameplay is amazing, and I think it's the best playing Metal Gear game yet. But MGS4 is total fan service from start to end.



From Snake's opening monologue(expertly voice by David Hayter), to the Metal Gear Rex and Ray fight between you and Liquid, the game seems to be built with the Metal Gear fan in mind and I really appreciate that. The game references every game in the series. It even throws in a Metal Gear 1 reference in the form of Dr. Madnar(I really wish they went further with that one, but I can see why not.) Otacon jokes with disk swapping. You have to fight Crying Wolf in the same place you fought Sniper Wolf. When you encounter Screaming Mantis, her armor is a manifestation of Psycho Mantis, who tries his old tricks on you once again. The entire Beauty and the Beast unit is a reference itself to the FOXHOUND unit of MGS1, calling themselves the SNAKEHOUND unit.



The story is also superb. Even though it drew a few groans from me at some parts, (mostly with character returns of people thought dead) it wraps up everything, and puts a nice end to Snake's story. I'll go more into it later after I've had the time to process it and put it into context for a better understanding. I was gripped from beginning to end, and I wanted to know so badly I beat the game in one sitting.



One more thing. The Drebin Shop is an awesome feature, and the weapon selection in this game is a sight to behold. I loved customizing my M4 or my XM8 to my liking and always being able to purchase more ammo or newer weapons was a treat. It made me go out of my way to get more points, or not get caught for more DP at the end of an act.

MGS4 is an epic game for me. It's basically the culmination of 20 years of MG for me, and MGS is the reason I got into gaming hardcore, if you didn't tell from my Start of the Affair post. I know not everyone feels the same way about this series. A lot of people either hate it or just like to jump in and shoot shit, but Snake's story came first and the conversation at the end between Otacon and Snake made my fucking day to say the least.

I'll be back again to discuss the story in more detail. Just need to absorb what happened.

-Mattamus Prime out.   read


9:41 PM on 06.09.2008  

The Club:Old School, And I Like It



I want to talk a bit about The Club as this is a game that I tried the demo for and wasn't thrilled about at all. I know the Rev preached about it on Podtoid and Retroforce GO!, but I kept remembering how the demo played and just didn't want to bother with it. I felt the controls were too stiff and I didn't know where to go in the level and how everything really worked. But I decided to give it a shot after hearing about how old school it was and plopped down for a rental.

Demo's are bad for this game.

You can't sum this game up in a demo. What Mr. Dyson said on the last Retroforce comes to mind, "I just want to jump into a game and play." Basically, the game has no real tutorial, just a video showing you what the objective is and a tutorial level to test out skills. But The Club doesn't hold your hand at all. It basically jumps at you, kicks you in the balls, and tells you to man up.



After I got the hang of it though, just like all the games of the past, I found an exciting and fast shooter. I felt like I was in the arcade again, pumping in quarters, squashing fools high scores. You can't play the game like a standard FPS. You need to think fast and quick. Just balls out run through a level, pump some bad guys full of holes and get to the end. It's incredibly fun and satisfying, and I'm just smitten with how old school this game feels. I found myself saying,"That was a piss poor run," after a level, wanting to go through again knowing I can get a better score.



I seriously recommend the game to people who love a challenge or just want something that has the graphics of the games of now, but the mind and soul of something from the NES days. I truly believe this game is misunderstood and not getting the attention is deserves from retro gamers or just shooter fans.

The Club is awesome. Now I need to get back and beat my latest run. More points are always on the horizon.   read


6:49 PM on 06.06.2008  

The Start of the Affair: Metal Gear Solid

I couldn't really participate in last month's Musings, but after listening to Podtoid and hearing what this one was about I had to chime in after reading other C-Blogs and having similar experiences. But I think some back story is needed, and my gaming affair starts a little differently, with a system called the Commodore 64.



When I was about 6 years old, a family tragedy rocked my life. My Mom, ever persistent to keep me and my brother's life upbeat, decided a computer of sorts would keep occupied. See, my Mom didn't know too much about gaming(now she owns a DS), and it was always synonymous with computers to her. So she purchased a C64, thinking it would allows us to learn and play some education games here and there. My brother and I were perplexed by this machine. Here all our friends were gaming with the NES and we were stuck with this hunk of silicon and plastic.

My brother abandoned the system in favor of a sports life, but I decided to stick with it. I knew there was something underneath this mystery, and I wanted to unlock its secrets. After tooling around with it, I found out how to boot the floppy disks it came with, which were unlabeled mind you, and found some interesting programs. I had a word processing program, some sort of spreadsheet program, and a mystery program which I didn't comprehend. But the next set of floppy's unveiled what I was looking for.

Games like Spy Hunter, Caveman Games, Ghostbusters, and Movie Monster Game(the sold contributor to my movie monster addiction.) But the most intriguing game was Metal Gear. Metal Gear was the game I played into the night, wanting to learn what this game was about and how to play it. It was an mystery. A game that didn't want me to shoot tons of bad guys, but avoid them and fight with my brain. Needless to say I beat the game, many months later, but it was still a memorable experience.

Gaming was always something that I was always one generation behind. While I was playing the C64, my friends had the NES. When I had a NES, my friends had the Super Nintendo and the Genesis. This was mostly attributed to my families financial troubles, but also educated me on the classics. On my 15th birthday though, I received a Playstation. I was ecstatic, finally I was playing what my friends were, and could participate in conversations, not reduced to discussing the Minus World, while everyone was talking about how awesome Final Fantasy VII was.

I was allowed one game with my shiny new PSX, and after intense thought...I spotted Metal Gear Solid.


I wasn't sure if this was a sequel to that old C64 game I played, but after scanning the back, and seeing a lone hero take on a tank, I had to play it. I frantically rushed home to pop the CD into my system, hoping I made a good choice.

It would turn out to be the best gaming choice I made in my life.


Before MGS, I never took a game as anything more than, save the princess or get the most amount of points. They were always diversions to me. But MGS changed that. Here was a game that showed me video games could be art. A cinematic experience. Something that I could get emotional over. When I played MGS, I didn't feel disconnected. I felt like I was Solid Snake. I got into it. I was going to save the world, and stop Liquid. I was going to destroy Metal Gear. I almost talked to the TV. Everything about this game was superb. Voice acting, cinemas, story, game play. I couldn't put it down.

The game also holds the distinction of making me get teary. The death of Grey Fox made me angry at Liquid. Sniper Wolf's death made wonder what I was really doing here in Shadow Moses, and Naomi imparting the story of Frank Jaeger made me sit up and empathize. And let's not forget Psycho Mantis. I truly wondered how he knew what kind of gamer I was.



After the masterful ending of Metal Gear Solid, I was turned around. I believed that games could be something more. This was no accident. I began to reach out to this medium. I began to see games in a different light. I saw them as a story telling medium, and this truth holds till today. My favorite games all have excellent stories in my opinion, with memorable characters and events. I'm always looking for the next great story in games. I began to learn game director's names and follow my favorites from game to game, like an avid reader does to an author. I felt these men and women had great stories inside of them, and I wanted to be there for it.

And it's all thanks to this man.



I have to thank him for getting me into gaming in a hardcore sense. Without his wonderful series, I probably wouldn't be playing games, and he is the only person I would get star struck meeting. Whatever game he makes next, I'll be there for it, while I think back to that moment, that he showed me games aren't something to be thrown away.   read


8:24 PM on 06.04.2008  

MGS Questions-Of Course Spoilers



So Metal Gear Solid 4 is coming out next week and it's going to be awesome. It's also been said that the game will answer all the questions of Metal Gear, closing the saga of Solid Snake. Of course we'll get more MG games, but they may have a different protagonist and/or story arc.

I wanted to run down what questions I have, and what is known. Maybe we can discuss the plot and make our own theories.

1)Who is Ocelot really working for? Or is he just working for himself?

2)FoxDie is still presumed to be in Snake's system. Will it come into play in MGS4?

3)Are the Patriots really all dead?

4)Why is Raiden in a badass ninja suit, complete with high heels?



5)Is Vamp really supernatural or just another product of the Patriots?

6)How is Liquid taking over Ocelot and why?

First off, are the Patriots really dead? This is a tough one because they could be dead, and just live on in AI personas. It would explain why they want to control information and shape history. Or, they could have just made Snake and Otacon believe they were dead, just another form of them controlling information.

Also, who is/was apart of the Wisemen's Committee, the high council of the Patriots? At the end of Portable Ops, there's a conversation between Ocelot and an unknown person saying he wants to use the Legacy to form the Patriots in place of the Philosopher's under one condition....that Big Boss join them.

So I guess that answers who Ocelot is working for, or the Patriots status. But not completely.

Vamp is an an odd one because we have gotten really no information on him except that he's in MGS4. All we know is that he can survive a head shot wound and run on water.

And for the last two of what I question the most, will FoxDie kill Snake? Maybe. Naomi did tell him she didn't know how much time he had left, and in MGS2, it didn't seem to affect him. But in the trailer for MGS4, he's seen coughing and hacking. Could FoxDie be taking it's toll, or is it just his genes and accelerated aging?

As for Liquid's arm, we know that Ocelot is the child of The Sorrow and The Boss. The Sorrow was a medium, and his power is proven. This gift has possibly been passed to Ocelot, but it's not as prominent as it was for The Sorrow. Or maybe he has learned to control it, and Liquid and Ocelot have become a very powerful being.

Whatever the answers are, MGS4 is sure to blow us all away. I just can't wait to get the answers and discuss with the rest of you.


  read


9:44 AM on 05.31.2008  

Classic Case: Full Throttle

(Classic Case is a feature where I take a retro game and give a retrospective on it. Hopefully it will inspire you to give these gems a second go)

There are a few game designers out there that we can all count on to deliver high quality games or experiences. Ken Levine, Michel Ancel, and Hideo Kojima to name just a few. But another name I don't hear not nearly enough is Tim Schafer. Schafer created some of the best adventure games of the 90s, including helping write The Secret of Monkey Island, Co-Developing Day of the Tentacle, and everyone's favorite psychic Raz from Psychonauts.

But his first game has project lead and writer, was Full Throttle.



Full Throttle follow's the story of Ben Throttle, leader of the Polecats biker gang, in a dark apocalyptic future. (His name was stated as Ben Whatsisname in the manual to avoid legal action from the creators of Biker Mice from Mars, who had a character named Throttle.) Ben and his gang are driving down Highway 9 when they encounter a white hovercraft limousine. Ben plows over the limousine, which in turn draws the attention of the occupant, Malcolm Corley, CEO of Corley Motors, the last manufacturer of motorcycles in the country.

Corley decides to follow the biker's to their hangout, The Kickstand, and minutes later is mingling with Ben, telling old tales when Corley was a biker. Ben is then pulled aside by Adrian Ripburger, vice president of Corley Motors, who asks Ben to escort Corley to the shareholders meeting at Corley Headquarters. Ben refuses and Ripburger decides to knock Ben out, telling the Polecats that they have taken the job.



After waking up, Ben finds his gang gone and his bike tampered with. After pulling a wheelie , his front wheel falls off and he is taken to a small town and meets, Maureen, a mechanic who decides to help Ben, he just needs to find replacement parts, and this forms the game's first set of serious puzzles.



After Ben gets his bike working again, he catches up with the Polecats, and witnesses Ripburger killing Corley. The murder is soon pinned on Ben and the Polecats, and Ben needs to find a way to clear the Polecats names, and stop Ripburger from turning Corley Motors into a minivan manufacturer.

I don't want to give away what happens after that, but the story is very engaging and fun. The game showcases the sense of humor and awe that permeated most Lucasarts games of the era, but also injected with Schafer's signature brand of character development. Every character in the game is expressed perfectly. Even character's who only have a few lines of dialog feel like they have their own personality and history, just based on the art and voice acting.

The game ran on the SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) engine, and took the engine to new heights. Instead of having multiple icons for different actions, you had one cursor which would change form when you passed over something that you could interact with. You could then hold left click, and bring up a radial menu with a fist(use, hit), a skull with eyes(examine), mouth( taste, talk) or a boot (kick). You then click what you want to do and Ben would perform the action. Right clicking pulled up your inventory, so you can select your item, then drag it to an area. This left the screen clean of any HUDs or on screen text, letting the environments and characters speak for themselves.

The game also sported action sequences, in which you would ride down Highway 9, like the driving sequences in Sam and Max Hit the Road, and you could catch up to other bikers and engage in battles with chains, planks, and other weapons. These action sequences are the weakest part of the game, but can be skipped simply.



Also, the game is painfully short. It can be beaten in about 2 hrs or less if you know where to go and what to do, and not skip the cut scenes. But most of Lucasarts adventure games were like this, relying on the player to be stumped by the puzzles, and provide a majority of the game time.

Yet, Full Throttle holds up remarkably well. After I went back to play it, even though I knew what to do, I still laughed at the jokes, and was just marveled at how well every character is just fleshed out. It's one of the best looking SCUMM games, and a testament to a bygone era of graphic adventures. If you can get ScummVM and not download a copy or buy yourself one off of ebay, I suggest you do. It's still funny, still relevant, and still fun as hell.

  read


6:52 PM on 05.28.2008  

Days like this keep my faith in the industry

I know its posted EVERYWHERE. but I have to express my absolute glee with the Beyond Good and Evil 2 Teaser. It's a miracle this IP is being given another go, and I hope this time, we all step it up and speak with our wallets to show Ubi that the first game was really a miracle of gameplay, and so under appreciated.

Mr. Concelmo, my head is exploding with yours:)

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I remember when I was first introduced to BG&E. I went into a Gamestop (SHOCK!!), and the employee there kept raving to me about the game. I decided to cave in and buy it, (because I wanted something new and it was pretty cheap because no one was buying it), and took it home hoping this register jockey wasn't wrong, and have to be exposed to my undying rage. I was hooked from start up, and beat the game that day. The next day, I went back, and wanted to hug that employee.

Any similar experiences with your first time with Beyond Good and Evil?   read


10:37 AM on 05.26.2008  

This is our fellow gamer

IGN released their review of Ninja Gaiden 2, where the game got an 8.7.

Sweet, cool to see that that reviewer liked. I heard EGM have it an A,A,A-.

Cool.

Yea.

Here's a sample of the comment section for Ninja Gaiden 2 on IGN:






Ladies and Gents, this is our fellow gamer. Where an 8.7 is abysmal. Cant believe that. One person goes on to saying it deserves a 9.

WHAT?! Your .3 points away! Hell, what even constitutes a .3 increase?

People need to stop projecting their own thoughts and opinions onto reviewers and their writings. Just because it's not the score you want, doesn't mean that person's opinion is not valid. That makes your opinion not valid, and from reading these comments, it probably shouldn't be.

I leave you with one last comment:


Well said idiot.   read


12:11 AM on 05.26.2008  

Haze:Or How I think Free Radical brought in the B-Team

After playing Haze for about 5 hours, I seriously have to believe that this isn't the Free Radical that created the Time Splitters series. Why no means a horrible game, and excuse my grammar, Time Splitters this ain't. Oh, and don't mistake this for a review. From my 5 hour playing time, I haven't beaten the game, nor really experienced any multiplayer action. For all I know, halfway through the game, it could turn into a bastion of awesomeness where some enemies become friends, some friends become enemies, while the Mach 5 plows through a wall, beckoning my avatar to jump into its sweet embrace.

Just some thoughts and musings

I say this because Time Splitters was the perfect combination of humor and action. I mean, where else could you play as a Ninja Monkey, while having a brick throwing only match with friends? Or engage in time traveling hijinks with yourself? The weapons and levels in those games were so varied and unique, and more so with the included level creator.

I know it feels like they tried something different, tried to go in a more serious direction and tell a epic yarn, but it all falls flat because around every corner, I feel that this game is not showcasing their strengths. Level design is convoluted and confusing. The characters, save for the rebel leader, are just idiotic.

Everything just feels generic and ugly. For being a PS3 exclusive, this game is not a graphical powerhouse. I don't care that the game isn't "True HD" or anything, but at least make it pretty. Trees looks pixelated and the environments look like they don't have enough textures. Everything feels generic and repetitive.

But like I stated in the beginning, it's not horrible. At the start of the game, your a trooper for the Mantel Corporation, and you can give yourself a dose of Necter to make yourself move faster, light up enemies and heal faster. While that's not exactly a game breaking mechanic, it's what happens when the game decides to do a Necter disruption that it gets interesting. When this happens, the Necter stops pumping and you get a glimpse of what's really going on. While on Necter, bodies disappear, you see no blood, and everything looks sunny and cheery. But when your not, those bodies are still there, lying in a pool of blood, and the environments are drab and grimy. It's a cool effect that makes the games first part interesting. Also, when you become a rebel, you get a cool assortment of abilites, like making Necter disruption grenades, knives, and dodging and rolling.

The game basically gives me a meh feeling. I am glad that Free Radical tried a new IP, and hopefully if they make a sequel, they can make it much better and really play with the Necter effects and such.   read


11:53 PM on 05.24.2008  

The gaming gods have blessed me

I hate to push my Classic Case down so early, but I was doing some cleaning(thats what two cups of coffee do to you when you drink it at 11:30) and I finally found my copy of Grim Fandango, which I have been looking for FOREVAR!!

Oh man, I'm wired, and I have one of the greatest point and click adventure games in my hands.



I thank thee, oh gaming gods.   read


5:05 PM on 05.24.2008  

Classic Case: Hercs Adventure

(Classic Case is a column where I take a classic game, and tell you why it's worth your time.)

Ah, Herc's Adventures. I happened upon this game by complete accident. I had just received my Sega Saturn for Christmas and was at the local Blockbuster looking for a game to fire up on my shiny Saturn. Like every kid with only a couple of bucks in my hand, I had to find something I wouldn't beat in a couple of hours and was still fun. I found Herc's Adventures and amused with the artwork and 2-D animation, I rented it, hoping I didn't get a turd.

Well a turd Herc's Adventures isn't. The game was created by Lucasarts, who back in the 90s, couldn't make a bad game. The company literally ate silver and crapped gold. Sam and Max, Full Throttle, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. All great games that define any gamer's early education.

Herc's Adventures stars three heroes from Greek mythology. Hercules, who is strong but limited to short range attacks, Jason, who wields a slingshot for ranged attacks and a dagger for close scrapping, and Atlanta, a heroine who specializes in ranged attacks. You could chose any hero to suit your liking, or go co-op with a friend. The game plays like a cross between The Legend of Zelda and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Like Zelda, you have to gain certain items to access new dungeons and bosses, while the top down view keeps you in an action rpg mode. The combat is frequent, with tons of weapons and items littering the landscape which you can use to dispatch your enemies.

The animation is top notch, feeling like your playing a really funny cartoon. Speaking of the humor, the game has a very goofy sense of humor, with the gods popping in ever so often to chastise you our throw ironic statements your way. Even the final boss is hilarious, being revealed to be a giant robot being manipulated by martians.

Death had a humorous approach as well. When you died, you were sent to Hades, and had to fight your way to the top. If you died again, you were sent further down.

One of the only gripes with the game is the huge overworld and no direction. The game marks on your map where you need to be next, but never how to get there or what item you may need. The map can be deceiving as well, no showing if a mountain may be in your way or not. It's a tiny one though, and some people may prefer this method of exploration, just like the original Zelda.

Herc's Adventures was a missing gem in the sea of Saturn and Playstation titles. If you have either system, I recommend you track it down and give it a whirl. It's good way to laugh and scratch your head on a challenging and fun game.   read







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