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About
Hey guys. I'm a multimedia graduate who specializes in graphic design and illustration.
Been a gamer since the age of 6, started with the NES. I like all genres except sports and most racing games. I'm crazy for old 90s PC point n click games and anything which has a striking art style.
Check out my artwork on dA:
NeverMonkey

Will draw stuff for food.
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If there were official screens of the new Playstation 4 and Xbox 720 showing off the consoles themselves and graphics which are indistinguishable from photographs, would you be excited?
I personally would not. I'd be skeptical for a couple of reasons:
It would most likely mean they've spent even more time and money on giving us a cinematic experience than a gaming experience. By that I mean they should have been spending more time on the gameplay mechanics and fine tuning than giving us picturesque graphics.
Another thing which this generation of gaming has taught me is that if the game looks a little too pretty in screenshots, not only is there gonna be a lot of skimping on the gameplay or the longevity of the game but we can expect to see a lot of technical visual problems like a terrible framerate.
Too often have I seen screenshots of fantastic looking games and then in game the framerate is choppy and blurry. It's like walking through the Louvre after 20 beers.
Also, 30/40fps which we're used to is okay but not great.

So when the PS4 and X720 come out I have my fingers crossed that I'll be seeing the exact same quality of graphics in screenshots but they'll have tidied up all of the trimmings of ugliness.
If we're talking about a next gen machine with pretty much the same graphics please give us 60 frames per second or higher; something that will blow your mind on a 100MHz HDTV, like controlling the things that are happening outside your window! No more horizontal tearing, solid and clean shadows rather than jagged and ugly and higher resolution textures would be nice too but I'm not so fussed about those.
Also, I almost forgot to mention that super reallistic graphics drive a budget and development hours through the roof so we should be nice to those hardworking developers in the coming generation.

New kinds of gameplay and mechanics goes without saying. Speaking of which, a lot of people criticize gaming for not evolving the gameplay. Play something from the PS2 era again and you will come to appreciate all the nice little things that have been added to games gradually between then and now.
Something which has barely moved an inch in development in decades however is AI!
Please do something about them, developers! If they're not living, breathing combat strategists I'm okay with that but please try to do something about these polygonal bumbling retards!

I would also really like to see an evolution of the controller. Nintendo tried their best with the wiimote but it doesn't work so well and also their titles don't live up to the potential fun and innovations you could add to gameplay with these controls. I like that Microsoft are trying something wildly different with the Kinect. Even though it doesn't work so well now there's plenty of room for development.
The Playstation Move is a wiimote except it works well. It works beautifully! I have found a renewed joy and love in playing first person shooters with this controller. The precision and elegance of playing games with this controller is beautiful and it's a crying shame that it's not an option to use this controller in every game!
If new generation consoles took something like the move/wii controller and developed it further I would shit bricks of joy. To compliment motion controls I would also like to see some imagination in games controls. I have plenty of great ideas for motion controls(which I might blog about) and it's sad to see developers not thinking outside the box.

I wrote this blog within the hour it took to download updates and install Resistance 3 on the PS3. This silliness is something I would also like to see an end to in the next generation of gaming.
How about you guys? I'd like to hear your ideas.

- Nevermonkey








From a very young age I really loved cartoons. Yeah most kids do but while other kids were like "Yeah I like cartoons" I was like "I FUCKING LOVE CARTOONS!!"
I was amazed by the TV and how colourful and different cartoons looked. I loved TMNT, I loved Ghostbusters, I loved Popeye, I loved Disney, I loved any sort of movie based on a cartoon.

How I got into videogames and loved them forever began when I was about 4 or 5 years old.
Somehow, as much as I loved TV I was completely oblivious to videogames. I lived with my grandparents and mother who I guess were also oblivious/disinterested in them so maybe they neglected to tell me about them.
I vividly remember the night I first encountered videogames. I went over to my cousins' house and they told me they got a Nintendo. This meant nothing to me. They took me into their kitchen where there was this box thing connected to the TV, 2 little "remotes" coming from the box and they turned it on. This meagre looking "cartoon" started. It was Mario Brothers. So my cousin picks up this remote, gives me one and starts pressing buttons and THEN the little dude on the screen starts moving around on the screen! She was controlling him! THERE WAS A CARTOON ON THE TV AND SHE WAS CONTROLLING WHAT WAS HAPPENING!! Then I was controlling the other dude and I was controlling the cartoon!! My eyes widened! I shat bricks! I was astonished that this thing existed!
I wanted one so bad! But being 5 and not being able to explain and justify wanting this expensive toy I had to do without for a little while! Over the following weeks I visited my cousins more often. They'd been renting games; Super Mario Bros, Excite Bike, Terminator, Mickey Mouse... I was overjoyed to get my turn to play these games.
So that's how it started for me. Utter fascination at this thing I suddenly realised existed.
My other cousins had a sega master system with Sonic The Hedgehog and some other little medieval themed platformer with 4 playable characters. I can't remember what it was called but if anyone has any idea what game I might be describing please do drop the name in the comments section.
I had a brief stay in hospital when I was young and some kids had a gameboy. I got to play Mario, Tetris and Megaman on that.
I managed to persuade my parents to get me a Super Nintendo that Christmas. I rented, bought and borrowed many games from that whole era. Very fun times indeed.
All throughout school I knew(thought) I wanted to be a games developer. When I finally went and did it at college I discovered that my brains were just not cut out for all the mathematics and programming involved. So I went and did multimedia and now I design nice things for you to look at. I may eventually get into game design somehow but where ever life takes me gaming will always be coming with me.








I've been playing Final Fantasy XIII for the first time in the past couple of nights.
Since the release of the first trailer of this game in 2008 I knew it was a game I'd be staying well away from. It stank of everything that is bad in new generation Final Fantasy games; Ridiculous looking characters, terrible art direction and, presumably following suit with FFXII, a terrible story.
My presumptions were backed up by some of the slating reviews which followed criticizing poor plot exposition, incredibly annoying characters and also by some of the postive reviews playing trumpets to the heavens about the amazing graphics and the "streamlined RPG elements".

Two years after its release I finally got around to playing it due to boredom, a little curiosity and being able to get it free from my brother. I was surprised to find that the game wasn't as disastrous as I'd anticipated.
This was due to a combination of going in with such low expections and also a handful of endearing elements in the game.
Only a couple of lines into the review and already it sounds so venomous. To new generation Final Fantasy lovers, I'm not sorry. Your only criteria for hailing a game as a flawless masterpiece is "Does it say Final Fantasy on the box?" but before you get your adult diapers in a twist I think you'll find that my points are pretty fair and not completely tainted by hate.

Graphics and Design

My main qualm with all new FF games(from 10 onwards) is the art direction. All characters and backgrounds are head-throbbingly over-decorated to the point of ridiculous.
Firstly, I will say that the graphics in FFXIII ARE absolutely astonishing! High resolution, always a smooth framerate, incredibly detailed textures on everything in the game, great lighting and particle effects, an overal brilliant finish. The graphics kept me entranced to the extent of wanting to play on despite everything else.
But... the design is another story. It takes my eyes a couple of moments to decipher exactly what the hell I'm looking at when something new appears on screen. Every square foot of the game is ornately and meticulously decorated with some form of tribal tatto designs, geometric shapes and other forms of what-the-fuckery.
The characters wear ridiculous, impractical outfits adorned with whatever crap they found in the bottom of some cubism era cereal box. Lightning, Snow and Sazh are the only ones wearing something half way decent looking
The creatures in the game appear to be organic but usually with some odd, unnescessary appendages. There are robots and flying things with seem to be a synergy of future technology and magic but were designed by a gay, Japanese fashion designer. Nothing wrong with being gay OR Japanese but these futuristic killing machines look more like clothing racks you'd find in an expensive boutique.
Of course, whether design is good or not certainly is down to personal taste. While I dislike busy, overly decorated visuals some people may love them and be in awe of how meticulously designed everything in the game is. But when the designs infringe upon the practical visual hierarchy of everything, that's when I can say that the art style is objectively bad.
Near the beginning of the game when Snow is making his way through... some... temple kinda thing... in a cutscene he notices a switch which he must pull which will help him advance. This left me thinking "How did Snow realise that one glowing geometric structure was a switch next to all the other glowing geometric structures littered everywhere?" In that same section Sazh and Lightning are seen attacking a large door to open it. She then realised that she had to just put her hand on the door and ask it politely to open... and it did! How did she know that would work and how could she tell that was a door and not just the end of a hallway since every surface is covered in crazy crap! If it weren't for most of the game being one straight corridor and the mini map it would be easy to get lost in these levels as the visual signifiers would be lost among the backdrop. Sometimes I have no idea what sort of place I'm in! Nothing to suggest that this is a temple or this a dungeon or this is a sewer just constant lights and shapes. Most of the game is a neon German-expressionist nightmare!
Switches, doors etc. are only a minor quibble. Narratively, the design work makes no sense either! Since FFX every town and NPC in the game has been uniformly decorated in colourful, geometric crap. The only difference between a slum and a thriving city or a peasant and a member of royalty is that if they're poor their colour palette will be slightly less saturated. That and everywhere is littered with ridiculous, impractical looking devices. In these worlds it's hard to tell the difference between an ancient mystical doomsday device and a household lamp!
Vehicles and buildings would cost multiple trillions to construct due to all the weird curves, shapes and unnecessary, tiny adornments on every inch of everything!
There was one brief section in FFXIII where the gang decided to take a shortcut through an alleyway. The alleyway was simply a concrete block wall and some sewer pipes. It was beautiful. So plain and drab. My brain finally got a brief rest from the psychotic visual gangbanging of the rest of the game. There was also a nice grassy cliff section where I could rest my eyes for a bit. The junkyard wasn't too bad either. Lots and lots and lots of designs is not good design.
To try and end this section on a positive note I will say that the.... carnival/festival(?) scene with Sazh and Vanille was breathtakingly beautiful. It felt like it was full of life. In that same section I got to see chocobos rendered in current gen graphics and they looked fantastic along with these absolutely adorable little cuddly sheep creatures. I wished I could reach into the screen and hug them! Also the flan enemies in the series have a special place in my heart. In XIII, I was charmed by the flandragora, the flanitor and the flanborg. In a game of such visual chaos I was happy to see these blobs in endearingly humorous forms.

Story

Bah... you don't need a summary from me. La Cie, Fal Cie, Sieth, Coccoon, Pulse, turning into crystals and shit... I just about got the gist of it. The story plays out as if it was written by those strange, socially awkward wapanese kids on deviantArt who write fan fiction.
To begin with I'm not a big fan of magical fantasy stories. I find magic to be an overly convenient plot device which should be secondary to the story as opposed to central to the story as it is in most FF games. However, I can tolerate it if the story is absorbing enough. In FFXIII, it wasn't in any way absorbing. I did not care even slightly what was going on and the narrative did nothing to inform me or get me involved. I was thrown into the middle of story with everyone blabbing about shit I'd never heard of before and then after the cutscene my datalog was updated. So I'm expected to stop playing and read through walls of text so that I can catch up with what's happening after it has happened. Early on the game I had a look at the datalogs so that I would have a sliver of a notion as to what the hell anyone is talking about but I soon stopped that as I realised I was pausing the game to stop and read dA fanfics! No thanks!
The story also featured one of the most shameful red herrings I've ever seen in any story. At a certain point we're lead to believe that Sazh has died and is taken away by the soldiers in a huge fancy coffin with Vanille following behind in a ceremonial robe.
Later on we find out that Sazh is not dead. He was knocked out by the soldiers to be taken captive. If so... why... why?! WHY?!! Why wasn't he just flung over a soldier's shoulder and thrown into the chopper? Why did they go and fetch the ceremonial robes and the most expensive and ornate coffin in the universe?! Why did this happen, Square Enix? Do the characters in the game realise they're being watched by a fat, drooling moron with a controller and they need to go out of their way to make him fall for their fucking pointless charade?!
The critics were right. The plot exposition is terrible and the story itself(according to them) is not much better either! I remember being utterly enthralled and addicted to FF7 for the story and characters alone. I cared what happened. I played that game again recently as a grown man and I STILL cared what happened. Where did it all go wrong?

Characters

I didn't find the characters AS irritating as other critiques suggested. At their worst, pointless and one dimensional and at their best... kinda cool.
Also, the chicks in this game are fucking hot, dude! Usually an arrangement of pixels don't make my loins tingle but the detail on characters in this game really really brought them to life more so than anything I'd seen in a game before.

Lightning:
An heroic rogue soldier. She's also moody and not quick to take a shine to people. She's Cloud but with a vagina and she does shit like in The Matrix.
It's good to see a female protagonist done right. When they try to portray a powerful female in a narrative, writers sometimes tend to make them manly or vulgar. It's good to see a female lead done right in a story. Lightning is strong yet effeminate. Just like every other male lead in the FF series.

Snow:
He is a hero. His personality involves being heroic and doing heroic things. Sometimes he is happy because he has done something heroic. Other times he is not happy because he is wondering if he is really heroic or not. This deep, three-dimensional character is brought to you by the Square Enix Corporation.

Sazh:
Easily the most interesting and engaging character in the game. While the rest of the characters are busy being cardboard anime archetypes or staring at pretty colours, Sazh seems to be the only one who reacts to what's happening like a human being. His performance is touching and his journey to re-unite with his young son is truly heartfelt.
He also has a baby chocobo in his afro!!! :3

Vanille:
I was bracing myself for what critics suggested was the most annoying, vacuous, bubbly, oblivious retard ever to grace the FF universe. However I didn't find her to be as unbearable as I was expecting. The title of Most Irritating Hyperactive Retard In The Universe is still held by Selphie from FF8.
Vanille is in her own little world. She doesn't ever seem to be able to grasp what's going on at any given time. However I can't judge her too harshly for that as it would be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Hope:
"Guys, let's stop the adventure so I can sit down and wallow in angst every 15 minutes!" Fuck off and die, Hope!

Fang:
She's tough and has a lance.

Gameplay
Fans call Final Fantasy XIII a "streamlined RPG". It's a rail-RPG which has been stripped to the bone. You really do spend 20 hours walking down a long, colourful corridor. I felt constricted but it still felt like a journey to me maybe because I was so hypnotized by the graphics. Encountering enemies was boring. I only felt in control when I was waiting for them to turn around for a pre-emptive strike. Early on the battle system felt like "Press X to continue" however the paradigm system did steadily expand into something more complex and interesting. The battle system was streamlined and I can't say I disliked it but it was just not to my taste. I prefer selecting each character's set of moves for the battle and sifting through menus. However the paradigm system may appeal to more casual gamers who might find menus and management to be an arduous experience. The battles can have a nice flow to them when you get your paradigm arrangements right and they can be pretty fun to watch.
I was astonished that the developers thought it was a good idea to take towns and villages out of the game. This effectively made their world feel empty especially in contrast to the prequels.
After 20 hours of gameplay I defeated... the priest dude who turns into a big ass statue/robot boss and after that the game unlocked the paradigm and party system effectively signalling that I was free to spread my wings and enjoy the rest of the journey. But after 20 exhausting hours I'd grown accustomed to letting the game do all the driving while I pressed the continue buttons. When FINALLY required to progress on the strength of my own initiative I realised I was completely disinterested and I just was not having any sort of fun.
It's a game which did many many things wrong as an RPG, as a game and upon remembering how amazing Final Fantasy games used to be, this game is just an outright failure.

For those of you with a fetish for numerical scores, I give Final Fantasy XIII a generous 5 / 10







NeverMonkey
11:18 AM on 02.12.2012

Hi gaiz.
Introducing myself. Hmm... could just copy/paste my blurb but I'll flesh it out a little.
I like pretty much all genres. I'm particularly nuts for old point n click PC games and also anything with a particularly stylized art style or any weird games in general. So I welcome all suggestions of any obscure titles that I may not have heard of.
I tried getting a degree in games development but all the maths and coding fried my fragile little brain. Took me way too long to realise that I'm more of a creative person and last year I got my degree in creative multimedia where I found my feet as a graphic designer/cartoonist(sort of). Check me out on dA:
http://nevermonkey.deviantart.com/gallery/
During the course I did the design work on two "interactive experiences"(like games but not quite as finished) which are quite pretty and you might like to check them out.
Flourish
http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/539088
The trailer for BOT
http://vimeo.com/27774694
And BOT the interactive novel(which takes a while to load and doesn't work so well on the web. Fix pending.)
http://welcometovistaprime.com/

Now that I'm done plugging myself (heh) back to games.
I'm a PS3 gamer and I used to stay up to date on all the latest games and buy the biggest releases first day however I've been too busy with college to play them so my backlog is pretty big. I'm months behind on the games I play(with the exception of Skyrim!!) so my reviews or commentaries are going to feel like retro reviews to you! On the plus side I can spoiler the shit out of them without fear.

I love and adore Tim Schafer's games and at the time of writing this he has raised $1,634,723 on kickstarter for the making of Psychonauts 2 which, to me, is the most thrilling and wonderful thing to happen in the world of gaming in a long time.

This is my first time to ever blog and it'll be my first time to write about games and I'm sure it'll be fun and interesting being a part of this community.

tl;dr Hello.

- NeverMonkey