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Pedro Cortes's blog

8:54 PM on 11.23.2010

Play It Again Dro - Mirror's Edge

Like a lot of college students, I'm broke. I've got a couple movies and figures (for sister site Tomopop) on preorder, but I don't have any games coming up any time soon. I figure this is a good time to go revisit my back catalog and do some of the things I wanted to do the first time around that I never got to. You know, get some trophies I didn't get the first time around, play different modes, higher difficulty levels, that sort of thing. I'm thinking of it as a way to get the most out of each game that I spent my cash on.


While Mirror's Edge is the first game I'm writing about, I technically did this with The Orange Box last summer. I don't count that since I never touched any version of Half Life 2 and since that is the meat of the package I consider that session me finishing the damn thing. Anyway, Mirror's Edge. The hype for this game was pretty big when it came out November 2008. People praised its unique look and the different take on what a first person experience could present to an audience. Unfortunately, the hype that had built for Mirror's Edge became much bigger than the game itself and it wasn't the success that many thought that it should've been. It didn't sell to expectation, people were annoyed by many of the things that they initially praised and it became the punchline to many a joke for months afterward.

I was one of the people trumpeting the innovations that were presented in many a preview. I loved the aesthetic, finally seeing a current gen game with bright colors and sunlight as opposed to dark browns and greens with a ton of grit. I liked that it wasn't a typical FPS, it having more in common with something like Metroid Prime instead of Call of Duty or Halo. It also included a nifty looking bag as pre-order swag, which certainly didn't hurt. I dropped my 60 bones at Game Stop and eagerly waited the whole day to go home and pop it into my PS3. I decided to play the game on medium and attempt the "No Guns Fired" trophy. A couple weeks and about 9-10 game-play hours later I finished Faith's story...and was pretty disappointed.

Aside from my issues with the controls and the structure of the game (that I'll get into in a bit), the story was a pretty standard 1984/Big Brother affair that didn't really do anything for me. I wasn't expecting anything amazing (despite Rhianna Pratchett's involvement), but it had just enough potential to disappoint me when it didn't deliver. The animated cutscenes were jarring, taking me out of the experience of "being" Faith when the rest of the game did a great job keeping me in her eyes. I felt that the whole game should've stayed from Faith's perspective, ala Half Life 2 and when it did stay in her eyes the cutscenes resonated better. The graphics were just as pretty as I wanted, but I was surprised at how stark the whole game was. There was nary an NPC to be found, with the occasional pedestrian that could be spotted if you looked over the edge of the building. The music had sufficient ambiance and peaked at the right moments for dramatic tension, so no complaints there.

So with all of the non-tactile bits out of the way, I'll get to my issues with the game mechanics and structure. Since the PS2 Prince of Persias are some of my favorite games, I loved the platforming in Mirror's Edge. Putting me in direct control of a Runner's movement and actually executing the wallruns and leaps was incredibly thrilling and the vertigo-inducing heights added to that. It helped that the controls were responsive and did what I wanted most of the time, besides the occasional wallrun that didn't activate due to improper timing. Unfortunately, Mirror's Edge also shares PoP's penchant for annoyingly combat, only worse.

While PoP's combat is simple and repetitive, at least the Prince can take a couple of hits before going down. In most situations, Faith will drop faster than a one-legged hooker. The game gives her limited direct combat options and the vital disarm ability can be difficult to trigger if you're up in a cops face and can't see the tell. The ability to slow down time for a few seconds is helpful, but doesn't help when you get swarmed in a room and are playing a no-guns game. It does make it feel more realistic (since a waif of a girl like Faith should have a lot of trouble dealing with armed police men), but it really made the game a huge pain in the ass. I had to repeat several sections literally dozens of times because the AI wouldn't let me get close enough for a disarm and there wasn't enough room to use my mobility against them. It is good that there are frequent checkpoints so you don't have to repeat a lot of gameplay when you invariably go down, but man, after 10 or 12 times I'm tired of spending several minutes working my way around the room only to get shot in the face after my disarm misses. The busted hand-to-hand combat must have added a good two to three hours to the game.

Despite these flaws, I enjoyed playing the game and intended to go back on hard for the Pro Runner trophy. However, in the spanning months I fell down the hole of Fallout 3 and Persona 4, so that second go never came. I considered trading in Mirror's Edge several times, but held on to it because I knew that I would get to it eventually. With my budget making anything new impossible to reach for now and Ghost Trick being several monthss away, I decided to finally go and do that second playthrough. This time I was going to use guns, because I was NOT going to go through that again. I was also not going to play it for extended periods of time so that I wouldn't get sick of it. I figured one chapter every time I play would mean nine sessions with minimal aggravation. So with the rules set I popped in the disk yet again and found myself liking the experience even more the second time.

When you play on hard, not a lot of things change. You can still hit O to get a general idea of where you're supposed to go in the level. Faith does the same amount of melee damage. The enemies guns will still light up when they can be disarmed. One of the things that did change was the removal of "Runner's Vision." In easier modes objects that you can interact with will light up red when you look at them, making level traversal pretty easy. I thought that this would make my life harder, but it actually made the game better. It made the platforming more of a puzzle in that it wasn't obvious what you had to do. You had to experiment and really think out your movements before you did them. It felt more rewarding when I made it across a level because I figured it out on my own instead of having a series of lights go off and me follow them.

Another major difference is that Faith's stamina has taken another dip. While she was pretty weak before, now two shots at medium distance will always lay her out. It makes combat quite a bit more tense than before. However, since I'm using the guns that enemies drop I'm not tearing my hair out disarming people. I can take out one guy and work my way around shooting people. On the other hand, this also highlights the crappy gun handling in Mirror's Edge. You can't run, you can barely jump or slide and forget about doing anything involving a wall. Faith's mobility is severely lessened and to add insult to injury she's pretty inaccurate with guns. Now, the purpose of this first person game isn't to shoot people and I completely dig that. You can argue that since she's supposed to be a Runner, not a gunner so her proficiency with firearms is low at best. I'll even give that she can't do any of her parkour when she has a weapon. It doesn't excuse the fact that combat is difficult all around and not difficult in a "clever AI fighting back against me" kind of way. It's way more in the "game wants me to stubbornly die many times until I find the perfect path of destruction" kind of way.

After completing the game I will be officially done with Mirror's Edge. While I do love the parkour aspect of the game, I'm not very good with it. Looking through the various races and "playgrounds" that I can run around doesn't instill desire in me. This lack of enthusiasm is made worse when I look at the qualifying times and the world record times, neither of which I can make. It'll require even more of my time and I have more games that I'd rather go back to, like Bioshock and its Impossible difficulty (hint hint nudge nudge.)

All in all, I think that Mirror's Edge is a good game with high ambitions that aren't completely met. I believe its positive aspects outweigh the negative and it should be played (especially now that you can get it for sub-$15 at most places.) With the eventual sequel, I hope that DICE makes the platforming a bigger focus and either completely revamps the combat or find a way to lessen it's role in the game. I wouldn't be against them pulling a Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and removing combat entirely. The chase sequences in Mirror's Edge were enjoyably tense and having more of those type of sequences as opposed to dreary kicky-punch sections would be fantastic.   read

11:26 PM on 03.27.2009

Japanese pop-star and Mother 3 Handbook = Excellent Friday!

Today was a severely win-filled day. Normally I work 12-5 on Friday's, then go out with my girlfriend and/or
friends. That's already an improvement from the rest of the week when I have to think about homework,
etc. However, this Friday trumped other Fridays on several intense levels. I got the day off to go wait in line
South Beach in front of a make up store called Sephora. This isn't normally along my line of interests,
there was a guest coming later that night that warranted my early (at least for me) wake up.

For those that have played Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, Utada Hikaru should be a familar. For those that are not,
she's an incredibly popular J-Pop star (she has the best selling album EVER in Japan) who sang the
openings of
both games. For some odd reason, Sephora was promoting her latest english album, This is the One and
they decided to send her to Miami. Being a devout fan of hers, I made sure to inform the correct parties, and
found myself in line with Taticakes,
SakuChan, Andres Cerrato of Tomopop fame, my friend Jabel and the one and only Colette Bennett!

Saku, Jabel, Me, and Taticakes, with Andres and fiancÚ in the background.

So after waiting for about 6-7 hours in line, we got in, without and RSVP no less! For details on the show,
an eye out on Japanator, but after about an hour and some initial disappointment, everybody walked out with
signed photo of Utada, which made me week.

Utada pic, behind my Eye Up Yoko,
it will remain until I can afford a frame for it!

After the show, we all went out to an excellent Japanese restaurant. Post-dinner, we said our goodbyes and
went home. When I get home, I find an interesting package. Inside the package I find this!

My Mother 3 guide book came after months of anxious waiting. I
know Scary Womanizing Pig Mask already
made a post about his book, but I couldn't resist snapping a couple of photos of my book and the other
goodies it came with. Stuff like...

my Courage Badge, along with a sketch of Tessie and the Starman logo, which will be going on my car
tomorrow morning.

A good day overall I'd say :-D   read

11:35 AM on 10.17.2008

Mother 3 Handbook, worth your scratch!

So like any good Mother fan, I anxiously scooped up the translation to Mother 3 the second I
saw it released. Upon downloading it, I noticed that the good folks that did the hard work are
also releasing a Handbook to go along with the game. If you want to show these people that
you appreciate the sheer amount of work that went into this project, consider showing them
some love and preorder this lovely!   read

1:00 AM on 09.01.2008

My 'work space', or all of my cool shit.

Agreed Luigi, agreed.

Anyway, I'm somewhat cross-posting this from my blog on Tomopop, however this encompasses my whole'work area' and not just the figures.

Walking into my room, this would the first thing you would see, as long as your vision is better than my shitty camera. That bright red thing at the bottom of the pic is a blanket covering my work/gaming chair, purchased at Sears for a mere $20. The fan behind it is used to keep me from overheating in the insane heat of my room. As for the book case, you'll see it later.

This is the wall next to my bed. You'll notice a theme here, mostly of my Gurren Lagann obsession (it's really damn good). That poster was yoinked at Otakon from the Bandai booth the day my Miami group went out in costume. The print of Garlock Simon was also picked up that day. The current highlight of the wall is the mecha girl which was in the latest issue of Megami, the Pedo Bear's favorite magazine. She's a delectable combination of Veritech and mo├ę.

On the other side of the bed are some more posters, this one a bit more varied. Besides the amazingly GAR pic of Kenpachi, there are posters of Gustav Klimpt's "The Kiss" and the original Matrix. Despite my disappointment with the rest of the series, the first film is still a favorite of mine. Oh, and don't fuck with John Locke. Motherfucker has an entire island on his side.

This is where magical shit happens (work, art, gaming, etc.) My TV is a 26" 720p Olevia that also serves as my monitor for my compy. It's cluttered, it's messy, I love it. I have my games in the upper right cupboard. I would post a pic of it, only my shitty camera ran out of juice when I went to take a pic of it. I basically have a ton of PS2 and DS games, a bunch of them unplayed. Also there are my GBA games, Wii, and PS3 games. I've had waaaaaaaay more in my time, yet my urge for certain games has lead me to trade in quite a few games, usually leading to traders remorse.

Here is where most of my money went before I got more into collection statues. In this bookcase lies my anime and manga, as well as part of my DVD collection which spreads from the black bookcase to the left to the bottom row of the brown case. The second row contains my artbooks and my all of my Megami, which is slowly taking over the shelf. The middle shelf has my manga and a couple of plushies. The top two shelves house my anime collection, which is sorely behind in many different series. The second row from the top also has my PS3 arcade stick that refuses to work with SC4, as I mentioned earlier. It hasn't been used since, but I suppose I should go and see what I can do to make that son of a bitch work.

Finally, if you desire escape you must use this door. It has yet another TTGL poster on it, as well as my Kyle Rainer poster, still the best Green Lantern out there (I'm looking at you Hal).

That's all folks. Again, if you want to see my figs, check me out at Tomopop.   read

8:28 PM on 08.17.2008

"You got your Chrono Trigger in my Soulcalibur" or "How Mitsurugi learned to point his drill to the heavens."

So a bit before my excursion to Otakon (which you can read a bit more about on Go For Broke at Tomopop) I decided to mess around with the create-a-character in Soulcalibur. That being so, I churned out a few solid pieces of silver, if not gold.

First up is every bodies favorite aniki, Kamina of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fame.

I gave him Mitsurugi's style, since he carries around that impossibly sized katana most of the time he's not improperly using a hand gun.

After I was done immortalizing the great Kamina, I decided to make the Chrono Trigger cast, as it's the first thing I try whenever I have a decent create-a-character option. First up is Chrono with Mitsurugi's move set yet again.

Next up is Marle. She and Ayla were difficult since I haven't unlocked many tube tops for the ladies, but I used what I could. I gave her Tira's move set since the option for crossbows doesn't exist.

Following Marle I made Lucca. She and Robo are the ones I'm proudest of. She get Talim's moveset.

I made Frog next, but since I lack frog form options he looks like Piccolo of Dragon Ball Z fame.

I gave him Sophitia's move set since all the character art has him with a sword and shield, though further thought encourages me to give him Seigfriend's move set since Sophitia's moves tend to be a bit more feminine.

I made Magus next. I would like it better if I could give him pointed ears and earrings, but hey, I did what I could.

It was handy that Zasamel uses a scythe.

Next up is the one that I spent the most time with, Robo. Considering there was a lack of robotics in the mode, I decided to make him into a armored rendition of the original design.

Choosing a move set was tough, but I believe I gave him Nightmare's moves and a glowing Soul Edge to boot.

Finally, I made Ayla. I had the same problem with her that I had with Marle, but after some monkeying around I was able to get a decent facsimile.

I gave Ayla a mace as a weapon since the official art has her with a bludgeon.

I think I'm done for now. When I get more parts I'll keep attacking it.   read

2:03 AM on 08.05.2008

Preview of some pics from Yasumicon 2008 with Mr. Destructoid!


3:01 AM on 07.30.2008

How a guy got frustrated with his stick, or Problems with Soulcalibur 4 on PS3

So a couple months back I decided to look for the PS3 arcade stick that Aaron Linde
suggested that people buy. Well, I managed to find the very same Hori stick that he was
talking about and I've been enjoying it ever since.


I pop in SC4 into my PS3 and find that the game doesn't recognize my stick at all except for
the Home button on the top. When I press it, it jumps to the XMB and then all of a sudden the
system recognizes the stick. So it'll work with every other fighting game EXCEPT the game
that I originally bought the stick for. Is anybody else having the same problem?

Other than that I'm really enjoying the game. The create a character is a blast, the gameplay
proper is amazing, the online mode worked like a charm without any lost frames. The only
thing tarnishing this great game is the fact that I'm forced to use the Dualshock 3 with a game
that is clearly meant for a stick.   read

11:17 AM on 05.07.2008

(kinda VGR, kinda not) Got a lot of stuff done last night, including finishing Ai Yori Aoshi

Having a night to myself while my girlfriend is making another cake (to be posted after the party that it's to be presented at), I decided to do a bit of everything that I haven't had time to do lately.

-I played a bit of CoD4, which was ended prematurely due to a shitty connection (damn you Bellsouth!).
-I put some time into Brawl, practicing with Peach, Lucas, and Wolf so I don't get ground into powder at the next party I go to.
-I studied a bit of grammar for my upcoming grammar exam, only to find that the emails that had the websites to study from were AWOL (they were eventually found).
-I did some more research for my H-Game panel for Yasumicon.
-I played MGS through the whole PAL card ordeal. I left that for the next time I pop on.

By the time I turned off my PS3, it was about 3 in the morning, so I decide to go to sleep. After 20 minutes, of tossing and turning, I decided to read the last 3 volumes of Ai Yori Aoshi that were on loan to me.

For those that don't know, Ai Yori Aoshi is about a college student named Kaoru Hanabishi, who is reunited with his fiance, Aoi Sakuraba after years of separation. The point of contention is that he has run away and abandoned the family that had arranged the marriage between them.

Imagine a traditional Japanese version of Love Hina and you'll have a good handle on the story and how it follows. It has a zany group of females that all fall in love with one lovable goofball that enters their lives in strange ways. Unlike Love Hina, the main protagonist is not an incapable lout and does not waver in his resolve for the woman he ends up with. However, it also lacks in comedic value, since there is little to laugh at. Much like Love Hina, there are mistimed entrances and miscommunication abound, however every body plays nice and apologizes and simply blushes away. So if you want a less zany Harem series with more blushes than nose bleeds, Ai Yori Aoshi might be an interesting diversion.

Any way, so I read the last 3 volumes and when I got to the end, I wasn't pleased. I mean, it was a happy ending and everything worked out in the end, but I felt a little ripped off. Perhaps it's my patience with the genre getting shorter and shorter with every derivative show I watch, however, this time it was more to do with the manga proper. Somehow, it was even more predictable than the average Harem show. You KNOW who he's going to end up with in the first volume, so I suppose that sucked the enjoyment of the eventual happy ending.

Perhaps that's why I liked Ichigo 100% percent so much. While the show was in the same format as any old Harem series with the same type of annoying loser main character, you really didn't know who he was gonna end up with until literally the last volume. This was also one of the few things that was interesting about Shuffle.

Anyway, as my girlfriend is still working on cake tonight, I'll try to finish MGS and do a quick write up on it after playing it for the first time in ages, then onto MGS2!   read

9:28 PM on 05.04.2008

My GF cakes again, less Wii and more 'Wiener' version! (SFW, NVGR)

Hello Ladies and Gents, welcome to Cake corner, with ElfAngel7 and his lovely girlfriend.
This time, I bring to you the giant Hot Dog cake with mini burgers and fries all around!

The cake is a jelly roll cake with a marshmallow fondant around the hot dog proper, with a
dense butter cake acting as the buns, also covered in fondant. The jelly roll cake had
yellow icing in the center, acting as the 'cheesy' center of the hot dog ^^

The 'mini-burgers' around the burger are made from vanilla wafers (as the bun), red icing
(ketchup), and mint grasshopper cookies (the burger). Honey was placed on the top of the
'bun' and sesame seeds were placed on top to make them sesame seed buns! The fries
are large sugar cookies with tinted butter-cream icing acting as additional 'ketchup'.

The cake makers enjoying their double ended treat.

Finally, my girlfriend and I about to snarf down a real dog next to the cake one.

Oh yay, and I met Colette and Niero the other night at a Japanese restaurant. They were
awesome company and I hope to see you guys again sometime soon ^^   read

11:49 AM on 04.14.2008

Chessus Christ on a stick my GF is awesome (cake related)

as I'm under the stress of finals, this won't be a substantive post, however I'd like to post this
pic of a cake my girlfriend made for a recent party.

As my girlfriend and a friend of mine wish to create a business of cake making, they decided
to start practicing on my friends and the multitude of parties that we have. Considering that
most of my group are Ninty fans, the decision to create a Wii cake was made in short order.
Unfortunently, time was also in short order, as due to work and school, there was only 8 hours
to decorate the cake. However, I think that they did quite an amazing job, considering the
time restraints.

I'll post more pics when I get them from her camera, but as you can see, there is a system, a
wiimote and nunchuck, as well as a pile of games. The angle doesn't show it, but along with
the painted cover of No More Heros, the spines of several other games are painted on the left
side of the pile. I truly felt bad eating this cake, since it was a work of effort and love on her
and my friends part.

Edit: More pics! The last one is my girlfriend and my friend who worked on the cake about to leap into a freezing pool at 2 int he morning.   read

6:25 PM on 04.09.2008

Under the crush of games, or how the current release schedule of games will destroy my finances

Me dressed as Alex from Clockwork Orange on Halloween. NVGR, just a funny pic I
found on my computer. I may post more random stuff in my posts, if I remember to do so.

Anyway, to update on my last post, I'm past Magus in Chrono Trigger and in Zeal at the
moment. However, video game activities are put on hold until after the semester is
through, which means that for two weeks I'm FIU's bitch supreme. Well, at least I can
finish Apollo Justice and continue Crisis Core when no one is looking.

So I picked up Baroque for the Wii yesterday, despite the bad buzz that Nintendo Power
gave it. It's an Atlus game and since I could use a couple of games on the Wii anyway, I
preordered it along with Arcana Heart (damn Gamestop and their stupid delays!) and
Persona 3:FES.

As I was there, I remembered that Metal Gear Solid 4 is going to have a special edition,
much like any game of repute these days. I also remembered that Soulcalibur 4 is coming
out around the same time. This financial raping reminded me of how shittty the release
schedule of video games tends to be.

Normally, I complain of this problem in the fall, when every publisher decides that it would
be a great idea to release their games around the time that Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony
decide to unleash their massive titles. While this can sometimes work out just fine (Call of
Duty 4), this tends to lead to financial ruin and the loss of potentially good titles to the
bargin bin (Beyond Good and Evil).

The summer used to be a lull in the release schedule, when crap was mostly delivered
while an occasional gem washed up in my game shop (Persona 3 being a recent example).
Now, summer is getting a veritable ton of great releases with MGS 4 and SC4, along with
Ninja Gaiden 4 and several others that I don't remember off the top of my head.

With all these games getting released at the same time, how are gamers supposed to keep
up? Do they, or do they end up like me with a massive pile of shame that gets looked at
wistfully every week? I know that you don't have to get the game the second it comes out.
Waiting is indeed an option. Think of this though. Even if you do wait to pick it up, what's
to say that there won't be another grade A or B title that'll take your attention away from
the product you waited for. The way games are released now seems to only lead to
massive losses for most companies. I'm probably missing something in the equation, but it
seems like maddness to me.

A last note, somebody has probably already noted this, but what is it about the fourth titles
of series this year? CoD4, MGS4, SC4, Street Fighter 4, Devil May Cry4, Grand Theft Auto
4, Apollo Justice, Final Fantasy 4 DS. With the amount of quality in these titles, 4 should be
my new lucky number!   read

1:00 PM on 04.04.2008

I'm playing Chrono Trigger instead of my next gen games.

As a particularly devoted fan of Chrono Trigger and Earthbound, I make it a habit to replay each once a year, to remind me of why I love to play videogames. Just like a good book, I've learned what to expect from each game, the twists of their plots, the nuances of their fighting systems, the witty dialog of the NPC's. They may be over 10 years old, but I find that I'm still enthralled with them each time I make my yearly run through.

Last year I was unable to make my yearly play throughs due to a massive move from my old house to my current appt. In that time I got a Wii, a PS3, and an Intel Mac that allows me to play PC games. When I finally had the time to set up my SNES, I figured that this would be the last year I would be doing this, as I have quite the backlog of Wii/PS3/PS2 games.

Yet, I can't stop playing. From when I started up CT to where I'm at now (just reached the end of time), I haven't been able to think of any other game in my collection.

I could be playing:
-CoD4 (I've had the game since it launched and I'm only at lvl 34)
-Orange Box (Portal is done, but I got to get through the Half Lifes)
-Brawl (working on getting my Peach and Lucas skills up to par)
-Mario Galaxy (I'm at 110 Stars with Mario, need 10 more then replay with Luigi)
-No More Heros (i'm ranked 10th, about to start on my rank 9 match)
-Burnout Paradise (got it for my birthday, just barely scratched the surface)
-Assassin's Creed (it's fun, not as bad as everybody says it is, it's simple fun)
-Super Metroid on Virtual Console (this IS as good as everybody says, and more)
-Rock Band (this gets more play than the others, but not nearly enough)

This doesn't include my PS2 games (Persona 3, Ar Tonelico, Odin Sphere) DS games and my dubiously acquired PSP games. In the next few weeks, I'll be adding Baroque, Arcana Heart, and Persona 3: FES.

So I wonder to myself what is it about CT that makes me ignore all these other amazing games. I feel bad that I'm ignoring these other games (even more considering how much was spent on purchasing them), but once I started CT again I've had that gaming tunnel vision. Until I get through the best ending of CT, I can't focus on any other game.   read

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