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12:32 AM on 02.04.2011

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Why I Hope You Never Play This Game

I recently had the pleasure to finally play through Enslaved and the DLC (Pigsy Perfect 10). I can say, personally, that it one of the better games I have ever played in recent memory. Then word has been coming out that it couldn’t even break 500k copies while (shit) games like K&L 2 broke over 1 million. And you know what? This is a good thing.

Being a homeowner and taking a more active role physically (gym, running, etc) hasn’t given me a lot of time as in my youth to sit down and pour hours upon hours into video games. I enjoy my dose of franchise games like any other but I also try to hit up the indie and lesser known ‘hits’. In prelude to Enslaved, I remember not being intrigued as Heavenly Sword was a pleasure to look at but felt lacking. I remember seeing some screenshots and previews of Enslaved which left me uninterested but aware of its early October release.

As the reviews poured in, I was piqued by the amount of fun reviewers were having. GT quoting that it was equivalent to a book page turner with solid combat and characters that you actually care about. I was sold on the reviews but not at the price point. 60 dollars at the time was hard on my budget and decided to wait. It was no matter than a couple of weeks when the game on Amazon Gold Box for a measly 25 dollars. I picked it up without hesitation. Fast forward a couple of months until the end of January where I finally unraveled the shrink-wrap and began to play.

The reviews were right. I had sunk nearly 10 hours just short of a US work week to beat the game on hard and mop up some of the achievements for my gamer score. I bought the DLC shortly thereafter and plowed through that in a day. My roommate every now and then would come down and ask me what I was playing.

“Enslaved Odyssey to the West” I would say. “A really great game. You should play it when you have the chance.” “Yeah I might have to do that” said my roommate as he watched for a few minutes then went back upstairs to play World of Warcraft.

As I finished off the DLC, I sat for a few moments and reflected that I enjoyed the week of gaming I put forth into this title. I felt the game delivered on the reviews it received and that it tied up the game wonderfully without having to make it obvious that a sequel could be a couple years down the line.

That being said, would I actually want to see an Enslaved 2? My answer is no. Very rare does a game (especially that of a new IP release) come out that starts and ends conclusively and satisfyingly. I’m certain that Garland could have planned or thought of a sequel with the success of the game but sometimes I feel games that come, shine brightly and fade into good memories for those that play it.

I’m certain that if they game found success it would be skipping along the Bioshock 2 path. A game that pays homage to the first but never gets it completely right. Oh, and the pathetic multiplayer portion crammed onto the disc which (if done right of course) could be seen as appreciated but essentially throwaway.

I felt great to play Enslaved as it now remains as a personal favorite and that it will remain on my mental “Top Ten” current gen best games for as long as I give a fuck to keep track. And while you can pick up the game with DLC from Amazon and the Marketplace (separately) for a total of under 45 dollars (and that will probably go down as the 2011 year trots along) I don’t think we will see an influx of purchases anytime soon. It may be hipster of me to state such an opinion but I truly believe that it is the consumers fault for not branching out and giving games like this a try.

TL;DR : Enslaved is a great game that a majority of gamers will and have passed up. If Enslaved did sell well, a sequel could have come along and have a good chance of ruining a very rare great encapsulated new IP single player experience.   read

12:37 AM on 08.25.2009

I will concede : More Spirits; Less Sequels

I've realized something when playing Shadow Complex the past week or so is that this game brings to the table isn't anything ground breaking in any gameplay wise but something fresh in a genre we haven't seen in awhile. This game has been compared to Super Metroid and SotN and that is fine, great and I would agree with anyone who says that is the case. In a time where I have felt the urge to complain about the gaming industry and how it is no better than the movie industry in popping out sequels out of their ass to (try) and rake in triple A monies, I will accept that the industry can get away with spiritual successors when it comes to gaming.

I think Bioshock was one of the first (in recent memory) to really have the industry coin the term of being a spiritual successor of System Shock 2. I can only imagine that off in some gaming corner land, there were the shrieking cries of a System Shock 3 and god help us if they do make a SS3 but it was refreshing to have a FPS in the same "tone" of SS2 but have it be completely original subject tone that covers it enough to make it not seem like they just took SS2 and put it under water.

Personally, I find games like Serious Sam to be wonderful successors as well to the Doom series as well where its just wave after wave of monsters streaming out (which SSam does really well might I add) and I think I can add Titan Quest as one of those games that pass as a nice spirit successor of Diablo 2 as well. Games like Loki tried but couldn't really stand up as much as TQ did in its own way.

Although, this does not work in a way either. I'm looking at you Chrono Trigger/Cross + Blue Dragon!

It's a damn shame that when we look at what our big hitters are, we are looking at massive sequels. Let's just name a few.

Mass Effect 2
Assassins Creed 2
Left 4 Dead 2
Modern Warfare 2
Red Steel 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Starcraft 2
Mafia 2 (But I am looking forward to that one)
Crackdown 2
Guild Wars 2
Army of Two - 40th Day
Battlefield Bad Company 2
Dead Rising 2
Supreme Commander 2
No More Heroes 2
Lost Planet 2
Uncharted 2
---- Now on to trilogies and beyond----
Max Payne 3
Deus Ex 3
Fable 3
God of War 3
Postal 3
Yearly iterations of all sports games, wrestling games

And these are just in the next 12 months...

It isn't to say that we are completely void of actual original games. We have games like Rage, Brink, Borderlands, Shadow Complex that are out or will come out that actually look pretty fun to play. And while each one of those titles will probably bring in lots of money, I guess they will continue to milk that cow until it's all gone.

Right?   read

2:05 AM on 08.16.2009

Re: Rev Rant - Empowerment & Misc Tie-ups.

<b>Following in the footsteps of featured DToid writer <a href=>Reverend Anthony</a>, I will explore many of the nitpicky reasons as to why gaming as a entertainment medium is failing and what we need to see and accept for gaming to recover and be respectable again.</b>

First I'd like to clear some things up. I'd like to apologize for the multitude of errors in my first post. It was written in haste as I had a fit of insomnia. Not only for spelling and grammar errors but in my review for TMNT RS. I had noted that it sucked because it had no relation to the SNES version and I had thought that either due to rights or just plain lazyness that the whole technodrome level and bonus stages were omitted. Turns out it is a remake of the actual arcade game and not the SNES version. Since the SNES version was the only version I played, I had assumed that was what was being re-HD'd. Due to my lack of research, I did give it some bad remarks and ... they still remain. Even after finding out it is a remake, there is very little gameplay value in the game - even going after all achievements. I'd wait for it to drop to 500 MS for an actual purchase for those that are interested. But for 800 MS, it was not worth it.

With that out of the way, I'd like to comment on this video:

For those that want the cliff notes of this video, his viewpoint is that most modern action games put the player in a position of empowerment either right then and there or have them grow to the point where they are in a position to demolish everything in their path. While on the other hand, he is seeing a lack of dis empowered characters that could give the same amount of satisfaction as if the player were in a position of empowerment.

This is definitely a subject that I feel could dug further within the gaming dev community but I feel that this subject is more seen as a gaming "event" rather than a complete whole of a gaming. What I mean by that, is that the examples he give are just specific tidbits of gameplay that shine out of a heaping mess that is the rest of this action gaming "empowerment". Such examples are the ones he gives in the video, the beginning part of Half-Life 2 is a good example I can think of as well. But to actually have a full (lets say 8+ hour game) built on this would be too much of a trial and error game.

Looking at the example of Call of Cthulu, we see him at the first part of the video get to the point of locking some doors but having the townspeople break through the doors and kill him; having him to continue. While this first attempt was probably heart pounding and exhilarating, unless the building was randomly generated, it would seem that it would turn into a frustrating puzzle of "what door needs to be locked first before moving on". I can tell you that having run through the first part of Half-Life 2, having the combine solders follow me up on the roof shooting at me, squad cars pull in below me, lighting me up as a raced across the roof was a fantastic part of that game. But after that, its easily dismissible.

So it becomes whether or not these types of dis-empowerment can be duplicated for the game or just have that instance(s) be well developed as possible to provide that never forgettable experience that was stated by Anthony in the video. I think that the request he makes of seeing more of these characters developed is not unreasonable. But to have them be actual longer games would be very difficult, especially given that it will not be up to the triple A developers to give us such a title. The funny part being is that Mirrors Edge would be the only game that got us close to that point and it didn't work. Even being shot at and somewhat chased, I still felt like I had the upper hand with my speed. It doesn't help either that most of the police stood in place and shot you rather than actually give you a good chase either.

To end, I really hate games that level the enemies as you level up in any area (TES Oblivion I am looking at you). If there is a game where you work to the point to find all of the badass weaponry, armor and skills to wipe out the starting town you are in, make it somewhat do-able to do rather than having the level 1 wolves you fought 10+ hours ago to be near your level of power. I get great satisfaction to be able to use my hard work to potentially destroy a low level town. It's not a good method and there is no explanation as to why this is the case. Botched gameplay design in my opinion that could have been redone.

It is good that this empowerment subject was brought up because I never really looked at most action games in such a way. I feel we need more people like Anthony to bring up these subjects as they are good discussion material and will hopefully get some other devs listening and hopefully changing the games we play in the future - rather than hardware cycles and sequels.   read

12:53 AM on 08.10.2009

False Sense of Achievement

Following in the footsteps of featured DToid writer Reverand Anthony, I will explore many of the nitpicky reasons as to why gaming as a entertainment medium is failing and what we need to see and accept for gaming to recover and be respectible again.

Today I actually had the (mis)pleasure of buying the new TMNT - Reshelled game for the XBA. Within about a 2 hour period, I was able to achieve all but two of them. (Incoming micro review in 3.2.1...) When having it be the successor to one of my favorite SNES games, Ubisoft dropped the ball. While TMNT was not or is known for the story, Ubisoft managed to take whatever GOOD part(s) of the original and ripped it all out. No Rat King. No technodrome level. No pre-final shredder boss fight where you fling foot soldiers at his mechwarrior like thinger. While I can imagine that rights between Konami and Ubisoft probably played part in why these gaping holes are now present, it isn't why I started this entry.

I'd stated that out of the first two hours of the game, I got all but two of the achievements to get in the game. And unfortunately, I purchased the game well knowing of the fact a good majority of the achievements were easy to get. Yes, that's right. I, Ryan Schneider, am a Gamerscore whore. Ever since the addition of Gamerscore to the 360 (and implementation of the trophies well after the launch of the PS3), we as gamers look towards these milestones as a way to extend gameplay (especially in single player video forays), gain Gamerpoints to add to a seemingly useless final score that does nothing but to show off our gamer peni in points format.

I'll admit that they get us to try and explore more of the developers have added to the game. It gives us that satisfying "blooping" noise upon completion after spending multiple trial and error retrys to achieve that one missing goal. Lastly, there is a bit of pride that goes into being to show off our gamer achievements via our profiles.

And to that I what?

Gamerscores are nothing more than a marketing gimmick along the lines of MMO's that will have gamers flush endless hours of time to achieving points that do absolutely nothing. For those that are crying bullshit to my thesis, go to your profile and message me how many gamer points you have and how it really changed your life in any way. Did you obtain some sort of epiphany after obtaining the last skull in Halo 3 and that it changed your whole perspective on life as a whole? What are you going to do now after you get over 100,000xp points in Red Faction Guerrilla?

I'm sorry as well that it took M$ upwards to 5 years to give gamers the ability to actually have their achievements points amass to something that is somewhat used. You'd think that within the 5 year time period they'd give some sort of marketplace to spend these points that would access different content locked in the game, upcoming projects or privy to enter in contests and drawings used for games, consoles, codes for arcade titles and etc.

The problem is the system is currently abused. Much like the fucks that poke through movies to find that a certain glass is full in one scene and not in the other - we scour the internet to see how we can quickly obtain a hard achievement by bending the games code to manipulate in a way to obtain these points. I'll give credit to those that spend the time to either figure out the puzzle or invest the time to obtaining something and there will always people that don't have the time or patience to figure it out. But I'd like to think that one day, there would be something to make something like gamer points be some sort of "currency" that would be cool additional part of games we will get in the future.

The unfortunate part of this was that this is where the evolution of gaming headed too. Giving a little extra game play time to a game that we would normally shelf of trade in after a play through. The problem is - why would we do that? I keep movies and books to watch and read over and over again. But I don't get that with games. I have more of a tendency to trade in games for newer ones rather than trade in movies or music for newer ones. I'd like to feel that I can keep a game where I could pop in and enjoy like a book or movie. I'm not talking multiplayer here either. I unfortunately can't think of a game in the past three years where I can get in and play it over and over again in being a great single player experience. Maybe Portal but the last game I can only think of Half Life 2 having that movie/book like quality to it.

In the end, I'm giving Gamerscores/Trophies a bad rap when in essence, its a good idea. There are good achievements out there that do enhance the experience of the game and and give the player a sense of accomplishment for doing something they wouldn't do. However when achievements act like grinds to get them (win X amount of MP matches or obtain X amount of experience), there is absolutely no point to having them at all. Unless we either focus these achievements in being something that would make sense to explore all of the content or really expand our mind on how we look on a game, we will continue to devolve this medium into a unrecoverable mess that we cannot save.   read

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