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10:48 AM on 12.09.2012

The Phantom Pain is probably not Metal Gear Solid 5

I’m sure that you’ve all had a chance to watch the trailer for the recently announced “The Phantom Pain,” and I’m also sure that you’ve already jumped to the conclusion that it’s 100% definitely a trailer for Metal Gear Solid 5. It seems I’m the only person who disagrees with this conclusion. “The Phantom Pain” could be almost anything else, and it’s certainly a Kojima game, but it’s not Metal Gear Solid 5.

First of all, Kojima stated during a recent interview with EGM that he wants to work on original properties and doesn’t want to be known as the “Metal Gear guy.” Although it’s sometimes difficult to tell which answers are genuine or false in his interviews, this certainly falls in line with his desire to abandon the MGS series around the time of MGS4. Why then, would he announce MG Rising, announce Ground Zeroes and then announce ANOTHER MGS game before Rising has even been released? It just makes so little sense to have so much Metal Gear on people’s minds when he wants to prove himself away from the franchise.

Why then, would he pack the trailer for “The Phantom Pain” with so many obvious references to MGS? Well, let’s go back to the pre-release hype for MGS2. Every trailer for that game featured Solid Snake in dark, moody environments being cool. Remember what MGS2 was actually like? Yeah. Those trailers proved one thing about Kojima: He knows the expectations of his fans better than they do. He knows exactly what clues to give and how to build up certain expectations in people’s minds. In the same way that just showing Snake in the MGS2 trailers made people think that that game would be all about Snake, showing a man with a facial scar and a guy who looks a bit like Volgin has made people jump straight to MGS5. If this is old fashioned Koijma manipulation, it’s worked, to the point where even suggesting that it might not be MGS will earn you mucho abuse on the Internet. To me, the clues feel too obvious. I’d say they’re red herrings, designed to build up hype for his new game and to either pleasantly surprise people or violently undercut their expectations, depending on what kind of mood Kojima’s in. This isn’t official, obviously, and I’m assuming that’s he regained some of the creative freedom he lost on MGS3 and 4, but if he has then it’s nice to see him up to his old tricks and toying with people’s minds again.

So if it’s not MGS then what is it? Well, it could be any number of things. There’s been very little information given on the subject of the mysterious “Project Ogre,” in that we only have a name so far, so it could very easily be that. Kojima also recently expressed interest in creating a Silent Hill game, and given the surreal and supernatural vibe of TPP’s trailer, this is also a possibility. There’s every chance that it could just be a brand new IP, which is a much more exciting prospect to me than the announcement of a new Metal Gear game, given that we already have 2 on the way. Kojima has said for years that he wants to work on new properties, and finally seeing him do so would be fantastic.

If anything, this trailer and the reaction it’s garnered is a very positive sign that people are starting to look into the small details and question the things that they’re seeing. After seeing people ignore the themes of MGS2 and the overwhelming signs of Kojima’s hatred of MGS4 in the pre-release hype and the game itself, it’s nice to see people noticing the tiniest details of the trailer and attempting to work out the meanings behind them.

Of course this is all just speculation, as we’ve seen that Kojima’s trailers can be entirely misleading. All I’m saying is that, assuming this is the playful Kojima of old, there’s almost certainly more to this whole thing than is immediately apparent. In the words of TPP, “Open your eyes, already!”   read

12:23 AM on 11.26.2012

What I'd Like To See in Spec Ops: The Line 2

Warning: Contains spoilers for Spec Ops: The Line.

After finishing Spec Ops: The Line mere moments ago, it’s something of an understatement to say I’m confused. I mean, what was with all of the enemies and scenery turning into fire? We were in the desert, idiots! I know it’s hot and stuff but turning everything into fire was a bit much! And how did that guy at the end speak to me if he’s already dead? Dead people don’t speak, you silly fools! Why didn’t all of those soldiers start attacking you when you entered the last building? This is all so illogical! I’ve heard people say that it’s “symbolism” and it all has “subtext” and “metanarrative” and blahblahblah RUBBISH! I don’t play my games to think about stuff! Everyone knows that videogames have absolutely no depth to them whatsoever and that everything needs to be explained in scientific, logical terms. But they’re still art, somehow.

We just need to look at the Metal Gear Solid series to see a fantastic example of this. I mean, all of the “mysteries” and “themes” and “ambiguities” in Metal Gear Solid 2 were terrible, and you know they were. What does this silly Japanese man expect me to do, turn on my brain and start thinking for myself!? Fat chance! I want EVERYTHING explained to me, in simple, short words so I don’t get too confused. It doesn’t matter how silly the explanations are, or how blatantly the sequel retcons the hell out of the previous titles, just don’t you dare make me have to think! That’s why Metal Gear Solid 4 was such a masterpiece. It took away all of that “subjective thinking” and finally just explained everything! With this in mind, here is my proposition for the sequel to Spec Ops: The Line.

First of all, it needs to be clear this this game, and the previous game, are canonised as reality. It doesn’t matter that the game itself and the creator make it clear that what you saw wasn’t reality; the sequel has to be, no matter how silly it makes the previous game look in hindsight. Right, obviously we need our main cast from the previous games. Yes, we did see Lugo die but he needs to come back so let’s say his body was recovered by a science company and fitted with nanomachines that keep him alive. It’s unclear exactly what happened to Adams so we’ll put in a 4 hour cutscene towards the start of the game explaining exactly what happened to him after Walker entered the tower. Let’s say he escaped the battlefield, went to Eastern Europe and became a ninja, for some reason. That works, right? I mean, it’s completely out of character for him but ninjas are cool and if you don’t think so then you might be gay. Sorry about that.

Now, you might have thought that Konrad was imaginary and just a way for Walker to rationalise his own guilt but wrong! He was a real person, definitely. He did die, as we will explain with an extensive flashback cutscene, but he was revived with nanomachines and had his body parts replaced with those of various wild animals, and the body we see at the end was just a joke put in by the developers, because all serious developers use the endings of their very serious videogames to tell quirky little jokes. Also, anything that didn’t make sense in the previous game was because of nanomachines. All of it.

The main plot of the sequel will revolve around Konrad as the main villain. He’ll take Walker and his newly revived squadmates on a worldwide quest to stop the Tapriots, an AI system that maintains constant control over the wars of the world and makes sure that bad things happen in them and also has the faces of the main characters engraved onto the side of it because that’s definitely not a stupid idea. Over the course of the game, Walker will become increasingly more jubilant as he mows his way through crowds of innocent civilians, Adams will engage in extremely complex dance battles with Konrad’s new sidekick The Radioman from the first game, who was revived with nanomachines, while intermittently quoting Linkin Park lyrics and Lugo will look after the child that they somehow acquired and eat her terrible food because that’s a really exciting thing to happen in an action videogame. The story will end with Konrad and Walker having a big sweaty punch up on the top of the Tapriots main AI hub that will eventually break down to both of them pawing at each other like pregnant cats, because that makes them look cool probably, before cutting away to Walker, Lugo and Adams having a big happy party to celebrate saving the world. I think that’s a fitting ending to such a series.

Of course, it’s not enough to just wish for such a fantastic sequel, we have to make it happen! All of you, take to the forums and demand brilliant answers, such as these. If you get a chance to interview the developers, speak of nothing other than wanting answers in a sequel! Send death threats to the developer to make them explain everything. If you were a TRUE Spec Ops fan then you’d have already sent your death threats. I’ve sent 4 already. They’re all just “Stop making me think and explain everything or I stab you dead!” written 100 times in my own feces. Whatever you’re doing, stop it now and start writing out your death threats! A real fan wouldn’t want to think about the game or play it a second time to understand the story, or consider that the developer may not want to make a sequel and that any answers he gives under duress will be stupid and pulled out of his arse. No, a true fan would demand answers! I’m a true fan, so I deserve answers. Answers, now!

I’m hoping that, after reading this, you’ll see what a marvellous game Spec Ops: The Line 2 would be, and I’m hoping you’ll all join me in my overly entitled, dickheaded quest to get it made. Thank you.   read

9:36 AM on 11.04.2012

Metal Gear Solid 2's Raiden is the Greatest Videogame Protagonist of All Time

When we think of the great videogame protagonists, the same names are mentioned time and time again. Solid Snake, Link, Mario, Gordon Freeman. Every. Bloody. Time. Now, while these characters do have their merits to varying degrees, I think it’s about time that I show some acknowledgement to the true King of Protagonists: Metal Gear Solid 2’s Raiden. Read on for a serious and extensive list of reasons why this underrated gem of a character deserves your love.

He Has Long Hair

Long hair is the best kind of hair. I mean, just look at all of the great men in history with luscious flowing locks: Liquid Snake, Gandalf, Russell Brand, James from Pokemon. All awesome, and the strong correlation between awesomeness and hair length cannot be overlooked. Following in this grand tradition is Raiden, with his long, well cut masculine do. Granted, his hair might not be the longest in videogame history, but it is the blondest, and using good ol’ Nazi Logic, the blonder your hair is, the better you are. The only other character in videogame history who can even come close to matching Raiden’s level of pure blondeness is Dante from Devil May Cry, but since Ninja Theory‘s filthy Godless reboot has removed all traces of past Devil May Cry games from our collective memory, Raiden stands as the blonde king of videogame land. It baffles me how anyone can prefer Solid Snake in the face of such reasoning. Snake has a brunette mullet, a hairstyle associated exclusively with 3rd tier 80’s synthpop acts and paedophiles, retroactively turning Snake and anyone who defends him into a keyboard playing kiddie-fiddler by association. I can’t even look at you people, anymore!

No words. Just judgement.

Lack of Genitals

Videogame history is packed to the brim with burly, masculine men. Asura, Nathan Drake, those repressed homosexuals from Gears of War, even MGS’s own Solid Snake are indeed powerful and effective warriors but there will always be one important factor holding them down: The presence of male genitalia. Their throbbing manly phalluses may indeed be impressive to the ladies/other men, but on the battlefield they do nothing but slow you down and chafe you something rotten, universally hampering combat skills regardless of previous experience and training. Raiden suffers no such issues; he’s free to kick as much or as little ass as he may choose without fear of unwanted soreness. It’s the reason he’s actually the only soldier in videogame history capable of performing that awesome cartwheel he does instead of a pansy little combat roll.

Have you tried kicking this much ass with working privates? I have, and it cannot be done.

Raiden’s Ken doll physique is an almost invaluable tool on the battlefield, and a massive contributing factor in making him just plain superior to everyone else.

He’s Straight

Raiden has a smoking hot girlfriend who he acquired all on his own without any interference from any allegorical society-controlling AI authorities and whom he impregnated. Snake spends the majority of his life with a slightly camp man in glasses, watching Brokeback Mountain and listening to Westlife and giving each other massages. Those are the facts we’re dealing with. Raiden is a virile ladies’ man and Snake is clearly a homosexual, and since being straight makes you a good person regardless of other qualities (Dane Cook, Mitt Romney) and being gay makes you evil and horrible (Rob Halford, Stephen Fry) Raiden must be better than Snake. You just can’t argue with that.

This means, “You will not walk for the next 4 days!” in Gay Sign Language.

He Accepts His Insults Like a Champ

A noticeable trend in Metal Gear Solid 2 is the fact that practically every character in the game insults Raiden at some point. All of the villains, women and superiors undermine him at some point. Fortune calls him “completely useless,” Snake refers to him as a “VR kid,” and the President even questions his gender, of all things!

It's for you to decide. It's up to you.

Now, some people would have you believe that this a conscious design choice, chosen to undermine the protagonist, and by extension the player, to make the experience less pleasurable in order to reinforce Kojima’s Post-Modern message that we should question what we’re seeing, i.e. A videogame that insults you. Well, these people are clearly wrong and most certainly very silly, as this is just a simple way of showing what a total and utter lad Raiden is. He can handle a bit of banter here and there, like all good lads. Besides, he probably knows that, despite being amazing, he’s not completely flawless, and being taken down a peg or two now and then is helpful to everyone, as Raiden’s massive independently-thinking brain definitely understands. Most protagonists would “fight back” or “argue” when faced with criticism. Raiden takes it like a bro, and that deserves respect.

All aboard The Banter Bus, guys! First stop: Dave!

He’s Helpful and Considerate

Just think of all of the nice things that Raiden does throughout Metal Gear Solid 2. He helped the Patriots to complete the S3 Plan, even after discovering they’d used him all along. He helped lead Emma Emmerich to her death so Otacon could get back to some hot and sexy semi-incest without stupid annoying bitches screaming for help and killing his vibe. He carried on defusing bombs even after being told they were all in the wrong place, knowing full well that it was just a test of his free-will and ability to think for himself by the Patriots, just to help an old man in crisis.

What a gent!

Snake was too busy trying to achieve HIS objectives and save HIS boyfriend’s sister to help anyone else. Not only is he a gay paedophile, but he’s also selfish. That’s probably the worst kind of gay paedophile there is.

He Isn’t a Ninja

Does anyone even like ninjas anymore? I mean, they were OK for a bit but recently I asked like 4 people if they liked ninjas and all of them told me to leave the premises, proving just how offended they were by even the mere mention of ninjas and not because I was a bit naked at the time. I mean, there must be a reason why there are no more Tenchu and Onimusha games on the horizon. There must be a reason why Ninja Gaiden 3 completely tanked.

Pictured: A masterpiece, if not for the ninjas!

There must be a reason why 100% of gamers I’ve spoken to while fully clothed are planning to buy DmC: Devil May Cry instead of Revengeance. That reason must be that ninjas now suck, unconditionally, meaning that MGS2’s Raiden must be better than the new pussy cyborg ninja Raiden. Fact.

He’s Designed To Be As Awesome As Possible.

Not many people understand that many of Solid Snake’s numerous shortcomings were actually included on purpose. See, Metal Gear Solid 2 is a Post-Modern story. Sorry to get all academic on you Snake-loving thickies but a common trope of Post-Modern storytelling is to test the audience’s tolerance for a work by purposefully including unpleasant or disruptive elements, in order to force them to question the work. In this light, we can clearly see why such horrendous design choices were made for Snake. Hideo Kojima is just too talented a writer to simply fail at making a cool character, there HAD to be some deeper reasons behind his choices.

Deep and sexually attractive reasons.

I mean, the horrendous mullet, the retarded croaky voice, the preachy anti-terrorist dialogue. All of this was designed to make us resent Snake and wonder if a world with such an awful character in it could even be real. Raiden, on the other hand, was specifically designed to be as awesome as possible, to make the player feel truly thankful that they’re spending the majority of the game playing as him. The Post-Modern elements are maintained, of course, by the overhanging threat that you may have to play as Snake again at some point, especially after the joke that Kojima pulled at the start of the game where he makes you play as the idealistic old arsehole for a bit, ruining any of the fantastic enjoyment to be found in Raiden’s story. See, not only is Snake a bad character, he ruins other, better characters by simple association. You actually have to put conscious effort in to suck that much. The fact that Raiden is still amazing despite the presence of Snake should be all the proof you need that he’s the greatest protagonist of all time.

I love Raiden. Kojima loves Raiden. And hopefully, after reading all of this EVIDENCE, you love Raiden too.


10:20 AM on 10.31.2012

"Apple Logic" Review - Call of Duty: Black Ops II

It seems that every time a new Apple product is announced and information about the product is made public, almost immediately there is an avalanche of judgements and set-in-stone opinions on the device. For a while it puzzled me how people could make such snap judgements about products that they've never used or held in their hands or that might not even exist yet, but then it hit me. Numbers. Announcements for Apple products often contain a list of specifications, and judgements are made on whether or not the device will be better than previous devices based on this alone.

This is a fantastic way to review products, as it allows for an absolute minimum of subjectivity and individual thought, giving fans the elusive “objective reviews” that they seem to desperately crave, as well as making you look really clever for being able to review a product before it’s released/it exists. With this in mind, I've decided to try out this wonderful theory in the realm of videogames. Read on for my review of Call of Duty: Black Ops II! It doesn't matter that I don’t own the game and have never played it and that it hasn't been released yet. I have numbers, and that’s all that really matters.

First of all I’d like to thank for supplying me with a fantastic list of numbers on which to base my opinion. Since comparing a product to its predecessor is definitely the only way to decide if it’s good or not, I’ll be looking at the original Call of Duty: Black Ops in comparison to its sequel, and I’ll be focusing on the recommended settings for the PC version.

In terms of CPU and GPU requirements, it can be seen that Black Ops 2 is almost universally superior, requiring a Core 2 Duo E8500 3.16GHz processor, as opposed to the frankly pathetic E6500 2.93GHz required by the original Black Ops. See that, 2000 extra Es of superiority! The most startling statistic that proves how much of a step forward Black Ops II is for the Call of Duty series is that, in terms of AMD GPU, the original required a Radcom HD 4850, where Black Ops II requires a Radcom HD 4850x2, making it exactly twice as good as its predecessor, an achievement for which developer Treyarch is worthy of massive praise.

Other improvements that Black Ops II makes over the original include a 1GB increase in RAM requirement, a massive 2 point increase in DirectX requirement and impressive doubling in the version of Windows 7 needed to run the game. One disappointing aspect of Black Ops II is that it only requires 10GB of hard drive space, failing to live up to the admittedly extremely high standard of 12GB set by Black Ops, proving that, while a sequel can mostly improve and build upon its predecessor, sometimes the original will just be better and we’ll all just have to accept that.

Overall, a very strong sequel. Given that Black Ops II improves in 7 out of 8 areas of technical specifications in comparison to the first Black Ops, the use of maths tells me that it is 87.5% better than the original. Rounded up, this leads me to a score of 9/10. Very impressive! If you only buy one Call of Duty game, this one has the highest numbers and is therefore most certainly the best. Recommended!   read

11:13 AM on 10.29.2012

How Capcom Could Apologise For Resident Evil 6

I think it’s fair to say that, after spending my weekend playing Resident Evil 6, it’s probably not going into my Top 10 anytime soon. A complete lack of focus, a wealth of intrusive quicktime events and a desperate, embarrassing desire to appeal to absolutely at once make it an extremely underwhelming game, to say the least. Normally I’d just let a bad game go, remember to never buy another game in the series again and move on with my life. However, seeing as the Resident Evil series has been so important to me for more than half my life, I’d like to give Capcom a chance to redeem themselves. As such, I've drawn up a list of 5 ideas that, should Capcom choose to implement even one of them, would gain back my once overpowering, sexual love.

1. Remake Resident Evil 2

I think it’d be accurate to say that, besides 4, the most popular Resident Evil game of the last 10 years among fans has been the remake of the original Resident Evil on the Gamecube, and it’s easy to see why. Stunning in terms of graphics, design and gameplay, it altered just enough to make it feel new and fresh while maintaining everything that fans loved about the original. To this day, it stands alongside Silent Hill 2 as one of the greatest achievements of survival horror, masterfully creating the sense of isolation, helplessness and fear so vital to the genre. Better yet, it proved that there was still a market for old-school survival horror, provided it was done well. Fans have been clamoring for years for Resident Evil 2, perhaps the most well loved of the original pre-4 series, to receive a similar treatment. It certainly makes sense, the grand police station and vast underground labs would look stunning with the HD graphics of today, and the wider scope of RE2’s settings would allow great potential for additional areas. Remakes of 3 and Code: Veronica would also be nice, despite the clunky controls lending themselves poorly to the faster pace of the former and the lack of fan-worship towards the latter, but 2 is the one that everyone wants to see, and I’m sure most old school fans would be willing to look past 6’s failings if a high-quality remake of Resident Evil 2 were to come into development.

2. Make an Over the Top Action Game Featuring Alice

One of my biggest problems with Resident Evil 6, and 4 and 5 to a much lesser extent, is that while it does take the gameplay in a far more action-oriented direction, it never quite goes all the way with it. The chase sequences and gunfights are mixed with clunky controls and limited ammunition supplies, creating a wishy-washy mixture of modern shooting and survival horror that pleases fans of neither. My advice: If you want to make an action game, just go for it. Make a big, over the top, popcorn-shoveling, Budweiser-pounding action game. Seeing as most of the characters in the RE canon are already known as ground and pound shooter types, the most obvious choice of protagonist for a game of this nature is Alice from the movies. She’s already fully characterised as an athletic, super-powered murder machine, and she’s probably one of the most interesting characters in the series in its current state. I mean, there’s no way another game about the current gutted, soulless version of Leon or the patriotic space marine version of Chris could be anywhere near as interesting.

Anyone who finds this more interesting than a sexy lady murdering things needs to sort their life out.

It could work as cross-promotion, too. Capcom sees the movies as tools to promote the games but surely a truly entertaining game about Alice could rekindle some interest in the movies, as well? Basically just make Devil May Cry or MGR: Revengeance with zombies and everyone would forget Resident Evil 6 in a second, guaranteed.

3. Make a Genuinely Innovative Canon Resident Evil Game

Capcom seems to have gotten the wrong idea about the success of Resident Evil 4. 99% of its fans didn't like it specifically because it had a stronger focus on action. People liked it because it was a wholly original and interesting game. I mean, at every turn there were innovative ideas; unique boss fights, vibrant new settings and quicktime events that were actually tense and exciting. This is exactly the sort of thing that they’ll need to start doing again in order to make a good Resident Evil game. Leon’s campaign in Resident Evil 6 plays like a watered down Greatest Hits collection of moments from past Resident Evil games: The zombie filled streets from RE2, the invincible stalker from RE3, the annoying sidekicks from Code Veronica, the laser hallway from RE4. This feeling was nowhere to be found in Resident Evil 4, everything felt fresh and exciting, a feeling that 6 should have invoked and one that they’ll have to invoke again to hang on to their fans. An optional aspect of this idea would be to convince Shinji Mikami to return to the series. After seeing the creative well dry up somewhat in Resident Evil 5, it can be reasonably assumed that Mikami was responsible for the vast originality of RE4 and his return could bring some life back to the series.

Life and lots and lots of sexiness.

4. Make a Game with Absolutely No Quicktime Events.

I’m not sure what’s been happening at Capcom for the past few years but somewhere within the bowels of that wretched company, the idea that quicktime events are universally fun seems to have festered and spread like a nasty strain of diarrhoea. Just look at the last 3 Resident Evil games, Dead Rising, Dragon’s Dogma and the king of the cinematic stick-wagglers Asura's Wrath.

Pictured: The absolute antithesis of epic.

Outside of a few good uses in Resident Evil 4, QTEs are perhaps the most uninteresting trend in modern gaming, a violent plague that eradicates genuine pacing, tension, atmosphere in gameplay by just allowing developers to show a cutscene and pretend it’s a gameplay section. Just once, I’d love to see a Capcom game that uses traditional methods of creating exciting situations instead of just making us press in a code to watch fun happen. Just one game? Surely that can’t be too much to ask? One game that’s actually a good game instead of just a series of passwords?

5. They Could Physically Apologise

Seriously, just send everyone who bought Resident Evil 6 a note with a sincere heartfelt apology, an adorable little teddy bear, a box of cupcakes, detailed high definition artwork of Jill Valentine and Claire Redfield strumming each other and an enchanted binding contract guaranteeing that the next Resident Evil game will be more enjoyable than having your eyeballs wrenched out with a corkscrew. I'm sure even then they'd force me to do a quicktime event to open the box and there'd be an explosion involved somehow.   read

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