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6:46 PM on 07.17.2015

Day/Night gaming, How does the time of day affect your gaming habits?

This is something i've recognized for a while now. My tastes in videogames depend on what time of day it is. As someone who seems to get plenty of time to game (being semi-unemployed and all), I find myself playing differrent games at differrent times of the day. Mornings are always the worst part of the day for me. You get up, your eyes are full of grit, you feel unmotivated, still tired and just want to grab yourself a cuppa and hop into something easy. Well first of all I search my Youtube sub box, then the C blogs along with every single responce/comment I can find until I'm ready to start getting into some action.

Time for an early morning ride into the sunset...

Now what would I do for daytime gaming? Well it all depends on what i'm feeling like. At the moment I've been playing some Mount And Blade Warband (Phantasy Calradia Mod) and it's a really great game to jump into as you get absorbed into it fast and there are so many things going on that you never know what's going to happen next. After several hours of warring with enemy factions, killing bandits, doing quests and odd jobs, I start to feel motivated for something else so I leave and go play something else.

Other games I tend to play are Space Engineers, though this depends on whether or not friends are on so this is usually left until early afternoons, I find building games to be great daytime romps as they take a lot of time to do (and you wouldn't have time for it at night) and you constantly feel that you're moving forward little by little in your own little world, enjoying it all the while. It seems that to me, the best daytime games are sandbox games where I can just do whatever the hell I want, particularly multiplayer games.

I enjoy making fun of other people's creations

Additionally there's Town Of Salem, the perfect coffee break game (although I drink tea instead because I'm british) as you're not doing much in terms of controlling anything, instead you're talking your way out of situations and essentially playing a game VIA communication. It's amazing how such a simple game can be so addictive and it is, though to be honest there are a few people who suck the fun out of it. This brings me back to the days of Warcraft 3 Mafia, the same game but without that stupid report button. Essentially you could call yourself dickslap and troll everyone in game for the ultimate satisfaction, can't do that in Town Of Salem or you'd get reported.

Games like Town Of Salem are not designed for the sensitive folk and honestly there shouldn't be a report function. This is why Warcraft 3 Mafia will always be the better game because as we all know, Warcraft 3 Battle.net is completely lawless, what's done in Warcraft 3 Battle.net, stays in Warcraft 3 Battle.net and it should stay that way. Then again I can't help but find myself playing on it way too often. It's become a guilty pleasure of mine indulging in the holstility and the stupidity that Battle.net has to offer. I get that fuzzy feeling whenever i hear people using the most offencive profanity in the most nonsensical way possible. I love listening to people try and act gangsta whilst I sip tea and destroy someones base.

That aside, lets talk about late aftermoons. This is usually where I start with my backlog, usually because i'm not motivated enough in the mornings. Currently i'm playing through Tales Of Phantasia on emulator (because i'm using the de-jap translation as I can't understand a single word of Japanese). Depending on what game I fell like playing at the time, I will play it but i do like to keep some kind of structure to it. Sometimes I just don't feel like playing a backlogged game and go and do something else, sometimes I'll play it for about 2 minutes and give up. RPG's tend to be these games. Whilst I enjoy them a lot, I usually find myself playing them in short bursts and to be honest I like it that way. Even Grandia 2, a game which i grew somewhat addicted to, I had to break it up into sections because i wanted to savor the moment. 

Other games are just tedious/repetitive either because they haven't aged well, i'm not really feeling up to it or they're just boring and tedious. Sometimes I stop playing certain games because they frustrate the hell out of me. For example I stopped playing my second playthrough of Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition just because it got annoying to play and because I'm really bad at Devil May Cry. Devil May Cry 4 especially which I find to be the most frustrating game in the series period. The same thing happened with Zone Of The Enders 1 and 2 as well, I wasn't enjoying them because I kept getting frustrated, despite that, in my review I tried to remain composed and gave it a very generous score considering the amount of hell it threw at me. Sometimes games can be very hard to review but I assure you that I never let my personal experiences get the best of me when I review but that doesn't mean that I can't share my personal frustrations as I believe they're important too.

So after playing through a late afternoon RPG, I get to night time, this is easily the best time for gaming. The time where you can easily get immersed into a gaming experience is at night. There's nothing but you, your TV and some old school games. Not all the games I play at night are old school, that's just one example. Another example is playing those steam games that I still haven't played much of just for the hell of it as I find I have way more fun playing them at night than I do in the day. At nigth I feel motivated... but at the same time I don't have long before I need to sleep so I try to play something which doesn't require too much time investment but at the same time can give me some enjoyment.

This is where I find old school games shine. You don't care whether a game is current gen or not at night, you don't even care if the game is outdated or if there's a replacement. You just want some good old school fun, maybe some nostalgia. How about some Kirby? Or maybe Hyperzone... or F-zero... or Starfox. Maybe I want to play some crappy PS2 game which is on my "I stopped playing because X" pile. I don't know why but sometimes even the simplist of games can be fun at night. Sometimes games which I don't personally care much about can be really fun at night. Night time gaming can be summed up as "no shits given". God I love gaming at night. Playing Starfox on the SNES is like going out clubbing... gamer style, heck the music even has that old 70's night club vibe. I find a lot of SNES games share this too.

Now before I ramble on too much, do you find yourself playing differrent games depending on the time of day? Do you sometimes find it a struggle to play certain games at some points? What game is currently taking up most of your time? Leave your responce below!

Lazy ass blog I know but I don't like being inactive for too long. Plus it's kinda late, might play something old school/indie. I'm sorry to the guy below me who put so much work into his/her blog only to be pushed down my mine.

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2:31 PM on 07.04.2015

Rambles: Game Design - The Dream And The Reality

Please note that a lot of information here is theoratical and unconfirmed, if I say something that is wrong I apologise, this is not an article to inform, moreso an article to express my views.

So this kinda came up in my mind a while back after listening to Jim Sterling's interview with The Slaughtering Grounds developer, Digital Homicide and I think it might be a good idea to put this into writing so that I could keep these thoughts as a record. So the topic is Game Development - The Dream and The Reality. I want to ask everyone here a question. Have you ever had dreams of becoming a game developer? I'm positive that 90% of you have and of course you have. Who wouldn't want to develop their dream game.

Now after reading Manchild's Let's Make a Game blog, it brought a lot of things to mind and I can completely relate to a lot of what he said. As a gamer who has experienced so many wonderful games, I've aways craved that sense of creativity which flourishes in most games. It's kind of inspirational as to how great some games are and it's hard to not think to yourself "could I do this? The short answer? Sort of but I'll get to that later. First lets talk about my experience.

Now I've always been creative in nature. I just love creating my own stuff, I crave it but like Manchild, I've always created in theory. That being said, I remember as a child having a box full of written designs from box art to fully blown world maps. Of course they're just scribbles and looking back at them now, they look tacky (obviously). These days we have games such as Minecraft which are creative sandboxes, thank god for games like this. Whilst I never played much of Minecraft, I have played Space Engineers and I have also used Halo's Forge. Those have been my two favourite sandboxes to date. I don't know whether it's the sci-fi appeal or the fact that it already had a ton of assets (Halo at least). I liked to build space ships in both games... somehow. I Don't know why but I just did. Space Engineers perfected this in a way as it allowed be to build ships that could actually function as ships as opposed to Halo where they were nothing more than static objects.

Now my first ever game was Pokemon Yellow, as you probably already know by now. Now I've said it before, if I was to design any game, it would be a Pokemon game. However, a point I'm going to come to later will change that statement considerably and I will come back to it. In any case, I had dreams of making my own Pokemon game in my early years (who didn't?) and to be honest, if the certain circumstances did come to be (which would never happen now), I would have probably stuck with it. Of course, realistically speaking, that dream was impossible and there are many factors to it. I will tell you right now that if you dream of making a Pokemon game (that isn't a mod) then you have a 2% chance of achieving that dream for many reasons. Again I'll get to this later.

So I had drawn a map of the world in which my Pokemon game was set, I've always loved making world maps for some reason, this leads me to my RPGmaker days where I just drew world maps for fun and that was after drawing them on paper, in fact, part of the map I did for the first game I made using RPGmaker VX was actually designed based on the drawing. Looking at it now, I think that I mistook the scale, heck I mistook the scale in both games. Before I move on, lets talk about RPGmaker VX, my god is that software a lot of fun. You actually felt that you could make whatever you desired and it made it possible to create whatever you want... within certain limits. As a gamer, I wasn't a programmer, an artist (can't draw to save my life) nor was I anything. I was just a guy with a vision and RPGmaker VX helped me achieve that vision.

This image is not my property, nor does it involve any of my work

Now what was the first game I made all about? Looking back on it, the game was actually quite unoriginal. I had obviously played Final Fantasy at the time so it was highly inspired from that game (it even had cameo appearances for teh lulz). In fact the game can be summed up as this: Tales Of Phantasia: Fucked Up Edition, ironically I had never played Tales Of Phantasia at the time but looking back, I somehow managed to make my game so ridiculously similar that I might as well have given it that name but it was actually called "Legend Of The Spirits" (it had obviously contracted the "legend of" curse which continues to plague many games to this day but on an epic scale).

Now Legend Of The Spirits is actually a game I have used a lot when comparing bad games because it is a bad game. In fact I often compare it to DOTA as being a superior game, it's an inside joke of mine but it's true (at least to me). Oh ok fine, the Warcraft 3 world editor is more complicated and I couldn't design triggers to save my life (even though it's basically the same thing as RPGmaker VX but just way more complex), however just by looking at both games, even though I probably had an easier time making Legend Of The Spirits due to the overly simplified engine, it still managed be a superior game to DOTA... somehow and no I'm not blowing my own trumpet by any means, Legend Of the Spirits is like if Big Rigs Over The Road Racing and Tales Of Phantasia had a child born with a defect.

But of course, there's a second game. In this game I had set out to do something many other RPG's didn't. Multiple perspectives. Unfortunately I was unable to retain the character's levels each time they switched but I did manage to engineer a clunky, yet functional character swapping system but not just that, I also changed character parties and split the game's story into multiple scenario's where you swapped between different parties at certain intervals in the story, kind of like a "meanwhile with X party" *swaps to party X who is stranded in the middle of a desert* (yes that is an actual scene from the game). I'm honestly surprised more RPG's don't follow this formula. It would have been cool if in Star Ocean, where the characters are split up in the time gate, you could have experienced Ronyx and Milly's side instead of just Roddick and Illia's side, so you could witness both character's perspectives whilst they are searching for one another. That is precisely what the game's story was all about, uniting with everyone to face a common foe. It might sound interesting but it really isn't. Then again, the multiple perspectives is probably the game's most prominent feature and was probably my biggest accomplishment. It might have been a small one but it was still an accomplishment nonetheless. It's like a baby taking its first steps.

Accompanied with terrible humor that was somewhat cringeworthy, yet surprisingly funny at times (at least to me), terrible writing filled with awful cliché's, characters with zero personality, characters with zero importance to the plot and are just there to say Hi. NPC's that said dumb things (even though some of them were funny to me) and of course the most generic villain ever conceived to man. Add a few songs from popular games that I liked that had been butchered using the game's tempo editor to make them move faster and slower (I actually used F-zero's white land music for the battle theme and fire field's music for the boss theme and both songs were surprisingly fitting for their roles) and you have a terrible game in the making... but that's not all. I had spelling errors everywhere, dungeons which were nothing but mazes and constant bugs which were unfixed. The mapping was terrible and horribly inconsistent and there was no sense of direction provided to the player, essentially offering the worst possible gaming experience a player could ever have (except for DOTA). I always said that Legend Of The Spirits is the second worst game ever made and Revenge Of the Underlord (the glorious sequel) was the third worst game ever made. Though the improvements I made in my second game were noticeable, it was still shit.

As such, Revenge Of The Underlord served as a scale for judging bad game design which I have used in many of my reviews for terrible games and funnily enough, Pokemon Yellow of all games was actually one of Revenge Of the Underlord's many comparison's. As such when I read this article: Let Me Level With You About: How Pokemon Is Well Designed, I disagreed simply because I noticed that Pokemon Yellow fell into many of the same traps as my RPGmaker game and when comparing it, I noticed a lot of issues that simply wouldn't have happened if it used the RPGmaker VX software, which led to bad game design. Now this was my first ever game, a game I have loved for a long time and this was the point that I realized, from a design standpoint, it was abysmal. Of course that's not the developer's fault entirely, back then, RPGmaker wasn't a thing so you actually had to program everything yourself yet the code was so abysmal that it created countless glitches such as Missingno that has become a famous glitch known by all Pokemon fans. Now had the game been made on RPGmaker VX, this could easily be fixed by fixing broken variables and after having experienced many similar issues with RPGmaker VX, I can relate to this design issue and any novice design issue which I can relate to is the first sign of bad game design as I am a bad game designer.

Anyways enough about me, lets talk about the reality. What game development is really all about, the hierarchy, the difference between triple A and indie and the explanation as to why they are so dramatically different (it's not all about money, though it partly is). I'm going to explain about AAA games first and how being a developer of a AAA game works, just in case you don't already know.

So the hierarchy of a development team works as follows, the producer is at the top. The producer's job is to come up with a suitable goal for the development team to achieve based on their research. Let's look at Namco's Hideo Baba, the producer for the Tales Series. Now why has he gone to America to visit all these expo's and communicate with Tales fans in the west? That's simple, research. As the producer, it's Hideo Baba's job to make sure that the fan base are satisfied enough to purchase the game and to erect a goal that when accomplished, will give them that satisfaction. However, as the producer, Hideo Baba doesn't directly play any role in the game's design, that would be the job of the director.

Now let us use Masohiro Sakurai as an example. Masohiro Sakurai is the director of Super Smash Bros. As a director, it is his job to create a vision which would successfully accomplish the goal's set by the producer. The director answers solely to the producer and is a delegator but this job is a lot harder than it sounds and requires one to be resourceful. Nevertheless, a video game director is quite possibly the most desirable job in the gaming industry. This is the job that many of us dream of, to be a game director for the games that we love. Unfortunately it's not all about creativity. Being a game director is all about being resourceful and it is required to have experience in many fields of game design. The reason for this is because you have a deadline. As such, you will need a fast and competent development team to work with but that's not all, it is your job to prioritize what is most important. It is your job to decide what makes it into the finished product and what doesn't. It is your job to make sure that the game is ready for release. In other words, you don't want your game to end up like Batman Arkham Knight on PC.

So ultimately, being a game director is all about being resourceful. Sure, having a creative mind does help but it is not the most important factor in directing a video game. If you have played Game Dev Tycoon, you would understand the basics as to how being a video game director works... only less realistic. In real life, a director will have to cope with stuff such as having staff on work leave, staff not performing competently and possibly losing his/her job or position over a failed launch. If the team provided to you fails, you will have to answer for it. For this reason, having competent staff is crucial and working with them is even more crucial for a successful game. This is the reason why Masohiro Sakurai struggled with directing Smash 4. He was given a near impossible task by the producer. To make a game that is better than Brawl. Did he do it? I wouldn't know as I had not played it but considering the fact that the Subspace Emisarry was removed along with a lot of characters I liked, I would say that Sakurai had failed to achieve his goal, hence why I didn't buy the game because I saw it coming. However this was not the fault of the director. This was the Producer's fault, either that or Nintendo's fault for demanding a new Smash Bros to save the dying Wii U and sell more consoles.

In any case, now you know the jobs of the producer and the director, the two most important components of development... but they would be nothing without the multitude of design teams working under them. This is the bottom end of the hierarchy. Each developer has a specific task given to them by the director. Put simply if we put this in a Warcraft perspective, Sargeras would be the CEO, Archimonde would be the producer and Tichondrius would be the director. The designers themselves would be Arthas and his scourge minions. Put into military terms, the producer is a Brigadier, the Executive Producer would be the General, the Director would be the Colonel and the Design teams would each be a regiment, each with a Captain and a bunch of Sergents. This makes the army that is the development team. Their mission? To create an experience so good that it convinces us, the consumer to open their wallets and supply the company with money.

Of course this is before we even start talking about Publishers. Publishers are essentially the guys who sit on their BIG FUCKING CHAIR and invest in development studio's who make games for them so that the Publisher can sit back and watch the money roll in. Either that or they perish in flames like THQ. Of course, the Publishers have a job to do, it's their responsibility to market the game and make sure word of it gets out. It's also their job to hype it up. The CEO's job is basically this:

That's right, the CEO sits on his huge chair and talks sales and stuff, they are basically Odin from Valkyrie Profile 2, whose job is to sit there and look important whilst making lots of money (or in his case power) at other's expense... or so it seems with the likes of Moneyvision. Ironically, the first thing mentioned by Geoff Keighly in the E3 interview with Peter Moore was his "suit collection". My first assumption was that it must have been funded by all the DLC... but of course as a PLC, that presumes that Mr. Moore is a share-holder of said company which he may well not be. In which case, the CEO is just another staff member whose job is to ensure that the company generates enough revenue to satisfy the share-holders. Now Peter Moore is actually the COO of the company, though his job is very similar to the CEO as he is essentially the vice president of the company, Andrew Wilson being the real CEO. That's about it really.

Of course, publishers have their own hierarchy. They have their own marketing division and sometimes even their own development division such as EA Black Box and in Moneysoft's case, 343 Industries. Publishers like to slap their name on the box as if they're the ones responsible for it. As such a lot of people new to gaming often mistake publishers for developers. This isn't true and credit deserves to go where it is due. As such in case you are new to gaming, please understand this point.

Now do publishers have an impact on game development? Absolutely. The producer of Star Ocean 5 Shuichi Kobayashi mentioned that Star Ocean 4's failure was due to Square-Enix's attempt to cater to western audiences. Good on you Mr Kobayashi for vocalizing this as you have taught many of us the reality behind the relationship between publishers and developers. I truly believe Shuichi Kobayashi to be a sincere producer and after witnessing his E3 interview, he appeared to be very blunt in his expressions towards the series and managed to see the fault in it. In addition, he also vocalized his opinion over DLC claiming that he would rather put more work into a new title than merely add padding to a current title. He vocalized his disagreement with DLC in such a manner that he deserves my praise.

Now then, lets say that you want to work for a AAA company. Well for starters you're going to need experience and qualifications obviously but what exactly? Well development teams look for well-rounded qualifications to fill in the gaps should they need to. For example, if a programmer is off sick, they would need someone to fill in for him should the director deem it important to do so. As such if you want to be a developer, the first thing you definitely need is programming skills. Without them, your application will be considerably weaker, even if you are an artist. Having a multitude of skills work here. If you look from the director's perspective ask yourself what you would want in your development team, that's what you have to be. You have to be well-rounded to cover other sectors of development should there be a close deadline. For example, if the game is to be released in a week and there are tonnes of bugs. Everyone with programming skills must chip in to make sure those bugs are gone. If you have programming skills, the employer knows that they have you to fall back on should such events occur.

In addition you will also need to be a perfectionist in your respective craft. If you are an art designer, you will have to be a damn good artist. You will need to be consistent in your design and never slack. When you realize that there are thousands of art to be designed, you may find yourself overburdened. This is where the hardship of game development comes in, you have a lot of tasks to do and you have to be consistent with them or else you will fail. Same goes for other designers such as level designers, character modelers and even non designers such as testers.

Most big development teams have about 3-5 people in each division, this splits the work each division is given by 3 to 5. Now if there are lets say 2000 pieces of artwork required be they enemies, characters, weapons etc, divide that by 5 and you are given 400 designs for a single person. That is insane. Just imagine being consistent with 400 character designs to do... holy hell. Put simply, being a game developer is a very tough job.

Now when you consider the many, many stepping-stones to get to your dream position and when you consider the workload you will have to take on to get there, you will realize just how brutal the gaming industry is. Then you get people like me and you, the consumer and critics who have the power to turn people away from bad games. Being a game developer in a AAA company makes you feel like the world is against you, theoretically of course as I've never been in that position, I'm just speaking from theory.

So due to all of this, most people seek an alternative route to game design, that route is known to us as Indie development.

Indie development is drastically different. Indie devs come in all shapes and sizes, they can vary from 1 man, to a small team of dedicated individuals with the task of building their dream game. Now if we look at AAA games, you will understand why indie games feel so lackluster compared with AAA games and usually only provide around 15 hours of entertainment, if they're lucky. Sometimes they can provide way more. I have invested over 700 hours into Space Engineers for example which is a strangely successful Indie title, a sleeper hit you could say. In any case my views on that game are mixed and considering the fact that they've made a name for themselves in the harsh environment that is steam, i'm going to decrease the scale a little.

Now lets talk about a game I've been playing recently. Neon XSZ. Neon XSZ strives to be a 6DOF shooter with the lootwhoring elements of Diablo. Essentially creating Descenterlands... or something. Now I have spoken with the developer on the steam forums and man is he such a great guy. I will link you to the forum post on steam: http://steamcommunity.com/app/296010/discussions/0/598198356176054233/.

In this post, the developer requests feedback, naturally as an Early Access game, feedback is important so that the developer can build a better game. As someone who writes reviews of games and picks out game's flaws as a hobby, I was the first to jump in. Now for starters I asked the developer how big his team was and pondered whether he was a 1 man band. It turned out that the team was comprised of just him and one other guy (who did the music). This couldn't have shocked me more considering how well the game plays and how well it is designed. The fact that this one man did this proves that he is an extremely talented programmer and could easily become a AAA programmer if he wanted to. However he has chosen the more difficult route of creating his own game. This is a challenging task because as a lone wolf indie dev, your job is to do not only the programming but also the art design, modelling, animations and lighting (though the music was done by someone else). Now the developer used the smart approach of making the game a roguelike in the sense that his levels were randomly generated, removing the necessity of level design. In addition, he allowed the player to alter the environment at will. A great way to mask his limited consistency in art design.

Now as for the programming and the game's AI, it is masterful. Put simply, Paul (the developer's steam username) is a highly talented programmer... but is also capable of modelling and art design and seems to do a great job at them too. However, as he is just one man, it is impossible to remain consistent for anything other than his programming quality as that is his niche. Whereas AAA developers have multiple teams of perfectionists, Paul has to fill in for them by himself. As such it is completely natural that the other sectors of the game are severely lacking compared to that of a AAA game but surprisingly the game manages to still look great.

Now as a wannabe critic, I decided to analyze the game for possible flaws and then it hit me. The RPG mechanics just didn't meld well with the gameplay and as such, the pacing felt awkward. Borderlands had this problem too, the fact that you're fighting against enemies 10 levels higher than you and it's impossible to kill them as their shield regen is higher than the damage you deal.

This created a problem which I mentioned to the developer. However I also realized the developer was also the game's director and his "vision" was to have a 6DOF RPG Roguelike experience, it would be disrespectful of me to request that he changes that as you cannot change someone elses vision. I learned something that day about video game critique, as a reviewer, it is your job to inform the consumer as to whether or not the game is worth their money. However, when delivering critique towards a developer, it is different, particularly in Early Access. You cannot ignore the developers vision and demand that they change, however, you can identify the issue so that they might choose to alter their vision for future projects. As someone who obviously wants games to improve, I identified these issues and told him in the feedback.

His response was very well received and I felt that the developer and I actually understood each other, something we never see from AAA developers as they are all separated into different divisions. This is what distinguishes an Indie developer from a AAA developer. Whereas AAA developers are focused on one particular job, indie developers do everything. If you wish to contact a AAA development team, you don't get that one-to-one discussion between gamer and developer, instead you are met face to face with a community manager (yep Andy, your time in the spotlight has come, let dongs surround us all... even though you're retired, you'll still be the community manager to me). The community manager is the direct connection between the community and the development team because the development team do not have the time to dedicate towards to the community as they are working hard. As such it's the community manager's job to relay that message amongst many things.

Now there are also "indie teams" and whilst they do generally make better games, they also lack a very important thing, "marketing". Triple A developers are usually associated with a publisher who practically do all the marketing for them. If you're an Indie developer, you are not only a developer but you are also a publisher, you're essentially publishing your own work. As such you have to do all the marketing associated with it. I hope you have a wallet crammed full of greenies because you're going to need to flush it all down the toilet when it comes to marketing. Marketing is an investment, you're investing in consumer interest. However, consumer interest is not always taken in by just one form of marketing. You will need multiple kinds of marketing to succeed. This can cost you a hell of a lot of money. Marketing is a high stakes casino where you can win big or lose hard, Publishers are the high flyers when it comes to marketing, they've made countless successes where others failed and why? Because they found the right games to publish.

As an indie developer, you have to be confident in your own product but you also have to be aware of its ups and downs. You essentially need to ask yourself the question "would I risk everything on this game"? If you do then how much are you willing to risk. Some indie developers are risk takers, some aren't. It's usually the risk takers who invest into marketing that become recognized whereas those who don't take risks generally have an empty discussions section on their game's community hub.

As such, being indie is just as hard as it is working under a company... just in a different way. You have to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and be able to convince that your piece of shit game is worth their time and money because it is a piece of shit game, it doesn't have those insane high-definition graphics as AAA titles so no one is going to be interested. You have to make them interested and as such you have to be passionate and look after your fans, interact with them and be modest. This is where Digital Homicide failed, The Slaughtering Grounds was a piece of shit but the developer started throwing insults at Jim Sterling. This essentially killed a lot of his rep and rep is everything when you're an indie developer. No one wants to support an arrogant asswipe. Basically you need to ask yourself why you are an indie developer and why your idea is worth the market's notice. You also need to ask yourself if it's financially viable.

Anyways we have covered the two basic routes towards becoming a game developer and if all else fails, you can just go mobile and throw microtransactions at your piece of shit game, good luck, you'll need it.

Anyways time to revert back to the dream. We have covered the reality. The gaming industry is a hell hole but it is our hell hole. Without it, we wouldn't have all these masterful games we have enjoyed for so long however without us, the developers wouldn't be able to feed their families.

Now can you transform your dream into reality? Of course you can, in life, anything is possible with persistence. Will you get to make your dream game? Not very likely. Will you get the next best thing? Very likely. Even if it's not the game you dreamed of, if you become even just a level designer, you can be proud at yourself that you were a vital component in making the masterpiece game that fans love (or hate). This is the reward for your work... as well as money of course. One thing though, don't go into game development for the money, do it for the glory. Do it for the place in the credits where your name will either be honored or shamed.

Now let's go back to the Pokemon game I dreamed of developing. Will it ever happen? Hell no, Can it ever happen? Extremely unlikely, Can I make a proper game? With effort, yes, Will I ever make a proper game? No.

You see the biggest problem is that Pokemon is a Japanese game. Now I can't speak Japanese... but I can learn it. Additionally I would be required to have skills in programming, art, level design, modeling, animation etc. I could go to college and learn it but I'd also need to learn to drive to get there as game development courses are miles away. Now I would also need to be consistent, in other words I'd need to not be lazy. I am as lazy as they come, hence the reason why I am near-jobless. Also I would need to work my way up to becoming a director which would take years of hard work. Finally, if I did become a director, I'd require enough time to make my dream happen, additionally I'd need a goal that I could work with.

Long story short, I don't want to be a video game developer. Instead I want to enjoy my hobby. Sure, it can be tempting at times to have second thoughts... but then I see the steam forums and I think "nah". As such, I have great respect for game developers, though I may slate your games off, though I may make jokes at your expense, I will still respect the work and effort gone into all your games. That is a difficult job within itself because some games want me to stab the developers to death for making me go through some of the most painful sections in gaming but then I realize the work that goes into their games. I will be the first to admit that if I were in the developers shoes, I too would throw a tantrum like Digital Homicide, I respect those developers who manage to remain composed in a position where I would fall apart. Oh and by the way, Peter Molyneux, your games suck donkey balls, now I expect a professional response - Terry309 Angry Video game Consumer.

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5:31 PM on 06.21.2015

Taking another look: Valkyrie Profile 2

So i've decided that since I can't get enough of good games, I thought about writing about them again, only this time with a new and improved look to them. Basically this is going to be something I do when I want to cover a game I've already discussed before in some fashion, so if you don't want to hear my repetitive preaching then skip this blog post. Sorry but I just can't help it when a game is so good that I have to write about it so many times and each time, I still fail to deliver the message. Now I'm going to be talking about Valkyrie Profile 2, I made a review about it ages ago and well... I don't feel as if I did the game enough justice and approached it in a more objective manner. This time, I'm going to speak not from my mind but from my heart and believe me it's been something I've wanted to do for a very long time.

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Well it is my favorite game of all time and yet nobody talks about it. Valkyrie Profile 2 was shadowed by its predecessor in every single possible way and was considered a "massive disappointment" by many fans of the first game. I've never seen a game that has been nitpicked so much as this game. It's a game that literally did no wrong. Seriously just picking out flaws in this game alone is like finding a needle in a haystack and yes there are flaws there but they do not hinder the game's experience in any way.

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So what did the game do to make people dislike it? Well for starters, Valkyrie Profile was a very good game... I say that loosely considering the fact that it was a hugely flawed game, an acquired taste you could say but the flaws in that game stuck out like a sore thumb. Nevertheless, Valkyrie Profile managed to gain a cult following who appreciated the games design choices for its originality and also appreciating the emotional impacts and deep undertones that made the game feel unlike any other.

Valkyrie Profile was unique and to see it become a traditional JRPG was ludicrous. People refused to accept that an 18-year-old midget princess with social disorders replaced the almost stereotypical stoic goddess that was Lenneth but if you look back at Lenneth, as cool as she was, her stoic disposition really took a toll on her character as a whole and her development arc was blatantly forced. I just think the game was rushed by the end... but then again even Valkyrie Profile 2 suffered a similar fate by the end though looking back, I found that Valkyrie Profile 2's story as a whole was better structured and was better executed than it's predecessor.

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At first sight, it's understandable how someone can detest the idea of Alicia being the main character. She appears to be a stereotypical bimbo at the start of the game which is ironic considering the fact that I found her alter ego to fit that category far better in the long run. Over time however, things began to make sense and I did start appreciating Alicia as the main lead and became to understand the developers reasoning behind this choice, it was all about perspective and that's what led to the biggest change Valkyrie Profile 2 made, the fact that it followed a more generic narrative structure but despite popular belief, this change was completely vital.

Lets face it, Valkyrie Profile was an unpolished masterpiece. Horribly unpolished might I add. Had the developers put more TLC into the game's execution, it could have become the masterpiece that was Valkyrie Profile 2 but it didn't and remained nothing more than a cult hit. Valkyrie Profile 2 barely got together a cult following but nowhere near the same level as Valkyrie Profile. People who hated Valkyrie Profile avoided it and people who loved it... also avoided it... it was an inevitable flop that went down with a huge bang that no one ever saw. Basically Valkyrie Profile 2 is the most underappreciated video game ever made.

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Now as someone who disliked the direction the first Valkyrie Profile took, I played a few more tri-Ace games and realized that they were by the same people who did Valkyrie Profile. So surely I should give the series another chance and I picked up Valkyrie Profile 2 on a whim. It could have been another horrible experience but I had a small glimmer of hope that they changed it and thank god they did.

 

 

 Valkyrie Profile 2 is the most underappreciated video game ever made

 

 

Gone was the open-ended story line concept which sucked just as much ass as Big Rigs Over The Road Racing, Gone was the ever punishing period system which punished player choice and exploration and in with the old school narrative structure we all know and love. Vanilla storytelling has never been so bliss and to be honest, it was quite refreshing seeing the Valkyrie Profile series' story line told in this new direction. You got to actually experience the story line directly as opposed to just watching some random scene which holds no relevance to the plot whatsoever only to be thrown into the next dungeon, rinse and repeat. It was a horrible... seemingly repetitive formula which bogged the first game down.

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Valkyrie Profile 2's traditional approach may not have been perfect though. Early on in the game, you are presented with quite possibly the worst macguffin trope ever conceived to man and I honestly don't mind macguffin tropes so long as they don't take up too much time and aren't too predictable. It's easy to just sit there and say "this game is boring, give me a better plot" but as bad as it was, it didn't seem to hinder the game's pacing half as much as Valkyrie Profile's entire story line and strangely enough, it really didn't impede on the overall experience. In fact I believe the slow pacing was actually needed. Why? Because it allowed you to take everything in.

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That's right, Valkyrie Profile 2 is the best looking game on the PS2, still holding up today as one of the most aesthetically appealing games ever created. The visuals are crisp and are loaded with glittering particle effects to add that extra sparkle. It's easy to tell that a considerable amount of effort was put into the game and there are a lot of minute details that are easily missed the first time round. So all in all, the visuals are a step beyond sublimity but the game's incredible soundtrack just happens to be even better. The two go hand in hand to provide the player with one of the greatest gaming experiences you could possibly imagine.

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As I have said before in my review of this game, Valkyrie Profile 2 is a work of art in motion and not just visually but musically as well. If you can appreciate music and visuals, then this might possibly be your dream game and I damn well love some good music and visuals.

Seriously if I listen to the game's soundtrack on Youtube (which I do way too much) I start to get addicted to listening to it and think to myself "fuck it, I'm going to listen to it all over again from beginning to end" and after listening to it all over again, I realize that I've just spent hours simply listening to the same songs over and over again.

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Listening to the songs in Valkyrie Profile 2 is just like eating a full bag of Dorito's, they are just simply moreish, I just can't get enough of them, they're like a drug. Captivating is probably the most fitting word to describe Valkyrie Profile 2's soundtrack. Heck I've spent more time listening to the game's soundtrack than I have actually playing the game. Heck I sometimes even listen to them whilst playing other games, particularly open world RPG's where they are surprisingly fitting.

 

 

 Valkyrie Profile 2 is a work of art in motion

 


I've come to the conclusion that Valkyrie Profile 2's soundtrack works with everything and just makes everything better. Seriously you should listen to some of the songs whilst playing Skyrim or something, it will make the experience so much better.

As for the gameplay. It doesn't disappoint, like the first game, it is a side scrolling RPG, probably one of the biggest reasons why it got overlooked but it's part of the series' charm and couldn't be ignored. In any case, the visuals more than make up for it. Valkyrie Profile 2 keeps the same style of combat as the first game but expands on it greatly. In battle, you are actually able to roam around a 3d battlefield... oh the irony.

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Like the first game, characters are set to face buttons, they are your choice of attacks. Rather than just giving you a set of special attacks for each character, picking one and letting the computer play the rest, Valkyrie Profile 1 and 2 have you playing as all the characters at the same time and each character represents a certain move set which can be customized at will in Valkyrie Profile 2 (which was limited in the first game). This is where Valkyrie Profile 2 succeeds where other ARPG's fail, the ability to be in control of everything on screen at all times. So if you make a mistake it's your fault.

With that said, Valkyrie Profile 2's combat takes a while to get used to and can feel quite repetitive at the start but once the training wheels are off and you obtain more characters, the real action starts. Honestly when I replayed the game and just had Alicia and Rufus I felt like the game removed so much. That's because the combat improves over time but eases you into the basics and you better appreciate that as the game is very deep. Sadly it can put a lot of newcomers off, particularly impatient ones who judge the game at first sight.

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A lot of people say that this game is really hard. I honestly had no trouble playing through this game. It's a very deep game and you really need to pay attention to the tutorials, get the right skills and understand seal stones as this game requires a lot of preparation. Valkyrie Profile 2's gameplay is all about thinking outside the box. Whilst there is some strategy involved during game play, it matters little if your characters are under equipped, you're going to get a spanking if you're not prepared.

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Then again, if you do come prepared, you might find the game to be way too easy. This is because Valkyrie Profile 2 is so easily broken, it's ridiculous. It's all about knowing how the game works and if you want to play the game the normal way, the difficulty might be tough. However if you're into power leveling and gearing then this game can seem be a bit too rewarding.

 

 

 This is where Valkyrie Profile 2 succeeds where other ARPG's fail, the ability to be in control of everything on screen at all times. So if you make a mistake it's your fault

 

 

There are a lot of ways to play this game and it can seem a little daunting at first but experimentation is key. Valkyrie Profile 2 is all about finding the best playstyle for you and maximizing it to it's full potential, though it is encouraged to switch on the fly. For this reason, gaining experience matters little in comparison with equipment and skills.

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Each character has their own set of attacks and they learn more of them as they level up. Considering the fact that Valkyrie Profile is not a Tales/Star Ocean game, the move selection in battle is limited (and linear) for each character simply due to the fact that you are controlling everyone in the party (though you can learn the scramble attack skill to mix things up). You're not picking out moves, you're picking out characters and developing moves from the characters you like in order to enhance them, you can then change up their moves later after you've developed them, either that or swap them out for a new character and equip that character with the armaments from the other character to make them just as powerful.

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There is a lot of depth provided by this game's lore. You can collect einherjar by interacting with weapons littered around dungeons and they will fight for you, essentially giving you another character to control in battle. Each character comes with a bio which can only be read in the status screen, some characters relate to one another, it's funny when you learn that one of the first einherjar you get is one of Alicia's ancestors. Now this is one of the game's biggest controversies and what gives the game so much hate. The first game practically revolved around einherjar which are basically warriors risen from the dead to fight for Odin.

In Valkyrie Profile, you can view the death scenes of each character during intervals. This is the game's story, a series of short stories involving character deaths who will eventually become a member of your party and from that point on, you never see or hear from them again, except in battle or the sacred phase (which shows brief conversations between characters that aren't really all that big of a deal and to view them, those characters have to be removed from your party). So essentially Valkyrie Profile had absolutely no character interaction outside the sacred phase and at a certain point you are expected to believe that they have grown attached to her which is total bullshit if you ask me.

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Now the second game replaced them with a brief bio and people hated this despite the fact that the einherjar in Valkyrie Profile 2 took a backseat role which to be honest is quite relieving as it allows you to experience a more direct storytelling approach with a bit of character interaction and even though it's not as deep as other games of the genre, there is some character development to be found here. I do believe the cutscenes do a good enough job, at least enough to motivate the player. People who expect strong character arcs may not find it in Valkyrie Profile 2 (or any JRPG for that matter, go play Warcraft 3 if you want serious storytelling) but it doesn't make the game any less enjoyable. If you prioritize gameplay and just about everything else over story, then you will adore Valkyrie Profile 2.

Then again, there is a lot of attention to detail when it comes to the einherjar backstories in Valkyrie Profile 2, it's just a different kind of approach which requires more reading than watching. If you take the time to read all of the character bio's in the game, you will find out about a lot of events which occurred many years before Valkyrie Profile 2 and it's quite interesting to say the least. In fact some of the einherjar are connected and will occasionally share a battle quote with each other relating to their backstory which symbolizes that the einherjar, though backseat characters are actually part of the game's lore. I personally believe that the attention to detail makes up for the lack of einherjar stories, it's obvious that the developers didn't rush this design choice, it was just changed to reflect on the game's storyline.

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Ultimately though, the storyline can be enjoyable but it doesn't strive to be the next Shakespeare. Basically, Valkyrie Profile 2 is the opposite of Warcraft 3, the story is serviceable but the rest is absolutely brilliant. It brings together everything that makes a JRPG experience so enjoyable. I encourage anyone with an ounce of taste in JRPG's to give it a try, just be sure not to rush through it and take time to appreciate what this game has to offer. Oh and Valkyrie Profile 3 needs to happen, get on that shit tri-Ace, I know you're busy with Star Ocean 5 but please do not forget this legendary series. Honestly all of the Valkyrie Profile games are legendary though Valkyrie Profile 2 holds that special place in my heart that no other game has. If you're going to play Valkyrie Profile 2, you may as well play them all, yes that includes Covenant Of The Plume.

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7:47 AM on 06.17.2015

Rambles: I'm conflicted

So E3 happened, i rarely watch E3. All the big fanboys streaming their favourite games in the chat with excitement and slating other games off was fun to watch and the actual presentation? It was ok i guess though the big thing for me was the Star Ocean 5 and Starfox Zero presentation. This has brought me to a dilemma, i really want both of these games but i don't have a Wii U or a PS4 and there is no way i am buying both. In any case, it seems the PS3 release of Star Ocean 5 has gone down the pan thanks to stupid individuals who are complaining about the PS3 version. Are you happy now guys? Are you happy that you've decreased the lifespan of the PS3?

Since 2005, New consoles have always been a bad thing. They do nothing revolutionary and are just an excuse to charge an insane amount in order to access newer games. I think this is just stupid as hell and is why i chose to go with PC. However, as good as PC gaming is, reality is starting to hit me. My Graphics card has expired and newer games require better graphics. Now i have no idea how to build a PC (i bought pre-built) but i looked up video's and it seemed easy enough but what worries me is if my CPU/power supply could handle a graphics card. In any case, i'm not gonna bother upgrading my PC, there is little point in doing so if the games i want are not comming out for it. So to all you PC master race people out there, it was fun whilst it lasted... but reality has hit me hard and i realize why i've been a console gamer for so long now.

Sure PC gaming is improving, gradually. Apparrently, Tales of Zesteria is comming out on PC. Hell yes! Only one problem though... can I run it? Or will it be another barrier that i have to pay a huge fee for? Otherwise i'll have to get it on PS4 (which i will probably end up getting anyways). As far as i'm concerned, none of the consoles amount to much, The PS4 and Wii U are about evenly matched now and the Xbox One is still a piece of shit. All in all i'd put it like this: PS4 = WII U > Xbox One. Sure the hololens was a huge thing at E3 but the games? Pathetic. I say that Moneysoft should just stop making consoles and focus on making third party hardware for all consoles and PC.

What have they got? Gears of war? Oh cool, yet another cover shooter with obnoxious steroid junkies, i'll admit, it's fun the first time but it's gotten old now. Halo 5 is probably the best of the bunch and that's not saying much. I praise the fact that they've taken the story in a new direction but can they pull it off well enough? In any case, Halo is a tired franchise gameplay wise, it will remain in my memories, though i don't want to continue the series personally, i'm done with Halo and have been since shitty Halo 4. Forza 6 is basically their [insert racing game here] game, Tomb Raider is basically Moneysofts answer to Uncharted, same thing, just with a woman instead of a man. Sure Lara is a more iconic character but lets be honest, the new Tomb Raider games have Uncharted written all over them. I think that's about it for Moneysoft really.

So that leaves the Wii U and the PS4, each with 1 game that stands out from the rest. Sure PS4 has Tales of Zesteria but if that is getting a PC release then it doesn't count. Wii U does have that new Kirby game which i missed, so there's that and of course Starfox Zero. Still no F-Zero though. PS4 has Tales Of Zesteria and Star Ocean 5, PC has... well to be honest i'm content with what i currently have on PC. There's Elite Dangerous which caught my mind... until i found out it was an MMO. I think i'll just use my PC for indies and old school PC games as there are still a ton out there. One thing that's great about PC gaming is that simply getting a new PC can give you access to so many games at once and there are tonnes of timeless classics. However, the biggest problem is compatability, now if you remember i won Agent 9's contest a while ago, i got to pick out a free game and so i picked Descent: Freespace (thanks for that Agent 9). I managed to play it for 5 hours and was having fun until one day, i tried to run it and BAM, it froze my computer. Ever since then, Descent: Freespace wouldn't work on my PC. This is when i realized that PC gaming just wasn't for me. 

That being said, i have had fun with PC gaming, my most played steam game being Space Engineers, over 700 hours played. Honestly i can't say that the game has been a waste of money but the game is in Early Access and the devs won't add furnature. I WANT FURNATURE!!! In any case, Space Engineers has become my Minecraft, there's still not much to do in terms of surviving and killing enemies but there's plenty of building to be done and I love creativity in games. If it wasn't for PC gaming, i wouldn't have been able to play it. Seriously if you're a fan of space games, get a PC, it's full of them! Additionally there are steam sales too, always great until you realize that your liberary is filled with games you've barely even played for numorous reasons.

Of course i have been playing on my PS3 recently but not so much as i have been playing on PC. As for Xbox 360, i've played it so little that my Xbox 360 games are getting dusty. So PC has taken up much of my time. I fell that i have changed a lot as a gamer since i got a PC but i think consoles are starting to call me back now. Those new games are just too good to miss. Of course i'll stll use my PC for indie titles and don't regret it, it's another dimention of gaming. Eventually there will come a day where JRPG's will all be on PC and we can rejoice but lets be honest here, if Valkyrie Profile 3 is gonna be released on any platform, it will be PS4. So i'm probably going to go the PS4 route and miss out on all those cool Wii U games but i'm sorry Nintendo, no F-Zero, No purchase.

Now you would think that would resolve the dilemma and you're probably right but still, i'm going to keep an eye out on the progress of Star Ocean 5 and I refuse to get a PS4 unless I have to because i despise that console (not as much as I despise the Xbox One though), paying for online? Hell no. Then again, how often do I play games online these days anyways? I've been playing Space Engineers... and that's it. I have been looking for a replacement to Halo but i realize it aint happening and to be honest i don't care enough to try and find one. My multiplayer FPS days are over and maybe it's for the best. I've always prefered co-oparative play rather than PVP anyways, hence why i love Space Engineers multiplayer, working together to build cool stuff. Sure there's the occasional greifer but the in game community are really cool guys and it's overall a very mature community.

So the future of gaming is starting to become clouded for me, well at least it's actually going somewhere now. I can finally say that Next gen will officially begin next year and I will have to make my decision sooner or later. Until then, i have a huge backlog to tend to... and Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition which should be fun. In any case, tell me what you think about all this. Are you conflicted like me or are you sticking with PC? Or are you still sticking with "Last gen" (yep, there I said it) like i've been for moreorless the past couple of years? In any case, next year i'm gonna be broke... and I hate being broke (who doesn't?).

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3:51 PM on 05.29.2015

Current Gen: Mafia 2 Review

Mafia 2 was kind of hit or miss for me personally, it’s a game that tries really hard to create a realistic setting and story line but it is held back by several issues that pushed the game into mediocrity.

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So much fun!!!

First of all, I’d like to get the bad bits out of the way so lets talk about the game play of Mafia 2. There are two different sections to play, driving and shooting sections, even a few stealth sections here and there. First of all lets talk about the shooting sections.

Now Mafia 2 is a third person shooter and I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this genre other than it has never appealed to me in the slightest for many reasons and believe me, this game made damn well sure to expose those issues. As expected, I was quite skeptical about the TPS sections and rightfully so.

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For starters, the cover system. I can’t stand cover systems and this game really brings the worst out of them. Seriously there is this one mission where a boss throws seemingly endless molotovs at you which can hit you through cover so you have to leave cover only to be shot by everyone in order to get to the next cover only to be burned again. It was infuriating and after doing some research, it seems I wasn’t the only one who had trouble with this part.

Put simply (consider this a mini rant), I am sick and tired of seeing cover systems in video games. They do nothing but piss me off, they are just awful and for good reasons too. Cover systems are basically just popping in and out and firing random potshots hoping to hit the enemy as opposed to FPS games like Painkiller where you are constantly moving and avoiding enemy attacks.

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The thing that gets me the most is that cover systems aren’t even realistic (unless you count Dishonored or Wolfenstein The New Order which are both games I personally disliked). The biggest issue with cover systems is that you’re in third person. If you want to make the game play feel realistic then do it in first person so that we can only peek in and out of cover to see where our enemies are (like in the two games I mentioned).

If you can see everything around you, whilst being in cover, it defeats the purpose of cover systems in general as it is completely unrealistic that you can see beyond cover on your screen so you know where the enemies are and the only reason why cover exists in games is because it’s realistic, otherwise we’d be running around and dodging bullets like Duke Nukem.

So all in all cover systems in third person shooters are stupid. What they should do instead is remove the stupid hitscan enemies and remove the cover and have you strafe to avoid enemy attacks. Look at the Serious Sam games for example, as much as I ridicule them for their unforgiving and frustrating difficulty, at least they made third person perspective playable and are the only game to do so (Warhammer 40k Space Marine came close but failed simply due to how slow you move).

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Basically the game play goes like this, you watch a cut scene and are thrust straight into a fight, you have to run to cover quickly and mash the left trigger to constantly go in and out of cover and shoot estimated potshots at enemies and keep going in and out until the enemy decides to pop out then shoot them, rinse and repeat. This wouldn’t be so bad if enemies didn’t stay in cover for insanely long periods of time so you’re usually playing the waiting game. This can become quite tedious, especially when you die and have to restart it all over again which brings me to my next problem.

The stupid checkpoint/save system is absolutely awful. I swear, half the game was spent replaying annoying TPS sections just because I got killed by some random blind spot (I’ll get to that in a minute) and brought back all the way to the start of the gunfight so I have to do all of those annoying TPS sections all over again!

I swear, the checkpoints are so spaced out, it’s ridiculous, you’d think that after completing one section that you’d get a checkpoint… but no, instead you get a checkpoint after 2 or sometimes even 3 sections and each section can take ridiculously long due to the horrible cover system. So basically you clear out a room of enemies, go to the next room and get killed by a blind spot.

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This brings me to the biggest problem with the shooting sections, the enemy placement. Mafia 2 pays homage to Red Faction in this regard as the enemies are placed in positions specifically to take you by surprise… or as I like to call, campy AI. I swear there are so many moments where you walk down a hallway and BAM! You get 1 shotted by a dude with a shotgun who was hiding in the room. The biggest issue with this is simply the minimap, it is dreadful. The minimap only displays enemies right when you’ve seen them and by the time the red triangles appear on the map, you are gunned down almost immediately.

There are so many points in this game where I reached the next section only to be one shotted by a group of enemies who appeared out of seemingly nowhere but half way through the game I noticed that this was due to the enemy placement.

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There is this one section where you’re walking down the stairs and there is an enemy waiting for you right at the bottom and they can see you as you are walking down and kill you before you even notice them. There was also a part where I opened a door and was greeted by a shotgun blast to the face.

Put simply, the enemy placement is designed to aggravate the player, just like in Red Faction, only difference is that because Mafia 2 is a cover based TPS, it makes things twice as bad due to the fact that you need to be in cover to survive gunfights, if you’re out of cover, you’re not going to last two seconds and since you cannot see where the enemies are, you get ambushed in every single encounter before you can get to cover. Either that or you hug every single wall you come across… but then the enemies could hit you from another direction.

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So all in all, this game is about trial and error, once you know the enemy placements, know how to react to the blind spots, you’ll beat it easily. Still I hate it when games give you cheap game over screens and make you replay a section you already did 10 minutes ago. That is what Mafia 2 does a lot.

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The stealth sections are decent at best, you can drag bodies and perform sneak take downs and stuff but nothing too fancy. I personally found the stealth sections to be underused and it annoyed me that they usually ended with a huge gunfight essentially making it impossible to stealth your way through a level which was a shame. Also some of the enemy placements can make it a pain as they never seem to want to move. Put simply, Mafia 2 is definitely not a great stealth game.

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Now the driving sections aren’t as bad but can still be frustrating at times simply due to the checkpoint system. There is one mission where you have to escape from the Feds and the police are on your tail immediately, you are also a wanted man. So you have to escape from the police whilst Joe deals with the Feds, sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it is… until Joe tells you to take him to Kingston in which you will have to navigate the map without getting any attention from the cops as you are a wanted man. In Mafia 2, being Wanted means that any cop who sees you will chase you down and that every area is locked down.

The problem is that because there is no checkpoint after killing off the feds, if the cops catch you or your vehicle gets smashed up, you have to restart the entire mission all over again! Seriously couldn’t you at least have given me a checkpoint after killing the Feds and escaping the cops?

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On the other hand, cop chases aren’t all that bad, they never feel completely one-sided (like GTA 5’s cop chases) but never feel too easy. Cop cars are slow in Mafia 2 so you can outrun them with speed, additionally, you can kill the cops yourself to make things easier and since the guns work really well and unlike GTA 5, 4 star cop chases aren’t too hard as long as you have the right guns, if you can time it right, you can kill both cops and take their car. Alternatively you can change your clothes/licence plate when you have escaped the cops to lose your wanted status.

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In any case, thankfully the driving works quite well in the game. Once thing I did enjoy was the speed limiter which allowed you to drive slowly, obeying the laws of the road. This allows you to role play a little which helps immerse you into the world instead of just driving like a complete lunatic all the time like in most open world games.

Speaking of Open World. Don’t go into Mafia 2 expecting an open world experience, sure there is a city to explore but the game is all mission based and the city serves as an extra. Think of it more like Halo 3 ODST’s New Mombasa in the sense that you have a city to explore but there isn’t much to do in it and it’s all broken up into missions. The city kinda acts as a hub between missions rather than a free roaming component as you will always find yourself in the middle of a mission. With that being said, there is nothing stopping you from exploring should you wish to do so.

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Missions are split into chapters which can be loaded at any time from the menu screen

There are cars to steal, shops to buy from and wanted posters to find so there’s something at least. Just don’t think of it as deep as games like GTA, Saints Row or Sleeping Dogs as it’s nothing like them (though it’s probably closest to Sleeping Dogs).

Speaking of collectibles, you can also pick up Playboy magazines in between levels which rewards your keen eye with erotic imagery, coincidence much?

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The game also adds hand to hand combat which feels like a glorified rock paper scissors game. I personally found it to be mediocre as it’s all about reading enemy patters which can sometimes be quite unpredictable. A lot of it is just rinse and repeat dodge and counter until you see the opportunity for a finisher. That being said, these sections do manage to break things up a bit and add something different though they didn’t get as much use as I would have liked. Sparring against a Mob boss would have been far more satisfying than just capping them in the head as this game shows. On the other hand, the combat isn’t quite on the same level of depth as Sleeping Dogs so I’ll probably take back that statement.

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Mafia 2 isn’t all bad though and it does offer something of worth for those who are patient enough to put up with its issues. For starters, the world itself is very immersive. Seriously I have yet to play a game quite as immersive as Mafia 2. It seriously feels like taking a step back to the 50’s. The city itself is very well designed. The weather change is also brilliant. It feels like the entire city changes when you move on to the next time period. You start in what I presume to be the mid 1940’s around winter time and later on find yourself in the 1950’s mid summer. Heck even the cars change.

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You can also listen to the radio when you’re driving. Sure it’s not a completely new concept and the music isn’t anything incredible (it’s not video game music) but it really gets you immersed in the time period with songs like Dean Martin’s “Let it snow” playing in the background when you first arrive in Empire Bay. In addition, the radio likes to make many references to modern culture claiming that such ideas are ridiculous. There is even a stealth section where I overheard the guards saying “you know what would be cool? If we had a TV program which we could interact with, we could use a controller to move around, it would be so cool” and the other guard makes a snarky remark insisting that it will never happen.

Another great feature is the ability to own and customize vehicles, it’s a nice little bonus which you will almost never make practical use of as missions usually provide you with a car and even if they don’t, you can easily just steal one. Nevertheless it’s still a cool feature and it’s always nice to have a little bit of personalized touches to your ride. Of course it’s not as deep as it could be but at least it had it. GTA 4 didn’t. The vehicles all look very nice too, some great classic looking cars to steal and drive around in. Put simply, the vehicle customization is a good distraction and gives you something to spend your money on (when you’re not buying new suits or guns).

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The story in Mafia 2 is also done quite well though I would have liked to have seen more of it as the game is quite short. The story is presented in a rather gritty approach, particularly near the end, though there are a few comical sections here and there. For the most part it is a serious story though and can get quite dark too (as you would expect from a Mafia game).

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There are all sorts of really interesting scenarios like being thrown into jail for 10 years and experiencing prison life which I thought was a cool addition considering most games tend to skip those parts, it helped me get all the more immersed into the game and opened my eyes to the harshness of 1950’s prison life. Something I really appreciated.

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The characters are hit and miss, some are forgettable, some are pretty interesting. I found Vito, Joe, Henry and Leo to be the most notable characters, they kept the story strong for me, everyone else was quite forgettable (except Marty who was somewhat irritating).

Overall, Mafia 2 is a mixed bag, it’s an interesting experience for those who want an insight on Mafia life and it offers and engaging story and setting. On the other hand, the game play is pretty rusty and often frustrating, especially due to the annoying checkpoint system. Overall, Mafia 2 is not a bad game but it’s not really a good game.

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Story/Plot: Good
Visuals: Good
Game play: So-So
Music: Good
Lifespan: Very Short
Would You Replay? No
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Overall: So-So

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3:41 PM on 05.23.2015

Looking Back: Warcraft 3: Reign Of Chaos/Frozen Throne Campaign Review

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Since this review is for both the main game and the expansion, I’m going to focus on the campaign. In any case, the online multi player component might as well be considered dead at this point due to it’s utterly toxic community among other things. Just stay away from Warcraft 3 battle.net at all costs.

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So you say you’re a fan of RTS? But you also like RPG’s? Well this is the closest you’ll ever get (besides maybe Mount and Blade which is more of an RPG than an RTS) Warcraft 3 is at its core a Real Time Strategy with a twist. It presents itself in a similar manner to most RPG’s in the sense that there is a huge focus on storytelling, narrative and also leveling up. All these factors are what make up Warcraft 3.

It’s predecessors, Warcraft 1 and 2 were vastly different from the series’ third installment as they focused on more traditional RTS elements and was possibly an attempt to rival the Warhammer series. It wasn’t until Warcraft 3 where the series’ roots extended beyond what was merely a knock off Warhammer game and became a game of its own.

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Warcraft 3’s game play is similar to that of the tabletop game Chainmail In the sense that you are given powerful units called Heroes. Heroes are the backbone of your army and they plays a huge role in battles as they have many unique abilities which aren’t usable by regular Units. In addition, Heroes are able to level up and learn new skills, just like in an RPG but despite this, there is a level cap reminding you that this is still an RTS at it’s core. As such, you will need units to assist your hero. Units have basic upgrade trees which are very easy to figure out so you shouldn’t have too much trouble in strengthening them.

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Like many RTS, micromanagement is a huge part of Warcraft 3. Micromanagement is a fancy term for multi-tasking. Basically you will periodically have to build buildings, get upgrades and spend your resources as well as controlling your entire army. Picking the right units is easy. Controlling them on the other hand is far from simple. If you have an army of ghouls and you charge into an army of archers, your ghouls are history. Why? Because their armor is so weak. How do you avoid this? That’s simple, by moving your units back when they’re hurt… and that’s easier said than done.

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A good strategy is to surround enemies with your units so they cannot escape

Put simply, if clicking back and forth between your workers, units, buildings and hero’s isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll probably not enjoy the game play of Warcraft 3. Personally I hate multi-tasking, I’d much rather control my units with vocalized instructions than with a mouse and keyboard. Hence the reason why I’ve always wanted a Mount and Blade crossover with Warcraft.

But before you decide to bugger off, Warcraft 3’s campaign is still fun for newcomers to the genre and it gets you used to the basics very easily as well as putting RPG fans such as myself in familiar territory, despite it’s genre, Warcraft 3 managed to design the campaign in a way that it’s enjoyable for both RTS and RPG fans and I strongly recommend that if you’re a fan of RPG’s to give Warcraft 3 a try for two reasons.

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You can play capture the Illidan!

First of all, Warcraft 3’s format is similar to that of an RPG in the sense that you have creep camps. Creep camps are groups of neutral/hostile enemies that will attack anyone on sight and are not affiliated with the enemy. “So why should I go for them?” you say? Creeps usually carry valuable items on them, as well as gold and XP. Basically in the early stages of game, you will often find yourself battling creep camps to strengthen yourself against the enemy.

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In each campaign, your hero’s stats and inventory get carried over to the next chapter so you will want to scavenge high and low for better items to help you out in battles later. Some items are hidden in crates/barrels which you must destroy to get them. Others are quest rewards, yes there are quests in Warcraft 3, how else did World Of Warcraft become an MMO?

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Quest complete!

Questing in Warcraft 3 can make either a huge or small difference though sometimes it’s almost essential to do them, particularly if you aren’t a very good player. As such, Warcraft 3 offers many different approaches which doesn’t give it too many merits considering it is after all a RTS and as such it is expected to have multiple “strategies” to winning campaigns, quests are merely one of these.

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In addition, there are some levels, usually interior levels which give you a small group of units and a hero and send you into a more RPG style environment where there is no base to help you and you instead have to rely on your hero and units. If your hero dies it’s game over. These sections are usually quite innovative and as an RPG fan I quite enjoyed them, even if they are a little too easy as you are mostly battling through creep camps. There is one in particular near the end of the game which is actually quite challenging.

This is where the game makes use of puzzles to get from place to place. You will find many circle’s of power, these are used to interact with certain things. In addition, there are switches too, kind like pressure plates which can be used in a similar manner. Some missions meld both traditional and RPG style levels together. For example, one level requires you to send out workers to repair some observatories and you are given limited units and workers to repair with and as such you have to make your way through creep infested areas with limited units, eventually you find a gold mine and are expected to build a base. From here on out you are able to build more units to bolster your forces and you will need to, because the undead have already noticed you and are attacking.

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Put simply if you’re looking for a more innovative RTS, Warcraft 3 is definitely worth checking out as it has a lot of interesting levels which each require a different approach and the pacing of the game makes sure that you are not fed up with the constant base building and warring and provides small-scale RPG sections to break things up so there’s plenty of variety.

In addition, Warcraft 3 has many easter eggs that give the game that extra charm. Units and heroes each have their own dialogue whenever they’re clicked on, click on them multiple times though and they’ll start breaking the forth wall and start bringing up movie references among other things.

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By Elune, it is huge!

In addition, there are many other easter eggs which are easily missed. For this reason I highly encourage exploration in each level as there are many secrets to be found. There is even a bonus level to unlock that is easily missed. You can also utilize your abilities to traverse certain areas. Sometimes hidden items can be found in inaccessible areas which require a certain ability to reach. Warcraft 3 might be in real-time but sometimes it never hurts to stop and think.

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All that aside, it’s time to talk about the meat of the package. The second reason why I would recommend Warcraft 3 to fans of RPG’s is the story. Oh boy is the story of Warcraft 3 excellent. It puts most RPG’s to shame. If you’ve played games like Fire Emblem, you’ll probably feel right at home with Warcraft 3’s story… although it’s a lot less Japanese and has a lot more depth and lore.

——–Spoilers for Warcraft 1 and 2——–

Warcraft 3 offers 4 main campaigns (7 if you count Frozen throne) each with its own story line. Campaigns are split into 4 factions. First being the humans, a proud (somewhat too proud), self-righteous old race that has thrived in the Eastern Kingdoms for many years… until the orcs came. In Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (the first game) the orcs ravaged their lands one by one and the humans were pushed back towards the northern kingdoms of Lordaeron. In Warcraft 2, the humans were invaded once again by the orcs but barely managed to push them back and defeated their leader, Orgrim Doomhammer, imprisoned him and sealed his people in internment camps (similar to the concentration camps in WW2).

The orcs appear to be a savage and violent race but in truth they were once a peaceful, honorable race, guided by the elements (AKA the spirits). Despite their peaceful nature, orcs have always been boorish fighters and they are a highly competitive race. Battle is everything to them, it practically rules their entire society, the strong are revered, the weak are shunned. The shaman on the other hand were also revered for their guidance and the orc’s sense of honor kept them in check.

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However, certain events caused the orcs to become bloodthirsty savages. After being imprisoned in the internment camps for many years, they were rescued by an orc named Thrall and were united once more to stand against the humans. The orcs seek to return to their former ways and bring peace back to the lands of Azeroth, though their past provocations had not been forgotten by the humans and the hostility between the two races continues to rage on.

———————–Spoilers End——————————–

Aside from the orcs and humans, two new races enter the fray. These are the undead and the night elves. These two new races bring their own lore to the story line to set up an even deeper world. Furthermore, the Burning Legion, a race of powerful demons have returned to the world of Azeroth intent on destroying all existence. Who will survive? Will the mortal races make amends? Who is this legion? All these questions are answered in the story and I strongly recommend playing it yourself.

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One thing I personally enjoy about Warcraft 3’s story line is the ambiguity surrounding good/evil in each faction. Due to the story being presented in multiple perspectives, it’s easy to empathize with each of the four races (except maybe the undead). In fact there’s more to it than just racial perspectives. Certain campaigns put you into the perspective of a sub faction. These perspectives are usually found in Frozen Throne and give you a completely different hero to play as. These factions may or may not be opposed to their own race but they act independently from the main racial factions.

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Put simply, the characters in Warcraft 3 each have their own sense of morals but no one is truly good or evil (except maybe the dreadlords who are pure evil). Each character has their own demons to contend with (some more than others) and in doing so they may find themselves in situations where their demons influence their actions in a negative way which usually leads to many conflicts between characters among other things.

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Join the dark side, we have cookies!

This makes the characters of Warcraft 3 feel real, they aren’t just cut/paste heroes/villains, they’re just people with strong convictions who are willing to fight for them with their lives. Thus begins the terrible warfare that decides the victor and we love it. That’s what Warcraft is about after all.

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Then again, there is the undead campaign which is somewhat different from the other 3 campaigns. In the undead campaign, you play the bad guy, that’s right, you play as the main villain and you slaughter everyone in your way for nothing more than pleasure. Unlike most games, Warcraft doesn’t have protagonists or antagonists, instead each side is both a protagonist and an antagonist at some point (besides the Burning Legion, which I would just love to play as but sadly Varimathras is the closest we get :/).

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“Human names all sound the same to me” ~Varimathras

 

Varimathras is a badass

The ability to experience both sides of the coin is something video games should embrace more. I’m tired of games only showing one perspective in their story. We need more games like Warcraft which allows us to experience multiple perspectives for ourselves. As such i find Warcraft 3 to be the greatest storytelling I’ve ever experienced in a video game and it encouraged me to get the books to read more about the lore and having read several of them, I’ve come to the conclusion that Warcraft 3 has some of the deepest lore a video game can offer. Seriously, the lore doesn’t end with Warcraft 3, read all the books and watch the Warcraft movie when it comes out to experience one of the greatest stories established by a video game ever.

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Now with all that aside, time to talk about the little things. The visuals are a notable improvement from the previous games in the series though I would have liked to have seen a bit more detail from a 2003 game, I believe they did a reasonable job considering the time this game was made. The cinematics on the other hand are absolutely stellar. I mean it is Blizzard after all, they do make the best cinematics. It’s like you’re watching a movie.

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The music is done by Glenn Stafford and though his Warcraft 2 music was catchier, Warcraft 3’s music is a lot more epic and orchestrated, particularly in the cinematics which are really well done. It’s hard not to get goosebumps when you’re watching the human campaign ending. The voice acting is also fantastic, particularly the dreadlords. There are also many fantastic lines of dialogue to match making for some epic quotes such as:

“Save your breath human, you’ll need it to scream when I start tearing off your limbs!” ~ Grom Hellscream

Now if you haven’t already realized by the title, Warcraft 3 has online multiplayer but do yourself a favor and stay away. It’s really awful and I’m not going to review it. If you want to know more about Warcraft 3’s Battle.net, I highly encourage you to read this article I made as it will tell you pretty much everything you need to know:

Warcraft 3 Battle.net Blog

Overall, Warcraft 3’s campaign is definitely worth purchasing the game by itself, just be sure to get the expansion with it as well, you can’t just get one of them. Be sure to get both to finish the story. Trust me, Frozen Throne is even better, especially if you liked Reign Of Chaos. I also highly encourage you to try out the books too. As for World Of Warcraft, I have played it and I will say right now that it killed the entire series, don’t play it. I don’t play it anymore, in case you haven’t already gathered.

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Story/Plot: Exceptional
Visuals: Good
Gameplay: Great
Music: Good
Multiplayer: Awful (just putting that out there)
Lifespan: Quite Long (ROC) Decent Legnth (TFT)
Would you replay? Maybe
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Overall: Excellent
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10:08 AM on 05.15.2015

Looking Back: Need For Speed Carbon Review

Now as we all know, EA are a greedy publisher. Their development team Black Box on the other hand are actually not that bad and it shows through Need For Speed Carbon.

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Completely ignoring the controversy behind EA, I’m giving Need For Speed Carbon a fair chance. Need For Speed Carbon is available for many platforms but I chose the Wii version. Why, I have no idea, possibly because I just got a Wii at that point. So I’ll be reviewing the Wii version.

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To start with we have the visuals. I honestly think that the visuals of Need For Speed Carbon are a vast improvement over its predecessors and still hold up well today. All the cars look nice and shiny and there are some great lighting effects on the paint work. The dark neon lit urban sandbox returns from Need For Speed Underground 2 which is good considering the bright, sunny Rockport kinda got tiring after a while, plus it provides a fitting environment to show off the game’s lighting effects.

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I really like Palmont City a lot as it has a lot of cool areas, particularly in Silverton and unlike Rockport which had very few memorable landmarks, Palmont has plenty. This can help out a lot with the police chases as it helps to know where you are on the map and the visuals are a lot bolder and clearer due to the game’s darker environment allowing you to identify light easier. All in all though, I really think Carbon does well in the visual department.

But what really matters in games like this is the racing. First things first though I have to bring up the controls as they are easily the most interesting part of the Wii version. Unlike the other versions, the Wii version utilizes the Wii remote which requires you to tilt it to steer (kind of like a steering wheel). This can turn a lot of people off at first and can seem quite intimidating, its a bit like transitioning from the DK Bongo’s to the Gamecube controller in Donkey Konga, it just feels awkward. The bad thing is that there aren’t any conventional controller options, though there are still a few options here and there which require the Wii remote and nunchuck, I felt that the default controls were ultimately the least clunky of the bunch.


As you can see, i can’t drive in third person perspective using the Wii remote.

With that said, the Wii remote operates fine by itself. You use 2 to accelerate, 1 to brake and the best bit, A to hand brake. My god I can’t think of any racing game where I’ve ever used the hand brake as much as this, and it handles so smoothly too. This is partly due to the mechanics of the steering which are very fast and surprisingly responsive even on the Wii version. Cornering feels fast, as it should with the use of the hand brake, its as if you almost never need to use the brake.

In addition, there is speed breaker which can be used by pressing down on the d pad (or from a horizontal position, you press right on the d pad). Speed breaker is so ridiculously abusive though it’s not even funny. Like Nitrous, it regenerates over time, so you can use it on nearly every corner and it’s really fun to do so. This can be a good thing as it makes the game more accessible for newcomers to the series and ultimately makes the game more fun as it’s cool to watch your car drift around corners carrying the weight of all it’s speed. It’s as if they knew exactly how to make an engaging arcade racer.

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As with previous installments, you have your nitrous to give yourself an extra boost, this can be done by pressing right on the d pad (or up horizontally) and can be useful at getting your speed back after a sharp turn. Something new however is crew abilities. Crew abilities allow you to either stop your opponent in their tracks or draft behind a crew member to gain some speed. As if speed breaker didn’t make it easy enough in Most Wanted, now you have another racer on your side who can win the races for you. Talk about hand-holding.

In addition, crew members have rubber band AI. This is usually a good thing since they stay with you, particularly if they’re a drafter but sometimes they get in your way and you end up ramming into their rear bumper with them complaining at you for driving like a lunatic when it was their fault. In addition, it can make a fun challenge to beat your teammate in a race as they generally play on the same level as you making them a tough challenge. Sometimes however your ally can be found all the way back in last place. Sometimes it’s because they hit a wall directly, sometimes a pursuit breaker blocks their way, this can even happen to the enemy racers too which is hilarious.

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To step things up there’s the canyon races. These races are Need For Speed Carbon’s most stand-out feature. Canyon races turn off both nitrous and speed breaker, forcing you to drive with pure skill. The hand holding essentially disappears completely here and whilst the arcade racing mechanics might help a little, the tracks theme around tight corners and thin roads which are designed to intimidate the player. This makes canyon races some of the best this game has to offer, they’re intense and really fun. Essentially, canyons are the ultimate test of your driving ability in the Need For Speed series.

Canyon’s are tough but not tough enough for the Dodge Viper

Police chases make a return and they’re slightly different this time round. Police helicopters will no longer follow you on the map, why they removed them is unknown. On the other hand, pursuit breakers will no longer immobilize all police cars in an area and can be avoided by the cops. The only way to utilize a pursuit breaker is to have the cop get crushed or drive into it as opposed to Most Wanted where the cops would stop to investigate the damage.

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As Palmont is a more cramped space, with lots of corners, there are a lot of quick exits to escape from the cops, and without the helicopters, the police will have a harder time finding you. Additionally, spike strips are not as effective as they were in Most Wanted and it’s possible to outrun the cops without tires as opposed to slowing town to 0. This makes the cop chases in NFS Carbon a lot more forgiving than Most Wanted and are still just as enjoyable though they can sometimes be a pain.

Another returning feature is the drift challenges from Need For Speed Underground 2 which have replaced the Drag races in Need For Speed Most Wanted (which I personally hated). Drifts couldn’t be more fun with the Wii remote, not to mention more challenging and rewarding. I swear your arms will hurt after a while as drifting requires you to corner some really sharp turns without touching the railings. The higher the speed the more points you get. I personally find drifts to be really fun though I can understand how they can be a huge turnoff to some. Still, I find them a lot more bearable than Drag races which were a glorified car frogger simulation with manual transmission (automatic all the way, sorry, I just suck with manual transmission, it’s the main reason why I never learned to drive IRL).

And that pretty much covers the general game play experience of Need For Speed Carbon but that’s not the only thing Need For Speed Carbon has going for it. Like all good street racing games, you gotta have some good car customization. It is something the Need For Speed games have been lacking for a while now and Carbon is arguably the best of the bunch in this category (though some argue pro street which I personally disagree with despite them being very similar as to me, the cars look a lot better in Carbon which makes the customization feel more desirable).

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Like previous NFS titles, you can customize your rims, hoods, add a few vinyl’s here and there but what stands out the most is the game’s autosculpt system. This allows you to freely adjust the shape and size of your cars body to give it its own look. In addition, the number of vinyl slots is now limitless. This is the one thing that annoyed me the most about NFS Most Wanted, the fact that you could only pick one vinyl which was stupid as Underground 2 allowed you to have up to 4. Carbon rectify’s this problem by giving you limitless design possibilities. I guarantee you will never see two of the same car in NFS Carbon… unless they’re deliberately designing the same car.

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Unlike the other games in the series, Need For Speed Carbon comes with its own original soundtrack. Instead of just throwing money at licensed music (which they still do with their EA Trax), they actually managed to design their own to accompany it. So if you don’t want to listen to licensed music, you can just turn it off and still listen to the game’s OST. I actually really like the OST as it’s intense (the cop chases still use the remixed version of The Mann), particularly the music that plays in the canyons which has a lot of heavy percussion.

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The biggest issue with NFS Carbon is it’s length. The career mode is sadly very short, there are only 4 boss fights (each with both a circuit and canyon race) and the career can be a little too easy to beat. With all of its hand holding features like the speed breaker and your crew, the game can easily be beaten in a few hours. The final race however is really tough and it can really suck for people who have a low acceleration car as your opponent is driving the best car in the game with perfect handling down one of the game’s most twistiest tracks.

To make up for this, there is a lot of replay value to be had in NFS Carbon. Aside from the career mode there is also the challenge series. Though it doesn’t offer half as much content as NFS Most Wanted, it’s still there and has you driving some cars that are unavailable in career mode which is cool. In addition there are reward cards which are basically in-game achievements which reward you with new car parts, visuals and cars to unlock in Quick Race (the game’s multi-player). I actually went out of my way to get all of the reward cards in the game and it was a lot of fun replaying the game again each time to get them (though I set up a new alias as I wasn’t fond of losing all my pimped out cars to complete some of the reward cards).

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Here’s proof, proof that I have no life…

The Wii version doesn’t have online multi-player but split screen is still there and can still be fun with a friend. It’s pretty bog standard and sadly there is no coop free roam like in Midnight Club 3 but it’s still quite fun for a little bit though you’ll eventually get bored and move on to something else.

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Did somebody call the fire brigade?

All in all, Carbon is a solid entry in the series and is my personal favorite. As a racer, it’s up there, but it ain’t got nothing on F-Zero GX.

Advice to all Wii version owners: Play in first person perspective, trust me, it makes a huge difference. Oh and stick with default controls and learn them. You will grow to love this game.

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Visuals: Great

Music: Good

Gameplay: Great

Customization: Excellent

Content: Satisfactory

Lifespan: Very Short

Multi-Player: Decent

Licensed Cars? Yes

Would you replay? Yes

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Overall: Great

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5:14 AM on 05.12.2015

Awful Boss Battles: Nefasturris

So it's finally time to unleash all my hatred... i believe this is definitely going to be a series worth doing... hopefully. You know... those awful moments in videogames which make you want to smash your fist through the TV or fall asleep... or both. Even some of the nest games have some really horrible moments that really push your buttons. Today we're going to talk about boss fights and one boss in particular really infuriates me. The mere existance of this boss offends me... Today i'm going to talk about a boss from Devil May Cry 2, Nefasturris.

Now believe it or not, i don't really hate Devil May Cry 2 unlike a lot of people. I liked the direction they were going for it, lots of cool areas to explore and are all dark and give you that feeling of desolation, plus despite being stoic, i do think DMC2's Dante is still a badass, in fact you could say that this time around, he's too badass. So badass that he doesn't even need style to win boss fights... he just kinda stands there and shoots.

Disclaimer: I am proficient in the art of sucking when it comes to playing Devil May Cry

Which is all you can do against the mighty Nefasturris. Seriously this boss drives me up the wall. This boss is not only frustating as hell but is just plain bad. First lets look at his design. What the bloody fuck is that. Seriously, people actually gathered together in a board room and thought up this shit. You are fighting a giant hulking demon who's somehow managed to get himself trapped inside a skycraper, so the skyscraper turns rubber and you see this huge face pop out. I don't even know what to say about this, i mean sure it might look cool on paper but it's simply illogical. A skyscraper is a solid object with multiple floors. How can a demon that size fit in there (let alone get in there)? In addition, why do the windows turn to jelly when he pushes into them with his hand? I'm pretty sure physics don't work like that.

The only other explanation is that the demon itself is the skyscraper and we are led to believe that it's just a facade. If so, then why the hell does the building not dissappear when he comes out? Is the skyscraper actually the demon? If so then why? Why would you make a demon that is designed as a skyscraper and if you're trying to make it subtle, then why do you have his body popping out of it!? Seriously, this has to be one of the dumbest ideas for a boss battle i've ever encountered in my life. Sure i know it's supposed to be a videogame and trying to apply logic to a videogame is stupid but it's not half as stupid as the idea of this boss. I mean come on, it's a demon that just pops out of a jelly skyscraper, worst part is, it comes literally out of nowhere and serves absolutely no purpose other than to create something epic looking for the game's opening scene. Lets face it, that is all this boss is, it's purpose is to make the intro cutscene look epic and truth be told, when i first saw the intro, i thought this boss fight was going to be badass, sadly i couldn't have been more wrong.

What make's Nefasturris one of the worst bosses ever is simply the fact that it makes no sense in the context of a Devil May Cry game (gameplay wise at least). Devil May Cry is supposed to be a hack n slash game at it's core but this boss is so far away that it's near impossible to hit him with physical attacks and it's dangerous to even try, instead you're encouraged to stand far back holding down the square button and jumping and dodging his attacks as they come. Watch the video and see how many times i actually used my sword on this guy (the first form at least), sure i did try to use it but when i did i often got punished by the boss. This is the reason why i had to re record this footage as well as the reason why this boss is so frustrating, when a game gives me a choice between using a sword or a gun, i'm going to use a sword, i've always enjoyed sword fighting in games hence the reason why i play Devil May Cry in the first place, to hack n slash things with my sword. All i'm doing in this boss is holding down square and shooting him with SMG's (god help you if you decided to bring ebony and ivory to this fight) and dodging his irritating attacks.

Seriously, this guy has quite possibly one of the most irritating arsenal of attack's i've seen in a Devil May Cry game (though Geryon and Beowolf come damn close). He shoots this huge laser (which as you can probably gather by the video, i'm just too good at jumping into >.>) which covers the entire battlefield. To avoid it you jhave to jump over it. Well get this. Once you have the bosses health down below 3/4 his laser will start homing on you and this is near impossible to avoid especially if you're standing too close (hence the reason why you can't use the sword in this fight). The only way to avoid the homing laser is to jump up (just to have the laser move up) and when you land you quickly dodge forward twice (you see me do it in the video). If you're standing too close to the boss, you have to do the same but dodge backwards instead of forwards. If you're too close to a corner though, you're fucked as if you jump, the laser will hit you.

To ensure you're not standing too close the boss will also shoot what appears to be a shotgun blast laser, this attack is stupidly annoying to dodge. At least the laser is possible to dodge (if you do it perfectly) but this attack can hit you just about anywhere. you can literally just dodge into one of the lasers. Now if you're attacking him ,with the sword and he uses this, say goodbye to a considerable amount of health as all the lasers will hit you. Once again this forces you to use the guns. I hate being forced to use certain weapons. If i have a sword, i'm going to use it and in this boss, using it is so dangerous that it's safer just so shoot as it deals enough damage anyways (because as we all know, Devil May Cry 2's guns are overpowered as hell).

Nefasturris also loves to taunt the player by slamming his hand down, at the same time, he is vulnerable to melee damage for a short period of time but before you even think about it, Nefasturris will summon bats to stunlock you and the only effective way of dealing with them is *sigh* gunning them down. Essentially the only reason to melee attack this guy is simply to get devil trigger... just to make the boss fight end quicker and believe me, this boss can be a real pain to kill without fully upgraded SMG's (which i am using in the video). The faster this boss fight ends the better and considering the fact that there are two phases to this fight you'll want to get the first phase down really quickly.

Ello poppet...

In the second phase however, things get a bit differrent. His head comes flying off and you have to fight him again (yep it really is that stupid). The guy likes to shoot white balls at you, all you can do is mash circle and hold the analogue stick to the top corner and pray that you don't dodge too slow or into a wall or you will get hit, staggered, hit again and so on. Then his head will fall down and you have to get around him to avoid his shotgun blast laser, then you can finally use your sword (it's about time). Afterwards he will begin to shoot blue lightning, similar to Nevan in DMC3. The problem with this is that if you were expecting the white balls, you're probably going to start dodging... but these lightning bolts appear on the ground and it's obvious that their purpose is to troll the player by having them dodge left... only to dodge into the lightning. He will throw multiple lines of lightning at you and you can only pray that they don't hit you as he throws some of them in the air for good measure. Just to make things worse, he likes to throw both white balls and blue lightning at you at the same time but in truth this is no differrent from the blue lightning.

The thing that annoys me about this boss the most is that despite how annoying and frustrating he is, he really isn't all that difficult. Through trial and error you will easily beat this boss. It's just his cheap moves that annoy me the most and the simple fact that you have to avoid all of his attacks in a particular way or you'll get hit. In reality, Nefasturris is just a boring boss with nothing interesting to offer, his irritating attacks can knock you off guard at first but once you know exactly what you're supposed to do, he is pitifully easy... if annoying. Really it all comes down to guess work, guessing what his next attack will be. If you can anticipate all of his moves and know exactly how to avoid them, you will beat this boss so easily it's laughable.

Oh so it's Nefascaptis now... since when did losing your head warrant a name change?

Now you might argue "isn't that what a learning curve is all about"? Well normally you'd be right, bosses are supposed to challenge you and you're meant to feel accomplished, as if you learned something new after beating them but the only thing you're left with after this boss fight is dissappointment, you learn absolutely nothing besides the fact that the boss is both ridiculously annoying and ridiculously easy. Just look at Vergil in Devil May Cry 3, that boss fight is literally the complete opposite of Nefasturris, you come out of it feeling as if you accomplished something or learned something new. Seriously, each time i fought that guy (and for each playthrough) i came out of that fight learning something new each time. This boss left me with nothing but pain and frustration and every time i go back to it it brings back that same pain and frustration every time because by then, i forgot how to avoid the guy's attacks and have to re-do it over and over again till i can remember.

What's worse is when you do beat him, you are rewarded with the most anticlimactic deatn animation ever...

So there you have it, one boss down, many more to go. Oh and i'm not just going to discuss bosses, hell no. There are many other awful sections of videogames to discuss. Depending on how much or how little i have to say about them depends on how may of them i'll include in each one.

Sorry for the shitty image quality, unlike most images which i admittedly grab from Google, i decided to upload these directly from my capture card considering the fact that the entire boss fight is all in the video. As a result, the inages look like ass... but thats ok since this boss looks like ass anyways, just sayin.

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12:07 PM on 05.10.2015

Current Gen: Child Of Light Review

This review was requested a while back and i have just recently had the drive to write it. Child Of Light was developed by Ubisoft of all people, wait... you mean a niché indie style RPG was developed by a hugely successful publisher? Child Of Light is a sign that despite all their huge fuck ups in recent years, Ubisoft isn't completely worthless.

To make things even more interesting, Child Of Light seemed to combine many well known concepts into a single package, it's hard not to find something familiar in this game and even if you don't, it all seems to be formulated well despite it's first glance. The most recognized aspect to me was the gameplay. Ubisoft appear to have actually paid attention to game arts' Grandia series during development (something most publishers don't do) and have incorporated many of it's ideas into Child Of Light's combat system, essentially making Child Of Light the spiritual successor to Grandia, who would have known!?

Now lets dig deep into the combat, It's Pausable Active Time based (more of a forced pause) just like the Grandia games which is a great choice of combat style for such a game (better than the ever boring turned based system of Bravely Default). Just like in the Grandia games, characters move on an IP bar which designates each characters turn. Once the character reaches the act bar they can issue commands and begin raping the enemy with a multitude of attacks or just simply support. Like in Grandia, you also have the ability to cancel enemy attacks by attacking them whilst their portrait is within the act bar which interrupts their attack and pushes them back down the bar, it's a really addictive system and it returns better than ever in Child Of Light. Unlike the Grandia games, Child Of Light removed combo and critical attacks and just replaced them with... err attack. In addition, every attack has the potential to counter enemies. This is a double edged sword.

Now on paper, this is a great thing, now all the attacks are balanced and are all effective unlike in the grandia games. This makes Child Of Light's combat one of the most balanced of it's kind. On the other hand, some of the design ideas didn't really work well with this. One of which occurs later on in the game where enemies have the ability to counter your cancels and do various nasty things to you. Essentially this means you are punished for cancelling their attack. I swear i cannot count how many time i had fallen victim to this cheap trick and died so many times. Now had they brought back the combo ability and allowed us to deal more damage to enemies without cancelling them, this wouldn't have been a problem. However, since pretty much every single offensive move in this game counts as a cancel, you can be counter attacked so many times and believe me, enemy counter attacks are brutal in this game, sometimes even frustratingly brutal. Then again this adds a solid challenge to the game and is a kick to the nuts to all Grandia fans.

One of Child Of Light's most unique concepts is it's interaction with your wick companion Igniculus who follows you around like a lost lamb. Igniculus can be used to solve puzzles, illuminate areas and many other things, most notably in combat. Igniculus adds even more intricacy to the Grandia trademark battle system by adding two player co op. Now don't be fooled by this, you do not directly control a character as a second player, rather you control the battlefield itself with the mighty Igniculus (god i suck at spelling his name, have to google it every time :/). Igniculus has many abilities in battle, one of which is to interferre with enemy wait/cast times and ultimately slow them down allowing you to counter them with more precision. This can save you from many game over's if utilized correctly. On the other hand, Igniculous can also knock little flowers on the side of the screen to heal your character's health and magic points. You want to be careful when using him though as there is only so much the little guy can do. Similar to your MP, Igniculus has his own bar which when used renders him unable to use his abilities so be sure to use him wisely.

Now that we've covered the combat, it's time to get to the rest... the hard part. Child Of Light is a hand drawn side scrolling rpg with platforming elements or as many would call, an ATB based Metroidvania RPG. Just imagine cupid Kirby in the sense that you don't need to jump. Yes once you reach a certain part of the game, you are given wings! Yes it turns out the Red Bull rumors were true... only this time, you're handicapped with the inability to move forward and back. Just imagine that for a second would you, you're granted wings but you can only move left and right... anyways, the entire skybox is your oyster. You're free to explore the world as you see fit... not that there's much of it. In any case, yes Child Of Light is a semi-open world 2d side scroller and i say semi because... well it's a pretty small world. Serously, you could finish this game in potentially less than 5 hours (i wouldn't know as i'm not a speedrunner). This is pretty pitiful but kind of expected the moment you see the skill tree. It's a very short game and although i don't mind the occasional shortness, this game is really really short. Seriously this game is on the same level as Zone Of The Enders in it's shortness and that's probably why it was retailed at £15.00 for the deluxe edition.

Anyways lets get back to it, there are lots of differrent dungeons to find and explore for you metroidvania fanatics out there along with many side quests to do as well. This thankfully saves the game from it's ridiculously short legnth but for those who want to focus solely on the main story, you might be disappointed. In fact the majority of the characters won't even join you unless you complete their related side quest. Thankfully the sidequests aren't too tedious and offer pretty decent rewards for them so they're all worth trying. The only issue with side quests is the simple fact that there is no end game content. Once the game is done you are just left with the side quests and that's it, so character maxing is essentially pointless as there really isn't any need to make your characters stronger after the main story. Characters on the other hand are mostly essential.

Character management is kept rather simple but is still enjoyable nontheless, each character has three differrent trees which are all sadly linear (seriously skill trees are getting old now). The skills they learn on the other hand are actually quite diverse, you even have characters who are strictly for buffing. There is a nice selection of abilities to choose from though so you have plenty of tactical choice in battles which i really appreciated considering a lot of RPG's still miss this. In addition to the skill trees, many quests reward you with gems, this essentially gives you something similar to the fusion skill in Two Worlds 2 where you can combine gems of the same colour to make new gems and they all gave differrent effects depending on what they're equipped on. Gems are essentially equipment modifiers (or should i say they are the only form of equipment). Gems can be placed in your weapon, armor or accessory. There are many kinds of gems to be found from rubies, sapphires, emeralds, ambers etc. I had a lot of fun with this game's character management despite it's simplicity and i believe they did a fantastic job with it overall.

Music wise... i think the game got a little too repetitive. Seriously it's mostly just one single song the whole way through the game. The battle music was particularly epic to say the least though. I wouldn't consider it to be the most memorable soundtrack i've ever heard any time soon but it's definitely not a bad soundtrack... of what there is of it. Put it this way, i've seen worse, much worse. It's evident that whoever designed the music in this game put a lot of effort into it.

Visually i have a small personal nitpick... now this might shock you but i really don't care much for hand drawn art styles, it just feels a bit too rough a lot of the time and just doesn't draw me in. That being said, there are some fantastic visuals in this game, particularly the underwater locations. There is quite a lot of detail in the overworld and dungeons though some of the actual houses are pretty ugly to me... that's probably due to the game's hand drawn visuals which i just don't really enjoy much. Nevertheless to those who can appreciate the hand drawn art style, Child Of Light is best described as a breath of fresh air in it's visual department.

Now on to the story... where do i start... i hate it. My god writers, did you really have to fill this game's dialogue with so much jargon!? Because that is literally all the story is, never ending jargon. I am serious, literally the entire script is complete and utter jargon... and why you ask? Because the developers insisted on the story being written in rhyme. Yes that's it, you are playing a long ass poem. My god you writers made this game almost impossible to review because i couldn't understand 80% of the dialogue. Of course having played the legendary Kirby 64, i was able to get the gist of the story without acknowledging a single line of dialogue. It's a pretty bog standard and kinda predictable story once you have the formula sussed. Put simply i found the story to be absolutely bland. Most of my fun was spent exploring and in battles, the story did absolutely noting for me, especially by the end, we didn't even get to explore a final dungeon, it just cuts to the final battle. Such a shame.

W..what? What the hell is a Promontory!? *looks it up on google* "A high ridge of land or rock jutting out into a body of water;headland." Should i be ashamed or insulted? I'll go with the latter, because i'm an asshole.

In any case, Child Of Light was like eating a teaspoon of caviar... you crave more of it when it's finished  but it's over before it even begins. Considering this, it's definitely not a game for those who want to invest a lot of time into it but for people who want a very short RPG experience, look no further. It's pretty cheap after all. Put simply, this game is a glorified taste test.

--------------------------------

Plot/Story: Flawed

Presentation: Excellent

Gameplay: Excellent

Music: Satisfactory

Lifespan: Too Short

Would you replay? No

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Overall: Good

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9:59 AM on 05.05.2015

Terry 309's Review Archive

The purpose of this blog is simply to link all of my reviews together without making my bio ridiculously long. Now considering the fact that i'm going to be a lot more lax with reviews in the future, i believe that it's best to focus on the reviews i already have but that all depends on how i feel. I'm going to list all of my reviews here so that people can find them for easy referance. Please note that the quality of my reviews is rather mixed, some are better written than others.

Reviews 2015:

Mafia 2

Warcraft 3

Need For Speed Carbon

Child Of Light

Mount And Blade Warband

 

Eternal Sonata

 

Shadow Hearts Covenant

 

Legend Of Heroes Trails In The Sky

Reviews 2014:

Zone Of The Enders The Second Runner

 

Midnight Club 3 DUB Edition

 

Kirby Air Ride

 

Red Faction

 

Painkiller

 

Tales Of The Abyss

 

Salvation Prophercy

 

Starfox Assault

 

Painkiller Overdose

 

Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards

 

Legend Of Dragoon

 

Star Ocean The Last Hope

 

Star Ocean Second Evolution

 

Infinite Undiscovery

 

Baten Kaitos Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean

 

Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume

 

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

 

Star Ocean (SFC)

 

Pokemon XD Gale Of Darkness

 

Hyperzone

 

Star Ocean Till The End Of Time

 

Tales Of Graces F

 

Grandia 2

 

Kirby And The Amazing Mirror

 

Shadow Hearts

 

Starfox

 

White Knight Chronicles

 

Final Fantasy V

 

Painkiller Hell And Damnation

 

Pokemon Colosseum

 

Kirby's Adventure Wii

 

Diablo Hellfire

 

Warhammer 40k Space Marine

 

Tales Of Xillia

 

Two Worlds 2

 

F-Zero GX

Reviews 2013:

Diablo

Well, i managed it, a lot of these reviews are pretty bad in terms of quality but with the new site i believe it's fitting to finally do this. I don't know if i'll be writing as many reviews as i used to, back then i had a lot of games to cover... now i've sorta run out so i have to play through more games if i want to review and it depends if i believe they warrant a review. Still with this it's easier to sift through my previous reviews so hopefully people who want to find a review of a game they're looking to pick up can find it here.

Sorry about that...

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11:03 AM on 04.20.2015

Star Ocean Series Retrospective

In recent celebration of the announcement of Star Ocean 5, i thought it would be appropriate to do a retrospective of the series. As such i'm going to return to using Google images again because i just don't give a damn anymore, if it gets taken down, it gets taken down, at the end of the day i just do these blogs for fun so lets get on with it.

Before i even begin with the Star Ocean series, i have to mention one game in particular which influenced the foundation of the Star Ocean series. That game is currently on my backlog and i have recently started playing it. Tales Of Phantasia originated as a novel known as Tale Phantasia which was written by Gotanda himself. It later received a videogame adaptation thanks to the financial support of Namco who published the game and designated it's development to Wolf Team. Members of Wolf Team included Masaki Norimoto (game designer), Joe Asanuma and Yoshiharu Gotanda (writer and programmer). These three people would later become known as the three aces, hence their subsequent company name.

Tales Of Phantasia's development didn't go smoothly however. A lot of people were outraged by Namco who ultimately used their rights of ownership to alter many of the Wolf Team's design choices to meet their own criteria, changing the title to Tales Of Phantasia among other things. This caused much controversy within the team and caused Joe Asanuma, the teams former director to pull out causing the game's release to be delayed for an entire year, additionally, propositions for a new company which was subsequently labeled tri-Ace were made causing the significant internal collapse of Wolf Team which forced Namco to hire new staff and form an entirely new team later known as the Tales Studio.

My personal experience with Tales Of Phantasia has so far been good though the signs of age are quite potent. I have only just started playing the game though and to be honest i believe part of the game's charm is in dejap's translation. Other than that, there is a lot to like about Tales Of Phantasia and it's easy to tell that it was heavily influenced by the three ace's design though due to the nature of the gaming industry, these features are obviously quite subtle. Nevertheless a lot of the ideas from Tales Of Phantasia were later incorporated into their first game, Star Ocean.

Is this even legal!?

After tri-Ace was formed, they began development on a new title to rival Tales Of Phantasia. The heavily Star Trek inspired team developed what is known today as the Star Ocean series. Their first game, Star Ocean on the Super Famicom, like Tales of Phantasia was never released overseas (besides it's remakes). Star Ocean retained a lot of the design choices from Tales Of Phantasia but with a whole new story and universe. The first thing you will notice with Star Ocean is that the visuals improved dramatically over their former project though due to financial limitations, a lot of the features from Tales Of Phantasia were abandoned. Features such as particle effects which were one of Tales Of Phantasia's most noticeable quirks were an unaffordable luxary and had to be abandoned.

To make up for it, the team decided to improve on their design with their own talents. Additionally Star Ocean used the Super Accelerator chip which enhanced the game's technical capabilities including additional RAM giving Star Ocean an edge over Tales Of Phantasia in terms of tech, so to speak. This allowed the developers to put additional effort into the game's design in order to outmatch Tales Of Phantasia and whilst it is difficult to find those improvements, they are apparent if you look closely enough.

As is made apparent by the two images, the visuals were enhanced considerably, Star Ocean used more detailed textures and sprites to create a more visually appealing world. The traditional world map from Tales Of Phantasia was scrapped in favor of a more linear but more detailed overworld. This was a hit and miss for fans as many preferred the feeling of freedom in the more open-ended world map of Tales Of Phantasia but you cannot deny that this design decision was well thought out considering the circumstances, they needed something in the game to stand out and the visuals were quite possibly one of the game's most stand out features when compared with Tales Of Phantasia.

All in all comparing the two is rather difficult. Both games were very strong in their design that in the end, they both amounted to being just as good, if you look at it from a timeline perspective, Tales Of Phantasia possibly had the edge due to it's financial support but in the end, you cannot fault tri-Ace for this, at the end of the day, Yoshiharu Gotanda is the founder of the Tales series and the three aces all played a part in Tales Of Phantasia's design.

Personally i praise the effort that was put into Star Ocean, particularly the private actions, a feature which was added to the series which was later swiped by Namco, most notably in their mid 2003 game, Tales Of Symphonia. Using the power of variables, the game recorded certain actions the player took during certain events and recorded them thorughout the game to alter future events. This later became the series' most recognized feature, a feature that has provided greater replay value, particularly in the game's sequel, Star Ocean The Second Story which expanded on this feature greatly (i honestly don't believe i gave that game a fair chance in my review).

Before i get onto the second story, i would like to touch on the game's second most prominent feature, item creation. Item creation was a crafting system which allowed the player to create their own items with base materials, requiring a certain skill level do do so. In the first game, item creation was rather tricky due to it's fail rate and required a lot of grinding to be utilized properly. On  the other hand, the sequel, Star Ocean The Second Story perfected the system which ultimately paved way for other games such as the Atelier series which primarily focused on item creation.

Star Ocean The Second Story was essentially a perfected version of the original Star Ocean, it took all of it's concepts and ideas and perfected them, similar to how F-Zero GX perfected F-Zero X's ideas but with a whole new story which was very finely linked to the first game. Unlike Namco, tri-Ace chose to focus on it's own features and expand on them, keeping the battle system mostly the same. Unlike the first Star Ocean, free movement was made a lot smoother through use of the d-pad, no longer did you have to use the clunky cursor to move around in battle, you could just move wherever you wanted with the d-pad. Unfortunately, this came at a sacrifice, one of Star Ocean 2's biggest flaws was it's inability to change target manually. This was what the d pad was originally used for in the original Star Ocean.

This personally caused a lot of issues with the game as certain boss fights were downright frustrating as you were often stuck to one target and couldn't switch it easily. Even with it's improvements, the game still feels kinda dated by todays standards, another one of the game's issues was the ability to stun lock enemies infinitely. I swear the stun lock is the biggest issue when it comes to most action games. On the bright side, the private actions were more numorous, the cast of characters was also greater, it is impossible to recruit all of them however as picking one cancelled out another and some were pretty difficult to obtain. This limitation gave the game more replay value and added an element of choice. This feature was in the original game too but in Star Ocean The Second Story is was on a larger scale. The problem with this was that it was difficult for players to obtain certain characters without a guide, i swear i missed so many characters playing through Star Ocean The Second Story, i do want to replay it again, i really do but replaying RPG's is not an easy task as i mentioned in a previous blog: to replay or not to replay.

Visually i still believe the SFC version of Star Ocean to be far more appealing as it felt way more detailed than Star Ocean 2 which chose a more water colour art style. The character sprites were very detailed and some of the locations were well designed. Overall though i do believe Star Ocean The Second Story to be one of tri-Ace's weakest efforts when it comes to visuals in my opinion though it certainly wasn't all that bad, i just don't believe the game stood out for it's time as well as other games on the ps1. Still i'm pretty sure that there are others who think otherwise and appreciate the game's art design, good for them. In any case, Star Ocean The Second Story is the only game in the series to have a traditional world map unlike it's predecessor (unless you count the remake).

When a ps1 port of a 1996 PC game beats you, you might as well give up.

On the contrary, where the game truly shines is as i mentioned prior, it's features. The private actions, the item creation, it's all so much better than the original. Item creation is much more deep than it was in the first game where you could perform item creation with your entire party for new skills. There are so many different professions available, my favourite being contraband which is broken beyond belief, in a good way. From this point onwards, tri-Ace prides themselves on providing the players with the tools to break the game and Star Ocean The Second Story was no exception. Through item creation, players were able to craft the best weapon in the game early and destroy every boss with minimal effort.

The private actions have always been an addictive experience within the Star Ocean series and convince the player to explore at their own pace rather than focus on the story. However without a guide, it's easy to miss over half the game's content so if you do intend on playing through Star Ocean 2 (which i reccomend), be sure to have a guide handy.

The third game changed everything. Star Ocean Till The End Of Time, or as i like to call the Gothic 3 of JRPG's was released in early 2003... but just hold on a second. There is another, lesser known title that i forgot to mention.

Dat face...

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere was a direct sequel to Star Ocean The Second Story. Considering the open-ended nature of the first game, Star Ocean Blue Sphere made little sense, Dias and Leon are both in the party which makes little sense but ok. I've dabbled into Star Ocean Blue Sphere a little and from what i can gather, it appears to be somewhat similar to Seiken Densetsu but with battle transitions. The dungeons feel very Zelda esque and the gameplay feels a tad dumbed down from the previous installments. I never really remember my characters leveling up or getting stronger but then again, i never really made it that far as i couldn't speak Japanese.

Blue Sphere was released on the Gameboy Colour so naturally, memories of my childhood seeped in when i played it. It's a shame it was never localized though (even though the recent title might explain a little bit) and it feels almost forgotten, especially considering the Star Ocean 5 trailer said that it took place between Star Ocean The Second Story and Star Ocean Till The End Of Time but what about Blue Sphere? Will Star Ocean 5 acknowledge it's existence? or will it forever remain non-canon (which considering the nature of Star Ocean 2, perhaps it's for the best).

In any case, moving on we have Star Ocean Till The End Of Time. This game changed everything about the series and focused more on the battle mechanics rather than it's features. Big mistake. The game was released in such a mess that it had to release a directors cut version which was later localized as the Star Ocean Till The End Of Time we've all come to know over here.

For starters, item creation was scrapped in favor of the invention system. My god did they mess that up so badly. Instead of re-living the "put an item into a pot and hope for the best" system, they decided to have the player actually invent the item using their brain power and FOL, lots and lots fo FOL (the game's currency). For starters, using money to create items was a terrible idea, especially since you could end up creating just about anything. In Star Ocean 1 and 2 you have many differrent base items which each had differrent results when used in Item creation so that you could use differrent base items to create differrent items depending on what you wanted. In Star Ocean Till The End Of Time, they were replaced with X components, not actual base products, just components used to design the base products.

This meant that if you wanted to make a specific item, you just had to pray. The item crated depended on the amount of FOL you spend, unfortunately you cannot manually decide how much fol you want as it's decided at random so you have to keep shuffling through FOL costs until yuo find the one you want. Then you have to invent... and boy oh boy does it get worse from here.

Behold, Star Ocean Till The End Of Time's invention system!

If you aren't already bored with Item Creation, you'll probably want to throw in the towel when you find out that the combat is absolute ass. Unlike previous Star Ocean games, using the trigger buttons was no longer used for special attacks, instead to use a special attack you have to press the face buttons (x and o). In addition, to use normal attacks you press the face buttons (x and o) yes, to do regular and special attacks you press the same bloody button. I cannot stress this enough, you never use 1 button for two differrent things, it's annoying. Sure to use special attacks you are told to hold the button down but it's still easy to mess it up and perform a normal attack and vice versa. 

In addition, performing special attacks costs the users Hit Points, not that it matters because running out of HP isn't the problem, running out of MP on the other hand is a huge problem as for some reason one of the developers said "hey, why don't we give the play a game over screen when all their characters run out of MP, sounds cool huh"? As a result, the game was plagued with insane difficulty spikes simply due to MP damage. If you've been using Cliff for the entire game, i really hope you're ready for some pain when you enter the Urssa Lava Caves. The worst part is that whereas there is a healing spell for HP, there is no way of healing MP besides the use of items, so MP damage can be devastating even to those who have a reasonably high MP bar (and those who do tend to use a lot of MP).

On the plus side, the game's setting and story were quite enjoyable, to me at least, sure the characters felt a bit lackluster at times but they made up for it with the fantastic soundtrack. Star Ocean Till The End Of Time easily has the best soundtrack in the series (though the first game comes very close in that regard). Some of the sci-fi esque tumes are simply captivating, sure it might not be Valkyrie Profile 2 but it's still up there nontheless. Visually, it gets a pass, though the character models looked a little meh, the environments were bright and colourful and some of the later areas are pretty interesting too. It's one of those games which you either love or hate and as i previously mentioned in my top 5 videogame love hate relationships blog. 

*wink* *wink*

Put simply, Star Ocean Till The End of Time was a little rusty and felt unfinished but it had a solid setting that the other games had failed to accomplish. There was a lot more sci-fi in Star Ocean Till The End Of Time than in the previous titles and i find that they got the sci-fi theme right.

Of course i cannot mention Star Ocean Till The End Of Time without mentioning it's infamous plot twist. That Plot Twist changed the fans perception fo the game considerably, in fact it changed the perception of the entire series. It was a massive scale plot twist which changed everything about the Star Ocean Series and it was difficult for a lot of players to accept. Some players on the other hand (me included) welcomed the plot twist and admired it's philosophical concept. No matter how much you enjoy the game, the plot twist will either make or break it for you. If you're new to the Star Ocean series i reccomend saving Star Ocean Till The End Of Time for last as it is the final installment in the series, timeline wise. A bit like Devil May Cry 2 in the sense that it's the final game in the timeline but not the final game in the series.

Finally the semi-infamous Star Ocean The Last Hope, hoo boy, this game sealed the deal. Many people cried out in disgust after this game though they still forgot a lot of the qualities that this game had to offer. For starters, the visuals were amazing and still are, the landscapes are lush and beautiful and the lighting is great too, some of the sci-fi themed areas were really detailed and surprisingly colourful. Despite their creepy doll appearance, i actually really liked the character models, they just felt fresh, sure Lymle looked ugly as hell but i think everyone's appearance was highly detailed, even if some of them were a bit too scantly clad to tell.

The battle system is easily the strongest in the series to date, Unlike Star Ocean The Second Story, stun locking was no longer an issue. Whereas Star Ocean Till The End Of Time tried to fix it with the fury system (and ultimately failed), Star Ocean The Last Hope implemented the rush gauge which made your character immune to stagger effects and ultimately more powerful. This affected the bosses too making the game a lot more challenging. Alongside that, the game added a dodging system that didn't flat out suck and a blindsiding ability which allowed players to dodge enemies attacks at the right time to sneak up behind them and perform a critical hit, essentially the counter to the rush gauge but required more skill to pull off, especially against enemies who could counter blindsides (which were featured later on).

Character management was also expanded, whereas Item Creation was a shadow of it's former self, the actual character management was actually quite good, you could send them down different paths either specializing in the rush gauge or blindsiding... or none at all. The rush gauge kinda felt like Overlimit from the tales games but instead of performing a mystic arte, you performed some kind of unison attack (similar to Tales Of Symphonia) where you can do 4 attacks without interruption, allowing you to pile on the damage at the cost of your entire rush gauge. This did allow the player to break the game a little as the rush gauge charged up by holding down the B/O button (the dodge button) so you can unleash your attacks on bosses without risk of interruption.

Nevertheless the combat system and gameplay was really fun. There were so many things to do in Star Ocean 4 such as salvaging items, private actions and doing side quests etc. Star Ocean 4 has so much content in it that if you intend on 100% completing it, you're taking on a huge task. I never completed the final optional dungeon as it was just way too long (think Nifelheim from Tales Of Symphonia).

On the other hand, the game's signature features were dumbed down a lot. Pretty much every single character was available from the get go and private action endings stacked so you could get them all in one playthrough meaning there was no individuality of getting a particular ending. Item creation was pretty much copy/pasted from Infinite Undiscovery but with the invention system... yes the invention system returns, is it as bad? No. Why not? Because you spent SP to learn recipies instead of FOL and it's the same SP cost each time. Not only does this make things easier but it makes sense, as you level up, you get more SP for inventions rather than stockpiling money.

Another issue with the game is the pacing of the private actions, unlike previous games, you don't do private actions in towns, instead you do it whilst travelling between planets. It's a bit like the persona series where you spend half an hour reading dialogue then another half an hour dungeon crawling, there's no mixture in the pot, it's all just detached and i hate it when games detach story/narrative elements with it's gameplay, something which the latest game in the series intends to fix with it's new event system.

And finally, the most noticeable problem being the story and characters. This is the cause for all the infamy surrounding this game. Whilst not all of the cast were that bad, they weren't really as fleshed out as they could be but that's not the biggest issue. The biggest issue comes down to Lymle, Meracle and Sarah. Lymle is a completely emotionless doll with an annoying character arc and an annoying catchphrase which i will not mention to spare you your sanity, then there's Meracle who finds plenty of ways to annoy me, completely pointless character adding nothing remotely interesting to the game whatsoever.

Then there's Sarah, my got i could write a whole article about this character. I fittingly named her Earbleed simply because her voice is just plain awful, need i say more. I also can't stand how she tries to act smart all the time and just comes across as stupid and makes me think "why the hell did you just say that"!? Every time this bitch opens her mouth my ears turn red in pain. Then again. Star Ocean Till The End Of Time was no better (Farleen anyone?). When you make F-Zero GX's voice acting seem sophisticated, you should seriously consider firing people.

Combine this wish a half baked story line and you have a really embarrassingly bad narrative with a rather enjoyable battle system. Think of it as you will but i personally enjoyed it for the battle system alone. I really hope Star Ocean 5 can top it though.

So that's pretty much all there is to say really, the series has had it's fair share of ups and downs but i still can't help but love it, i don't know why but there's just something great about this series. Obviously the Valkyrie Profile series is way better but it probably wouldn't exist without the three aces who created the Star Ocean series. I'm guessing that Valkyrie Profile is an inside joke mocking Namco's Valkyrie games and i'm probably right. Isn't it ironic how two development teams hate each others guts yet the games they make are so very similar? Now you know why. Tales Of Phantasia was made by both tri-Ace and Namco but tri-Ace left the company to become what it is today. They chose to rebel against the publisher and look at what they have given us as a result. The legendary Valkyrie Profile 2 would not have existed if it wasn't for tri-Ace, for that i am glad they split up from Namco.

As for my views on Star Ocean 5, i really hope is destroys Tales Of Zesteria in sales, it probably won't but i can always hope. After all the backlash Zesteria have gotten recently, it could be possible that Star Ocean 5 trumps it. Perhaps then we may see a Valkyrie Profile 3, then my life will be finally complete. I really look forward to seeing how they handle cinematic battles and the visuals look stunning too, looking forward to that as well. All i'm going to say is that i'm pre-ordering that game day one.

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5:48 PM on 04.06.2015

An Egg For An Egg - Best Of Warcraft 3 Quotes

Warcraft 3 has many easter eggs but the most noticable are it's quotes. If you click a hero/unit too long then you'll get an easter egg where the hero/unit will get annoyed and will trigger a funny quote, usually a movie referance.

To start, i'll begin with the classic:

Ahh yes the greatest race in Warcraft lore, the Nathrezim. These guys are basically the consigiliere's for the Burning Legion (Kil'jaeden being the godfather). They host secret meetings and fuck things up, usually for their own amusement though their actions usually harness subtle intentions. When they're not in conferance, they often spend their time delegating and feasting on mortal souls. Dreadlords can be friend or foe, it all depends on the circumstance. Nevertheless, you should never trust a Dreadlord, they will gladly eviscerate you after you've served your purpose.

The Dreadlord is made fun of in the easter egg by being refered to as a "Druglord" and considering his shifty nature, it wouldn't be surprising. They also point fun at the fact that he's always walking even though he has wings. Apparrently the Dreadlords all have cellphones, possibly to converse with their bretheren or in this case darkness itself.

The Pit Lord is the complete opposite of the Dreadlord but still manages to be awesome. Unlike the Dreadlords who would rather use their minions to do their dirty work, Pit Lords love getting down and dirty and you can tell, they're giant pig demons for christ sake, they practically love rolling in muck or in this case, blood. They are essentially the Burning Legion's equivelent of Death Knights and charge into battle with their minions, unlike Death Knights however, Pit Lords are far less forgiving and may kill their own minions for failing them and sometimes just for fun. Like Dreadlords they enjoy being decisive but they often fail at it, so much so that they are seen as a laughing stock amongst the Dreadlords.

The Pit Lord is mocked for his grotesque appearance, he is pretty much a demonic pig after all. He's also mocked for having some of the largest teeth in history

There is also a Fat Albert referance... guess why this is fitting and you win a point.

Ahh the Blademaster, the hero everyone hates to see and for good reason, they steal your items, murder your workers and instagib your units with crit strike. Did i forget to mention that their primary move makes them invisible and move twice as fast!? Basically Blademasters are OP sons of bitches, they are the key to winning every game of Warcraft 3.

In lore, Blademasters are a rare sight, the only notable one being Grom Hellscream who unlike most Blademasters is far less disciplined.

The easter egg is filled with referances to commercials usually involving bladed products as he is all about hacking and slashing. This fits his character perfectly as his crit strike skill allows players to win by simply auto-attacking and the Blademaster does just that.

My god these guys are filled with easter eggs, try and guess all the referances. Mortar Teams are often mailed to the enemy team using the invisible spell or a zeppelin to destroy their town hall from behind. They're also used against Siege Tanks and Crypt Fiends. They attack by using massive mortar cannons  which deal a lot of siege damage but as units they are pretty weak, they can also shoot flares to reveal an area of the map, very handy.

They have so many quotes it's difficult to tell what the main theme behind them was, many of them refer to their mortar cannon but others feel kinda off topic. Still very funny quotes though.

Acolytes are the Undead worker unit, they are humans who devoted themselves to Ner'zhul (the Lich King) and joined the cult of the damned to assist the Scourge's war efforts by summoning hideous constructs to produce more monsterous undead units. Some even offer their own lives to Ner'zhul as a tribute and become...

The acolyte's quotes are some of the funniest and mostly revolve around darkness. He also claims to know the secret to eternal happiness. I guess being evil in't all that bad after all. Sign me up!

The shade's quotes are mostly jokes about being ethereal. If these guys don't convince you to join the scourge, nothing wi... oh wait

Kel'thuzad is Arthas' ever lovable suave side kick. He leads the cult of the damned but is a mere pawn of the scourge. Still he is a highly intellegent necromancer who is talented in many forms of magic. He is essentially the scourge's answer to Stephen Hawking.

His quotes represent his leadership over the cult of the damned and how he is essentially the chief recruiter for the scourge.

Varimathras is one of the three Dreadlord insurgents and is a badass motherfucker. Easily my favourite playable character in the campaign. Unlike his brothers, Balnazzar and Detheroc who use possession and mind control to subjugate their targets, Varimathras has none of those powers but has a silver tongue to match. This guy can talk his way through anything and is very persistant at feigning loyalty. He tends to play it cool for the most part and would go to any lengths to save himself from suspicion.

Being a dreadlord, Varimathras is well informed and proves a rather useful ally to Sylvanas...temporarily of course (if you read Ashbringer you'd know). Humans are basically toys for his own amusement but they can also be quite productive in the right situations.

His quotes mostly refer to him being "always on the winning side" due to his silver tongue and will string the player along trying to fool them into joining his side.

Being a horseman, the Death Knights quotes revolve mostly around the four horsemen of the apocalypse among other things.

Death Knights are fallen warriors (usually nobles) who have fallen in battle to the scourge but their noble heritage lives on in death as they have become the lich king's loyal death knights. These guys are natural born leaders and are often leading scourge forces into battle (unlike Dreadlords who would rather sit back and watch, occasionally toying with their opponents). I never understood how they all get their horses though but somehow every Death Knight is commissioned with one.

The Necromancers quotes mostly refer to reanimation. As they are human and usually spend time amongst rotting corpses, they become obsessed with the sensation of becomming reanimated and it is their goal to die and become liches once they have served their purpose as a human. As humans, necromancers serve as leaders amongst the acolytes and are usually sent to scout the populace to convert people to their cause. Afterwards they become liches and wield greater power as an undead.

The lich is a necromancer who sacrificed himself for Ner'zhul. Unlike shades, they are not completely ethereal, probably due to their necromantic talents which are used to create themselves a new body from their corpse, possibly other corpses. Liches wield great power, possibly gifted by ner'zhul. The power of frost and the power to sacrifice minions to increase their own powers. Liches suck in the power of death to create more and more death... if you know what i mean.

Their quotes represent their lack of body parts. As undead, they weren't able to salvage all of their body parts so they have to improvise, even so far as to attempting to impress the ladies with their new look.

Some Night Elves chose not to be tree-hugging hippies. These night elves chose the path of arcane and fel magic and are also adept ad physical combat too. Armed with great magical power, they can be a force to be reckoned with that can even match the might of a demon. These are Demonhunters.

The Demonhunter quotes poke fun at their obsession for fel magic and their defiance towards Night Elf culture. One of their quotes is "i love green trees" backwards. It appears that the Demonhunter and the Dreadlord are aquainted despite being mortal enemies. They're both friends of darkness though.

When morphed, the demon hunter's voice is deeper than Keanu Reeves... or so it seems.

Despite his size, the Mountain King is a mighty warrior and he won't let anyone say otherwise. Mountain Kings are fearless and just as powerful as even the strongest of orc warriors. What they lack on size, they make up for in stregnth and believe me, this guy's got a lot of muscle. He is also an avid drinker and appears to be british, much like my relatives.

Honestly this is what happens when you combine pretty much every single member of my family with TheDustinThomas. A legend is born.

Last but not least is the philosophical spirit walker. His quotes point fun of his overly philosophical views. Pretty much Mareg from Grandia 2.

Spirit walkers are tauren who follow the earth mother. They are able to become ethereal and commune with the spirits. Basically the Tauren equivelant of a Shaman, just replace elements with spirits.

In battle, they're handy to have as they can link your units together to spread out damage to prevent your units from being focus fired. they also ressurrect Tauren and dispel magic. Just one of these guys can make a huge differrence in battle.

And that's all, i hope you found these quotes as funny as i did. As for other easter eggs Warcraft 3 has... theres a lot, the entire ending credits is an easter egg in itself where they re-do the entire Warcraft 2 intro... with a twist. There's also the worlds largest panda and the secret tower defense level. There are even more but i won't go into them, there's just so many easter eggs in Warcraft 3.

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