|By PlatformPCPS3Xbox 360Wii U3DSPS VitaAndroidiPhoneiPadOther HardwareEditor's Choiceby Author||By LatestThe best and worst s : May Returns Sneaky Sneaky Logitech G910 Orion Spark Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal WWE 2K15 Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Super Smash Bros. for Wii U LittleBigPlanet 3 Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha... Never AloneReview in Progress: World of...More reviews||By GenreActionAdventureFightersFree-to-playMMOMusicPlatformShootersSportsRPGStrategyMore genres|
|Xbox LIVE:||terry 309||PSN ID:||terry 309||Steam ID:||Terry 309|
I'm going to ignore the existance of the first game and skip to the second because it's almost universally accepted as garbage and after playing it i'm not going to say otherwise, not that there's much to add. The Second Runner is a better game than the first but it is still plagued with countless issues and the game insists at making sure you're aware of them. It wouldn't be such a bad thing had the game kept things simple and didn't have such annoying sections which amount to nothing more than frustration. Heck Zone Of The Enders: The Second Runner could have been a good game if it wanted to but it seemingly doesn't want to.
As soon as you launch the game you get the longest opening cutscene in a videogame ever which even contains spoilers. Watching the long ass intro movie makes you think you're in for a very long game, my god is that gonna get a complaint later.
Lets get straight to the point. The gameplay itself works fine, there isn't anything particularly wrong with it, in fact it can be quite enjoyable. Everything is fast and fluid, easy to grasp and is all in all satisfying to play... most of the time. The core mechanics for an excellent game are in here, the combat is perfect for the most part, they did the best they could to give the player enough options to make for a satisfying gameplay experience. You get two differrent kinds of attacks, burst and fast attacks. Burst attacks can only be used with a burst charge by holding L2 and can break through enemy shields and deal a tremendous amount of damage. Normal attacks are straightforward and can damage enemies quickly, i found myself using the latter a hell of a lot more, particularly at close range. Your mech comes with a blade that can cut enemies up close though due to the fast speed of enemies, i found myself sticking with normal attacks up close. Burst attacks though cool looking at close range are kinda ineffective as they take too long to charge up and leave you open, they can still be usable on certain enemies like Narita's who like to guard a lot but for the most part you'll be using normal attacks.
Environment plays a huge part in this game, you can knock enemies into walls, dealing extra damage or grab objects in the viscinity so you can use them as weapons to bash enemies with, either that or you can hurl them. You can even grab enemies and use them as shields or even hurl them into other enemies which is a lot of fun. X and triangle don't play a major part in the game as they merely adjust vertical height however they can be used at the end of a combo to knock an enemy up or down, it helps when you're in an area where there are no walls to knock enemies into (and there's no shortage of walls believe me) because if all else fails you can knock them down with X at the end of the attack.
There are also other weapons you can set to the O button which have a variety of effects and i won't go into them all as it's best to find out for yourself but they do a better job at spicing up the gameplay than they did in the first game, that's for sure. Overall, the core gameplay is really good. I have no qualms with it. I think they nailed the robo combat really well. The actual problem comes not from the gameplay but from the actual levels themselves.
The level design is a mixed bag. Some levels are better than others. Some of the best levels were the parts where you were hacking and slashing enemies and blowing things up using your cool subweapons, levels which let your creativity flourish were easily the best parts of the game. The problem is that those levels are very few and far between. Some of the levels are actually quite irritating and i'm not just talking about the boss fights, some of which can be quite tough but enjoyable, others being really badly designed and frustrating. In case you don't know, Zone Of The Enders: The Second Runner's EU version is harder and if you bought the HD collection, you'll quickly realize that they pulled Devil May Cry 3 with the difficulty in the sense that normal is actually the North American hard mode. So the bosses will prove to be challenging and will keep you on your toes. A lot of the time i was killed simply because i didn't know what to do and when i did i was killed by an attack which i didn't expect.
Those were good bosses. The bosses i hate... one boss in particular which you have to fight 4 times, each time harder than the last. The fourth and final fight is quite possibly one of the worst boss fights in gaming history and it is where you frinally realize that the lock on system is utter garbage and it really shouldn't be, heck it's actually quite good normally as it works really well for the most part but there is one battle in particular which i died over and over again due to the game's fault and not mine. It is because the lock on system is automatic and the boss has the tendancy to flee, removing the target lock and replacing it with another target, the boss will then charge at you, with your target locked on to another, it is impossible to dodge/block this. You literally have to get really lucky and hope that the boss appears just in time for you to lock on.
Even worse is the battle afterwards which manages to show off the games stupid AI in all it's glory. To win you have to grab the boss but to do that you have to cross swords. Trouble is, the AI will just let you wail on them like a punchbag, lets put it this way, you don't want the boss to die, you really don't. So get ready for another few minutes of frustration. after another section which some people consider to be even more annoying (i don't see how that is possible but ok) you get what is easily the worst point of the game. The action literally grinds to a halt as you have to slowly navigate your way through a minefield. Occasionally your ally will tell you to stop and tell you to turn left and right, if you move too fast, you'll likely miss this signal and go straight into a landmine getting blown up.
The final boss was also very disappointing as they literally strip you of everything and it's all rinse and repeat doing the same bullshit over and over and the game still somehow manages to make it annoying as hell. It's like trying to fight a boxing match in a wheelchair, seriously. I don't think any other game has made me go from feeling like a powerful god to a frail ant so quickly as this boss and it's not because the battle itself is challenging, it's because the battle is completely and utterly one sided and it was designed intentionally for it to be this way. Would it kill to ask for a boss fight that managed to test my overall skill rather than a boss which tests my patience? Because that is what the final boss is, it's quite literally a test of patience and it isn't the only one either. Who has time for patience in a game like this? It's supposed to be fast paced and dynamic.
All in all, Zone Of The Enders: The Second Runner does a lot of things right but way too many things wrong. The gameplay, being the game's main standpoint is bogged down heavily by horrible design choices and can sometimes be utterly painful to play and the trouble is that though there are good parts in the game, there just isn't enough of it. Overally i'm going to give a high rating to the gameplay itself because it plays really well but the design choices bring the worst out of it which it really doesn't need to show but it does.
As for the rest, there isn't all that much to say. Both Zone Of The Enders games are ridiculously short, totalling to about the same legnth as Starfox Assault, i kid you not. Now that game sufferred for similar reasons, but the ground portions of the game, though they were flawed, they could still be enjoyable to play if only for the fact that they gave you the ability to drive the Landmaster and Arwing in all range mode. In fact, as with most Kojima titles, almost half of the game's play time is spent watching cutscenes. You could even say that there are more cutscenes than there are gameplay at times. Seriously, if you skip every single cutscene in this game, it will take you about 5 hours to finish. The cutscenes manage to pan out what would otherwise be an embarrasingly short game.
Thankfully the story isn't a complete mess like the first game though it is obviously rushed and doesn't really pull you in. The gameplay is obviously the biggest focus as it should be so i really cannot complain about the story all that much other than i wish things would be explained a bit more clearly. A lot of information is given out in very short bursts and it's very difficult to tell where the storyline is going as you're eventually thrusted into another gameplay segment and you completely forget about the irrelivant storyline being fed to you, it's time to tear up some raptors. Familiar faces return, thankfully the main character from the first game actually grew a pair and isn't actually the main protagonist anymore. There is a new protagonist who is somewhat likeable though nothing special. The story just exists to give some purpose to the gameplay.
Music wise, i wouldn't say all of it was noticable though there are some nice tracks here and there. As expected from a sci-fi mech title you'll be hearing techno/rave music for the most part. Though the music doesn't play a big part of the game it does it's job, just like the story really, i can't really give it any medals though i can't really knock it either. The only thing that can be annoying is one part of the game (which just happends to the the best part of the game) where everybody is talking and you just want them to...
The voice acting is another thing that isn't going to win any awards aside from perhaps the most hilariously bad death scream award (you know what i'm talking about if you've played this). Most of the voice acting is very bog standard, just imagine everyone with Mass Effect's male Shepard's voice, yeah that's pretty much it really.
The visuals are probably the best part of the game overall. They are vastly improved over the original. Though there is a lot of gray early on being a sci fi game, the locations are improved from the original though i wouldn't say they're groundbreaking visuals and there is still room for improvement. I suppose considering the nature of the game, i can accept them since they can't really put too many intricate details in a game like this but the true stregnth in the visuals is in the games choreography. There's nothing quite like Zone Of The Enders (well there are a few similar titles out there such as Dynasty Warriors Gundam... i think it's called), everything is fast paces and fluid and i'd go as far to say it's more fun to watch than it is to actually play. The combat on screen looks amazing and is easily what gives the game charm. The visual appeal is this game's saving grace and compared to the original (which was a joke in comparison) it is excellent.
The frame designs are mostly the same except maybe for Jehuty who looks years better, the animated cutscenes are also really good too, i think Jehuty looks good in both of them. Some of the character designs are a bit strange, two characters in particular look like they've been frozen in stasis for 2000 years and just got out. Perhaps in the future, pensioners increase their lifespan by sleeping in cyro pods rather than conventional beds but whatever...
There is some end game content which i haven't yet explored so all hope is not lost for this game. There is Versus mode which seems like a cool idea though sadly there's no split screen option and it can be difficult to tell where you are. What is cool is you get to play as all of the boss fights (except 1). There are also Extra Missions which i haven't explroed and aparrently a secret mini-game called Zoradius, kinda like Starfox Assault comes with Xevious.
So all in all, Zone Of The Enders: The Second Runner is a mixed bag but i'd say it's a decent game at best. The gameplay for what is there is mostly good though it's main issue is it's lack of it. The game is too short and as a result, the really bad parts stick out like a sore thumb. If you're looking to pick this game up, you wouldn't make a mistake in doing so but expect some rough portions along the way. Pick it up when it's cheap, that's what i say. Thankfully you can get the hd collection for £5.00, the first game included though that doesn't add to it's value at all i'd say £5.00 is worth it... barely so i do reccommend it as the worst case scenario is that you miss out on a pint or a takeaway.
Lifespan: Too Short
Worth replaying? Yes
Back in the good old days of the 90's gaming was just starting to become popular amongst kids, i was one of them. Back then, nothing ever mattered. People either got absorbed into their games by themselves or just played together. Back then computers were expencive not all of us kids were fortunate enough to have them (i got my first computer when i was 12, i think). So as a result, people used to stuck close to the people they knew. Nowadays we have access to places like Destructoid where we can discuss stuff with each other and share our interests. Personally i believe that playing games in only half the fun... as fun as it already is, i also enjoy discussing them with people. So places like this give me a way to do so in such a way that will be taken seriously and not looked at as a wall of text like on forums.
However since around 2006, gaming in general has become toxic. Not only did the direction of videogames change but also the fact that online gameplay had become more accessible in the console market, gaming has become an absolute abomination. Sometimes i just find myself to be ashamed to be a gamer and there are times where i'm glad i played videogames but sometimes, gaming can produce so much negativity that i question why i'm here and why i keep playing videogames, i always find my answer in the end but still it gets on my nerves a lot of the time.
So what are the issues? There is a split in gaming society... not just one, many splits. I have tried to catagorize them but it's difficult for me to do so. As someone who will readily play all types of games without hesitation, i've seen some really fucked up shit that really shouldn't happen. It's a shame really and it kinda changed not only my perception of gaming but it also changed my tastes in videogames. Gaming has become little more than a simulation with no substance for many people. What do i mean by that you say? I mean that there is a demographic of people who don't appreciate many aspects of a videogame and make demands depending on their respective demographic, should those demands fail, they will be in uproar.
So what are these "demographics" then? "Casual" gamers is a stupid term. Really there shouldn't be casual or hardcore gamers, they should be just... gamers. In fact a lot of people fail to understand these two terms because they are complete nonsense. To some, casual means easy. To others, casual means gamers that play every now and again but gaming only take up like 5% of their lives, some also judge games themselves as casualized simply because they're easier and more accessible, or they have a ui that could be seen as familiar to games like Call Of Duty or any other mainstream title. In any case, these terms are just silly and ultimately make no sense. Casualized is a stupid word. Yes gaming has changed dramatically but modernized and mainstreamed are more fitting words. Casualized is a perception that most veteran gamers have yet they fail to realize that they have many years of gaming experience.
Sure of course games have gotten easier and for both good and bad reasons. Firstly, gaming has transitioned from insanely hard to comfortable for a long time, some games still continue to stick to their roots like Dark Souls. But developers are noticing that comfortable difficulty has allowed games to become more accessible and trust me, that is a good thing. Even if you played games back in the NES days, you have to admit, back then gaming was targeted to only young children but now there is a generation gap. Most gamers these days have jobs and families to feed, those are the very gamers that were playing Battletoads when they were 6. Such gamers want a comfortable gaming experience and lets be honest here, gaming still isn't "too easy", videogames are still challenging, they're just more comfortable. So when people say that X game is casualized because of regenerating health, they don't realize that many people can still lose to this, especially on harder difficulties. So long as developers gove us difficulty levels to give us a challenge then it is fine which most games tend to do.
The other side of the coin however is sort of understandable. Games like Call Of Duty have inspired other games to follow it's format but that's not casualizing, that's the developers perception of mordernizing. This is something that developers have become confused about in recent years. So many games have done this. For example, Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns' battle system is a modernized version of Valkyrie Profile 2's battle system and due to the perception's of developers these days, the game is vastly differrent but when you look at the mechanics, they are pretty much the same. That's not to say that Lightning returns is easier or harder than Valkyrie Profile 2 and this is where people have gotten the whole "casualized" statement wrong. Yes both battle systems are the same but the differrence comes from the developers perception of new. For example, the battles in Lightning Returns are in real time as opposed to Valkyrie Profile 2's synchronized movement. This is because developers percieve real time to have more modern appeal and that is what they tried to do with Lightning Returns, to make a "modernized" game to appeal to it's demographic of fans (which still exist somehow). Now the point that many devs fail to understan is that modern doesn't equal better and some devs realize this such as Croteam but Croteam stick a little too close to their roots, so does Game Freak with Pokemon though they are also trying to modernize the pokemon games but are failing to do so due to false perception. They don't know where the series needs to go because they percieve the wrong idea entirely.
So modernizing has brought both good and bad things but most see only the bad due to the fact that there are way too many developers out there who don't understand what needs to be done. However there are some who do. The Tales series for example. Just look at how much that series has evolved since 1995. Now battles are a lot more fluid and fun as a result. Not knocking Graces' system here but i honestly see why they did what they did with Xillia. Not only was Xillia more accessible but it was also felt a lot more fun to play simply due to the fact that it was modernized. The combat's fluidity is amazing and the pacing of the combat is faster than Graces plus the freedom of artes was expanded dramatically. Zesteria is going to change things even more dramatically with an open world. I believe the modernization of Xillia was a well needed change. I think the takes series kinda got old after Abyss, the charm had wore off and the developers were keeping everything too similar. Vesperia comes to mind here. It got really tired but they believed that Vesperia would appeal to it's own audience which it did but still, the tales formula was really starting to get old at that point. I believe Abyss was the turning point. Sure sometimes having more of the same is sometimes better but sometimes you need to change your style a little to keep things fresh. Xillia was new and fresh and that is why i liked it better as opposed to Graces. Sure the cel-shaded art style was cool in Symphonia but sometimes you need a change. Perhaps soon the tales series art design will change again.
In reality, none of this matters. personally i believe both old school and modern style games need to thrive and thankfully they do. The problem mostly lies with the community it'self. In reality, it's not gaming that has changed for the worst, it's... us. Maybe it's because of the internet but my god has my perception of gaming changed so much. Mainly with the Smash Bros games. Back in the day, Smash Bros was the coolest thing ever because it's a showdown of Nintendo characters. That's cool. Nowadays when i look at Smash Bros i look at it in shame. The franchise was butchered by it's community. Now to change the subject a little, if you live in the UK, remember when the Nintendo Official Magazin was all bright and colourful? Then as soon as the Wii launched, everything was sharp, white and sleek, almost if everything was trying to look so serious. That is exactly what happedned to Brawl. It's difficult to describe but just look at the menu screen for Brawl. Melee's menu screen was cool as you could see purple wireframes in the background. Brawl's background is just white. There's something about how Melee was presented that made it look better.
What pisses me off though are people who say "Melee is better because Brawl is for casualfags, plus it has wavedashing". Ok sorry what did you just tell me? How does any of that make any sense? And here we come to the main split right here. The super serious competitive player and the players who play games for the pure pleasure of being able to smack yoshi with a hammer. That is what Killed the Smash Bros series for me. Like i said, i am unable to have a conversation about Smash Bros without any mention of tier lists, wavedashing, character moves and other complex MLG jargon. The charm is dead. I cannot even look at the series in the same light anymore. Perhaps the concept has gotten old, yeah that may be why but still i think the community for those games is just absolutely terrible and the competitive players are top of the heirachy in the smash community which is a true fact. You wanna know why Sakurai added tripping? He was trying to pull the community together. All he got was verbal bullshit from the competitive community. Now most of these competitive players piss me off for the simple fact that they judge a game based only on it's functionality. It's no secret that MLG players got where they are today because of exploits and when those exploits aren't in the game anymore, they revolt. This is exactly what happened to Smash. As a result, smash bros has become a really difficult series to review, heck all multiplayer focused games have because there are two differrent demographics with two differrent set of demands. One demographic who wants more of the same, the other who wants more new. It's hard for developers to decide which to follow and no matter what they do, they get backlash for no logical reason.
Then there are communities such as Warcraft 3 which has a completely biased heirachy, pro's are right on the top and the rest are all scrubs who should kill themselves because they don't deserve to exist because they're so bad. Yes pro's generally do find themselves at the top of the VIP list in videogames these days. and competitive gaming has become more widely marketed as a result. This is why the industry has changed.
Because of these "competitive" gamers, some games cater specifically to them and the bad thing is that they forget what makes them the games people loved. Games like Titanfall for example, all focus is on the multiplayer, "single player? single player is for scrubs who don't wanna play multiplayer because they're too scared to play against better players, multiplayer is the real game". This is the atitiude of gaming today. It's amazing how our actions as a community has shaped this industry so much. So much so that we've managed to turn away everything we love about the games. I mean not all of us are the cause of this but many are. So many people play multiplayer games these days and even if they aren't competitive, they still play multiplayer more over single player, this is where the next split comes in.
Not only are serious competitive MLG players valuing multiplayer but casuals are too. There are so many people who play nothing but multiplayer and have never explored other areas of gaming, people like this are often labled as casuals but they really aren't, they're just another part of the community. A part of the community that is completely foreign to many of us. As such, gamers in general cannot identify one another, we cannot work together. I mean look at all the Youtube gaming channels on there. There are so many of them and they all cater to differrent communities. There's channels that revolve soley around Major League gaming, then there's Lets Players, Reviewers, Unboxers, News feeders, commentators, montage makers.
Lets split them up shall we. Commentators, Montage makers and Gameplay analysis are of the Multiplayer focused demographic, then you have Lets Players, Reviewers, Unboxers and News feeders on another. It's easy to tell that there is a vast amount of differrence between these two differrenct communities and they clash... believe me.
This is the problem with gaming. Everyone is separated now. You also have your MMO communities which stick to said communities and spend all their time on MMO's (understandably), you have your MOBA communities which are all ass and your fighting game communities which tend to talk about all kinds of complex mechanics and discuss them on a regular basis,, then theres the nintendo community who only play/talk about nintendo games (same goes for sega too), then you have the otaku community who tend to play Jrpg's, rail shooters, visual novels (etc) and usually don't play or talk about multiplayer games, they tend to be seen as casuals. The PC community, people like Total Biscuit who only play PC games. The RTS community who are 100% competitive, nothing else needs to be said there. Then there's the racing games community which is split into two other communities (sims and arcade). Then there's people like myself that dabble in everything, many of us on Destructoid fall into this catagory thankfully so i don't need to have to deal with people who are stuck in one particular community and find them to be completely foreign.
The problem with dabbling in other communities and probably the reason why i play so many single player titles such as JRPG's these days is simply because i am just sick of having to deal with the other side of the community. Then when you hear people IRL who ask me about games like COD and stuff, i can't help but see them as differrent. It's like talking to a foreign person. Those aren't thye gamers i'm familiar with, those people are differrent. Sure as humans. we're all differrent but at the end of the day it's difficult to communicate with gamers simply due to the community being so disconnected from one another. Hence why i consider this site to be refeshing, by talking about the things i care about as a gamer, i find other gamers who are in the same boat. Who knows, perhaps we are, we just don't show it. I believe sparking conversations for games that aren't usually talked about is important and that is one of the main reasons why i write on here. I want to talk about games that have been and gone, not many want to talk about them these days, single player doesn't spark half as much discussion either, i always enjoy it when people write a blog about games of old and why they used to love them as they bring back memories of what gaming used to be like. That way i can forget for 1 second what gaming has become. Of course, this is just my mindset on things, i might be wrong but this is what it feels like to me.
Part of me is glad to see that there are people that are differrent in the gaming community but part of me hates the fact that people judge those who have differrent interests and then the others do it back at them. Of course even i am guilty of this with this blog, of course it's all my views which i can't say are all true. Really we're all guilty of this. The worst part is, it's usually a constant tug of war with other communities to shape the games we enjoy hence the reason why so many people get dissappointed. There is no right or wrong in this case, i just wish that each community would be more accepting of others and that this wouldn't have to affect the games we play today. Those are the biggest issues. Game reviewers have the job of identifying these demographics and i don't believe they do a good enough job of it. Then again i myself don't think i could properly review a multiplayer game as though i have played them in the past, my expeirences with them differ greatly to a competitive player.
Now if you haven't grasped it yet, the reason why i don't use images in my rambles is simply because they would confuse people. When i'm rambling i tend to talk about so many differrent topics at once and genrally it becommes difficult to take in so if you don't want to read this, you don't have to, still a spark of discussion is desired from this if you can make it through them.
Ok this might come across as generic but i just feel like sharing my favourite music with the community. I was gonna start with forest music but i thought i'd start with Field music. You know, the sort of music that plays on a huge open grassy plain. This can either be World Map music or just a field location in a game. I may be mostly biased towards RPG's in this one though.
Plains are usually the first main area in videogames, they're usually simple grasslands filled with wildlife. As such, many music for plains tend to feel adventurous.
I could have put many Kirby songs on here but i picked this one because it's more unique whilst remaining catchy and upbeat as the others.
Not so much as a plains music but it mostly plays in grassland areas, of course i had to give it a mention because it's nostalgic but still it doesn't make it on the top 5
I put this song here just to show that Sakuraba's musical talent is still notable, still it doesn't beat the other 3 on this list which are also composed by him.
As much as i absolutely detest this game, i fucking love the soundtrack, it's one of those OST's which was wasted on such an awful game. This games ost is perfect for when you're playing open world rpg's like Oblivion, Gothic 3 etc. This song in particular is fantastic, it fully captures the irony of mystery in the open plain, in other words it's saying, "there's a world out there, go explore it". This song would go with just about any open plain, particularly ones with huge ancient creatures such as dinosaurs... heck just play this in the grassland area's of Monster Hunter and you'll see what i mean. Now i could have also picked Cerrobi Steppe but that area was filled with traps so it drops a ton of points. Thankfully the Ozmone plain has only 3 traps and they're all spread out, one can be walked over by a Chocobo because apparrently, Chocobo's don't trigger invisible bombs.
Grandia 2 deserves an award for having the catchiest soundtrack of all time and this song is no exception. For that reason alone it deserves a place on this list, it's one of those songs you just wanna headbang to. As much as being a plain theme goes, i can't really comment on it, it's simple and catchy that is all that's to it and quite frankly that's all it needs to be.
I don't know why, but this song always felt as if the game was comming close to the end. It has that triumphant feel to it that encourages you to move forward, that and the drumbeats make for a very lighthearted and upbeat song with hints of adventure in it. Come to think of it, it sounds similar to the airship theme from Final Fantasy IX.
Whether you like the game or not, you cannot deny that this song is excellent, The feeling of adventure surges through this song but also the feeling of dignity. The only thing that could make this song better is if the characters in game were all on horseback when this played and no the bear doesn't count. Legendary is the only word to describe this song.
This one was just perfect, the combination of flute and lute (i'm not really any good when it comes to knowing instruments so i'm just making assumptions here) adds a great effect to the song and really makes you feel like you're on a steady stroll on a sunny, yet breezy day which is essentially what the area looks like. A grassy plain with grassy strands blowing through the wind. I think this song captures that perfectly. I mean this is just one of many of Valkyrie Profile 2's amazing songs and it deserves no less than number 1 for it's simplicity alone, yet it manages to sound unique whilst keeping a steady pace at the same time, not too over the top, not too bland, it's just right. Would cross again just to listen to it, then i'd cross back over, and over and then enemies would run into me and i'd be pissed off because the song stopped playing, but then the battle theme would play and i'd be happy again...
I could have made a top 10 but i wanted to keep it to top 5 because it's easier for me to put into position, there are many other songs i could have put on this list but I just haven't thought of them :/. What do you think about the music above? Let me know.
I believe it has come to to the point where RPG's don't excite me as they used to. I believe there comes a time where the excitement of certain types of games wears out. Of course i still love RPG's as much as the next guy and even though i don't get as excited as i used to, i still find them enjoyable. I believe your first RPG is always important no matter how much your tastes change, you might not consider it your favourite but you cannot deny that it made an impact on yourself as a gamer. Now my first RPG was actually my first game, Pokemon Yellow. Now i'm not going to talk for hours about Pokemon because i already have in a previous blog. What i'm going to talk about is RPG's themselves and how they can easily go from epic adventures to tedious grind-fests in a very short time.
Thats not to say that RPG's are always tedious, of course not but we cannot deny that there are some moments in many RPG's that are tedious and i've been led to believe this is the case for a multitude of reasons:
1. The players motivation isn't strong enough
There is a reason why story is an important component in RPG's but what is it's purpose? To truely grasp it's purpose you need to have played RPG's before and be able to see how quickly you got through it. Did you take long breaks? Or were you so excited that you rushed through it? This is where story comes into play. Story is supposed to add excitement to the player to make them believe that they aren't just playing a turned based battle simulator, they are actually influencing the storyline and paving way for the characters so that they can move forward in the story. The entire purpose of the story is to motivate the player's actions so that they have a reason and convistion to move forward. Making the player feel as if they have a role in securing the success of the characters is important, Baten Kaitos in particular actually breaks the forth wall and directly states the players importance.
My name is My Ass nice to meet you. Now you will have to say "My Ass" for the rest of the game
Another way to do this is through choice. Games like Gothic 3 allow you to make choices to pave your way through the game allowing you free reign over what you can do. If you want to murder everyone, you can...with consequences. I believe a lot of RPG's still neglect this which is a shame.
Now if a player has played RPG's for years, they will develop standards which will decrease their motivation whilst playing most RPG's. Sometimes it isn't so much the story, but the execution that can make all the differrence. Games like Grandia 2 manage this.
The classic filler done right. Good job Grandia 2!
2. The player comes to a brick wall and is too stubborn to use a guide
Goddamn puzzles. I mentioned this earlier in a previous blog which has a lot in common with this one but my god are puzzles the bane of my existance, i don't want to spend hours only to find out that i've made 0 progress. Again, this is tied to motivation. Are you motivated to make it past to see the rest of the story? Or are you bummed out after hours of epic filler? Sometimes Puzzles can be a nightmare, sometimes they can be a test of patience, but mostly they are a boring form of time-waste that could be spent playing other games. I don't want to spend half my time trying to find out how to move block X to block Y to open a door. I explained most of this in a previous blog so i won't go in depth.
3. The gameplay is slooooooooooooooow.....
Games like Septerra Core, Final Fantasy IX and most SRPG's have this issue where your characters spend half the time in battles standing still like lemons. Worse of all are the old school turned based ones where you have to select moves for every single fucking character in the party (Lost Odyssey i'm looking at you). Put simply, battles need to be fast paced and fun at it's core. Most people overlook the fact that character management is part of the gameplay also and forget to make the combat fun, instead they make the combat ridiculously complicated and slow. This is why i didn't pick up Bravely Default for this very reason... god the tedium... it buuurns...
Oh god a timer!?....
4. The game has lackluster visuals
I always appreciate videogames with vibrant visuals and strangely, most videogames these days don't have them. It's hard to descrive but certain games like Super Smash Brothers Melee get me entranced due to the visuals yet Super Smash Bros Brawl and the new one doesn't. Want a better example? Look at Starfox Assault, F-ZERO GX and more. Anyways whatever your taste in visuals, there are always those games that look ugly as hell. Games like Enchanted Arms come to mind here. If you want players to be engaged in your game world, at least make it attractive to the eye. Don't use too much brown and gray. We want trippy neon colours and other cool shit. Places like Mira from Baten Kaitos come to mind. Developers, please play that game so that you can learn how to make good visuals and for that matter, play Valkyrie Profile 2 as well, that way you can learn how to make amazing particle effects and backdrops to make your game feel alive.
In any case you're probably thinking. What does all this bullcrap have to do with reccommending rpg's to newcommers of the genre? That's simple. RPG's are an experience you only truely live once and even though there are many great RPG's out there which will blow your goddamn mind. You want to savor the moment and appreciate games whilst you can. Nostalgia hits me from many differrent games but sometimes when i look back i always see Pokemon Gold and Silver. It's like that long lost brother you forgot you had. That is what your first RPG is. Sure you might have moved on and had fantastic experiences with other games, but that game will remain in the back of your mind forever. Sometimes it's not even the first game but generally it is.
The game i would personally reccommend is a game i reviewed harshly before. Legend Of Dragoon. Now before you look at me like that, hear me out. Legend Of Dragoon is best described as "40 hours of mediocre storytelling coated in epic filler" but that is from my perspective as someone who has played RPG's for about 15 years now, gone back in time and played other RPG's i had missed. Legend Of Dragoon is that one game that reminds me how much i have changed as a gamer. When i first played it, i was hooked. The demo ended just as it got good and i wanted to buy the game... however i was a kid with no money, no internet and the nearest game shops didn't even know it existed. Many years later i played it, enjoyed the first chapter, then it started to drag for another 30 hours.
It is this reason why i reccommend it. Legend Of Dragoon allows you to experience the good and bad elements of RPG's in one solid package with 4 games worth of content... with an epicly long story to boot which if you are new to RPG's, i guarentee it will grip you more than it did me at the time. I feel as if i am a prophet of RPG's when i say this... but i saw the light... once then it all went black. I missed my chance with Legend Of Dragoon, what could have been an epic adventure of a lifetime was ruined by my own experiences as a gamer and the standards i have with such games. I'm sure pretty much everyone on this site plays RPG's and can relate to this in some way or other.
I couldn't have said it any better...
So if we go back to my storytelling blog, should games change to reflact these issues? Or do we always need that one game that follows the traditional roots so that newcommers can get into the series? As gamers we are never satisfied with the same old, same old. We want new things, new features, new forms of storytelling. Sure most WRPG's do this these days but what about JRPG's?
In any case i'd like to hear what you would consider to be the perfect RPG for newcommers. There are many more i could list such as Grandia 2, Final Fantasy VII etc but i want to hear what everyone else thinks. Remember, it is not based on how good the game is, it is based on how basic it is, not basic in the sense of Quest 64 basic but basic in the sense that it can be throuroughly enjoyed. It has to be not just a game, but an experience that hardcore rpg fans couldn't appreciate today.
Well i haven't done a review in ages simply because i'm running out of things to review and i'm struggling at finishing games too so i think it would be a good idea to look at car racing games, you know... those types of games that are in decline these days due to microtransactions or by being just terrible? Well i think it's time that i brought up one of those games that continue to live up to today and that if you're into them, you should play.
Midnight Club 3 is easily my second favourite racing game to the almighty F-ZERO GX and my favourite car racing game. The thing about car racing games is that many of them have iconic real life cars, i honestly don't know why but brand names speak a lot of words in these types of games, people want to really feel like they're driving in a car that they can identify with and i believe that is the reason. Now the Midnight Club series didn't have licenced cars until this and as a result the series was very overlooked.
Midnight Club introduced the Open World racing mechanic to gaming though the game itself seemed quite flawed at times. I never finished it for this reason. Midnight Club 3 however is fantastic and if we look at street racing games in retrospect, Midnight Club 3 is easily the best to me. It has 3 open cities to explore, so big in fact that it's so easy to get lost in them unlike Need For Speed Underground 2 where the map could be easily remembered. Unlike that game, each city was huge with tonnes of roads, tonnes of skyscrapers, some you could even smash into and drive through.
The thing that still holds Midnight Club 3 strong today is it's 2 player free roam. No other game has managed this, except maybe for Driver San Fransisco (which is a game i really want to review but i haven't beaten it) but unlike that game you can choose your vehicle (Need For Speed Underground 2 has a glitch that allows you to roam freely in 2 player). As such you can free roam with a friend in your chosen vehicle anywhere and although this sort of thing is typical of games today, no other game which i knew of let you do it split screen. I remember my friend comming over and playing this as we piled up cars and even busses in the tramline and watched as busses and cars were sent flying into the sky as the tram rammed into them. We got on top of skyscrapers and boosted our way off of them and occasionally we would cause roadblocks on the freeway.
In any case on to the meat of the game. Since this is a car racing game i will use a differrent rating system because i think it will be more helpful than just putting gameplay visuals and music. Most of the music in racing games is composed by mainstream bands, sometimes indie bands. Midnight Club 3 has a very strange selection of music. Now when it comes to this kind of music i'm pretty ignorant but some of the music i listened to was just strange yet fitting. I think the soundtrack of this game just nailed it. At the end of the day, the music gave you that midnight driving vibe so in the end it pulled it off. Is it amazing? Well i suppose if you're big into music you'd know better than me because they're mostly mainstream bands, i'm not going to open my mouth on this one though i will look at how well the soundtrack works overall and in this case it works well.
Visually the game is a little dated though the cars still look nice. They have that shining metallic look to them that makes you want to drive them all. Of course other games do it better, Need For Speed arguably has better graphics than Midnight Club 3 but visually the game still holds it's own. This is where i will touch on vehicle customization, bonus points for including it by the way. In any case the vehicle customization moffers a wide range of visual customization. Comparing it to Need For Speed though is a mixed bag, whilst in this game you have custom licence plates, Need For Speed Underground 2 has all kinds of visual's. Put simply Midnight Club 3 has it's own kind of visual style and it sticks to it, the cars are no exception.
Overall you will find most of the customization in this game to be good but not fantastic, it incorporates a few good ideas but for the most part it's your standard body visuals, vinyls, neons etc. It was a shame the game only let you place one vinyl though but compared to Need For Speed Most Wanted which came out a few months later, the car customization in Midnight Club 3 is above par. So whilst it doesn't manage to be as deep as NFS Underground 2, it makes Most Wanted look like a joke in comparison. I'm sure there are other Street Racing games out there like Juiced but i haven't experienced them enough to cpmpare them.
Now onto the meat of the game, the gameplay. Despite it's art style and it's exotic car liberary, Midnight Club 3 is very arcady. The cars don't feel realistic but they're fast. Expect to accellerate very quickly in end game cars. Unlike most games of the genre. Midnight Club 3 utilizes the open world mechanics in it's races by adding checkpoints. Essentially you race in the open world sandbox but you have to pass all the checkpoints to finish. Most races force you to hit every checkpoint in order to win though that's not always the case. There are also unordered races which let you race to any checkpoint you like on the world map in no particular order. Due to the nature of this, the races can get pretty chaotic. The high speed and freedom might be a little overwhelming at first as you will often miss a checkpoint and smash into something as you barely miss the sharp corner but this adds another element of challenge to the game, no more invisible barriers preventing you from leaving the track. Now you have to actually watch where you're going on the track.
One of the iconic features of the Midnight Club games is the special abilities. Each car class has it's own special power, i kid you not. Tuners and exotics have the power to slow down time, similar to speedbreaker in Need For Speed Most Wanted (which was obviously a rip off of this) but it works a lot smoother than that game. Muscle cars and chopper bikes have roar which i never get tired of, you can literally blast away traffic which can sent them flying directly into the enemies cars whilst also giving you easy access to the road. Finally the most entertaining ability is aggro. Aggro allows you to ram into any car at will sending it flying and you don't drop a speck of speed. Although i prefer roar personally there is just something entertaining about watching a bus go flying. If you really want to have some fun there is a cheat for hyper aggro which sends them flying even further. Aggro can be used in SUV's and... luxury cars? Luxury cars!?
Midnight Club 3 offers a lot of content and an insane variety of cars including tuners, exotics, muscles, SUVs and even sports bikes. There is a lot to offer in this game. With so many cars/bikes available to race with, you'll never get bored. Add to that, each car class has it's own car club enabling side content which gives you extra races in specific car classes and for winning them all you're rewarded with a fast car... or bike for your trouble. Additionally there are also collectables around the city, i haven't found them all though but you can unlock some cool stuff with them. Races respawn once you've beaten them allowing you to challenge them again for more money.
Aside from the standard career mode which offers the car clubs and stuff, there is also Arcade mode where you can play with your friends or the computer. Arcade mode is unlike any other racing game. In arcade mode you can play many differrent modes such as tag, capture the flag and more including those unordered races i mentioned. Arcade mode also comes with a race editor allowing you to make your own race courses so you can make your own challenges or even just watch as the AI get stuck not knowing where to go. If you have friends, Midnight Club 3 will prove to be an even more enjoyably experience than any other street racing game.
Really there's not much to say about the game aside from describing it's features. The game is what it is, it's a fast paced, arcady open world street racer with good customization and a wide variety of cars. Of course this game is not for everyone but if you like the Need for speed games and the Juiced games, you will enjoy this game without a doubt. If you're looking for a simulation racer, avoid this. If you don't like racing games then you've probably made up your mind by now but in any case Midnight Club 3 is easily the best of it's kind as it offers limitless content and has a great car line up. If you only get one car racing game in your life, make it Midnight Club 3. Theres a new version called Midnight Club 3 DUB Edition Remix, i suggest you get that version, i haven't played it though.
Lifespan: Decent Length
Licensed Cars? Yes
Would you replay? Yes
On an unrelated note. What happened to holding X to accellerate and Square to brake? Why do we have to use the trigger buttons now? It sucks.
So i just beat Serious Sam The First Encounter and i am bitterly dissappointed in what the game offered. Not only was it needlessly frustrating to play which didn't help my judgement but it was just not a fun game to play at all, there was really nothing i could point out that could allow me to credit the game in any way, it was just bad. To explain how bad Serious Sam is, i will compare it to another game which i talk about all the time, Painkiller, the best FPS i ever played and i shall explain why it is a vastly superior game. Sure it migth be slightly unfair to judge it against a game that came out years before it but considering the fact that i played the HD version, i'd say it makes it fair enough.
In Painkiller you are given 5 unique weapons (7 if you count Battle Out Of Hell) and they are all really fun to use, each weapon has a secondary fire so it gives each weapon multiple uses, some weapons even have 3 firing options such as the Electrodriver which is my favourite second to the Painkiller itself. The thing that makes Painkiller better is that all weapons are equally useful. Sure the driver gets slightly outclassed by the chaingun but it has a better secondary combo to make up for it. The Battle Out Of Hell weapons are both incredibly powerful though they eat a lot of ammo to balance it out.
Serious sam on the other hand offers tonnes of weapons but many of them just aren't any good. I can name only 3 weapons which i ever cared for and those are the minigun, the laser gun and the cannon. Everything else is either near or beyond useless in the second half of the game and none of them are really fun to use and besides the cannon and the laser gun, they're pretty generic. In fact you could say that the weapons are basically pallette swaps from doom for the most part, the cannon is pretty much the same as the BFG, just with a differrent aesthetic. Minigun and laser gun speak for themselves really as they both have counterparts in Doom. Overall, the weapons don't really feel all that fun to use, possibly because they're just too waek compared to the weapons in Painkiller. It takes 2/3 rockets to kill most enemies making them mostly useless. Considering the enemy behaviour, the only viable weapons are the minigun, laser gun and the cannon and though the cannon can be fun, it's nowhere near as fun to use as the Painkiller weapons. Heck i have more fun using the heater from Battle Out Of Hell.
Painkiller has a wide variety of enemy types from ninjas who shoot darts, villiagers who throw torches and rotten flesh at you and even small children who set themselves on fire only to charge at you menacingly. Each level brings somethign new to the table (except maybe Factory which pretty much uses the same enemies as train station but on a larger scale). Emenies are all fun to fight and some can be quite tough. This means you'll have to swap weapons often to adapt to both the level and the enemies.
Serious Sam in a nutshell:
Serious Sam throws a lot of enemies at you but they are mostly all the same. 75% of each level's enemy count consists of Kleers, bulls, kamikaze's and harpies and it just happends that they're all annoying. The rest of them are rarely ever seen and usually don't pose too much of a threat, not half as much as kleers. I swear, pretty much half of the enemies you will encounter throughout the game are kleers and they are easily the most annoying enemies ever who are always faster than you and do nothing but charge and leap at you. The game likes to throw 100's of them at once where everything comes down to "here we go again" as you pull out the minigun or the cannon and spend another 5 minutes killing the first 100, then another 100 spawn rinse and repeat. Most of the enemies have no variation in strategy, the bulls and the kleers may as well be the same enemies as they have exacltly the same attack patterns (except kleers have a long ranged attack which is easily avoided). Kamikaze's are a game of trial and error. The game loves to surround you with them as they all come from every direction so you have to play a guessing game as to which kamikaze is closest to you and quick save after every correct answer, if you fail you will die and have to restart each time and considering the fact that there are usually 100's of them at once, be prepared to reload the game at least 30 times. These battles can take 10-15 minutes to finish on average sinly due to the amount of trial and error involved. It's not fun, it's boring and frustrating.
#3 Level design
Painkiller is known for having a fantastic art design and level design, there are so many iconic levels and they're all equally as memorable (though some really stand out such as hell and loony park). Every level is lush and filled with detail, the lighting is fantastic, particularly in Asylum. Arenas are evry well designed and have lots of interactive environmental objects to interact with such as barrels which can help you blow up a group of enemies. The dark gothic art style gives Painkiller a unique identity which no other FPS could ever attain, not even Doom 3, it's iconic.
Ok it might be unfair to use a classic image
Oh look it's Serious Sam 3 released in 2011, Painkiller was released in 2004. There are more enemies than detail here.
Serious Sam's level design is just lazy. Eveything is just brown and barren, no objects, no detail, nothing. It is essentially the complete opposite of Painkillers art design, it is bad, very bad. The developers just didn't give a shit about the level design, at least in the first game. Admittedly the later games do get a bit better but still it doesn't excuse this major flaw. All the locations feel the same, i can't tell them apart. They all have the same re used objects, textures and everything. It's difficult to remember what level you're on. At least Painkiller gives you something nice to look at whilst you're gunning enemies down, Serious Sam has nothing. In fact at times i had stopped to admite the design of the level in Painkiller, not in Serious Sam.
Seriously just listen to this:
You know what every FPS needs? A metal soundtrack. Painkiller has it and it's fucking awesome. One of my favourites is the factory music which was just perfect, so many enemies blowing up in front of you, it got me thinking for a second, if Painkiller's soundtrack was in Serious Sam, it would have been 100 times better already. Serious Sam's OST is mainly egyptian music with lots of drums, it just felt misplaced especially considering the fact that it's a game that revolves around killing over it's level design. Why have egyptian music in battle when you can't be assed to make a good egyptian environment? It makes no sense and it doesn't make battle feel awesome, it makes battles feel bland which they are. Painkiller's soundtrack was fucking awesome.
#5 Tarot Cards
Now you might be thinking "tarot cards make the game too easy, i want serious mayhem" Well then good for you, enjoy playing Painkiller on Trauma without them. My point is that Painkiller gives you the option to use them and it also gives you something to unlock permenantly increasing the challenge of the levels by adding milestones. For example getting through a level using only one weapon. It's really fun to complete these challenges and be rewarded with something that will make you more powerful later on. It gives you incentive to break objects for gold and collect holy items so you can spend them to place unlocked tarot cards and use them to wreck havoc on enemies. Some tarot cards are actually quite amusing like confusion where the enemies turn against each other. It allows theplayer to customize their experience by giving them extra perks. How is that a bad thing? Do tell me.
In Serious Sam you gain health by conventionally collecting health pick ups, pretty boring really and can get the player stuck at times. In Painkiller you get 1 health per kill by collecting the enemies dead souls but health pick ups are very very scarse and their ownly purpose is to make Trauma possible in which you cannot collect souls at all. Souls add a whole new element of gameplay, you have to move back and forth, weaving your way through enemies to collect them and you will want to do so to use demon morph which turns you invincible and lets you 1 shot kill anything. Of course this feature is removed from Trauma.
Tell me which one looks more badass... By the way, the top image is the first boss, the bottom image is the last boss (sorry for spoilers but you haven't missed much)
Ok so Painkiller might not have the best boss fights (the last boss comes to mind) but they are arguably more exciting than Serious Sam's bosses, at least the first one which has a wide variety of moves and can simply be downed by gunning him down... if you can. Fighting the first boss on trauma with no tarot cards is a hell of a lot of fun and is really intense. There's also the fourth boss which has 4 phases. Sure there are a few bosses which can be a little annoying/easy but compared to Serious Sam's bosses which are either pitifully easy or annoying, you could say they're all the same. In fact theres starting to become a pattern here, there's very little variation in the boss fights, they all use the same strategy but they get harder and harder, you just need to remember what to do. The last boss was easier than the armies of Kleers waiting on the stairs though he did manage to make himself annoying in his second phase just simply because to kill him you had to jump through hoops and hope and pray he stood in the laser at low health, if you try to kill him conventionally he just heals... how cheap. In any case, Painkiller's bosses might make Sam crap himself. In fact it would be impossible for Sam to beat the last boss simply because there's only one way to beat him and that's with demon morph, something which Sam doesn't have.
Now i know what you're thinking "you hate Serious Sam because you suck at it" yes partly and i have a right to because Serious Sam is a game designed specifically to piss me off and i have evidence, the last boss in particular which is just your typical big demon guy who just happends to be easy as piss when you know what to do. The problem is the army of kleers patrolling the stairs who interferre in the first phase of the fight, so i have to take my attention off the big guy for 2 seconds only because theres an army of 100 or so kleers directly behind me which i didn't see only to be shot in the back by fireballs... great.
Serious sam doesn't just give you a challenge, it gives you pain. As a result, i have come to the conclusion that Serious Sam is a game that only masochists can enjoy, a game which has only one selling point "pain" and that's what Serious Sam is, a serious pain in the ass. Worst of all, it's not even fun, it's the same thing over and over, go into 3rd person, shoot cannons, miniguns, laser guns till you run out then you have to play dodgeball with a bunch of kleers and dodge one after another, turn around, shoot a rocket rinse and repeat. It's so boring. Marsh hoppers are exactly the same only weaker, then there's bulls who can easily be shot by cannons, sometimes even grenade launchers but in any case they aren't much differrent.
Painkiller's difficulty is a lot more balanced and enjoyable for all. Trauma provided a satisfying enough challenge for me without being too ridiculous. Serious Sam isn't so much of a challange as it is more of a masochists wet dream. Painkiller offers a satisfying challenge that will make you feel as if you earned your way through the game, alternatively it has daydream which lets you shoot enemies with your eyes closed and win.
#9 Too short
Serious Sam the first encounter and the second encounter are both the same game cut in half, so essentially they want you to pay for two pieces of the pie. Painkiller offers way more levels than First Encounter and though it's later installments are much shorter, many of the levels in the Serious Sam games offer very little in terms of level design and most of the play time is spent dealing with the many waves of enemies. Half of it is spent dealing with kamekaze's. Painkiller is a complete game, it's expansion, Battle Out Of Hell completes the story if you weren't good enough to finish the game on Trauma of course adding new and awesome levels in the process. but the original had it's fair share of levels too and each level is quite long too. Serious sam has really short levels but lots of enemy waves to make them feel long.
#10 Painkiller has personality
Lets face it, Serious Sam was a rip off of Duke Nukem, it provided players with nothing more than having 100's of enemies on screen. Sure Painkiller might not have quite as many (Until redemption) but it has way more substance than Serious Sam. Painkiller is a dark gothic horror shooter, one of a kind you might say (as doom is a sci fi horror and quake...something else) there's nothing quite like Painkiller. There's plenty of Serious Sam, just on a smaller scale. Serious Sam has no personality, no identity, it's just a shooter with 100's of enemies, no more and no less. Sure ti came out before Painkiller but even Doom had ultra violent difficulty which threw tonnes of enemies at you. Serious Sam just puts them all in an arena and forces repetitive gameplay on the player.
Now don't get me wrong, i tried to love Serious Sam as much as i did in Painkiller but it's just nowhere near as good, in fact it wasn't good at all. It was more of a frustrating experience than a fun one. I wish they would take a few lessons from Painkiller because it would allow them to make a much better game. I don't believe i should waste time reviewing Serious Sam The First Encounter, this pretty much sums it all up anyways. Serious Sam is a game for masochists, that is all. If you're a masochist, buyt it right now, if you aren't, avoid it like the plague.