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7:06 AM on 02.06.2012  

Soul Calibur 5, Destination: Horror

I love the Soul Calibur series. I think it is an awesome fighting game with fluid gameply, pereniallly awesome graphics, and strong single player offerings in the form of unlockables and campaign/dungeon modes. I have enjoyed every single one of the previous games and was excited at the news of the new one. Having never been disappointed by the single player features of the previous 4 games I made the assumption this game would follow suit.

Needless to say, I am horrified by the omission of things I assumed would be a given and the regression of Soul Calibur 6 to what I consider a bare bones game. The game has almost no unlockable content aside from the periodic character customization item and title. And I include titles for the sake of completeness because I do NOT consider those to be unlockables. I am sorry, but unlocking words is by no means exciting or satisfying. What happened to the museum? Character art, concept art, 3D model viewer and character bios? And for that matter, where are the character endings? I cannot stress enough how much the lack of endings bugs me. Even if they are silly, unlocking a characters ending has always been one of the great joys of arcade modes in fighting games hailing back as far as I can remember. Furthermore, Soul Calibur 6 decided to set the game a couple decades in the future, meaning that a bunch of the old characters are replaced by fresh faces with similar fighting styles. This is even more reason to include character bios and endings! Why should I even begin to care about the new characters as opposed to the old ones if I know so little about them? Why even bother changing them at all if they don't have any kind of a story behind them?

The game is a very solid fighter, and the gameplay is as good as it ever has been. However, the lack of extra content is, in my opinion, deplorable especially for a series that has had such a wealth of content in the past. It is beyond me why it was left out. The single player has been reduced to arcade, quick battle, and Legendary Souls which are all basically the same mode with varying difficulty. There is a short story mode which is decent but it only allows you to play as three of the characters. And I found Patrokolos to be all sorts of obnoxious in his cutscenes and storyboards.

I feel this game is basically an online game. There is very little reward to the single player experience. The game is perfect if you don't care at all about any of that and just want a solid fighting game to play online. But I have come to expect much more from the Soul Calibur series so I feel a little cheated. It is as if I went to a great restaurant but did not get bread, a side dish, salad, or anything. Sure the main dish was good but it feels like it is missing its compliments no?

Mortal Kombat delivered great single player modes in the form of a story mode with multiple playable characters, traditional arcade endings, the tower challenge mode and a ton of unlockable stuff. The comparison is night and and day.

Anyway, I think I have ranted for long enough. I know many people will be more than satisifed with what the game offers, but after having enjoyed getting endings and unlocking a plethora of content in the all the previous games, I am quite disappointed.

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11:10 PM on 01.24.2012  

Pika? Chu?

Does anyone still play Pokemon? Because I do. I am a generation one pokemon trainer. I started with Pokemon Red when I was in high school, and for SOME REASON, I keep playing them when a new one comes out. Why you ask? Because they are loads of fun! However, the last two installments (HeartGold/SoulSilver and Black/White) have taken me months to beat. Its not that I am logging countless hours. It is just that I play for a couple days when I travel for whatever reason then get bored of it and don't play again until my next trip. I enjoy them whenever I play them but the fun wears thin really fast without a long lapse of time in between. The elapsed time between major installments used to be more than enough but now I am asking for a little bit more from the pokedevelopers. I love these games, but there needs to be some changes. A few suggestions to get started:

1. Console? I have been wanting a legit installment on a console since the first game came out over a decade ago. The moves and monsters could be a lot more detailed and flashy. Moves could be animated (with a skip option of course) and the scale could feel so much larger.

2. Versatile move selection. The traditional 4 moves per pokemon selected, but enough with the damn heart scales already. You should be able to change up your pokemon's moves whenever you want. Like equipping abilities in other games. The strategy of picking 4 moves is still there but without the hassle of forgetting moves and relearning them should you feel you made a horrible mistake.

3. Mastery of moves. Almost like a job class system. Use the move more and it becomes more powerful, possibly gains bonus effects, and eventually is mastered. This I feel would encourage using moves you might not normally even bother with. And the ability to equip moves whenever you want would also encourage this. I am a huge fan of the leveling system in Infinity Blade. Even if you have a favorite weapon, armor, etc, the leveling system encourages you to use and master many different weapons and such. Great system that I think can find application in a wide variety of games!

4. Owning a gym. I think this would be a lot of fun and the possibilities are endless. You could maybe come up with a set of rules or pokemon class for you gym. You could customize it's appearance, decorations. You could scout around the overworld and recruit your underlings who fight before you. The gym would net you money with each win of your recruits. And you would have to defend your gym from the opponents that make it all the way to you.

5. NG+. Geez if any game needs a new game plus it is pokemon. Beating the game with a new set of pokemon would be a lot of fun for a lot of people, but who wants to delete their old game in order to do so??

That's just for starters I guess. I love this franchise but it feels like it is stagnating. Well for me at least since I have played so many of them and they have barely changed over all these years. But each new generation of Pokemon is introduced to a new generation of kids so for them, the novelty and magic of that first pokemon game is very much alive.

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10:21 AM on 01.06.2012  

I Got You Sucka!

I am a huge sucker for marketing, and this generation has been doing a great job with it, but almost too good. I love the collector's editions and the preorder bonuses. The way my mind works is "well if I was planning on getting it anyway, I might as well get the preorder bonus and the badass collector's editions!" That's all well and good but it is getting a little bit out of control now! It seems like almost every game now has a collector's edition or some kind of preorder bonus. Futhermore, a lot of games now have different pre-order bonuses at different locations. The collector's editions are my own fault for taking the bait. If I don't want to drop $100 on every game I buy now I just have to control my urge to buy CE.

But the pre-order bonuses kind of annoy me. If you can't already tell, I am crazy. I like to collect the bonuses and goodies that come with games even if it means spending a significant amount more on it. So naturally, when different stores offer different pre-orders, I am not able to satisfy my compulsion to collect them all. Most of the time, it ends up not being a problem. Mortal Kombat and Batman: AC are the two most recent games I recall that really went all out with different pre-orders at different stores. But they ended up releasing everything as DLC. This is the way it should be! Pre-order to get the bonus earlier and for "free," but if you pick up the game later and still want to bonuses you can simply purchase them. I wish I could say this was the case for all games but I know it is not. I purchased Enslaved: Odyssey to the West on Amazon gold box long after the game had been released. It was a great deal and the venerable Jim Sterling said he liked it so I did not want to miss out on the deal. Anyway, I enjoyed the game enough to want to play it again but figured I would use the alternate costumes that were offered as pre-orders. Unavailable. To this day they still have not been released for purchase, and if they have not by now, I doubt they ever will. Being a crazy person, this repeat scenario disturbs me. Which is why marketing is currently owning my soul.

Here's to hoping the various FF13-2 bonuses will eventually be available for purchase.

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9:49 PM on 12.27.2011  

Trend in fighting games

You know what I hate? There's this trend in fighting games (Capcom looking at you) to add challenge modes to fighting games. I commend developers for adding extra modes to their games BUT.... these modes suck (IMO). I remember back in the age of PS1, Dead or alive had a challenge mode. Unlike today's challenges (I sound old), this mode was actually a great addition to the game. It served to teach you a lot of the basic moves of the characters while also proving more difficult the farther you got along. It was informative, was extra gameplay, a decent challenge, but also manageable.

This generation has seen this mode in, I'd like to say, at least 5 games (MK vs DC universe, Street Fighter 4, Super Street Fighter 4, MvsC3, Ultimate MvsC3). I am disgusted by these modes. They add "replay" value by being grotesquely hard. Hard to the point that you can't even apply the combos to the main game because they can barely be pulled off with the computer standing perfectly still. I did learn a few useful techniques here and there from the challenges in SF4 and MvC3 but for the most part I found myself looking up strategies on the internet to find out what the current challenge even wanted me to do. The timing is so demanding and precise that it becomes infuriating. It is mildly satisfying to be able to complete a character's challenge but it would be more satisfying to be able to complete it with all of them. The combos are just too hard. Maybe I suck. But I know I don't. I'm not awesome at these games but I am certain that 99% of people who have played any of the above games cannot pull off all these challenges. They are just ridiculous.

And the trend continues. Capcom just keeps bringing back this mode (just as difficult and useless) in every single one of their games, like it is the best idea ever. SF X Tekken will feature it AGAIN for the fifth time. Am I alone on this? Does any one else hate this crap as much as I do?

The worst part is that we lose out on real modes where you can actually fight things. It's a LAZY LAZY way to add a mode without really adding anything. Just a set of highly precise button inputs against a stationary opponent. Disgusting.

I should not get worked up over this stuff. The simple solution is to just not worry about the mode and ignore it. But, being a little OCD, I like to try to complete the modes in games I like. When an insurmountable barrier, that is not even fun or creative, gets in the way of my enjoyment and completionism, I feel I have a right to be upset. I'm not asking for an "easy" mode or anything. Just a challenging and FUN one. It is a fine line, but one that talented developers should have a firm grasp on.

Look at Soul Calibur, in contrast. This game has had a single player "campaign" style mode in every iteration. They may be far from perfect, but they try to make a single player experience that revolves around fighting with unique twists here and there. They change it up a little bit each game too to keep it feeling fresh (as opposed to the challenge modes which are pretty much the same every time and impossible). It can be quite challenging too! But it always remains highly doable. I love this about Soul Calibur. The campaign mode in addition to traditional arcade endings makes the game have a robust single player experience. If SC5 has a challenge mode that is as demanding as these other games without a new campaign mode, I am going to shed a single silent tear.

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8:54 PM on 12.06.2011  

PAX

I loved my time at PAX. 2010 was a fantastic time. I met a lot of really cool people and made some very fond memories. Watching Showgirls with Chad Concelmo was EPIC. One of the best movie watching experiences I have ever had. And that movie kind of sucks! But it was so much fun to watch! I also became aware of a little web show called Hey Ash Watcha Playin? which in my opinion is the best video game comedy on the web and probably one of the funniest web series period. Great writing with excellent delivery. The Burches made the debut of this episode of HAWP at PAX 2010.

http://www.gametrailers.com/video/pax-10-hawp/703823

I absolutely loved it. Now only was it really funny, but I also have a good friend who I knew would also love it. I knew the way papa burch reacts is exactly the same way he would react. I was right. That video single handedly got him back into video games. We both now avidly watch HAWP for more gems. There have been many.

"Run Away" featuring Sax Man by a band from Moldova named Sunstroke project was my official theme song to this year. Thank you to Suff0cat for making me aware of it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECyeUYsU14E

PAX 2011 was even more awesome. My friends and I dominated the show floor walking away with 9 or more shirts and tons of SWAG. We played the top games without even having to stand in line for more than 20 minutes by waiting for specific times when the crowds were gone. And that was only during the day, during the evening and mornings we would take in the great city of Seattle. Very balanced trip!

The Bro-urnal had this to offer. No explanation is needed. I had a new theme song for Pax 2011.



Keeping it short. These stories are not done justice with the written word.

In honor of HAWP, what am I playing? Uncharted 3, Batman Arkham City, Saints Row 3.

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8:16 PM on 12.06.2011  

Impressions: Saint's Row the Third

I am currently playing SR3 and I am loving every minute of it. This game took me 100% by surprise. I actually did not play Saint's Row 1 or 2 nor was I planning on playing SR3. However, I did play a lot of Batman Arkham City. I had heard SR3 (from DTOID) had a fun character creation which was pretty powerful. Now I don't know why this dawned on me, but after playing Batman I thought to myself "How cool would it be if I could create and play as one of the Batman VILLAINS in a game all about CRIME??" So I decided to try out SR3 for this very reason, just for shits and grins. First off, I was exceptionally pleased with how my character turned out. Second, I was fairly impressed by how ridiculous the game starts out. Then, lastly, and most importantly, I was shocked at just how much FUN I was having with the game and my new character. I was not planning on playing the game for more than just a couple hours but I ended up buying it, beating it, and loving it.



The comparison must be made to Grand Theft Auto. Saint's Row 1 was by many considered a GTA clone. I myself was already committed to GTA and loved that franchise so I did not feel compelled to play another crime sandbox game. Especially since GTA: San Andreas was an opus in my opinion. GTA 4 was destined to be something out of this world. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed by the series latest outing. When compared to GTA:SA, GTA 4 was a fraction of a game with a substantial amount of content removed. A lot of the mini games (while most were stupid they were still more stuff to do) and side missions got removed. There were no planes, no Harrier jump jet, and not even a TANK. Is this even GTA? How could a tank not be included?? The ultimate helicopter you got at the end was awful. The world of San Andreas felt like it was CJ's to own. He could do almost anything in it (from the most mundane tasks like driving a train to going dancing to working out). It was a huge sandbox and was that much more immersive for it. GTA 4 felt lacking in it's side offerings. The awesome extras that you can keep as trophies or just wreck havok with. Instead there are 200 pigeons to shoot. Now GTA 4 was a good game. But I just felt it was too limited given the scope of GTA:SA .

Saint's Row 3 is like GTA electrified and on steroids. It adds all the mayhem that was to be had with the super weapons of GTA:SA but with this generation's technical capabilities. The explosions look fantastic. The whole game is like the gang wars side quest in San Andreas but hypercharged to mach speed. So much shit goes flying. And the tank's ability to crush cars instead of just blow them up is awesome! These observations are made in the context of the missions and side quests too. I seldomly go on killing sprees just for the sake of doing it. The rampage just seems to happen over the course of pretty much any mission or side mission! This game basically brings back all the ridiculousness of the super weapons in GTA. But makes it look that much more impressive and feel more satisfying. It does not take itself at all seriously and is totally over the top action, kind of like a Jason Statham movie. Any game that features a giant, floppy, purple dildo as a weapon is obviously having fun with itself.

Creating your own character is great. And the freedom to change their appearance completely whenever is a relief should you decide you want a change (of sex). I have found the missions to be quite fun, entertaining, amusing, and well paced. The side quests can be repetitive and sometimes frustrating, UNLESS of course you choose to use a tank. Then you can lay waste to any and all opposition. The gang members are likable and also pretty funny. Recruiting them works a lot like it did in GTA:SA but they are a lot more useful in this game. The leveling system is a lot of fun and adds a great deal of depth to the game. Respect is like experience and allows the unlocking of new abilities for both your character and your gang. Money is used to purchase said abilities as well as new guns and upgrades for guns, cars, and hideouts.

There are certainly things I liked better about GTA 4. I think the music was better, I liked the vehicle models more, the city felt more real, there was a more attention to detail and more varied locales and environments. But there is no denying how much I enjoy playing SR3. I love the character creation, the potential for mayhem, the missions, and sheer ludicrous nature of the game. I think the single most positive thing I can say about this game is that it was essentially off my radar without any plans to play it. But after picking it up, I have had a very difficult time putting it down.

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7:45 PM on 12.06.2011  

What I'd Like to See in Final Fantasy

With FF13 - 2 around the corner I am going to post what changes I would like to see not only for FF 13 but to the FF formula in general. Now I know the venerable Jim Sterling did not like FF13 but I enjoyed my time with it. My biggest lament toward the game was that I thought it was good but I know it could have been infinitely times better simply by doing things that previous final fantasies had already done. In many ways 13 felt like it took great steps backwards.

Anyway, what I would like to see change for FF13 part deux:

1. Towns are a must I think. It is a nice change of pace and offers a breather after a long dungeon or hard boss fight etc. Otherwise you are pretty much fighting or walking the whole game.

2. Side quests throughout is a must. This goes hand in hand with having towns. Without towns and people to actually give you quests, it is difficult for this to exist which is probably why FF13 saved them all until the end. Again good for a change of pace and to make you feel like your gameplay is varied.
-Addendum: I like the idea also of continuous almost unrelated side quests ala ff8 card game and ffX blitzball. Given that most of the summons in FF13 were transformer like vehicles, a racing game would have been great. It keeps gameplay varied and adds more depth.

3. Tough epic monsters are awesome to fight. convenient ways to fight them is appreciated as well.
Addendum: tough epic monsters are fun to fight a few times. Not hundreds. Any monster that requires you to be invincible in order to beat it is broken and is cheating.

4. The only reason I like monsters dropping money is that it gives you a way to actually make money throughout the course of the game. But it doesn't really make sense. however, the alternative to not dropping money could result in crap like farming for money... this could be easily remedied by having other ways to make decent money. side quests are a great way to implement good money AND a break from the main story. jobs are a cool idea as long as they are not super boring like real jobs... or maybe a realty system like fable to make money. but please NOT farming enemies for drops. or if you must then have random enemy drops throughout the course of the game actually make them be worthwhile. one of FF13's cardinal sins I thought was that 90% of the crap you get throughout 90% of the game was 100% useless. unacceptable. wolf pelts or talons etc should sell for decent money or be useful in SOME way. otherwise why give it at all??? totally unacceptable.

5. Less characters is more. Too many just becomes overwhelming. you dont know who to choose and don't end up even using some at all (cait sith who?). FFX did a fantastic job of encouraging you to use all the characters too by making it streamline to switch them during battle. Great gameplay choice.
Addendum: these are powerful game consoles. if we are going with fewer characters why not have them ALL fight during battles as you come across new party members and harder enemies! i mean what are the other members of your party doing while you fight? watching? sleeping? they are traveling with you right? alternatively do a ME2/FF6/FF13 party splitting up style. divide and conquer. this can lead to broader uses of the parties and larger more epic dungeons as well as a greater sense of team work. the possibilities are endless. i think it is nice to be able to choose who is in the parties though. Bottom line: make it so that the players feel every party member is useful for both story and combat and deserves to be on the team. otherwise why did you even recruit them in the first place? why not just kill them instead??

6. The map in FF13 was great but i would have liked it to be fixed instead of randomly rotating. I found that disorienting.

7. transportation -- Most FF's do this fine. You start out limited and eventually get better and better ways to travel. I like this

8. i also am a huge fan of recurring battles against a hard final boss. games like metal gear were great at setting up the villain early then culminating in the final battle. rpgs should have no problem setting up enemies like that. yeah and final bosses should not just randomly appear at the end. it detaches you from even knowing why you are fighting it.

9. Weapons i think are one of the things that REALLY need a change if FF12 and 13 are any indication of a trend. materials are a pain in the butt. no more please. I really liked the weapon upgrading system in Infinity blade, a fucking iPhone game. Just fighting with the weapon would level it up. Like the character was becoming more proficient with it. It was very simple but really encouraged varied weapon usage. I dunno. There are probably lots of great ways to do weapons and upgrading but i do NOT want material gathering. Maybe ever again. two FFs are more than enough to sour me from it forever. I'd rather them just not have you upgrade weapons at all than gather materials. It has become just as out of control as "collect 1000 blast shards". It's a cheap lazy uncreative way to add "replay value" without having to do anything extra or interesting to the game. This gameplay mechanic should be reserved for MMOs. I don't play those games for that very reason.

10. I haven't had too many issues with the leveling system in any of the games except the draw system in FF8. Each game seems to have a slightly new take on leveling to keep it feeling relatively fresh.

11-12. I don't see why a cutscene viewer is not standard nowadays. is that difficult to implement in some way? I mean aren't the cutscenes on the disc somewhere? didn't they work really hard to make them?? why not offer them as a reward to the players for beating the game?? it boggles my mind how this is not just a standard thing for pretty much any game that has cutscenes and is more than 2 hours long.

13. A new look. The techno future thing is getting a little old in my opinion. like every game square makes is set in techno future with tron looking stuff everywhere mixed with swords and guns wielded by a bunch of anime style anthropomorphic characters. I mean i understand the games come from japan but after soooo many years i think it could use a makeover in some way. Example: Basch in FF12 looked SO cool with his Judge armor. I could not wait for him to be in my party. But when he joins, what is he wearing?? This.....



instead of this:



what.... the.... fuck.....

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7:28 AM on 12.06.2011  

Musings by The Astros

Hello DTOID!

I love this site and the people that comprise it. Just a little background into how I became aware of DTOID: Once graduating from college one of my dear friends, Jesse Cortez, known to some others as Tactix, moved to the Bay area and got to know some of the DTOID crew. He went to a PAX Prime one year and subsequently got one of my other good friends at the time, Joshhest, to go the another year. Well by talking to them, they convinced me PAX Prime was sufficiently awesome for me to have to go. So PAX 2010 was my initiation into the world of Destructoid. I had a fantastic time there and met lots of great people. I dare say PAX 2011 was even more awesome! I am anxiously awaiting the next one, but have more than enough awesome games to tide me over until then.

I have a shitton to say about video games since they are my favorite thing on the planet. If I could play video games full time, I would (and I have, on winter and summer breaks)! So if anyone is bored enough to read what I have to say then I would be terribly flattered! Otherwise, I will post for my own sake and to contribute to this site that I have become so very fond of. I could write a lot more in this one post but I will try to avoid a nasty case of tl;dnr so the rest of my thoughts will be continued in a later post!

Oh! I have a name, Andy! And my Dtoid (as well as Xbox Live) tag is the " The Astros ". I am so proud of this. I can't believe that I was able to get this name on Live. I am from Houston, Texas and this is the name of our BASEBALL team. I guess it is a testament to how unpopular they are! How could NO ONE on all of Live had chosen this name?? Anyway, I don't even really like baseball but our team is typically perpetually bad (LAstros, DisAstros, etc), and I first started using this handle on Warcraft 3 to justify my sucking. I grew very fond of this name and take every opportunity to resurrect it.

Until next time,

Andy

On an all new Destructoid post: tune in for my stream of consciousness discourse on my PAX experiences.

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