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2:57 PM on 04.09.2015  

Music for a [Non-Existent] Videogame

Hello my dear friends and fellow Dtioders! Here I am again, sharing my music with you, just like I did a few months ago. This time, however, it's going to be much more personal - for two main reasons.

First, there'll be no band to back me up, just me, you and a midi sequencer. And second, I would like to dedicate these tracks to the memory of my dad who passed away a week ago. He was 57. He wasn't the one who raised me as my parents divorced before I was even born, and it was only five years ago that I finally met him and my three half-siblings. And it felt surprisingly good to be warmly welcomed to a family I had never known before... Alas, cancer took him from us last Thursday. So, I think it's understandable that you might find most of today's songs rather bleak and sombre. Sorry about that, next time I'll try to pick something more cheerful.

In my Ten Things About Me blog I stated that one of my dreams was for composing music for a videogame. VG music has always been a great source of inspiration for me, and people like Nobuo Uematsu, Akira Yamaoka or Yasunori Mitsuda are still among the present-day composers I look up to. So obviously I've tried to compose something similar to my favourite VGM tracks - both consciously and not.

For most of these songs I used the basic MIDI bank - something that's generally frowned upon by modern music-makers. It's just that I'm most comfortable working with this sound set, but I totally understand that the low production quality can get in the way of enjoying the music. Hopefully though you'll still be able to enjoy it. :) And if you do, feel free to download anything you liked!

 

Not exactly a videogame-inspired song, it was originally a piano waltz. After I arranged it I thought it sounded a lot like Yann Tiersen's music from Amélie - hence the French title.

 

My first attempt at creating an orchestral piece. Of course, after reading a book on proper orchestration I realized I'd been doing everything wrong - but oh well, I guess it still sounds alright. 

 

The oldest song on the list, it dates back to... what, 2000?! My, does the time go. It has been rearranged a couple of times since, and it is the only one to feature a different MIDI bank. I still can't decide whether it sounds better or worse than the old one.

 

A weird one. I originally wrote this song for The Heckfish, and we even came up with some lyrics for it together with the band's flautist. But the rest of the group were reluctant to pick it up - so I orchestrated the song, just because I had nothing better to do. And then everyone just said it sounded better this way.

 

Another attempt at orchestrating a piece I wrote for the guitar. My friend's boyfriend once said it sounded like a Castlevania soundtrack - which I'm not too sure about, really. But at least I came up with a punny name!

 

This track was written under the influence of Akira Yamaoka's Silent Hill OST, namely the song Laura Plays the Piano.

 

Another very old piano song I rearranged for the orchestra. Well, I mean a MIDI orchestra. Which is not an orchestra at all... Anyway, you get the idea.

 

I really hope you like these songs - while they may be simplistic and underproduced, I hold them very dear and it took a lot of courage for me to share them. But that doesn't mean I'm not open for criticism - feel free to express your opinion, I would really like some feedback, whatever it's like! It makes me feel all this wasn't for naught.

And once again, sorry if the music or the overall tone of this blog made you sad. I promise, I'll make up for that with my next blog.

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2:03 PM on 03.10.2015  

Secret Santa Impressions: Dust: An Elysian Tail

The Ballad of Battle Bunnies

 

         Or maybe it’s The Ferocious Fighting Furries Fable. Whatever you call it, Dust: An Elysian Tail combines the plushiness of anime-style anthropomorphic animals with fast and technical 2D hack-and-slash mechanics. The result is weird and both underwhelming and absolutely adorable.

 

 

         Before our warm and fuzzy (or, at least, that’s how I imagine him) friend Solar Pony Django stepped up as my Secret Santa and presented me with Dust: An Elysian Tail, the only thing I had heard about the game was its name. I’d never actually tried to inquire about its genre or what it was about – so all I could do was make wild guesses judging by the title. Was it something indie and melancholically beautiful, Journey-style? Or, maybe, something concentrated on physics and levitation, with particle effects (hence the “Dust” part)? I tried to picture an Elysian tail in my mind. I failed. Actually, I still don’t know what that means. But did I ever expect the game to turn out a vibrant-coloured side-scrolling platformer/hack’n’slash? No sirs and m’ladies, I did not.

         Dust: An Elysian Tail is one huge paradox. Drawn in the distinct Japanese animation style, it was created solely in the West. Featuring a story and characters that would fit in a JRPG, it is unmistakably an action title. Finally, even with most of its characters being cute and furry, the game’s narrative is a couple steps from noir, dealing with topics like death, racism and war. However, while touching on these subjects is certainly commendable, I felt that the touches were rather… unsatisfying, if you know what I mean.

 

It's time to meet the hero of our story. Even with his hat off I couldn't make out what animal he is -- certainly not a bunny. A capybara, maybe? :)

 

         The game starts with the titular character Dust (ah, no particle effects, after all) – awakening in the middle of a forest together with a Talking Sword, a Female Flying Furry… Thing and Amnesia – the latter playing a larger role in the story than the first two. “Great”, I thought, "Here come the JRPG tropes”. Then (of course!) I was attacked by a horde of kobold-looking creatures and had to fight them off with the sword, while the flappy little brat was squeaking into my ears… well, at least the combat was solid, and it kept me going.

 

Aaaaand the award for the Most Annoying Sidekick in Videogames goes to... Fidget the Nimbat!

 

         So, Fidget. Fidget is… well, fidgety. She’s selfish, cowardly, twisted, bad-mouthed and loud, and at first one might start wondering what was the point for including such an unlikable character, apart from providing comic relief. As the story progressed however, I thought I understood the developers’ intention. You see, with Dust being such an overwhelmingly positive dude – kind and helpful to a fault even when asked to run even the most ridiculous errands possible – he would have been immeasurably bland without a darker counterpart. Fidget often provides snarky retorts and colourless humour on the occasion, as if voicing the protagonist’s darker thoughts he’s just trying to suppress. As a result, we see something that resembles a Freudian personality layers model (total speculation from here, yeah), with Fidget clearly being the Id, Arah the talking sword representing Dust’s super-ego, and Dust himself stuck between those two. Luckily, the dialogues involving Fidget are really witty and well-written, so it does not feel like a psychology lesson.

       As the game progresses we can also witness both characters forming a bond of friendship and becoming more and more influenced by each other's personalities. Actually, my favourite moments in the game are those when Dust himself makes a darker joke or two, Fidget usually being the target… absolutely priceless. :)

      Alright, back to business. After I’d cleared the first location and came to an opening I encountered the game’s first NPC – and had an instant laughing fit. Now, look here.

 

 

         Right is Geehan, a character from Dust, and left is Hare/Rabbit from the cult Soviet animated series Nu, Pogodi! (“Just You Wait!”) that I think every Russian is all too familiar with. Guess the years haven’t been kind to the poor little guy. :)

         After I had calmed down, I helped the old rabbit out and then stopped the kobolds from attacking the nearby village, got some obligatory sidequests from its fuzzy inhabitants and ventured out to fight the game’s first boss, struggling with yawning. And that’s when the story made an unexpected twist: it turned out that the kobolds and other monsters weren’t attacking the village because of some inherent malevolence. Some were simply running away from the forest fires and looking for a new place to live, others were looking for water as their springs had run dry... And the boss seemed to somehow know Dust, branding him as a genocidal murderer. Now, hasn’t someone got skeletons in their closet (and, like, literal skeletons)!

        Looks like there’s a war going on between the furry-looking “Warmbloods” and lizard-like “Moonbloods”, and our Mr. Hatted Hero played some important part in it. Alas, our friend Amnesia has gotten to him, the boss is dead, and Arah the Talking Sword, while clearly aware of the whole picture, seems to be in a constant haste, saying stuff like, “It’s not the time, I will explain later”. What in the world can a sword be so busy with, I wonder? :)

         Spoilers aside, Dust’s identity does get revealed eventually, in the penultimate chapter aptly named Revelation – and while I can’t say it’s a particularly extraordinary plot twist, we do receive a satisfying explanation which is, coincidentally, not as banal as I expected it to be. So is the final confrontation with the armour-clad rabbit villain, and the ending sequence… But here comes the greatest issue I’ve had with the game’s story. It's not bad. Actually, it has parts that are really, really great. But alas, it does not go to extremes, nor does it delve into too much details – and thus the overall impression is “just okay”, while it could have been simply astounding, had the developers given the story enough elaboration. It certainly had every bit of potential to become something really special.

         The aforementioned lack of thoroughness can also be found in Elysian Tail’s combat. While pretty solid in itself, it severely lacks variety, and by end-game feels more like a chore than anything else. There are only three combos Dust learns at the beginning of the game: a ground combo, a launcher and an aerial combo followed by a pile driver. The latter is particularly satisfying to pull against enemy helicopters (yep, you read me right) in the final chapter, in which case there’s even a slow-motion effect accompanying it, -- it serves as a nice little touch. The combat also features dodging and parrying mechanics, albeit the window for parrying is so large it’s almost impossible to fail, and quite often I had parries triggered accidentally just by mashing the “attack” button. That said, otherwise the controls feel very tight and responsive, so if you do get hit and lose that 900-hit combo chain you’ve been building it’s nobody’s fault but yours. Oh, did I mention there’s a sidequest for building a 1000-hit chain? Yes, that’s a thing.

 

Oh, but it seems like Fidget's already got it covered? Okay girl, I'll go get me some tea while you work. :)

 

         The essential mechanic to building high-count combos is “Dust Storm” that amplifies Fidget’s low-damage projectiles, creating a literal elemental storm that hits everything on-screen and raises the hit counter sky-high. And while there’s a limit for using Dust Storm continuously before it needs to cool down, it’s still relatively easy to maintain it as long as you want, which – provided you level it up properly – can make melee combat practically obsolete. There are three projectile elements unlocked throughout the game, but frankly speaking, I couldn’t quite figure out the difference between them, gameplay-wise.

          Another promising but not exactly thought-out addition is the crafting system. After completing a certain quest, you’ll be able to contact Hailey, a sexy blacksmith rabbit-girl who can craft equipment for you – provided you have the necessary blueprint and materials. Both of these are gained randomly from enemies or found in treasure chests – nothing out of the ordinary. The peculiarity is that you can sell the materials to merchants, thus adding each item type to their catalogue after the first deal. Catalogued materials can then be bought at a premium cost; they restock over time, and it should be a nice little alternative to farming a missing item or two. Note that I said “should”, as throughout the game I hardly ever found myself short for money, so it was practically down to finding at least one of the required material type, selling it and then buying as many as I needed for the best equipment available. Additionally, due to that and the random nature of enemies dropping blueprints, I’ve also found 80 per cent of the existing equipment pretty much worthless: why bother crafting every armour that gives slight stat increase when I already have the blueprint for the best type altogether? And crafted equipment is not recycled in any way – nor do the shops buy it for a worthy price… I think the game would have benefited from something like Mana Khemia's alchemy, with a large, branching crafting system that utilizes old items to create new ones. That would have given Dust some extra depth. Now, I know it's too much to ask of a small-scale indie action title… but a guy can dream, right? :)

 

Here comes Haley the Blacksmith. Oh, that buttery voice... remind me, why am I stuck with Fidget, again?

 

         Where Dust absolutely shines though is platforming and exploration. Relying heavily on metroidvania principles, it manages to keep the tried-and-true formula fresh by making you actually figure out the way to most secrets even with the necessary abilities unlocked. The puzzles are cleverly designed and often give the player room for variation (perhaps sometimes unknowingly). It may take you a good few hours trying to find and reach all the secret places. Frankly speaking though, after completing the game with a few secrets left untouched I don’t particularly feel the urge to get back and find them all – but I guess I’m just not completionist enough. :)

         The soundtrack, created by HuperDuck Soundworks,  is also absolutely wonderful, combining heavy layers of atmospheric pads with prominent and dynamic piano tunes. Overall, the music sets the right mood for the game and often smoothens out the narrative’s stand-out parts instead of highlighting them – which adds a certain contrast, yet does not feel wrong... Ah, sorry, I can never write about music without sounding like a bore – so here, better give this tune a listen and let’s pretend I’ve given it a proper introduction. :)

 

 

         Okay, it looks like this has gotten much wordier than I’d expected… I need something like a bottom line now, don’t I? Ahem. Dust: An Elysian Tail delivers a solid experience, shining in some areas and a bit underperforming in others. The game’s strongest point however is actually not in any of its elements, but in the way they are put together, and in the sheer amount of love poured into creating it. And when the love is there, any narrative inconsistencies, or cheesy voice acting, or any other minor drawback for that matter feel so insignificant, one can just turn a blind eye on it. It’s what inside that matters, riiight? :)

         Right. So I’d like to say a word of thanks to the wonderful Solar Pony for introducing me to this game, and the sweet Luna Sy for coming up with the whole Secret Santa affair – and to all of you here who hasn’t fallen asleep reading this stuff!

 

  ...wait, what was that snoring sound? Oh, sorry. Sleep tight, dear reader, sleep tight! :)

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1:05 PM on 01.27.2015  

Why Videogames Can't Be "Real" Art

 

Now, now, don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe games ARE art, and nobody will ever convince me otherwise. Besides the fact that even technically games comprise different forms of art -- i.e. cinema/animation, music, literature, painting and so on -- I think their real artistic value comes with the feature unique to them. Yes, I’m speaking of interactivity. Quoting a good friend of mine, a painting can picture the life of an immigration inspector in a police state. A book or a movie can elaborate on it and show us how he fares. But only by playing Papers, Please can you be the aforementioned inspector and experience the decisions he has to make first-hand.

Nevertheless, despite being the greatest asset of videogames, interactivity (and what comes with it) also becomes the media’s ultimate hindrance on its way to the Big World of Art. Which means that no matter how many awesome, artistic and borderline revolutionary games are created, they will never receive the same treatment as movies and other accepted forms of art – well, at least not in the near future. The reasons? Oh, do I really have to name the reasons? Actually, yes I do – why would I write this blog otherwise? :)

 Length.

Looks like someone's been busy...

 

Continuing the “games vs movies” comparison, how long is an average movie? Two hours? Yeah, I guess that’s about right these days – even though I remember the times when movies were much shorter (insert old_man_grumble.mp3). Three hours if it’s something epic or art house. Four if you’re fucking Peter Jackson. Anyway, it’s usually manageable to see it to the end in one sitting. Games on the other hand are usually significantly longer – a three-to-four hour game is generally considered criminally short. And a single massive-scale RPG can rival some of the longest-running TV series in history.

Now, imagine a professional movie critic, maybe even an Academy of Motion Picture Arts (notice the wording?) member. Complete with a two-piece suit, a mustache and a monocle for a +16 respectability boost. And now imagine them struggling through Skyrim with a controller in hand, for hours and hours and hours. Aside from that scene being comical in itself, even if we assume that they’ve agreed to try this weird little toy out as a potential art form, who in their right mind will put in 150+ hours into it just to pass judgment?! No sir, this endeavor would require a geek, and no one else. And – let’s be honest here – geeks aren’t exactly the very image of an art-bearer. :)

 

 

Skill Barrier

Another issue preventing videogames from becoming full-fledged, accessible-to-all Art is that they require at least minimum amount of skill to be played and enjoyed the way they were intended. Now, I won’t say other forms of art do not require any effort or preparation. It’s not all “sit back and enjoy the show”. You’ve got to be at the very least educated enough (a Charles Dickens book won’t likely have the same effect on you if you have never studied English history), experienced enough in that particular form of art (you would not be able to fully enjoy, say, Spaceballs if you haven’t seen Star Wars or at least a single space opera movie), and overall develop a taste in it to be able to discern something genuinely talented and innovative from works that are simply pretentious. This is particularly true for more difficult pieces (like Richard Wagner’s operas, James Joyce’s Ulysses or Andrei Tarkovsky’s films, to drop some names) that call for a thoroughly educated, immensely experienced and discerning recipient.

All of the above can be applied to quite a number of modern-day games as well – but there is also the requirement for gaming skills on top of that. To provide an example, let me tell you a story.

 

What? No, the story is not about MMO. Why are you even asking?

 

Those who have seen my Top 10 Games blog should already know that I consider Shadow of the Colossus one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) videogames in history. And as a true nerd (at least in terms The Badger fittingly described the lot), I am permanently trying to impose my nerdiness on others – and of course my loved ones are the first to suffer. :)

Once, after a prolonged discussion on the “are games Art” topic with my wife, I decided to introduce her to SotC as a means to prove my point. I gave her the controls and let her ride out to find the first Colossus. Now, my wife is no stranger to videogames, but she isn’t a regular player either; besides she’s used to mouse and keyboard – so obviously she was struggling to get a hang of the PS2 controller. She needed my help climbing the cliffs to even get to the stone giant, and when she finally did the wretched creature just kept stomping on her because she wasn’t fast enough. In the end, she gave up, so I took the controls and finished the battle myself. And while even watching someone play SotC can be immersive, it’s nowhere near the feeling you get when you experience the game first-hand.

So did I get my point across to my sweetheart in the end? Alas, I did not. While she was impressed by the world and the design of the Colossi, her ultimate opinion was “What good is an art form if it seems to ask too much of you just to be able to experience it?”

 

Different Playstyles, Different Experience

Even if you have passed the “entry point” and garnered enough skill to be able to play, there is still the disparity between “good players” and, well, not-so-good ones. So while a more skillful player might enjoy a difficult game and praise the challenge it creates, those who simply lack the necessary reflexes, experience or patience would dismiss the same game as “cheap” (unless it is cheap). Besides, some games do ask what might seem too much from a player – like putting in puzzles that require wild guesses instead of rational thinking. Or an RPG that becomes unplayable with the build you created – but of course you’ll only realize this after you’ve put a good ten hours into it… That could become frustrating and turn many people away from a game they would have otherwise enjoyed.

I’m sure everyone has heard the never-ending argument between fighting game players. While some may claim they “play for fun” and prefer more tactical approach to achieving victory, others spend months learning and mastering every possible combo, counting frames and whatnot. Still, both sides would say the same thing: “You are playing it wrong!” Yeah, okay, there’s a tricky matter of competitive gaming and e-sports here, but tell me, have you ever heard aspiring, say, pro soccer players say they despise those “noobs” who just want to play some street ball, and the street players refer to pros as “nerds who’ve trained themselves stupid”? :)

Okay, gaming skills aside, there’s also a matter of how you prefer to play your game. And in this particular case, non-linearity – the thing so often cherished by gamers as one of the medium's high points – becomes gaming’s worst enemy. If a videogame offers you a number of different ways it can be played, and you choose only one, can you really say you’ve had a complete experience? I’m not speaking of branching storylines -- as even the gameplay can differ greatly within a single title. 

For one player, Deus Ex would appear a brilliantly planned stealth game, for another – a mediocre third-person shooter. One would say Grand Theft Auto games are a set of relatively boring missions, stitched together by a trope-heavy story about the criminal world, and spiced up a bit by social commentary. Another one disagrees and tells the tales of mayhem in the streets, prolonged car chases when they escaped capture by a hair, and side activities one could immerse themselves in for hours and hours. And guess what? Both would be right.

So how do we rate a game that presents multiple ways of playing? Do we take one of them as “primary” and focus on it? Or do we try to do a little bit of everything, potentially getting a shallow experience? Can we be even remotely objective? I don’t have an answer for this. Which brings us to the next point…

No Objective Means of Appraisal

Recently there’s been a surge in videogames appearing in a number of yearly awards – such as Writers Guild Awards – along with other, more widely accepted media. However, those nominations usually deal with the elements common to both games and other forms of art -- like screenplay, music or voice acting. While that is quite fine in itself, I think it entirely misses the point of gaming – for I strongly believe that the true essence of videogames lies in gameplay. I’ve said that once, and I would say it again: the game mechanics must compliment the story and other non-gameplay elements – and vice versa. Sorry David Cage, but neither technology, nor being cinematic, nor even the mythical “emotion” have anything to do with what games really are.

 

To me, THIS was one of the most emotional moments in gaming in the recent years

 

It is here that the catch becomes clear though: there are no widely acclaimed means of analyzing game mechanics. No theory books on game planning or combat. No experts, apart from those who either have been developing games for most part of their lives, or those who have played so much they now consider themselves such (and still both types are labeled as geeks by the general public). No classes that would teach why games should be made, instead of how. Not even a common terminology (and no, words like pwned or noob aren’t exactly terms, scientifically speaking :)). There are no equivalents to concerts, exhibitions or film festivals – and gaming conventions (from what I have heard about them) are nothing more than advertising and marketing events. It’s all sad, really – but even sadder is the fact that this situation isn’t likely to improve anytime soon.

As a result, we are facing a paradox: videogames, while clearly possessing all the inherent attributes of art, are hidden behind entry barriers and lack most of the external features that art is usually associated with and accompanied by. This, in turn, keeps people away and gives them the reason to say games are not art without even trying them out.

There are, of course, more aspects and fine points to this… but I guess that’s a topic to discuss some other time. Thanks for reading!

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3:56 AM on 01.12.2015  

A Love Letter and a Musical Gift to Dtoiders

         Hi everyone! It’s been quite a while since my last blog, so I thought I’d better write something before you guys forget who I am. :)

         2014 was not an easy year, and a rather weird one for me as a gamer, but if I were to name it Year of Something, it might as well be the Year of Destructoid. Well, actually Destructoid and Steam – but as there’ll be a separate blog about Steam (I think), let us concentrate on the Dtoid part.

         It’s always nice to become part of a community – at least while you’re accepted, – and believe me, I’ve had my fair share of acceptance problems in my life. That’s why I cherish the Dtoid community and the friendships I’ve made here so much. Seriously people, you’re awesome! Because of you, I’ve been able to overcome my multiplayer shyness, and I even met the first seconds of 2015 mounting my friends. On top of a goat. What else could a guy possibly wish for? :)

        

 

 

         So here I’ve prepared a little musical gift for you all.

         Now, let me introduce myself (again) to those who don’t yet know me from this perspective. Hi, I am Tonich, an aspiring composer and the guitarist/singer/principal songwriter of the Russian instrumental/art rock band The Heckfish. Pleased to meet you all (again)! :)

 

 

         At first, I was reluctant to use Dtoid blogs for publishing my music, but some of my newly acquired friends (thanks guys!) convinced me that I should go Alphadeus (cheers dude! :)) and present it to you. Besides, LuckRequired has already used one of the tracks for his caption contest, so what the heck – gotta finish the job! :)

 

 

 

         Above you can stream and freely download The Heckfish’s debut EP Immersion. No charge, no questions asked. :)

Funded and produced solely by the band members, the EP was recorded in 2011-2012 and self-released in 2013. Here’s the list of people who have put their efforts into creating the album:

Tonich – Guitars, vocals and keyboards

Anton Travin – Recorder

Anna Gogina – Keyboards

Pavel Ganichev – Bass guitar

Artyom Tretiakov – Drums

Sergei Sorokin – Sound engineering and mixing

Sergei Russkikh – Mastering

Anna Osipova – Cover art

 

         I really hope you enjoy the music, my dear Dtoiders! Even if you don’t – I’m still thankful to you all. :)

         Your Friendly Neighborhood Russian,

                   Tonich

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12:46 PM on 10.19.2014  

Come and Play with Me: Looking for Playmates on Steam

Hello, my friends and fellow Dtoiders!  It's not often that I use the c-blogs for personal gain, but I've been planning on writing this for quite some time. Anyway, this won't take too long.

For those of you who are new to this blog, I'm Tonich, thirty, coming from the Land of Vodka, Bears and PC gaming. :) I've been playing videogames since the NES era (which started rather late here in Russia), but for the most time I've kept to single-player. Rased as an only child, I didn't have a regular partner to play with, and getting gaming parties with my friends was a rare occasion. 

When I grew up and had a gaming PC and a couple of consoles with online capabilities, multiplaying was still out of the question. Partly due to my really poor internet connection at that time, partly because of the ever-prevailing piracy (which was the only way to keep playing without going broke), and partly because of my personality. You see, I'm really shy around new people, so whenever I try playing with complete strangers I get really tense, thus both bringing my gaming performance down and losing any enjoyment from playing. 

But ever since I've joined this community and found out it's full of awesome people, I feel the growing desire to play with you guys - as some of you have already become friends to me, and hopefully there will be many more yet. I've already made my first steps by playing with Luck Required - thanks a lot, dude. you're awesome! - and I invite everyone and anyone who's interested in playing with me to add me on Steam.

My Steam username is Tonich, I'm the guy with a red panda on the userpic. My time zone is Moscow time (GMT+4, PDT+11, EDT+8), so it might be a bit tough getting together with those of you who live in the Americas - but we'll figure something out, right? :)

Now, a few words about the games I'd like to play with you.

 

First and foremost, Borderlands 2

I've completed the game twice (solo) and I'm still loving it - but I've always wanted to try out co-op and clear out those pesky raid bosses with a trusty partner or three. :) My snipy lvl53 Zer0 is always at your service.

 

Russian player, huh?

Let's see if he's any good.

I will be watching.

Sorry, that haiku was done on a whim. :)

Anyway, if you're new to the game I'll gladly start a new character and replay the campaign again with you!

I've got the GOTY Edition, plus the Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade 2, but no Headhunter episodes yet. 

 

 

I'm also a (rather casual) fighting game player, so I'm always ready for a bout in Mortal Kombat, Injustiice: Gods Among Us and Skullgirls (waaah, no online support for my favourite BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger!). Just don't expect much of a challenge from me if you're a seasoned fighter, okay?

 

 

Max Payne 3 and Quake Live are also among the games I'd like to see some friendly faces in. And just this weekend I grabbed Payday: The Heist but haven't tried it out yet, so if anyone still plays it (as far as I know quite a number of Dtoiders are into the 2nd game but I'm still on the fence about getting it), and you've got enough patience to play with a complete newbie, take this kid along for the heist, will you? :)

 

And of course I plan on expanding my library, so if you you've got suggestions on what we could play together, just say the word! :) 

So, please add me - and either send me a Steam message or leave a comment in this blog, saying what you'd like to play.

 Yours truly,

  Tonich

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12:28 PM on 10.07.2014  

Fangs for the Memories: Fatal Frame III (Mostly)

         Fangs for the Memories? Seriously? Ah, what am I saying – it’s Halloween, how can there be anything serious about it? :)

         I love Halloween – I’ve loved it ever since I started listening to a certain German power metal band when I was fifteen. Even though in my homeland it’s deemed a strange and unworthy holiday and is officially banned from celebrating in Russian schools, I don’t mind embarrassing myself by dressing up and going outside looking like this.

 

This cute little witch is doing my bidding. So will YOU mortals!

         And funny thing, just a couple days back I’ve been discussing the scariest moments in video games with a friend – so I won’t be going into this community assignment unprepared. :)

 

         I’m a sucker for a good mystical/horror story, but it’s a rarity that I find a moment in a movie or a videogame that can really scare me. I think I could count all of the experiences like that using fingers on one hand. Well, okay, maybe I’ll throw in an extra thumb. But the moment that definitely took the cake, then smashed it in my face, was the “Room with a Mirror” moment in Silent Hill 3. It was the only time when I was so confused and scared that I ran out of the room (in-game, of course) and had to take quite some time trying to figure out what I had seen – before going back in there just to find… nothing at all. And just because it was a one-time experience for me, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for everyone else, so suck it. You’ll have to play the game yourself. And I’m going to talk about Fatal Frame III: The Tormented, known in Europe as Project Zero 3.

        

 

 

         One of the key elements to scaring the player is surprise. That’s how all the jump-scares work: you’re walking down a dimly lit corridor, everything looks peaceful and the music is soothing – then suddenly you’re face to face with something unnatural or plain disfigured. All of this is usually accompanied by the sound of several violinists having a simultanious heart attack. However if you are aware of the monster and the time of its appearance it will hardly make you jump out of your seat. Same goes for making sudden scares happen too often. But can we make a frightening experience when the player is aware of the monster in the room? Fatal Frame is quite sure we can.

         The Tormented, the third installment in the series puts us in the shoes of Rei Kurosawa – a freelance photographer who is experiencing nightly dreams of being lost in a haunted manor. There she finds a magical camera that can banish ghosts by photographing them. Sounds a bit stupid, doesn’t it? I, however, believe it is one of the most brilliant ideas found in a horror game. What would be your reaction if you were attacked by an angry wraith? I bet it would be turning around and running for your life – and I think no one would blame you. Video games gave us the chance to fight back – but doing so with conventional weapons (even if they are some state-of-the-art experimental gear, they usually still look like weapons) makes the ghost encounter lose its thrill very soon. But it’s a different feeling when you have to stare down the attacking ghost through the viewfinder, focus on it and then take a close-up shot. And here’s what you are going to look at.

        

 

 

         Unfortunately, after a while the impression starts to wear out, and by the end game you'd be routinely snapping pic after pic, concerned more for having a better exp reward than anything. But the first few battles – that would be something else, you can take my word for it.

           Another great thing about Fatal Frame III is how it utilizes controller vibration for building up the suspense. Instead of just rumbling violently – you know, the usual way – the gamepad would gently pulsate in your hands when ghosts are nearby, then give you a single powerful shake as they finally appear. This system is not unlike the famous radio static from the Silent Hill series; both games know just the way to make you feel uneasy without you instantly realizing the reason for it. And that, in my book, is the definition of a good scare.

 

         Also, honorary mentions go to the following gaming moments:

- A statue coming to life and tearing apart its chest in Clive Barker's Unduying

- Encountering a Bloodsucker for the first time in S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl

- The brief, yet poignant Year Walk for making me feel uneasy about staying in a silent and darkened apartment after I've finished the game.

 

Thanks for reading - and happy upcoming Halloween! :)

  read


5:41 AM on 09.26.2014  

Modern Game Plot Fatigue: Could This Writer's Checklist Be Real?

Lately, I’ve been noticing that quite a lot of stories in AAA blockbuster games of the past few years play out in almost exactly the same way. Sure, there’s no way of avoiding at least a couple of clichés in stories – and I’m sure as heck not saying it’s a bad thing. We need clichés, we love them (oh, you want to argue? Don’t lie to yourselves) – but in these cases it feels like there’s just a bunch of them being shuffled like a deck of cards, and nothing else.

So I turned on my inner vision and tried to peer into the distance of space and time – and here’s the transcript of a note I’ve found stapled to the wall of a certain undisclosed developer’s writers department (on a side note, my vision was rather blurry, probably because I’ve got myopic astigmia and I can’t wear glasses in my spirit form – so I might have missed or misread some points).

 

Dear Writers!

         According to international surveys, focus tests and publisher commentary, your game script is going to suck if it does not have at least 80 per cent of the following points.

 

1. Characters

 

 

  • A bitchy, crap-talking white male antihero, preferably with a low, gruff voice and a drinking problem (special powers are mandatory!)
  • Wife/lover/family member/stray kid, who dies at the start of the game and later appears in flashbacks
  • A mentor/experienced comrade (bonus points for having them killed mid-game)
  • A comic relief character (must stay alive throughout the game - it's the only exception! Okay, dogs, too)
  • A villain who shares a love/hate relationship with the protagonist
  • A probable love interest who either dies or has other circumstances that prevent her from starting a relationship with the hero

 2. Plot Devices

  • Death of the protagonist’s lover/important family member/whole family for subsequent guilt issues
  • Death of the most likable character (bonus points for making the protagonist kill them)
  • Angst
  • Amnesia
  • Betrayal
  • Conspiracies
  • Revealing the hero’s dark past that he does not know or want to remember, explaining his personality and/or powers
  • Revealing that the protagonist is not who we think he is
  • Revival of a character considered dead
  • A second villain appearing or being disclosed for who they are in the last hour of the game
  • Any other plot twist
  • Ambiguous moral choices

 

3. While Collaborating with Game Planners

NOTE: ALL of the following points are mandatory, your game is not a game but an outdated piece of shit if it has not got them.

  • Shooting
  • Explosions
  • Chases
  • Free running
  • Flashbacks (really good for filling loading times. Use them. Abuse them)
  • Private military companies
  • One-liners
  • Cliffhangers (both figurative AND literal)
  • Turrets with unlimited ammo (if it’s medieval fantasy, catapults of crossbow turrets will do)
  • Fetch quests and other distractions

 

We also regret to inform you that due to our Writing Robot Development department needing additional funds, starting next month your salaries will be cut by fourty per cent. Please understand.

  read


8:17 AM on 09.04.2014  

I Killed Two Family Members to Enjoy "Papers, Please"




Yes, that's right. I did it. I killed off my uncle and mother-in-law just to be able to enjoy a video game. While they were around I just couldn't concentrate and have fun - not with them constantly bugging me, saying they're cold and hungry or feeling sick... And I just couldn't both provide food, heat and  medicine for the whole family of four and play my game without thinking back about it all.

So they left me no choice. I went on and denied them medicine when they needed it - fully aware that they were going to die. But I've already lost a family once because I couldn't feed them - and it's not something that makes you enjoy your video games, is it?

Do I regret my crime? Well, yeah, I started to wish I'd kept them alive after I got a little better at my job and started taking bribes - although only small ones. Still, I was able to move to a new apartment, adopted my niece, bought an expensive present for my sickly offspring and was finally able to complete Papers, Please. Yes, now I sometimes wish I could start everything over and look for a better way. Sometimes I just can't fall asleep and keep thinking that...

Oh, sorry, there's someone at the door. Must be the water delivery.


[i]Hello, Mr Tonich. It is so good that you have decided to confess. Makes my job so much easier. I can not guarantee that the Ministry will take your sincere confession into consideration - you are a murderer, after all.
Anyway, please, come with me. GLORY TO ARSTOZKA![/i]   read


1:50 PM on 08.17.2014  

Worst Protagonist EVER (+Birthday)

As far as I can gather, the concept of an antihero has become quite popular in the past decade or so, especially in videogames. Characters ranging from a young delinquent to a (classic) honorable outlaw to a murdering sociopath have made their way to the leading roles, replacing the presumably bland White Knights in Shining Armour (yes, Mr Spellcheck, I like it that way). And while I don't have any problem with the armour-clad messiah-complex guys (and sometimes gals), I don't think the advent of antiheroes is a bad thing. 



I've already discussed this matter in one of my previous blogs and praised Saint's Row IV for creating a both despicable and likable protagonist. What I did not mention is that there is a huge difference between playing an antihero and a total asshole.
There are a number of antihero types that I can recall in movies, games or animation. First of all, there are those who should have clearly become villains but somehow turned out on the side of the good, fighting an even greater evil (think Hellsing's Alucard, or the aforementioned President from Saint's Row IV). Then come guys with troubled past but hearts of gold (I think that's the most numerous type, Nico Bellic (Grand Theft Auto IV) and John Marston (Red Dead Redemption) are the first examples that springs to my mind). There are also bad (or simply unlikable) characters who are either made to regret their ways (Altair from the first Assassin's Creed, or Luke fon Fabre in Tales of the Abyss) or have been thrown into a crisis so dire that we can't help but sympathize with them - no matter how ugly they had been before (like Seth Gecko from the Dusk Till Dawn movie, or James Earl Cash from Manhunt).
Anyway, I believe that the defining trait of an antihero (or any kind of hero) is struggle - both external and internal. We must be shown that without those unlikely heroes everything's going to be real bad. And of course, they should possess a noticeable amount of charisma. But both aren't the case with Sniper Elite V2's leading man.


Oh, and just because I'm a nice guy: SPOILERS for Sniper Elite V2 ahead. Not that there's anything to spoil there, really.


I got this game free on Steam, so one might just say that I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but I'm just going to be ungrateful and say it was one of the worst games I've played since Final Fantasy X-2. And the worst part in the game is the protagonist. First of all, he is a bad-mouthed, contemptuous bastard who does not have any respect for human life. And while that alone can be okay, given the right circumstance, there's also another thing: there is no struggle to his cause - neither external, nor internal. Just imagine the setting: it's the spring of 1945, the Allied forces are in Berlin, and the outcome of the war is pretty much clear. The German army is mostly wiped out, and we know that by that time the Nazi regime was throwing out everyone they could find in a desperate attempt to defend the capital: teenagers, old men and the like. Yes, they wear Nazi uniforms - but hardly are they capable soldiers, or that devoted to the cause. Is that an enemy one should be proud of defeating? I don't think so.
Then there are the Soviet troops who get shot even more frequently than the Nazis. Sure, the tensions between the USSR and the West are growing, and the unanimous struggle against a common enemy is gone, giving way to a race for the prize (that being Germany). So we can assume that the British secret service trying to make things harder for the USSR is more or less historically accurate. But still, shooting men who are formally your allies feels really wrong - let alone it being a war crime, by any account. Besides, me being a Russian, I just can't force myself to take pleasure in shooting men who are revered as heroes in my homeland. It's just like making a game about shooting my grandpa and asking me whether I enjoyed it.
Anyway, even if we accept this "alternative history" twist and assume that the Russians are indeed the bad guys there. Was it really necessary to let us play as a man who is devoid of any charisma at  all and who treats every human being other than himself with such contempt? Where's the "respect your enemy" formula gone? All that made me feel like I myself was playing as the ultimate bad guy there, and whenever the protagonist was killed I couldn't help saying, "Serves you right, you smug asshole!" I don't believe that's the right attitude to expect from the player.

And, as a NVRG side note, it's been my 30th birthday today. This year it was a bit on a sad side, as my wife is not feeling well these past few days, and my friends from around Moscow who had wanted to come visit me couldn't make it... but hey, I've received Nidhogg as a gift - so it's time to check whether it is really THE sword-fighting game for me. :)   read


4:49 AM on 07.17.2014  

Tonich's Top Ten Games List

So, there's a new trend going on with top ten games list, and while I was initially reluctant (rather: lazy) to write one and thought of just leaving a comment in the corresponding blog, I finally decided that I wanted my write-up to stay in my blog for me to reread it on long winter nights and feel like I'm worth something. :) I'll make it brief though. Because I'm lazy.
It's so hard to rank my favourite games this way. They are so different, and I love them all so much... but I'll try to do it. And hope that they won't sulk and disappear from my game library forever. :)



1. Shadow of the Colossus. It's beautiful, poignant and really one of a kind. I think this game is the closest we get to a Videogame as Art.  While a lot of other wanna-be-an-art-game titles try to venture into other media's turf (primarily cinema), a lot of them completely miss the point of videogames as a new art form. The point is that interactivity is what distinguishes games from everything else, and if we want to make something bigger than simply an "interactive movie" we must make the gameplay stand out just as much as (if not more than) other, more traditional elements. And, more importantly, it should complement them - and vise versa. And that's what SotC does like no other game.




2. Portal. It's short. It's brilliant. And it's got (arguably) the best ending song in video game history... What else there is to say? Perhaps that it makes you think out of the box... and then it does it again.



3. Valkyrie Profile. It had a most fascinating concept and an excellent, engaging combat system that combined both tactical planning and button-mashing. But it's in the individual stories of the einherjar that the game truly shines. Besides, Lenneth is my idea of a perfect female protagonist. I could fall in love with her... but then again, if I met her that would only mean my inevitable demise is at hand. So maybe that's not such a great idea after all. :)



4. Persona 4. I loved the story. I loved the characters. And the music. It made me laugh like no other game did. Even the dungeon crawling was pretty fun - at least at first playthrough.



5. Batman: Arkham Asylum. Just when about each and every one thought the beat'em'up genre was dead and buried, Rocksteady made a masterpiece that still influences games of very different kinds. Not only it was innovative, it was brilliantly executed and polished to a shine that could make you go temporarily blind. But what elevates this game from being simply a brilliant action game is the fourth-wall breaking "Joker Asylum" sequence that parodies the game's intro and toys with the player. Looks like it's not only in Soviet Russia that the game plays YOU. :)



6. Silent Hill 2. I don't think I even have to say anything. We all know it's timeless classic, right?




7. Final Fantasy VI. Besides having (not arguably) one of the best game music scores, it featured a wonderful cast and a beautifully presented story. By the end I was a bit tired of the combat though... no, scratch that. When I hear these tunes I can't think of any flaws at all. So, where was I? Ah, yes, the music score...




8.  Max Payne. An unexpected pick, even for me myself. It's just that I tried to remember the games that I could replay times and times again, and this one was among them. Apart from excellent atmosphere, fueled by poignant storytelling and fitting music, the game won me over with challenging gameplay where I had to actually plan how I shoot enemies instead of the usual going in guns blazing. And there are also wonderful comic strip sections, including a fourth-wall breaking one. Yes, I am fond of this stuff.




9.  Comix Zone. There were a lot of wonderful games on the Mega Drive/Genesis, but I think this game was the console's calling card. Yes, yes, I know about Sonic. But for me CZ really stole the show. While the story might seem simplistic (the protagonist being trapped in his own comic book and trying to escape back to the real world), the game was exemplar in art design and game planning, and those chiptune guitar riffs were simply majestic.




10.  The Void. As opposed to games I replay constantly, there are some that I never go back to after completing, and yet I just can't get them out of my head. I contemplate on the game's story (for it's cryptic like hell), I tell my friends about it (and fail miserably because it's not a game you can describe in a couple of sentences), I regularly find images and music that remind me of its art and soundtrack. I've even written a fucking song inspired by one of the game's locations! And yet, I can't force myself to replay it, or recommend it to most players, because as a game it is really unfriendly... Yes, I am talking about The Void. Try it sometime. No, better don't. Or maybe... hell, I can't decide.

And there are also honorary mentions for Dark Souls, Final Fantasy VII, Dune II, Gothic II and Deadly Premonition and a number of other games that I'm sure have slipped my mind. They are all amazing, they just didn't make it on my list.   read


7:41 AM on 07.01.2014  

Saint's Row IV Made Me Feel Like a Jerk (And I Loved It)

Oh, hey, it's been nearly a month since my last blog, so I've got to write something, right? :)

 You know, sometimes I can’t help thinking that I’m special. One of a kind. No, no, it’s got nothing to do with megalomania (or at least I hope so) – it’s just that too many times I’ve heard, “Nobody plays Grand Theft Auto for the story”. Well, I do! My favourite games in the series being Vice City and San Andreas, I’ve played them countless times. And all of these times I followed the story, with only a few distractions for side activities. Wreaking havoc in the streets and then escaping the police, shooting half a precinct until they call the military and drop a tank on me? No, not my thing. 


One of the reasons for this is that my own personality tends to leak into the games I play, and if I’m given a choice I just can’t force myself to play a bad guy. If I’m given dialogue options I usually pick the nicer ones. If I’m offered a non-lethal approach I take it. I just can’t do anything about it, even if I sometimes wish I could.

The second issue is how I see the games’ protagonists and their limits. Most GTA leads feature the “honorable outlaw” archetype. While Vice City’s Tommy Vercetti might be more of an asshole than some, selling drugs off an ice cream van or taking hit jobs for opposing gangs – I don’t think even he would take pleasure in massacring unarmed citizens (even despite “Mayhem” missions existent in the game). Trevor Philips was a different story, but he felt more like a mentally sick dude unable to control his fits of rage –  but even he had a couple of redeeming moments.



It's not one of them


The same goes for all non-fantasy open-world shooters I’ve played: every single time I found the open world to be stitched to the story. Even main missions and side ones often show a disparity – like they are played by two different people who share the protagonist’s name and face but not the personality. Sometimes the side missions become plain dumb
“I can’t let those two bandits make a shootout in a public place”, says Aiden Pearce and attempts to intercept them on their way… by engaging in a fucking shootout in the middle of a street. 
“I’m not a gangbanger, I’m just doin’ my best to get out of the neighborhood”, is what seems to be Franklin Clinton’s creed. Well, he definitely does his best by murdering people to get an advantage in stock trading…
And so forth.

Then I found Saints Row IV. To be honest, I’ve never been interested in the series, and it was only by chance that I decided to try it out during a free weekend on Steam. At first I found the game fairly amusing. Then I got really invested in it. And by the end I thought that I had finally found a sandbox that I could actually play as a sandbox. So, as has become usual, a point-by-point explanation why I felt that.

1. The protagonist. In Saints Row IV you play as the sociopathic gang leader-now-turned-President-of-the-US (don’t ask me how he did it, I’ve yet to discover it myself). Despite the fact that you can customize the appearance, sex and even the voice of the character, his or her personality remains the same and - finally - pretty consistent throughout the game. It is a smug, shameless, murdering, inglorious bastard (though a charismatic one, I'll give them that). Even their own crew admit it. And yet I had loads of fun playing as a total douchebag just because he (in my case it was a male character) fit the story and the world perfectly. He was believable. Not the deepest or smartest type, yes, but that only made it easier to understand his way of thinking. So, when given a choice either to sacrifice myself and restore humanity or continue my hopeless, revenge-driven struggle against an alien horde from within a Matrix-like simulation, I didn’t hesitate a second. “Screw you, Zinyak, I’m going to kick your ass yet”, was what I said. Because that’s what my character would do and say.


2. The world. Most of the game’s missions take place in a virtual reality, in a simulated city with most of its population being either AI, or directly controlled by aliens. At first glance this design choice may seem rather trivial, but in fact, for a sandbox it’s really beneficial. First of all, knowing it’s all a simulation strips the player of all sense of guilt and lets them go all-out, wreaking havoc in the streets, blasting police cars with RPGs or throwing people through circus rings for points in a twisted TV show. It’s like a game within a game, a sandbox within a sandbox, and even the game's characters aren’t one bit shy to remind us about the fact. And secondly, the simulation concept paves the way for what makes the game really shine: superpowers.



3. I’ve got the Power! Believe me, I can’t express how sick and tired I am of all those copies of real cities where you waste literal hours on dull and messy driving from one point to another, eyes glued to mini-map/GPS, while crashing your freshly stolen sports car every five to ten seconds (depending on the traffic AI and the controls – and they are always dumb and clunky, respectively). And if you don’t have a ride, well, shame on you: now it’s slow and tedious walking or running (which practically makes no difference because, you know, stamina limit) for you.
“Hey, but what else can we do?” a game developer asks, “You can use our fast-travel system, like subway, or taxi, or a stagecoach, or a giant sea monster…” Oh, can I really? Because first I’d have to find that fast-travel entry point by more driving and walking, and often waiting… Volition, however, have found a way to make one’s way around town not only fast, but fun as well. Running through the city at sonic speed, brushing off incoming traffic, then jumping up to the top of a skyscraper and gliding towards your goal in a straight line (stopping occasionally to collect a cluster or two) – now that makes a difference. Also, that stomp move was pretty awesome, too.



Hey, why not let Volition make the next Sonic the Hedgehog game? Uh-oh, looks like the Sonic fans are after me now...gotta scram!

4. The missions. Now, if I were to describe the game’s missions with a single word, it would be variety. While a lot of sandboxes have the same recurring shootouts, races, car chases, police evasions, tail missions (ugh) and occasional police-evading car-chase shootouts, Saint’s Row IV has got activities suited to every fancy. Well, okay, most of the fancies. :) While I, for instance, was rather dissatisfied with most of combat-oriented missions, I had an absolute blast with climbing alien towers, going on stomping rampages or playing ragdoll to the traffic with a dumb smirk on my face. And no tail missions, thank goodness, no tail missions! Yeah, that alone makes it a good game.


Now, as a bottom line, I still can’t say Saint’s Row IV is among my favourite games. But it definitely is one of the best sandboxes for me. It was a consistent, varied, shamelessly fun experience, and it made playing a sociopathic asshole feel sooo great... Way to go, Volition and Deep Silver. Way to go.
Oh, and that sing-along ride was totally rad (I just had to mention it in the most irrelevant way possible). :)   read


12:00 PM on 06.02.2014  

What Would Final Fantasy VII Remake Look Like Now

I remember how everyone was hyped when the now notorious tech demo of Final Fantasy VII intro remade on PS3 engine was shown. After all, I myself was hyped, too!



I doubt there's any Final Fantasy Fan out there who's never seen this video.

Now, after seven years and countless statements from game experts and even the original creators of FFVII explaining that the resources needed to remake the game would be unfathomable, some people still long for the miraculous advent of Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Now, let’s imagine that it has really happened. We’ve seen some [s]bull[/s] screenshots, a dozen of pre-rendered trailers and even a (muddy) gameplay video, and finally the release date has been announced. Everyone’s happy and saving money for a PS4 (because it’s an exclusive, of course), right? But wait, there’s something wrong… what’s that?! Ah, I get it! It’s called the new business model for video games!
So here’s what one might see at a store page for Final Fantasy VII Remake (by the way, spoilers and THE SPOILER ahead).

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Standard Edition.  Out on release date and includes a copy of the game on 3 (three) BD disks, complete with a game box and a manual.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Pre-Order Edition. Pre-order the game now and receive the following bonuses:
- a digital copy of the new, remade soundtrack recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra!
- in-game items: Ultima Weapon Pack (end-game weapons for all characters except Aeris, Yuffie and Vincent) and Mime Materia!

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Collector’s Edition. Buy this amazing pack and receive the following:
- a copy of the game in an exclusive solid metal box weighing 3 kg (6.6 pounds)!
- a vinyl copy of the new, remade soundtrack recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra  signed by Nobuo Uematsu (Note: Vinyl player is NOT included)!
- Tifa’s full-size fighting glove made of leather and polyester!
- a 12” Sephiroth action figure!
- in-game items: Apocalypse Weapon Pack (triple SP growth weapons for all characters except Yuffie and Vincent), Mime and Knights of the Round Materia and a Golden Chocobo complete with Chocobo Armor!



FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Ultra Special SOLDIER Exclusive Limited Edition. This awesome EXCLUSIVE edition has been issued in 1 (one) copy and features the following EXCLUSIVE content, in addition to the Collector’s Edition:
- an EXCLUSIVE collection of Cloud Strife wigs, including Spiky Hair Wig, Dyed Wig and Blonde Wig (all made of natural hair) for you home role playing!
- an EXCLUSIVE set of blue contact lenses (please consult your physician before use)!
- the EXCLUSIVE full-size Buster Sword weighing 36 kg (80 pounds)!



Note: the price of the Ultra Special SOLDIER Exclusive Limited Edition does NOT include shipping costs.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: The Thieving Ninja Queen DLC Pack. Allows the adolescent ninja Yuffie Kisaragi to join your team, unlocks her weaponry and adds “Wutai” location and side mission, allowing you to unlock Yuffie’s final Limit Break (Note: sold separately within the No Limits pack).

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: The Red Undead DLC Pack. Allows the Undead ex-Turk Vincent Valentine to join your team, unlocks his weaponry and adds “Lucrecia’s Cave” location and side mission, allowing you to unlock Vincent’s final Limit Break (Note: sold separately within the No Limits pack).

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: No Limits DLC Pack. Adds new locations and side quest that allow you to unlock non-DLC characters’ final Limit Breaks (Note: Some of the Limit Breaks require the Mini Games DLC, in order to be obtained).

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: The Mini Games DLC Pack. Unlocks the Submarine, Fort Condor Defense, Gold Saucer Arena, Chocobo Racing and Chocobo Breeding mini games.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: The Nemesis DLC Pack. Allows those seeking greater challenge to fight Ruby and Emerald Weapons and gain spectacular rewards for defeating them (Note: the Emerald Weapon fight requires the Submarine mini game, purchased via Mini Games DLC Pack)!

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: The Resurrection DLC (not included in Season Pass). This DLC was created as an answer to multiple complaints from gamers dissatisfied with the conclusion of Disk 1 of the original game. Outsourced to Bioware, this expansion allows the player to alternate the scene at the Forgotten Capital and influence its outcome.

Explanation: the DLC allows Cloud to engage in a conversation with Sephiroth before the latter kills Aeris. While they chat, the rest of the group shift from foot to foot with dumb expressions on their faces. The conversation can result in the following:
1. Failing to dissuade Sephiroth or agreeing to join his cause - Sephiroth kills Aeris.
2. Persuading Sephiroth to join your group - Aeris kills herself in shame and Sephiroth later betrays you.
3. Talking Sephiroth to sleep and sneaking out of the Forgotten Capital - Aeris gets to despise Cloud and the rest of the group for being cowards and for preventing her from doing her task. Her morale broken, she succumbs to fever and dies at Great Glacier.




Oh, and it's totally open world now and features asynchronous multiplayer!
...would you guys still be willing to purchase a game like that? ;)   read







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