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Zephreus is an expert on gaming. By expert he means to say he plays them a lot. Looks at the trends, what makes them fun (to him) and likes to try to deconstruct ideas about them.

Generally, he's opinionated, hates FPS games without a hook to them and abhors the sports game model (only because he didn't think of that money-making machine first.)

Zephreus owns a PS3, PSP, has friends with 360 and has a wii and 3DS accessible in-house.
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Lately, lots of games have been seeing remakes and re-releases be they in HD, 3D or SD: old is the new new, it seems... Indeed, Kojima's stuff will be something I'll snatch up quickly- never having played the second ZoE and being a huge MGS fan without the older games to play anymore. Really, though, most of these compilations leave a lot to be desired for me.

For example, while I marveled at the wonders of Shadow of the Colossus, I see it's HD remake and I think "meh." What had impressed me was the visual fidelity the game achieved by pushing its system to the very limits of what it could do. Granted, this resulted in less than stellar performance at times, but it was amazing when I first saw it and now... it's just not the same. God of War HD? Couldn't care less, Kratos is just as limb-rippingly, sword slingingly angry as ever. They're not bad games by any means, don't get me wrong! But I honestly believe there are plenty of other games that could use remakes and re-releases and even translations. I think we should look farther back into gaming to find remake and re-release material.

In fact, releasing HD collections of PS2 games on PS3 reeks of lack of willingness to put some work into something.

Specifically, I'd like to be able to play a lot of my old faves in a way that I can use the entire screen without stretching a pixel to be the width of my thumb. Even moreso, I believe many old games had more potential than they really took advantage of in their respective times.

So what are my criteria for selecting games?

1.) They're not in ultra -popular franchises with frequent releases with one exception that is asking for a change of genre from its current descendants.

2.) It has to be pretty old and under-appreciated. (Some will say that many of my picks do not meet this criteria, I consider the games' lack of release in certain regions or the lack of any real revival as a form of under appreciation for what was- to me- a good game.)

3.) The work to update it would likely be significant. We're not talking simple better sprites and a pre-rendered movie here or there.

4.) I have to like it. Yeah... Me. Not you. :D



Gauntlet

I love top-down shooters and top-down clicky-lootfests, but that love extends from a place that loves Gauntlet. It's a very simple, but often improperly done gameplay concept of dungeon crawling.

While Gauntlet Legends (and to a lesser extent Dark Legacy) did an alright job of bringing the old gameplay back with the ever-popular addition of RPG mechanics back in the N64 and into the PS2 days, Seven Sorrows sent it plummeting back into the depths of limbo with a half-assed outing that I choose to forget specifics about. It looked good, but it was boring, uninspired and overall an expression of the environment Midway had going at the time.

I feel like a revisitation to arcade mechanics, some updated graphics, online distribution, online gameplay and maybe a few different modes of play would do the trick. I could really see that being a fun little game again.

Incidentally, this desire has me working on a Gauntlet-like game in my spare time... I'll let you all know if I ever get a good prototype working.


Terranigma

Another gem from the SNES era. It's by no means the best game ever, but it's superbly fun, never got officially released in the states and- even better- it has a hefty following that would probably jump on board getting a faithful remake or update. I think it could easily have a graphical overhaul and still keep the general feel of the gameplay.



Dragon Warrior

Before it was Dragon Quest in the states, it was a little game known as Dragon Warrior. I'd kind of like to see this reimagined as an action-RPG game... I'd say something along the lines of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

Seriously, I may be the only one in the world that wants this, but the thought really intrigues me. Why CAN'T old games be reimagined instead of just remade? What IF Zelda 2 got reimagined as a top-down game (that is woefully lacking in the downward stab?) Would it really be any worse? The story of Dragon Warrior on its own was pretty barren to begin with, so it's not like an action-oriented title would be a disservice to the original by any means. In fact, after that last dungeon, I pretty much wanted to Slash the Dragon Lord's face, myself...



Hybrid Heaven

Now, most people havent heard of this game... And rightfully so. The game's story is laughable, and its gameplay very reminiscent of the early 3D movement of the n64 era. But what it does right for me was mixed pseudo-turn-based RPG battle with real time mechanics that are reminiscent of fighting games... if they were menu-driven. Like Dissidia in that one mode I barely played...

I can actually do without the game itself, but another game LIKE it would be excellent in my opinion. It had all the earmarks of character customized by actions- IE: if you punched often, your punches would get stronger and your arms and torso would become a little more resilient by taking damage from upper body attacks.

I dunno why but there's always a little bit of satisfaction in body slamming or pile-driving (or both) an alien and saving the president of the United States of America in the process... or something like that anyway.


Quarantine

Another title most of you haven't heard about, but I did through the wonders of my twisted older brother finding it... You see, I was one of those kids who had a 3DO (that broke as much as the early 360s did) and despite the overall crappiness of the system, it had some gems like Quarantine on it. In Quarantine, you're a taxi driver in a walled off city. Your goal: to get out. Did I mention this taxi is a hover taxi that's outfitted with rocket launchers, gatling guns and mine layers?

It had quite a bit of humor (and I'm likely looking back in rose-colored glasses) but the game deserves a second chance. I still remember hunting down a target during a job. The catch was this target was hiding in or using a portable commode, marked "Dump-a-Lump" which is comedy gold for a kid. GOLD, I TELL YA! I'd honestly see Rockstar being able to pull off the game better than anybody else. Possibly Insomniac for crazy weaponry. Its a car-based game I'd actually buy! (Sorry, Twisted Metal... I feel like you've sucked since 2...)



BattleToads

Okay, put the 4Chan pranks and the original difficulty aside for a minute here. Battletoads has all the ingredients for ridiculously great beat-em-up gameplay in some sort of PSN or XBL downloadable. Hell, give it a Lost Vikings spin if you really feel like having the toads be "different." But what's better than beating the crap out of rats as a yoked out amphibian?



Crystalis

Okay, so as you can tell, I like action-RPGs and Crystalis sits right there among one of those games I thoroughly enjoyed in my youth. Simply put, I want to see this reimagined. In HD, with polygons instead of pixels. In fact, I could totally dig this being done in the same style as Ni no Kuni- despite not being a fan of cel-shading or anime in general... I really really dig how good that game looks and I think it'd translate very well to Crystalis.


Guardian Legend

Look, I'm not going to explain this one. Epic game needs epic remake. It's like Transformers met Legend of Zelda... and had a threesome with Gradius. I can seriously imagine this as a 3-D outing or back in 2-D (or even 2.5-D like Bionic Commando Rearmed)




Metal Gear Solid 4

Yes, this needs a graphical overhaul and an all-new presentation... I like top-down, so lets go with that...

We need more strategy, so definitely need some of that there... Maybe an element of randomness and it has to have multiplayer.

If only there were a way to enjoy the experience with all your nanomachines turned off...











SUCCESS!




So that's it for my (partial) weird wishlist of remakes I'd WANT to see.
Photo Photo Photo








I'm sorry, I don't have any snazzy pictures this time, but this is a quick case of brain diarrhea and some shameless plugging to take a break from packing.

I couldn't help but feel a little elated that somebody in the gaming press (albeit the enthusiast gaming press) openly expressed excitement about a Monster Hunter game coming to their system. Anybody who knows me knows that I am a bit of a fan of monster hunter- stopping just short of importing them because I can't read japanese and I'm too lazy to install language patches. I've spent thousands of hours in the series, hunting more rathalos, lao shan and kirin than I care to admit. (lao shan armor was quite useful in Freedom Unite when you need to turtle up...)

In fact, you can read my opinions on multiple "hunting" games right over here. I still stand by my opinions there... save that I have found instances of use for a firelance in Lord of Arcana.

But then it hit me that the story was being positioned as little more than a bit of damage control. Damage control brought on from the reaction to the Nubageddon as JHolmes so astutely put it.

While I can agree that people tend to overreact about things, I see this as a big deal.
It's not that it's a second nub- I can care less about that... I'm actually looking forward to a couple joysticks on the Vita, thank you... I've had my fill of nubs from my PSP.


It's not even that Nintendo is saying "our hardware really is inferior" and releasing a bandaid fix for that in the form of a peripheral that will likely see very limited use. It's not that the thing at least appears to counteract every argument pro-DS people have had against the PSP. (Lacking actual hands-on time with it, I can't say for sure, but it looks to add significant size and cramp-inducing capacity to a system many claim to have a superior layout.)

What bothers me is that it's another peripheral for a handheld, portable system. I can forgive this for home consoles and I can even forgive camera attachments to portables (when they weren't made with them built in, that is.) I hate peripherals in general- they add a lot to "hidden costs" for consoles and really just don't make sense from an investment standpoint. The additional stylus packs... fine- kids lose small things all the time. The cameras and card reader dealies- okay, it adds something to the system it can't possibly do on its own and for one specific game it's packed in with. Great. The extra analog nub? Why now?

It's not been a necessity for any Monster Hunter game to date. The PS2 could have just as easily not used it if it had a PSP-like control scheme. In fact, I kind of like the PSP scheme, it makes sense and it allows you to be extremely deliberate in your actions. The combo system was more like button mashing than MGS2 HFB gameplay anyway.

So why even add it when even the game it's being marketed for/with actually doesn't even need it and- indeed- hasn't used it since its PS2 incarnations? I mean, they still have that touch screen which other games have used as an actual input which could easily be used to have contextual buttons... or, you know... actually use the L button for more than just resetting your camera...


That this was the first idea that Nintendo had to solve the problem that they thought would be doable really shows how uncreative they really have become (or maybe how lazy Capcom has become... but I'm in Nintendo bashing mode right now, so ONWARD!) I mean, in the past, they've done things that have been largely untested. I'd say they've demonstrated themselves to be gutsy more than creative. It was a gutsy move to do 2 screens and a stylus when there was no need to go that route. It was gutsy to step into motion-controlled gaming. Hell, it was even gutsy (though shortsighted) to pull a Sony and think that the superior specs (specifically and only loadtimes) of cartridges was going to win over the customer over the much larger storage space of CDs. (For consoles, the cartridge went the same way for Nintendo as BetaMax did for Sony...)

Nintendo has, at times, demonstrated itself to be a very forward-thinking company. With the NES, they created an environment that would prevent another market crash as it had happened before and can pretty much be pointed out as being saviors of console gaming. With the Wii, they had created a low-def family gaming device that took off like a rocketship because it seemed less like "a game" and more like "an activity."


Then, other times, it really seems like Nintendo gets a little backwards...

With the N64, we've given you a joystick. However, if you use it, you can't access the L button or Dpad. No big deal! The C button is now 4 buttons and we've given you a Z trigger! Look at our trident controller where you can't possibly use the whole thing without adjusting your grip completely!

N64 isn't as powerful as we want it to be. Luckily, you can take out the ram and upgrade it, because that's what people want with a console, right?! Guess what! Only 3 games will use this!

N64 sucks? No big deal, we'll launch GameCube with Luigi's Mansion because we're teaching Mario how to pressure wash everything, but Luigi picked up vacuuming really quick. The plumbing business wasn't working out for them, now they're cleaners! We haven't been paying attention to the N64 anyway, the GameCube is much much much better.

Gamecube not doing it for you? Well, we'll delay a game you've been looking forward to for years to release it on the Wii, too! We realize that the Gamecube just isn't any good so we've been working on our next big thing really really hard this time! We've turned all our attention to the Wii.

Speaking of the Wii- the one that took off like a rocket- they let it crash harder than I think they've ever let any system crash before. The Wii is perhaps the most stagnant for decent new releases I've ever seen any "active" console be. On top of that, they have 3 titles that would garner impressive sales and just need to be localized... or hell, just pressed and shipped to North America... This has generated more frustration to otherwise loyal fans than any previous flub, but don't you worry! They're focusing really really really hard on their next product!

I think Nintendo got too big for their own pants in the portable department and messed up at a time when they actually have competition. The GameBoy survived the Lynx, Turbo Express and GameGear not because it was necessarily the best system, but it had a good combination of playability, portability and battery life where the other guys were completely lacking in one or many of those categories.

Their competition has always killed itself in the past. Against Sega, they consistently just looked or played better until the Dreamcast where Sega screwed itself in so many ways...

When beset by PlayStation, Nintendo started messing up on consoles when it had to keep up with others. When beset by the mammoth Microsoft and Sony at once, Nintendo just went down its own path as cool as you like and released what is perhaps the best selling console ever.


Now, they're trying to scramble to maintain relevancy when it's utterly pointless to do so. They've laid their cards on the table- and many a would-be consumer are waiting for the innevitable "3DS lite," anyway... Might as well include it in a hardware revision. Maybe give the early adopters a cradle or... another ambassador program.

I see this as an act of desperation- one Capcom's all too happy to capitalize on with some decent competition showing up for Sony systems (God Eater Burst comes to mind...) and nothing I've ever heard of coming stateside on the DS.


If anything, the extra nub goes against many things Nintendo purists have used to defend the big N. Two of the big ones that jump out at me are...
1.)"They're so 'different and creative' with their hardware!" Yet they bandaid a problem they see by giving it something its competition has by default (and possibly building it into a hardware revision later.) Nintendo never did this before! They didn't scramble to get a full-color screen when the GameGear came out. They didn't rush to CDs when the Playstation reared its ugly head. They didn't fly to high def when Sony and MS jumped into the high definition world. They've survived EVERY one of these situations quite astoundingly well. Why change your strategies now?

2.)"The DS is so small and compact it goes great into a pocket!" Not if you want to play a game with this guy. Looks to make it thicker and longer... by my estimates, about the size of a "gargantuan" PSP-1000 that "sucks to carry around unless you have a bag." (all things I've been told about my PSP which isn't much larger than a 3DS, mind you... it's longer by about 3/4 of an inch and barely wider if at all...)

Ultimately, this is all my opinion based upon my own views of what has happened. I could be totally wrong in places and I openly acknowledge this. Having said that, what's your take on the "nubageddon?"
Or, more broadly, the 3DS's handling in general?


I won't be around for the next week, so don't expect swift replies. Hey, maybe when I get back, I'll find some images to toss up to break my wall-o-text! Also, goddamn... I seem incapable of making a short blog post.








This is a review extravaganza- combining three old games into one post! I call it a Threeview! Grab a snack, it's a longer story than the story of Goblox.

Hunting games. They're a part of phenomenon out of Japan that appeals to the deepest desires of grinders, completionists and "trial and error" kinds of players. They are at once some of the most enthralling and infuriating titles available and they're incredibly difficult to get right. (Also, japanese game names are weird... the title of this entry is right at home with other japanese game titles.) Even worse, it's really difficult to convince somebody that they're actually fun when done right.

Luckily for PSP owners, they have 3 different flavors of hunting games to choose: Monster Hunter, God Eater, and Lord of Arcana. They each have their own take on the hunting game genre, and all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

The primary difference between Hunting Games and a typical action game or action-RPG is that the hunter games usually work on old-school trial and error and pattern recognition. Outside of that, planning and preparation are also necessary to succeed. In typical action games, you can usually use a "super move" or "rage mode" to utterly decimate foes in a pinch. Hunting games are more about tactics, positioning and coordination- especially in multiplayer- than your typical action game as well.



Lord of Arcana is arguably the weakest and shallowest entry of the three and- ironically- is more like an RPG than its competition. It has less weapons variety, fewer things to kill and fewer quests to undertake and has a battle system that is both blessing and curse.

LoA puts you in the role of some nameless warrior from a nameless land who kills dragons for fun- pulling all sorts of badassery in the process. Then he/she gets abducted by some fire-alien thing who speaks about arcana and such and then shoots you into the sky and throws you down into some temple connected to a tiny town area in a kingdom known as Horodyn where its your job to take on the role as a defender of the place, killing monsters and breaking monoliths in this temple so you can become king.

Now before you start criticizing me for bias against the title- let me make this clear... The "story" of Lord of Arcana has less substance than the one that was used for Dragon Warrior- the first one on NES. It's largely inconsequential and is laughably pointless. That said, LoA is the weakest offering of the three.

It's battle system takes half of its inspiration from Grandia- where running into enemies on the map screen takes you to battle in a big, circular arena- one that you can run from and start at the beginning of the room you were in. Not only does this arena homogenize every fight, it removes certain strategic aspects of the other titles- such as when and where to pick your battles, when to retreat and when to lure something somewhere else. The upside to this is you know the camera won't screw you over in the heat of battle. That is, of course, if you're not locked on to anything that's nearing death.

This game adds too much RPG in to be a strong hunting game- yet it doesnt add enough RPG in to be a compelling experience that isn't mission-driven like it's cousins. At best, it could have been another Crisis Core, but doesn't even have the content for that level of RPG. On top of that, boss encounters always end with a QTE... These things just show up out of the blue and I'm not sure what their purpose is other than to give me a bloody scene while I wait to be told to press a specific face button... my eyes glued to the bottom area of the screen where they pop up.

Balance is another issue- weapons affect speed, stamina, attack power, whether you can block and whether you can cast magic. But there's only one dreadfully weak ranged weapon type (firelance) and the 4 melee weapons all seem to be too much limitation and not enough benefit. Your ranged weapon is so weak, it's not worth using for anything but fodder (even then it's kinda worthless.) Maces are slow to attack, but can put out good damage with charged hits, but they can't block and can't cast magic. Polearms make you move slow, run slow and take up plenty of stamina they hit hard, though. Two handed swords let your equip shields and they're slow and use stamina pretty quick... Swords are fast and let you block and cast magic, but their damage is really low... or so the game says- swords can put out damage more than anything else I've found due to multiple hits, high critical chances and I'm good at playing with affinities for attacking certain enemy types. Seems a little... one-sided to me on the equipment front.



What standard magic cards I have found are very lackluster and ineffective to boot and the so-called ultimate magics are pretty good, but fairly expensive to make- and rightly so.

Gameplay has a very action-RPG battle system feel where you have a basic attack combo button and a "special skill" button and a magic button, but still have to wander around a cave/dungeon looking to fight things.


Progressing is not only a matter of loot, but of levels. Your magics level, your weapon proficiency levels and your character- of course- levels. This aspect actually isn't bad. As you use a weapon more, you get better with it and can use it far more effectively in just one or two proficiency levels. This aspect isn't bad, but adding levels into a genre that has been primarily skill or planning oriented just doesn't seem right. It's like if you could level up your quarterback in madden to the point you could move him to the O-line if needed. It's just not right... and besides, all it seems to do is make me have more HP. Maybe I do more damage, but I can't really tell.

I haven't played this one through all the way, I admit. What I have played, though, is painful and just not nearly as fun as the others in the genre. I may actually finish it one day, but I see very little point when achieving nothing but racking a higher kill count in Monster Hunter or playing through God Eater again is actually more fun to me. The storyline should not be a draw... at all.

I feel like the developers tried to take a hunting game and shove it into an action-RPG and they aren't actually compatible with each other due to some glaring differences in priority. Had this taken a more classic approach of "go to dungeon- come back to town with money- get better equipment/stock up- return to dungeon- kill things for money" that it might have actually come out better for it. This is especially applicable in the case of the "ultimate magic" cards you can use that attack everything in your battlezone. This reeks of "action game get out of jail free" type thinking since you can't really tactically retreat to recover in this game. You're stuck running around, drinking potions in a long animation until you're better again or running away, meaning you'll start over from the beginning of the fight again next time you return.

Also, it's $20 on PSN as of yesterday- which is about as cheap as you can find it if you rely on GameStop for gaming needs (why would you?) unless you can find it uber cheap online (likely, but I'll not check for you)... probably due to low production numbers.

One thing to note: LoA is the ONLY full game on my PSP without a software manual. WTF, AccessGames...

Who would like this: Somebody out there will enjoy the RPG-ness of the title and there are shining bits sparkling somewhere in the depths of mediocrity this game has piled on. It's not BAD per-se, but there are certainly more entertaining experiences out there for your money.


God(s) Eater Burst is actually probably the hardest of the three and boasts an anime-quality story (take that for what you will) and is- by far- the most beautiful of the three entries. It's stylized look is wonderfully done- and I don't really like "anime-style" games too often.

The game usually allows you to bring up to 3 AI partners along for any mission, making it accessible and easier... This said, going solo is a very difficult task- harder than monster hunter and certainly more infuriating. The variety of monsters is decent enough- with certain monster types getting more variants than others with varying weaknesses to elements and damagetypes.

Its primary advantage over the other games is in customization, graphics and speed. You're always fast to move, and you always have a gun, blade and shield. This allows you to come prepared for multiple situations and the game loads quicker that MH and is better looking- though the areas where you explore and fight are admittedly much smaller. This small downside comes with a wonderful upside, however. Missions don't have painful loading screens as you move from area to area as the whole map you're on is continuous. All you have is the initial load for a mission (which isnt long for digital version.)


But the game really is on a higher tier with graphics... not that any of them are stellar on PSP to begin with.

Customization, though, is where it's at. This game not only gives you three types of blades (light, medium and heavy- essentially) but three types of guns (sniper, autogun and cannons) and three types of shields (again, light, medium and heavy) each with their own properties and tendencies- IE: light blades tend to do pierce damage while heavy ones do crushing damage and medium ones tend to sunder.

On top of your basics, you also get to make/customize your outfit from a rather large list of stuff if that's your cup of tea. This is purely cosmetic, though, as your shield determines your overall defense (and how effective blocking is versus how much stamina it takes to block) Then you can create and equip two upgrade modules that affect skills or damage. On top of that, you can create/upgrade your "control module" that affects what special skills or traits you get when going into "burst mode." Finally, you can create your own bullets.

Let me repeat this: you can create your own goddamn bullets. You can make a shot that sticks to the opponent and detonates a second later. You can make a bullet that flies into the air and fires downward on top of your enemies. you can make a bullet that fires other bullets! The capabilities of the bullet editing are unlocked as you progress and more damage and neat features mean they draw more out of your "Oracle Points"- basically your ammo- to fire. This is- by far- the coolest differentiating feature in the game to me.

Well, you know... outside of the fact your weapon can turn into a GIANT FREAKING MOUTH that literally TAKES A BITE OUT OF YOUR ENEMIES. This mechanic is how you harvest materials from your fallen foes, but if you happen chomp on some living enemy ass, you enter a souped up "burst mode" where you're stronger, faster and have certain special skills based on equipment for a short time.



The gameplay is more action-oriented with dashing, jumping and a lockon system that doesnt totally suck and can be set to toggle instead of hold-only (I'm looking at you Lord of Arcana.) MH purists would often argue that lockon ruins part of the experience- and it does in Monster Hunter where nothing is too fast to follow... But some of these creatures move around quite quickly and the lockon is more of a necessity than a convenience in some situations. The "aragami" here are quite varied and usually require different damage types to different areas to be quickly taken down. The advantage here is that, no matter your choice in weaponry, your abilities are still largely the same- sure, heavy blades can charge an attack, long blades can "cancel block" and short blades can "cancel dodge" but ultimately, being better with one weapon will make you better with any of them.

Who would like this: People who like hunting games in concept, but found Monster Hunter or LoA too slow, clunky or boring. It plays much more smoothly and allows a little leeway in how you play- allowing for both effective melee and ranged combat from a single player. Additionally, it doesn't have a medieval aspect and everything you fight is kind of fucked up so if those two aspects are your thing, then this game might be for you. Custom bullets and swords with mouths.... need I say more?



Monster Hunter is the father/mother of Hunting Games.Even more, it LOOKS like the oldest game, by far. It's ugly, but oh-so-fun for us gaming masochists.

If you were to glance at this game for a few seconds, you'd think typical fantasy RPG setting, but in reality the feel is very much more... ancient.

It's almost as if cavemen, native americans, and medieval europeans and asians all squished their society together to bring quite a few different aesthetics. Villages have a much more tribal feel than the cities which come across and sprawling medieval wonders of engineering... and beer crafting. You can't forget the beer.

The tapestries that are typically shown on loading screens really bring this ancient feeling home. Add in the wildly varied styles of armor and weaponry and the very ambient nature of music until danger approaches and you have something to fit just about every aesthetic taste imaginable.

In fact, one of the unique pieces of Monster Hunter's setting is how... natural its treatment of sound is. You go out into the field and you're treated to what I always called an introduction room- the first room from the map next to the camp is usually some sort of vista or indicative of the level and lends itself very well to having a little "fanfare" so to speak. It gives this little hint of hopefulness of a successful hunt. Then it all goes silent after a brief moment and all you hear are your own footsteps, the sound of these herbivores eating grass... and the beating of the wings of your target as it swoops into your area. Then an ominous song begins to play as the monster sees you- starting off softly and eventually growing to be a loud, booming, frantic piece that prevents you from hearing your target's mate land on the other side of the area and get pissed at seeing you lop his tail off allowing you to possibly be overtaken if you get too single-minded on your target.

Very few games have that much atmosphere and instead cover it up with music to convey mood the entire time. If anything, the use of sound in MH is by far some of the best and does an amazing job of conveying the sort of emotions your otherwise-shell of a person might have. Then again, maybe I looked too deeply into that...

The choices in weaponry are tremendous (to the point I've forgotten many of them and do not wish to look it up) and they all have their own applications, strengths and weaknesses. Sure, lots of people default to longswords and greatswords, but a good bow is hard to beat in some situations and the higher end hammers are just damage dealing juggernauts. There's more than one way to skin a Rathalos, I tell you! Each new game seems to introduce a new weapon type and they all have special traits and abilities. Sword and shield, for example, allows you to use items without sheathing your weapon while hammers allow you to charge up an attack and lances can move while guarding or charge straight through fodder. For every situation, there's a weapon that can serve a role in any group.

The monsters range from strange parasitic worm creatures to dinosaur-like lizards to dragons and unicorns!

It's called a Kirin, to be fair... but it still looks like a damn unicorn.


Tri even introduced a prehistoric cat creature and Freedom Unite has a sort of rattlesnake-scorpion-bat creature (Nargacuga, for those keeping track) There's even a big pink gorilla... he attacks and roars with gastrointestinal problems.

No, I'm not making this up.

The fact is, Monster Hunter is full of dangerous, awesome and quirky creatures and has by far the largest variety available in hunting games. What's more, they've all got at least two sets of armor and one weapon of each type.



But where it truly shines is the shear amount of content they've crammed into the game. any given monster may have at least one variant (though some have 2 or three) which acts differently, resides in other maps and has different weaknesses. Each variant will yield its own armor (which may just be a color-variant of the original with different skills and stats or it may look entirely different) Each variant has weapons associated with it. There are something like 10 different maps, and on the order of 60 or so monsters. The texturing is pretty muddy (just load up the old Monster Hunter for PS2 or MH Tri for Wii and you'll notice just how much clearer the textures are) and I can only seem to fault that they needed room for all that content.

The best part about the game is that it doesnt really DIRECTLY tell you anything except a little tip here or there (IE: Sonic Bomb + kutku = free hits or a quick heal). Its up to you to discover strategies and see what weaknesses a creature has by- interestingly enough- inspecting the properties of equipment it makes. If a monster makes a firey weapon and the armor you can make from it has awful water resistance- guess what its elemental weakness is likely to be! Water! It's an ingeniously simple way of divulging information about your enemies.

With MH Portable3, they've said they wish to up the visual quality and have hence cut back on some content while bringing in mostly new creatures and locations- based loosely on Tri.

Unfortunately, the game plays exactly the same as it has since 2004. Some minor things have changed, but it is largely the same game. It has simple, yet deep, intricate fighting that necessitates a slower pace not many prefer these days. All characters are fairly samey even with skills as differentiators.

Who would like this: I don't know. People who normally respond to grinding and completion rates as a challenge find the "grind" boring in MH, while I- a man who can't stand grinding- absolutely love Monster Hunter. If you're Japanese, you probably like it, too.



My conclusion is that, ironically enough, the most Japanese-looking game of the 3 is probably also the most Western-friendly. Gods Eater Burst is a solid title that takes the fundamentals of monster hunter and dresses them up for a fun outing. It allows for AI partners, but it is justifiably difficult to warrant having them. It has a story that- unless you like anime tropes- won't really engage you, but its nice to see some effort to place meaning behind what you're doing. It really isn't any worse than other games with "storyline" that is largely inconsequential to gameplay. Of these three, I'd recommend this one the most often, especially to those who don't play with others much. I'd say this says something considering I've put thousands of hours into the Monster Hunter series on the whole and still play occasionally.

Monster Hunter is the essence of Hunting Games, but really has lots of room to grow considering how many iterations it's had. Its pacing is fine, but it really needs better resource management to remove that pesky "loading" screen that rears its ugly head every time you change areas. I mean, I can somewhat understand on a PSP, but the Wii? It's not a powerhouse by any means, but Tri wasn't exactly cutting edge either and the areas were pretty small to begin with. This should be fixed on PS3/PSV iterations of the series, it really should be. (Bet it won't be.) Outside of that, I'd say quicker introduction to hunting significant stuff would grip more western gamers and- for the love of God- no more 2% drops! Of these three games, I'd recommend this one sometimes- basically for anybody who likes good ole fashioned couch multiplayer and tons of equipment choices.

Lord of Arcana is a game that should have decided what it wanted to be before it got out into the world and became a muddled mess of ideas without any direction to really go. It's not really that bad, as I've said, but it has some balance issues that aren't ultra glaring if you're not a min-max type and it has plenty of promise, but it's firmly in the middle- an ultra-mediocre title. The most important thing that's wrong with it is that it- quite frankly- has no character at all it's derivative in many ways and areas it tries to be different in usually end up being somewhat frustrating as a result. It tries to be too many things at once and ends up being nothing impressive. This is, unfortunately, an all too common thing to happen with games Square Enix is involved in lately. Would I recommend this? Only if you have the other two and are dying for another somewhat similar experience. Otherwise, money is best spent elsewhere.
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Zephreus
7:43 PM on 05.16.2011

I was going to write an intro blog, I really was! But- well- it took a back seat to a little story I had to tell, which I then put away quickly simply because my thoughts were ill-organized and my conclusion weakly supported. After that, I did a lovely post about Squirrels! Seriously, you can ask some of them in Outer Heaven... they egged me on because I wanted to write about something. Only I didn't want to write about me.

As you can see, I have no fancy pictures, nothing that says "Hey! I'm cute! Take me seriously because I'm a gamer and I lick things! :3 " But more along the lines of Joe Peschi saying "What do I owe you an apology or something? Am I not pretty enough for you? Well I'm sorry we can't all be Mr Beautiful here for you!" But nowhere nearly as bitter... or deliciously northern for that matter. I'm simple, delightfully sarcastic, childish in many ways, and I believe many of the worlds problems can be solved through death. (Video games have taught me well.)

To get back on topic, I don't really like the pictures. I just don't think they really add anything to the thoughts of the article at hand. That and, as a respect for your monitor, I don't wish to break it with pictures of myself. (My awesomeness is very difficult to display in sub-awesome resolutions, which every monitor falls under. Trust me on this, it's science.)

I am simply a sum of random facts:
-I am an excellent cook. Unfortunately, that means that managing waffle houses is the best one can do with food while utilizing my non-culinary school degree. To be fair, I experiment too much to say I have any one thing down as my specialty recipe, but experimentation is so much fun! (Perhaps this is why I like sandbox gameplay?)
-I like dogs and my girlfriend and I have 2 which are technically hers, but they like me sooooooo much better... might have something to do with slipping them some extra scraps at dinner or the fact that I play fetch with them...

-I like games (who'd have thought?) but I can't say I like any specific genre as my tastes seem to change on a whim and are on a per-game basis. But generally speaking, I'm not unreasonable and I like what I like. Sometimes, I'll like what you like, but good luck if it's an first-person perspective. I tend toward not liking those.

Look, I can list games all day that I love to play but that doesn't tell you anything about me other than the games I enjoy... so I'm not going to waste your time.

I'm, as you may have seen barely mentioned above, a design enthusiast for video games and often pick apart how things work by looking really closely at seemingly innocuous things. I usually don't share my findings or observances because... who cares? It's just a point of interest to me, that's all. I have about 3 half-finished design docs somewhere on my computer, even though they'll never see the light of day, it's fun to put them together from a vision of a game I thought up.

I simply lack the patience to properly foster an idea into a full-fledged story.


I am a playstation brand enthusiast, as I find them to have the overall most complete offering on a consistent basis. This doesn't mean I'm anti MS or Nintendo, it simply means I prefer many of the things Sony does in comparison. (For example, while everybody milks IPs, nobody does it quite as much as Nintendo, and if they didn't have ANY Mario or Zelda titles for a system, it'd be the least successful system in their history... it's what works for them, but I personally don't invest in it. I will continue to not do so, most likely, but I will concede that they make fun stuff more often than not.)

And you may notice I started this post over half a month ago. Life gets in the way of proper introductions sometimes.

So, all this said... Officially, I say "Hello, Destructoid! Stay a while and listen!"







Zephreus
9:51 AM on 05.11.2011

Let begin by saying that I love Call of Duty. I thought the D-day level was outrageous. I thought the entire Russian campaign was masterfully done. The entire game permeated with cinematic bravado that is only relatively recently becoming mainstream.
It. Was. Awesome.

But, between it and Wolfenstein 3D, I'd had my fill of WW2-era FPS games. Indeed, Wolfenstein did have this epic little moment for the time where Hitler cries profanities in German before collapsing into a big gooey pile of blood, guts and a head. Between the two, no other game could EVER treat WW2 any better than I had experienced. The only thing that even came remotely close to that awesomeness at the time would have been Bionic Commando's exploding head graphic. Sure, there might have been better playing games- there are better written movies than Pulp Fiction- this fact does not stop me from liking my experiences and being completely satisfied with it. Besides, WW2 shooters became oppressively popular and I can only take so much parachuting in over France and I couldn't force myself to pay for or play through that stuff again.

Fast forward to Modern Warfare. I bought this game because, deep down inside, I like first person shooters. I really do! They're the most competitive, easy-to-learn and difficult to master games whenever there's an online component because of so much instinct you have to develop for the genre as a whole. I was not disappointed with MW- it burst through the door of the FPS party with all the bravado of Micheal Weston on a mission to shoot something.

The gameplay starts off being cinematic with a sinking tanker and daring escape from said tanker after being "shown the ropes" by your squad. This either comes before or after (I don't remember and am too lazy to look it up) a sequence done in first person where you are the now-deposed president of a middle eastern country. You're driven to your execution and shot right in the face. This is just the beginning of the game and anybody who gives a crap about Wodern Marfare as a series already knows what happens throughout. Those that havent played it, you can pretty much assume it spirals out of control.

I liked Modern Warfare... A lot. So much so, that I actually played it online for more than a cursory couple hours followed by a disheartened "Ugh, nevermind..." I actually played through enough to reset my online levels. It's not an accomplishment so much as a statement that I liked the game.

But, with the whole *SPOILER* nuclear explosion that you get to be blasted with as one of the MW1 characters in a powerful scene *END SPOILER* I felt like Modern Warfare had pretty much depicted one of the modern ultimate offenses of war. How do you outdo that?

Apparently, it's with "No Russian." Everybody knows about No Russian, it's a bunch of guys with you as an undercover agent shooting down innocents in an airport. So, we've moved from total "Holy shit! Did you see that?! That's horrible! It's great storytelling though!" to an introduction that the developers knew would be controversial so they allowed you to skip it. Modern Warfare jumped the shark... right at the beginning of the second game.

To date, I haven't bought any subsequent CoD titles and the overall reactions I'm seeing on the internet really just reaffirms my decision. I'm told MW2 single player experience was good, but not really why anybody would really buy the game and that BlOps was utterly ridiculous. The online component is rampant with cheating on MW2 (especially on the unhackable PS3) and BlOps had so much success that it collapsed in on itself and now everybody is playing MW2 online instead.

This brings us to MODERN WARFARE 3!

Hold onto your butts... Here comes Modern Warfare 3...

I know nothing of this game. Nothing at all other than it's a sign that this series will be run into the dirt just like some other series... But unlike Guitar Hero, CoD- specifically Modern Warfare- will be in demand more along the lines of Madden and NCAA games... There's a new one every year and the only real differences are when it jumps a generation and can do something differently. Outside of that, it's very tiny changes year-to-year for the most part.

It just seems to me that Modern Warfare would do better as simply a multiplayer experience. Its storylines have pretty much gone 24-esque without actually getting anybody to invest emotionally into it. Even from the shock-value moments, I didn't walk away with a "war is hell" feeling, but more like I was watching an interactive movie.

I don't want to see Modern Warfare fail. I want it to succeed, I really do! Because the more great games there are, the more exciting it is to be a gamer. What I don't want to see is another BlOps, MW2 or MW1 story that follows this trend of increased absurdity and less relevance. If it wants to be realistic, I find I need to be able to identify with it on some level.

Call of Duty was relatively simplistic, but you can identify with the utterly ridiculous odds that was going up against the German warmachine. In many cases- YES, you were fighting a technologically and tactically advantaged enemy in so many WW2 scenarios because that was the case. It was an uphill battle. The Russians got pushed back into their own country, only to use their survivalist techniques to be able to retreat further than their enemies could pursue and then come back and fight with the ferocity of an angry bear. That's what they've always done and that's what you experienced in CoD- Not One Step Backwards! Hell, they handed you not a gun, but a handfull of ammunition because that's all they had. You literally had to pry your first gun from cold, dead hands as the Russian in Call of Duty.

In Modern Warfare, I always felt like I had been given a huge advantage over my enemies... Creeping around in covert ops gear with a super-accurate rifle, night vision, grenades and all this... Versus some extremist thugs with AKs holed up in some tactically useless house to save some specific character. Sure, the reasons are explained in missions, but really I simply feel like I'm given the advantage to begin with. Maybe this is what people talk about when they say "old games are better." The only moment I felt vaguely "threatened" is the ending scenes of Modern Warfare, which make great use of cinematic conventions of action movies.

But as I said, I want MW3 to be a return to greatness and I want it to succeed. But in order to do that, I feel like it needs to make a sound effort at online. What I mean more specifically is online immersion, not simply online monetization.



That's why this ELITE has me intrigued. Is this simply a "pro" or "VIP" kind of membership that imparts some extra functionality for a subscription fee? Is it an all new service to bring every player no matter the platform together to shoot, explode and maim one another? Or is it the next evolution in "taking your work with you" and "persistent stats" from game to game?

I don't know the answer, of course, but what I do know is that it's in the best interest of the gamers- and thereby devs and publishers- that ventures like this have real value to them. Just making it required to access a store to sell your DLC and microtransactions in-game is not the way to make this move popular.

If it is, in fact, a way to bring together players on any system I believe it to be a step in the right direction to unify experiences across consoles and computers. It could simply use proprietary logins like PSN, XBL and Steam as ways of verification or external billing. No longer would it be an issue whether you buy it on PS3, 360 or PC to play with friends, just buy it! I see that as a good thing for gamers of all kinds.

All this said, I wish this wasn't all just conjecture and that I could back this up.

But I cant and I fear that Modern Warfare 3 could become another example of modern shovelware. A premise based on or immitating a great IP- with which it may share a name- that is really just a "me too!" effort that lacks freshness or soul.

What do you think about the announcement of Modern Warfare 3?
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