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3:57 PM on 03.25.2015  

My 2014 in gaming: Hyper-belated DX Revengeance Cut

So yeah...2014 is in the books for quite some time now but work and some personal stuff have kept me from writing this thing until now, but I hope at least some of you might still be interested in what I have to ramble about. Especially, since 2014 has been a year with a rather negative image, though I suggest that comes more from the stuff that surrounded gaming, than gaming itself. I counted and I played 82 games from 2014 alone. Taking games from previous years, I might easily crack the 100 mark and before you ask: yes, I finished the games, that are finishable. Sports games and roguelikes are kinda hard to finish, so take that as you will. 

Alas, on with the show, as there is quite a few titles to discuss. But first, I'd like to shine the light on some titles I have not played for various reasons. Most likely, those reasons will be a lack of time, as I work a full time job with lots of extra hours. Also, this job doesn't pay tons of money, so yeah...couldn't afford all the games I'd like to play. So here's the ones  I couldn't manage to get my hands on

 

Neverending Nightmares, Spintires, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, This War of Mine, Deception IV, Ys: Memories of Celceta, Rune Factory 4, Shin Megami Tensei IV

Note: Ys and Deception IV I do have here, but well...time constraints.

 

Also, before we move on to the main-event, I want to shed light on some things, that surprised me:

 


Best educational game: Influent

Educational Games are always tricky to pull off. Of course, you first and foremost want to educate, but you want to educate in a way, that's nevertheless fun. In comes Influent and blew me away with how easy to handle and yet effective for learning it was. The premise is surprisingly simple as well: You start of in your apartement. Everything you click tells you, what it's meaning is. Every ten new words, you can do a Vocabulary test, where it tells you a word and you have to run there and pick the right part. It's incredibly easy, very satisfying and teaches you a lot of stuff you actually need. Oh and it comes in a ton of languages, though you have to purchase every languagepack on its own. Better and way cheaper than Rosetta Stone imho.

 


Don't know what to make of it: Mountain

I was really skeptical about Mountain. I mean: from the looks of it, it's just a glorified screensaver. And yes, your interaction with the world is very limited. At the beginning, you have to draw some psychological stuff and then....there's you and the mountain. No objectives, no enemies. Just you, and an immovable piece of rock, old as the sea. Sometimes stuff happens, sometimes it doesn't. Every now and then, Mountain comments. Yeah Mountain, I feel you. He is me, I am him. I became the mountain....

 

So let's start of the big countdown. Oh but first a note:

Not yet counting: Tales from the Borderlands, Game of Thrones

As of January 1st, both games only managed to put out their initial episodes, so there's just not enough material there to warrant consideration for that list.

 

And now to the games I played in 2014. I made two lists, one for Early Access games and one for "real" releases, because I deemed it unfair to judge those two categories on the same merits. 

That said: Each list goes from worst to first.

 


Early Access Watch:

 

Infectonator: Survivors

Wants to be a mix of Tower Defense, Strategy and RPG with a roguelike structure. Manages some things well, others, however, still aren't close and the whole game feels a bit sluggish and over-repetitive at this point. Oh and there's PewdiePie as a playable character, because AHAHAHAHA. There's still hope in here, but some things should change this year.

 

Pixel Piracy

I'm no fan of the whole Open World Survival Game craze that's going on and so I was rather delighted to see, that Pixel Piracy, despite its look is more Pirates! than Minecraft. That said, while being generally enjoyable, it is still very rough around the edges and there is work to do. What is there, however, shows that there are good ideas behind it all.

 

Distant Star: Revenant Fleet

Imagine FTL with a different look and more ships in your fleet. Not as enjoyable yet.

 

Dead Island Epidemic

I was actually surprised, that the Dead Island Hack&Slash turned out to be [s]not shit[/s] rather enjoyable in short to intermediate bursts. Doesn't reach the class of a Diablo or Torchlight, but it just went F2P so you can check it out.

 

Vector Thrust

Relatively little known Arcade-Air Combat game. Think of a cel-shaded version of Ace Combat and you have a rather good picture. Truckloads of content for the current state of the game (250 planes, 150 challenges, campaign, multiplayer, working editor) and they also thought about Singleplayer nuts and included a campaign. So if that's up your alley grab it.

 

Crawl

Ever thought, that enemies in Dungeon crawlers reacted to stupid? Than grab a few friends, gather 'round ye olde PC and experience first hand, that these guys who you thought you knew really put the ASS in assassin.

 

Broforce

Wait, this isn't a ful game yet? Nope. But what is there is already more than many full-price-releases can claim. Liberate the world with every 80s and 90s Action- and SciFi hero you can remember and/or come up with in an incredibly satisfying Run'n'Gun with destructible terrain.

 

Crypt of the Necrodancer

Come for the title, stay for the incredibly fleshed-out gameplay. CotN is a mix of Dungeon Crawler and rhythm game with RPG and roguelike elements. So go down there, collect loot, meet new people, find monsters, die and nod your head to the sublime Soundtrack. And should you grow tired of that? Just implement your own songs. It works great and is constantly patched.

 

Nuclear Throne

Simply the most consumer-friendly Early Access game ever. You can watch development live on Vlambeer's twitch channel and give them feedback, that they'll discuss and incorporate. Also, the actual game itself is so incredibly fun and addicting, if they released it months ago, it would have been worth it. So is it today, so GET IT. I wrote a whole blog about it, so I won't be losing to many words here, but this is one of those games you need to play, to know how good they "feel".

 

And now on to the List of the full releases...sorry, I don't have any snarky remark here :( Again: Worst to First.

 

Contraption Maker

Pitched as "the new game by the makers of Incredible Machine" I was reasonably excited. The Rubens-Goldberg mechanisms of Incredible Machine were something fun to wrap your head around, whenever I felt that particular itch. Sadly, what I got here was a barebones mobile port, with ludicrously easy "puzzles". Can't even call it that, because from the start of every level, it is painfully obvious what you have to do. If a puzzle game fails in the puzzle department, what is left?

 

Natural Doctrine

I wanted to like this game. I really did. Sadly, there just is no good game to back it up. I start to get suspicious, when something pitches itself as "the Dark Souls of x" and ND reminds me again, why I do. There are just parts, that are completely unfair, because you cannot win them with what you moved into and are not given any indicator of what's to come. Add to that an unremarkable soundtrack, shoddy graphics, really really bad dialogue and voice-acting and a Fantasy 101 story and you got yourself a whole fistful of disappointment. That's more so a shame, as the actual combat system offers some depth with all the factors that influence themselves.

 

Potatoman seeks the Troof

Great trailer, 08/15 Jump'n'Run that is very Hit or Miss.

 

Mind Zer0

A dungeon-crawler with visual novel elements on the Vita? Gee, what an intriguing novelty. Despite a rather nice artstyle, this game sadly doesn't offer much else in part of anything. Story, characters, monsters....nothing remarkable to hold your interest for long.

 

Turbo Dismount

Do you remember that flash-game from the early 2000s, where you had a truck with a guy in it and you could slam that truck into a wall? This is the bigger, better and more colorful version of that (it really is..it's the same developer). There is a reasonable amount of content provided with the game and the workshop offers plenty to do, once you're through with it. Wears of its welcome rather quickly, but I find myself booting it up every now and then for a quick laugh. Schadenfreude never gets old.

 

Lovely Planet

One of the trippiest games of last year, the promise exceeded the final product by some degrees and after some forays to the Lovely Planet, I felt that I had seen everything it had to offer.

 

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment

Say about the PS Vita what you want: there are a lot of Action RPGs for the system. Too many, if you ask me. SAO Hollow fragment (an enhanced port of the PSP game) manages to be average in a bunch of better alternatives. Especially baffling: You can only play as Kirito. You can change the looks a bit and even the name, but will nevertheless be adressed as Kirito. Why bother at all then? Let's just hopoe that Lost Song, which is slated for a release later this year delivers on some of the promises.

 

Yoshi's New Island

Okay Nintendo, what went wrong here? You had such a good run in 2014 in general and in 2013 on the 3DS, that this is kinda baffling. Everything about this game is incredibly uninspired and lacking in heart. It seemed sterile at times and in a colourful world such as Yoshi's, that is quite a feat to pull off. Also: the worst Nintendo-soundtrack in quite some time, with the title screen music being a really bad offender here.

 

Destiny

AAA sucked in 2014 and if Titanfall and Watch_Dogs hadn't convinced you yet, Destiny sure has. Everything about this game went wrong or headed in directions, where it was a real headscratcher how ANYONE could think that as a good idea. Everything about the game was pegged as "THE" big videogame of our generation and yet it fell short in every aspect it set out. Take for example all the marketing pegging Peter Dinklage as a voice actor. Look guys, if your script ain't good, you could have the best actor in the world and it wouldn't help. Guys like Dinklage help make something good great, but you can polish a turd all you want; in the end, you'll just have a shiny turd. Lacking in content and variety, the loot-system and convoluted level-up process are the two worst offenders. A lot of people get angry about this game and so do I. Why do I? Because we know, what Bungie can do and because the actual groundwork is there. The shooting feels good and the soundeffects are awesome. The artstyle offers some nice stuff and the universe itself holds some promise. That is the most darned thing about this. It's like this football player who has all the talent, but only flashes it in two regular season games, before being hit with another suspension for substance abuse.

 

Five Nights at Freddy's

Freddy Fazbear's pizza place has become nightmare-fodder for alot of people and rightfully so. It actually understands pacing and how to build up a good jump scare. Just throwing a jump scare at you is not scary, it's surprising. FNAF understands that much and crafts an enjoyable little title around that idea. The idea eventually runs out of steam, but until then, you could spend your money way worse.

 

One Finger Death Punch

There was a series of flashvideos in the late 90s/early 2000s of stickmen fighting in ridiculously over-the-top choreographies with all the exciting gore, that stickmen could offer. This is that game and it is only controlled with two mouse buttons. I was really skeptical of that fact but in the end, this turned out to be a title that's surprisingly challenging and tactical in its approach to mass-stickmen-murder. Makes you feel like a badass without an ass.

 

Castlevania - Lords of Shadow 2

I really liked the first Lords of Shadow. It was a very competent action-game that incorporated several elements from other games to make it more challenging and a game, that was ultimately more than the sum of its parts. Sadly, after the first one, this subseries took a turn for the worse with Mirror of Fate on the 3DS and reached kind of a low point in this iteration. Sadly so, because the combat-system still offers fun gameplay and the art-direction manages to pull of some astonishing locales. Seriously one of the best looking games of 2014 (when it comes to Dracula's castle, that is). They just shouldn't have tried to hamfist it into modern times and force us to do those annoying stealth sections. Seriously, fuck those.

 

Danmaku Unlimited 2

Bullet Hell shmups are a weird fascination of mine. I generally like Shoot'em ups, but Bullet Hells always feel like endurance tests to me. You have to be more pixel perfect in your movement and are basically just holding the shoot button. In that particular genre, Danmaku Unlimited 2 offers a good starting point for newcomers as well as a challenge for the already initiated. Complete with a nice and cheesy Metal soundtrack, you could go worse. But also better. Though probably worse.

 

Master Reboot

I had high hopes for this one and they weren't completely fulfilled. The story itself about the problems of storing memories in a digitized cloud and someone suffering from brain trauma because of that is interesting and the pacing keeps you entertained. However, the gameplay sections, like dodging cars on a freeway feel forced and so out of place, that they completely take you out of the flow. Less would have been more in this place, even if the game isn't particularly long to begin with.

 

Weapon Shop de Omasse

Finally, the fourth game from the first Level 5-Jam made it over to the west. Those games always provided some nice ideas with a lot of quirkyness and Weapon Shop de Omasse is no exception. It's not as good as "Attack of the Friday Monsters", but managing a Weapon Shop in an RPG is a nice new perspective. Combine that with witty writing and you got yourself a nice little title for your 3DS. Can get repetitive after long sessions.

 

Croixleur Sigma

There aren't enough Japanese indies over here. How can I tell? Croixleur Sigma. It's pretty much an amalgamation of a simple idea, but that one done well. You're in a magician-competition, to get to the top of a tower. On your way you level up, collect loot and fight waves and waves of more challenging enemies. It's pretty basic in what it does, but if what it does is made competently, then so what? I'd rather have one idea thought to the end than a bunch of half-assed stuff at my disposal (*winkwink* Destiny)

 

Gigantic Army

Did you like Cybernator on the SNES? Are you in general fond of mecha and side-scrolling Run'n'Guns with boss fights against giant super-robots? If the answer to all, some or none of these questions is "Yes", you should get Gigantic Army. A retro-loveletter done surprisingly right.

 

Claire

A 2D Survival Horror game in the mold of Lone Survivor. Never reaches the former's greatness but delivers on a good atmosphere and a surprisingly okayish female protagonist.

 

Hatoful Boyfriend

You date pidgeons. 'nuff said.

 

Halfway

Wants to be an X-Com roguelike but falls ultimately short of that goal. The setting and artstyle are great, but the gameplay is weirdly lackluster and rather easy. Surviving an Alien takeover never felt so relaxing.

 

NEO Scavenger

If the modern Fallout games feel to much like a deviation of the original two games for you, than NEO Scavenger is the game for you. This is a game about survival, presented like a pick your own adventure book and foraging into foreign cities. Even finding a shoe feels great in this game, as it means you at least won't step into glass shards and limit your movement.

 

Xenonauts

Another game for purists, Xenonauts perfectly encapsulates the old X-Com games. I'm fine with the new one and find this one to be a bit sterile at times, but if you long for that exact experience, Xenonauts is the game for you.

 

Super Smash Bros 3DS

I never understood the craze about Smash Bros. This new iteration doesn't do much to convince me, especially with the shoddy netcode, but I have to admit, that the sheer volume of content and stuff to do, even for singleplayer modes, is something to applaud and gave me much more mileage on this, than I initially anticipated.

 

Xeodrifter

Renegade Kid have a thing for retro-style platformers. Their take on Metroid, while painfully short, delivers a fun little experience with challenging boss fights and power ups that make you want to revisit every level to look through each nook and cranny.

 

Titanfall

Of all the AAA disappointments, Titanfall was the most enjoyable game. I still loathe the Multiplayer-only decision, but you can feel the influence of the Modern Warfare people at every turn. Maybe even to a fault, because you feel like you have played that before. Still: the game itself is good and I feel kida bad for those guys that they have to dance as EA tells them to.

 

Tower of Guns

The self-proclaimed "Lunch Break-FPS" delivers exactly that. Short-term-fun in a roguelike package. You level up your gun and try to make your way out of the gun-tower....not without being shot at from every conceivable angle. NEver feel safe. Except when Hugbots are around.

 

Demon Gaze

Whenever I played Mind0, I thought: "Why can't you be more like Demon Gaze"? The story, while serious in its core, is told in a lighthearted way. This is furthermore supported by beautifully drawn and detailed, very colorful artwork. The soundtrack also does its due. The dungeons are varied in design that you don't get easily bored and then there's the monster-catching mechanic, which grants you different boosts and perks. All in all one of the better dungeon crawlers. I wished for a bit more story but that aside you can't really go wrong with this one.

 

Hearthstone

Blizzard took on Magic the Gathering and of course they made something incredibly fun and gripping out of it. Hearthstone is easy to learn, yet all the different classes with their unique cards and the deck building mechanic add fodder for months to the game. Matchmaking is quick and easy and you always feel like making progress. The interactive battlefields are only the icing on the pretty delicious cake. Also: F2P done right.

 

Ghost Control Inc.

Ever wanted to have your own ghost busting company? Now you can have it in this light hearted X-Com clone. Only instead of Aliens you catch ghosts and research enhancements for your proton-packs. As a Ghostbusters-fan (R.I.P. Harold Ramis) I liked this one.

 

Mount your Friends

Where to begin, where to begin? Ech, screw it: If "A team of Cthulhuoid turban-sporting blue-skins teaming of against Punk versions of Dr. Fu Manchu with Dong-physics" doesn't get you excited, nothing will!!!

 

Nidhogg

This game has made the rounds since 2012 and now FINALLY we could play the end result. The Atari-graphics look way better in motion and make for an incredibly fluent experience. Forget leveling up and perks and stuff: this is one on one fencing and the best one wins. Wild, heartpounding chases take turns with tense mind-games at a break neck pace and make for one of the best multiplayer-experiences ever.

 

Dungeon of the Endless

Yes, Endless Space, Endless Legend and Dungeons of the Endless are all based in the same universe. DotE is their foray into the roguelike genre and besides a good art-direction, they actually spiced things up with a very tactical, strategic and deliberate approach to roguelikes in comparison to the usually very action-heavy games in the genre. It forces you to manage your ressources and take risks that really hurt your efforts if they don't pay off.

 

Strider

A reboot of a classic franchise is always tricky. Good for us that the Strider reboot proved to be a servicable Actioner with possibly the most satisfying Swordplay. Maybe a bit to easy but SLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASHSLASH

 

Luftrausers

Vlambeer silently had a killer year. Not only did they do an awesome job on Nuclear Throne, but they also released a little title called Luftrausers.Sounding particularly German, I can attest, that this is not a German word. Not even Klaus. The game, however, is fun, fast-paced and incorporated this "One more round" mentality like few other titles this year. Before you could actually make the decision to stop playing, you were once again knee deep in a last stand with ze allied forces. Really noteworthy: Depending on what parts you chose, the soundtrack changed. It's basically one song, but every part brings its unique instruments and twists to the formula.

 

Endless Legend

Now this is kinda what everyone expected from Civilization: Beyond Earth (besides the Fantasy Paintjob of course): taking the ideas of Civ V and refining them, making for an experience, that feels comfortingly familiar, yet fresh enough to warrant another allnighter of "Just one more round". So yeah, Endless Legend delivered in its stead and for a smaller Indie Studio, they did a more than commendable job in replicating that feel. Everything seems fitting, from the artstyle to the music and the gameplay mixes things up without alienating anyone. Didn't have big expectations but damn, that was one fine effort.

 

Goat Simulator

Starting out as a trailer making fun of the simulator-frenzy, Goat Simulator managed to be an absolute delight. Like Surgen SImmulator before it, it very well understood what it was and never tried to be more. That in combination with the absurdity of possibilities and things to discover made for an incredibly fun time of just being the goat. Was it deep? No. But stupid in a very positive way and sometimes, when done right, that is all it takes. BAAAAAAAAAH

 

XBlaze: Code Embryo

I really like the fighting games by Arc System works. Not only for their superior gameplay, but also for a rather deep lore. Especially the BlazBlue series has its fair share of backstory and this is where Xblaze comes in. It's a Visual Novel in the BlazBlue universe, set 150 years before the first game. Your interaction with the world comes in the form of the TOi system (a personalized news-ticker of sorts) and what articles you choose to read or not. What was very notable was the quick pacing. Unlike a lot of Visual Novels, that take up to ten hours to introduce the characters, XBlaze does character progression on a more on-the-fly basis. All in all it more feels like episodes of an Anime. A rather good one at that. They could tone down a bit on the fanservice at times and some things weren't made that clear, but with some really great character artwork, great Japanese voicework (fully voiced with English text) and a killer Soundtrack, this one should be on your Watchlist.

 

The Walking Dead Season 2

Yes, it's complaining on a rather high level, but I was left a bit disappointed by the second season of Telltale's Zombie-Roadtrip. At times it even seemed like they were unsure, where to go and some of the characters were almost shockingly bland. That's not to say, that this is a bad game, far from it. It still has some incredibly tense moments and memorable sequences it just didn't impact me as much, as my GotY 2012 did.

 

OlliOlli

Yes, yes, YES. This was the skating game I basically wanted pas THPS4. I didn't know I wanted it in 2D, but grinding and 720 kickflipping my way through a russian military base on my way to just another highscore quickly told me I should have known better. If you are like me and spent night after night in front of your Playstation or PC, trying to beat the Warehouse in THPS2 with everything collected in two minutes, while listening to the awesome soundtrack or sporting the new Limp Bizkit CD, then don't hesitate and grab it.

 

Madden 15

Bite me. I love Football and it has been a lot of iterations I didn't get, so it was time for a roster upgrade. But the changes they made (especially on the defensive side of the ball) are actually making the game a whole lot of fun and way more challenging. The franchise mode, as convoluted as the menus are, is still my mainstay and has everything I want from a football game, tuning my roster 'til perfection and leading my beloved Arizona Cardinals to where they belong!

 

Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed

This game always makes my gf laugh. Not that she pllayed it, but the title alone always makes her snicker. That aside, this is like a lighthearted Yakuza-light. In short: Vampires are about to overrun Akihabara and it's up to you and your comicshop/arcade-friends to stop them by....stripping them of their clothes. The game is actually far less offensive than it might seem now and instead focusses on a combatsystem that is nothing special but offers reasonable depth to not be boring and characters, that while ultimately not incredibly remarkable (your little sister aside) offer enough variety. This all sounds rather negative, but I enjoyed my time with this game more than I thought I would and while there are flaws (small areas, many "flat" storefronts), give it a try if you can get behind the idea.

 

Drakengard 3

Another game I weirdly enjoyed. When it released, the reception was rather lukewarm. I totally get those reviews. I also get the bad reviews as the game has obvious issues: repetitive gameplay, shoddy graphics, very.....crude humor. But this game ended up being way more than the sum of its parts. It will be rather soon, that at least one of the gameplay mechanics grips on you. Be it the weapon-collecting, leveling up or getting soaked in blood while fighting....and then the story picks up steam. At first, all the characters are basically assholes with your character being the absolute worst offender on that front. But after some time, a lot of things clear up and it paints a very different picture on many a strange fellow on your travel. Just not on Octa...he's a perv and always was one and we wouldn't have it any other way.

 

Extrasolar

Now this is a weird one. Imagine the following scenario: humanity found a new exoplanet and the Extrasolar company spearheads exploration of that planet. Now they don't explore it by themselves of course but via little rovers and of course, YOU are one of the lucky ones to be chosen to pilot one. Now not of course initially, but I'm not gonna spoil more here, as the game, through real e-mails you get and a certain time between rover-input and response (because giant distance), creates a really great sense of immersion and actually glued me to the screen whenever something happened because I was genuinely excited. Try it. It's completely free by the way.

 

VA-11 Hall-A (Prologue)

Cyberpunk-Waifu-Bartending-Sim kinda encapsulates it pretty well. Up 'til now, only the prologue has released, but this already gives you a good look at what is ahead for this game and I'm more than curious to find that out. The cliffhanger was killer and now I want to know it all....also, I have spent some hours bartending racist, talking, multi-coloured Corgis. That accounts for something, right?

 

Astebreed

There is no better looking shmup out there. There just isn't. The game looks gorgeous and runs at a smooth 60fps through a bunch of amazing setpieces. They are passing by in a breakneck speed, so you better bring your a-game. The attacks and bonus attacks don't get out of hand, so you can concentrate on some serious ass-kicking and some motion-sickness if you're too close to the screen. The ever-changing perspectives actually serve a purpose as you always have to slightly adjust your tactics for every different angle. If you're only slightly interested in Japanese Shmups, don't let this slip you by. Seriously. Get it.

 

Sniper Elite 3

Well that one came out of left field. Released in June to little fanfare, this game actually as more Hitman elements than itman Absolution. Once again, you're a Sniper in WWII, tasked with stopping a German general in Africa from building his newest pet project: the P1000 "Ratte" (a giant tank, powered by 4 1000hp submarine-engines with a 3-barrel 46cm-ship artillery turret as the main weapon and two rear mounted TigerII turrets as back-defense) . And yes, that is a thing that actually existed, if only in theory. The open areas allowed for incredible player freedom when it comes to approaching your targets and either loud and nasty, or silent and deadly will get you to your goals. The real challenge comes from the fantastic bullet-physics and the fact, that you're not using a modern, high-powered rifle, but a WWII one, so kills feel really rewarding....oh, the bullet-cam also helps in that regard. Also, the AI is rather good in this one, rounding out a very good stealth-action-experience I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone.

 

Freedom Wars

As I said before, the Vita got a great deal of Action RPGs; a lot of them MMO-ish Monster Hunter-wannabes. Not so much in the case of Freedom Wars. Sporting a different artstyle, this game focusses much more on an interesting setting (you were born, which is kind of a biggie and warrants 1 million years in prison) and story. Along with that, you get an incredible deal of customization right of the bat with tons more to unlock, a fully customizable robot companion, upgradeable weapons, your own facilities, daily quests and a freakin' grappling hook, that can hook you to anything and also be used, to rip parts off of enemies. Why are you not already downloading it?

 

Tears to Tiara 2 - Heir to the Overlord

I love Strategy-RPGs. The mix of enticing storylines with combat, where stats are important, but I can also overcome big odds by simply rocking it never cease to entertain me. That said, there have been some....meh ones in recent years. TtT2 luckily, is not one of those. This one also incorporates MASSIVE influences from another genre I adore: the Visual Novels. The story is presented in a visual novel style and you might be forgiven to wonder, if there is an actual game behind it at first. You have about ten minutes of reading, than the introductory battle and then about two hours of story until the next one. Hell, it's ten hours until you get your first glance of the campaign menu. So yeah, it's paced incredibly slow, but a good story and very deep combat system make up for it. And if that's not it: you can command a really adorable chibi-elephant.

 

The Wolf among Us Season 1

This is one of the games you didn't know you wanted until you played them. The Telltale formula and style only rarely made as much sense as in this example: an actual port of a comic-series to videogame form. Imagine this as the scenario: All the figures from Fairy Tales actually existed in the same universe. This universe, however, got struck by catastrophe and now, the remaining few set up shop in 1980s New York city. You follow the Adventures of Bigby Wolf, investigating his way through a murder mystery. A noir-esque crime drama with a heavy dose of Grimm.

 

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call

Nubuo Uematsu is a musical genius. I bet everyone who reads this can hum at least one tune from Final Fantasy history that makes you go back and reminisce back to the days, where you didn't have to defend Lightning Returns, because it was less horrible than XIII. Now imagine you could actually play those songs in one of the best "pick up and play" rhythm games out there. Now also imagine, that you collect more songs and characters throughout the entire FF lore, make your own party of those guys and level them up and eventually unlock an Adventure mode and....there is content for months in there and the difficulty settings are pitch perfect to suit everyone, from "I just want a relaxing distraction" to "WARGHARBL".

 

The Evil Within

A lot of people have their problems with this one and I get where they are coming from. However, this doesn't stop me from enjoying the shit out of it. Maybe it's the Shinji Mikami expectation, but I took it for what it was and that was a gloriously gory action-horror romp with some really fucked up ideas and imagery that genuinely made my skin crawl at times.

 

Rogue Legacy

Technically 2013, but the Playstation versions got pushed into 2014 and I played them primarily on PS3 and Vita. The cross save system works incredibly well and make it even more addicting, when you can take your "stationary" save on the go and advance some generations on the commute. Easy to learn, hard to master, impossible to put down.

 

Gods will be watching

I was SO hot for this game. This plays like a point and click adventure and in this, does a great job in putting you under pressure, even if nothing happens if you don't do anything. The gist of it is that you follow an overarching story, interrupted by playable flashbacks, that put you against overwhelming odds. Don't mistake its point'n'click heritage: you WILL die. Sierra Adventures got nothing on this one and at times you will ask yourselves, whether there is a right choice. Hard choices have to be made and sometimes you have to realize, that the comfortable middle ground that doesn't annoy anybody will inevitably lead to an early grave.

 

Dynasty Warriors Gundam REBORN

I wasn't sure whether this would make the trip over to the west (since the first three sold poorly), so I imported it in Japanese for the Vita and what can I say: it's the best DW Gundam out there. The first iterations alwys felt sterile and never got the DW quite right. Not so here. Gundams from nearly all iterations are there (over 90 of them to be more precise!!!) and once you get into it, you can spend a LOT of time with this one. There are six storymodes, which each encompass one franchise entry. Then, there's a Storymode with multiple more stories, where franchise entries get mixed up and the SEED crew fights alongside Unicorn Gundam. Then of course there's the usual Muktiplayer and Endless modes, card-unlocking, parts gathering and Gundam updating to keep you busy. As a bonus treat for Gundam-fans: the storymode has Cutscenes from the respective series-entries completely redone in 3D. They look amazing (for the game they are in) and are a nice addition to a very complete Gundam package.

 

Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Full Boost

...just rolls of the tongue, right? I was actually thinking about how to descibe the gameplay, until recently, Rise of Incarnates and the new DISSIDIA iteration eased that up. Imagine those games, only more fluent and with more depth than those games. Add a crapton of Gundams, each one feeling genuinely different (which is quite a feat. Imagine Street Fighter with 70 different characters....and no: just palette swaps like in MK don't count) and a Soundtrack that includes all the memorable tunes, from the cheesy early 80s title theme to the latest Gundam UC tunes. The netcode is super-stable, even when playing with and against people from Japan and even without an Arcade-Stick, the controls almost flow naturally. Even for solo-players, there are a lot of challenges to beat, but Multiplayer is really, where this is at. Fast paced, multi-faceted Mecha action greatness awaits you. NOW IMPORT IT ALREADY!!!

 

Borderlands - The Pre-Sequel

Even as a pretty huge Borderlands fan, I wasn't sure I needed this. It just felt...forced. So I put it off until the very end of the year and snagged it for 20 bucks on a sale. During the first four-ish hours, I thought myself reinforced in my belief of a quick cash-in. Everything seemed like BL2 with a new paintjob. But then, it seems, as if 2K Australia flicked a switch and said: "You know what? Screw that. We'll make our Borderlands more than just that." and seriously upped their game. The story leaves the forced-humorous paths and actually has some dark moments. Jack's downfall is orchestrated in a really gripping story, that also shows his inner workings and makes us at least understand him better and why he became, who he was in BL2. It might be my favorite story in the BL franchise. Also: traversing the zero-G areas is great and with all the new stuff they added (new vehicles, new weapon types, the Grinder) this is way more fleshed out than I thought it would be. Pick it up if you happen to not have played it.

 

Dominique Pamplemousse

I honestly don't know what to say here. I mean: it's a black&white, claymation musical, point&click adventure, with all the voices done by one person. It's incredibly weird and it took me some time to get used to this style but once it hooked me, it got me hook, line and sinker. It has this weird charme that just lulls you in and swallows you whole before you have a chance to resist. It's not a long gameand I think that works in its favor, by not overstaying its welcome and/or novelty.

 

Danganronpa 1&2

Imagine you get stuck with a bunch of "Ultimate" students and the only way to escape your predicament is by killing someone and not being framed the killer in a class trial....all of this is hosted by a homicidal, talking stuffed bear. That's Danganronpa in a nutshell and since both games released this year (after being released in Japan on the PSP in 2011 and 2013 respectively), I packed them both on here. Some events actually build upon each other, so it's just fitting. I wasn't a fan initially, as everything is very crass. There is not a single thing in these games, that is not in some way hyper-stylized and that is off-putting to some people. I needed some time to acclimate, but having finished both games, I'm glad I did. Especially the endings pile up on the WTF-moments but that's kinda what makes this great. The actual reveals are made so that sometimes, you'd rather not know them at all. Which is always exactly what Monokuma has in store for y'all. Puhuhuhuhuhu

 

Valiant Hearts - The great War

If you ever needed further proof, that the UbiArt engine is incredible, look no further than this gem from 2014. Valiant Hearts tells the tales of four different people (who of course are all related in some way)during the tumultuous times of the first World War. This game has some puzzles, but none of them are so hard, that they'd get in the overall flow of the game telling its sublime story. There are so many great moments in this game, that it would exceed this blog to list them all but the last few minutes of that game left me both: extremely impressed and very very melancholic.

 

The Banner Saga

Did I mention that I love Strategy RPGs? Oh yeah, I did and The Banner Saga was an incredibly well made effort in that regard. Beautiful, handdrawn graphics and animation (seriously...it's hard to describe until you see it with your own eyes) meet with an engaging storyline and this sense of melancholy and doom looming all over it. One of the games I lost myself the deepest in. I just wanted to immersive myself in this Norse-mythology-inspired world and never return.

 

Jazzpunk

Comedy in games is hard to do...so kudos, that the team behind Jazzpunk achieved, what they did. This game is incredible in just about every aspect. It plays great and holy fuck. It's so hard to describe, because just saying things like "there's laughs behind every corner" sounds so incredibly like a back-of-the-box bullet-point, that it's not saying anything these days. But seriously: there are a lot of gags you can see "plainly" and adding to that are so many gags and references that pop up in places you wouldn't expect because...well it's "good" random humour because, like Monthy Python, it really plays with your expectations before taking them, wrapping them in a pie and throwing them in your face.

 

Shovel Knight

Retro done right. This doesn't just have a pixel-y NES-style, this looks exactly like an NES game (yes, there is a difference and seeing it in motion, you will know what I mean). Another reminder of that era is the great level-design, that makes you want to explore it, but will facilitate all your skills in doing so. Highlight of each stage (next to the great soundtrack) is the boss of each stage. If you ever wondered, what a mix of Mega Man, Duck Tales and Super Mario Bros 3 would look like get this game. One of my favorite platformers ever and I was genuinely surprised and impressed at Yacht Club's effort here. They nailed everything about this one.

 

Alien Isolation

Now this is the Alien game I was waiting for. Note: Alien, not Aliens. There is action involved, but stealth against overwhelming odds is the key here. The Sevastopol is crafted with so much love to detail, you're excused for mistaking it as shots from a never-released "Alien: Behind the scenes" art-book. From an atmospherical standpoint, Creative Assembly (of all people) nailed this one better than anyone ever did and even from a gameplay perspective, there is very little to critisize. Like in any stealth game, you'll eventually get behind the systems but that is stretched out by the good Alien AI, that also adds the element of randomness, that many brethren lack. Not really scary in my book, but atmospheric as hell and super-duper tense at times. Don't let this pass you by. You won't find a better tribute to this great series of films in videogame form (maybe Infestation on the DS, but that's another story).

 

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney

Much like "Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem" I had to rub my eyes and read the announcement for that one again, because at the onset, this doesn't necessarily fit. But Capcom and Level 5 did a commendable job of merging these two universes into one great adventure. Puzzle-solving and court room battles are never tried to force into the same space and that really works to the game's favor. Nothing feels forced and both franchises are treated with a great deal of respect and attention to detail. Speaking of detail: the art-direction is absolutely gorgeous with its depiction of the medieval-ish town of Labyrinthia, but that is expected from Level 5 at this point. Good writing, creative puzzles and court-battles with some surprisingly high stakes round this one out. If you hunger for 3DS-stuff, get this one.

 

Far Cry 4

I really liked Far Cry 3 and yes: you could be so cynical as to just call it "more of the same". But that would make you a cynical asshole and just make you miss one of the best shooters of the year. Troy Baker does a great job as Pagan Min and the gameplay is as refined as in the previous iteration. Add to that the verticality of the Himalayan nation of Kyrat and you should have a good idea of what to expect....until you realize, that you can rode elephants and boy, Dumbo has evolved into a serious motherfucker after leaving the circus behind, let me tell you that...

 

Wolfenstein - The New Order

Well fill up my beerstein and call me Fritz, who thought that any studio could give the three-phase animation that was B.J. Blaskowicz an actual personality twenty years ago? Yet here we are with Wolfenstein: The New Order. A shooter, that doesn't revolutionize anything, but remembers, what made FPSs fun once and runs with that. Starting with the fact, that you can double wield nearly every weapon in the game (including sniper rifles because fuck logic, that's why) and ending with popular songs from the 60s being reimagined as German-versions (because Nazis), this game surprised, amazed and entertained me incredibly well. The locales are also varied and the gameplay also has its quiter, exploratory moments where you can admire, how much effort went into the creation of Nazi-Propaganda post WWII.

 

Persona Q - Shadow of the Labyrinth

I have well documented love for both: Persona and Etrian Odyssey. I loved Persona for its roleplaying elements when it comes to everything around the dungeon crawling, as they progressed the story, but always seemed like vessels for plot continuation for me. Etrian Odyssey, on the other hand, was always about the dungeons for me. Intricate layouts that you had to navigate with tons of nooks and crannies for the thorough explorer. Sadly, it always fell short in the story-aspect. Not anymore though, as Persona Q is a mix of BOTH. I can now finally have the personality of Persona with the superior dungeon crawling of EO and if that doesn't get your genitals to react in some way, then how have you endured my ramblings until now? Oh, it's also a really long game, clocking you in at anywhere between 70 and 100 hours.

 

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

I kinda like MGS...I once broke the editor with a blog about MGS, so you can take the following with all the grains of salt you like. I also say this: you should not necessarily buy Ground Zeroes. I mean: it's a 20 dollar (download version for last gen) demo version. Considering the "I want people to know what to expect"-quote: Kojima-san, this might be news to you, but in 2014 everyone already knew how Open World games work. With all that out of the way, let me say this: this is the best MGS from a gameplay standpoint. Finally, there are no clunky controls in the way of anything. You can do what you like, when you like and it feels great. Yeah, the main story mission might take you one to two hours if you're so inclined, but if you really want to explore, want to know more how this game works and see this compund to its fullest...yeah, it'll take you longer than that. From a story standpoint, it got me more than hyped for The Phantom Pain and as said before: the gameplay is smooth and superior to any previous iteration.

 

Dark Souls 2

If you ever wanted a game to suck you in, if you wanted a game that you kept thinking about even hours or days after switchign of the console: Look no further. If you want a game with a supreme combat system in which each encounter could be your last: Look no further. If you want a game that grabs you by the throat but rewards you with an encouraging and triumphant feeling like few other games can: Look no further. If you want the best Action RPG of 2014 by far: Look no further.

 

Steins;Gate

Whenever the term "Visual Novel" comes up and you ask someone for suggestions, chances are "Steins;Gate" will come up with a glowing recommendation. And for good reason: it is just. So. Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood. A great "hard SciFi" story (one with actual science behind it) that forces you to connect some dots, only to invest you even further. Add to that absolutely top-notch writing, great dialogue, deep characters, some of the heaviest mindfucks you'll encounter and multiple endings that are well worth exploring all on your way to a fin   read



3:06 PM on 01.15.2015  

Zer0's Top 15 for '15

Yeahyeahyeah I know "2014 sucked SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard, 2015 can only be better"

While I agree that the industry with its sheananigans and some internet trolls have been roughing things up a bit, 2014 wasn't a bad year when it comes to games. I mean....Nuclear Throne was released and OKOKOK I'll shut up about that game. 2014 wasn't a year that was very top heavy, but it was excellently when it comes to broadth and depth. We had a lot great games in nearly all genres.

With that said, 2015 is already in full swing and boy-oh-boy are we in for a treat of a year when it comes to gaming (if every game turns out to live up to the potential....unlike 2014).

So without further ado, here are my personally most anticipated games that are set to come out this year.

 

15. The Banner Saga 2 (PC)

 

There is not much to be said about Banner Saga that hasn't been said before: it's a gorgeous game with a stellar soundtrack, that blends norse mythology with enough lore of its own into one of the most engaging games of last year. 

We are now getting more of that and that makes me an extremely happy Zer0, as I'd love to dive into this world again.

 

14. Bloodborne (PS4)

 

As a big fan of the Souls games and even Armored Core to some extent, I'm always curious for something new from From Software. 

Bloodborne looks like everything, a Souls Fan could wish for in addition to a new setting and what seems to be a more movement based combat system. So not only can you break your oppenent's counter stane this time, you can also give him a reassuring shotgun-blast to the face afterwards...that alone should get you excited (if the Victorian England didn't already)

 

13. Cuphead (PC, XBone)

 

I love technological advance. All the new stuff it enriches our minds with is mind-blowing. I mean: I'm 28 and if you told my elementary school (or hell: even my early high-school) me, what we would have in 2014, it would have blown my mind. Why am I writing all this?

BECAUSE TECHNOLOGY MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR CUPHEAD TO EXIST, a game, that looks like a 1920s cartoon and features the adventures of Cuphead and Mugboy, who embark on a journey to pay back a bedt to the devil.

 

12. Love you to Bits (PC, iOS, Android)

 

This one took me by surprise, but whenever I think about games I want to play this year, this one pops up. Is it because of the wonderful art-style? The captivating music? The fact, that it's made by the core team behind Tiny Thief? All of it?

Nevertheless, this game just makes me too curious to pass up. Also, you play a human explorer who has to find the pieces of his robot girlfriend who got destroyed to piece her back together again....how kawaii is that?

 

11. Hyper Light Drifter (PC, XBone, PS4, PS Vita, WiiU, Ouya)

 

Man, nowadays we get bombarded with "retro" action games but Hyper Light Drifter has been catching my attention for some years now with a certain blend of "retro" that just strikes all the right chords in my Nostalgia.

 

10. No Man's Sky (PS4, PC)

 

This is a huge gamble. If this game reaches its potential, this could be one of the big singleplayer-multiplayer-crossover experiences for years to come....or it could crash and burn (pun intended), which makes me kinda want to delete ot from this list....but damn, we get so few space games (luckily a few are coming or out now). PLEASE BE GOOD!!!!!

 

9. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)

 

 

Yeah....basically this.

 

8. Ori and the blind Forest (XBone, PC)

 

I initially didn't have this game on tab at all. Then, E3 2014 rolled around and if I'm completely honest: this is the game that (almost) impressed me the most. The art style alone has so much charm, it's impossible to not be at least curious what the big black guy and the small white lad are up to. Getting a serious "Dust - An Elysian Tail"-vibe from this and I'm totally fine with that.

 

7. The entire Nintendo Line Up 

 

Throw me under the bus for cheating, but after the (great) year Nintendo has had in 2014, they seemingly decided to kill it this year. I couldn't pick one single game out of the following: Codename Steam, Devil's Third, new Fire Emblem, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Yoshi's Wooly World, a new STARFOX (for Fox's sake, FINALLY), new Zelda, Mario Maker.

WTF Nintendo? Other companies plan to release that many killer apps over the course of five years....I love you. Gotta get a WiiU this year.

 

6. Batman Arham Knight (PS4, XBone, PC)

 

I. Love. The Arkham Games. I could even find some entertainment in Arkham Origins, though that really wasn't even in the same area code as the stellar first two entries. And guess what: Rocksteady is making this one again so OMGOMGOMGOMG, can't wait to ballet-stomp more evil faces.

 

5. Persona 5 (PS3, PS4)

 

When I first booted up Persona 4 Golden, my reaction was "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech". Too much pastelly-highschool bullshit.

Then I played it and it is one of the best RPGs I ever played and I might even put it into my favorite games of all times. The pacing was perfect, the characters endearing and believable and it was a game, that didn't want to go the "American Pie"-route, but respect its audience in showing us.

....oh yeah, the sequel is coming. 

 

4. Tokyo Twillight Ghost Hunters (PS3, PS Vita)

 

A visual novel-type game about Ghost Hunters in Tokyo (duh), that actually features a lot of ghostbustin' gameplay and RPG-elements, it would seem.

And if that doesn't sell you yet: it's a collaboration of Arc System Works, the guys behind Guilty Gear and BlazBlue) and Toybox Inc. of Deadly Premonition fame.

Still not enough to convince you? How does "a Soundtrack by Nubuo Uematsu" sound?

 

3. Yakuza 5 (PS3)

 

FINALLY!!!! 

After nearly 3 years (!!!) Sega decides to bring this over. I imported it some time ago and played it, yet my Japanese is not yet good enough for a complex game like this and I ran into some kind of wall where I didn't know what to do.

As someone, who thinks Yakuza 4 should heavily be considerated as the best game of the last console generation, this news makes me very, VERY happy.

 

 

2. Hotline Miami 2 (PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita)

 

Well, this actually was my most anticipated game of 2014. After finishing its predecessor on PC, PS3 and PS Vita, I was very eager to play more. The game got delayed and so it had to measure up against the game in first place, but that is no knock on HM2. 

 

1. Metal Gear Solid 5 - The Phantom Pain (PC, PS3, PS4, XBox 360, XBone) 

 

...how could it be anything else? After Ground Zeroes and the breathtaking E3 Trailer. After all that trickled down the news channels over the course of last year, I feel rather comfortable to say, that I have very little doubt about what MGS5 is going to be for me: a serious GOTY contender. 

I love the Metal Gear series as a whole and oh boy: This looks like the msot advanced game in series history. Hype doesn't even begin to describe my feelings.

 

 

So, those are my Top 15 most anticipated games for this year. Tend to disagree (because OF COURSE YOU DO)? Leave your comments and let's have ourselves a nice argument, before we all bow before the glory of MGS V ;)

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8:08 AM on 01.04.2015  

Why Nuclear Throne is literally better than any 2014 game

Well a lot of people have put out their obligatory 2014 lists and while this might not have been gaming's finest year, there have been many a great games this year. 

HOWEVER, I noticed one big omission on most lists.

NUCLEAR MOTHERUCKING THRONE!

Nuclear Throne, for the uninitiated, is a roguelike, top-down Shooter, where you play as one of many adorable mutants, each with their own abilities (and disabilities) to reach the titular sitting furniture. This might sound a bit Run-of-the-mill these days, but trust me when I say: this is one of the most fun games of the year. Period.

I was having a conversation with Shade of Light yesterday, who received one of the gift copies and he literally said: "This game is amazing. I don't know if I can live with myself knowing, that I haven't paid money for this." THAT's how amazing this game is.

But I see, you won't take my word for it, so let me prove to you, why Nuclear Throne is literally better than any of your favorite games this year.

 

Bayonetta 2

What better place to start with than Dtoid's game of the year. Undeservedly so. "Oh why?" you ask. "It has so fast-paced gameplay and such moves and ASS". 

Yeah, I give it that, it has ASS, but so has Nuclear Throne. NT also has THRONE BUTT which is infinitely more useful than normal witch butt. What does Bayonetta's Ass do for you instead of distracting you? Yeah, guess so. It distracts you in a game, where you have to be focussed....GREAT FUCKIN' JOB PLATINUM. In Nuclear Throne, EVERY character can acquire the magnificence of a Throne Butt and instead of distracting you, it is there to help you by enhancing your abilities. That's right. Your butt makes you literally a better person. Or Mutant. Or Fish.

Winner: Nuclear Throne

 

The Banner Saga

So yeah, the world is coming to an end by the hand of giant stone golems that are really hard to kill. Allow me a quick laugh at the sheer notion of this being a problem. 

Listen son, in NT, the world already HAS ended. Yeah, that makes every achievement you have in your little viking world like 20x less gooder.

Also: Stone Guys are a problem? Seriously? Allow me anther quick laugh. In the already apocalypsed world you fight freakin' diamonds.....THAT SHOOT LASERS AT YOU! AND THEY DON'T NEED LASER EYES FOR THAT BECAUSE THEIR WHOLE BODY IS LIKE A GIANT LENS LIKE THAT PINK FLOYD ALBUM COVER! Not only do you fight and DEFEAT enemies that are made of the hardest material known to man and mutant, but those things fight back with one of the awesomest materials known to man and mutant. Lasers. Oh and they are not bosses, just regular enemies you meet not even halfway through.

Winner: Nuclear Throne

 

Broforce 

Terrorists are bad, 'Murica is good. Such a simple message gave way to deeper thoughts on my end. What do they want to hide with all the explosions and particle effects; the blood and guts and fake names?

Then it struck me: You know who else enjoyed video games? HITLER! Yeah, I said it. And since you're playing as some super heroes, you're basically SUPER HITLER! Don't you see? You are WORSE THAN HITLER!

Don't be worse than Hitler.

Winner: Nuclear Throne (for not being Hitler)

 

The Evil Within

So you are this super-suave dude Sebastian Castellanos, whose last name sounds like a synonym for testicles. He goes around the mind of this super evil dude who wants to do stuff.

This, however, BEGS the question, how awesome this evil guy's mind really is. Let's look at Nuclear Throne again: Oh, there is a guy, who can make corpses EXPLODE with the power of his mind alone. That produces NEW CORPSES which are instantly ready for MORE EXPLOSIONS! Can that super evil dude do that?

He can't? Then why the hell does this Testicle guy have so many problems with him? What a milquetoast douchebag!

And mind you, you CAN BE the guy who does the whole EXPLOSION-thingy. (sorry, it's impossible to express the magnitude of this word without writing in capital letters)

Winner: Nuclear Throne

 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

The name alone is an easy win here for Nuclear Throne but that is not, what puts it over the edge.

It's one easy fact. One simple detail: you kill a senator. Not just any Senator. A Senator of the US of mothertruckin' A!!! A visionary dude who's not only willing to do, what it takes, but also STARRED ON HIS COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM AS A FULLBACK!!! Given that nowadays even Punters are more important that Fullbacks, this achievement is marvelous. AND YOU STRAIGHT-OUT MURDER HIM YOU EMO-HAIRED TERRORIST!!!!

Winner: Nuclear Throne (for not being a terrorist)

 

Pokemon Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire Rho Rubble

So you managed to catch a powerful being. Your ripped it out of its natural habitat, force it to live confined in a tiny ball (think of its joints for just one freakin' second) and enslave it to fight for you. You are like Michael Vick and nobody likes Michael Vick. You are an abusive motherfucker and you should feel ashamed.

Not so in Nuclear Throne. There are also things like a plant or a crystalisk lifeform, but they are FREE. And if we know one thing America has told us, it's that FREEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!

Winner: Nuclear Freedom Throne 

 

Bravely Default

This doesn't even count. It's a 2013 Release. 2012 even, if you count Japan and no: If AmeriSTUPIDS can't complain hard enough for it to be released earlier, they don't have a say.

Winner: Nuclear Throne (by (bravely) default)

 

Assassin's Creed: Unity

These two games have more in common, than you might see at first glance: Both feature horrible mutations, killing other mutations in a world that has long since abandoned the rules of physics.

That, however, makes us compare. Can the AC:U mutants make corpses explode with their mind? (a rather handy ability for assassin's who need to hide the bodies, dontcha think?) No? Oh.....

Winner: Nuclear Throne

 

Driveclub PS+

Can you play Nuclear Throne the way it was intended? Yup.

Can you say the same of DriveClub PS+? Nope.

Winner: Nuclear Throne

 

Rambo - The video game

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Winner: Nuclear Throne

 

Drakengard 3

Drakengard has a lot of things going for it, gotta give it that. It has a singing dragon who pisses on your doorstep and most importantly: dick jokes and Innuendo galore.

However, there is one thing strangely absent. Drakengard 3 features a baffling lack of butt. As stated above: BUTT is important for games and since THRONE BUTT is basically a killer argument by those standards, Drakengard 3 can't keep up.

Winner: Nuclear Throne

 

Shovel Knight

Oh, so now we compare two retro-pixel style games. Both even have a Shovel as a weapon in it, with Shovel Knight even using it to traverse the various landscapes. 

YAWNARAMA! Who needs a jump? And why does he need a Shovel for it? The Shovel is a tool for killing. Nuclear THrone understands that. You don't need to jump; you don't need the shovel for it. Dead Enemies can't hurt you, whether you jump or not.

Winner: Nuclear Throne

 

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Oh come on now. What filthy casual are you, that you opn your whore mouth for this.......thing? Being killed by an enemy and just returning to him like it was nothing? Where are we here? Freakin' Ikea Smaland or what? 

If your mutation dies, it's your fuckin' fault. You don't get to just leisurely stroll back there. The postapocalyptic wastelands of the future are no playground. They teach you hard, brutal and menacing life lessons. 

The only Nemesis there is YOU and YOU alone....and if you can't pull it off FUCK YOU! BACK TO THE START AND TRY AGAIN!

 

So there, I proved it without a doubt. I know this all, because of science. Are there other titles you have in mind? Tell me and I will gladly prove all your theories wrong.

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11:57 AM on 01.03.2015  

Happy New Year Dtoid

Ohai

Ohai guys, how ya doin'?

Fine, I hope. So let's all welcome the new Year and hope for the best, video-game-related, but also in personal matters because let's face it: if the world is falling apart, it's just not the same.

Initially, I wanted to post this blog on New Years Day but the year started exceptionally well for me with my Scoliosis rearing its ugly head and me filled to the brim with painkillers. Since I don't take pills very often, this led to my intestines burning with the wrath of a thousand suns yesterday, so yeah: I wasn't able to write a new-years-blog beforehand.

The year 2014 was, for me, a rather successful one, with me finding a new job (FINALLY!!!) and at least no catastrophes on a personal level. So I sincerely hope that 2015 can keep up the trend and I hope, that your situations are changing for the better as well (or stay the way they are if they're good...never touch a running system).

I've already planned a 2014-blog, though that's going to take some time, since I plan on making a ranking of every game I played...and yeah, there are a few ones left I want to get at least a quick look on, before I make a final judgement. Wolfenstein: The new Order is the biggest one I have left to tackle, but it's already in the mail. However, don't expect it until mid- to end of January I guess. I played around 60 games methinks and this will take some time. 

What I will, however, release earlier is a blog regarding the games of 2015 I'm looking forward to in one way or the other and DAMN, there is some stuff coming our way this year....and then there is of course Metal Gear SOlid V, which I'm already salivating so hard over, I'm afraid my body will be a dried out husk, when the game finally releases.

So yeah, that was basically all I wanted to sa......STOP

 

There is one other thing:

I've got my hands on four Steam-codes for the Director's Cut of Deadly Premonition that I really want to give away to you guys, so if you'd like one, leave a comment below.

 

Have a nice 2015 everybody and who could say it better than good old Bob Dylan?

 

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1:10 PM on 10.31.2014  

An open letter to #GamerGate

Hey Gamergaters,

 

yes you there. You know, I'm a rather laidback guy. I don't really care a lot about other people's opinion, as I don't see how this affects what I like, but today, I learned about Operation Colbert and something in me snapped.

Are you guys serious? I mean...really? REALLY? 

You clamor more "ethics in videogame journalism" but basically all you do is focus on some stuff you don't like, flame the referring folks and act like you are one big community or movement (speaking in "code", using the unilateral "we").

Newsflash: You're not. GamerGate is not a movement with an Agenda. 

Videogames as a medium are not really new to controversy. I mean: basically every time there's a schol shooting, at least one finger points towards video games as the primary source of evil.

However, video games do have some internal problems that need attention, most of which come from the industry itself.

EA milks their franchises, forces beloved franchises into completely different directions, releases games that are a broken mess at realease and barely playable now and puts Microtransactions into full-price games.

Activision has to be the single most awful company in regards to how they treat their contractors with a guy at the helm who has NO idea, how to handle video games publicly.

Capcom refuses to see what made their franchises good in the first place and continues to screw up the once great likes of MegaMan or Resident Evil.

I could go on here but frankly, I don't have to. You know it, I know it: the AAA-industry in its current state is a colossal clusterfuck of bad ideas mixed with ADHD.

Yet all of this doesn't concern the fine people under the banner of GamerGate. THey unite because

....a woman slept with a man? 

Wat?

What basically kicked you off as the story that Zoe Quinn slept with Stephen Totilo and therefore got an article on Kotaku.

Really? I mean yeah, betraying someone who trusts you is a dick move on Quinn's end but well, I don't know how to break it to you guys: it happens. All the time. Everywhere in the world. 

Of course this was not okay and yes, it makes Mr. Totilo's coverage of Depression Quest a wee bit shaky to tell the least. But wait...

Where do we know all that from? Ah yeah, a guy on the Internet. Yes that's right. You people, the shining example who demand ethics take ONE. SINGLE. SOURCE., a whiny and childishly overblown sob-story and TAKE. IT. AT. FACE. VALUE. 

Why? Because it fits your agenda of course. ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDIN ME? 

You say that you want more ethics, yet you send death and rape threats.

You want to be aggravated about something in the gaming industry? Be aggravated about the things I mentioned above. Be aggravated about reviewers who take money for positive coverage. Be aggravated about bought reviews, be aggravated about publishers shutting down reviewers who don't say what they want to hear and put them on blacklists. Be aggravated about overblown product placement.

But no, it's more easy to target other things.

You want games to be recognized as a serious medium, THAN GODDAMN ACT LIKE IT. You can't demand games being taken seriously, yet at the same time react like you do when someone points to something that's wrong. It's a part of growing up, besides: why exactly do you care? I mean:

ONE feminist says something on ONE topic in ONE area.

Holy Crap, do you guys have an idea of how big a field feminism is? Do me a favor and read stuff by Alice Schwarzer, Simone de Beauvoir or at least Terre des femmes and you get a picture of how wide a field this really is.

You say you are "publicly shamed". No, you are not. Nobody would be shaming you if you didn't act like total pricks on the internet. It's not even you that's being shamed but particualr things in particular games. 

But guess what: even if they are; even if your favorite game gets degraded because of whatever...does it take your enjoyment away? If yes, why? You can still enjoy it you know? 

You scream for more diversity when it comes to games, yet when something like "Gone Home" rolls around, you say that it's not a game. 

You want to be taken seriously, yet you act like a two-year old who's favorite toy got stolen.

And you even do it here. On Destructoid. The same page, where the likes of Jim Sterling, Anthony Burch, Ashly Burch or more recently guys like Holmes or Hansen have ALWAYS been outspoken against the same stuff you "criticise".

If you look at what you want to achieve, look again at how you actually try to achieve it. You are not the Illuminati, stop acting like it and actually use arguments. 

Or even better: realize what you're really doing and what you pretend to be doing.

This is not a viable protest-movement, it's a bunch of uber-conservative pricks who choose to be miserable on purpose and to be part of at least one group. 

 

That's not legit, it's pathetic.

  read


1:09 PM on 08.19.2014  

Two awesome Niche-Indies you could be playing right now for free

Over the past few years, I (and many of you guys as well) have become rather tired of the moloch that is the AAA-games-industry. I won't say, that there are no worthwhile AAA-games out there to enjoy. Hell, from an objective standpoint, they are really rather competent games, yet I find them more and more lacking one thing: soul.
Assassin's Creed for example has become something of a forbidden land for me. The games themselves might be polished as crap, but I can't help but feel that these games get made because they make money, not because a team of talented individuals puts their heart into it.
This is why I always find myself browsing shops for those "7/10" titles. They might not be that polished and not offer you 35 variations of distractions from your main quest...but they focus. They want to bring you a game that relies on a mechanic and if that mechanic is fun and implemented well, I'm more enticed to give those people my money than the other guys.

In comes the Indie-scene. Over the past six years, Indie developers have surged in popularity and games like FEZ or DayZ showed, that even games from a single guy can be wildly popular AND commercially successful.
This of course led to more and more Indies getting screen-time and now, with Early Access getting more and more popular, it's really easy to lose track of what's coming, what's good etc.

Bbain is already doing an amazing job on keeping us up to date with small Indie-games and you should totally check out his blogs, yet today, I have two games to show you, that are also Indies, also totally worth your time and in some ways worth your money...because they are free.

So let's start, shall we?


Wings of Saint-Naizaire



Wings of what? Saint-Naizaire, young padawan. Saint-Naizaire was a decisive battlefield in World War II and it is the name of a capital human carriership...the one, where your squadron is stationed on. Oh yes, you read that right. A Space-Opera game. It prizes itself "In the vein of Wing Commander and X-Wing" and it's easy to see why that is. 
What's really amazing is a technical quirk the small developing team uses to get even closer to the aforementioned classics.
Instead of using completely rendered 3D models, WoSN is sprite-based. Yes, you read that right. Of course, some things like the giant carriers are 3D models, but fighters, bombers, backgrounds etc. are all technically flat 2D pictures. These models, however, are highly detailed and in combination with the bright colorpalette and the truly incredible lighting effects create really stunning graphics that also look amazing on older PCs.

What I liked: There's not much to NOT like at this point. I mean: It's an old-school Space-Sim-Shooter. WHY ARE YOU EVEN WAITING AND HAVEN'T CLICKED DOWNLOAD YET???????

What I disliked: This is not a fault of the game itself, but the game is still VERY early in development. You can play an Alpha build (AND YOU SHOULD), just don't expect a full 30 hour campaign yet. The game is, however, on a very good way and will most likely be free even as a full product, so be sure to show those awesome guys some love and let them know what you think about their game in their forums.
And because it's so awesome, here some unmoderated gameplay of the version you can actually play (link in the title):





And then we have:




RWBY: Grim Eclipse



RWBY....just rolls of the tongue right? You are actually supposed to read this as "Ruby" and Ruby is the main character in the Anime of the name RWBY. What's so special about that? Well, RWBY happens to be an American-made Anime, made in the free-time of and on a very tight budget by the guys over at Rooster Teeth. For that, the result is amazing. Especially the fight scenes are a thing of beauty and while it's rather obviously CG-rendered, the style itself has some interesting, minimalistic quirks and sometimes evokes memories of Telltale's "The Wolf among us" series. As you might notice, I reference mostly "western" stuff and for a good reason: while it wants to be a western-made Anime, it just can't shake the "shackles" of Western Writing and especially Ruby sometimes comes over more like a Disney princess. Here is the first episode for your viewing pleasure:



But on to the game: RWBY: Grim Eclipse is a wave-based Third-person combat game...and not much else. This might sound incredibly dull right now, but as I mentioned above: I can find fun in games that do one thing if they do it really well and GE does a very good job of letting you play the angsty version of Red Riding Hood, wielding a Gun-Scythe while fighting Grimm's monsters.

What I liked: If you liked the show, this is for you. It perfectly captures the spirit and flow of Ruby's signature combat. The fighting flows very well, Melee and shooting are well balanced and learning new techniques and experimenting to find always new combos is something that every lover of Games like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, God of War and the likes will be able to understand. The other thing this game captures picture perfect from the show is the look. With a rather minimalistic approach, yet nuanced faces and an intriguing mix of Cel-shading with lighting, this game looks at least interesting. 
Oh, Rooster Teeth also already hired the ONE guy who made this game to make an official RWBY game....they are also very fine with Grim Eclipse being out there for free.

What I disliked: Well...repetition is guaranteed to kick in after some time. After all, you fight in one arena and after some waves and several bosses, the game is technically "over" yet you can continue to play versus waves of the same enemies you fought before, only getting continuously stronger. No, a ton of content, this game has not.
Sadly, due to the fact I mentioned in the "like" column, there is also not that much hope for additional content in the future.

And just because it's so awesome, here the absolutely AWESOMAZEBALLS theme from the show:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHvA8nld8kk

So what do you think? Am I just a madman, or are these games actually any good? I liked both games very much and am really happy, that WoSN is still in development yet already looking as good, as it does. As well as RWBY goes, it reminded me of those combat centric Japanese Indie games and that's something you can always get me with.   read


10:19 AM on 07.15.2014  

Looking back on the Anime of Spring '14 and looking ahead on Summer's Anime

Since my last post on the Anime of Spring 2014 I followed, a whole season has passed and with it the Anime of that season finished. It seems to me, as if more and more Anime picks up the "13 episodes" flow. 
On the one hand, this means that the whole story is told in a way that doesn't require huge amounts of backtracking or filler, but in some cases it seems, as if the story had to be interrupted to fit this rather tight corset of "a quarter of a year and not a second longer". Some recent Anime have broken this formula (Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online, Kill La Kill) but even the very well received ones (Knights of Sidonia) are crammed into this.
But let's not get worked up too much and take a look back on the Anime I've followed throughout Spring:



Brynhildr in the Darkness

And here we already have a perfect example of an Anime that would have profited greatly from a longer running time. I liked the characters in this show in general and I would have loved to see more of their past lives and what made them the way they are. I mean: we got teased with Valkyria from the first opening of the first episode and she is only having part-time screen presence in three episodes. 
This is especially infuriating, as I found her generally interesting and would love to know more about her. The rest of the girls are also likable and have their own packages to carry. Do we get to see any of this? Of course not. What did we get instead? A "day at the beach" filler episode. Just think about it. A filler-episode in a 13 episode anime. 
That aside, the action was nicely choreographed, the cast was interesting and the soundtrack was good. 
Of course the obvious has to be stated: Is it as good as "Elfen Lied"? No, it's not. It is, however, in its own right a viable Anime that will entertain you as long as it lasts, but will leave you hanging for more and aggravated with a lackluster ending.

GF Rating: (little explanation: my girlfriend recently got into Anime when I watched it. At first she just stuck along with me got more and more enticed over time. She is totally new to this kind of entertainment so I give you her unfiltered opinion...the opinion of a Gaijin) "What is wrong with their boobs?"/10




Black Bullet

Ah, Black Bullet. If you don't want to read the whole thing: watch it. Like: now. Black Bullet was highly entertaining (as I mentioned before) and it carried on to be so until the end. Okay, the ending itself felt cut short and there were several things that I would have liked to be featured more prominently. For example the whole social thing or Enju's and Rentaro's relationship...or what about Kagetane? He is one of the better adversaries in recent memory and I would have loved to have an episode or more dedicated to his roots, as his motivation for the stuff he does has a special twist.
Speaking of twists: the series itself continued to have several of those gut-punching moments. As I stated before: this anime deals with some rather dark themes and this continued 'til the very end with one scene in particular that came so suddenly and uncalled for that the impact was all the more stronger.
In combination with fantastic soundtrack and diverse action, this is one of the best Anime of the year already. I'm not sure if it will be that well received, but I liked this one a lot...if only it was longer...it has the potential for it.

GF Rating: "They can't have...What? It's cool and Enju is super-kawaii, but what the fuck?"/10



Knights of Sidonia

Basically, this was the big Anime of Spring 2014. By the time I'm writing this, the English Dub should already be running in the U.S.
So did it live up to the hype? Absolutely. It is not the most memorable Mecha-Anime, but nevertheless one of the better one's. It features a more socio-ethnological approach to the whole "colony-ship" setting which stands and falls with its characters. This is, however, not necessarily the strong point of this one. The main character is a good one as he is "blank" enough for the audience to identify with yet fleshed out in a way that he's more than a bland shell. Some of the other characters, sadly, are not that well written, or have their own storylines cut short due to the 12 episode format. This is especially true for Izana Shinotase who struggles with her/his feelings conflicting her job throughout the whole series, only to have it..well, not resolved at all. 
Don't get me wrong: the story itself is really cool and the action is great. The art-style is also fascinating, showing everyone, how a 3D-animated Anime could look like without losing it's typical charme or soul. All this makes Knights of Sidonia more than worth your time...if only some of the characters were a little bit better.
And for christ's sake, why is there a talking bear with a claw hand???

GF-Rating: "Hey, that's really fucking cool"/10


Now these weren't the only Anime of Spring, but I have yet to watch "No game, No life", which was also very well received. 

Now on to the Anime of Summer and boy was I disappointed when I saw the list. 
"Oh great. Sword Art Online II and absolutely nothing else."
Nothing else was surely a wee overdramatic, but I couldn't help but feel, that the black hole that sucks up worthwhile summer releases in video games and NFL-news also applies to Anime, with a metric crap-ton of Romance Anime releases (which are REALLY not my cup'o'tea). But underneath that smothering layer of Slice-of-Life-romantic-comedy, there were some interesting ones.
Here is a list of them:



Sword Art Online II


Episodes out: 2 out of 24

Episodes watched: None

Watch it here.



A continuation of Sword Art Online, the story of the 6000 players continues. I haven't watched this, because I haven't finished the first season, but what I saw made me curious to say the least.
The story is settled in the near future of 2022, when World of Warcraft is finally surpassed by a new MMO, called "Sword Art Online". The catch? Via a new technology, you are neuro-linked into the game and experience an all new way of VR. One foggy November day, however, 6000 unlucky players find themselves unable to log-out of the game. Shortly afterwards they are informed of why that is: Someone trapped them inside the game and challenges them with reaching the top of a 100-floor high tower and defeat the final boss to log-out again. If you fail, you won't be able to log-out, if you die, you die in the RL as well. 

What I liked so far: Not applicable yet

What I disliked so far: Not applicable yet

GF-Rating: Not applicable yet




Aldnoah.Zero

Episodes out: 2 out of 24

Episodes seen: 2

Watch it here.

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Mars lives! No, for real. When humanity discovered a Warpgate on the moon, the first thing they did was activate it. This, however, triggered a whole population, the Vers Empire to arise from their aeon-long slumber on Mars and take a look what their ancestors on the blue planet are up to. Humanity is a lot like humanity and attacks them, climaxing in a war between the two, that ultimately sees the destruction of the moon.
Since that day, the two sides have remained in "cease-fire". A very frail cease-fire, as both sides are plotting against one another behind closed doors. It is in this "cold war" that a princess from the Mars-fraction visits Earth in a bid for peace...

What I liked so far: The general idea of the story. Having two humanoid species basically vying for the same place to live is an enticing thought-construct. The fact, that the Vers Empire looks down on Humans as a bunch of underdeveloped thugs gives the whole conflict a bit more spice and some of the characters promise to be rather interesting. Also: it is a 24 episode Anime, so there is more time for development.

What I disliked so far: Basically anything else, sadly. While the general idea of the story is enticing, it seems to get pushed into your typical mecha-filler-anime. The good guys and bad guys are clear from the get go and there is only small wiggle-room there. Especially the "bad guys" are as standard as they come and me and my GF are already making bets on their development and endings. Also, there are so many parallels to Gundam, it hurts. Now it is hard to make Mecha-Anime without at least having some similarity to its big predecessor, but the conflict itself seems a bit too much "Humans vs ZAFT" to me. The writing is very hamfisted at times and after a generally enticing first episode was followed by an abyssmal second one.

GF-rating: "Hmm"/10




Argevollen

Episodes out: 2 out of 24

Episodes watched: 2

Watch it here.



Seriously Japan: enough with the pseudo-european names for stuff. It always ends up sounding weird and absolutely nothing that the language you want to portrait would allow semantics-wise.
That aside: damn, you started out fine. 
In a fictional universe, the two nations of Arandas and Ingelmia wage war against each other. Ingelmia wants to invade Arandas because...they are rich? Seriously, that's why. "They are rich and we want to liberate their population from the shackles of not being able to share their richness with the world". I'm not kidding, that's their reasoning.
We cut to a small reconnaisance force not far from the border. The high generals "travel to the capital to devise a counter strategy" (read: flee as hell), leaving the troop consisting mostly of rookies and inexperienced guys to themselves. It is during these unsure times that a young pilot named Tokimune Susumu disobeys an order to leave fleeing civilists to their fate (read: death by severe led-poisoning), manages to wreck his mech and is forced to take control of the Argevollen. An experimental mech with superior moving ability and an all new method of control.

What I liked so far: The story of a big conflict being told from a small standpoint is common trope, but well told here. The logistics of the small group of people are shown pretty well and all in all, this is far more calm and "realistic" than I'd have expected. If you like your mechs agile and quick look elsewhere. Argevollen does a great job of giving them "weight" and mass that has to be moved. The larger they are, the clunkier. Even though the Argevollen can move faster, they applied that rule to it, too, which is awesome. This also makes battles interesting to watch as it is a break from the mecha-traditions that japanese animation followed to this point and feels all in all like a really well written BattleTech-Anime...which I (as an old MechWarrior fan) am more than fine with. The characters make you curious for more and from what I was able to watch so far, there are several characters that have the potential to tip scales in whoever's favor with no side so far being portrayed as "purely evil" or "purely good".

What I disliked so far: Not that much. The art-design won't win any awards though. It's all rather basic and the mech-design isn't really much to look at. Not ugly, but rather unremarkable. Same goes for the 3D animations, that are sadly not tht high in quality but do their job.

GF-rating: "Shiny"/10



Tokyo Ghoul

Episodes out: 2 out of 13? (no info, yet there are 13 volumes of the Manga)

Episodes watched: 2

Watch it here.



Tokyo in the near future. A new sub-species of humans has arisen in the dark corners of the japanese metropole: Ghouls. The catch? They prey on humans to eat them. In comes Ken Kaneki, a high-schooler with a special crush on a girl named Rize. He meets her at a cafe and finally asks her out over the book they both enjoy. Turns out, Rize is a ghoul and rather than making sweet teenage love to Kaneki, wants to feast on his sweet teenage pork-chops. An accident cuts this infortunate accident short, yet both are mortally wounded. The only way for the doctors to save Kaneki is to remove his failing organs and replacing them with those of Rize. From there on, Kaneki's life takes a turn for the rather bizarre, as the world around him seems to change with every step he takes.
I won't spoil more here, but rest assured, there is more to it.

What I liked so far: While Ghouls prey on humans, there is a whole lot more to them. In two episodes, there wasn't that much to see obviously, but they already set an interesting table here, that goes beyond the "humans vs monsters"-trope. This is especially true in Kaneki's encounters with other ghouls.
Aside from that, the art-style is really cool, with a neon-esque emphasis on lighting that reminds one of the cyberpunk-flicks of the eighties or more recent movies like "Drive".

What I disliked so far: Kaneki is a bit of a crybaby and though changes in his demeanor are teased, his resistance against certain things just seems contrary to the normal instinct of survival that makes up a lot of the human psyche Kaneki so desperately clings to.

GF-rating: "Interesting"/10



SABAGEBU! (Survival Games Club)

Episodes out: 2 out of 4 (more planned hopefully)

Episodes watched: 2

Watch it here.



Now this one is odd. Momoka Sanokawa is a transfer student (on a side-note: how many students transfer schools in Anime? Holy crap, it seems Japan's school system is like a giant game of musical chairs). On her first day at the new school, she is instantly conflicted with one of the quirks of Japan's public transit: groping. Another girl helps her out by threatening the guy with two Desert Eagles and ultimately drives him away.
It's later revealed that the girl, Miou Ootori, visits the same school and is president of the "Survival Games Club", a club where five girls engage in Airsoft battles.

What I liked so far: Read the plot again. It's zany as f*** and funny at the same time. The pure idea of this is strange enough (especially considering Japan's REALLY strict laws for firearms) but is presented in such a ridiculous nonchalant fashion that you can't help but love its pastell-y goodness. That aside, there is actually more to the plot than just girls shooting at each other. Stuff like bullying and friendship are in there as well, but never in this "He-Man ending Monologue" kind of way but woven into the general plot. 
The writing is sharp and witty and while certainly not award-winning in quality it's damn funny and in combination with the fast paced animation makes for some really good laughs. Then there's of course the action, and that is the meat and bones of this one. It's choreographed really cool with tons of nods to big action movies. Also, the twist to make it look real, despite saying that it's just the girl's rampant imagination is a cool one that makes the itself tame premise a bit more marketable. Speaking of "marketable", it's really refreshing to see a school-girls-doing-stuff anime that doesn't market itself with cheap fanservice. There's some of it but I was preparing for something much much worse.
In the end, it's an Anime about school girls shooting at each other with Airsoft guns. If you can get behind that go watch it.

What I disliked so far: SABAGEBU! has its roots as a magazine-manga, so the stories themselves a very bite-sized. The Anime follows that structure rather and will give you two - three ministories per episode which can leave someone hoping for a larger, overarching plot hanging in the air.

GF-Rating: WAT?/10


So that's that so far. Anything in there for you? Did you watch any of it and disagree with me? Hit me up with your opinions in the comments Mina-san.   read


8:39 AM on 07.07.2014  

So I played three War-themed games recently...

...and I noticed that they are all different. "Well DUH", some of you might initially say, "every game is different". 
You are right, but the three I played vary so vast in tone that I think now is as good a time as ever to look at those three.

First up is a game I've anticipated since its first announcement trailer rolled around. It looked intriguing, it looked tragic, it looked "WOOF". 




Yes, I'm talking about "Valiant Hearts - The Great War". Interestingly enough, World War I is not a scenario often featured in games. Even with its centennial anniversary right about now, only Valiant Hearts made the jump. The only other notable World War I game I can think of was "Iron Storm", an FPS that played in an alternate timeline, where WWI wasn't decided 1918 but raged on into he 1960s.
But Valiant Hearts.
What's pretty evident is, that this game is absolutely beautiful. The UbiART engine was looking good, when it came to the new Rayman-titles, but absolutely kills it here. Kudos also to the artist that managed to create an interesting art-style that is charming to look at, easy to fall in love with but nevertheless manages to show the uglier sides of that particular war.
And don't you, for a minute, think, that this is your typical war-game. Nuh-uh. VH is a puzzle-platformer, but with an emphasis on puzzling, rather than platforming. Think more "The Cave" and less "Braid".
The game follows four protagonists: Karl, a young German-native, living in Elsass-Lothringen on his farm, with his wife and child. Emile, Karl's father-in-law, an old man. Anna, a young french veterinarian and Freddie, an African-American soldier who fights for the Canadians for very personal reasons. Then of course there's Walt, the Dog. Featured in every trailer, he is the one constant in this world of chaos. 
The story and characters are definitely the strong point here. The art and music of the game do a great job of making us feel for those guys with very little exposition and no dialogue at all. The only clearly spoken words that tell us what's going on are being told to us in between the levels. In there, we only hear fractions of sentences, single words and always in the respective languages (Freddie speaks english, Karl German, Emile French and so on). Mostly, however, you're given a speech bubble with some hint as to what to do.
There is a really great little scene, where you have to throw the right kind of dynamite to an Arab soldier. He speaks his language, you speak yours, both don't really understand each other, yet have to make it work regardless.
This is an underlying theme under the whole game: the chaos, the dissolution of humanity and everything that comes with it...and in all this: you. Some normal guy, as confused by all of this as the rest of the world, trying to get by and to somehow survive this.
It's pretty hard to merge an engaging narrative with an engaging game in a puzzle game. It almost seems as if there's very much narrative with some not-invasive elements (like for example in The Cave) or have Gameplay and Story at two levels which makes them both seem interrupting each other (like Magrunner).
In this case, we have strangely a mix of both. Most of the gameplay is integrated into the scenario rather well and doesn't disturb the flow of the game. In several scenes, however, I felt like the gameplay was there to stretch the time, just to make me do something. I'm not gonna spoil, where that is, but sometimes I just felt like I was doing busywork, not getting on with anything. It's a shame, because usually it works and it works very good.



Game number two on this list is basically the complete opposite of this one. I'm speaking of Sniper Elite 3.




Now I wasn't really too high on this one. I really liked the first game in the series when it arrived in 2005. It was a 3rd-person sniper game with some awesome bullet-physics. You basically ran from point A to point B and sniped there, but the areas for sniping were rather vast (for the time) and you could approach enemies from multiple areas and in different ways.
Then, seven years later, came Sniper Elite v2 and took me by surprise. I mean: was anyone really screaming for a second game in that "franchise"? The first one had its following, sure, I'm one of them, but on the other hand, it was a niche title, even back then and it sold rather poorly. But well, might as well give it a shot...and a collective "MEH" was heard. It looked okay and it introduced the Killcam but it restricted you too much. Gone were the "multiple approaches" of the first one and in came a more "cineastic" experience...which sadly doesn't work well with the Sniper-thingy. The bullet-physics were still there but there was sadly no way to integrate them into this strict corset. 
But apparently it sold okay-ish (mostly methinks to 13-year-olds attracted by the violence) and so, about two weeks ago, Sniper Elite 3 - Afrika came down upon us and what can I say? 
It's great. The best in the series and it shows everyone how a Sniper game should be made. 
What makes the big difference? Two words: Open. Levels. You have an objective and are put on a large map. Everything from there on is up to you. This game is basically everything that Hitman Absolution was not. It's your approach and your approach only. You can rambo your way through or stealth your way through and the best thing: both ways work and both ways are rewarded in their own ways so that you never feel that you played the game "wrong". There are also numerous sidemissions in every mission with a little twist: you have to find them yourselves. 
The Killcam is still there, but it alone gives you more options than many games do in their entirety. You have five levels of how often they came and another five levels of "with what weapon and what kill etc." so that you can cater it to your personal liking. 
The bullet-physics are better than ever and you have to factor in a lot of stuff down to the own quirks of your gun.
There are currently only four rifles in the game but more are announced via DLC + the weapons you have can be customized (with parts you find in game).
Of course not everything is as shiny. The narrative for example is as basic as it gets. One of Hitler's generals has plans for a new "Wunderwaffe" (the P-1000 Ratte....a superheavy tank that, believe it or not, was REALLY planned by the Nazis), go stop them. You won't get much more than that, as this is one of those "gameplay > narrative"- kind of games. Also, as fun and satisfying as the sniping and everything related is, as clunky do the other methods of disposing nazis feel. Assault Rifles in general feel like glorified pea-shooters and of the three pistols, only the Welrod is remotely useful, due to it being the only silenced gun in the whole game.
Another thing is the AI. Now, generally speaking, the AI is pretty good. They react to disturbances accordingly on several levels and gang up on you, seek cover, flank you etc. etc. etc. However, once ONE enemy knows where you are hiding, EVERY enemy in the whole level knows it which seems kinda strange to me. Yet, this forces you to think about how you approach things...which is not what I anticipated in a game that was supposedly all about separating Nazi-testicles from their Nazi-owners via Rifle circumcision.


Now it wouldn't be a complete blog without some curveball of japanese whackyness and luckily, they've got us covered.




In Kantai Collection (or KanColle in short) you command a fleet of World War II era warships who are represented by school-girl persona-like versions of said ships....I'll give you a minute to take this fact in.

Finished? Good. So what is KanColle? It's a free-2-play card-based game with RPG-elements and several multiplayer aspects in a grind-heavy singleplayer game, if you want the basic description. Really, it's not that complicated. You start of with a flagship and some ressources. Soon, you'll find yourself able to compile a fleet, build new ships (or just use the ones you get through combat), research new stuff, etc. 
The catch here is basically the "collect 'em all" mechanic regarding the ships. There are 200 of them, ranging from Destroyers to Battleships and Carriers. The artwork is really well done and creative enough to make you want to collect them all. Who knows? Maybe one day you'll be able to marry your favorite ship, as it levels up enough (seriously, I can't make this stuff up...)
The free-2-play model seems kinda fair so far. It hasn't been a problem to play anything or get anything done until now. Ressources drop in every few minutes or through supply runs and if you're careful enough, you can play this for hours before you run out of things to do for the day. Quests and Daily specials loosen up what sometimes runs dangerously close to formulaic boredom. The basic "Sortie - repair - resupply" rinse and repeat is definitely a thing here and in terms of graphics, you shouldn't expect much. The battles are battles of still-images, wielding their stats at each other. There is, however, some tactic involved when it comes to morale, fatigue, supply, damage etc.
Imagine it more like a management sim: you don't do stuff directly but are able to influence it with your guidance.


So that's the games. Which one is best? I can't honestly say. The way war is depicted in games has changed over the years and in my book, that's a very good thing. At first, I wanted to do a "cross review" until I realized, that these are three games that you can't compare. This starts with something as seemingly simple as the graphics. Which one is best? The creative artwork of KanColle, the wide and detailed landscapes of Sniper Elite 3 or the incredible comic-book style of Valiant Hearts?
Each one of these games is more than worth its money and I can't honestly make a general recommendation.
War is many things and these games each feature some of them: it's chaotic and cruel, it's meticulous down to the smallest part, even in the face of gigantic adversary and it's paperwork....


...and obviously sometimes it's school girls dressed as battleships.   read


3:27 PM on 06.24.2014  

Addendum to the Metal Gear Blog

Since the blog cut of the rest of it, here's part two of my Metal Gear post:




Metal Gear Ac!d & Metal Gear Ac!d 2 (PSP)

From oddity we go to actually freakin’ great oddity. The two Metal Gear Ac!d games are turn-based collectible card games. Yup, you read that right. Snake has a deck of basic cards. Each card has a certain action or usable object applied to it. You can decide to either use it, or to discard a card in exchange for movement. New cards are gained by beating levels and/or spending collected points for booster packs. ALL THAT WITHOUT MICROTRANSACTIONS!!!!!11eleven
The scarcity of ressources, the surprise and gamble on what cards you might draw to replace the used ones in combination with MGS’s trademark stealth-mechanics make each level a nerve-twisting experience. And it will take you some time, because the games are hard. The game won’t wait for you if you didn’t get anything so you better bring your A game all the time. Also the soundtrack was really cool and sounded at times really “Greggson-Williams”-esque without him working on the Ac!d games.
What’s there to criticise? Well, the Ac!d games are definitely meant for a portable. What I mean by that is, that the quality of the single levels is high, but what connects them is more in the background. The stories are nothing special, especially in context of the MGS universe and though they are non-canon I would have wished for something more.

Should you play it? Yup. If you still have your PSP go out now and buy it. They are great games and should keep you entertained for some time. Also play them if you’ve been looking for a turn-based card game with deck-building where you see your actions immediately. There are few games that can make your palms sweatier than a round of MGA, where you only have two movement cards and a flashbang with 20 spaces to go and 5 enemies between you and freedom.




Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus (PSP, PS Vita)

The PSP got its fair share of Metal Gear games and most of them were awesome. This one, not so much. Or let me add to that: outside of Japan not so much. In Japan, the PSP thrived and since Monster Hunter had become a big hit, playing with friends on random strangers on the commuter train became very popular. With no real version of the PSN in place yet, Sony released Portable Ops + as a StandAlone expansion of Portable Ops. The mechanics of Portable Ops were great for Multiplayer-Action, however, the storymode from the original Portable Ops was not implemented, leaving Single-Player focussed people (like me), or people outside of Japan who basically never ran into someone who happened to have a PSP with Portable Ops + in it somewhat out in the rain. It was more Portable Ops, but without its story, it somewhat lost its appeal rather quick.

Should you play it? If you have three friends with a PSP and PO+ (or a Vita and the game from PSN), sometimes, otherwise, steer clear. There are better ways to scratch that particular Metal Gear itch, even on the go.




Metal Gear Solid Touch (iOS)

It’s a rail-shooter, based on MGS4 stages were you tap on the screen to shoot stuff, can’t move freely (let’s not even speak of...hm...sneaking?) and get the story of MGS4 presented in short text windows and with way more holes in it than even my recollection of it.

Should you play it? Should you eat a nice Tablespoon of Hydrochloric Acid? That some people do it, doesn’t mean you should.




Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (Gamecube)

While not technically “non-canon”, this game changed up the original Metal Gear Solid in some ways. For one, the gameplay was adapted to the one of MGS2, meaning you could for example aim from the first person perspective. In addition, the graphics were completely re-worked using MGS2’s engine. Also, legendary japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura (of Godzilla Final Wars and Versus fame (seriously, if you haven’t seen Versus stop everything you’re doing and go watch this movie) took it up to himself to rewrite and rework the cutscenes of the game morphing them into an absolutely over-the-top action flick. Some of the voice-acting also got a rework and watching over the development of this was a Tag-Team of Hideo Kojima and Shigeru Miyamoto. Developed was this by Silicon Knights, back when they were actually a decent developer, having released Eternal Darkness on the Gamecube.

Should you play it? I think yes, however, the new style in the cutscenes is something that doesn’t sit well with everyone. If you’ve played the original MGS and want to play it again, give it a shot. If you haven’t, check one of the cutscenes on youtube to decide for yourself.
This is especially important since Twin Snakes is one of the rarer GC games and can get rather pricey.




Metal Gear Online (PS3)

It was a multiplayer component of MGS4. The graphics were okay, the progression system actually encouraged you to take up “someone your own size” and not picking on low-level players, yet the reception was mixed as the gameplay itself doesn’t translate well to the Multiplayer dimension.

Should you play it? Doesn’t matter. The servers got shut down recently.




Metal Gear Arcade (Arcade)

This is basically a reworked version of MGO, fit for an Arcade-machine. It’s a Lightgun-Shooter that features free movement and 4 Player CoOp against CPU opponents. Added bonus: stereoscopic 3D.

Should you play it? I seriously don’t know. The game never made its way to the west since Arcades are basically dead here and I haven’t been fortunate enough to have visited Nippon myself. Looks kinds fun, but nothing special. Maybe for a round or two.




Metal Gear Solid: Social Ops (Android, iOS)

*Sigh* it had to come that far, didn’t it? Let me make it short, but very, very painful: MGS: SO is a free-to-play, mobile-only collectible card game.

Should you play it? Again: no idea. This game is currently Japan-only and being out there for nearly two years now (launched in December 2012), I don’t see it making the transition. It doesn’t look to exciting though and seems to have some artificial difficulty spikes (read: pay-walls).

So, now I think I’ve given y’all a rather good overview over what is probably my favorite gaming franchise. I started playing it, when I was 8 and I’m still in love.
This is kind of why I’m a bit anxious of The Phantom Pain. Not because I fear, that it’s gonna be a bad game. If Ground Zeroes and the gameplay video are any indication, that’s not gonna happen.
No, I’m anxious, because it’s a very big story arc happening here. “Venom awakens”. We will witness Big Boss’ fall from grace to the person who was a funding member of the Patriots. A hero who never wanted to be one. And there are not many more stories to tell for Big Boss or Solid Snake. We’ve seen a lot and while MGR continues on the lore of the games (and in an awesome way btw.) the stories of those two grizzled veterans, relics even in their own times, will always be in my mind and heart. It made me sit down for four days to write this blog. Even without videos, without pictures and without formatting, it's 28 A4 pages of text.

To sum up my feelings:

  read


3:13 PM on 06.24.2014  

Metal Gear: A chronology of events + what this franchise means to me



[left]The annual videogame trade show-extraordinnaire E3 has come and gone and while this one missed the "BAM" impact of the past years, this was an E3 that was focused far more on the games than on some crappy gimmicks noone really asked for.

It was on that very E3 that Metal Gear Solid V - The Phantom Pain got increased attention, because it provided us with more than an outro at the end of a demo. By now I've seen the trailer about 15 times and I'm really curious about the gameplay demo that's to be released today.
This seems like the perfect timing to talk about Metal Gear.
A series, that, while surely being polarizing, managed to stay around for 26 years now. It would legally be allowed to drink (and in the following stand on the table, strip naked to make a point and then pass out on the neighbor's lawn, wearing bikini and a sombrero).
Aside from the obvious candidates like Mario, Lucasarts adventures etc. I can say, that this is the series that has been a mainstay in my life, from its earliest iteration to the latest magnum opus. Snake (and thus Big Boss) has become someone I know, someone I care about. The Metal Gear series has not been perfect but it nevertheless always manages to amaze me. Snake Eater is especially guilty of that. I finished it four times (PS2, PS3, 360, 3DS) and I'm seriously planning to get the version for the Vita as well. Something about this game is just mesmerizing, pulling you in.
It's not even just the general storyline, that foots itself on real dilemma to make the whacky plot seem awfully authentic and somewhat frightening. It's not just the awesome bosses, that are built up perfectly with own personalities and conflicts. Sometimes they don't want to fight you and you don't want to fight them, yet it is inevitable. I know I'm beating a rather worn out drum here, but the sniper duel vs "The End" in MGS3 is the best Bossfight ever. Period. Nothing ever came close to the tension I felt while sneaking through the grass, looking for hints...a bird's cry, the slightest movement of grass against the direction of wind. My neckhairs were literally standing up the whole time and after emerging victorious I felt a great deal of triumph...and sadness, because the end of The End was inscenated rather touching. I also noted that it took me two hours of non-stop gameplay (without being "killed" mind you).
What really took me in, however, was just how much love Kojima-san and his team of people put into this game. It's a lot of little details that just make you smile, even if you didn't discover them. Some examples? Ok.

-The fact, that you have to unplug your controller in the real world and stick it into port 2 on the original PSX to beat Psycho Mantis

-You can avoid the Sniper Battle in MGS3...in two ways. You can snipe him in a very short time window rather early in the game or you can adjust the time settings of your console. 100 years in the future and The End has died from old age.

-Annoyed by the wolves in MGS1? Equip the cardboard box and sit under it for some minutes. A wolf will come, sniff and mark it as his territory. Voila, you can move through them unharmed.

There is a lot of other stuff to discover, but I think I made my point.

So yeah, go out there and buy those games. Play them. Love them. I admit that I wasn't too fond of them at first. The introductions tend to take a tad to long and the frequent codec-talks, while written neatly, are killing any kind of flow the game was about to develop. But once you get past that hump, you are pulled into a story that spans multiple generations of consoles almost back to the start. And in doing so it managed to pull less fabricated clusterfucks than Resident Evil did mind you.

If you, however, for some reason I cannot possibly imagine have never played a game in the series before and plan to dive straight into The Phantom Pain without any previous knowledge, let me get you up to speed. Because if you play it on its own, I guess you would be rather confused. Who is Kaz? What about that Chico guy? Why should I care about this girl who got a bomb stuck up her vagoo?

Grab a drink and let me tell you the story of Metal Gear (and grab a toothbrush, this will take some time).




Metal Gear Solid 3 - Snake Eater (PS2, PS3, PSVita, Xbox 360, 3DS)

The year is 1964 and the Cold War is reaching its height. Cuba was put on the map by the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 which ended just moments before someone did something incredibly stupid that would have put the world to the justice of nuclear annihilation.
Jump to a freightplane somewhere over the vast gigantic woods that cover a big part of Siberia. A grumpy man sits in his seat, smoking, deep in thoughts he ignores the pleas to reason that someone makes to him. This grumpy man is only known as Snake. Part of some group of especially trained super-soldiers. We get to know that the Cuban Missile Crisis was real, but the reasons it got dissolved were far less pleasing actually and ended with the surrender of a defected soviet missile-engineer back to Russia by the US. However, due to some personal links, you are tasked with bringing him back after prying him free from the clutches of the soviet colonel Volgin (basically a buff version of Megavolt from Darkwing Duck). Of course not you alone. Your mentor and leader of the special unit "The Boss" is there to provide backup with your brethren. So you jump with not a care in the world.
Of course it's not all going as smoothly as planned. A young soviet upstart makes his appearance; a cocky guy who happens to have his own special unit, the Ocelots. Barely escaping him (because of a crucial mistake Ocelot makes during his show-of-sessions), you make it to the checkpoint, only to be greeted by your mentor...and Colonel Volgin. You were betrayed and as a result shot, thrown down a bridge and nuked. Though you survived and even managed to be rescued, not all is well. The soviets are understandably curious, what an American special-ops unit is doing so far into soviet territory. Especially since they were dealing with Volgin, who, as we learn, plans to usurp the system by himself. To achieve that means he already gathered a lot of military forces and some sort of weapon. Nobody knows how he achieved that or how he managed to gather the ressources. All they know is: shit is about to hit the fan because the russian premier has no options than to mobilize his troops to keep face.
With the great premise of "succeed or the world as we know it will end as a giant pressure cooker" you are thrown into the great motherland again...to extract the scientist Sokolov, manipulate whatever superweapon they might have and of course kill your mentor since she defected.
The stakes are not high enough? The superweapon named "Shagohod" proves itself to be a rocket-powered giant tank, capable of all terrain movement and propelling otherwise small missiles to such altitudes and velocity that, stationed in the right area, it could easily attack any target in the world. Also The Boss' old unit is out to get you, Ocelot has caught wind of you being there (working for Volgin comes with its privileges) and a female agent that throws up more questions than she answers. She also is your only ally in this situation (the guy who gives you all the exposition on the Shagohod doesn't count) as the rest of the team is only available via radio.
Despite a lot of obstacles you make it to Groznyj Grad; the facility where Volgin holds Sokolov and the Shagohod (which has yet to befinished). You infiltrate the base and try to manipulate the Shagohod. Unfortunately, you get captured and have to Witness Sokolov's death by Volgin's electrocharged hands. Directly afterwards it's your time for "testimony", yet Snake decides it's more important to protect EVA's identity as she is the only one to truly help you out. She defected herself from the NSA to the KGB, only to be working for the CIA now once again. Snake happens to survive the interrogation though not completely unharmed. He lost an eye and was severely injured.
Ultimately, he manages to escape and eliminate the last one of your old colleagues. Of course Volgin isn't too happy about that and tries to stop you, first by himself, afterwards with help from the Shagohod itself. Snake triumphes and Volgin is killed (ironically) by a bolt of lightning.
All is well that ends well? Not really, as Snake learns the REAL reason why he was sent to the USSR: The "Philosopher's Legacy". The Philosophers was a joint-venture by the most influential men from the United States, The Soviet Union and China who from the shadows pulled the strings of the world. After World War II, however, they argued about the further cooperation and ultimately dissolved. Their "Legacy" stayed untouched where it was: 100 Billion USD hidden on dozens of bank accounts around the world. Volgin got a hold of it and thus was able to fund his little "l'Etat c'est moi"-plan.
Aside from being a wee bit discouraged by all of this, there is still one unsolved issue. One Snake faces alone: the final confrontation with his mentor, the Boss. He doesn't want to kill her, she doesn't want to kill him. She did all this, so that forces unaware of the Legacy would do everything in their ability to ensure a mission that could result in the US having control over it again. She is a hero, who nevertheless has to die a traitor's death to ensure that the mission is fulfilled...proving that the US was innocent in the nuke attack from the beginning. The fight ends with one of my biggest magic moments in gaming. Snake towers over a defeated Boss, her "Patriot" in hand, aiming for her head. The wind blows softly, the white flowers shake ever so slightly...and all that is left to do is pull the trigger one last time.
Afterwards, EVA and Snake manage to escape to Alaska. On the flight there, they are ambushed by Ocelot once more (who's real name is Adam btw...just fyi). Arriving safely at an Alaskan Safehouse, Snake and EVA spend the night together. The next morning, Snake finds nothing but a tape revealing, that EVA was not a double agent...but a triple agent. For the Chinese. The defection to the KGB was stated by the chinese so she could be contacted again and in terms, secure the Philosopher's Legacy for China.
Disillusioned, he makes the trip to Washington, where he is awarded two things: the Distinguished Service Medal and the title "Big Boss" (because you know...he defeated THE Boss so he is more bossy than her). He is also witness to the founding of the FOX unit, a special-ops unit which at that special point consists of him, Major Zero, SigInt (your Codec equipment-expert) and Paramedic (your field-medic and movie-buff). All of this doesn't really faze him, as his way leads him directly to Arlington cemetary, where he lays down The Boss' gun and a bouquet of lillies at an anonymous grave, before saluting her and shedding  single tear.
The credits roll, but this is not the end of the journey as we are witness to a telephone call between Ocelot and a man. A man who is noone else than the director of the CIA. Ocelot was in fact ADAM, the other agent Snake was supposed to meet. Also, Ocelot reveals, that the data EVA stole for the Chinese was fake and the he had triple crossed everyone to get a hold of it himself, dividing it in equal parts to the US and the USSR.




Metal Gear Solid - Portable Ops (PSP)

It only took six years for stuff to get really bad again. Big Boss/Naked Snake wasn't into all that secret CIA-stuff anyway, so FOX disbands and Boss goes rogue. Not in the mood to just let him walk, the CIA and some rogue FOX agents decide to go after Snake and catch him. A Lieutenant by the name of Cunningham succeeds in doing so and captures and torments him to find out about the missing half of the Philosopher's Legacy. Snake awakes in a cell next to a rather chatty guy named Roy Campbell. Campbell tells Snake that they are in an abandoned soviet missile-complex in Colombia.
Working together they manage to get out and to relative safety. Snake tries to contact Major Zero to know what exactly is going on but all he gets are some infos from SigInt and Paramedic which altogether don't look to bright. Snake and Zero are charged with treason. Snake doesn't really like that outlook and luckily, there is a loophole he could exploit. Finding the leader of a group of FOX renegades and kill him. This guy, however, is called Gene and he is not an unambitious type. He wants to launch some nukes at the USSR and leave just enough information for the soviets to link it to the CIA over some corners. Thus, their secret plans would be revealed and FOX didn't have to be in hiding anymore. To get a hold of the necessary ingredients for his plan (nukes, launchers, manpower etc.) he inserts himself into a soviet missile base, inserting himself and his loyal FOX members directly into the chain of command (read: killing the incumbents and taking their identities).
So now it's two versus a truckload of angry russians. Neither Roy nor Snake like their odds, so they start recruiting soldiers from the enemy's ranks to help them in their attack on Gene and his Doom Fortress.
During this hostile takeover, Snake comes in contact with several former FOX members. They all meet their untimely ends, but not without providing Snake with some rather...curious information. Like: Gene's plan? It was actually a fake. Cunningham (working for the Pentagon) wanted to push Snake into this mission so that Snake in succession pushes Gene to launch the nuke at the Soviet Union. Gene, however, was aware to that the whole time since he already got his info from a rather reliable source by the name of Ocelot. His original plan was to launch a nuke at the US to destroy the Philosophers. After that was achieved he wanted to found "Army's Heaven", a nation of soldiers. Equipped with an experimental model of the buglike Metal Gear codenamed RAXA, he attacks Snake who is able to destroy it, kill Gene and destroy the real RAXA afterwards. In his dying, Gene gives all information, funds, etc. regarding "Army's Heaven" to Snake.
Being cleared of the charge of treason, Snake makes his way home, where he founds FOXHOUND.
In some other place, Ocelot steps into action again, killing the Director of Central Intelligence and acquiring information about the identities and whereabouts of the Philosophers. He seems rather hellbent to "end them". Snakes actions actually made Ocelot's job easier, as he had originally planned to blackmail the DCI into giving him said documents by manipulating the trajectory data of the Nuke.
Now he is equipped with rather sensitive data and  mystery-employer who starts a new project...in which Snake is to participate without his direct knowledge.




Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP, PSVita, PS3, Xbox 360)[/left]
[left] 
1974. The Vietnam war is nearing its end, yet the cold war is far from over. Having inherited basically everything from Gene's former pet-project "Army's Heaven", Snake decides to found his own mercenary force. "Militaires sans frontieres"...Soldiers without borders. Snake wants his operation to be free from ideological tug-o-war thus the name and philosophy behind it. While he is the boss (pun intended) of the organization, Kaz Miller, a good friend, is his right hand man and does a lot of the organizational stuff for Snake.
One day, they are approched by a man named Ramon Galvez Mena and his student Paz Ortega Andrade. Mena introduces himself as a professor at the university of peace and asks Snake for help. An army of unknown origin has invaded large parts of Costa Rica and is planning...something. Nothing further is known because they keep themselves hidden pretty well. Costa Rica itself can't strike back, because its constitution forbids the formation of an army.
However, Snake isn't fooled so easily. He correctly uncovers Mena as a KGB-agent who then reveals that the Soviet union wanted to take Costa Rica for themselves, to start an anti-American rebellion in Middle-America, thus a) securing ground right next to the USA and b) getting the CIA funded drug-plantations under control to secure a not-so-small flow of income from trafficking.
This of course collides with MSF's basic premise and Snake declines. Enter Paz and a Walkman...with a voice recording of "The Boss" on it. THE The Boss...the woman Snake himself shot in the head ten years prior. Disheveled, he and MSF make for Costa Rica and an abandoned off-shore oil-rig. They name it "Mother Base" and make their home, which is to expand very soon.
Venturing into Costa Rica, Snake soon stumbles over nuclear warheads. With the help of the Sandinista, a local guerilla-group he tracks them to a secret base where he meets a scientist named Huey Emmerich. Being horrified by what his creation is about to be used for, Emmerich entrusts Snake with the secrets of his work. A CIA-Agent named Hot Coldman wants to launch a nuke towards the USSR to prove the effectiveness of Emmerichs project codenamed "Peace Walker". Peace Walker is, well, a walker capable of firing nuclear warheads. Snake doesn't initially get why all this is necessary, so Emmerich enumerates, that in his opinion, nuclear deterrence is a flawed concept. By that concept, no one would actually fire a nuke because of massive redemption which would in terms also consist of a nuclear counter-attack. However, if Side A launched a nuclear attack, they could target the nuclear facilities of Side B, or important other sites. Therefore there would be complete chaos on Side B and maybe the counter would never come. Side A would have won, deterrence would have failed. Emmerich then hypothesizes, that an independent launch unit, controlled by a highly advanced AI could eliminate that danger by circumventing the human element.
Sadly, details regarding the Walker itself are all he has, as someone named "Dr. Strangelove" is in control of the AI development.
Snake travels further into the Costa Rican jungle and finally is able to find "Dr. Strangelove" who is none other than (you guessed it) our former partner and movie-buff Paramedic.
Paramedic isn't to pleased to see Snake again. In her opinion, killing The Boss was wrong. She revealed that she designed Peace Walker's AI to mirror The Boss, thus the voice Snake heard on tape. Snake, however, isn't willing to give out information about whether The Boss really defected to the Soviet Union (which we all know she has not) going as far as to torture Snake for said infos.
Snake manages to escape his captors and heads for the Peace Walker facility where he fails to destroy it. He goes on to chase it across the Nicaraguan border to Lake Cocibolca, where the U.S. has a secret base. To some degree of surprise, the base has already been overrun by Soviet forces, led by the guy Snake just recently got to know: Ramon Galvez Mena, or as he calls himself now: Vladimir Zadornov.
Of course, Zadornov wants to capture the Peace Walker for the Soviet Union, yet Coldman is not too fond of it. This standoff is rather shortlived, as MSF, reinforced by the Sandinistas, storms the base to help the grizzled veteran. This gives Snake enough time and distraction to seemingly destroy Peace Walker and end this feud. As you can imagine, it isn't quite over yet. Zadornov is captured and Coldman is wounded, but in his dying moments, Coldman activates Peace Walker's data uplink. Peace Walker starts to warn NORAD of an incoming nuclear attack, that in reality isn't coming. However, NORAD thinks so and readies its own nukes for a retaliatory strike in spite of Snake's pleas for reason. It is in these moments, that the The Boss' personality element in Peace Walker's damaged AI takes over and uses its last energy to drown the remains of Peace Walker in the lake, thus cutting the datalink and eliminating the "danger". We are not out of the woods yet, as word arrives that Zadornov has escaped. Snake deduces that it's not possible to have escaped from MSF without help. Ultimately, none other than Paz Ortega comes out as Zadornov's little helper. The plan was for them to seize control of Metal Gear ZEKE, the bipedal walker MSF was constructing under Snake's and Emmerich's tutelage on Mother Base.
Paz reveals that she was working for Major Zero all along, offering an ultimatum: surrender ZEKE to Major Zero or she will use ZEKE to fire a nuclear warhead at America. This would of course result in MSF being categorized as a terror-organisation with access to nukes, putting them against basically the whole world.
Naturally, Snake declines and a fight breaks out in which Snake is able to cripple ZEKE enough to ensure no nuke can be fired. During the fight, Paz is catapulted into the sea and disappears.
It ends with Snake reconciling about The Boss which finally leads him to accept his title of Big Boss. He furthermore concludes, that Major Zero will not react well to the news and brand them terrorists either way, so he tells his men that a war for survival is ahead and names the base "Outer Heaven".




Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

Retaliation came as they expected. Only a few months after what was dubbed the "Peace Walker Incident", the UN demands to inspect MSF to see whether or not they'd be capable of launching a nuclear attack. This is obviously a trap by Major Zero (or Cipher, as he goes by now) but there is not really anything they can do about it. Meanwhile in Cuba, MSF agents discover hints, that Paz Ortega might still be alive. Even worse: Chico, a Sandinista Child Soldier and good acquintance of Snake's, tried to rescue her himself and got captured as well in something known as "Camp Omega". Immediately Snake sets out to rescue both of them. Chico because he thinks he owes him that much, Paz, because it would give them a certain leverage over Cipher.
Snake manages to infiltrate Camp Omega and rescue Chico, though Paz is nowhere to be found. Chico claims that she was dead and hands him a recording to prove it, though Snake and Kaz think that she was only moved further into the complex. Meanwhile a strange organization named XOF makes its way out of Camp Omega.
Snake advances into the higher security areas of the camp and finally manages to find Paz. He extracts her and makes his way "home" by helicopter. Chico discovers, that Paz has a bomb in her gut and that there's definitely not enough time to wait until they are at Mother Base to operate it out, so an impromptu operation has to take place. Snake and a medic are successful in extracting and neutralizing the bomb when they arrive at Mother Base. However, they arrive in the midst of battle; the UN inspection was a ruse as XOF forces instantly opened fire and attacked Mother Base.
The helicopter can land barely long enough for Snake to extract a gravely wounded Kaz and then make it's escape. Paz recovers her consciousness, only to tell Snake that there is another bomb in her... He doesn't get more than the vague hint as Paz hurls herself out of the heli to save them all. It's in vain though, as the blast from the bomb inside her shakes the helicopter out of control and makes it collide with a pursuing XOF vehicle.
Kaz, Snake and Emmerich are listed as the only survivors, MSF is no more. While Emmerich's Fate remains unknown, Kaz and Snake are cared for by medical staff in what seems to be a series of emergency measures.
Yet, not all is resolved. We see a last glimpse of Paz, before she was rescued. The leader of XOF, a heavily scarred guy named Skull Face wants to know the location of Major Zero, which she ultimately surrenders.
It took Snake nine years to awake from his coma.




Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS3, PS4, 360, Xbox One)

This is where we are now. 1984. Snake awakes from his coma. But even that is not the end as the adventures of Big Boss are far from over...




Metal Gear (MSX 2, Commodore 64, PC, PS2, PS3, PSVita, Xbox 360, mobile phones)

The year is 1995. The U.S discovers, that somewhere in South Africa, the state of "Outer Heaven" is constructing a superweapon. FOXHOUND can't let that happen so easily, so its leader Big Boss sends Gray Fox to infiltrate that state and destroy the superweapon. However, contact is lost after a short message from Gray Fox that only said "METAL GEAR..."
Being rather curious, Big Boss sends his newest Accolade, a guy by the name of Solid Snake into the heart of Outer Heaven to find out what's actually going on. On site he makes contact with a local guerilla group who helps him in rescuing Gray Fox who is still alive. Fox explains to Snake that Outer Heaven was indeed working on a bipedal model of Metal Gear, that was more than a mobile nuclear launch site but also equipped to engage in regular combat. Outer Heaven has also some lofty goals in store, wanting to use Metal Gear for its way to world domination. Snake decides to stop this injustice. To this end he manages to rescue Metal Gear's lead engineer Dr. Pettrovich Madnar and his daughter Ellie. Equipped with the knowledge of how to disable Metal Gear Snake wants to make his way there but Big Boss orders him to call off the mission and return home. Snake disobeys the order and takes on Outer Heaven's forces. In the end he is successful in destroying Metal Gear and makes his way out of the compound. However, he makes acquintance with the leader of the mercenaries....who is none other than (you might have already guessed it at this point) Big Boss himself. Big Boss sent Snake into Outer Heaven, hoping that the rookie would be captured and fed wrong intel to the authorities thus diverting their attention from Big Boss who in terms would help Outer Heaven become the world's greatest superpower.
Without Metal Gear, however, this goal is far from achievable, so Big Boss activates the base's self-destruct and challenges Snake to a fight. Snake prevails and is able to escape Outer Heaven just in time to see it crumble. Believing himself victorious, Snake makes his way home as we see Big Boss, swearing to see Solid Snake again.




Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (MSX 2, mobile phones, PS2, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360)

The year is 1999 and a major oil crisis has the world in its claws (well, Kojima was just a few years early with his prediction on that, wan't he?). Rescue comes in the form of OILIX, a synthetic algae that can produce the necessary hydrocarbons to power engines, courtesy of czech scientist Dr. Kio Marv. This is a great invention, so naturally, someone captures Dr. Marv to keep this invention all to himself. In this case it's the relatively young nation of Zanzibarland, small central asian republic that just two years prior to the events gained its independence. Zanzibarland wants to hold the monopoly to OILIX which would make them incredibly powerful. In addition they acquired several nuclear warheads which were actually meant to be dismantled.
FOXHOUND, now under the lead of a certain Roy Campbell (now where have we heard that name before?), bring Solid Snake back from retirement and send him into Zanzibarland to rescue Dr. Marv and thwart their plans.
He doesn't have to go alone, however, as Dr. Marv's bodyguard and a female CIA agent disguised as a reporter accompany him on his task. They are not the only company Snake gets as he meets a familiar face, Dr. Madnar from before. Madnar reveals, that he was captured again to design an updated, improved version of the first Metal Gear, codenamed Metal Gear D, as well as smaller, non-nuclear Metal Gear combat-units. More important, however, is the fact, that Madnar reveals, that Big Boss is very well alive and runs the show in Zanzibarland.
Shortly afterwards, the party is attacked by Metal Gear D, piloted by none other than Gray Fox. Dr Marv's bodyguard is killed during the attack and Dr. Madnar gets aptured once again. Angered by this twist of fate Snake sets out towards Zanzibarlands heart and manages to get to the prison where Dr. Marv is supposedly held. Sadly, he is already dead, as he was tortured to death by Dr. Madnar. Madnar was sick of being shunned by the scientific community, so he actually volunteered to design the new Metal Gear for Big Boss.
After taking care of Madnar, Snake searches for Gray Fox and Metal Gear D and finds both of them. He fights and destroys Metal Gear D, before he takes on Gray Fox. Since both aren't well equipped and finding themselves in the middle of a minefield, they carry out their fight hand-to-hand.
Having defeated Gray Fox, Snake encounters Big Boss again. Using a make-shift flamethrower (lighter + aerosol can) he manages to defeat Big Boss once and for all.




Metal Gear Solid (PSX, PS3, PS Vita)[/left]
[left]
Ha, in 2005 Roy Campbell has made it a colonel. That’s cool, because we know, he’s still alive. It’s not so cool because he is the one who forces Solid Snake out of retirement AGAIN. This time, however, the case at hand has an undeniable personal link: FOXHOUND has gone rogue under the “guidance” of a mercenary who calls himself “Liquid Snake” and captured a secret military facility in the (sigh) Fox Archipelago. Their demands? Nothing as plebeian as money or politics, but the crispy dead remains of Big Boss. If this demand isn’t met, FOXHOUND promises nuclear retaliation which they are capable of, having captured Shadow Moses and with it METAL GEAR REX.
So Snake once again binds his trusty bandana, packs his trusty cigarettes and rasps up his voice to infiltrate an arctic base.
Shortly after his arrival he comes upon an imprisoned man named Donald Anderson, chief of the DARPA. Anderson can tell Snake about the Metal Gear REX and how to disable it but suffers a rather sudden heart attack and dies. Not all is in vain though, as Meryl Silverburgh, Campbell’s niece (at this point at least...) manages to escape and help us do the same.
The meetings aren’t over as Snake also meets ArmsTech boss Kenneth Baker who gives Snake a PAL card containing the REX deactivation code Anderson spoke of. Apparently he caught whatever got Anderson as Baker too succumbs to a heart attack shortly after giving SNake the information.
Knowing what to do Snake sets out toward the hangar but is cut off by someone who we know pretty good: Revolver Ocelot. At this point there’s not much Snake can do about him and the only thing saving him is a Cyber Ninja, slicing of Ocelot’s lower right arm.
Snake continues his way inward, being told by Meryl to seek out a certain doctor Hal “Otacon” Emmerich, the designer of REX. Vulcan Raven tries to prevent Snake from doing so, but his modified tank is disposed of rather quickly. Luckily, Otacon is willing to help and goes off to do so. Meanwhile, Snake and Meryl reunited and decided to go on together. A short-lived alliance, as Meryl gets “posessed” by the psychic powers of Psycho Mantis who orders her to kill Snake. The latter, however, gains the upper hand and is able to kill Psycho Mantis in the process.
Meryl isn’t out of the woods yet, as Sniper Wolf sees her as a good targeting practice / bait for Snake. It goes as she planned: she wounds Meryl, Snakes rushes to her help, Sniper Wolf incapacitates and captures Snake.
This time being imprisoned involuntarily, Snake has to face Liquid, who has a shocking revelation for him: they are twins. Liquid then goes on torturing Snake and throwing him back in a cell, where Snake discovers the body of DARPA chief Anderson. However, he is far more decomposed and drained than his only quite recent passing would allow.
Being able to escape his cell, Snake again sets out to destroy REX. Neither Liquid in his Hind, nor Sniper Wolf can stop him (which leaves Otacon griefstricken as he had a thing or two for the lady).
Next up is Vulcan Raven who wants to despose of Snake this time in person. Naturally, he fails this task, but has time to tell Snake that the Anderson he saw decomposed was the real one and the one he talked to was a FOXHOUND recon-specialist by the name of Decoy Octopus, before facing a grizzly death at the beaks of a flock of ravens.
Infiltrating the Hangar, Snake is able to insert the PAL card into REX. Having thought he disarmed it, Snake activates REX, only to find it fully operational.
Liquid chimes in, telling Snake that he had manipulated the whole operation the whole time and that this is just the justification he needs to launch the nuke.
He continues to extrapolate their intertwined past. The US government wanted clones of Big Boss, to not lose his abilities in case of his untimely demise. The “Les enfants terrible”-project was born.  Only two of Big Boss’ offsprings survived, Solid Snake and Liquid Snake, of whom Solid got all the dominant genes, while Liquid was left with the recessive ones.
Also, the true reason Snake was sent on this mission was, that he was once part of FOXHOUND. Every member got injected with a Virus called FoxDie that would kill them all off sooner or later. They hoped that the prolonged fighting on Shadow Moses would erase all former FOXHOUNDs and thus enable them to take REX back undamaged.
Liquid then jumps into REX and tries to attack Snake, yet the mysterious Cyber Ninja, who is none other than Gray Fox, manages to destroy REX’ radome before being crushed by said machine. In the ensuing battle Snake manages to destroy REX before going hand-to-hand with Liquid on REX’ roof.  Snake seemingly wins the battle by knocking Liquid off of Rex.  
After the win Snake reunites with Meryl (or Otacon?..who knows, who knows...) to escape the base. However, Liquid is not quite dead yet and chases the two through a tunnel. The inevitable happens and the two partie’s vehicles crash. Liquid is faster to recover than Snake and pulls a gun on him, only to die of FoxDie before he could fire the shot. Snake is then hailed by Campbell, who tells him that he was just able to cancel a nuclear strike on the whole area to get rid of evidence. He had to pronounce Snake dead in the process, however, so he can’t return to his official job.
But what happened to Ocelot? Well, we get to know that he was a double agent for none other than the US president himself to acquire the REAL PAL card for REX. Ocelot also reveals that is was indeed not Solid who got the dominant genes, but Liquid and that thus Snake would soon succumb to FoxDie.




Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2, PS3, PS Vita, PC, Xbox, Xbox 360)

Two years after the events of Shadow Moses, Snake finds himself in a quarry again. A freight ship with surprisingly strong security and much more draft than it should have spawns the interest of Snake and Otacon, now with the non-government organization Philanthropy. Word got out that the US Marines might be working on a Metal Gear variant of their own, since the plans for the “original” one had made their way to the black market and were sold to the highest bidder.
Their intuition was right as just after Snake enters the tanker, a russian mercenary-force under the command of a Colonel Gurlukovich hijacks the ship. Among the aggressors are Gurlukovich’s daughter Olga and none other than Ocelot himself. His right arm is back, though, thanks to the fact that he had the missing limb replaced with Liquid’s lower right arm.
After facing off against Olga, Snake quickly heads towards the main storage, where the new Metal Gear, an Anti-Metal Gear unit codenamed RAY is supposedly held (in combination with a big unit of supremely unaware Marines).
Ocelot does what he does best and backstabs his allies, killing Gurlukovich as well as the Marine commander. Snake chimes in as Ocelot is about to hijack RAY, but it’s too late, as Liquid takes over Ocelot and boots up RAY anyway, escaping and sinking the ship (with Snake on it) in the process.

Two years pass. An off-shore clean-up facility named “Big Shell” is held captive by a terror-organization who call themselves the “Sons of Liberty”. Notable about this operation is the guy who claims to be their leader...a man who calls himself “Solid Snake”. Also, backup is provided by a colourful group of special-powered soldiers called “Dead Cell”, ironically an Anti-Terror Unit. Also, one of their hostages is the president of the United States. They, of course, threaten to blow up the facility and the president with it.
FOXHOUND gets another reboot and this time sends in a young man we get to know as Raiden. Having barely escaped the hell that was the Liberian civil war and being at some point a child soldier himself, this young man certainly has his own package to bear. He is accompanied by a team of Navy SEALs and via Codec he stays in contact with Colonel Campbell and his girlfriend Rosemary.
Naturally the plan fails big time. The whole SEAL team is killed within minutes of its arrival on Big Shell, courtesy of two Dead Cell members: Fortune, a Railgun-wielding woman with a supernatural knack for having Bullets pass her by instead of hitting her, and Vamp, Romanian knife-throwing expert who also happens to have vampire-like abilities (which basically makes him any angsty teenager’s wet-drem and rolemodel). Only two guys seem to survive the attack: Iroquis Plisskin, a grittled veteran, and Peter Stillman, a bomb expert who happened to be the instructor of another Dead Cell member: Fatman, a roller-blading, slightly obese explosives nut with a hunch for complex bombing.
The rest of Big Shell seems to be patrolled by russian mercenaries, who happen to be the one from the tanker-incident two years earlier. They are commanded by Olga Gurlukovich, who still mourns her father but blames Solid Snake for it, as she is unaware of Ocelot’s betrayal.
Shortly afterwards, Stillman is killed by one of Fatman’s contraptions, but manages to warn Raiden just in time for him to disarm another bomb, that would sink an important part of Big Shell. Raiden (after a short run-in with Fortune and Vamp) confronts and kills Fatman and makes a pact with Plisskin to evacuate the civilians on Big Shell.
They are, however, interrupted by the leader of the Sons of Liberty, the man who calls himself Solid Snake, who is accompanied by Vamp in a Harrier Jet. Plisskin and Raiden manage to wreck the Harrier which is caught in its descent by none other that Metal Gear RAY. “Snake” and Vamp use Plisskin’s and Raiden’s surprise to escape once more. Plisskin then reveals himself to be the REAL Solid Snake and asks Otcon to help them locate the president.
Shortly afterwards, Raiden manages to locate the president who has some inconvenient revelations to make. For one, Big Shell is just a cover-up for another Metal Gear, called Arsenal Gear. Special bout Arsenal Gear is its AI called “GW”, that is able to monitor and manipulate all digital transmissions. Also he claims that he is the president, but has de facto no power whatsoever over the actual government. He is a marionette of an organization called the Patriots who run everything from the shadows. The leader of the Sons of Liberty is also a third clone of Big Boss who happened to survive called Solidus Snake. He was in charge of the Shadow Moses operation but obviously failed, so he enlisted the help of Dead Cell to escape the Patriot’s grip. He was also president Johnson’s predecessor. Shortly after this, the president is killed by Ocelot.
Raiden sets out to disable Arsenal Gear. To that extent he tries to rescue Emma Emmerich, Otacon’s sister-in-law, but has to fend of Vamp in the process. Vamp seemingly drowns as Raiden and Emma try to upload a Virus into GW’s mainframe. Vamp, however, is not dead and appears again, fatally wounding Emma before Raiden can shoot him.
Otacon escapes from Big Shell with the remaining civilians, while Snake seemingly betrays Raiden, which leads to his imprisonment by Olga.
Raiden awakes in a torture chamber with Solidus Snake, who reveals to him, the he adopted Raiden as a child during the Liberian Civil War. As if that wasn’t enough, Raiden is revealed to actually be a Patriot agent without his knowledge.
Solidus leaves and in sneaks Olga, who entrusts Raiden with the knowledge, that she, too, is a Patriot double-agent. She was blackmailed to help the Patriots so that her little girl would be safe. Snake didn’t really betray him, but used him as a decoy for Solidus so that he could find and disable Arsenal Gear.
Making his way towards Snake and the Arsenal Gear, Raiden receives several rather erratic Codec calls from Colonel Campbell. Otacon sheds some light on this, revealing that the Colonel Campbell whom Raiden knows is nothing but an AI-construct by the GW mainframe. His erratic behaviour stems from the injected virus which starts to damage the AI’s routines. The communication then starts to get worse while Raiden is contacted by Rosemary who manages to tell Raiden that she is pregnant with his child before the connection dies.
Raiden reunites with Snake, as both are ambushed by Fortune. Snake starts to fight her while urging Raiden to go and find Solidus. Raiden finally complies but in terms is left to fight 25 Metal Gear Ray units, all of which stationed on the Arsenal Gear. Olga manages to help him, but is killed by Solidus who then takes Snake and Raiden hostage.
In comes Ocelot, who reveals (tadaa) that he ALSO was a Patriot agent all the time. The whole incident up to this point was planned and executed by the Patriot’s themselves. The goal was to create a soldier (Raiden) who was to be on par with Solid Snake when it was done. That’s why there were so many similarities to the Shadow Moses incident.
Ocelot then goes on to kill Fortune, before Liquid takes control of Ocelot again, revealing that he plans to destroy the Patriot’s by using Ocelot’s knowledge of the organization as well as the first Metal Gear RAY, a unit specialized in Anti-Metal Gear warfare.
Snake escapes this dire situation to pursue Liquid/Ocelot as Arsenal Gear drifts out of control and crashes right in Manhattan.
Raiden is catapulted to the roof of the Federal Hall that also happens to be the place of impact for Solidus. Solidus reveals that he plans to kill Raiden in an attempt to use his nanomachines to locate the Patriots. He wants to kill them and insert himself in their place to form a nation under his “Sons of Liberty”. It is then that Raiden is contacted by another Patriot AI who tells Raiden that the actual purpose of this mission was a simulation to check how well the Patriots could control humans. It would be important to know since the dumbing down of the population through media channels would interfere with their goals. Raiden is naturally less than thrilled to help the Patriots but is left with no choice; they threatened him to hunt down Olga, her child and the pregnant Rosemary and kill them all should he deny his help. With this in the back of his head Raiden kills Solidus, before being joined by Snake.
Snake reveals that he put a location marker on Liquid’s RAY-unit and that Otacon and Snake plan to pursue him, rescuing Olga’s child in the process. They also plan to pursue the Patriots themselves as they discovered, that their names and locations happen to be hidden in the virus-disc that Emma wanted to use to destroy GW. Raiden is then reunited with Rosemary.
Another shocking reveal yet awaits our heroes, as Otacon uses the GW-disc to find out about the Patriots only to find out that they all have been dead for more than 100 years now.




Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

We start in 2014, five years after the Big Shell incident. The Patriots have used a number of hidden political schemes to keep wars going. This keeps the arms industry and as such their biggest source of income flowing. Wars, however, aren’t what they used to be as they aren’t fought by national forces anymore, but by Private Military Contractors, whose Nanomachines are in secrecy controlled by a Patriot-installed Network called “Sons of the Patriots”. This gives them even more direct control about how each conflict goes.
Snake, however, is in far worse shape. As a clone he suffers from a strongly accelerated aging process and is left with about one year to live. It is in this state that he is contacted by his old comrade Colonel Campbell (this time the real one) who wants to hire him to take down Liquid once and for all. Snake ultimately agrees and sets sail towards the middle east, where a civil war rages with Liquid right in the middle of it.
Snake decides to approach the combat zone as a member of the local militia and inserts himself into the conflict. He soon makes contact with several well known characters, however, some more desirably than others. More positive is his reunion with Raiden, who underwent some harsh times after Big Shell. He grew depressed which led Rosemary to ultimately have a miscarriage. Stricken with guilt he moves in with Campbell who offers him some modifications which Raiden gladly accepts. In terms he became some kind of Cyber ninja, to fight for Campbell and against his inner demons.
The happy reunion is cut short by another old acquintance: Vamp. Raiden tries to duel Vamp and almost manages to kill him before Vamp can make of in a helicopter. We also get our first glance at another of the Patriot’s “special units”: The “Beauty and the beast” unit, consisting of 4 young women who suffered severe psychic traumata which gives them their characteristics. “Laughing octopus” for example lived in a small fishing village in Norway, until it was raided and she was forced to kill her family while laughing. “Raging Raven” was taken prisoner-of-war in Indonesia and tortured and starved for weeks. Suddenly, however, her captors left the camp nd all the children in it to die and to be eaten by the ravens that nested there. The Raven’s however picked away at her shackles thus freeing her. She located her captors and, blind with rage, killed everyone of them, including all civilians in the camp. “Crying Wolf” comes from an unknown country. She was driven out of her town when it was attacked and managed to take her baby brother with her. One day the two were hiding but the baby wouldn’t stop crying, so she placed her hands over its mouth to stop the screaming, suffocating him in the process. When she finally arrived at a refugee camp, her grief and all the baby cries drove her insane. At that night she saw a wolf murdering all the babies in the camp...only that it wasn’t a wolf, it was her. Last but certainly not least there’s “Screaming Mantis”...yup, that name isn’t coincidence.
Luckily the next meeting is a little bit happier, as Snake is by pure chance reunited with a UN-combat unit led by Meryl Silverburgh. It is revealed, that Colonel Campbell is not her uncle, but indeed her father. A fact that she denies heavily but comes to terms with as the plot continues.
Ultimately, Snake manages to infiltrate Liquid’s camp, only to run into a test of his newest toy: he hijacked the SOP-network, renaming it “Guns of the Patriots”. Being able to manipulate the nanomachines of every soldier of any PMC worldwide leaves him with no problem incapacitating the strike force he exerts his test run on, including by accident Solid Snake, whose nanomchines also don’t react well to the interfering signals. Unluckily, he needs those nanomachines, as weapons are Nano-locked, meaning they can’t be used by everyone. Thus, Snake agreed to let a Black Market Arms Dealer by the name of Drebin 893 inject him.
In his passing out, however, Snake makes out the figure of Dr. Naomi Hunter, someone he hasn’t seen since the Shadow Moses incident.
Back on his plane of operations with Otacon and Olga’s daughter Sunny, a tech-wunderkind, Snake discovers that Naomi has given him a secret message. It’s contents are rather unsettling as she claims to be held captive in South America by Liquid who forces her to work for him.
Snake makes it to South America where he stumbles into another conflict, as well as Vamp again (who manages to escape death once more). Snake finds Naomi but not without having to dispose of Laughing Octopus first.
Naomi tells Snake about Liquid’s plans. He wants to find the Patriot AI’s mainframe to overwrite the SOP-program with a self-coded version to give him control over the firearms control system. She also conducts some tests on Snake. She discovers that the FoxDie virus inside Snake is about to mutate and spread itself as a mutated version, deadly to humans, within six months.
Shortly afterwards, Naomi gets captured by PMC troops, but Snake is able to pry her free and escape the country with the help of Drebin and Raiden, who’s gravely injured following another fight with Vamp.
Back on the plane, Snake makes a shocking discovery: a resistance-group in Prague, Czech Republic, has the remains of Big Boss in its possession (and also the equipment capable of saving Raiden). The leader of this organization calls herself “Big Mama” and is revealed to be EVA, the female double-agent, that helped Big Boss all those years ago. Liquid’s troops, however, also arrive in Prague and Snake and EVA forge a plan to distract them and escape with Big Boss’ remains. Unluckily, Liquid spots the ruse and interferes with it. He reveals, that he already has full access to the SOP programm, which he aptly demonstrates by disabling a whole unit of US marines, set out to capture him. He then tosses Big Boss’ remains into a fire and EVA follows, to prevent it...in vain. Snake wants to help her but all it gets him is a scar. Beaten, he has to retreat, grabbing Naomi with him, however, one of Otacon’s little robots manages to infiltrate Liquid’s boat.
The live-feed is rather unveiling, showing Liquid’s plan: He wants to destroy the Patriot AI core with a nuclear strike followed by installing his own AI-core that would give him total control about the world’s systems. However, to that end he needs a nuclear warhead that is not ID-tagged (and thus useless to him as it won’t arm) and a launcher that won’t reveal his position. Haven’t we heard that before? We sure have and so has Liquid, as he sets out for Shadow Moses, to retrieve the Railgun of Metal Gear REX as well as one of its special warheads.
Snake and Naomi follow Liquid into Shadow Moses. They split up and finally, Snake finds the Metal Gear hangar. The Railgun is already missing and instead of Liquid, Snake finds Vamp, who has Naomi with him. Snake fights Vamp and with the assistance of Raiden is finally able to kill him for good. The two then use REX to escape the Hangar only to be greeted by Liquid in RAY outside. The two Metal Gears battle it out, with REX gaining the upper hand. Liquid, however, came prepared and unveils “Outer Haven”, a giant submarine, capable of mounting the acquired Railgun and launching the nuke. Liquid orders Outer HAven to ram the dock, but Raiden can hold the sub off long enough for some well-timed reinforcements to arrive. The USS Missouri arrives and opens fire on Outer Haven, forcing it to retreat.
The Missouri then continues to intercept Outer Haven, using the small time window it opens its impenetrable shell to focus the Railgun to insert Snake, Meryl and Johnny, a member of Meryl’s team onto Outer Haven. Snake makes his way to the ship’s core with Meryl and Johnny providing backup. It’s not that easy, though, as Meryl once again falls prey to a certain Mantis. Johnny and Snake defeat Screaming Mantis, allowing Snake to continue. It’s clear, however, that this is going to be one of Snake’s last efforts, as the way to the core is shielded with microwave radiation, causing heavy burns.
Snake prevails and inserts the virus coded by Naomi into Liquid’s AI core. It spreads and destroys Liquid’s AI, but spreads on from there to succesfully attack the Patriot AI, ending their regime. It also leaves the world to rather basic forms of communication, thus crippling the war economy. Snake finally passes out in the server room.
Yet, the story is not over. Snake awakes on top of Outer Haven, where he challenges Snake to a fight. Without nanomachines or guns, the two certainly feel the effect of their decade-spanning stand-off but none of them can just let it slip at this point and ultimately, Snake towers over Liquid, having him defeated in CQC, with Liquid, leaving some very familiar last words: “You’re pretty good”.
So the world is safe for now, but about our characters? Meryl makes peace with her past and reconciles with her dad, Colonel Campbell. She also decides to marry Johnny who couldn’t be happier. Drebin tells us about his role in the Patriot’s little scheme and also, that Meryl was as well used as a pawn in the Patriot’s game.
Raiden reconciles with Rose, who tells him, that the story about the miscarriage and her relationship to Campbell was only used as a decoy to protect Raiden’s family. Thus, she bears a healthy little son.
Otacon decides, that now, where the worst is over, to adopt Sunny as his own daughter and let her have a normal childhood.
Snake visits a grave that we also know all to well. He still has the supposedly deadly FoxDie variation in him and thus contemplates suicide when he is interrupted by possibly the last person he expected to see: Big Boss. He wasn’t dead after all. What people thought to be Big Boss’ corpse all the time was actually the body of Solidus Snake which in terms got burned back in Prague. He steps aside to reveal an old man in a wheelchair, living of heavy lifesupport: Major Zero. Big Boss explains to Snake that the Patriots were once founded in the Spirit of The Boss, to let this heroic spirit live on. It was founded by Major Zero, SigInt, Ocelot, EVA, Paramedic and Big Boss himself. Over the years, however, the goals of the Patriots became a topic of heated discussion amongst the Patriot’s members. Major Zero wanted the Patriots to assume more direct control over the people, while Big Boss wanted to use the Patriots to ease the life of soldiers everywhere.
Major Zero then let the Patriot AI take more and more control leading for the Patriot’s agenda to actually stray away from The Boss’ spirit more and more. Ocelot didn’t want this to happen, so he used nanomachines and hypnotherapy to inject Liquid Snake’s personality into his own, so that he would be able to deliver the deadly strike without flinching.
Big Boss finally kills Major Zero and reveals another important fact to Snake. The nanomachines Drebin injected him with came with a brand-new strain of FoxDie, engineered by the Patriot AI. It’s meant to replace the original strain and to attack the nanomachines of Zero’s rival faction. As a result, Snake’s mere presence was enough to kill Big Boss...this time for good. 50 years after operation Snake Eater, Big Boss finally found his peace.
Yet it also means he won’t become the deadly-virus-dispenser he thought he would become.
Snake decides, that it’s better, to life the rest of his life happily with Otacon and Sunny, seeing what the future he helped secure had in store for him.




Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

Well, of course the future wasn’t going to be all fancy now, as mankind has managed one thing and that’s finding ways to kill each other regardless.
The year is 2018 and just the Patriot AI is no more doesn’t mean, PMCs ain’t still waging war. To ensure at least a certain amount of righteousness, Raiden joins Maverick, a PMC that doesn’t engage in direct combat but is more focused on providing security detail. On such a mission in an African country, Desperado, a rogue PMC, captures the Prime Minister Raiden is set to protect. Raiden pursues the attackers but comes to late to prevent the politician’s death by the hand of high-rank Desperado operative Sundowner. In his pursuit of Sundowner, Raiden has to face off against Jetstream Sam, and loses; the fight as well as his arm.
Maverick’s medical unit under the lead of a Doctor with an adorable german accent restores Raiden’s body and amplifies it in the process, making him much more powerful.
Raiden then sets out to the nation of Abkhazia, where a military uprising tries to usurp the little state. Leading the charge against the government is none other than Desperado.
Raiden meets heavy resistance but prevails. In the process he has to face off against a new AI Desperado designed. After a fight with it, Raiden can salvage the bot and repairs and reprograms him as Bladewolf, his trusty companion. Afterwards, he tries to find the usurper himself, a man by the name of Andrey Dolzaev. He finds him, but also a Desperado operative by the name of Mistral. He defeats Mistral and wants to capture Dolzaev, who chooses another route and blows up the oil tank he stands on.
With no more lead in Abkhazia, Raiden heads to Guadalajara, Mexico, to investigate an underground research facility allegedly run by Desperado. He stumbles over an orphan boy named George. George knows the facility because he was once kept there with many other orphaned children to have their brains removed and sent to the United States.
In inspecting the facility, Raiden learns that Sundowner recently inspected the facility in the company of a US senator by the name of Steven Armstrong, who also happens to be the CEO of another PMC, World Marshall. World Marshall planned to train the children’s brains in combat using VR technology and then implant them into cybernetic bodies to create soldiers similar to Raiden with superhuman strength, yet a brain to improvise.
Raiden rescues the imprisoned children and kills the head researcher before setting of to Denver, Colorado to inspect the World Marshall HQ. He is greeted by combined forces of World Marshall and Desperado and fights his inner demons as his inner conflicts dig up more and more of his former child soldier personality, known as “Jack the Ripper”. He tries to reject it, leading to his near death by the hands of Jetstream Sam and another Desperado operative known as Monsoon. However, Raiden comes to terms with his former self, being able to embrace it in critical moments, which empowers him to kill Monsoon and enter the World Marshall HQ. There he meets, fights and kills Sundowner who has some rather interesting information for Raiden: Senator Armstrong was actually the one initiating the cooperation of Desperado and World Marshall. Desperado was ordered to kill the African Prime Minister to get Raiden to focus on Desperado, while World Marshall could continue its “Operation Tehcumset”, an attempt to assassinate the US president in Pakistan to fuel and prolong the “War on Terror”.
Raiden decides to enlist the help of the Solis company, known for its high-speed planes and thus being the only ones able to get Raiden to Pakistan in time.
On the way there, however, Raiden meets Sam and faces off against him in a sword-duel, which he   read


8:22 AM on 06.03.2014  

I know why I don't drive a convertible - Dev Diary Day 2

As promised, I'm gonna do this Dev Diary alongside my first attempt of realising a video game. 
Why I'm not completely ignorant to the way development works and have taken part in several smaller productions myself, the process of doing a whole game completely by myself is an experience that has eluded me to this point. 

So what happened on Day 2? A lot actually, only nothing of what I had really hoped to achieve. I said yesterday I wanted to start creating maps today yet it was not meant to be. 
While in part because of some bureaucracy stuff I had to take care of I wasn't aware of one of my worst enemies: differing formats in EVERYTHING. So yeah, today was mostly spent converting stuff into other stuff, merging stuff with other stuff and realizing that I basically had to redo my characters because it wasn't fitting in size. *sigh*

Well, I said it before: I like it, but I'm not a professional. Is it a setback? Of course. Is it a major setback? Not really. I planned up to two weeks for mapping alone. 
I tend to have several good ideas, but actually visualizing them is sometimes harder than it seems, so I planned in some extra time for everything that's part of the visual process. 
Audio won't be the biggest problem I guess, as won't the story. The first I have experience in (did SFX for video games and played in band once and recorded our albums so that's nothing new). The latter is mainly decided and writing on crunchtime is nothing I couldn't do. Everyone who once attended a university and had to hand in a 35-page minimum paper and was on page 5 two days before you had to hand it in can attest to that.


So what did I learn today?

- It's not the abysses of production, that I fear...it's the potholes.

- Reducing distractions GREATLY helps the workflow. (Duh!)

- Extra time for the visual process? Good idea.



Playlist for today? 

Nothing really mixed, I got hooked on Queens of the Stone Age's great great "Songs for the Deaf" album.





Anything else?

BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER BEWARE MASSIVE GAME OF THRONES SHOW SPOILER 

Holy fuckin' shit was that hard to stomach. I mean...I played Manhunt 2, I watched the TV show where someone (who's killing people by equipping a hydraulic cave-bear-suit and mauling them) gets dismembered and has his body parts refurbished as a sabretooth, but THIS....NOTHING could have prepared me for this. Maybe the scene alone doesn't have the impact but damn, that was the single most brutal moment I witnessed in ever.





See you tomorrow   read


8:31 AM on 06.02.2014  

2014 Indie Game Maker Contest + Dev Diary incoming





So yeah, this is a thing that is happening and guess who is participating this time? Right. This guy.

Why especially this one? Well basically because it's actually possible for me to partake. While this may be true for basically every contest, the timelimit of two days (mostly) leaves me with too many ideas and too few time to actually get something playable out of it.
While the Header there says "powered by RPG Maker", it's not a necessity. You can basically enter with whatever project you like.

So what am I gonna do? Well, here are some bulletpoints I made for myself with explanations and an outlook on what I plan to do.


A rogue-like dungeon crawler

This actually was one of the biggest problems I had initially. I wanted to make some lovecraftian visual novel-style game. However, one of the conditions is, that it's basically gotta be finishable in an hour since that's all the time they're gonna give it. This basically left the Visual Novel idea out there. Plus, there shouldn't be adult content in it and while things like madness etc. are fine, I don't think that "incredibly mind-devouring space monsters" makes for a great experience for younger people. 
The thing is: I don't want to make something that keeps players interested in an hour. So a rogue-like was in order. It gives me the best opportunity to mix gameplay with a constantly evolving narrative.


Story

I'm not gonna spoil too much here but it won't be your typical fantasy setting since I Can't. Take. It. Anymore.
As for the tone: I wanted to take a darker approach but I'm still pondering whether that's the right way or if I should make it more humorous. I guess I'll decide once the first dialogues etc. are typed. Then I see whether it fits with what I want to do or if I do the other thing instead...sometimes things sound awesome in your head but in reality...


Turn-based combat?

Nope. I wanna go for an action-based combat system.


When will it be playable?

Well, since it has to be in by midnight of June 30th, very soon. If someone's out there who would offer his or her services to check an earlier build for bug testing and quality assurance, I'd be much obliged.


Name?

Currently it's named "Project Hvergelmir" but that sounds incredibly corny so most likely it'll be a working title.


The obligatory "List of things I'll include if I have the time"

- Custom Soundtrack
- More than the basic "male/female" choice (we're talking character creator. ATM, I only made a male and a female character)
- Visible Inventory choices (you put on armor, you see it on your char)
- Maybe an animated Intro


Will I take to Kickstarter after this?

Nope. Definitely not. I got a dayjob and that provides me with everything I need. I want to make this to keep my skills up regarding this. Games should be about fun, not finances.

So yeah...watch this space, I plan on delivering daily updates how it's going. So far today I created the characters and wrote several story paths. Tomorrow I'll start mapping and deciding, which story draft to finally use.

So yeah...wish me luck.   read







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