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6:49 PM on 02.08.2014  

I drew something using MS Paint

So this is my entry for Destructoid: MS Paint Edition: Round Two. †

††

It took me well over 20 minutes to do.† I donít know why on earth I picked this game to draw using a mouse. I think I must have a masochist streak or something.


Anyway, it was still fun to do and I hope you guys have a go as well!   read


10:04 AM on 01.06.2014  

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds



So, here we are again with another incarnation of Link saving Hyrule from the clutches of evil. This time round our villain is Yuga, a vain sorcerer attempting to revive Ganon. Heís a bit like Dr Steinman from Bioshock, completely obsessed with the notion of beauty, only instead of trying to hack people up he turns them into paintings instead. At the beginning of the game, Link confronts him and appears to suffer from the same fate, however it soon transpires that Link can turn into a painting at will and he uses this newfound ability to move between the worlds of Hyrule and Lorule.†



This is the first Zelda handheld Iíve played through to the end (I still havenít finished Spirit Tracks) plus I havenít played A Link to the Past so this game seems fresh and exciting to me. †Youíre dropped into Hyrule without a word and are free to explore, which Iíve never experienced from the previous Zelda titles Iíve played. Thereís no hand-holding. I had actually done most of the Eastern Palace before realising that I didnít have a shield, went outside to save, then went off in search of one before returning to complete the dungeon.

The game is presented in a top-down view, the camera shifting to a profile view whenever Link enters the wall and becomes a painting. Most of the items and weapons can be rented from the beginning of the game. However, in order to be able to upgrade them, you need to buy them first.†

Thankfully, Link isnít lumbered with a prattling sidekick like Fi. †Instead we get a weathervane that wonít shut up about taking a break because youíve been playing too long. In a game that tries to encourage the player to explore Hyrule and Lorule with minimal exposition, this is an unwelcome intrusion. It detracts from an otherwise immersive world.



Most of the dungeons can be completed in any order. †Unfortunately, I think because of this the difficulty of each dungeon appears to have been kept at a similar level. Personally, I only had issues with trying to work out how to get to the next dungeon and navigating the Ice Palace. I have not played Hero Mode yet, but the only change is that enemies do quadruple damage. On the whole I think the puzzles were cleverly designed and each dungeon varied so it never got stale.

The side-quests were also enjoyable, such as finding all the baby maiamais for their mother. †For every ten babies you find, she will upgrade an item that youíve bought. †Other items, such as tunics are smartly hidden. There are also lots of references to previous Zelda games.



Overall, I enjoyed exploring the worlds of Hyule and Lorule. The kingdoms look and feel different: Hyrule is colourful and sunny compared with the dark and gloomy Lorule. Itís jarring to see a vast chasm in Lorule where rolling hills and trees used to be back in Hyrule. †I also liked exploring their counterparts Ė for example the Sanctuary in Hyrule containing a priest is a cave with a philosopher in Lorule. †

I would definitely recommend playing A Link Between Worlds. I loved every minute of it and Iíve never even played A Link to the Past. †Nintendo have tried to change the usual set up of Zelda games and it still works. I really hope they incorporate these features into future titles.†eís sword did have an inverted triforce on itÖ   read


9:48 AM on 12.18.2013  

Bioshock Infinite: A Rant on the Vox Populi and Racism

So, when the promotional images for Bioshock Infinite first came out I was interested to see that the game was going to cover racism. †I wanted to see how the game was going to approach it. Were we going to get fully realised characters who happened to be ethnic minorities in Columbia? Or were they just going to be random NPCís that needed to be saved and spout off the occasional line about being grateful? Well, thankfully, we didnít get the latter, but we certainly didnít get the former either.†

(TL; DR: I found Bioshock Infiniteís portrayal of the Vox Populi and the racism in that time period to be disappointing and clichťd.)

Edit 20/12/2013: Took out the video and screenshot because I wasn't sure if I could use them, and I guess they weren't really necessary anyway.


Teach 'em young


The Vox Populi is a militant group opposed to Comstock and the Founders, led by Daisy Fitzroy. They are made up of Asians, Blacks and Native Americans, as well as the white working class of Columbia. They also happen to be ridiculously underdeveloped. For a start there are only three named ethnic minority characters in the whole game: Daisy Fitzroy, Chen Lin and Ty Bradley. All of whom die and are given limited screen time. There are no named poor white people; in fact you only witness them in the slums.

Ty Bradley: †A Voxophone only character, Ty was a worker in Monument Island who did cleaning and maintenance in the restricted area where Elizabeth was kept. He is implied to have been killed by the singularities happening in the complex.†

Chen Lin: A Chinese gunsmith living in Columbia who was secretly supplying weapons and ammunition to the Vox Populi. In one universe, Chen is Buddhist and his wife, May Lin, is Chinese. In another universe his wife is Sarah Lin, sheís white and he follows Comstockís religion. †Chen dies in all of the universes visited. Thatís basically all you learn about Chen.†

Daisy Fitzroy: I think we encounter two Daisy Fitzroys. The first Daisy Fitzroy hijacks the airship and offers Booker a place in the Vox Populi. He declines and she orders Booker to go and get weapons from the gunsmith if he wants the airship back. †Then she shoves him off the airship. Thatís all we see and hear from her in this particular universe.† Booker and Elizabeth find Chen Lin but heís dead. So, Elizabeth opens a tear into another universe where heís alive, but the tools are somewhere else. †While exploring this universe, Booker and Elizabeth remark that Comstock and Fitzroy are as bad as each other.†

Wait, what? Did I miss a Voxophone or something?

Bear in mind that I havenít seen Daisy do anything yet. At this point in the game, however, I have seen what Comstockís guys have done to ďundesirablesĒ. The Fraternal Order of the Raven torture and kill people who arenít white and you can throw baseballs at interracial couples at the raffle. †Finkerton doesnít pay the workers at his factory, leaving them homeless and starving. †Itís obvious that Comstock has framed Daisy for the murder of his wife. Daisy chucking Booker off an airship is not quite the same thing.

Anyway, Elizabeth and Booker hop to another universe. Here, an alternate Booker joined the Vox Populi and was killed, becoming a martyr. †Fitzroy is freaked out by the pair and decides to send the Vox Populi after them. In this universe, you can find some Voxophones that state that Daisy has been using children in the uprising. †This honestly should have been mentioned a lot sooner and would have given a lot of weight to Booker and Elizabethís comments in the previous universe.

Daisy kills Finkerton and is about to murder his kid when Elizabeth intervenes and kills her with a pair of scissors.†


Yes, Daisy gets disposed of very quickly.


She had the potential to be a great character, only her transition from well-meaning revolutionary to a child killer seemed forced and hackneyed. †It just happens far too quickly; she doesnít have enough screen time or Voxophone recordings. At the very least, they could have fleshed out Daisy Fitzroy in both universes so that you could tell the difference between the two. †Look at Big Boss from the Metal Gear series. He used child soldiers on the battlefield and heís still portrayed as a sympathetic, multi-faceted character. †Also, Comstock genuinely cared for Elizabeth in his own twisted way, so I donít see why Daisy couldnít have been developed further.†

Only two people in the Vox Populi get their own Voxophone recordings and thatís Daisy Fitzroy and Cornelius Slate. Preston Downs and Vivian Monroe start off on Comstockís side and then join the Vox Populi. We donít get to hear from anyone else on that side of the conflict, not even the poor white people. All the other Voxophone recordings are from the privileged, rich, white, upper-classes. You donít even get to hear from other ethnic minorities and poor white people who didnít want to join the Vox Populi. And why would joining the Vox Populi be the only option available to them? Wouldnít it have eventually splintered into different movements, like how the Fraternal Order of the Raven are fundamentalists murdering ethnic minorities while the Founders are more concerned with keeping people in their place?†

The Vox Populi are portrayed as murderers who scalp people. There is no nuance to them, no attempt to empathise with them. We donít even know who took over the Vox Populi after Daisy died, heís just a voice coming from a speakerphone. Conversely, the people on Comstockís side get more character development. Even Finkerton gets more screen time then Daisy. †I suppose you could argue that the way Columbia treats ethnic minorities and poor white people is a self-fulfilling prophecy: treat them like savages and they will retaliate savagely. But then, why would every single member of the Vox Populi behave in the exact same manner? As an example, early on in the game, Booker can hide in the house of a white, rich couple who are against slavery. There could have just as easily been scenes, say, where a member of the Vox Populi lets a civilian go instead of killing him/her. Or in one area you can hear a member of the Vox Populi ordering rebels not to kill civilians and only go for the Police and Founder soldiers. It would be a contrast to other members of the Vox Populi shouting about murdering everyone and taking everything.

Booker and Comstock are revealed to have Native American ancestry, but this is never expanded upon, and itís not central to plot or character development. An alternate Booker can speak Sioux and translates for a Native American boy but thatís as far as it goes.

I didnít like how the game reduced both sides of the conflict to ďtheyíre both as bad as each other.Ē How is actively choosing to oppress people and treat them as less than human the same as retaliating?†

The racism that occurred in that time period wasnít explored thoroughly. It was basically set-dressing. Most of the characters you meet are on the privileged side. The ethnic minorities and poor white people get fobbed off with one slum level.†

Now, to be fair to Bioshock Infinite, the way racism is portrayed is quite similar to how historical racism is portrayed in other mediums. For example, in TV dramas set in the past, the quickest way to show that someone is a bad guy is to make them ridiculously racist.†


The quickest way to show that someone is a good person is to make them against racism and slavery.


When I say racism is used as a prop in the game, this is what Iím talking about. Itís the treatment and attitude of ethnic minorities being used to show the moral compass of a (usually) white person, to show if theyíre a decent person or an evil person. We know that Father Comstock is the bad guy because heís racist and he has whole organizations devoted to murdering ethnic minorities. Chen Lin and his wife get offed, to once again, show us that Comstock is brutal. Daisy Fitzroy becomes a monster because of Comstockís actions and gets killed by Elizabeth so that Elizabeth can feel guilty over murdering someone and make us feel sympathetic towards her.†

So, know we know exactly how evil Comstock is, letís forget all about the racism and focus on multiple universes! And meta commentary on game design!

Yeah, I was expecting a lot better than this. †For example, even though Assassin Creed 3ís gameplay was average and Connor was a bit boring, it still approached the themes of racism and revolution in much more balanced and thoughtful way. †Granted, the American Revolution was a real historical event and there is lots of material and perspectives to draw from compared to a fictional city in the sky with flying, magical racists. Bioshock 2 Ďs DLC Minervaís Den had Charles Milton Porter, who was a much more developed and well-written character. That one exchange with his colleague who tells him to splice white to get ahead in Rapture, tells you all you need to know about how he was perceived in society. †I havenít played Burial at Sea yet, so I have no idea if the topic of racism in Rapture will be further explored.

To summarise, I found Bioshock Infiniteís portrayal of the Vox Populi and the racism in that time period to be disappointing and clichťd. If youíre going to create a game that focuses on racism, please make sure your ethnic minority characters are just as developed and important as the white characters. †Seriously.   read


12:49 PM on 09.22.2013  

Tomb Raider

This is the first Tomb Raider game that I've played since Tomb Raider II and Tomb Raider III back on the PS1. †That was ages ago, but this reboot still felt very familiar. They've managed to keep the atmosphere while updating the gameplay.

The game begins when Laraís ship crashes onto the island of Yamatai, which has been taken over by an insane cult called the Solarii Brotherhood. Unlike the previous Tomb Raider games I've played, Lara stays on that island and doesn't visit other countries. † I really enjoyed the beautiful setting. You can explore the forests, the beach, the ancient Japanese buildings and the mountainside. Thereís also a sense of history as you can see the shanty town and the fortress that the current crazed inhabitants live in, as well as the abandoned bases and shipwrecks from the survivors that were stranded in Yamatai before the Solarii arrived.†



Lara starts off with no weapons at all, but you eventually build your arsenal up until she becomes a one-woman army. Lara automatically crouches when entering a combat situation and moves between cover seamlessly. This is very helpful as enemies go out of their way to flush you out; they'll shoot flaming arrows at Lara and send armoured goons after her. You can switch quickly between weapons on the d-pad and ďscrambleĒ to avoid enemy gunfire. †When the fight is over, Lara straightens up and you back to exploring the island again. One issue I had was with the camera Ė during a one-on-one-fight, if I was targeting an enemy and scrambled to the side of said enemy, the camera would go directly behind Lara and Iíd have trouble seeing where my opponent was.



One thing I really appreciated about this game is finding all the collectables (relics, documents, GPS caches) accumulates experience points which go towards acquiring new skills. Finding the hidden tomb and solving the puzzle also nets you additional skill points and experience. This is totally unlike Assassinís Creed 3, the game Iíd played before this one, where Connor collects feathersÖfor the sake of collecting feathers. Sure itís nice to get achievements, but Iíd like to see it have an affect on gameplay as well. The secret tomb puzzles also felt like the classic Tomb Raiders Iíd played back on the PS1.†



You can also hunt animals and look for crates that contain salvage in order to upgrade your current weapons. Some of the weapons have secondary uses as well. Lara can use the climbing axe to climb rocky walls and shoot a rope across gaps to climb across.

Plot-wise, I think the game was average. We see Lara grow from a vulnerable young woman to a hardened veteran. There is also an explanation as to why no-one can get off the damn island once they realise how dangerous it is. †However, the crew of the Endeavour arenít as fleshed out as Lara, and come across as two-dimensional. They get at least one diary entry each. †I also didnít think the head of the Solarii was particularly memorable either. I would have liked it if the Queen of Storms messed around with the weather a bit more. †Something that was similar to how Groudon and kyogre messed with the routes in Pokťmon Emerald.

Overall, I feel Tomb Raider was an excellent reboot of a much beloved series and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it.   read


5:50 PM on 02.03.2013  

Thoughts on Hitman:Absolution

Hitman: Absolution is fun, but flawed. Itís immensely satisfying when you find a way to kill your target ďaccidentlyĒ instead of garrotting them or using a silenced gun. You can eliminate targets by poisoning food, blow someone up by swapping the hot sauce for lighter fuel, electrocute a target and so on.

There are also a variety of levels Ė from the crowded streets of Chinatown, to a science laboratory and even a courtroom. Personally my favourite levels were hunting down Lennyís gang and strolling through Chinatown.



However, there are moments which ruin the immersion. One of the first things I had noticed was you could kill guards in the middle of a radio conversation. In the Metal Gear Solid games there was no way you could do that without backup being sent.

Sometimes guards detect objects being thrown and sometimes they donít, even if it is only a few metres away from them. When they do investigate, itís in a totally unrealistic fashion. If someone threw a water bottle near you, you donít inspect it thoroughly like youíve never seen a plastic bottle before. You might take a quick glance and then head in the direction the bottle was thrown.

This is the first Hitman game Iíve ever played and was surprised that Hitman: Absolution felt more like a stealth game then an assassination game. A lot of time is spent ducking and hiding behind tables and pillars, thanks to a strangely implemented disguise system. In theory, Agent 47 is supposed to be able to knock out someone (say a policeman) and wear their clothes. As long as he keeps his distance from the people heís impersonating he shouldnít get spotted. What actually happens is as soon as you poke your head out of the doorway, a policeman on the other side of the room is immediately suspicious of you and you end up having to sneak around and roll behind cover as though you never had a disguise in the first place. You even get spotted when youíre impersonating someone whose face is covered by a mask. In this case, Agent 47 should really only be suspicious if heís acting oddly.



The plot doesnít make any sense whatsoever. In fact, I am sure that the developers came up with the levels first, then concocted a plot around the different locations. The second reason is actions the player takes isnít reflected in some cut scenes. For example, thereís a level where Agent 47 infiltrates a wrestling match in order to interrogate one of the wrestlers on the whereabouts of a kidnapped teenager. But in the actual level, I shot him with a sniper gun. The game then jumps to Agent 47 kicking back at a Hawaiian themed motel and getting attacked by the Saints before heading to Hope. How did he know where to go? I never spoke to the guy, I just shot him.

I also didnít really understand the point of the Saints. The entire hotel segment could have removed and it wouldnít have any impact on the plot or gameplay whatsoever. The Saints are just wedged awkwardly between the two levels like a square peg in a round hole. They are far too over the top and contradictory Ė in the cut scenes they destroy an entire hotel with missile launchers yet in the actual game they are just wandering about in their fetish nun costumes.

In my opinion, I think they should have been far more trigger-happy, destroying scenery if they even caught a whiff of Agent 47, or, removed the hotel segment altogether and made them a constant threat. So while Agent 47 is sneaking around killing targets, there is also a Saint sneaking around in disguise, trying to kill him.



Overall, I feel that Hitman: Absolution is a flawed stealth game. I preferred the parts where you had to eliminate a target and work out ways to kill them. I didnít really find running away from the police or goons as enjoyable, and even those segments could have been better if the disguise system was well thought out.   read


11:29 AM on 01.09.2013  

Thoughts and Speculations on Pokemon X and Y

The announcement of Pokťmon X and Y has been one of the few times I've genuinely been excited about a new Pokťmon game. The last time this happened, I was 12 years old and a classmate had the American import of Ruby. I marvelled at its graphics and the new features such as tag team battles. I couldnít wait to get my own copy. In 8 monthsí time (North America got Ruby and Sapphire in March; Europe got them in November).




Since then, the later games havenít made quite that same leap. Obviously, there have been major graphical and gameplay improvements since then, but they were added gradually.
The trailer for Pokťmon X and Y definitely looks like a major change. Pokťmon battles are now in 3D and thereís proper animation for attacks. Not to mention the games will be released worldwide in October. AT THE SAME TIME.

The trailer begins with Pikachu announcing the game. Interestingly enough, Pikachu is standing on top of the Eiffel Tower.



The first bit of in-game footage we see is our male protagonist looking at himself in the mirror. Iíll admit I'm not a huge fan of his design, he looks a like a plainer version of Hilbert from Pokťmon Black and White. It does make me wonder if we can customize the way our trainer looks like.



I think that these three places shown are the Gyms. In the first one our protagonist is swinging from a rope onto a green platform. There are safety nets and signs telling you where to land, so Iím guessing that this is the Grass themed gym. The second one looks like the Bug Gym, with a bouncy spiderís web. The third one is the Psychic gym, only with a new twist on the teleportation pad. You donít just appear in a room, the room reassembles around you. I think the red, stained-glass room with fire shooting out of the tubes is the Fire Gym.

Prediction: The first Gym is Rock, the sixth Gym is Ice and the last Gym will be Water or Dragon.



The Unova region from Pokemon Black and White and Pokemon Black and White 2 was supposed to be based on New York. Based on the buildings and architecture shown so far, I wonder if this new region is based on Paris (hence Pikachu standing on top of the Eiffel Tower) or Europe in general. In this scene on the left, our protagonist is wearing roller skates, which I donít think has appeared in previous games before. The new region is also very green, like Hoenn from Ruby and Sapphire.



Thereís a desert area. The buildings look like Mount Battle from Pokťmon Colosseum. I think these are temporary science labs, maybe as part of an excavation site?



Here are our three main starters Ė Chespin, Froakie and Fennekin. I personally have always picked a Fire starter since Red and Blue. The first time around it was because I thought Charizard was the coolest looking one of all. Itís a dragon, whatís not to like about that? The second time around, when I picked Cyndaquil, I assumed that it would be a lot easier to find Grass and Water type Pokťmon early on in the game then a Fire type. I wanted to make a balanced team. Now itís just force of habit. I probably will pick Fennekin, and end up utterly disappointed if its evolution turns out to be a Fire/Fighting type Pokťmon again.

Prediction: Chespin is Grass/Fighting, Froakie is Water/Ice and Fennekin is Fire/Psychic.



I realise that this isnít the final game, but I wonder if the most of the HUD elements have been moved to the bottom screen. Thereís no HP or Experience bar and thereís no text telling you the attack was super effective. There seems to be different animations for all the attacks and different reactions from all the Pokťmon. The camera is also more dynamic.

When the first couple of Pokťmon games came out, I was really interested in catching them all and seeing a completed Pokedex. But nowadays there just so many to keep track of, and some of them still canít be obtained without cheating, like Arceus. I now find myself being far more interested in training, building a team and exploring the new areas. Thatís something I like about the Pokťmon series, thereís something for everyone.





Finally we have the legendries: Yveltal and Xerneas. I read that Ho-oh was based on the Pheonix, so Iím wondering if Yveltal is based on the Roc, an enormous legendary bird in Persian mythology that could carry elephants away. Xerneasí design looks a bit like the forest spirit from Princess Mononoke. Thereís only been one legendary grass type so far (I think), so it would be good to have another one.

Prediction: Yveltal is Psychic/Flying and Xerneas is Psychic/Grass.

I think thereís a third legendary beginning with Z and the final game for this generation will be Pokťmon Z, as a reference to the X, Y and Z co-ordinates representing three dimensions. This Pokťmon Z might be Physic/Water.

So there you have it, my speculations on Pokťmon X and Y. What theories do you have, and what do you hope to see in the new games?   read


3:08 PM on 10.16.2012  

Alan Wake

I found Alan Wake to be a mixed bag. I loved the gameplay and mystery introduced in the very first episode. I liked exploring Bright Falls and meeting the colourful characters. The only minor issue I had at the time was Alice Wake's lip syncing; it was slightly off compared to everyone else.

Unfortunately, I found that the other episodes simply didn't match the excitement and awe I felt in the very first episode.



The gameplay became stagnant very quickly. In every episode, Alan loses his guns and flashlights at least once. I was hoping for varied weapons and chances for the player to be creative with the different light sources. I tend to stockpile the flares and grenades I receive for harder enemies or getting rushed by large mobs, so it's bit annoying to keep losing them.

This leads me onto my next issue - the enemies were not particularly challenging. As mentioned before, I didn't use my flares and grenades as much since it was fairly easy to take them down. Even the Taken vehicles require the same amount of light to defeat as a Taken person. After a while, killing huge swathes of Taken became a little repetitive, especially since there wasn't a great variety of enemies or methods to take them out.



Picking up the manuscripts seemed like a good idea at first, since it gave an insight into the other charactersí thoughts and motivations. However, it ruined any tension built in a cut scene or during gameplay since I knew what was going to happen next. I also feel that the writing for those manuscripts could have been improved. For example, I really enjoyed reading Karimís dreams from Lost Odyssey. The translator did a great job in making them sound like genuine short, descriptive stories.

There were no memorable gameplay moments for me. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is a very plot heavy game, but there are a lot of vivid gameplay moments I can remember Ė for example, hiding in a locker as the camera switches to first person view so you can see the soldiers looking for Snake through the slats. I think a lot of my disappointment stems from the game not delivering the scares or having enough unique and challenging puzzles. The final boss was also a bit of a let-down, it wasn't quite as difficult as I thought it was going to be.



However, I did like final part of the game when Alan has to go to the Dark Place. I liked seeing the words Alan was typing floating in the air and using the flashlight to create the objects being described. I thought it was very creative and creepy.

Despite not being overly enthused with the gameplay, I still enjoyed the storyline and exploring Bright Falls. I found the ending very confusing however. It seemed rushed and was a very abrupt finish. My copy of Alan Wake does not have The Writer DLC, which seems to explain the ending. Itís a shame really, because I saw the trailer for Alan Wakeís American Nightmare and thought the premise was interesting. However I donít think I'll be playing that soon. I just wish the rest of the game was as intriguing as the very first episode.   read


10:46 AM on 07.14.2012  

Ghost Trick: Phantom Dectective



This is one of the most enjoyable games I've played on the DS this year. I was hooked straight from the start with its cast of colourful characters and crazy yet enthralling, storyline. It's a puzzle game but Shu Takumi has put his own spin on it.

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!

Sissel is a snarky ghost that can rewind time by four minutes and manipulate objects. He has no idea who he is, who killed him and why. His best chance to solve the mystery is to follow Lynne, a rookie detective who was also at the scene of the crime. However, it's a race against time because Sissel has to solve it before dawn before he fades away by then. A lot of people die in this game and Sissel has to use his ghost tricks to rewind time and avert their fate. Along the way, the mystery deepens and the plot twists and turns. Seriously, the plot is fantastic. I was literally glued to the DS for the whole day, wanting to know happened next.

There is a lot of trial and error in this game. A lot of the time I had worked out how to manipulate objects and realised the timing was a bit off. Luckily the characters give you clues and you can rewind time over and over again. If you have changed the fate of a person slightly then that becomes a check point and you can start from that point again if you do something wrong. I think the only time this didn't work well, was when you have to save the justice minister from dying of a heart attack. If you didn't move to the correct object before ĎFATE CHANGED' rolled across the screen, you had to start from the beginning anyway.



The music for this game is excellent and really adds to the tension as you try to work out how to save the person. I particularly enjoyed the submarine segment and the part where you have to save the inspector. Ghost Trick also has an amazing, colourful cast of characters each with their own humorous quirks. The animation is fluid and brilliantly done, such as Bailey the guard's panic dance or Inspector Cabenela's constant moon walking.

My favourite characters were Sissel for his sarcastic remarks and Missile, the overly enthusiastic Pomeranian. Heís such an endearing character and his dialog is just perfect. Itís exactly how I would imagine a dog would speak and talk. I also think that Sisselís amnesia was handled really well and successfully engages the player to his predicament. Another character that deserves a mention is Yomiel, who started off as a scary character then turned out to be a tragic one. When he first appeared to Inspector Cabenela I had goosebumps.



My only criticism of the game is that the other ghost tricks the player could use were introduced quite late in the game. There could have been more variations in the puzzles earlier on. Also, itís a bit pricey for a DS game that really hasnít got any replay value. I think it might have been better at a cheaper price on the iOS. [Edit: Sorry, it is available at £6.99 on the iOS.]

As mentioned before, the storyline was engaging. At first, I didn't like the ending, but then I realised that all along, there were clues that Sissel wasn't a human ghost. I would love a Ghost Trick 2, but I do wonder how they can show Sissel without ruining the first Ghost Trick for newcomers. Perhaps there could be a new ghost character being shown the ropes by a black cat that refuses to tell its name?   read


4:31 PM on 07.08.2012  

So I finally got round to playing Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2 was a very enjoyable game. Itís very atmospheric in the beginning levels, particularly at the start when Issac is stuck in a straightjacket and must dodge the necromorphs. This was such a strong opening and the game continued increasing the tension and fear up until the second half, which unfortunately, did not meet the standards set in the first half.

While the game does not have any backtracking, I did notice that events forced Issac and Ellie to revisit areas again. (Not the Ishimura, because I haven't played the first Dead Space. I mean areas like the shopping mall.) This is even commented on in-game. Ellie actually says to Issac, ďWeíve been going around in circles!Ē I feel that the game could have benefited from being shorter.

I'm primarily a console gamer and Dead Space 2 is the first game I've played on the PC, which meant for the first three chapters I was wasn't controlling Issac with ease and rapidly shooting enemies like a pro. Not that I play like a pro normally, anyway. Nope, I was mostly flailing about; moving around so tortuously slowly it would put a tortoise weighed down by heavy shopping bags to shame.

I am aware that it is possible to complete the game in a shorter time thanks to hardcore mode, where the player only has three saves and must rely on checkpoints. If I had an Xbox copy of the game, I think I might have attempted this (after practicing on zealot mode).

It's a scary game but it's not survival horror. I'm not scrabbling around for supplies as enemies drop a lot of them anyway. The game does like to leave you running into empty rooms and empty corridors for a long time before they drop a load of crazy, frothing necromorphs at you.

The graphics and design are amazing. The necromorphs are disgusting and horrifying. Their limbs are bent and shaped at odd angles and some of them vomit on you to slow you down. The creepiest ones I thought were the Stalkers and the Guardians. With Stalkers, itís the not the rushing that creeps me out, itís the way the head peeks slyly behind a box or wall, looks at you, turns to another Stalker and then lets out a cry before running at you. They communicate with each other and use group tactics to try and take you out.



The Guardian is just disgusting to look at; a human attached to wall with tentacles flailing from a cavity in the stomach. Itís constantly crying out in pain before spewing out smaller monsters that can attack at a distance.




Funnily enough, I found Nicole, Issacís girlfriend to be the creepiest thing of all. I was never sure if she was real or a Marker-induced hallucination. I think it gave an insight to Issacís character, since it made clear that he suffered from a lot of guilt over her death and was angry at himself for not saving her. I know some people thought he was a whiny character, but I thought he was a strong character. As a comparison, I thought Marcus Fenix from Gears of War 3 was a lot more annoying after Donís death. Whereas Issac tried his best to cope with the flasbacks and hallucinations, he didnít burden anyone else with his problems and tried to help others as well as trying to find a way of the situation he was placed in. He was calm to Ellie and only killed Stross because of the Marker influencing him. Marcus, on the other hand, let his temper out on others and felt his grief over Don was far more important than anyone elseís problems. He got angry at a man who lost his whole village to the lambent infestation!

Another thing that was creepy was the NoonTech Diagnostic Machine. It involves sticking a needle into Issacís eye just to get Marker information. A needle! In your eye! Thatís just wrong, and itís just painful to think about.



On a side note, I thought Issac Clarke was named after the scientis Issac Newton, who apparently did stick a darning needle in his eye until he poked the backside, in order to study optics. But heís really named after the science fiction author.

My favourite levels were the Church of Unitology levels and the nursery levels. The Church of Unitology is made up of empty church pews and vestries splattered with blood, with monsters crawling in the darkness while angelic statues gaze serenely at the ceiling. Accompanying this scene is a recorded message on a loop, detailing the church's belief that humans will be eventually unified into one conscious. On top of all that, Issac gets debilitating flashbacks every so often. The nursery levels are equally creepy and the bright, cheery atmosphere is slightly jarring. Itís like Nís room in Pokťmon Black and White turned up to eleven or something. Also, baby necromorphs are just horrifying.

The transition between cutscenes and gameplay was seamless, though it was so good that sometimes I didnít realise I had control of Issac until I actually died. I also wish there was a bit more focus between the two factions: EarthGov and the Church of Unitology. There could have been a great science vs religion subplot going on there. However it might have been covered in the text and audio logs, which I didnít pick enough of.

As mentioned previously, Iím a console gamer, and I found using keyboard controls on the PC a bit difficult. I couldnít switch between weapons quick enough and I found it hard to tell what weapon was assigned to what key. At the start, I was using the Plasma Cutter, Bloody Flamethrower Triage javelin gun and Agility Rivet Gun. By the end I had switched to the Plasma Rifle and Line Gun. The Seeker Rifle was only useful for the zero gravity levels in order to take out the nest at a distance. I like that each weapon has alternate fire, and I started using kenesis and stasis a lot more. Necromorphs do drop a lot of ammo, so thereís none of the tension with conserving ammo and scrabbling for supplies.

Overall, I did enjoy the game, I did find some parts of it genuinely scary and I will probably get Dead Space 3 and 1 on the Xbox. I'm particularly intrigued by the co-op mode - I hope the atmosphere will be maintained and that the new necromorphs will need proper teamwork to take them out. What do you guys think?   read


3:42 PM on 05.29.2009  

Somethinginthesea.com Ė Here we go AGAIN!

Well somethinginthesea.com has recently updated to Mark Meltzerís study. Normal enough you might think, except for a pretty weird, evil-loooking lunchbox near the side of his desk. In case you havenít looked at the site recently, Mark Meltzer is the bloke whoís investigating these abductions of little girls around the world.
When we last left him, he had taken a very blurry picture of the Big Sister, which might been exciting in itself if it werenít for Game Informer plastering a great big picture of her literally days before the reveal on the site.

Anyway, after that, a year has passed (1968) and his own daughter got kidnapped by the Big Sister. His wife divorces him, blaming Mark and his crazy research. Heís then sent to a mental facility. When Mark gets out he goes to track the Big Sister down for REVENGE and because he wants his daughter back. He tracks her to Hudson River in New York and traps her in a net. Which clearly isnít effective because she slices through it and then smashes his leg, breaks his ribs and leaves 16 stitches on his neck.

Now, the Big Sister has broken into his office and left the weirdo lunchbox there. Meltzer thinks itís a BOMB, though why he doesnít get rid of it is anyone guess. Itís up to you to unlock this strange box/BOMB thing.




Which is something I have been trying to do, for about 2 hours now, gnashing my teeth in frustration and wasting loads of paper in the process. Mind you, I could just wait for someone else to post the correct combination on the net, but then thatís cheating isnít it?

In any case I think it could make a great Collectorís Edition Box for Bioshock 2. And I personally think itís a bit more intriguing then whatever heck Kojimaís doing.

EDIT: According to people clearly much more used to code cracking over at 2K forums, the message on the back of the box is (it repeats over and over again):

I can't rember my birthday do you remember my birthday I have a new birthday

Except no-one really knows what Big Sister's birthday is.   read


10:26 AM on 03.09.2009  

Bioshock 2 site Ė What the hell is going on?

Iíve been checking out http://somethinginthesea.com/, and someone has managed to hack the map.
This
hacked map was posted on the day of the siteís launch, and so far, all the updates match this map.

http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/260890/map.swf

However, the single unmarked X in the middle is not Rapture. If you remember, the co-ordinates of Rapture
were given in the first game (the flashbacks during the would you kindly reveal): 63į 2' N, 29į 55' W. Putting
the co-ordinates into Google map shows this:



What the X actually seems to mark, is the hypothetical location of Atlantis:



Also, the latest updates reveal that that the kidnapper can leap out of a 3rd storey building. At first I thought
the kidnapper was a lonely Big Daddy, but I really canít imagine a Big Daddy leaping, can you?

EDIT: The site has updated again.   read


10:01 AM on 03.02.2009  

If a Street Fighter IV Movie was made...

The Minus World has some ideas on casting in the unlikely event that a Street Fighter IV movie is ever made:













You can find the rest of the cast here:

http://the-minusworld.com/2009/02/27/street-fighter-iv-the-movie/

Let's hope Hollywood execs don't take this seriously.   read







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