Assassin's Creed IV. I'm really starting to hate this game even before playing it after that Shark news the other day, an announcement that was revealed as if it was cool or something. The hunting and poaching of sharks for petty, unnecessary ingredients is the primary reason why they are going extinct so fast after millions and millions and millions of years of evolution. If this attitude toward them keeps up, then they will be gone in a decade or 2 in our lifetime. That's just sad.
Didn't think Ubisoft would stoop this low, but I was half-expecting some sort of shark "danger" element after i knew there was ocean swimming in the game. It's fine if you have to fend off the occasional curious attacking shark with a punch, or swim stealthily without the thrashing that obviously excites sharks. There have been tolerable gameplay elements before in games, especially more cartoony ones. But harpooning and murdering sharks on a boat for its skin and "crafting" is NOT cool, and anyone who is down with this mechanic should be ashamed. These are some of the most graceful, sleek, and evolved animals of all time, and celebrating shark hunting (especially during shark week Ubisoft) is monstrous and destructive to our ecosystem.
Even if you don't lovingly dedicate a large portion of your life to the study of sharks and marine life (like me), you can objectively know that sharks are vital to the Ocean food chain and balance as apex predators. Sharks are supposed to coexist with humans at the top of the food chain of their respective environments. They do not intentionally hunt us and we should not intentionally hunt them for fishermen's pride and useless material. They reproduce extremely slow and are dwindling faster than they ever deserved. Jumping into a boat and stabbing them until death is uncalled for and perpetuates the notion that these are man's enemies/trophies (when they are not). I know that this is just fantasy and not real life. I get it. But this is art and it has the power to change or accent existing notions especially as a AAA release worldwide. Back out of this gameplay aspect Ubisoft. You should know better.
Am I the only one who feels the franchise peaked with the 2nd game? I mean, this series has a place for me, but its mostly the fresh feeling I got from the PS2 games back when it was new. GoW2 is in my top 50 favorite games ever, in fact! God of War 1 was bought because I heard good things and cuz I was craving an Action-adventure with combat and puzzles and quality presentation. The unrelenting angry mood was innovative and the music was 1st rate.
GoW2 came out and took the level to 10. The kills were cooler, there were finally more bosses, big and small, you could wield multiple weapons, the music was even better, and the puzzles were tighter. Two things to note - For one, the plot introduced a higher stakes goal of changing fate, when I heard I was supposed to go after the Sisters of Fate of all mythological beings, I was like "oh shit just got real". Also, your new enemy was Zeus and Olympus, while you sided with the mothafuggin Titans of Greek mythology. All the while Athena was kinda on your side just to spice things up. Simple plot, but awesome stakes for those with even the slightest knowings of Greek mythology.
The 2nd notable thing was that the locations of this game were better than all other GoW games before and since. You start off at Rhodes in the series' trademark great openings. Then we get a flying sequence, to pitstop at the Ice Titan's lair. We even fight the dude, sorta. Then we do another flying sequence to the Isle of Fates. While this Isle was basically the rest of the game, it had more diversity in visuals and tasks than Pandora's Tower from GoW1. Plus, a detour to Atlas underneath for a portion of the game. In GoW3, I felt Mount Olympus just wasn't as compelling, and I think they stuck in Hades Underworld for the 3rd (?) time just to add a little more diversity. The handheld titles' areas were fine (and had good final acts), but didn't come close to GoW2.
To top it off, after going through boss battles with several notable names including Perseus and the Barbarian King and the Sisters themselves, we get one of the best (if not the best) cliffhanger endings in gaming. A very literal cliffhanger, but still, that scene was done so well, just rewatch it on youtube to see what I mean. Maybe it's the magic rainbow that sprinkled upon basically every game that happened in 2007, but I was seriously impressed by GoW2 above the other entries. I hope Ascension brings back the diversity of areas found in GoW2, and even if Kratos doesn't travel much, I hope the location he spends time in is comparable to Isle of Fates.
Also, with Ascension being the 3rd/4th entry to go "backwards" in the timeline, why haven't they made a game with Kratos as a normal Spartan, before he slaughters his wife and child. If they're gonna make a prequel, I'd want to play that chapter. Have him slightly disempowered, an above-average Spartan human who leads an army, doesn't use Blades of Chaos for once, swears to Ares at some climactic point in the Barbarian battle, gets the blades and we're in business, does stuff for Ares, meanwhile conquers lands for the glory of Sparta, then ends in a tragic slaughter of wife/child...and possibly have the player do it themselves...even better if the game finds a way to make you do it on accident. I mean, GoW3 did succeed in tricking me into beating up Zeus for 3 minutes straight out of primal rage, not giving him a chance to breathe and making sure I do the most damage I could (damn I feel horrible typing that). I think it could work if done right. A prequel before the family slaughter would have a much different tone, and a less powerful Kratos who only grows more noticeably superhuman throughout.
So am I alone in loving GoW2 the most? Or was the 1st game's freshness more valuable than the sequel's improvements. Or did the franchise figuratively "Peak" with the 3rd game's journey up Mt. Olympus?
Ok so I'm a complete noob at blender, and I should've posted this earlier, but I hope it looks good enough for a novice effort. Any constructive criticism in the aspects would be appreciated, but hopefully nothing that would take 5 hours to do or anything. I used Blender because it is free open-source or whatever and because I took a basic 3D modeling course haha
I tried to get the geometry as accurate as possible while looking at screenshots of the game, since i didn't have the game with me during creation. The lighting tends to differ in areas, but I mostly tried to get the shadows of the window frames projected onto the floor by the light...something the original game didn't do. And I drew the window frames as accurate as I could squint at the low-res textures of OoT. Also, sorry for the weird lens choice, I forgot it might look distorted when the camera pans.
This was probably my favorite area in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and I bet others share the same sentiment. Give feedback if you can!
Includes: crude model of young link, a hookshot (my favorite item though it doesn't belong in child era), Navi, 3 spiritual stones, Master Sword, courage, power, and not enough wisdom.
Isn't it Wonderful? It's great to think that when I think of "Final Fantasy", the first thing to come to mind is the music of the franchise. And somehow, this isn't a knock to the rest of the franchise's often stellar storytelling, tactical gameplay, and stunning visuals. Not many names in the gaming industry resonate with music as much as Square's famous series. After purchasing a physical copy of the FFVII 4 disc soundtrack and the giant sheet music book back in my teen years, I soon found myself obsessed with the music of other Final Fantasy games that I had played. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't played nearly all of these games, but the ones I have experienced will stick with me via my ipod if anything. My experiences revolve around FFI, FFIII, FFIV, FFVI, FFVII, FFVIII, FFX, FFXIII, and Dissidia & Crisis Core & Advent Children. However, being a fan it's impossible to have not heard (via the net) some of the more infamous tunes from FF games I haven't played.
I have no shame in saying that the controversial Final Fantasy VIII is my favorite FF game so far. Something about the game just seemed righteously different from the series that would've become stagnant had it kept following the formulas established by the SNES entries. FFVIII, for me, holds the position of being the most impressive FF from an audiovisual perspective (considering the time) and it truly showed me how much presentation matters in enhancing the single-player experience. Aside from the hugely improved visuals, the soundtrack represented Uematsu at his peak. The synth in FFVIII sounded much more authentic and realized, while the orchestral tracks acted like their own aural FMVs...moments that technologically highlighted chosen story sequences. The game's music was even played at the 2004 Olympics during American Synchronized Swimming. "Liberi Fatali" remains my favorite videogame track of all time after all these years, creating a stunning opening cinematic that has never been matched. The "Eyes on Me" motif is heard throughout the game, from Julia's gentle piano performance to the "Love Grows" instrumental rendition. The actual vocal song, in my opinion, is romantic without being cheesy. It is enhanced by the fact that the character Julia wrote it for Laguna, and Faye Wong brings her voice to life while applying it to the former couple's respective offspring: Squall & Rinoa. "The Extreme", in another brilliant twist, triumphantly brings back the classic FF battle motif after an extensive intro.
Oddly enough, my favoritism of FF games seems to align with my favoritism of their respective soundtracks. Final Fantasy VIII, then VI, then VII, then X, etc. If I were to make a list of my favorite overall videogame soundtracks, FFVIII and FFVI would be number 1 and number 2 respectively, with FFVII somewhere behind the Chrono scores in the top ten. In my downtime, I listen to many game songs including Final Fantasy OSTs (of the games I did play), Final Fantasy remixes, and official rearrangements. When I find that I have free time, I usually decide to take up a videogame song on piano. Despite my slow learning abilities, One of Jeremy Parish's blogs on 1up regarding Final Fantasy music had me desperate to learn another FF theme on the instrument. This particular song, Beatrix's theme, was from a game I never even finished (nor did I get very far). I'm intentionally holding off on FFIX until the day when I'm older and truly start missing the classic Final Fantasy journey - the place I'll return to someday. As my friend put it, I'm probably just waiting until I become FFIX's target audience.
A) Rose of May
Often called "Loss of Me", which is probably a mistranslation that stuck, this song is a character motif for Beatrix in FFIX. While the piano collections version sounds nice, the original is faster and catchier at least to my ear, so I stuck closely to that. Still, the definitive version of this song for me is katethegreat19's cover titled "The Rose General".
B) Life Stream
I'm truly not the best piano player, but back when I recorded this I tried to capture the gentle mystique as best I could. This particular FFVII tune represents the planet, giving off a simple mystique that adds sympathy to something the party is ultimately trying to protect. It may not translate as well to piano, but with the right touch the tune still sounds calming to me.
C) Aerith's Theme
One of the most memorable character themes of all time, Aerith's theme has been played many times in orchestral, synth, and solo arrangements. It was the first FF song I ever learned on piano, but I'm betting I'm not alone in that regard. The tune made #16 in the 2012 Classic FM Hall of Fame (I voted for it!) which brought Uematsu to the attention of many "classical" music fans. Whether or not you consider a song like this "classical", Aerith's theme still stirs emotions that will be eternally tied to sacrifice and flowers. Also, there are noticeable nods to the opera song from FFVI!
D) Tifa's Theme
The theme to one of my favorite characters in FFVII! While Tifa kicks major ass as a fighter, her theme never forgets her humble roots in Nibelheim and 7th Heaven. This tune gives off a nice home-sweet-home feeling, especially when the piano collections version plays briefly in Advent Children.
E) Cid's Theme
A short theme, but one with a lot of depth. Cid Highwind's greater objectives and personality are heard by players when this theme begins. He's definitely the best Cid in the FF series, and his strength truly shows through this tune and the song "Sending a Dream into the Universe" (a calmer rendition on the same motif).
F) Listen to the Cries of the Planet
This song caught me off-guard, but it remains one of the most underappreciated pieces in FFVII. Also known as "You can Hear the Cry of the Planet". An unsettling masterpice, this atmospheric track truly haunted me through the Forgotten City areas. The uneasiness was well-placed, as the shock of Aerith's death afterwards resulted in a greatly effective climax of emotions.
G) Mark of a Traitor
It's essentially Barret's theme, but for some reason I always favored this rendition of the motif. It plays in North Corel while the story reveals unfortunate events in Barret's past. Not the most popular tune, but quite catchy in my opinion.
H) Desert Wasteland
Often called "Sandy Badlands", this slow tune is one of the best examples of Uematsu's scoring abilities. It plays in the Corel Desert Prison, setting the mood that FFVII does so well with junky areas. Now I just need to learn this on my ocarina someday.
I) Aria di Mezzo Carattere
The main opera piece from FFVI's delightfully memorable scene. I love how this song and "Celes' Theme" carry the same motifs, even though one track is diegetic and the other isn't. It goes to show how significant the performance was to Celes' overall character arc. My favorite part of this song has to be the end, after the main melody wraps up.
These videos don't represent my absolute favorite FF tunes, but they are still fun to play and hum along to. I'll eventually get to more tunes from this wonderful series in the future, since youtube is a more reliable archive than my hard drive. In fact, my all-time favorite song to play on piano is the FFX Ending Theme, as the song has incredible buildup while bringing back memories of FFX's best scene. I'll have to find time to make a worthy recording of that song and all the FFVIII tracks I want to learn.
Final Fantasy titles, even the games without Uematsu's presence, have always made sure to delight the ears with expertly composed videogame background music - and in some cases diegetic music. I hope this remains a priority in future titles as well as in any spinoffs/remakes that come along. Nobuo Uematsu, the man responsible for some of the best soundtracks I've ever heard, stands with (and above) other top composers like Koji Kondo, David Wise, and Yasunori Mitsuda. I wish I could learn to be a Black Mage like him and conjure up so many awesome compositions. When asked about his inspiration for his music, Uematsu replied in an interview with Asia Pacific Arts "Rather than getting inspiration from listening to other music, I get inspiration while I'm walking my dog".
Here's some feedback from me, I hope this gets through via comment or blog. I already posted this in a comment on the awards page by the way.
More so than just honoring the right games (in their mind), a team like Destructoid should be consistent in the games they honor. What I mean by this is not looking like you guys changed your minds midway through the GOTY process. It's fine if you guys award a game over the others in a category even if it didn't get the highest "score" from a few months back in the review. People's minds change in retrospect, that's OK.
But take a look at this: Mass Effect 3 is in the GOTY nominations list. This is, unless I'm missing something, the TOP 5 games of the year. Now when I go to the RPG awards, the game isn't even nominated. Even if you count ME3 as a shooter, the game ain't on that nominee list either. I find it hard to say that "Mass Effect 3 is not one of the top 5 best RPGs in 2012, but it's one the 5 best games of the year."
This isn't the only case. Is CoD the best shooter of the year? Or is it Borderlands? Because Borderlands 2 is standing a lot closer to the Walking Dead on that GOTY podium than CoD is. Dishonored isn't the best Action/Adventure game? Fair enough, but it's still 1 of the top 5 games of the year and Sleeping Dogs isn't. Journey wins Best Platformer (already a debatable classification) over Spelunky, but then Spelunky wins best console-exclusive OVER Journey! But wait, Journey is on the GOTY nominee list and Spelunky isn't.
It's normal for games to win independently in certain "attribute" categories like graphics, music, co-op, etc. Halo 4 winning best multiplayer over CoD implies that CoD's single-player and other aspects were good enough to justify being the overall best Shooter. I mean, it's fine if you guys think Journey is the better game than Spelunky. But does Spelunky somehow do a BETTER job at being console exclusive or something? Does the game shout "hey, i'm the best at the wondrous skill that is console-exclusivity, so I deserve this award"?
I understand that being 100% consistent would lead to your GOTY nominee page being a big spoiler for all the rest of your awards results. In 2010, Up was the only animated film nominated for Best Picture when they released the nominees for the academy awards. This was a dead giveaway that Up would win best Animated feature film when awards time came, killing any "suspense" for the audience if there was any. But at least it was consistent.
In order to avoid this "spoiling your own winners" problem, I would suggest releasing the nominees page and then the winners 1 category at a time. Or something. Especially before moving on to broader categories like overall GOTY. Of course, this all hinges on you guys choosing to be consistent. Otherwise, I feel there's absolutely no point in seeing a list of nominees, and the awards are cheapened from your site (which then affects how seriously one takes your opinions). The inconsistencies I mentioned are obviously going to be overshadowed by Walking Dead winning GOTY, a title which didn't break any consistencies in your awards as far as I know. But what if you had a Best Adventure game category and Walking Dead lost to something like Zero Escape, while still winning GOTY? It'd be much more noticeable on the site, but no less inconsistent than what's already here regarding other games.
I know you guys are one of the more fun-loving game sites out there, never too serious...and that's great! But being fun is different from being wishy-washy. Maybe you feel that the year was so damn great, that you can't decide on definitive better games from each other. If that's truly the case then say so, simple! So yeah...just some feedback, something you guys were asking for anyway. I feel consistency is something far more important to work on than expanding technical aspects like video awards or category expansions, etc. This is just coming from a college film and digital media major, so I hope I'm not sounding too snobbish. Otherwise, keep up the great work fellas. I hope the 2013 awards will be better than ever!
1up's recent Prime vs. Fusion article got me reminiscing. I'll never understand why some people dislike Echoes relative to other titles, or think its "good but not in the same league" as the other two Prime games. Nobody ever seems to give any major reason other than "the difficulty". I never thought it was frustrating or tedious any more than other Metroid games can get, which I guess all depends on the player's ability to lightbulb and solve stuff. Is increased difficulty and a daring sense of vulnerability (a la Majora's Mask) a bad thing in this regard? For me, I remember mostly the amazing art, environmental creativity, the intense-as-ever fights, harder yet rewarding puzzles, and sick music. I'm not trying to change anyone's opinions or forcefully persuade (it's been 8 years after all), but I'm still curious. I'd like to hear more opinions about this title, or memories good/bad.
I felt it dared to be just different enough from Prime 1, and it didn't feel the need to revive the annoyingly frequent MotherBrain/Ridley blah blah fan-service stuff that Prime 3 and Other M later did for the billionth time. Being the hardest Prime puzzle/combat wise, it was also the most rewarding, it definitely expected you to be 2 years smarter since your last run with the original Prime. That's why Prime 3 didn't blow me away or impress me as much, it was on a much easier level (similar to Twilight Princess for Zelda). Couple that with easier aiming and a return to the "1 beam does all" mechanic, and Corruption felt like going through the motions at times. I'm not going to try to blame the "draw in more wii audience" on this one, but in the future I'd like Metroid games to not shy away from trying to kick Samus' ass in both action and adventure skills. If she's visiting alien planets she's unfamiliar with, there's nothing wrong with a feeling of newfound danger to go along with that loneliness. If anything, it motivated me more to find those hidden powerups, and get a better ending. Maybe it was all those powerups I got that prevented me from having overly frustrating times with the battles? It's possible the rest of the world went through the game with minimal energy tanks and ammo expansions.
This IGN review from an older editor pretty much sums up how I feel about the game. It's the little details that make the Prime series taken for granted these days. From the very quiet, subtle, yet clever return of "Brinstar Red Soil" music (my favorite Metroid theme) to the satisfying Missile/Beam hybrid weapons that you can obtain, Prime 2 was Retro at their most confident. It's right behind Prime 1 in my top 30 favorite videogames.
Happy 10th Birthday to the Prime series of Metroid games (well, 10 years ago since Nov. 17th)