-Instead of spamming the blogging feeds, I decided to give you the recap of my favorite games of 2012. Check the bottom for my other picks. I would love criticism, but please not too harsh; posting all these within a week left me swamped-
2012 showed gaming’s ever expanding grasp, from small, tightly weaved experiences, rising to the heart of popular media with cinematic explosiveness. 2013 can only get better.
5. Mass Effect 3 |360,PS3,Wii U
Ripe with controversy, Mass Effect 3 is the conclusion of one of the greatest trilogies in gaming history. Summing up a decades worth of memories is no easy task, and developer, Bioware, did their best. Witnessing an entire galaxy at the brink of destruction, Commander Shepard’s last stand is a mighty one, reaching a narrative and cinematic peak that will be hard to top.
4. Halo 4 |360
Master chief returns to save the day again in Halo 4. Returning to form, Halo 4 brings a narrative that’s better than ever, erasing the wrinkles of the weakening gameplay, refining it to a limber beast, and it’s ever expanding multiplayer proves livelier than ever. Halo 4 demonstrates the series only gets better with age.
3. Max Payne 3 |360,PS3,Steam
A depressing noir tale set in Brazil, Max Payne 3 is an excellent, stylistic shooter that brings back as much as it pushes forward. With its entrapping bullet dodging gameplay, Max Payne 3 is truly fantastic, dancing realistic physics with reality bending maneuvers. It’s twisted and engaging tale is a cinematic wonder, using techniques for the silver screen, but harnessing moments only meant for gaming experiences.
2. Journey |PSN
A symbolist’s view of death, Journey is a masterpiece and the greatest evidence for games as art. Its simple and deceptively caring gameplay and unique online focus creates an invisible companionship that becomes its loving core. Meaningful, open-ended and visually and emotionally detailed, Journey’s greatness is what it inspires you to imagine.
1. The Walking Dead |360,PS3,Steam
The emotional roller coaster that questions your humanity, The Walking Dead is an intriguing, brutal, adventure title with a rich, logically thorough, and gut wrenching story that brings you right into the narrative. Following Lee and his adopted daughter, Clementine, the journey to safety is a touching one, nearly bringing you to tears every step of the way, regardless of your emotional disposition. With its ample narrative, The Walking Dead is what every story strives to be: an emotional, cohesive, logically well written, tale that makes you care for you fellow man, even if they are portrayed by digital simulations.
After a perfect vacation enjoying every activity possible on the fictionally beautiful tropical getaway of Rook Island, Jason Brody, the protagonist, and his friends find themselves captured by the ruthless and schizophrenically insane Vaas and his pirates. After being caged and prepared for ransom, Jason and his brother attempt an escape that leads to his brother's death and leaves Jason stranded in the dense jungles. Rescued by a nearby Samoan village, Jason must return for his friends to save them from their disgusting fates. The game begins with Jason's turmoils as he's forced to repair his recently shattered life, discover his strength to fight and rescue his friends. Jason knows he's powerless to help, but he must struggle past the harshest of human qualities with the motivation from a Samoan tribe to rescue his friends and escape. Its brutal, believable, and an entrenching idea that eludes a cohesive narrative. Unfortunately this breaks away since, throughout the game, lighthearted, half thought, or out-of-place content dilutes any sense of consistency.
Far Cry 3 tries to have strong suggestive themes, but barely spends any time delving on them, and instead spends its 15 to 20 hours forcing Jason to move from one twisted being to the next, never really spending enough time to explain their logic, brushing you along before any rationalization, leaving the sense that the content has no real precedent and only exists to offend and leave the world "griddy", "dark" and "real". With themes ranging from drug abuse to male on male rape, you'd think Far Cry 3 would spend more time explaining why these touches exists, rather than using tasteless content for the sake of being tasteless.
"Look at that face and tell me he's not a creep"
Far Cry 3's story is a cliched disappointment from what it could have been. I know the game's draw is the spontaneous gameplay, but they've made a big enough effort to suggest story is important. Instead of diving into them, subjects are glanced over to get to the set pieces and "cool parts". The more I played the story, the more I wanted to stop, not because I was offended, but because its not logically development, and later begins to fall apart, often choosing the easiest path to a conclusion. Instead of spending any real time exploring the twisted logic of its psychopathic antagonists and their slave and drug trades, the story mostly revolves around Jason's transition of shunning his former self to become the tribal society's sense of the "warrior", fulfill their uninspired prophecy, and exact revenge from the pirate leaders.
Story aside, this game is beautiful. Rays of sunlight cuts through the shadows of the forests in leafy silhouettes instead of inorganic light beams. The further into thickets you wander, the shadows become blinding, the deep shades hiding anything dangerous on its potential approach. The leaves and branches sway in the breeze, hiding enemy or animal movement. The salty waters sting your eyes causing your vision to blur while swimming. Put in comparative terms, Far Cry 3 is Skyrim meets Just Cause; Read: expansive, gorgeous, and hilariously spontaneous.
The idea of being inside of Jason's head is taken to heart. You're never seen Jason outside of his perspective. If Jason is hurt, as he heals he raises the injury into his view before treating the wound. His monologues as he travels paint his feelings during every action. They're simple as sighs, groans, or small expletives, but you'll get the exact feeling of being in the moment.
When your not ridding Rook Island of the pirate menace, there's plenty for Jason to enjoy during his island vacation. The more necessary side objectives involve liberating the island from its pirate captors by overthrowing the various outposts scattered thoughout the islands, or disabling radio towers to releasing their stranglehold on outside communications. Unless you want to eliminate all opposition and transform the game into pure Cabela's, though, I recommend leaving some outposts hostile, since once they're gone, they're gone. There are various ways to hunt, ranging from recreationally to permitted bounties - just like real hunting! There's also the typical suite of collectibles, races, and poker, which is...poker?
Speaking of, Far Cry 3 is the best Cabela's hunting game. Surprisingly most of the world's animal population resides on Rook Island. Since there are herbivores as well as predators populating the island, there's a breathing ecosystem where food chains are established rather than the popular predators spawning nearby only to throw a wrench in the gears. It's haunting and funny to chase a distant scream to find a large predator attacking a person and then watching vultures appear shortly after the assailant loses interest. That's not to say they don't throw wrenches, mind you; Kept as reluctant pets, its hilarious to unleash karma along with the caged animals upon pirate outposts to exact revenge and complete your bidding.
Torn from the familiarity of shopping centers, Jason must scrounge off the island, using the flora and fauna to create his equipment. Upgrading pouches and slings are easy at first, when the requirement is skinning a dog or pig(yeah, the game is pretty brutal), but you'll begin to laugh when you need to kill two sharks to get that fancy big wallet. And let's not speak of the legendary animals. Learning from the local tribesmen, Jason also learns the residential medicinal concoctions to maintain his health, or otherwise supplement his needs.
"Kali ma...Kali ma"
Shortly after escaping Vaas's camp, the Rakyat villagers that rescue Jason inscribe a tatau(or for the layman, the word 'tattoo' is derived from) upon his arm. Spiritually important to the Rakyat, and the symbol of a warrior in Samoan culture, Jason receives his tatau to show his strength. As you venture out, gain experience, and earn skills, the tattoo will mysterious expand up his arm. It didn't make too much sense to me, but its was a nice way of gauging level progress. My eyes rolled, though, after hearing the idea of the tatau or tattoo, because regardless of the symbolism of Jason's transformation from a tourist to Rakyat warrior, I saw it as an evolution of a douche. I mean, what's every white douche on a thrill seeking island vacation missing? A sweet tribal tattoo sleeve, right?
Taking appearances aside, the skills that nourish Jason's tattoo split into three aspect: The Shark, The Heron, and The Spider. They do have a cosmetic effect on the tattoo, but their purpose lies in gameplay. Encompassing endurance, accuracy, or stealth respectively, the different combative actions and effects are expansive but incremental. I found a lot of the passive skills superfluous, since Jason's stats felt adequate enough, especially with the flamboyant skills assuring a better purchase, although they get superfluous to a point as well; a dual takedown and a throwing knife dual takedown as separate skills seems unnecessary.
There are some technical issues. The save system is a bit clunky, relying a lackluster manual saves when roaming, but when on a mission, a unreliable checkpoint system takes over. More of archaic design issues than a technical flaws, but just about everything needs to load, and cutscenes almost always fade to black before resuming any action. I understand the game is expansive and beautiful, but we haven't gotten past fading out from cutscenes yet?
"Sea food...? See food."
Aside from Jason's adventures on Rook Island, there's a bevy of cooperative and competitive multiplayer experiences to otherwise supplement the experience. Competitive multiplayer doesn't contain much that separates it from its single player counterpart. There's the staple game of deathmatch, which is self explanatory. Domination is basically king of the hill, requiring you hold territories to maintain scores. Transmission is very similar to domination, being a king of the hill variant only on a smaller scale, unfortunately, I wasn't able to find enough players in the variant to competently test it out the action, due to player interest leaning towards its bigger brother. Firestorm is a unique twist in capture the flag, the objective is to two fires, which triggers a napalm strike. At this point a neutral radio point opens, where the defending team races to call in a cancelation order that resets the playing field, or the offensive side confirms the firestorm, igniting the whole field, winning the match. Well its easier than done, since firestorm is easily the toughest variant. There is a map editor, in which you create custom multiplayer maps(obviously) that can be voted on quality, with the better levels thrown into the regular map rotations.
Cooperative play resonated better with me than the competitive multiplayer since it seemed to ring better with the rest of the package. Taking its reigns from games like Left 4 Dead or Dead Island , taking a unlikely and conflicting bunch of misfits and forcing them together by a common goal. However like Far Cry's campaign counterpart, gameplay has a bigger priority than he story. Six months before Jason Brody adventures on Rook Island, a retired cop, a thug chef, a soldier suffering from PTSD, and an dishonored Russian mobster are a cruise ship near Rook Island before the ship's captain sells the vessel and its passengers to pirates, stealing its room vault's contents and escaping to the island. Betrayed and skilled enough to act, the four lash out in revenge to catch up the captain and steal his treasures. Designed for arcade style run throughs, the characters fight hordes of enemies across the island regularly stopping to unbar barriers halting their progress or stop for mini games that have no real context, but, at least, spur up the monotony. The story is quite hard to follow while online, however, since matchmaking is handled automatically, making it hard to play the level you're looking for. Offline coop fixes this issue, allowing you to choose level and difficulty, but downgrades to two players opposed to four.
I loved the game, but with its incoherent and brutal narrative, I was indifferent to its story. Luckily the story if far from everything in the game, so there's plenty of reasons to look past its fiction and enjoy the Far Cry 3 for what it is: a spontaneous, exciting and believably breathing island that's just waiting to be explored by any tourist unlucky enough to get tethered into its disaster ridden shores. Happy hunting and share your Far Cry 3 moments in the comments below!
Its Adventure time! The most rhombus game to draw you into Cartoon Network's mathematical TV hit is here. With the lumping expletives over with, lets get down to the shmowzow.
Much like Finn and Jake's adventures on the show, the duo kick out of bed when the menacing but lonely "Evil" Ice King tries to make friends the only ways he knows how, in this case, stealing their trash to make models of the local Princesses. Along their way, they'll be tasked with the entire Land of Ooo's errands. Comprising mostly of walking around receiving random gifts which later find their uses as you stumble upon other characters from the fiction; i.e. Raggedy princess give you a random, but affectionate sock. Tree Trunks the Elephant bakes a sock pie that cures an Anthropomorphic House's dog's fleas. The Anthropomorphic House give you dungeon key for gratitude, rinse repeat.
Always up to no good
The show's simple animations translates well. Animations are smooth and bring the world to life, as nothing is truly static. All the memorable characters and creatures make an appearance, and in suit with the psychedelic themes of the show, Finn and Jake have the strangest enemies. There is a fair bit of pandering like the characters including famous quotes into sections of dialogue, but that sorta to be expected with tie-in games. The chip tune soundtrack keeps you upbeat and therefor moving along, and could almost beat Anamanaguchi's soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim Against the World: The Game; Almost.
I love those things
If you know your way around an old school platformer, Adventure Time: Ice King Why'd You Steal Our Garbage shouldn't feel alien. Inspired by The Legend of Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link, you look down on Finn and Jake from a bird's eye view as they travel along the map. Walking into a town, dungeon, or when stopped by the overworld's randomly generated monsters, you're given a 2D side scroller's perspective. Once inside a level, monsters appear in real time as you travel from one side to the next. I expected more fighting, but I battled more with platforms than monsters. The enemies are frequent, but are mostly pushovers, requiring only button mashing in between animation rotations. Familiarly designed levels, though, gave me a false sense of security that caused hasty missteps that reset Finn back to the beginning of the screen.
Ice with organs, the coolest thing
With all its lengthy inspirations, it's a shame its so short because with about 4 to 6 hours to endgame its hard to warrant the retail price. It's nice Adventure Time: IKWYSOG is conscience enough to do its job and wrap up rather than add needless content, something that it's early gaming inspiration never had the luxury of knowing. There is a new game plus that repeats the game with increased difficulty, and Metroidvania-like back tracking with newly trained abilities to grab supplementary skills and items if you'd like, but I was still left wanting.
Adventure Time Ice King Why'd You Steal Our Garbage blends the show's source material and its nostalgic gaming inspiration well, but doesn't have enough substance beyond a few hours of mild platforming. IKWYSOG is for anyone feigning for distant memories of older game design, and should be played by somebody looking to find the industry's beginnings. So unless you can wait and search for a deal with the holidays closing in, or at least rent for a good weekend of entertainment, keep your eyes on the TV instead of your 3DS.
Lost in space, four years after the events of Halo 3, the Master chief is awaken once again. His cerebral companion, Cortana, has gone rampant, leading to a unstable schizophrenia. Desperate to save his longtime companion, Chief needs to find his way off a mysterious artificial planet and across millions of light years to United Nations Space Command controlled systems. Breaking their truce, the Covenant are back, and now have some backup, siding with the newly discovered Prometheans, residents of the the synthetic world. Without giving too much away, know Halo 4 has a more interesting story than some of the later installments, bringing back a sense of mystery that’s been lost to the series for some time. Halo 4 does have a shorter campaign than others in the series, but its not too short. Instead of spending extensive hours tying narrative ends, Halo 4′s intention is to be a beginning, so don’t expect all your queries to be resolved.
After the third installment, the visuals of Halo had lost some fidelity, which prompted a revision in 2010′s Halo: Reach. And since Reach was a prequel and returning to the beginnings of the series, Bungie, the creators of the franchise, didn’t stretch any of Halo’s boundaries. That’s Halo 4′s job, opening with a recapitulating cinematic that’s questionably realistic, then immediately leaving the familiarity of UNSC or Covenant visuals with Reqiuem, an entire planet based on the Halo Ring’s design. Locations are still important to the series, and instead of resting on familiar locales, 343i brings a globe’s worth of new material. Expansive valleys onlooking Forerunner bases, covenant battlements fortifying forerunner structures hidden in forest enclaves, miasmic jungles, space stations from all three nations, barren crevices in the hollow crust of Reqieum, a Death Star trench run(Yes, please). The sprawling distances and beautiful vistas alone proves Halo is still one of the greatest looking games on the 360.
As soon as you take your first reuniting steps in spartan shoes, you feel like Master Chief, as your viewpoint is from within the Chief’s eyes, with his helmet’s edges barely cutting into sight. Cortana, the first thing you actually see, hasn’t been given chance to bask in the high defined limelight and now that she has, is easy to see why Chief is committed to keeping her around, literally stuck in his head. The covenant have been redesigned again to unify the varying species. To illustrate the similarities between the different breeds and ranks, developer 343 Industries have exposed the spacefaring reptiles underneath the metallic armor. Grunts and jackals now look like they’ve diverged from the same solar system, even the same planet. The elites now show better diversity throughout the traditional hierarchy, lower ranks have less armor, lacking the extremity protection of their superiors, where higher officials have elegant headdresses showing their skill. As with most things in the franchise, the new Prometheans are based off the mysterious Forerunner technology, and have a similar color palette, sharing shades of metallics and silvers with highlights of glowing lava-esque plasma.
Relatives of the security sentinels of the previous games, the Prometheans are the advanced sentient AI guardians of Reqiuem, the artificial planet Master Chief crashes on. With similar battle patterns to enemies of previous games, nothing is strategically different between them and the Covenant, but the Prometheans are some of the most ruthless enemies of the series. With the ability to revive, support, and spawn reinforcements on the fly, a scouting party of Prometheans soon can lead to a full battalion if left unchecked.
In league with the development’s theme of context, online gameplay is now given a story. Instead of random coups of dueling Spartans, multiplayer matches now take place on the UNSC Infinity, a space carrier dedicated to the training of recruits. When selecting multiplayer in the menu your greeted by a hologram of the ship, displaying the different sections that dedicated to different modes: War games, the new title for multiplayer, is at the bottom of the ship. The cooperative narrative, Spartan Ops, is in the nose. And forge and theater are left to the back of the ship.
343i has brought a continuous segment of cooperative missions that extends the experience beyond the campaign and tried and true multiplayer, while supplementing the story by expanding the lore within the game rather than leaving it to another medium. 343i plans to add episodes, each grouped into 5 playable chapters, every week, the first ‘season’ compiling 5 weeks. So far I’ve played the first three episode, and its more familiar than I expected. Spartan Ops is the inheritance from Firefight, and more or less it boils down to the same song and dance. 343 does provide more context that expands Spartan ops beyond the cooperative score attack mode it used to be, but its still a light experience. The majority of the episodes’ stories are presented in video segments chronicling the tales of fireteam Crimson as they supplement the UNSC forces across Requiem six months after Chief’s adventures. These videos are what your waiting for each week, as they’re the only thing separating it from its predecessor. Besides the single high-quality cutscene each episode, the only context given is through the radio communications. They do a good job at establishing each battle’s effect on the overall war, but its not difficult seeing how transparent it really is.
Halo 4′s multiplayer is the still same frantic beast it’s been since 2004, though its again been refined upon 2010′s Halo: Reach. To better tackle its recent rivals, like the many evolutions of the Call of Duty Series and its clones, Halo 4′s Multiplayer has had a bit of a face lift. Kill cams, loadouts and the prestige-like specialization, are the most obvious adoptions for the CoD crowd. Daily, weekly, and monthly challenges continue to incentivize returning players, and tracking systems called ‘commendations’ return from Reach and record just about everything possible in the campaign, spartan ops, as well as multiplayer. Propping up the eight-year-old online combat, 343i incorporated a currency called ‘Spartan Points’ that are used to purchase the equipment comprising each loadout. Rifles, pistols, grenades and, of course, the abilities that return from Reach are all purchasable along with the armor pieces that have become the staple of rising the ranks. It should be noted, sprint is now a default button, no need to waste abilities.
Aside from the traditional games such as team deathmatch, capture the flag(as well as its sister-game, oddball), king of the hill, and along with Halo’s set of regularly updating variant matches, multiplayer has its new additions to please those looking for a change from the norm. Domination could be defined as territories’ return from Halo 2. Teams are required to grab and hold bases to gain points. Flood is variation of Infection, the fan-inspired zombie mode. All but a few player are humans surviving against the growing horde of players transformed into Flood, the series take on zombies. Regicide is a mix between free-for-all and the all-against-one juggernaut modes, and is a decent substitute for either variant. The lead player is deemed ‘king’ and placed a bounty on his head, and as he maintains his lead, he’s given supplements to retain his reign. The longer the king dominates, the higher the bounty placed upon him, and when killed, the bounty is relinquished. These bounties catapult players up and down the scoreboard with their high score rewards, creating a manic scramble to secure or topple the lead.
The alternating rhythms of the tried and true classics and remixed matches compliment each other well. The new remixes and grab bag of random variants keep you in enthralled, Domination is infuriatingly tense and stressful, legitimizing the battlefield a little more than a glorified game of paintball. Flood is scary, and addicting. I don’t quite understand how to win besides mere surviving, but it doesn’t ruin the fun. Regicide is nice replacement for free-for-all, I was never a fan of the overpowered juggernaut mode, but the changes to those aspects are well invited. And if anything new brings you down, return for to familiarity of the classics, whom’s heritage speaks for itself.
Halo 4 is great addition to the series that does more than stir up the Covenant for another fight. It pushes beyond what the franchise has establish before, stretching to the farthest unanswered regions. Fitting with series pedigree, Halo is worth your time, as it likely always has been. And if you haven’t tried the series yet, what’s wrong with you?
Assassin's Creed: Liberation is about Avaline De Grandpre, daughter to a French merchant and his African wife searching for her lost mother. Exploring 18th century New Orleans, she uncovers a slavery trade conspiracy spread throughout the America's.
Without a fluent backstory, Avaline, has one of the lightest stories in the Assassin's Creed universe. This lack of explanation works well on the go, but might lack the coherence some of the dedicated fans might miss. Assassin's Creed: Liberation is an 'Animus gaming program' canonically presented by Abstergo(the fictional conglomerate behind the Assassin's nemesis, the Templar Order), although Abstergo is completely irrelevant in a story that never leaves 1765 America. The game is still presented from the prospective of someone reliving ancestral memories, but its never explains who is reliving these memories. It's a big mystery thats never hinted, and in fact, completely ignored. Compared to its console brethren, it lacks the logic that invented a cohesive world and defined the action beyond 'killing bad guys because they're bad'. It's clear the game has been put on a diet to fit a lifestyle on the run, eliminating exposition and backstory to fill your time with assassinations.
This is fun...
Assassin's Creed Liberation is PS3 quality game on the go, albeit stripped of its fat, meat and muscle. There are plenty to do when Aveline isn't tracking broken contracts of indentured servitude, such as eliminating business rivals, freeing slaves, or managing shipping trades, but at the end of these side objectives, I wasn't given a sense of accomplishment, like they were making some effect to the world, they felt more like filler. Most of the area that's Aveline is sent to for mission on the maps are thriving with busy citizens along with animals like pets and livestock while the other sprawls completing the map are left barren of life. It's understandable that it wouldn't be as populated as its console counterpart, but its odd that some sections in Liberation are competent with its brethren while other moments you're uselessly climbing viewpoints in a well build ghost town.
Avaline can use three personas to finish her objectives, but they boils down to various degrees of limitations. The 'Lady', can't do anything acrobatic, but she is influencing, allowing her to charm and bribe the less loyal guards. The 'Slave' persona can blend in easily with work forces, incite riots, but isn't the best in a fight due to less health and a limited arsenal. As the 'Assassin', Aveline is at full force, she can use all her weapons, climb anything, and has the best chance in a fight. The personas have pros and cons, but they're uneven, the Assassin is more or less the classic experience, with only constant low notoriety limiting her. The Slave isn't too much different, only having limited inventory compared to the Assassin. As the Lady, Aveline has most of her equipment and abilities removed, she can defend herself, and has a few items to stealthy remove guards, but she loses the sense of being an effective assassin. Missions force you into each persona to assimilate with certain mission providers, preventing you from returning to the more fulfilling personas until the mission's end, slowing the pacing down and dampers the enjoyment. A thing that did raised my brow about the personas was the update to the notoriety system around the world. Instead of the posters, heralds and witnesses that criminalizes you regardless of cosmetic changes that would otherwise aloof your adversaries, they now point to each persona alone, allowing you the ability to avoid detection while you clear your name.
...This is not.
Since a Playstation Vita review has to bear some mention of touch controls, Liberation's implementations are range from pleasant to frustrating, Touching the mini map sends you to the map screen, then simply touching anywhere will make a waypoint, which is nice and easy, compared to the classic buttons. Selecting weapons is done in a similar fashion, activated by touch to pause the game as you select devices from two radials. Then there's the Touch and motion gimmicks that riddle the latter experience with such acts as swiping your fingers along both touch surfaces to simulate tearing a letter, or using the cameras to searching for a light source to reveal details under a map and later uses of infuriating marble mazes. They're stretched thin enough but every one ground the momentum to a halt. Mostly useless and superficial when boiled down, they're forced small mini game to circumvent the standards of simple button interaction, and it doesn't help when you look stupid as you wonder around pointing you Vita up at the sun or twisting like you're a buttoning up a sweater inside out.
Moment to moment, I like Assassin's Creed Liberation, but when I look back after setting the Vita down I'm unsatisfied. For every thing Liberation does well, there's something bad to counter balance it, it's hard to recommend a game that has just as much bad as it does good. Liberation had a lot it to live up to in the series pedigree as well as a potential system seller for the Vita, and it'd didn't need much change to succeed, but with a lackluster story, inconsistent motion controls, and lack of vision in the personas, I'd say its best to save yourself the frustration, and leave this one alone.
It's hard for me to look so far back in time and remember my mind sets as they have changed through the years. My introduction with the Metal Gear (Solid) series cultivated after staring at many box covers of the original and the at the time newly released Sons of Liberty, as well as many titles that familiarized me with super star franchises throughout my youth in the late 90's and early 00's. I eventually picked up Sons of Liberty with my parents at Costco, escaping to the games display while they completed their errands. The thing most prevalent in my mind was "the sword wielding chick" whose artwork was scattered throughout the strategy guide. Since I wasn't adept enough to progress past the introductory Tanker level, I would peek ahead in my guide to learn that I would take of control of the katana equipped femme fatale that got me interested into the series. After scores of attempts to explore past the Tanker, I eventually was allowed access to the Plant level, and access to control that "sword wielding chick" I had been hoping to accompany.
Man was I wrong. Immediately after hearing her speak as she rose from the oily ocean sludge into the Disposal Facility, it hit me. "That's a Dude!?!"
Now this was a bit disorienting for my enthusiasm, but it couldn't dissuade me from the brilliance of Sons of Liberty. Snake's infiltration of the Tanker to expose another Metal Gear threat, Raiden's walk into hell of an introduction to Dead Cell, Grey Fox(Mk II), Revolver Ocelot's ulterior motives, that (stupid) escort of Otacon's sister, and the duel with Solidus. I could talk endlessly of what excels, but that's not my point. Being my first entry, Sons of Liberty rings something special between Metal Gear and me, causing me to become somewhat of an evangelist for Raiden. Before Metal Gear Solid's 4 revamp, Raiden became a joke in the series, not just among the fans, but rising up to developments, reaching its peaks with the rightfully hilarious Major Ivan Raidenovitch Raikov and his infamous thong. I laughed along but I still remember my faith in Raiden's potential to be a badass.
Then came Metal Gear Solid 4. As Hideo Kojima toiled away on the conclusion to his epic tale, he teased his community of fans with many trailers, hinting at what we would be gifted with. One of the more popular trailers was Raiden's Return, which revealed a complete change for Raiden, from espionage rookie to cyborg ninja. I didn't have a Playstation 3 until the first Redesign, which led to quite a bit of speculation to how the change had taken place, but nevertheless I was proud to shout "I told you, I knew he was cool". After subsequently playing MGS4 several times more than too much I had a general understanding of Raiden's transformation, but I still wanted a blatant explanation. Luckily Hideo had some news.
After relishing on the success of the forth addition to his popular series, and in between some Playstation Portable titles and other works, Hideo and his team at Kojima Productions revealed Metal Gear Solid Rising sometime in 2009. I was ecstatic, I could finally relive some of my childhood. Another big thing that got me excited staring at the pictures of the "chick" in the Sons of Liberty artwork was in fact the sword, as even I was an industry ignorant child, I noticed the saturation of gun-toting heroes and just wanted a game about chopping up things. The fact that you were given said sword about a half hour away from the last boss could be my only complaint looking back on the game. MGS Rising was my chance to redeem that complaint tenfold as well as get some more story on my favorite character in the series, so I began to wait.
And there was nothing, no word of progress. There was another trailer at the next E3, E3'10, describing a more refined demonstration of what the product would, but was still cryptic and unrevealing, showing a conceptual cut scene and light display of gameplay involving watermelons, but didn't give any release information or product details. Nothing substantial that could ease the fear that meet the hands of players, instead leaving a message of "Please. Keep faith" rather than "There's no reason to lose faith".
And in fact, faith was rightfully lost, as quietly and without public notice Kojima canceled the project sometime in 2010. With everyone from fan to press in the dark, people began to speculate that MGS Rising had joined the likes of Team Ico's The Last Guardian, in development limbo, never to see the light of day.
And then something happened nobody expected. Metal Gear Solid Rising had changed hands. Hideo Kojima took stage at the Spike Video Games Awards in December 2011, to state Platinum Games had taken development while revealing Rising's cancellation. Included in the announcement was the drop of "Solid" from the title, signifying the lack of Hideo's presence. The new title, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, explained to signify the revenge and vengeance of Metal Gear Solid: Rising's fiasco as well as the rising of Raiden's tale. The series tag line of "Tactical Espionage Action" has also been altered to "Lightning Bolt Action". Now rightfully the tag was changed under Kojima rule, but in the house of Kojima Productions it kept its traditional mind sets of stealth, where action has been unleashed by studio known for high paced over the top action title such as Vanquish and Bayonetta.
I was one among the upset, but not to any lack of qualification to Platinum. I've played and enjoyed both of the aforementioned games, I know what Platinum is capable of, and of all the choices of developers and with the number of bad decisions that usually accompany these situations, I'm quite happy they were picked, they were a good choice. My only complaint with Vanquish, a game that Rising: Revengeance has been compared to since the transfer, was a lack of coherence, something the Metal Gear has always had fluent. With two play through clocked playing Vanquish, I got the sense that they couldn't cope with Hideo's idea of design. Those who have grown receptive about Rising: Revengeance, that I've met, always manage to add an asterisk into the conversation: "*All I expect is a sweet over the top game in Vanquish or Ninja Gaiden fashion" which puts a bad taste in my mouth. "At this point, it's not Metal Gear Solid. I don't want it anymore" I thought.
Late 2012, I've had some time to be angry and steam over the piling news of what I considered a bad decision. Whenever someone would ask my opinion I would say "The story isn't going to be good, I won't like it, I'm not buying it" but then I started to investigate. I read every bit of information about the transition I could find to learn what happened. And one piece l found was that due to a concern to be able to acceptably assimilate into Metal Gear canon, Platinum would only develop gameplay while Kojima Productions will handle everything in the story, albeit taking place in a new stage in canon to represent the change of guard.
After playing the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo that's included in the Zone of the Enders HD Collection, I'm pretty excited. From what I've played things feel new while retaining some of its old essence. It's evident that Kojima and his crew are still in control, as cut scenes drag to they're expected featurette lengths, scenes still retain the explanatory exposition of its predecessors. Swordplay retains some of its DNA from Sons of Liberty, as the Free Cut mode is the obvious and logical progression of its system. Basic combat in understandably compared to Ninja Gaiden, as its system of light and strong attacks is similar. What's different is Raiden's acrobatics, as Raiden fights like his cut scenes from Metal Gear Solid 4 rather than stick to the ground and fight traditionally like he did back in 2001. One thing that became apparent was that Raiden was the only familiar face. While disappointed by the lack of fanfare, I can see the reasoning, this is Raiden's story, and being distracted by more prevalent characters isn't the idea. The script has been rewritten to accept new players, and excessive fanfare excludes them. Keeping the theme of the metaphorical reasoning behind the name, the cast change becomes apparent, would Raiden rely on the friends of friends that are Snake's allies, or would he form his own team? I'd think I'd go with the team that won't constantly compare me to my mentor, too.
Everything looks and feels like Metal Gear, which is to say good. With four months away from release and things going into production, I'm hoping Platinum and Kojima Productions have proved a good synergy, and mainly I'm hoping the spirit of Metal Gear lives beyond the mind of Hideo Kojima.