hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

FRESH MEAT  
|   FROM OUR COMMUNITY BLOGS

michaelarby's blog


4:18 PM on 07.08.2014

Bound: a Free 2.5d platformer



Hey guys. Hope this isn't too spammy a post! This is a screenshot from my first Unity game, Bound. It is a 2.5d exploration platformer with a silhouette art style, developed over 16 weeks as my final student project. It's my first large Unity project, though I have dabbled with other software before.

You play as Joot Lightray, a down on his luck explorer who has crash landed on an alien planet, and must use the native gravity altering technology to find a way to escape! The main gamepley hook is that for every Gravity Shard you collect (think Mario's coins or Sonic's rings) your jumping ability is ever so slighty increased. The more you collect, the higher you jump!

Like I say it's a student project I created whilst learning how to code, so it's still fairly buggy, but please check it out and let me know what you think!

The demo is free to download here: michaelarby.itch.io/bound

If you dont want to download, gameplay footage can be watched on vimeo here: vimeo.com/97774368

Critiques and feedback are welcomed! let me know what you think here or via twitter @michaelarby

Thanks!   read


7:09 PM on 04.28.2013

Piracy as a Crime, and a Force for Good

(Pretty much everything there is to be said about piracy has been said already, and if you frequent games journalism websites you've probably already heard and formed an opinion on every story going. The following article is one of several essays I wrote for a Business Law class in College. I figured I'd throw it up here- like I say theres maybe nothing in here you havnt heard before but some of you might find it stimulating. Also- Since I actually hand in the final draft next week, I'd welcome any comments, criticisms or retorts! Enjoy!)

Ever since the first double deck cassette tape player was released and people figured out how do duplicate tapes, they have been constantly looking for new ways to save a dollar and undermine the system. In 1996 the WIPO Copyright Treaty extended the Berne Convention of 1886 to include copyright protection for computer programs and databases. It also imposed nations to provide effective protection against technological methods of theft, and enforce strong punishment for infringement. Currently, plaintiffs can win statutory damages of $30,000 dollars for ordinary infringement of each work and $150,000 of each willful infringement. (Emerson, 2009)
However, a recent study endorsed by Columbia University entitled ‘Copy Culture’ (Karaganis & Remkema, 2013), has shown that despite the risk of such punishment, over 46% of the population of the USA has copied, shared or downloaded music, movies, TV shows or videogames. Additionally, only 11% of those when asked deemed the practice to be morally ‘reasonable’. So why then do people continue to steal digital media? What is the industry’s response, and is there in fact any justification for such practices?

Video game publishers claim that piracy will be the undoing of the modern media industry. But is piracy really the problem they claim, or do its methods actually spread the influence of artistic expression, suggesting a more democratic future for the way media is published. Is it in fact the publishers who cause more harm than the pirates? I feel that despite its drawbacks, piracy is beneficial as it entices more convenient distribution of products, helps market and promote the games of small developers, and gives gamers a way to protest the unethical practices of large publishers.

One important characteristic about piracy is that it isn’t done just for the sake of getting something for free, but instead is also a matter of convenience. I have written before about the nightmarish Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that publishers are currently employing to check the validity of software- everything from requiring a constant online connection, to limiting the number of installs before software becomes unusable. Consider also the piracy of old games no longer on sale – a practice referred to as emulation. When a consumer wants to buy a product but the seller is literally making it impossible, is this justification for turning towards piracy?

"In my opinion, the amount of piracy is equal to how easy the pirating is, and the game developer has nothing to do with it. [Piracy is] definitely more easy than setting up an account on iTunes or Google Play, filling out large forms and answering all security questions." Marek Rabas (Gauntlett, 2012)

Online file sharing has been around ever since the first internet modems were made available to the public, and these methods that were once the exclusive ‘trade routes’ of pirates have now found themselves to be more and more an important part of the legal distribution chain. So much so that some developers are considering doing away with traditional boxed retail altogether to save on the associated overheads. With services now available including Itunes for music, Netflix for film and TV, and Steam catering to gamers, high street stores continue to close in light of falling revenues. The case can be argued that illegal file sharing was just the collective subconscious way of saying ‘this is how we want our content delivered’ - the precursor to today’s much more successful and efficient business model.
Further evidence of this desire for convenience is found in the ‘Copy Culture’ report regarding television programme consumption. US viewers have more legal options than their German counterparts – including streaming services such as Netflix etc. As a result, they found that among young people, 57% of TV and movie files owned by Americans aged 18-29 were illegally sourced, compared to 71% among Germans. (Karaganis & Remkema, 2013)

Publisher Ubisoft says piracy of their games on PC is between 93-95%. Ubisoft are also one of the publishers most commonly associated with incorporating DRM. Meanwhile Polish developer Cd Projekt claim that when they released a DRM free version of ‘The Witcher’, piracy dropped to a ratio of 5:1 – about 83% . This is still very high, but suggests some small link between ease of use and piracy rate. Additionally, CEO Marchin Iwinski goes on to state: ‘DRM does not work and however you would protect it, it will be cracked in no time. Plus, the DRM itself is a pain for your legal gamers - this group of honest people, who decided that your game was worth the 50 USD or Euro and went and bought it. Why would you want to make their lives more difficult?’ (Cushing, 2011)

In the ‘Copy Culture’ report, (Karaganis, 2012) the Author reports that US music downloaders buy 30% more digital music legally than their non-downloading friends and as a rule consumed significantly more music overall. This suggests something interesting- that pirates aren’t merely freeloaders, but are rather just an untapped source of paying customers- a market yet to be cracked. A small number of independent developers are making pioneering efforts to actually connect with pirates rather than vilify them, and are seeing surprisingly positive results. ‘Mcpixel’ is a game created by Sos Sosowski, and in 2012 was the first game ever intentionally released for free on notorious torrent website ‘The Pirate Bay’. Offering a link to his website and a pay-what-you-want donation button, he managed to effectively sell over 100 copies to those who would otherwise have never played, nor even heard of his game. (Mataluf, 2012)

Developer tinyBuild saw a marked increase in sales when they tried a similar strategy. "You can't really stop piracy," they said "all you can do is make it work for you and/or provide something that people actually want to pay for." (Priestman, 2012). One of the biggest problems faced by independent developers is getting the exposure necessary to generate sales. With the resurgence of the so called bedroom coder in the internet era, thousands of new games and developers enter the market every year, and just as many are forced to leave when they fail to make any impact. By embracing piracy as a marketing tool, canny developers are making their names known, generating goodwill and recognition among gamer communities, which in turn not only leads to new sales opportunities, but more importantly awareness for their upcoming projects.
Some developers don’t even necessarily do it for the money- some just do it purely for love of the industry. Jonatan Söderström went so far as to provide tech support to pirates of his game Hotline Miami, when they couldn’t get pirated versions to work properly. “Feel free to buy the game if you like it,” Söderström said. “I know what it’s like not having money though.” (Bishop, 2012)

The arguments against piracy are most prominent from the large scale publishers with revenues in the billions of dollars. But do these publishers actually bring the worst of it upon themselves? For the second year in a row, The Consumerist magazine has rated publishing giants EA as the worst company in the world, recieving 64.03% of 250,000 votes, beating out Bank of America for the number one spot. Gamers have a poor opinion of the company, believing that it willfully sacrifices quality and value for short-term profit. EA’s ‘Sim City’ released in March 2013 is the latest example of terrible release ethics and post production DRM problems. Requiring a constant online presence (for a game series traditionally associated with solo, offline play) the game was unplayable upon launch, with insufficient server allocation to cope with the large volume of online traffic. Review aggregate site Metacritic at one point scored the game at 2.7% based on average user review scores. Those who bought the game in stores were able to return it, but those who purchased online were unable, leading to the suspension of sales on Amazon. If this is the current state of the industry, why risk buying a game that might be broken when you can just eliminate that risk by taking it for free. It doesn’t justify theft, but isn’t putting salt water in a bottle and selling it as miracle elixir also theft?

EA tries to pass the buck of being voted worst company- not from its poor sales ethos and customer services, but having the audacity to blame conservative groups who dislike the companies pro LGBT games. (Two of the company’s recent successful games, ‘Mass Effect 3’ and ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ allowed the player to start virtual romances as part of the games branching storyline- the gender of these partners was left up to the players discretion, in no way being forced on the player). To blame the entire public opinion on such a specific reason which would have offended a small minority is not only ludicrous, but typical of corporate marketing spin.
According to IndustryGamers.com, the Sims 3 was illegally downloaded around 200,000 times prior to the game’s release – but former EA CEO John Riccitiello doesn’t mind.
Astoundingly, Riccitiello himself endorsed piracy of EA’s games: “By the way, if there are any pirates you're writing for, please encourage them to pirate FIFA Online, NBA Street Online, Battleforge, Battlefield Heroes... if they would just pirate lots of it I'd love them. [laughs] Because what's in the middle of the game is an opportunity to buy stuff.” He contines to say “Do you think Blizzard gets upset when someone pirates a disc of one of their online games? While we don't want to see people pirate ‘Warhammer Online’, if they're going to give us a year's subscription it's not exactly a total loss.” (Brightman, 2009) So its not just the independant developer who sees the benefits of piracy- even the publishers most against it are savvy enough to turn it into a money making opportunity.

Although publishers such as EA often focus on their games being downloaded and played for free, there is another somewhat more reprehensible form of piracy that has found its way creeping into the industry in recent years- rather than the ‘Robin Hood’ piracy of merely sharing files for free on-line, some unscrupulous game developers have taken to copying the work of their peers and rereleasing it for profit, usually only thinly veiled under a new name or art style, if at all. Independent developer Zeptolab has faced this problem with its popular mobile game ‘Cut the Rope’. They say that many illegal downloads of their products are from ‘unwitting pirates’, making an honest mistake and unaware that they had been led to bootleg copies of the game. They claim their problems stem mainly from the Android store, and as such have declined to release their latest products on Android enabled devices.

The trouble is- this practice of idea theft is hard to effectively punish. Not only are the tens of thousands of Apps on the Itunes and Android stores notoriously difficult to regulate, but many of those infringing games are technically not breaking any laws. The Computer Software Act of 1980 granted copyright protection for software. However, it only protected from copying, not from independently developing the same or similar programs (Emerson, 2009). An example? ‘Angry Birds’. With over 1.7 billion downloads and 12 million sales on the iTunes store alone, as well as lucrative merchandising deals and a feature film in pre-production, ‘Angry birds’ is the dream come true for previously little known Finnish developer Rovio. It also features exactly the same gameplay mechanics as ‘Crush the Castle’, developed by Armor Games and released a year before, but with trebuchets and knights replaced with cartoon birds and pigs.
Is this a crime? Maybe not. Does that make it any less reprehensible? Definitely not.
But why then do I defend one type of piracy (to an extent) whilst vilifying the other. Tommy Refenes, Developer of the hugely successful indie game ‘Super Meat Boy’ sums up the situation perfectly:

‘Team Meat shows no loss in our year end totals due to piracy and neither should any other developer. Loss due to piracy is an implied loss because it is not a calculable loss. You cannot, with any accuracy, state that because your game was pirated 300 times you lost 300 sales. You cannot prove even one lost sale because there is no evidence to state that any one person who pirated your game would have bought your game if piracy did not exist. From an accounting perspective it’s speculative and a company cannot accurately determine loss or gain based on speculative accounting.’ (Cushing 2013)

By this logic, the arguments made by EA, Ubisoft and their ilk, claiming for lost revenue is rendered toothless. The same cannot be said however for companies like Rovio. Whilst their Angry Birds was a rare case of the copycat outselling the original (and perhaps admittedly, being the superior product), is it not worse that many small developers are having actual tangible sales taken away not by consumer pirates, but by their supposed peers in the industry?
When questioned on their stance on using DRM to combat piracy, Zeptolab CEO Misha Lyalin commented that many of the strategies would not be user friendly, or wouldn’t meet the company’s quality standards. Rather than trying to tackle pirates directly they choose instead to alter their business model, using ads and in App purchases to generate revenue. (Gauntlett, 2012)
Although some developers have embraced the possibilities of accepting piracy as a business tool, it would be unfair to imply that this was a universal or even a majority opinion, just like it would be unfair to imply that piracy is harmless mischief rather than a genuine crime. Cliff Harris of Positech states "The positive effects of [piracy] are surely outweighed by those people who live in the relatively affluent west. They have broadband internet and a decent gaming PC (all paid for) but will make the argument that they are as poor as the kid in a third world country. People do an amazing amount of dodgy rationalising when it comes to justifying getting free stuff." (Priestman 2012)

The issue of piracy is so contentious simply because no one can agree on just how damaging it actually is. Publishers argue that they lose millions of dollars in revenue, industry insiders claim that this is mere fear-mongering in an attempt to control consumer’s wallets as well as their playing habits, whilst small developers claim it to be a vital if unorthodox marketing tool. No doubt the act itself is a crime. But where do you draw the line? Is listening to a copyrighted song on Youtube a punishable offence? Does listening to music on Pandora deny artists of sales? What constitutes idea theft in the games industry, and what constitutes healthy evolution? And when a crime is so pervasive in an industry, either the industry is flawed, human nature itself must be held accountable. People are lazy- hence the popularity of ordering online rather than walking to the store; and people like to get things for free. If it’s genuinely easier to steal something than to actually buy it, then you can’t blame people for going with their nature. Instead, publishers should be held accountable for their own inability to protect their produce. You can’t accuse them not trying - experimentation with Digital Rights Management technology continues to evolve, albeit in ways more and more infuriating to the legitimate customer. However, when data suggests that 90 percent of software activations are pirated, perhaps they might be barking up the wrong tree altogether?

So how do you combat piracy? Tommy Refenes, of Team Meat thinks he knows the answer: ‘People have to WANT to buy your software, people have to WANT to support you. People need to care about your employees and your company’s well being. There is no better way to achieve that than making sure what you put out there is the best you can do and you treat your customers with respect’. (Priestman, 2012)

On writing this essay, I tried to prove three things- piracy is beneficial as it entices more convenient distribution of products; it helps market and promote the games of small developers, and it gives gamers a way to protest the unethical practices of large publishers. One thing I think everyone could agree on though- no matter what side of the fence you fall on, no one wants their work to be so bad that no one will even try to steal it.




References:
Emerson, R. W. (2009). Barron’s business law. Fifth edition. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series.

Bishop, R. (2012, 26th Oct). ‘Hotline Miami Developer Finds Game on Pirate Bay, Provides Technical Support to Downloaders’. Geekosystem LLC. Retrieved from www.geekosystem.com

Brightman, J. (2009, 22nd June) Interview: John Riccitiello on E3, Fighting Piracy, Metacritic and More’. Industrygamers Inc. Retrieved from www.industrygamers.com

Cushing, T. (2011, 2nd Dec) ‘Despite being Pirated 4.5 Million Times, ‘Withcer 2’ Developer Refuses to Annoy Paying Customers with DRM. Floor64. Retrieved from www.techdirt.com

Cushing, T. (2013, 20th Mar) ‘Super Meat Boy Developer to EA: DRM Hurts your Bottom Line More Than Piracy Does’. Floor64. Retrieved from www.techdirt.com

Gauntlett, A (2012, 3rd Aug). ‘Popular Android Dev Blasts Pirates for Forcing Him Freemium’.
Alloy Digital LLC. Retrieved from www.escapistmagazine.com


Gauntlett, A (2012, 22nd Aug). ‘Ubisoft Puts PC Piracy Rate at 93 – 95%’. Alloy Digital LLC. Retrieved from www.escapistmagazine.com

Gauntlett, A (2012, 21nd Aug). ‘Cut The Rope Developer Speaks out on Piracy Problem’. Alloy Digital LLC. Retrieved from www.escapistmagazine.com

Karaganis, J & Remkema, L. (2013) ‘Copy Culture in the US and Germany’. Columbia University. Retrieved from www.piracy.americanassembly.org

Liddle, J. (2012, 26th Nov) ‘Skull and Crossbones Vandalise Studio Games’. YoYoGames
Retrieved from www.gamemakerblog.com

Matulef, J. (2012, 8th September) ‘McPixel is the First Game Endorsed by The Pirate Bay following Developer Support’. DX.NET. Retrieved from www.eurogamer.net

Priestman, C. (2012, 24th Feb) ‘Should More Indie Developers be Saying ‘Just Pirate It’?’ DX.NET. Retrieved from www.eurogamer.net

Unknown Author. (2013, 12th Feb) ‘Game Developer connects with Pirates, Sees massive Support and Deletion of Torrents’. Floor64. Retrieved from www.techdirt.com   read


10:17 PM on 07.12.2012

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 4 OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED

In a story published on Eurogamer today, D3 publisher has officially announced EDF 4. No details or screenshots as of yet, but good to know theres more insect exterminating fun on the way.

A teaser site for the game recently went online here: http://www.d3p.co.jp/edf4/

After the somewhat abysmal EDF: Insect Armageddon (read my thoughts here: http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/michaelarby/from-an-edf-fan-insect-armageddon-utter-crap--207291.phtml) it remains to be seen if this game is being made by original developers Sandlot. Hopefully so, as much of the series' charm was lost in translation when handed over to western developer Viscious Cycle for EDF: IA.

Ill be keeping a close eye on every scrap of news that comes available for this- most importantly whether or not it gets a western release!   read


3:14 PM on 04.12.2012

There are only 2 game difficulties...

I've been playing a lot of Mass Effect 3 recently. Nothing particularly enlightening about that- I'm sure I wasnt the only one. But apart from not importing my character (at all), the whole ending debacle I've heard all about, and several other niggly issues I cant be bothered mentioning now- the main thing stopping me from liking this game is that its just too damn difficult! Sure I'll complete it, but I bloody well wont enjoy it!

Think back to the last hard game you played. Was it Modern Warefare 3 on Veteran? GOW on Insanity? Dark Souls on well, normal? All difficult games, but not unfairly so- these games required skill, patience, common sense- you got better at the games the more you played them, learned their rules and generally knew what do do if you wanted to survive the next encounter.

Now think of those others such as Star Wars: Force Unleashed, Infamous, Dead Space 2, Jak 3 (yes JAK 3 I'll explain in a minute!) or whatever else was your personal videogaming hell. For me, as mentioned its Mass Effect 3. These were difficult for different reasons. Not because they required skill- not because they wanted to challenge you. No- they were simply... wankers.....

Some context- I'm an achievement whore. I like going for as many points as I can. Not usually the full 1000, but as close as possible. I'm also a busy guy, so I dont often have time for repeat playthroughs. I always play on the highest difficulty setting right off the bat. Takes a bit of getting used to at first, but its fine.

So I stuck on ME3 on Inferno and on average have spend about 3 hours on each combat mission because its just so infuriatingly, unfairly difficult.

I know what you're thinking- 'PUSSY!!!!' Right?

Probably. But I've been gaming all my life and rarely do games trouble me so. Its led me to believe that there are two fundamental difficulty level approaches employed in games- one of which is a pain in the ass but ultimately rewarding, worth persevering through for the sense of achievement it brings; the other infuriating, joyless, causing a boiling fury of rage and hatred and controller throwing madness as you fantasise about putting your fist through your expensive 32 inch plasma!

Respectively, I call these 'Skill' hard' and 'Wanker' Hard.

Mass Effect 3 is 'Wanker' Hard. Why? Picture the scene: Im fighting off the 20th cerberus Centurion. This battle has raged on for twenty minutes (without a checkpoint) as I slowly whittle away the enemies health before they send in another 5 goons. Im in a room 50 yards long, and hiding behind cover. Another centurion enters the far end of the room. Barely half a second passes- without the AI taking the time to scan the room and locate me- without me even popping up from behind cover to give my location away, a grenade lands at my feet. Not the other side of the wall- my side. At my feet. So I roll out of cover away from the galaxies most accurately thrown grenade, (number 372). Whereby another enemy, who came from behind me unnanounced, strips me of health. Down I go. twenty minutes of my life wasted. Again.

Thats basically my whole experience of Mass Effect 3 summed up in one paragraph. Enemies storm forwards, shrugging off full clips of ammunition until they are on top of me, meanwhile as many more stay back lobbing grenades and shooting. I cant stay in hiding. Nor can I change position. My only option is to die. Unfairly. The game isnt difficult because I'm bad at the game- the game is difficult because frankly, its being a wanker. Its imbalanced. Its unfair. Its broken.

Jak 3- tiny platforms to navigate and jump across, but I cant simply turn on the spot- the animation always moves me a few feet, usually off the edge to my death. Again. Wheres the fun in that?

Infamous- I'm soo weak and underpowered compared to the several thousand binmen who can shoot me with a machine gun from a rooftop 200 yards away. Wheres the fun in that?

Force Unleashed- I'm strong and overpowered, except all the enemies are immune to my powers. And suddenly the lightsaber- coolest and deadliest weapon EVAAAR, is about as mighty as a wet toilet roll. Wheres the fun in that?

Dead Space 2- Take Dead Space 1, turn it into an action game but dont give the player an action game control scheme. Have twice as many enemies charging at you, but without upping the characters aim or movement speed to compensate. Wheres the fun in that I say!

Compare these examples with something like Gears of War 3. Insanity on GOW3 is hard. Very hard. But not unfair. If you pop your head out of cover for too long, you will get shot. Action, and its consequence. But you wont have grenades land at your feet, as you get sniped, as you have several enemies come to melee distance. Epic have polished their game to keep the AI fair - it still takes clips of ammo to kill an enemiy, but you'll get the time to shoot all those clips if you're patient. You'll still die easily, but you wont die if youre careful.

Same for Demons Souls- If you let your guard down for a second, you'll die. If you challenge an enemy too powerful, you'll die.... If... Thats the key- The enemy wont unfairly kill you with an unblockable attack, the enemies wont all charge at you the instant you enter the map. The game is fair. The game is playable. The game is beatable- The game is fun.

I think ultimately its a QA issue. Those games that are more refined and polished are in general more enjoyable and less infuriating. Some 'Wanker Hard' games are hard because the developers adjust a few sliders- enemies have more health, you have less etc. Other games are glitched or poorly coded- Dark Void, a game I otherwise very much enjoyed, still angered me when my health was depleted during a QTE- I was getting shot, whilst I wasnt in control - there is no justification for this.

I dont know that this essay will achieve anything. Its not gonna change the status quo of the industry and you might not even agree. Im just glad I got this issue off my chest.   read


7:19 AM on 01.05.2012

Animation in the 1960's - A Brief Essay

This is an essay I was tasked to write for my 2nd year animation module in University, taking a brief look at an animation topic of my choice. By chance I had come across a few bits and bobs about 60′s pop culture, and decided that could be worth a look. Its by no means comprehensive- I had a 1000 word limit, but figured some of you guys might enjoy it:


Television changed things. Not just for animation- for the entire entertainment and cultural spectrum. In 1964 an estimated 90 percent of homes in America had a television- compared with just 0.5 percent following World War II. Television became the number one form of entertainment in the modern world- surpassing reading or listening to the radio, and causing a dramatic downturn in movie theatre attendance.

It was in the 1960s, some 30 years after the first national television broadcasts, that it’s potential as a medium for animation was first properly explored. Children made up a much larger audience demographic than first anticipated, and TV executives were keen to capitalise on it. Across the world studios were established to meet head on the possibilities and problems presented by Television.

The major problem facing studios was budget. In America, the typical budget for a televised short was about $3,000- about ten percent of what was usually given to a theatrical feature of the same length. The situation in the East was even more dire- before the War, it was often cheaper to import features from the west, than to produce them domestically, so studios in Japan tended towards small, low key productions. After the War, in a period of stoic nationalism where foreign influences were banned, native studios began to flourish, but still struggled with the same impossibly low budgets.

One western studio determined to succeed in the difficult but promising industry was H-B Enterprises, better known today as ‘Hanna Barbera’. Formed in 1957 by veterans of theatrical animation, H-B revolutionised the field of animation with a variety of cost effective time saving measures that would come to be known as ‘limited animation’, a process still used by the majority of animators today. By only animating certain parts of a character in motion, such as an arm or head on a stationary body, features could be created on television budgets.


Huckleburry Hound- Note the Bowtie, separating the head from the body, allowing each to be animated separately

These methods were not without their critics however, Chuck Jones of Warner brothers described their cartoons as ‘Illustrated radio’, whilst Disney commented that ‘They didn’t even see them as competition.’ Despite this, H-B Enterprises were the only studio hiring in the sixties, and their accelerated production schedule allowed them to produce a roster of some 2000 characters throughout the studio’s lifetime.


Part of Hanna-Barbera's extensive character roster

Disney themselves never devoted much of their resources to Television animation- instead producing live action series such as Zorro, or hosting their own classic shorts and feature length animations on the ‘Disneyland’ show, which broadcast until 2008. The show was revamped several times throughout its history, and in 1961 changed network to NBC- the first to broadcast in colour, and was even hosted by Walt Disney himself until his death in 1966. It wouldn’t be until the 1990s that Disney would take a serious stake in the TV animation market, with classic shows such as Gargoyles, Recess and the Rescue Rangers- but that’s another story for another time.


DIsney's Zorro

Meanwhile, back in the East, the industry was being remade by a figure now legendary in anime circles- Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka’s first manga work appeared just months after the end of the war, and his hugely successful series Tetsuwan Atomu (Known in the West as ‘Astroboy’) holds the distinction of being the first animated production broadcast on Japanese TV. Astroboy was an interesting case- the story of a nuclear powered robot boy facing oppression and prejudice from his human neighbours, struck an unlikely chord with an audience still very much coming to terms with the devastation of the atomic bomb.


Osamu Tezuka's 'Astro Boy'Osamu Tesuka, the 'God of Manga'

Thanks to Tezuka, the Japanese anime and manga industries shared a much closer correlation than in the west- with artists often working on both animated and printed content. Today this link can best be observed in how animated adaptations of comics differ between America and Japan- According to Christopher Hart in his book ‘Manga Mania’, in the west, the idea is that a more fluid motion makes for a ‘better’ animation, so characters adapted form other media are drawn with greater simplicity allowing them to be animated more easily. In the east, greater emphasis is placed on preserving the subtlety and integrity of the original comic book drawings, at the expense of fluid motion. (This helped to later enforce the mecha genre as a staple of 70’s anime output- robots being less mobile and therefore simpler to animate than humans.) Tezuka trained many young manga artists still working today and is credited with writing the first ‘How to draw Manga’ book- his legacy living on with as much gravitas as that of Walt Disney himself.


Mobile Suit Gumdam- A highly successful entry in the mecha genre that would prove popular in the 70's

Cultural differences between the East and West resulted in widely differing stances of what was deemed suitable viewing for children – In Japan violence and even death were an accepted part of anime. This contrasts with the American view that the audience were to young to deal with topics such as death, Tezuka’s Astroboy being the first of many imported cartoons to receive cuts for violence and tone. Even domestic productions- H-B’s own Space Ghost and Frankenstein Jr, tame by Japanese standards, were eventually brought off air by pressure from parents groups.



Despite this, the 60’s saw the introduction of The Flintstones, Hanna Barbera’s first cartoon with more grown up sensibilities. Scripted like a traditional sitcom the Flintstones combined animated slapstick with clever adult humour and situations, resulting in a series popular with audiences of all ages- a precursor to modern animated greats such as The Simpsons and Family Guy.


The Flintstones paved the way for grown up humour in animation

Following the 60’s animation as an industry continued to grow- better budgets were allocated, shows became more complex, and anime would take on mainstream cultural approval in the East. The lessons and experiences of the experimental swinging sixties still have a lasting effect on the industry today, from the retro stylings of Dexters Laboratory and the Powerpuff girls, to the techniques employed in modern flash animation.


The Powerpuff Girls were strongly influenced by the stylings of the early Hanna Barbera cartoons

So much more could be said about this important era in animation history that a mere thousand words just isn’t enough- we didn’t even get to discuss the introduction of Scooby Doo, or touch upon what was happening in theatres (One hundred and one Dalmations by Disney, 1961), or other parts of the world besides America and Japan, or look more in depth at how the liberal, experimental counter cultures could have effected animation, and perhaps vice versa. For now let’s just accept that the sixties were a time of great change for the industry, perhaps more so than any other.

NB: All images ripped shamelessly from google images. Ta   read


7:05 AM on 07.28.2011

From an EDF fan: Insect Armageddon = Utter Crap.

First of all- let me say that I am a huge Earth Defence Force fan- I spent countless hours honing tactics and learning the intricacies of the previous two games, so this review is biased compared to if I had never played the series before. I would also add that this review is more orientated to fellow fans of the series wanting to pick this one up.

In brief: If you're new to the series, pick it up- you'll probably enjoy it, and hopefully it will tempt you to try the other older games. If you're not new to the series, then avoid this game. It pales in comparison to the others. Sad, but true.

Why do I say this? Well please allow me to explain the changes which I personally feel have hindered rather than helped this entry- I imagine a lot of this will apply to you too.

Firstly- Graphics. Or to put it another way- style. In theory, EDF:IA is an improvement over the previous game, EDF 2017. The graphics are higher res, the framerate smoother and everything has been given more polish. But thats the problem- the charm of the old game's naff visuals have been totally lost, leaving a flat, generic visual style, totally unremarkable in todays gaming culture.

Lets compare the two:
- in EDF 2017, the comically bad physics provided unexpected joy when you could literally send a giant ant flying 500 feet through the air with a shotgun blast. The explosions, whilst not technically beautiful, felt like they had real weight, often lingering and filling the screen, shaking the camera. In addition- the EDF trooper was soo charmingly mediocre (he literally looked like a Kwik Fit mechanic with a crash helmet), that it added to the games goofy offbeat style.
-In EDF:IA, by comparison, the explosions are dissapointing feeble, enemies fizzle away as soon as they are killed, and our trusty mechanic has been replaced by four power armoured soldiers. Granted, these armours do look great, but power armour space marines are soo overdone in todays games that they lose all impact and just look dirivitive. In another game they would fit better, but not in EDF.

Now onto the meaty part- the actual gameplay. It left a bitter taste in my mouth when I finished the game after just 2 days- the 50+ quickfire, almost puzzle-like missions of EDF2017 have been replaced by 15 twenty minute long missions, all taking place in the same generic looking city environment. Additionally, the number of difficulties have been reduced from 5 to 3.
These longer maps do not benefit the gameplay very much- the objectives basically ammount to fighting off different waves of enemies, and given the games focus on repeated play and grinding to improve our character, artificially increasing stage length only detriments the balance.

Of further detriment is how the enemy spawning is handled- in 2017, a great sense of panic was often created when dozens of enemies suddenly spawned at the start of the stage and rushed towards you. In Insect Armageddon this has been adapted so that perhaps a few dozen will spawn at once, and each time one is killed another will spawn in its place until a set number are killed and the wave is destroyed. You can see the problem here- whereas previously special care had to be taken with weapon choice, and strategic movement to counter the enemies approach (the puzzle-like element I mentioned before), here its basically a case of choose your most powerful rocket launcher and hold the fire button until the enemies stop spawning. It stops being a fight for survival against an approaching horde, and becomes a war of attrition, seeing who can frankly be bothered for longest.

The enemies themselves are pretty underwhelming- particularly the spiders, which previously could make a grown man gibber like a baby when they appeared on the map, are now merely cannon fodder- again this is largely due to the issue of how they spawn one by one rather than all at once. There are also fewer enemy types than before, and they all seem to be shoved in your face right at the beginning of the game, rather than introducing them as fresh elements as the game progresses. remember in 2017 how there were at least half a dozen levels before the first Hector robot appeared, and when it did the stakes felt as if they had been upped significantly? In Insect armageddon, Hectors are introduced on the very first level, and appear on most thereafter, which lessens their impact, and serves only to make the levels feel too similar to each other, as opposed again to the unique puzzles that were provided in the older games. And to elaborate on this point its worth mentioning that all levels take place in the same city environment- the caves, beaches and mountains of the previous games are gone, making the game feel repetitive, and the scale of the alien invasion feels much smaller.

Lets talk about the classes. In insect Armageddon, there are four character classes, each of which can use 4 or 5 different types of weapons, and have unique abilities- one can fly, the other can place turrets, one has more health etc. For the record- I really like how the class system was introduced and the diffrent ways of play that each allows. This is one of the few steps forward that this game makes, though even that isnt perfect- Apart from the jet class, all teh others are basically just the same guy from 2017, but with different abilities removed- weapon types, turrets etc. Also, for balancing issues, you now no longer increase your max HP by collecting armour pickups. Instead, each class has an experience level from 1 to 8 which provides a set boost to HP each time you increase. It works sort of similarly to the old system- you collect exp instead of armour pickups, and the health boost is a large boost rather than a slow trickle. It makes sense this way of course- it meant the developers could always keep the 'Heavy' class with the higher HP advantage over the more nimble Jetpack Class, for example. But when you max your class and theres still a lot of grinding to be done to complete levels or track down weapons, removing this 'instant micro reward' of a few extra HP makes the process a little bit more tedious. I'll admit though that this is a minor issue, one that niggles me rather than actually detriments the game- not so much as the other issues ive mentioned anyway.

As for weapons- well theres something... I've yet to decide upon really. Remember I said each class has a rank from 1 to 8, and gain exp for killing enemies? well now you also gain cash, and most weapons can only be purchased and used once you reach a high enough rank. Again, I quite like this system- I'll admit its a bit different than we're used to but it still maintains the sense of gaining power the more you play- the weapons fall into classes as before- assault rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher, and each is basically an upgraded, more powerful version of the one before. One advantage of the shop system is that you can save your cash and buy a powerful weapon, rather than having 20 obsolete models in your inventory (they cant be sold back, if you're wondering). Another is that it removes the frustration of 2017 where you would spend hours looting the random weapon drops looking for a partcualar weapon. Oh, actually wait a minute- no it doesnt.

Yes, random weapon drops return in EDF:IA.

Approximately a third of the 300 weapons are found from enemies, rather than bought in the shop. Again, these are limited to certain class levels, so finding them doesnt mean you can use them right away. Im glad this feature was retained, as it was part of the heart and soul of what makes an EDF game, though like so many other things in this installment, the developers just didnt seem to 'get it'. Remember again how I mentioned levels were now up to 20 minutes long? and longer on higher difficulties? Well that is of course detrimental to the grinding process where you quickly need to loot and reloot until luck is on your side and fate grants you that almighty bazooka you were waiting for. This would be bad enough, except for one GLARING error on the developers part- now, only boss enemies drop weapons. In EDF if you had the patience you could kill wave after wave of enemies, collecting multitudes of weapon drops in the hope of getting something new. Here, only the one or two boss enemies drop weapons, which are of course random- theres no guarantee you get anything new. Combine the length of time per level with the miniscule number of weapon pickup chances and you can see how the grinding process has now taken a turn for the ridiculous.
Perhaps this system could have been refined- for example you would always obtain a new weapon corresponding to your difficulty level, until you collected them all and only obtained duplicates thereafter. At least that way the time invested in playing would be rewarded.

The developers should be commended for introducing online Co-op mode to the game- this is the one feature that everyone wanted in EDF 2017. Offline splitscreen also returns (though the developers deserve a hefty slap for originally deciding to remove it). Players can now revive each other if they die, which is good, especially online where it would suck to have to sit there whislt another guy from god knows where has all the fun finishing the level without you.

To increase longevity the developers also included a survival mode, where players try to last as long as they can against wave after wave of opponents. A nice addition, but when you play it you are restricted to the vanilla soldier class, can only pick from certain weapons, AND DO NOT GAIN EXP or cash, rendering the whole thing a bit of a waste of time really.

That about covers it I think. All in all this is game is a disappointment- a halfassed effort from a seemingly lazy developer. A few other minor features have been added which do improve the gameplay- a sprint ability, and you can now reload at any time- these are some of the few features which I would hope are taken from this mess and used in the next EDF game. Otherwise this one does nothing but detract from the series, and I would strongly advise (if you havnt gathered by now) that you avoid this game and go back and play EDF2017, or play Global Defence Force on PS2.   read


4:18 AM on 05.22.2009

Audio Hero

Perhaps this idea has already been done in some form and if so I apologise, but I have been wondering:

Why has no one crated a hybrid of Guitar Hero and IGF 2008 Award winner AudioSurf

You are all no doubt familiar with the mechanics of Guitar Hero, so I wont linger on a lengthy introduction. As many of you probably also know, Audiosurf is a rhythm action game with an aesthetic similar to the Wipeout racing games, whereby the player in his ship must collect coloured blocks- positioned on the track in accordance with the beat of the accompanying backing track.



Where it gets interesting however, is that each of the tracks in Audiosurf is generated from the players own music collection- there is no predetermined track list- meaning that anything from the most popular to the most random tracks can be imported to successfully create a unique 'race track'.



What im wondering is: why hasnt the same technology used in Audiosurf been used either in

1) a port of Guitar Hero

2) a similar indie developed game where the guitar can be used as a peripheral

The technology would require a bit of tweaking of course- Audiosurf only uses 3 'lanes' as opposed to Guitar hero's 5, but I cant see any difficulty in changing the directional controls of audio surf to correspond with the button mashing on the guitar.

Perhaps this wouldnt be a commercial success- the big companies would want the endorsements of big name licensed tracks to sell the product. On the flipside however , without having to pay for licensed tracks, and by introducing to the player the novelty of creating their own tailor made tracklist, this could be produced much cheaper than the current design brief for such games.

Still- even if the commercial publishers didnt want to touch this concept with a 10 foot bargepole, surely some indie developer could produce a beta or demo based on the existing technologies.

Dylan Fitterer- if you're reading this and need an idea for a sequel to Audiosurf- the idea is sitting right in front of you!   read


6:25 AM on 05.20.2009

SHOCKER- Guitar Hero is actually quite good!

I was always dead set against the idea of Guitar Hero- as an only child who enjoyed rpgs and action games I was never tempted by the competitive, high score obsessed arcade leanings of Guitar Hero. Nor could I understand (like many others no doubt) why anyone would spend copius amounts of time learning to play these songs on a toy guitar when they could actually spend the same time learning to play it properly!

However, ever the consumate bargain hunter, and a sucker for anything going cheap, I decided to purchase the PS2 version of GH3 (with guitar) for just £20 from HMV, figuring that as an avid PS2 fan (See my recent PS2 game glossary articles if that tickles your fancy), it was my duty to own and play GH at least once.

This article is written for all those naysayers who like me may be predispositioned to write off the guitar hero series as a cheap brand designed to cash in the casual market. In many ways it is of course, but I stand proudly before you as a semi- hardcore gamer to say:

'GUITAR HERO IS ACTUALLY QUITE GOOD!'

And you can quote me on that!

The track list might not be completely your cup of tea- I personally wouldnt recognise over half of the songs available on any GH game,and its probably not as good in single player (havnt tried multiplayer yet), but its still quite an engaging experience- the game is almost hypnotic in its presentation, and despite my usual ignorance of games which dont focus on a solid plot driven experience, I find myself actually enjoying the fact that for the first time in several years I'm playing a game for the fun of it, rather than just to complete it.
Its also good that a series such as this embraces gaming for it grass roots entertainment values rather than the hyper realistic 'combat sims' and technical demos which games seem to have become this generation.

Dont get me wrong- Guitar Hero will never be my favourite game- I probably wont unlock all the tracks and I'll NEVER complete 'Through the Fire and the Flames' on easy let alone expert, but Im glad I got over my initial avoidance of the brand, and would urge anyone who was once like me to open their mind to this rather perfect hybrid of both casual AND hardcore gaming.   read


4:06 AM on 04.10.2009

PS2 Games to Consider L-Z

Good morning all.

Its time for the second and final part of my list detailing a selection of PS2 games, in the hope that you might find something you'd like to play.

The first part can be found here:
http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/michaelarby/ps2-games-to-consider-a-k-127947.phtml

Enjoy!


MANHUNT
Havnt played this one yet! The subject of much controversy upon its release for its graphic violence, it should be noted that this was developed my Rockstar, a company known for its Pedigree and high release quality, suggesting that Manhunt is not just a one trick pony.

THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO
Havnt played this yet guys... Third person brawler (with an alleged 600 fighting moves to perform) where you play as neo in key points of the Matrix trilogy. It also features a new ending to the trilogy which is hopefully more fulfilling than the theatrical version. As movie tie ins go, this one is actually meant to be quite good!

MEDAL OF HONOUR: FRONTLINE
One of the older games on the list, this was for a time the pinnacle of Console FPS. Set during World War 2, the opening Omaha Beach level is remembered by gamers as one of the most engrossing experiences of all time. Although it wouldnt play as well as it once did, especially in the shadow of current FPSs, this is still a highly enjoyable game

MEGA MAN X7
Granted ive only played the first few minutes, but it seems like another example of how NOT to make the transition from 2d to 3d. The characters seem to move pretty sluggishly, detracts from the megaman experience.

MERCENARIES
In essence, its one of the many GTA clones that tried to ride off the established series success. In practice, whilst a lot less than the GTA package, its still a very good game- playing as a mercenary sent to North Korea to earn a huge paycheck, you carry out misssions of destruction for various factions, using a wide variety of vehicles weapons and airstrikes to achieve your goals. The driving is just a teensy bit iffy but otherwise the game is very solid- it features some very nice explosion effects, graphics are solid, and an orchestral score helps set a mood that is sometimes 'chest-thumping military', and at others 'War is futile'.
The main hook of the game is that all of the buildings in the landscape can be destroyed- using hard earned cash to order weapons or air strikes from the russian mafia on a whim, and enjoying the pleasures of effortlessly levelling an NK fortress shortly after.
The games pretence sounds very shallow, and in many ways it is- but similar to GLOBAL DEFENCE FORCE, a game like this isnt meant to be taken seriously- its just very, very fun...

METAL GEAR SOLID 2
One of the finest games on the system, MGS2 is a wonderful stealth action game with a deep, twisting, storyline and superlative production values. Once again the legendary Solid Snake is back to battle his old enemies (along with new character Raiden) through an ocean tanker and an offshore oil rig. Off course, thats really oversimplifying things- in typical fashion producer Hideo Kojima has produced a multi layered, philosophical tale that whilst isnt as realistic as some other games in the genre, is as compelling as they come. The graphics are still gorgeous to look at even to this day, the music is pitch perfect and the cutscenes are cut and delivered to a level that has rarely if ever been beaten in a video game. Countless little flourishes, graphical touches and easter eggs have lovingly and seamlessly been integrated into the design to both add to the interactivity of the environments, and add to the sheer joy of playing the game. To try to describe the intricacies and brilliance of the Metal Gear series in a paragraph like this doesnt nearly do it justice. Meal Gear Solid 2 is still very easy to get a hold of- theres no excuse for any self respecting gamer to miss it!

METAL GEAR SOLID 2 SUBSTANCE
A directors cut of MGS 2, this one includes the full game, but also numerous trainng missions, extra story sections and numerous other goodies that dedicated fans of the series would enjoy.

METAL GEAR SOLID 3 SNAKE EATER
Another excellent Metal Gear title, this time taking place in the 60s. Another fantastic twisting storyline goes into the history of the Metal gear universe- telling the tale of what set the events of previous games into motion. Gameplay has evolved once more- taking place in a russian jungle, camouflage is a major part of the stealth experience. Also included is the need to hunt for food in order to maintain health and stamina. The production values are as usual, through the roof, and the cutscenes (whilst some consider them overly long) are innovative, cinematic and packed with genuine emotion. Goes without saying that graphics are top notch too. Its hard to believe that Kojima and Co improved on MGS 2, but they most certainly have. Definitely a game that should not be missed.

MONSTER HUNTER
Again I havnt played much of this- designed mainly for online co-op play, the single player is somewhat lacking and at times frustrating. Great visuals for its time though. The game sees you as a hunter in a primitive era where you use swords, daggers and crossbows to hunt both common and rare game to complete missions for your villagers. A large part of the game involves foraging for raw materials to make better weapons, tools and equipment. (FYI, the monster hunter games are HUGE in Japan, particularly on PSP.)

OKAMI
Fantastic! Adventure game by capcom, set in ancient Japan- you play as the sun god Ammaterasu, on Earth in the form of a white wolf who os tasked with restoring life to the land and destroying many a great evil. Many features separate this from the rest of the bunch- the art style perfectly emulates old Japanese paintings- everything is colourful and is outlined with bold organic brush strokes. The celestial brush system- where the world is affected and enemies fought, by painting directly onto them is not only incredibly unique and well implemented, but also perfectly complements the games aforementioned art style. Music is great, and along with the art direction evokes an atmosphere which is at once one of desperation, but at the same time one of hope, magic and playfulness. Gameplay itself is basically that of a Zelda game, but the originality of the setting and your abilities makes it so much better. Additional little touches such as flowers blossoming at your feet as you run, and being able to feed the animals dotted around the landscape show the care and skill that went into producing this game, all of which compliment each other and combine to produce a whole that is worth much more than the sum of the parts. This is one of the few games where I had fun simply just running and jumping through levels.

ONIMUSHA: WARLORDS
Another excellent series from Capcom- similar in style to resident evil, but with a greater focus on action, this game tells the story of a samurai tasked with fighting the armies of an evil demon lord. Graphics are attractive but distinctly old school- 3d characters on 2d backgrounds, whilst the swordplay is first rate (once you get used to the controls- also quite old skool!) This game is very cheap and easy to obtain, and can be completed in just a few hours. If you enjoy hack & slash, there is no reason not to give this one a try.

ONIMUSHA 2
An improvement over the first game, this game features a longer campaign, more weapons and charactrers and branching storylines. Graphics are improved. Again highly rated and easily obtained.

ONIMUSHA 3
Another great Onimusha game, this time taking place in both ancient Japan and modern day France- You may remember this as the game which also starred Jean Reno as a second playable character. Again, well worth playing

ONIMUSHA DAWN OF DREAMS
A distinctly different feel of Onimusha, with fully 3d levels, five new playable characters and a mission based structure. First impressions are that it has tried to immitate Devil May Cry, and that without familiar characters it may have jumped the shark. Further playing reveals however that this is still a fine game, on par if not better than previous entries- with excellent depth and replay value, and characters who you can actually care about and enjoy playing as. Shopping for items and weapons, and larger numbers of enemies gives this a more actiony feel compared to its survival-horror predecessors.

PERSONA 3 FES
Particularly good RPG from the Shin Megami Tensei series- Part dungeon crawler, part dating sim(!) your combat abilities are augmented by developing relationships and friendships with people in the town you inhabit. This is good- when you want to fight and explore the games randomly generated dungeons you can, and when you dont you can spend time with friends or doing other activities to improve your skills. A clever clock system means that each activity can be done at certain times of the day- everything happens to a strict schedule with no to-ing and fro-ing, or backtracking. This means the game is (refreshingly) fast paced during activities that can become mundane in other RPGS. Credit must also be given to the music and interface design- music is cool and well suited to the atmosphere of the game, whilst the menus are sharp and modern, complimenting the upbeat high school demographic portrayed in the game.

PERSONA 4
Only just released, I havnt played this yet. Supposedly better than the previous game- tweaking several features, and proving that the PS2 can still deliver alongside its more graphic savvy successors.

PRINCE OF PERSIA SANDS OF TIME
Highly enjoable platform adventure set in ancient Persia and a perfect example of how to reboot a franchise. Death defying acrobatics are the order of the day, with time manipulation powers available for when you make mistakes! Generous ammounts of hack & slash combat are thrown in too! One of those games where all the elements blend perfectly together- the art direction, the level design, pacing and setting all add up to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

PRINCE OF PERSIA WARRIOR WITHIN
Another winner, though often seen as weaker than the first game. This maintains the first games sublime acrobatics, whilst giving the combat system a complete overhaul. The major difference from the first game is in the art direction- a much darker, 'emo' experience this time around (coupled with an anachronistic metal soundtrack), probably given the go ahead by a commitee sitting around a table trying to capitolise on what youngsters supposedly liked those days (see also- JAK 2)...

PRINCE OF PERSIA TWO THRONES
The weakest of the three games, caused by the many bugs and glitches that werent ironed out. The tone reverts to the more colourful lighthearted feel of the first game, whilst the acrobatics and combat are given a few tweaks and improvements. Despite a few hair pulling moments, this is still an enjoyable game and good finale to the series.

PSI OPS
Havnt played much of this one yet. Seemingly very similar to Second Sight- both are third person action games featuring a blend of firearms and psychic powers. Many of the powers seem more or less identical in both games, as with the design and general feel of the game.

RATCHET & CLANK
I havnt played much of this, but reviews have been very positive. Another competent 3D platformer for the system, this one with a strong emphasis on weapons based combat (as opposed to Jak And Daxters more traditional approach)

RESIDENT EVIL 4
Everything that needs to be said has been said before hundreds of times- this game is GREAT! Great graphics, great weapon dynamics, great gameplay. A great evolution of the Resident Evil franchise. By removing the action from Racoon city the story is made fresh whilst still maintaining the classic RE flavour. The excellent

ROGUE GALAXY
Havnt played this yet but am looking forward to it- developed by Level 5- the people behind Professor Layton, Dark Chronicle and DQVIII. An RPG with colourful cell shaded graphics, and a real time battle system, and lots of extras and minigames (somewhat of a Level 5 trademark!)

ROGUE TROOPER
Whilst never recognised as a triple A title, this is more than just a solid third person shooter. (And Kudos go to developer Rebellion- It also pioneered the cover based combat system long before GOW!) Whilst mainly just a run and gun, a good spread of weapons and gadgets stops it from ever becoming a bore. Whilst the plot is far from epic, the game sticks well to the source material (seeing you play as the last remaining genetically modified, blue skinned soldier 'Rogue', waging war for control of a toxically polluted planet.)

R TYPE FINAL
Enjoyable side scrolling shoot-em-up. Over a hundred ships to unlock which enhances replay ability. Graphics are good but a lack of music means the adrenaline never really gets pumping.

SECOND SIGHT
From the makers of Timesplitters- Third person shooter where you play as an amnesiac scientist infused with psychic powers. Switching perspectives from before and after you gain your powers, it offers up an interesting story. The only problem is that its often easier just to use bog standard firearms than to try to use psychic powers during combat, rendering the whole concept a bit moot. Still enjoyable though.

SHADOW HEARTS
Technically quite mediocre, this RPG is still worth playing through for its dark, horror themed story and gloomy atmosphere- set in early 20th century Japan, this features a more unique and original setting than most RPGs of its era. Graphics were bad even upon release, and some of the story is a bit tongue in cheek, but this is definitely one of those games that despite its flaws you cant help but admire. Play time is quite short at around 20 hours, so its well worth investing a little time to play something truly different for its time.

SHADOW HEARTS COVENANT
Brilliant RPG, with much higher production values than its prequel. The story is a continuation of the first, so many of the likeable cast return. The atmosphere is less foreboding overall due to more colourful art direction, but this would allow the game to appeal to a broader audience. Combat is still turn based, but enough has been done to make it more enjoyable, whilst still remaining faithful to the original. It helps if you play the first game before playing this.

SHADOW HEARTS FROM THE NEW WORLD
This is a very solid RPG. lets get that straight. The gameplay is good, the mechanics well rounded and improved from the previous games. The problem is that i dont care about any of the characters or the overall plot, so i dont feel compelled to complete it. The original Shadow Hearts was an offbeat, weird horror RPG. The second one was less horror, still quite offbeat. This game has got the balance all wrong- overdoing the 'wacky' too much so that the whole thing seems farcical. It plays like a kids pantomime- characters include a russian/brazilian ninja and a giant effeminate cat. Play it if you're an RPG fan, but dont expect to have your socks blown off...

SHADOW OF MEMORIES
Havnt played this yet, An adventure game where the player has to prevent the main characters death from occuring throughout a series of chapters. Have heard good reports about this, though the graphics have dated rather badly.

SHADOW OF THE COLLOSSUS
Not quite a sequel to ICO, but sharing many of its traits, this is a fantastic game Where a lone adventurer must explore a massive, desolate, but beautiful landscape in order to find and slay 16 giant beasts, in the hope of returning his deceased lover to life. This game takes all that was great about ICO and magnifies it by a factor of 10- the scenery, the graphics, the atmosphere and the music are all flawless. The battles with the giant Collossi are awe inspiring and highly innovative- many games have since taken a leaf out of this ones book. Somewhat like the GTA games, much of the pleasure here comes merely from exploring the landscape, this time on horseback. With only your horse as a companion, the pitch perfect feelings of isolation and lonliness that evoked such emotion in Ico is once again present here, this time the stakes and the scale have been upped- creating a game that can truly be described as Epic.

SOUL CALIBUR 2
Excellent fighting game from Namco. Fighters are all armed with weapons, of which several can be bought/unlocked for each character. Moves are plentiful and easy to pull off, making for a game enjoyable by both the casual and hardcore fighting crowd. Lots of characters/weapons/extas to unlock making the single player modes worth playing, and the graphics are top notch too.

SOUL CALIBUR 3
Pretty much more of the same, but with an added character creation mode, and a full single player adventure featuring said creations among other new extras, this is again an excellent game. Sharper graphics and a few new characters as well.

SILENT HILL 2
Havnt played too much of this- survival horror game from Konami. Tense atmosphere and genuinely creepy enemies are used to successfully create scares in place of more blatant 'in your face' shocks.

SPLINTER CELL 1, 2, 3, 4
The thinking mans stealth game- grounded in reality a LOT more than the likes of Metal Gear Solid, splinter cell carries Tom Clancy's brand of complex political intrigue and gritty realism in a game where going in all guns blazing will almost sertainly result in failure . Main character sam fisher is an older, more cynical kind of hero, but can still pull off some impressive acrobatic moves to get the drop on enemies. Light and sound are the main factors influencing stealth in these games, and patience is required during play. Each game is similar to the last, with some tweaks to the gameplay, equipment and move sets. Later games also feature impressive co-op and multiplayer modes. The third game Chaos Theory is probably the strongest in the series.

SWORDS OF DESTINY
Third person Hack and slash, taking inspiration from the likes of Onimusha and Castlevania, but with the quality of neither. Distinctly average in every way (with particularly bad dialogue), but worth a punt if you see it cheap and are a fan of the genre. Of note is the fact that the main character is practically a photocopy of Soki from ONIMUSHA DAWN OF DREAMS. One thing I do enjoy is how zippy the main character moves, not to mention you can double jump with more tenacity and verve than most other games- always an extra point in my book.

TENCHU 3
The original Tenchu on PS1 was fantastic. Tenchu 2 was better, introducing many new features to the game. Tenchu 3 took most of these features and threw them right out the window! The game isnt bad, honestly, and its a damn site better than the bile that FROM SOFTWARE (God but I hate them) have been spewing out recently. But its worth noting it is more like the original game, rather than an evolution of the second. Basically this means that the game (and to their detriment- most Tenchu games since) are based on a system that made its debut on the PS1, and has been redundant for years now. The core mechanics havnt changed. When you see how other series have adapted to new generations of hardware- Metal Gear etc, you appreciate how primitive the Tenchu series remains.

TENCHU FATAL SHADOWS
Tsk tsk... From software could turn gold into lead. Replacing main character Rikimaru with a whiny little girl, throwing out all conventions of camera control, leaving us with unresponsive controls and enemies who can block...every... single...attack... are just a few of this games many many foibles. Worth mentioning is that Ive never seen less coherent cutscenes and plotlines in a game. Avoid.

THE RED STAR
A strange one this- Old skool brawler (a-la streets of rage), meets shoot em up (a-la warning forever). The game itself isnt particularly deep or memorable, but the constant mixing between the two play styles keeps it enjoyable. The whole thing just seems a bit cheap though- it makes little or no use of the original graphic novel source material and features relatively simplistic graphics. Characters also move a little too slow and clunky, which slows down the pace of progression just a little too much.

THE SUFFERING
Very good third person shooter- you play an inmate on an isolated island prison who must escape after an army of hellish monsters somehow surface. Not so much 'survival horror' as 'action horror'. Combat is quite good, and the viewpoint can be shifted between 3rd and 1st person. The game is very well paced- the story itself isn't a prizewinner, but it is told well enough in game without ever breaking the flow of things.

THE SUFFERING TIES THAT BIND
Sequel to The Suffering, and continuing the story from the first game. Doesnt change too much from the originals formula, apart from reducing the number of carriable weapons to 2. The story is quite skillfully told in game and the whole thing moves at just the right pace- you're never shooting for too long, but nor are you left standing around watching cutscenes- it really draws you in. This comes with its price though- the game has a habit of occasionally freezing at certain places- frustrating given that there is no autosave!

TIME CRISIS 2
The ultimate light gun game! Feelings of nostalgia from playing this in arcades as a kid means that no matter what anyone says, this one will always be good! Cheesy, fast paced and adrenaline fueled, this is just the perfect stress relief game! It wont work with new flatscreen TVs though, and its only one player unless you have an extra tv, console, game and lightgun. (And it goes without saying that without a lightgun accessory, this one isnt half as good!)

TIMESPLITTERS
First in the excellent timesplitters series, designed by some of the minds behind the excellent Goldeneye on N64. The story mode is basically just a series of fetch missions- the multiplayer is where the real joy lies. Though good for its time (very early on the PS2 timeline), this game has been eclipsed by its sequels.

TIMESPLITTERS 2
One of the finest FPS on PS2, this has the perfect balance of single and multiplayer, with various arcade and campaign modes used to unlock trophies for bragging rights, and characters for multiplayer. It even comes with a full level creation mode! You again play a futuristic soldier sent to various eras in time to stop an alien race- the Timesplitters from destroying mankind. The game doesnt take itself too seriously- the art style is colourful and cartoony, and a good sense of humour is prevalent throughout. Definitely worth a purchase

TIMESPLITTERS 3
Similar to Timesplitters 2, featuring a few tweaks to graphics, gameplay, and a new story campaign. Hard to say which is better of the two, but if you enjoyed the earlier games this one is also a must. The level designer has been improved, and there are some truly funny moments during the campaign. Difficulty seems to be a little lower though- trophies were easier obtained in the challenge mode than previous games.

TONY HAWKS PRO SKATER 3
An enjoyable skating sim for both hardcore and casual players. This is the oldest game on PS2- there have been many more since!

TOTAL OVERDOSE
A mix of the open world crime sim GTA, and the acrobatic bullet-time gunplay of Max Payne, against a mexican gangland backdrop. Fun, but not as good as the series it takes its inspiration from.

XENOSAGA PART 2
Havnt really played this yet- Futuristic RPG spanning 3 volumes. This was the only one released in Pal territories though...

UNLIMITED SAGA
Boring tedious RPG from SquareEnix. Colourful, and comes in a nice box. Thats all I can really say is good about this game. The graphics are designed to resemble a board game and are lacking in any kind of flair, and the music is very laid back. You could say this game would be relaxing except its actually very difficult.

URBAN CHAOS
Very good FPS- it doesnt try to be big and clever, its just really good fun! As a riot response officer, you must make your way through missions defeating members of a gang intent on destroying your city. The action is fast paced and visceral, and the combat never gets dull. Levels are mostly in a quite similar urban setting, but are all very well made. A riot shield which can soak up enemy bullets and projectiles is one of this games unique features, separating it from others in the genre. Medals awarded after each mission unlock progressively better weapons and equipment- a surprisingly compelling aspect that makes repeated playthroughs worthwhile.

WORMS 3D
Making a quite succeful leap to 3d, the worms francise manages to maintain its colourful destructive scenery, sense of humour and broad range of weapons. The move to 3d has allowed for a few innovations but gameplay is still similar to its 2d predecessors. The biggest difference is in the level design- even with its random level generator, the levels are basically all islands, meaning tactics basically boil down to blasting worms into the sea as quickly as possible.

YAKUZA
Similar to Shenmue, you play the role of a Yakuza soldier just out of jail who gets caught up in a plot to steal 10 billion yen. The plot is strong, and the ocassional hammy dialogue actually helps- this game features a LOT of cutscenes, very well shot and acted, which successfully portray the atmosphere of the old yakuza films. On the gameplay side, its a third person exploration/ adventure game, with a lot of martial arts combat along the way. A lack of proper targeting makes the combat a little clunkier than it needed to be, but excellent animations and teeth clattering delivery keeps it exciting and engaging throughout the game. Can be picked up cheap these days and is easy to find, and still very playable by todays standards. Recommended!

YAKUZA 2
Released in 2006 in Japan, but only just reaching our shores a few months ago, this one still looks and plays well compared to its next gen contemporaries. The same high production values return- the graphics are good, the cutscenes are still commendably well acted/animated, and the combat has been improved. Doesnt stray too far from the originals formula. Ive only played the first few chapters so far, but i genuinely look forward to playing the rest.

ZONE OF THE ENDERS
Mech game from Hideo Kojima, creator of MGS. This is a very different game from the likes of Armoured core- you pilot a single mech in a linear, story driven game. Somewhat lacking in depth, I couldnt bring myself to complete this one- i got lost at one point, and not knowing where to go, and not particularly interested in the story i just gave up. I would only recommend this one to fans of the genre.


And thats it. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and can once again appreciate the contribution that this great console made to the Videogame industry! There still plenty of great games that I havn't included on my list, and hopefully i can track down some new titles in the future.. In the meantime, I hope you might go out in search of some of those more obscure titles already mentioned, and help give tehm the recognition they deserve!   read


8:13 AM on 04.08.2009

PS2- Games to consider A-K

[i]Howdy Folks!

My name is Michael, and as you can probably tell- Im new here. I wont bore you with a long introduction, but I will say that after playing games for most of my 22 years, the humble playstation 2 is one of my favourite consoles- 3D had evolved beyond the 'uncharted territory' of the N64 and PS1 era, and programmers could now share their visions on hardware that was powerful, easy and relatively cheap to design for. The PS2 era saw thousands of titles produced for Sonys black box- many excellent, many dire, and many somewhere in between- but with just enough charm that people could love them just the same.

The PS2s day are more or less numbered now- the next generation of hardware has been casting its shadow for several years. However, this doesnt negate the enjoyment that the PS2 can provide. I went to the trouble of compiling a list of my entire PS2 collection (over 100 games!) and passing a few comments on each. Whether you're looking for some cheap thrills to tide you over for the next big 360 release, or if you just want a trip down memory lane, I hope this list might help you to appreciate this great console once more and provide you with a few suggestions you may have missed first time round, or otherwise ignored...

This first post lists the games in my collection alphabetically from A to K. I'll post the next set in a few days- hopefully you'll enjoy it! I've completed most of these games myself, but there are still quite a few sitting on my 'to do' pile! Where this occurs I have said so, but also tried to give a brief description of the game anyway, that you might give it consideration! I've tried to be as unbiased as possible- but of course, I can only provide ou with my own personal opinion on each!

Please let me know if you enjoy reading this (or alternatively, if you've hated it and Ive just wasted your time!!)

Enjoy![/i]

AREA 51
A fairly impressive FPS combining solid mechanics with impressive visuals. The storyline is rather poo though, and the voice acting is worse! Of the systems relatively small number of FPSs though, this is definitely one of the better.

ARMOURED CORE 2
Described as the Gran Turismo of mecha games, this one tasks you with completing missions and fighting in an arena to win credits to upgrade your AC mechas with a vast array of parts and configurations. Story isnt really the focus here, with each mission offering short challenges to test your piloting skills. Graphics were servicable for its time- the mechs looked great but backdrops and music were rather bland. The game embraced an awkward control sheme though- with the shoulder buttons used instead of the R stick to control camera movement- its this kind of fundamental little niggle (Prevelant in many of FROM SOFTWAREs products) that prevent it from reaching its true potential.

ARMOURED CORE 3
Much the same as its predecessor, Armoured core features some new options and improved graphics, but gameplay remains much the same as it was.

ATELIER IRIS
Japanese RPG where much of the focus is on alchemy and item synthesis. Unfortunately this comes at the expense of many other facets of the game- the 2d graphics are behind the times (though admittedly, not without their charm), the battle system is no more innovative than most PS1 RPGS and the storyline is weak and at times confusing. Fans of niche JRPGS would enjoy it, but it certainly wont win any new converts to the genre.

BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Third person adventure game with a fair ammount of stealth thrown in. Combat is quite repetitive, but otherwise this is a good all rounder. Has recieved a lot of critical acclaim but personally I wasnt blown away. Graphics are of the 'grown up cartoon' variety and the storyline is quite good.

BLOOD WILL TELL
Only played a little so far! 3rd person hack & slash where you play a samurai on a quest to retrieve his stolen body parts! Seems quite good, and is similar to Onimusha.

BROKEN SWORD SLEEPING DRAGON
Havnt played this one yet. gonna wait 'til i finish the first two!

BURNOUT 3
Fast paced arcade racing game where shunting your opponents off the road is just as important as overtaking them. For someone who doesnt like racing games much, I found this immensely fun. Very good in multiplayer too. Extra tracks and vehicles are unlocked as you progress through Career mode.

CANIS CANEM EDIT
Fantastic Fantastic Fantastic! Made by Rockstar, its exactly like a cutdown version of GTA. Fortunately the reduction in scope means that every facet of an already solid formula is polished to perfection! Great characters, story, gameplay and sidequests/rewards made this a game I couldnt put down. It really nails the atmosphere of school life too- all the anecdotes, stereotypes and cliches of High school life are present and correct and are weaved succesfully into the game mechanics.

CALL OF DUTY
A rival of Medal of Honour, this series has gone on to great things recently whilst MOH has faded. The PS2 version of this first entry however is not as enjoyable as I had hoped. Perhaps its just not my cup of tea, but it was one of the few games that I couldnt bring myself to play through to completion. Ill try to be objective though- its a solid WW2 first person shooter with good graphics and gameplay. WW2 has been done to death though, making it hard to recomend this particular game from a few years back. The PC version with its greater multiplayer options is superior.

CASTLEVANIA
Castlevania again makes the leap to 3d with less than stellar results- removing the character development that had become a staple of the series, and crafting each and every level with oversized, bland identikit rooms and corridors makes this third person hack & slash affair monotonous and forgetable. The levels can be attempted in any order, which is never a good sign- the prospect of both progressive challenge and narrative are thrown out the window. Despite having flaws of their own, the N64 series of castlevania games offer a better 3d experience.

CASTLEVANIA CURSE OF DARKNESS
Offering several improvements over its predecessor, the second Castlevania outing on PS2 is much more enjoyable- leveling up has returned, meaning that unlike in the previous game, there is a benefit to actually killing monsters, rather than just running past them. The game is much more linear, which benefits the story and pace of the game, but unfortunately the levels are still oversized and bland. It doesnt help that the main character Hector moves rather slowly, which causes the game to drag on needlessly.

CRISIS ZONE
Another arcade light gun game from Namco, this one has all the action from previous games in the Time crisis series, but somehow lacks the charm of Time Crisis 2- maybe its because Time crisis 2 is the one most fondly remembered in arcades and Bowling alleys the world over that Crisis zone falls slightly by the wayside. Nevertheless, this is a competent and enjoyable game that should easily appease fans of the genre.

DARK CLOUD
Level 5's first RPG for the PS2, Dark Cloud laid the foundations for the superior Dark Chronicle. Consisting primarily of traversing randomly generated dungeons, and then using aquired resources to rebuild destroyed towns, this was a unique spin on the usual RPG formula. It also featured real time combat and a lead character who looked surprisingly like Zelda's Link- the game took much of its inspiration from Nintendos flagship series, but could never step out of its shadow.

DARK CHRONICLE
Sequel to Dark cloud, featuring superb cel shaded graphics and refined gameplay, the same formula of dungeon crawling and town building returns, but is bolstered by numerous extra quests, games and gameplay styles. A cartoony exterior hides one of the deepest and most rewarding RPG systems on PS2, if you are prepared to work for it. Fishing, inventing, golfing and photography are just a few of the well developed distractions available should the fanc take you.

DEVIL MAY CRY 1, 2, 3
Widely popular action horror series from the creators of Resident Evil. Starring super cool demon hunter Dante, its your job to put an end to all kind of nasty supernatural shennanigans, by utilising your massive sword and twin pistols, and your own demonic powers. Quite a difficult game, the fact that dante cannot block enemy attacks means this is one series best suited to the hardcore audience willing to learn the intricacies of the games combat. The games play style, combat and graphics were quite groundbreaking upon its release. Later games add additional weapons and abilities, whilst maintaining the same core gameplay. General concensus is that the second game is the weakest of the series.

DEVIL SUMMONER
Havnt played much of this one yet! Another Shin Megami Tensei RPG, its set in early 20th century Japan, which evokes an atmosphere similar to that of the first Shadow Hearts (which is good!)

DEUS EX
A port of the critically acclaimed PC game, some consessions were made for the transition to consoles- map sizes, interfaces etc. This is a fantastic hybrid of first person shooter, Stealth and RPG. Admittedly the gunplay is quite clunky, but really it is only one facet of a much larger multilayered game- players are offered a breadth of options for dealing with each character or situation- be it through espionage, charisma, bribery or going all out guns blazing. The story is a complex and finely crafted tale of dystopian conspiracy, and unlike many other games somehow manages to bring it all together without ever becoming farcical or beyond logic. Though somewhat dated, this is still highly recommended.

DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA
Havnt played this one yet ;) Again, a Shin Megami Tensei RPG which has been quite well received by critics.

DRAGON QUEST 8: JOURNEY OF THE CURSED KING
This is widely regarded as one of the greatest PS2 RPGS. Personally i dont see what all the fuss is about. The graphics are admittedly sublime (characters designed by Akira Toriyama) and still look good today; developers Level 5 have created a large, robust game virtually free of any bugs or glitches. My main gripes however are the very weak plot, and very old school gameplay- graphics aside, theres not much here that couldnt have been achieved on the nes... In my humble opinion, an RPG needs a gripping story to reward the player for the 50+ hours intended to be spent there. This game just doesnt deliver on that front. Regardless, any RPGer should definitely give it a try- this is after all the series that consistently outsells Final Fantasy in Japan.

FAHRENHEIT
Great adventure game- quite different to anything else I've played on the system. Slow paced and full of puzzles and cutscenes- good if you're looking for something other than a shooting game! The story is great, but gets a bit silly for the last third. Great graphics and voice acting- the game was designed to be a very cinematic experience- more of an interactive fiction than a game, and when you get used to its unique handling style, it works very well.

FINAL FANTASY 10
The first Final Fantasy on PS2, and the first to feature fully 3d environments. For its time the graphics were head and shoulders above the rest, and is still pretty today. Despite many criticisms, this truly was a fantastic game. Battles are still random and turn based, but at a faster pace than previous games. Levelling up is replaced with the boardgame-like SPHERE GRID (which is a lot more fun and intuitive than it sounds). Despite a hammy plot, and voice acting that can sometimes grate, this game is endearing and well presented, with likeable and well developed characters. Some great tunes in there too!

FINAL FANTASY 10-2
Oh no... The first direct sequel in the Final Fantasy series. Technically very good, with the same high production values as before, but it still misses the mark in several ways. The game is set in the same lush world of Spira as FFX, and features many familiar characters and locations from before. The main change is that the three playable characters are the female leads from before (and moody newcomer Payne), and unfortuneately the game cant help but suffer from 'girly syndrome' because of it. I have nothing against female leads- far from it, but any self respecting male couldnt play this game without wincing at least once. (Lead character Yuna singing the pop song at the start sets the tone for the rest of the game...) The story is largely throwaway, and frankly doesnt do the former game justice. It does however feature a fantastic battle system- similar to the job class system found in some other FF games, unfortunelately this is also quite 'girlified' by having all the characters change outfits during battle. Still... points for consistency Squaresoft!

FINAL FANTASY 12
Hmm... a bit divided on this one. Taking a lot of cues from MMORPGS, this final fantasy features real time battles, limited resource collecting and a LOT of grinding. The combat system is great, if unusual for an FF, and the graphics are sublime. The music is not the series' best however- lacking drama and punch, and the story and characters are among the series weakest. The story is basically something to do with politics, royalty and invading forces. I literally cant remember anything more than that- it just sets you up to go on fetch quests through massive dungeons. Storyline problems aside, its a great game and there are many who love it.
Like all Final Fantasys there are enough secrets, tactics and minigames to keep the hardcore crowd pleased for hundreds of hours. For someone like me who isnt quite so interested in the deep combat mechanics, and places storyline and character development almost as highly as gameplay, (particularly in an RPG) this isnt the best the PS2 has to offer

FINAL FANTASY VII- DIRGE OF CERBERUS
A spin off of the old RPG juggernaut Final Fantasy VII, this is a competent and enjoyable third person shooter starring Vincent Valentine. Familiar characters and settings are featured, but the new cast and storyline will not remain in your hearts the same way as Cloud, Aeris, Sephiroth et all managed to before. Its hard to find any real faults with this game- production values are as usual very high, but SQUAREENIX are primarily an rpg developer, and as such the gameplay- whilst very solid, doesnt reach the dizzy heights that some other developers are capable of. My verdict- definitely worth a playthrough, especially for fans, but eclipsed by other games in the shooting genre.

GLOBAL DEFENCE FORCE
Fun in the purest sense- it has no plot, a low budget and far from great graphics, but for a simple addictive third person shooter its hard to find a genuine fault! Basically the game equivalent of starship troopers, sees your lone soldier fight off armies of marauding ants, spiders and alien spaceships with an ever growing arsenal of over 150 weapons. It has co-op mode too!

GOD HAND
Quite a marmite game, based on several reviews, this isnt quite the polished production from Clover studios that Okami was before it. It is however, tremendously fun. Basically an old school brawler, the levels are plain and all you really do is run from one group of enemies to the next, but the game never becomes repetitive since you are constantly bombarded with brilliant little touches such as a ridiculous special move, a completely offbeat cutscene or a totally unexpected enemy. Even just the unusual sound effects add to the quirkiness of this game. The developers seem to know this isnt meant to be taken seriously as a top quality title- the whole thing plays as if it was some silly side project done in the developers spare time, and its all the better because of it

GOD OF WAR
I first saw God of War as a cheap immitation of Devil May Cry. How wrong I was. God of war combines fluid, visceral combat with excellent characters and pacing to produce one of the most well rounded examples of the Hack & Slash genre on the system. Main character Kratos has become iconic through his rage fuelled oddessey accross (and under) a violent portrayal of Ancient Greece.

GOD OF WAR 2
Take what i said about God of War 1. Double it. Released in the PS2s twilight years, this along with a few other titles proved there was plenty of life in the old girl yet! The combat is more fluid, the bosses bigger, the set pieces more breathtaking, the graphics sharper- some of the sharpest possible on PS2 in fact. Whilst the gameplay is much the same as the first, it was so enjoyable to begin with that relatively little tweaking was needed. Highly recommended.

GREGORY HORROR SHOW
Still to play this one- a very niche 'survival horror' title from capcom, featuring cartoon-like characters.

GTA 3
An early PS2 game where you play a nameless grunt commiting crimes and wreaking havoc in a massive living city, and for its time was a remarkable technical achievement. For the first time a game really rewarded you for going off the beaten path and just doing your own thing- exploring the city for hidden items, taking part in secret races or even just listening to the radio whilst earning a few extra dollars moonlighting as a cab driver- This is the game that invented the sandbox genre! Its been eclipsed by other games since, but many still enjoy this original for its keeping to the core values of what made GTA fun in the first place.

GTA VICE CITY
An improvement over GTA 3 featuring a larger city, more features and a more prevalent storyline than before.

GTA SAN ANDREAS
My personal favourite of the three main GTA games- this time you can explore an entire state! some criticise that there is too much space and not enough too do. I disagree- the breadth of scope allows for some truly open ended gameplay- activities vary from commiting midnight burglaries to skydiving or even just tearing across the countryside on a dirtbike, listening to 'Freebird' on the radio. This is definitely the most ambitious of all GTA games.

GUNCOM 2
Terrible! A lightgun game that looks like it was made by a first year media student (no offence media students!) The plot and characters are thrown together, the graphics are abysmal and the shooting itself is sub par. Avoid.

.HACK//INFECTION
Still to play this one too Im afraid! The Offline MMORPG sim where you play as the 'in game' avatar of th protagonist. Randomly created dungeons are always a bit of a turn off, but we'll see.

HITMAN 2
I only picked this up a few weeks ago, and have only played the first few missions. A genuinely cool, slick experience which puts a great twist on the usual stealth formula. Instead of hiding in shadows, you must blend in with the characters in your environment, hide your weapons and plan your strategy carefully to assasinate your targets. A clever game, but not so tough that it cant be mastered. Still plays very well today. (I havnt played the sequels, but i believe they are just as good)

ICO
A great game if you're of the mindset to enjoy it- You must guide young Ico and his friend Yorda through a labyrinthine castle in search of freedom. No guns, no explosions, no HUD, and very little in the way of combat, cutscenes or dialogue, the game is praised for its atmosphere and sense of isolation, its stunningly beautiful art direction, and its successfully powerful way of telling a story without having to rely on the usual old tricks. Often used as an arguement in the 'Games Vs Art' debate, this is a title that no true gamer should do without.

I NINJA
Ive only played a little of this so far- 3d platformer where you play as an agile cartoon ninja. Doesnt seem as polished as some other platformers, but then its too early to make an informed judgement. Still, given the choice between this or say, Jak & Daxter, choose Jak!

JAK & DAXTER
A top quality platformer from the PS2s early days, its still cracking good fun- its colourful kid friendly visuals hiding deep, well crafted gameplay that both adults and kids can enjoy.

JAK 2
Whereas the first game was a collectathon similar to mario 64, this was influenced heavily by GTA. Gone are the sunny beaches and tropical forests, replaced by bleak steampunk cities and ruins, and an all round more darker emo/gothic feel (similar to the shift in tone between the first two Prince of Persia games). The game is now mission based in structure, and while the same platforming elements remain, they are augmented with the inclusion of guns and hijakable (sorry ;)) vehicles. The platforming is as good as ever, but the gunplay could have used some work- you can't aim your gun or strafe for example. The story is much better this time around too. My major gripe is that the main city is very illogically designed, and the vehicles too 'floaty' meaning that a lot of frustrating trapsing and backtracking is required between missions. Despite these few issues, this still remains one of the finest and most polished examples of the genre on PS2


JAK 3
Still yet to get started on this mother- though im expecting good things!

LEGACY OF KAIN: DEFIANCE
The final(?) game in the legacy of Kain series sees the player assume the role of both KAIN and RAZIEL as there destinies come to a head. Combat and exploration are the order of the day, though the game is somewhat more linear than than its predecessors. Also gone are the puzzles of previous games, as progression is based on a rather uninspired 'Get the red sword to open the red doors' system. Whilst still a good game, this is a far cry from the days of Soul Reaver on PS1, a game remembered for its flawless atmosphere and mind bending puzzles.
The story and voice acting are superb as always, but this was the last game before creative director Amy Hennig called it a day, meaning that fans are still waiting for closure to this long running series.

KILLER 7
Highly stylish, very weird game from capcom. Very very good if you have the right mindset for it. An 'on rails' shooter with gameplay a cross between old Resident Evils, and the RE Survivor series- exploration is third person, the whilst shooting is in first person. You play as 7 personas of the worlds greatest assassin Harman Smith, and progress through a very dark, very violent and altogether very offbeat story. Described as on rails, You dont move via the analogue stick- instead you hold X to run through the levels, and can choose what path to take at junctions. This allows the camera move to more dramatic angles, showing off the games unique cel shaded visuals better than would be possible with traditional controls.

KILLZONE
Another solid and impressive looking FPS for the system. Lots of browns and greys, and no real genre redefining features, but it gets the traditional FPS formula spot on. With four playable characters, a rather good storyline and some cinematic moments, this one is definitely worth picking up. Not as they say the 'Halo beater' that was expected of many games of its era, but very good none the less.

KINGDOM HEARTS
A bright colourful action RPG featuring many famous disney characters and worlds, with a few cameos from Square's Final Fantasy series thrown in for good measure. Despite early scepticism from gamers, this turned out to be a fantastic game for children and adults alike. Production values were typically high with excellent graphics music and simple yet highly rewarding gameplay. Put aside the fact that from the outside it looks like a game for kids- this is no cheap movie cash in! Highly recommended.

KINGDOM HEARTS 2
A worthy sequel to K.H. which improves on the first games gHaphics and gameplay. The gummy ship shooting sections have been given particular polish. The story is deeper than the first and wraps up with a satisfying conclusion (unlike a lot of other games). The only gripes are that a few of the levels are retreads of the first game, and that they removed the glide ability, which was such a cool addition to the first game :(   read


  Around the web (login to improve these)




Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter?
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -