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12:13 AM on 06.30.2011

Currently : Uncharted 3 Beta

[This is the first in my Currently series, which is pretty much where I play some type of demo, whether that be a beta or a trial on xbox live, or possibly a game I didn't feel a need to finish. Fundamentally, they'll be my impressions, brief or extensive.]

Yesterday, the multiplayer beta for Uncharted 3 came out, and was available to Playstation Plus subscribers. Essentially anyone who received 30 days free from Sony's "Welcome Back" package, and even redeemed it the day it became available, should be able to get this. It will be available to the public July 5th anyhow. After quite a few hours of playtime, I'd like to share my thoughts on the experience so far, which has gotten my attention for sure.

First off, I was having issues gaining entry to the multiplayer menu for an hour or so, but this is the usual problem with betas, so I was expecting it. Anyway, once I got into the menu, one of the first things that I noticed was a video-player in the bottom-right corner. It was labeled 'Uncharted TV" and was constantly living up to it's namesake with content related to U3. I had already seen all the videos here, except for the beta briefing. However, I'm sure many people will not have seen the E3 footage. They were showing the full "Drake sinks a boat" demo here, which I found to be very cool. But, I could find no way to turn this feature off, and having scenes from the single player demo'd multiple times really dampens my excitement for when I finally get my hands on it.

Next, I delved into the Customization section of the list. Here you can alter many, many things, which include loadouts for competitive and co-op modes, the appearance of your hero and villain character models, your personal emblem, and taunts. Loadouts, at least in the weapon area, are what you would expect from a modern shooter. You can swap between 4 primary and 2 secondary firearms, and change attachments as well.

Then there are the Boosters and Kickbacks, which are more or less the perks of the game. A Booster is really just that, but the selection present here isn't what you would usually expect. There are the usual radar enhancers and attachment extenders, but then you get ones like Power Hunter, which allows you to easily find power weapons within 10 meters. Daredevil has you taunting over an opponents corpse to receive extra ammo. There are 4 perks in 2 sections, and I'm sure there will be quite a few more in the full release.

Now we arrive on the subject of Kickbacks, and boy are they interesting. After earning a certain number of medals (discussed later) you can activate these timed powerups for odd bonuses. Kickbacks can range from simply spawning an RPG with "RPG!!!" to Creepy Crawler, wherein you can become an army of spiders. I found myself partial to Smoke Bomb, which instantly teleports you to the other side of the map. Using these in a pinch really livens up gameplay, and I haven't yet encountered a situation where I thought them to be in any way overpowered.

There are also Paid Boosters you can purchase in one game only. Not sure if I like this idea, since they prove to be just as expensive as the other Boosters. I guess they're meant to be used as handicaps or something similar, but they might be exposed for abuse by long-time players.

Whether you're playing as the Heroes or the Villains, you will be using a customized character. Luckily, the options here are more than decent for a multiplayer shooter. There are many different clothing alternatives to suit your preferences, which consists of various categories such as race, torso, head, arms, legs, feet, voice (most can have their color changed) and have a handful of choices for each of them. Some of these are actually pretty sweet, yet to unlock some of these, you'll need to collect a certain set of treasure. These will randomly fall from defeated enemies occasionally, and there are three to each set, and these sets are filed under either Common, Antiquity, or Artifact.

Emblems can be made from 4 parts; Frame, Base, Part 1, and Part 2. There are about twenty for each tab, and each can be rotated, scaled, and colored separately. The end result turns out a bit better than Black Ops' arguably overdone system. I managed to craft a metroid/embryo looking bastard. Taunts are pretty self-explanatory and also hilarious if used sparingly, unless you need to do it every chance you get with the Daredevil Booster, but that's just an excuse!

And now for the real reason I'm doing this, the actual gameplay, which surprised me quite a bit. I wasn't all that fond of Uncharted 2's multiplayer, for some odd reason, and I entered this with one foot in the doorway. Thankfully, it went above and beyond what I could have hoped for. I took my first stab at this in the Co-op Adventure mode. Here, a three-man team is tested by 10 rounds of alternating types with a shared pool of 10 lives.

Survivor is just fighting off the Villains until the round ends, pretty standard stuff. Siege is an interesting, and tough one. Here, all three participants must remain in a specified area or else the round will never end and kills won't count for anything. The last one is Gold Rush, where you will be carrying a priceless artifact from one end of the map to the other. This one could be incredibly entertaining were it not so easy. There is a tossing mechanic with the treasure that makes getting it across a great distance a breeze. Sadly this mode isn't in multiplayer at this time, but I think it's coming in a week or two. I think it could really shine there.

The first map I played in the beta was Airfield, and I immediately noticed the level of polish it exude. I could tell that a lot of planning went into this one, as well as Chateau, the other map currently in the beta. As I'm not really a PS3 multiplayer guy, I was paired up with randoms. Fortunately for me, they were great team players, and helped me to ease into the experience. I'm not sure how Naughty Dog did it, but they actually smoothed out the platforming after Among Thieves, which I didn't even believe to be possible.

Overall movement is just so impeccably polished, it's hard to believe. Eventually I was pulling off insane maneuvers, such as rolling off a roof past a riot shielded Villain and pulling off the close quarters kill. Speaking of which, this particular area isn't exactly on par with the single player segments shown, but isn't really a big deal as it works just fine in it's state here. Anyway, apart from the breezy Gold Rush rounds, I found the Adventure co-op mode to be quite the party.

I made the decision to jump into a versus game mode next and of the four available (team deathmatch, free-for-all, three team deathmatch, and hardcore), three team was the victor. I've been a big fan of gametypes like Team Doubles, and Multi-Team from Halo for a while now, so it came natural. I'll say right away that having three pairs was the perfect way to go and this turned out be by far my favorite slice of the beta.

The Buddy System was showcased here, which is mostly a spawning mechanic, where you can choose to either respawn next to your Buddy, or do a regular spawn. It works swell in this particular game mode, where it can either help or hinder your partner whether or not you jump into their battle, or wait until they die as well, to begin anew. You can gather treasure for your Buddy as well.

The map showcased now was Chateau, a sort of mansion, in ruins, in a jungle. This was also my favorite of the pairing and was designed beautifully as well. The game mode I chose functioned greatly with it, and spawns were never faulty when the default option was chosen. I had tons of fun working out strategies with one of my co-op partner, who proved yet again to be resourceful.

After this, I proceeded to jump into the other three game modes and found them to be just as great. One thing I must mention though is how the map Airfield functions in Team Deathmatch. You still end up fighting in the same space as other modes, but there is an extra section of gameplay at the start of each match. There is a plane on a runway being followed by around 10 transport trucks. Players proceed to jump from truck to truck and into the cargo bay of the plane whilst shooting each other. This was an interesting concept, but I'm hoping for Naughty Dog to do a bit more with it.

Now's a great time to bring up the cash mechanic, which is pretty much like Credits in Black Ops. Cash is earned from various avenues, such as earning certain medals, killing enemies, gathering treasure, or winning matches. It isn't used everywhere, as some things such as clothing are simply unlocked, but is needed for Boosters and Kickbacks. Medals can be earned from doing any number of things, from getting a kill after you've died, to assisting people a lot, which gets a big cash payoff.

I'm having a hell of a time with the beta. Uncharted 3 was already on my list for games to buy this year just for the single player, and now I've found it to have multiplayer on the level, if not better than Battlefield 3 or Gears of War 3. Color me oran- I mean impressed!   read

12:41 PM on 06.28.2011

The Indecisive In Me

In recent years, I've managed to succumb to what has been sometimes called "What Game Syndrome". What this usually entails is a general inability to pick a game to play. When I was younger, I never had this problem and found it breezy to ease into whatever title's on my mind at the time. Yet I find myself stuck between decisions, spread across multiple platforms and interwoven with various forms of media. I currently have a decent video game ensemble, and an abundant selection of TV series and films to watch.

However, what I'd like to focus on here is gaming's side of the equation. Some of these I've played through, possibly multiple times, and some I have yet to even start. There are options for me available on:

Playstation 2
Final Fantasy X/XII, Okami, Jade Cocoon 2, Metal Gear Solid 2/3, Xenosaga: Episode 1

Playstation 3
Metal Gear Solid 4, Demon's Souls

Xbox 360
Enslaved, Bayonetta, Fallout 3, Oblivion, Prey

Completed titles here (denoted as green font color) still give me as much of a desire to play them as the untouched. I've been bogged down by this issue for quite a long time now, and whenever I make a pseudo-decision, I feel it's the wrong one and eventually back out. Do any of you experience this problem as often, and happen to know any ways to bypass it?   read

7:09 AM on 06.27.2011

E3, Posthumous - Part Two

Technically this could be defined as a re-post. This was originally the latter half of my E3 coverage, however I thought it would be better to grant it a separate post. I found the last one to be far too long to read it one sitting for most. And I'm sorry if it seems like I'm looking for more exposure, I really just think it's for the best.

part one can be found here

Here is where I'll discuss some titles in excess detail, if I haven't covered them enough in the last post. First I'd like to elaborate upon my views of the top 3 games of the show, then I will contribute a bit of what I've missed.

Hands down, this is my most anticipated game of all time. Never before have I had this firm belief of how absolutely immaculate a game could be, and to know, almost for sure, that a game will take the place at the top of my lists upon release. Call me raving, but I just can not tear myself away from the thought of playing this game, and every detail released has the power to call forth saliva from my gaping jaws.

Anyway, let's get into those details shall we? We could talk about environments, the specifics of two-handed combat, maybe some dra....DRAGONS! Holy shmoly those beautiful things, probably the only enemy type to make me evoke this much enthusiasm for a video game, and then you're pretty much related to them, and then you can use their powers after killing them! That alone is breathtaking, and that's just one race. I'm looking forward to exactly how they tie into the plot as well.

My first thoughts during the E3 demos shown was about the world around the player, and how much of an improvement I instantly recognized in it. Although Oblivion had trees, forests, and various shrubbery, it was still too empty for a fantasy world. Mountains were just mountains, and now we have the Throat of the World, the tallest of them in Skyrim, and former home to the Nords. Anyone who's been to the deep country has seen the rolling hills of Oblivion, and Skyrim shows that Bethesda and their new Creation Engine, can do more than that.

I loved first-person view in Oblivion and Fallout 3, but I may have a tough choice ahead of me in which side I wish to take. Third-person was something I used sparingly in those games, usually only when I wanted a quick look at my armor,or if I didn't want enemies sneaking up behind me. Now, with Bethesdas completely redone engine, it comes complete with third-person as a feasible option. This is most certainly not hindered by the far more detailed equipment featured in Skyrim, especially on the Elvish set shown briefly in the menus.

Not too far in, Guardians stones were discovered and detailed a bit, specifically in how they affect the development of your character. This goes along with the perk system brought in and improved from Fallout 3, now incorporated into skill trees. Reportedly, there are circa 280 perks. They've made it that much harder to play the same character on your next playthrough, and believe me, I will have no shortage of them.

The town shown, Riverwood, was certainly a step up over the copy and paste homes in Oblivion, and seeing townsfolk wander around and doing real work, not as aimlessly as the previous entry, was awe-inspiring. Next came the horse-riding and boy did that run as smoothly as the rest of third-person. Once they got to Bleak Falls Barrow, I was having trouble containing my utter joy. The interior here put Oblivion to shame, and they revealed that each dungeon would be handcrafted, as they should be, and there were at least 150 in the game. Combat here was spectacular and looked incredibly fun, with magic, swordplay, and dragon shouts being deployed to much effect.

Finally came the Tundra, it brought us Whiterun, a city very much reminiscent of Rohan in the Lord of the Rings, and then three things occurred which were just awe-inspiring. Firstly, mammoths and giants! This was the first time I had seen either of these in action, and just the thought of giants shepherding mammoths brings me to a fantasy high, but it didn't stop there as next came a dragon who was avoided before entering Bleak Falls Barrow. He came back, and the first thing he did was pick up a giant and toss him a mile into the air, which is flat-out awesome any way you look at it. After defeating the damned lizard, and absorbing it's soul which is a grand affair, a new more powerful version, aka the frost dragon, comes in and lands atop a guard tower. As you fight this one, you use a dragon shout to create an area that, upon being entered, will strike down your enemies with lightning.

Anyways, didn't mean for this to drag on so much, but maybe I'll grant this pseudo-preview a bit of an extension and give it it's own blog post, who knows. But for now, 11.11.11 is most definitely my favorite date this year, and I simply can not wait.

Gone is my interest in the Call of Duty series as of this E3, and the honor of it's removal belongs to none other than Battlefield 3 and it's remarkable Frostbite 2 engine. A lackluster showing of Modern Warfare 3 compared to the stellar prospect of a new and proper entry in the BF series are to blame. I wasn't all too impressed with the Bad Company spin-offs, mostly because the material therein wasn't enough for me, and the multiplayer was nothing but push and pull in every gametype. Although it remains to be seen if BF3 has remedied this gripe I have.

The single player portion shown this year could've been viewed in very different lights. On one hand, it was pretty damn boring honestly, but I'm sure playing the game with a healthy respect for realistic warfare can fix that. Second was the sound design, which by the by is just perfect as my eyes. Then there are the visuals, and they were striking. Tanks moved gracefully, or as far as that goes, and it really looked better than Crysis 2 to me.

They also showed a multiplayer sizzle reel, which although brief still gave away a lot of details if you watch some analysis footage. Most of which was still a pleasure too watch even in slow motion or frame-by-frame. Weapons were mostly standard fare, but were a good selection, and were all detailed incredibly well. Explosions and general particle effect-infused gameplay were done well also. Vehicles in shooters are something I really only ever liked in Halo, and albeit looking interesting in the trailers, only time will tell if they really do work for this game.

Altogether the multiplayer looks wonderful, and is the real reason I'm getting the game. Luckily, we'll have the chance to test the waters in the September open beta. If they can fix the gameplay from the previous titles and keep the single-player campaign interesting, it will be a surefire winner. Now we wait and see if it can really outsell Call of Duty, which should be an MJ popcorn endorsed adventure.

The last installment of this PS3 exclusive, Uncharted 2, is truly one of my choices for game of the last decade, and for good reasons. It was an inconceivable amalgam of platforming, storytelling, spectacle and gunplay. For those four reasons, it proved itself over the original, which even having included these things, wasn't polished enough. Uncharted 3 certainly has a legacy to fulfill, but it hasn't disappointed yet, from what I've seen so far.

Multiplayer in UC2 was a labor of love for myself, because I loved how platforming worked in versus matches, but I didn't like how each match played out. Having Naughty Dog go in with a mindset of making the MP the gold standard for the PS3 was awesome to hear, and from what I've seen it really could be. Generally, the matches shown were executed fluidly and looked like spiderman with guns. In the co-op mode, grabbing treasure and attempting to get past the AI looked like a hell of a lot of fun, and one of the best parts was how you could toss said treasure great distances. This by itself was very entertaining, and doing this is versus will most likely prove to be even more so, having clutch tosses to gain the win.

There was a sequence of the single-player shown, that right off the bat set itself apart from past Uncharted titles. This was the cruise ship sequence in which Drake goes stealth mode in the middle of the ocean. Apparently, whatever he was looking for wasn't there, and in true Nathan Drake fashion, he manages to sink the boat he's on. The dark blues of the open water set the tone miraculously well for this particular scene and looked great while doing it. The gameplay was true to the last game, and tight as ever.

Mass Effect 3

My opinion on Mass Effect 2 is a bit different than most others, as I prefer the original. I thought that ME2's mission structure to be invariable, and although the idea of gathering a team was great in theory, actually doing it began to feel akin to a chore. Now, I'm not declaring it a bad game at all, but it certainly could've wavered a bit in how you created the ultimate crew.

What I've heard about the terminal entry of the trilogy is what I was hoping for. Of course, since the reapers are attacking earth, the bastion of humanity, there won't really be time to assemble yet another team, and doing so would defeat the purpose of having your team survive and carry over from ME2. The gameplay looked eerily similar to almost any of the previous games' set pieces, except for one key point, fighting what was originally thought to be a reaper base. This base just happened to be the real thing, and you set off on an on-rails sequence with naught but a turret.

I'll be honest, I hated that part. It in no way screamed Mass Effect to me, and I would have preferred conversations to something like this. Undeniably, the reaper itself was swell, and the sounds it was making evoked War of the Worlds to me. Unfortunately, fighting it couldn't be less exciting for me. Hopefully, things like this don't pop up often, or anymore for that matter, throughout the game.

Gears of War 3

This one's a bit different since, like most people, I have already gotten the chance to play the game in multiplayer form via the beta for pre-orders and Bulletstorm epic edition owners. And incidentally, I loved it, so I can confirm to myself that it's a selling point on the game. However with Gears comes two other things which make the game an all around solid piece of gaming. These consist of co-op campaign and the vastly improved horde mode.

The co-op in the inaugural Gears of War was the first next-gen game I ever played, and being able to play through it with a good friend of mine left a big impression on me. I came away from it with a very positive outlook on the whole of the new Xbox and went into the sequel with the same ideas in mind. I had just as much, if not more fun playing with the same friend through the co-op. But what also came in the package was to be the birth of wave-type modes, horde mode. This coupled with a great multiplayer component made the game very special.

Gears 3 is doing nothing but building upon these concepts with 4-player co-op (first two allowed only 2), horde 2.0 where boss waves and building essential tools to survive add a lot more than I expected. They even managed to include beast mode, which isn't too different from survival mode in Left 4 Dead. Along with the previously mentioned multiplayer, this is one of those games that really gives you your money's worth.

Dead Island

The first I heard about this survival-zombie game from Techland was during 2006 when they released a proof of concept trailer, and after that it was barren on the information front until last year when it was revealed. Some people think that zombie games as a genre don't have much to offer to the industry, but when you get down to it, they're just really fun to play, and sometimes that's all you need. I'm still waiting for the genre to produce anything with a equal parts emotion, story and gameplay.

There's no telling how well they've woven their tale of infection or how hard the undertones can hit you, as the infamous CG trailer was just a hype machine, but what they're saying is it's indicative of their ideals. However, the gameplay on it's own looks to hold merit for the game as whole. I like Left 4 Dead and all, but I think zombies go hand in hand with melee combat, as long as they're the slow ones (aka the right kind).

I won't say the game is realistic in it's combat, but that's a good thing for sure. If I couldn't slice off an infected's leg with one swipe of my electrified machete, quite frankly I'd be insulted. I'm very intrigued my the co-op in here, but they haven't showed it in detail yet. I'm anticipating some real challenges for me and my buddies.

Tomb Raider

Gone is the hefty bosom of the Tomb Raider series, and in comes a game that has the chance really earn it's own popularity. This should've been the first game in the series and everything that has lead up to this I consider null and void. Crystal Dynamics made the best decision they could have and I think they'll bring us the next Uncharted in terms of quality.

Lara Croft is young and fragile, and well, she doesn't have massive tits yet. She's setting out for what she believes to be a archaeological cruise, yet this particular journey ends with her stranded on the proverbial shipwreck island. Here Lara doesn't really know what to do and is very scared, which I don't think is an emotion she used in the previous games. Vulnerability is key here, and turns the game into a full-blown survival-horror title.

The puzzle elements showcased were appropriately notable and I'm hoping for some on an even bigger scale than the Uncharted series. The mystery surrounding the island, or at least that we're being told is there, is also something I wish to be an important plot element. Anything close to what Lost gave me will make me a very happy man. I'm willing to forget the rest of the Tomb Raider series ever existed for the sake of this important makeover.

Bioshock Infinite

The word around the internet is that the sky-lines trailer shown doesn't do the gameplay shown behind closed doors justice. I sincerely hope so, as I wasn't enticed all too much. Upon reading previews of what we didn't get to see, I began to wonder why they thought less is more and showed the public much less than what they did last year.

I guess it was going to be hard to top anything as mind-blowing as what was on display late last year. but I didn't find anything new other than the battle zeppelins to mull over. Nevertheless, having Ken Levine explain a bit more behind the story was a treat, particularly on Elizabeth and her ability, or lack thereof, to control the tears in space-time.

I'm still not sold on sky-lines either, as we have yet to see how travel on them truly works. I still expect Bioshock Infinite to be nothing less than literary genius. However, I was left wanting more than the offering at E3.


I've heard some pals of mine telling me how there are too many post-apocalyptic games, but I for one, completely disagree. In fact, I still think we could use a few more, as desolation as a theme is still completely exploitable, in a good way. Id Software decided to try their hand at the genre in their first new IP since Quake in 1996.

I loved Borderlands mostly for it's co-op so I can't say it's the reason I'm drawn to RAGE. However, there will be some sort of way to play along with friends, it hasn't been completely disclosed as of yet. The real reason I have taken a liking to this is the technical excellence it emanates in all areas offered up hitherto. John Carmack is one of the most talented people in the industry and his megatexture ideas are definitely the direction to head in for graphic supremacy. The animation systems are equally imposing, especially when you see the mutants and the spider turret scurrying about the corridors.

Now that I mention corridors, I'm still on the fence about whether or not id can really break apart from their normal psychology on how a shooter is done, and conform a bit to today's standards. However, if the general flow of "The Dead City" is any indication, then it's a still a strong possibility. This is one of those games where, more than anything else, you want to see how it can succeed in the ways you hope for.   read

10:31 AM on 06.18.2011

I Heart CG

As of late, the art of CG (computer graphics) has been making a huge comeback, particularly in the gaming scene. Until recently, the technique belonged primarily to Japanese developers, appearing as important sequences of their stories in the form of FMV's (full motion video), or in films by studios like Pixar. However, western audiences have been increasingly treated to this sweet expression of gaming.

I consider CG trailers, introductions and the like to be one of the bastions of character and environment art. Sometimes, things such as the detail on a 3D model or in concept art can be lost in translation when being added in-game whether that's because of technical reasons or something got out of hand. Yet when working with Computer Graphics, designers can really go wild and do what needs to be done during the design process. What can result is a firm and true vision of the intended product.

As a gamer, getting the chance to see Commander Shepard, War, or even Jade from Beyond Good & Evil in glorious pre-rendered high-definition, is fan service at it's fever point. I liken it a bit to comic book movies, in how there doesn't need to be a perfectly honest connection to the property it's drawing from, but having the main characters and plot points appear can make it all worthwhile. Yet when you're doing CG work, specifically on video games, that's almost literally all you need, but really just recognizable characters we all know and love.

Anyway, I hope I don't seem ignorant since I can't really claim to know what I'm talking about, but I mostly just wrote to say how much I love CG. So if I said something vastly incorrect (on many points), please don't tear me a new one. Here's a short list with some great examples of these cinematic interpretations and what joy they bring me. Feel free to contribute some awesome ones I missed.

Prey 2
Halo 3
Halo 4
The Secret World
Final Fantasy Versus XIII
Dead Island
Assassin's Creed: Revelations trailer
Fallout: New Vegas #1
Fallout: New Vegas #2
Star Wars: The Old Republic #1
Star Wars: The Old Republic #2
Star Wars: The Old Republic #3
World of Warcraft #1
World of Warcraft #2   read

5:51 AM on 06.16.2011

E3, Posthumous - Part One

part two can be found here

The 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo (wanted to write it out at least once) has been one of my favorite yet, and was helped in no small part by Destructoid's superb coverage. I'm going to try and cover as much ground as I can, but I'm gonna get the Big 3 and their hardware, and the publisher conferences, out of the way first. Then I'll move on the the software, which I was thoroughly dazzled by this year. Look there (part two) for my thoughts on most individual titles, lest I've seen it fit to be included elsewhere.

I guess I should state up front that these impressions will be quite biased, as similar to most people, there are I things I like, and those that I do not. Bias applies very much here as I do not have much of a taste for Kinect. The problem for me being that the majority of Microsoft's conference had at least something to do with Kinect. I can not honestly say that the Kinect has no practical uses as I still appreciate what has been done with the technology, and believe it has a place in households as an entertainment device. Yet it is not something I wish to own or play, mostly because I prefer sitting still whilst playing games. That is okay though, as it's simply not catering to me, but to anyone who would like to get interactive and physical.

First-party support was very strong for the hardware, but for the most part, I couldn't really get excited about it since I wasn't much of a supporter of Kinect. Sesame Street was probably my pick of the litter, which actually turned out to be fascinating. Ryse could definitely turn out to sell me a Kinect once I get a better look at the gameplay. Minecraft being supported was a large surprise for me, but I'd rather play it on PC anyway. I generally don't care much for casual titles, so no comment there. I also don't play racing titles very often, but the showroom and presentation of Forza Motorsport 4 were undoubtedly arresting. Mechs turned out to work much better than I expected In Gears of War 3, and everything else was how I would have liked it to work. Mass Effect 3's voice recognition was cool, but you and Shepard saying different things didn't do it for me, although other Kinect-implemented features, like telling party members to move up, were interesting enough.

Next came the reveal of the Halo CE revival, of which I had originally thought to an upscaled version, like most HD collections popping up lately, but turned out to be close to a full-scale remake. I'll admit I'm a pretty big Halo fan, however I never got around to completing this one. I was wondering when I would eventually play through it, and now I can do it in co-op as well. I'm not sure how I feel about the announcement of Halo 4 and it's part in the new trilogy though. I was waiting to see what 343 Industries would do next with the property, but I was pretty sure they would continue Chief's story, just not so easily announcing 3 more titles. Perhaps I'm a bit skeptical simply because of the lack of Bungie's involvement.

As a press conference, Microsoft did a very good job with it. Even though I myself can't appreciate what they could do with Kinect, I know that many people can. If Ryse can work the way I'd like it to, without being uncomfortable to play, then that alone could pique my interest. Generally, I was impressed by what was shown there.

Check out part two for further thoughts on Mass Effect 3 and Gears of War 3

Going into this one I was already incredibly wary, having been burned by Nintendo with the casual-focused Wii. Then when they announced the name for the system, I couldn't help but laugh and then scoff. I was hoping that they would choose simply "The Nintendo HD" which I actually liked very much, but that was the worst I could have imagined. Anyway, like most watching the conference, I was desperately searching for a console to go with the new controller shown. I had to check online to get a good look at it, and even then it seemed like Nintendo wasn't really hoping for it to be noticed. The controller, though left me a bit bewildered, as my first impressions were similar to that of the iPad, or any smartphone tablet.

This turned me off a bit because, again, I dislike casuals very much so. However, I was intrigued by the way it was shown for use with a Zelda title, which allowed for on-the-fly equipment changes. If developers can really use the multi-screen capabilities to their advantage, then it could turn out to be quite intuitive. The size of the tablet was only a tad overwhelming, but I could probably fit it comfortably into my hands, although I can't say the same for the majority of women and children. Maybe that's what they meant by appeasing the hardcore.

"Make the controller so damn big that only full-grown men can use it!"
-Satoru Iwata

I haven't been stimulated by what's shown by Nintendo at their press con's in a long time, because for the most part, I've seen it before. Nintendo has almost completely abandoned fresh IP's, and while this can be seen as establishing properties by some, it just seems to stagnate what they have. There weren't really any first-party games shown other than the Zelda tech demo, so there isn't much to discuss. Third-party support would have been more impressive if I wouldn't have found out later on, that what was shown was gameplay from other systems. I'm sure that once they are truly revealed, it could be impressive, but for now, I can't really comment there.

Onto the 3DS titles show,I don't really have too much of an interest in the 3DS, but Luigi's Mansion 2 got me hot and bothered. It's just been so long since the original and looks like a great use for the 3D technology. Star Fox's ability to view your opponent's face was interesting as well, but didn't really benefit it substantially, and has been done before, like in one of the Burnout titles. Mario Kart and Kid Icarus were expected, and while looking like a bit of fun, didn't flatter me.

I wasn't really dazzled by Nintendo's conference, like most years, but the prospect of the Wii U is admittedly enticing. Yet in the end, it wasn't my kind of show, and until the new console is fleshed out a bit, I'll be focused on different sides of gaming.

Going into this particular conference, I was heavily expecting the NGP to make the most of Sony's time at E3, and I wasn't disappointed. Now known as the PlayStation Vita, it single-handedly turned this conference into my favorite of the Big 3. The features, and titles shown are what I really wanted in a handheld, and it's a shame that it took this long for any to have dual analog sticks. The touch pad on the rear could have some more appealing implications down the road, but for now, something this odd actually had a cool use in Little Deviants, where you can push a ball around with a hill.

On the other hand, the 3D being pushed wasn't my cup of tea, as I tend to get a bit sick when viewing anything in the format. Yet that's another one of those incidents that isn't Sony can't be blamed for, so I'll lay off a bit here. And yet again, motion doesn't pertain to me, so I'll skip over that as well.

As for what was being offered on the Vita, there wasn't much shown, or that was interesting to me other than Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Ruin. Fortunately, what was presented managed to blow me away. Uncharted 2 is one of my top games this generation, and anything involved with it gains my vote. Running on the Vita, it was beautiful graphically, and looked like it handled just as well. And navigating the terrain worked surprisingly well with the touch pad. Ruin got me excited at first, as I thought it to be Diablo on a handheld, but when detailed further, I just couldn't get into the social aspect, although what they're doing here was undoubtedly impressive. LittleBigPlanet looked fun as ever and true to it's console counter-parts. Nothing was shown of the new Bioshock Vita project, but I'm looking forward to a full blowout.

Sly 4 was definitely the most surprising of the PS3 titles presented, although it was only announced and not detailed a whole lot, yet I'm still excited for it. Dust 514 was something I saw I believe at last year's E3 and nothing else. This year didn't give me much more to go on either which really bothers me, and what I saw wasn't anything new to the genre. I guess I'll have to wait and see what they do between this game and EVE Online, although that isn't a game I'm interested in currently. And yet again I come back to the Uncharted franchise, with the third in the trilogy, and both multiplayer and single player portions left me very happy.

Although a large part of their conference was focused on Move and 3D, Sony still captured my heart with a solid line of exclusives, HD collections, and extras for devoting to buying multiplatform titles for their console, something until now, was largely Microsoft's game. I think I'll be able to forgive them for the PSN outage after this presentation, providing they follow through with all their claims.

Check out part two for more on Uncharted 3

I think I'll change up the pace a bit and cover the games here, which for the most part were the bread and butter of some publishers' showings. However I'd mark that down as a positive, seeing as that means no peripherals (other than kinect or the wii u), or shovelware to go with it! Electronic Arts made a lasting impression on me this year, with an excellent plethora of titles. However I will come right out and say that the newly announced Need for Speed: The Run made me want to forget I saw it. I mean, come on, Quick-Time Events?! And they weren't even interesting ones at that, just pressing triangle every 10 seconds to jump from roof-to-roof, maybe punch a cop or two. I wasn't expecting much from this one, but what a bummer.

Other than that though, I knew I wanted to play at least five of what were shown. Battlefield 3, although the demo was a bit long-winded, was fucking gorgeous and once the combat really got cooking, it lit a fire under my ass, and instantly transported me to another plane of warfare. Reckoning seemed to bring me back to the inaugural Fable which, incidentally, is really the only one I approved of in the series. General gameplay looked like it could be quite lengthy, and hopefully will turn out interesting throughout. The new SSX was easily something I wanted to look over, and impressed very much at first glance, and the amount of ranges announced was something to marvel at, but wasn't exactly the series I remember.

Now, I used to play a bit of World of Warcraft, but I'm by no means an MMO expert because of it. Hell, I wasn't even that good at it, but it was the first and only (for now) I've yet to play, and it got me at least somewhat intrigued by the genre, and Star Wars: The Old Republic is definitely the next MMO I want to get acquainted with. I've been following it a decent extent of time, and what was shown and talked about, only increased my lust for the game, which I intend to try and really get into from day one. Mass Effect 3 had an impressive demo and trailer as well, and both portrayed Bioware's choices to raise the stakes to their highest level capably.

Finally, there was Insomniac's brand new IP Overstrike, which I have been wondering for a while now what exactly that would entail. Although they came with an all-cg (and excessively corny) trailer, it still succeeded in displaying what tone was being kept in mind. This one could strike the balance between the studio's tenacious Resistance and the lighthearted Ratchet & Clank.

Overall, EA brought a ton to the table, and my favorite publisher conference mostly because I know I plan to buy the majority of their titles, and that is what makes it a true powerhouse in the industry. I certainly walked away happy, and I applaud Electronic Arts for their variety, even though I had little to no interest in the everlasting sports franchises.

Check out part two for more on Battlefield 3

Although Konami's conference was full of things I liked, the only de facto fresh title I was interested in was Silent Hill: Downpour, and the rest existed as HD collections. SH:D had a decent showing, but I enjoyed last year's slices of the game much more, which if I've heard correctly, was not actual gameplay at all. That wouldn't be a good sign if indicative of the final product.

Admittedly, the HD collections, consisting of Silent 2 and 3, Metal Gears Solid 2, 3 and Peace Walker, and the Zone of the Enders series are all things I will most likely purchase at some point in time. Having the MGS and ZOE series collectively coming to the Xbox 360 as well as the PS3 was a nice surprise, and I may have a hard time deciding which console to go with.

I've never really liked Ubisoft for some reason, and I'm still not sure why that is, but I go in every year with low expectations for what's to come. This year's time with Ubisoft didn't change that for me, with only 2 games being able to hold my interest. That duo was Rayman: Origins and Far Cry 3. Ghost Recon didn't impress me except for the weapon customization, and I lost interest in Assassin's Creed after Ezio stepped in. Yet bringing Altair back and having Ezio get a bit older are drawing me back a bit, another wait-and-see.

Rayman looks absolutely beautiful and I'd probably buy it just for that, but the gameplay just looks like so much damn fun, and co-op no less. Definitely as day one must-have for me. And Far Cry 3 just came out of nowhere and brought with it a full gameplay demo, which made me happy whereas some games get announced with naught but a teaser trailer. Another one which looked just great all around, with lush tropical environments, which both Far Cry 2 and Crysis 2 were sorely missing. However, they'll have to earn my trust back as I thought FC2's campaign to be atrocious.

I fear I've been fairly negative towards Ubi, however I'm not writing all their titles off that easily, and will still follow them as closely as most other titles I'm absorbed in.

Eidos and Square's joint op was a splendid affair as well, which had Dead Island, Deus Ex and Tomb Raider all performing how I hoped they would. The new Hitman was also something I forgot that I desperately wanted. Final Fantasy XIII-2, despite that it looks superior to XIII, I disliked the combat system for both, and if the core system behind the scenes doesn't work for me, then it's likely that I won't be able to appreciate the sequel.

Dead Island has been progressively gaining my attention ever since the fabled CG trailer, and having the release date announced to be so soon (sep. 6) was just awesome. What was shown of Deus Ex this year also built upon what's previously been shown. The art style was glorious in the level shown, and hopefully will do what The Witcher 2 did for environments in it's genre. Stealth and choice were two elements put on the pedestal in this particular demo and were definitely exciting.

I have been for a long time now for Tomb Raider's polarizing Lara Croft to get her much needed revisions, and Crystal Dynamics is doing exactly what I desired with this more serious approach to the series. Survival and spectacle is just what the series should be about in my eyes. To quote Square a bit, "Eidos saved us this year" and that is for the most part pretty true at least in terms of what I'm looking forward to. They used to be a real powerhouse for me, and hopefully, they will bring something I can appreciate a lot more next year

Check out part two for more on Dead Island and Tomb Raider

[url=]part two can be found here[/url]   read

11:40 PM on 06.09.2011

Til' Kingdom Hearts III Comes...

Before I got my first PlayStation 2, there were only two games I wanted, and they were Final Fantasy X, and Kingdom Hearts. FFX was required out of curiosity, having only played small chunks of VII, VIII and IX. This was the first of the duo that I got, and one of the only I had until I finished it. Once I had provided just the right level of begging/pleading, I managed to convince my parents to get me a copy of Kingdom Hearts next. The lust for this one was mostly generated out of a childhood chock full of Disney films, which I tended to re-watch every damn day.

At the time, I hadn't known both titles were made by Squaresoft (aka square-enix), or that characters from the Final Fantasy series were in any way involved. It turned out to be a huge surprise for me, and managed to get me even more excited for what I had in my hands. From the start, I couldn't help but be completely drawn in by the opening title sequence, which was helped even more so by transitioning straight into the gameplay from the FMV. Also, as a side note, choosing between the three types of characters was one of the hardest decision's I've yet to make.

At any rate, I went in expecting a cool Disney homage, but was greeted with something I hadn't really seen before. In fact, for the first couple of hours or so, there was nary a children's cartoon in sight. One of the first few characters I met were younger version's of Tidus and Wakka, both of whom from the game I had only just beaten. They not only had an early influence on the gameplay, but sparring was even an option. Crossovers from the FF series are one of my favorite element's of the series, outranking even the Disney side of things.

This brings me to how I feel about the cartoon trapping's of the Disney universe. I haven't necessarily regarded the Kingdom Hearts games as made for kids before, however, I appreciate the injection of Square properties a bit more than the classic 'toons. Don't get me wrong, I still believe this had a large part in making KH what it is today, and it's worlds and stories are very well represented within the games. However, I believe that because characters such as Cloud and Auron have already appeared in the medium are for this reason better suited for the series.

It would be incredible to see Kingdom Hearts to be something even more more than Disney, not that it's the only material here. I'm actually quite surprised they haven't included full FF worlds as of yet. I imagine it might be a bit tough as there are substantially more environments to choose from in those games than say, The Lion King. If Kingdom Hearts III were to be equal parts Disney and Square, and the majority being original material, the balance would be perfect for me.

Considering my adoration of what has been achieved thus far, I'm impressed by how much I've been willing to wade through to reach what I really want to see. Certain elements could be viewed as unoriginal, or even predictable. Adaptations are well and good, but something could probably be done to wane the feeling that it's a series of fan fiction. I can't say that is what they are, since I love it too much (biased!), but it is a pretty accurate description of a large part of each game.

Now, even though I respect what Square has done with these two vastly different selection's of intellectual properties, there are two reason's other than these that compel me to stand by the series. The first would be gameplay, where I wouldn't exactly rate Kingdom Hearts II as an improvement over the original, but certainly a step towards where I wish the franchise to have it's own fitting combat system. Reaction commands are a hoot, but still feel too similar to Quick Time Events, and some of the time are just that.

The second reason is the theme of Darkness, and the ties it binds. Here are a few quotes from one of all my all-time favorite video game villains, Fake Ansem, which illustrate his views on existence.

"All worlds begin in Darkness, and all so end."
"Tied to the Darkness, soon to be completely eclipsed."

Depending on whether you're extremely depressed or obsessed with the darker side of everything, his views can make perfect sense, and are the epitome of these concepts. The fact that Sora can oppose these idea's wholeheartedly to the end, is a testament to how pure his own heart is. I sure as shingles didn't expect anything that deep in what I first thought to be a Disney game.

Something stemming from this theme would be the Heartless. For something without a heart to be created when something has lost their heart, is immensely poetic to me. And then there are Nobodies, who never truly exist and possess thoughts without focus or reason to be. Because of this, they must produce fake emotions to rationalize a gain of power, which could or could not be the true reason for Organization XIII to seek Kingdom Hearts. Some people seem to think they dilute the series though, but for me are also high up there with my favorite enemy types.

Kingdom Hearts is one of my most beloved series, and as such I am emphatically awaiting it's return to console glory. I do not have a PSP, so I can't comment on Birth by Sleep, but from what I've heard it isn't what I hope KH3 to be, and I know from experience that 358/2 is terrible. These lesser installment's are beginning to lessen my interest in the franchise, but cannot change what I already love about KH1 and 2. Here's hoping for an announcement at next year's E3!

P.S. First C-Blog, yahoooo!   read

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