My name is Billy i.e the Fantastic Super Hobo!
I live in Ireland, a country devoid of all things in gaming, and as a member of the EU, one of the last places in the world to recieve most games.
Now Playing: - Final Fantasy 12
- Mass Effect
Favourite Games (OAT): - Bioshock
- Final Fantasy VII
- Final Fantasy VIII
- Mass Effect
- Dawn of War
- Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat
- Battlefield 2
- Harvest Moon: BTN
- Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow/Gold/Silver
- Super Mario Land
- Final Fantasy IX
Over the last weekend I completed Metal Gear Solid 2, properly, for the first time. I say properly, but I actually did it in Easy mode. It was fine, I think I definitely could have pushed it up to Normal or even Hard without a whole lot more effort. Knowing the Metal Gear series however, Iím sometimes loathe to interrupt to beautiful cutscenes and conversations with unnecessary Ďactioní or Ďgameplayí.
I suppose itís worth mentioning that Iíve finished both Metal Gear Solid and MGS3 multiple times before, but for some reason avoided MGS2 until now. Itís probably to do with coming back to what in many ways feels like an archaic control scheme now after having played more modern games. It also probably has a lot to do with what I had heard about the story of MGS2: convoluted, confusing and overly ambitious. The storyline for the first MGS was just about right, with the right amount of twists and humour, and I felt much the same way about MGS3. MGS2 however just sounded too postmodern for itís own good, so I avoided it.
And I was probably right. The first tanker mission is great, itís straightforward and breathes the memory of Shadow Moses in a very tangible way. It has some great back and forth between Snake and Oticon, and the perfect amount of stealth. However, it all goes a little bit south once Raiden is introduced.
Donít get me wrong, I actually like Raiden, and to a certain extent I like the twist that (SPOILER ALERT) in many ways the mission he is on is a way to test the theory that under the right situations, anyone can become Solid Snake. I love how the mission very purposefully echoes the Shadow Moses incident, and the feeling that so much is being kept from you throughout the game.
What I didnít like was Raidenís constant whining and long, boring and drawn out conversations with his girlfriend. By the way, are we talking to an AI simulation of her all the way through, or some of the way through? This is one element of the plot that still fries my head.
The gameplay is very much standard MGS fare. Avoid the sight field of the guards, use tricks to distract and hide from them (thereís no shortage of cardboard boxes, though I didnít actually use any of them), and rethread old ground and locations with new and upgraded key cards. Itís all a little Metroidvania, and to be honest, I think that this is an area where the game letís itself down. Thereís only so many times you can run through the same room without getting bored of it.
The boss fights are pretty decent. Obviously the Vamp fights are a highlight, while Fatman is too easy, and we simply donít see enough of Fortune for us to care about her. The final boss fights, with the Metal Gear Rayís and Solidus are however a bloody mess. Solidus is a wimp. Yes, I know it was on Easy mode, but he is a wimp. I was expecting so much more from one of the sons of the boss.
Overall, Iíd give the game about a 7/10. I think itís an amazing exploration of the postmodern in gaming, and a really good gameplay sequel to MGS, however the story and constant rethreading of old locations is a real sore point.
As some of you may have read in a previous blog, my 360 died last month and I haven't been able to get it fixed for cheap. Therefore I have been devoid of 360 gaming for the last few weeks. I was angry, confused, hurt. I turned back to my old friend, the PS2 and relived some old memories (and some new ones).
Yesterday however, something magical happened. My college roommate brought his Xbox down with him to our new place and set it up in the living room. Having connected it to the net I proceeded to download my profile. Magic, my avatar and gamescore were saved. But that's not all: I remembered from various podcasts that I could redownload all of my purchased XBLA games. Bingo, twenty minutes later I had all of my old games on the system. Nice.
So now instead of being consoleless and gameless, I now have a console on which I can play all my downloaded games happily (until my roommate moves away). Hurray for Microsofts download system. Now, if I bring down my old Hard Drive I can even get my old save files back. Better than nothing.
I've had a keen interest in the design of Video Games for a long time, and recently I got down to tracking down where that interest really came from. I went backwards throughout my life and numerous factors emerged: the magazine GamesTM which had many interviews with designers throughout the game industry, my early love for board games, Fighting Fantasy etc etc.
One experience really stood out in my life though: Debug Mode in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It's a simple cheat involving entering a series of sounds through the options menu, but what it unlocks is amazing. Put simply it unlocks the ability to place almost any enemy or object anywhere in a level. Sonic 1 had a similar feature, but in my opinion it's much stronger in Sonic 2.
This simple cheat had a profound effect on both me and my friends. Soon we were testing the possibilities of this system:
- Springs upon which we could jump from the start to the end of a level.
- Flat platforms where we could test Sonics true speed.
- Placing many more enemies throughout the level, effectively creating a super hard mode.
And all sorts of other more complex situations, many of which turned into elaborate rude goldberg machines.
Many people talk about the complexity of LittleBigPlanet et al, but if you think about it those sorts of games are just the natural evolution of this Debug Mode. People should have been making these games for years! I still go back to Debug Mode on Sonic 2 today, just for fun. I find I can work away on perfecting a machine for hours, the only drawback is that I can't save it.
Two days ago, my 360 died. I'd seen it coming, it's been noisy lately (noisier than usual) and last week the colours went crazy on it. Two days ago, the colours did the same thing, so I tried turning it off... and on...
TV: NO SIGNAL
No red rings, nothing, just "NO SIGNAL". Now I have another problem, the 360 support site won't let me register the console. I enter all the details, submit and it just brings me back to a blank form again. Fuck. Sake. It's not like I didn't expect it to happen, but the least I expected was to be able to get it repaired!
Perhaps the reason I'm most upset is the ammount I've invested in the system: More than twenty games + accessories. All of the years I've been defending the console... I basically have to either get it replaced or buy a new one when the price drops: My investment is too high not too.
But Microsoft, know this: If I have to buy a new 360, I'm pickin up a PS3 slim too, and from then on if a game is multiformat it's gettin bought on the PS3.
Having been an active participant in this site for nearly two years now, it seems kind of odd to finally be posting images of my entertainment room after all this time. Then again, I guess it's about time I did so. It's not very special, and it's lacking in so many ways, and yet I love it just the same. The main reason I'm posting all of this is that within the next couple of weeks I'll essentially be demolishing the room as it is now, replacing most of the shelving, painting it and getting a nice new leather couch-bed. Also, by that stage I hope to have delivery of a Megadrive, SNES, Dreamcast, Saturn and assortment of games for these systems. Missing from these pictures are a Gamecube and PS1 which I don't bother setting up because the Wii and PS2 can handle them. Also missing is my Blu-ray Sony Vaio which is off being repaired.
You will notice straight away the lack of discernable swag, that's because I don't really tend to have much. I do however have a big "wall of weird" which contains a random assortment of things which catch my interest.
Anyway, on to my games collection, whcih has been severely neutered by years of foolishly selling and trading in my valuable games and older systems. I am now in the process of trying to get a few of these systems back, but at the moment I'm limited to the more modern systems: 360, Wii, PS2 and DS.
And finally for the truly voyeuristic among you: My DVD's and Books.