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4:41 AM on 11.06.2012

Metal Gear Solid 2: Retro Review

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.

Score: 7/10   read

2:34 PM on 11.01.2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween Destructoid, you're now famous in Ireland! My Halloween Costume pictured outside a bank in County Tipperary, Ireland. "Making of" pictures coming soon.


2:24 PM on 09.21.2009

My Roommate or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 360

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.

Thoughts?   read

7:19 AM on 09.17.2009

I, Game Designer: Sonic 2

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.

Anyway, just a memory which struck me. Cheers!   read

10:15 PM on 08.26.2009

Why? Why must you leave me?!

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...

Black screen.



"...Aw shit!"

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.   read

2:26 PM on 05.19.2009

My Gaming Room: Hobokart Edition

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.

That's all she wrote.   read

8:44 PM on 02.20.2009

My Week in Wizard 101: Special Report

Well friends, I have bad news, I won't be able to finish my week in Wizard 101 until some time next week. It turns out that my credit card, which I never use, is expired and I wont get it replaced until next tuesday. I've completed every free quest in the game, but I'd say if I hadn't been so gung ho about it, I probably could have drawn it out another day or two. Ah well, I will finish it though.

Damn. I can't believe how much I miss a game targeted at 12 year olds.

Until then, why not reminisce over the first two days?

Day One
Day Two   read

1:11 PM on 02.19.2009

My Week in Wizard 101: Day Two

Check out Day One

Okay, so it's Day 2, and today was the first day I was confronted with the option to pay for areas. I don't have anything against this in concept, after all this entire game is based on Microtransactions, my problem was that it took me about ten minutes to realise that there was still plenty of free content left to explore. The game tells me that it will cost me 1500 crowns (roughly $3) to unlock the three areas I can't reach at the moment. This seems reasonable enough to me, so if I run out of stuff to do before the end of the week, I might just do that. However, looking at the prices of the other
areas , it works out a hell of a lot cheaper to pay a monthly subscription if you want to keep playing.

Please note, I had music from the Harry Potter soundtrack on this Video but it was removed.

So anyway, back to my experiences in the game. At one point, bored I wandered into a building in the Wizard School and found some random player (PC) standing behind a desk, handing out quests like "Go to Old Town and Collect 10 mana spheres" or something. As if it wasn't random enough that a player was wasting their time hanging out and doing this, the game doesn't even let you transfer items to other players, so he couldn't even profit from this behavior. When I confronted him on this he got very annoyed and basically threatened to kill me if I didn't leave. When I proceeded to point out that he would have to pay to enter the PVP arena with me (and anyway, I'd kick his ass), he transported away. I found him again in the same spot later and he started insulting me. Only now do I realise I was probably stepping all over the dreams of some 12 year old.

Day 2 also saw my first defeat (and I mean defeat) against a "boss" character, in this case a giant scarecrow/pumpkin called the Harvest Lord. Thinking that grinding would be required, I spent a fruitless half hour beating on various Ghouls and Ghosts gaining minimal experience until I just gave up and did a few more side quests and gained shitloads of experience really quickly. Apparently the game does not encourage grinding. Fine with me.

Anyone, that's all from Day 2. Check back tomorrow for more tales from my Week in Wizard 101.   read

9:24 AM on 02.18.2009

My Week in Wizard 101: Day One

The other day, while listening to either Rebel FM or ListenUP (I forget which), the guys were talking about a lot of "free" MMORPGs which rely on microtransactions to survive. Having never played any of these games, and having tried but not liked Guild Wars, I decided I should jump in to one of these for a week and see how I got on.

As far as picking which of these games to play, there wasn't any real science involved: I simply liked the sound of the name of Wizard 101, and seeing as it was the first one I downloaded, it's the one I'll stick with. There is one important point to bear in mind when talking about this game and that is that it's heavily centred towards kids. The whole look of the game is cartoony, the censor all lude language and you will be repeatedly informed that if you are under, you will need your parents supervision. The whole image of the game can turn anyone over the age of 18 off, but behind all of that I discovered that there was actually solid and intriguing gameplay.

Anyway, after downloading and installing the game (an extremely quick operation, minutes only) it asks you to create a character for yourself. This takes the form of a questionnaire which basically asks what type of player you are, as in loner, team player, aggressive, helper etc. It then takes these answers and decides what type of Wizard you are within the world. This is followed by your standard character customization screen where you choose what colour hair, robes etc you have. Again all pretty painless.

Soon after, I was met by the Headmaster of the Wizarding School, a rather cartoonish version of Dumbledore crossed with Merlin who introduced me to the world, as well as his arch enemy, an evil wizard who was the old Professor of Death magic. Parallels to Voldemort and Snape abound. This is all fine and then you are plunged into the game world itself.

Can I just say that I was shocked by how good the graphics in this game were, for a free to play game, it looks as good as Warcraft at times. I suppose cartoony and colourful is easier to pull of than realistic, but still, it's impressive. The only problem I had with the presentation of the game was their insistence on the use of the Comic Sans MS font. I mean, come on people, in this day and age that's unacceptable no matter who or what your target demographic is.

One of the most interesting, and positive aspects of this game is the battle system. It's really good. Like, really good. As in, too good for a game made for kids. It's equal parts Final Fantasy (turn based, summon monsters) and Yu-Gi-Oh (decks of cards) and it's all the better for it. The monster/summon animations are great and the whole thing flows very well. Perhaps the most important thing introduced by this battle system is the fact that you can join these battles while they are in progress. It's hard to explain, in a world where one can easily join a battle in Warcraft, but it's not like that. Think of it more like joining a battle mid-way in FFVII. It's pretty cool, and most importantly seamless.

Anyway, that's enough to talk about for day one. More tomorrow. Oh, and just before I go, I think it's worth mentioning that I've been playing for over three hours and have yet to be confronted with needing to pay for something. Woot!   read

12:00 AM on 11.17.2008

The DS Drop List

At long last, I am soon to be picking up a DS Lite for myself (and just in time for the Night shifts I'll be doing over the holidays), and was wondering if any of you communitarians have advice on what to pick up. Here's what I'm already planning on getting.

- Animal Crossing: Wild World
- Final Fantasy A2: Grimoire of the Rift
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
- Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations
- Phoenix Wright: And Justice for All
- Ace Attorney Apollo Justice
- Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
- Professor Layton and The Curious Village
- Brain Training
- More Brain Training
- Trauma Centre: Under the Knife
- The World Ends with You

Anything Else I should definately be picking up. Also feel free to throw in any GB Advance games that I really should play too, I sold my Advance years ago along with all of the games and only recently picked a second hand one up for Ä20.   read

1:04 PM on 11.12.2008

Oh God. It's happening again...

I picked up Pokemon Fire Red. The clock is at 43:26. Oh dear.

I remember when I was about nine or ten, when Pokemon Red and Blue had just come out here in Ireland. These games were the talk of the school yard, and I begged my mom to buy me one. It was coming up to the end of November, my birthday and because of the Xmas rush, these games were nowhere to be found (Ireland tends to get the raw end of the stick when it comes to stock). An epic search was launched, from Dublin to Cork, Limerick to Galway and none could be found. I was resigned to my fate of being the last kid in the world to play this game when a miracle occurred.

My Aunt, who seems to have connections in just about every industry and sector in the country, told us that she could get us a copy of "that Pocketmon game". This was too good to be true, so I waited about two weeks and then a Parcel game to my door and of course I knew what it was. I ripped open the packaging to find a box not Red, not Blue but... "Yellow?! What the fuck?! Yellow hasn't even been released here yet!". Yes, in fact, not only did I get Pokemon Yellow before just about anyone else in the country, I got it almost a full year before anyone else (because of shitty European release dates.) Needless to say I was the most popular guy in school for those brief ten months, where I was the only one who had a Pikachu following me, the only one who could battle the "real" team Rocket, from the anime.

My love for Pokemon continued to a lesser extent when I picked up Gold, but soon after I finished it, I forgot about Pokemon. There were new things in my life: Girls, Secondary School (High School to you americans) and of course Final Fantasy (of course thats another story altogether.

Anyway, back to my story, I hadn't played Pokemon in about seven or eight years since then but last week I saw Pokemon Fire Red in the bargain bin at my local game store and picked it up. I'm hooked again, trying to fill my Pokedex (which I never will, having nobody to trade with). Anyway, I just thought I'd share my tale of Pokemon addiction.   read

12:41 PM on 11.11.2008

Slow News day: HD Wii is inevitable... Mr. Anderson

Wow, those folks at CVG seen to be really on the ball today. In a recent interview with Miyamoto, they managed to drag such comments as:

"I'm afraid we cannot confirm what we are doing today, but the fact of the matter is that technology is evolving all the time and in Japan, for example in the year 2010 all the analogue broadcast will be stopped and shifted into the digital broadcasting. So many things are taking place and we are working in terms of the changes of the technologies all the time."


"... When it comes to specific points such as generating high definition graphics we might appear to be rather relaxed and soft on graphics, however, the fact of the matter is that Wii is capable enough to cater to the needs of these hardcore gamers in terms of gameplay content as well as the graphical content, so I really don't want people to be concerned about that kind of attitude."

and then went on to extrapolate that this means we'll have a HD Wii in two to three years. Wow, really? A HD Wii in two or three years. Gosh guys, I sure never would have seen that coming. Cop the fuck on. No matter what happens in between, Wii console sales will almost certainly have slowed enough by 2011 to justify bringing out a Wii 2. And considering the fact that Japan, America and most of europe will have gone fully digital by then (and the resulting sales of HD TV's which will inevitably go with such a switchover), it makes sense to have a new console be HD. Anyway, by 2011, SD games will be almost as backward to the majority of consumers as Black and White TV's are to us. CVG, captains of obviousness.

CVG Article   read

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