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Hi and welcome to yet another new blog series I've decided to start up. Inside The Box will focus on packaging and extras that come with various "editions" of games, though I won't limit myself to just games. Anything nerdy is fair game on this blog!
The inaugural post features one of the most highly anticipated games of this year, The Last of Us, specifically the Survival Edition of the game.
**Note: This is NOT a review of the game, only the packaging**
The Last of Us - Survival Edition
Release Date - June 14, 2013
Developer - Naughty Dog
Platform(s) - PS3
Price - $79.99
Price Paid - $79.99 (Amazon)
Retailer Exclusive - No
I decided to make an unboxing video for this!
To summarize the above video:
- Collectors box/packaging
- Steelbook case featuring Ellie/Joel
- Sounds and Sights DLC
- PSN Avatars and Theme
- 170 Page Hardcover Artbook
- Issue #1 of The Last of Us comic
The Last of Us Survival Edition is one of two different special editions, the other being the Gamestop exclusive Post-Pandemic Edition which substituted a 12 inch statue in place of the Artbook included with the Survival Edition.
This edition is available for $20 more than the standard edition, which seems fair for what you get with it. The box is much larger than I expected it to be, below is a comparison picture with a standard PS3 game.
The box everything comes in is large and looks like one of those promotional display boxes you'd see at Gamestop. That said, the artwork for the game is nice and I know I won't mind putting this box up for display on a shelf somewhere. However, a box this size might be the bane of those more space-conscious that myself.
The steelbook is simple yet elegant, with the added bonus of having artwork on the inside as well. The Artbook is definitely a premium book, more along the lines of the Uncharted 2 or Mass Effect artbooks rather than a small pack-in artbook most games get.
The DLC and PSN Avatars/Theme are a nice bonus, but definitely not worth any amount of money. Finally, the comic seems to be the afterthought of this edition, being more of a teaser than anything else, likely in the hopes of getting you to buy more issues of the comic as it comes out.
Overall you get your extra $20 worth out of this edition, though not much more than that.
Presentation - 9/10
Price/Value - 8/10
Extras - 7/10
Score - 8.0 / 10
Edit: The art book is available separately, albeit as a preorder (July 2) and at $40 MSRP (
$27 on Amazon)
What did you think of this type of review? More videos or more pictures in upcoming ones? What would you like to see next?
This started out as a couple of dumb one-off jokes I made earlier today, but then I realized...why not go further with it? Why not make it a number of dumb jokes?
Why not indeed.
So, in today's post, I'll be talking about some upcoming video games that are taking way too long to come out. But not just that - I'll also be revising their names to more accurately portray their current state and poking a little fun at them along the way. I've got my poking stick set to "stun" and my jokes set to "kill," so let's get this thing on the road!
Revised name: Undercover Agent
This is literally the game's entire existence.
Do you remember Agent? No? No one does, so if you said yes, go sit in time out, Mr. or Ms. Pants on Fire. It was announced in 2009 or so, and since then there's been nothing - total radio silence. Suffice it to say, it appears Agent has gone deep undercover, so until Rockstar pulls him from active duty, he won't be seen in the public eye unless he's in disguise. Let's just hope Momma Agent doesn't get a letter saying he was KIA.
Final Fantasy XV
Revised name: Final Fantasy 2015, At the Earliest
Revised revised name: Pretty Boys with Sharpened Toys
At first they were going to call it Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which is a heck of a mouthful. Makes sense to shorten the title a bit, especially after it's completely failed to show up on store shelves since its announcement in 2006, right? But Squenix wasn't just shortening the name, they were telling us something. Something to do with 15...what does it mean? Well, I've deduced that it means 2015 is the absolute earliest we'll see this game on store shelves. So if they rename it to FFXVI, be prepared to wait another couple of years, at least.
The Last Guardian
revised name: The Last Guardian of the PS3's Legacy
"Woof! I mean...meow! I mean...hold on, let me think about this."
Let's pretend for a moment that The Last Guardian is still coming to PS3, because that may be the only way for some of you to hold back the tears. Got rid of the sniffles yet? Good, let's move on. The Last Guardian has been "in development" for a while, being announced in 2009, and has always been slated to come out on PS3. Since it looks like the PS3's lifetime will expire before this game ever comes out, I've taken the liberty of crowning it the Guardian of the PS3's Legacy. Once every PS3 game that will ever be released has come out, ol' Trico will finally spread his wings and soar onto the system to secure the console's legacy with one final, amazing game. Unless it turns out to be terrible, like most games that stew in development hell for years, but let's just do what it takes to keep from crying and hope for the best.
Beyond Good & Evil 2
Revised name: Beyond Good Graphics and Evil Executives 2
BG&E was a fan favorite and a critical success, but it didn't really do well commercially, so fans were ecstatic when it was announced the game was getting a sequel in 2008. And yet now they've been waiting...and waiting...and waiting. At this point, I'd like to think that by the time the game finally does come out it will have amazingly advanced graphics, probably powered by the Playstation 5, Xbox Two, and Wii U Me, and the developers will have finally found a way to convince the publishing bosses that the game will turn a profit.
Revised name: A Longer Development Cycle than Prey, 2
Now with twice the prey!
Prey 2 was announced in 2011 or so, but they've been pretty quiet since Bethesda told everyone that it was being polished up to their standards. What standards those are, exactly, we'll never know, but it probably involves releasing it with a host of hilarious glitches. In any case, the original Prey took around 12 years to finally see the light of day, and while Prey 2 has only gotten a few years in, the complete lack of any new info points to the developers trying to match or exceed that cycle. I'm pretty sure at that point it stops being "development hell" and turns into "development hell frozen over."
Kingdom Hearts 3
Revised name: We Ran Out of Kingdom Hearts Spinoffs 3
I'm confused about those 3 things behind the logo too, Sora.
It finally happened. After so many long years, we finally have confirmation. It's what we all expected, all hoped, all secretly knew. And our waiting has paid off as Square Enix has revealed...that it has finally run out of Kingdom Hearts spinoffs.
Revised name: No-Life 3
While you wait, enjoy this mockup that took someone literally seconds to make.
Because people who are still going around looking for clues of this game's existence have no life. That, and the game itself doesn't have a life, since it doesn't exist. It's a double whammy of painful realization!
Revised name: Starcraft: Ghost
I don't know if this is an actual screenshot. No one remembers what the game looks like.
Some of you may be saying that these are the same games I featured in a past article (welcome back, SeÃ±or or SeÃ±ora Pantalones de Fuego) but I talked about them differently this time, so it makes it new. So nyah.
So what do you think? Did I hit the nail on the head with my revised names? Do you have a better name for any of these? Or do you not care either way and just want to sound off in the comments about something else? Whatever the case, head on down there and speak your mind!
Alright kiddies, strap yourself in. The Angry Leprechaun has been dormant for too long, here is another attack at your eye balls, I suppose if you read this this out loud it's an attack on your ear holes as well, but that's not the point.
The console war, a vicious cycle. New consoles come out, people argue over which is better and cite various statistics, lather, rinse, repeat. I won't lie, I have been involved in the past of "Console War" hoopla and who won, lost, is in a rubber room in a straight jacket wearing a tin foil hat to keep the enemies from seeing his thoughts and simultaneously cooking his brain like a baked potato. Can be good fun and is ultimately futile. So why rant if ultimately I'm OK with it, you ask? Well first off, thank you for being polite and asking a good question, second don't interrupt me while I'm typing, it's rude, just let me get to the point on my own you impatient little... moving on.
Every single day, in various news outlets/sites/forums, I can't help but see a "Console X" has already won the "Console War". (Yeah, I like that, I'm putting quotes around that for the rest of the rant, because of how stupid it is. In fact, imagine me doing air quotes whenever you read it too. For fun you can do the air quotes yourself if you'd like. Go ahead, no one is watching you. Anyway...) Whenever I see this, I am overcome with a multitude of emotions, well maybe not a multitude, it's mostly just overbearing annoyance and rage.
Let's start with the fact that the 2 latest consoles have been out for just over 6 months. Their previous iterations have been around for over 7 years. You mean to tell me from 6 months of sales data, you are predicting that the white flag is waving? The fat lady is singing? Let's face it, you're an idiot. If I recall, the PS3 was off to a rocky start with it's high price tag. So you want to try telling me again that 6 months of sales figures declares a winner? Go jump off a cliff. The "Console War" isn't won with the console itself, it takes games too.
Bringing me to my next point, neither the Xbox One or PS4 is worth purchasing currently. I'm sure many are going to disagree with me here and frankly, I don't care. I have played the PS4 and I own an Xbox One currently and that is only because I won it in a costume contest on Amazon. The honest truth is neither console has games for it to be a fully justified purchase yet. I'm not saying there aren't fun games out there, there are, but not yet are there any that make me want to run out and spend a couple hundred dollars. This is why out of current gen consoles, I probably enjoy my Wii U the most, while the library is small, the quality of that library is excellent. (And I'm drooling thinking about X releasing, oooooooo yeah). They will be worth it, games will come, I will buy a PS4, but until they have some console sellers, the "Console War" is still going to be at a stalemate in my mind.
OoLaLa Retired Robin, Would you look at dem gams?
Another thing I can't wrap my head around is, why is everyone so quick to decide a clear winner? This is one of the very few instances where I can say without a doubt, winning is a BAD thing. If there is a clear winner declared, sure be happy your console of choice is the "winner". Here's the thing, what if that "win" actually knocks the other console of of contention completely? Competition is the reason why I own a PS3, 360, Wii, WiiU, Xbox One (well technically Amazon is the reason for this). Competition is what drives innovation, what creates amazing games, what pushes these companies to be better than the other in an attempt to "win". As a gamer, you shouldn't want someone to win, you should want them to fight and win battles instead of the war. While the companies battle, we reap the benefits. The argument could be made that a single console means that all effort would be put into that console, I doubt it though.
In summation, stop declaring a winner. It makes you look like a moron and I hate you.
I didn't think it would be possible to follow last years hype, last years upsets, and last years incredible matches. Well, I was wrong. I bring you again, the summary of Evolution Championship Series. Now if you're unfamiliar with what EVO is, basically the Olympics of fighting games. There's a medley of fighting games to be played ranging from Street Fighter to Super Smash Bros Melee. However, the roster is ever changing. Almost each year, the main 8 games played change up, allowing newer and fresher games to be showcased. And this year was definitely a crazy ride. Without much more intro, let's dive right in.
Ultra Street Fighter IV The series 6th year at EVO
1st. MD â”‚ Louffy, who played as Rose, from France.
2nd. Bonchan, who played Sagat, from Japan.
3rd. RZR â”‚ Fuudo (Winner of EVO 2011,) who played Fei Long, from Japan.
In quite possibly one of the biggest upsets of an entire generation, a huge portion of the favorites to win the tournament were eliminated before even the Semi-finals. It just goes to show you that even the changes they made for Ultra can really impact the level of competition.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 The series 4th year at EVO
1st. EG â”‚ Justin Wong, who played using the team Wolverine/Storm/Akuma, from the USA.
2nd. GG â”‚ NYChrisG, who played using the teams Morrigan/Doctor Doom/Vergil, Magneto/Morrigan/Doctor Doom, from the USA.
3rd. RG â”‚ Fillipino Champ, who played using the teams Magneto/Dormammu/Doctor Doom, Magneto/Doctor Doom/Phoenix, Morrigan/Magneto/Doctor Doom, from the USA.
Finally, it happened again. Justin Wong returned as the Marvel champion. It's been too long since we've heard the crowds of viewers cheering his name and he definitely deserved this.
Super Smash Bros Melee The series 2nd year at EVO
1st. C9 â”‚ Mang0 (Won EVO 2013), who played as Falco, Fox, from the USA.
2nd. CRS â”‚ Hungrybox, who played as Jigglypuff, from the USA.
3rd. P4K.EMP â”‚ Armada who played as Peach, Young Link, from Sweden.
Quite possibly one of the coolest things to see this year, not only because of the competition, but because of Nintendo's support. Before the finals began, it was nice to see Reggie on screen thank the players and such. At least after last years almost nightmare, it's nice to see the turn around. Smash is not done.
Killer Instinct The series 1st year at EVO
1st. KN.RM â”‚ CDjr who played as Sadira, Jago, from the USA.
2nd. RG â”‚ Rico Suave who played as Thunder, Fulgore, Glacius, Jago, Sabrewulf, from the USA.
3rd. EG â”‚ Justin Wong who played as Sabrewulf, from the USA.
Straight up, I'm not a KI fan in the least bit. But watching the grand finals was pretty intense. Higher level play of most games can still almost always give you that tight feeling in your chest of, 'oh, that was freaking cool.'
Blazblue Chrono Phantasma The series 1st year at EVO.
1st. Garireo, who played as Litchi Faye-Ling, from Japan.
2nd. Dogura, who played as Azrael, from Japan.
3rd. BE.TSB â”‚ Dora_Bang, whoa played as Bang, from Japan.
Quite possibly the most hype matches I've ever seen for this game. The commentators were fantastic, the players were outstanding and my heart was racing every single second.
King of Fighters XIII The series 3rd year at EVO
1st. Qanba â”‚ Xiao Hai, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Kim, from China.
2nd MCZ â”‚ Tokido, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Chin, from Japan.
3rd. LDA â”‚ ET, who played as Clark/Mr. Karate/EX Iori, EX Iori/Mr. Karate/Kim, from Taiwan.
It's sad to see the hype for King of Fighters XIII dying off so early. It feels like it could still have a lot of life left in it, but with the past EVO champion, Reynald, unable to participate as well, some are skeptical to the future. Even the commentators felt weaker compared to last year. KoF XIV might be in the near future, but these players show case a series of beautifully executed combos and game knowledge.
Injustice: Gods Among Us The series 2nd year at EVO
1st. RG â”‚ SonicFox, who played as Batgirl, from the USA.
2nd. AK â”‚ Pig of the Hut, who played as Zod, from the USA.
3rd. IC â”‚ Mit 88, who played as Deathstroke, Aquaman, from the USA.
Having the second fewest signups this year tells a great deal for the future of the game. I'm fairly certain that most people are getting excited for Mortal Kombat X at this point, but still. It's fun to see Batgirl deliver some butt whooping.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 The series 2nd year at EVO
1st. Twitch â”‚ JDCR, who played as Heihachi/Armour King, from South Korea.
2nd. Twitch.MCP â”‚ Gen, who played as Bob/Leo, from Japan.
3rd. BE â”‚ Ao, who played as Alisa/Miguel, from Japan.
Sadly, Tekken seems to be dying off a tad at EVO this year, seeing the fewest entries compared to the other games. However, in contrast to this, series director Katsushiro Harada displayed a new teaser trailer for Tekken 7. The Devil is returning, we just have to be patient. In the mean time, we can enjoy and get hype over one of the best Tekken games since the original Tekken Tag.
That concludes this years Evolution Championship Series main events. While this does not cover every single tournament that was played at EVO 2014, it does cover the top 8 most signed up for. Something else worth note, I felt that EVO seemed a lot more main stream this year. It makes me happy and sad at the same time. On the upside, sites like IGN and Kotaku posted coverage on it the entire weekend. it made following the events I missed a lot more convenient, not to mention archives of the grand finals matches. It was a tad sad however, to see so much advertising for things like Mountain Dew. I can understand them being a sponsor, but this is the sort of thing gamers made fun of Microsoft and Activision for with the whole Doritos and Mountain Dew giveaways. I just hope it doesn't evolve into something out of control for the future. Regardless, it was definitely one of the most hype years yet and I can't wait for next year. With games like Persona 4 Ultimax, Mortal Kombat X, Tekken 7, and possibly a new patch for Ultra Street Fighter 4 to be out in time for EVO, there's gonna be a ton of new stuff to watch.
Hope you guys enjoyed my quick coverage of the event! If you enjoyed a particular video or game, leave a comment below. Same goes for disliking. Let's spread the love of the Fighting Game Community~â™¥
While I do enjoy playing Magic The Gathering on my iPad and PS3, it seems good sportsmanship exhibited by other players rarely exists. I'd estimate that in 80-90% of the multiplayer games I'm in where it's obvious I will win the match, the other player will exit the game which causes a slow down waiting for the computer to take over for them.
I'm not sure where the lack of sportsmanship comes from. Anytime I know I'm going to lose, I give my opponent the satisfaction of finishing me off and completing the game. It's a real shame the game doesn't punish those who quit out.
Even worse than people who "quit out" is people who will take the maximum time for every move they make likely in an attempt to get you to quit once you lose patience. Magic 2015 definitely gives players way too much time to make moves.
Perhaps the anonymous nature of online interaction encourages rudeness...who knows...
Are Games Too Tough These Days?
There has been a drastic change throughout the years of gaming when it comes to difficulty of the games. Back in the old school days, we had no save files or checkpoints so it made it tougher to beat the levels or campaign in one sitting. Games from today and the past have various approaches when it comes to the difficulty mode. I“ve noticed the difference between them that were tough to beat back then and the ones today are much toned down a bit. I remember playing a lot of hard games in the past and it would take a lot of time to complete them. Nowadays games are much easier to go through with thanks to save files and checkpoints. The question in mind other than that is the actual difficulty in the game. Are games these days too tough to beat?
Many different games can be easy, normal, and hard. Yes they can be too tough depending on your playing style and how you interact with it. We look into why games can be difficult to begin with like playing times, lengths, genres, AI, lack of health, strong enemies, etc. Those are some of my reasons why games are tough these days for certain games, but not all games can be tough.
What is tough? Tough is a way of experiencing the hardships through an obstacle in certain points of the situation you are in. You get the feeling that the situation is too hard to complete and eventually giving up and decide to quit and try it again someday. There are plenty of games that are hard to play. Some can take hours to beat, some takes a bit of skill, and some takes a lot of patience. Games are too tough when they have ridiculous gameplay features or events that can get you frustrated.
When is a game too tough? The game gets tougher as you go through the levels, campaign, or multiplayer. You start off most games in tutorial learning the controls, skills, and how to play the game. As you go through, you began to grind out hours like earning skill points for upgrades, leveling up characters, doing challenges, and unlock perks. If you think about it, it“s not as tough as it sounds. You spend a lot of time getting stronger and mastering your skills. Patience is what“s tough about gaming. There are other examples of games I“d like to share that can be tough, but in different ways.
Strategy games require a lot of thinking. This is pretty much one of the toughest genres of gaming since you need to come up with ways to outsmart your opponent. Games like Dota 2, X-Com: Enemy Unknown, League of Legends, etc are considered good strategy tough games. I“ve only played a few games, but I am sure terrible at it. Other than going against other strategic players, there are other types of strategy games that aren“t tough at all. Tower defense is one of those that doesn“t require too much, but you have limited time to set up the best defense as possible. It gets tougher as you complete a level to another and so on. The tough thing about that are what resources to use when defending an area. You have to be quick and steady and pull out the right moves to stop the enemy from attacking your base. Honestly I never been frustrated playing these types of games. Whenever I lose or fail, I tell myself I need to strategize better and maybe use different resources.
Playing open world like games Borderlands on single player is quite tough since the enemies are in the same level as you throughout the game. It“s much easier when you play with a group of friends and it makes the game fun. Playing alone is the toughest part in those types of games. Another example is the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. You have a huge open world to do anything that it“s not that tough to play because you are basically doing the usual grinding experience, level up, skills, etc. I think the missions is what gets tough because of what you do in the game to accomplish like maybe pickpocket without getting caught, stealth missions, side missions, etc. Enemies can vary from being easy to kill and too tough to take down. Usually we let monsters kill each other to avoid the tough fighting.
Fighting games can be a pain in the arse because it is so tough that the only way to win is to have the skills to know every combo moves and mash buttons like crazy. Games like Street Fighter or Tekken seems to be intended for hardcore gamers. Online play is where it gets really tough since you play against players around the world. These guys are very competitive and they are most likely high ranked players. This game although isn“t tough when you play by yourself or against the AI and friends. It just takes a bit of time to master moves and be better at it. Like they say practice makes perfect and eventually you can become the ultimate fighter.
RPG games are quite lengthy time killers and not that tough, but certain bosses and side bosses can be frustrating to beat. Persona games are a good example of how lengthy it can be requiring lots of tough work. We have those moments where we have difficulty beating a boss and realizing were under leveled so we go back and grind out more to reach a certain recommended level to defeat the enemy. Finding treasures can also be a pain and even collecting certain rare items to create powerful weapons or do some side errands to collect it. Playing RPG games can be tough, but that“s what makes it good. You put into lots of hardworking hours and in the end it“s worth the fun.
FPS Shooters seems to be the easiest to play through. Call of Duty is one of those games in general that can be tough. I think the only tough thing about it is the online community. It is too tough to play against good players and you have to play a lot in order to gain experience to unlock upgrades and perks for your character. What“s not tough is playing co-op modes on doing challenges or simply fighting through waves of enemies because it is pretty much good teamwork and strategizing to beat the level. Also campaign levels are very linear to go through and another tough thing is basically veteran mode. I actually think it was tough at first, but once you get used to the patterns and knowing the level, it gets easier.
3rd Person games vary depending on how the character is put in. One of the toughest games to play is Ninja Gaiden. I“ve played Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the PS3 and that game is so frustrating that I died a lot and the game put me into the easiest mode called Ninja Dog mode. This title is a great example of what is too tough. I“ve heard many stories from friends playing the game and how frustrating it is even on normal. Everything about this game is too tough. I haven“t even beaten the game and got frustrated with it and put it back in the backlog. I might overcome this toughness and eventually play it again.
Overall games these days aren“t tough. I feel that they only make it too tough if you can“t enjoy it with your playing style. Sure there will be frustrations and angry moods, but that doesn“t stop you from giving up. We are tough against these tough games and they were made for a reason. We challenge ourselves to fully enjoy the difficulty or easy road in the game. Games are made to have fun. They can be easy, they can be tough, but what matters is the enjoyment of the pace of the game. Are games too tough? I think so, but not every game is. There“s going to be that game where you will rage and get angry at, but in the end you were able to beat it. Games were even tougher back then because of how hard it is with limited features. Games these days aren“t that tough at all and it depends on the skill of how you play. Maybe were not perfect gamers, but were gamers who love to play games whether it“s easy, normal, or hard. There“s no need to actually play the game in tough mode and it“s pretty much for those who want a challenge. Just have fun and tough it out.
Video games have always been a hard medium to truly define. When a game is creatively constructed with artistic values, whether due to a lack of opportunity for realism or simply a desire to be the game developer version of Leonardo Da Vinci, video games can come off as a legitimate form of art. But then there are those modern games that are built to be realistic, proving to be more like interactive movies or real-life simulations than anything else. But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Should game developers aspire to make their games more realistic or should they be focusing their art direction to something more unique to the medium?
Creative Art Direction
There was a time when games really couldn“t pull off such the realistic flair you see today, turning to more unique means of art direction to compensate the limitations they had. This, of course, gave gamers an experience neither real life nor any other medium could provide. Whether you were a hero fighting for the fate of the world in an RPG, a young traveler on an important quest in an adventure game, or aâ€¦ermâ€¦plumber saving a princess from a giant turtle-dragon in a platformer, these games always had a unique look to them that still hold up to this day.
But over the years, with such rapid advancements in technology, more and more games take a more realistic approach to art direction. In my many years as a gamer, however, born into a SNES lifestyle thanks to my older brother, I“ve come to really appreciate games that take a more creative approach. This could be a manner of things, such as the beautiful art-in-motion styles of games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Journey, the crafty styles of games like Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Kirby“s Epic Yarn, or games like Lone Survivor and Cave Story that use retro styles to remind us all of what makes the classics so timeless. Whatever the case, these creative art styles really make me feel that games deserve to be labeled as â€œartâ€ alongside â€œentertainment.â€
Realistic Art Direction
That“s not to say that I don“t like games with a more realistic appeal to them, though. I mean, some people prefer abstract paintings to realistic sculptures, but that doesn“t stop either from being works of art, does it? Of course not. With video games, a lot of the time, the more realistic of the bunch tend to feel more like interactive movies or real-life simulations than what the more unique-looking games provide in the visual spectrum. But hey, some people prefer movies and real life to paintings and the like, and I“d be lying if I said I don“t enjoy watching movies or going out and about in that thing they call the â€œreal world.â€
It“s also sorta like choosing between watching an anime series and watching a live-action TV show. On the one hand, you“ve got a show you can better relate to, although I sure hope you aren“t a serial killer or anti-heroic meth cook. On the other hand, you“ve got a sort of art-in-motion show, watching drawings (beautiful if pulled off well, like Studio Ghibli) moving around within a certain story, and with a lot of room for the abstract. And I find both styles highly entertaining in their own right. In gaming, however, you“re in control, and sometimes I feel like realistic games try too hard to be interactive live-action movies or TV shows that the more artistic side of gaming is sometimes shunned (Roger Ebert, anyone?).
I guess it must be the artist in me, but when it comes down to it, my bread and butter (mmmâ€¦) in video game art direction has to be the more creative type. By that, of course, I mean that I tend to prefer games that seek out a unique art direction that other games don“t normally have. I still enjoy playing more realistic games that provide a more cinematic and/or â€œreal worldâ€ experience, but I admire game developers that really take their art form seriously and try to do something different in their medium, and I would like to see that more often. Developers like Nintendo and thatgamecompany love doing that, and that“s one reason I tend to like their games a lot. With that said, both directions have their places in the world of gaming, and I wouldn“t give up either one.
As a modern consumer of electronic entertainment, I like my video games to look â€œcutting edgeé. Crank up the tessellation, I say. Add those high definition textures and give me more draw distance. And why shouldn“t I demand perfection? Most AAA-quality video games push sexier visuals, more sumptuous special effects, and more immersion within highly-detailed and interactive 3D environments. In our day and age, the better it looks, the better it sells. As we pioneer new frontiers in the realm of 3D entertainment, what happens to those games which reside squarely in 2D worlds?
If there“s one thing that“s true about consumers, it“s that nostalgia is one of the most powerful emotions for companies and developers to tug on. For this reason, a number of studios and game developers refuse to make their games in 3D. They continue the trend of old school 2D side-scrollers, classic adventure games, and more. While bigger companies focus on pushing technology to its ever-expanding limits, smaller studios and independent developers have filled the niche role of delivering games that don“t need fancy 3D graphics to get the job done.
One studio that“s bucked the trend of 3D gaming is Capybara Games. The young studio was one of the first development teams to exploit the Apple family of touch-based products for a classic 2D adventure game. Dubbed Sword and Sorcery EP, the game was a critical and financial hit. Capy won over millions of gamers with Sword and Sorcery“s beautiful pixelated art and whimsical visuals. The key to Capy“s success is that it developed the game for mobile devices, not consoles or PCs.
On handheld platforms, users expect far less from mobile games. Titles like Angry Birds flourish with simple 2D art and addicting gameplay. The mobile device market has provided the means for 2D games to succeed. 2D games don“t tax most mobile hardware and generally feature strong, on-the-go gameplay hooks. While some 2D games can be found on consoles and PCs, the expectations are generally defined by users who want the latest and greatest in 3D gaming experiences. Since mobile markets tend to price their offerings at a fraction of the cost of console/PC games, studios can focus on crafting better gameplay mechanics that fit mobile devices while sticking to 2D art-styles.
This brings us to the question of whether or not 2D art in gaming is declining. The answer is a resounding no. If anything, 2D games are expanding at a remarkable rate due to the rise of the mobile market. Most consumers have a smart-phone or a device capable of playing games and apps. This allows small, independent studios to release 2D games that might struggle to find a home on consoles and PC. Factor in the always-popular nostalgia factor and the mobile market has ensured that 2D gaming will persist despite the advances in 3D-rendering technology.
If these 2D games find financial and popular success on mobile devices, there“s a chance that consumers will be willing to play more 2D games on consoles and PCs. Telltale“s The Walking Dead mega-hit resurrected the dying adventure genre. There“s no telling where the future of 2D gaming will go if the mobile market continues to expand. Even if our 3D world, the potential for 2D games burns bright!
A certain member of this website, who goes by the name of Slayn Bacon, created a contest to put the writing skills of his fellow GamePodunk members to the test. As for myself, the topic that has been set before me is one concerning the differences between first and third person games.
This article is the result of many hours minutes of contemplating the broadness of this topic. I finally decided to form my argument around the level of immersion I experience when playing these games. This turned out to be a rather tricky concept to play around with as immersion can seemingly take on several forms.
Traditionally, the common reasoning is that the immersion is greater in first person games. YOU take on the role of a character in whatever story is being presented in the game you're playing. YOU are making the decisions, calling the shots, killing the baddies. However, I feel that there is more to being immersed in a game than simply "being there".
First person games rely on your ability forget the real world and place yourself into the game world. The major flaw with this concept, to me at least, is that there is an extreme disconnect between the player and the game universe. The player (you) don't belong in the game world, you are simply piloting an shell of a character to navigate the game world. Thus, you, the player, are neither truly a part of the fiction of the game, nor are you a simply a spectator watching on from the sidelines. In Skyrim for example you take the role of "a character" customized to look however you'd like. You spend the game literally building a persona around your character. However, your character really isn't important in the grand scheme of things, it is merely an interface for you to interact with the game. You are not engaging with the character you're playing, but rather with the entire world around you.
This line of thought effectively eliminates characters such as Gordon Freeman as "true" characters. This "Gordon" fellow is simply a vehicle built for players of the Half Life games to control in order to play the game.
The perspective this gives you, the one of YOU becoming the character is a perplexing one. It ultimately comes down to your desire to role play. Do you want to become a space marine, destined to save the universe? Do you want to become an elite soldier, piloting F16's over a battlefield?
Perhaps you do, perhaps you don't. It really depends on the gamer and the mood.
But not everyone wants to be "themselves" in a game, even if they are capable of things they aren't in real life. They WANT to be someone else. There's a reason more games are third person, the reason being that you are constantly being reminded of WHO you are. You are constantly looking at your character, how s/he looks, how s/he moves, voice, personality etc. If you were to describe a character from nothing but the camera angle used in-game you'd be able to tell FAR more things about say, Nathan Drake than Gordon Freeman, simply because you can see them. This added dimension of personality makes for more convincing characters in games. Aren't all games centered around us suspending our disbelief to take on the role of the character we're playing? So wouldn't it be better to know as much as possible about whose role we're taking on?
This lack of seeing your character allows for the reality of human movement to be swept aside in favor of strafing and spinning in games such as Call of Duty or Quake. You have no sense of weight, as opposed to playing Marcus Fenix in Gears who's lumbering stride imparts a sense of primal force which is different from playing Nathan Drake, whose ease of climbing and hap hazard running leaves you with an entirely different feeling.
So to finish off my thoughts on this, the perspective the camera takes in a game determines the connection to the game itself. Whilst in first person you are never truly you, but rather an impossible you, one who doesn't truly allow for seamless integration with the game world. In third person, your character has more layers to them, making your time spent witnessing their journey a more engrossing experience. Now as always their are bound to be exceptions or games that don't quite fit either mold, but I feel that this is a general observation of two types of perspectives in videogames.
First person or third person, which do you prefer?
Difficulty. It's something I'm sure all of you have come across in your lives. I'm not talking about games here. You know what I mean- that F you just scored on your English test, or that pay decrease you just received. Maybe something even so small as having to walk up the stairs in your house after a long afternoon of track practice. Why is life so tough? And more importantly, why do many games try to emulate that?
Let me ask you, the reader, a question. Why do you play games? Is it for the challenge? Multiplayer madness with friends? Loot? BOOTY? Maybe, and maybe not. However, one thing stands out among the "code of games" to me. If you make a game, your goal is to make it fun, and make the player enjoy it. Any which way you do this is up to you, however, your goal should be for the player to maybe laugh a bit, cry a bit, or even smile when they reach the end.
So why are some games just so frustratingly hard? Why do they insist on giving you the most extreme challenge in video game existence? To me, it's still adding to the fun factor and enjoyment of the game. The extremely easy difficulties even help with that.
For instance, is playing on the "easy" difficulty going to change much of the original game? Probably not, but it lets anyone who is new or struggles with tough games to still thoroughly enjoy the same game that a more experienced or "hardcore" gamer can also love and enjoy.
Consider most modern games. They usually have at least three difficulties, and you probably usually pick normal. However, with both easy and hard as options, you could pick to have a harder challenge or a creamy-cake-easy time. It's this freedom of choice that's great for us gamers.
Well, game difficulty is great, you probably already knew that. However, what about those games that ONLY let you have an extreme or incredibly easy challenge? You know what I mean....opposite ends of the spectrum, such as "I Wanna Be The Guy", or "Barbie Horse Adventures". I've played both I'll admit, and for me personally, Barbie just isn't that fun. It's too easy, and the horse looks lame anyway, really. But, I Wanna Be The Guy is all like....*death*. You can't win in that game unless you are very skilled at platforming games and can memorize the traps. It's very tough.
However, I've come back to both of these games multiple times. Why might that be, now? Well, truthfully, both offer very different experiences. You get different satisfactions from both games. In Barbie, I get to experience the joy of washing my great, mighty stallion. In IWBTG, I get to experience the joy of trying again and again to even get to the next screen. It's normal to get frustrated while trying to get there, but if you focus on having fun, even extremely hard or easy games can be made into an enjoyable experience.
We'll never know what went on exactly inside the heads of the early video game developers when they were considering the difficulty of their games, but I can say from the player's point of view that no matter how tough, games are still fun. There may be extreme games that can really push your nerves, but through it all, I have a feeling you're still having a good time.
Gaming has evolved much in since its inception. We've seen our controllers gain more buttons, our consoles and computers got more processors, and the games themselves get jammed packed with content. Of all of them, one of the biggest and most dramatic changes we've seen in gaming is in how games look. Hardware has evolved with the times, and video games have reached heights that developers on their Commodore 64s or Ataris only dreamed of. However, in these evolutions, we've almost lost something that was once commonplace...
...and that is the two dimensional look and feel.
Remember when games looked like this?
Today, a vast majority of video games are in 3D. Two dimensional games are reserved mainly for indie and niche audiences, while three dimensional games rule the realm. Many games that even feature sprite art aren't truly 2D, featuring sprites on a 3D plane, such as many games from Nippon Ichi and Compile Heart.
So, what happened to the style of old? Why did developers move on from the two dimensional plane, and from the sprites and colorful worlds that came with it? The answers might be more simple than you think...
Developers want to be innovative with what they're given. To stand out in the gaming crowd, they need to bring some different to the table, and what better way to do so that to push the hardware to its absolute limits? Back in the 8-bit days, that was done by creating beautiful and colorful worlds with what little they had. However, when F-Zero came out in 1990 in Japan, it brought something almost unheard of: Mode 7 and its illusion of 3D. There were a few games in the past that tried a similar technique, such as Space Harrier 3D, but the idea was mainly reserved for powerful arcade machines, and even then it was rarely seen.
It doesn't translate in screenshots, but F-Zero used Mode 7 in the background.
With the introduction of Mode 7, many developers tinkered with the idea of 3D in their games, resulting in at least twenty-four games released implementing the feature in some way to be released for the system. Sega, on the other hand, released the Sega CD, which helped the Genesis achieve similar effects. While the Sega CD did not do well, and only a very small percentage of Super Nintendo games used Mode 7, the idea of 3D gaming began to plant in developers“ minds.
Then came generation five. When the Nintendo 64 was first announced, and details started to flow in, gamers and developers alike were amazed by the 64's ability to create true 3D worlds. With the Nintendo 64 and the original PlayStation, everyone got to see brand new horizons for video games. Developers could now create bigger, more open worlds, and gamers clamored for just that, especially after seeing the impressive feats from games like Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy VII, and many others.
Back in 1996, this was mindblowing.
With games in general moving into three dimensions, 2D games almost abruptly lost their appeal to gamers. There were still some games that invoked a feel of a two dimensional feel but with 3D graphics and models--also known as 2.5D--but developers' visions and gamers' demands alike shifted towards new technology and new ways to use this new dimension.
It's been this same song and dance since, with developers creating bigger, more realistic gaming worlds and gamers clamoring for more ever since. While whether that's a good thing is another subject entirely, a 2D art style simply doesn't have much of a place in mainstream gaming anymore.
However, that doesn't mean it's completely gone. 2D games are still out there, hidden in niche places. Ark System still puts out 2D sprite based fighters that look great, and Vanillaware sticks to the 2D realm with their beautifully and painstakingly crafted graphics. In addition, the growing indie market makes the genres and styles of old their playground, bringing us both nostalgia and innovation in one lovingly made package.
Vanillaware's games are always beautiful... and always in 2D
To most, 2D gaming is a thing of the past. However, if you look for them, you can still find the colorful, beautiful worlds without that Z-axis. Sometimes they're recreated for the modern experience, and sometimes they're created with the retro aesthetic in mind... but while the 2D style is no longer mainstream, it's far from dead.
First, a disclaimer: I believe video games are art. Rather, I think that video games have the ability to be considered art. This is necessary to be aware of as this theme is my jumping off point for the discussion of how visuals should be handled in games.
Video games are a medium that are still incredibly young in the artistic world. With drawing and painting starting in caves, and cameras capable of saving moving images came about in the 1800s, there are long histories of how those mediums progressed. In the case of video games, we only really have the 20th and 21st century to go on. Thanks to technology, we have been able to see massive jumps in what is possible visually in some fifty years.
If you chart the history of video game visuals, you will find many times when it lines up with other forms of art. The earliest video games had only a few objects on screen and only slightly depicted whatever they were meant to be. Early games like Atari“s Adventure used a sprite that looked more duckish than monster, but gamers understood the connotation all the same. These early, very low pixel games were â€œcave paintingsé. At this point, the entire industry, as well as its fans, were pushing purely for realism. That“s why ads pitting companies against each other would show two pixelated screenshots and say how much more realistic their orientation of pixels were.
1982 Intellivision versus Atari ad
With the era of SNES, Genesis, and Turbografx-16, we saw a shift forming. There were way more pixels available for artists. The concern was no longer how to make the most human-looking figure in four/eight pixels, but how to create something aesthetically interesting. The games may not have been realistic, but they did look pretty close to cartoons in the eyes of a child. Even now, many of these 16-bit era works look fantastic. There is not really an artistic comparison for this era if only because once artists were really able to go at it, they were gunning for realism.
Similarly, as game consoles and computers became more powerful, many developers pushed for excruciating realism. Of course, â€œrealismé meant something different in the 90s. Full motion video (FMV) games had a brief flourish which could easily be considered the most realistic video games ever. Sure, no one will ever suggest that Night Trap is â€œrealisticé, but it did have one thing going for it - real actors. How more real can you get than actual human flesh recorded on screen? Both the artistic movements of Realism and Romanticism pushed artists to the best of their abilities, although in different ways.
In the current gaming landscape, we see that many developers are still doggedly pursuing graphics so real that they are indistinguishable from reality. Although it doesn“t seem we have gotten there yet, we are much closer than ever before. Does this mean that we should focus all our efforts on making more and more realistic games? Should we instead impose that games work further on making their own identity for themselves? These are the questions that were raised with Impressionism, Cubism, and even Dadaism. As the art community grew staunchly opposed to anything other than real, many artists broke out to smash the preconceived notions of what art could be.
Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2
For all intents and purposes, gaming never really had a moment that games deviated from realism because they have yet to attain it fully. Still, it“s easy to read gamer opinions and see that many are hungry for the most graphically intensive, â€œrealé experiences out there. The audience is huge as is evidenced by many triple A titles. The highlight of posting screenshots is often to say â€œlook at how much better this looks than games X and Y!é. Of course, anyone who has been playing games for a while is probably aware that realism is not the only way to handle games.
There have always been games which do not strive for that unattainable look of reality, and this will continue to be the case. Many truly loved games such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Okami, Psychonauts, and so many more have rejected reality in favor of artistry. These kinds of games do something that no other medium is capable of. They create some sort of fantasy world with its own look and invite players into it. Unlike a painting which you can only view and comprehend, a game allows you to actually manipulate the world. Instead of an animated film that takes you on a roller coaster ride, you are able to set your own path.
In a way, the same is true of more realistic games as well. As they are not 100% authentic to reality, they are still an experience different than movies. If there is a point when game and movie visuals are imperceptible from each other, games will still have an edge for those who want to truly experience the world. Still, these types of games do not force developers to strain for an artistic identity. Instead, they tend to draw from what exists in the world. This does not make their art any less relevant, but an experience which is not fully new.
Screenshot of Naughty Dog's The Last of Us
Has an end to artistic debate ever come to decide which is the better artstyle? No, but there are still people in both camps. Many artists today refine their photo-realistic art so that it really is impossible to tell if it is painted or photograph. Then there are many others who balk at such studious art and create pieces which confront preconceived notions as to what art even is. That“s why it seems that the gaming community will never be able to agree as to what they wish to see. Developers will seek to feed one audience or the other over time but never settle on only one way.
There“s nothing wrong with this being the case because both styles are viable mechanisms for enhancing play. When a game is realistic, it may help engross some into the experience further. As a child, I viewed Star Fox on SNES and felt that the graphics were as good as in a Hollywood movie. This was a participative experience, one where I did not have any expectations of the title and simply enjoyed my role as a spectator. However, as we age the ability to induce a participative experience is hindered (due to having more experiences and challenges) which means some may only view more realistic games as the way forward.
As was said earlier, it seems to me that not chasing realism is the more interesting path. By allowing artists to create truly beautiful, disturbing, and strange worlds untethered by reality we are able to get more interesting games. That“s not to say realistic games can not be these things either, which is why this is also not a put-down of those titles. It just seems that the possibilities of creating new and wondrous experiences have a higher chance of flourishing when not seeking to attain the most realistic graphics. As so many games exist, there is room for realistic, semi-realistic, not at all realistic, and symbolic games. There will never be a point that everyone pursues only one method as there are too many developers in the world. Thankfully, there is no need to.
Games are stories and experiences brought to us from a great variety of people. If they feel that they can best convey emotions through realistic depictions, then they should go for it. Those who prefer to do otherwise can as well, and often with as strong an impact. As with more formally established arts, games should feel free to pursue any graphical medium they choose whenever it fits. By seeking to limit ourselves to one way or the other, we would only serve to deprive the audience of many fantastic experiences.
The perspective from which a game is presented, can govern the audiences experience. Much like in writing, a video game has to make the choice of being played in the first person, or in the third person. From a mechanics standpoint, a cover system used in games like Gears of War or Uncharted, would be odd if the games were in first person. Constantly hiding behind cover would have your character look to the side, or away from barrier where there are no enemies, thus putting the player at a disadvantage because the player can“t spot enemies. The cover system allows for better strategic advantage in a third person view.
Marcus aiming from cover
Video games are a form of fiction, and the game is that character“s journey and story, and you, as the player, can experience the same story. Many, if not all video game formats at least allow for third person to be a viable presentation option. More often than not, one will find an action game, or an RPG to be in the third person (there are some exceptions). However, The third person perspective also runs the risk of the audience being detached from the character. To reiterate, the game is that character“s journey and story, the player is just there for the ride.
With that potential detachment however, comes the fact that the third person perspective allows for the audience to take a step back amidst all of the action and see the bigger picture more than first person perspective allows. You can see your character make faces showing that he or she is distressed, angry, or sad, reacting to the situation at hand (such as covering their ears after a nearby grenade explodes). Unfortunately, the detachment from the characters will make the audience feel like they are watching a movie, instead of taking part in it.
He may have your name, but he“s not really you.
The detachment also leads to the fact that the third person perspective allows you to see your character. This is great, because it allows the player the greatest amount of control. The player can see everything at once. This allows you to tell when an object is going to fly over the character“s head and calculate how far you throw an object, or how far you will jump. The stronger level of control allows for the player to maneuver through the world better than a first person game does.
The first person perspective does its best to emulate human sight. The player is placed inside the head of the player character, seeing exactly what the character sees. This allows for the player to be pulled into the action of the game even more so than a game in the third person perspective does. The character you are playing, is, even more than a third person game, by extension, YOU. You see bullets whiz by your head, and the horrifying face of that killer dog is literally a few inches away from you. This makes the action that much more surreal.
The player is also allowed much more camera control. You can almost always decide to look wherever the heck you want to. This is especially great for all of those people that like to explore their environments. But what if you look around while some character is talking to you? Do you miss an important item, or some other funny animation? There is potential to miss some important things, but that level of control oddly reflects real life. As soon as you turn away from someone or something, that person or thing vanishes, and you are left dumbfounded. The greater amount of camera control isn“t without its limitations though.
Shooting some aliens.
The first person viewpoint feels very limiting from a gameplay perspective, because shooting is what works best. There are exceptions, like Skyrim, and Mirror“s Edge but when most people think of games in the first person, it“s the shooter genre. As unique as it could be, a
or an action game where your character spins around a lot could get quite unnerving after a while if it“s played in the first person. It“s not so much that the games are bad, it“s that there are greater inherent restrictions to the first person viewpoint. The games need to have mechanics that work around this inherent limitation. There is the potential for more creative games in the first person if there are great mechanics, but the mechanics need to overcome the restrictions first.
Both perspectives have their own merits and limitations. Video games have used the third person perspective more than the first person, and more games tend to lend themselves better to the third person perspective as well. Both sides can lead to different levels of creativity as well, but you need to find out which perspective works best for the presentation of the game.
Discrimination of any kind makes you look bad so if video games are indeed sexist than yes, it makes us look bad, done next question. Oh wait what's the required word count for this thing? Argh fine here are some more words about sexism and video games and why you look bad today (seriously those clothes are not flattering).
Now you can't make the blanket statement that all of gaming is sexist, but there are definitely parts of gaming that are. That doesn't make it that much different from other forms of entertainment that also suffer from sexism, but video games do usually find themselves being targeted for problems that also affect other media (violent movies exist, for example). This doesn't excuse games from the issue however and there are still plenty of examples of this problem throughout gaming.
One of the most noticeable examples of gender discrimination is how different armor is portrayed between genders. If you equip something on a dude then he is in a massive 12 inch thick suit of armor, but if some female warrior was to don that armor than it would likely transform into a metal bikini. Now I understand the appeal of a man wearing big armor (I used to play Warhammer 40K so you could consider me an expert in the field), but what“s wrong with having some of the fairer sex looking badass too? There are other places you can get you babes-in-bikinis fix.
A woman's weakspot is her breasts right? Is that why they always cover them up?
Of course there is more to the problem than what the characters wear; it is also how they are written and portrayed. Now this is pretty varied and can change depending who is the writer, but based on no evidence whatsoever I have concluded that the ladies are more likely to be cast as support characters and have the manly man go fight the giant demon king of evil. It is usually the same just different settings; Drake was the star and Elena was the tag-along, Marcus was the Space Marine rip-off and Anya was his support and if you are looking to the future The Last of Us has Joel killing infected and Ellie looking like Ellen Page.
Now I remember hearing that games that had a female main character didn't sell as well as games that had big burly men manning the helm. Now Slayn Bacon isn't paying me to think up reasons this might be the case, but it does mean that publishers don't really want to push games with female leads and without that publisher support developers are less likely to make games with a woman leading the way. So basically it is your fault for not buying games that do things a little different and you should all feel very bad for being such horrible people.
We have talked a lot about the characters in the games, but what about the people? Do you know that women exist and also play games? That was quite the surprise when I found out and let me tell you, they get quite a lot of negative attention. Now I am not sure how many of you know about fat ugly or ****ty, but let me tell you this: it“s not a place to be inspired about mankind“s loving and accepting nature. Basically I knew playing online was a fast way to get abuse, but man, some people get it worse than others.
This reminds me of when I had a tree house... And friends.
I like to imagine that women can walk down a street without constant abuse being hurled at them (we don't have streets in New Zealand yet so I wouldn't know), but I guess people just go a little crazy when they are online. The point is that there is a lot of abuse when people decide to go play multiplayer and call me crazy, but I don't think people should have to deal with stuff like that whenever they want to go have fun with other people.
So let's get back to the big question at hand: Does sexism in gaming make us look bad? Well the big issue for me would be the amount of abuse female gamers suffer online, which does make us look bad, because it makes it seem like the gaming community is full of man babies who can't tolerate anyone who isn't a straight, white male (being all three of those things I don't have a good handle on how bad some of that abuse can get, but judging from some peoples stories, it can get pretty bad) and that turns potential gamers away and that hurts business. So stop being a loser and be more accepting, I mean come on! You are such a horrible person, you could at least try to be good once in your life.
Let me start this off by stating what this is exactly so as not to confuse you: this is not a full review. I have not yet beaten Dead Space 3. I'm only as far as chapter 5 or 6. This is more a "My thoughts on this game so far" piece.
Now that definitions are out of the way, let me state something else:
Apparently, half the game review sites played a completely different game from the one I'm playing. That, or they had absolutely unrealistic memories of prior Dead Space games and used the memories as reference for how scary Dead Space 3 is by comparison to Dead Space and Dead Space 2.
I'm saying this because, despite everyone and their mother saying Dead Space 3 isn't scary, it's actually...well, scary. But scary in a subtle way. This is not a in-your-face scary like a slasher horror film. This is a scary that is built on atmosphere and frantic combat with incredibly durable groups of space-zombies who can attack from virtually anywhere. It's a scary built around environments that speak of horrific deaths and create a dark tense feeling and around creatures that are utterly unnerving yet act in ways familiar enough that their non-human nature doesn't matter. And screaming. Lots of it. Though in Dead Space 3, the screaming mostly seems to come from the enemies rather than the hapless minor characters. All of it backed up by the classic Dead Space music that makes everything feel frantic and exhilarating and scary.
I'm not saying there aren't standard "monster-jumps-out" moments. There are those. And they work, because of the atmosphere of the game and the durability and lethality of the monsters. One of those necromorphs with no legs and long stabby-spine (I forget it's exact name) suddenly dropped from the ceiling in chapter four after I left a small briefing room. I half-screamed when it dropped, and started panicking when I jumped on me and I had to force it off by mashing X and seeing after the fact that there were three more slashers running down the hallway towards me.
Now, we've established that Dead Space 3 is actually scary (at least, it's scary to me; your experience may differ.) Another gripe half the internet seemed to have was the writing and story.
Again, they must have gotten the alpha version with the unrevised script, because I've not seen much hard-to-follow nonsense or stupid dialogue in my time with the game so far. The one thing I can't quite accept is the fact that Unitologists can kill all the EarthGov military battalions except for one (and they even do a number on that one, too.) I'm sure that religious fanatics toppling a seemingly well-armed and secure government/military has happened more times in reality than any of us care to think about, but it's a bit of tough pill to swallow that the people who let themselves get killed by Necros and apparently forgot gunships existed are also capable of nearly toppling the government. I honestly expected the human enemies to come in the form of EarthGov agents. We know from the novels that some members of EarthGov don't think necromorphs are all that bad (I seem to recall a couple key scientists in Altman's time considering necros to be the next stage in evolution) and the events and credit-sequence dialogue of Dead Space 2 made it sound like there was some grand conspiracy where EarthGov and the Markers were concerned (the Markers are in a fact a personal sore spot for me where the story is concerned, but I'll save that for another time.) Bottom line, my only problem with the story so far is that Unitologists can nearly wipe out the military. Other than that, I've yet to see much by the way of fault, excepting a sudden appearance by Carver to snap Isaac out of Marker-script translating mode, followed by a just-as-sudden disappearance (likely a scene built to be seen from the perspective of co-op.)
Oh, also I should probably mention that all my time with the game so far has been in single-player. I'm saving co-op for after I beat the game (and maybe unlock the Devil Horns weapon.)
So, what's the deal with all the hate being heaped on Dead Space 3?
I see it as something of a The Dark Knight Rises effect. We had the third major entry in a series of utterly spectacular pieces of media, and our expectations were about as high as the moon. Then, the creator (or, in this case, creators) proved that they aren't quite as perfect as we thought they were, and while they delivered a stellar product, it was also a product that could in no way meet the expectations of the frothing, frenzied public(I LOVED TDKR, just so we're clear. Loved it to death. I spent my last day before starting college seeing it again in the theaters.) We were again expecting the scariest game of the modern age, the penultimate of interactive horror. What we've gotten is an stellar horror title with some tweaks to previous systems (universal ammo (which doesn't suck!) and the removal of stores and RIG stats (okay, that one kinda sucks, but I'm willing to overlook it because it means I get to wear the RIG that looks the coolest without worrying about the loss of stat bonuses)) and an almost perfect co-op system (no tag-along AI partner.) I get the feeling that a good deal of the gaming community had TDKR-level expectations for Dead Space 3 and when the game failed to live up to those expectations, even though doing so would effectively be impossible, we decided to do what we do when something fails to meet our standards; mercilessly pick it to pieces and metaphorically ostracize it.
Now, if this might be the case with so many, why do I love this game so far? Maybe because I wasn't expecting so much. Maybe I'm just easily scared. Maybe I love the Dead Space franchise so much I can ignore whatever flaws may be present. Maybe the game really is that good, and almost everyone who writes reviews was just feeling cranky and vindictive.
What I know for sure is this: I had faith in Visceral from the announcement trailer, and so far, my faith has been completely justified.
Dead Space 3 is probably the second most controversial title coming out this year so far (the Devil May Cry reboot from NInja Theory takes the Number One spot in that category). Series fans have been bemoaning the seemingly action-oriented style of the forthcoming entry, but I myself simply sat back and shook my head at another case of how up-in-arms gamers can get.
In a way, Dead Space as a horror franchise has something of a troubled past. The original Dead Space was so nerve-wracking and frightening that, according to Visceral, many people have confessed to never actually finishing the game (it was mentioned in an Game Informer that featured a cover piece on the announcement of Dead Space 2.) I myself could be counted among that number; I rented the game and couldn't bring myself to play past Chapter 4. I often likened it to the Regenerator section in Resident Evil 4, but stretched out in length to encompass a whole game. (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, just google "Resident evil 4 regenerator" and watch the first youtube hit. Everything will make perfect sense.)
Dead Space 2 was different, in a good way. It somehow found the right balance of terror and action to make one of the greatest horror games in recent memory and it also managed to create the most realistic, humanized video game protagonist in history.
Now, Dead Space 3 is on the horizon, and a good deal of the fan base is worried. The tone of the trailers and the inclusion of co-operative play where at a time all any of us had to go on. I personally didn't worry; I trusted Visceral to be able to maintain the terror factor, no matter if they were throwing in human enemies and introducing universal ammo.
Then, the demo went public.
I've play the public demo twice now. Once solo, once in an online co-op match. And I have to say, I'm a tad concerned. The thing is that I'm not entirely sure what it is I'm so concerned about. I've given it a good deal of thought, and I think I've managed to put my finger on it.
The demo of Dead Space 3 feels like it's in New Game Plus already.
Dead Space and Dead Space 2 both featured New game Plus options. I can't speak for the feeling of Dead Space in NGP, but I can speak for how it felt in Dead Space 2. It felt less like I had to worry about my wellbeing, and more like I could plough through the game like a Necromorph-targeting Terminator so long as I wasn't stupid with my ammo. I was strapped in a RIG that gave me bonus damage and packing a host of upgraded weapons that could make mincemeat of most enemies. It was an odd feeling of empowerment that also oddly worked, that clicked, after the first playthrough of terror and resource conservation.
Dead Space 3, in the public demo, somehow already has that feeling of empowerment. Don't get me wrong, it made me jump, gag, and the lack of visibility from the snow certainly had me on edge, but it didn't feel like I was struggling to survive being stranded on a arctic world full of space-zombies. Which was how it should have felt. It felt more like I was killing my way through a arctic world full of space-zombies. And while those both sound like the same thing, there is a very subtle, yet incredibly impactful difference between the two. It's the difference between New Game and New Game Plus.
I'm not quite sure why the demo felt the way it did. Maybe it was because it was a section that had already been shown and I had a vague idea of everything that would happen. Maybe it was because the lazer dots for the plasma cutter seemed too close together. Maybe it was because dismemberment seems to be a bit less crucial this time around (shooting a necromorph in the torso twice causes the torso to fall off and three long clawed tentacles to sprout from the waist.) Maybe it was because Isaac's reaction a necromorph thresher maw is annoyance (however funny it might be). Maybe it was just that I hadn't played a Dead Space game in nearly 3 years and had allowed my mental memories to create unrealistic expectations.
I was at first a stalwart defender of Dead Space 3, encouraging those who were freaking out over the action-heavy style to calm down and trust Visceral. After playing the demo, I can't say that my faith has been lost, but it is somewhat shaken. I don't know if I just expected too much, or if the feeling of the demo might very well be indicative of a wider problem with the game. But even as I consider that possibility, a part of me understands it. In terms of tone, Dead Space 3 is very different from the previous games; Dead Space and Dead Space 2 were all about survival. They were about finding yourself in a nightmare then fighting your way out in as desperate a manner as possible. Dead Space 3, from the looks of things, seems to be more about problem solving. That is, solving the problem of the necromorphs. That is, going on the pseudo-offensive on a world that might hold all the answers. You're not trying to survive and escape, at least not as the base, original goal; you're there to kick ass and take names in as desperate a manner as possible. It makes sense, I'll admit that. It's a logical progression of Isaac's character; he's had more experience with surviving and killing necromorphs and dealing with Markers than literally any other human in existence. He's Ripley in Aliens, by a factor of two. He's the expert, the go-to guy, but he's also completely capable of fighting the creatures (because come on, you can't really fight Xenomorphs without a loader exoskeleton). One of the trailers even alludes to this; some unknown party wants help dealing with the ice-planet of Markers and necromorphs, they come to Isaac for help, he sends them to Ellie, and Ellie sends them right back to Isaac.
So what am I ultimately trying to say here? I seem to be jumping all over the place, analyzing the tone, offering criticisms and explanations and whatnot. What I'm getting at is this:
the Dead Space 3 demo felt off, if only slightly. It was still scary, it was still fun, and I still have faith in Visceral.
I really hoped this day would never come. The financial gurus and forecasters sang death knells long before today, but I refused to lose hope. And now, it's come to pass; THQ has been dissolved and will be no more in the next few weeks. It's hard to see one of my favorite publishers be pieced apart at auction, but I'm optimistically hopeful for the future of THQ's IPs that were sold off.
Now that THQ is gone, what will the future hold for the proud new owners of THQ's amazing properties?
Of the five main sales that headline THQ's auction, the most surprising (and potentially beneficial) was that of Koch Media's acquisition of Volition and Metro. Volition, one of the most talented studios in the industry, will be a boon to a company with quirky, creative studios like Deep Silver. Volition almost seems like a perfect fit, considering the pool of potential buyers. Koch also gained a potential FPS mega-hit in Metro, a personal favorite of mine. While Deep Silver has landed in some hot water recently for the racy Dead Island: Riptide Zombie Bait Edition, I'm confident Kock will learn from its mistake and properly handle the marketing and release of Metro: Last Light.
SEGA also made a powerplay with the purchase of Relic. SEGA already owned Creative Assembly, well renowned for its Total War franchise. Acquiring Relic will cement SEGA as the leading publisher of AAA real-time strategy titles. By and large, SEGA has done well with Creative Assembly's releases. If they leave Relic to its own devices and properly market the studio's impressive offerings, there's little doubt SEGA will have a bright future ahead.
Ubisoft may have made off like a bandit with its purchase of THQ Montreal and South Park: Stick of Destiny. The Canada-based Montreal studio numbered nearly 500 employees and was said to have been THQ's largest studio. Ubisoft will now have access to a massive pool of talent, should they choose to keep the studio intact. I do wonder how they'll deal with the South Park RPG. While I'm sure they can properly promote the game, I'm curious to know if they'll devote the required assets. Ubisoft's purchases could make them huge net gains in the long run. They just have to manage their new assets correctly.
Crytek's acquisition of Homefront was little surprise, considering they're developing Homefront 2. Until I see the new title in action, I can't speak to this franchise's future. The original Homefront was deeply flawed and forced the shutdown of developer Kaos Studio. Crytek has a lot to prove with the upcoming sequel. As for Take 2? Well, who knows! Take 2's purchase of Evolve might be a fantastic sign, given its unparalleled pedigree with Rockstar.
While it's disappointing that THQ is no more, I'm confident the studios under its former direction will blossom with their new owners. I can only hope that studios like Vigil can find a new home before its too late. THQ brought in unbelievable talent and it would be a shame to see it all wasted.
What do you think of THQ's auction? Sound off in the comments below!
A few days ago, I did something I hadn't done in years... I sold off some video games. I didn't really have a reason to do it, either; I wasn't in bad financial straits, nor was I running tight on my gaming budget... I didn't even buy a new game with my funds. I simply sold some games off... and guess what?
I'm glad I did it.
As of recent, my backlog has grown to pretty monstrous proportions. Impulse buying and the thought of 'having to get a game when it goes on sale' has made it so I have over four hundred games. The worse part was that I felt as though I needed all of those games.
"Oh, we can't sell that one, I might play it again." "Wait, I still want to try that one out." "I don't really like this one, but what's the point of getting rid of it?" The excuses went on and on. The one that really sealed the deal, though, was that I'd never make any money back. Gamestop and other companies, big and small, offer a pittance for trade-ins, only to turn around and sell them for many times the buying price.
I didn't want to end up like this kid.
I think another thing was seller's remorse. I sold my games all the time as a kid, and I'm sad that I did now. I sold away so many classics, and games I wish I could own again. I suppose that stopped me in my tracks whenever I wanted to sell something... because I was so worried that I was going to regret it, I just put it back on the shelf, no matter how much I disliked it.
However, recently Best Buy ran a deal where you got double the money for trading in games. Not the best deal, sure... but looking at some of the games we had, it wasn't a bad deal. Six bucks for Ninety Nine Nights, a game I both didn't spend much on and didn't like? Not bad. At first, Bacon and I only turned in a couple 360 games... but that was only the beginning.
When we did that, I realized something: It's okay to get rid of games. If I don't enjoy a game, or am never going to play it again, it's alright to get rid of it. I guess something clicked in my mind, and I started going through our other collections... and found a fair amount of games that we were never going to touch, or 'trimming the fat', if you will. Some we sold to Best Buy, others to friends, but the end result is the same--after so many years, I actually sold video games in my collection.
That's... pretty much how the process went.
So what's the moral of this story? There probably isn't one for a lot of you... but for me, I learned that just because you collect something, doesn't mean to have to keep everything you hate. I learned that just because it's a part of your hobby, you don't have to embrace the bad with the good; you can just enjoy the good. Oh, and the most important thing of all? Sometimes, it's best to just let go.
Call of Duty is a funny series. It's fourth entry took the industry by storm, and virtually every multiplayer mode since has borrowed from it in some way, while it's campaign told a somewhat gripping modern military tale that wasn't wrapped up in patriotic bravado. It was like a Daniel-Craig-Bond military story, serious and acknowledging the darker side of something we normally glamorize.
After Call of Duty 4, Modern Warfare 2 came out as one of the most anticipated titles in recent memory. Then, something changed. People began decrying the series after Treyarch took it's stab with a ultra-violent return-to-WW2-form. Modern Warfare 2 was good enough that the detractors remained the minority, but by the time Treyarch blew the previous games out of the water in terms of story with Black Ops and Infinity Ward finished up the tale of Modern Warfare with MW3, hatred and scorn for the series and those who played it had become the dominant viewpoint in the gaming community (discounting, of course, the review sites).
The sudden outburst of hatred for the series is something I have always found odd. I myself grew somewhat indifferent to the series after Black Ops, and while I understood the arguments the haters and less-fervent detractors had, I myself never really grew to hate the Call of Duty franchise. I just stopped caring about it.
As I said, I had grown indifferent to COD after Black Ops. Black ops was, at the time, the best Call of Duty yet. Sure, the gameplay was just a tad stiffer than it's modern, Infinity-Ward counterpart, but it more than made for that in terms of story, with a protagonist that actually spoke, and a awesome psuedo-alternate/secret-history conspiracy and story set in the Cold War. To put it simply, by the time Modern Warfare 3 rolled around, I didn't really feel like bothering myself with Call of Duty.
I thought that 2012 would be no different with Black Ops 2. But as I heard whispers of reviews saying just how much had been added, I started to take notice. Watching a full in-depth review revealed something that pretty had me half-heartedly hooked (the branching storyline with multiple endings).
The branching storyline, and promise of extensive replay value that comes with it, somewhat sealed the deal. I got Black ops 2 more for the story mode than for the multiplayer, which I'm sure puts me in the minority and has left many of you readers scratching your heads at to what kind of gamer I could possibly be. After I got the best possible ending, I started investing time in multiplayer. Then college classes started up again, and I saw Call of Duty in a whole different light.
Now, let me explain something about college: it is the most fun, intensive, stressful, amazing education you'll ever go through. By way of a for-instance, I'm currently taking an Animation 101 class, amongst others, and in my first project I created a little 2-second movie in which two birds, one hang glider, a caped superhero, a fighter jet, and UFO fly over a man relaxing in his backyard. But the process of creation was as stressful as it was fun. College is an odd environment: for the time I've been in my second quarter, and for a good deal of my last quarter of classes, I never really felt like playing a game when I got home. This stood in direct contrast to my routine of high school, where sitting down and playing for about an hour and a half was the second thing I did when I got home after taking care of necessary bodily functions. There was something about the environment and feeling of college that just left me wiped. I didn't feel like putting in XCOM Enemy Unknown and dealing with the intensity and fun stress that comes from saving the world from an alien invasion. I didn't feel like putting in Max Payne 3 and shooting guys in the face in slow motion as I dove down a set of steps in a soccer stadium. I didn't feel like playing anything. Until I one day decided to just play a few matches of Black Ops 2 multiplayer. And felt/realized something astounding.
Call of Duty multiplayer is, to put it simply, mindless. You can jump online to play for an hour, and it's simple, mindless fun. You run around a couple different maps, shooting people and getting shot. That's really all there is to it, besides maybe swapping weapon load-outs on your custom classes when you feel like. And that's the brilliance of it. It's simple, base fun. You run around and shoot and get shot and it's simple and fun and mindless and perfect for when you just want to unwind in a way that doesn't require you to make major decisions or deal with story or anything else.
Call of Duty remains as reviled as ever, but I myself, in college and needing a mindless manner of unwinding, have rediscovered the series. And I'm loving every minute of it.
You know how you build your character to specialize in something (magic for example), and the character eventually becomes so good at that one thing, that he/she just uses their special thing all day and destroys opponents? Well, video game consoles did the reverse of that. They went from specializing in one thing, to gaining more skills, but while still specializing in playing video games (that is what the consoles are made for after all).
Just how much stuff can this thing do?
Video game consoles are a piece of technology, so as technology got better, the consoles have grown to be more than that. Video game consoles pretty much went through the same process that cell phones did in becoming smart phones. Video game consoles went from specifically being able to play video games as their only function, to being able to do many things that computers are able to do. Consoles are still made to play video games above all other functions, but the other functions play a key part in the systems capabilities and marketability.
In essence, the growth of the power of the consoles can not only be credited to the evolution of technology, but the broad definition of the word â€œentertainmentâ€. Keep in mind that video game consoles are also called â€œentertainment systemsâ€. The original Nintendo“s full name is the Nintendo Entertainment System. It“s just that it only managed one form of entertainment: Video games. The current generation of systems is now capable of more forms of entertainment. You can go on the internet, watch, upload, or download videos, store pictures, and even make play your own music while playing a game.
The praise ends up going to Sony, back when the Playstation was released. The Playstation could not only play video games, but it could play music CDs. This may have been the start of the multi-functioning video game console. When the Playstation 2 was released, it was able to play DVDs. The Xbox could play customized music instead of the game“s music. Now the main consoles, including the handhelds are borderline computers optimized for video games. Consoles have only grown more impressive to this day.
The start of the multifunction game consoles
The question is, what comes next?
2013 is a day away but it feels like I still have so much left to do in 2012, at least where gaming is concerned. I've probably played more new releases in 2012 than any other previous year in my life-as-a-gamer. That said, my played to finished ratio is terribly out of balance and there are quite a few games that would have likely made this list had I played them before writing this list (Journey, Tokyo Jungle etc). Still, it was a fantastic year to be a gamer and here are a few of my personal favorites of the year.
10.Retro City Rampage
(PS Vita, PS3, PC)
It's a bit of a love-hate relationship for me with Retro City Rampage. On one hand the retro-GTA feel of the game coupled with the plethora of old school in-jokes and references make this game a blast to play. On the other the story and missions feel a bit lackluster to me, and I fail to find any interest in them so far. Still, for a game that has been in development as long Duke Nukem Forever it definitely has more to show for it.
9. Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
Being a huge Fatal Frame fan, this was one of the first games I picked up for my shiny new 3DS. It's not a very good game all things considered but the niche Japanese horror style, and the use of AR, 3D and the 3DS's cameras make it a fun experience for fans of the genre.
8. XCOM Enemy Unknown
I'll be honest, I've never played an XCOM game in my life. I have no idea what they're about. But people were hyping this game up as one of the best strategy games of the year, and seeing as it's made by Firaxis, the studio behind Civilization (another favorite of mine), I decided to give it a whirl when it popped up for under $20. This game is a BLAST. It's got all the elements of a deep strategy game mixed with faster pacing and style of an action game. Naming your squad members also gives it an added layer of depth as losing squad-member "Kawaii Khorne" (Nationality: New Zealand) to the alien scourge is alot more engaging than losing Joe XCOM. A must play for strategy lovers.
7. Silent Hill Downpour
Despite not actually having finished Downpour, I can still safely add it to my list of "good Silent Hill games". The tone of the game feels right, the combat and gameplay is clunky (As it should be). The rain adds a new layer of environmental decore to the game. It's not a perfect game, but it's a great entry into the Silent Hill series.
6.Uncharted Golden Abyss
Here's a title that I personally haven't even started. The little bit I HAVE played of it was on a friends system. That said, it still manages to snag a spot on my list because it does what Sony promised Vita games would do, bring the console experience to us on the go. It's not a watered down version of Uncharted with less features, or a shorter campaign. It's a fully capable entry into the series, every bit as good as it's console brethen. That alone puts it on my list.
5. Binary Domain
(360, PS3, PC)
Originally I brushed this off as just another third person shooter set in the future. But after giving it more of a chance I came to love this game despite its faults. At it's core it IS just a third person shooter but on top of that it tells a great story and shows wonderfully deep interaction between it's characters. You eventually come to like everyone in your squad (Well, except for Big Bo) and that just makes the events and choices that much more personal.
4. Walking Dead
(360, PS3, PC)
Not too much to say about this that hasn't already been said. Another great action-adventure game from Tell Tale with a much more emotional story than seem in their light-hearted Sam and Max series. While I got a bit chuffed at the fact that your choices ultimately don't affect the overall direction of the story the fact of the matter is, the story is excellent and you don't see many of this quality in videogames very often.
And speaking of choices...
3. Mass Effect 3
Lets just get it out of the way. The ending was garbage. Even after they "fixed" the ending it still wasn't what most Mass Effect fans envisioned as the finale of the space adventures of Commander Shepard. Still the preceding 30 hours of gameplay were great. And while the third installment of the Mass Effect franchise goes in a very scripted third person shooter direction, the story and characters that you've grown to love over 5 years and 3 games are all there.
2. Persona 4 The Golden
I've been meaning to play Persona 4 for years now, but never got around to doing so. The Golden has finally gotten me to make the jump. And I'm sure glad I did. This is by far one of the best RPG's I've ever played, and perfectly suited to Sony's handheld system. This may be the only Vita game I've played so far but it already has justified my $170 purchase.
1. Sleeping Dogs
You all knew this was coming didn't you? Sleeping Dogs takes everything I love about Hong Kong action movies and puts it into videogame form. It's got an amazing line up of top notch voice actors, the story is extremely engrossing and the gameplay is some of the most fun I've had in an open world game since Saints Row the Third. The visuals are jaw dropping, especially on a high end PC and the soundtrack is a wonderful mix of Chinese pop songs. I only had a few quirks with the game, mainly regarding the accuracy of the city compared to Hong Kong itself, as I am very familiar with the Streets of Hong Kong. But I can forgive it that because it truly was my GAME OF THE YEAR.
There is much to look back on in the last year. We entered the next generation of gaming with the Wii U, and the Vita entered the portable gaming field. Lots of great games were released, even if there were very few new IPs. With 2013 looming before us, let's celebrate the gaming year that has passed... and what better way to do so than to make Game of the Year lists?
This last year... I didn't play too many newer games. I was focusing on my older backlog, futilely trying to cut down on it while the newer games piled up. Because of that, I don't actually have a lot of games to choose for my GOTY... I've only beaten a whopping eight games that were released this year, with only a few others I've played enough to consider for the running. With such slim pickings... well, you might be surprised in what's on this list.
That said, let's begin!
Portable Game of the Year
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Out of all of the games I played this year, most of them were portable. Therefore, this was the hardest of all of my choice. While a lot of the portable games I played were great, my GOTY pick has to go to Kid Icarus: Uprising.
Uprising is indeed an ambitious project, and one that is handled fantastically on the 3DS. The lighthearted story and characters really make the game a joy to play through, and the graphics and soundtrack (and even the 3D effects) bring the world together. On top of that, the varied gameplay, customizable weapons, and the checklists make it so that the game has tons of replayability. The game does have a few quirks, such as the awkward controls, but overall it's a great experience, portable or otherwise.
Console Game of the Year
New Super Mario Bros. U
I've always been wary of the 'New' moniker of the Mario series. I never enjoyed the DS original, and very new entry seemed a rehash of the same old paths. Couple that with the fact that I felt pretty neutral towards Super Mario 3D Land, and I almost never gave New U a shot.
I'm really glad I did, though. New U might start a little average, but it soon opens up to a great platforming experience. The level design is fun and solid. Most importantly, it's challenging when you want it to be, mainly in trying to get the Star Coins in every level. It's also fun to play either alone or with friends, so you're not left in the dust if you only want to play one way or the other. Finally, Miiverse's integration is flawless and useful--you can get a lot of tips (or notes of frustration, or awesome artwork) easily. New Super Mario Bros. U is the perfect type of launch title; fun, shows off the hardware, and gives people a reason to buy the new system.
Downloadable Game of the Year
The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave
Quite a few great downloadable games came out this year, especially from indie developers... it's really a shame I didn't get to most of them. The very little I've played of The Walking Dead almost made me put it up as my downloadable GOTY alone--however, only playing a part of the first Episode makes it really hard to put it on the list. Instead, I turn to a completely different type of game for my pick.
The Denpa Men is a traditional RPG at heart; it's turn-based, and relies on having the right Denpa Men, the right items, and the right level to get through the game's multiple dungeons. However, how you acquire various Denpa Men is how the game really shines. Using AR and nearby radio waves, the game randomly spawns Denpa Men of different elements and abilities, and if you're lucky, you might even get a sparkling Denpa Man with a powerful attack spell. It's simple, yet very addictive concept, and makes it so you want to go everywhere and try to find new Denpa Men. The gameplay is very much like Dragon Quest, so if you like old-school RPGs with an interesting twist, this game is right up your alley... it's certainly up mine!
Even if I didn't play too many games, I still had to make some tough choices for my Games of the Year. Other games I've played are pretty great too, and at least deserve a mention!
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a fun third-person shooter, and was a great game for someone who doesn't typically enjoy the genre. Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is a great mix of nostalgia, fanfare, and unique gameplay. Dear Esther was an engaging and emotional experience, even if it's a bit difficult to label it as a 'game'. Pokemon Black 2 is a good sequel that reminds me of what Gold/Silver/Crystal did for the original games. The Walking Dead may very well be the best adventure game I've ever played.
So, looking back, I wish I could have had more time with the games that came out in 2012. Many hits came out this year, and with the lineup for 2013 so far, it's only looking to get better. It looks as though the backlog is only going to grow larger!
I look back at 2012 as one of the strangest years of gaming for me. I graduated high school and went to college, and although I have ridiculous amounts of free time, I spend almost none of it on gaming. Especially since I have to budget myself, the amount of new games I get have drastically decreased. But worry not, as my Top 5 games this year are still extremely fantastic titles that I'm simply dying to talk about. Without further ado...
My Top 5 Games Of 2012!
5. Spec Ops: The Line
Oh Spec Ops. I heard great things about you, and I knew what you were about even before I played you. But even though I knew every trick you had up your sleeve, nothing could stop you from impressing me. It's rare that I would play through a game immediately after I beat it, but Spec Ops delivers. With unforgettable characters, astonishing setpieces, and enthusiastic intelligence, the game does all it can to provide an extremely powerful narrative that simply blew me away. The really small details stuck with me, especially regarding how your main character behaves during gameplay during the later stages of the game. It's the small details that reward players who are paying attention that make the game shine brightly. I can see myself playing this game long after the other games on this list. It's simply that good.
4. Lone Survivor
Wow. Just... wow. I'm a very vocal Silent Hill enthusiast, so this year has been... mixed to say the least. Silent Hill HD Collection ended up being a bad collection of 2 classics, and Downpour was simply just awful. I loved the two titles, but their flaws were incredibly apparent, and it bummed me out that the series had lost its way. Then I played Lone Survivor. If anything could rekindle my love for a Silent Hill game, it was a completely unrelated indie game whose very existence is a love letter from a dead spouse. The game oozed style and charm, and when 16 bit graphics are scaring you much more than Japanese horror films, then you know you're doing something right. The atmosphere was tense, the journey was incredible, and the gameplay is... addicting. That's kind of bizarre considering that it's a survival horror game, but I can't put it down. I look forward to seeing its impact on the horror industry.
3. Rock Band Blitz
Ahhhh, the token Rock Band entry. This should surprise absolutely nobody. With incredible Facebook integration, great tracklist (it grew on me after a while), complete compatibility for all Rock Band songs, and a still updating goal system, the game is perfect for a quick solo session. And it doesn't hurt that I'm pretty good at the game. AND THIS GAME EXPORTS TO ROCK BAND 3! Just more reason to get this game, because it's an incredible value and it's just really really fun. Harmonix really is a fantastic developer, and I'm excited for their future.
2. Kid Icarus: Uprising
The controversial entry on my list. For me, anyway. If you followed me on Twitter, you know how much I moan about my grievances with Kid Icarus: Uprising. Or rather grievance: it's completely stupid plot. What angers me about this game is that it tries so hard to have a great plot, and the fact that it fails so miserably upsets me, especially since everything else about this game is fantastic. I know people are down on the controls, but I personally found them incredibly natural WITHOUT the dumb stand. With addicting gameplay, incredibly fun multiplayer, and tons of content, Kid Icarus: Uprising is the absolute BEST game to get a 3DS with. It'll last you a ton of time, and it's actually good, unlike Super Mario 3D Land and Kingdom Hearts 3D (which are both very mediocre in my book). Also this game has Pyrrhon. That guy is awesome.
And my Game Of The Year IS...
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward
I can not tell you how much I thought this game was going to blow. I really enjoyed it's predecessor Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors, and found it engaging all throughout except for the finale, which introduced psychic shenanigans that for me broke the realistic atmosphere the game tried so hard to make. Especially since I DETEST time travel stories (yes, I don't like Doctor Who), the curveball left a bad taste in my mouth. When it came time to play the sequel, I only had one request, to integrate the time space stuff throughout the story and have them weave into the exposition naturally. And did Virtue's Last Reward hit it out of the park. Although the To Be Continueds were detrimental to flow, the game handled my request beautifully. My other fear was that the original felt compact and definitive, so I thought a sequel would only try to make things BIGGER in order to outdo the original (ala Ghostbusters 2). With 24 endings (over the original's 6), fully voiced cast, 3D models, etc, I had good reason to fear this. And while the game is "sequely", the execution is done so well that I can't complain. And the twists, oh the twists blew my mind away in every conceivable level. When a game's story is keeping you up at 3 in the morning, you know something is done right. And this game is about the Prisoner's Dilemma. As someone who LOVES economics and is fascinated with game theory, this game's very core made my tremble with excitement. On the negative side, the cliffhanger ending was disappointing, and the save glitch (which I thankfully did not go through) and some of the puzzles can go die horribly. However, I left the game (which is about 3-4 times longer than the predecessor) with a huge smile on my face and sky high expectations for Zero Escape 3.
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC/Xbox 360/PS3
Release Date: November 20, 2012
ESRB: M (yeah, not for kids)
Hitman. Hmm, where do I start? Well, it's a game about sneaking around different environments, tasked with killing somebody in the cleanest way possible. Neat concept right? What could go wrong? Well, just a few things did in Hitman: Absolution, the newest installment (and my first game played) in the Hitman series of games.
It starts off with a touching and dramatic story about you, "The Hitman", or "Agent 47", tasked with killing somebody you know who betrayed you (may give off minor spoilers so I won't say the name) and returning a girl she stole back to "The Agency", a very mysterious group of people who Agent 47 works for. Oddly enough before you kill your target, they ask that you do not give the girl to The Agency at all costs. This creates a sort of dilemna for Agent 47 but he decides to take her for himself and protect her as his target so kindly requested.
Before I start off on the main game itself, the "Absolution" mode according to the main menu, I'd like to say a few things about the multiplayer mode, "Contracts". It doesn't work like traditional multiplayer affairs but instead works like a social network game of assassin. Sounds fun? It is! Taking on mission that either you, your friends, or random people around the world make is very fun and challenging and adds some much-needed depth to the game after you beat it. Using specific conditions really spices up the difficulty too, but it's all for fun since you can always play other contracts.
Now onto the main part of the game. I must say that I love how the game starts. After that initial great opening (and even a fun tutorial mission of sorts on the way to your first target), the game drops you into a Chinatown square with a new target: the "King of Chinatown", who is right in the middle of the square surrounded by plenty of people. There are so many fun ways to do this mission that it probably bumped up my expectations TOO high.
I replayed the second mission multiple times actually and each time I found something new. One time, I found an axe, walked right up to my target, threw it at his face (yes!), then ran off and hid until everyone was only suspicious that a killer was still lurking around. Another time, I found some explosives and sneakily blew him up that way. I even found a sniper rifle on my last try in a very convienant position, on the second floor of a building with a perfect view of my target's location!
Unfortunately, no other mission- no wait, let me repeat that. No other mission in the game lets you do anything as amazing as this. I was very sad to find out it was the only one. However, most missions have a basic "sneaky" and "guns-blazing" method to them so each mission DOES technically have multiple ways to go through it, and that's still sort of nice even if your options are limited.
Now, that brings me to my main fault that I had with this game, and it was one that extremely aggravated me. When I mentioned "guns-blazing" earlier, I meant that the majority of the game is just too difficult to do purely by stealth. There are multiple missions where I found that trying to sneak around was nigh impossible. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the game wants to be a stealth game more than an action game (this is clearly evident), but it just is not able to by mediocre level design and a nasty fit of the AI being just plain stupid.
To add insult to injury, there's a score system in place that rewards you for being stealthy and shoots out crazy negative scores at you if you just charge in and kill everyone in sight. This is a game about being a hitman and doing things your way, so why are we being very heavily encouraged to be stealthy? It just doesn't seem right in a game that should be about choice in addition to killing targets.
Speaking of that, enemies can detect you quite easily if you are trying to be sneaky (which is realistic at least)....but it also can get a little ridiculous at times. Playing on hard (to get a nice feel for what the Hitman games offer), a few times during the game I liked to play with the nearby enemies by popping up every so often, staring at them with my guns pointed at them in plain sight, then popping back down into cover and repeating. It just became amusing after a while when I discovered this and the other glitches the game has.
Yes, I made the above picture myself and the screenshot on the right I took.
Even if I'm not a big fan of the gameplay, the story at least is pretty nice. Agent 47 has to follow multiple bad guys who try and kidnap the girl I mentioned earlier, and some actually manage to succeed, so...well, you have to stop them! What I just said pretty much sums up the story sadly but the characters are believable and the environments the game takes you to not look great but have a purprose as to why you are there too. One thing that sort of nags (and amuses) me though about the story.....is that there is a mission completely about simply getting a suit. Odd, but unique. I like it!
Another neat part that I MUST add is the little things that IO Interactive put into the game. There's 47 (clever, eh?) achievements in the game, the conversations between the characters just sitting around in the game are interesting to listen to, and even little technical details like water on Agent 47's bald head while it rains are great additions that help a bit to immerse you in the game.
Alright, it took me a bit to get to it but now I can finally talk about the one thing that anyone who talks about the game (whether they hate it or love it, as many people do) can agree on: the graphics! Hitman: Absolution is gorgeous. There's no other way to put it! Every detail in the environments is crisp and looks great with very good performance on even lower to mid-range graphics cards (like mine). The effects are beautfiul to watch and the cutscenes even look lovely. I can't praise the graphics enough, but unfortunately I can't give the game a whole lot of love in its other departments. The music however I do like, even if it isn't mind-blowing or anything.
Honestly, I'm not sure what else to say. Hitman: Absolution is a game that I really, really wanted to love. But instead I ended up in a strange patch of dislike while still seeing that it has some merits. If a game can't pull you in on at least the fun aspect, in my opinion it isn't worth playing, and on that note I shall leave you, Agent Review Reader!
I give this game a score of: 6/10
+Long, somewhat interesting story
+Amazing graphics, good sound
+Contracts mode is a great addition
+Great little additions like amusing conversations by passerby, etc
-Game is just not very fun like being a "hitman" should be
-Only 1 mission in the entire game gives you a ton of unique choices on how to execute it (and it's the 2nd mission)
-Too much focus on stealth rather than killing, but poor level design keeps it down.
-Score system rewards you for only one path of play rather than trying to cater to people who like other play styles
I hope you enjoyed my review, and so I suppose I'll leave with a humble "thank you"! Also, ho ho ho, and a merry Christmas/happy holidays to anyone reading this!
With the Wii-U releasing this year and the next generation of PlayStation and XBOX consoles estimated for release next year I've begun questioning the tight-rope each company must walk to get the most mileage out of their hardware while mitigating risks of it overstaying its welcome or being undercut by alternative means of gaming.
I think over the last couple of years, we've all heard our friends and the game media in general pay less and less attention to the Wii. Development and strong titles dwindled and more and more users were defecting to the HD counterparts provided by Sony and Microsoft that had become more reasoanble in price and offered a strong catalogue of games for any who were Wii only gamers. The fascination with the "waggle" wore off and Nintendo lost ground with respect to the other consoles. This is no doubt simplified through my experience, but I think it's fair to say that for many of us who game on a daily basis, our Wii is collecting dust at this point.
Now, again from discussions with friends, listening to podcasts, and reading articles from games media, I get the sense that gamers are and have been defecting to PC gaming in increasing amounts. For those of us who have been console/couch gamers for as long as we can remember, there's some fairly substantial initial investment in getting a PC suitable for getting the most out of newly released games, and some headaches that come along with hardware-software compatibility. But the payoff is substantial now. Experiencing multi-platform games with significantly richer visual graphics and significantly lower load times is a big draw. And with PC gaming working hard to ensure controller integration in most games, frequence sales on digital goods, and Valve debuing "Big Picture Mode" to try and bring PC gaming to your TV and couch, there's less incentive to keep that PS3 or 360 of yours dust free.
The biggest variable in this is really each individual's brand loyalty. For someone who had a Wii exclusivly for a while because it was within my budget and has subsequently betrayed it for the now reasonably priced HD consoles, I can say my Nintendo loyalty was not strong enough to have me intrigued by a Wii-U. PS3 and 360 however have worked hard to provide value and communities it may be harder to divorce yourself from. 360 is usually offered as the exemplarly model for the community and your friends list, while PS3 uped the ante this year with the PS+ instant game collection which is particularly valuable to late adopters to the console who may have missed many of these titles the first time around.
On the other hand, while there may be some gamer attrition factor for a long console cycle, there is also the obvious benefits that come with developer's ever increasing familiarity with the hardware and programming suites. We keep seeing new releases that extract more out of the hardware that we thought possible years ago. From beautiful set pieces and textures to enormous open world games, developers are continually can more efficiently work within an environment the have extensive prior experience with already.
So we have the juxtaposition of increasing efficiency in development and lower costs with the competition between media that may offer a better cutting edge experience. With next year's presumed console launches this generation is heading to a close and we'll see next year whether how the market share fairs for each company.
Sound off in the comments below with your brand loyalty, excitement for new consoles, or thoughts on this topic. Has Sony and Microsoft pushed there luck with the age of their consoles? Are you dreading new hardware and would prefer to see continued life from your current console? Is the timing about right and you'll just happily upgrade next year?
Continuing where I left off....
Walking home with Yukiko and Chie.
"You think Yukiko is cute" Alright lets establish my pervert status here right off the bat! "YES"
Chie's English voice is kinda grating....thankfully I don't have anything better to compare it to.
Aww my BFFs ditched me!
Over-world map! And this catchy music again!
Guess I'll head to Junes? They did have a pretty catch commercial.
Of course, it's locked down...lets try the...flood plain?
These trees look really cool for some reason...
Nothing here either...
Shopping district maybe?
Well this is pretty lackluster so far, they're obviously trying to get me to go home...NEVER!
Aww...immediately busted at school. Stupid Morooka telling me to go home.
Farming land next to my house? Possible farming mini-game?
OMG IT WAS THE TV REPORTER LADY.
OMFG THIS JUNES COMMERCIAL.
No one likes you Nanako, stop singing.
Stupid trashcan kid again!
Yukiko totally has some sort of secret shes hiding....
Saki = New main character?
Midnight channel? Sounds like the Ring to me...
Lets pick up the pace a bit now...
Told Chie and Yosuke I can go into TV's...they don't believe me at first D:
^That sounds kind of dirty
Finally in the TV world!
Meet a bear named Teddy (assuming he's the "Kuma" I heard about)
He tells us about how people are getting thrown into the TV world, time to solve this case!
Finally started leveling up!
Fought evil Yosuke
OMG WHAT IS THAT
Fought Yosuke and Chie's shadow versions, they got their Personas. Then Yukiko disapeared and me Yosuke and Chie teamed up to find her. I was supposed to spend several days preparing but instead just jumped right into the TV on the second day. Teddy kept trying to make me only play a bit of the dungeon at once but I beat the entire dungeon in one go. EAT THAT TEDDY.
Now with Yukiko saved we have a full team
I opened a bunch more social links, joined the soccer club and the band, hung out with Marie, fused some Personas, did a few side quests and overall just enjoyed the game.
Currently on the next rescue mission to save a badass biker named Kanji. Tune in next time!
But what do we charge for it?
Free to play has taken the PC world by storm. Many games are now free to play, and with the introduction of the model, game companies are now left to decide what works best, and how they are going to bring in the money to keep the development studio open.
So Essentially, Three models have emerged:
Free to play: with microtransactions/credits purchased to add content/vanity items.
Pay to play: A whole game with all features enabled. Usually DLC is not far behind.
Pay to Enter, pay more to actually enjoy. You buy the game inexpensively, then buy other content with microtransactions/credits. While this isn't really a model that is used much, some games have turned into this over time.
Which method ends up being the best? You have games such as League of Legends, Tribes Ascend, Planetside 2, and more, that require no money to start, but as anyone who has completely enjoyed their experience in these realms can attest, you often end up spending more cash than if you had paid full retail. While originally free2play screamed low quality, with so many publishers attempting this method it has become more evident that low quality doesn't cut it. The only way to make money then, is to get your audience hooked, and entice them to actually shell out some cash.
Pay to play, or what I like to call the standard model, is what many of us have done historically, all our lives; Buy a game off the shelf, you own it, and all the content in it is available. Until recently, this method was reliable. You bought it, you get the goods. Currently, and I'm looking at you EA, buying a game does not guarantee that you will get all the content made for the game you just spent $50-60 on. On the disc DLC ranks right up there with gum that turns your mouth black as one of the dirtiest tricks of all time. Which to be honest, is just a watering down of the pay to enjoy model that outlined above.
Which do I prefer? Well, free2play is great, it's essentially a demo that allows you to actually buy-in once you have decided you like the game. That being said, there is something nice about purchasing a game and owning all the content, which free2play is not the best at achieving. Most free to play games will run you a few hundred dollars (thousands in some cases), or a metric ton of time invested to be able to enjoy all the content. What do you like best?
Most levels in games don't take that long to complete. They certainly don't take 3 hours to get through. But I bought Scribblenauts Unlimited last night, and so far I've played it for over 3 hours and I'm still on the first level. Not that I can't finish the level, mind, and, in fact, I have completed it. However, there's quite a few reasons why I'm still on the first level.
This is one of them.
For the uninitiated, the Scribblenauts series allows players to type in nearly any object and have that object spawn in the game world. Super Scribblenauts added adjectives, broadening the spectrum, and Scribblenauts Unlimited wants to live up to it's name by giving you nearly unlimited freedom. The majority of the time, you're only limited by your imagination. Sure, sometimes the game doesn't recognize what you want, like earlier - I wanted to spawn one of those power saws, but I didn't know what they were called. I typed power saw and the game didn't recognize it, so I typed electric saw, and out popped an electrified hand saw, which admittedly was much cooler. Other times, you end up with things like this:
That's a spotted fawn according to the game. I was thinking Bambi, the game was thinking rare skin disorder. The other one is "white spotted fawn" which took the word "white" a smidge too far into monochrome territory. But you know what? I don't care. I'm having an absolute blast seeing what I can come up with, and it's that thirst for pushing the bounds of what the game is capable of that has kept me stuck in the first stage of the game. If you've ever played Garry's Mod, you have an idea of what to expect here - you spawn one thing, then another, then another until you have a mish-mash of things littered about the screen and nothing to do with them. That's when you decide to find ways to make them interactive, which, in Scribblenauts, means adding adjectives. Sure, you can spawn a potato, but why not spawn a sentient green dancing ninja potato instead? I can guarantee those would have taken over the timeslot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a heartbeat. But why stop there? Why not have an electrified zombie horse or a giant decapitated reindeer?
No, seriously, decapitated is an accepted adjective.
If you were to watch me play a game, you'd soon see that I like to find fun in things that the developers never intended, like trying to climb objects in the game world (and often getting stuck) or luring NPCs into deadly traps. With Scribblenauts, building your own experience is certainly intended and expected, but I think they actually expected people to, you know, play the levels too, and that is something I just can't bring myself to do just yet. Not when I can take on a massive gun-toting tyrannosaurus in an impenetrable mech instead.
Illustrated here for effect.
Quite simply, Scribblenauts Unlimited is the most fun I've had with a game in a long time since it allows me to just sort of kick back and go wild. But maybe I should go see what the rest of the game has to offer. Maybe I should see what the game hopes I'll think up as a solution to it's puzzles. Maybe I should save Maxwell's sister from being turned to stone. That seems kinda important.
...Or maybe I should go check and make sure they get this brontosaurus out of the tree safely first. Yeah, after that, I'll get into the game. For sure this time. Definitely. Right after this.
Oh yeah, he'll be fine. They've got a ladder.
But just in case, I'd better summon a few helicopters and a purple flaming tornado.