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  1. http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/02/25/layoffs-hit-god-of-war-studio-sony-santa-monica This is kind of surprising to hear given how well the PS4 has been doing lately. What exactly is going on at Sony Santa Monica? Last I heard they were moving to a new facility, but to lay off enough people to cancel a whole project in development? I dunno, the whole thing feels weird to me, but perhaps there's a logical explanation for it. What do you guys think?
  2. Who wants to win a PS4?! Well um yeah just another PS4 contest I found and share. Good luck everyone! refer link
  3. Have you ever spent a few years away from home, only to come back and see everything was exactly the way you left it? If you have, then you know about that warm fuzzy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, and the waves of nostalgia that wash over you are some of the best/strangest feelings you can hope to feel. The good thing is, you don't have to leave home for years on end to get that feeling. In fact, you don't even have to leave your house at all! The only requirements are that you stop playing some of your favorite games for a few months. And if you're like me, that's more than an easy task to fulfill. Alright, now that a few months have passed, let's talk about some of the comfiest places in gaming. The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker: Outset Island To be completely honest, you could get the feeling of nostalgia and comfort from any one of the many 3D Zelda games currently on the market. You could even feel comfortable in Clocktown (in Majora's Mask), despite the fact that a creepy giant faced moon was hurtling itself towards the town from the very start of the game. But none of these towns compare to Outset Island, the starting area in The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker. The colors! I can see all of them! While quite a few people had trouble getting into the game due to it's cartoon-y cell-shaded art style, I feel that it cemented itself in people's memory thanks to just how comfortable everything looked. That first hour or two of the game made everything seem so nice and peaceful that the moment things actually turned bad, it felt like the rug got pulled out from beneath you. But that didn't ruin the relative safety of the island. And now that it's been remade for the Wii-U in glorious HD, we can all go back to Outset Island once again and feel all comfy and safe, at least until a giant bird totally ruins Link's birthday and forces him to go on a quest that ends with a sword in somebody's head. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: Balmora When you first stepped off of that ship and into the waiting arms of Fargoth in the city of Seyda Neen, you probably followed the exact same path that I did. First and foremost, steal that platter worth six hundred gold. Secondly, rob Fargoth blind. And then finally travel to the next closest city, Balmora. This is where the game really got exciting for me. I'm going to rob this place completely blind Seyda Neen was a backwater town so small that I could see the exit of the city while standing in the entrance. But Balmora was huge, and it was alive. People walking to and from their places of work. Buildings lined the streets, filled with so many things for me to steal. Back alleys lead to houses containing murder mysteries and others with huge rat problems. This was where Morrowind truly started, and I had no idea what to do. Anyone who played the game can probably describe Balmora to you in deep detail. You have the large river cutting through the town, the line of stores with the back alley slums behind them and then the religious buildings near the top of the city limits. It's hard to understand why, but this city was just home for me and most other people during their travels. No matter what happened, Balmora was always waiting for you. Animal Crossing: Your Town I didn't buy a Gamecube until the Wii was released onto the market. I have no idea why that was, but it just turned out that way. The first three games I got with it were Wind Waker, the Zelda promotional disc and Animal Crossing. It cost me $25 total and was a pretty great deal. I originally got Animal Crossing because I thought it would be something fun for the kids to play, but I quickly learned otherwise. Yeah, looks like I'm buying another 3DS game What was supposed to be a game for the kids to play ended up being an obsession for me. I would sit up late at night, pounding my shovel into my neighbor's doors. They of course wouldn't answer the door since it was well past three in the morning, but that didn't mean I couldn't send them threatening letters. And I sent plenty of those. Despite how much of a serial killer I tried to be, I still ended up falling in love with the town and its many animal inhabitants. Something about playing a game where you live in a cartoon town just managed to get to me. I still occasionally load up my original Gamecube save to check up on my town from time to time. I even feel kind of sad when I see someone has moved away. Animal Crossing became my digital home away from home, and all it took was a few late nights of harassing my neighbors. Everywhere In Ni No Kuni When I bought Ni No Kuni, I knew exactly what i was getting into. I've been a fan of Miyazaki's work ever since I sat down and watched the movie Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro. If you haven't seen it, then you need to right now. I don't care if you're at work. You need to watch it now. Once you've seen the movie you'll understand the main draw of Miyazaki's movies, and that is their extremely soft and welcoming appearance. And Ni No Kuni matched studio Ghibli's style perfectly. Everything about this game just makes you feel good No matter where I was standing or what I was doing, everything just felt simple and happy. I could have been fighting the Devil and I still would have thought, "Well this place is quaint." The game's style is just that rich. Even from the start of the game you're being bombarded with that sweet, sweet small town feel. It was so great that I didn't mind the game clocked in at around 70 hours; I actually didn't want it to end. You watch Castle of Cagliostro and play this game now. You'll regret neither choice. Catherine: The Stray Sheep Bar I pre-ordered the game Catherine before it came out. Do you know why I would preorder a $60 Japanese puzzle game over all of the other big titles releasing around that same time? Because I knew it would be good, that's why. You just don't turn down a good puzzle game, and you certainly don't turn down a sci-fi horror love story either. Because of all these factors I simply couldn't turn down, Catherine was as good as bought. And you know what? I loved the game! They gave me a trophy as a monument to the time I wasted here But not just for its mind bending puzzles and absolutely crazy story. I mean, they were certainly the main reasons I enjoyed the game so much. But I'd be a foolish fool if I were to ignore the Stray Sheep Bar, an area in the game where you're free to talk with random patrons, order food and drinks, play games and even listen to the jukebox without any worry of something bad happening to you. For the most part anyways. Later on in the game you'll start dealing with some pretty freaky things no matter where you're located, but during the first week or so of the game, there was no better place than the Stray Sheep. I once spent a solid hour playing the arcade game located at the back of the bar just because, and when I finished I went over to the jukebox and I jammed. What other puzzle game can boast of such a feat? Certainly none that I know of. These are just five of my favorite areas from some recently released games (and not so recently released). But now I wonder, what are some of your favorite areas of relaxation in the game world? Why not describe them to me in the comments below? As always, thank you for reading.
  4. Jordan Haygood

    PlayStation 3

    From the album: Kaptain's Gallery

    © Sony

  5. barrel

    2013 12 08 180452

    From the album: Tearaway

  6. barrel

    2013 12 07 233816

    From the album: Tearaway

  7. barrel

    2013 12 07 230242

    From the album: Tearaway

  8. barrel

    2013 12 07 210841

    From the album: Tearaway

  9. barrel

    2013 12 07 210300

    From the album: Tearaway

  10. barrel

    2013 12 06 155353

    From the album: Tearaway

  11. The end of 2013 is here and we had a long great year with great games, worst games, developments, awards, gaming nights, breaking news, surprises, previews, reviews, journalism, E3, Conventions, etc. A lot has happened throughout the year and how it impacts the gaming industry and hobby today. This thread discuss whatever you like to share about who, how, or what ways did gaming affect you this year. These are my personal thoughts about the past year. You don't have to follow this format and I'm just discussing what I like to share. Feel free to say whatever you want about the past year and such. Best Game? Worst Game? Beat a lot of games? Enjoyed the most? This doesn't have to be the games for this year or anything, but what games you really enjoyed playing this past year. For me this past summer was one of the best summer of gaming I ever had mostly on the PS3. I managed to beat 20+ games and that was a pretty exhausting way to kill time. It was amazing how in end of June and early July I was able to beat Bioshock Infinite and the Infamous series in a short time. Infamous games were so amazing that I was surprised I beat them quickly with no problems. Anyways July was my favorite month and of course it was my Birthday month. My favorite game to play during the time is none other than Ni no Kuni. It has been a while since I've played a JRPG game and my body was ready for time spent. It took me 9 gaming days with 2 days off to beat Ni no Kuni. I remember that time went by so fast that I forgot about the real world and Game Podunk lol. Heck gaia was wondering where I was and thought I was sick (lol appreciated for worrying me). Well I was almost sick from gaming exhaustion. Felt like I was playing the game forever. I was sucked into the world of Ni no Kuni and could not put my controller down. It was time well spent. Ni no Kuni is probably my favorite game during the summer and possibly my game of the year. Hard to pick between Infinite and Last of Us. Anyways I think the best game for me this year I've played is Ni no Kuni because how it kept me playing and hooked to the storyline and such. I enjoyed this masterpiece a lot! Worst game I've played this year is Operation Raccoon CIty. I did not have a good time playing the game in single player and multiplayer. I almost didn't want to finish, but did so I can get over it. I know I'll get bashed by Luds for saying this since he liked the game. Maybe If I had the PS3 version my view would be different and it's always better with friends and co-op. E3 Discussions/Gaming News Oh man remember all those E3 discussions earlier this year? We would be bashing on Microsoft, claiming Sony wins, Nintendo just idling, etc. Man looking back at it, we had a lot of fun posting those memes and funny pics poking fun at Microsoft. So many threads on Microsoft's problems about how they will have always online, drm issues, etc. Sony had us all won their hearts. So much has changed since E3 and today. Fanboys battling it out, console wars, etc. Back then and today things sure got different in perspective. Sony still has my vote of confidence and Microsoft started to rebuild and fix things the best they can. Even though not a huge Xbox fan, I applaud them for being motivated to overcome the negativity. Nintendo did what they did and still became awesome. I know there were a lot of crazy gaming news the past year too. Sad one being THQ going bankrupt and having their games looking for a new home. They were a great gaming company in my view and hope those who worked there found jobs later in life. They worked pretty hard with the games that needed a new home. Another one would be the past year with EA. Remember when everyone was mad about the SimCity? Man that was total disaster on their end and a mess. EA has had a bad year with bad commuincations. What other news you remembered that stood the most? Winning the Prize Vault It took forever to win one, but finally did. It wasn't easy as I would always lose to Ludo and almost lost the 3rd time. Kekeke 3rd time's the charm huh. Anyways I remember during that time we had great results and personally I thought Kiky would win because of the super hero threads like Wonder Woman vs Superman and Why Don't Heroes Kill Villains threads she posted and had great posts. I did made a lot of contributions to the community, but honestly it surprised me that it was enough to take the win. I learned I won when I was sick during the semester. I had a horrible day in bed so I lay there sleeping most of the day until Jason tweeted me a surprise. I really tried to celebrate and jump, but man that sick was keeping down. Winning the Prize Vault really brightened up my day. To tell the truth, I was going to give Kiky my prize vault because I felt she deserved it more, but refused and said I deserve it more. Thanks Kiiky. After the semester ended, I eventually got the Vault and liked it. It was fun posting the power rangers pictures. Gaming Nights/Co-Op It's always fun to play with friends no matter what. There is more enjoyment and excitement when we play together as a team. I never played much of co-op these days until I met you guys. It was a good idea to create the gaming night thread, but then again it's hard to schedule at times lol. Super Smash Brawl on the Wii was the first gaming night I tried to set up during the summer and had a lot of fun playing. I know I wasn't that great, but it's all about having fun. Man John, Venom, and Jordan are like the best Brawlers in the game. John is just too good. Congrats to Venom for winning our first fun tournament lol. After that then started to come up with other games to have gaming nights. Most of the time these days we just asked our buddies hey lets get a gaming night going without using the thread. Also Kiky bringing up Uncharted 3 Multi is a lot of fun as well. We got a bunch of people to participate and it was successful. Ludo would be sending Last of Us invitations during the time too. Another time I enjoyed was Killing Floor with Kiwi. Really had fun in the game and Kiwi was a pretty good leader! So many hilarious moments too. Of course there is the regular co-op games. I had the bestest times playing MW3 with Kiky doing the survival waves, hilarious adventures in DR:OTR, GTAIV, etc. So many great moments. I know I annoy you a lot in co-op games and fail most of the time, but I do the best I can lol. I'll remember to give you money in MW3 too. Also Venom we had awesome times as well with Dead Nation, LBP, Shoot Many Robots, etc. I've lost count on how co-op games we've beaten. We still have a lot of games to go though lol. Man I still need to play some co-op games with most of you guys I haven't played with yet. For some reason playing co-op with Jason is like a big goal lol. _______________________________________________________________________________ Anyways I could talk about a lot of things about the past year, but I'd like to hear stories from you guys.
  12. 8GB $9.99 http://www.amazon.com/8GB-PlayStation-Vita-Memory-Card/dp/B006JKAS6G/ref=sr_1_sc_1?t=slickdeals&tag=slickdeals&ascsubtag=eQSNimWOEeOapPY2E6PhoAz9E1_iZQs3_0_0_0&s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1387104246&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=8gb+vuita+card 16GB $19.99 Temp OOS, but can still order http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B006JKASAC/ref=dp_olp_new?t=slickdeals&tag=slickdeals&ascsubtag=mQ6PkGWOEeOpALb8dtOeEwz9E1_iZQs3_0_0_0&ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1387104246&sr=1-1-spell
  13. Jared

    Rain PSN PS3

  14. http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/12/02/every-sony-owned-studio-from-worst-to-best I don't normally link to IGN articles much, but this is a pretty good one. In it, they show what each of Sony's first-party studios are, their overall ranking based on an average of their games according to their Metacritic score, and the list of games they've created (also complete with respective Metacritic scores. You might be a little surprised at who the #1 ranked studio is. I know I was.
  15. DarkCobra86

    External HDD or Installing HDD to PS3?

    I was reading up on how to change the PS3 harddrive since I been looking at external to buy for the Wii U. But then I thought, is it easier or cheaper to just use an external? The only reason I think this is because I thought what will I do with my old PS3 HDD? I initially was going to use it in my PC but I saw that PC are generally 3.5'' while the PS3 HDD is 2.5''. So I don't think it'll fit and I checked that the HDD I have for my PC currently is 3.5". So I figured why go through the backup and all that when I can just plug in an external HDD and making sure that it is FAT32. I don't want to just have an 80gb HDD lying around without use and I don't really need to turn it into an external considering that I could get an external HDD with more spaces for a decently cheap prices. What do you think? Plus, I saw a deal for a 3TB external HDD WD, so I figured it could be for the PS3. On a side note, do any Wii U owner uses an external for their Wii U? Did you just plug it in and let the Wii U format it and then that is it?
  16. Sony has been getting a lot of positive attention from gamers, thanks in part to negative missteps by Microsoft, but also because they are doing well to appeal to their audience. PS Plus has been a success, but they are still willing to give out completely free games from time to time. Case in point, they have just started their Festive Giveaway which will highlight two PS Mobile titles a week to be given away. This week the two games are Passing Time by Honeyslug and Rymdkapsel by Martin Jonasson. What exactly is a PS Mobile title? They are special games which run on a variety of Sony portable platforms. That includes PlayStation certified smartphones, tablets, or a Vita. If you want the games on Vita then just head to the Store and click on the PS Mobile section. Sony will be giving out free games from now until December 18th, then from January 8th to January 22nd. You can learn more about the promotion on the PS Blog.
  17. Developer: Gust Corporation Publisher: Tecmo Koei Platform: Vita Release Date: September 3, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was provided by the publisher for this review It has been a little over a year since the original Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland arrived on PS3, which was easily one of my favorite games of last year and received a glowing review by myself as well. For the uninitiated, Atelier Meruru is the final part of the “Arland” trilogy under the Atelier series name, meaning it has various direct ties to the previous PS3 games: Atelier Rorona and Atelier Totori. The Atelier series itself is a long-running RPG franchise in Japan that generally blends a focus between item crafting and light-hearted RPG adventuring, while most often times having a cutesy female protagonist at the forefront. An underrated fact about the series is that the most recent entries, Atelier Meruru in particular, have also been known to cause long-term addiction due to prolonged exposure to the gameplay. Okay, I... may have completely made that last part up. In all sincerity, I have been a pretty unapologetic Atelier series fan after I found Atelier Totori and Atelier Meruru to be such pleasant surprises. Still, my impressions of the series as a whole have fluctuated quite a bit, especially since I found the most recent English release, Atelier Ayesha, to be something of a disappointment. Even if Ayesha was by no means a bad title, it did not resonate with me a whole lot and it made me second guess my outlook as to why why I liked the previous games so much. As if to give me an excuse to reevaluate my opinion on the series, and to pry me away from my 3DS, Atelier Meruru Plus heads to Vita with new content while also featuring every bit of the PS3's dlc as well. Atelier Meruru's setting starts off with the restless princess by the name of Merurulince Rede Arl's, or simply "Meruru," as she's fortunately nicknamed throughout, who is given three years to prove her newfound passion of alchemy to benefit and expand the Kingdom of Arl“s. If she doesn“t prove the worth of alchemy to her father, King Dessier, within that time, she must give it up and continue to fulfill her royal obligations as a princess. The narrative backdrop is pretty simple and for the most part serves as a setup for both the gameplay and as a way to introduce plenty of familiar faces for fans of Atelier Totori and Rorona. Since Atelier Meruru specifically does not hesitate to play on the nostalgia of fans of the prior two entries, throwing constant references and inside jokes, and even some outright spoilers to Atelier Totori's narrative, it does run the risk of sort of alienating newcomers with its dense amount of bubbly character interactions. It is for this very reason that I'd encourage players to check out at least Atelier Totori Plus, which is known for its, erm, stealthy Vita release. Honestly, for as amused as I was by Atelier Meruru's character interactions, I could imagine them coming off as more than long-winded from an outsider's perspective, who aren't attuned fans. However, Atelier Meruru's greatest strength most certainly lies within how well its gameplay structure ties together. Which, for a game presented as something that is focused on cute characters and item crafting, is likely to be hard to believe initially. Like the narrative setup alludes to, Meruru is tasked towards expanding the kingdom if Arl's through the use of Alchemy. In order to expand Arl's, Meruru must explore, craft, and aid in the kingdom's development plans. At the very start, Meruru's butler, Rufus, provides an outline of things do for the kingdom's development: such as how to accomplish them, and the benefits of accomplishing them. These tasks usually don't amount to anything too complicated beyond killing monsters, delivering/gathering specific items, and exploring different regions. What is different is what order you can approach these various tasks and which benefits you choose to yield from them. Benefits from completing tasks range from building facilities to increase the population, gaining monthly revenue, obtain new alchemy recipes, increased shop inventory, direct stat increases, and more. Directly tying into the kingdom's development as well is the need to explore. Exploration brings the more traditional RPG aspects to the game, where Meruru can participate in rather quick turn-based battles as well as gather ingredients for synthesizing as she explores new areas. In addition, Meruru can have two bodyguards, or companions, who accompany her as she explores these different places. The more time Meruru spends exploring with her bodyguards, it also opens up plenty of character specific events and can even pave the way for the game's multiple endings. Even beyond that, as players continue work towards Arl's development, they will gradually notice some direct change to the areas they explored previously. It is rewarding to see what was originally as desolate wasteland transform into more habitual environment, or areas that were outright impassable, be changed through through the course of the player's action. Last, but certainly not least, is the ever important crux to the gameplay, which is synthesizing/alchemy, or crafting in more popular terms. While it's easy to associate crafting with not being fun in most games, Atelier Meruru more than proves it wrong and Gust proves their years of experience with it. If anything, due to the active benefits and the quick nature of alchemy, it is actually kind of hard to not turn Meruru into some sort of synthesizing hermit (and yourself as well). Since so many aspects feed into crafting like getting better equipment for exploring, doing requests to build up friendship with fellow party characters, working towards Arl's development, and more, it may be hard to actually stop and do something else instead. Not just that, despite it being easy to learn, there is a surprising amount of depth to crafting system and the properties of items can radically change based on which traits the player transfers over. In general, there is a lot going on with Atelier Meruru, even if it may seem a bit daunting initially, especially for newcomers. Still, once you ease into the active gameplay flow, the game never lets up on its enjoyment. What IS new with Atelier Meruru Plus mainly comes and other subtle additions and tweaks. The new additions include different outfits for the main protagonists, mechanical tweaks to the combat/synthesizing, the inclusion of every bit of free and paid DLC of the PS3 version in the game by default, and the most noteworthy of all, a new story ending. Actually, my great and unvoiced complaint about the original version is fixed in Meruru Plus by having the new ending. Without getting too specific, I found one narrative aspect regarding certain characters (Rorona) to be rather poorly resolved in the original release, regardless of ending, and actually sort of offended me as a fan of previous games. Thankfully, that is no longer the case due to the new ending which more or less wraps up a story element (that honestly didn't need to be there in the first place) to a satisfying conclusion. Also, since I never bought the DLC of the PS3 version, it was also neat to be able to play as the former, overpriced DLC characters such as the butler Rufus, energetic merchant Hanna, and slightly sadistic ghost Pamela. Which, in addition to being playable in combat, also sport in some new cutscenes as well. What is rather surprising, at least from a technical perspective, is how Meruru Plus even includes the 200+ musical track DLC that was in the PS3 version. The music DLC, originally called Meruru's Mix Pack, is used to change background themes and battle themes that play mid-gameplay. Even if Meruru's soundtrack is by no means bad, especially many of its battle themes, it will become all too tempting to utilize the varied musical content. The optional song selection includes some excellent tracks and arrangements from previous Atelier games, as well as some other really obscure tunes from other Gust titles, and is a neat feature to include. If there is anything that Meruru Plus makes any real sacrifices with, compared to the PS3 version, it's on a presentation level. While it looks solid and vibrant on the Vita overall (minus some bland environments), it is stuff like the load times and frame rate that can be rather off-putting at times. Seriously, in the most random places the game would pause mid-frame and lead me to believe the game froze, only to have the game continue to run three seconds later like nothing happened. Even if it doesn't ruin the experience, or change my mind in thinking that Meruru Plus is the best version to play, it is still a technical blemish that can't be entirely ignored. After playing Atelier Meruru again for something of the third time (without going into the semantics of collecting every ending), I“m reminded why I found the game so much fun the first, second, and now even third time through. It's a smartly crafted game that benefits even more in portable doses than its console counterpart. This version does make some odd technical comprises, and most of the new additions aren't terribly noteworthy but, if only for stuff like the new ending and incorporating the downloadable content of the original release in the game by default, Atelier Meruru Plus is the definitive version of an already extremely satisfying RPG experience. Pros: + Deceptively deep, addictive gameplay structure, and engaging RPG progression + Includes all of the PS3's DLC in the game by default (new dungeons, playable characters, and option to customize music) + Satisfying new ending + "Barrel~" (Editors note: ....>_>) Cons: - Occasionally erratic framerate as well as load times specific to Meruru Plus - Dialogue between characters may be a bit excessive for people who aren“t nostalgic towards previous entries. Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Even if the Vita version has some technical foibles, Atelier Meruru Plus is most certainly the best way to play this great title. By itself, I'd still highly recommend Atelier Meruru as an RPG, but for curious Vita owners, I'd recommend it even more so.
  18. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Beyond: Two Souls

    Developer: Quantic Dream Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Platform: PS3 Release Date: October 8, 2013 ESRB: M for Mature David Cage is an incredibly diversive man in the gaming community. Some have loved most or all of Quantic Dream“s output, while others have labeled them as ridiculous. If you fall into either camp, it should still be easy to tell that the developer has certainly been refining their output with each new game. From Omikron: The Nomad Soul to Heavy Rain, it“s obvious that Beyond: Two Souls is their most ambitious project to date. But is that enough to wow players everywhere? Beyond: Two Souls is the story of a young woman by the name of Jodie Holmes. Although there are many mysteries surrounding her, we know that she was scientifically observed from a very young age because of a strange power she exhibited. This power is actually a spirit name Aiden and he is mostly under Jodie“s control. At some point, she was turned over to the CIA to begin training with them. After all, her spiritual skills would make her an incredible asset in infiltration and war. None of this is a spoiler, but the hows and whys are. Instead of presenting the story in a “typical” fashion, we“re given insight into Jodie“s world in small chunks. Each memory chunk serves as a chapter and is also presented to the viewer in a nonlinear fashion. Nonlinear narratives are nothing new, but it may surprise some players since it is a tactic not often used with video games. Although there is a point to this narrative device (driven home very rigorously in the conclusion), it doesn“t seem to be the most effective way of getting players engrossed in Jodie“s world. Instead, it feels more hectic and annoying. At least it isn“t very confusing to tell what comes when in her life“s timeline. If you“ve ever played Indigo Prophecy, or better yet, Heavy Rain, then you already have a pretty good concept of how Beyond: Two Souls is played. There is such a great deal of focus on the cinematic presentation that player control is relegated to a simplistic format. Sometimes you can move a character around an environment and interact with specific bits. Other times, you“re mostly tasked with hitting button prompts for QTE events. New to this title is a new type of QTE which shows no prompt at all and hopes you“ll understand the direction to push based off what is happening on screen. For example, Jodie may be running and need to duck under a high tree branch. The game will slow down, signifying this is a moment to press the thumbstick in one of four directions. It“s simple enough to assume that down is the direction to press because she needs to duck. At times, this can become confusing as Jodie“s body moves backwards but her arms move forward, or at other junctions. Jodie is pretty tough, though, and will usually survive through multiple mistakes on the player“s part without repercussions. If you find this frustrating, then turning the difficulty down to “easy” will add on-screen prompts to these sections. Beyond that there are also a variety of choices to make. These are usually related to conversations that Jodie has with other characters. By choosing one, you are possibly tweaking the relationship between the two characters, or simply prying into their lives. Although the point of choices is to change the narrative, it seems that many still result in the same conclusions. For example, early on there is a moment where you can choose to dance with/kiss a boy who seems to like you. Whether you go through with it or completely rebuff his advances, he will still end up calling Jodie a ****. Is this incredibly biting social commentary or the limitations of choice in games? It“s likely the latter. However, because the game does not allow for multiple saves, Quantic Dream has made it harder to immediately compare the differences between choices to see what actually affects plot points. The most notable feature of Beyond: Two Souls is that players control both Jodie and her spirit friend Aiden. Aiden can only be used at certain times, but you“ll know when because Jodie will begin barking orders for him. In this mode, everything is vaguely blurry around the edges and objects that can be interacted with are highlighted. Sometimes it is just objects which need to be pushed or thrown, and other times Aiden can possess or kill humans. Possessions often end up resulting in killing too, but are a bit cooler. There are some out there who discount Quantic Dream“s latest endeavors because they are not enough of a “game”. This is a silly thing to say, of course, but my mind did wander a bit when considering what Cage ended up directing this time around. I kept being reminded of FMV games on the Sega CD and 32X. Back then, developer Digital Pictures (best known for Night Trap) created multiple games which often related to a story playing out that the player had to interact with from some sort of control room. It was hard to not feel the similarities as Jodie called out to Aiden (effectively “you”) for aid manipulating the environment. With that said, it is still an incredibly cinematic experience and is not hindered by its FMV and adventure style. It“s a reminder that maybe these types of games didn“t need to go away after all. As far as calling Beyond: Two Souls cinematic goes, one must also consider the fact that two big name actors are a part of the game. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe are both present, although Dafoe is a secondary character. Seeing Page rendered in 3D is incredibly odd for a while and you can never really shake that it“s her playing Jodie. This happens often with certain actors in films as well, and as fun as it may be, it detracts from the storyline. We aren“t completely wrapped up in Jodie“s tale because all the while we are reminded that this is Ellen Page playing the lead role in Cage“s Beyond: Two Souls. It may be for this reason that it was hard for me to become involved in the narrative. That“s not to say Quantic Dream doesn“t try extremely hard to make you feel for Jodie and her struggles. Oh, they try, and they try hard to appeal to a viewer“s simplest emotions. Everything becomes dramatic to an extreme degree because that“s apparently what Cage views as skillful storytelling. It does seem to be more practiced than any of his previously directed projects, but there is still a ways to go. After all, drama for drama“s sake can work maybe once or twice in a storyline, but is not to be relied upon time and time again. It can easily exhaust the player and effectively drain them of emotional reaction after a while. Another likely result of the famous involvement was that other characters had far less attention paid to them. Almost everything is Jodie, Jodie, Jodie, and by the time the narrative switches back to someone else, it has far less impact. We get to know Jodie, but everyone else is merely an acquaintance. Even after setting my heart on one of the characters, it was with a shock that I realized late in the game I didn“t even know his name. To be fair, the story does have some interesting interludes. Perhaps the most interesting were Jodie“s experiences outside of the CIA. The paranormal stuff as a whole might get a little overwhelming at times, but if Cage has showed anything over his career, it“s that he is really interested in spirits and alternate realities. If you absolutely hate that sort of storytelling then stay far away. However, those who are not biased against ghostly stuff may be able to appreciate the story. Of course, he has also repeatedly shown an interest in “adult” content. His reasoning for this is always to push the medium of games closer to films, which are far less restricted in content than games. However, his method of pursuing this artistic freedom seems to betray his explanation. Players are treated to two shower scenes and both seem to exist to briefly view parts of Jodie“s body, since she herself doesn“t even seem fussed with actually cleaning herself. Instead, she stands around with her eyes closed or leans forward for inexplicable reasons. On the other hand, a possible romantic encounter is incredibly stilted and awkward. Perhaps Cage is still worried that pushing that boundary too far would get his game censored in North America again. Then there's the whole romance aspect of the narrative. Jodie has her choice of a few guys, but it seems very apparent who Cage hopes to pair her with. Unfortunately, the man in question is pretty terrible and gives little reason to make him any more appealing except for the fact that the game constantly gives you the choice to say yes to him and his advances. It's definitely weird and just another example of how player choice is still heavily controlled by the developer's overall vision of how it is supposed to play out. With all this said, there is nothing wrong with players getting invested in Beyond: Two Souls. It is a graphically impressive and well-acted story that takes us to a multitude of locations. Jodie is strong, if conflicted, and it is exciting to see her presented as a capable protagonist. And even if Cage is not as fantastic as he believes his work to be, he is still trying to create something interesting which is more than can be said than most other developers. I could definitely see players attracted to the game for that very reason - it“s something that is rarely available in the gaming medium. But just because Quantic Dream was trying something “new” doesn“t mean they instantly deserve nothing but praise. I appreciate that Beyond: Two Souls exists but the execution leaves much to be desired. If you“re in it for a standard action film-like experience with paranormal elements then this will definitely fit the bill. It is fun and even offers up choices that can be quite hard to make. Still, I couldn“t help but keep running into the borders of the world which showed how much Quantic Dream is still restricted in their presentation. Much of the choice is shallow and gameplay (for those looking for it) is extremely light. But if you“re interested in seeing a bold, imperfect attempt at storytelling in the gaming medium then Beyond: Two Souls is a worthwhile experience. And honestly, most who play it are probably looking for exactly that. Pros: + Gameplay usually serves narrative well instead of getting in the way of it + Jodie“s journey takes many twists and it is interesting to see what comes next + High quality visuals and soundtrack + Has a good deal of replayability if you“d like to see how things play out differently at critical junctures Cons: - Paying attention reveals the many aspects where the game fails at its grandiose goals - Narrative relies on excessive, sometimes borderline silly, drama to strong-arm an emotional reaction out of players - It appears most game choices don“t affect much - People other than Jodie are left undeveloped and feel like types rather than compelling characters Overall Score: 6.0 (out of 10) Decent Beyond: Two Souls strains at the seams of what a video game narrative is “allowed” to be and falters. Still, it serves as an interesting experience which will entice some players with its paranormal storyline, cinematic flourishes, and accessible control scheme.
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    2013 10 11 223145GP

    From the album: Atelier Meruru Plus