Truth be told, I haven't been playing many games over the last couple of weeks, due to a problem with my glasses. That problem was resolved yesterday, so hopefully I should have more progress in individual games for next week. On with the update.
THE MOST APOLOGETIC BAD GUYS YOU'LL EVER MEET
A numbered rating system of any sort just sort of falls flat when it comes time to write a review about Yakuza 4 (and one will be eventually incoming). It's certainly a very fun and engaging game, filled to the brim with all sorts of content to justify the purchase. And its core systems are pretty good. I like the RPG mechanics in regards to how you build your characters up throughout the game. The combat could stand to shy away from the animation-driven moves that start to feel awkward when you really get into the guts of the later game, but it's surprisingly fun to beat the holy hell out of opponents. There are an absolute ton of substories (basically sidequests) to complete, many of which are intriguing in their own right.
But in a lot of ways, the game feels too entrenched in its own past, both in terms of the story and the gameplay. There's this feeling permeating throughout the entire time I played that this wasn't quite designed to be a giant current-gen game. It felt like some of it was - the character facial models are superb and the CGI is shockingly good. But then little details start to fall through the cracks. NPC's have limited ranges of animation. Special moves cut to canned animations that don't quite jive with what was just happening. The little details of the city's design start to feel flat and regurgitated. All of these sound like little details, but when you start adding them up, it leads to this really jarring feeling that the game's basic core is still very much last-generation.
If you want to think about it metaphorically, Yakuza 4 is like a poorly kept 60's muscle car. It's still damn fun to drive, but once you get it up to 70 miles an hour, little niggling problems keep it from being what you know it could be.
I've also talked at length about Yakuza 4's approach to women, and my distaste for it. That's something I feel can't be properly expressed with a numbered review. How do you convey in a 3 star rating that it's one of the most sexist games I've ever played without hoping that the person looking at the review will actually read it to find out why? How do you explain to them that it's a hell of a fun game, but it needs serious retooling in its next incarnation? And believe me, when there's a Yakuza 5 (and there damn well better be), I'll be taking a look. But if it feels remotely like this stubborn, cranky old car of a game, I'm not sure it'll be worth a purchase.
WHAT I WANT FROM FUTURE CONSOLES
I'm seriously starting to get pissy with my PS3. It's this magnifient beast of a machine, but it's time for the next generation, says I. What's my latest irritation? Storage space. Anyone with a modest collection of PS3 games and an Internet connection will tell you the same thing - no matter the size of the goddamn hard drive, the PS3 chews through storage space like Cookie Monster at a bakery. It led me to wonder what it is exactly I want from the next generation of Sony and Microsoft consoles. Note that I'm leaving out the Wii U, as I no longer feel like the Wii is a direct competitor of the two. Well, it kinda is, but I think Nintendo is heading in another direction with their consoles. Whether that'll be to their benefit or not will be seen eventually, but for right now, I just can't hold it up against the two.
1) Bigger and better everything. I want more hard drive space in everything, and the option to add external hard drives without mess or fuss. I want big goddamn graphics cards that developers can actually work with, not some damn obtuse concept of a graphical powerhouse that has every game developer banging their head up against a wall. I want motherboards that make fatherboards weep for shame of their lack of manliness.
2) Cable integration. Let's face it. Sooner or later, Microsoft and Sony are going to start offering some way to connect to cable television through their systems. I doubt it'll be this generation, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts it'll be in the next. Is it something I'll use? Fuck yeah, especially if it's cheaper than my regular satellite now (it can't get much higher).
3) Refined d-pads and grips for controllers. Forget the Six-Axcess nonsense and focus on making an ultra-responsive controller. I don't think either company needs to change much in terms of layout. Microsoft could possibly widen the bumpers just a hair and maybe reduce the width of the controller just a smidge. Sony should think about making triggers that actually feel like triggers (in a FPS-heavy environment, it makes a difference). Both should include rechargeable battery packs via plug-in cords standard.
4) Find some way to do away with huge-ass game installs for Sony. Seriously, Gran Turismo 5 and Yakuza 4? Fuck you.
5) Expand upon cloud storage ideas for both systems. Pretty self-explanatory.
6) Resizable font sizes. Please, please, PLEASE include this, especially you, Sony.
AND THAT'S ABOUT IT
This coming week, I expect to play some Alpha Protocol and possibly Burnout Paradise. Expect some thoughts on the state of Lord of the Rings Online next week, as I sing the praises of a free-to-play system and curse the generic feel of fetch and slaughter quests.
If you're looking for a good read, I've stated it before, but Gamer_152's blog is pretty damn great. I may not agree with him on all his points 100% of the time, but that's a good thing. Give it a shot.
And if anybody out there cares to answer a question of the week, here you go. Do you have any serious irritations with the current-gen systems in terms of hardware?