Multiplying my love

I haven't bought a new game in a while. I honestly think the last new game I bought was The Walking Dead Pass when they released Episode 1. However, after hearing about Dishonoured on the bombcast I decided to pick it up. Also, best of all; it has full English support. Score!

I am not a huge fan of stealth, and I have to admit that I should have done more research about Dishonoured before I picked it up. I am happy that I did though, because I think if I had waited until I read more reviews or impressions of this game then I might have been scared off. If anything it's made me want to give other stealth games like Splinter Cell another shot. The big difference with Dishonoured though is that although you can play it stealthy, you can also go through the levels all guns blazing and there's no real punishment. You can, in practice, shoot your way through every level. There's no punishment for slipping up and a guard seeing you other than a brief skirmish before you go back to sneaking your way through, this is assuming your slip up didn't set off an alarm, though.

I played through the game my way. I sneaked past some guards, slowly subduing them into a gentle slumber before throwing them into the river, where they drowned. I am passive aggressive like that. I even shot a few with crossbow darts, sometimes incendiary ones, and stabbed my fair share too. What I am saying is that I played the game how I wanted, not by limiting myself to no kills or like a ghost. Honestly, it's giving up so much of what makes the game great by doing those options.

I had a blast playing it and once I was finished I was ready to move on. I was contemplating playing through again, I mean, I had a whole lot of fun the first time around, and I thought to myself, hey, I can do it and mop up any trophies I missed. This game isn't a game for completionists though. Ideally, if you're going after the trophies you can do it in 2 playthroughs, but that's is if you do the polar opposites each time. Once as a ghost and another as if you're hunting The Predator. You have to be strict in your choice.

Now, I don't really care about trophies too much. If a game is fun I will try for the trophies as long as I continue to enjoy myself, but the moment it becomes a chore I am out. In fact, the only trophy that I will say I spent hours getting without enjoying myself much was the one for killing 53,594 zombies in Dead Rising, and that was at a time where I was between jobs. I am all for trophies, and they sometimes serve as good motivation to continue playing a game you might otherwise have put away, but I really hate games that require you to play through the game multiple times to get them or ones that require you to kill XX number of people.

As for Dishonoured, I have put it aside for now but I can see myself coming back to it during a particularly slow games season. I want to play more, but I am going to give stabbing people in the neck a break for a while.


The import dilemma

For the most part i love living in another country - the language, the culture and the food are just some of the wonderful things i get to experience. There are some elements that cause me concern though, such as videogame purchases.

To buy games i can do so one of three ways; first i can simply buy them from a regular Japanese store, but this can be risky as not all games have English options, however with some research i am able to find the ones that do, but the other problem with this is that it is much more difficult for newer games due to the lack of information. My second option is to visit an import store, and this option is my current preferred method. The benefit of visiting these stores is that i can pay in cash, i can guarantee that my purchases have English options and i can choose which country's version to buy. My third option is to buy online. This is the easiest option but the games take around 2-3 weeks to arrive, but on the other hand i can choose which country's version to buy.

Now, back in the UK my go to console had always been the Xbox 360 despite owning both the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Whenever a mulitplatform game came out i was sure to buy it for the Xbox 360, but i won't go into details as to why but lets say i have a few good reasons.

After living where i am now for about 8 months i decided to once again get back into gaming. A frenzy of research and information gathering led me to understand that the PS3 would be my best choice; the Xbox 360 is dying in Japan and the PS3's region free capabilities didn't limit me to the shelves of a Japanese video game store. So that was simple.

There is another problem though, and one that i hadn't anticipated or thought hard enough about to realise; DLC and online access is changing. I bought Resistance 3 in a Japanese store but i am limited to using my Japanese account as i must use an online passcode to play online, which ultimately locks me out of getting certain trophies. If this were a one off i wouldn't be so bothered, but with Batman: Arkham City and Uncharted 3 all using this same system it has become clear to me that simply having English isn't enough anymore; i have to do extra reason now to check for the online components. I am not happy with this new way forward but i understand why companies are doing it, and so this means that i just have one more thing to do before buying a game. Uhh....Oh well.....


The way i play

I have really gotten back into play games recently. For a long time i didn't play many, well, i say long time but what i mean is a long time for me, AKA a few months. During that time away i would still read about games, watch videos about games and generally be involved in a lot of aspects of gaming. All except for the physical act of putting a controller in my hands and mashing some buttons. That has all changed though.

I picked up Dead Island and Resistance 3 a week or so ago and i have to say that i really am enjoying both games. Resistance 3 has an epic story and the scale just feels huge. I often find myself turning off all the lights, getting a hot drink and some snacks and putting on my headphones, which by the way are nothing fancy it's just that i live in an apartment with extremely thin walls and if i don't wear headphones then it kind of takes me out of it. There is nothing quite like a dramatic build up in a scene only to hear a few people chuckling next door to what must be some of the funniest shit that they have ever seen. Ever. The story is engrossing and i was hooked. I don't get hooked that easily either.

Dead island on the other hand is a different kind of experience for me. The noises that those ungodly things make give me the chills but it sort of feels like they are running around with radios that are connected to their health bars than sounds that they are making naturally. Let me explain. When i first played this game i would feel a chill everytime i heard those noises. I would put my back to corner and then scan the horizon for those foul demons, gaze my eyes upon them and then let them see my limited-edition, signed baseball bat customed fitted with a battery. And it felt good. Actually, even now it still feels satisfying to kill those suckers. The feel of the weapons are great and they handle like i think they would, i mean what i assume they would feel like if i were to attack someone with say, a boat oar. Also, this game is best played with the analogue setting on. I am a little surprised that they made the digital option the default and it is a shame that people who don't read gaming websites will never know the other option is there. Anyway, i am moving away from my point. The sounds they make is so canned. If they are nearby they make a noise, if they are not nearby they don't make a noise. Simple, righ?. Except the sound has basically become a warning sign for me more than a way of instilling fear. If i take out a group of 5 zombies and they are all on the floor i walk away smug in the knowledge that i just took out a bunch of zombies with brassknuckles. Yeah, i'm bad. Then i get 2 steps and hear that groan. oh, one's left. Scour the floor, ah, health bar. L2. Brain crush, No sound. Walk away. Job done. The fear isn't there anymore, even with the lights out. Maybe it is also because there are so many of them that i hear the sound too much so it has lost it's impact. I always imagined zombie groans to have a similar effect to when the military play loud music to detainees or to drive people in hiding to the break point, meaning creating the sense of fear and disorientation would make me always twitchy. That isn't the case sadly. If this game is anything like what a real zombie outbreak would be like then i am sure that i would have no problem being in a house with those things singing outside. Also, i would totally be that idiot who is like the 3rd person in the world to get bitten because i was helping up that poor person by placing my neck on their mouth for support. Don't get me wrong though, i am still enjoying the hell out this game. It has a big expansive world, a wonderfully enriching crafting system, even if i somehow need to get a schematic or blueprint to figure out that a baseball with nails is a good idea, and a combat system with a nice amount of feedback. It is well deserving of those 4 stars that i see it earning from people.

I am looking forward to the other gems that are coming out this winter season. I don't have the time or money for all of them but i have my eye on a few. For now i still have a world to save and an island to escape from.


What makes horses so special?

Every time i walk through a park or even down a street, i always see signs proclaiming the neccesity of dog owners to carry bags to pick up their mess. This makes sense to me, and as an owner of a few animals i can understand the annoyance emiting from anyone who steps in something they don't want to be stepping in. These signs make sense, and they make the world a slightly less annoying place.
But why do horse owners get a free ride? The other day i was walking down the street and narrowly avoided stepping in horse crap, and if i did step in the crap my foot would have sunk up to my ankle in the stuff, but what makes it worse was that it was strategically positioned in the middle of a street pathway. I was almost tempted to look around and see if there were kids hiding nearby with a camera to capture the prank. Then the other day i saw a man being fined for not picking up his dogs mess and thought to myself 'alright, justice at work' but then not an hour later i saw a horse walking down the road and stopping to take a crap right in front of a police car, with two police inside, and then causal trot along. Why are there these double standards? 
I think that horse owners should have to carry bags with them as well so when we see a person scooping up dogs mess with a carrier bag we should also see horse riders get off the horse and whip out a big black rubbish bag. In addition, i think that the level of fine should also be meaured on the amount of crap that in deposited. If a dog gets caught then they should get a smaller fine that a horse, and as a test they should use the scraping measurement; can you remove the mess with a piece of cardboard or on grass? or, does this mess require you to actually change your trousers as it looks like you were caught in a filthy watered flood?
To makes this more games related i would just like to say that i am glad to see Batman getting positive early reviews. The next few days can not get here soon enough.


Get your filthy stinking games off my Wii

Current PC games are much easier to put on consoles, as the gap between PC's and Consoles has closed dramatically over the years , the point where the PS3 and Xbox 360 are only really noticeably different from PC's is because of their lack of Keyboard and Mouse, but instead of trying to replicate an on-lap version of a PC, companies like Xbox, Sony and Microsoft have spent millions in developing better controls and game pads to make the experience of sitting in front of a TV playing a FPS as enjoyable as on a PC. This is evident when you look at the games that occupy both the PC and Current gen consoles; Half Life, Halo, Left 4 Dead, Operation Flash Point, Battlefield, Rainbow 6 etc.

However, when games make their way from PC/Xbox 360/PS3 onto the Wii, then it becomes much harder to analyse how well it will be because the end product is almost always different to the franchise it’s coming from.

When the developers do decide to transfer a franchise over, there seems to be three main ways that PC /Xbox 360/ PS3 games make their way onto the Wii; either by keeping the core experience but from a new perspective (Dead space, Resident Evil Chronicles) or creating an entirely new experience using the same franchise name (Anno 1404, Sims, Spore) or an almost direct port (Sim city, Overlord).

How a game makes its way onto the Wii from other systems is usually one of the key reasons for its success of failure, but more importantly is how well the changes are implemented.

The Wii as a system is a great opportunity for developers to make some truly innovative games and at the same time utilise the large fan base and reap great financial rewards. The downfall of most developers though comes from the choices they make in how the game is going to play on the Wii. There is one perspective and gameplay mechanic that fits on the Wii like a virtual glove; on rails shooters. Just looking at the current library of Wii games you can see more than a few great on rails shooters, from Resident Evil, Ghost Squad and House of the Dead, to the upcoming Dead Space. These are games that choose to stick within this genre and they do so well because they incorporate the Wii controller into the game in a way that would otherwise lose its appeal on any other system. Although they aren’t the most innovative games on the system, what they lack in originality they more than make up for with great gameplay and fun overall experience.

Another type are the game ports that are different from the games they are coming from, but are very similar apart from the story elements. Overlord is a perfect example, where they story is different but the core gameplay remains very much intact. These are usually much more straight forward; they either replicate the experience well by allowing Wii owners who don’t have access to other machines, the experience that they might have otherwise missed out on, or they lose too much in downsizing to fit the Wii and get written off as inferior versions.

Then finally are the gameplay designs that are far riskier but can result in even better games. I'm talking about popular franchises that get made on the Wii, but altered in some ways that skate on the fine line between great and why-did-they-do-that-to-the-franchise-I-love. Let's start with an example of a good game; Anno 1404. The game is basically a streamlined version of the PC game, with some elements removed or minimised, But the game that is found of the Wii is a great game that just wouldn't have reached anywhere close to the end product if it wasn't changed, as a direct port would have resulted in poor graphics, frame rate and subsequently, gameplay. Then there is MySims, which was a game that just missed the mark but had the potential to be good, which came late with MySims Kingdom. Although the franchise is similar, the game moved away from what made the Sims on the PC such a hit and moved into lesser known territory and it was a gamble, but it definitely paid off in the end with more fluid gameplay and really took advantage of what the Wii could do.

This all brings me onto the current thorn in my side; Spore. I can’t get too critical of the game as it hasn’t been released, and if it turns out to be good then I will wholeheartedly apologise for burying the game before it was born, but even if the game does turn out to be good, why would a developer release the game as it is, with a lot less features and questionable additions, unless they were doing it just to make more money. Everyone who has played Spore will tell you that the creature creation and customising aspects are great, but the problem is that the rest of the gameplay was an inconsistent mess, with some elements actually being quite interesting but overall it got old fast, and left very little reason to keep playing. Now EA have released an expansion pack that addresses those issues by allowing people to create their own missions as well as play other peoples. So they knew the problem was there and tried to rectify it. And now what are they doing? They are releasing Spore on the Wii with customising options, which is great, but they are added on some Monster battle gameplay that just appears to be half-arsed, and it looks like they are completely ignoring the obvious problem with the PC Spore, thinking that because it’s on the Wii that they can get away with it.

I am not sure what my point is with all this. Maybe I don’t have a point. Maybe I am just sick of developers shoe horning their franchises onto other systems in an effort to make some easy money. Maybe I just want developers to make more original games for the Wii that are made for the Wii and really take advantage of its assets. Maybe I just want more Mario Galaxies’, Zack & Wiki’s, No more heroes, Boom Blox, De blobs, Metroids, Smash brothers etc, and less games that have to be altered beyond recognition to make it onto the Wii. Maybe I really did have no point.


The death of a celebrity.

Why is it that whenever a celebrity passes away we are constantly bombarded with tributes and memorials as soon as the death is confirmed, which continues for weeks?

I am of course talking about Michael Jackson. Now I was sad to hear about his death, and considering he was only 50, it was a shock, and I, like a lot people own and love quite a few of his albums, and can honestly say that he has been a big inspiration in my music tastes. However, that doesn't mean that I want 7 out of every 10 songs on the radio to be Michael Jackson songs. I swear that if I hear someone play 'Beat it' one more time in the next few days I am going to.... do nothing.

It's as if real news suddenly takes a back seat and we are invited to watch MJ everywhere. I was watching the news yesterday and there was an entire segment devoted to people making memorials around the world, like a sand castle MJ in Italy (I think it was Italy) and a MJ puppet master in an outdoor market. Really? The fire that killed around half a dozen people in London gets the same amount of screen time as someone operating a puppet MJ? I mean come on.

Maybe I am just jaded, or maybe people are going overboard. But, one thing is for certain; enough is enough. By all means play some MJ songs, and re-runs of moon walker and/or thriller, but at the end of the day the world keeps turning and although I feel bad for his friends and family, and the people who bought tickets for this tour, I still feel that the sudden milking of MJ is incredibly disrespectful.

Before I get off my high horse, I would just like to ask other people what you think? Are you tired of tributes yet? Moonwalker re-runs? Or any other areas?

R.I.P Michael Jackson. I am sure I will miss you one day, when I stop seeing you on TV every morning when I am eating breakfast.

I could care less...

I came across someone using this statement a while ago, and i assumed that it was a typo, thinking the owner of the sentence meant to say 'couldn't'. As the months went by and the sunlight stuck around for longer in the day, i came across many people writing the same, whether it was 'I could care less about this game', or 'I could care less about your view' etc. It was as if a grammar plague had struck the internet, and all the 'could care less' people came out to play.

My point is that it was still being used, and more noticeably in recent years. Now i consider myself to be reasonably intelligent, maybe not freudian intelligent but above average, yet i have no idea what the point is in the statement 'I could care less'. It seems like a statement that doesn't need to be said, kind of similiar to how people don't proclaim everyday emotions, because you don't need to tell people what you don't feel, and concentrate on what you do feel. I don't go around telling people I am not a fan of dance music, when they don't ask, so do we really need to hear about someone having the scope to be less interested in a game?

The statement 'I couldn't care less' seems reasonable, as you're telling people that you care so very little about a game that it's just not possible for you to care any less. Yet, the statement 'I could care less' is telling me that there is some level of interest in the game as you could care less about the game, so there is a registered interest. My biggest gripe is that people seem to be using the sentence with a negative tone,  for example "I'll be honest, I could care less about this game, never wanted to play it before the review and never will regardless of the review." - Comments section; Transformers review; IGN. To me this person is saying that there is room for them to care less, yet the rest of their comment says something else.

Now we come back around, and i have to ask, is it me? I am just not getting this statement that people are using? Or, Are people confused? Seeing as the internet is so large and anyone can use it, does that mean these people who 'couldt care less' are using the statement wrong, and mean they couldn't? Or again, am i missing the point entirely?


Featured User review. What a nice surprise.

I came onto Giant bomb this morning, as I do most mornings, and started browsing the site to find the Persona Endurance run videos (I have watched up to, and including, video 26). After a short while I noticed a message in my inbox, but thinking it was probably a general announcement, I let it be. Eventually I opened my inbox.

Now, for me this is how a good day starts. I received a message informing me that my review for Pixel Junk Monsters would be a featured user review on the front page, from 25/09 for about 2 -3 days. This isn't something that happens to me, at all. I have started writing more reviews for games in the last few weeks, but have only posted 2 recently (The other review is for Wanted: Weapons of fate). The reason I chose to review Pixel Junk Monsters was because it is such a good game, and it is almost criminal that no one had reviewed it yet.

This is just the recognition I needed, as I often wonder if even writing a review is worth all the effort, but this definitely makes me keen to keep writing them. It is great when I see other people reading my reviews, especially if they like them, but I would still love some constructive criticism.

Currently I am playing Resistance 2. I have completed the single player and now am concentrating on competitive and Co-op, so hopefully I should have another review up for that game shortly. After that I am looking forward to Infamous, which I will hopefully get in a few days time.

I am curious about other peoples opinions on user review though, do you read them? Do you write them? If you don't write them, why?