Hello, and Meeeeery Christmas! Got a few minutes on my hands here so I figured I'd type up a quick blog. 2013 had a ton of good music in it personally these days I tend to swing to the Pop/Hip-Hop end of the spectrum. And there was a ton of good music in both.
5. Taylor Swift - RED
Taylor is considered by a lot of people to be one of the best lyricists in pop music these days. And it shows she had a number of amazing singles on the radio this year from "We are never getting back together" to "22" and "I knew you were trouble" one of the songs that I was depressed that didn't make it on air was the track the album was named after "Red" she really shows off her chops here using multiple clever similes to express her joy and sorrow of her relationship with whoever the song was written about. She is also consistently the most goddamn adorable girl ever.
4. Kanye West - Yeezus
While not as good as MBDTF the good thing about this album is we get way more tracks with just Kanye. MBDTF was great but it was also extremely feature heavy. Which, I don't really have a problem with that because I do enjoy that album more but I also just enjoy hearing JUST Kanye. Kanye also seems way more aggressive on this album than in previous one. In Black Skinhead he proclaims "They see a black man with a white woman at the top floor they gone come to kill King Kong" if this album taught me anything is I like aggressive and angry Kanye. The best track of the entire album however is "I Am a God" Its obviously the most arrogant thing he's ever produced but over a dull thud he talks about existentialism and stacking millions. In the end its a strangely beautiful track if for no other reason for the stupidly blind ambition that he pumps into the track. Someone bring this man his damn croissants.
3. Justin Timberlake - 20/20 Experience
If there was ever a doubt that JT lost his groove this erased the final remaining critics. I almost get physically sick at how talented this man is. The thing I like most about the album is how it really goes places. At the beginning he is laying down lyrics about charming women out of their clothes with his suit & tie to one to a very genuine and heartfelt ode to his grandparents with "Mirrors" the gaps in between are filled with mostly solid efforts my favorite of the entire album being "Strawberry Bubblegum" the full song is a full 8 minutes. After about 4 1/2 minutes a musical interlude plays and the song transitions into what could be cut out and billed as and entirely different version of the same song. I know quite a few critics and fans alike gave JT shit for allowing the large majority of his tracks to meander well over the 5 minutes. Hell the shortest song IS 4:48. I however really enjoyed what in most tracks seemed like two concepts for the same song into one long musical journey.
2. Miley Cyrus - Bangerz
This, was by far my biggest surprise of the year. I knew I was going to listen to every album I listed on here. And then Miley caught my attention. Sure her VMA performance was criticized by many but what it did for her was pretty significant. It caught a lot of people's attention including mine. Her initial single and party anthem "We Can't stop" got peoples attention and then her follow up "Wrecking Ball" inspired numerous parodies including one by a very very old Hulk Hogan. The tracks range from a love ballad with "Adore You" to "Do my Thang" where Cyrus takes a stab a rapping a verse or two. For fuck's sake people there is a country do-si-do inspired song that features Nelly of all people. Fucking Nelly in 2013. I enjoyed Cyrus' brazen attitude on the album even if many accuse her of trying way to hard to shed her Disney Girl image. My favorite track on the album after listening to it quite a bit is "FU" a track where Miley not so subtly lays out her feelings for her former boyfriend Liam Hemsworth. Really enjoyed her performance on this one and the feature verse by French Montana is one of the better features on the album. I'll be watching Cyrus from now on.
1. Lady Gaga - ARTPOP
Was there any doubt this would be my favorite of the year? Man, where do I begin. First off I'll just say that this is WAY better than Born This Way. I liked Born this Way but it lacked the same zing that The Fame Monster did. Artpop as a whole might even surpass The Fame Monster. She obviously had a lot of pent up emotions after breaking her hip on stage and having to cut her tour short. Which is something that she brings up multiple times on the album with the first single Applause directly addressing her lamentations from being away from the stage. Gaga even dips her to into the Hip-hop genre with "Jewels n' Drugs" which features T.I. , Two $hort and Twista. All of the songs on the album are solid but the stand out tracks for me are G.U.Y, Aura and my favorite track "Gypsy". God, Gypsy might not only be my favorite track on the album but my favorite Gaga track period. The upbeat tempo and lyrics are one of the most feel good songs I've heard all year. I'm really hoping Gaga makes it her 3rd single its a song that deserves all the attention it gets.
So hey, 2013 right. The year of Lugi may have sucked on a personal front as we all lost a number of awesome people this year but as far as games this year absolutely rocked. So, I'm finally getting around to writing this. I held off as I initially thought I was done with playing new games after I beat Beyond:Two Souls but lo' and behold there were some late entries that wormed their ways into my heart. So before we get going here is a list of all new releases I played this year:
DmC Devil May Cry
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Metal Gear Rising Revengence
Ninja Gaiden 3:Razors Edge
Injustice Gods Among Us
Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen
Thomas was Alone
Tales of Xillia
Saints Row IV
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F
Killer is Dead
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate
Grand Theft Auto V
Beyond Two Souls
Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag
10. Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate
So, the only two fighting game franchises I have any sort of long standing love for are Mortal Kombat and Dead or Alive. Its easy to pick apart Dead or Alive 5 for its fascination with the female characters chests or disregard the combat for at least at surface level looking "mashy" for lack of a better descriptor. You can but you'd also be missing one of the best fighting games of the year.
Even if this is largely a re-hash of 2012's release the effort that went into the game shined through for me. The new characters Momiji and Rachel are extremely fun to play as. The re-balancing of the characters and additional combat systems make for a different enough experience from the vanilla version that I enjoyed my time with it. I also shamelessly pumped over $70 of my money into costume DLC because I'm awful and part of the problem.
9. Tales of Xillia
So I had no interest in this game at all when it came out then I randomly entered a contest that the Playstation twitter account was running and lo and behold Sony sent me a code to download the game for free. So, I downloaded it and eventually fired it up. The first thing I should note is that I'm currently not even done with the game yet. I'm sitting somewhere about halfway through the game although halfway through so far for me is looking like 40 hours so I'm pretty confident in my decision.
The thing that caught me about this game is the combat. My god the combat is amazing in this game. Granted, this is my first Tales Series game so I'm not sure how it stacks up to previous games or if the combat system is anything like previous games but its so goddamn fun and fluid and complicated! I'm still not sure I've been using everything to its maximum potential. The way you can link skills between characters is a really fun mechanic. And even though its characters can neatly fit into a number of JRPG stereotypes the story itself takes some interesting turns. I plan on finishing it up sometime soon hopefully.
8. Saints Row IV
Surprised? Yeah, I am too. Saints Row 3 was my unequivocal GOTY in 2011. Fuck Skyrim. Saints Row is where it was at that year. And I was just as equally as excited for this game although surprisingly over time I had to analyze my time with it and while most certainly crazier and plenty of fun it just didn't have the impact that Saints Row 3 had. It still made it to number 8 on my top games list though so hey, I still really enjoyed the game. Any game that starts off with a parody of Zero Dark Thirty that ends with your character defusing a nuclear missile in flight while Aerosmith plays in the background is a goddamn winner in my book. Also, Johnny Gat is back finally which fuck man about time. I missed that bastard in Saints 3.
I've got the season pass so I plan on possibly getting into the christmas DLC soonish which looks appropriately dumb.
7. Assassins Creed 4
I haven't liked the Assassin's Creed franchise for a good long while. The last game I played in the series was Brotherhood back in 2010 and I thought that game was pretty damn good. I felt like Revelations and three where pretty big mistakes to be honest. The treatment of Desmond and his character arc felt extremely wasted and after I found out how Desmond's story was resolved I was pretty disgusted and didn't pay a drop of attention to this game. Fate it would seem would dictate that I end up with this game. My inital top level motivations for buying the game were that basically I have nearly nothing to play on my PS4 and wanted a disc game.
Turns out its pretty damn good. A lot of the hold overs from past games are still here and some of the same quirks from the previous games annoy me. The combat is still largely garbage but here is the thing PIRATES. PIRATES PIRATES. It always annoyed me that Disney never capitalized on the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with a honest to goodness pirate adventure that wasn't constrained by the films. Well, okay so that ALMOST happened but that project also got canned. Thing is sailing your goddamn ship and getting up to some fucking pirate business is fun as fuck. Yeah thats right motherfucker I just put a hole through your boat stabbed your ass and stole all your shit. Come at me bro.
Should also note again that I haven't finished the game nor have I really dove into the multiplayer which seems insane with how much they have added. I'm going to fucking hurry up and finish this list because I want to go fucking play some more after I'm done typing this nonsense up.
6. Battlefield 4
I haven't played a Battlefield game since Bad Company 2 which I honestly didn't like all that much. Hell, I've been pretty much avoiding military shooters for a good while. I ended up buying this mostly again because I needed something to play on my PS4 and ended up really enjoying it. Of course that is when it works. Cause its broken as fuck or well.. at least it was. Okay, so there are still a number of dumb bugs but at least I'm not crashing to the dashboard every other game now. Still kind of pissed the server browser continually seems to not work. All this being said despite its varying levels of brokenness on its platforms its content wise the best Battlefield that EA has ever made. Which is a shame they are having such issues getting it off the ground.
The levels are all huge and man the first time you play a 64 player battle in conquest you are absolutely shocked with how crazy the action is. I also really enjoy the commander mode. Sometimes its just fun to stare at the map and direct traffic. Things blow up real goddamn nice too. I don't think blowing up helicopters with stinger missiles will ever get old. I like they way they changed up the classes too and allow for more flexibility by letting any class use the Shotguns or DMR rifles. I've played around 70 ish hours so far and I'll most likely keep playing for awhile longer. I keep almost buying Premium because China Rising looks like a ton of fun. Also, I should probally at some point finish the single player cause even though its mostly just a shooting gallery its a goddamn pretty shooting gallery on the PS4.
5. Hatsune Miku : Project Diva F
So when SEGA announced that this was coming out for North America at the beginning of the year I was at that point fairly clueless what Project Diva was and what Vocaloids were. I mean, I saw some YouTube footage once of crazy people waving glow sticks to some holographic anime girl who sang like a robot but that was about it. Well, I'm one of the crazy people waving the glow sticks now. I bought the game simply on the premise that I enjoy SEGA bringing over things that normally would never see the light of the day over here. Its the same reason I've bought various awful NISA, Compile Heart and Gust releases. Even if I never play the game I just well... enjoy supporting weirdness.
Lucky for me though that I really really fell in love with not only Project Diva but Miku and her vocaloid companions as well. The thing I really like about Project Diva is that its like no other Rhythm game I've ever played. Granted, my exposure to rhythm games is pretty limited to Rock Band, Guitar Hero and DJ Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. You know, the mainstream ones everyone has heard about.
So who knows I might actually get a hoot out of the DJ Max series or something but alas Miku has stolen my heart regardless. I love the way the notes don't follow any real "lanes" they come from all over the screen at any time which makes learning the note patterns fun because they will often try some visual trickery with how the notes are presented to you. The songs are pretty damn catchy as well. I mean if you don't think Summer Idol isn't a fun song you are a monster. A MONSTER I SAY.
Also, the extra stuff the game has to offer like the music video editor is absolutely insane. I meagerly attempted to use the editor until I realized how goddamn complex the whole thing is and was scared off. Regardless I'll continue to fire up my PS3 to play a few Project Diva songs from time to time. I can't wait for Project Diva F 2 coming 2014~! And please check out Summer Idol its a great song:
4. Ni No Kuni
Gosh, I haven't loved a JRPG this much in awhile I think. Games these days tend to be "dark and gritty" or just plain filled with cynicism as is the world. There was part of me that was just so godamn delighted to play this game. One of the most uplifting exciting and fun experiences I've had all year. One of the best character nominees for sure needs to be Mr. Drippy he was absolutely one of the highlights of the game. His initial exchange with Oliver is one of the best moments this year.
This game hits on all the classic JRPG check points you've got monster raising like a pokemon game and then you've got a proper party of characters with abilites all of their own. The combat isn't anything fancy but its the simplicity of the combat that is sort of whats fun about the game I think. Granted, it takes its goddamn good time to get rolling but once it does man does it go places. I forgot how much fun just roaming around in an airship on a over world map in a RPG could be. Took me back to my days of playing PS One JRPG's and finding the secret islands in Final Fantasy 8. My only regret is that I bit a little late on this game and didn't preorder the nice edition with the bound copy of the wizard manual.
Which man, the Wizard manual in game itself is some cool shit. However I really wish I would have gotten the physical one. It would be a fun piece to sit on my shelf and look at every once in awhile. For gods sake if you haven't played this game PLEASE go do it. At this point in time its dirt cheap and you can find it for $15. You owe it to yourself if you love JRPG games of old to try this game out.
3. Devil May Cry DmC
I'm surprised really. Surprised that there are not one but two games that beat this game out for my GOTY. Not only did this game make my GOTY list it also made my Games of the Generation List of which you can find if you click on my profile. Its bar none my favorite character action game of this generation. Yes, sorry I love it way more than Bayonetta. Here is the thing too some of you might be thinking that I have no previous attachments to the series but well, you'd be wrong. While I appreciated Ni No Kuni earlier for being light hearted and fun I appreciate DmC for being the kind of drug addled , sexually fueled grime that it is. Its also rare that we see a male character as sexualize as Dante is. In a year where misogyny and sexism were hot topics DmC stands almost alone as one of the few examples of Males absolutely being eye candy. The opening exchange between Kat and Dante sets the tone for the rest of the game. Dante answers the door completely naked still hungover from the night before. Proceeds to get attacked by a hunter demon and then gets dressed in mid air as his trailer is being torn apart all with conveniently placed slice of pizza covering his junk.
Yeah, this is Devil May Cry alright. Its just its different and seeks to interpret the fiction in a different way. And look, as fun as the old Dante was new dante is equally as fun in his own ways. Sure, he comes off as a smart mouth punk that you just want to punch in the teeth but that well.. is kind of the point I've heard a lot of complaints about the combat as well and well, I'm not sure what game others were playing but I had plenty of leeway to free form combos just like any DMC game before it. In fact the Demon/Angel weapon system was fascinating to me. Others saw the color coded enemies as a pain in the ass I saw them as a puzzle. I would ask myself how can I continually be letting my combos flow to keep my SSS ranks? Figuring out each fight and the pace of it to me at least is part of the fun. It shows too. I played 100 hours of this game. How did I rack up 100 hours in a game that at best takes 10 hours on a single play through to pound through?
I replayed it and replayed it and replayed it. I wanted to constantly be better and better at the game. I kept being within striking distance of some of the top scores on the leader boards. And hell, I managed to get as high as 17 on one of the level leader boards. I found the leader boards a lot of fun to try to continually improve my scores and skills. I rather enjoyed the soundtrack as well. Combichrist was the perfect choice here. I'm awaiting the PC version to get to like $7 so I can play in 60 frames per second which is my only real gripe about the game. I'll cut it off here because man, I could blog for hours about this game and how the bosses were awesome or that one disco level or... well... just play the game already its cheap now and you should really check it out.
2. Grand Theft Auto V
Its weird. Its weird that I'm putting this game this high. I've never really claimed to be a huge mark for the GTA series. I mean I rather enjoyed Vice City and San Andreas but I absolutely hated GTA IV on the other hand. GTA V though man... GTA V is just good. Its a masterpiece it shows off what you can do with 200 million dollars building a game. It shows what you can do when you don't pepper the industry with sequels every year. It shows what you can do when you take your time and when you don't compromise on your vision. I think the thing that really hooked me was the conceit of having 3 main characters. I mean, I'd play a full game with any one of these guys being the main characters.
Franklin hearkens back to the San Andreas days and is basically CJ 2.0 which I'm entirely cool with. Then you've got the career criminal who can't stay out of the game Micheal who is a complete asshole but one that is just interesting to watch descend into the mouth of madness. Then there is Trevor. Man, Trevor is just...I don't think I've ever encountered a character like Trevor before. I was equally parts horrified by him but when they played him off for comedy he seamlessly slipped into that role as well and while you were still laughing would slip back into the role of the sadist and make you absolutely horrified again.
And man the world the world is just amazing. Absolutely the best most vibrant and explorable open world I've ever played in. I'd often find myself taking the long way to look at the scenery or just get distracted by walking through the woods. I also took a rather large nosedive into GTA Online which I would like to go back to at some point if they ever you know actually add heists. I'll be eagerly awaiting the single player DLC as well. While I'd like new characters further adventures with Micheal and co. sound alright as well.
1. Bioshock Infinite *Warning: Spoilers Ahead*
You know for awhile other games were in the top spot. Then I actually sat back and thought and thought and I couldn't come up with anything that made me feel the way Bioshock Infinite made me feel. Bioshock Infinite is equal parts beautiful and disturbing. Actually, I'd say that Bioshock Infinite is one of the most disturbing games I've played in awhile. The thing I find disturbing about the game is the contrast to how beautiful the sky city of Columbia is to what darkness lies in the hearts of the men and women that live in the city.
I mean, I was born in 1985 and while racism is still very much alive and well at least we live in a time where its largely frowned upon by the general populous to be xenophobic or racist. The sinister nature of the xenophobic inhabitants of Columbia disturbed me deeply. The the start of the game you're given the chance to throw a baseball at a mixed race couple. I was genuinely put off by this moment. It was unsettling how gleeful these people were about this. Of course I refused and even in subsequent play throughs I could never force myself to do it just to see what happened. While I'll mostly credit my love of the game to Elizabeth looking back now that moment is most likely where the game unknowingly hooked me.
The even more disturbing thing about Columbia is that unlike Rapture which is in shambles when you arrive you get to see Columbia slowly decay. A long with the city something else decays. Elizabeth and her naivety. Yes, go figure right? The pretty girl with the doe eyes is the character that tugged at my heart. Elizabeth is more than a set of pretty eyes though. She also has one of the more convincing character arcs in any game I've recently played. She goes from a naive girl who is optimistic about the world to a somber shell of who she used to be. The arc is played out right in front of your eyes and climaxes when she murders Daisy Fitzroy. The scene where her and Booker are on the beach after escaping from the clutches of the songbird is my favorite scene in the entire game. Its I dunno just so fun to watch her be as happy and optimistic as she is. Dancing to the music and daydreaming about Paris.
Levine isn't an idiot either. I'm sure he wrote Liz with the exact intention of making her the sympathetic character. It would have been easy then easy to kill her off. Get a cheap emotional pop. Bioshock Infinite doesn't do that however. The last scene is one of Elizabeth taking Booker's hand as gradually variations of her from other time lines appear before Booker's eyes. Then you're given the revelation that you in fact are Comstock. You are the reason Colombia exists the reason Elizabeth was tortured and experimented on. It's you. Then, Elizabeth the girl who you fell in love with the girl who you risked everything to save holds you under the water as you slowly drown. The final piano notes play as the different versions of Elizabeth blink out of existence. I stared at the screen absolutely speechless. I mean, I've had games were It was very clear on whatever the emotion I was feeling whether it was anger, sadness, excitement ect. This, I don't know what I felt. I suppose a mixture of everything all at once. Whatever it was it stayed with me for a few days long after the final credits had rolled. Something that has rarely happened with games for me.
This ending though, wouldn't mean a damn thing if the journey to get there didn't provide the proper build up. The original Bioshock had one of the most jaw dropping twists in modern gaming. Yet the 4th and final act was absolutely horrible in that game. Infinite miraculously avoids the pitfall of having a bad final act. Too many times I think developers don't know how to end their game. Levine had a vision from the beginning. The arcs of the characters are believable and the time/dimension traveling aspect lends to some real mind bending moments.
While the weak point of the game I didn't find the combat as bad as others did. I played on 1999 mode from the beginning and honestly I think that is what anyone looking for a challenge out of the combat should have played the game on. I was also very impressed that Elizabeth actually doesn't get in the way and actually is a huge help. I felt that the combat at least on 1999 mode made me choose a lot. It generally made me choose my weapons and vigors of choice and stick with them. Ammo and especially money was sort of rare to come by or at the very least made you mange it.
It helped me to appreciate the combat more I think. Then again a lot of the vigor and gun combinations were just sort of fun to play around with. If anything disappointing me it was that approach felt way more limited than it did in the previous two games. In Bioshock you could really have fun with the areas you were in. Setting traps, hacking cameras ect... In Infinite everything either reduces to combat or devolves into it pretty quickly. Which, is disappointing.
Bioshock Infinite hit all the right notes for me. It was horrifying, whimsical, challenging and beautiful. It gave us fantastic characters like Elizabeth and the Lutece twins and Comstock. Heck even some of the bit players like Daisy Fitzroy and Jeremiah Fink were memorable. There were many great solid and fantastic games in 2013. It took me a while to decide on this. I remember having so much fun with GTA V and DmC and Ni No Kuni ect... Bioshock Infinite to me was the most complete game. It felt like the most well rounded and varied of all the games I played as to what I felt about it.
I'm hoping to play through the DLC as with a few other games on my list sometime soon in the future. Nothing is on my radar until February so I'll have plenty of time to dig in. But that's it I guess. 10 games better than brothers the blog. Okay, so that joke is kind of getting played out.
The bonus Epilogue~!
So hey, seems console gaming is still alive and well isn't it? I don't know about you but already seeing multiple games that could end up on this list a year from now. Dark Souls 2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, InFamous: Second Son, MGS V: Ground Zeroes all look extremely good. And that is just the first few months! Next Gen is going to be a fun ride. I can't wait to see these consoles evolve and mature over the coming years. I've gone over this stupid thing several times now hoping I didn't leave any of my thoughts out and trying to edit my awful grammar and sentence structure to mostly no avail. So if you've read all of this mess up until now well Thanks and until next time!
Hi there! How are you? Good? Alright, well pull up a chair and take a seat and...oh, you're already sitting? Well just I dunno read then man. You don't gotta be a dick about it. Anyways, point is I've been playing some god damn vidya games over the past few months and I've had the "Oh, I feel like saying something about this!" but more than a few times however when I write a blog post I like to write a motherfucking blog post something meaty something that people can dig in and read. And TBH last blog I wrote was my ode to Sir Ryan Davis haven't had the gusto to conjure up anything meaningful.
I only really like to write when I have something meaningful to say when I write a blog otherwise I'll just stick to forum posts. So, I figured hey, I've got all these games I've played now over the summer lets write a short paragraph about all of them then by that time I'll have a decent blog. So, thats the plan! So without further adieu......
Ah, Dragon's crown. Target of so much controversy over something that personally I feel was way way blown out of proportion. I first heard about this game like many others back when it was first really announced as a thing I think that that point in time it was only a Vita release and Shane Bettenhausen was still with Vanillaware instead of Sony. I've kind of had this in my radar over the years and decided that it looked cool enough to dig into. So first thing people will notice is that this game looks like a beat em' up. I can assure you it has way more depth than just a standard beat em' up.
You may be running the same 9 maps over and over again over the course of your play time but between the maps having multiple routes and secret rooms things stay fresh enough especially when jumping from difficulty to difficulty that I never really grew tired of any of the maps. Playing co-op at some point is an absolute MUST at some point. I had the good luck of having a friend who was pretty excited about it herself so I always had someone to play with. This game is for sure going to be on my end of year list of favorite things. Fun game, great art , fantastic music just an absolute delight to play. The only knock is there is no voice chat so hopefully you have handy access to skype or something while you're playing if you're doing co-op with a friend.
Oh Divekick. What a fucking insanely dumb dumb videogame. Divekick is an amazing game because I feel its really a great showpiece on how good game design can trump all sorts of technical bells and whistles. The game is simple enough simple enough that you can explain it to a friend in two minutes and they will get it. Yet, for all of its simplicity it still retains a genuine competitiveness and depth to it that some games that strive to be just that don't.
I've seen people's complaints about the game I've seen the detractors say how the game only would work if you knew the in-jokes or how it would be fun for an hour then the joke would be over. Well, despite still fervently waiting for a patch to help iron out matchmaking woes I've managed to play nearly 100 matches online. And its still a really fun game and I still want to keep going back to it from time to time. I've played it now with multiple friends who while they are gamers don't follow any video game news really much less anything related to the FGC. Thing is though that seemingly doesn't matter after quickly explaining it they've all had fun and picked up the game really quickly. Its a fantastic party game and fun to play online and bop people. Really, for $10 how have you not bought this especially on PSN where you get both the PS3 and Vita versions for just one low low price? Go, buy Divekick and have fun.
So here is a game I never thought I would have liked. I had a periphery working knowledge of what the Project Diva series and the Vocaloid software was but I had never really actually bothered to understand what the games truly were or anything beyond the few YouTube videos I had seen. Then I saw a random Facebook post months ago where Sega of America told Hatsune Miku fans if they could get 100k likes on that post that they would consider bringing Hatsune Miku and her friends to North America for the very first time. I then was re-interested when I saw Kotaku post that the game was indeed going to get a state-side release.
After I played the demo that released earlier in the summer I was hooked. If you remove all of the anime and vocaloid nonsense you're still left with what is an excellent rhythm game. You use the face buttons to hit one of the button shaped notes on the screen. Unlike a game like Rockband that has a defined "note highway" the notes in Project Diva can come anywhere on the screen and they will often use visual trickery to try to throw you off your game. Its a highly mentally engaging game forcing you to keep track of multiple things at one time while maintaining your rhythm and not being distracted by the fancy music video playing in the back ground. Oh, and did I mention this game has a full music video editor that you can import your MP3's into and make your own songs? The value in this game is astronomical and the presentation with the anime characters like Miku and friends only top off what underneath is a fundamentally sound game. Its a highly engaging video game and I really urge everyone to give it a try. You can download it on PSN right now or if you can manage to find one buy a physical copy. If you would like a more detailed and by all means slightly more informed post specifically about this game our good friend @hailinel has an excellent write up on the game and his experience with it here.
Tokyo Jungle was a game I had been meaning to get around to playing for a long while. I saw it come out last year and regrettably did not buy it. Then it went on sale for the insane price of $3.75 on PSN and I figured that at this point there was no use to not buy it because I spend like twice that buying lunch every single day. I don't know what I can say that really hasn't already been covered by Patrick or others last year on the game but I really enjoyed my time with it. I've kind of set it to the side although I've categorized it as a "podcast game" so if I get a backlog of podcasts I'll probably jump right back in while I get through them. I don't know if anyone else did but I got a real "Dark Souls" sort of vibe from the game with the fact that the trials were usually pretty harsh at times and failure evoked often much frustration but success lead to great reward and feeling of accomplishment. Keeping this one short cause I really don't have much to add to the conversation but wanted to just hit on it.
So, if I told you Killer is Dead is one of my favorite games of the year so far would you think I'm crazy? Well, regardless it is. I think it is by far Suda51's best work to date. And that is saying something considering I'm a huge fan of his. I've played every single release of his and enjoyed them all albeit usually with a few caveats. I think Killer is Dead is a genuinely fun,engaging and interesting game. First things first the combat. The combat is fantastic. It plays off of the basic concepts and combat model of No More Heroes. You have a Katana and you have melee strikes which stun opponents. Sound familiar? It should if you played NMH. Where KiD gets interesting is all of the unlockable moves that help flesh out the combat. For instance a well timed dodge of a ranged enemies bullet on the last frame will allow Mondo to instantly kill that enemy with a counter-head shot from his gun-arm.
Well timed "Just-Guard's" allow Mondo to open up bosses and wreak havoc on them while they are stunned. The actual combat is simple but the mechanics around if of perfect timed blocks/parries and dodges leave you feeling like a absolute bad-ass as you shred rooms full of flunkys. Enemies get progressively harder and start to have weird quirks to them. Some enemies you can only kill by cutting their heads off with an "Adrenaline Burst" however, you can only do this after destroying all of the armor on them. Making them for all intense invincible until you manage to bash the armor off. Its a challenging game as well boss fights will throw even some of the most skilled action gamer on the ropes on the harder difficulties the first time you play through the game. Following up on the combat is the insanely slick presentation.
I'm not lying when I say flat out some of my favorite presentation in a video game ever. The way the music in conjunction with the really slick visual style really makes it a distinct game. I know people have thrown the game under the bus for the Gigolo missions but honestly I think you're taking the game way to seriously if your offended by that shit. Sorry. The story will come off to most people as indecipherable garbage at first. If you're willing to dig what lies underneath the surface is actually something that seems way more interesting than anything Suda has written before. Thing is the story isn't handed to you on a sliver platter. Most people don't like that so.... I guess they just shrugged it off. Another game you can expect to see on my end of year list. 40 hours and still going cleaning up the last few trophies and challenges.
Oh hey... Dead or Alive 5. Wait... didn't I do this last year? Oh yeah, right this is a Team Ninja game of course it got a re-release. *glares at his 20 different versions of Ninja Gaiden* So, this thing came out and its pretty cool I guess. I've already played like 40 hours since last Tuesday. Including a bunch of online. Its pretty much the same damn game except for they added 5 characters which weren't in the previous game ,some stages, music and a few new mechanics like the Power Blow and a few overhauled mechanics in Tag Mode (yay neutral grabs are back in tag mode?)
Anyways, I kind of feel along with Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor's Edge that this was the game they should have released in the first place. I should know better at this point than to jump in on the vanilla version but I'm a goddamn sucker for Team Ninja shit. I even bought the stupid $40 costume pack. Yeah, I'm part of the problem and I wanted some goddamn bikini's. (for the record though some of the Santa costumes in that pack are reaaaaal fucking good as well) Anyways, I'm still playing this actively and as soon as I'm done with this going to go play some more. I'm really loving the new characters. Rachel and Momiji I pretty much instantly gravitated to. Which is pretty funny because I haaaated Rachel in Ninja Gaiden. Like, her levels in Sigma were awful and she's just and all around bad character. Okay well, before I go off into a full on anti-Rachel diatribe let me just end this with buy this fucking game (or don't a limited version is free on PSN!) its only $40 and its a great goddamn fighting game. And like before I'll have to recommend that you want another more informed opinion on this game go read my Jay Leno loving , Canadian friend @ajayraz blog over here. Also, while I'm mentioning Ajay I'm not going to be remiss to take a chance to post this video of me ending his 60+ online winning streak the other night. Thats all folks! Thanks for reading if you did and as promised here is me beating Ajay:
So, I'm almost at 10,000 posts. My intention for the last few months knowing this was growing ever closer was to write something up on my 10,000'th post about why I love this community so much that I've in little over 2 years gotten to this number of posts as I really didn't start posting on the fourms until late 2010.
However, in light of yesterday's news I felt now was the time to make this. I first stumbled upon Giantbomb in early 2010 I was looking for a new podcast to keep my attention and having been part of other internet communities at the time the Bombcast always was mentioned in podcast talk. I got hooked pretty straight away on the podcast but that was it. Then, I started posting on the fourms and slowly but surely I fell in love with not only the core crew but you bastards on here as well.
No matter if its my wrestling brothers like @milkman, @turboman , @gunslingerpanda ( and the rest of you guys love you all) or the duders I've talked about fighting games with like @mrfluke and of course @ajayraz my Final Fantasy XIII defense force @animasta and @hailinel and everyone in between (even those weirdos in the anime thread like @cloudenvy) I love all of you guys I love arguing over stupid stuff like Boneless vs Bone-in chicken. It helps take my mind often off the shitty circumstances that life sometimes has to offer us.
And to the core crew thank you guys as well @alex your sardonic wit and humor makes the worst video games on the planet some of the most entertaining coverage on the site. @patrickklepek your willingness to actually try games off the beaten path and dig into stuff the rest of the guys won't touch is always appreciated. Can't wait to see you get to dig deeper in the future. @drewbert You're always so well informed on the topics you talk about and I could listen to you talk for hours. The North Korea video is still one of my favorite things on the site. @brad You've absolutely been in some of my favorite moments in the site I don't think I've ever been more pumped when you finally got your Mile High achievement. @vinny If being an all around nice dude was an illness you would have a terminal case of it. I love your always constantly positive attitude even in the worst of situations. You're one of the best video editors around. @rorie Oh man, I just wanna hug you and talk about puppies and Dark Souls. I really always appreciate you going out of your way to respond to me no matter if its on twitter or on the forums here. Hiring you was one of the best things Giantbomb has done. I hope your here for awhile.
And @snide you may not be around anymore but god damn if I don't seriously appreciate all the work you put into the site. I know you had a wedding to plan and a kid on the way and still you didn't cut corners on the site. I appreciate all your work I hope we see you on video content again soon. @jeff You are absolutely one of the reasons I started coming here. You're expansive knowledge on games is impressive but whats most impressive is the extra mile you always go to give back to the community or make us laugh with dumb shit like the Nintendo Download Xpress. I mean seriously who fucking does a podcast about Nintendo releases? You make me feel like I constantly have made the right decision to now for the last two years give you guys money.
Oh and @ryan I never did interact with you much in fact you blocked me on twitter for reasons entirely unknown to me but you were the absolute best host I've seen on live video content on the internet. Quite possibly on anything really. The way you paired people up the way you drilled them to ask the questions you wanted. You absolutely knew how to control the show in the way that would be most entertaining for the people watching. You went way too soon. You left a legacy here though a blueprint for not only to do video game coverage but how to live your life. Loud and laughing not afraid to ask questions or tell the truth. I'll miss hearing you every Tuesday.
And of course I love all the other various guests and friends of the bomb crew that come and go on the site. This site as a whole has given so much to me. We may fight every so often there may be that asshole that sneaks in the door but for the most part we're family here and we take care of our own. And just like Ryan said. Nothing can stop the bombcast and nothing can stop us. We are Giantbomb.
I was at work sometime over the weekend when a sporadic thought popped into my head. Ryan Davis is the best professional wrestler that never was. See, in wrestling there is a classic setup of the face and the heel a.k.a the good guy and the bad guy. The thing is anyone who follows wrestling outside of the ring knows some of the most vilified characters are also the guys with the biggest hearts in real life.
Ryan was an expert at being frank and giving Will Smith or whoever the right amount of shit. If its one thing Ryan had its character and plenty of it. And like a professional wrestler you often got a very larger than life version of him when he was on camera. He had such an ability to gel with just about anyone and turn just about any situation into a side splitting affair with his sardonic brand of humor. Giantbomb is the first and only website that I own a subscription to partly its because of Ryan.
When they announced the premium features and were touting features that were behind pay wall I was admittedly a bit annoyed. Then Ryan and Dave made a podcast detailing everything. When Ryan told me that they were going to put their best effort into making every cent we paid worth it I believed him. I'll miss Ryan Davis immensely. Its odd that I'm sitting here so torn up over a man that I never met but that's just it and why I love Giantbomb. We're family here. And no matter if you're one of the core crew, engineers or frequent forum goers I love you guys just the same. Just like Ryan said NOTHING stops the Bombcast. We'll mourn but we'll come back stronger than ever. Its the way Ryan would have wanted it.
Okay, so when I stepped away from Dragon's Dogma last year I had upwards of over 100 hours logged into the game. I think it was actually nearing 170-ish as I played through the entire game nearly 3 times. At this point I thought I was done with Dragon's Dogma. I was wrong.
Late last year Capcom released a teaser trailer announcing what everyone thought was a bit of DLC called "Dark Arisen". They went dark and then earlier this year it was revealed that Dark Arisen would be a entire re-release treatment similar to Super Street Fighter. The rest as they say is history as I'm staring at a clock counter 90+ hours deep on a new file on the PS3 version this time of Dark Arisen.
Whats funny is for a game that I've put this much time into I nearly didn't bother with it at all. When I saw capcom was doing this I thought it looked so generic and boring and well... kind of awful. I'll admit even as a fan now from the outside Dragon's Dogma isn't a very appealing game. It does nothing visually to catch your attention at all. I owe my entire discovery of this game to my friend.
He hounded me for weeks on end to try out the Dragon's Dogma demo. I played it once died a few times and turned it off. I always feel guilty about dismissing a game after I play poorly so I tried it again. I managed to climb on the Griffin in the demo and was slashing the crap out of it holding on for my life as it thrashed around. The mage in my party lit it wings on fire and music kicked up as I rode this flaming monster as it crashed unceremoniously into the ground. I was hooked.
So as I've been playing Dark Arisen and enjoying both the new content and the main game again I've been trying to pinpoint what exactly is so appealing about this game to me. Its a game that isn't without its fair share of quirks and problems but I think I actively regard it as one of my top 5 RPG's of this generation. So join me as I try to take a thought journey into Dragon's Dogma.
C-C-Combo Breaker! : The Combat of Dragon's Dogma
If you've followed or played Dragon's Dogma at all you've undoubtedly heard talk about how great the combat was. Its really the main pillar of the game and one that really holds it all together. So, I don't want to assume everyone here has thrown multiple hours into this so I'll give a brief overview of how it works if you've never played the game before. Basically you can choose initially one of three vocations Mage, Fighter and Strider. The controls are pretty simple basic light and heavy attacks along with a modifier button that acts as a modifier allowing your basic attack buttons to activate skills/spells instead.
What makes this so fun to play around with is that at level 10 the world really opens up to you with the addition of six more classes. There are three advanced classes like Warrior, Ranger, Sorcerer and three Hybrid classes Magick Archer, Magick Knight and Assassin. The thing I really love is this allows you for really customized classes. You CAN be every class and viably play the game. What is better many of your passive skills known as "augments" can be learned on one class and still used and applied while being an entirely other class.
On top of the behind the scenes stuff the actual combat in motion is great as well. The combat itself works very much like Monster Hunter in a few ways. The animations are very deliberate and all of the classes play very differently. You really need to not only build a party that complements your abilities but know how to engage enemies properly. If you're a mage that gets too close to the ogre swinging around wildly you're going to pay. While on the other hand if you're a tank who isn't in there pulling aggro away from your healer she might get smacked off a ledge and then you'll be up a creek.
Targeting body parts on monster and enemies is also a big focus which is really fun to do. Hitting a Cyclops in the face will result in its tusk breaking off not only causing damage but providing a extra bit of loot. The thing that really sets the combat apart though is how it lets you clamber and climb on nearly EVERYTHING in the game. As I mentioned before in my story of my fight in the demo with the Griffin clambering onto monsters is a thing. This can lead to some crazy moments. The risk and reward of these moments is one of the great thrills of the game. Clambering up the back of an Ogre could lead to you being able to get to its head allowing you to really get some damage in. However, the Ogre could simply jump on his back killing you or run off of a cliff taking you with him. Controlling and shaping the fights to your advantage is a huge part of the combat as well.
Darkness is a big deal in Dragon's Dogma. And I don't mean in the good versus evil sort of way. Night is DARK and when I say dark I don't mean its sort of uncomfortable but hey I can still see dark. I mean... DARK you can't see dark. To this end the game gives you a lantern but here is the catch... the lantern also runs on fuel and can also go out if you splash around in the water. There is nothing like fighting an Cyclops on a perilous ledge near a cliff when all of a sudden your lantern goes out leaving the giant beast swinging its club through the darkness. Not only does the game put you in positions that are uncomfortable and perilous its just straight up more dangerous at lower levels to go out after dark. Goblins are replaced on the roads by the undead, skeletons and if you're really unlucky a Wight.
This premise is really exciting at least at the beginning of the game its a shame and one of the biggest things I feel the game failed on delivering consistently through the game. It would have been great even as a beefed up level 100 to be terrified to be caught in the dark. The tension of the early hours of Dragon's Dogma's combat is fantastic. Much like Dark Souls you'll find yourself being very cautious. Too much exploration could lead to a chance early encounter with a wandering Chimera.
Even though the feel for the combat takes some getting used to and some of the aspects of the tension of the combat only work for so long the entire package of all of these things is what is so fascinating about the combat. You're just not getting stat boosts and mashing an attack button you're actively seeking out weak points on monsters and engaging each of them in different ways. You're mixing and matching abilities to make custom classes. Its active combat that really allows you to show off your reflexive skills as well as getting better through new gear and stat boosts. And its absolutely a blast.
You're My Bitch: Dragon's Dogma's Pawn System
One of the most innovative and original things that Dragon's Dogma puts forward as a game in its genre is the pawn system. What is the pawn system you say? Well, to put it bluntly your pawn is your side-kick. He or She accompanies your main character on their journeys around the land. What is unique about this system is how this system connects players from all over the world.
So, say you are a Strider and you decided to make your pawn a Fighter. You're now sorely lacking a healer aren't you? This is where the pawn system comes in. The game allows you to hire other players pawns. Which allows this single player only game to have a unique take on multiplayer connectivity. If your pawn is hired out you get rewarded with Rift Crystals. There is nothing better than seeing your pawn being rented out on a regular basis. Its weird too outside of some light in-fiction justification of the pawns there is no real story to speak of between you and your pawn. I however at least have on both of my characters I've made gotten actually kind of attached to my pawns. I've been happy when they save the day, concerned when they are in a perilous situation and even felt bad the few times I've not been able to save her.
Even if Dragon's Dogma doesn't get a proper sequel I hope they actually use this feature in other single player games. Like Dark Souls its a interesting way to add connectivity and multiplayer without making it nothing but death matches and standard Co-op and I find that interesting. Its pretty cool to be making tandem progress in the game with a friend and seeing how their pawn updates and changes over the course of the game. But no seriously... this game better get a sequel...
I'm just going to borrow your heart for a bit you're cool with that right, bro? (a.k.a the story)
So, the story in Dragon's Dogma is a peculiar thing.... cause like for most of the game there is none. The setup for your adventure is clear enough. A dragon appears and attacks your small fishing village. Your character inexplicably tries to fight the thing single handedly. Needless to say that doesn't go to well and the dragon decides to eat your heart. And there is your entire setup for the story. Oh, you ask about the whole being alive without your heart thing? Oh uh well that gets explained...just play the game.
Thing is for what turns into a lot of quests that end up not having a entirely a lot to do with actually making narrative progress on this front the last third or so of the game is NUTS. See, I'm at a impasse here now. I really want to talk in detail WHY the ending is as crazy as it is but If you haven't already played it you would be robbing yourself of a rather mind blowing few series of events.
Needless to say the story is ultimately is one of the bigger failings of Dragon's Dogma for what ends up being such an incredible premise they sure to take their time giving you anything to chew on plot wise. The other thing is that while I do adore what they do with the story and where it goes the characters aren't all that memorable. Which, again is sort of a shame. I'm really hoping again like with the pawn system Capcom learns from all of this and makes the story in a possible sequel even better. But no, seriously you need to see the final bits of this game its pretty crazy....
You got your dark souls in my Dragon's Dogma - The Dark Arisen Expansion
This next part is for people who are interested in hearing how the new content is so if you're interested in that... then continue reading! So, one thing that kept running through my head over and over while playing this expansion. Someone at Capcom really likes them some Dark Souls. The entirety of Bitter Black Isle is oppressive and ominous in nature. Also, like Dark Souls the Isle is a linear affair unlike the open world of Gransys. You will unlock shortcuts after bosses that all connect back to the main hub area with a rest spot and a NPC called Olgra who will let you access your inventory etc....
I dunno, does that sound familiar? Yeah? Glad we agree. But this expansion isn't all about aping Dark Souls. It brings a few new mechanics to the table. First off the base enemies in BBI are fucking brutal as is. I really suggest not even attempting anything until you are at LEAST level 50. Even at level 50 I found my self struggling a little bit with some of the enemies. So right, new mechanics. One of these you'll be introduced to pretty early on. You know Death right? Oh you know... carries a Scythe reaps the souls of the dead that whole thing? Yeah? Good. So you totally fight Death in this. What is interesting isn't necessarily that you fight him but that fighting him is a tall task. He is by far one of the most dangerous enemies in the game period.
What is more interesting is this is a fight that you aren't going to win right away because death will randomly appear and disappear assailing you when he sees fit. All the damage you do to him is permanent as well. So next time he appears he will retain any damage from your previous encounters. And when I say he appears at random he will absolutely appear at the worst possible junctures making crazy fights even more perilous.
The other thing that is new but well sort of along the lines of the Death fight but in another way is the introduction of "Carrion Creatures". Carrion creatures are extremely powerful beasts that will take the form of either a Garm (a giant dog like creature) or a Elder Ogre (he is a fan of drop kicks). The basis of when they appear depends on how much you kill. They are attracted by the rotting corpses of the enemies that you kill. So, the more you kill the more you have the chance of ironically putting yourself in even MORE danger. These monsters are no laughing matter either especially Elder Ogres even at level 90 now the things are still a pretty tall task for me to take out.
In addition to all the new enemies and stuff the game packs in some cool new mechanics with how you get the new weapons, armor and items that have been put into the Dark Arisen Expansion. In the main game you open a chest and you find a weapon right? Dark Arisen puts a tweak on the treasure hunting in this expansion. Instead of flat out finding a weapon or a armor you'll find what is known as a "Cursed Item" the description will tell you what kind of item it is Cursed Weapon, Cursed Armor etc...
However, you won't know WHAT weapon or armor piece you are going to get until you take it Olgra and have her purify it. Once you purify it its basically like opening up a pack of trading cards you have a chance to get some really killer weapons and armor but then again... you could also get something you have 4 or 5 of sitting in your bank. All in all I'd say if you ran straight through Bitter Black Isle would take you around 2-3 hours to get through. There is plenty of optional fights and quests to be had though. I'm really having fun with it. As is evident by me putting off writing this for days because I could hardly tear myself away from playing.
Okay I'm going to quit writing so I can play some more. - The End?!
So I dunno what I really accomplished here. I know I've just felt like writing something about Dragon's Dogma for awhile (oh and using this awesome screenshots I was able to take!) so hopefully I might have encouraged a person or two to try this game or if you have and quit give it another go. Despite much of its chunkiness its a game that has real heart (pun intended?!). And to those who might be on the fence on coming back for Dark Arisen I at least think its MUCH worth coming back for. They even fixed a ton of things in the base game (hey how about that new roll animation!) which is a much welcomed addition. I'm kind of running low on things to say at this point so I suppose I'll wrap it up with this. Dragon's Dogma is really one of my favorite games this generation and I hope we see a sequel. I'll be excited to see what Capcom does with this.
If anyone is playing and wants to hire my pawns both my PSN and Xbox Live is "Demoskinos" my pawns "Risty"(360) and "Momiji"(PS3) will be glad to help you out. Although, I'm playing currently on PS3 so....Risty will most likely not be updated any time soon but by all means still hire her. Now...to go play some more.....
So me like many others bought Ninja Gaiden 3 about a year ago from this time. There were two types of people people that outright hated it and the rest of us who didn't hate it but still were left kind of shrugging our shoulders wondering what went wrong. Well, then we hear tale of a fixed version for the WiiU and it comes out and it gets better reviews and.... I don't have a WiiU. So, now comes a reduced priced version of the WiiU version of Ninja Gaiden 3 with all the DLC from the vanilla game and RE on WiiU bundled for $40.
I think they hit the right price here and the game feels a TON better. Combat flows better for multiple reasons. One is the steel on bone mechanic has been revised to be more of a counter mechanic now. When an enemy's hand glows red as he attacks that is indication he is going to to a strong attack if you counter with a strong attack of your own you instantly get to kill him and if any of his buddies are near by you can chain SoB attacks with up to 3 additional enemies. This rewards precision timing with potentially room clearing ability. Second is a overhaul of the Ultimate Technique and Ninpo Systems they have given Ryu Back all of his former Ninpo abilities from Ninja Gaiden 2 (minus the Flaming Pheonix) and overhauled the Ultimate Technique system to work much like it did in previous games.
You can now charge UT's for your weapons whenever you want like previous games instead of only being able to when the game prompts you. Also added is a "bloody rage" mode I'm not entirely sure what activates it I'm guessing a kill streak without being hit but once one is activated it activates a score multiplier that keeps growing as you kill more enemies. Very useful for score runs.
The weapons are all back too! The Dragon Sword, Claws, Scythe, Staff, Kasuri-Gama and Dual Katana all make appearances. Also added are two brand new Ayane Story missions which are some of the best missions in the games. If you played Sigma 2 then you know that Ayane's mission in that game was possibly the worst out of the 3 girls in the game. Ayane this time feels vicious and actually extremely useful and as deadly as she is supposed to be.
Added as DLC in the WiiU version Momiji and for the first time ever Kasumi make appearances also as playable characters in the "Chapter Challenge" and "Ninja Trials" modes. So look nothing is ever going to live up to Ninja Gaiden Black like...ever that was just a random occurance of right time , right people and right place but if you are a Ninja Gaiden fan or just someone who wants more hack and slash now that you've beaten DmC and Metal Gear Rising you really can't go wrong with this game.
Oh, few last bits. This game is HARD like...really hard. And for the most part is usually pretty fair about being doable as long as you have the skills. Oh and of course if you get in on PS3 Sixaxis Boob shaking is back because Team Ninja knows that is the hot feature everyone wants.
But seriously buy this if your an action game fan. If you buy the digital version off PSN right now its $40 but comes with the online pass AND free costume DLC and is only a mere 3.5 GB in space. If any of you wanna try some Clan Battles or do some Co-Op Trials I'll most likely be jamming on this off and on for awhile.
So recently I put up a poll asking what i should play next now that I've S-ranked (a.k.a 100% all trophies) Ni No Kuni. Since there is nothing until April that I want to buy I figured that I'd dig through something in my back catalog. Well, the votes went in and Final Fantasy IX won. I was all set to play this until I really thought about it. Going from doing 115 hours into another fairly long RPG might end up with me just being burnt out. So, I'm going to go with the next thing on the list... Metal Gear Solid HD collection. Then I thought wait... why stop there? I haven't played the original Metal Gear Solid in quite some time and I have a digital copy of that. I also haven't played Metal Gear Solid 4 since the trophy patch either. So... here is my goal. I'm going to attempt to beat the following during march.
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid 2 HD
Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater HD
Metal Gear Solid 4
Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker HD
I figure the games are short enough that this is plenty possible for me to get everything beaten before the end of the month. Not entirely sure if I want to do blogs as I beat the games or If I'm just going to update my entire experience after the end of the month. We'll see! Anyways I've got some wheat toast and a cup of coffee here and the entire day off from work. So as soon as I post this I'm starting up the first game. Too bad VR Missions wasn't on PSN to download. Also slight poll what do you guys think should I just beat the main game or should I beat all of the VR missions and in the case of MGS 2 the "Snake Tales"? Or should I just count beating the game as JUST doing the main story? Anyways, commence Metal Gear Mondays!
Hello gents and ladies if you're reading this then well congrats you've made it to 2013. So what did I do to start off my new year? Well, since I didn't have any work today I finished off the last two episodes of The Walking Dead in one sitting. This was a bit of an experiment for me. You see I've never really "got" the attraction to The Walking Dead. Its always just seemed incredibly formulaic to me from an outside perspective. Group of survivors run from place to place insert human drama blah blah blah. My cynicism was fairly strong going into this thing. The other thing I had going for me was that I was spoiled on multiple multiple plot points. Then over the holiday break on Christmas day Telltale pulled the ol' drug dealer trick of give em' the first hit free. On top of just giving away the first hit free all the other episodes were 200 points a pop. So there went $10 and suddenly I had the entire season sitting on my Hard Drive of my 360.
So the question was for me with my cynicism working against me and me being spoiled would the story telling in The Walking Dead hold up for me? Honestly, the answer is well...yes mostly at least. There are some things that I thought were really dumb which I'll touch on later but for now lets focus on another topic.
You are my sunshine my only sunshine.
The Walking Dead is a dreary world. It doesn't start happy and it doesn't end happy. The one constant element that is a tiny ray of hope in the entire game is Clementine. This is one area where I really did have to eat my words. Not only is Clem's character well written and believable as a child character but its the first child character that you didn't want to instantly punt in the head to shut them up. I mean, remember those jerk kids in skyrim or how about the kids in Fallout 3? AWFUL I TELL YOU~! Whew (deep breath). Clementine's relationship with Lee from the time she peeks her curious head out of her tree house to the time the end credits roll was entirely captivating. This is a game that very early on shows you that it doesn't fuck around with choices instantly putting Kenny's child Duck into harms way. Even though going in I knew in the back of my mind that Clem was safe in the moment the pacing and the writing of the story kept me so focused on the moment that many times the moments Clem was in danger were still incredibly tense. A number of moments caught me as being awful and incredibly fucked up choices but the two that brought me damn close to tears both involved Clementine. The hardest being the very ending I told Clementine to shoot lee and watching that entire scene play out couldn't be more soul crushing. It was amplified by the fact that just earlier in episode 4 I had finally come out and told her that her parents were dead, again soul crushing. Clem had been a tough soldier through the entire journey watching countless horrific things play out yet for her to have to kill the one person left that truly cared for her was absolutely one of the most heartbreaking things I've seen in games in awhile. Ya know... I'm not sure I'd even want a 2nd season at this point I just want to imagine Clem grew up and lived her life.
So, being exposed to people buzzing and talking about this game the one thing was clear that you couldn't play it down the middle and be a people pleaser. So when push came to shove (and boy did it come early) I chose to side with Kenny. Why? Well, simply because early on my priorities were always to put the children first every damn time. As result my first encounter with Larry ended with me stepping in and defending Duck. This lead to Larry being a jerk to me and well from that point on the lines were drawn as far as I was concerned. Kenny had never let me down and dammit I was sticking with him. Kenny struck me as the second most endearing character in the series. The stuff with Duck was hard watching a father deliriously trying to cope with the fact that it finally happened to him a family member had been bitten. Again, a very well written character who acted very human. He lashed out in anger then denial then finally broke down into a sobbing mess. This whole arc with Kenny's family might not have had the same impact that it did on some since this was one of the parts I did have spoiled BUT I still really appreciated the writing. Watching Kenny finally sacrifice himself for Christa finally set in my mind that Kenny was a good man deep down. Even if he was almost all to gleeful in wanting to throw a cinder block on Larry's head and a belligerent asshole at times he was a good man thrown into a shitty situation and I'll forever be #TeamKenny.
Awful choices, regrets and oh...fuck Ben.
As stated before The Walking Dead is a game that doesn't fuck around. It will throw awful things your way and make you deal with them with absolutely NO time to think about it. I really loved that they threw the timer on there it made you really have to act instead of think and that still made all of the choices pretty meaningful. So, what awful choices did I make? Well, plenty including killing Larry after telling him to eat up his human leg BBQ. Most choices I made and was confident in even if they were insanely shitty choices like killing the boy in the attic or rolling the dice on Larry "really" being dead. The one however that really filled me with regret was leaving Lilly behind. Like many awful choices you make in life you make them when you are angry and don't really mean what you think you do. Lilly had just shot Carly who early on was one of my favorite characters. I chose to openly confide in her and she seemed like the right choice to save and here Lilly just off and killed her. Tensions were high and I had my flag firmly planted on #TeamKenny so Lilly wasn't exactly "hearing out" my arguments. So, in a rage I left her. I considered it payback for what she had done to Carly in cold blood. Then as time went on the subject of Lilly came up with Kenny and I felt bad and awful really. I realized that she was just doing what I had been doing making the tough choices to survive and I had just left her to die after already killing her dad. Fuck.
Oh, but then there is the catalyst for Carly, Duck, Katjaa and well just a lot of stuff in general...Ben. Ohhhhh Ben. Here I went out of my way to convince Kenny and Lilly both that he should be allowed to stay with the group and he ends up fucking everything over. Now, yes... I realize that the story advances beyond the motor inn no matter what but hey man don't be bringing the realities of the game structure with my hate for Ben. He was just a constant fuck up. I wanted to find some part of me that sympathized for him but at every turn he made me hate him. He was a coward and didn't save Clem multiple times. He trades with the bandits and is directly responsible for the death of duck and consequently Katjaa and as a final coup de grace he manages to let zombies into the school in Crawford resulting in the death of Brie. So when tasked with the choice of cutting him from the group I did so and then I dropped him down the bell tower because fuck him. I really have tried to find a sympathetic angle to his character and I keep coming up with blanks. I just constantly hated him.
Technical horrors and awful plot devices ahoy!
The real scary part about The Walking Dead isn't the zombies. Its the technical nightmare that it is. Yes, I know the 360 version was the worst but ya know what I was already locked in and committed to that version. Its really a shame on some places like in episode 5 the frame rate went to a horrible stutter and I found a consistent problem with getting the newest episode to start. If you scratching you head wondering why well yeah.. I am too. I don't know I would click "Play" on the episode and it would multiple times do several things...
In later episodes for whatever reason start the first episode over overriding my save (thank god I copied to every slot)
Start at the final chapter in the previous episode
Oh, and it even saved or imported my choices wrong on a few occasions when it did start the correct episode (again, ya multiple save slots)
So that stuff was a real bummer on multiple levels man.
The other thing that was just REAL dumb was the reveal of the Station Wagon man. It seriously felt like the writers got themselves into a bit of a dead end and needed justification for Clem missing. It was just really poorly handled especially since well.. you really HAVE no choice other than to take the food. Either you decide to take it or Kenny takes it anyways. It was just a bit to convenient of a plot device and this man knowing about Lee going to the farm which was BEFORE the station wagon was increasingly dumb. Am I do really believe that somehow this guy had crazy surveillance that allowed him to spy like god on the characters so then he can call Lee out on awful thing that he did? Please. Its really the low light of the entire story and they were really scarily close to botching the entire landing if it wasn't for the absolute heartfelt send off of the story of Lee and Clementine.
Long goodbyes and sweet lullabies
So its over both this uh... whatever you want to call it and my time with The Walking Dead. Part of me wants to know what happens if I do this or that what happens if I stay silent the entire time? There are lots of choices in this game and even though some choices like the station wagon are entirely scripted and linear the writing does stand tall making you feel like your choices do still matter. That's why even though I kind of want to see all of this other stuff I kind of well... don't. I don't want to strip this game apart and know how the magician does the trick. Regrets and all I crafted my story and my choices and I'll stick with them. So now your asking me what do I think about everyone buzzing about it was it deserved? Does it deserve to be game of the year? Well, for me personally no... I still really enjoyed the game and honestly I may have to think about revising my list now that I played this and Hotline Miami finally. However, even if I consider this on my list which...fuck it I guess i do.
I still think Final Fantasy XIII-2 is the most fun I've had with a game all year. Yes, I realize that a large majority of you think that my love for it is crazy and possibly it is. I do think the Walking Dead was successful though. Even with me being spoiled and incredibly cynical going in i was still damn near in tears as Clementine pulled the trigger to kill Lee. And I think that is what good writing and good stories should do. I think people place too much stock or are at least to over hypersensitive to spoilers. Look, yes being surprised by events is fun but if a story is TRULY a good story the characters and journey to that destination will still be insanely compelling. I really did enjoy my time with The Walking Dead though. A well spent $10 and honestly would have been worth the full price. So I guess I'm fine seeing all of those GOTY lists filled with TWD now. I don't agree that its number one but dammit I now see why some people think so.
Hey there! So I've long known what my top say 3 or so games of all time were. Its not hard for me to pull those games out when someone asks me what my favorite game of all time is. However, I was thinking in the scheme of things what are my top 25 of all time? Did I even know the answer to this question? So last night I sat down and decided to make up a list which you can find on my profile if your interested. Anyways, I thought I would start throwing down longer blogs of each game and why it meant something to me. These games aren't all "amazing" or in some cases even "good" but they are the games for one reason or another that has shaped my tastes in Video Games and to a larger extend media in general. Anyways with further ado......
Back in the long past year of 1999 I was 14 and after briefly playing my cousins copy of Metal Gear Solid I quickly started developing a fascination for the game. Here is the problem. I had a Nintendo 64. Don't me wrong the N64 was a great system there are a ton of ground breaking games on that system. There however was NO Metal Gear Solid. So then one day while perusing the games at the rental store I saw Winback. My jaw was agape starting at the back of the box. Here was this cool secret agent guy. Back pressed against the wall like Solid Snake gun in hand. I had to play this. So after much begging (and whining) I got my way and my mom rented me the game.
Whats this?! A cover system!?
So after I got home I started the game. To my surprise the game did NOT play anything like MGS. You stood still and pressed a button to draw your gun and with feet firmly planted fired your gun. This was odd to me as run n' gun was the name of the game for most shooters of the day. Instead the game also highly prodded you to use cover. This was in fact the first game to use a 3rd person cover system.
So while this game didn't feature a metal gear it did very much feature a group of terrorists that were at a remote place that needed to be stopped. Enter S.C.A.T or Special Covert Action Team. Looking back that naming is...unfortunate. Anyways, the story starts off with an assault on the enemies base only to have your helicopter crash. Jean Luc survives but his team is gone so off you go on your journey to find them and stop the terrorists dastardly scheme. So looking back the story in this game is truly awful. Hey, hindsight and all of that right? Never-the-less between this and Metal Gear these games really left an impression on me. So much that I wrote a (probably incomprehensible) story directly inspired by both games. I still have the binders with the story. You know the 5-subject notebooks you used in school? Yeah, two of those full front to back with a story I wrote inspired a large part from this game.
Good Job, Jean Luc!
So, more or less that is it. Winback is a game that history is most likely going to forget. That is a bit of a shame because games like Gears of War and other 3rd Person shooters today owe a lot to the first few games like Winback and Kill.Switch that made progress in developing what became the modern cover system. In retrospect it isn't a great game and even for its time the writing was awful and the game play amounted to little more than a shooting gallery. But what a fun shooting gallery it was! If anyone is interested you can play the (slightly better looking) PS2 version of the game via PSN. I'm not sure I'd recommend this to anyone unless you already have a soft spot for it like me. However, its a game that influenced me and I'm really glad I had my time with it. Its super unfortunate that the Winback name was entirely drug through the mud with the awful release of Winback 2. That game was AWFUL. Quite possibly one of the worst games I've ever played. I couldn't finish it and folks I've played and finished some awful games like Vampire Rain. Anywho, this is #25 on the list. I'm not going to have a regular schedule for this stuff just basically whenever I feel like it. I'd be delighted to see in the comments if anyone else was as fascinated by this game as a kid as I was. I can't deny that this wasn't a good game but none-the-less it influenced me and my tastes. Till next time folks!