By Odyssey 3 Comments
I wanted to try to start writing journal entries into my attempts to clear my ever growing backlog. Now, I think that it is actually possible.Let's do the math: I have, I want to say, 600 purchased titles in my backlog (that seems a lot, but 450 of those are games accumulated from four years of Steam sales and Indie Bundles). If the average game is 10 hours long and I spent 3 hours a day playing a game. I could very well clear my backlog in....
About 5.8 years! That's not too bad. I mean, it's not extended beyond my lifetime.
And so I start, with this year hoping that I will at least beat more games than I have purchased. Thus slightly lowering that monolithic stack of games I have.
THE BACKLOGGIN' BLOG LOG 1: FAREWELL TO THE PSP.
AKA: I attempted to complete my PSP games as it becomes an increasingly redundant handheld, and managed to clear two games!
Ridge Racer was one of the first games released for the handheld, and may very well be the game that defined the handheld for me. It was a slick piece of racing, with a presentation that screamed (well, maybe politely demonstrated itself instead of screaming) class. Seven years ago, seeing the menus alone was such a huge jump from the Game Boy Advance that it broke people's minds. It's vehicle select shattering people's realities, ruining their perception of society and technology and turning them into decrepit homeless cannibals roaming the countryside due to their inability to cope with such a highly evolved piece of interface design.
They were classy ass menus.
It's game play was shallow, but the game relished in it. Namco must of felt embarrassed of the Ridge Racer formula for the longest time, trying to release a goddamn Car Sim under it's name. Readers, let me tell you about Car Simulations. They're all trash, they sell because their customer base love vehicles to a disturbing degree, and will always buy every car simulator ever made. They also sell because fools like us keep buying them because they look beautiful, and that we keep thinking that this might be the car sim that I'll "get" as if we're the ones who should feel bad for not "understanding" such a genre. We never click with them, because they play like trash under the lie that it's "realistic." No car sim will ever feel realistic. You ever see a fanatic play with a controller and be satisfied? No. They're all building five monitor cock pits with a custom wind fans and they're literally playing the game with racing gear on. That's the extent people go to try to feel what it's like to drive some sports car. And the amount of "satisfaction" they'll get with the game, in relative terms, is like fucking a pillow with a condom on. And you're just trying to play it with a controller. How can you even compare your experience to the muted pleasure that man is witnessing?
Okay, so that may be a fevered rambling from someone with the pent of frustration of trying to have fun with those kind of games. Also, I have six racing sims in my backlog. So you might hear more of that.
So I'm guessing with Namco seeing a handheld such as the PSP gave them the opportunity to create a racing game that played as simple as Ridge Racer PSP does while looking as good as a top tier PS2 game. You drive a bit, then you drift and basically lock on to the track. Drifting in Ridge Racer is a funny thing, you can drive in the opposite direction and as soon as you start drifting you'll watch as your car get's sucked around the corner as if possessed by some unnatural force. But it still, oddly enough, works. The sophisticated presentation does a good job at making you take it's absurd racing somewhat seriously. The cars themselves control quite well (a wonderful contrast at the time to Ridge Racer DS, which was a train wreck of a launch title) and the tracks were quite wonderful. The game itself still looks great today, even if the textures aren't as sharp or the vehicles as well rendered, the overall aesthetic is still in a handheld class of it's own.
Score/Fruit: 4,235,678/5,000,000. And a Star Fruit.
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
This is an interesting title. It encompasses what goes against the popular opinion of handhelds gamers have these days. "Handhelds should be handheld experiences, not second rate console experiences." Maybe there is merit to that, but I find some odd holes in that logic. The PSP itself is actually a successful handheld, by all means, it's big thing going against it is the rampant piracy it exp erienced. And it's most successful titles has all been either portable counterparts of it's console big brothers (The GTA Stories, Daxter), or straight up console ports (Monster Hunter.) And the 3DS itself is the predecessor of the handheld that brought us Nintendogs and Brain Training. And it has been all about Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, or the handheld version of Ocarina of Time. All of those are rather traditional games that would've worked on the Wii.
The problem with the "Handheld games that act like console games" is when a game tries to do more than what is capable, which is simply, a lack of a second analogue stick. And holy shit is there a ton of PSP games that don't function well because the developers simply ignored that fact. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops is a good example, a game that asked for a lot of tactical movement and planning yet gives us a camera we need to babysit in the middle of the action. And why the hell didn't it just go for a traditional top-down camera design that it's previous games used?
Syphon Filter tries to bring the best of both worlds together. It gives us a game that looks, smells, and tastes like a stealth action of that era (namely the Splinter Cell series) while addressing the single analogue controls. It's cover system allows the player to make tactical aiming adjustments under fire, various weapon types allow you to lock on to a target, and they make the AI a little more inaccurate to forgive you for just taking the easy way out of a firefight.
And yet, it's still rather clunky. Those shoot outs never feel as satisfying as they should, and operating a sniper rifle is downright awful, especially when you need to use it on another sniper who has his bead on you.
It was later ported to the PS2, but I can't really imagine it being a good console game either. It was intentionally made simple, with small levels and less mechanics to worry about than other games like it at the time. But it is pretty, and it did somewhat evoke a sense of a game that was on a grander scale than your average portable title. But in the end, it's just
Score/Fruit: 3,453,256/5,000,000. And Microwaved Cranberry Sauce
That's it for the backlog blog log for now. Stay tuned for my next installment as I talk about the underrated Metal of Honor: Airborne, and prattle on about World War II shooters, and EA's failed attempt to make a dead horse look alive.