By Sparky_Buzzsaw 11 Comments
It's been a hell of a bad week, folks, and so I'm not going to open this with some goofy preamble. Between a personal loss and the horrors that Friday brought us, I'm instead going to make a plea to you. This year, for Christmas, use a little bit of your money to brighten a child's day. If your town is anything like mine, there are all sorts of opportunities to make a needy local child's Christmas all that much sweeter. For instance, my local bank and the county courthouse gather up the names of needy children across the county, and by use of an anonymous card with that child's information such as his or her wants and needs (clothes, toys, etc.). Those cards can be picked up by anyone in the giving mood, and a gift can be purchased for the child and then given to employees of either building to give to the anonymous child. It's a way for this community to bond a little tighter. Most communities will have something similar or toy drives like Toys for Tots. Please consider giving to such an organization or cause this year.
And now, on to the games.
Dead or Alive 5
I should feel sleazy for enjoying the Dead or Alive series as much as I do, but honestly, I don't. I have fond memories of playing Dead or Alive 3 in my college years, completely dominating any and all comers. I once went undefeated for 100+ rounds in a winner-stays-in tourney we held at my rental in my sophomore year. Mind you, my competition wasn't great, but still, saying I had a numb ass after that many rounds of DOA doesn't quite do it justice. And I don't think the blisters on my thumbs went down for a week.
I've always been entranced by the graphics of the game, particularly in its 3rd and 4th iterations. There was a stage - Brad's, if I'm not mistaken - that featured blossoms swirling around the multi-platformed area that holds the top spot for me in fighting game stages. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen and it was one of the high points graphically for the original Xbox. I was also a huge fan of the simplicity of the game's fighting systems - any of my friends could pick up the controllers, mash some buttons, and do some cool looking shit while I could spend my time mastering the nuances and harder combos. Hell, Dead or Alive 3 was the straw that broke the camel's back in a relationship. Best part was, it wasn't even the boobs she got angry about Long story and I'm still a little hazy on her side of things, but apparently me letting her win occasionally was somehow symbolic of our relationship and.... yeah. Moving on!
Dead or Alive 5 doesn't really have the potential to create new memories for me, and that's okay. It's not a huge improvement for the series. You'll recognize almost every character here, save for Rig and Mila, two surprisingly decent additions to the roster. The core mechanics are mostly untouched, save for some new tendencies towards bouncing opponents with new kinds of juggles. You'll still follow some old light-light-heavy power attacks with one last massive power attack/combo which will stun opponents (as well as make them very temporarily invincible). Even the costumes and the fighters mostly look untouched, though there are some nicely modest upgrades to the visuals which, thankfully, make the women look more adult and less childlike, which creeped the fuck out of me.
There are other modest upgrades as well. There's a new story mode, which focuses in on two main aspects - a new DOA tournament and some intrigue from DOATEC's rival MIST on an oil rig. Both stories are frankly awful, but the effort is appreciable. Team Ninja just needs to flesh out these characters more beyond their initial setups, as is the case with almost every single fighting game out there. Sadly, there are no individual endings in the game's Arcade mode, which left me more disappointed than I'd expected. I kinda miss me some CGI insanity, you know?
While the characters have received some visual upgrades, the stages seem pretty lackluster. They've added some new mechanics in the multi-tiered stages, adding some cliff moves and counters, but most of it feels like the developers are sort of twiddling their thumbs as the end of this generation approaches. The tweaks made to the tag fighting are pretty great, and some of the joint moves look absolutely fantastic. But most of the movesets have only seen minor tweaks, with each character receiving a new power move that can annihilate an enemy if it connects. The cost for this is a long charge-up period, rendering the moves mostly useless. But they do look good.
Unfortunately, as of the time of this writing, I've not been able to connect to a ranked or unranked match without getting disconnected. I'm playing on the PS3 as well, which has practically no users at any normal time playing. That's highly disappointing. Still, there are enough single player modes to keep me entertained, like Time Trial, Arcade, Tag Arcade, and the best of the bunch, Survival.
So yeah, Dead or Alive 5 is pretty much what you'd expect from a sequel post-Mortal Kombat. If Team Ninja could develop its story and characters more, we'd have seen something great with this game. As it stands, it's a pretty good update but nothing spectacular.
Super Mario 3D Land
If a game developer wants the blueprints on how to create a melding of classic elements with modern gameplay, they should study the everloving hell out of SM3DL. God, that's an awful acronym. SM3L? Oh, hell with it. I can't use the 3D on my 3DS - my eyes don't perceive the 3D at all and it just gives me a migraine - so that functionality is right out the window. But screw the 3D crap anyways, because this game doesn't need it.
Controlling Mario is incredibly precise, once you get used to targeting your landings using the position of shadows as opposed to sight. Mario's moves all feel spectacularly spot-on and right, ranging from the butt bump to the way the squirrel suit lets you float gently down. The levels are a clever mixture of knowing nods towards classic Mario games combined with modern - and new - platforming elements. They're brief, too, and lend the game the thrill os speed-running, as in Super Mario Bros. 1 & 3.
Look, you've all likely read all this gushing about Sup. Mar. 3DL (nope, that doesn't work either) before, so I'll just add this - I get that the Giant Bomb crew wants something new from Mario Bros. games, but so long as a quality title like this comes along every couple of years, the Big N will always have a fan in me.
How to Properly Play Assassin's Creed III
2. Considering that most of you will probably ignore step 1, please refer to the following steps.
3. Hire an unwitting friend who is very, very patient and good with games in general.
4. Chain unwitting friend to something very, very heavy.
5. Force unwitting friend to play through the first five sequences in Assassin's Creed III.
6. Take unwitting friend out for a night on the town. He or she will desperately need it.
7. Once unwitting friend has drank enough alcohol to forget the horrible, godawful experience that was the first few sequences of Ass Creed III, return unwitting friend to his or her domicile of choice, preferably with a gorgeous member of the opposite sex to help drown out the memories. PLEASE NOTE - if said friend has not consumed enough alcohol, he or she may spend several hours huddled in the corner of the shower, sobbing with pain and shaking from the experience. ALWAYS provide your friend with enough booze to annihilate his or her mind when he or she has played Assassin's Creed III.
8. Return home.
9. If you're really resigned to doing this, proceed with the game from sequence six onward.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
-I played through a big chunk of Dear Esther, but I must've not saved it properly, because I can't get back to the point I was at without restarting the game. It's terrific so far, so this isn't exactly a deal breaker. It's a stunning gamevella. That's my new term for games that play more like a novella. What? Oh, hush up.
-Not much to report in terms of reading lately. I've been burning through some mediocre thrillers in an attempt to get back into the genre. Eh. I think I might be rereading some of Tom Clancy's older novels next. We'll see.
-Expect the first of a two-part series of end of the year shenanigans starting next week. I've still got games I'd like to play and add to my potential GOTY list, so I'm holding off on that until the last possible minute. But I feel like I can safely deliver my thoughts and awards for a great many games next week. So... yeah. Another End of the Year blog from another user that you couldn't care less about! Joygasms!
-Note to self - never quote Jim Carrey movies in public again. XOXO. Also, buy milk.