Fashionably Late

I sit down now, on my Grandma's PC, feeling the christmas panic get to me. No USB stick, no accesss to my Family Ties story, and no gaming console. I've been reading an extremely huge Doctor Who book, The Writers Tale, which serves only to make me feel like I've *not* been writing. Must. Make. Self. Write.

The Christmas List

Jesus, I got a lot for christmas. I feel guilty for the amount that I managed to bribe off my father. Not the bribing my father part, I could do that all day, more the "I have too much" part. So here we go:
  • NBA 2K9
  • FIFA 09
  • Blue Dragon
  • Lost Odyssey
  • Rock Band 2
  • Bioshock
  • Left 4 Dead
  • PGR 4
  • 4200 MS Points

And thats the game related things. TOO MUCH. Technically, I bought one for myself before christmas, but, still. And my house is falling apart around me. (I need to get my Priorities straight, I really do.)

Bioshock is awesome, as expected. I'm currently looking for an ADAM fix in the real world, its "method gaming." I've only really just completed the first level, too. I've played a bit of all of them, and the most "incomplete" is Rock Band 2, as EA have neglected to release the new instruments over in the UK, leaving me sorely dissapointed. I'm sure I will be able to find a way to pass the time. Maybe.

I'll write some more, give me something to talk about. I'll update Family Ties and write some more of it when I get back home. Its coming along really well, and to a select few, I'll tell you when I'm past chapter six on the updating.
1 Comments

Family Ties - [C.3]

Authors Notes

More of my Mass Effect 'Fan Fic' set in its EU on the citadel. I didn't update last week, but I do have two more chapters. If you do read, please do tell me what you thought of it.

1 - Promotion

Decryption level: AMBER
Passcode Accepted: *******

FROM: EP.C-SEC.HEAD.104
TO: OR.C-SEC.INVES.1824

Message is as follows.

Following your recent promotion, your account and MS have been upgraded to Investigation level. Based on your current record, qualifications and recommendations, Citadel Security have seen it fit to give you lead of one of our investigative teams.

Your team shall consist of:

    Ganex Railus (TURIAN)
    (GR.C-SEC.INVES.1824)

    Jaden Jennings (HUMAN)
    (JJ.C-SEC.INVES.1824)

    Asi’ra Tassev (ASARI)
    (AT.C-SEC.INVES.1824)

This promotion means our expectations of you have changed. Don’t expect any emergency calls, you aren’t an Enforcement officer anymore. Your main aim is to gather intelligence and evidence on suspects on the Citadel, and if required, beyond. You, as team leader, have been given minor Special Response training, but if things get too hot, do not hesitate to contact SR.

Due to the nature of investigative teams, you will not be dealing with one type of crime only. Be prepared to investigate everything from homicides to narcotics operations.

Do things by the book, you aren’t the law. When you have sufficient evidence against a suspect it is your job to bring him in for questioning, not take him down yourself. If you have sufficient evidence against the suspect, report them to me, and I shall submit them to CCC. 

You have permission to use force to bring in suspects, but only if the force is necessary – I don’t want you gunning down innocent men in the hope you shoot a bad guy.

Now good luck, any cases shall be sent straight to your MS via your Omni-Tool.

Executor Palin.


2 - Original

The Presidium had the usual hum to it; people running about, back and forth, to get to where they needed to go. The markets were packed with people, and there was a rather long, and therefore unpleasant queue outside of Barla Von’s office. There was some valuable information obviously on sale today.

That wasn’t why Oran was here, however. It was his first day on the Job, and he was on his way to get his official badge and other commodities. Oran didn’t exactly like Executor Palin, and wasn’t too happy about being prised from his bed so early to allow him to get there. He wished the Executor could have at least shown some consideration for nature’s preference of when you wake up.

Oran didn’t let this bother him too much, he needed the credits, and he needed a walk. He always walked this way, even though through the wards was much quicker. He was conscious of his problems, and knew he wouldn’t be able to resist the odd game of quasar at flux. He had more important things to do this morning – drowning his sorrows would have to wait.

The Presidium’s constant daylight also helped to get him truly awake. Oran would have preferred a natural sun any day, but C-Sec paid well, and he always wanted to bring dirty bastards to justice. He still didn’t know what to expect though. There was never a shortage of scum, and therefore no shortage of things to investigate. Murders, Crime Syndicates and Smuggling Rings – it could be any one of those, though he secretly hoped it was the first; Infiltration never was his strong point.

He checked his watch, and there was no rush, though being early never hurt anyone. Well, not most people. Oran had a strong, not hate but more distrust and dislike of technology. While he had an Omni-Tool installed, he always preferred to use basic earth technologies, like his watch. An analogue one, he could probably sell it as a relic for rather a lot of credits, but he wasn’t going to.

Oran paused for a moment, and looked over the edge into the artificial river. Well, he guessed it was artificial because the likelihood of a natural water source inside the citadel was highly unlikely, but he could never be truly sure. This station was full of surprises. He caught his reflection in the water, his brown eyes seemed to stare back up at him.

His new armour was custom made; an old friend at Kassa owed him a favour. He saw it on himself for the first time, Colossus VIII Medium armour. It was military grade, and Oran was worried he would appear a kiss-ass showing up in this. However, like all C-Sec investigators armour, it was disguised to blend in. Human armour stuck out like a sore thumb, whereas many other species wore it all the time. Oran knew that humans would come round to this way of thinking eventually; the galaxy was a dangerous place.

His armour was actually concealed beneath basic clothing. Unlike most, his clothing was, shall we say, unique. He wore rugged Denim jeans, an all but defunct style of clothing in this day and age. His shirt was just that, a shirt, with an undershirt beneath it.

Oran’s choice of clothes didn’t really stick out any less than his armour, but he certainly didn’t look much like someone who would be dangerous in a fight. And he probably wasn’t considering the main reason he had custom built armour was to make it able to be removed before his clothes. It helped with the ladies, he said. It probably did, because someone stripping down to their pants but actually having a whole set of body armour on wouldn’t go down very well.

His hair matched the rest of him perfectly. It was wild, and he had died it to a light red colour. Oran liked his originality, and short dark hair was one of the most unoriginal things in this age. However, he had visions of people telling him to smarten up, now that he wasn’t forced into Enforcer uniform every day. And he knew the day would come where this hair would go for when he had to infiltrate a gang or something like that.

He checked his watch again, and it seemed that time had flown by while he was lost in his thoughts. Thankfully, he wasn’t too far from C-Sec, and it was barely 5 minutes before he had walked down the slope and into the lift that took him down. A lift he had taken many times before, but this one would take him further down than any.

3 - Ashes

Feet were pounding on the hard metal floor. An Asari was running. Her breath was heavy. Her heart was beating fast. She wasn’t just running – she was running for her life. That much was obvious, and would have been to any passers-by. That is, if there were any around.

If there was someone, they would have seen her slim, blue body, leaving faint footprints of blood behind her. If there was someone, they would have seen her torn clothes, the ruined fabric around her. If there was someone. But there wasn’t. She was alone.

The Asari ran down the streets of this empty ward, trying to get away – to safety. Unfortunately, safety didn’t seem to be anywhere near her, as she ducked and dived at top speed through every conceivable alleyway in existence, not showing any sign of slowing down, or the look of fear that was imprinted on her face disappearing.

However, something made her stop. A glimmer of light. A sign of hope, maybe. In less than two seconds, with sweat running down her face, she managed to dive on her front, and swipe a pistol from the floor. She was on her feat again in no time, running away from someone, or something. 

She turned down another alley, ducked down another and twisted down a third. She never knew she had this much energy, she never thought it was even possible. She thought she had to have run for miles; she must be near some signs of life. Alas, it was not to be. This part of the wards was still nigh on empty, and it was a long way before she got anywhere near the sections that weren’t.

She paused for a moment, weighing up her options. Clasping her gun tightly, she risked a quick glance behind her, and stopped dead. Her eyes, normally calm and majestic turned bloodshot. She readied her weapon, and aimed it. She pulled the trigger, and, unaware that she had the courage to do so, pulled the trigger. The gun was empty. Confused, the Asari wondered why this one wouldn’t shoot, for they never ran out of ammo, and was forced to stare blankly into her attackers eyes.

“You know, I didn’t even have to run.” The voice sent shivers down the Asari’s spine. “And I see you picked up the gun; I thought it was a nice present. You might want to keep hold of it.”

And with that, the Asari was blinded by a flash of light. It happened so suddenly, but seemingly in slow motion. Her eyes showed signs of remorse, and forgiveness, but mainly sorrow – before turning red hot with the rest of her blue body, which eventually turned to ashes.
4 Comments

Family Ties - [C.1]

Authors Notes

This is a Mass Effect "Fan Fic" that I've been working on. I'll try to update it weekly, like my normal blogging, just to have some content to talk about. I really shot myself in the foot last week, I kind of did seven blogs in one, and don't have much more to talk about. When I post a new chapter, I'll get rid of the text in this blog and put it in the one with all the current chapters, to avoid the first thing people see being the latest chapter before reading the others, as thats just stupid. This is the first chapter(more of a prologue than anything), more will come every week as I say, please comment and enjoy.

The actual story is now in the latest post on my blog.
2 Comments

Another year goes by...

7 Games! Now read on and hear my thoughts about all of them.
See these games? The ones on MY carpet? You do?! Well that's very good, because those were the games I got for my birthday. For those that are blind to images, here is a list of the games I was lucky enough to get:

  • Fable II
  • Stranglehold
  • Fusion Frenzy 2
  • Devil May Cry 4
  • Mirror's Edge
  • Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  • Bully: Scolarship Edition

7 Games in one day!

I'm pausing for a moment to allow that to sink in...

Ok, I assume you are over that particularly un-astounding fact, and now want me to tell you all about what happened yesterday.

Well, first off, I was sick. Yeah. I came downstairs, started opening them, and then was coughing and coughing. Felt like shit, went back to bed. Which earnt me some time off school.

So after I spent most of the day in bed, I then awoke to leave with my dad for a while and see what he got me, then returned, saw what some others got me and proceeded to pass out. I felt spoiled by the sheer amount of games that I had received, but convinced myself to get rid of the guilt and instead bring out a long...long...LONG blog which will explain my thoughts on all of the above games.

I played each game for around 2 hours to get an impression here so I could blog about them, so without further ado...

Fable II

The world is still beautiful and immersive.
I played this one for much longer than the other games. Mainly because I accquired this on wednesday morning, while I recieved the others on wednesday evening. And I really enjoyed it!

The first thing that struck me about the game was the voice acting and writing. The game welcoming screen starts with Zoë Wanamaker instructing you on what to do, which started my alarm bells ringing. A Well known actor voicing the instructions often spells disaster for voice acting - think of that Spyro game with the celebrity voices. Well thankfully, the voice acting didn't drodge into shittyness - it was amazing. The random people in Bowerstone and Oakfield give off immersive banter, and repeat lines less often than in the last game. Though, you will hear the same line alot in 5 minutes if you are doing the same thing for that long. Which you will be.

Combat is extremely fun, even at the low level that I am, where you just hammer X or Y to kill the enemies. As you level up, the moves get more complex. Rolling, blocking, precision aiming and flourishing are all introduced eventually, though I have only just got Rolling and Blocking, but will accquire the others as soon as I can. Unfortunately, the lack of difficulty is apparent. Enemies die very, very quickly. You die very, very slowly. And I have not died yet, even though the penalty is...well...jack shit. I really wish they carried up on the idea of children taking over from you, that would work very VERY well if they did it right. So if you died you actually lost stuff. But I won't dwell on what isn't there, because what is is damn fine.

You need to work to earn money in this game as apparently heroic deeds are no longer paid for. Which makes sense, but working isn't all that fun. Here is what you do in every job:
  1. Look at meter
  2. See when meter hits the green area
  3. Press A
  4. Repeat
Yeah...thats how simple it is. Thankfully, after you have enough to buy a couple of good houses to rent out, a new way of making money emerges. Here is how you do that:
  1. Buy house
  2. Rent out
  3. Wait
  4. ??????
  5. Profit
Its more fun than jobs, as its more hands off. The ?????? is actually a real step in there, as is profit as you will make this money every 5 minutes, whether you are playing or not. Its a cool idea, and it works pretty well. Its fun, and even though there isn't a big reason to buy all of Albion, its still satisfying. And you can get nice big shiny achievements!

This game does achievements right. They reward you for doing the main quest, and venturing in other areas. However, they managed to make the whole system get FUBAR. You see, there are two ways to earn achievements.
  1. Earn them
  2. Watch someone else Earn them
This annoyed me. A lot. I co-oped with my friend, which wasn't very fun, as he was overpowered, and the camera was locked for both of us (In this age, surely Ol' Pete can do independant cameras). But the game then awarded me the "Master of Albion" (Or Ruler of Albion, I dunno) Achievement, as I was standing next to the richest person in Albion. It then took quite a bit of motivation away from me, as the big shiny goal had suddenly been given to me against my will. The game and the mechanics are fun, so why does the game feel the need to ruin it slighly through crazy design perks.

So put simply, I enjoy the game, there are just a few things that annoy me about it. I'll play it to completion twice being both good and evil, and will attempt to get most achievements (as they aren't Dead Rising Hard) anyway, and little bugs like my TV being so crap it cuts the top of the screen off, and therefore the words, will not stop me from playing it a lot more and enjoying it. Right...seven to go.

Stranglehold

I have not played this part of the game yet, but I'm sure it will be just as awesome as the rest.
Ahh, Stranglehold. I'd played the demo of this quite a lot previously, so I knew what to expect. The only other Slo-Mo Third Person Shooter I'd played previously was The Matrix: Path of Neo, and I actually liked it (See Matt, you aren't alone!), but I hadn't played Max Payne. So obviously I couldn't tell how much better Max Payne is, so I really have to view it on its own merits. And on its own merits, IT IS AWESOME.

Its not very clever or sophisticated. But it definately meets the awesome criteria. In fact, lets use another simple list to see just some of the awesome things in the brief hour or so I spent with the game. In no particular order:
  1. Diving Through the air in slow motion while killing 3 dudes with 3 bullets.
  2. Going into barrage with a Shotgun, blowing up about twenty makeshift houses, and killing off many drug launderers.
  3. Brilliantly cheesy, clichéd dialogue. (See...its really not sophisticated).
  4. Dodging out of the way of a rocket blast before shooting the guy that shot it in the balls at long range.
  5. Said dude with rocket reacting appropriately to perfectly placed shot.
And that is just five things out of a huge amount in only an hour in a half. I've been told from others on the internet that the game is short, but I don't see myself caring. Its simple, mindless fun.

And the story is actually pretty good too. A quick pre-credits exposition, tells you everything you needed to know in about a minute. In Hong Kong, a cop is kidnapped and shot. In Chigago, a previous girlfriend of Tequila is kidnapped. And you find this out in about 4 lines of dialogue. I can see it keeping me engaged throughout the rest of the game: Its a suprisingly good excuse to go and shoot lots and lots of people with lots and lots of bullets.

And the shooting you will do! The 4 guns I've used so far all pack a punch and feel very powerful. Even the meager pistol will make you feel king when you shoot 10 people in the head in slow motion. In a row. Almost everything blows up or gets destroyed in some way, and enemies have a suprisingly bad habit of standing next to things wich either blow them up or fall on their heads. Heavy things. It would be extemely good anyway, but Stranglehold adds some more elements on top of it.

Firstly, slow motion. Activating slow motion works very well. Pressing the left trigger will make you dive, or interact in an awesome way with a railing or trolly, and if there are enemies around you will automatically go into slow motion. Diving through the air, shooting many dudes in slow motion has yet to get old. It then adds "Tequila Bombs." Basically power ups which use a meter that will charge when you do stylish stuff or collect paper cranes. They are:
  1. A simple health boost. This is very helpful at times where diving constantly and covering isn't working that well.
  2. Precision Aiming. Zoom in in slow mo for a shot with a close up reaction. Cue shooting many guys in the balls.
  3. Barrage! Unlimited ammo, Unlimeted health, Short amount of time. Do this with a shotgun, and you will lay waste to the world around you, as I did.
  4. I haven't unlocked it, but you basically press the button and a beatiful cinematic appears whith you spinning round, doves flying, killing EVERYONE.
These add a lot to the gameplay, and deciding between health or a nice barrage attack adds a small tactical element. Small.

The final element they add is standoff. You are fixed in place in a mexican stand off. Dodge the bullets, kill the guys. Its all very simple, yet very cool. Three have occurred so far, and shooting everyone in the face is very satisfying, as it always is. Which is what the whole game is about. Shooting guys in the most stylish and awesome way!

Fuzion Frenzy 2

Its just minigames, nothing more, nothing less.
Mini-Games! Lots of Mini-Games. My sister was the one who gave this to me, and I have to say it is my least favourite out of all the games I accquired. Maybe thats because I didn't have 3 friends around to play the game as it is meant to be played. It serves its purpose well, though. The minigames on all the seven planets are varied, the points and cards system works well to mean that you can always fight back. Some minigames are actually rather fun, too. Sumo Ball or whatever itis called, puts you in a ball which you must keep on a platform and push the others off said platform. However the fun does come from the human competitors, so playing on your own is not that great.

I did get a chance to sit down for a while and play the game show mode with my sister, thankfully, so I can talk a bit about the Multiplayer capabilities.

The show starts off with a really annoying announcer talking instructions and introductions over the same animation. Meaning he is not lip-synced in any way. Same lip animation, different words. He is more annoying that the Digimon Rumble Arena 2 announcer. And that one is pretty bad.

Then we chose some minigames and played them. They were, as I said, varied enough, and fun enough to keep the atmosphere good, and in a party, I'm sure it would work pretty well. But put simply, there isn't much to say on it. It has a nice set up to the mini games, and the card system works well. You'd break it out in a party if you didn't have any Rythm Game to play.

Devil May Cry 4

This game features truly awesome bosses.
I put this game in, and pressed new game. Then I watched abour 20 minutes of videos before the game handed me control. Most would be annoyed, but I loved it. I shall, as always, start at the start.

This opening cutscene starts with Nero running towards a gigantic hall in the middle of this city, where his (I assume) Girlfriend is singing. Demons appear and impede his progress. Awesomness occurrs. The fight scene is wonderfully coreographed in time to the song, with swinging camera angles, slo-motion and lots of death. It was a joy to watch, and I think its time these people made a CGI movie. NOW! The opening scene features two more fights, which are just as well coreographed, and a tutorial is weaevd into the final one.

Dante vs Nero.

OH GOD ITS EPIC! Dante arrives in spectacular badass style, and says nothing for about five minutes. Nero is blasting off some spectacular one liners, being very "cool," yet Dante isn't even breaking a sweat, not saying anything until Nero actually proves himself worthy of speech.

The actual fight can't really be described, you need to watch it. And you even get to play some of the fight. Thats right, the game does hand over control to you. It is very much like Fable in that you start off with about 2 moves, and you will unlock more as you go. The combat is fun. Its frantic, its stylish, and its really really good. Dragging an enemy over to you, juggling him in the air and slamming him down is damn satisfying. I'm sure when I upgrade my gun a bit more, the gun combat will actually be good, for currently, my gun shoots pees.

The camera is OK, its not caused me too much annoyance yet, but there is always time, I suppose. The camera is often fixed for cinematic views of stylish fights, to make the game look that much more awesome, even if it may make playing it that little bit more frustrating. But it does its job while you fight swarms and swarms of demons. These demons seem to love attatching curved swords to some part of their body, and they look very cool. They have quite a unique design among other action games that just have humonoid opponents, but they won't be alive for that long.

The bosses, on the other hand, will live for a while. I only fought the one in the picture and it was both hard and awesome. Using the Devil Bringer at the right moment to grab onto the big "Flame Horse Thing's" head, is very very rewarding, and using the righ combo at the right time will allow you to absoloutley pwn the boss. However, you will not always be pwning the bosses, as they pack a punch. Bosses will often kick YOUR arse instead, not the other way around. I know I had to retry my boss once, which meant replaying the whole level. I'm sure I just missed the button to retry boss as otherwise, that's terrible design.

So overall for DMC 4, its fun. Its not as good as Ninja Gaiden, but while these action games are very similar, they are also at odds. The DMC combat engine will take some time to woo me over, but I'm sure it eventually will, as so far, its great!

Oh my...I still have three more left. Anyway, on with the blog...

Mirror's Edge

The wide open rooftops look great.
I have already posted a lengthy impressions from the demo in another blog a while ago, so a lot of this may well be repetition, but I'll say it anyway. This game is good. I've played the prologue and the first chapter now, and I have to say, I am enjoying it. It keeps up the visual style very well, and the plot isn't bad, but it needs to be more connected to what I'm actually doing in the game. It is very hard to relate to Faith, as you can only see her in heavily stylised cutscenes, which take away from the visual style of the game.

You see, the way the animated cutscenes are done is at odds to the way the game is done itself. The world is not stylised, its just simple. Its clean and artificial, and you cannot capture that style in the cutscenes. Thats not to say the scenes aren't bad, its more that the game could have made a story that fitted in with the game and the art style much better.

The first person perspective is great, and running up walls, on the ground, rolling, dashing, jumping, up, down.... Oh its just great. Completing a complicated series of jumps is as satisfying as shooting 20 guys in the face in Stranglehold. Though its much more challenging.

Trial and Error does play a big part of the game. On levels that you have not seen before and do not know what to do, the B button is priceless, giving you a nice view of your destination. Without this, many a casual player would be extremely stuck. In fact, so would I. Runner vision is priceless, and I'm now beginning to see the design concept behind how they are going to reduce it later in the game. In some parts of a level where there is no runner vision, you rely on your knowledge of what you can do to get you through. If you see a box next to a fence with barbed wire, you know you need to jump on the box and over the fence.

I have yet to play any of the Time Trial modes, but from replaying certain sections of what I have played I can tell that I will get drawn in. The game is essentially a series of puzzles come races, which you want to complete faster than everyone else.

To wrap up, its an innovative idea, that works very well, and I see myself playing long after I finish the campaign.

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Everything is lego!
A nice, relaxing game here. Its casual in every sense of the word. You have unlimited lives, everything is made out of Lego, and the whole angsty Star Wars series is turned into a great, fun, parody. Which maybe better than the films themselves.

I have played the first few missions of the Phantom Menace, and the Gameplay is great fun. Its really simple and accessible, and I can tell that I'll be able to sit down with a friend who sucks at games and have a nice experience. You control your little lego character with the left stick, attack with X and jump with A. Thats really it. B is special ability and Y will switch to another on screen character, but thats really all the depth too it at the moment. There are a few combos, but its not about fighting.

Its a collect-em-up honestly. There is a huge amoung of studs scattered around the world, and collecting them will fill a meter that goes towards...something. You also collect minikits, power bricks, gold bricks, blue kits and red bricks. You use studs to buy characters you've unlocked, extras and hints.

With these characters, you can replay levels in "free play" mode, which is pretty cool. Playing as Darth Vader against Darth Vader is just one stupid crossover moment i will eventually initiate. Theres even avchivements for killing Ja Ja Binks and shooting Han as Greedo.

In jokes like that make the game what it is. Its loving towards its source material, yet it won't hesitate to pick apart holes in it. The voiceless cutscenes are damn fine, and the little "lego" noises that every little thing makes just adds an extra touch onto this already great game.

So overall, I really like it. Its a casual game compared to most of the others, and is an extremly unique experience among my collection.

Bully: Scolarship Edition

There are many great mini games, like dodgeball.
LAST ONE! Right...here we go.

Bully is an open world game a la GTA in many ways. First off, its made by the same company, except the vancouver branch, and while it borrows many things from GTA, its a unique experience in its own right.

It takes the piss out of everything to do with school, and has something to say on every single social group. The characters are well done, and always go just beyond the steryotype to give both depth and humour to them. The faction system works very well, and it gives you a great feeling that the school is alive and watching your every move.

This school has lessons, like all schools do, as you know. And these lessons are more worthwile than real school as they actually teach you things (Arf!) and give you real benefits to the out of lesson gameplay. For example, PE will make sure that you can fend off Bullies better, or run faster. English will mean you are much better at apologising and getting out of trouble with bullies and so on. It adds a layer of life to the school, as the way the lessons are handled is expertly humourous. Whats more, these lesson mini games are actually fun. Bully is the closest to a good dodgeball game that this world has ever come.

The out of class missions are also well done, as you would expect of Rockstar. The characters are funny, as I said, and will draw parallels to your very own school memories. They will. Trust me. A lot of the missions so far involve, for example, protecting Nerds or finding things for people. However, they all use fighting off bullies at somepoint, and its a good thing to combat is fun. Hand to Hand combat gets school fighting nailed. Headbutts, wedgies, noogies and good ol' kicks to the balls are all here, and beating up a Bully is always satisfying.

There is also a world outside the school, but I have yet to explore it, though I'm sure it will be bursting with detail. Thats practically this whole game so far. Its bursting with detail. Detailed jokes, characters and mini-games. Its all there, which is why this one lasting me a long time.

Closing Thoughts.

OH MY GOD. That took me years. YEARS I SAY. I actually started writing this, on and off, and 3 o' clock GMT. Years ago, I'm sure you agree.

There are bound to be spelling mistakes, as my spell checker is refusing to work, but my englush riles.

Anyway, I hope you liked the blog, please comment on it about what you think of the above games, and I will attempt to review them soon!
4 Comments

Are we there yet?

Getting to the end can feel so empty.
Its not often that I post reactions to stories that I read, but today I will. This one.

Now, this guy obviously loves the game he is playing. He's probably put in 27 hours of solid play to get to Level 80 in this amount of time. I'm willing to bet that he has played the beta, and has got an idea of the missions to do. He has respec'd his character to be exactly suited to the mission path that he will undertake. Before he went to get the game at midnight, he probably logged off right next to the boat to the new lands. He has taken in all the data about the expansion and has studied for the best way to beat it in the best time.

Now what does he do?

Another year or so of raiding, instancing and whatever else you do on endgame WoW. He's obviously missed the point of MMO's, and games in general. Especially with MMO's, there is really no satisfying pay off at the end of the game. There will be when you beat certain missions and raids, but there definately won't be for hitting the level cap. Games are about the journey, not the end.

And now let me take you on a journey of games that are about the journey.

Fable II
This beautiful world does not deserve to be rushed through.

Fable II has been talked about a lot in terms of length. The story isn't very long, so I've heard, but if that is all you do, you barely scratch the surface. Now I haven't played Fable II, but I can definately say that from what has been said about it and from my experiences with the original, the story is only half the game, if that. Fable has a living world built around it, much like the GTA games, but your interaction with said world is much higher than in Grand Theft Auto. You can buy property, get married, have children, decide whether to have pretected or unprotected sex. Its that deep. While there is an ending, if you rush to it, you will be unfulfilled. You will feel robbed, and cheated. When in fact you have not opened your eyes.

Fable II has another thing going for it in terms of "the journey." All the characters will react to the choices you make, giving them real consequences. However these consequences are on a wondefully subtle scale, and you will only care about them if you care about the world, your dog, your children etc. Unfortunately, Fable II does not completely capitalise on making you want to take time with it. The fact that you only do limited expressions and the bread crums to the next objective make it seem like it wants to take you by the hand, but if you stick to the path, you won't have experienced the adventure.

Mass Effect
The game is more fun when you talk.

Mass Effect is very similar to Fable II. It has a world around it built on choice and consequence, and the narrative provides you with a strong reason to rush to the end. I found myself rushing to the end on my first playthough, simply because I needed to finish the amazing story. However, if you skipped the conversations, did not explore areas and did no side missions, you would feel like this epic adventure was not very epic at all.

Unfortunately with Mass Effect, the side missions are not as good as the narrative journey, and while the game will be extremely bad if you skipped the narrative journey(the conversations and choices), exploring the game galaxy was not as fun as it could have been. The journey in this case, as I mentioned, is the story, which is balls to the wall awesome. If you play the game skipping the set peices which will have you yelling at the TV with joy just to finish it quicker, then you are missing out.

Spore
Just getting to the end is Spore-ing.

Spore has an ending. Why it has an ending I don't know, as this game is very much like the sims, you play the game for the creature that YOU made. You want that creature to become strong, and one of the best creatures in the galaxy. In a poor design choice, they added in an ending at the "Center of the Universe." Now, I'd expect an easter egg or something to be at the center of the universe, but this led, like this WoW player, to people rushing straight for the ending, missing out on the entirety of evolution.

With Spore, you should get attatched to your creature. If you were to go out and buy the game simply to see what is at the center of the universe, the point will again be missed. Spore is bursting with so much stuff, that the "end" feels so amazingly empty, that it shocks me to why they even thought it would be a good idea to include in the game. Thankfully, the majority of spore players do care more about the journey of their character than getting to the "end."

Mirror's Edge
There is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Now, I may be critisiced for including this as its practically a racing game, and with them, you are actually supposed to get to the end ASAP. However, with Mirror's Edge, its about the "flow." The most fun in the demo that I have played, does not come from getting to the end the first time, but from keeping momentum up and getting a good flow going. You are not gonna think "WOOT! I COMPLETED MIRROR'S EDGE!" Instead the thought that will pop into your head when you are doing well at Mirror's Edge is "That was a smooth move."

With the flow such a prominent emphasis in Mirror's Edge, the lines between enjoying the journey and reaching the end as fast as possible become blurred. When you do well in the game, you get the fastest time. So this one is a double edged sword really. Its a chicken and edge question: Is getting the fastes time the best because the journey to that time was great, or is the journey great because you got the fastest time?" I personally don't know, but I do know I didn't want the journey of the game to end.

Closing Thoughts

While that was probably a badly worded and poorly written mess, my thoughts have hopefully reached you. Games are meant to be enjoyed, and people want you to put time into their games and enjoy them fully. I'm sure Blizzard did not intend for people to powerlevel through their expansion and miss out on all the content, but people do. When you listen to a song, you don't put it on double speed to get to the end of the song, do you? Exactly. Games are the same, and going through games while missing out on half the content will always leave you feeling unfulfilled.

Til Next Time,
Tylea002
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Ninja Gaiden and me

Ninja Gaiden Black, in Mission Mode, at its best.
Ninja Gaiden and me share a love hate relationship. I love it, and it kicks my arse in return. The combat is visceral and intense, and every kill feels hard-earned. Except the charged UT kills from blindspots with the Scythe and Dabilahro. I loved the first game (Black version) so much, and still do. I will, eventually, complete Master Ninja on that game. I am currently at the 2 Tank and Helicopter fight on Very Hard, refusing to use more than one potion as otherwise the ogres afterwards will kick my arse. In Ninja Gaiden II, I prefer the combat engine, but Itagaki seemed to have too many "cool" ideas. Zombies with giant chainsaws and bazookers just may be taking it too far. These thoughts seem slightly too disconjoined,so without further ado. Allow me to take you on a journey...

My time with Ninja Gaiden started with the original relase of the original game. I sucked. I sucked very hard. I was young, what can I say. I barely limped through the first few bosses, and got stuck on the fourth level. This was actually my inability to find something, not just my suckage. So yeah, I hadn't grasped how games actually worked at that point, though I did enjoy the rare moments where I did well. I gave up on it, and allowed a friend to have it. Who, also, got stuck. Though at a more appropriate moment, when it was actually hard.

A couple of years passed, and I had got better at games. I noticed that a remade version of Ninja Gaiden had been made, and I though nothing of it. Until I found out there was an easy mode in the game. An easy mode. I thought that would just mean all the visceral combat without all the death and fail that I had suffered. So sure enough, after I found it, I bought it. And History was made.

You see, the first thing I stupidly did in Ninja Gaiden Black was head straight for the easy mode. Died three times on the first level and forgot about the fact that I had got better at games. I breesed through the game, and some of my own bad habits in gaming were born. (Bad habits in games...I'll proabably blog about that when I can be arsed.) The only time I got stuck was again, due to poor design. It involved NInja Gaiden controls, platforming, and moving ledges.

Yeah.

But then, I beat the game and then breesed through normal mode, and then the real fun and addiction began. Hard mode and Mission Mode. Hard was suprisingly not that hard, and I passed that with many health potions intact, though the sense of satisfaction after completion was great. And Hard was where the best parts on Ninja Gaiden came to life. The Boss fights. Awakened Alma will stand out, for me, as one of the biggest c***s in gaming. Ouch. She kicked my arse hard. I don't even know why I was fighting her, can Rachel not go twenty seconds without being kidnapped? But anyway, the inclusion of minions into these awesome boss fights made them more intense. It was so much more fun than just learning a pattern and sticking to it. The slight unpredictability of more than one AI opponent in a boss fight meant that one move could turn the tide of battle.
And then Mission Mode. Practically just MOAR of what was good. And no, I haven't even done it yet. Its THAT hard. But it was Ninja Gaiden at its best. Difficulty was extreme, but never cheap. Enemies kicked your arse, but from on-screen, and because of inability of the player to react to the carnage going on. It was addictive and frustrating sometimes. But it was fair and fun, if you could handle it.

I then spent years waiting for Ninja Gaiden II, and the wait was over earlier this year. Ninja Gaiden II brought better base combat mechanics to the series, and made fights so much more intense with the health system. Regenerating health where hiding didn't mean pure healing, that was what this game needed, and got. But it was, overall, a dissapointment. Ninja Gaiden became cheap. The difficulty came from unblockable exploding shurikens and gatling rocket guns. That came from off screen. That was just where it all started to fall apart. It was fun, it was awesome, but Itagaki had forgot why the original was difficult. Sure it still had punishing AI, but the most difficult parts of the game came from this.
Moments like this still made NG2 Awesome for me.

And the boss fights were a load of shite. Go up to them, press why a lot, and dodge every now and then. Sometimes you'd get pwnt, others you'd just win. Or you could use the bow on damn near everything. It was a shame really, as the groundwork was there for the best sequal ever made. I still play it a lot, and enjoy it, and will complete it over the weekend if I have enough time. I loved the game enough to download the mission pack, which was still damn fine. I suppose with more hours put into it (which I will do when I finally apply some structure to my gaming) I shall get used to the differences, and kick arse like before, but...time shall tell. I suppose I was riding on the hype, and it was still an amazing game, and it just goes to show what expectations and boastful game designers can do.

Carrying on that theme...I shall end with some completely unrelated praise for Peter Moleynuex. Well done for keeping your gob shut.

Til Soon,
~Tylea
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Mirror's Edge Demo Impressions

Avoid Death = Keep Moving
Before I actually talk about the demo, allow me to talk about a little known game of last year. Portal. It combined witty writing, innovative first person gameplay and a simple yet striking art direction. It was short but sweet and oh so satisfying, and even though you had solved the puzzles, you came back for more to see how quickly you could complete it. It came in a great gaming value package and is regarded by quite a few to be one of the best games ever made. Hey, even Yahtzee loved it. The Mirror's Edge demo copies from Portal in almost every way. Now don't take that in a bad way. Portal has shortcomings like everything, but it is a great example of an awesome game.

For example, both games have the same aesthetic feel to them. Very clean exteriors to life - clean, yet sinister - and grimy behind the scenes work. Green is almost non-existant, there is barely anything natural. Its either stainless glass or rusted steel. In both games you are rebelling against control, and you don't really have a proper weapon. Both games feature an incredibly innovative control idea. First person parkour has never really been done before, and neither had portal guns. Its a comparison I haven't really seen being made much recently, but it is one I'd like to point out. I shall return to it, now onto my actual impressions of the demo.

You play the level that we've all seen a million fecking times on the only videos ever released of this game, thus removing some challenge from the puzzles etc. for me. I suppose this will be a blessing when the game comes out and most of the levels are fresh, but it detracted from the fun of the demo. However, the controls were a stroke of genius. You use the two sticks like a normal first person game, and mainly the shoulder buttons. LB is the "up" button, as it makes you jump, or hop over objects, or pull yourself onto ledges. LT is down, and you duck, slide, roll or curl yourself up to avoid barbed wire. RB is a quick turn, and RT is the attack button.

Thats it. Pure simplicity. There is a disarm button, a slow time button and other stuff I forget mapped to the face buttons, but they are fairly irrelevant. And I love it that way. I thought that a too simply control scheme would lead to less challenge and too much automated actions, but this way gives full control and it is still simple.

The game played great too. Keeping your momentum up was extremely fun, and while path finding on the fly was made easy by runner vision, which I *may* turn off in the game, that isn't where the challenge comes from, at least, not in the demo. While I'm sure in the real game, actually doing the levels presents a nice challenge, I have a feeling that that the first playthrough isn't where the most fun is. You see, I completed the demo, trying not to die and the usual, but upon replaying, I just tried not to slow down, to do it as fast as possible. I didn't want anything to come between me and the flow.

Unfortunately, the demo is short, and this is where the portal comparisons return. It is very much like a puzzle game, and where is the motivation to do the puzzle more than once? Portal had the amazing writing going for it, but this has timetrials. A much more...erm...well its not going to be used by everybody. I suppose, when I get the game, I will play it a lot simply because of how awesome the feeling of running without walls stopping you is, but it is supposed to be a full game. Portal was basically a fith of full price in the Orange Box, and you got a fifth of a game. One heck of a fitfth of a gamea t that, though.

I suppose I just want Mirror's Edge to have a FULL games worth of game. A reason to play more than a few times. I'm sure the races will be fun when I get to try them, because this game has so much going for it. Check back when I get it for my impressions, and eventually, a review.

In other news, I should be doing a GTA IV review very soon, hopefully next blog.

Til then,
~Tylea
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I arrive...Triumphantly

Yes, I am here. GiantBomb has captured me, and  It will never let go. Well, thats an overstatement. Gamespot became terrible, I never blogged or updated anything, and I figured a fresh start over here would do me good. The features on this site, at first glance at least, look extremely robust, especially the new "Guides" feature. I see many terribly organised guides at gamefaqs, that do have useful information buried with in, and a wiki style guide system is almost...guides 2.0. A way to streamline through all the crap that is often around, and put all the information in one organised place.

The way companies, people, characters, games, concepts and consoles all get their own wikis and forums is an incredible feat, and while this may lead to some disorganisation in a public wiki, from what I have seen so far, it works extremely well, with fans of specific games updating those pages and keeping their mini wiki intact. I've already made one major edit to the wiki, but I assume its awaiting moderation, as it has not shown up on either Pending subs or Wiki points. I hope I haven't lost it, I spent a while remembering the over the top story of Ninja Gaiden Black XD.

That will do, a short first blog post. Hopefully soon I shall have more impressions of the site, and more readers of my blog.

Til soon ,
~Tylea.

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