All Of The Vania, None Of The Metroid.

I bought a 3DS!

Well, I bought a 3DS like maybe two months ago at this point, but nonetheless I still continue to own and play games on my relatively new-spangled videya games console. However weirdly enough the type of cartridges that have found themselves snuggly fitted into its port (uh...) are of DS games rather than the 3D variety.

''...Bitches''

I do in fact own a couple of 3DS titles--Kirby's Triple Deluxe and Tales of the Abyss--to which I have invested a fair chunk into both. Although my recent craze has admittedly taken over and left those two at the sidelines. My recent craze being of course the Castlevania series! And more specifically the MetroidVania variety at that.

I was pretty hesitant as to which one to get first, and upon reading some opinions it seemed pretty evenly split between which one of the three--Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia--was the most popular. The one I ended up getting first was Portrait of Ruin anywhoo -- I think probably because it was the cheapest on offer.

So,

Portrait of Ruin

Oh, the humanime!

I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

I don't have much experience with this sub-genre, so Portrait of Ruin still managed to feel relatively fresh of an experience as of late. I had indeed played Symphony of the Night via XBLA years back, but I can remember getting lost shortly upon unlocking the mist power and got bored exploring the castle... Shadow Complex (which was also my first MetroidVania game) was thusly my primary frame of reference. Though it's admittedly been a fair few years since I played Shadow Complex at that... I should probably in fact give that another go, given my recent obsession and all.

Anywhoo, Portrait of Ruin. It encompasses all of the hallmarks we associate with the Symphony of the Night design of Castlevania, with a massive 2D castle to explore (albeit semi-linearly), light RPG mechanics, screen-filling bosses, and so on. In the grand scheme of things this is essentially another Symphony of the Night, though that's certainly not a bad thing!

The presentation for starters is just as stellar as you'd expect; even when viewed from a modern perspective the game still has a fetching look to it, with plenty of visual variety throughout the castle. The soundtrack is also really good at that -- another staple of this franchise. The combat, while simplistic, still manages to feel satisfying in slashing/cleaving/whipping (especially whipping) your way up, down and around to Dracula's domain. While there isn't necessarily a loot grind exactly, there's enough gear and hidden goodies to locate that exploration always feels beneficial and inspires you to make sure you've searched every corner of the castle.

Always Be Whipping... Always.

I suppose the primary differentiator that PoR utilises to help set it apart from its forebearers is the introduction of starring two dual protagonists, Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin. Jonathan is basically your traditional Castlevania protagonist, being able to utilise an all manner of swords and whips ect, and is likely to be the one you'll be directly controlling the most. Whereas Morris relies on melee and many of the series' staple sub-weapons (and then some), Charlotte is a spellcaster. Though that doesn't mean she can't also handle herself in a scrap, courtesy of a number of books she can equip that'll then sprout swords and shit for her melee attacks. The books that extend three different weapons at different angles in particular are actually really effective. That said, her overall melee damage can't quite compete against most of Jonathon's assortment of toys, nor can she take a hit quite as well, either.

Her variety of magic spells still offer up a lot of customisation all the same, and the handy ability to instantly call her at your side to perform a set-spell before then disappearing again is ever so useful. You can also opt to have her follow alongside you thattaway, to which she will join in attacking whatever enemies are nearby, and any damage she (or Morris if you're controlling Charlotte) sustains will instead eat away at your stamina/mana bar instead.

That said, I still more often than not rolled with Jonathan on his lonesome, occasionally switching to Charlotte when I want to cast a spell to its full potential -- summoning her to your side only has her cast the spell at half its power. Having her along to dish out a little extra damage can certainly prove useful, but because the AI is so rudimentary then it sometimes amounts to a waste of stamina having her going about attacking things of her own volition.

There's some occasional puzzles that requires you to switch between characters, or maybe tell one character to stay put while another does something else. But by and large it ultimately feels just a little tacked on. Though I believe you can in fact play the game cooperatively??

Jonathan Morris, ESRB Agent

If there is one major problem I have with the game it's that its default normal mode is a little bit on the easy side, especially once I acquired a Long Spear, and even more so once I unlocked the Royal Sword. However its Hard mode feels just a little bit too punishing... It probably starts to ease up a little as you acquire more gear, but the beginning of that game on Hard mode is fucking nasty. Practically everything can kill you in like 2-3 hits, whereas it takes much more to kill one of them. Even the most rudimentary of enemies like the zombies, bats and skeletons prove to be a serious threat. Overall the balance of frustration and fun is a little off for me in that mode, in that it's basically all frustration with none of the fun =/

Nonetheless overall I've really enjoyed it, and it's made for a great jumping off point into me binging through all of these damn things. In fact I've even gone back to it and decided to play through it again from scratch -- because why not?? Also, the way the 3DS makes the sound of a door opening/closing when you open/close your 3DS is pretty cool.

Unlockable Stuff!

One thing I really appreciate about these games is the tradition of including an uber-powered unlockable character to then get up to all sorts of sequence-breaking with. By which I'm of course referring to Richter mode! Or... ''Richiter'' mode as the game refers to it.

Playing as Richter is a joyous amount of fun, and while there's no story, inventory management, items, gear, or... well not much of anything really besides what you see on the screen, Richter himself is so bloody fast and powerful that the sheer act of playing as him is a reward in and of itself. Plus, you do at least level up so there's some degree of progression to it all. Since Richter is so powerful I decided to play it on Hard mode with him, and while it's actually still pretty damn difficult, it feels like I have much more of a fighting chance overall. Though because of how fast he is it can be a little difficult to reign myself in; sprinting and leaping around on full-auto is so fun that it's hard to stop, which very quickly results in my death...

THIS GAME IS SO PRETTY OMG

I wish I could carry the same enthusiasm for the Sisters mode, though. I was actually pretty excited to play as the duo, only to have that excitement deflate like a ruptured whoopee cushion upon finding out that all you can do with 'em is use the stylus to perform a spell per sister. It's just kinda boring really, as you simply float about and stick the stylus on the screen to watch ice orbs fly everywhere. There's of course still no gear or anything like that and it's extremely shallow. There appears to be a bit of story involved with this one, but whatever, the stories even in the main modes are rather thin and poorly written, so the story of a small side-thing isn't exactly very enticing. Shame really, as again I was pretty excited at the notion of getting to play as them.

I've also read that there's an unlockable Armour Knight character, only it requires you to kill 1000 Armour Knights during the main game... One Thousand. Of this one specific enemy. Putting that to scale, by the end of my first playthrough I had killed about 3000 enemies.

Symphony of the Night

And European boxart wins again ;)

The Grand Daddy of the entire franchise, and one half of the whole MetroidVania sub-genre thing in the first place. As I mentioned earlier I did already play this way back when, but after putting in some time with PoR I then figured now is as good a time as any to return back to the Champion.

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases, however what it can hold above the rest is funnily enough its presentation. Whereas most games in this series have adopted a more anime-inspired look and sound, Symphony of the Night carries the classic Gothic stylings of the series. The game still looks superb to this day and has a heavy atmosphere about it all, in so small part down to its soundtrack. PoR certainly has some great tracks on there, but it's much more JRPG-ish as opposed to the grander and more bizarre SotN's soundtrack.

What CAN I DO FOR you... Stranger?

Despite that, certain aspects like your inability to slide, or the less prominent fast-travel portals, can make it a little less accessible. Plus, while there's plenty of weaponry, most are all basically just swords. There are different qualities like some have a faster attack animation and such, but there's nothing that gives you the same degree of disparity between switching from a regular long sword to a spear for example.

One other aspect that I really dislike is the use of fighting game-esque button commands for your spells. In the heat of battle having to pull them off is tricky enough as it is, let alone when you're also trying to do it with a 360 controller. As such, I primarily went through the game pretending they didn't even exist.

OK, and just to get the criticisms outta the way, Richter mode in this isn't especially great. I mean playing as Richter is still a lot of fun, and that slide leap move of his is probably my favourite anything in the history of Castlevania thus far. However because there's once again no gear to collect or even any levelling up this time, it's like Richter was dropped into the wrong game. Which... of course is true in a way. It basically feels as if the main pull for playing as Richter is to fight the bosses, as exploring the castle is kind of a drag. To constantly leap around only to be rewarded with more hearts really sucks. Also, most of the bosses are kinda easy as Richter funnily enough.

I've read that you can at least increase your overall health, though there's no kind of feedback to obtaining a health upgrade, and it treats it no differently than if you've just collected another heart. It basically feels unfinished, as if this was the developers experimenting with the idea rather than actually giving you a healthy alternative to Alucard.

Now, with all that outta the way, this game is still pretty damn awesome. One aspect that is undoubtedly worth all the praise is its Inverted Castle. It's probably the best use of a New Game+ ever from what I can tell. With the way it literally flips the entire castle upside down, it in doing so creates a completely new environment with new traversal obstacles to overcome. Of course, there's also plenty of new enemy types, bosses, and gear to find. So in that regard I don't know if it really counts as an example of NG+... But in any case it's a shame that no other Castlevania game to my knowledge has utilised such an interesting concept.

The voice acting and dialogue are also hilariously awful. Well, Alucard's mostly fine, but Richter & Dracula in particular are a laugh riot. Also, fun fact: the guy who voices Richter is the same guy who voices Chris Redfield in the original Resident Evil! Hey, it wouldn't be a Yummylee blog without a sprinkling of Resident Evil in there somewhere...

''What do you here?''... u wot luv

FUUUUUUU

The difficulty is an improvement too, as it can certainly prove to be a challenge at times. Galamoth is also without a doubt the hardest anything I've fought across all of these I've played... The only way I could beat him was with the shield rod and alucard's shield. Oh, and btw, I had to look up that using the shield rod with shields actually grants you different abilities. As far as I'm aware the game doesn't ever tell you the button combination to then use the ability. Anywhoo, it's actually kinda hilarious how broken that ability is. Once activated your shield then does about 424423 damage per second. Which, hey, at least it gives your a shield an actual use!

I attempted Galamoth many a time simply with my skill, but I just couldn't do it. Those electric balls he'd constantly keep summoning, and reading that he has like 15000 health, when all of my attacks do about 4 damage without any sort of buff, well... Would you kindly go fuck yourself, Galamoth. It gotten to a point where the boss was built around a war of attrition than anything.

Dawn of Sorrow

Err, Hammer? Maybe wanna watch your hand there?

Given that I'm seemingly on a quest to play every single one of these in the wrong order, next up is Dawn of Sorrow!

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Oh right yeah, one of your abilities quite literally turns you into an amazonian... Huh

It's always strange when you play a predecessor, because you can't help but head in with the mentality that you're playing a sequel, even when you know to expect that maybe it won't be quite as refined, or maybe this one feature you liked isn't there ect. Though because so many of these games are so similar, it's pretty easy transition all the same, especially after going through SotN.

In fact beyond a few minor differences, it is exceptionally similar to Portrait of Ruin, right down to enemy sprites. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. While they're both rather comparable, I think I'd hafta say I prefer Dawn of Sorrow just ever so slightly. Which is weird because at first it wasn't quite grabbing me as much, yet as it went on it eventually became just as addicting. I don't what it was that clicked, but... this one definitely took a bit of time for to me really get stuck in for whatever reason.

Anywhoo, I'd say it has a more consistently entertaining soundtrack, and the overall difficulty balance is a little better, too. It's still not especially difficult, but there's more of a challenge all the same I'd say. The way you can acquire like every single enemy ability in the game is also really enticing and makes it exciting to encounter new enemies. Sure, in PoR a lot of enemies would drop their weapon or a spell centred around their attacks, but because so many were spells as opposed to weapons or sub-weapons, it wasn't quite as exciting as what you could potentially uncover in DoS. Manticore Tail, motherffffffffff!

Some truly memorable boss battles as well, with the puppet master and mirror jester bosses in particular a couple of standouts. Though on that note, it also features some of the worst. Dario is an especially poor one as he basically just stands there with like 3 attacks or something. That, and there's his infuriating ''ha-ha-ha-ha-ha'' he literally does like every 3 seconds.

I also think it's interesting how instead of finding weapons, you upgrade them via specific enemy souls you acquire. On one hand it can make exploring around a little less engaging, because of the knowledge that you're not going to find any new weapons. But on the other, it again only makes grinding out enemy souls all the more surprisingly addictive. It's a pretty great system overall that I really enjoy, and of all the ones I've played thus far it's easily my favourite with regards to your sub-weapon/magic customisation.

From what I can tell it seems only those of the Dracula bloodline have the uncanny ability to sit in chairs.

Now the one primary complaint I have for this 'un is the magic seals -- the ''connect the dots'' stylus sequencer things. They're honestly more trouble than they're worth and at best merely prove to be a minor nuisance, but at worst can be utterly infuriating. They start off simple enough as you basically just connect the dots to make a triangle, but of course they soon start getting more complicated, until you find yourself doing circles followed by semi-circles and stuff. The one that really tore at me was when fighting Death and having to do magic seal 5. The battle itself was rather tricky to begin with, and to end it with that Magic Seal BS really tested my patience. It got to a point where Death himself wasn't much of a problem, but every time it came to the magic seal I wouldn't quite do it fast enough or my lines weren't straight enough or whatever.

It doesn't really add anything to the game and mostly comes across as something they shoved in purely because, hey, there's this touch screen doohickey so... Having to hold a stylus in my hands while also play the game can be a tad unwieldy anyway, and I'd much rather developers either build a game completely around the use of the stylus, or pretend that it doesn't exist. Though to be honest I think that's probably my only major flaw with the game.

Julius Mode!

Cuz I'm a Creepy Raper Guy, see.

Oh, baby here we go. To be quite frank I'd probably say I've had about as much fun playing as Julius as I've had with Soma. For starters he's basically in his 50s, which I always like in my protagonists, which also means that he's not quite as... athletic as Richter for example. He comes across a lot more even scaled overall, and in fact his default running speed seems to be slower than Soma's. All in all, playing as Julius is a lot of fun, and I especially like the additional music peppered throughout the game. It even has a Barkerville remix!.. Oh, yeah, I must confess that when that song started playing, my first instinct was to start humming it while pronouncing the Barkerville syllables in my head. Curse you, @brad...

What's also neat is how you're not just playing as Julius, but will eventually come into contact with Yoko and even Alucard. And by Alucard I mean Alucard... Like, Symphony of the Night Alucard, right down to his inability to slide and how he's the only one of the three who can sit in chairs. Because he already had that animation so, hey! Though despite that, I still found myself playing as Julius more often than not. It's his name on the mode after all! Alucard seems to purely exist for his traversal abilities really, and I guess Yoko has her small healing ability by way of her regular attacks each providing a small bit of health -- like, literally 4 or something. Though it's honestly so small that it borders on useless, even if it does slightly increase every so few levels. Her magic abilities are rather powerful, but... Julius all the way, mang. Plus, switching between characters isn't nearly as instantaneous as it is in PoR, so it's something of a hassle really. Though you are invincible during the short transition animation, which I guess could be used to your advantage if timed right.

Like Richter Mode, playing without the option to use items gives an additional layer of complexity to the game and suddenly makes you take all of those potions and puddings for granted. It's certainly not impossible, though, it just means there's less room for error. Fighting Death has proven to be rather tricky, but thank the Lord there's at least no magic seals in here!

Shame The Abyss(full) area is so short, though. Once I went through the portal I had hoped it was then going to open up an entirely new area about the size as the Cultist Castle. But alas.

Order of Ecclesia

All right, here we go! A badass looking female protagonist, complete with a return to the more Gothic-inspired art style of old! It's even bucking its own trends and trying out some new ideas!

And yet... I don't quite like it...?

Man, this sucks. I don't mean the game exactly, but rather my own reaction to it. It has a lot of qualities that should make it shoot right up to becoming one of my favourites even. However the way the combat is designed doesn't sit well with me. OK, first I at least want to say that I'm not opposed to the World Map design. While having this giant, singular environment to explore is fun, I'm game for any other ways they wish to dish out all of the many different environment aesthetics. And boy, is there variety! The game looks fantastic as well and is easily the best looking of the DS trilogy.

Unfortunately I'm not much of a fan of the combat. See, instead of picking up weapons, you must find Glyphs. Upon absorbing these Glyphs they will give you your weapons and also magic spells. You can equip a different Glyph per hand, so you could dual-wield swords for example, or stick a sword on one and a lance on another. However all weapons (least so far) function the same, and instead are differentiated by their type. So, you're going to want use hammers against skeletons for example. But their actual animations all play out the same and just don't quite carry the same satisfaction as the weapons of the older games do.

You can again also equip spells, and there are Glyph combinations that can form into a unique special attack. Oh, because you also now two mana bars, with one determining your regular attacks/magic, and the other being your hearts, which is used for your Glyph combos, making it resemble closer to the older games of the series. Though your primary bar replenishes almost instantly when used. Hearts, however, are much rarer, so it'll force you to use your Glyph combo attacks in moderation.

I have little problem with the idea behind the Glyphs system, but the core combat attacks don't quite do it for me. I also don't think the music is anything special thus far, either. Though being able to collect CDs of classic Castlevania songs and play them over the level is quite a treat. I also like the idea behind the HUB village, that you slowly grow as you save more of its villagers. Again, there's a lot of things I like in this game, but unfortunately I currently can't get over the combat system as of now.

I'll certainly make an effort to complete it, though it's also much more difficult than its priors. That crab boss in particular musta taken me about 20 attempts! Still, part of me wants to complete it just so I can play it with the unlockable character and see if maybe I prefer it that way.

Oh! Conclusion!

TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT

OK, I have actually totally been playing Aria of Sorrow and Harmony of Dissonance lately as well.... But hawt dayum I think this blog is long enough as it is, so if I were to be bothered to write up a little summin' summin' related to those then it'll have to be for another time. To put it short, one I like, one less so. Guess which one's which.

Still, my point has been made: these games have got me good. I'm admittedly fearing the inevitable burnout like you'd expect, but it's not quite here yet and damn if I can stop even if I wanted to! I've even got Aliens: Infestation over here for just a little extra smidge of that Metroidvania'n.

And who can blame me! It's a design that still stands up to this day; the 2D format allows some stupendously beautiful art for starters, and the act of continually unlocking new stuff and being able to further explore an ever growing environment is ever so tantalising. It's that aura of mystique that pulls us on, it inspires us to search every cranny and whip every wall... just in case. It may have taken me a few years, but I'm happy I've finally gotten around to discovering what is so beloved about these games. Though weirdly enough they're all a lot... shorter than I would have imagined.

Don't get me wrong, with them all averaging at about 9-10 hours just with the main game, they've certainly got a decent length about 'em. But when you look at the map and your statistics, you'd think you would have just surmounted a 25-30 hour long adventure. Eh, but again, I'm certainly not complaining about their value. Maybe it's just my way of admitting that I want more -- more castles, more whips, more double jumps,

More!

Also, @vinny, where'sa ma VinnyVania?!

Outro Music Sure Why Not

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All Of The Vania, None Of The Metroid.

I bought a 3DS!

Well, I bought a 3DS like maybe two months ago at this point, but nonetheless I still continue to own and play games on my relatively new-spangled videya games console. However weirdly enough the type of cartridges that have found themselves snuggly fitted into its port (uh...) are of DS games rather than the 3D variety.

''...Bitches''

I do in fact own a couple of 3DS titles--Kirby's Triple Deluxe and Tales of the Abyss--to which I have invested a fair chunk into both. Although my recent craze has admittedly taken over and left those two at the sidelines. My recent craze being of course the Castlevania series! And more specifically the MetroidVania variety at that.

I was pretty hesitant as to which one to get first, and upon reading some opinions it seemed pretty evenly split between which one of the three--Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia--was the most popular. The one I ended up getting first was Portrait of Ruin anywhoo -- I think probably because it was the cheapest on offer.

So,

Portrait of Ruin

Oh, the humanime!

I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

I don't have much experience with this sub-genre, so Portrait of Ruin still managed to feel relatively fresh of an experience as of late. I had indeed played Symphony of the Night via XBLA years back, but I can remember getting lost shortly upon unlocking the mist power and got bored exploring the castle... Shadow Complex (which was also my first MetroidVania game) was thusly my primary frame of reference. Though it's admittedly been a fair few years since I played Shadow Complex at that... I should probably in fact give that another go, given my recent obsession and all.

Anywhoo, Portrait of Ruin. It encompasses all of the hallmarks we associate with the Symphony of the Night design of Castlevania, with a massive 2D castle to explore (albeit semi-linearly), light RPG mechanics, screen-filling bosses, and so on. In the grand scheme of things this is essentially another Symphony of the Night, though that's certainly not a bad thing!

The presentation for starters is just as stellar as you'd expect; even when viewed from a modern perspective the game still has a fetching look to it, with plenty of visual variety throughout the castle. The soundtrack is also really good at that -- another staple of this franchise. The combat, while simplistic, still manages to feel satisfying in slashing/cleaving/whipping (especially whipping) your way up, down and around to Dracula's domain. While there isn't necessarily a loot grind exactly, there's enough gear and hidden goodies to locate that exploration always feels beneficial and inspires you to make sure you've searched every corner of the castle.

Always Be Whipping... Always.

I suppose the primary differentiator that PoR utilises to help set it apart from its forebearers is the introduction of starring two dual protagonists, Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin. Jonathan is basically your traditional Castlevania protagonist, being able to utilise an all manner of swords and whips ect, and is likely to be the one you'll be directly controlling the most. Whereas Morris relies on melee and many of the series' staple sub-weapons (and then some), Charlotte is a spellcaster. Though that doesn't mean she can't also handle herself in a scrap, courtesy of a number of books she can equip that'll then sprout swords and shit for her melee attacks. The books that extend three different weapons at different angles in particular are actually really effective. That said, her overall melee damage can't quite compete against most of Jonathon's assortment of toys, nor can she take a hit quite as well, either.

Her variety of magic spells still offer up a lot of customisation all the same, and the handy ability to instantly call her at your side to perform a set-spell before then disappearing again is ever so useful. You can also opt to have her follow alongside you thattaway, to which she will join in attacking whatever enemies are nearby, and any damage she (or Morris if you're controlling Charlotte) sustains will instead eat away at your stamina/mana bar instead.

That said, I still more often than not rolled with Jonathan on his lonesome, occasionally switching to Charlotte when I want to cast a spell to its full potential -- summoning her to your side only has her cast the spell at half its power. Having her along to dish out a little extra damage can certainly prove useful, but because the AI is so rudimentary then it sometimes amounts to a waste of stamina having her going about attacking things of her own volition.

There's some occasional puzzles that requires you to switch between characters, or maybe tell one character to stay put while another does something else. But by and large it ultimately feels just a little tacked on. Though I believe you can in fact play the game cooperatively??

Jonathan Morris, ESRB Agent

If there is one major problem I have with the game it's that its default normal mode is a little bit on the easy side, especially once I acquired a Long Spear, and even more so once I unlocked the Royal Sword. However its Hard mode feels just a little bit too punishing... It probably starts to ease up a little as you acquire more gear, but the beginning of that game on Hard mode is fucking nasty. Practically everything can kill you in like 2-3 hits, whereas it takes much more to kill one of them. Even the most rudimentary of enemies like the zombies, bats and skeletons prove to be a serious threat. Overall the balance of frustration and fun is a little off for me in that mode, in that it's basically all frustration with none of the fun =/

Nonetheless overall I've really enjoyed it, and it's made for a great jumping off point into me binging through all of these damn things. In fact I've even gone back to it and decided to play through it again from scratch -- because why not?? Also, the way the 3DS makes the sound of a door opening/closing when you open/close your 3DS is pretty cool.

Unlockable Stuff!

One thing I really appreciate about these games is the tradition of including an uber-powered unlockable character to then get up to all sorts of sequence-breaking with. By which I'm of course referring to Richter mode! Or... ''Richiter'' mode as the game refers to it.

Playing as Richter is a joyous amount of fun, and while there's no story, inventory management, items, gear, or... well not much of anything really besides what you see on the screen, Richter himself is so bloody fast and powerful that the sheer act of playing as him is a reward in and of itself. Plus, you do at least level up so there's some degree of progression to it all. Since Richter is so powerful I decided to play it on Hard mode with him, and while it's actually still pretty damn difficult, it feels like I have much more of a fighting chance overall. Though because of how fast he is it can be a little difficult to reign myself in; sprinting and leaping around on full-auto is so fun that it's hard to stop, which very quickly results in my death...

THIS GAME IS SO PRETTY OMG

I wish I could carry the same enthusiasm for the Sisters mode, though. I was actually pretty excited to play as the duo, only to have that excitement deflate like a ruptured whoopee cushion upon finding out that all you can do with 'em is use the stylus to perform a spell per sister. It's just kinda boring really, as you simply float about and stick the stylus on the screen to watch ice orbs fly everywhere. There's of course still no gear or anything like that and it's extremely shallow. There appears to be a bit of story involved with this one, but whatever, the stories even in the main modes are rather thin and poorly written, so the story of a small side-thing isn't exactly very enticing. Shame really, as again I was pretty excited at the notion of getting to play as them.

I've also read that there's an unlockable Armour Knight character, only it requires you to kill 1000 Armour Knights during the main game... One Thousand. Of this one specific enemy. Putting that to scale, by the end of my first playthrough I had killed about 3000 enemies.

Symphony of the Night

And European boxart wins again ;)

The Grand Daddy of the entire franchise, and one half of the whole MetroidVania sub-genre thing in the first place. As I mentioned earlier I did already play this way back when, but after putting in some time with PoR I then figured now is as good a time as any to return back to the Champion.

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases, however what it can hold above the rest is funnily enough its presentation. Whereas most games in this series have adopted a more anime-inspired look and sound, Symphony of the Night carries the classic Gothic stylings of the series. The game still looks superb to this day and has a heavy atmosphere about it all, in so small part down to its soundtrack. PoR certainly has some great tracks on there, but it's much more JRPG-ish as opposed to the grander and more bizarre SotN's soundtrack.

What CAN I DO FOR you... Stranger?

Despite that, certain aspects like your inability to slide, or the less prominent fast-travel portals, can make it a little less accessible. Plus, while there's plenty of weaponry, most are all basically just swords. There are different qualities like some have a faster attack animation and such, but there's nothing that gives you the same degree of disparity between switching from a regular long sword to a spear for example.

One other aspect that I really dislike is the use of fighting game-esque button commands for your spells. In the heat of battle having to pull them off is tricky enough as it is, let alone when you're also trying to do it with a 360 controller. As such, I primarily went through the game pretending they didn't even exist.

OK, and just to get the criticisms outta the way, Richter mode in this isn't especially great. I mean playing as Richter is still a lot of fun, and that slide leap move of his is probably my favourite anything in the history of Castlevania thus far. However because there's once again no gear to collect or even any levelling up this time, it's like Richter was dropped into the wrong game. Which... of course is true in a way. It basically feels as if the main pull for playing as Richter is to fight the bosses, as exploring the castle is kind of a drag. To constantly leap around only to be rewarded with more hearts really sucks. Also, most of the bosses are kinda easy as Richter funnily enough.

I've read that you can at least increase your overall health, though there's no kind of feedback to obtaining a health upgrade, and it treats it no differently than if you've just collected another heart. It basically feels unfinished, as if this was the developers experimenting with the idea rather than actually giving you a healthy alternative to Alucard.

Now, with all that outta the way, this game is still pretty damn awesome. One aspect that is undoubtedly worth all the praise is its Inverted Castle. It's probably the best use of a New Game+ ever from what I can tell. With the way it literally flips the entire castle upside down, it in doing so creates a completely new environment with new traversal obstacles to overcome. Of course, there's also plenty of new enemy types, bosses, and gear to find. So in that regard I don't know if it really counts as an example of NG+... But in any case it's a shame that no other Castlevania game to my knowledge has utilised such an interesting concept.

The voice acting and dialogue are also hilariously awful. Well, Alucard's mostly fine, but Richter & Dracula in particular are a laugh riot. Also, fun fact: the guy who voices Richter is the same guy who voices Chris Redfield in the original Resident Evil! Hey, it wouldn't be a Yummylee blog without a sprinkling of Resident Evil in there somewhere...

''What do you here?''... u wot luv

FUUUUUUU

The difficulty is an improvement too, as it can certainly prove to be a challenge at times. Galamoth is also without a doubt the hardest anything I've fought across all of these I've played... The only way I could beat him was with the shield rod and alucard's shield. Oh, and btw, I had to look up that using the shield rod with shields actually grants you different abilities. As far as I'm aware the game doesn't ever tell you the button combination to then use the ability. Anywhoo, it's actually kinda hilarious how broken that ability is. Once activated your shield then does about 424423 damage per second. Which, hey, at least it gives your a shield an actual use!

I attempted Galamoth many a time simply with my skill, but I just couldn't do it. Those electric balls he'd constantly keep summoning, and reading that he has like 15000 health, when all of my attacks do about 4 damage without any sort of buff, well... Would you kindly go fuck yourself, Galamoth. It gotten to a point where the boss was built around a war of attrition than anything.

Dawn of Sorrow

Err, Hammer? Maybe wanna watch your hand there?

Given that I'm seemingly on a quest to play every single one of these in the wrong order, next up is Dawn of Sorrow!

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Oh right yeah, one of your abilities quite literally turns you into an amazonian... Huh

It's always strange when you play a predecessor, because you can't help but head in with the mentality that you're playing a sequel, even when you know to expect that maybe it won't be quite as refined, or maybe this one feature you liked isn't there ect. Though because so many of these games are so similar, it's pretty easy transition all the same, especially after going through SotN.

In fact beyond a few minor differences, it is exceptionally similar to Portrait of Ruin, right down to enemy sprites. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. While they're both rather comparable, I think I'd hafta say I prefer Dawn of Sorrow just ever so slightly. Which is weird because at first it wasn't quite grabbing me as much, yet as it went on it eventually became just as addicting. I don't what it was that clicked, but... this one definitely took a bit of time for to me really get stuck in for whatever reason.

Anywhoo, I'd say it has a more consistently entertaining soundtrack, and the overall difficulty balance is a little better, too. It's still not especially difficult, but there's more of a challenge all the same I'd say. The way you can acquire like every single enemy ability in the game is also really enticing and makes it exciting to encounter new enemies. Sure, in PoR a lot of enemies would drop their weapon or a spell centred around their attacks, but because so many were spells as opposed to weapons or sub-weapons, it wasn't quite as exciting as what you could potentially uncover in DoS. Manticore Tail, motherffffffffff!

Some truly memorable boss battles as well, with the puppet master and mirror jester bosses in particular a couple of standouts. Though on that note, it also features some of the worst. Dario is an especially poor one as he basically just stands there with like 3 attacks or something. That, and there's his infuriating ''ha-ha-ha-ha-ha'' he literally does like every 3 seconds.

I also think it's interesting how instead of finding weapons, you upgrade them via specific enemy souls you acquire. On one hand it can make exploring around a little less engaging, because of the knowledge that you're not going to find any new weapons. But on the other, it again only makes grinding out enemy souls all the more surprisingly addictive. It's a pretty great system overall that I really enjoy, and of all the ones I've played thus far it's easily my favourite with regards to your sub-weapon/magic customisation.

From what I can tell it seems only those of the Dracula bloodline have the uncanny ability to sit in chairs.

Now the one primary complaint I have for this 'un is the magic seals -- the ''connect the dots'' stylus sequencer things. They're honestly more trouble than they're worth and at best merely prove to be a minor nuisance, but at worst can be utterly infuriating. They start off simple enough as you basically just connect the dots to make a triangle, but of course they soon start getting more complicated, until you find yourself doing circles followed by semi-circles and stuff. The one that really tore at me was when fighting Death and having to do magic seal 5. The battle itself was rather tricky to begin with, and to end it with that Magic Seal BS really tested my patience. It got to a point where Death himself wasn't much of a problem, but every time it came to the magic seal I wouldn't quite do it fast enough or my lines weren't straight enough or whatever.

It doesn't really add anything to the game and mostly comes across as something they shoved in purely because, hey, there's this touch screen doohickey so... Having to hold a stylus in my hands while also play the game can be a tad unwieldy anyway, and I'd much rather developers either build a game completely around the use of the stylus, or pretend that it doesn't exist. Though to be honest I think that's probably my only major flaw with the game.

Julius Mode!

Cuz I'm a Creepy Raper Guy, see.

Oh, baby here we go. To be quite frank I'd probably say I've had about as much fun playing as Julius as I've had with Soma. For starters he's basically in his 50s, which I always like in my protagonists, which also means that he's not quite as... athletic as Richter for example. He comes across a lot more even scaled overall, and in fact his default running speed seems to be slower than Soma's. All in all, playing as Julius is a lot of fun, and I especially like the additional music peppered throughout the game. It even has a Barkerville remix!.. Oh, yeah, I must confess that when that song started playing, my first instinct was to start humming it while pronouncing the Barkerville syllables in my head. Curse you, @brad...

What's also neat is how you're not just playing as Julius, but will eventually come into contact with Yoko and even Alucard. And by Alucard I mean Alucard... Like, Symphony of the Night Alucard, right down to his inability to slide and how he's the only one of the three who can sit in chairs. Because he already had that animation so, hey! Though despite that, I still found myself playing as Julius more often than not. It's his name on the mode after all! Alucard seems to purely exist for his traversal abilities really, and I guess Yoko has her small healing ability by way of her regular attacks each providing a small bit of health -- like, literally 4 or something. Though it's honestly so small that it borders on useless, even if it does slightly increase every so few levels. Her magic abilities are rather powerful, but... Julius all the way, mang. Plus, switching between characters isn't nearly as instantaneous as it is in PoR, so it's something of a hassle really. Though you are invincible during the short transition animation, which I guess could be used to your advantage if timed right.

Like Richter Mode, playing without the option to use items gives an additional layer of complexity to the game and suddenly makes you take all of those potions and puddings for granted. It's certainly not impossible, though, it just means there's less room for error. Fighting Death has proven to be rather tricky, but thank the Lord there's at least no magic seals in here!

Shame The Abyss(full) area is so short, though. Once I went through the portal I had hoped it was then going to open up an entirely new area about the size as the Cultist Castle. But alas.

Order of Ecclesia

All right, here we go! A badass looking female protagonist, complete with a return to the more Gothic-inspired art style of old! It's even bucking its own trends and trying out some new ideas!

And yet... I don't quite like it...?

Man, this sucks. I don't mean the game exactly, but rather my own reaction to it. It has a lot of qualities that should make it shoot right up to becoming one of my favourites even. However the way the combat is designed doesn't sit well with me. OK, first I at least want to say that I'm not opposed to the World Map design. While having this giant, singular environment to explore is fun, I'm game for any other ways they wish to dish out all of the many different environment aesthetics. And boy, is there variety! The game looks fantastic as well and is easily the best looking of the DS trilogy.

Unfortunately I'm not much of a fan of the combat. See, instead of picking up weapons, you must find Glyphs. Upon absorbing these Glyphs they will give you your weapons and also magic spells. You can equip a different Glyph per hand, so you could dual-wield swords for example, or stick a sword on one and a lance on another. However all weapons (least so far) function the same, and instead are differentiated by their type. So, you're going to want use hammers against skeletons for example. But their actual animations all play out the same and just don't quite carry the same satisfaction as the weapons of the older games do.

You can again also equip spells, and there are Glyph combinations that can form into a unique special attack. Oh, because you also now two mana bars, with one determining your regular attacks/magic, and the other being your hearts, which is used for your Glyph combos, making it resemble closer to the older games of the series. Though your primary bar replenishes almost instantly when used. Hearts, however, are much rarer, so it'll force you to use your Glyph combo attacks in moderation.

I have little problem with the idea behind the Glyphs system, but the core combat attacks don't quite do it for me. I also don't think the music is anything special thus far, either. Though being able to collect CDs of classic Castlevania songs and play them over the level is quite a treat. I also like the idea behind the HUB village, that you slowly grow as you save more of its villagers. Again, there's a lot of things I like in this game, but unfortunately I currently can't get over the combat system as of now.

I'll certainly make an effort to complete it, though it's also much more difficult than its priors. That crab boss in particular musta taken me about 20 attempts! Still, part of me wants to complete it just so I can play it with the unlockable character and see if maybe I prefer it that way.

Oh! Conclusion!

TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT

OK, I have actually totally been playing Aria of Sorrow and Harmony of Dissonance lately as well.... But hawt dayum I think this blog is long enough as it is, so if I were to be bothered to write up a little summin' summin' related to those then it'll have to be for another time. To put it short, one I like, one less so. Guess which one's which.

Still, my point has been made: these games have got me good. I'm admittedly fearing the inevitable burnout like you'd expect, but it's not quite here yet and damn if I can stop even if I wanted to! I've even got Aliens: Infestation over here for just a little extra smidge of that Metroidvania'n.

And who can blame me! It's a design that still stands up to this day; the 2D format allows some stupendously beautiful art for starters, and the act of continually unlocking new stuff and being able to further explore an ever growing environment is ever so tantalising. It's that aura of mystique that pulls us on, it inspires us to search every cranny and whip every wall... just in case. It may have taken me a few years, but I'm happy I've finally gotten around to discovering what is so beloved about these games. Though weirdly enough they're all a lot... shorter than I would have imagined.

Don't get me wrong, with them all averaging at about 9-10 hours just with the main game, they've certainly got a decent length about 'em. But when you look at the map and your statistics, you'd think you would have just surmounted a 25-30 hour long adventure. Eh, but again, I'm certainly not complaining about their value. Maybe it's just my way of admitting that I want more -- more castles, more whips, more double jumps,

More!

Also, @vinny, where'sa ma VinnyVania?!

Outro Music Sure Why Not

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A Defence of Resident Evil Survival Horror Controls.

This... admittedly seems a tad random and almost comes across as a sort of reactionary post to something recent that's been making the waves throughout the interwebs. In a sense it... is sort of reactionary, but rather to the general sentiment regarding the classic Resident Evil games and how they control. Most importantly originating from the consensus of how widely accepted both RE4 & RE5 play, despite RE4 in particular featuring the exact same tank controls as the classic games. I've also always thought of it as a little unfair to how restrictions like not being able to move & shoot in those games is admissible and is commonly justified with such reasoning as ''you don't need to move & shoot'' for example, by @brad in particular.

This Brad, however, respectfully disagrees!

Which of course is 100% true. RE4 is a game that is specifically designed around the fact that you cannot simultaneously move & shoot, only that's similarly how I've always viewed the controls for the original games. I think one of the main fallacies is I would imagine most people often tend to compare the new and the old too directly; because RE4 is a shooter, people then judge the older games and how they control as if they are also shooters which... well, they're not. They're games that feature the act of shooting, but they're not really shooters.

Anywhoo, a blog like this is something I've wanted to post for like forever, but laziness and all that... Weirdly enough--and this isn't the first time--what brought about me actually finally writing up my thoughts on the matter in detail was as a forum response, specifically to @believer258. Only this time I figured I should actually reformat my post, expand it a wee bit, and place it up as a blog.

So... woolah... ?

First Things First

Now, for reals, I would never classify the controls of classic Resident Evil games as being... accessible; they're very unorthodox to say the least. Despite that, because the original games' were rather slow paced and emphasised atmosphere and exploration over most facets, I never felt like the controls were much of a hindrance. The older games may still have had plenty of combat, it was all very rudimentary; most bosses for example primarily required that you simply run away, shoot, run away, shoot ect.

Who needs to move & shoot when you're the mayor of Stunlock City!

The basic source of challenge within the games was that you had to decide between whether it's best using up ammo to kill this hypothetical zombie rather than try to run away. Your attempts at trying to get through a combat encounter without actually engaging in combat might mean you get damaged along the way, due to the intentionally claustrophobic environments, but... hey, you gotta adapt! And that's basically the core appeal for me and survival horror in general: being forced to adapt because you've run low on supplies and having to then think outside of the box and mix up your strategies. It's why I'm also a huge fan of The Last of Us not purely for its story, but because it also had some rather punishing gameplay that focussed on ammo conservation and improvisation. It's essentially what a modern-day survival horror game should strive to resemble, and that's predictably the reason why user-reception to the gameplay is rather mixed, given the nature of survival horror being a divisive one.

Boss battles admittedly tend to clash against certain philosophies regarding survival horror, by placing an enemy in front of you that must be killed to continue the game forward as opposed to giving you the chance to alternatively run away. But as abbreviated earlier bosses--in Resident Evil at least--are rather simple in design and instead exist more for spectacle and/or narrative purposes. Running low or out of ammunition is supposed to be a genuine fear, and should that happen in the midst of a boss battle... well, that would really kinda suck. It's a tricky system to balance, though Resident Evil games usually offset this potential nuisance by making sure there's likely to be additional ammo you can acquire somewhere--if not outside or near the boss arena--to beat it. Not the most elegant of solutions, but... whattayagonnado.

Camera Angles & The Why of Tank Controls

Barry Burton abides by no control scheme but his own. This includes Press X to God Mode.

Camera angles existed for the purpose of accentuating the atmosphere and directing specific scares; it allowed a lot of freedom for the game to actually show you what they want (or don't want) you to see. However analogue control (for a time) didn't quite mesh with camera angles very well. Think the original Devil May Cry, which had camera angles but also allowed you more freedom of movement; it lead to instances of you running from one angle to the next and then having to awkwardly shift to pushing the stick in the opposite direction sometimes. Whereas with tank controls pressing up always made the character move forward for example, regardless of the angle. Though like I said this was only for a time, as with games like Onimusha 3 and the Outbreak games they had evidently figured that issue out, or at least smoothed it some so it wasn't as much of a frustrating hassle. In any case that is why I believe they stuck with the tank controls for so long even when analogues were introduced to controllers.

Now, there's also the complaint concerning camera angles that you can get blindsided by enemies that you couldn't see. But every enemy in a Resident Evil game had a tell, be it a squishy footstep or growl for example, so you would always know if something was close by. Plus from Resident Evil: Director's Cut onward you had auto-aim available, so even if you couldn't see the creature your character would always aim directly at whatever may be within the vicinity. As such, I've always thought that the camera angles never got in the way that much, and they greatly benefited in attributing to the atmosphere of the games a great deal, especially in the first and its remake. Whatever grievances camera angles may have dealt the gameplay, the cinematic direction of the environments more than make up for it.

Though ironically enough I see no reason why being able to move & shoot wasn't implemented into the main games. Outbreak: File 2 introduced such a concept and I think may very well have been the first of the franchise; it didn't drastically change the formula, but it was a nice touch that offered you a little more leeway in allowing you to slowly walk backwards while pulling off some handgun shots at whatever it is you're fighting. Though the enemies you encountered in File 2 were so damn fast to begin with that you were better off skedaddling all the same. Stupid zombie lions...

And Hey, It Could Always be Worse!

For as often as people like to complain about the Resident Evil games controls, they're really not too bad when put up against the many imitators and inspirations. Tank controls aside, Resident Evil's were still what I would genuinely describe as ''smooth''; they were always responsive and animated well--no worse than RE4--and games like RE3 and the remake in particular have a surprising amount of speed to them.

Fear Effect

Though the Fear Effect games for example even I think are rather clunky, which is ironic given that in these you can simultaneously move & shoot, and even have access to a 4-way directional evasive roll. However because you would often face against enemies that could shoot back (least during the beginning segments before demons and magic and shit is introduced), the tank controls weren't quite up to snuff I think. It did at least have a basic stealth system to it, which was outright necessary to utilise in certain levels like Disc 2 for the original. But nonetheless, the animations were somewhat lethargic and not always the most responsive. I still fucking adore the Fear Effect games mind you, particularly the second, but even I would have difficulty in trying to defend the combat. And yet weirdly enough I'm to believe @jeff actually quite enjoyed it...?

Dino Crisis

Funnily enough I would also consider Dino Crisis to be a little less than ideal as well. While the first in particular is aptly described as ''Resident Evil with dinosaurs'', controls-wise the movement is a little more sluggish; primarily by way of how there's a slight build-up when you start to run, which differs from Resident Evil in that once you begin running you are off. Though that's not my primary issue with the gameplay, and unfortunately enough it's actually related to its one defining element that was to set it apart from Resident Evil -- being the dinosaurs.

As you may expect, the dinosaurs are pretty bleedin' fast. In fact they're even faster than you, which was never the case in Resident Evil beyond maybe boss monsters. They're also incredibly strong and your starting pistol has like zero stopping power and a comically slow firing rate. As such, whenever a dinosaur enters a room (it was often randomised) you were in some deep dinosaur doodoo. Of course, that's the point, but the speed and overall aggression of the dinosaurs simply felt they were a bit too much for the controls to handle. You were at a pretty significant disadvantage, much more so than in a Resident Evil game. I have completed Dino Crisis however--twice in fact--but I don't think its combat is quite as well designed as Resident Evil. Because again, the enemies in Resident Evil are typically slow & sluggish, and even the zombie dogs of the series you were always just ever-so-slightly faster than.

...It has its moments, though

Though hey, at least you can move & aim in Dino Crisis! No, not move & shoot.... move & aim, which I always thought was a rather peculiar inclusion; not like it actually provided any mechanical benefit, either. With all that said, I'm admittedly not so much a fan of Dino Crisis for many other reasons besides. Like how the game takes place pretty much exclusively in drab, boring facility buildings. This was their first survival horror game that tried out 3D backgrounds as opposed to pre-rendered, which while it allowed the camera to sometimes pan alongside you, it meant the environments lacked the superb amount of detail pre-rendered offered. Plus, again, there was very little variety to a lot of it. As the plot went along you simply just kept moving on from one drab facility to another. And dinosaurs in general I never thought were as interesting nor certainly unnerving as the monstrosities that hounded the heroes of Resident Evil. So I'd say without reservation that I actually greatly prefer its more action-orientated arcade-shooter sequel. Jeez, you can't even walk in that game! It's probably about as drastic of a divergence as what Resident Evil saw when RE4 came about.

Silent Hill 2

Another fine example would be Silent Hill 2, which frankly controls like salty garbage. Even by Silent Hill standards SH2 was especially clunky -- even the original I'd say controls better. Its melee combat was practically broken; the difficulty with which it takes James to try and swing that bloody wooden stick you'd think he was suffering from a whole series of mental cognitive problems beyond the... y'know, psychosis and stuff. It would constantly keep bouncing off of stuff and was just a total mess to try and utilise. Fortunately firearm ammo was practically raining from the skies on the Normal combat difficulty setting, which I'd gather is the developers having a little self-awareness that their combat is even more clumsy than it should be.

Oh! Conclusion!

If there's a tank out there that can effortlessly sidestep a rocket, I wanna see it!

So, such is my explanations & justifications of why I think those old zombie games--for what they are--controlled perfectly fine. Now, I'm not demanding that everybody should now be inclined to agree with me, just that hopefully some may at the very least better understand why those old games continue to have their fans so many years onward. After all like I mentioned above, one of the core concepts of why I liked playing Resident Evil games of old was because of the fear of noticing your supplies dwindle and being forced to improvise. Even if because of their age there wasn't that much to improvise with beyond running away... still, early days and all that. Though of course there's still the B-movie storytelling and grotesque monster designs, they also certainly add to the appeal.

The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

That very gameplay scheme is why I really enjoyed the Outbreak games (well, the first one anyway), because it felt like it was the culmination of what Resident Evil was about but for a more modern era. It had degradable melee weapons for example and randomised zombie encounters, alongside analogue control & being able to move & shoot as I previously mentioned. And of course online cooperative multiplayer, even if we didn't have access to it over in Europe for the first game. Though even whence it was belatedly brought over with the sequel, I myself lacked the components for online play anyway, so... That's part of the reason why I prefer the original, as the sequel was made to be drastically more difficult to account for the introduction of online play; playing it solo was truly something of a nightmaaaaarrrrre.

Really, it's not like I specifically enjoy tank controls and think they're better than regular analogue control, I just (usually) have no problem with them. Camera angles, however, I am definitely in favour for and think they legitimately have merit in building atmosphere, especially in conjunction with pre-rendered backgrounds. It's a style I wish we could one day see if only a slight resurgence amidst the indie scene. If not, hopefully The Evil Within will then at least continue the slowly encroaching modern-day survival horror renaissance...

I swear, my anticipation for that game to live up to what it's selling itself as I'm finding to be far more terrifying than just about any horror game >_>...

Outro Music?!

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A Defence of Resident Evil Survival Horror Controls.

This... admittedly seems a tad random and almost comes across as a sort of reactionary post to something recent that's been making the waves throughout the interwebs. In a sense it... is sort of reactionary, but rather to the general sentiment regarding the classic Resident Evil games and how they control. Most importantly originating from the consensus of how widely accepted both RE4 & RE5 play, despite RE4 in particular featuring the exact same tank controls as the classic games. I've also always thought of it as a little unfair to how restrictions like not being able to move & shoot in those games is admissible and is commonly justified with such reasoning as ''you don't need to move & shoot'' for example, by @brad in particular.

This Brad, however, respectfully disagrees!

Which of course is 100% true. RE4 is a game that is specifically designed around the fact that you cannot simultaneously move & shoot, only that's similarly how I've always viewed the controls for the original games. I think one of the main fallacies is I would imagine most people often tend to compare the new and the old too directly; because RE4 is a shooter, people then judge the older games and how they control as if they are also shooters which... well, they're not. They're games that feature the act of shooting, but they're not really shooters.

Anywhoo, a blog like this is something I've wanted to post for like forever, but laziness and all that... Weirdly enough--and this isn't the first time--what brought about me actually finally writing up my thoughts on the matter in detail was as a forum response, specifically to @believer258. Only this time I figured I should actually reformat my post, expand it a wee bit, and place it up as a blog.

So... woolah... ?

First Things First

Now, for reals, I would never classify the controls of classic Resident Evil games as being... accessible; they're very unorthodox to say the least. Despite that, because the original games' were rather slow paced and emphasised atmosphere and exploration over most facets, I never felt like the controls were much of a hindrance. The older games may still have had plenty of combat, it was all very rudimentary; most bosses for example primarily required that you simply run away, shoot, run away, shoot ect.

Who needs to move & shoot when you're the mayor of Stunlock City!

The basic source of challenge within the games was that you had to decide between whether it's best using up ammo to kill this hypothetical zombie rather than try to run away. Your attempts at trying to get through a combat encounter without actually engaging in combat might mean you get damaged along the way, due to the intentionally claustrophobic environments, but... hey, you gotta adapt! And that's basically the core appeal for me and survival horror in general: being forced to adapt because you've run low on supplies and having to then think outside of the box and mix up your strategies. It's why I'm also a huge fan of The Last of Us not purely for its story, but because it also had some rather punishing gameplay that focussed on ammo conservation and improvisation. It's essentially what a modern-day survival horror game should strive to resemble, and that's predictably the reason why user-reception to the gameplay is rather mixed, given the nature of survival horror being a divisive one.

Boss battles admittedly tend to clash against certain philosophies regarding survival horror, by placing an enemy in front of you that must be killed to continue the game forward as opposed to giving you the chance to alternatively run away. But as abbreviated earlier bosses--in Resident Evil at least--are rather simple in design and instead exist more for spectacle and/or narrative purposes. Running low or out of ammunition is supposed to be a genuine fear, and should that happen in the midst of a boss battle... well, that would really kinda suck. It's a tricky system to balance, though Resident Evil games usually offset this potential nuisance by making sure there's likely to be additional ammo you can acquire somewhere--if not outside or near the boss arena--to beat it. Not the most elegant of solutions, but... whattayagonnado.

Camera Angles & The Why of Tank Controls

Barry Burton abides by no control scheme but his own. This includes Press X to God Mode.

Camera angles existed for the purpose of accentuating the atmosphere and directing specific scares; it allowed a lot of freedom for the game to actually show you what they want (or don't want) you to see. However analogue control (for a time) didn't quite mesh with camera angles very well. Think the original Devil May Cry, which had camera angles but also allowed you more freedom of movement; it lead to instances of you running from one angle to the next and then having to awkwardly shift to pushing the stick in the opposite direction sometimes. Whereas with tank controls pressing up always made the character move forward for example, regardless of the angle. Though like I said this was only for a time, as with games like Onimusha 3 and the Outbreak games they had evidently figured that issue out, or at least smoothed it some so it wasn't as much of a frustrating hassle. In any case that is why I believe they stuck with the tank controls for so long even when analogues were introduced to controllers.

Now, there's also the complaint concerning camera angles that you can get blindsided by enemies that you couldn't see. But every enemy in a Resident Evil game had a tell, be it a squishy footstep or growl for example, so you would always know if something was close by. Plus from Resident Evil: Director's Cut onward you had auto-aim available, so even if you couldn't see the creature your character would always aim directly at whatever may be within the vicinity. As such, I've always thought that the camera angles never got in the way that much, and they greatly benefited in attributing to the atmosphere of the games a great deal, especially in the first and its remake. Whatever grievances camera angles may have dealt the gameplay, the cinematic direction of the environments more than make up for it.

EDIT: *One such example of a superb use of camera angles is amidst the original Resident Evil's painting puzzle room, which features a murder (!!!) of crows perched above. There's no music, no sounds beyond your character's footsteps and the sporadic ''caws'' of the crows. The angle is situated with the crows at the forefront, watching you from above. As you're going around pressing buttons the camera keeps a lot of its focus on the little shits, building tension as you await for if they should eventually start attacking. The way it's arched down with the crows looming above you gives a great visual metaphor of death and its eternal gaze upon you at that.

Overall with the way the angles present such a cinematic presence, it almost begins to resemble as if you're playing the game amidst a cutscene.*

Though ironically enough I see no reason why being able to move & shoot wasn't implemented into the main games. Outbreak: File 2 introduced such a concept and I think may very well have been the first of the franchise; it didn't drastically change the formula, but it was a nice touch that offered you a little more leeway in allowing you to slowly walk backwards while pulling off some handgun shots at whatever it is you're fighting. Though the enemies you encountered in File 2 were so damn fast to begin with that you were better off skedaddling all the same. Stupid zombie lions...

And Hey, It Could Always be Worse!

For as often as people like to complain about the Resident Evil games controls, they're really not too bad when put up against the many imitators and inspirations. Tank controls aside, Resident Evil's were still what I would genuinely describe as ''smooth''; they were always responsive and animated well--no worse than RE4--and games like RE3 and the remake in particular have a surprising amount of speed to them.

Fear Effect

Though the Fear Effect games for example even I think are rather clunky, which is ironic given that in these you can simultaneously move & shoot, and even have access to a 4-way directional evasive roll. However because you would often face against enemies that could shoot back (least during the beginning segments before demons and magic and shit is introduced), the tank controls weren't quite up to snuff I think. It did at least have a basic stealth system to it, which was outright necessary to utilise in certain levels like Disc 2 for the original. But nonetheless, the animations were somewhat lethargic and not always the most responsive. I still fucking adore the Fear Effect games mind you, particularly the second, but even I would have difficulty in trying to defend the combat. And yet weirdly enough I'm to believe @jeff actually quite enjoyed it...?

Dino Crisis

Funnily enough I would also consider Dino Crisis to be a little less than ideal as well. While the first in particular is aptly described as ''Resident Evil with dinosaurs'', controls-wise the movement is a little more sluggish; primarily by way of how there's a slight build-up when you start to run, which differs from Resident Evil in that once you begin running you are off. Though that's not my primary issue with the gameplay, and unfortunately enough it's actually related to its one defining element that was to set it apart from Resident Evil -- being the dinosaurs.

As you may expect, the dinosaurs are pretty bleedin' fast. In fact they're even faster than you, which was never the case in Resident Evil beyond maybe boss monsters. They're also incredibly strong and your starting pistol has like zero stopping power and a comically slow firing rate. As such, whenever a dinosaur enters a room (it was often randomised) you were in some deep dinosaur doodoo. Of course, that's the point, but the speed and overall aggression of the dinosaurs simply felt they were a bit too much for the controls to handle. You were at a pretty significant disadvantage, much more so than in a Resident Evil game. I have completed Dino Crisis however--twice in fact--but I don't think its combat is quite as well designed as Resident Evil. Because again, the enemies in Resident Evil are typically slow & sluggish, and even the zombie dogs of the series you were always just ever-so-slightly faster than.

...It has its moments, though

Though hey, at least you can move & aim in Dino Crisis! No, not move & shoot.... move & aim, which I always thought was a rather peculiar inclusion; not like it actually provided any mechanical benefit, either. With all that said, I'm admittedly not so much a fan of Dino Crisis for many other reasons besides. Like how the game takes place pretty much exclusively in drab, boring facility buildings. This was their first survival horror game that tried out 3D backgrounds as opposed to pre-rendered, which while it allowed the camera to sometimes pan alongside you, it meant the environments lacked the superb amount of detail pre-rendered offered. Plus, again, there was very little variety to a lot of it. As the plot went along you simply just kept moving on from one drab facility to another. And dinosaurs in general I never thought were as interesting nor certainly unnerving as the monstrosities that hounded the heroes of Resident Evil. So I'd say without reservation that I actually greatly prefer its more action-orientated arcade-shooter sequel. Jeez, you can't even walk in that game! It's probably about as drastic of a divergence as what Resident Evil saw when RE4 came about.

Silent Hill 2

Another fine example would be Silent Hill 2, which frankly controls like salty garbage. Even by Silent Hill standards SH2 was especially clunky -- even the original I'd say controls better. Its melee combat was practically broken; the difficulty with which it takes James to try and swing that bloody wooden stick you'd think he was suffering from a whole series of mental cognitive problems beyond the... y'know, psychosis and stuff. It would constantly keep bouncing off of stuff and was just a total mess to try and utilise. Fortunately firearm ammo was practically raining from the skies on the Normal combat difficulty setting, which I'd gather is the developers having a little self-awareness that their combat is even more clumsy than it should be.

Oh! Conclusion!

If there's a tank out there that can effortlessly sidestep a rocket, I wanna see it!

So, such is my explanations & justifications of why I think those old zombie games--for what they are--controlled perfectly fine. Now, I'm not demanding that everybody should now be inclined to agree with me, just that hopefully some may at the very least better understand why those old games continue to have their fans so many years onward. After all like I mentioned above, one of the core concepts of why I liked playing Resident Evil games of old was because of the fear of noticing your supplies dwindle and being forced to improvise. Even if because of their age there wasn't that much to improvise with beyond running away... still, early days and all that. Though of course there's still the B-movie storytelling and grotesque monster designs, they also certainly add to the appeal.

The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

That very gameplay scheme is why I really enjoyed the Outbreak games (well, the first one anyway), because it felt like it was the culmination of what Resident Evil was about but for a more modern era. It had degradable melee weapons for example and randomised zombie encounters, alongside analogue control & being able to move & shoot as I previously mentioned. And of course online cooperative multiplayer, even if we didn't have access to it over in Europe for the first game. Though even whence it was belatedly brought over with the sequel, I myself lacked the components for online play anyway, so... That's part of the reason why I prefer the original, as the sequel was made to be drastically more difficult to account for the introduction of online play; playing it solo was truly something of a nightmaaaaarrrrre.

Really, it's not like I specifically enjoy tank controls and think they're better than regular analogue control, I just (usually) have no problem with them. Camera angles, however, I am definitely in favour for and think they legitimately have merit in building atmosphere, especially in conjunction with pre-rendered backgrounds. It's a style I wish we could one day see if only a slight resurgence amidst the indie scene. If not, hopefully The Evil Within will then at least continue the slowly encroaching modern-day survival horror renaissance...

I swear, my anticipation for that game to live up to what it's selling itself as I'm finding to be far more distressing than just about any horror game >_>...

Outro Music?!

64 Comments

100,000 Wiki Points!

Huzzah! The big 100K! Only took me, like... 4.5 years I guess. I can't remember when it was exactly that I got into wiki'ing, but I know I at least started becoming active on the site as a whole at around the summer of 2009. And oh, what a summer that was...

Anywhoo this here 100K is mere chump change compared to the truly dedicated wiki editors out there, and we have in fact of course just had @hailinel post up a blog celebrating his recently surmounted 200,000 wiki points. Talk about timing. So... er, yeah, in comparison my 100K quickly begins to shrivel and recede away when placed into the big picture. But damn it all, I at least consider this a success, and by gum am I going to sleep soundly tonight with roughly about 30% less tears.

What I Wiki

Unlike the most prominent of wiki editors on the site, I'm a little more... focussed. Though most I notice are doing God's work and are scouring the wiki and editing whatever they can.

Users such as @bobafettjm and @saturdaynightspecials in particular I see everywhere. Myself, I tend to gravitate more closely to Resident Evil pages. It's a franchise that was (once) very dear to my heart, and the original PS1 trilogy practically defined my childhood. I was so obsessed with 'em during my pre-teens that I would even imitate the tank controls in real life... Which is as weird as it sounds.

*unrelated gif to break up text wall*

In any case, it's a series that I've found is tethered to me whether I like it not. In some cases I'm happy that I've managed to retain so much information regarding select games of the series, as it's helped pay dividends with regards to then editing their pages. However you of course have the more... modern day Resident Evil games... and, well, that's where this strange devotion suddenly doesn't seem quite as beneficial.

Nonetheless, it's still managed to leave me spiking right up as the top and basically primary editor for the Resident Evil 6 page... Even when it's a game I may despise with every fibre of my being, I'll still uphold the law of neutralness regarding the wiki and will translate what I've played into cold, hard information. I guess in that case I didn't suffer through that game for nuttin'. Mostly anywhoo, as it's not quite as filled out as most Resident Evil pages that have my stamp on it; there's still no Story segment nor an exceedingly long list of enemies and boss battles bios for example. But hey dat gameplay segment's s'alright.

As such, the myriad of Resident Evil-related pages will thusly have my contributions on there somewhere anywhoo, if I'm not actually already the top editor. I've also spent many an hour creating the oh so many minor Resident Evil character pages that I'm sure many wouldn't even recognise to begin with. Dario Rosso anyone???..

Part of why I primarily stick to what I know is because while you can do research and watch videos ect., it still won't quite the match the act of actually playing the thing for yourself writing up a wiki page with that particular perspective in mind. I'll do some research to joggle my memory sure, but I primarily prefer to write in-depth for games I myself have invested some time in already. It's why I would consider my wiki'ing to be of a somewhat comparatively short reach. It's not like I exclusively only stick to Resident Evil, though, and there are plenty of other pages I've helped contribute to. The Uncharted series is one such franchise I'm also invested enough in that you're going to find a lot of my handywork all over 'em, for better or worse. My dedication to the Resident Evil series also sees to it that I've I've stuck myself to The Evil Within page like glue.

''hasta luego''

That said, I do also like to search far and wide for the opportunity to do some smaller contributions; fixing the formatting, removing all instances of second-person, removing video game title italics, and I do what I can should I spot some dodgy grammar. Though make no mistake, I am certainly no grammatical connoisseur myself, but as you would expect there's a lot of pages on here that are just terrible. Trying to make some sense and remove all of the dumb jokes from the Tales of Symphonia character pages in particular was a helluva chore...

Besides Resident Evil, I would say my other ''specialisation'' is voice actors and actresses. Given that my ultimate dream in life would to in fact become a voice actor, I'm instead doing the next best thing by stalking the many denizens of the career. I've gotten to the point now where I can call out a good many voice actors/actresses by ear, though it also helps how you've got the same handful appearing in games over and over and over an-

There's a lot of 'em out there that are a little more obscure, so I like to go out of my way to make sure that as many voice actors I can find are represented on here. Or in the case of a few of my faves, such as Roger Craig Smith, will even write up a little bit of their history and how they even got in the biz in the first place.

Why I Wiki

To be quite frank, I live both a rather pointless and fruitless existence -- neither point nor fruit do I have going on over here. I have little in the way of talent or skills to speak of either, and I'm reluctant to even call what I live as a ''life''. I'm far from the only one who's surrounded in misery, though, so I don't want to spin my 'sob story', especially when I know many on here have got it much, much worse.

I'unno

Point is, fooling around with the wiki actually makes me feel productive. I enjoy being apart of a (very slow-moving) initiative to building what should hopefully become the greatest and grandest video game wiki of them all. Plus, I enjoy writing, and while I'm not especially good at it... working on the wiki is a good way to sorta brute force my writing ability up a few notches each time. Even if that also means I'm sure I've gained many a wiki point from correcting my own mistakes... Sometimes my motivation can be a little fleeting, but there are still moments to this day were before I know it I've just spent like 6-hours straight writing up minor Resident Evil character bios.

So, yeah, I find that editing the wiki to be quite gratifying. But it can also be the most frustrating thing ever, given how damn broken it can be sometimes. The complete lack of exposure on the site certainly doesn't help, either. It's not like I'm in it for TEH GLORY or anything, but given how damn important this thing is supposed to be, a little wink and a nod on the site that this thing even exists would certainly help inspire others to assist. Plus there's little things, like how we still can't bleedin' delete images off of pages.

Nonetheless, the drive still exists if only because again it feels like I'm contributing towards something. And for now, that's all that's necessary. But yo seriously why in the fuck do I specifically hafta head into a Person page's Credits category to add games they've worked on rather than being able to add 'em via the main article??

Who I Wiki...?

Barry Burton.

er, wait what

And That's That

So then, a big ole congrats to me, I guess. This blog has now officially served its purpose for providing a bit of autofellatio, so all that's left is to bring it to a close. Though again, my own contributions are but a dot when compared to certain other users.

Plus points aren't everything. The users that scour far and wide and do all of the less glamorous editing via sorting out Releases and simply messing around with grammar and the like are the ones that are putting in the real effort. They are the underground troopers, hidden from sight but still highly vital in the war effort... you could say. Point is it's an even more thankless position to dedicate yourself to editing just about everything the wiki has to offer, even in small doses. I spent a solid 2 hours or so just continually adding People pages for The Evil Within, and there's the odd few times where I've been going around fixing classifications--primarily for voice actors--from 'unclassified' too. I don't do it that often, but I've done it enough to know it can be fucking gruelling work.

Anywhoo, here's to another 100K points in the near future!

Er, actually 100K points is quite a lot... here's to another 75K? Nah, nah, more like 50K, that sounds like a less intimidating goal; there are only so many Resident Evil pages after all! And on that note, here's to another 5K or so eventual points from the inevitable Resident Evil 7 page, I suppose

outro music sure why the hell not

41 Comments

Holy crap is this thing short.

He looks imposing enough, but it still left me surprised to find this guy was the end boss

So, yeah, I just completed this lil gem here and was surprised to find my apparent playtime clocked at just a little over 4 hours... 4 hours, and that still included much backtracking as I tried to remember where those doors with the three eye emblem things to return to where. Though its noticeably short length definitely mixes in with the rest of the game, which overall just sorta feels... incomplete, or at the very least like it's some sort of tech-demo that was to set the foundation for the rest of the series, most especially the much more well put together Onimusha 3 and Dawn of Dreams.

I didn't necessarily dislike this game, though, but... the way the ending just sorta ends, after a rather lackluster boss fight, and without you fighting Nobunaga nor even getting to play as Samanosuke in his Oni form--one particular feature that became a staple shortly after with its sequels--left me with the impression that either the time alotted or its budget wasn't quite enough to make the game they intended.

For starters there's the way the game is designed, which makes stuff like the classic Resident Evil games come across as linear by comparison! The Resident Evil series are a good example to bring up at that, given the many similarities between the two related to the camera angles, tank controls, herbs, and prerendered backgrounds. But difference is in Resident Evil, you often still felt like you were progressing through a larger design; in the original game, you began in the Mansion, then you entered the Residential Building, the underground caverns, and then of course finally ended up at the Umbrella lab.

There was always multiple environments for you to eventually lead into as the game went on, whereas in Onimusha it felt like I was continuing to simply run around in circles amidst the Keep, until I was eventually lead into the demon realm or whatever, only for me to almost immediately face against two bosses in pretty quick succession, and then game over. I

Then there's that side character Ninja lady, who's inclusion felt a bit forced, and she ultimately didn't amount to much. She pretty much plays like Samanosuke, only she can't absorb souls, nor does she have any of the demon weapons, and there was simply nothing unique about controlling her.

This guy's voice sounds like a cross between Krusty the Clown and one of those talking chipmunks

It's still a pretty fun game, though, and it was certainly interesting to head back to find out how this series began. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it still manages to hold up at that, as it still looks pretty good courtesy of its beautifully detailed backgrounds, and its simplistic hack & slash gameplay is much like how I remembered it from Onimusha 3 -- fun, while deceptively rudimentary, with a much larger focus on timing more so than stylish combos ala Devil May Cry. Though the camera angles admittedly proved to be a nuisance sometimes, given its much more faster-paced action gameplay, but I was still able to get through it without any serious issue.

The writing and the voice acting are also horrendously bad as well, though that was the norm for a lot of games of that era of course, most especially Capcom's. But it didn't get in the way too much, and if anything proved to be rather entertaining, as if you're watching some poorly dubbed martial arts movie.

I guess I can understand why this game impressed so much upon release, as it is one of many of Capcom's technical showpieces, and undoubtedly made for a solid benchmark for the power of the PS2 at the time. Though with the release of its many sequels, two of which are undoubtedly its superior, the original kinda feels redundant in the grand scheme. But again, as a curiosity, it certainly served its purpose and I'm glad I finally got around to this. Also, unlockable panda outfit. That's almost as good as the gorilla centurion outfit in Shadow of Rome! Almost.

Though getting back to the start of all this, I was genuinely surprised to find how short this game is. There doesn't appear to be a pantheon of unlockable shit either, like most Capcom games. Although that panda bear outfit is still a cute novelty all the same. I've read that its original xbox version added in a notable suite of content at least, but it is a port I unfortunately lack access to =X

/rambling

TL;DR;

Good game, if still primarily obsolete with the existence of its much superior sequels. Hell, I'd even say that Onimusha 2 is a much better game, if not a more interesting one, after what little I've played so far.

Now goddamnit, Capcom, where's my damn Onimusha reboot/belated sequel?? The least you could do is give us a HD collection for Onimusha 3 & Dawn of Dreams! Just... y'know, something. Despite the shit-flinging from the claws of Capcom Megaman has to put up with, at least that guy is still getting acknowledged!

30 Comments

I have some criticisms for Grand Theft Auto V.

So, GTAV ya'll!

Now I had initially wanted to post this mudda days before, but... well, to be frank I am one shamefully lazy individual, and... that's all that really need be said. But I done did it, I finished it, I was able to translate my thoughts into words with just barely serviceable results. And now, I can finally share with the world my reasons for why I think GTAV is a sack of flaming turds.

...No, no, I actually really enjoyed my time with GTAV, and it's currently still my No.3 on my top ten of the years list. But, sometimes you have to lay on a little abuse to the things you love, just to show how much you truly love it. Right? That makes sense? Well, whatever, point is I'm criticising this son'bitch, because for as much as I enjoyed it, there was an awful lot of nagging going on in the back of my mind. Oh, why isn't this better, or why isn't this in here anymore, and so on. This is a long one, though, so... nobodies going to read it for one thing, but for the hypothetical readers, I must reiterate that I mostly enjoyed this game. But my oh my is there still a lot on my mind that I just have to share.

*Also, spoilers ahead!*

So, tough love initialising in 3... 2 ...

The lack of interactivity within the world.

This is the first thing that really dug into me as the game went on. Considering how GTA is slowly morphing into an ultra violent edition of The Sims, with the appeal of living life within their constructed worlds to be almost as appealing as the story/gameplay, I was disappointed with just how little there is to actually interact with. Watching the pedestrians go about their daily lives is still really interesting at least, and poking around to see how they'll react is one of many parts of what makes GTAV so impressive. I just wish there was more to it, though.

Y'know, thinking back, I'm pretty sure the prologue mission is the only mission in the game where you actually carry a duffel bag.

I wish I could actually just sit down on a bench, or give money to a homeless person as I'm walking by. There are dozens of shop displays you can physics with, but nothing you can actually buy. I'd love if they allowed you to customise the characters' home furnishings to some small degree, by buying a lot of useless junk you can dot around. There's a whole theme park as well, yet only two rides that you actually go on. I mean, it's still an improvement over GTAIV, with a theme park that was doomed to an eternity of nothingness, but even so. If you're going to allow me to ride a ferris wheel, let me also play whack-a-mole, or use a UFO catcher. Let me buy cotton candy as an alternative to a can of Sprunk to heal myself!

Each time I would uncover a little town in the wilderness of Blaine County, I should be excited to explore and see what stuff I can do in there. However, what it usually results in is the same selection of vehicle, gun, and clothing stores, only with a different set of surroundings.

There's an awful lot of buildings that you can't enter, either. Which even includes the burgershots and diners, despite being accessible even in GTAIV before it. And it's quite frankly pretty ridiculous that even the buildings you can eventually own are also just big blocks with textures. Of course, this could purely be a technical limitation... but it's something that would have gone a long way in helping Los Santos feel all the more alive.

Where ma side stuff at??

OK, so this is definitely down to, in-part, being spoiled by San Andreas. It's surprised how with each subsequent release of an open-world crime game, it only tends to make San Andreas seem all that impressive. I mean that thing is fucking packed. The world is obviously significantly smaller when put up against its contemporaries--which is also undoubtedly apart of what makes San Andreas appear ready to burst--but still, when you begin to list down the sheer variety of activities, it starts to look pretty fitting of the name Elder Scrolls: San Andreas more so than Grand Theft Auto.

BTW I FUCKING LOVE GTAV'S DRIVING... Just to balance this out a little.

What was especially jarring, though, was how all that stuff was all on the plate of one guy. GTAV with its generally superb three-character structure felt like the perfect opportunity to start stretching out the activity list and begin reintroducing the sorta stuff that naturally wouldn't have fit someone like Niko, or even CJ for that matter. Unfortunately, Trevor is the only one who has any notably characteristic activities; both Michael and Franklin have barely anything for them as unique characters to partake in. Michael in particular is also strangely devoid in the way of the Strangers & Freaks missions at that.

In any case, I was hoping that Franklin would allow for more of the rudimentary, more gangsta-inspired sorta stuff. Like getting involved in gang wars with Lamar, or playing Vigilante in a cop car ect. Michael could... I dunno, partake in some small bank missions on the side?

Once they start opening up the opportunity to buy properties, I was then expecting a whole set of unique missions ala Vice City and San Andreas. And while Franklin does at least have the occasional special taxi fare, and Trevor has his weapons smuggling, a lot of them of course are just a bunch of boring ''collect this truck'' or ''defend the building'' or whatever. There's no business management, nor (as far as I can tell) do you improve the business by completing the generic missions so you can get higher weekly payments or other possible benefits for example.

Now of course don't take this as me saying that GTAV is devoid of extra-curricular activities to get involved with, but again given the three character structure, I was expecting a little more in store to find within the world. There's not even any gambling, and while sure there's the stock market, it doesn't compare to the hours I enjoyed playing Texas Hold 'Em and Blackjack in RDR. Oh, and Flying School but no Driving/Boating to round it out? There's certainly enough races to undergo, even if they're all also incredibly easy...

In any case, coupling what I consider to be an... unsatisfactory amount of side junk with the general lack of interaction with the world, and it leaves Los Santos looking weirdly empty once the story's done and dusted.

Where's ma pool at??

This is the first GTA in a while to not feature any classic game-within-a-game; even GTAIV had Qub3d!

I'm sure I'm likely in the minority here, but I really enjoyed the whole friends/dating feature in GTAIV. Now I must also add that I found it to be just as annoying whenever Roman would call you up for bowling bladdy lol ect. blah. But, the actual feature itself I thought was really neat, and it was a natural way for you to dig into some of the minigames while also learning more about the game's supporting cast.

While GTAV still gives you the option to hang out with your folks... there's fuck all to do with them! OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration to be fair, but what they have on offer this time isn't nearly as appealing. Rounding up the list of stuff on offer, I believe there's:

  • Going to the cinema -- all the 'movies' are fucking awful, and borderline exhausting, to sit through. Plus for the longest time there's only the one available to watch.
  • Golf -- Pretty fun.
  • Darts -- just as easy and boring as it was in GTAIV.
  • Getting drunk -- Bloody laaaame! Not only do you sober up so damn quickly, but the animations don't fall apart nearly as much as they did in GTAIV or RDR. In fact all the characters can hold their liquor pretty well apparently, considering how easy they find it to stay on their feet. The fun of getting drunk in GTAIV was watching everybody trip over each other, and there's zero of that sort of potential nonsense to be had in GTAV. The conversations are still pretty funny, as is the fact that you can potentially get the cops on your tail when 'drunk driving', even though you can drive as recklessly as you want when sober without fuss... so long as you don't run someone over.
  • Strip club -- hehuhehuhehuhehuhehu... Nah, in all honesty it's quite frankly rather boring.
  • Tennis -- Kinda crappy.

That's all I can recall as of now, and with certain characters like Jimmy, all you can basically do is play darts. It admittedly mostly comes down to the omission of pool, which was one of my favourite past times in GTAIV. Hell, what's even worse is that they still actually put in a pool table in that very same bar where you play darts! It's like Rockstar are actively taunting me, the rat bastards... I do think it's awesome how you can have all three main characters hang together and go cause havoc, though.

Also, why can't I hang out with Wade??? D=

Where's the point of Franklin at???

Franklin just... never felt like he truly fit in the grand scheme of things with GTAV. This was very clearly a game written around the uneasy relationship between Michael and Trevor, and Franklin as a result sometimes tends to come across as a third wheel, like he's just there; a thug who just so happens to share a friendship with Michael. This is most notably because he has the most uneventful singular stories going on in his own missions, and his relationship with Lamar in particular just tends to go in circles. They constantly keep bickering about how Lamar's an idiot, and how Franklin is abandoning his old lifestyle behind for his selfish ambitions, and... well, that's kinda it.

He's at least voiced just as well as the other two characters, but there was nothing especially distinctive about him. Despite being playable, he oddly enough felt like a supporting character more so than someone who's supposed to be on equal footing as Michael and Trevor.

Such wasted potential...

And then there's Chop, who appears in I think one mission and then... well, that's him outta the way I guess! God, and I was so excited was you saw him sitting in the car alongside Franklin! I envisioned that he could help you out in combat, or at least would have a series of activities to play with him. But no, all you have is a tennis ball to play fetch with, and that's it. You can of course teach him tricks or whatever with a bloody iphone ap at least, but I unfortunately lack such a privilege.

One particularly awesome feature I thought up was how they treated the dog in Fable 2; specifically taking Chop with you and using him to find buried treasure or whatever around the map. Like, he'd start barking once you're near a new stash; fit it in as (yet another) collectable set! The least they could have done is allow him to tag along should you ever decide to hang out with Lamar. In fact isn't Chop supposed to be Lamar's dog in the first place??

Where's ma... The story.

/sigh... The story. I mean, what is it? I guess this time around it's much more focused on characters--even more so than usual--than an overarching narrative. Michael and Trevor's relationship in particular is what is supposed to steer this thing along. And in fact, the way they introduce both Michael & (especially) Trevor each are both perhaps some of my favourite story moments. But there are stretches in this game where... it feels like there's just no momentum, no reason to even keep going.

Part of it definitely comes down to no imposing antagonists. I guess the FIB guy comes close, but I was never... intimidated by him or feared for my character's safety, unlike when I had Tenpenny on my case in San Andreas, or Dimitri in GTAIV. The crew's quest for the almighty dollar works well enough, but there's also the annoying string of them all working for a bunch of people in the midst of it, and yet getting nothing out of it. The worst was that guy Devin; stealing all those cars, which I recall where pretty fun missions, only for him to leave you with nothing, and Franklin once again complaining about not getting paid and then doing nothing about it. Michael's family dynamic was also a lot of fun as well, only for them to disappear from the game for 2/3rd's of the whole thing.

...Pretty much.

The ending is also terribly anti-climatic and feels forced. Like, we've just done the Big One, oh but now everybody just suddenly starts getting antsy with one another because now we're also going to force Franklin to choose between killing Michael & Trevor, I guess. The way they present your choice just feels lazy and hackneyed... I mean the guy just shows up on your doorstep and then, welp, decision time!

So, naturally i went with Option C, because why wouldn't you? And then the mission plays out where you defend against the onslaught of Merryweather and co, which is a lot of riotous fun as I'm RPG'ing a PMC to death. But then, hey, how about we just brush away all those other antagonists that outright disappeared from the story in one fell swoop?

...Really? Considering the power and reach behind some of these folks, it not only feels pretty ridiculous regarding the ease it takes to off these guys, but the fact that there's no consequence for any of it is just... lame. Of course, the story had already gone on for long enough I suppose and they needed to wrap this thing up. But still, despite what is supposed to be the Happiest Ending Of All Time Yaaaaay, it ironically enough left me feeling a little down. Deflated, you could say. Like... that's it?

Miscellaneous stuff

Car Customisation

It's pretty undeveloped; even San Andreas allowed you more options at hand, and there's not even NOS. It's certainly an improvement from GTAIV, given that you couldn't even choose the colour of your damn vehicle, but again... San Andreas, ya'll! That happened, that exists!

Clothing

Why can't I create my own custom outfits?? Considering how often the trio love to slip into something different, why in the Hell can't I set aside and save my own personally pieced together outfits?? Seriously, Rockstar.... seriously.

Collectables

There's close to zero reward for actually collecting 'em! That, and there's still not even any sort of in-game assistance to locate them. I had actually decided to buckle up and collect the 50 letter scraps, but that involved me constantly darting between the computer in my living room, back into my bedroom over and over, and my reward? Fuck all. A mission involving a character that you've never met, with zero payoff besides your chance to kill him. I mean for fuck's sake, Rockstar. It's 2013!

Police

There's no feasible way to victory by instead going on the offensive. Which is extra weird because Rockstar themselves implemented such a system in their DS debut with Chinatown Wars. I believe it involved you having to destroy so many cop cars and they'd eventually halt their advance; Sleeping Dogs also featured a similar system in play as well. Now while I do enjoy car chases involving the police, being able to actually fight back is something I've longed wished for in this sort of game. They wouldn't even have to disappear completely, either. So long as they could at least give you some time to breath, for them to stop their never-ending onslaught for a few minutes would be enough.

It would help give the police encounters a little more variety, and could allow you to at least consider fighting back instead of just staying on the lam. Otherwise, what's the point in fighting back at all? You're so fragile to begin, so knowing that it's just never going to end... it can make your last stand feel ultimately pointless, and knowing in the back of your mind that you could potentially push these bastards back would probably make it a lot more exciting.

Skills

The're borderline useless. So, hey, leveling up shit. Feels good, don't it? It certainly did in San Andreas! (echo echo echo...) It was one such feature that helped give the impression that CJ was truly (and even literally) growing as the story went along. Pretty much everything you did in that game had a skill attached, and each time you leveled it up, it had a noticeable effect. Some were minor, like car handling tightening up some, but others were more noticeable, such as now being able to dual-wield sawn-off shottys, or finally being able to move & shoot!...

Of course, they couldn't quite imitate how it was in San Andreas, because by the time CJ was at his max, a lot of his skills are what we consider the norm now. But nonetheless, that's no reason why they couldn't have implemented more skills, or at least give the base ones more immediate effects. Such as allowing you to throw people (realistically speaking; not Saints Row Olympics level) once your strength stat was high enough, or giving you the capability to take hostages once your shooting skill increased, and so on. In GTAV, they don't really have any truly noticeable effect, and most will have likely maxed out without you even realising it; they're pretty much the definition of superfluousness.

On their own, they at least help further distinguish the three characters, but if anything I probably would have preferred that they stayed at their current level. That way each character can forever feel like their own character, instead of all three eventually being a masterclass in shooting, driving, running, and being able to hold their breath long enough to swim to Atlantis and back.

Vehicle Management

OK, so... Rockstar at least learned of the error of their ways from GTAIV and brought back garages -- big ole thumbs up from moi. And yet, I'm often still so reluctant to take my own personal cars out for a spin from fear -- fear that I'll potentially lose it, including any money I may have invested in functional upgrades. They at least have the impount lot, so vehicles you've simply left elsewhere will (usually) show up in there, but why don't I have a personal somebody to bring me my car? Why can't give my cars insurance so I can use them as sticky-bomb'd rockets with no anxiety over losing it? Why would they implement these features in the Online yet omit from single player? Why Rockstar, why?! Oh why oh why oh why oh why oh w-

The outer-world Radio/Internet/TV Humour

It's bad. Like, really bad. There are barely even any jokes, just a lot of 'shock' humour that's meant to leave you roaring by how completely edgy and crude it is, maaaaaan. God, that America's Got Talent parody thing is quite possibly the worst of it all. It's all just so, so bad, and Rockstar should downright be ashamed of themselves for featuring such lazy, dumb, and utterly pathetic attempts at 'satire' within their game; even by GTA standards, this stuff is just... it's so bad.

The most frustrating thing about this is they can very clearly do a helluva lot better. A lot of the character interactions in the story are often really, really funny! Everything to do with Trevor in particular is fucking great! Frankly the Housers brothers need to lock up whomever writes that putrid garbage--preferably with their own material for extra punishment--and either hire someone else, or write it themselves. Because surely they're not the ones who also write everything around the side, right? Right?

Surely not... ?!

In Conclusion

Also there was only like one zombie like what the like fuck like

In a certain type of world, GTA V would go on to be a genuinely innovative open-world title, with Rockstar still at the top of their game with nobody who can even begin to match their brilliance. However, this is not that world; this is a world where Saints Row exists, where Sleeping Dogs exist, hell where even Mafia exists for that matter. And I'm not bringing them up to compare them all directly, I'm just pointing out that other games exist, and guess what? They actually pull off a thing or two better than GTAV! Saints Row has clothing & vehicle customisation nailed to the ground; Sleeping Dogs actually has collectables that are worth collecting; and if Rockstar would actually lay down the hubris for a few minutes and observe what else is happening in the industry, then they could start learning a thing or two from other developers. Nothing major, just.... why can't I create & save my own custom outfits GAWD. Of course, it's probably going to be tough to see anything over the giant fort made out of money they're living in.

Now this is once again the moment where I'm scheduled to reiterate that I still primarily enjoyed my time with GTAV. The driving is superb, there's a lot of truly memorables missions throughout the story (fireman heist mission; Blaine County bank robbery; chasing Molly through the airport), and the visual detail of the world is second to none. It's just that, like a lot of people, I happen to really like me some GTA, and I thusly hold this series to a particular standard. GTAIV was a little more forgiving because it branched off into a completely different direction, and I personally loved the story, so that made the removal of everything that we once associated with GTA much easier to swallow. GTAV on the other hand was very clearly attempting to bring things back to what they once where, to how GTA is more usually portrayed: a big, dumb power fantasy with oodles of shit to do. And it certainly nailed it to a certain extent, but... San Andreas, you guys.

While it's usually not the case and is often a blanket statement from people who are afraid of teh channnnnnge, this time I genuinely believe that more could have been done with GTAV had it not been for the resources & time spent with GTA Online. And although GTA Online is... oookaaaaay? I would have gladly exchanged all of that for more of what I remember loving so damn much back in ye olden days of your Vice Cities and San Andreaseseseseses. And on that note, whoo boy do I have a thing or two to rattle on about regarding GTA Online.

TL;DR

GTAV is the worsest game eva and i hate its stupid poopy pants!!!!!!

36 Comments

£5 well spent.

Everything about this game's visual production, from the graphics to the animations, is brilliant

I've always been curious in checking out the Lost Planet series. The idea of this extremely weighty and animation-heavy shooter has always sounded pretty appealing to me, in a similar way to my fascination with the Monster Hunter series at that, given that Lost Planet is essentially, ''what if Monster Hunter was a TPS''. Though while I'm still waiting on the off-chance that Monster Hunter is released on a console I own or am going to own (AKA, not a Wii U), I'm outta luck on that front. But Lost Planet is ever accessible so I finally decided to give it a shot!

Lost Planet 2 wasn't exactly the most well received of games, nor was the reception to the reception... the reaction to Brad's two star review was bad enough that it created a mini-disaster. Of course an outcry of utter outrage at a review isn't exactly rare, but Lost Planet 2's is certainly up there with the likes of the Catherine and, yes, the recent DmC review.

After putting in roughly around 13 hours thus far, a lot of the criticisms are most certainly justified. Some, however, I've found to simply be a matter of taste. The plodding movement speed and animation-heavy actions of your characters? Bloody love it! All the more so for the ultra-powerful mech 'Vitality Suits' you can use. Much like for the same reason as to why I've always enjoyed the driving in GTAIV, the weighty nature of the mechanics just make everything about you feel tough; like you're lugging around a giant suitcase full of 20 ton badassery. Lost Planet 2's shooting also has a really great kick to it. Weapons feel powerful and have superb sound effects, and the meaty roar of its shotgun is especially pleasing to the ears.

Even besides the sound effects, the game in general is still quite the production power-house. Given that it's Capcom it comes to little surprise, considering even 2009's RE5 still looks really pretty to this day. I was pleasantly surprised to see how there's a good variety of locales at that, all of which carry their own specific style of atmosphere from the early snow blizzards to the late game spacefaring.

For as video game-y as they are, giant, glowing weak points always makes for a fun target to shoot

However, while I have enjoyed my time with Lost Planet 2, I'm still a little reluctant to call it a good game. Pieces here and there I've genuinely found to be a lot of fun--the giant, glowy weak-spot equipped Akird boss battles in particular--but there's still a swath of problems to contend with. I should also note that the game's been patched a couple of time since its release, so the version I've played was assuredly a great deal friendlier than how it was at launch.

Even still, the fact that it's built from the ground up as a multiplayer game only to disallow drop in/drop out capability is insane. Though weirdly enough people are still playing this thing! With a little patience as I hanged around in my lobby, I was able to pick up two randoms; too bad they decided to leave after only one chapter. And that's another thing; the way the game is segregated between sections that can sometimes literally be completely in like 3-5 minutes long is awkwardly designed. Consistently having to go through load screens and menus, and then having to wait through the ''get ready - Go!'' load at the start of every level, only breaks up the pacing of the game.

Furthermore, the story is a nonsensical mess, with you constantly switching between generic facemask wearing pirate faction after pirate faction, all of whom lack any distinctive characteristics (besides the silly 'Banditos') and for the most part are defined by their outfits and their 'cool' generican (generic American...) accents. All in the name of stopping some evil corporation who barely exists beyond a name. To say that the story is undeveloped would be an understatement in any case. Which is unfortunate, because the cutscenes are well directed and carry a lot of style to them. Of course Capcom in particular are known for being all style little substance, so a story that only barely hangs on shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

Not being to use your customised characters in the campaign until you've completed it, however, was. I mean seriously, the cast of this game are more avatars than they are characters, so forcing you to play as the defaults for the sake of 'canon' or whatever the Hell is really strange. That said, the amount of weapons and cosmetic doodads you can unlock is really appreciative, especially for someone like me who loves him some variety when it comes to their video game characters. The roulette wheel you unlock the stuff from does seem annoyingly biased in the title category, but I unlocked quite a few goodies just from a single completion.

One thing that really took me surprise was how easy this game was. Again, I must reiterate that it's been patched a fair bit since launch, but hearing all of the horror stories involving the train bit in particular never left me with the same impression. Don't get me wrong, the train akrid boss battle is a load of bullshit if you're trying to manage the cannon (especially in single-player where it's practically all up to you), but falling back on the helicopter VS on the cart below was all I needed and I went through little hassle. The ending boss battle was a little confusing, though, and not to mention anti-climatic. But overall I'd say the game is perhaps a bit too easy least on the normal difficulty.

Laying waste in a VS made for some of the most fun I had in LP2

The fact that any sort of AI for the human enemies barely even exists was the biggest contributor. It's been a rather common occurrence for where a human enemy will literally just stand there, empty headed and confused about what's going on around him. Until I add to that empty headedness when I nail a headshot with my ridiculously overpowered Plasma Sniper Rifle. And even when they take action, they'll do little besides shoot at you on the spot. Of course, AI of all kinds has also never been one of Capcom's strong suites.

And even with all of that said, for as much as I enjoy playing the game, there's still some control squibbles that can get on my nerves. Like how you can't use your grappling hook mid-jump or the awkward input you need just to do an evasive roll. See, you can only roll from a crouching position by then pressing X; not only is this an unnecessarily needless combination of inputs, not only do you crouch by pushing in the left analogue stick, but there's option to set it to toggle, either. You have to permanently hold in the left analogue stick to crouch... and press X from that position to roll. It's fucking lunacy!

LP2 also still has its competitive multiplayer of course, but after 3 years on when pretty much 9/10 server is being run by a Japanese player, I found it pretty difficult to compete as I keep getting creamed by weapons I've never even seen before in the story. Plus for as much as I enjoy the heavy everything about this game, I don't think it fitted the competitive scene quite as much.

Still, tinkering about in the campaign has been a bunch of fun, and I got a solid 13 hours worth for a fiver. I originally headed in to LP2 mostly for 'scholarly' purposes, so all in all I came away pretty satisfied with the end result. Make no mistake, even after the fixes, LP2 is a highly flawed game. But there's clear ambition here and some of it at least managed to hit the mark. You just don't find many shooters like this anymore, and LP3 looks to be a lot more generic in regards to the gameplay and is unfortunately an UE3 game at that. The writing and its story still look to be well and beyond prior Lost Planet's, but it's unfortunately comes with the price of morphing into much blander style of shooter.

At the low price Lost Planet 2 can be found at nowadays, I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try out a shooter that's a little more methodical and deliberate. It's no doubt all the better on PC as well, so getting three mates together to shoot down some giant alien bugs--if this style of game appeals to you--is more than worth the pittance

Start the Conversation

£5 well spent.

Everything about this game's visual production, from the graphics to the animations, is brilliant

I've always been curious in checking out the Lost Planet series. The idea of this extremely weighty and animation-heavy shooter has always sounded pretty appealing to me, in a similar way to my fascination with the Monster Hunter series at that, given that Lost Planet is essentially, ''what if Monster Hunter was a TPS''. Though while I'm still waiting on the off-chance that Monster Hunter is released on a console I own or am going to own (AKA, not a Wii U), I'm outta luck on that front. But Lost Planet is ever accessible so I finally decided to give it a shot!

Lost Planet 2 wasn't exactly the most well received of games, nor was the reception to the reception... the reaction to Brad's two star review was bad enough that it created a mini-disaster. Of course an outcry of utter outrage at a review isn't exactly rare, but Lost Planet 2's is certainly up there with the likes of the Catherine and, yes, the recent DmC review.

After putting in roughly around 13 hours thus far, a lot of the criticisms are most certainly justified. Some, however, I've found to simply be a matter of taste. The plodding movement speed and animation-heavy actions of your characters? Bloody love it! All the more so for the ultra-powerful mech 'Vitality Suits' you can use. Much like for the same reason as to why I've always enjoyed the driving in GTAIV, the weighty nature of the mechanics just make everything about you feel tough; like you're lugging around a giant suitcase full of 20 ton badassery. Lost Planet 2's shooting also has a really great kick to it. Weapons feel powerful and have superb sound effects, and the meaty roar of its shotgun is especially pleasing to the ears.

Even besides the sound effects, the game in general is still quite the production power-house. Given that it's Capcom it comes to little surprise, considering even 2009's RE5 still looks really pretty to this day. I was pleasantly surprised to see how there's a good variety of locales at that, all of which carry their own specific style of atmosphere from the early snow blizzards to the late game spacefaring.

For as video game-y as they are, giant, glowing weak points always makes for a fun target to shoot

However, while I have enjoyed my time with Lost Planet 2, I'm still a little reluctant to call it a good game. Pieces here and there I've genuinely found to be a lot of fun--the giant, glowy weak-spot equipped Akird boss battles in particular--but there's still a swath of problems to contend with. I should also note that the game's been patched a couple of time since its release, so the version I've played was assuredly a great deal friendlier than how it was at launch.

Even still, the fact that it's built from the ground up as a multiplayer game only to disallow drop in/drop out capability is insane. Though weirdly enough people are still playing this thing! With a little patience as I hanged around in my lobby, I was able to pick up two randoms; too bad they decided to leave after only one chapter. And that's another thing; the way the game is segregated between sections that can sometimes literally be completely in like 3-5 minutes long is awkwardly designed. Consistently having to go through load screens and menus, and then having to wait through the ''get ready - Go!'' load at the start of every level, only breaks up the pacing of the game.

Furthermore, the story is a nonsensical mess, with you constantly switching between generic facemask wearing pirate faction after pirate faction, all of whom lack any distinctive characteristics (besides the silly 'Banditos') and for the most part are defined by their outfits and their 'cool' generican (generic American...) accents. All in the name of stopping some evil corporation who barely exists beyond a name. To say that the story is undeveloped would be an understatement in any case. Which is unfortunate, because the cutscenes are well directed and carry a lot of style to them. Of course Capcom in particular are known for being all style little substance, so a story that only barely hangs on shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

Not being to use your customised characters in the campaign until you've completed it, however, was. I mean seriously, the cast of this game are more avatars than they are characters, so forcing you to play as the defaults for the sake of 'canon' or whatever the Hell is really strange. That said, the amount of weapons and cosmetic doodads you can unlock is really appreciative, especially for someone like me who loves him some variety when it comes to their video game characters. The roulette wheel you unlock the stuff from does seem annoyingly biased in the title category, but I unlocked quite a few goodies just from a single completion.

One thing that really took me surprise was how easy this game was. Again, I must reiterate that it's been patched a fair bit since launch, but hearing all of the horror stories involving the train bit in particular never left me with the same impression. Don't get me wrong, the train akrid boss battle is a load of bullshit if you're trying to manage the cannon (especially in single-player where it's practically all up to you), but falling back on the helicopter VS on the cart below was all I needed and I went through little hassle. The ending boss battle was a little confusing, though, and not to mention anti-climatic. But overall I'd say the game is perhaps a bit too easy least on the normal difficulty.

Laying waste in a VS made for some of the most fun I had in LP2

The fact that any sort of AI for the human enemies barely even exists was the biggest contributor. It's been a rather common occurrence for where a human enemy will literally just stand there, empty headed and confused about what's going on around him. Until I add to that empty headedness when I nail a headshot with my ridiculously overpowered Plasma Sniper Rifle. And even when they take action, they'll do little besides shoot at you on the spot. Of course, AI of all kinds has also never been one of Capcom's strong suites.

And even with all of that said, for as much as I enjoy playing the game, there's still some control squibbles that can get on my nerves. Like how you can't use your grappling hook mid-jump or the awkward input you need just to do an evasive roll. See, you can only roll from a crouching position by then pressing X; not only is this an unnecessarily needless combination of inputs, not only do you crouch by pushing in the left analogue stick, but there's option to set it to toggle, either. You have to permanently hold in the left analogue stick to crouch... and press X from that position to roll. It's fucking lunacy!

LP2 also still has its competitive multiplayer of course, but after 3 years on when pretty much 9/10 server is being run by a Japanese player, I found it pretty difficult to compete as I keep getting creamed by weapons I've never even seen before in the story. Plus for as much as I enjoy the heavy everything about this game, I don't think it fitted the competitive scene quite as much.

Still, tinkering about in the campaign has been a bunch of fun, and I got a solid 13 hours worth for a fiver. I originally headed in to LP2 mostly for 'scholarly' purposes, so all in all I came away pretty satisfied with the end result. Make no mistake, even after the fixes, LP2 is a highly flawed game. But there's clear ambition here and some of it at least managed to hit the mark. You just don't find many shooters like this anymore, and LP3 looks to be a lot more generic in regards to the gameplay and is unfortunately an UE3 game at that. The writing and its story still look to be well and beyond prior Lost Planet's, but it's unfortunately comes with the price of morphing into much blander style of shooter.

At the low price Lost Planet 2 can be found at nowadays, I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try out a shooter that's a little more methodical and deliberate. It's no doubt all the better on PC as well, so getting three mates together to shoot down some giant alien bugs--if this style of game appeals to you--is more than worth the pittance

Start the Conversation

£5 well spent.

Everything about this game's visual production, from the graphics to the animations, is brilliant

I've always been curious in checking out the Lost Planet series. The idea of this extremely weighty and animation-heavy shooter has always sounded pretty appealing to me, in a similar way to my fascination with the Monster Hunter series at that, given that Lost Planet is essentially, ''what if Monster Hunter was a TPS''. Though while I'm still waiting on the off-chance that Monster Hunter is released on a console I own or am going to own (AKA, not a Wii U), I'm outta luck on that front. But Lost Planet is ever accessible so I finally decided to give it a shot!

Lost Planet 2 wasn't exactly the most well received of games, nor was the reception to the reception... the reaction to Brad's two star review was bad enough that it created a mini-disaster. Of course an outcry of utter outrage at a review isn't exactly rare, but Lost Planet 2's is certainly up there with the likes of the Catherine and, yes, the recent DmC review.

After putting in roughly around 13 hours thus far, a lot of the criticisms are most certainly justified. Some, however, I've found to simply be a matter of taste. The plodding movement speed and animation-heavy actions of your characters? Bloody love it! All the more so for the ultra-powerful mech 'Vitality Suits' you can use. Much like for the same reason as to why I've always enjoyed the driving in GTAIV, the weighty nature of the mechanics just make everything about you feel tough; like you're lugging around a giant suitcase full of 20 ton badassery. Lost Planet 2's shooting also has a really great kick to it. Weapons feel powerful and have superb sound effects, and the meaty roar of its shotgun is especially pleasing to the ears.

Even besides the sound effects, the game in general is still quite the production power-house. Given that it's Capcom it comes to little surprise, considering even 2009's RE5 still looks really pretty to this day. I was pleasantly surprised to see how there's a good variety of locales at that, all of which carry their own specific style of atmosphere from the early snow blizzards to the late game spacefaring.

For as video game-y as they are, giant, glowing weak points always makes for a fun target to shoot

However, while I have enjoyed my time with Lost Planet 2, I'm still a little reluctant to call it a good game. Pieces here and there I've genuinely found to be a lot of fun--the giant, glowy weak-spot equipped Akird boss battles in particular--but there's still a swath of problems to contend with. I should also note that the game's been patched a couple of time since its release, so the version I've played was assuredly a great deal friendlier than how it was at launch.

Even still, the fact that it's built from the ground up as a multiplayer game only to disallow drop in/drop out capability is insane. Though weirdly enough people are still playing this thing! With a little patience as I hanged around in my lobby, I was able to pick up two randoms; too bad they decided to leave after only one chapter. And that's another thing; the way the game is segregated between sections that can sometimes literally be completely in like 3-5 minutes long is awkwardly designed. Consistently having to go through load screens and menus, and then having to wait through the ''get ready - Go!'' load at the start of every level, only breaks up the pacing of the game.

Furthermore, the story is a nonsensical mess, with you constantly switching between generic facemask wearing pirate faction after pirate faction, all of whom lack any distinctive characteristics (besides the silly 'Banditos') and for the most part are defined by their outfits and their 'cool' generican (generic American...) accents. All in the name of stopping some evil corporation who barely exists beyond a name. To say that the story is undeveloped would be an understatement in any case. Which is unfortunate, because the cutscenes are well directed and carry a lot of style to them. Of course Capcom in particular are known for being all style little substance, so a story that only barely hangs on shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

Not being to use your customised characters in the campaign until you've completed it, however, was. I mean seriously, the cast of this game are more avatars than they are characters, so forcing you to play as the defaults for the sake of 'canon' or whatever the Hell is really strange. That said, the amount of weapons and cosmetic doodads you can unlock is really appreciative, especially for someone like me who loves him some variety when it comes to their video game characters. The roulette wheel you unlock the stuff from does seem annoyingly biased in the title category, but I unlocked quite a few goodies just from a single completion.

One thing that really took me surprise was how easy this game was. Again, I must reiterate that it's been patched a fair bit since launch, but hearing all of the horror stories involving the train bit in particular never left me with the same impression. Don't get me wrong, the train akrid boss battle is a load of bullshit if you're trying to manage the cannon (especially in single-player where it's practically all up to you), but falling back on the helicopter VS on the cart below was all I needed and I went through little hassle. The ending boss battle was a little confusing, though, and not to mention anti-climatic. But overall I'd say the game is perhaps a bit too easy least on the normal difficulty.

Laying waste in a VS made for some of the most fun I had in LP2

The fact that any sort of AI for the human enemies barely even exists was the biggest contributor. It's been a rather common occurrence for where a human enemy will literally just stand there, empty headed and confused about what's going on around him. Until I add to that empty headedness when I nail a headshot with my ridiculously overpowered Plasma Sniper Rifle. And even when they take action, they'll do little besides shoot at you on the spot. Of course, AI of all kinds has also never been one of Capcom's strong suites.

And even with all of that said, for as much as I enjoy playing the game, there's still some control squibbles that can get on my nerves. Like how you can't use your grappling hook mid-jump or the awkward input you need just to do an evasive roll. See, you can only roll from a crouching position and by then pressing X; not only is this an unnecessarily needless combination of inputs, not only do you crouch by pushing in the left analogue stick, but there's no option to set it to toggle, either. You have to permanently hold in the left analogue stick to crouch... and then press X from that position to roll. It's fucking lunacy!

LP2 also still has its competitive multiplayer of course, but after 3 years on when pretty much 9/10 server is being run by a Japanese player, I found it pretty difficult to compete as I keep getting creamed by weapons I've never even seen before in the story. Plus for as much as I enjoy the heavy everything about this game, I don't think it fitted the competitive scene quite as much.

Still, tinkering about in the campaign has been a bunch of fun, and I got a solid 13 hours worth for a fiver. I originally headed in to LP2 mostly for 'scholarly' purposes, so all in all I came away pretty satisfied with the end result. Make no mistake, even after the fixes, LP2 is a highly flawed game. But there's clear ambition here and some of it at least managed to hit the mark. You just don't find many shooters like this anymore, and LP3 looks to be a lot more generic in regards to the gameplay and is unfortunately an UE3 game at that. The writing and its story still look to be well and beyond prior Lost Planet's, but it's unfortunately comes with the price of morphing into much blander style of shooter.

At the low price Lost Planet 2 can be found at nowadays, I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try out a shooter that's a little more methodical and deliberate. It's no doubt all the better on PC as well, so getting three mates together to shoot down some giant alien bugs--if this style of game appeals to you--is more than worth the pittance.

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