Multiplayer: Gears of War 3 vs Uncharted 3!

Uncharted 3 and Gears of War 3 are sort of kindred spirits, often put against one another because they're both cover-based shooters each exclusive to their own console. But as anyone who's played only an hours worth can tell you, the similarities are only skin deep and even then they're still pretty far apart. After playing a fair bit of multiplayer for both recently, the multiplayer is one such feature that more strikingly details the differences between the two games from a gameplay standpoint.

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Gears The Third!

I got into Gears relatively late, only at around 2009 when I also invested in a 360 - primarily for the exclusives, like Gears naturally. And I love this series! I love the shooting, I love the weapons, I love massacring the locust, I like the characters, and the 'roided up aesthetic of the Gears themselves look pretty awesome to me. They're like action figures! It was only very recently--literally like a couple of weeks ago from now--that I actually first played some Gears multiplayer via Gears of War 3, however. As you can imagine, I've spent a lot of my time getting completely pulverised from every which angle - most often the back, though a shotgun to the face is also very common. I've managed to play enough that I can hold my own... more or less. There are still times where I'm completely left there sitting in a pool of my own tears out of frustration, but there are times where I've even hit the top score of a match.

I played with a lot of bots for quite some time and I've always been reluctant to get me some GOLD to go against real players. But the bots are, well, fucking stupid as you may expect. Even on the 'insane' AI setting, I can easily cleave me way through 'em all. I was getting fed up and it simply wasn't satisfying anymore because I know that facing off against real players functions nothing like a bot match. Fortunately as luck would have it, my little brother happened to have a free month's worth of GOLD and opted to give it to me.

Even before heading online, I was able to grasp the mechanics pretty easily. I'm often able to get the active-reload bonus without fail and, unlike Uncharted 3, Gears 3 still primarily functions as a cover-based shooter. The overall feel of the game is also incredible! The idea that the Gears games control all sluggish and clunky is frankly a terrible misconception, most likely from people who haven't actually played the games. Trust me, Gears of War 3 moves fast! Roadie running, cover bouncing or whatever the Hell it is, rolling out of the way leading into a swift retreat - the best Gears of War 3 players play like a fucking machine. The controls overall are so tight, so responsive that rarely is it the game's fault that you now find yourself as a pile of gooey gibs lathered across the floor.

I usually die soon after, but boy is it ever worth it.

Because of said haste, however, the shotgun is also the most commonly used weapon. That's not some secret of the trade or anything of course; I imagine most people are well aware of the shotgun dominance that populates the Gears multiplayer. In fact there are a significant amount of players who will literally just charge around everywhere using nothing but the gnasher shotgun. And why wouldn't they? Should you ever manage to master the art of wall-bouncing or whatever the Hell, you can easily run right up to someone while they're shooting at you, barely taking any damage and BAM - your head's gone. What's more annoying than how an entire arsenal is sometimes discarded for just one weapon, though, is how I simply can't seem to compete at that level of shotgun proficiency. Now I don't strictly stick to my shotgun or anything, in fact I most often rely on my retro lancer, but naturally the shotgun is the go-to weapon for close-range combat and rushes. And I can, at times, even manage to nail me some lucky blindfire headshots and to even sneak up on an unsuspecting player and do to him/her what so many have done to me before hand.

Unfortunately, those shotgun duels that often erupt when it's you and another guy strafing around with a shotgun don't very often tend to go my way. Or whenever I'm bum rushed, there's a good chance that they'll swiftly be able to get in close without me barely getting a shot in in. I don't want to completely push myself into the mud here, though. I would say that I'm still OK at the game, despite my limited experience.

Because of how Gears 3's multiplayer is generally structured--cordoning your own segments of the map where the best weapons spawn by placing grenades and camping your ass down, actually using cover and flanking tactics to counter said cover, and not to mention how in TDM you have a limited set of lives--killing another player feels highly gratifying. And having the luck (because when it comes to shotgunning, that's really what a lot of it is down to for me) to potentially take on two at once can also make me feel like a bloody champion.

To actually reflect my own inexperience and sometime-reliance on luck, my Gear of choice is Benjamin Carmine - the best Carmine ;). As I've said earlier, retro lancer is my primary weapon and surprisingly enough it works for me favour quite a bit of time. When it's active-reloaded it can tear right through a player quicker than a shotgun if they can't get outta the way quick enough, and it's great for catching players off-guard and downing 'em without needing to snuggle right up into ass with the shotgun. Speaking of which, the gnasher shotgun is my shotty of course since the sawed-off doesn't seem worth it; its slow reload and single shot feature hinders what is otherwise a sort of redundant ability to kill anyone in close range with said single shot because the gnasher is frankly almost as effective within that range.

Anywhoo for the sake of such a substantial amount of text, I figure I should probably do a TL;DR edition to easily digest my pros and cons - in bullet points!

Pros:

  • Controls brilliantly.
  • Runs really smooth with little evidence of lag on my end.
  • Weapons still feel just as powerful in the multiplayer as they do during the campaign.
  • Great graphics.
  • Incredibly satisfying to snag yourself some kills because of the more reserved, slower-paced nature of some matches.
  • This could possibly be an isolated incident, but I've encountered no accounts of racism, bigotry and other headset garbage. There was one group of mates who were a buncha twats and would also revel in winning, but otherwise the horror stories of xbox live--via Gears 3 in any case--have been hidden from me thus far.
  • No perks, boosters, killstreaks or anything of the sort - just pure skill.
  • So much to unlock and so many achievements to strive for! Plus the amount of ribbons and medals make for some incentives to player differently - theoretically anyway. Unlocking a character skin by other means than simply levelling up is also highly satisfying. I admittedly played against bots to unlock me the Locust Sniper skin by getting 50 headshots mind you... >_>
  • Executing players is risky but worth the added humiliation you're bestowing onto your opponent.

Cons:

  • Shotguns, shotguns and more shotguns! The shotgun is the favoured weapon for the more advanced players and its disappointing to see an entire armoury of weapons often discarded in favour of just the one.
  • Shotguns are also hard to master.
  • No signal identification of when a grenade's been thrown your way. This transpires across the entire game, and while your character will call-out a grenade if it's nearby, it can be easy to miss and a visual identifier would make for a more reliable way of letting you know there's a frag that's just been hurled under your arse.

Overall I find Gears 3's multiplayer to be highly addictive and simply a lot of fun to play. Even when I'm doing pretty badly I'll stick around because I love the feel of the controls so much. The shotgun complaint is a significant complaint, though. I'm very excited to join in once Judgment is released as well, so I can actually feel like I'll be on some even ground fighting against the flock of newbies that'll invariably join in.

Anywhoo if anyone ever wants to play, my gamertag is DayLiam. I'm much better at the coop stuff, naturally, but if you don't mind potentially dragging along dead weight, then I'm all for playing some competitive as well! Unfortunately that month only has about... I dunno, maybe a week or two left? I might buy me a subscription card sometime down the line in any case.

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Uncharted Trois!

Unlike Gears, I actually have a lot of experience with the Uncharted games. I bought Uncharted 2 day-one and I think after my first completion (out of I think six) of the campaign, I would drift in and out of the multiplayer. During this time I had a posse I formed up through Gamespot. A lot of good times, greats even and it felt nice to be apart of a community. There was only around 5-6 of us mind you. One such, who's a user on here actually but doesn't use her profile anymore, I played a lot with. We even beat through the cooperative adventure levels with just the two of us! I put in a lot of time with my little brother as well; we had loads of fun just messing around with the cinema mode, looking for goofy pictures to take.

Ah, the memories.

In any case, I played a lot of Uncharted 2. I first started off with the open beta and played till the end; then the full game arrived and, like I said, I played a lot. I was there to celebrate through the Thanksgiving holiday bonus and the Christmas bonus, and overall I accumulated something like, I dunno, maybe 100 or so hours in total. Which probably doesn't sound a lot to, say, the people who have put in literally 1000+ hours in TF2, but for me who never sticks with an online multiplayer component for that long, it definitely felt like I planted my feet in deep.

I especially liked the Ranked mode, as it gave you a separate rank besides your own overall rank that designated your skill; from 1 to 50, which would rise and lower depending on how well you done in matches. I was able to stay stuck to 50, if the high 40s, for a good long while during my stay. I eventually moved on, about the time the Siege DLC was released. I wasn't playing with my old Gamespot crew during this point either, so I fell out after playing on my own for so long. Eventually once i got a stronger foothold in the GB community, I tagged with a lot of other like-minded folk and from there we had our own GB Uncharted gaming nights, helmed by X19. It was a lot of fun, though the long hiatus meant that I was rusty. The fact that a lot of the more casual goers left also resulted in me often facing against the people who were significantly more dedicated to getting good at the game than I was. I was still alright, but I was no longer cleaning house like during the first few months.

Eventually Uncharted 3 arrived. Well, first there was the two beta's, and the first one during summer I was an absolute King at because of my overall experience with the game. Once the full Uncharted 3 came along, I actually headed into the multiplayer after only playing through about halfway of the campaign. That was primarily because, well, I'm really not a fan of Uncharted 3's campaign. But to a lesser extent I was also super excited to play more Uncharted 3 multiplayer!

In any case Uncharted 3's multiplayer is... different from Uncharted 2's in some areas, but it's largely the same sort of deal just expanded upon. Sprinting, automatic ammo pickup, a more diverse set of Boosters (perks) and now introducing Kickbacks (killstreaks... sorta), weapon MODS, cosmetic customisation options and so forth.

Once again I rallied alongside the small squadron of like-minded GB'rs and we regularly played ourselves some Uncharted 3! I've had a lot of fun with Uncharted across the hours, which according to my time stamp is a significantly lower number than the time spent in Uncharted 2. The competitive side of things leaves me only around 24 hours in fact, less than a quarter of my time spent in Uncharted 2. That would probably be because while Uncharted 3 made a myriad of improvements to Uncharted 2, there was still a lot of inherent jankiness to suffer through and, after playing through some very recently (which inspired this very blog), still persists.

I only have Uncharted 2 pictures on here... so take a gander at this paradox of 'Uncharted 2' Drake diving face first into 'Drake's Fortune' Drake's armpit.

For starters, unlike Gears 3, playing Uncharted 3's multiplayer as a cover-based shooter rarely works. In fact the multiplayer mostly adheres to the exact opposite approach, with most players--admittedly including myself--rolling along much like it's a run n gunner. The added sprint option allows you to better travel throughout the arenas, and the added verticality and overall openness of the maps means that taking cover often doesn't provide you with a lot of actual cover. Because of the relatively large diversity of customisation when put against Gears, it allows a lot more variety in playstyles, as well as for the balance to go completely whacked. For a time, such weapons like the FAL-SS were insanely overpowered against other such ilk, and unlike Gears were everyone is mostly in even ground, a low level player stuck with an AK regardless of experience (after Uncharted 3's prestige equivalent for example) will clearly be at a hefty disadvantage against someone using the Level 50 unlockable Fal weapon with a level 3 fleet-foot booster - which allows players to more hastily move around while aiming.

Many a patch has been released to continuously tweak this and poke at that by the ever gracious Naughty Dog, but other problems still arise. For starters, despite the sort of impression the franchise has generally put forward, Uncharted 3 is a significantly clunkier game than Gears 3. Gears 3's controls are damn near pitch-perfect I tell you, whereas Uncharted 3's, while it may feature quicker animations, is much slipperier and less precise. Many a time would you find yourself stuck against a wall when trying to move about, or accidentally jumping against a wall when you're trying to latch onto the edge. The platforming elements ported over from the single-player is still a great feature and one such style of gameplay that helps Uncharted 2/3's multiplayer stand out amongst the crowd. But it comes at a price as you're forced to put up with some squirrelly controls.

Because of the fast pace of the game and the map design of most levels, what generally tends to happen a lot is while you're currently engaged with one player, another one is usually able to quickly arrive soon after and finish you off should you win. Sure, this is a common strategy for many multiplayer games, but with Gears 3 and the fact that you often always have a shotgun at hand, it often feels like there's more chance for you to survive an ambush by another player. Whereas in Uncharted you can very easily become overwhelmed and no matter how hard you press down that sprint button will have to inevitably find yourself downed.

What is most unfortunate, however, is the lag. Whereas Gears 3 mostly plays like a dream from a net perspective, Uncharted 3 is more so unpredictable. My connection is OK at 20Mbps, but lag is still prominent enough to cause the occasional outrage. Stuff like players taking an inordinate amount of bullets to take down, grenades that will explode almost instantaneously when thrown, dying a second later after escaping a chasing player, melee attacks which sometimes won't register--and in fact close-quarters combat is a total mess regardless of lag to be perfectly honest. It goes without saying that lag is prominent across most facets of online games, but in Uncharted 3 there is a significant number of Mexican players--who are so proud of their native lands they all often like to label their 4-character clan tags as MEX--who will have a completely empty connection bar. It can't be helped, but such prominence still stands out and can make playing the game a complete piss take at times.

Ole chum Sezzilla was kind enough to make this for me because of my attachment to the Sark skin in Uncharted 2! Though I came up with the caption x)))))

Now I notice I've been rather negative overall concerning Uncharted here, which I don't mean to be! In fact, ironically enough, I think Uncharted 3's multiplayer is probably easier to get into than Gears 3. Because of the often chaotic nature of matches, they can sometimes go one way or another, and levelling up via the coop stages can help if a player should simply want to hit the level where they're more comfortable with their arsenal and array of boosters & kickbacks You're still getting to play and listen to the humorous quips of the ever likeable Uncharted cast as well. For myself, I've long primarily stuck to playing as Sully on the heroes side--orange shirt Sully at that--rockin' a fedora. Though on the side of the villains I'm kinda all over the place

The gunplay is still pretty solid and while the variety of boosters and kickbacks sometimes completely shit all over anything to do with balance, they can also make for a more colourful series of matches. Though unfortunately, we're at the point where quick-boom and RPG!! are the most common kickbacks to be equipped. Trying to occasionaly run away from a horde of insta-kill spiders can also be a right bastard, but it still makes for a hilarious scenario as you're just bailing right outta there screaming for your life.

And this Uncharted segment is long enough that even I can now sympathise with anyone who wants to give it a miss... So, TL;DR DIGESTIVE ENGAGE:

Pros:

  • Fun cast of characters to play as.
  • Verticality adds an interesting dynamic to the competitive gameplay.
  • Shooting is still fun enough to lead into addicting all-day multiplayer marathons.
  • Great amount of customisation.
  • Dedicated support by Naughty Dog.
  • Comparatively easy to get into against Gears of War 3.
  • Taunts! And many many more with this new series of patches and free DLC! Want to have Katherine Marlowe perform a 'Hillbilly Shuffle' over your latest kill? Uncharted 3 got what yo need!

Cons:

  • Slippery movement and platforming that isn't as precise as you'd probably like. Remember those missed jumps you may have unfortunately succumbed to during the campaign? Annoying, right? Well imagine falling prey to one of those in a multiplayer match.
  • The aforementioned customisation also invariably leads to unbalance. There's a Hardcore mode that cuts off all of the peripheral bonuses, but it's only for TDM.
  • The open, labyrinthine nature of the maps leads to a lot of scattered chaos.
  • Laggy players are a noticeable issue that has plagued my playtime for a long while now, which is more so a nuisance after playing a series of stable matches for Gears 3.
  • Multiplayer graphics are somewhat sub-par when compared to the campaign. The maps look fine, but some of the character models--especially the faces--are poorly textured; Charlie Cutter's MP character looks like a cocaine fiend.
  • Spawn locations can be a little busted; you also don't receive any temporary immunity when you return into the match like in Gears, so occurrences of spawning on top of a live grenade or to be blindfired + melee hit as soon as you run around the corner can happen.

I hadn't played Uncharted 3 in a fair few months, but the latest patch--which is one of the largest I've seen for a console game--egged me on as an excuse to head back in. Things still mostly play the same, and it's been so long that it's a struggle to actually pin-point the differences. My heart & soul, the G-Mal, has a heavier bit 'o recoil, but otherwise I eased in and experienced all of what I loved and loathed about Uncharted 3's multiplayer. I'm more than likely still going to head back in every so often as well, so once again feel free to add me!

PSN-ID be Yummylee.

Despite the title, I'm not here to hand out a verdict as to which is insurmountably better. They both of course have their own set of pluses and negatives. Gears 3 is a much more methodical sort of game, where your decisions within the battlefield and supporting your team stands for more than simply being a good shot--though that doesn't hurt, either How you choose to manoeuvre throughout the environment is a notably key factor as well, and while the same can be said for Uncharted 3, Uncharted 3 is tougher in setting up an escape plan. On the other hand, Uncharted 3 is more ripe for simply screwing about and having some immature fun.

Because Gears of War 3 is a more prominent ringer within the tournament scene, there's less chance you'll encounter equally minded players who play for the goofiness of the game and instead will be pulverised by people who want nothing more than to win. However, Gears of War 3 is possibly a more gratifying game to excel at in spite of this; because of its strict style of play, it feels invigorating to rank yourself high up on the match leaderboard. I'm currently still enjoying them both, but once Judgment arrives, I think that may act as the deciding factor as to whether I will move onto the Gears style of gameplay for my TPS competitive urges, or whether I'll stay stuck in with Uncharted 3 as I carry on enjoying kicking players off ledges and sneaking up behind fellows and snapping their necks - ninja styaaal.

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Oh God Why: MGS3 and how it makes my heart bleed.

Why! Why must the times be so cruel! And I'm not referring to the stupid silly delay the MGS HD collection underwent (which was still silly stupid), but for how my own tolerance for video games must move forward so fast. To put it bluntly, I don't think MGS3 has aged well at all. And it's killing me inside with a serrated blade... dipped in poison, while on fire, and I'm being force-fed laxatives giving me violent diarrhoea in the process.

MGS3 was one of my favourite games on the ps2; hell, it may well be one of my favourite games of all time. But after playing through it very recently, it comes across as unapologetically clunky and cumbersome. The shooting controls are hard to adapt to after so many improvements made across the years, not being able to move while crouching is pure insanity, and the camo and how it'll quickly dart down to 30% just as your elbow touches a speck of a different texture causing you to be spotted from a guy 50 miles away is ever so frustrating. To be fair, I remember that it all gets much easier to bear once I unlocked the ''Snake'' camo for beating down The Boss' stamina gauge, but I'm still going to have to complete the game to get to that point.

What also strikes me as dated, even by the game's original release standards, was how you couldn't just drop grenades when you're trying to escape from American accented Russians. So you're spotted right, and you'd imagine you could just drop a stun grenade on your current position and POOF like Batman or some shit. But instead, Snake has to pause on the spot and then do a small underarm throw; even when you're in the midst of running away, he'll stop on the fucking spot just to then girly-throw a grenade--seriously, Snake has a really poor throwing arm even when you hold the button in! What's crazy is that you could totally utilise such a tactic in the very first MGS! I can distinctly remember doing as such when I'm running up/down the towers before the Hind-D boss battle, with all of the gun-cameras scattered about.

The way the controls reverse or go completely sideways when you're up against a wall and attempt to move the camera around, forcing you to either accidentally get off the wall, or begin to shimmy, or even fall off if you're shimmying against a cliff-side or something is another bullet-point to add to my ever increasing rage! The way you're not able to maybe look down off the edge of a small hilltop or hill that you're crawling across, or drop a grenade on the guy who may be right below you is an another example.

And it's not like the game is too difficult or anything; it's just that we all want to play stealth games right. We don't want to get spotted and then be forced into some clunky shooting scenarios, especially since when you're in alert status, your camo stands for shit all. I mean even if you're out of sight but the alert phase is going, they will still know exactly where you are regardless of whether your camo index hits -9000% or 95%.

Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with me being impatient or lacking the focus to meticulously crawl everywhere. But there's a lot of overt clunkiness across every facet of the stealth gameplay that it often comes down to you being spotted because of the game's own clumsy mechanics. It's commendable that the game has such complex potential within, and MGS3 definitely made a heap of impressive improvements to its own formula, but the gameplay elements aren't able to match the complexity and give you the right amount of efficiency to tackle the stealth scenarios. There are far too many barriers created through the screwy gameplay that are then placed over the barriers implemented through MGS3's own design choices - it all starts to feel almost overwhelming.

Back when I first played it, I'm sure I went through some similar frustrations, but washed 'em off for the sake of everything else. The hunting mechanic is still really well done and unique, listening to 40 minute codec calls are still almost therapeutic, the writing is solid, the voice-acting is still a good blend of self-seriousness and goofiness, the cutscenes are still grand to watch (though the lip syncing is really poor), the boss battles are still inventive and fun, the soundtrack is still the goddamn MGS3 soundtrack, the ingenuity like the Sorrow & End (among many other things) boss battles are still ingenious (or I'd like to think... haven't actually gotten that far yet), and the story is easily my favourite of the lot. A lot of those specific aspects fortunately still manage to impress.

However, even if the increased dependence on age-old gadgets that have limited battery power, silencers that deteriorate, and your radar being replaced with your own cunning and self-awareness was a massive leap over MGS2's comparatively simple mechanics, those simple mechanics still make for a more satisfying stealth game because I felt like I was on even ground; I didn't often have to fight against a myriad of gameplay goofs alongside the overall increased complexity and resulting difficulty. For MGS3 I feel like I spend half of my playtime downing fake-death pills so I can just restart the whole area - all because of one small mistake leading into complete and utter chaos

Of course this sort of reaction is nothing new; nostalgia is both a loving and deceptive mistress, who likes to keep your memories warm and fuzzy, long hidden from reality. The same reality you are also ill-prepared to face. But.... it's Metal Gear Solid 3! How can this happen to me!? Why must this happen to me?! Is it because I touch myself at night?!?

Honestly, I think MGS3 was ahead of its time. It had the innovation, it had the ideas, it executed on some of those ideas, but didn't have the current tech nor the current mindset that would have really helped it flourish. MGS4 made innumerable incremental improvements, but it still can't top MGS3 as a whole for me for many, many reasons that I can't entirely be bothered getting into. But if MGS3 was to be re-released with MGS4's controls and added improvements, then it could very well match the memories I used to have of MGS3 prior to this horrifying realisation.

It's basically just like The Boss herself said and how everything is dictated by the times. /pseudo-intellectualism

Will I ever even return to MGS3 again? I'm at least still banking on the idea that once I get the 'Snake' camo, everything's going to be alright better, since it consistently stays within around 80% regardless of the terrain. But even still, I'm currently just not having a lot of fun. And again, it's an awful lot of me taking my sweet time tranquillising everyone, only to then have my master plan foiled because peeking your camouflaged head from behind a piece of cover will apparently always destroy any and all attempts to blend in - full stop. I mean seriously, no exceptions? It has to always drain down to a staggering 0%?

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PS: The original Devil May Cry sucks to play now, too. But DMC3 is still as fun and addictive as ever, so it's all good in that department.

26 Comments

Feast movie review.

I don't usually do this (review films or post user-reviews in a blog), but after re-watching the sublime 2005 monster schlock that is Feast... I dunno, I just had the urge to gush out the enjoyment I had. And considering the state screened.com has unfortunately found itself in (though I've still posted it on there anywhoo), I decided to post it on here. As a blog, rather than sticking them on my status par the course. Which already feels somewhat egotistical and like I've now opened up the flood gates for all sorts of rampant criticism and belittlement and the tears and--OK, well first things first. I'm not a very good writer, and I'm not exactly aspiring to be one either. I just enjoy writing up user-reviews as a way to better contain my thoughts, and should people read or even recommend (which I have an astonishing amount for my GB user-reviews for some reason), then all the better!

In any case, TL;DR for Feast: It's pretty good, you should watch it sometime. Why? Because...
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Feast is a monster movie; it's a ''one crazy night'' movie; it's also nothing that exactly pushes forward either of the sub-genres. But at the same time, Feast manages to turn certain conventions on its head and will keep even genre die-hards guessing as to who and when certain characters will have their entrails ripped out. It's almost like a comical documentary about our conceptions of the 'horror movie cast', but one that is made well within the bounds of what it is commentating towards.

Directed by John Gulager, who has continued on with two sequels--which I haven't seen yet, but considering the highs Feast manages to reach, it can only go down?--Feast pays homage to many of the typical cliches and tropes found within this sort of movie, and... doesn't exactly parody said tropes and cliches, but rather twists them around in a humorous fashion. This is a movie that is self-aware--featuring many winks and even a few nods here and there--yet conventional, and is a completely competent, no great, ''one crazy night staving off a horde of monsters'', movie.

The story begins paying host to the cast of archetypes (I mean that quite literally; all characters are under a specific title such as ''Hero'' and ''Beer Guy''), creatively pausing the scene to give a brief run-down of a character, complete with a fun-fact and an estimate on how long they'll live. But the estimates are... pretty unreliable, to say the least. The best part of the movie is forever knowing that anyone can die (well, not literally, but you get the drift). And die people do, in appropriately gory fashion.

COME AT ME BRO

The plot is wafer-thin, but it's nonetheless an awesome premise and one that is executed well here. Basically set around a small tavern in the middle of nowhere, monsters seemingly appear from wherever and begin an assault on the tavern, all just so they can fill up their tummy tum tum. And that's quite literally it; windows will be boarded, barricades will be built, and cleavage will be on display. What works is the details; alongside the brilliant introduction, the writing is rather witty across its 86 minute running down, and the direction does a fine job in eliciting both laughs, scares, tension, and even sorrow when the movie occasionally calls for it. Gulager is perhaps a little too liberal with his use of the shaky cam during the most hectic scenarios, but that doesn't get in the way of pouring the gore to the top of the glass. One moment where a poor soul loses an eye definitely stood out.

The acting is about on-par with the writing, and while this isn't exactly the kind of movie that demands much, the sharp writing goes hand in hand with a largely competent set of players, including Judah Friedlander as Judah Friedlander, Henry Rollins as a pretty funny motivational speaker called ''Coach'', and Balthazar (seriously) Getty as the poster-boy redneck, ''Bozo''.

The overall pacing is pretty tight, never letting the movie linger for too long without moving onto something blood-filled or crazy. And even when it does linger, the characters and the dialogue are so enjoyable that I was perfectly fine with actually getting to know these people. The 'creatures' themselves are largely generic, however, but the kills they'll commit and those teeth do enough to let you know they're to be feared. Though again, Feast perhaps falls back onto the shaky cam (while clearly in play because of the budget) just a wee too much. Things don't become outright disorientating like the worst offenders, but other tricks such as clever camera angles, shadows or something could of been put to better use to help keep the monsters fearsome while still avoiding to put them in any full body shots. Regardless, Feast's sole environment manages to look pretty good, most notably when the Tavern's power runs out and the backup generator dips the place into an orange hue. The moment when the sun begins to beam through the windows was well done too, giving the impression that God himself was welcoming the survivors into his embrace right out of the Hell they endured. Cliched as the metaphorical Hell they were stuck in, but damn did it still feel gratifying, like I myself could almost feel the radiating warmth.

Feast is a simple movie within a relatively simple sub-genre, but what makes it impressive is for how different it still felt as I was watching it. It's without a doubt one of the better monster movies you can find coming from this century, and despite the budget, Gulager manages to display a surprising degree of quality against the still strong quantity of blood and guts. Tasty.

...my companion pic for the score.

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Also I recently watched 'Seconds Apart' too (gone on a blu-ray binge, buying all kinds of horror movies), which is rubbish. Oh, and 'A Tale of Two Sisters', which was... pretty good, but I'm not in the camp who appear to adore that movie. There was only one truly scary scene, and it fell back on the asian-horror mother of all cliches with a woman whose face is completely covered up by her long, dark hair. The psychological part was great at least; I loved the performance of the step-mother too, especially the dinner scene when she's recalling a 'funny' story. I dunno what it is, though... I feel like it may be one of those movies that I'll appreciate more once I re-watch it down the line.

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Buyer's Remorse - She Burns!

I was relatively optimistic towards Amalur for a while after hearing about how it's meant to be an Elder Scrolls-ish RPG with ''God of War'' like combat. The trailers enticed me all the more, and even the demo left me feeling cautiously positive. But then... I dunno... after around 5 hours of playing (on Friday... mostly been playing Gears 3 instead) my stomach gradually began to sink as I couldn't help but notice how damn dated this thing is across its entirety.

I mean, I understand they weren't aiming to actually make a new Elder Scrolls, but the world is so terribly static (the taverns in particular are so depressingly inanimate and empty), the character models are so poorly detailed--often paired with equally terrifying and hilarious facial and mid-dialogue animations--you'll often encounter people who look just like your own character (thanks in no small part to the relative simplicity of the character creator and the shallow selection of races--basically two human races and 2 elves), and the ''world'' from what I can tell is basically made up of a lot of pretty corridors with towns in the middle. And some instanced off dungeons.

And your character.. now I don't hold any grudges against silent protagonists (even if they are becoming tougher to tolerate as the years go by), but it's the fact that they don't allow you to birth some sort of personality via the dialogue options you can choose your character to say that I vehemently dislike, which leaves the protagonist as the emptiest of slates with but an occasional blink just to prove that your character is in fact alive during conversations. At least Link actually animates, and games like Dragon Age: Origins had some brilliantly clever/humorous dialogue options for you choose from to build an identity. Your own race doesn't even factor into things either far as I can tell; having some bartender telling me not to worry about the upstairs healer because she's some... dark elf, or whatever stupid name they needlessly conjured up to make their world appear more unique, when I myself am also a dark elf just ripped me out of believing my character was actually somebody rather than just a player avatar.

Oh, and the combat isn't even all that good! It can be pretty satisfying to swing my massive flaming hammer around, but the combat is nowhere near as deep as I was hoping. You can't even bloody jump! Playing on hard mode, the game is also pretty frustrating... because of how easy it is! For a lot of battles, all I quite literally do is smash the square button over and over. Sure, there'll be sub boss battles that provide some opposition, but otherwise against all the random mobs, and even some of the humanoid boss battles who'll flinch after every attack, I can just rest and mash the square button and I'm sorted. Then there's nagging issues like why can I only do special stealth kills with daggers? Or why must my bow take up my second weapon spot when I'm naturally going to want to have a bow equipped anyway. If they really wanted to allow a little more combat puzzazz, they should of given you a third spot solely for a ranged weapon; that way you could have two melee weapon spots to mix up your attacks and not have to sacrifice a ranged weapon--or be forced to continually change your secondary weapon. Oh, and the way your shield just appears is silly, and it specifically irks me because I often like to see my character with his shield equipped too. For a game that's all about making your character look awesome, it's surprising that they passed over the tick box about allowing my character to strut around with a sword 'n' shield like a baws.

The cartoony style I do like, though, as I do the Destiny system - which is probably the only shining beacon of creativity the game showcases. And to be fair, I've only played a small amount thus far... but after looking over the ''moves'' list, there's really not that much else to look forward to as regards to expanding my attack patterns. If the game stays as easy as it has thus far as well then I won't even need to use any ''tactics'' besides ole faithful.

The world is just so bloody boring and it leaves me with little desire to learn more; and these days it also takes just a little more than some ''loot lust'' to push me further--especially when the game's this easy, when a green weapon is already all I need to do the job swiftly.. Frankly, the entire game feels like its sole purpose was to act as the precursor for the MMO; it'll set up the lore and the races and what have you, and then they begin with the real game. I mean seriously, how can a game with this many huge names tagged to the development evidently suffer from what looks have been a fairly low budget?

Maybe the game does hold some surprises down the line, though; maybe it'll eventually rise to be a game I'll at least finish. But as of now, it's left me with a soul crushingly bad first-impression and the mere thought of heading back in doesn't exactly have me tearing with excitement. It's overall shallow, derivative to a frightening degree and something I really wish I hadn't put £38 towards. On the bright side, Gears 3 is pretty fucking awesome. Really dislike the submarine and end boss segments, though. But otherwise, its 5 stars is well deserved.

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TL;DR

God Dammit

122 Comments

Final few Ezio segments felt really rushed. *spoilerific!*

Just completed Brotherhood and OMGWTFBBQ ect ect. An overall fantastic game and one I wish I played through sooner; it would have no doubt ranked on my top 10 for that year had I played through it then and shared my enthusiasm as much as I do now for the game.

It's weird because I really liked my time with Brotherhood's campaign, a fair amount more than with AC2, and I never really understood why. I've always been a distant appreciator for the AC series, always acknowledging that it's a solid series, but never having any strong devotion towards it. I despised the first AC, but even then I could see its merit. Even with Brotherhood, I still find the platforming to be really finicky sometimes and the stealth is pretty undeveloped. I mean the guards I noticed are complete, fucking nimrods with what appears to be zero peripheral vision. But they kinda have to be, given how little in the way of abilities you have to stealth around as you do. Also chase missions suck, as do missions where you have to tail people.

Even still, Brotherhood, for whatever reason, clicked a lot more so with me than its predecessor; where as for AC2, I kinda just wanted the campaign to end as it was closing, for Brotherhood I just wish there was more. The addition of the Brotherhood is a great new feature, if a shallow one, but that's still not quite what I'd say won me over completely. Maybe now I've just grown a new found fondess for AC just because... AC is the kind of series I'm apparently in the mood for right now, I guess.

But yeah, the reason for the title... well, it speaks for itself. Brotherhood is a brilliant single player game with a simply staggering amount of stuff to do (the Leonardo death-machine missions were probably my favourite parts of the game - that along with the Romulus parkour missions), but once you receive the apple, the final few missions as Ezio seemingly blend together kinda haphazardly. Things move at a surprising haste, which goes against the otherwise methodical pace of knocking down Cesare one peg at a time. I mean when the game just quickly shifts to the middle of some climatic battle right out of nowhere, it definitely felt like the game just wanted to get Ezio out of the way so it could move on to the Desmond and all the mind-fuckery. An otherwise low point on a brilliantly paced story.

Which said mindfuckery, from my assumptions, is meant to lead you to believing that Desmond is the kinda/sorta reincarnation of ''Adam''? Or to essentially take up the role of ''Adam'' anywhoo. And this Juno wants him to reawaken this 6th sense and along with his ''Eve'', they are to start a new race of humans where we all have this 6th sense? Naturally I'm a little late for all the speculation revolving around Brotherhood's ending, what with the sequel here and all, but I wanted to put that there anywhoo so people can throw my speculation back into my face and rebutal with cold hard FACTS! Also please don't, since I actually now really want to play through Revelations, even though I'm aware that the story is meant to be one of the most disappointing aspects because it doesn't really push the overall arc very forward.

Also on the topic of AC, is Ezio possibly one of the most developed characters amongst video-gaming?! I mean holy shit, you don't half spend a deal of time with the man. Playing through those flashback missions in particular opened my eyes to how much Ezio has grown across the years (Roger Craig Smith reverting to his lighter voice for the younger, more brash Ezio was a great touch to illustrate that fact), and how we have actually been there for the majority of it. We were there for when he was born! And now with Revelations, we're going to be at his side for what I assume will be his final moments, if not the moments leading up to it. Watching him mature to the cool and calculated badass that he be is an arc you don't see that many of across a franchise - or at least with this much breadth.

Anywhoo I've rambled on about AC so much now that I might as well turn this into a blog... yeah, I think I'll do that.

10 Comments

Abyssfull's fuel for the fire: Top 10'ingtons of 2011.

Since I noticed people are emptying their GOTY guts via blog form, I figured that my ''highly valid and relevant'' opinions might as well go along with 'em. I'm just copy & pasting from my GOTY 2011 list. So... yo:

2011 has been a very middling year for me, videya-gaymz speaking anywhoo. A large portion of the year has of course been sequel-centric, and for me a shocking amount are sequels that didn't surpass their predecessors. A lot can be said for my choice of games I opted for, however, and not to mention a large amount of this years most well regarded completely cut from the proceedings, due to me simply not having the platform or because my computer is a disgrace to its kind.

Such stark examples like The Witcher 2 and Ghost Trick (and plenty more, I assure you), both of which I had no access because of the aforementioned reasons, are two I really wish I could of played. The Witcher 2 I'm in luck since it's getting a 360 release next year, and Ghost Trick I'm sure I'll get one day. I should probably get a DS too, I think that might help. But when that time comes, 2011 will be long behind me leaving both to stay as casualties towards my 2011 gaming span.

There also a lot of big titles that I haven't played because I don't have a great degree of interest towards, or not quite enough to prioritise over other games I bought. Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Mortal Kombat, Outland, Batman: Arkham City, Gears of War 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and not to mention Skyrim! One such title I have no doubt would make onto my list somewhere, but money woes kept getting in the way, and then when I finally caved in, that was about the time I noticed a lot of the ensuing pitchforks and hatred pelvic-thrusted at Skyrim because of its degrading technical issues. So I opted out of it, and even now should I decide to order it it'd probably take a week at least to get here, cancelling out any possible positioning on this heeya list.

Let's see, there's also El Shaddai that I did actually order around 4 days ago, but the fucking thing hasn't even been dispatched yet, so that too must be crossed out unfortunately. It's one I was fairly interested in, too, but my interest admittedly never quite peaked the ''£40'' margin.

Because of all of these mishaps, my 2011 list has been pretty difficult to surmise. Hell, even actually squeezing in 10 games was a little tricky; I have played more than 10 this year, but there's quite a few (including Dragon Age 2 and L.A Noire) I really wouldn't want to place here just for the sake of filling up the slots. And while all 10 I did enjoy this year, there's still one or two I'm not entirely comfortable with having it take up the slot, and I just wished I at least played Skyrim to better even things out. But oh well, given what I had on offer, this is what I've personally found to be my top 10 for 2011.

10. Hydrophobia Prophecy

Now I never played the original Hydrophobia, nor it's second release, so for me this was entirely new. I know of it's not-so-heralded reception and the backlash the developers have so vehemently spewed across. But speaking for the Prophecy edition, I can say that whatever upgrades and improvements they administered, they worked.

Hydrophobia's story and gameplay may not be all too refined, and in essence it almost resembles a poor man's Uncharted. But it's documented physics engine and the way it handles water is as awesome as people have(?) said. The game itself was pretty breezy on the default difficulty, too, so I mostly strolled along simply enjoying the way the water dynamically sloshes and flows depending on the environment and whatever obstacles were present. Shooting a glass window to witness the water pour out and catch a dude off-guard, drowning him in the process, was pretty impressive.

What is a shame is how Prophecy didn't exploit it's brilliant physics more so than nearing the end, when your character inexplicably gains the power to literally control the water. It introduced a single water puzzle that I quite enjoyed, and would of allowed Hydrophobia some warmer reception should it of been introduced earlier, if not instead just built the game entirely around those mechanics.

9. Bastion

I gotta be honest, I didn't particularly enjoy 'playing' through Bastion. Something about it just didn't feel all that right; the combat and movement felt a little stiff and didn't flow together that well. Maybe it was down to me not finding the combination of weapons that suited me the most, but I certainly did try a damn many combinations.

Even still, it was the incredibly detailed graphics and the superbly cool narration that kept me going. The story itself took far too long to actually give me a little fire; I literally groaned after collecting all of the cores, only to then be tasked with collecting a set of core ''shards''. But when it did pick up, I was a skosh more enthusiastic.

I did eventually complete Bastion and while the final few story beats didn't hit me as hard as I was predicting, judging by the comments I've read, it was enough to leave me satisfied overall. I don't think I'll be heading into the NG+ anytime soon, though.

8. Yakuza 4

Man, I only entered the fray with Yakuza 3, but already the series is starting to a wear a little thin. I still appreciate it's almost stubborn adherence to the design it wants, but some of the stranger choices--like cutscenes which constantly switch between full-voiced cutscenes to static text delivery--are quickly starting to become less so quirky and more so archaic. With that said, the Yakuza games have some brilliant and brutal combat mechanics, and the soap-opera storyline is chock full of Japanese drama that I can't help but be motivated to learn more. The best aspect of it all is how there's now four very distinctive characters, all who link up to the same story via some fairly clever means. It's how each character must tackle the fictional city of Kamurocho differently, be it by befriending the hobos as one, or using your police-issue radio to search for criminal activity as another, that helps Yakuza 4 stand out for me.

Also the soundtrack is ace.

7. Resistance 3

Resistance 3 is like the Bizarro edition of Resistance 2. Whereas Resistance 2 featured an expansive and highly addictive multiplayer suite, with an absolutely fantastic 8-player cooperative offering, it's story wasn't very engaging to the general community. Me, I still found the campaign to be a lot of fun, but definitely nowhere near as Resistance 3's. Gone are the limitations of the modern-day weaponry stockholds, with a drool-inducing selection of weapons, all with alt-fires and origins very alien, to now collect and be ready to unleash at whim. Returned is the unique handicap of health that doesn't regenerate, giving Resistance 3 a more hectic pace as you struggle to manage your health, hoping to stumble upon any nearby health packs.

It's campaign is a fast-paced somewhat-homage to the old ways of shooters--if not at least Resistance: FoM--but apparently that also meant losing out on a lot of the multiplayer options that Resistance 2 gladly flaunted. It was a harsh trade, but I've at least taken solace with my time during Resistance 3's hectic single player.

6. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Uncharted 3 is a weird one; it's single player I most definitely enjoyed a lot more during my following playthroughs. The initial adventure I joined alongside Nathan Drake for was a fucking nightmare, however. The stilted shooting mechanics, the awful combat scenarios and the less-so-engaging story really tore at my insides. Even when I adjusted to the shooting mechanics and could actually have some fun with the single-player, that never saved how the combat portions still delved into a lot of the very same lazy design choices that plagued Drake's Fortune way back when. Add to that with Uncharted 3's ''samey-ness'', and it was overall underwhelming.

Then why does this hit the Number 6. mark? Well despite all my moaning, the single-player I would eventually learn to have some fun with as I said before. But most importantly it was the greatly expanded multiplayer aspects that have I've resonated such love towards. I was well into the multiplayer for Uncharted 2 and always felt it was harshly shrugged off, and Uncharted 3 has now only improved upon that formula with every facet. Much like with Uncharted 2, playing with folks I know is a blast and given how little I generally play multiplayer (RDR and the Resistance are the only other franchises with which I actually put a heap of multiplaying hours into), it's a nice change of pace to be working within a small community. Uncharted 3 surpasses Uncharted 2's multiplayer and will no doubt keep me in even longer than Uncharted 2 did. And I am currently nothing but eager for the upcoming map packs.

5. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Oh how I love me my legos. I've loved assembling lego shit since I was a kid, and while that fascination unfortunately died down as the years spiralled up (as did a lot of other things...) my enjoyment with Lego still transcends into the virtual portrayal of these Danish son'bitches. And Lego Star Wars 3 also just happens to possibly be the best one yet. Based within the continuity of The Clone Wars CGI series (which I totally watched through to.. keep up, so to speak. Turns out that series is actually pretty good) allowing me to once again swing lightsabers, shoot droids and collect a never-ending supply of studs! Add a lot of the series original foundation to a larger degree of variety including vehicles, and least of all the RTS gameplay mechanics, and I was yet again left to sink in 50 or so hours attempting to unlock everything. I love me some Legos; I love me some Star Wars, and Lego Stars Wars 3 provided plenty of opportunities to once more express that love all within the glee of whatever little innocence remains within.

4. Dead Space 2

Both Dead Space 2 and its predecessor are two of the very few games I've actually been awarded the Platinum for. I think that alone speaks to how much hell I'm currently enjoying out of this franchise. Now while I still prefer the slower and more horror-orientated pacing of the original, Dead Space 2 does in no way take itself down the kind of path I wouldn't like, and more so just drifts down an alternate path over Dead Space Senior. The shooting is still some of the best around, the over-arching storyline is now starting to get surprisingly broad and interesting, and man, Necromorphs can still be damn intimidating under most circumstances.

Dead Space 2 is the kind of game that takes around 7-8 hours, yet can still keep you stuck in for around 15-20. Much like Dead Space Uno, I sucked Dead Space 2 dry, I cut off every limb and I, as mentioned earlier, got me that platinum. I completed the Impossible, and all I want is more.

3. Saints Row The Third

God I love this series. The Saints Row series, no matter the tone it's drenched in, is still one of the best at allowing you to wreak havoc the way you want with the character you want. Saints Row 2 probably hit this same position for my non-existent 2008 GOTY list (which I should maybe make one day...) and it's crazy how each game has ranked so high for me, yet for differing reasons each time.

The original Saints Row it was all about the placeholder for the next GTA; Saints Row 2, it was all bout the crafting of its own identity and the tremendous list of stuff to do And not to mention the ever-surprising story made up of great voice work, writing and a dozen moments that I'll never forget (nor can, considering the amount of times I completed it). And now Saints Row The Third, with it's significantly improved production values, heartily expanded character-creator, overall improved Boss voice selection and some of the greatest moments across the entire franchise - which, speaking as a bit of a fanboy towards SR2, is saying a damn lot. While I'll always wish for what-could-have-been, had The Third not severed a startling amount of the side stuff nor replaced their vibrant, colourful urban areas for a starch, lifeless shell during the process, that never stopped me from yet again noticing the 100+ hour dump at the top of my in-game's statistics sheet.

2. inFAMOUS 2

As long as Sucker Punch keep doin' what they doin', then everytime they release an inFAMOUS game, it's sure to star amongst that very GOTY list for me. inFAMOUS 2 sticks very close to the original like it was a conjoined twin, and is one of the few sequels that didn't feel fit to lob off something in exchange for something else. inFAMOUS 2 is inFAMOUS but with more powers, better graphics, a city that isn't completely coated in grey and a new story - and that's all I could of asked for from an inFAMOUS sequel. Hell, they even ''somehow'' turned Zeke into a surprisingly likeable guy as well... for that alone, Sucker Punch deserves a piece of my heart.

1. Dark Souls

I haven't even completed Dark Souls and yet I am still fully confident in placing it as my Number 1. for this year. Well, I say I haven't completed it, but my main character is quite literally at the end-boss. I just can't beat him because my character's a bit of a mess, build-wise. I've still all the same plugging in a massive investment of days and nights, playing through with multiple characters, and just doing a huge degree of farming with my main. I loved everything to do with Demon's Souls, and Dark Souls is essentially Demon's Souls but better. A more varied enemy design, a seem-less world (that does still suffer from some near insufferable frame-rate issues, however) and the same freedom to create your character however you want.

Dark Souls is even more intimidating for its scope and complete lack of guidance for the most part, but that only makes it all the more satisfying to uncover the many mysteries the game holds. Dark Souls is ''exactly'' like something I've already played before, but that doesn't stop the surprises and the drowning density of wonder for me to quickly lose myself to.

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Dark Souls is harder than Demon's Souls... Like, a lot.

I mean Holy Sexual Intercourse, Batman! This bastard is a real a bitch! I will always attest to Demon's Souls having a bit of a steep learning curve with a nasty metaphorical guillotine for any error in your play-style, but at the same time Demon's Souls wasn't all that particularly hard. Once you got the main path sorted (after a few dozen deaths to be sure) I at least could swim my way across. I could very easily play through Demon's Souls now and probably only die very sparingly, and only against some of the more aggravating bosses where I might just lose my patience.

I've always still thought that describing the difficulty for Demon's Souls is a tricky task because it's so varied and elaborate. I mean I'm of the faction that believes that Demon's Souls wasn't particularly difficult (least during the original run; those new-game+'s can be a right bastard) minus a couple of boss battles. I died, a lot, to be sure but as many can relate, it was most-often down to my own folly. I played Demons Souls straight from the get-go, too, (a US import for £52's... I literally to this day still don't entirely know why I ponied that much up for a game I knew little about besides its notorious difficulty and its setting) with no massive archive to walk you through virtually everything. I was a melee-focused Priest because I didn't even know Priests could learn magic and figured you were tied down to your characters strengths to the end like most class-based RPG games.

I was completely unprepared; my main weaponry consisted of a holy mace with the dark-silver shield for defense, and the large sword of moonlight for my offensive maneuvers. At that point, upgrading weapons was lost on for me the most part when it came to the unique weapons; I got my mace+shield pretty high up, though my moonlight sword stayed right at the bottom of the upgrade chain. It still completely kicked ass, though, for both PVE and PVP. I had some basic bow for the occasional long-range, and of course there were my miracles to administer buffs and such. A lot of the most hidden secrets were lost on me, and by the time I first completed the game I still had no notion of the world-tendency and character morality malarkey. Suffice to say, I played Demon's Souls only touching the surface, only equipped with the basics, and I prevailed fairly easily in the long run. I did still farm a lot, too, so I was always readily equipped with healing-supplies and other kinds of doodads.. Like I said, a couple of bosses would keep me cornered for a short while (I mean trying to beat the Flamelurker with a melee focused character on your first playthrough was a nightmare), though some extra soul players helped that out. But overall the game was fairly smooth for me; I even completed a few new-game+'s with that same character, too, though I faltered greatly during more of the PVP stuff since I still hadn't worked out much more about the game by that time.

Dark Souls on the other hand... well... that's just downright tough. To note the most obvious handicaps it's decided to pile on now above everything else:

  • The movement is significantly more skewed and slow, even when you're wearing light armour. No more rolling around, following a roll directly with another ='(.
  • The combat animations, too, feel even more deliberate and also makes Demon's Souls appear more arcadey in comparison.
  • The enemies are much more unpredictable, can now more often parry/backstab.
  • Enemies can also follow you much more prominently, and even the enemies you attempt to avoid will catch up with you again sometime, often getting from you behind when you least expect it.
  • Far as I know, I still haven't been introduced to someone who can sell me poison antidotes (I've just beaten the armoured bull for reference at my current progress), yet they still seem fit to throw G-Virus induced rats at you with a strong poison rate.
  • I still haven't found a guy to sell me a bow yet. I'm constricted with this shitty crossbow and the only 15 bolts I've accumulated thus far after my, predicted, 8-10 hours of playtime.
  • There are enemies you outright can't even kill now?! Least not without a weapon imbued with magic I assume?
  • Dark Souls own ''Dragon guarding a bridge'' also attacks much more randomly; sometimes it'll simply start breathing fire soon as I enter the black recesses, sometimes it'll give me enough time to reach the staircase.
  • Seriously, those giant rats are a real headsore.
  • You can't stock up on like 9999999 healing items anymore?!
  • They introduce the kick and jump-attack abilities, yet make them so cumbersome to perform.
  • The targeting is still a nightmare, but that hasn't changed from Demon's Souls. But put into the context of this much (imo at least) harder game, it results in even more frustration should it occasionally falter and force me to target the wrong enemy or make my camera roll around like i'm on a rollercoaster when an enemy dives past or falls of a cliff ect.
  • Severely limited spell/miracle use! With no replenishing items!

Now.. with all that, let me be clear: I still fucking love this game and the tears are still of happiness and joy (with a slight pinch of bitter). The urine is still from complete fear and petrification, however. I'm just commenting on my observation as to how... shit... they really stood by their word with making Dark Souls even harder. Some of it does seem a little unfair, the like the more constrained movement controls, but overall it is just From Software adding even more shit to the creek for you to sail up. While also puncturing your boat, naturally. I mean like my e-peen ejaculation up there reads, I considered Demon's Souls a unique challenge, asking of me nothing that many games these days ask of me. Even with such a tough ruleset to swallow when playing Demon's Souls, I found it to be a fairly smooth fit once I got a lot of the basic mechanics and fundamentals nailed. At this point I'd consider myself a veteran even, with the scars to prove it! But damn, man... Dark Souls is a whole other beast.

It reminds me of this level in Resident Evil: Outbreak File 2 (bear with me here...) where you'll have to face against a mutated Tyrant with large claws and a huge pile of rotten caviar resting on his back. He was a mean SOB, and always made you fear for your characters life whenever his theme music started, alerting you to his presence. Once you'd beat him and go through a specific set of gameplay motifs, you'd find yourself up on the room. Once there, you see the Tyrant once again within your view; he's climbing the building, but he looks tired and downright battered. Then this giant slushy, jelly-plant-thing called Nyx appears and envelops him, absorbs him. The Tyrant, a creature fittingly feared, trumped by an even bigger, nastier pile of fuckery. It took everything you new about how to contend with the Tyrant and forced you to flush it. Naturally the analogy of course features the Tyrant as Demon's Souls and Nyx as Dark Souls. Stupid, mostly irrelevant, but... I got nothin'.

TL;DR Dark Souls is much harder than I was anticipating, even with so many Demon's Souls neatly tucked under my belt.

Moral: DARK SOULS IS ACTUALLY JUST AS HARD AS IT PROFESSES TO BE.

50 Comments

Hack em, Beat em, Stick em In A Stew: Dark Alliance.

Long before the whole second coming of the APOCALYPS3 was struck down I was brushing on my PS2 collection and refurbishing it with some old school, dungeon crawlin' up em beatin' son of a bitches. Most I had planned to finally check out, and with the gaming drought that cropped up (more so because of the lack of any new appealing releases to me than the lack of online) I got me browsing through Amazon for some cheevo-less cheapos. Including the likes of the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance games, the spiritual successors, Champions of Norrath, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and Justice League Heroes.


Most of which were all developed by the same Snowblind Studios, most of which were reviewed by Ryan Davis during the early GSing days, all of which allow, and prosper, with cooperative gameplay. I've played through all, though some are being left behind after only an inklings entry because of how much I'd rather play them with a fellow adventurer (see: Champions of Norrath), but I've completed a good chunk of the lot and I'll make do with what's left to assure that I'll have a pretty justified opinion for the ones I bloggeth.

To start off this lil series of ''guy playing games'' will be Dark Alliance: one of the most recognisable dungeon crawlers of all time and one that brought the genre that was otherwise barely existent on consoles.





Now I'm going into this 11 years too late, but criticism where it's due shall be delivered, and Dark Alliance deserves plenty of it. I should also note that I didn't go into this expecting a dungeon crawler from 2011, or anything resembling more modern conventions, but the thing with dungeon crawlers is is that they really haven't changed all that much from the age of Diablo furthering Blizzard's dominance within everything - which, much like the genre, hasn't really changed all that much actually - and Dark Alliance really just isn't all that outstanding as a dungeon crawler. 

The usual complaints that would surround such an old game also what weren't that factored into things either. For starters I actually really liked the games graphics, with the water being pretty damn impressive when viewing it from the mindset that this is from the beginning of the last decade. There were plenty of games later on that could only wet dream themselves such brilliant water physics...teehee. The battle animations are pretty smooth, as is the whole production of the game, which is no doubt what made this game so impressive at the time. Quality wise this can still be appreciated as a well produced game, but the gameplay is something else.. something old.. something pure... something.. really gosh darn tedious.

Oh hey hold the phucking phone... tedium in a dungeon crawler?! Mon dieu!...


 Maybe I should make this a trademark...

The thing with dungeon crawlers is they are generally built around tedious combat, but the one thing that keeps pulling you in is the enigmatic character-driven story! The multitude of new loot to find! And the in your face elven nudity!

OK, well maybe not the first and last, but the middle reasoning with the loot is true. And that there is what festers and decays the game from within: the loot is awful. There's barely any of it, with you plundering mostly rubbish to sell, and scraps of gold, that eventually allow you to afford the best stuff in the game from the shop... the shop?! I don't go dungeon crawling to search for stuff just so I can sell just so I can buy my weapons and armour! Well to some extent since you're here to ransack treasures, but treasures such as lost trinkets, mystical weapons and awesome looking capes! The only bone this game throws you are actual bones. There are numerable boss battles as well, but they too virtually award you nothing, and their defeat most often results with their corpse spewing out a couple of potions with maybe a ''worn dagger''. There's really not that many armour sets either - or rather there are armour sets, they just all happen to look the same. But that admittedly can be forgiven as a way of the times.

 Oh and seriously, great lighting in this game.     
During my first playthrough I also played as the Dwarven Warrior. I don't usually strive for the warrior position, I'll admit, but c'mon, Dwarf! Unfortunately that was another step added to this continuously bumpy fall down to the bottom. As the warrior you're expected to rely on your brute strength and the handy ability to mash X through everything. With the warrior in Dark Alliance that class design really wants to stick to the letter. There's only three abilities that the Warrior can, two of which are each exclusive to a particular weapon; so never would you have more than two abilities as a warrior. Unfortunately my love for the sword+shield combo overwhelmed me and that's what I piled my points into, which left me with a single ability to make use of--an aggressive charge attack--and one that is so un-accurate that the only good it was was for just getting across the environments easier. I understand Dwarfs have small legs, but did you really have to limit his speed like he actually was a Dwarf trying to make his through miles of dungeon? I did also try out the Sorceress a little and she certainly appeared to be a much more expansive and complex character to master, but at that point I was already done. Plus the balancing between the classes is freakin' rough; trying to solo as a Sorceress really wasn't what the developers intended. 
I did also try a bit of cooperative as well, with my little brother, but we got stuck at the Undead Raising Orb of *generic demon thing/historical city something* because maybe it was two players were involved, but the game, on normal mode, really ratcheted up the difficulty to annoying lengths. The Orb's health would barely drop with every attack from either us, and we'd always die through exhaustion of potions the bloody battle would always take so long.


So with little loot to look forward and a character that literally had me just stampede the X button through combat, you can imagine that this particular dungeon crawl was even less of a crawl and more of a strange, awkward woddle. 

Her keys are kept in between her tits.       
The story is peppered with characters all well voiced, including Jennifer Hale voicing a busty bar owner who looks like she got her implants from the same surgeon who handled the DOA chicks, and Tony Jay voicing this weird demon thing that looks like something out of the classic Doom games. The story itself is pretty generic, fantasy fair, even though it's set in a very well developed and expansive fiction. Story never has played a strong focus in these sorts of games, and merely act as an easy backdrop for some murderin'. This one provides just that, including your very first quest that actually tasks you to empty out an infested cellar.. a cellar infested with GIANT RATS. The final section is kinda inept, though, as it then decides to actually lay on you some sort of in depth back-story to what's going on, all told by a ghost that talks more than every other character you've met prior combined. There was also this uncalled for emphasis on how special, and how affected we were supposed to be, by this end villain who is only introduced in the very last few seconds of the game, as if they were legitimately wanting us to appreciate the story. By that time not only had I forgot practically everyones name I was literally just rushing past all the enemies, decked in the best armour and gear because the game also decided to vomit the games entire wealth of stuff everywhere during the last area, and praying for the credits to scroll.

There's a fair variety of environments to slowly ''Bull Rush'' your way through too, with the cellar/sewers probably being my favourite just for their iconic relevance to this genre, and also sporting some of the best music in the game - and this game has some awesome music. Which along with the graphics, voice acting and water physics, Dark Alliance holds up surprisingly well on a production stand point. The gameplay, whether that is down to the test of time and the sheer number of dungeon crawlers that can be found on consoles these days, is a monotonous bore, though, and one that I'm glad I've gotten behind me.

Now Dark Alliance 2, on the other hand...

  
  
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My Late Game Completathon - Part III!

Hey, remember this???? No?.. Well, fuck it, It's back in all its amateurish ( especially highlight by each blog's altered title ) and uncreative ( another blog about games that some douche played - wonderful! ) glory! I was planning on basing my third edition on a couple of PS1 classics - most notably Vagrant Story and Abe's Oddysee, but as it turns out... those games haven't aged all too well, as is the way with most PS1 games when taking your first step, instead of stepping back in. In any case there were still plenty of candidates, but generalised laziness halted me back. I've been meaning to get back into at least posting one more recently because of all of the PS2 games I've been getting into. And, well, here we are! Or at least where I are. Is this thing on?!
Also should note no custom made banners on this corner of the blogosphere since I'm virtually talentless in... everything... so it's all left to whatever GB's text editor can give me... don't forget your coats!


Shadow of Rome For The PS2




      You know this guy's to be feared for the obvious element of shamelessness and seriousness to walk around with the end of a broom on the top of his head



 ''No, that is not Solid Snake!''
Why it took so long? - Actually this is one that I've already played, a lot, way when it was seen as one of the best looking games to find on consoles. I took a gamble with it since during that time the idea of video games journalism was pretty foreign to me, with reviews and the like, and I mostly based my purchases off the trailers shown on TV. Yup, I was one of those gamers. In any case I got this solely for it being a CAPCOM game - and back then CAPCOM were the Gods of gaming and one of the few developers that I bothered to remember the name of. I freakin' loved it and it nestled nicely as one of my all time favourite games on the PS2. Unfortunately I lost it during the time between then and now, and my love for this game forced me to virtually trek to a copy, and one did I trek! For about £4 at that.



What I thought - 6-7 years later, and it still stands! Shadow of Rome was well known for, at its time, the rather unique concept of basing its story and gameplay around the Gladiatorial games of Roman History. Gladiator buzz had certainly died down by that time, after a recent resurface with 2000's Gladiator, but still proved to be an excellent take. It made great use of the themes with a fairly slow paced, gore filled combat resume neatly woven around a not-very-authentic-but-still-entertaining take on the assassination of Julius Caesar. There were parts that featured a more linear focused brawler design, but the majority of the game had you playing out a small variety of Gladiator modes, ranging from simple death-matches, saving damsels, to single handedly assaulting small Fortresses, that pretty much always resulted in limbs soaring through the sky. A handsome selection of weapons, all with their own weight and undeniable feeling of power made Shadow of Rome's combat one to remember.

 Well now,
The game also featured some stealth sections too, where you then switched from Agrippa (the fighter of the two) to Octavianus, who also looked suspiciously a lot like a certain other wall shimmying, wall tapping stealth protagonist. They were very mid-2000s esque stealth sections as well, with terrible AI tropes that while unrealistic, were still the most plausible way to make the stealth bearable. You could don disguises to traverse through areas Octavianus would otherwise not be to allowed to traverse, but the strict rules for this kind of play were insane, but also, again, expected for the time. Running was considered suspicious and even picking up a piece of fruit was enough for one of the eagle eyed chamber maids to spot through your fascade and realise you're a cold blooded Hitman!.. Or at least a vicious, murderous robber of fruit. The fact that you're also a guy with a hair-cut out of Final Fantasy walking around in suits of armour that are so clearly 10 sizes too big for him, however, never made anyone blink.  

 doesn't this particular CAPCOM duo look familiar?
The stealth sections mostly acted as segways for the story, and a little break from the combat. They didn't last all too long fortunately, and they weren't all that difficult besides the final few. Even still, playing through it then (and naturally all the more now) all I wanted to do was get back into the action of whacking someone to death with their own arm. The story that ties it all together was also surprisingly well told, with a pretty strong cast of serviceable voice actors - including Scott Menville performing with what appears to be the only voice he can muster, and a Senator who looks like he was facially modeled after Anthony Hopkins (though was voiced Peter Reneday). It's a huge conspiracy story, with pretty predictable twists, but non the less an entertainingly silly affair that gives you more motivation to cut off limps than to simply enjoy cutting off limbs.

The soundtrack is also phenomenal, and one of my favourites from the entire CAPCOM library. It had a subtle mix of JRPG-ish tunes, with the grandiose feeling of awe that historically themed orchestral songs so often leave you with. Marvelous *re-positions monocle*



Will I play through it again? - I've already completed it a few times now, though it's one of those games that I'll enjoy heading back to after so long, just because it's that special and immensely fun to play through. It's aged surprisingly well, with some crisp graphics, brilliant facial animations and intense gameplay. It's rather clunky, though, which'll no doubt keep people from taking advantage of such an underrated gem as this, but for people who are accustomed to the traditional clunkiness of CAPCOM's games of old(ish) enjoys hammy handed voice acting (another CAPCOM tradition) with some memorably OTT hack n slash, and haven't played Shadow of Rome, I fully recommend you give it a look! Not much to lose for the price it can be found at these days, no doubt.

Also Centurion Gorilla Gladiators.

  
  


Metal Gear Solid: Special Missions AKA Mission Failed - The Game! For The PS1




 Ninja facepalm!



Why it took so long? - Actually, this is another that I played the oozing shit out of when it was new.. yes, I know, this entire blog series has lost all consistency! 

BUT!! And that's an all-capitalised but:

Like Shadow of Rome before it I lost this through the years of house moving, bedroom switching, and the nightmarish manner of a disorganised teen. I decided that I wanted it once more within my possession, though, just for me considering it a fairly rare title - whether anyone disagrees or not! I need my niche dammit! - and alongside the original Metal Gear Solid, played a focal point of my childhood era of gaming. So I got it! £8's worth of got to be exact, which is pretty unfair when put against Shadow of Rome for half that price, but c'est vie. 



What I thought -  It's a PS1 game, so naturally the game wasn't as rough around the edges as it's like brushing against the inside of an iron maiden. It's virtually (quite literally in a sense) an expansion pack to the original 1998's Metal Gear Solid. Speaking for that alone the game is tough to get into even for newcomers, never mind people who used to fap at the graphics, back when faces that looked like they were drawn on with a pencil where the epitome of production values. But yeeah, the graphics aren't an issue really. They have themselves a interestingly vintage look, and I at least have always been a fan of the blocky Minecraftion characters ( kinda paradox-ic to call PS1 graphics Minecrafty, instead of the other way round I know ) of the PS1 in games such as this. 

So Special Missions is simply a huge bundle of VR missions - much like the VR missions more people will remember in MGS2: Substance, or even the few in the original Metal Gear Solid too. There's no story ( though this entry does creatively factor into things down the line ) and is made up of you playing as Snake, more as an avatar than a character, going through an ensemble of cleverly designed trials within numerous categories. You'll begin with the staple sneaking missions, which pull you through 15 levels of increasingly complex arenas, trying to get from one point to the next while avoiding the Genome ( winter variety, oddly enough ) soldiers. Eventually you'll unlock Weapon levels, which instead ask of you to kill all enemies you encounter, sometimes without being seen. As you scale through the percentage meter of what the game has to offer, though, it starts introducing weirder and weirder levels. You'll find yourself facing off against Godzilla parodies in the form of gigantic Genome soldiers; you'll be knocking down guards into pits one after another like they were domino's; you'll shooting down UFO's; you'll be solving murders and, eventually, you'll be roaming around as Grayfox himself with the goal of assassinating Solid Snake who actually joined the Genome Soldiers.

  
  

Like I said... weird. But under a more positive light: inventive. They were what made Special Missions for me so memorable and downright gob-smacking. Kojima's blatant sense of kooky humour was being shown to a new generation of masses through Special Missions, and in general remains as one of my favourite Metal Gear Solids, oddly enough. It's all brilliant in concept, but put against the test of time implicates a significant drop for the enjoyment.

 Pretty much as awesome as it looks
Resident Evil ( as a franchise, more than a single game I know, but still a relevant compari-OH FUCK YOU! ) had its controversial limit of 'no walking while shooting', and Metal Gear Solid had a plain and simple 'no walking' restriction. As such it made sneaking about pretty darn cumbersome, and since the entire world was put on high alert just the by the mere sight of Snake, it made the accidental ''one step too close'' occurrence when trying to hug someone by the neck far too common. It was pretty infuriating in Metal Gear Solid, and when put within a handful of Virtual Reality missions, most of which fail should Snake be spotted, asks for a high degree of patience as the number one requirement. The game also does feature a first person view, but only for.. observational purposes - such as taking pictures of a SUPER HAWT PS1 QUALITY MEI LING, YUM! You can't use the FP view to help better line up a shot with your weapon, and the persistent isometric view allows for a significantly skewed amount of aiming freedom. That then bleeds into a lot of the Weapon missions when you required a great deal of accuracy, and the grenade missions in particular benefited the most to prove how dated the gameplay has become. 

Fortunately, the more creative missions manage to stay fresh thanks to its quirky aesthetic of literally leaving you with nothing to predict just WTF is coming up next. Or at least it would if I hadn't spoiled what to expect in the previous paragraph. Non the less, Special Missions is a game I'm glad to have on my shelf once again, and for what it helped me relive, I'm grateful for.

Should be noted that this also requires a copy of the original MGS as well to play. Everytime you want to play Special Missions, you have to put in the MGS disc. Plus it doesn't work on a PS3 either so.... PATIENCE!


Will I play through it again? - I've downed my last Genola for a good long while I think.



The Red Star For The PS2




Wonder how popular this is on Gamebomb.ru




Why it took so long? - NO, this is not another that I'm more so reliving the memories with. This entry right here is a gawd dayum, bona fide, true as tinsel first timer for me. WE'RE BACK ON TRACK! Or rather I'm back on the right track.. or maybe now I've opted for the wrong track?? Or m-

I only recently heard about this through a tweet by VinceNotVance, appreciatively enough, who I think was complimenting the PSP release. I didn't have a PSP, so I opted for the PS2 version instead and we lived happy ever after.



What I thought - It's really rather good, taking cues from a lot of the Arcade days of top down shootin, side scrollin beat-em-ups, but in 3D, and in the same game! Generally the game plays along as a pretty satisfying action/adventure, almost akin to something like DMC, with some intuitive combos to unleash through a blend of melee and ranged weapons. The neat trick is how sometimes it'll revert from the side scrolling action to a top down shooter, which is usually the calling card for one of the dozen upon dozens of mid-game boss battles that you'll encounter. The boss battles also then initiate a kind of Bullet Hell scenario with sometimes of up to hundreds of shiny, futuristic bullets completely covering the entire screen.

 It's not quite at the complexity of Portal 2; but, y'know.. team work is still appreciated.
The problem is is how firmly the Arcading style of the game sticks. There's little of a story ( though I'm to believe this is based on a pretty story heavy manga ) with each mission giving you a briefing from a guy who has the single portrait of looking like he dropped a hammer on his little toe--that or he watched the evil Ring tape--and gives strikingly little detail on just what the F is going on. Russians, anime, evil robots and bullets... lots and lots of bullets. That's pretty much all I got.

It has two initial characters, with an unlockable third, and they all have their own distinctive playing style that's enough to differentiate the characters when playing as one over another besides their obvious cosmetic differences. Cooperative play is also in full effect, and comes with the usual fun and frustration depending who you decide to coop with. Speaking for an ideal partnership, the games works perfectly with a fellow/fellowess at your side and makes the otherwise shallow template much easier to ignore. The difficulty is neatly balanced as well, giving you a real breeze through the first couple of stages, but naturally ratchets up the enemies ( to which there was a surprising variety of ). Fortunately, there are upgrades to attain via your accumulated points from completion of the stages, but it's more related to you trying to keep up with the enemy, rather than attempting to RPG your character into an unstoppable juggernaut.



Will I play through it again? - More than likely. So far I've only completed it as the one character, and the gameplay's arcadey charm still contains that addictive nature of heading back in just to add a few extra numbers on to your own Leaderboard. And even if I don't, for a fiver this gave me a pretty lil bundle of play-time and one I'd recommend to most, if they haven't already shelled for the PSP version.


And that's that. Felt good to actually put some effort towards a blog again, AND YOU CAN TOO! Now I leave you with this track from Yakuza 4 to which is still, since the games release, festering within the inner reaches of whatever part of the brain memories are stored. Just because the more videos and pictures the more chance you won't piss this off to watch that QL Giantbomb just pos-FUCK!

  
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Heavy Rain Is Purty Darn Cool. Also spoilers.. just incase.

I generally like rain, and now, thanks to Quantic Dreams, I really quite like me some Heavy Rain as well! I also really enjoyed Qunatic Dreams previous morality adventure endeavorer, Fahrenheit (better known as Indigo Prophecy), quite a fair bit--though I actually only played that for the first time sometime early last year--but, as anyone who's played it also can attest it, that game had some issues. And not just the kind of issues where you go about assassinating specific individuals while under hypnosis. In fact even to this day I still haven't completed it, and left it during one of the later flash back stealth sections. Seriously, fuck those sections with a ritualistic dagger! So terribly uneven with the guards line of sight, the camera controls and.. it really just isn't any fun.
From what I've also heard from people who braved the torment of hearing ''stop or I'll shoot'' over and over, the ending segments that begin to wrap up the story really weren't even worth the hassle to begin with. Which is a shame, since I was really diggin' the story, the characters, and the incredibly innovative tale telling design and atmosphere it loved to flaunt in every scene.

It was this contrasting praise against my skepticism built around Indigo's final few sections that kept me away from Heavy Rain for so long, until only around a week ago, actually. I was admiring it from a far, but I still wasn't entirely convinced, and not to mention my own money needing to be spent on games I'm more assured to find some appeal. I buy a lot of sequels for example.. 
Anywhoo, I did finally take the final step towards a Heavy Rain purchase, thanks to turboman oddly enough during the last Shadowy Cabal Podcast and his compliments towards it being such a really great game. 

That's right. The mentally challenged and never not drooling offspring of HS21, Jazz, Turbo, and Godlyawesomeguy made a sale... You know when your podcast is moving up (to selling out!??!) when it maybe potentially scoring you royalty cheques..

And now with all of that pointless and no doubt dreary exposition out of the way, onto the game! 


 YOU ARE LORD RAVEN



Heavy Rain is.. really kinda-sorta-awesome, and is now no doubt one of my favourite games of 2010. I mean it's so much better than Fahrenheit. The games dripping and constantly bleak atmosphere and direction is fantastic, and pulls greatly against my love of detective thrillers. The game has quite a few glaring problems even still, but compared to what the game gives within its positives would be like I'm nit picking. Though no, some of the problems do really stick out and need to be addressed... The movement is a common complaint and well deserved. It is reminiscent of the old Resident Evil games, yet a whole heap more sluggish. Sometimes it feels like my character's trying to walk through a river.. going with the theme of the Heaviness of Rain maybe (not), but still unforgivable. I could get behind you needing to hold a button to move - or rather I could tolerate, not so understand it; the actual movement is bleedin' terrible. So often would my character get latched between two pieces of furniture and my attempts to escape this hell would result in him/her constantly just turning around over and over. It didn't ruin the game or anything, but when put against the high quality of so much else the game delivers it was made more evident, and no doubt helped ruin the serious immersion, such as Ethan Mars being too busy to bond with his only son because he's in the midst of humping this park bench.

 I just wish there a button to punch this guy similar to Ethan's ''JAY-SON'' button.
The gameplay is otherwise very well done, with some clever uses of QTE's, to while are mostly frowned upon and seen as lazy design, in Heavy Rain they make the bulk of the game and triumph with the variety and how fitting it all meshes into the game. Similar to Fahrenheit, the characters can perform all kinds of mundane activities.. just because. It's a brilliant way to help you sort of make up your own character development, and is otherwise just a pretty way of showing the human sides. If anything, the game occasionally resembled The Sims.  The many more dangerous situations involving chases, split second morality decisions and fisti-cuffs also made for some surprisingly intense sequences. I especially loved how should you fail a button press your character will just carry on, just with a slight fumble up to show that you're action (or mis-action) is noted. Again, how the QTE's are handled within these are excellent and manages to make you feel like you're still very much apart of the action thats transpiring. It's also no doubt some of the best use of the sixaxis within a game thus far. Really is quite satisfying to beat down a door by throwing your controller out a window.

There were moments that the QTE's proved to be rather tricky, and tough to pull off. Most notably the half/quarter circle directional inputs, to which under high pressure are made to be incredibly difficult over every other kind of QTE the game threw at you. My own reactionary senses could be to blame for the most part, but sometimes when I was sure I done it correctly would the game still cancel it out. A lot of times it proved to be finicky, and under the around 1.5 second timer you're given to make the moves, it would leave me with a lot mistakes. It's understandable to have some difficulty within the proceedings, but on the other hand it also took out my ability to create my own interpretation of Heavy Rain. I mean I lost my very own Nahmen Jayden because of those slight inaccuracies and he was my favowit ='(

It's appreciated and refreshing for a game to have you live with your own mistakes and too carry on regardless of how a situation is carried out, but when it's because of the games sometimes inaccurate and unfair demands of input sequences, it was made to be a lot less enjoyable. 

goddamnasthmaIhopeitstopsraining  soon
The story and how the amount of say was still pretty brilliant non the less. The story's arc was more or less set in stone, but determining how each member of four leading cast would act and react would fantastic. And it made for some freakin' tough situations down the line, with the single dad, Ethan, really taking the brunt of Heavy Rain's sadistic ways to torture them. And even though these were just virtual blocks of pixels, they were incredibly endearing and there were choices within the game that had me actually sit and think about the consequences. There's no other game so far that inspired that train of thought and had me take a step back to imagine the bigger picture of things, and just which was best. Not even franchises such as the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games could bring out such commitment. The voice acting had its ups and downs, though. Most of the main characters are voiced by English VA's and manage to do the American accents pretty well; other characters don't fair as well such as a hooker that PI Scott Shelby kinda teams up with, Lauren, really looks to be having a tough time keeping the French dialect at bay. One flashback scene that has you playing as a kid clearly wasn't even trying. I'm surprised he doesn't just outright shout sacre bleu. The main cast is again mostly well done with regards to their performance, but Sam Douglas' (Scott Shelby) often machine gun fire delivery with his lines can be unintentionally hilarious at times. His character of Scott coincidentally has an asthma condition as well.. which is ironic to find him puffing an inhaler one moment to completely spewing out his lines like he's being fast forwarded the next. Criticisms towards the voice acting can't be said without Ethan's own ''JAY...SON'' fit within the mall either.. I mean really, did he record half of the name one day then finish it off the next?? Putting those aside though, the characters were still well executed, and I certainly cared for a lot of their fates. Which is what left me genuinely feeling kinda down during the ending.

The end of the game had me left with close to no-one alive, and I was sitting through no doubt one of the more depressing endings of the game. It really was kinda haunting, and had me thinking things over for a few hours afterwards; what if I done this, what if this character survived, what if this character didn't? And I'll most likely never know either! The one weird thing this game gave me was a kind of closure. Even though Heavy Rain ended on a kinda fitting low note, there are so many interpretations of what could happened, which made this journey of mine feels more personal, and one I wouldn't really want to tarnish just to get a lot of ''what if'' alternatives. Which again sets this game apart from so many others for me - someone who generally adores games with plenty of replay value, yet with Heavy Rain was left with it going to waste for the sake of authenticity of my own playthrough. 

Really is such a bewildering game, and made to be so vividly memorable for its own uniquities as much as its excellent cast of emotionally driven characters and stylistic story. I wouldn't say it's exactly bulldozing the boundaries of story within games, though it most definitely does give you one that stands out amongst the pile. Equally a movie as a game, titles like Heavy Rain are the ones that are bringing forth a more mature story telling design and are to be lauded for its attempts at bridging the gap (or at least continuing where Fahrenheit left off) between two of the most popular kinds media in the world. I can not wait for Quantic Dream's next particularly tuned adventure title, and whatever it is, thanks to Heavy Rain, I'm sure it won't take me around a year to finally catch up to it.
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