I just finished Heavy Rain

This relationship is just so.... weird?
This relationship is just so.... weird?

After finishing the game, I have some thoughts. Heavy Rain is an incredibly unique game, I'll give it that. I have a lot of issues with it, but I am still glad I played it.

Presentation

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I played the PS4 version of the game and it still looks pretty good. The faces and environments are inconsistent. Sometimes it looks great and then suddenly the uncanny valley hits. With a game that leans on its presentation so much, it sticks out so much more.

Scott Shelby ended up being the most consistent performance in the game.
Scott Shelby ended up being the most consistent performance in the game.

Then there's the voice acting which is..... inconsistent? The accents are a non-issue to me (apparently this was supposed to be set in the U.S?), but the delivery of lines ranges from good to awful. I don't know how some of these scenes were OKed by David Cage. There is just some terrible voice acting in this game at times. Again, the presentation IS the game, so it magnifies the issue.

The way this game controls is messy as well. The quick time events are mostly well done, but at times things that they ask you to do are ridiculous. My hands were getting tangled around the controller because of the amount of buttons I needed to hold at the same time. The worst button prompts were the ones during fights that needed you to move the stick left or right and then spin it upwards or downwards. In the tense situations, it was impossible to get these right.

The Story

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The story starts off with a cool premise. There's a child murder who leaves origami at every scene of the crime. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately the game squanders this premise with some of the most ridiculous and nonsensical storytelling I have seen. The game starts leading you on the journey between 4 characters. The way the story intersects is actually very cool, but they way it all ties together is.... messy. The game leads you along through situations that increase in their ridiculousness until the suspension of disbelief is shattered. So many of the events that take place are so over the top that I just started having my characters do the stupidest possible thing in each situation because I wanted to see how it played out.

JASON! JASON! JASON!!!!
JASON! JASON! JASON!!!!

The mystery of the origami killer is intriguing for a bit, but then the game starts throwing weird red herrings at you that make no sense.

Once the flashback sequence was shown, I knew who it was. It's has a similar problem to Batman: Arkham Knight. Where there is no other possible person to be the killer because there are only like 6 characters in the game.

Unfortunately, the identity of the killer makes no sense because of the situations the game puts you through. There are big, gaping plot holes throughout this game which dampen the experience.

Conclusion

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Ok, so Heavy Rain's presentation is all over the place, the story stinks and the controls are inconsistent. Yet, I still recommend playing it. This game is incredibly unique and is still worth experiencing (although, I can't speak for Detroit, Beyond or Farenheit, so maybe you should just play one of those). So go for it! What do you all think of Heavy Rain?

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I just finished The Last Guardian

It truly is a beautiful game.
It truly is a beautiful game.

I finished The Last Guardian yesterday and I have things to say about it. For context, I played the game on the PS4 Pro. In short, I thought it was fantastic. It's an incredibly unique game and I don't think I will ever play a game like it again. I found that there were a couple of keywords that could describe my experience with it. Let's take a look.....

Beautiful

In every sense of the word. This is one of the best looking games I have played. The art really shines through for the entire game. The animation for Trico and the kid look great. They are really convincing and help flesh out the world. After finishing the game, I can safely say that I don't think they could have pulled this off on the PS3. The scale of the game is surprising towards the end of the game. There are scenes where it is able to pull of scale on an insane level while still looking terrific. I didn't run into many frame rate issues which was great. In this respect it doesn't feel like a game that has been through development hell for 10 years.

Convincing

The connection with Trico grows a lot throughout the game.
The connection with Trico grows a lot throughout the game.

Trico is easily the most convincing animal I have ever seen in a video game. A lot has been said about the AI running Trico. Sometimes Trico doesn't listen to you. Sometimes he immediately do what you want him to do. It worked for me because he was like a pet. When you call him and he walks over to you it's sort of magical. The look in his eyes is something I keep thinking about. It's not just that though. Sometimes it's just watching Trico interact with the world. When he plays around in a pond getting wet and then gets out to dry himself out, it looks great. There is no UI either which makes the game feel very clean.

Frustrating

The controls are not great. I jumped to my death multiple times throughout the game.
The controls are not great. I jumped to my death multiple times throughout the game.

The Last Guardian is not a perfect game obviously. In fact, it is super rough in some areas. Let's start off with the controls. Well, triangle is the jump button. That's just mind-blowing to me. In context, it technically makes sense, but c'mon now. Just have the X button be jump. The kid controls like a little kid, which has its up and downs. The kid has not fully mastered his motor skills, so he stumbles a lot. In practice, it looks really amazing when you're running down a giant staircase while the kid is sort of tripping over himself. It looks amazing and it just adds to the scale of the game. Then there is the button prompts. The game at times treats the player like a an adult; meaning that it drops you into a room and now they have to figure what the puzzle is. How do I get out of here? Then for some reason it continuously has button prompts pop up throughout the game. When I talk about how convincing the game is, it immediately drops the immersion when a button prompt pops up.

Conflicted

Look at this! The game looks amazing.
Look at this! The game looks amazing.

While I really enjoyed my time with this game, I still walk away feeling conflicted. I really loved the journey I had with the kid and Trico, but I don't know if I can recommend this game to anyone. It's an incredibly weird thing. This game is for an incredibly small niche audience. If you do not have patience, DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME. You will be so frustrated with it. There really isn't any combat in this game either, which I don't mind, but it's Trico that does all of the work for you. It's such a unique game that I will probably never forget.

I don't think I will ever play a game like this again. Part of that is that I don't see how any publishers would green light a game of this scale. The audience for this game is too small to spend millions of dollars on something like this. It's a fascinating game that has a magical touch to it, but also stumbles along the way. I encourage people to try this game if they have the patience to play it. Take your time with it and savor it. The Last Guardian was worth the wait.

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I just finished one of the greatest games ever made

"Leon Motherfucking Kennedy" - Brad Shoemaker

I finished Resident Evil 4 for the 1st time last night and I have things to say about it. Per the same as my last blog, I'm still working on my English, so please bare with me.

I guess I should start with context. Not only this is the 1st time I've played through Resident Evil 4, it's the 1st time I've played a Resident Evil game. I played the PS4 version of the game. All right, so now that we've got that out of the way, let's start talking about this beast of a game.

My initial thoughts are.... WOW. What a game. Playing this game with the context that it was released in 2005 makes it even more mind blowing. The game still looks pretty good. Obviously the textures are muddy, but overall the art design and the characters still hold up.

This right here is a kick ass shotgun
This right here is a kick ass shotgun

The shooting feels great. Every gun I used felt great and essential to surviving each enemy encounter. Part of what makes these weapons feel great is the feedback. Every time you land a shot on an enemy they either stumble, get a hole blown open in them or have some type of reaction. The guns feel powerful. To balance these powerful weapons, they're still able to strike fear into the player because of the amount of enemies being thrown at you, different tiers of enemies and a scarcity of ammo. Then of course, there is the elephant in the room. You can't move and shoot.

The movement in this game might turn people off, but I really enjoyed it. The deliberate pace that Leon walks feels good. Not being able to move and shoot is an interesting design choice because of what action games are, but it works because of the pacing in the game. This is an action game, but it's not a high octane experience that you can get from games that are released now. The enemies, for the most part, are coming at you slowly, so the deliberate walking feels fine.

Taking care of Ashley is surprisingly not bad
Taking care of Ashley is surprisingly not bad

Not being able to move and shoot is one of the surprises I had with this game. I expected a scary game going in. This game is not scary at all. It is 100% an action game. The scariest things that happen are when I'm out ammo and have to figure out how to eliminate a truck load of enemies while still tending to Ashley. Yet another surprise was the "escort mission" parts of the game were fine. Escort missions in video games have been bad in the past, so I was a little worried when the mechanic was introduced into the game. It works just fine. Most of them allow you to ignore her because you can just send her into a dumpster while you unload on the zombie people things. It was easy to control and I had no problems with it.

Look at this guy!
Look at this guy!

The most surprising thing was the set pieces. I had no idea this was possible on the Gamecube. The Lake, the trucks and other parts are surprisingly well designed. They're fun to play and are still really impressive. Playing this after having played three consecutive playthroughs of Uncharted 4 really puts this game into perspective. I don't know if this is true, but Resident Evil 4 might have had the Uncharted 2 impact on action games when it was released. You can see where the game hits its limits in some spots or where a Naughty Dog game would have made the cut scene and action seamless. The game also goes from a small scale to a larger scale really well. Walking through the village and then suddenly meeting the Lake Monster or El Gigante really makes this game.

If you're still reading this, you may have noticed I've only talked about how the game looks and the shooting. Well, that's because those are the positives. No game is perfect and this game certainly has some problems. The quick time events are just not fun and unforgiving. I probably died 15 times during my playthrough because I put the controller down while watching a cut scene and then suddenly a QTE pops up for no reason. It's jarring and doesn't really add anything to the game. Another negative is the characters and voice acting. This might a japan thing, but the dialogue is borderline atrocious at times. I frequently laughed at how Leon responded to the villains. It's ridiculous. The villains are just mustache twirling characters. They're creating a virus that mind controls people, i guess? I had no idea what their motive was until I read a note found in chapter 5. Are most Resident Evil games like this?

It's a cool game!!
It's a cool game!!

Ultimately though, those negatives don't really matter. This was an amazing game that still holds up really well. The gameplay, atmosphere and pacing make this game great. It's crazy. This game is awesome and can be held up to games that are released today. That right there is super impressive. I can totally see why people call this game one of the best games of all time. It makes me want to go back to play the Resident Evil remake and now Resident Evil 7. I understand those games are completely different, but there is a vibe that this game gives off that makes me want see how other games play out.

What do you think? Is Resident Evil 4 awesome? I certainly think it is and deserves all of the praise it gets.

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The future of the Xbox

In case you have not heard, Scalebound was cancelled today by Microsoft. This has left me feeling sort of empty inside for multiple reasons. Is Platinum in trouble? Is Xbox in trouble? Platinum could be saved for another blog. I'd also like to apologize ahead of time for my english. I'm still working to get better at it, so please bare with me.

Phil Spencer is a cool guy and has turned the ship around for Xbox, mostly.
Phil Spencer is a cool guy and has turned the ship around for Xbox, mostly.

Phil Spencer was appointed to be head of Xbox a couple of years ago. A lot of people, including myself, thought this was a great thing. For the most part, he has done a great job. Xbox One's are selling well now, Xbox One backwards compatibility is a great feature, and Xbox Live continues to be the best console online service.

With all of that said, one could argue that the quality of Microsoft Studios games has gone down. Recore possibly wasn't finished, Quantum Break was arguably Remedy's worst game, Halo 5's campaign was critically panned, and Gears 4 is more of the same (I think it's the worst numbered Gears game). With the downward trend in quality, sales have also gone down for their big titles (Gears 4 and Halo 5).

Now Scalebound has been cancelled. So where does Xbox go from here? As of right now, Xbox has Sea of Thieves, Halo Wars 2, maybe Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2 and probably an unannounced Forza Motorsport game. What do those games all have in common? They're all multiplayer first games. Even games that were cancelled, Fable Legends and now Scalebound were multiplayer-centric. They basically have no single player games on the pipeline, unless they have secret studios that are working on other projects. I think that is really unlikely.

Lionhead was one of the studios that has closed under Phil Spencer. RIP
Lionhead was one of the studios that has closed under Phil Spencer. RIP

So since Microsoft is clearly getting out of the single player games business, what does this mean? I think Minecraft is the answer to this question. Minecraft is a phenomenon. It is a game that has been playable for years, but continues to be on the sales charts. They continue to update it and people continue to play it. It is one of the prime examples of "games as services". PC games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Overwatch, TF2, CSGO, etc.. are continuing to be updated and they are being rewarded by people playing a lot. This correlates with people spending more money on these games (skins, blind boxes, keys, hats). They only want to create games that can last a long time because their other games are not selling well.

This leads to the play anywhere feature being added to the Xbox brand this year. They are trying to branch the PC and Xbox communities with their games. By making games as a service, Microsoft can have people play on PC and Xbox One. They can carry their saves and progress between machines. Most importantly, they will spend more money on these games.

A new generation of making games indeed.
A new generation of making games indeed.

So now that we've established this, what do I think of this? I've never been a Halo guy, so a new Halo doesn't really speak to me; especially after Halo 5's campaign and Gears 4 was not that great. This is leaving me at a crossroads with the Xbox and I'm sure I am not the only one. None of their "console exclusive" games are that interesting because they are mostly tired franchises. I don't know how they can win me back.

With the Scorpio on the horizon, I can only hope that Microsoft does their best to create the best possible games because then their games as a service strategy will not succeed.

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