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Blog Review: Shadow of the Colossus

 

The good: Some of the best art direction you'll ever see; has the uncanny ability to tell a story without actually telling a story; will change the way you view the video games.

The bad: Some of the control tweaks that are supposed to make your life easier don't always work so well; a tad on the repetitive side.

Before Braid came on the scene and stirred up the now seemingly age old question "can games be art" thing, Team Ico's Shadow of the Colossus (SOTC) arguably brought it to the mainstream's attention. With an all but silent protagonist, and an art sty1e that seems to have been ripped out of a watercolor painting, SOTC will have you wanting to more know about everything from beginning to end.

The game kicks off with what is now, for me, one of the most memorable opening cut scenes in any game to date. It takes you in on the tail of a hawk to sweep down and about the game's landscape, and introduces you to three of the games short list of characters. You are known as Wanderer, a name that was given to him but isn't ever really mentioned in the game. You have brought what seems to be your deceased girlfriend or wife to a beautiful temple in the hopes of resurrecting her. After a brief conversation with the bodiless voice of the temple's ruler (in which you hear the only dialogue Wanderer has for the whole game) you embark on your quest to save the girl. SOTC doesn't really present a story, but somehow still tells one through the silence of Wanderer, and his forever faithful horse, Agro. It will make you think about how stories in games can be conveyed, and will stir emotions in you from start to glorious finish.

As it turns out, the 16 statues that line the temple walls represent the 16 colossi guardians of the sacred land you've come to. If you want your beloved to open her eyes again, you're going to have to overcome some seriously poor odds, and defeat every one of them. With nothing but a sword, bow, and your trusty horse, Agro, you head out on to the plains in search of your first colossus. Luckily for you, the temple's guardian gives you a riddle of sorts that acts as a guide to the rough location of the colossus, and in some cases a bit of a hint as to their weakness. Unfortunately that's not usually going to be enough to get you to your destination without tireless guess searching, and that's where your sword comes in handy. Apparently the sword you carry happens to be a magical one, and when held up in the light, collects the sun's rays to form a beam of sorts that points you toward the next colossus.


"I immediately regret this decision."

It's around this point in your first few minutes with the game that you notice something missing. There are virtually no enemies to find anywhere. It's just you, your horse, and a few animals kicking around the fairly spacious land of SOTC. The only enemy you'll be defeating during your time with the game is the colossi themselves. Even then it's hard to call these lumbering towers of stone and earth, enemies. The more appropriate description in the context of the game would be to call them puzzles. Each colossus is a puzzle in and of itself, as they are defeated in a specific way that requires not only some thought, but some serious platforming as well. You can almost think of them as individual platform/puzzle levels that just so happen to be enormous, moving, living beings. Every one of them has one or more weak points that will have to be found and attacked with your sword before they'll be brought to the ground, and the variances in each colossus means that defeating provides a rewarding feeling every time. And while the difficulty doesn't necessarily follow a linear climb like many games, you'll never find them too hard or too easy.

The only true problem you'll encounter in SOTC is the controls. While they aren't the worst controls you'll ever have to deal with, because of the precision needed to defeat the massive colossi, they can become frustrating. The camera can be a bit spastic, and the controls are a bit on the loose side. This is a poor combination that won't really become apparent when riding out on the fields, but can becoming painfully obvious when half way up the leg of a colossus. All of this isn't to say that the controls will hamper your enjoyment with the game, but it may become something that you wish was a bit more polished.


"I don't know if I can jump that high..."

While your fingers might be fighting with the controls on occasion, never will your eyes be fighting to look away from the screen, and your ears be crying out for mute. SOTC possesses one of the most well realized artistic sty1es ever created. It's not just that the game looks like a watercolor painting; it's also that the game's art direction melds perfectly with the game's mechanics, story, music, and mood. It's great that there are games with fantastic graphic and artistic value, but rarely does it tie in with everything the game is as a whole. It's such an incredible experience when you see your first colossus. It's almost overwhelming, seeing it tower over you, and do more than just fill the screen. The scale is truly amazing, and provides a unique gaming experience that you won't get anywhere else. Each colossus looks drastically different, and their appearance plays into their personality. You'll experience the same breath taking feeling every time you see a new colossus. The music adds to the exhilarating experience, and mimics the action on screen. The over world music is soothing, but incredibly eerie, and the moment you grab on to a colossus, the music ramps up and does a great job of invoking emotion in you as you take the colossi down.

As you can probably guess, there are 16 colossi that you'll be wading through. SOTC isn't a long game by any means. At its longest, your first play through on normal difficulty would take you 12 hours, but it will probably fall somewhere in the 8-10 hour range. There are some options for you if you want to extend your time with the game, and although they aren't much to write home about, they just seem to fit within the context of the game. Upon defeating a colossus you can return to their body and play through that battle again. The screen takes on a film grain look that represents the battle as a memory of sorts. In a similar vein, upon finishing the entire game, a time attack mode is unlocked for all 16 colossi. There are a few unlockables available to you upon finishing some or all of the time attacks, and the game also holds some hidden goodies around the landscape if you so wish to go looking for them.


I don't know your name, but you better be worth it.

Although not perfect, SOTC is a triumph of gaming, and specifically, games as art. The fact that it has the ability to tell such a powerful story with such little dialogue is truly a feat worth of praise. In the relatively short amount of time you will probably play the game, it manages to hook you big time, instantly making you feel for Wanderer and the others. In the grand scheme of things, this game probably isn't for everyone. It may be one of those games that seem reserved for those who sip tea and talk about expensive paintings, but for those who take the time to play it, SOTC provides a truly unique experience that will change the way they view games in more than one way.

EPIC-O-METER: 9.0
 
Have a good one,
 
CP1
 
If you enjoyed my review, or loathed it, I appreciate feedback in both the comments, and in the form of review recommendations. Thanks!

1 Comments

Blog Review: Persona 4

 

Every once in a while, a game comes along that is so well done, and leaves you with such a good feeling upon completing it, that it makes reviewing it extraordinarily difficult. Persona 4 is one of those games. On occasion, a game flies under the radar, even to the hardcore lovers of the related genre. Persona 4 is one of those games. If you enjoy seeing a lot of harsh critiques in a review, this might be where you want to stop. Persona 4 is an exceptionally well put together game that even those systematically barred from the Japanese RPG genre should sit down and play.

Persona 4 follows the story of seven drastically different high school students (and one…thing, for lack of better explanation), whose fates run the same line in a crazy train murder mystery. Your character is a city boy sent off to the back country town of Iniba for a year by his parents. You stay with your mother's brother, Dojima, and his daughter Nanako. Within the first few days you will be quickly introduced to Chie, Yukiko, and Yosuke. Soon thereafter, everything goes downhill and chaos ensues. Long story short, someone is throwing people into a world within T.V. (yah, that's not a typo) and those people are dying. Luckily for you, you discover your ability to enter the T.V. world whilst testing out the "Midnight Channel" that Chie brings up during school. From that point forward, you and your friends decide to solve the case, and so the game begins.


Say hello to the investigation team.

Persona 4 is nothing like you've played before in a JRPG (unless you've played prior games in the series, of course). The game centers around managing your time wisely, dividing your days up into spending time battling, social linking, and working, amongst other things. Social linking is the most important thing you can be doing at any given time, besides battling. The basic idea behind social links is that, upon making an acquaintance, every time you spend time with that person you work towards leveling up that social link. Each social link has an arcana attached to it, which in turn reflects in your ability to create personas (summons). This is incredibly important, and also a great deal of fun as each character has their own story line, and is incredibly well realized.

As mentioned above, you can also take on a number of part time jobs. These jobs will not only give you some extra spending money, but they also will boost one or more of your courage, understanding, knowledge, diligence, or expression stats. These each have levels to themselves, and at certain points they will allow you more dialog options. Progressing through some of the social links will even require you to be at a certain level in one of these before you can move on. The same goes for many of the more lucrative jobs. Some of the jobs have social links attached to them, making these stats a valuable thing to keep tabs on. Everyday actions will also boost these stats, along with reading books, so they are almost always being raised in some way.


I dare you to find another game with enemies like this. I DARE YOU.

When you're not befriending everything that breathes, you'll be dungeon crawling. Persona 4's combat takes place in individual dungeons that you take on one at a time in order, as the story progresses. Each dungeon has a specific theme, and a certain number of floors before the final boss battle. The combat is very much similar to any other JRPG kicking around. You've got your attack, skill, item, defend, and run options just like most games in the same vein. Your skills entirely depend on the persona you have equipped. This is where the real meat of Persona 4's battling is, as regular attacks take the back seat to persona skills 9 times out of 10.

Personas are basically summons like you see in many a JRPG, such as Final Fantasy. There are around 200 personas in the game, and you'll be lucky to see them all in your first play through. There are two ways you can obtain personas: Arcane chances, and fusing. Arcane chances occur at random after finishing battles. There are a few flavors of how these act out, but the basic idea is that you want to either match up to of the same persona cards, or just select the a card out of the bunch that are moving around. It's a bit hard to explain, but it's a simple risk/reward system that works great. The more effective way of obtaining personas is through fusing. Fusing is pretty self explanatory. Fuse a couple of personas in your possession to make a new one. It sounds simple, but there are a plethora of variables involved that takes time to master, but works almost flawlessly. The only real complaint here is that you cannot simply re-roll the persona you are trying to fuse so that you can inherit the other persona's skills you're looking for. Instead you're left backing out and re-selecting all the personas used to fuse the one you want, and hope to get the skills you're looking for. It's a small annoyance, and it really won't affect you much in any way, but it's definitely noticeable. As mentioned before, your social links play a big part in your personas. Each persona has an arcana attached to it, and the level social link you are with that arcane determines how much extra experience the persona you fuse receives. Everything in the game is linked together in some way, and it's all balanced so well that sometimes you'll forget it's even happening.

That's enough of the technical stuff. You probably want to hear about what makes this game fun, so I guess I'll give you the 401. The big draw here is the characters. I can't express how well done the characters of Persona 4 are. It's not just the main characters either. The full cast of every character you can social link with, and even those you can't, are all so well realized that you really feel connected to them all as if they were real people. Some people will probably disagree with that statement, and argue that they are simple characters that specifically represent a stereotype. That is most definitely true, but it serves the underlying story of the game incredibly well, and so I can't imagine them otherwise.


That's what she said! Oh wait...

It helps that the voice acting is possibly one of the best in any game I've ever personally played. Literally every character that has a voiced line is damn near perfectly delivered. There are very few exceptions (and by few, I mean like two) where the voice acting is just shy of comical, but for the 70-100+ hours your first play through will take you, every line is voiced incredibly well.

If you're normal, then that last sentence probably made you choke on your own tongue. This game is long. Period. If you don't enjoy spending horrendously long hours with a single game, then I suggest you go somewhere else. On the other hand, if you're reading this you're probably a JRPG player, in which case this won't phase you a bit. My first play through took me roughly 110 hours. It's largely for this reason, accompanied by just how realized and well delivered the characters are, that you will feel like you are actually good friends with everyone you meet in game. Unless you're a Vulcan, or the most apathetic soul on earth, you will become emotionally attached to the characters in this game. For me, it was such that I was sad to see the game end, and very much wanted to be able for it to continue, if only to spend more time hanging out with the gang.

The music is also very well done. The soundtrack comes with the game, and I'd be surprised if you didn't pop it in your computer and listen to the music every now and then. It's a blend of orchestral tunes, and some J-pop crazy that mixes surprisingly well, and couldn't possibly fit the game's tone and setting any better.

Outside of the usual breakdown, Persona 4 is just a mind bogglingly well polished game. The localization team should be given a huge trophy for the job they did, it truly is amazing. The rest of the game is also polished to a high gloss shine. When you're in the T.V. world for instance, the screen has a white noise effect and becomes boxed in much like a T.V. would. It's a stupid little thing, and one that most people won't notice until they're 40 hours into the game, but when you do eventually see it, it kind of makes you smile. There are countless such things throughout the game that will make you realize just how much love was put into this game.

If you know me well, you'll know that the pinnacle of RPGs in general for me is Morrowind, at least in terms of the realization. That was the last game that invoked such a deep emotional response in me, albeit for totally different reasons. However, with that being said, Persona 4 now ranks with Morrowind as one of my favorite games ever. Persona 4 was the most pleasant gaming experience I've had in years, and if you value my opinion, you should play this game. Go buy a PS2 if you don't own one already, and do yourself the favor of getting to know the cast of Persona 4.

EPIC-O-METER: 9.5

 Have a good one,
 
CP1
13 Comments

Alright, this is better.

 

Well, today was a bit better than the rest of the week has been. My xbox will be on its way tomorrow morning, and I got my computer's heatsink re-seated.

It still doesn't change the idle temperature of about 38-42C, but under load there's a significant difference. The big pain is that my bedroom is about 25C all day now that summer is in full swing. This just drives the heat up, and I'm sure in the fall/winter (which here in Nova Scotia makes up about 8 months of the year) the idle temps will be down around 30-35C.

However, I still want to make sure my load temps are ok with all you computer geniuses out there. I was going for 4.0ghz (tough to do on air) and I could do it but it takes a lot of fine tuning that I don't have the patience for so I gave up on that. Instead, I'm sticking with an OC of 3.8ghz. To be honest, I can't see much of a drop in performance from 4.0ghz so whatever. I still idle about 42C because I have my voltages currently at stock (1.25) and 1.10 on my FSB. Under the load of Prime95 which is seriously harsh, it won't go past 60-62C after an hour (at which point the cpu just wont get hotter). This is like a 10-12C temperature difference from the stock cooler. Not bad for air, no? In the fall and winter as I mentioned before, the temps will probably drop into the 50s at load. The beauty of course being that gaming won't flat line my cpu at 100% and so I suspect my load temps are in the 50s as is. Huzzah! (I think...let me know if you know haha).

I'm going to run Prime95 for a few hours just to make sure all is swell, but I'm pretty positive I'm ok. At most I'll up the voltages a bit on the FSB, but it shouldn't take much more. Maybe the core at 1.28 or 1.3 but I can't see it possibly needing more, even with Vdroop.

More good news! I'm into my 92nd hour in Persona 4 and I'm on the last two dungeons (going for true ending, here). That means you can expect a review in the very near future.

That's about it for now, I'll keep you guys posted on how things go. I'm going to run 3D Mark 06 tonight, and I hope to get close to 20,000 points. I could probably get very close with 4.0ghz, but I may still get 17 or 18k.

Have a good one!

 CP1
3 Comments

Wow, I'm impressed!

I'll apologize ahead of time if the blog title got your attention and you were hoping for something like...say, a half naked chick. Unfortunately for you, this is another blog about my computer (I swear this will be one of the last for a while haha).

After a talk with my bestest friend in the whole world when it comes to computer talk (and she's tolerable, which makes things better), Chili dragon, I found out that my CPU running at 68C at load is perfectly fine, I had to go and re-overclock.

I had reverted my clockings for fear of heat (I'm on stock cooling with air only), but low and behold my 3.6ghz overclock at 1.15 volts runs at basically the exact same temperature...so why not?

I then got all brave and overclocked my GPUs as well. Again, they're idling at basically the same temp which is great (~40C, and ~46C at 50% fan speed). At load (running 3dmark06) they don't go above 70C which is apparently not bad at all for the cards. The only game I've seen make my cards go to the max I've seen of 72C is Crysis...so whatever. My core clocks are running at 735mhz, shader clock is at 1831mhz, and the memory clock is at 1030mhz. They won't go much higher than that without crashing, so it's awesome they stay so cool.

The WOW in the title is about my 3dmark06 point increase. At stock clocks on both my GPU and CPU, I was in the 13, or 14,000s. With these overclocks I'm getting 16,600 points! I'm super pleased with this, and I can see a fairly major difference in FPS in the harsh spots during the demo so this is great.

These little tweaks, coupled with a heatsink for my cpu which will be coming relatively soon, should give me a little extra juice to keep these "older" parts a bit longer before an upgrade. If I can keep the heat down, then these overclocks shouldn't shorten the life of the parts at all. In fact, with that heat sink, the CPU's life will only be increased. Huzzah!

Just in case you don't know what my computer is exactly (I copy blogs from gamespot to here, so many of you wouldn't) here are some specs:

EVGA nForce 750i FTW edition Motherboard

Wolfdale E8500 3.16ghz @3.6ghz

SLI EVGA 9800GT SC (OC in the text above)

4 gigs (2x2 gigs) Corsair XMS DDR2 1066 RAM

WD Cavier 640 GB HDD

Vista Home Premium

Anyway, I'm done rambling about my computer for a while. I'm still working through Persona 4 and will review it when I'm done.

Have a good one,

CP1

4 Comments

First Ever Overclocking Experience...

Well I got bored today and decided to educate myself in the fine art of overclocking. Needless to say, my attention span for reading walls of text on the subject was a bit limited, and after 2 hours, I just decided to watch a couple of videos and print off a guide and do it that way.

The big thing for me was that I run my computer air cooled only, stock cooler on my CPU and all, and so I knew that even though my E8500 can easily get to 4ghz, I wasn't going anywhere near that. Even though I'm still a bit of a computer newb, I knew that in order to keep my CPU alive for any length of time, I wanted to keep the core temp under 70 C when under maximum load. Word has it on the world wide web that its best to keep something called the TJ Max at around 30 C (and I took that as meaning you want to keep the core temp 30 degrees below the CPUs max of 100 C).

So onward I trekked! First I wanted to go to the upper end of what I thought I might manage on air, which was 3.8ghz at something like 1.3 volts. That was a bit much as it was going to hit the 80s under a load so scratch that. Next I tried 3.5ghz at around 1.2 volts. This was much better, and I played around with the volts, eventually hitting the ground at around 1.15 volts without blue screening.

I wanted to get a bit more, so I finally fell on 3.6ghz at 1.15 or 1.2 volts (can't remember, but with "vdroop" I'm around 1.13 volts. This actually gave me temps only 1 degree above the 3.5ghz setting and so I think I will stick with this.

I'm not content with the temps entirely though. I idle around 42 C, and after running the hour long OCCT stress test (runs your CPU at 100% for the whole time, save a couple of points where it drops to 50% for a break) both cores top out at 69 C. These aren't bad temps at all, considering it's summer and my room itself is about 22-24 C.

I think I will take my good friend, Chilidragon's advice and purchase a good heatsink for my CPU. I have no idea how much of a drop that will provide, but if it can get me idling in the 30's and loading at 60-65, then I'm a happy camper. If it does even better, then awesome! I will then jack it up to 3.8ghz and have a happy party. As a side note, I should probably mention that I use Real Temp 3.0 to get my readings. My understanding is that the sensor on the chip itself is the Tcase, or the temp inside the cap of the CPU, and is usually 10C cooler than the core temp. Correct me if I'm wrong, as that would be a bad thing to mess up on haha.

Before I wrap this up, I have a question for all of my computer saavy pals. If the computer doesn't blue screen, is that a definitive sign that you're supplying enough volts to the core? May be a stupid question, but it'd be great to know! Also, any other OC tips, hints, or things to know in general, would be much appreciated!

Have a good one!

CP1

8 Comments

Dragon Age Specs Revealed...WOW!

Ok so I know I haven't been in the PC game a long time, but these specs scare the crap out of me. If I'm not mistaken this is the first game to have a Quad Core as a recommendation...


Windows XP Minimum Specifications
OS: Windows XP with SP3
CPU: Intel Core 2 (or equivalent) running at 1.4Ghz or greater
AMD X2 (or equivalent) running at 1.8Ghz or greater
RAM: 1GB or more
Video: ATI Radeon X850 128MB or greater
NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT 128MB or greater
DVD ROM (Physical copy)
20 GB HD space

Windows Vista Minimum Specifications
OS: Windows Vista with SP1
CPU: Intel Core 2 (or equivalent) running at 1.6Ghz or greater
AMD X2 (or equivalent) running at 2.2GHZ or greater
RAM: 1.5 GB or more
Video: ATI Radeon X1550 256MB or greater
NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT 256MB or greater
DVD ROM (Physical copy)
20 GB HD space

Recommended Specifications
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4Ghz Processor or equivalent
RAM: 4 GB (Vista) or 2 GB (XP)
Video: ATI 3850 512 MB or greater
NVIDIA 8800GTS 512 MB or greater
DVD ROM (Physical copy)
20 GB HD space


4 GB of Ram and a Quad Core for recommended specs blows my mind. Unless Bioware decided to do recommendations right and put down specs that won't run the game at bare minimum, then these are quite high. The GPU is the least most offensive thing in the list, but damn, an 8800GTS? The game looks good, but it's not Crysis for God sake hahaha.

For those of you who are buying this game, what do you think? I know that personally I'm a bit worried as my Wolfdale is only a Dual Core, and I'm running 4 Gigs of RAM, not to mention I'm skimming past the 8800GTS mark with SLI 9800GTs. I'm sure I'll be fine, but I wanted to max everything out! Who knows though, I might still be able to, only time will tell.

If you're not buying the game, still, let me know what your take on this is, I'd love to hear it!


Have a good one,

CP1

12 Comments

E3 2009 Predictions and General Discussion

I was one of the many people who were heart broken when it was announced E3 was going to become some small event in a bunch of hotel rooms, and few people would be allowed in. I wanted to scream, because as over the top and ridiculous as E3 can be, I personally think it's necessary for growth in the industry. Everything has it's "superbowl" of sorts, and E3 is just that for gamers.

Luckily we've got E3 back this year, and I'm totally stoked for it. I've been itching to see what the big three have up their sleeves, and it's all but a week away. I've never given any predictions for this thing, and since I'm bored and my soapbox has finally been bumped off the front page, I figured why not give it a go. I'll break it down into the big three and just rant a bunch. I'll also talk about my flailing hope choices, and non-exclusive titles. Come along with me, it'll be fun, I promise.


Microsoft

Ok, so the last time E3 was E3, Microsoft didn't really do all that well. This year I'm hoping will be much better. They should have a lot to play around with, maybe not as much as Sony, but enough to stir things up. Here's the list of games I expect to make an appearance and/or cause a stir:


Alan Wake

This is in some small way becoming the next Duke Nukem Forever. People have been waiting for this game for what seems an eternity. I'm one of those people, and really hope to see some gameplay, maybe a stage demo or something. At this point I just want to know it's still coming out, because to be honest it's getting a bit nerve wracking. From the brief clips and screens that are out as of now, I can say that the game looks pretty good. Hopefully there will be a smattering of new stuff during the show. I'm positive A. Wake will show itself this year.


Halo 3 ODST

Duh?! So this isn't going to surprise anyone when its shown, but I think it will still turn many heads. There still isn't a whole lot known about ODST, and I expect it to make a showing in sty1e. Expect a group of Asian guys dressed like a soldier to do backflips across the stage as fireworks go off and a gameplay trailer plays in the background. Michael Jackson may, or may not make a personal appearance.


Mass Effect 2

I think that I will probably curl up in the fetal position and cry when I finally see some gameplay footage of ME2. I'm positive that Bioware has set up a section to be made playable or demoable. This is going to be one of the flagship titles Microsoft is going to flaunt this year, and for good reason. There is all sorts of people dying to see more about this title, and Microsoft would be stupid not to play this up as much as they can. I'm going to say that Bioware is going to pull some serious shenanigens with what they show off and get everyone speculating wildly for another six months.


Forza 3

Words cannot describe how giddy I am to think that there will be a bunch of info coming for this game. I am a huge fan of the series, and cars in general. The racing genre is one of the few that I'm actually really good at. Microsoft might make this the flagship of the week, and I'd be happy if they did. This is bound to be there as it will inevitably be going head to head in comparisons with Grand Turismo 5...the actual one...not the prologue.


Flailing hope: Next Lost Odyssey project

Ok so my flailing hope for the Microsoft line up is the announcement that another Lost Odyssey is in the works. I really loved LO and aside from it being very bare bones, its story and characters were all very good and made my 100+ hours with the game very enjoyable. I'm sure they will continue LO at some point, but will it show itself this year? I'm more inclined to say this is more in line with a TGS type reveal, but a man can dream, can't he?


Sony

Sony always seems to be on the dry edge of the big three. They come in, do their thing, and save the cheese and fireworks for the other two players. This year, however, I hope they put it all on for the fans because Sony has a lot of great games coming up that make me wish I had the money to dish out for a PS3. Here are my picks for this year:


Heavy Rain

This was a flagship for Sony when it was first announced, and I have no doubt that they will make a huge fuss about it at this year's E3. I'm going to say that they will have a stage demo, and maybe have it be playable as well. The game seems like its playable in its current state, and it looks great. By that, I mean the graphics look outstanding. Whether or not the gameplay is up to par remains to be seen. Luckily, we'll all find out within the week.


MAG

I myself am looking forward to seeing how this game ends up. Any time someone says they're going to make a console game capable of supporting 256 players in online multiplayer, I sit up and pay attention. Its possible they may have a stage demo where they will play with the maximum 256 players. On the other hand, they may let this game fly a little under the radar, its hard to tell. Letting people get their hands on it would certainly be interesting.


Grand Turismo 5

I've played all the GT games, and have generally enjoyed them all. GT3 was the best in my mind, and so I've been waiting for another good one since 4 wasn't so hot. This will be playable, and Sony will most likely have a big section of their conference devoted to talking about how they're still making the real game, and that the prologue is still just a prologue.


Flailing Hope: New Metal Gear related game / New Team ICO game

There's been a countdown timer up for a few days now, and it has become obvious it's MG related. The question is what kind of game are we going to see? I'm putting my money on a God of War/Ninja Gaiden type game starring Raiden. Raiden has the moves, and those type of games sell like bananas so why not? Also, I'm hoping to see a new title from the makers of Shadow of the Colossus (damn, that game was good). There was recently a bit of test-like footage titled project Trico, and I'm thinking this might might another related appearance next week.


Nintendo

Nintendo is kind of hard to guess at. There is such a random smattering of games for the Wii, that trying to pick out what they would possibly bring out to show is difficult to say the least. Here's my best stab at it:


The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

You know, as much as I absolutely love almost all things Zelda, the whole Link in a train thing is walking a bit too far out on that limb. With that being said, I can't remember the last horrid Zelda title, so it would surprise me if this broke the streak. I'm actually very curious about this title and look forward to seeing some gameplay. I doubt they'll put it on stage, but they will more than likely make it playable somewhere.


No More Heroes: Desparate Struggle

The original was pretty popular, and I'm sure a lot of people are looking forward to Desparate Struggle. I was actually intrigued by the original, and wish I had a Wii so I could play it. I'll be looking for this one to see how its shaping up. Will it be playable? Possibly, if not certainly.


Dead Space Extraction

The Wii is finally starting to get some more goring fun, and I'm very interested to see how this game turns out. This will more than likely be playable on the show floor as its due out this year, and it will probably draw a decent amount of attention for being related to one of the most under appreciated horror games to come out in years.


I have no idea what else...

Seriously. I know I don't keep close tabs on all things Wii and DS, but I've got nothing else. I'm sure I'll get torn appart for not knowing more, so I will apologize now for my Nintendo ignorance as of late.


Flailing Hope: New Legend of Zelda Platformer

I'm still waiting for the spiritual successor to OoT. Twilight Princess just didn't feel like Zelda to me, and I still to this day, hope that Nintendo Surprises me.


Non-Exclusives

These are the games that might not have a huge part of the spotlight, but I hope/know will be there anyway. To be honest, these are usually the games that end up drawing more of my interest than anything else. I won't write any comments on them, but feel free to talk about them in the comments section and we can banter about them.


Modern Warfare 2
Guild Wars 2
Dragon Age
Prototype
Ghostbusters
GTA IV DLC
Army of Two: The 40th Day
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Brutal Legend
Star Craft 2
Diablo 3
Bioshock 2
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Overlord 2


Well, that's it. I'm sure I've probably included some game I shouldn't have, or missed one that should be included, so call me out on it if I have so I don't make a further fool of myself

Which games are you looking most forward to that might make an appearance at this years E3? What game(s) are you desparately hoping to see?

Have a good one,

CP1

3 Comments

Realism: The Glass Ceiling of Gaming

Most gamers are at least casually aware of the Uncanny Valley – the point at which a character in a game looks close enough to photo realistic, but because of the infinite little movements and expressions a real human emotes, seems unsettling because the game does not emulate it well enough. The Uncanny Valley is something game developers have to battle any time they make the choice to go for realistic character models. At this point in time, it seems that the UV has only one definition, but is there another version of the Uncanny Valley coming around? Are games going too far to capture realism?


Oh Snap! She's got a...wait, those wrinkles don't look right.

Obviously graphics have become one of the most, if not the most, important part of games in the eyes of the average gamer (especially the younger crowd). It would be foolish to deny that developers largely focus on making sure their game looks amazing before they worry about gameplay, but lately there seems to be some spots of light poking through the darkness. Games like Grand Theft Auto 4 that strive to give a more realistic world to play in, for example, lead the way of the sandbox.

I think as we move forward, we're going to start seeing more genres incorporate the sandbox ****of gameplay. The Mercenaries series, for example, has melded third-person action with the sandbox. In a similar vein, the Far Cry and Crysis games have thrown the First-Person shooter into the sandbox. Even sports games like NHL 09 have flexed their realism muscles when the "be a superstar" mode has you play as one player from a dynamic angle, and even has you sit and watch from the bench when your shift is over (now that's entertainment). Where is all of this going, and how does it relate to the uncanny valley?

Let me answer that question with another question: When does a game stop being a game? I don't know about the rest of those who played GTA IV, but the novelty of having anyone but Bruce blow up your cell phone every five minutes wore off really quickly (and even Bruce, however awesome he was, got annoying after a while). Rockstar was shooting for a more realistic world, but it kind of backfired. It isn't any more fun to have your cell phone being called constantly by needy friends in a game than it is in real life. The same kind of deal happened with San Andreas when you had to eat and workout, or suffer the consequence of morbid obesity. Developers probably aren't going to stop though, so long as they know realism is the thing that's cooler than sliced bread, and so some time down the road, the next definition of the Uncanny Valley is going to come roll up on us.


Psht, show me my muscle tissue and tendons.

Sometime in the future, maybe when GTA VII graces our shelves, we may be in the position where a game world seems almost too real, much like a character model that looks too real, but something will be off enough to creep you out. The other scenario is that it will be so real that it'll be boring as hell. GTA VII will have you buying groceries, using the washroom, showering, and perhaps most shockingly, putting on a condom before rocking the car. It's going to bring together so much of what you do outside of the game that it will probably stop feeling like a game altogether (assuming you shop, relieve yourself, bathe, and wrap it up of course). On the other side of things, Far Cry 9 will probably have a feature where once you die; you're done, back to square one – just like the RL! Or maybe you'll have to manually stitch your arm up with a motion sensing controller (ok so that last one sounds awesome, but you get the picture).

It's kind of ironic, really. Gamers are dying for a realistic experience, but there are those ever present limits that will remain as roadblocks for developers and "Uncanny Valleys for both themselves and gamers to try and get over. It's one of the few glass ceilings of gaming, and one that doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

What's your take on realism and games? Is there a stopping point where anything beyond it is too real? Will developers even take it that far?

Have a good one,

CP1

14 Comments

Editorial: Because Frank Gibeau said so!

There's been a stereotype for a long time about gamers: we're anti-social hermits. Since the end of the last generation of gaming though, games have become a lot more of a social get together through the introduction of online multiplayer. Although it's become a very big player in the eyes of developers, it certainly hasn't given them the idea to phase out single player games altogether. At least, until now.

Apparently, EA's Frank Gibeau figures that gamers don't pay much attention to single player experience anymore. In a recent Q&A with Gamespot, Gibeau is quoted saying:

Frank Gibeau: Well let me back up and say that core to the strategy of the company--and very specifically our label--is that we want to be online with everything we do.

1 Comments
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