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Ryan Davis - He was Rough, Tough and Dangerous. And he will be missed.

In the past, I never understood why people got so upset over the deaths of celebrities. Those people grieving for Michael Jackson? I never understood that. I was always a little bit mystified about how someone could feel such grief at the passing of someone they almost assuredly never met.

I understand it now.

I never met Ryan. I always hoped to. I got tickets to PAX Australia because I heard the bombcrew were heading down under. Ryan never said a single word to me, probably didn't even know I existed. It doesn't matter. I felt the saddest I've felt in a long time when I heard about his death.

Ever since 2009, I have been a tremendous fan of this site. Ryan was an integral part of it. Sure, I know that I never got to know the "real" Ryan - only his friends and his family could ever get to know him on an intimate level. But I like to think that I understood a little bit about him and his view of the world. And I found it hilarious, fascinating, warm and full of joy. I know he had to put on a show, but even the best showman lets a little bit of himself into his performance, and I can honestly say that I felt that Ryan was one of the happiest people I've ever known about. And his happiness made others happy. It made me happy - to see someone with such an interesting take on things, talking about the things I liked, sharing his humour with anyone and everyone who wanted to see it.

I know Ryan must have put effort and time into his work, but it never seemed like that - in a good way. His work, which I can honestly say I've never, ever seen any other site come close to matching, seemed effortless. It seemed completely natural - and that's because maybe it was.

I don't know how GiantBomb can move on from this and be as it was - because Ryan isn't replaceable. There isn't another Ryan out there. There's no one with his brain, his thoughts, his view, his humour to replace him. And if that hurts from the perspective of a fan who didn't even meet him in real life, I can only imagine how shattering it is to his closest friends and to his family.

This is going to hurt. And while no one should feel glad that it is hurting, I want the bomb crew to know this - it hurts because you had a genuine connection to him. It hurts because you really were his friends. It's the price we all pay having people we like or love. That doesn't mean it wasn't worth it, not for a second.

With time, GB will move on. It has to. Ryan helped create a strong community, a happy community, and a community and a site that is going to stick together through this.

Farewell Ryan Davis. You were Rough, Tough and Dangerous. And you're missed.

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Ni No Kuni - Wrath of the Random Battles

Been playing Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch for about 10 hours now, and I fully want to play more, but there are a lot of little problems with the game that, so far, have prevented me from fully enjoying it:

  1. The amount of enemy encounters is insane - literally there are times where I can't go more than 6 seconds without having to fight again. And the battles take too long to start and to finish. Hearing Oliver's "Neato!" for the 200th time starts to grate on your nerves some what fierce. Every time a battle ends, I start hammering X to get through all the screens that pop up.
  2. The Voice acting could have been better: Drippy's voice acting is great, and Oliver's is serviceable, but too many characters have flat, listless voice acting that conveys no real emotion.
  3. Combat menu selection needs to be improved: I shouldn't have to take my right hand off the controller to press the D-pad. That's really annoying. A lot of the combat feels clunky - I know what the design team was going for, and I think that many aspects of Ni No Kuni's combat are inventive and interesting, but it fails a little bit in the execution. It takes too long to have to scroll through a menu to select what you want, especially when the timing in some of the battles can be quite painful. They should have assigned "defend" to a button, instead of having it as a menu option.
  4. Grinding, grinding, grinding: Ni No Kuni sure is a traditional JRPG - the amount of grinding you have to do is crazy. I haven't had to grind this much since... well... ever, now that I come to think about it. Maybe Persona 4 and Persona 3... maybe... but I feel that this game's grinding is more tiresome than those games.
  5. Sidequests are already starting to get repetitive: I hope they improve, because so far it's been "Kill X of this enemy" or "find someone with a broken heart, easily identify what emotion they need and then backtrack to find it from someone". There's no thinking required at all - it's literally, walking around till you see a dot on the minimap grow green.

Having said all that, it's not like I hate the game. Here's some of the stuff I like:

  1. Great Visuals - nice animation, nice colour use, nice character design.
  2. Great Music - the scores are starting to repeat themselves, but most of the music is very enjoyable to listen to.
  3. Combat that's different: As I've said, not all of it works, but it tries to be different and in many ways creates a tense and action-oriented combat system where space and positioning matter. That deserves credit.
  4. Corny but nice storyline: Yes, it's unbearably corny and utterly sincere and more than a little formulaic, but it's nice and so far I'm enjoying it
  5. A great big world: This is why this game is better than FFXIII - it has a world I like to be in and one I can explore. It has NPCs, bustling market places, an over-world map and it feels more of a real place and less like a corridor I have to walk down for 60+ hours.
  6. Wizard's Companion: Seriously. Spent about an hour just reading through the thing. Great stuff.
  7. Familiar Mechanics: an interesting and fun part of the game are all the familiars you can use to fight in your stead. You arm and equip and feed these little guys, and it's great. Feels like what Pokemon should have evolved into.

This isn't a review, since I haven't finished the game (nor am I anywhere near close to finishing it). It's pretty good, but I feel that it could have become a classic if it just didn't have those flaws I mentioned earlier.

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Fallout New Vegas on the PC - Few Bugs but lousy Framerate

I've just finished my first playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas, and I'll definitely play through it again since I missed out on many side quests, faction missions and companion quests. It was worth the price of purchase ($89.90 here in Australia, and give that our dollar is worth the same as the greenback, I'd say we're getting mighty ripped-off) from my perspective, however, there was one crippling issue that might make you fellow PC folk a bit hesitant to buy this game: 
I'm not really talking about bugs - in 25 hours of play, the game crashed once on me, and I only ever saw one serious bug (dog had it's eyeballs floating outside its head). Maybe it was because I played it after the patch, but I never saw any of the AI bugs, scripting bugs, quest bugs or item bugs that many others have commented on. Perhaps the PC version has less bugs than the Xbox version, I don't know.  
But one extremely crippling aspect of the game is its framerate. Anytime there were more than 3 NPCs on screen, the game stuttered and strained to process the action. It made some missions, particularly the last mission, very annoying. It was not due to my PC's specifications - it can run BFBC2 on its highest settings, with no problem. Maybe it was due to my drivers (ATI), but I haven't heard anything about it. And when I started the game up, it recommended the maximum graphical settings.  
The reason why I am raising this issue is that the Framerate can have a serious effect. I liked the True Iron sight mechanic in the game, and I used it frequently. Has a result, I did not take too many perks or invest much points into skills that raised my V.A.T.S efficiency. However, during the more hectic battles, particularly in the last part of the game, it was impossible to use anything other than V.A.T.S due to the crippling framerate.  
So to sum up this rather pointless post, if you've got the PC version of Fallout New Vegas, make sure to take every perk that improves V.A.T.S efficiency, and make sure you invest in the skills and attributes that will give you maximum AP. You'll have a much easier time as a result of it. 
Maybe it is due to my Drivers, but I don't think so. Maybe they are making a patch for it right now. But I find it hard to believe that they didn't notice this very serious problem before they shipped it. If they developed it primarily on a PC, they must know of the issues. The fact that they released the game in this state is very worrying, and very sad, since apart from this it is a stellar game and I encountered far fewer problems than most others. For instance, load times on the PC, for me, never lasted more than 6 seconds throughout the course of the game, and it only crashed once. 
But the framerate is a real killer. If you're one of those people who put FPS counters in the corners of their screens and obsesses over getting it above 60 FPS (like some people I know), steer clear until they fix it. 
For the record, I'm not saying F:NV is a bad game. It's plot, interweaving mission structure, characters, voice acting, art-design and theme are all of triple A standard. What I am saying, however, is that Obsidian have one hell of a lousy QA department, probably staffed entirely by howler monkeys and a brain-damaged parakeet.