Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just when things are looking up

I'd apologize for yesterday's outburst, but then I would be lying.

Alan Wake was a perfect weekend game. Started on a Friday night and finished by Sunday, it was difficult to wrest myself away from it and go to bed in between. With the exception of the bizarre faces mentioned a few days ago, it almost flawless; an excellent follow up to and departure from the Max Payne games of old. Remedy has left plenty of little crumbs for those of us still waiting for Max's return, everything from painkillers to Max himself self pretty much being the main character of Alan's novels, but this is not the same kind of game. Action is never the focus, but it is still always present and is just as intense as it needs to be to keep the adrenaline flowing. Giving Alan two forms of ammunition to juggle, batteries and bullets, doesn't hurt either. And just as things become hopeless you will run across a giant spotlight to even the odds.

Special mention must be made of the lighting, especially when the darkness gathers its forces and sends them after you, wave after wave, appearing from the shadows in their mindless pursuit. Seeing the wind pick up and the light and dark fight back and forth never got old, even when I finally left the forest and found my way into more civilized areas. There was horror here in everyday objects, from barrels to giant tractors, which kept me from ever really feeling safe. I would not say that Alan Wake was ever frightening, it is hard to be scared of the bad guys when most of them look like refugees from Ico waving chainsaws around, but it was definitely unnerving and there was plenty of atmosphere to go around. It was also just vague enough about what was going on to preserve the fear of the next revelation without confusing me to the point of ennui. Is this all actually happening or is Alan crazy? One of the middle chapters actually had Alan wake up in the care of a psychologist, so I thought that the game had finally tipped its hand. Then I was attacked by book shelves and the building took on a look right out or Poltergeist and I was much less sure. The ending, at least the one I got, doesn't really explain much. Big chunks of exposition are unavailable until nightmare mode is unlocked, but realistically I am okay not know exactly what happened. I have come to my own conclusions about Alan's sanity, and any attempt to explain to me what 'really happened' will lessen the effect.

I have very few complaints, which is odd for me, I think I may be getting soft. Or ill.

Speaking of ill, Blur is even less interesting then Split/Second was. It pains me to say this, because I love Bizarre Creations, but the best comment I can mange to come up with for Blur is 'meh.'

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's the end of the whole damn world!

Oh no! Microsoft is raising the price of Xbox Live to $60 a year (for the United States)!

The horror! How can they do this! What could possibly make them think that raising the price of a voluntary service they provide is acceptable! More so, why do they think they should get to make money?!

This shit should be free, yo! All of it. I have been on Xbox Live since Mechassault, they owe me! I can't believe they would stoop so low as to jack up the price on this stuff. How am I supposed to afford my weed and 40's of Old E now? Get a job? They can't be serious. How am I supposed to play their games all day if I have to work for a living. Like Microsoft needs more money, anyway, it's not like they have continually added features to this thing. I didn't pay for Office or Windows, why should I pay for this? Plus, I can't even use my hacked Xbox on live, so why should I pay for it?

Sony's is free, and it's almost as good! Maybe I should just jump ship and play Killzone instead of Halo. Master Chief is old news to be sure, he doesn't even kill random people in airports or hunt down the taliban, anyway.

The nerve of some people. 

/sarcasm

OK, that hurt to write. If you think I am exaggerating, look here. Every single "argument" can be adequately answered with 'dude, it's $10. Shut it.' The level of arrogant entitlement displayed by these people is embarrassing to behold. This isn't the price of milk or eggs (or gas) we're talking about here, people! Microsoft placed an arbitrary value of $50 a year on a non-essential service they provided many years ago. They have now decided to raise the price of this non-essential service, most likely in an effort to make more money, because that is the entire fucking point of the service. Newsflash, mouth breathing tea baggers, Microsoft, and every other company out there for that matter, is in this for the money. They don't really care about you, they care about keeping you happy enough to keep you giving them money. The fact that we are able to derive some enjoyment out of this wallet vacuuming is just a pleasant side effect. If $10 more a year injures you so intensely then maybe you shouldn't gotten into gaming in the first place. There are plenty of free activities like running around outside and shutting the fuck up that you could engage in. 

These can't all be real people, can they? Look at this one:


Once again, dude, it's $10. Shut it.

Xbox Live was $50 a year when it started. Since then there have been several full browser updates, Netflix, Facebook, Zune, Last FM, and the now defunct 1 vs 100, and there is that ESPN silliness coming soon. The price, up to this point has not changed. If anything, we are overdue.

(breath)

I am not a Microsoft loyalist or apologist, but I do understand that products exist to generate revenue, and that when a good revenue stream is found said company will do what they can to maximize it. It's just business , people, it's nothing personal. And if you are this guy?


Don't forget to breath.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And now for something completely different

Butterface, the game

On a macro level, Alan Wake is a beautiful game. The environments are detailed and sufficiently creepy, the 'darkness' effects are very interesting and make monsters out of everyday objects, and the way the environment moves as you move through it is just amazing. Unfortunately you wont see any of this whenever there is a character facing the camera, on account of all the models' faces in the game being hideous to look at, often bordering on malformed and grotesque. At first I though Alan's wife was the only culprit: when she speaks her mouth has little to no connection with the sounds coming out of it, her eyes are sunken and dead looking, and I could not wait for her to go away. Then I met other people from the town, and either every single one of them suffered the same kind of tortuous abuse as a child or the guy that Remedy hired to build and animate the faces was a big fan of the Twilight Zone.


Only without all the poignant social commentary.

I am not saying that Alan Wake is not good. It is excellent so far and I did not want to stop playing it last night. I only regret that in six months I wont remember the moody lighting or tense combat or the somewhat intriguing, if convoluted story. All I will remember are characters who were clearly beaten with a giant ugly stick. Twice.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A close call

Last night, after spending an hour dying in the same dungeon in 3D Dot Game Heroes, I gave up. There is a reason that games like this don't show up very often: they aren't fun anymore. Nostalgia will only get you so far (it got me through 4 and half of six or so areas), but it certainly does not pay the bills when frustration kicks in. I got tired very quickly of getting one room further in, then getting nailed by an enemy that I swore was not in line with me and losing all but one half heart, that no amount of rose tinted memories could keep me going. The final straw was getting to a room, spending fifteen minutes on the puzzle, then figuring out that it needed magic to solve. Only I didn't have any magic. Those guys that take away all but one half heart? They take all your magic, too, so I would to have to either grind these same enemies for potion drops or walk all the way back to the nearest town, buy heath and magic potions, walk all the way back, then hope that it was enough to get me to the end so I would not have to do it all again. It was not longer worth the trouble.

This still in mind, I was more than ready to launch today's fuck you at From Software; that is two games in a row of theirs that I have disliked enough to stop playing, and that almost never happens. To keep things fair I hit up their wikipedia article to see what other games they had done, just in case these two were a recent aberration. There are some real terrible games there, games like Eternal Ring and Evergrace, and a few awful Tenchu PS2 games. But then there are real gems, like Lost Kingdoms, a card based RPG that broke the fifth wall in one of the most creative ways I had ever seen, and action games like Otogi and Ninja Blade that I have a hard time finding fault with. I will admit that both Demon Souls and 3D Dot Game Heroes are both game of generally good quality, they are simply not for me, so I cannot hate the developer too much for making them, at least no more than I hate everyone else. So they get a check swing fuck you.

So, who is deserving this week?

I would complain about Playdom letting Acclaim go bankrupt. Again. But no one should play those grind heavy pseudo MMO's anyway, so maybe they did us a favor. Without a more specific target I will revert to my general target of nerd rage and pointless ill will (and it's not Nintendo or motion controllers, believe it or not).

Fuck Apple.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This is why I never watched Lost

It is is obvious that the time I have been able to spend on video games has changed as I have aged. As a child I played a select few games over and over again, because that is all I could afford and no one was renting games yet. In high school I went through a game a weekend thanks to the glory of Blockbuster, then in college things tapered off. There was drinking, sleeping in, and occasional studying to be done. If just count the hours spent playing I game much, much more now than I ever have, but that does not tell the whole story. I also play many more games. Blockbuster has been replaced by the infinitely superior GameFly, and when a game is really interesting I can run out and but it (and then hide it for a while until the heat is off, but still, I can afford them). This increased speed and duration of consumption has really changed what I expect from a game, and 3D Dot Game Heroes is a perfect example.

I have already said that 3D Dot Game Heroes is A Link to the Past made of polygons. It shares everything, including occasionally giving you no idea what you are supposed to do next. As a child this was just another obstacle to overcome. Don't know what is next? Fine, blow up every rock, burn down every tree, then do it all again on the next screen. I found the magic wand this was in the original Legend of Zelda, along with paying out hundreds of rupees to greedy hermits. Last night after finishing the water temple there was no instruction on what to do next. The only hint I got was from my fairy companion, and it was nothing more than 'we should investigate.'

That investigation lasted about five minutes, which was long it took me to boot up my computer and find the next step on gamefaqs. It's not that I don't want difficulty anymore, I just don't want ambiguity. I don't want to feel like I am wasting time. 3D Dot Game Heroes is definitely worth playing, it just isn't worth the effort to do it without cheating.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not ironic, but definitely unpleasant

It is an odd feeling to grins away at a game for three plus hours and not feel like you got anywhere. It happens often enough JRPG's, but these wastelands of entertainment are usually (usually) followed up by something big, important thing that somehow makes the previous time worth it. To lose an entire night to playing Street Fighter poorly in another thing entirely. It is difficult to find worth in three hours of losing. Despite my frustration I kept going, taking deep breaths while walking around then hiding out in practice mode. In the end, do you know what my reward was?

Blanka mirror matches.

Two of them.

In a row, and I lost them both.

It was as if the entire XBLA Street Fighting "community" got together and said, 'You know what would be funny? Let's hit this guy who's had a rough night with the most annoying match in the game. And then when he chokes away a victory, let's do it again. And then? Feed him people who have never played the game before, so even though he wins, there is not satisfaction in it.'

This is a few days early, but fuck Blanka, though only when I have to play against him.

Side note: Guile is much harder to use than people think, but he is a great counter pick to Honda. Headbutt? Sonic boom. Butt stomp? Crouching fierce. What else do ya got?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inspired, stolen, same thing

3D Dot Game Heroes is one of those games that has been languishing in my queue for so long that I had forgotten it was there. As soon as it shipped I realized that I had not turned on my PS3 in over two months and that an update was probably in order; it is a good thing I took care of it then instead of waiting until the last minute like I usually do. I've probably said it before, but my phat PS3 is a handsome beast, it just takes it a while to get running again after long periods of neglect. Even the games I already own are not immune. Just seeing the teaser screens for Super Stardust HD are enough to pull me in a for a game or two, but not when there is a 150MB patch required to play it.

Let's not equivocate here: 3D Dot Game Heroes is Zelda. There is absolutely no denying it, and I really don't think that From Software is even trying to hide it. Everything, from the opening quest to retrieve a magic sword from a hidden forest to the overworld music to the sound effect that the hero makes when you get an item are so close to A Link to the Past that I can hear copyright lawyers salivating every time I boot the thing up. Maybe it fits under the vague protection of 'parody,' but damn, this might as well be another sequel, only replace Link with the hero from Ginormo Sword. This -


has an awful lot in common with this -


Ahem, apparently it is all about the width.

Bonus points to From Software for ripping on me for hating Demon Souls one last time. Quoted directly from a random shlub in a town:

'I have that demon game. Can you trade? It's too hard!'

Jerks.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Review

I am all for taking established characters and bending their genre a little bit, especially a character that has seen as much abuse as Lara Croft. Her more recent adventures have actually been pretty good, but she went through years and years of terrible games since her PSX debut. I was a little surprised when I found out that her newest outing was going to be an isometric action game and downloadable only. Would her signature game style of running, jumping, climbing and shooting work from a viewpoint more associated with Diablo and Baldurs Gate? In short, no, and Crystal Dynamics was wise to not force a virtual square peg into a round hole. There are still plenty of puzzles to be had, many of which are heavy on physics and momentum, and not a one of them feels hampered by the static camera and viewing distance. It is still a Tomb Raider game, but just barely, and it is a better game for it.

Every since Microsoft lifted the size limit on XBLA games we have been treated to downloadable titles that are right on par with games afforded the extra space of the a physical disc. The Guardian of Light does not disappoint, with varied environments containing more than enough detail to keep graphics mongers happy. Lara herself did not fair as well, and along with her enemies and the oddly named co-hero they lose something when the camera zooms in. This really only happens for cut scenes, and I understand that corners have to be cut to keep the download size down. Even without ultra high res models the game clocks in at a hefty 2 gig. The only real casualty of the de-facto size limit is the soundtrack, which gets repetitive quickly. I could be wrong; it could have nothing to do with bandwidth considerations, but it was certainly the weakest link.

The last two Tomb Raider games were very narrative heavy, focusing on Lara searching for her missing father and all sorts of other things that I don't remember (you can see how much of an impact they had on me). The Guardian of Light is very light on story, with events that just barely manage to string the levels together. This would be unforgivable in the big games, but things are never slow enough here for me to care. Every level jumps from puzzle solving to action that is about as close to Shadowgrounds as we have gotten on a console so quickly that worrying about little things like 'who is that and why is he trying to take over the world' is just not important. Even in long, action heavy sections there is enough variety thanks to a good variety of weapons  and swappable items that I was always left wanting more. What's even better is that the game was kind enough to give it to me.

There is no lack of content here, a rarity for XBLA titles. Yes, I was able to play from beginning to end in around five hours, but unlike the five hours I spend with Limbo it is not the the last time I am going to touch the game. Every level is packed with hidden areas and objectives, many of which I simply walked past the first time through because I was too busy staying alive to notice them. Weapons found near the end of the game solve this, including the comically overpowered golden shotgun, so return trips can be spent exploring instead of fighting for your life. I have yet to try the co-op game, and unlike most online offering this one has a good shot of pulling me back in.

Guardian of Light succeeds by not resting on its main characters laurels. I like Lara Croft as much as the next guy; she is a gaming icon on the level of Mario and Snake. It is good to see her in a different genre that actually makes sense, instead of racing in go karts or stumbling into an odd turn based strategy game. This is not just a good downloadable title, it is a game that blurs the imaginary line between disc based media and everything else, and it really helps that they picked the right ambassador.

So little time, so much quality

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was awesome, I just have not had any time to talk about it yet today.

I plan on slobbering all over it later tonight, but if you have not at least played the demo, you are seriously missing out.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A date with an old friend

I am taking the night off to spend some time with an old flame.

She actually looks better now than in the past, especially now that I am seeing her from a whole new direction.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beyond my meager skills

I have been thinking long and hard about who should receive the very first Friday fuck you and I have not come up with anyone. There are of course large organizations doing stupid things, like the RIAA trying to force you to install a radio in your wristwatch so they can collect money on it, but I am hesitant to waste a good rant on them because I don't fully understand how absurd it is. There are people of a more conservative nature trying to prevent a church from being built in New York because it is in a sensitive area and the builders don't happen to believe in the same god, but saying fuck you to Republicans for finding a way to just barely camouflage their racism is a waste of energy; once I started I would never be able to stop. The gaming industry is relatively safe this week, which brings me to Harmonix and the upcoming release of Rock Band 3.

I have nothing negative to say about Rock Band 3. It will be purchased on day one and undoubtedly enjoyed. However, this monstrosity:


That damn thing has 102 buttons! 102! And real strings to strum!

I am no longer a musician, and even when I was (many, many years ago) the guitar was plainly beyond my ability. I could not get my hands into even the approximate positions required to play chords. The five button guitar controller was just my speed: my fingers really didn't have to go anywhere but up and down and maybe stretch down to that last button every once and a while. This new guitar is designed to go with Rock Band 3's pro mode, a mode which is more or less designed to teach real world skills. Buttons on this guitar match every position of every fret on a real one, so I would imagine that with enough practice it would be a much larger step in the right direction than the old plastic toy instruments. This is going to sound odd, but fuck you Harmonix. Fuck you for making the genre fresh again. Fuck you for releasing a $150 accessory which I need to own that will do nothing more than make me look like an untalented ass.

Dead to Rights has come to a close, and the only decision I question is have the one many army hero jump into a mini-gun wielding exoskeleton for a good chunk of the last level. Jack Slate already felt over powered, what with the elbow braking and weapon stealing and unmerciful executions, so dropping him into a walking tank was redundant. It threw off what had been a very smooth difficulty curve, opting for intensity via body count instead of making things harder. It is not the first game to do this (FEAR 2 comes to mind), and it is certainly not the first game that didn't need it, but it is not unforgivable. Dead to Rights: Retribution was an above average action game, and when I was expecting the bottom of the barrel that actually makes it pretty good. It made for a good slow let down from my post-Expendables mood, and may actually have had better writing.

Spoiler coming, if anyone cares.

The game ends with the funeral for Jack's father. As everyone begins to walk away to priest (called 'preacher man' in the subtitles) approaches Jack to offer help if he needs it.

Jack - Forgive me father, for I have sinned.
Preacher Man - Oh, I know. I watched the news.

There was a little thought put into this, and I appreciate the effort.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Doors to bad places

Dead to Rights does it's best to be both a brawler and shooter at the same time. Bringing a gun (or over powered shotgun) to a fist fight often has sickly hilarious results, so you can guess which way my play through is skewing. Punching people is a last resort, especially when getting close to guy with rocket launchers almost always ends badly. Namco seems to have realized this, so one of the levels from last night forced me to escort a man, physically, out of building while fending off wave after wave of mercenaries. It helped that this poor gentleman was covered with body armor and had a bag of infinite ammunition handy, so he was never really in any danger. I wanted to pick him up and hurl him like a bowling ball, but the best I could do was use his head to open doors and push elevator buttons.

Which leads me to one of the best door one liners in a game I have ever heard:

"I don't suppose you can open the door in a more traditional manner?"

followed only by this gem from Wet:

"Fuck you, door!"

Oh yeah, and this one:



What a bastard.

Whose idea was this one, anyway? In a game where cool things can be under any given bush or rock this crotchety old coot is hiding in several places. He doesn't do normal things, like call the cops or chase you away with his cane. No, he punishes your deliquesce by emptying your wallet. What's really creepy is what he does to you if you don't have any money, something so scarring that no one actually remembers it.

It started with something like this:


and just got worse from there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What is old is new and shinier

This is a real thing:

Mortal Kombat HD Kollection incoming.

First things first, shame on them for describing re-drawing sprites in high definition as the easy way. That kind of nonsense smacks of the old console wars and we all should be past that (lol Wii lol). An old-new Mortal Kombat to go along with next years new-old Mortal Kombat had enough merit on its own that no mud slinging is required. The fact that there are doing the first three games separately is even better; I can ignore the first and third and focus on the pinnacle of the series without having my eyes viscously gouged by jaggies. If we have finally reached the point in gaming where there are no more new ideas left and we have to go trolling through the garbage for material, so be it, at least this time around in will be in 1080 lines of vertical resolution and online.

I came in fifth (or sixth) in the ranbat last night, losing to another Bison and a Cody who had improved significantly since the last time we played. In casuals afterward I may have stumbled across a new character that should finally get more of my attention: Guile. Call me a tier whore if you like, as the newest ones place him at the top, but he has exactly was Dee Jay is missing: really good normals. Dee Jay is fun, and I will keep playing him, but watching high end Guile players is amazing. When played correctly he is both offensive and defensive at the same time, doesn't mind being cornered too much, does pretty good damage on reasonable combos, and has the coolest cancel in the game: flash kick FADC shades. There are few other totally ridiculous FADC combos, like canceling a flash kick into ultra 2 (and I do not understand how you keep a charge doing it) but all of that is getting ahead of things. Right now, if I am going to be serious about finally learning a new character, all I need to work on is zoning with sonic booms and punishing jump ins with crouch fierce.

That, and remembering that flash is still pretty terrible for anything other than finishing combos.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bad medicine

I suppose I should say something about Dead to Rights: Retribution, but there really isn't much to talk about. Instead of talking about what it is, here is what it is not. It is not an RPG of any kind; there are no stat points to meter out, skills to learn, items to farm, level caps to hit or equipment to agonize over. There is no exploration to be done, precious little of anything to find in the levels, and no freedom to choose different ways to accomplish goals. There is no sandbox to play in, open world to get lost in, or plot to be involved in. Characters are paper thin stereotypes, the writing was clearly not done by paid writers, and no one spent any money on obtaining good voice actors. Dead to Rights: Retribution is not revolutionary, evolutionary, or even a slightly new take on an old idea. It is not cross genre, it is never subtle, and it never even gets close to being politically correct. Most of all, it really isn't very good.

It is, however, exactly what I need right now to clean out the cracks of my brain that have been filled with weeks of agonizing over the right place for a character to land after a hero action, or the right barrel to attach where, or what the hell the plot is trying to do. I didn't need to turn my brain off to enjoy it, the thing had shut itself down already, which allows the grotesque violence of Dead to Rights to wash over me, being enjoyed for what it is, then quickly forgotten. If it weren't for Street Fighter practice last night and tonight's ranbat it would already be over, so I am happy to have other things to break it up into smaller pieces.

Last week someone asked me who the new Scott Pilgrim movie was aimed at. Without thinking I muttered 'weeaboos,' even though 1: that is not true and more than a little offensive, and 2: the person had no way of possibly knowing what that meant. This slip of the tongue did lead me to urban dictionary to make sure that it meant what I thought it did, and it does. Like almost everything else on the internet its beginnings are found at 4chan, though even they stole it from somewhere else.


And I still cannot muster any interest in Scott Pilgrim.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Manly lessons

It is a petty, meaningless victory.

But it is a victory for men everywhere, regardless.

I am not going to go as far as to say that The Expendables was a good movie. Far from it. Objectively, it really wasn't of the highest quality, but it was fun. It was fun to watch and it was fun to be with others watching it, hurling comments at the screen as if they were sitting safely at home in their underwear. Of course, the theater was dark, so this may have happened anyway. Enjoying a bad action movie did provide some explanation for my questions from last week. Some genres simply lend themselves to pleasant mediocrity than others. The list of good/bad action movies is long (and filled with many, many of the "actors" that I saw on Saturday) as is the list of good/bad action games. To be blunt, as long as things explode and people die, men are entertained.

This acceptance of so so entertainment is not universal. Take Eat, Pray, Love, the boring girly movie that had the poor fortune of opening against Stallone's best movie in not so recent history. It, like The Expendables, was really not that good, but a bad romantic comedy is just embarrassing for everyone involved, including the audience. When an action movie is bad, you can at least laugh at it, but when a comedy is bad, what are you supposed to do, hit people? This parallels very well with bad RPG's: they are simply intolerable. Most RPG's have very little to fall back on when the core game is no fun, leading to disinterest and hostility.

You want proof?

You are locked in a house with a DVD player and two movies: House of the Dead and Gigli. Which one are going to watch?

Conversely, you are locked in the same house with a TV and two games: Contra: Legacy of War and Beyond the Beyond (going old school PSX here). Which do you use to pass the time?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Freeeeeeedoommmmm!

It is finished, and I have no idea what happened.

Everyone died, then they were all alive again. Honestly, I no longer cared. The credits were a sweet release from a game that only my obsessive compulsive failings kept me playing. As soon as I stopped hoarding my items things got much easier, but I would not have had enough of them for the last level if I hadn't been squirreling them away for the last forty hours. This created a final dungeon that was long, filled with enemies that re-spawned as soon as you left their room, but not very difficult. Not much of a climax here, so the sweet release is more of a 'meh, at east it didn't hurt,' but at least it is done and I can delete it from my hard drive.

I am not sure why I could walk away from Deadly Premonition but Resonance of Fate would not let me go. I also often wondered if good combat could carry a lifeless RPG, and the answer to that is yes, for a while. I have played plenty of very good RPG's with boring combat. Skies of Arcadia is probably my favorite RPG, and its combat was just good enough to keep me from throwing things at the TV. The opposite being true, very good combat and boring characters, story and setting, should be easy. It should play just fine, but it doesn't. It is very difficult to invest forty hours in something when you don't give two shits about it after the first ten. I have no excuse, and should not have given it as much of my time as I did, but I game habitually, and it is a habit that I have surrendered myself entirely to.

This makes more time for Street Fighter and other terrible games like Dead to Rights: Retribution and 3D Dot Game Heroes. After watching (and very much enjoying) The Expendables over the weekend shooting people for fun and profit sounds just about right.

And because the YouTube copyright vultures have removed every clip of Braveheart from their site, you get this instead:

Friday, August 13, 2010

A new feature?

I am think of reserving every Friday's post for saying 'FUCK YOU' to games, people and giant disembodied faceless corporations who deserve it. It is needlessly vulgar, juvenile, personally demeaning, and also quite enjoyable. In any case, I have already distributed this week's fuck to Ubisoft, calling them out on teasing a game several years ago and then saying nothing about it since. For reference:



Complaining about this more today would be redundant, and for all I know there was a big announcement at E3 that I missed, so I should be careful not to let too many fucks out; they can be difficult to get back.

The decision was finally made last night to forgo any more side missions and just make a run for the end of Resonance of Fate. I think it was a good decision, but the game decided to punish me for it with story encounter more difficult than anything I had seen in the last forty hours. Part of the problem here is that I do not want to play the game they way that it thinks it should be played, specifically in the area of item management. I have hoarded every last potion, bullet and grenade that I have found, rationing them out a few a time only when there is no other way to proceed. This habit comes from old JRPG's that drop final bosses with a million hit points on you and don't give you a way of resupplying before it is too late. You never know when that one little ampule of health is going to come in handy. Resonance of Fate's 'you never know' has become almost every battle. I have found myself running through special ammunition at a frightening pace and short on the money and materials required to replace it. I want to be stingier, because part of me knows that the final enemy will be bull shit (this is a TriACE game, remember) , but I have no choice. Maybe I am still playing it wrong; maybe there is still some little crumb in the combat mechanics that I have missed. Or maybe it simply assumes that I am going to grind out the levels required to not get my ass shot off.

Forced grinding is not good design, as far as I am concerned. For example, I used to really enjoy strategy RPG's in the PSX era. Final Fantasy Tactics and the Vandal Hearts games are good examples. Naturally I picked up Disgea when it first came out. That lasted about two hours before being sold off (at a profit, thanks NIS for never making enough copies of anything). It was a new, boring tedious genre: grind fest. I am well aware that this was just a return to the form of even older RPG's of the NES and SNES era, but I thought we had collectively gotten past that. There must be some segment of the gaming populace that enjoys this kind of thing, else NIS would no longer be around, but I certainly don't understand it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

They all have it coming

The problem with squeezing out a post after I played last night is that I have done nothing of interest between now and then. Plus, I have not been around a computer all day so I have no idea if anything cool has happened.  Sure, BioShock 3 was announced, but hearing that is about as surprising as being told that big companies like money. Why is it we have gotten three BioShock's, two God of War sequels, 2 Gears of War, innumerable Maddens, the resurgence and subsequent milking of Street Fighter, a reboot and then a retcon of the reboot for Prince of Persia, three Skate games, StarCraft 2, a World of Warcraft expansion, and two god damn Ninety Nine Nights games and Ubiosoft has still not released Beyond Good and Evil 2? There is no justice, I tell you, none. Lara Croft hasn't been relevant for years and she has gotten more games made. There have been two 8 bit sequels to Mega Man, a reboot of Bionic Commando (with an upcoming sequel to the reboot) and still no BGaE2. Mortal Kombat is going back to 2D, Capcom and Namcom are slobbering over each other, adding dimensions to Ryu and taking them away from Kazuya, setting up the epic battle between Zangief and Kuma and there is no word of Jade beyond a trailer from last year. Diablo 3, Rage and Half Life 2: Episode 3 are probably going to see the light of day before we find out what the hell was on Peyj's hand at the end of the game, for fucks sake.

You really want to get mad? Think about how many Pokemon games have been released between 2003 and now.

18!

I am not joking!

Now I'm all pissed off, which is the perfect mood to be in to play an RPG that I don't like anymore.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Finish it!

I really need to put Resonance of Fate to bed. It has been languishing on for several weeks now and I am geting tired of it. Things have gotten bad enough that I am considering skipping over side questes to expidiate things, but then I run the serious risk of being under leveled. One more weekend of it wont kill me, but ugh, I want it to be done.

Ranbat went well, though I am not sure I enjoyed keeping track of things. By the time it was done my headset was completely tangled with my laptop and I had to stap up and do an embarassing dance to free myself.

It's late. And really fucking hot. I surrender.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ah, capitalism!

Fresh from the 'I am surprised it took this long' department:

Street Fighter pros offer lessons, for a price.

Please don't read the comments on the article, there are on the level of YouTube commentary. To summarize, there are quite a few people who are so full of themselves and their own abilities that they cannot understand why anyone would actually do this, and are letting everyone else know. They are completely missing the point. The people offering these services have a 'product' that they there is a demand for. This product is intangible, incredibly difficult for other to reproduce, has no shipping cost and is almost free for the producer to create. These guys are selling their talent and I applaud the effort.There is nothing wrong with offering to teach someone how to be better at something they enjoy and making a little on the side for the time. While I do not know how much actual value can come from an hour of time with J Wong, and I think that the pricing is a little out of order, I will certainly not look down on someone who takes them up on their offer. Time will tell if this will be a success, but I can see discounted rates in the future. The market will decide what it will bear ($20 an hour is my prediction) and it certainly beats working for a living.

Money from scrubs spends the same as any other kind, too.

I spent about an hour and half in ranked last night, running into more than my fair share of Ryu's who had no idea what they were doing. They all seem to fall for the same thing, too: Blanka's crouching fierce punch. Crouching fierce is magic: it has pretty good reach, is reasonably fast and it is a serviceable anti air. I didn't even have to sit on down back, either. Walk forward, crouching fierce, walk forward, crouching fierce. It's no near as good as Dudley standing fierce (nothing is) but it stumped a few Ryu's that should have known better when judged by their BP. The final match of the night was against a Balrog, and while a Balrog Blanka match is always unpleasant, I gave him a run for his fight money. I made the unfortunate discover that Blanka's super trades with Balrog's ultra (which is bullshit), but it looked really cool in the replay.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The non game game

Last week I stumbled across Sporcle and I have regretted it ever since. Firstly, because it demands just a little more of my daily time that I do not have. Secondly, because it has reminded me that I am not nearly as smart or well versed in the commonplace as I thought I was. New quizzes appears daily, and I attempt most of them, and do well on very few. There are some specific geek tests, but they are so geeky that I cannot imagine what kind of asperger laced wierdo would actually be able to pass them. Granted, this is the internet, so someone will ace them, but no one that be called human without a smirk.

It's back on the horse tonight. Time to practice for a few hours for the first ranbat tomorrow. Picking up a new character has been put aside; I just want to be able to do a few more things with the one that I already know. Blanka has a few one frame link combos that actually worth the time it takes to learn, and oddly enough one of the flashiest was already in my arsenal (crossover medium kick, double knee, light punch, ball). Crossing over, however, is a bad habit that I need to break myself, and soon. I learned the hard way that Bison's ultra 2 can stuff a poorly timed crossover, as can just about any mashed uppercut move. It is a gimmick that works on people who I can already beat in less dangerous ways, and is just not a good idea against anyone with any ability apart from simple shenanigans. Blanka's other main link that I have seen used to great effect is crouching medium kick, standing jab, ball. If I was really good I could hit confirm the couching medium kick because it feels like that link is very late, but I could be wrong. It doesn't add much damage, but it does make a dangerous move a little safer.

I am also working on canceling moves into the dash for pure 'what the fuck is he doing' reasons. It works about once or twice a match: blocked crouching medium kick, forward dash puts me right behind and ready for a throw. It is amazing how many people get caught by this, and the picture of them shaking their head, muttering 'why did I fall for that bullshit' brings a smile to my face. And then when I do it again right after?

Glorious.

Blanka really is a troll character, and I have learned to love and accept that, especially when comments like this:

"All Blanka mains should kill themselves."

are not that uncommon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A new button!

Click it to follow!

It is so empty!

Don't make me follow my own blog, cause I'll do it!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The calm before more calm

Imagine my embarrassment when, after turning to YouTube for a quick answer to beating a boss in Resonance of Fate, I find that the solution is to simply run past him and shoot him from behind. I was so hung up on it being a one on one boss battle that I forgot to actually think about what the hell I was doing.

While I do not rescind the previously doled fucks, I must accept at least some of the responsibility for my outburst. Resonance of Fate has reached the unfortunate period of time in which I just want it to be done and no longer care about figuring things out for myself. It happens for most RPG's, and usually a plot twist will pull them out of it, but I do not think one is coming. How can you twist what is not there? There is not enough plot to mess with; for all I know there have been several and I have just not noticed.

In other news, I am on vacation, and I really doubt anyone wants to hear about my boat ride, shopping for tchotchkes, or biking through the woods, so updates will be light until Monday. If I wanted to talk about boring things I would have a Facebook account.

Screw you, Google Chrome spell checker, that's a word. I checked.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A first

I don't recall ever throwing a controller over an RPG before.

Seriously, fuck you TriAce,

Fuck all of you.

Back, but no better

After around thirty minutes in the training room trying to remember how things worked I was back into ranked with my old green friend. It was not terrible, though I did lose to a few people who I should most certainly not have. What was most interesting were the nerves: anxiety that in the past was reserved for close matches against known opponents was back in full force against random people. Yes, the button pressing skills had sagged, but the calmness required to actually do what needs to be done was also gone. The real positive was the time not spent fighting people and actually practicing. I pulled off the crouching medium kick link into ultra that I had never done before (once), the forward hop into ultra, and a few other links into balls that I had never tried before. I do question how much that extra ten points of damage is worth when it exponentially increases the risk of dropping the combo, but once it becomes natural that will no longer be an issue.

I am happy that I quit for a while; it provided a little distance, distance that I needed to realize that I play how I play and that there is nothing wrong with that. Now if I can get over raging at people I don't know for my own mistakes things will be back to normal.

I am on vacation this weekend so entries will be light, and definitely devoid of video game discussion. Certain people who are vacationing with me would be very, very upset if my Xbox came along.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

God damn that DJ made my D-D-D-D...

This is terrible news.

Torchlight II announced for next year.

I had to physically restrain myself from playing the first one until all hours of the night. Only a Windows re-install saved me, though I should go back and finish it one of these days. Bringing  out the second one before anyone sees Diablo III is genius. I just hope they maintain the $20 price point.

So, on to DJ Hero. I seriously missed the boat on this one.

Originally I was turned off by the price point. After buying something like five Guitar Hero games and two Rock Band games my budget for the plastic instrument genre was pretty much shot. For the record, it has still not recovered: Band Hero and Green Day Rock Band remain unpurchased. Many months later DJ Hero has dropped to a more impulse friendly level and I don't really understand why. Yes, it works on the same basic principle as every other music game: things fall down from the top of the screen and you have to react to them in a timely manner. This also describes Tetris, Columns, Gradius, about a million other things, and is not terribly fair. It feels like there is more to juggle with this one, with three buttons, a turn table, a cross fader and some other dial that I do not know the name for all demanding your attention an roughly the same time. Getting completely lost in a track can happen quickly, something that I have not experienced since the early days of the first Guitar Hero, so medium is as high as I am taking things right now. The jump to hard to massive, as directional scratches and other nonsense are introduced (remember the first time you actually had to use your pinkie on a guitar? This is worse) and what I sampled of expert I may never be able to do. Thankfully there really is no option to fail here. The track keeps going no matter how poorly you do; this may not be the most efficient way to learn but it is more fun than sitting in practice mode trying to nail the ending meadlies for hours at a time.

Tracks, to use the native lingo, have been a mixed bag but are mostly enjoyable. Hollaback Girl is always awful, no matter what it is mixed with, and I feel dirty having even typed the name. Crossing David Bowie with 50 Cent, though, is remarkable. I cannot explain why; it just works. Each of the mixes has one track that is the more dominant (usually the one that has phatter beats) so you do not always get to hear as much of what you like as you'd like, but nothing aside from the Gwen Stefani nonsense has been painful to work with.

Note: I like No Doubt. The old No Doubt, before Gwen went crazy. I blame Gavin Rossdale, the cunt.

Street Fighter ranbats start again next week. Just in case there is any doubt, yes, I am completely full of shit. Nothing I say should be used for anything beyond entertainment purposes. What I may do, however, is pick a  completely new character so I have an excuse for being terrible.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Several acts of bravery

Gamefaqs has me at around half way through Resonance of Fate, which is a little disheartening. Don't get me wrong, it is a good RPG, but with the a compelling story yet there is not much to pull me through from day to day. That, and I have the sneaking suspicion that the game is going to start kicking my ass out of nowhere; it is a Tri-Ace game, so that is not outside the realm of possibility.

I have finally worked up the courage to attempt DJ Hero tonight. After playing with the controller for a while and figuring out what I was doing wrong when I sampled it at Best Buy I have a little more confidence that it will not be impossible, but I am still glad that no one will be watching. Gaming by myself has many advantages, not the least of which being that I do not have to wear pants, but mostly so people cannot see my juvinille tantrums and comically profane rants. There is no good reason to get mad at a game, but I still do. As I child I broke a window once, and to this day I remember the game that caused it:


I also remember losing a password in Metroid to a passing cat bumping the reset button, which was not fun. And don't even get me started about the original Ghosts and Goblins on the NES, or Deadly Towers, or attempting Halo 2's online mode months after the game came out and finding out what tea bagging really was.

Wow, games really do cause violence.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Well, he seems reasonably intelligent

Charm will only get you so far in life. Eventually even the most charming, affable individual is going to have to actually produce something of worth or intelligence in order to be taken seriously. The same is true for games, though it is much less fun to call out a game on being full of shit than a person. Take Deadly Premonition as an example. For the first day or so I was enamored with its off best humor and bizarre characters. I didn't know why I liked it, but I did. Last night I sat down to play for a few hours and was immediately bored by it. I arrived at the location of my next objective, but it was the wrong time. Smoking passes time, so I did that for around twelve hours. The next thing I know York was tired and hungry and the closest bed was a real time five minute drive away. I didn't like the game, I was temporarily fooled by some slick writing and a self inflicted blind eye to bad graphics. This game was full of shit. It was actually liberating to take out the disc, proclaim that the game was balls, and move on with my time. I had already played this game not once, but twice. It was called Shenmue then, and that game has aged so poorly that I have no desire to play it again, even with schizophrenic FBI agents who makes constant asides to his wang about bad 80's movies.

Not five minutes after turning that off an returning to Resonance of Fate did I run into serious bull shit a second time, this time in the form of an optional battle that was clearly beyond my ability that there was no escaping from once started. My newly liberating ability to walk away from things almost took over, but I was calmed by the need to play something, and I am still afraid to start DJ Hero. The turntable sits under my TV, waiting to be spun, but I remember those first few days with the original Guitar Hero, stumbling around tracks on medium like a trombone player who has been handed a violin (that crack is just for my brother. HA!) and I do not look forward to repeating them. Instead I swallowed my anger, reloaded a save, and pushed forward. Things have almost started happening in Resonance of Fate, plot things, and to quit now would leave all of them  unresolved.

Plus quiting a game after three hours is bad, quitting after twenty five hours in unthinkable.

This is also why I do not play traditional MMOs.

And now, in honor of all the bullshit I have endured in the last twenty four hours:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

50/50

I did not want to like Deadly Premonition, and to that point I am not sure why I do. The game is ugly; I take that back, it is fugly. I know this is a budget title, but there is little excuse for how bad things looks here, especially when driving around. Speaking of driving, Deadly Premonition has some how one upped Alone in the Dark for terrible driving controls. Nothing has chased me yet and the city is not crumbling under my feet, but it is much more tediously difficult to get from here to there then it should be. The list keeps going (the combat is bad, the main character moves like he was transplanted of of Resident Evil 1), but I still have this odd compulsion to finish the game. Agent York (and Alex, who is probably just a voice in his head, or the voice of his head) is one of the biggest douche bags I have run across in any game, ever. He is pretentious, arrogant, insensitive and bat shit crazy to boot. In other words, he's awesome. Most of the other characters and strange in their own right, but they are all so exasperated by York's presence that it is a joy to watch. This is what Twin Peaks: The Game would be, and I mean that in both a positive and negative way. With a little more attention to the actual game parts of the game this could have been good; instead it is an oddity that very few people with bother experiencing.

It is not a good idea, but I have decided to split my time 50/50 between Deadly Premonition and Resonance of Fate. This guarantees that it will take me far to long to finish either of them. This is only possible because I have quit a certain other game that ate up two nights a week. I don't know how I ever had time for it, which is going to make it even more difficult when I get over being a bitch and decide to go back. It is still at least a week or two off, but time will be made for Blanka again eventually. And when I do, look out:



That shit's sophisticated.

Little more thought or discussion has been put into the I-phone MMO idea that my friend brought up, but I did come up with an idea for a new character class. This has probably been done, and if so I apologize to whoever actually came up with it. I have always been annoyed with cool down timers for powers; there has to be a better way to limit the use of an ability than an arbitrary timer. Lets remove the timer; while we are at it lets get rid of the concept of a mana gauge as well. There is a better way to manage abilities: have them cost hit points to use. This creates an immediate risk/reward that can be adjusted for how powerful an ability is. Want to set of an AOE that freezes enemies in place? Go for it, but you are going to spend half your life doing it. Healing of course becomes an issue, which is why this may not be a good solution for every class, but I would really like to see a mage or other support class work this way.

Like I said, this has probably been done. Hell, I may have even played something like this and have forgotten it, but it streamline with simplifying, plus it creates a reliance on a tank to keep you safe. Unless on of the abilities you are spending all your life on is to create a tank...