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Friday, July 30, 2010

Medal of Honor to come with Battlefield 3 beta invite.

So as I'm reading about this I can only think one thing. EA has realized that the new modern reboot of the Medal of Honor franchise is a giant pile of garbage. They need some way to make people still care about this game. For them releasing a beta was probably the worst thing they could of done because all it did was show the community how bad the game was before it came out. This is what EA gets for spreading DICE so thin, developing different games at the same time. I'm guessing that DICE was working on Battlefield 3 at the same time as MOH so one of them had to suffer. DICE hasn't been the best when it comes to getting their games perfect right at launch as they usually have to release several different patches to get everything in proper working order. So now that nobody really cares about MOH EA has taken some steps to help sell the game. First was making a special edition that's just the regular game with added in weapons like in previous DICE games but with this one EA isn't charging more just giving the weapons away. But that wasn't enough so they whisper out, "Hey buy this and get access to, wait for it... BATTLEFIELD 3!" So now everyone is probably creaming themselves over the awesomeness they hope BF3 will be but you need to buy this garbage MOH to get on the hot beta action. I for one can wait because the DICE of recent memory hasn't been up to snuff as far as games have gone. For me DICE hit their climax with Battlefield 1942 and everything went down hill from there. Vietnam was an unbalanced piece of crap and I never played Battlefield 2 but I've heard good things about that one so I can give it a pass. Next you had all the console BF games which failed to grasp the PC BF experience so they can all blow. Bad Company 1 had a great single player campaign as it was nice to play a war FPS that didn't take itself to seriously, then BC2 which pretty much ignored the whole first game had the most bland, plain war story I've ever seen. The multiplayer for both of these games was just screaming, "Hey look at us! We're almost he PC BF games but we're not quite there yet!" But I don't really know it's just this whole MOH thing has left a bad taste in my mouth and I don't want to see the game do well just because it has a BF 3 beta included with it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kane and Lynch 2 demo has a virus?

Well I tried to download the Kane and Lynch 2 demo from Steam the other day and my antivirus popped up with a warning. It detected a bad file in the download from Steam and stopped the download. With a little research I found out it was a false positive associated with my NOD 32 not liking something it saw. Maybe Eset were not fans of the first Kane and Lynch and decided to show their disliking in the form of false virus warnings? I don't really think that but it sucks I'm having trouble downloading it as I am a big fan of the first game and I'm really looking forward to part 2. I've read a couple of workarounds for this issuse and I'll try them a little later today and hopefully I can grab the demo and write some impressions on it.

The game comes out next month which is pretty sweet, and you can save 5 percent if you preorder on Steam before game comes out. Even with all the issues from the first game I'm just really looking forward to part 2 and seeing the continuing story of these two guys.

Plants vs Zombies vs Michael Jackson

So like everyone else I read about Michael Jackson's family wanting the "Dancing Zombie" taken out of Pop-Cap's Plants vs Zombies game. If you don't know what the Zombie in question is, it's a zombie that comes out of the ground and moonwalks with some backup dancers similar to Michael Jackson while wearing a red leather coat like Jacko wore in the Thriller days. You can see the Zombie in question at around 42 seconds into this video.

The Jackson family is threatening legal trouble if the zombie isn't removed so Pop-Cap is doing what some may call the smart thing and replacing the Jacko Zombie which is never referred to as Jackson in anyway just the look, with a Disco Zombie which I haven't seen yet. The idevice version of the game has the change already and the XBLA version will have it too, but no word on when the PC version will get a patch. The whole laws of parody would probably work in Pop-Cap's favor but I guess it's easier for them to just change the game then go through a giant legal battle over a throwaway joke that was only mildly amusing. I should note that the Zombie was in the game way before Jackson actually died so it wasn't like Pop-Cap was putting him in there to make fun of his death but really from all the news reports the dude sounded like a real scum bag. The amount of pedo charges against him were numerous and he was a straight up junkie and the family needs to let him rest and quit trying to make money off of someone who they pretty much had nothing to do with when he was alive. Greedy little bitches the whole lot of them, but this isn't the time or place for all that.

What I think should happen, if I was in charge of all gaming would be to put a Zombie MJ in ever game for now on. Hell go back and edit him into past games. Left 4 Dead needs a zombie MJ, the Call of Duty World at War Zombie mode could have a dancing Jacko with all the Nazi Zombies. In Dead Rising you would have to kill him with his own records or a stand up of him. As the blood crazed child loving zombie comes shuffling towards you hypodermic needle stuck in his arm from the last drug shoot up you'd see who it is. Oh my god! It's Jackson! Now kill it!

Let Me Ride On The Wall Of Text One More Time!

Some people have complained about the formatting of some of my posts.

They says when it's a big block of text it's annoying.

Actual quote, "I can't keep track of reading when it's all together like that because I didn't pass the third grade and learn how to read."

I hope this is an acceptable formatting style!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Let's talk about World of Warcraft

I've spent a lot of time playing World of Warcraft in the past. I started with it about a month after the game first came out and played for what I call the standard MMO three months. For me in the past with any MMO I usually play it obsessively for about 3 months before I burn out and move on to something else. I've gone back to it on occasion but I always do the three months and I'm done. Every time I've come back to the game I start over usually on the opposite faction from what I played before. I just stopped playing from my most recent return and some of the things in how Blizzard handle the game just don't make me happy. The main reason I quit was my account was hacked and I lost all my good gear. The hackers kept all my crap gear to farm stuff with and then sold the good stuff. I was already not that into playing anymore but this was the breaking point for me. Blizzard was great about getting my account back to me and they were going to return all my gold and items but it was going to take some time to get it all back and I just didn't feel like using my crap gear while I waited for that to happen. I have no idea how the hackers were able to get my account info because my anti virus came up with nothing and all my malware scans came back negative. I guess it's my fault for not having an authenticator but I shouldn't need that. A friend and I came up with a great solution to this without needing an outside device to keep your account safe. If you usually log in from say Florida and then all of a sudden the servers see you logging in from, hmm I don't know uh, China your account should be locked down until you contact Blizzard. They should send an email to you to say hey is this alright and you would need to call them and sort it all out on the phone. Hell they should do this if you move and log in from another IP address with out changing the info with them. This may sound like a major inconvenience and I don't even know if it's possible but it would make a fantastic last line of defense against the WOW hacking crap that goes on. But in the end I wasn't really angry I was hacked it was just such a pain in the ass to get it all fixed. Blizzards phone support was great once I was able to get them on the phone which took about an hour but once I got through it only took a few minutes to get it all back. But then they were able to hack my email and that was a pain to get back. Google were jerks about giving me my email back but I eventually was able to. That was the big stickler to me was the hassle of getting my email back from Google but I think if Blizzard had a better anti hacking thingy I wouldn't of had these problems. Don't get me wrong WOW is still a well done MMO but I'm just done with it right now.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Valve banning Modern Warfare 2 players...

Over the weekend Valve banned a good number or people from playing Modern Warfare 2 online through Steam. Steam has this Valve Anti Cheat (VAC) software that detects cheating and gives you a permanent ban from playing Steam games online. Apparently some MW2 players were banned for what Valve is calling a software glitch.

From Valve's Statement -

"The problem was that Steam would fail a signature check between the disk version of a DLL and a latent memory version. This was caused by a combination of conditions occurring while Steam was updating the disk image of a game. This wasn't a game-specific mistake. Steam allows us to manage and reverse these erroneous bans (about 12,000 erroneous bans over two weeks)."

I'm glad to see Valve stepping up and taking the blame for the wrongful bans. It's nice to see a company admit it's fault and make things right with the fans. On top of unbanning the falsely banned Valve is offering them a free copy of Left 4 Dead 2. It just goes to show how much of a class act Valve is. I think when the history of gaming is written Valve will stand on the top of the heap as the single best company in the industry.

Starcraft 2 comes out tomorrow... and I don't really care.

I've always been a big fan of Blizzard, I love a lot of their games. Yeah I like Warcraft 1/2/3, Diablo 1 and 2, I've put a lot of time into World of Warcraft. I even love the older games they did, like The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne. But one game from them I've never been able to get down with is Starcraft. I played it a little back when it first came out and I didn't really care for it. The sudden change from Warcraft 2 to what they did with Starcraft just didn't sit well with me. I remember seeing the first screen shots of SC and it looked very similar to WC2 and I was excited to play it, because to this day Warcraft 2 is my all time favorite Real Time Strategy game and when I saw the changes to SC I didn't know what to think. I ended up only trying the game and only playing a few levels and just deciding it wasn't for me. Really around this time I just lost touch with the RTS genre and I didn't like how they were becoming these more complex versions of what they started as and yeah I know it's good for a genre to grow but this was one I didn't really like to see evolve the way it did. And to me SC was the beginning of this, with the other titles associated with RTS following along. Well recently I decided to pick up Starcraft and try it again, well I still don't really care for it but I see why it's loved by so many people. It is a good RTS but again just not what I like to see. With Starcraft 2 coming out tomorrow I'm probably the only PC gamer that just doesn't care about it. It feels weird to be sitting on the sidelines for this one as I'm usually all about the hot new release but just not this time. If they put out a demo I'll try it but I just can't see myself enjoying it. I know Blizzard can't be in any hurry to put out a new Warcraft RTS with the amazing success WOW has had but I would love to see a Warcraft 4 similar in play to WC3 but with a higher unit cap. That was my biggest complaint with WC3 was the ridiculously low unit cap on each map. I like to build up massive armies and roll out against my enemy in a relentless slaughter.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just some thoughts on Little Big Planet, Weekend Update!

When I first I heard about Little Big Planet I was really excited about it. I took planned time off of my job to play it. I went into the Gamestop excited to pick up my copy and quickly drove home to play. The first thing I thought after playing it was how nice the game looked. I really enjoyed the art style, the way the levels looked and everything right down to Sackboy. The game is a platformer like any other platformer with the same basic controls. You can move Sackboy around and he can jump and grab and that's it. The game at it's core is very simple to play. But for a platformer the controls to me are a little floaty and can make doing precision jumping difficult. The physics of the world around you are some of the best I've seen in any type of game. I had a few times when something way bigger than Sackboy would get away from me and come close to crushing me to death. For me one thing that was a real surprise to me was the difficulty near the end of the game. Some of the levels were down right sadistic with the amount of stuff they threw at you and getting the trophy for getting through all the levels without dying was a real challenge.

Now the big draw to LBP was the user created levels and the community really came through on this. I played some really impressive levels, a God of War themed one was my favorite. Some were made to just earn trophies which I expected but still thought was lame but seeing my points sky rocket on these levels was fun for a little bit. While a lot of the user levels were interesting in my time with the game I noticed they all seemed to just be other games, like Super Mario Bros levels remade in the LBP editor. Now this was cool at first but then they're everywhere and it just became a little stale. I didn't really play LBP much after completing the single player mode. I tried some online and messed with the created levels but it just didn't have enough to hold on to me after the initial game was over. I did fire it up again when the Metal Gear Solid levels came out but that wasn't for that long and I haven't played the game since. In the end I think the game was an interesting test of amazing things that can come from gaming in the future but right now I feel the limitations of a console can cause on a game like this keep it from being a truly great amazing experience. I didn't try LBP PSP and I really haven't heard a lot about LBP2 but I'm sure it will have the same charm and fun of the first game but I still don't think it will be the true greatness that this series or a series similar to this can accomplish. MOD Nation Racers to me seems to be the evolution of this kind of "let the players create the game" idea of game making. But again I just don't think we're there yet as far as gaming custom content on the consoles.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Demon's Souls servers being shut down

It was recently announced that the servers for Demon's Souls will be shut down next year. March 2011 is the scheduled time but it's kind of weird. Demon's Souls was an unexpected hit with tons of people still playing. The EULA that is in the game says they will support the servers for at least 6 months then they have the right to switch them off if they want. It's been nine months since the game came out and looks like we have 8 more months with the servers up. But why shut them down when you still have a lot of people still playing? The Demon's Souls board over on Gamefaqs is still in the top ten as of this writing it's number 6. That shows a pretty good fan base just on Gamfaqs alone. I'm thinking this announcement is leading up to them revealing the rumored Demon's Souls sequel and I surely hope that happens. I'm going to guess we'll hear about a follow up closer to the shut down of the servers or maybe they have something ready for release around that time. That's would be pretty sweet.

Top Ten Games

Just a quick list of my favorite games of all time. This can change but not very much.

1 - Super Mario Bros 3

2 - Demon's Souls

3 - Bioshock

4 - Doom

5 - Legend of Zelda - Link to the Past

6 - Warcraft 2

7 - Castlevania - Symphony of the Night

8 - Metroid

9 - Raiden

10 - Phantasy Star Online

Phantasy Star Online

I was just reading that Sega is putting out a gigantic patch for the 360 version of Phantasy Star Universe and it had me thinking about the original Phantasy Star Online. I was really into PSO pouring hundreds of hours into the Dreamcast and Xbox versions, it was as close to an addiction as I've ever had. When I first started playing online games it was mainly FPS games of the occasional game of Red Alert or Warcraft 2. When stuff like Everquest started to show up and never tried it. A friend let me watch him play a little PSO and I was so amazed I ran right out and picked up the game and the Dreamcast keyboard. I had just moved into a new place and all my stuff was still in the boxes nothing put away it was a mess. I ended up putting my TV on a trunk and setting the Dreamcast on a box and hooking it up and playing. It all stayed that way for about 3 months.

What grabbed me about this game was the simplicity of it but how it was just complex enough to hold my attention. Combat was handled by a few buttons and you could do come combo moves but they were easy to pull off which made slaughtering monsters very easy and fun. This was my first exposure to the "online RPG" and at the time I was unaware of the time commitment needed for this type of game to keep up with the people I was playing with. But in the end I didn't mind putting all my attention to it I even missed a bunch of games because I was so into playing PSO. My main thing that just sucked me in as I'm sure it did most people was the loot. Like other games such as Diablo, Everquest and World of Warcraft you have to keep killing hoping that new shiny sword drops so you can be a badass running around for the 5 minutes it's new to you until eventually you just want the next shiny thing to drop. The game had a lot of stuff to get some of it very rare but one thing I thought was cool was you could get loot online as well as off. Certain weapons could be found by doing things in the offline game which let people always have something competent to use and not be stuff with the base weapons. The classes were simplified too, the Hunters who were best with swords and other close combat weapons with a limit on the ranged weaponed they could use. You had the Rangers who could use all the guns but were limited to the melee weapons they could use. You also had the Force class which were the mages of the game and could use the stronger magic. On the Dreamcast version the other two classes could use almost all the same magic as the Force which kind of made that class a little useless as the Hunters and Rangers could resurrect and heal. In the later versions such as the Xbox game the Force was the only one that could use the most powerful or useful spells. The other two were very limited to what they could cast. You also had the "Cast" or robot races in the Hunter and Ranger class, they couldn't use magic but they couldn't be poisoned and they could see the traps on the ground without the aid of items or magic.

The Dreamcast version was plagued with problems, cheaters and hackers were all over the place near the time I started playing. The in game economy was broken as money was hacked to hell and most everyone had 999,999 in their banks and on there person. You didn't have a trade window either. You had to drop your trade on the ground and hope the other person was honest and didn't try and screw you. The biggest crap thing about the Dreamcast version and this for lack of a better word was just bullshit, when you died you dropped you equipped weapon on the ground. It would just be lying there waiting for you to be resurrected or if you were unlucky for some other player to swoop in and grab it and then steal it from you. When the hacked player killing was just starting I had a couple of times where a player would kill the party and then steal our weapons. It got to a point I wouldn't use my good stuff with strangers in the room. All this was fixed in the Xbox and I imagine the Gamecube versions of the game, but I never played the Gamecube version so I'm not sure on that.

Typing and fighting at the same time was okay, I had been doing it in on my PC for awhile so it wasn't a big deal. Sometimes I'd go to my friend's house and while he played I would type and people were amazed he could play and type like that at the same time, it was fun. The Xbox version had voice chat which made playing this game so much more fun. Not having to stop fighting to communicate was just what this game or hell any game needed. You really got to know the people you were playing with and since this was the infancy of Xbox Live all the idiots weren't really around yet or at least in the force they're at now. The only voice issue I had was this dude I played with named Korn who played a song by the band Korn when he entered a room and I wouldn't even really call it a problem because I thought it was cool but some may think it's annoying.

On the Dreamcast I played as a Female Cast Ranger as I was into the ranged combat and the eventual ranged weapons you could get were just super badass. Heaven's Punisher was just the fires of the sky raining down on the forces you were fighting. The cool thing about that gun was it only worked every other minute. One minute it's bringing the apocalypse then the next it's just a normal gun. On the Xbox version I was a short hunter with a pink afro. I don't know why I didn't just remake my Dreamcast character because I liked it so much but I guess I wanted to try something different.

One thing this game introduced to me and what I've gone on to call "Like PSO" or PSO use of levels" is the way it handled the side quests. You had the main zones you went through for the story four in the original and I think 8 in version 2.0. But when you were given a side quest you went through the main zones but with maybe different enemies or some obstacles added to the level to make it a little different. This was the first game I noticed that did stuff like this and after playing it I started to see it in other games. Knights of the Old Republic was one that did it and was one of the first I noticed it in. I kind of like it when developers do this it makes the zones you've visited seem to have more life to them.

PSO was a really fun gaming memory I have and I still think about it fondly. As with most games like this though I eventually burned out and that's when I tried the PC MMOs such as Anarchy Online and Everquest but they weren't the same. The next time I would get into a MMO type game was with Star Wars Galaxies and eventually World of Warcraft like lot's of other people have. I tried the sequel Phantasy Star Universe but it wasn't the same it just didn't have the magic for me the first game had. I would love to see Sega put the Xbox version of PSO out on the XBLA or PSN. Maybe with the release of Monster Hunter 3 on the Wii which I understand is close to the PSO gameplay people might want to see PSO on Wiiware but I would prefer the other two systems so we could have the voice chat and all that jazz. Right now as I write this I'm considering hooking my Dreamcast up and playing some solo PSO it won't be the same but it would probably be a nice blast from the past. The only thing that makes me not want to is what happened with Mario 64. It would devastate me to play PSO and not like it anymore but I don't know maybe I'll do it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lack of Updates today... Suck Internet

I had planned on doing more today but the internet here is still a crap connection that I hope to have fixed by the weekend. I've had a rough time getting simple web pages to open such as my email and any streaming video such as Youtube takes forever to load to a watchable state. I have to let all of the video load then watch it or it stops to buffer every 2-3 seconds. I have no idea what is wrong with this internet here but it was fine when I moved here and just in the last week it's taken a dive. So basically any lack of updates for the rest of the week will probably be from this. When it's better I'll mention it and we should be ready to rock and roll.

Violent Video Games and a really incoherent rambling rant

(I had set out to write something making a point but I kind of lost it in the middle of writing. I leave this as is for reading.)

I had about given up on posting anything today because the internet is being all ass and not letting me on many sites. Just as this page loaded for me I was reading about The 11 new states to get on board with California to ban the sale of violent video games to minors and I want to share some of my thoughts.

I'm divided by this issue, I kind of agree with both sides. On the one hand as I grew up I was allowed to play any game, it was weird I had restrictions of my TV watching and the music I could listen to but nothing on my games except the amount of time I could spend playing them. But it was different back then, most NES games weren't super graphic with the violence the worst one I remember was probably Golgo 13 with the blood, sex and the smoking to get health back. Splatterhouse was another violent game of my youth and even showing my parents the warnings on the box they didn't have any objections to me playing it. The one thing though was they always made sure I knew what I was playing was fiction and it was all stuff that it was okay to do in the game but I should never do it in real life and I understood it. But I believe that their ignorance to the games was caused by them just thinking all games were for kids which really back then they were, I'm part of the generation that games grew up with. As me and the people the age grew up gaming matured along with it's audience. Today we have tons of adult oriented games full of violence and enough blood to paint the world red. Just like movies we have games that are just a little to mature or in some cases just way over the heads of children and yeah kids probably shouldn't see some of these games until they're older. Think of a little kid playing Manhunt, or even something like God of War that is pretty much the definition of ultra violence they just shouldn't see this stuff. Now I have to go back to my youth and think of what happened to me, while I was playing the for the time violent games I was parented, they made sure I understood what I'm seeing isn't reality and no a days I don't think this happens less than back then. Some of today's parents just can't be bothered to simply raise their child that they've dumped in front of a TV with a console and the new hot M rated game. Then they blame the game companies when their ill raised child turns into a lunatic or simply becomes addicted to the game. Why ignore the rating on a game box while you pay attention to the R rating for movies or the music with the advisory sticker on the package? It has to do with the generation that are the older people now, the ones that didn't grow up with games being around and just don't understand it. All these issues I think can get phased out as the gaming generation gets older and into these places of power, people that get it and can figure out a way to regulate the way violent games are handled. I am about sick and tired of when I go to the store to buy a M rated game I get carded, I look over 18 just give me my game. If it's a child in line yeah question it but every adult that comes in there to get their games, leave them alone with the I.D. crap. It was so bad for me I just started ordering all my games online to avoid the nonsense with buying a game in a store.

I do see an upside to all this! It would keep the kids off the online games. I can't stand dealing with kids on the mic in my online FPS games. Games they probably shouldn't really be playing at a young age. Crap I'm going to stop now because I don't really think I'm making any sense anymore if I ever was.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Standing the Test of Time

The Second Look I just posted about Mario 64 had me thinking about something that's been on my mind for awhile now. I strongly believe that newer games just do not stand the test of time. With 3D graphics and polygons being introduced into gaming we've become jaded by what makes a game fun. One of the first things anyone notices about a game is the way it looks and this can skew people's opinions of a game. If it isn't all nice and shiny people will ignore it in favor of the new hotness with all the graphical bells and whistles. I'm guilty of this as well one of the first thing that hit me when I played Halo 3 for the first time was it didn't look that great and I thought that the big flagship title for the 360 should of been the best looking game on the system but it was still a fun game to play even though it looked like a first Xbox game. It's rare lately to play a game that just seems like a classic something you'll remember 20 years from now fondly and could still pick up and play all the way through.

With that being said I think gaming peaked in the 16-bit era. The Super Nintendo was dominating with the Genesis in a very close second and you had the underdog Turbo Graphx 16 trying to keep up and the PC leading it's own followers down a different path that would lead most of the innovation we see in console games today. All the different systems had different games with exclusives that stayed exclusives and actually gave you a reason to own all the gaming machines that were out then. While a lot of these games had good graphics for the time they had to have interesting art styles to separate them from the other. You can look at a Mario game and tell it's not Sonic. Final Fantasy did not look like Dragon Quest and so on. Today the endless streams of military shooters all look the same or you're in space shooting the same guys with the same laser and while these games can be fun they just don't stand apart except in name.

I strongly believe that when you discuss truly "classic" games you need to stick to the 16 bit or earlier era. Mention Gears of War 2 me and yeah I loved playing that game it was a ton of fun but is it a classic? No it's not something will come along and do Gears of War better then the Gears franchise will be forgotten not just by me but everyone. Even my beloved God of War I don't think is a classic. Another game by the same group of people that does the fighting and camera better with some slight tweaks to the game play can make God of War seem unplayable and broken. But a game like Super Mario World? It's just classic almost platforming perfection. The controls are responsive the game is beautiful even by today's standards it still holds up. The first two Sonic games do too, they're just fun to play with very very interesting zones, remember the first time you played the Casino Zone? Yeah I do and I'll never forget it but ask me about a part in Halo 3 and I may not be sure and need to go look online to refresh my memory.

Another thing from the past that I miss is that games were just different. Even though Mario and Sonic were both platformers they were completely different games. Today with the saturation of FPS games they all look the same shooting miscellaneous middle eastern guys with you're m-16 with a holographic site on it. With not a whole lot if anything at all different with them in a brown and grey world why use these advanced graphics engines to make bright bold colors when they do brown so well? I know these wars are in the desert but even the games that are in space are all grey and metal looking. Even as fantastic as Killzone 2 looked it was all brown and grey. DOOM took place in space and then Hell but it had some color to it bright colors we need to bring this back.

Most modern games you play them and forget I do have a few that have stood out to me and could very well be considered a classic, Demon's Souls is one and you can read why a few articles back. Another one that came out that I really really and I mean really enjoyed was Borderlands it did something different with the current FPS model and even though it took place in a desert waste land it was still colorful and looked amazing. Lately I've been more into the indie 2D games that are around, Cave Story, La-Mulana and all that kind of stuff. I remember more about Cave Story than I do most of the games I played last year.

I'm not saying I don't like new games because I do. A lot of them are fantastic but the overall "me too" system of copying is getting old and I don't see it going away anytime soon. Games need to be like the old school and not try to imitate but innovate and really do we need so many sequels so fast? Make us wait from a bit before we get the next game, but that's for another time.

Second look at an old game - Mario 64

I like many people played Mario 64 when it first came out, it was the one game that had to be bought with a Nintendo 64 at launch. From the first time I saw the game on an import N64 in a Software Etc store I was amazed by everything it did. For the longest time for me at least this was 3D platforming perfection, I even considered it my favorite game of all time. I remember playing through this game 4 times in a row getting all 120 stars each time until all the save slots were filled with perfect runs. After that my Nintendo 64 eventually faded into the realm of not being played in favor of other systems and I eventually packed it away and never thought about it again.

Well a couple weeks ago as I was preparing to move I came across my N64 and some of my games. I decided to hook it up and try some of them out to see what I thought now. The one game I knew I had to play was Mario 64. I popped it in started a new game and went to battle Bowser for the first time in a long time. Well let me tell you this, this game Mario 64 does not stand the test of time. I played it for about 30 minutes and it has so many things wrong with it I can't even begin to list them all. I'll briefly go over some points starting with the camera. Yeah we all know that era of gaming 3D movement was new and the camera was almost always an issue and still to this day it's a tricky thing to get right. But using those yellow C buttons to move the camera is just so clunky. It wasn't great back then but Nintendo had the best camera system in place out of all those early 3D games but playing it now it's just garbage. The movement isn't anything to write home about either, Mario is very unresponsive at times and more often than not the weak jumping gets you into a near death situation that you cannot get out of which results in death. The worlds are bland and unattractive from a graphics stand point. I know the N64 wasn't known to have the sharpest clearest graphics with all that fuzz and blurriness in most games but even with the way it looks Mario 64 is still the best looking game on that machine. I think it's because they kept it simple and didn't try to have a super detailed world. I know that may sound like a contradiction but I feel both ways about the way Mario 64 looks.

In the end I should of never put Mario 64 back in that old Nintendo 64 and just lived with the memory of it being a great game that I loved instead of soiling that memory with the crap that is contained in that cartridge.

And a side note the game I consider my favorite of all time now is Super Mario Bros 3

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Demon's Souls

It's not often that I play a game that makes me feel completely differently about playing games in general. Yeah I play games I really enjoy and like to replay and tell people about them but that's not what I mean. I mean a game that is just so great you end up comparing all other games to it, games from different genres even generations. It's been a long time since I've played a game like this but late last year I played one and that game is called Demon's Souls. It came out last year on the PS3, published by Atlas and developed by From Software the makers of the Kings Field franchise. They had set out to make a "spiritual successor" to Kings Field and I think they pretty much nailed it but made this game a whole lot better. This isn't so much a review as it's just me talking about things in Demon's Souls I like and why I like them. In the end this is just a chance for me to talk about a game I just can't stop talking about, even now 9 months after beating it.

Demon's Souls tells the story of a land called Boletaria ruled by the aging mad King Allant the kingdom is dying. Allant has summoned the Old One from it's slumber and the kingdom has been trapped by a fog trapping all those inside. You play a hero from outside the fog who ventures into Boletaria to try and defeat the evil. You enter fight some monsters and one way or another you die. You awake in the Nexus as a spirit and then the game truly begins.

Demon's Souls is at it's heart a 3rd person action RPG. It moves at a slower pace than most action RPGS you need to time your combat, mixing attacks and blocks to survive. You are able to choose from many different classes at the beginning, ranging from Knights to Mages with everything in between. In the end it doesn't matter which you choose because and this is one of the big things I like about this game every class can do anything. Yeah a Mage will be better with magic at first but with the right leveling a Thief can cast just as many spells as their magic using friends. The starting class is just a template for how you want to fight at first if you don't like it you can make your character anyway you want. You level by killing monsters and getting souls. You spend the souls like currency to level and buy equipment. As you level each new level costs more souls but you can go back into any level and replay it to grind out souls but you only fight the bosses once.

You start the main game dead, on the form of your soul. In soul form you have half your life but do more damage. As you fight you will eventually get to a boss when you defeat the boss you are given your body back which grants you full health but you do less damage. One thing that's really cool is when you're a soul you do not make footstep sounds and your armor does not make noise as you dodge and run, this lets you sneak up on some enemies.

One of the best things about this game is the way multiplayer is handled. Even though you are in a single player world you are always online with other people. You can see messaged left by other players who were in the same place as you in their own game world. These messages can be tips to help or fake messages to make you come to your death. Now when you're in soul form you can go to other players games to help them on a particularly tough part when they lay down a summon stone. The player doing the summoning must be in body form to summon help but this also has a negative aspect to it. When you are alive another soul form player can invade your world and try to kill you for a chance to get their body back. This is just such an amazing way of putting multiplayer into a game. I can't count the times I would be running around in my body form and see the Black Phantom is Invading message and feel my stomach drop as I didn't know what to expect and where it would come from.

This adds to the game's already tough difficulty. I'm use to games now a days being a little to easy for my taste so I was excited to hear that Demon's Souls was suppose to be this brutally hard game and yeah it's difficult, well it is at first. The time it took me to get from the start to the first boss was about 6 hours but I was having a blast the whole time. The game is never difficult in a frustrating or cheap way. If you die you messed up it's always your fault. The hundreds of times I died over my experience playing this I never felt my deaths were cheap in anyway and I could look at what happened and know what I should of done to survive. While this game is hard at the start once you get into the flow of the combat and you end up just getting what this game is all about it becomes a whole lot easier to play it. The last two levels were very easy for me and some of the bosses in worlds 4 and 5 are down right pathetic to fight. Most of the bosses can be destroyed from range be it magic or what I used was a bow and I wasn't even trained high in using bows. The next couple lines are a quote from the lead designer I took from Wikipedia...

Miyazaki commented on the game's notorious considerable difficulty as "never the goal" but rather focus on creating a real sense of accomplishment. Difficulty was rather described as "one way to offer an intense sense of accomplishment through forming strategies, overcoming obstacles, and discovering new things." Other locations of the game were described as "places of evil intent" such as the Tower of Latria embodying man-made evil and the Valley of Defilement embodying natural evil, with the difficulty heightening their sense of dread and evil for both gameplay and atmosphere. The threat of death that also sees players potentially losing all their hard-earned souls was also created to emphasize this mood, that "if the Souls could be recovered anytime, there would be no suspense or sense of accomplishment". Boss battles were primarily designed to be "varied and exciting" to make sure "players didn’t get tired of the same fight" and like the rest of the game "encourage them to figure out different tactics, to think on their feet". Takeshi Kajii actually felt that the boss battles were not the hardest element; "You say boss, but it’s not just the boss. It’s everything including the road up to the boss that makes this game really hard. If you find patterns to destroy the boss, it’s not that hard. It’s how you get to the boss that makes this a difficult game."

What he's says sums up the whole boss battle experience and when I think about the boss fights like this then it makes sense the later ones are a little easier because the levels are harder while the bosses as I've said are easier. This is important because when you die either in body or soul form you start the level over. No mid level check points or saving in the middle. The worlds are broken up into hyphened worlds such as 1-1, 1-2, 1-3 etc. You you fight a boss at the end of each -# and can continue from there which is a little saving grace on the difficulty because I even think it would be brutal to have to do all of one world in one go but when you get to the point of being able to understand the game play you'll feel like you could beat a whole world in one go.

I really like the way the world is presented in this. Boletaria is a dying world and it's shown as such. All the worlds are dark with destroyed buildings and the signs of the former glory. The hub world the Nexus has only a few people trapped inside with you and their outlook is of despair with some hope you can succeed. In the worlds you run into just a few people that aren't the monsters but these people are crazed or on the way to total breakdown. The world design gives you the overwhelming feeling of being alone in your fight, this is one of the few games I've played that truly make you feel alone as you fight these insane crazy monsters.

I played Demon's Souls as a Knight. I was going to a melee build because in most RPGs that's what I do. In the end I was using my bow on all the bosses and mixing lots of magic into the attacks. For me the Knight had the good beginning melee strength and his magic was high enough to get into using spells early on. Others I've talked to about this used magic users at first and had a easier time at the beginning of the game. If I play through this again and not in a New Game + with my Knight I will try a magic user and see. I liked all the character design but I thought all the bosses were amazing. I love a game with giant bosses to fight this one has a lot of them. My absolutely favorite boss fight was in 5-3, I don't want to spoil it but the back story to it was just great and the aftermath just blew me away.

So to end this, if you like games you need to play Demon's Souls. It may not be your thing as some people I've talked to play it and just don't get it but I think it deserves to be played by everyone. It's just that good of a game. When I look back at all my years of gaming very few games will be up there as making me happy I play games because I was able to experience them and Demon's Souls is probably near the top if not at the top of this list. Just play it if you haven't, if you don't like I'm sorry but it is something special.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

H2Overdrive, punishes you for winning.

I played H2Overdrive in an arcade today. It's the sequel to a better known game, Hydro Thunder. Hydro Thunder is the speed race boat game Midway put out in 1999. So today I played a friend in H2Overdrive and I won. Well as expected my friend had to put in more money to continue playing but as I looked up to continue the game was asking me for more money. I was put off by this as most games I've played let you keep playing when you win. I couldn't remember if Hydro Thunder did this trick and my friend reminded me that it indeed did make you pay for each race regardless of the outcome. I kind of think this is nonsense, making me pay after I win. Now I know Arcades aren't exactly having an easy time right now and some people reading this may not even know what an Arcade is but this way of making people pay is just not right. At the very least you should make the winner pay half the original cost if you're going to make them pay at all. But in the end neither of us played again because the game was already a dollar and that's just silly for one race.

New James Bond game, Bloodstone

So instead of the "on indefinite hiatus" 23rd Bond film we're getting a new game. It will have an original story line not based on a movie. It is being developed by Bizarre Creations known for Geometry Wars and the Project Gotham games. I'm surprised that Treyarch aren't working on it because I really enjoyed their Quantum of Solace game. It will be interesting to see what Bizarre do with the game though so I'm still looking forward to playing it. Daniel Craig and Judi Dench will provide the voices for Bond and M respectively with Joss Stone playing what I'm assuming will be a love interest. I'm glad to see Craig getting the chance to still play James Bond even though the movies seem to not be moving forward anymore. I think he's the best James Bond surpassing even Sean Connery. Anyway here's a trailer and you can look for the game later in the year.

Gaming without Internet Review - Solitaire

So where I'm living right now the internet has been really hit or miss. For about a week now the connection keeps randomly dropping off and when it is running the speed is slower than dial up. This makes doing anything on the internet impossible even posting stuff here. With the slower speed logging into Steam is a challenge in patience and it's one I'm not really looking to try so I've been keeping busy with other stuff. Mainly I've been sitting here playing the Solitaire that came with Windows 7. I've spent a good amount of time over the years playing the various Solitaire games that came with Windows, 3.11 all the way to 7. I have to say Windows 7's Solitaire is the worst version I've played. I like all the fancy animations and such but from a game play stand point it's just bad. When you're dealt your cards you can lose the game without being able to put any cards anywhere. You can scroll through the deck but then the game over kill screen comes up and you have to start over. Now I understand there is a chance if using real cards that you could deal yourself a losing hand right from the start but this is a program, a program that should be able to weed out any chance of this happening. I've never experienced this in any other Solitaire program be it a Windows version or some other company's game. When you do not have any moves left the game gives you a "No More Moves" popup and you are asked what you would like to do and I do think that's great because it lets you know you're done, well you know when it works. The box will pop up about 90 percent of the time but I've had several times where the game is in a state of not being able to make a move and the box will not come up. When I'm in a situation like this I hit the "hint" key to make sure I'm done and all it does is have me cycle through my deck endlessly. This can be a little annoying, I mean I can tell when the game is over but when you have a feature that's actually useful in some cases it should work all the time. Overall this game is Solitaire everyone knows it and you may like it or not but this version is flawed. Now you may be thinking why I'm reviewing Solitaire of all things well that's what happens when the internet is crap.

Solitaire - 7 out of 10

The game is fun because well it's Solitaire but this version is flawed.

DoDonPachi coming to iphone/pad/touch

Yesterday it was announced that the Cave shooter DoDonPochi is coming to the various idevices. You'll need the newer hardware to play it just like with Espgaluda 2. I'm really excited to play this one and will have a full review after it comes out.

Until then check out this video.

Monday, July 12, 2010

PC Game Review - Trine

Trine is a game that came out last summer for the PC and on the PSN last Fall. I picked it up during one of the big Steam sales at the end of last year and never got around to playing it. I decided to give it a try this weekend and to my surprise it's a really good game.

The story isn't really anything to special but it does do a good job of setting up the premise and getting you right into the action. You control three characters, a Wizard, a Thief and a Knight. They've been fused together in a freak accident with the device known as the Trine and you're guiding them along to free themselves from this predicament. Trine is basically a clone of Lost Vikings with three characters you play as and each offers their own abilities to help navigate the levels. The Wizard can summon blocks and planks to build steps and bridges and later on he can create a floating platform to get around on. The Knight is all about combat, sword and shield in hand he's you're go to guy for killing all the enemies in the game. Now the thief is a hybrid she has a grappling hook to swing around on any wooden surface and a bow to shoot the enemies. You'd think you should just use her through the whole game and I made that mistake at times but for the most part I relied on the Wizard for navigation and the Knight for combat. Switching between the three people is easy and I never had a problem doing so in the middle of the action.

Another thing about Trine that really stood out to me were the graphics, this game is just beautiful looking. The colors are bright and the environmental effects such as heat rising from lava are really well done. You feel as though you're really exploring this fantasy world rich with fiction, fiction that just isn't there because it's not really fleshed in the story but still the world is just so well done. The sound is good too, the crunching of the bones of the skeletons as you kill them sounds right and what little music the game has fits in with then overall feel of the fantasy world.

The controls are spot on, using the combo of the mouse and keyboard for a 2D action game just feels right in this game. Keys for moving and changing characters and the mouse is for using the various skills the characters have, be it the Knights attack or summoning with the Wizard. Doing some of the crazier platforming near the end was very fluid and I never felt the controls were working against me. A bright spot for the PC platformer.

Now you'd think I was all about love for Trine but I do have some complaints. One is the checkpoint system. Each level has several checkpoints and they're fairly spaced and all but if you quit out in the middle of a level when you come back to the game you start at the beginning of the level. All XP vials and treasures you've collected are still collected but you still need to go through the level again. It can be a pain to be near the end of a stage quit and have to do the whole thing over again. But I can say none of the levels are so long where anyone shouldn't be able to just sit down finish a level before quiting. Another complaint, the amount of enemies. This game only really has one enemy type with variations on that type. I expected to see a little more variety in the foes and with the graphics being so fantastic I wanted to see the developers imagination go a little crazy and see some more monsters. Finally the game is really easy, but still a lot of fun. None of the puzzles are hard and most navigation can be done with the Wizard summoning a few blocks and jumping on them. With this fact the thief is borderline useless and I feel the game could of been done with just two characters or done the thief in a different way. I don't know exactly what but I think this stuff just takes away from the game.

In the end I thought Trine was a really good game. For 20 bucks you could do a hell of a lot worse. The few short comings I mentioned didn't really take anything away from my enjoyment of Trine but I felt just needed to be mentioned. If you liked Lost Vikings 1 or 2 and want something similar you need to check out Trine. If 20 bucks is to much for you this game goes on sale with almost every Steam sale so wait and grab it for 5 dollars or something around there, but even at 20 bucks it's worth it.

Trine - 8 out of 10

Friday, July 9, 2010

iphone game review, Espgaluda 2

Cave is a game company that is pretty much the gods of Bullet Hell shooters. They've put out quite a few scrolling shooters over the years and not a whole lot of them have come to the US. You can get a few of their Japanese which are region free and play them on a US Xbox 360 but the games are still expensive so that's not always a solution for everyone. I'm a fan of the scolling shooter and I've only played a couple of Caves shooters and not really for any length of time but they're fun and can be really hard. I was extremely happy to see that they decided to release a game in the US but then was shocked to read it was coming to the iphone of all things. I wasn't sure if a bullet hell game would work on the iphone.

Espgaluda 2 is a basic vertical scrolling shooter. You're character is at the bottom of the screen and flys up. You shoot at the incoming enemies as you dodge intricate bullet patterns eventually getting to a boss and finishing the stage. You have two different "shots" to use as you play. One is just the standard bullet shots you see in many of these games and the other is a rapier shot which looks like a beam of light similar to the straight laser in the Raiden games with some projectiles flying around it. You collect power ups to get more power out of these and are free to switch between them at will. You can enter an "Awakening" state in which the character's shots change and the bullets around you slow down. Once the awakening counter goes down you keep the new attacks but the bullets turn red and go much faster. You have a choice of playing as three characters all with a different attack power. Ageha is the most powerful and has a straight forward attack. Tateha has a spread shot which in awakening mode turns into a homing spread shot. Asagi is the last character and has a straight shot and a set of options that fly behind and fire or in awakening go right up to the enemy you're targeting and shoot them point blank. The iphone version has an iphone mode. When you're in awakening you can touch the screen to get rid of bullets and gain points. It's fun but I prefer the arcade mode. It also has achievements via open feint.

When it comes to controlling this game on the iphone it is perfect. Using my finger to slide my character across the screen to is just amazing. It adds a precision you can't get with the joystick because it doesn't have the limit on the speed the character goes. It moves as fast as you can move your finger. So while this is a great way to move I think it makes the game easier because you have this ability that isn't in the arcade or 360 versions. Shooting is done automatically as it is in most iphone shooters, you can turn on manual shooting but I never tried it. All your other functions such as shield and changing shots are all on the side of screen and easy to reach. Even moving in crazy ways I've never hit the buttons and done something I didn't want to do.

The game runs well on the hardware. It only supports the newer ipod touches, ipad and iphone 3gs which I can imagine is for the amount of stuff that goes on while playing. Bullets are everywhere and on hard it they can fill the entire screen with just a pixel or two safe zone. On my 3GS it drains my battery extremely fast so I tend not to play when I'm out because my phone could go dead from playing. My phone also gets warm as I play which it does not do with other games but I'm guessing it's due to the processor having to work so hard on this one.

I'm not a big iphone gamer, I've played a few just to try and I grab any free ones I can. Besides this one Space Invaders Infinity Gene have really grabbed my attention. If you're a fan of scrolling shooters then you need to check this game out. Cave has said this is a test and if it does well they plan on bringing more of their games out in the US. Deathsmiles just came out and I've heard they have another arcade game they're bringing to the iphone. Espgaluda 2 in my opinion is the best game on the various idevices and anyone who's a gamer and can play it should.

UPDATE - Something I completely forgot about is whenever you get a phone call while playing the game does not remember where you were and you are forced to start over. I had this happen when I was close to beating the last boss on hard a couple of times. Well today they released an update and I believe this is no longer an issue.

Easily a 10 out of 10

Some thoughts on the Medal of Honor PC beta

I played the Medal of Honor beta on the PC for a few days and I have some impressions and thoughts on it. For those who don't know the new Medal of Honor is the Modern era reboot of the franchise kind of a Medal of Honor: Modern Warfare if you will. I think EA is smart to move the series into a new setting because as fun as it is to shoot Nazis in WW2 games the overall setting is getting a little stale. I think the WW2 genre of shooter was done perfectly by Treyarch with Call of Duty: World at War, so now it's time to move on.

The MOH multiplayer is being developed by DICE, makers of the Battlefield series and it feels like a mix between Battlefield Bad Company and the Modern Warfare games. I haven't been a big fan of DICE's output sense BF 1942 but for some reason I keep giving them a shot. I wanted to try out the MOH beta because I was looking for a MW type game without having to suffer playing the awful Modern Warfare 2 but this game is not what I was looking for.

The first thing I noticed that was just bad was the god awful lag. The matches were impossible to get into and when I did at times it was the typical lag fest slide show DICE games are for the first week or so. I stuck with it though and I can say before I gave up on the beta the lag was much improved but the game was still unplayable and that's because of the hit detection.

The hit detection is broken, there isn't any other way to put it. I had a number of times when I would point blank shoot someone in the face and the hit wouldn't register. I've seen videos online that show the janky hit detection at it's broken best. Do a search on youtube and you'll see what I'm talking about. But overall the guns just don't feel right, they're not any fun to shoot. This game has zero recoil, I mean none. I've read things saying "Well Modern Warfare 2 doesn't have any recoil!" but in MW2 you could hit people. If a military shooter is going to have that "fakeness" to it and reduce the recoil and have the regenerating health then you're guns should work like they don't have the recoil. My experience was that this game follows the Halo way of taking and dealing damage. You take one or two bullets to die but you can unload a clip into your enemy with hits being shown and not kill them. Some of this I think is to blame on the hit detection but when the little hit cross is popping up and they don't go down from registered head shots all I can think of is Halo.

Lastly the unlocks, they're handled like the Battlefield games. You pick a class and as you play that class you unlock things just for that class. One thing I loved about COD4 was the ability to unlock all the stuff playing as one class and then if you wanted to try another type of play out you could use the better guns to test things out. Because really these games with unlocks are not balanced because new players can't access the better equipment and the grind to get the good stuff can be terrible as you get schooled. The unlocks in this game are the standard fare, red dot sights, silencers better ammo and all that jazz. In this game though you can equip your gun with one thing from each category. I was rolling with an M-16 with a red dot, silencer and hollow point rounds and really I didn't feel anymore powerful then when I started playing. It still took the the whole magazine to kill someone.

Overall this game could of been fun but it's just at it's core broken. People will scream, "It's a beta!" but it's the worst beta I have ever played. A Multiplayer beta is suppose to be about balance and seeing if the servers can handle the load but I think this beta fails in both. Maybe EA is stretching DICE further then they can handle and this is a company that's can't do a ton at once failing on a game? I don't know. I would like to try the single player out seeing as it's being made by a different team on a different engine and see if it plays any better. If they put a demo out I'll try it but I'm not buying this blind. The PC version is 60 bucks! What the hell is that? Just because those assholes at Activision charged 60 for MW2 on PC doesn't mean all modern shooters need too!

With RPG Elements, the meaning behind the name.

Some people may be confused why this blog is called, "With RPG Elements" yet doesn't really talk about RPGs. My cousin and I would joke around how you can pretty much take many modern game and say it has some kind of RPGness to it. Many reviews state that games have RPG Elements in them, be it Call of Duty 4 with it's leveling up online or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas with it's character building and development. While I was sitting around trying to think up a name for this blog it came to me! With RPG Elements just seems like a good title so I decided to go with that.

Sniper Perch Groupies and a general rant on Sniping in games!

Ah yes the Sniper Perch Groupies (SPG) we all know them we all love (hate) them. Now this may not be a term you're familiar with but you know the definition. Let's say you're playing a shooter online. It can be Halo, COD, even Gears of War. Really just any shooter with an online mode. You find yourself a nice sniper perch. You start racking up kills you're feeling good then all of a sudden you notice something on the side of the screen. You turn thinking it'a an enemy but no! It's a team mate. Not just any team mate mind you, another sniper! Now you would think it wouldn't be a really big deal said sniper may just be taking cover before moving on or may not notice you crouched behind cover smokin' dudes with your rifle. Most of the time it's someone that has come to steal your spot. They see you doing well with a nicely placed sniper perch and they want some of your kills. This isn't something that really happens wth the well known sniper spots on maps. Usually they always have a few snipers running around them no matter what. It always seems to happen when you find that perfect spot and you're dug in so well the enemy can't get to you. This is a phenomena I've witnessed from the beginning of sniping in online FPS games.

I remember when sniping in FPS wasn't sniping it was camping the first online FPS I played was the first Quake over a 56k modem and it was great. Yeah it had campers but it was fun. I liked to run around and rocket people to death and all that crazy stuff, I was never into the whole camping thing. But one thing I've always had a thing for was the idea of the hitman sniper either in movies, books or whatever. Golgo-13 was a favorite of mine. When I first heard about FPS getting real sniper rifles I was intrigued. I wanted to try them out to see if I could be like the assassins in the media I was consuming back then. Now I can't remember what was the first online FPS to have a sniper rifle but the first I got into was either Counter Strike or Unreal Tournament. But they weren't the pinacle of my idea of what a FPS sniper should be able to do. Counter Strike had some good sniping spots in maps but nothing that screamed sniper hiding spots. Unreal Tournament had a few maps with good perches but you could get rocketed out of them no problem. When Battlefield 1942 came out I thought it would be a snipers dream and to a point it was. You had huge maps to run around in and hide to do your work. I was really enjoying the freedom this game gave to the FPS sniper but then they came. This was the first game were I really saw the SPG in it's purest form. Sure the game had dedicated sniper spots watch towers and things of that nature. What I didn't care for is you'd spend a good chunk of time getting to a great spot. Jumping off a jeep to get somewhere higher up then you could go normally or how some people would try and snipe from the aircraft carrier on Wake Island. Okay you spent all this time to get to a perch and someone comes along to be your buddy and hang out with you. Then all they do is draw attention to your spot. You're crounched down or prone, hidden from view and this person may be standing up in full view just unloading in the direction of the enemy drawing all kinds of attention and then eventually grenades. What's worse is when other people you team come to your spot and it's like a party in sniper town that one well placed grenade can clear out. I'm not saying, "Hey this is my spot and my spot alone!" Far from it, I'm just saying if someone is in the sniper perch let them be at least until they die and if you're running around basicly waving a flag at the other side causing the well placed sniper to die vacate that spot and let the original squater have his or her spot.

Another thing I've noticed is the amount of times snipers will go back to a place to snipe no matter how many times they get killed in that exact same place. If you go to a spot only to get shot or grenaded the only people you're helping are the other team, just stop. One thing I've read and seen when it comes to real life snipers is you take your shot then you relocate, hit or miss. This can be applied to games as well. I understand that not every game and the amount of snipers in most games doesn't really allow for this but it's a useful tactic when used right. Especially in the Battlefield games and I could see it being useful in MAG.

Now that leads me into what made me want to write this blog entry. I've been playing MAG the last couple days and I've been having a lot of fun with it. But not with the sniping. I don't really snipe anymore in online FPS. I always try out the sniping class/weapons in any game but I just stay away from it mainly because of the reasons I've stated above and what I'll mention in a bit. I decided to try the sniper class out in MAG and it started out well. I had a really nice setup and I was tagging guys left and right on the Valor suppression map. Stay crouched, shoot someone to death then go prone to hide. They had no idea where I was at until some doofus decided to come stand right next me and fire into the crowd of enemies. Then another sniper comes up and tries to wedge himself between me and my sandbag barrier. I told them both in so many words to go away they were screwing up my for lack of a better word flow. No response but the enemy took care of that with a few rockets fired out way. The way these two were standing I couldn't get away and I was dead. Another thing I saw last night was almost just as dumb. We were playing Sabotage, attacking Raven on their map. For those who don't know sabotage is like a control point type game. Well our spawn was in an area where you couldn't really see the Raven base but we had seven snipers in and around the spawn and they weren't hitting anything because they couldnt see anything. Every now and then a Raven guy or two would come around and knife them all and we ended up loosing that match. Someone I was playing commented on the fact that a good chunk of our people were sniping in a forward attack game type, I had to agree with him it was crap.

Falling out of love with a game!

This is something we all as gamers are probably guilty of at one time or another. You get the hot new release, a sleeper hit, or just a straight up bad game. You get home pop it in and you just freaking love it. You call a friend or two, send out messages on Xbox Live/PSN, post on a message board, "Hey you all need to check this out it's fantastic!" Well then some time goes by, it can be hours or days any time frame, you start to see the flaws, or you're just not that into the game anymore. Someone will ask you, "Why aren't you playing such and such anymore?" You tell them you don't really care for it and you gave up on said game. It's not a bad thing lots of times you try anything new and you're all about it but as that euphoria wears off you're not that into it anymore.

I've done this a good number of times. I play a lot of games, I mean a lot. I always have something waiting for me when I finish whatever I'm currently on. The last one I did this with was Red Faction Guerrilla. I was blown away by the demo and went and managed to talk the guy at the Best Buy into selling it to me a say early. I went home fired it up and I was in gaming heaven. Capping dudes and blowing the hell out of buildings it was so good. Then I started to notice some of the small things that would keep me from loving this game forever. The overall combat was one thing. Mason is a fragile man, a few bullets and he's down. I've read online that I wasn't playing it right that I needed to be more like a Guerrilla soldier and that I can understand. I just couldn't get behind that concept sneaking around in what didn't really seem to be set up like a stealth game. The driving really bothered me too, it never seems consistant. When I was just driving around it was tight and responsive but then I would take on of those timed race side missions and it seemed like the controls just fell apart and the vehicles would slide all over the roads. But this is a just an example of this happening to me, I have another game to write about and that is Halo 2.

Halo 2 is I think the best example of this happening on a very large scale. When it first came out everyone loved Halo 2, if they were playing online or plowing through the campaign everyone was hooked, me included. Then as a little time went on the campaign didn't really hold up, why would they make a game where you don't play as the main protagonist through half of it? People want to play as the main dude not his sidekick (Metal Gear Solid 2) why leave the Master Chief out? It didn't really help the story, what little of it there was and I think hurt the series as a whole. The weak way they handled the cliff hanger ending didn't help either, kind of like we know you'll buy the next one no matter what and we don't really feeling like finishing this story so guess what we'll get you next time. While I'm at this duel wielding in Halo 2 isn't an innovation plenty of games before it had it just like items in Halo 3 it had been done before quit patting yourselves on the back for it Bungee didn't come up with the idea. Now a little on Multiplayer, the backbone of the Halo 2 hype! You can play on Xbox Live! Yay for us! Well from the beginning people were complaining that the maps from Halo 1 were not included, well guess what? I think if a company puts out a new game and all the people playng can talk about is how they want the old maps you made a crap multiplayer experience. I had fun playing Halo 2 online but Bungee should of just updated Halo 1 with all it's superior multiplayer maps added some new ones and called it Halo 2 multiplayer. Even with Halo 3 people still want the Halo 1 maps. "Oh! But we're giving you this map that's kind of like this map from the first one!" No one wants that give us the maps we want not your idea of what we want. I'm not really trying to review Halo 2 but just share some thoughts on the few examples I gave. It was called the best original Xbox game by a few gaming sites and publications and I've seen it on some lists of the biggest dissapointments of all time, so which is it? See one's feelings at the beginning won't always be the same down the road. Before you think I'm just bashing the Halo series because I'm aware that's how this could come across, I like the Halo games. Halo 3 is probably my favorite I played through it 5 times I liked it so much.

My gaming History. Parts 1 and 2!

I've been playing video games along time, most of my life. I was probably about 3 or 4 when I played my first video game. It was either Robotron or Defender, a 7-11 down the street from the family home had both of those machines in it. I had to be held up by my dad so I could reach the machine to play it and I was hooked. I did a good amount of my playing at the 7-11 for awhile until we got the Atari 2600. We got one of those I believe right after it came out I can't remember exactly. I played the living hell out of that thing. My dad and I would play Combat for hours it was probably the most played game on that system. But then tragedy struck, the 2600's insides fried and it stopped working but to my extreme dissapointment it would not be replaced. Sometime passed and I had no actual system in the house. Arcades would be hit on occasion but I was hungry for more. Eventually I was given a Colecovision which I was quite fond of. It had one of my favorite games ever on it, Frenzy. Frenzy was a sequel to Bezerk and followed the basic same formula of that game. I kind of gloss over this section because I was really young and I don't remember a lot of the games I had for these systems, Combat and Frenzy for me were the stand outs on the respective machines. This is probably how I handle each section, talk about the systems I got in order and you can assume I had the big games for each. Then I'll mention one or two games that I think not a lot of people played or are just special to me.

Then came the NES, one of the greatest things ever made. I had played Super Mario Bros. in the arcade in one of those Nintendo arcade cabinets. It was SMB and I think Hogan's Alley again in a 7-11. I got the NES with ROB the Robot and the Zapper. That came with Gyromite and Duck Hunt. I also was given SMB and The Legend of Zelda. SMB I was familiar with having played it in the arcades and at a firend's house. But Zelda, holy crap I was floored by it. You could save, a game that was so big you had to quit and come back to it later. I didn't have any experience with PC games at this time so the whole idea of saving was strange and wonderful to me. Basicly I had all the big NES games. All the Mario games, both Zeldas, Mega Man, and Metroid plus tons of others. Metroid was another game that just completely blew me away. It was so impressive to me I would probably have to say it's my all time favorite NES game. Another game on the NES that I don't think a whole lot of people have heard of is The Guardian Legend. It was a top shooter combined with a Zelda type exploring sections. You would play as a spaceship and blast your way into a base then as you explored as a female robot you'd unlock ways to bosses and those were fought in the top down space shooter stages. Just a fantastic game. The NES kept me happy for a long time. I was still working well into the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era until it gave up the ghost and stopped working while I was playing Castlevania 3.

Backing up again. The next system to join my NES was a Turbo Graphx 16. I chose between this and a Genesis. Some may say I made a mistake but I quite enjoyed my TG16. One of the features I really liked were the controllers having built in turbo buttons. The TG16 had a lot of really good games and I miss having it because I'd love to rock some of these games again. Blazing Lazers was one of these. A very good verticle shooter. One thing I really dig about schmups are the ones that have crazy rediculous weapons and this had them in spades. You be a screen clearing power house just destroying everything in your path. It wasn't a bullet hell type shooter but it could be kind of crazy. Another favorite of mine was Neutopia, which was a complete Zelda ripoff but it was a fantastic Zelda ripoff. So good to me that I think if they had just called it Zelda something it would of been a classic game spoken in the same sentence as Zelda 1 and 3. I also had the CD add on for the TG16. There was a game on the CD format call JB Harold Murder Club. It was basicly a slide show that had a detective story along with it. You were trying to solve a murder but it was done like this. You'd go to a location a picture of a person would pop up and you'd ask them questions and show them evidence. If you did things right you'd eventually find the killer. If you screwed up you could know yourself who the killer was but not be able to prove it because you asked a qrong question somewhere and you would need to start over. It took me forever to beat that game, I would site there yelling at the TV, "I know who did it!" to no avail because I screwed up somewhere. The game that made me so glad to have a TG16CD was Y's Book 1&2. At the time I was big on RPG's so this was right up my alley. It also had talking instead of just text screens. I was floored by this, you could hear the characters, amazing. It was an overhead view run around kill stuff kind of like Hydlide but really good. It's on the Wii Virtual Console if you've never played or you can check out a few Lets Plays on Youtube.

Next up is what I consider the all time greatest console of al time. I still play games today but really it's kind of like just going through the motions because there will never be a machine that had the range and amazing number of good quality games on it. What could I be talking about? The freaking Super Nintendo. Damn, it was amazing. Super Mario World, Zelda 3, Final Fantasy 2 (4) and 3 (6), Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Home verions of Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat 2, Star Fox, Contra 3. The list goes on and on. Out of all the games on the SNES Final Fantasy 3 (6) was probably played the most except for Street Fighter 2. When I got Street Fighter 2 at home it was a wrap I mastered every character knew all the ends and outs it was crazy. I'm sure I'm leaving some games out but that's only because there was so many excellent games theyre just rushing through my head right now and I can't just seem to single out titles. But if you had a SNES you know what I mean, you may not agree with my statement about it being the best but I just think it's where games peaked and we're probably going downhill now. Very, very slowly but I think there may be a decline.

I had a 3DO sometime after the SNES but the games I had were crap and that system was a waste of money. One game on the machine was called D&D Slayer. It was a first person action RPG. I've heard it was on the PC and called Dungeon Hack but I haven't looked into it. It was a fun game and I spent some time playing it but in the end the 3DO was crap and I'm sorry I ever had one. It's really the only "failed" console I ever owned. I saw a Jaguar in a Kaybee toys for 20 bucks one time and I was going to grab it but I didn't have 20 on me and I never went back. I never had a CDI, a 32x, Virtual Boy or any other I may be leaving out.

After this I had a Genesis that I picked up for cheap. Not a lot to say about it. I know it was great but I got it late in it's life cycle and I didn't own a lot of games for it. I had played a bunch at friends which Phantasy Star 2 was the stand out. Of the games I owned I really liked Rocket Knight Adventures and Strider. My favorite game on the system was Gunstar Heroes, a Contra clone that was so much more fun. I don't think I need to say anything more about it. I'm not dogging the Genesis by not going into more detail but it wasn't that important of a system to me. I grew up a Nintendo kid and didn't own any Sega Consoles for a long length of time. I had a Saturn for a bit but it was awhile after it came out. I still have my Dreamcast but I'll get into that later. But I am listening to Genesis the band as I type this so I think that's cool.

I'm going to call this part one right now. I'm getting tired and I don't know if I can just save this as a draft or not. I'll either do a part 2 tomorrow or edit this and finish.

Part 2

With part two of this I'm going to talk about the later stages of gaming. Pretty much all the machines that have come out since the game format has gone disc based. I'm not going to go into as much detail about these systems because I didn't spend a lot of time with each one. The main reason was a got my first real PC Between my SNES and my PS1. After I got my hands on a real PC I pretty much forgot about console games. I had many years of PC gaming to catch up on so I spent my days playing through dirt cheap old PC games. Old Sierra games, Some of the early FPS games, whatever I could get. The PC in question was a Packard Bell, 75hz Pentium with a whopping 4 MEGS of RAM and at the time a massive 1.2 gigabyte hard drive. I ended up upgrading the ram to 8 MEGS (OMG!) so I could run Quake a little better. I had played lots of PC games at friends houses but never owned one myself. I would say at that time Quake was the most important game I'd played because it introduced me to online play. I would sit up at nights and play Quake over my super fast 56k modem, it ran like mud but I had a blast. That turned into an obsession with Red Alert online later in the year. But eventually the hard drive in that PC died and I was unable to afford to replace it so my PC gaming went into hibernation.

I got the PS1 the year it came out but it only got a little love as I was playing the PC. Resident Evil 1 and 2 were the stand out titles for me. My absolute favorite game on the PS1 was Castlevania Symphony of the Night, definately in my top ten of all time it was so good. Taking the best parts about Castlevania and adding what I loved about Metroid but anyone reading this already knows that. I played Final Fantasy which I'm sure anyone with a PS1 at the time played that one. Speaking of Square at that time this was when they started to release more than FInal Fantasy games in the US. Einhander was one of those games. With my love of Shmups be it verticle scrolling or sidescrolling this game was near perfection for that genre. Everything about it melded together in a way that was just borderline perfection. With all the PS1 classics being released on the PS3 I'm sad this has not been put on the PSN yet. Freaking Final Fantasy 8 is on there and it wasn't that good a game. But I digress, basicly I played all the big name games on it but some of the lesser known titles slipped by due to my PC gaming.

With a new job at this time I picked up a Japanese Dreamcast with Soul Caliber and Sonic Adventure. I didn't have a lot of import games for the Dreamcast but I did get the US release when it came out. I had Ready 2 Rumble and Blue Stinger which was okay but had some really bad crap about it gameplay wise. Everything in life grinded to a hault when I picked up Phantasy Star Online. That was like crack, I was addicted like you wouldn't believe. I was only getting a couple hours of sleep a night because I stayed up so late just playing that game grinding for the next rare item. After my addiction to PSO came to a close I decided I wanted to try a real MMO. With my new PC which I had played Half Life and other games of that time on I decided to play Everquest. I couldn't get into it. I was looking for something closer to PSO but Everquest was a more complicated game. The first Dungeon Siege was a game on the PC I really enjoyed I blew through it in a three day weekend with very little sleep. I think in those 3 days I only slept about 5 hours.

I eventually got a PS2/Gamecube/Xbox but this was a generation I passed by for the most part. I played GTA 3 on the PS2, KOTOR on the Xbox and Metroid Prime on the Gamecube and not much else. I ended up getting Star Wars Galaxies when it launched and the next year was spent playing that. I love Star Wars and this game while not being really Star Wars-ey was just enough to scratch that Star Wars itch. I really enjoyed the game and I was not a fan of the giant overhaul they did to it over time. The only two breaks I took from playing it were to play KOTOR and Jedi Academy. After I stopped playing SWG I played a couple different games on the consoles I owned but one by one those were sold to upgrade PC parts. Eventually I got into World of Warcraft and that was it, I don't need to go into detail about this but it was more consuming than SWG. It would be the only thing I played for 2-3 years.

So now I sit here typing on my PC, with a PS3, a 360 and a Wii sitting next to my TV. I haven't played the Wii in months, Madworld was the last game I played on that. I've been through some games on the 360 but the RROD crap has burned me on the system, I'm on my fourth 360. The PS3 is my go to console for the moment but if the game is on the PC I play it on that. Because no matter what I own or what I play I will really be a PC gamer for life. It's just what I enjoy the most but I like all the platforms out there for some reason or another and that's really all I have to say about that.

So that's a brief history of my gaming stuff. I glossed over some stuff but I'm pretty sure I hit the important parts. I just wanted to share some things about how I've enjoyed the hobby I've had for almost my entire life.

Some thoughts on Hard Games and a mini Review of Arkham Asylum

I'm a person who likes to play his video games on the hardest setting possible. I'm a person who likes to play his games on the hardest setting possible the first time through a game. I'm big on games giving me a challenge. I like it when I'm just so angry at a game I want to snap the game in half and swear off playing games forever. The feeling of relief when you see "Checkpoint" reached after an extremely tough section is pure bliss. I'm one who tends to get through games very quickly, ususally I can finish an average game in a few days a week at most. I don't get much of a challenge out of most games. The COD games on Veteran are a favorite of mine becuse they are ball bustingly hard, well except for Modern Warfare 2 that's a joke on Veteran. Two games that come to mind that had Hardest modes that felt just right were Gears of War 2 and Halo 3. Gears 2 was a steady challenge through out the whole game. I had some trouble when you're riding the rigs to go dig into the planet and you have to shoot the Reavers down but besides that a very balanced experience. Sniper rifle in hand I plowed into Gears 2 with a mission to beat it on Insane by myself and I succeeded. Halo 3 was a similar experience for me a steady pace of challenge that I enjoyed all the way to the end, except for the "Cortana" level. It's just a broken mess of never ending Flood spawning that just rapes you every chance you get. I had to just run to each checkpoint and hope they triggered without me dieing, again another game done solo without any co-op on Legendary. Back to the Call of Duty games, COD 4 is one of the hardest games I've ever played. It was a two week struggle to get through it on Veteran. The Ferris Wheel outside of Chernobyl, The level Heat where you run down the hill and No Fighting in the War Room were torture. Not to leave out on of the biggest screw yous in the history of gaming, The Mile High Club. MHC was a 5 day ordeal of me trying for an hour getting so mad I wanted to put my hand through the wall then playing multiplayer for awhile then trying for an hour. Now I'm not one to get super excited to a point that it shows often when I beat that plane I was jumping up and down in excitement and yelling how awesome I was because I did it. My roommate at the time knocked on my bedroom door to see if I was okay.

Another hard game that I played recently was Demon's Souls a great game that came out last year for the PS3. It's a action RPG that has a huge learning curve due to the difficulty, the game makes you earn your progress you feel a sense of accomplishment when you progress. No check points you die and it's back to the beginning of the level and you lose all your souls (money) and you don't get back any items you may have used in the coarse of the level before you died. I went into this game expecting hell and I got it, at first. Once you get a feel for the combat and how everything works Demon's Souls actually isn't that hard of a game. Still enjoyable for the hardness but not as will breaking as people make it out to be.

The games of today do not have the overall difficulty of game of the past. The thing games from the past had going for them especially the NES game were most of them were kind of broken. Enemies would respawn if you left the area of the screen they were on or they would endlessly respawn due to a glitch. Some of these game featured the dreaded knock back, Castlevania and the Ninja Gaiden games come to mind. You get hit and the character would fly back in an arc to land usually in a pit. While usually cheap this mechanic added some extra challenge to these old school games but in the end it was just frustrating to watch your dude fall to his death over and over again.

A series that was pretty much very tough but well balanced about itself was the Mega Man series. I mean Mega Man, Mega Man not all the off shoots and side games and all that jazz just the main series. Even through they were tough if you knew what you were doing the games were very beatable. Even the spawn of hell that is Mega Man 9, it's hard but all you have to do is memorize the levels but trying to jump into a single space pit off of a moving platform that is flying over said pit and not hitting all the instant death spikes that surround said pit is a pain in the ass the rest of the game is beatable with as I said memorization. I remember not having a lot of trouble with Mega Man 2 but I've heard people talk about how hard it is. It's been a long time sense I've played Mega Man 2 so I wonder if age has caught up to me on that game with my old man reflexes I wonder if it would be to hard to play now? I think I need to download it on the Wii and give it a shot to see if I can still beat it.

One more game to talk about here and that's Batman: Arkham Asylum. I popped that game in picked hard and away I went. It's one game I regret playing on the hardest mode right out of the gate because I think it hurt my overall enjoyment of the game. Now I wasn't a big fan of the game overall. I thought the story was weak and all the boss encounters were just dumb. Even the Scarecrow parts I had heard were so cool were just kind of a let down. But playing it on hard was brutal because I had no idea how the combat worked. I know on the lower settings they give you clues on when to hot the button to fight but I think the reason for that is the combat is just straight broken. I would love a pair of the rose colored glasses reviewers were wearing when they played this game because it's not a great game, I don't even know if it's a good game. The amount of collectable sets in it rival Donkey King 64 which was overkill. It's the best Batman game ever made but that's like saying this is the best tasting turd I've ever eaten, in the end it's still crap.

And all of a sudden... Monsters!!! (SPOILERS!!!)

I'll start off with saying this, I'm going to spoil some games here. The first Far Cry and both Uncharted games are top on my list. I guess by reading the title and this first couple of lines has spoiled something already but I can't help it.

Anyway, most games have a clear cut setting and purpose to the game. You're in this area or environment and you're going to be killing this certain enemy or whatever. Now some games can take a twist and throw you in a completely different direction and it's for the better. The first Doom comes to mind as a game that did this well. You're in a marine base fighting soldiers and some demons but by the end you're wading through Hell killing what I guess is suppose to be the devil. While Doom isn't know for it's story telling it was the first game that came to mind when I was thinking about games that did this change. But really there isn't a whole lot of games that do what I'm about to say. This thing I hate so much I usually refer to as "All of a sudden, monster."

First up Far Cry. I liked Far Cry I played it when it first came out and I thought it was a good FPS. Controls felt great and for the time it was an amazing looking game. You spend a big chunk of time going through the jungle killing soldiers not the most original thing but it was fun. Now it's been awhile sense playing this but I don't remember a big setup for what happens about halfway through or more towards the end of the game but it happens. All of a sudden you have to fight monsters, these mutated super soldiers things gone wrong. (It totaly hints at these monsters. I just loaded the game again and it shows them to you in the opening cinematic, I still hate that they're in the game) It completely ruined the game for me. I don't remeber if this was a twist I knew about going into the game but it still ruined the game for me. I killed one or two of these things and then closed the game and uninslalled it. I thought it was the dumbest thing I'd ever seen.

Then a few years later I played a little game called Uncharted (This all applies to Uncharted 2 as well), you're Nathan Drake in the jungle hunting treasure and smoking dudes along the way. Now I know this was never brought up before it happened but BAM! You're fighting zombie monster Nazis out of nowhere near the end of the game and it makes no damn sense. I was so close to the end of Uncharted when this crap happened I finished the game but in the end I thought it made the game just seem stupid. Uncharted 2 does the same gimmick but with these blue guys with bows and the same thing that makes these blue men powerful making the final boss just cheap and not fun to fight at all.

Another game from Crytek was Crysis and this game did the here are some monsters in the form of aliens but they were hinted at very early on and not just thrown at you with no rhyme or reason.

Now why does this bother me? For one if it doesn't match with the story it's just unneeded. In the case of the two Uncharted games it just wasn't needed, ever. They would of been better games without all that supernatural out of left field crap. But my one big time complaint with this happening is the game is never balanced for it. The whole way through these three games the challenge is fair and the guys can be taken down with your guns easily. The monsters appear and they are always way to powerful. In Far Cry after I killed a couple of the Trigen monsters I was completely out of ammo with none in site and more of those things in my way. Same thing in Uncharted 2 fighting the blue dudes. I know they're all suppose to be monsters and have poweres but half of an AK-47 magazine to somethings head should kill it, or how about you put the needed ammo around as you fight them. It's just ends up frustrating me, not at the challenge I like a good fair balanced challenge but when it's plainly broken it's just not right. What got me thinking about this stuff is I'm considering firing up the first Far Cry to try and finish it but having to deal with those blasted Trigens makes me not want to bother. I did finish both Uncharted games but in the end I thought the stories were crap even though I love the characters and how they interact with each other. I don't want to get into that right now so I'll end this here.