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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PSP2 or the NGP (Next Generation Portable)

And now the moment everyone has been waiting for the PSP2! Oh wait I mean the NGP which stands for Next Generation Portable.

Finally we have the duel analog sticks the PSP should of had to begin with, a 5 inch OLED screen with a 960x544 resolution, 3G, Wi-Fi, Front and back touch screens and a 3 axis tilt mechanism plus a front and rear camera. So long to UMD as this machine will use flash memory cards for it's games.


Sony said we'll see some of it franchises for the system and named Killzone, Resistance, Little Big Planet, and Uncharted. They showed some gameplay from the Uncharted game.

You'll be able to jump with the X button or by tapping the touch screen. Say you're on a vine and need to swing you can do this by swinging the NGP back and forth (Ugh) and to climb you can move your fingers on the rear touch screen as though you're climbing in real life (double ugh).

This time we'll see trophy support for the portable titles and a reworked front end. It looks as though the XMB is out replaced with a more graphical interface.

I like the trophy support but I don't know what to think about the XMB going away, I always really liked it.

I think Sony is going the right way in making this a better machine than the PSP was. The second analog stick alone is a major improvement. I'm interested in seeing what else they have planned for this NGP in the future.

Playstation Suite on Android phones.

The Sony Playstation event is happening right now in Japan and right now the biggest news out of it is this Playstation Suite. This is Sony's first step in getting content out on other devices like an Android phone. They're going to start with PS1 game being emulated so they work on said phones.


Okay look at that screen, what the hell is up with the buttons? Who in their right mind thought putting a PS1 game on a touchscreen would work? What is Sony thinking with this nonsense! The games I've played on the iphone that only have a couple buttons are impossible to control, I can't imagine the nightmare trying to tame this beast will be. Crap Sony, what the hell?

Doom 3

I remember back in 2004 when Doom 3 was released. I got the call from the Gamespot or it may of still been a EB Games back then but I still remember when they called me to come pick it up. It was around 6 pm and it was raining like crazy outside one of the worst storms of the summer. I decided to brave the elements and drive out to grab my copy. The usually 20 minute drive took me almost two hours with the rush hour traffic and the inclement weather pouring it's rage down on us. I finally made it home and tore in to the package to get my game installed on my PC. Well all wasn't as happy as I wanted it to be as it didn't really run that great on the PC I had at the time. Having to dial back the settings to play I made it a little bit past the first boss before I decided to wait for a better PC to play the game in all of it's glory. Well a newer PC eventually came along but I was in the middle of me first discovering MMO's so a lot of game had to take a back seat and Doom 3 was one of those.

Fast forward to last week and I decided it was time to finally play Doom 3 and finish it. I was really interested in play the Hexen: Edge of Chaos mod for it but I figured I should beat the base game before I go messing around with any various mods.

Doom 3 as I said was released in 2004 from ID software. It is at it's core a re-imagining of the first Doom game but with a more fleshed out story. You again take the role of the nameless space marine stationed on Mars proper this time, as the first Doom took place on the Moons of Mars. You've just been transferred to the already troubled base just before for lack of a better term, all hell breaks loose.

The main thing Doom 3 had going for it back when it was first released and I think still has now are some pretty nice looking graphics. In 2004 Doom 3 was groundbreaking in the way it looked. ID really outdid themselves and they had the absolute best looking game on the market. Nowadays many people give that honor to Crysis but to me Doom 3 still looks pretty good. With my current machine I was able to crank up all the graphics setting to the highest and play it at a high frame rate. There was some minor tweaking needed in a config file as Doom 3 doesn't play nice with Vista/7 with it's graphics settings but I was up and running in widescreen 1680x1050 with Ultra settings in no time.

Gameplay wise this is a very basic FPS game. As much as this is a remake of the first Doom it gameplay is pretty much the same. Roam through the Mars base and shoot anything that gets in your way. While Doom 1 and 2 were very fast paced shooters Doom 3 takes a slower approach. The speed on this one is kind of like the modern survival horror FPS games we've seen recently. While I know some people didn't really care for the change in gameplay for the Doom series I quite enjoyed it. If you were in this situation you wouldn't go full speed into the unknown, you'd sneak around some and take your time to make sure you could survive.

All the weapons are here from the Doom games of old, Shotgun, Chaingun, the BFG and so on. We do see a few new weapons, the assault rifle (which I really liked) grenades and the Soul Cube. The Soul Cube is a pretty cool addition, it's powered by the number of kills you make. Every five kills you can throw the cube at an enemy and almost always get a one hit kill but you also get your life refilled. This is really important in the Nightmare mode as you are always loosing life and this can get you back to 100 percent in one kill. All the classic weapons have been changed a bit and they don't behave like their Doom 1/2 counterparts. The Plasma rifle fires slower and the Chaingun has a rev up time before the bullets start to fly. I enjoyed the changes to the weapons as I felt it made me have to use all of them and not just depend on one gun through the whole game. Some situations call for the Shotgun some need the Chaingun, it was fun to switch it up as I made my way through it all. I guess this should go here but something I really liked and I like it when any FPS has it is the weapon sway when you turn. When you turn the gun lags behind a bit to make the it seem that you are turning your head a second before your body. I just really like the effect of it and wanted to mention it.

Doom 3 unlike Doom 1 and 2 presents the story to you as you're playing the game. Where as Doom 1/2 had the screens of text at the level breaks Doom 3 has cutscenes, character interaction and PDA files to help the story along. The PDAs contain a mix of email, audio files and video files to fill you in a various happenings in the base. Emails are just like in real life you read them and move on. The video files must be watched in the PDA so you're stuck there watching them which can be kind of boring. The audio files are like the audio files found in Bioshock or Dead Space, they can be played as you continue exploring but there is an issue with that. If you're listening to one and you come to a point in the game where you're suppose to get a story based radio message or you find someone who wanted to talk to you the audio file keeps going and the two voices overlap. It is a major pain so I just found myself sitting in a room listening to the audio logs without making progress. The other thing with the audio logs are they sometimes contain lock combinations. You can find these lockers as you play and they hold ammo, medpacs and such. They need a code to get into and sometimes these codes are in the audio logs. If you forget the code you have to listen to the whole audio log again and they are always at the end of the log and you can't skip ahead. There should of been a part in the PDA to record these passwords so you can just look them up when needed.

While Doom 3 looks really good, as I said I think it holds up really well even today it is a dark game. You're given a flashlight and you'll use it a lot to navigate the possessed Mars base. The problem is the flashlight cannot be used with a gun so sometimes you need to make a choice, see or shoot stuff. Turning up the brightness doesn't help as some places in the game are pitch black no matter how bright you make the game. When I first played this I didn't like having to switch back and forth but this time I did really have a big issue with it. There were a couple times I wished a gun had a flashlight on it but now it's not a big deal to me. You can get mods that give your guns lights so if the idea of going back and forth bothers then you have a choice.

With the darkness come some scares and this game got me a few times. Mainly it's with monsters jumping out as you while your walking down a hall or things teleporting in from behind you. Movies and such don't really make me do the jump scare thing but games do and I jumped plenty playing this one. And not to spoil it but they use one jump scare a little later in the game that they never use again and it was just so well done I have to mention it. While not as scary as the Resident Evil 1 dog it was pretty good. If you're a fan of horror shooters you'll find some here.

I played multiplayer a little bit. As this is 6-7 year old game not many people are playing online but it's just basic deathmatch and team deathmatch. You spawn with a pistol and all the other guns are all around the map. Just like with classic Doom but this one was only four player when it first came out. People has increased that but again not many people playing to begin with and anyone that's still playing this is probably a god at it so the learning curve is going to be brutal.

So, Doom 3 a 6 year old game what can I say about it? Well, it's pretty good. I really enjoyed playing through it. I have to say I liked all the changes ID did with the formula. It took me about 16 hours to finish it and I think that was a pretty good length. At the end I wished there were a little more and I think games should always leave you wanting more so Doom 3 succeeded in that. You can get this for 20 bucks on Steam and you can probably get it in on sale or in a ID bundle if you wait for Steam to do one of it's crazy deal things. If you like horror shooters do yourself a favor and pick this up if you haven't played it before.

Doom 3 - 9 out of 10

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alpha Protocol - Top Secret Review

After finishing up New Vegas and actually enjoying an Obsidian game I thought it might be a good idea to play Alpha Protocol. Released in 2010 by Obsidian and Sega Alpha Protocol was panned by most critics and Sega very quickly killed the franchise by saying there will not be a sequel. Even with the negative press I for some reason just had to play it and I was pleasantly surprised.

In Alpha Protocol: The Espionage RPG you play as super spy Michael Thorton. You're the newest member of the super secret Alpha Protocol. It's a group that does the governments dirty work so they can deny being involved with shady dealings. Some stuff goes down and next thing you know you're disavowed and on the run. It's the basic cliche spy story but it's handled in some interesting ways.

You control Mike in a 3rd person perspective not unlike Gears of War or Uncharted. Sneaking around going from cover to cover either avoiding or killing your foes. The thing this does that isn't like Gears or Uncharted is the shooting mechanics. All the combat is stat based hence the RPG of the game. As you kill guys and do spy things you get experience which in turn lets you level up. With each level you get AP points to put into skills. You can improve various guns, stealth, hacking, hand to hand and a few other skills. You're free to make your own Mike anyway you want and the gameplay experience will be different depending on which way you take his development. I liked the leveling and stuff but at the beginning Mike's aim is horrible and you will waste a bunch of bullets getting use to the shooting.

As you go from place to place trying to clear your name you meet up with many interesting people. Talking is handled a lot like Mass Effect with the little dialogue wheel at the bottom on the screen and the various answers you can give all around it. The way you handle people and situations can change how people think about you and how they in turn will interact with you. In the end it works but it's not always clear on what you should say to certain people to get them on your side. They all tend to like one type of response but you can end up losing some rep with them trying to figure this out. I think this would be how it would be in real life so that's a plus. Also trying to see all the crazy situations you can get yourself into warrants multiple playthroughs.

The one thing I really liked about this game was it made you feel like a spy. It wasn't like other spy games where they play like a typical shooter but the game just says you're a spy. Alpha Protocol has missions where you just go talk to someone for info or you need to talk your way into a place to plant a bug with no combat at all and it's actually pretty cool to do this. It just gets you into the characters and the story in a fantastic way.

As with any game I have some complaints. One is the weapon selection, you don't really have a whole lot. You can choose from, pistols, shotguns, SMGs, and assault rifles and you carry two of those into your missions. But in each category there isn't a whole lot to choose from in the way of upgrading. I mained pistols through out the whole game and I only ever upgraded my gun twice. After the initial upgrade most of the rest were way worse than the upgrade. Eventually I ended up with a better gun but if I had saved a little more money and just bought the second one I would only bought one gun in the whole game. I would of liked to see more weapon upgrade options but seeing as the game isn't all about combat I can why they did this but it still bothered me as I played.

Stealth doesn't really work in this either. You can be hidden behind a wall just standing there and the enemies will still not only see you but shoot and hit you no problem. Putting points into stealth is important as it gets you a nice evasion skill but trying to sneak isn't always worth it.

In other reviews I read about all the bugs and glitches in this game but I didn't see any. I had a few crashes when I exited the game but those were the only crashes and it happened less than 10 times. The only other weird thing I saw was the AI being crazy. They'd group up and just get hung up on the environment on occasion. Besides those it was a pretty clean bug free play through.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say most people who where crapping on this game were expecting another Mass Effect (Over rated) but they didn't get that. This caused some bitterness and a backlash on this pretty good game. While not a "classic" game in any way it's a pretty good very fun spy game.

Alpha Protocol - 7 out of 10

Return to the wasteland - A Fallout: New Vegas review

When Fallout: New Vegas was announced and was being made by Obsidian many people were not sure what to think. Bethesda to many had taken a beloved franchise and made some great improvements to it, to some these "improvements" were not the best thing but that's another story. Many people loved what was done with Fallout 3 and to see a new Fallout game not from Bethesda had people not sure what to expect. This new game in the Fallout series was being handled by Obsidian a studio made up of many people who worked at Black Isle Studios, the company that made Fallout 1 and 2. I wasn't sure what to think about this. Yeah they have some of the people who helped make Fallout 1 and 2 which are great games but I haven't really been happy with Obsidian's output in the past. In the end how did I feel about New Vegas? Read on to find out.

Before I get into this review I need to mention my initial thoughts for New Vegas. I wrote a short thing about it when it first came out, about it being unplayable and that was true. At the end of that article I said I would never review New Vegas but that has changed. Here is a link to that article to look at then I'll get into the main review.


New Vegas is a lot like Fallout 3 in it's mechanics. You explore in the 1st or 3rd person perspective. You can go into VATS for combat. VATS is these game's way of making a FPS more like a turned base game like Fallout 1 and 2. When you enter VATS the game freezes and the enemies are highlighted. You can then target various body parts and then let the game take over and handle your combat for you. In New Vegas unlike in Fallout 3 you can aim down sights if you want to. This makes the game play more like a modern FPS game but it's still not the fast paced type of FPS you'd play somewhere else but for me it was really fun playing this without using VATS to much and going with the ADS. Near the end of the game I started using VATS more but I could see playing through this again and never going into VATS. Combat in this game was really fun, and playing like I did I saw VATS for the crutch it is and how it just takes the game away from you sometimes causing negative things to happen but more on that later.

You explore a large world (though not as big as Fallout 3) and just try and make your way through the wastes. With the smaller map size you are given way more to do. New Vegas has over 400 quests for you to do and I didn't come anywhere close to doing them all in the 86 hours I spent playing through it.

Fallout: New Vegas brings the series back to the western part of the United States more specifically right into Nevada on the outskirts of Las Vegas, now know as New Vegas. After the bombs fell Vegas was left mainly intact and is still a thriving area that operates mostly like it did before the war. You are a courier, tasked with delivering a platinum chip to New Vegas. Before you can finish your assignment you are shot in the head and left to die. Some how you survive and you're out to find the person who tried to kill you and get the chip back. While you're searching for the person responsible the fate of the region is being decided as the NCR and The Legion are battling it out for control of Hoover Damn. And that's pretty much the set up, as with any game like this one you get to influence the outcome depending on who you deal with and how. You'll be doing all this adventuring in a world that feels very much like the old west. Some people say Red Dead Redemption was the only western game released in 2010 but I would say they're wrong. At it's core New Vegas feels very much like a western adventure mixed with the 50's vibe. For most of the game I was using the single action revolver and the lever action rifle just like a cowboy would roaming the open fields of the old west.

The story in New Vegas is actually really good and really well written. Where as I thought Fallout 3's main story was a cliched boring mess filled with unlikable characters and an overall feeling of just being an after thought, the story in New Vegas makes you feel like what you do matters. At it's core the story of New Vegas is about the battle between two very different rival factions and the fate of the Mojave Wasteland. As you interject yourself into world you feel as though you're making a real difference. On top of that the writing is very good, you can tell Obsidian put a lot of thought into the story and all the various characters you run into. To go along with top notch writing they have a fantastic set of voice actors who do an amazing job of playing their parts. The one thing that made me continue to play the game was just wanting to know how it would all end, it's draw is that strong and believe me there were problems, some problems that at times made me want to quit the game in frustration but I had to know how it ended.

Even with the praise New Vegas has some issues. If you read my previous thing on Vegas most of that stuff has been fixed in patches. Unpatched you will still see that crap so get the patches. Now fully patched to the latest version Vegas would constantly crash on me. Sometimes I'd get three crashes in 10 minutes, sometimes I could go hours without a crash but it was really hit or miss. I was always quick saving to avoid having to do a ton of retreading stuff I had already seen.

VATS has it's own set of problems. Sometimes when entering VATS my character would just kind of jog around and not attack. This would happen as I watched my companions get killed and I would take damage. It would be completely random and was really a pain to deal with. I would also get this after a Mysterious Stranger visit. He would unload on something then it would just stay in VATS. I can't believe that hasn't been fixed, should of been one of the first things they fixed.

Some of the quests are just straight up broken too. Doing one companion quest sent me to talk to a NPC I had already talked to. Because of this I couldn't complete that step of the quest and I had to look online for a workaround. I had to do this with a few quests because they just glitched and didn't work right. It's a pain when you need to look outside a game to try and finish something but it's worse when it's due to the game being broken.

The game's difficulty seems unbalanced too. I was playing on Hard but some of the enemies just seem way to powerful. Deathclaws especially, I know they're the terrors of the wasteland and all but I had a quest at level 8 or so to kill them in a Quarry. I was level 29 before I could even scrape by doing it. Those Cazadors are brutal too, they remind me of the Cliffriders in Morrowind and if I could take one monster out of the game it would be them.

I played this with the Hardcore mode turned on. Hardcore mode is suppose to add more realism to the game but it goes both ways. You need to eat, drink and sleep or you will die. Ammo has weight so you can't carry as much. Stim packs heal over time not instantly and only a doctors bag or a real doctor can fix broken bones. I liked the idea of this but it didn't really add much. Even with the ammo weight I was able to still able to carry an arsenal with me. You can go so long without eating, sleeping or drinking it's not really a bother as you can just handle them all at once. Travel back to your home sleep then eat and drink you're good to go. But I did notice you had to drink more then the other two but it wasn't a big deal. I've heard about mods that make you need to do these more but I haven't tried it yet. I enjoyed the idea of Hardcore mode but it didn't really make the game harder it just added in some more busy work.

It may seem as though I'm tearing into New Vegas a lot but I really enjoyed playing it once I was able to. Even with it's technical shortcomings this is the game Fallout 3 should of been. It feels like you're in the Fallout universe, it even hints at the old game at times. If you're thinking of getting Fallout 3 or New Vegas, one hundred percent go with Vegas you won't be sorry.

Fallout: New Vegas - 7 out of 10.

With it's technical issues I had to bump this down a few notches. Not being able to play the game the first month it was out was ridiculous. Then all the crashes and VATS stuff. It's hard to say but this is a brilliant game that just needed more QA or something. If it had worked right out of the box it would of easily been a 10 out of 10.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Realm of the Mad God

Earlier this month I was browsing the past entries in the IndieGames blog and I came across a game called "Realm of the Mad God." Reading about the game I saw it was a top down roguelike RPG. Being a big fan of any Roguelike I decided to try it out but it was not yet to be. I forgot all about it until a few days ago. A friend showed me a list of the top downloadable indie games of 2010 and there was the Realm of the Mad God and according to this list it had online play! I was not aware of that when I first saw the article from back in January of 2010. Yeah it says it's online in the post on the IndieGames blog but I totally missed.

I decided to finally try this game out and I am really glad I did. It's a fantastic little browser game and I cannot recommend it enough.

Realm of the Mad God tasks you with defeating the mad god Oryx having been summoned to his realm to be killed by his army of monsters. You start the game with selecting from classes which make up the standard RPG stuff, Rogues, Wizards, Warriors and a few others. Some of the classes are locked and to unlock them you need to get the starter classes up to the level cap which is 20. Once in the game you show up in a hub world which leads to various different realms. Each realm has the same content but they're at different levels of completion depending on the amount of killing done by the players.

As mentioned above this game falls into the roguelike category of games. When you die you're done, you lose everything, forced to restart and begin the level grind all over again. One thing that takes away some of the pain of losing your progress are none of the gear has level requirements. Meaning if you fall in battle and a friend can grab your stuff your new level one guy can use all your old gear. This makes starting over easier as you have more power at a lower level. I've had several characters die some at the level cap and I've only wanted to jump right back in and do it all again but I like the whole roguelike thing so your mileage may vary with this as to the amount of starting over you can take. Though at 20 you can take a good amount of punishment and if you're in a group you should be good to go.

The game is very simple to play, it's a lot like the various twin stick shooters we've seen in the past like Robotron, Geometry Wars or Smash TV but this uses the keyboard and mouse. WASD move you around and the mouse aims the direction of your shots. It works really well but I would love to eventually see support for a controller to be able to play this like a twin stick shooter but only time will tell about this.

Each class has a four equipment slots, main weapon, special ability, armor and a ring. Each class has only one type of weapon they can use and they all have unique special items they can find. Such as the Priest finding a better healing Tome and the Rogue acquiring a new clock to make his stealth move better. It's all very simple and this makes the game very enjoyable.

Like many RPG's this game has you gaining experience to level and as you go along you fight stronger and stronger enemies until you get to the end but the monster killing this is handled in a different way. When the realm starts fresh there are 25,000 monsters that need to be killed. These are a mix of trash mobs and bosses or as they're known in this game Gods. Arrows will point you in the direction of level appropriate gods for you to kill so you never intentionally go to the place you can't survive in. Mindless wandering can get you jammed up but that's another story. So in the end it's the entire realm of people working together to kill all 25,000 monsters to summon Oryx The Mad God. When the enemy count is reached everyone in the server is summoned to fight Oryx regardless of level or what you're doing. I like this but it seems a little unfair if you're just starting out and all of a sudden you're in this fight with something you have no chance of beating, if you survive you stand to get some good loot but it can confuse you at first if you don't know exactly what's happening.

That's the game in a nutshell and I have to say it's a lot of fun. It plays in the browser and is free to play. I believe it has some microtransactions for gold and some other stuff but I haven't seen anything about it so I'm not 100 percent sure on that.

I'm going to share some thoughts I have to improve this game and that will be in the below video that will accompany this article so you can check that out as well.

Link to play this game, also has the link to the forums and the wiki -