Archive for February, 2012

Metal Gear Solid series part 2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 26, 2012 by Griff

METAL GEAR SOLID 4:  GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS – man, remember 2008? what a pretty shitty year that was (with rare exceptions),  not only was it a crappy year for me personally (but that’s another story) it was not so good for the country as a whole, for one thing that was the year the economy tanked and we haven’t stopped hearing about that fucking shit for 4 straight years now

but it was also the year of disappointing sequels, most them related to the number 4, Grand Theft Auto 4,  Metal Gear Solid 4,  Silent Hill Homecoming and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, only The Dark Knight and Fallout 3 managed to break the curse of bad sequels that year

and yes,  Metal Gear Solid 4 was a disappointment, I remember when the first trailer debuted in mid 2005 I almost creamed myself, I mean Metal Gear Solid 4 ON THE PLAY-STATION FUCKING THREE!? how could this not be anything but purely awesome? the future was bright…

but 3 whole years later after it’s debut and almost 4 whole years after Metal Gear Solid 3 the game FINALLY came out after what felt like forever aaaaaaaaaaaaaand….

well to be fair, I don’t think the game is THAT bad,  or really not even a bad game at all objectively, it’s just that after so many years and so much hype the Metal Gear Solid series just kind of caved in under the weight of it’s own popularity, it got to the point where it just wasn’t going to live up to everyone’s lofty expectations no matter what (the parallels between Metal Gear Solid 4 and the fourth Indiana Jones are interesting) and I think this is why Hideo Kojima wanted to end the series at 2, he knew this would happen, he knew it would be best to let the series end on a  high note and start something new, but alas there was too much money to be made and 4 is the result, everything in the game is a double edged sword, for everything  it does right there’s a downside, but let’s start with the story…

this is the most controversial aspect of the game and really what 99% of the debate was over, basically the storyline in Metal Gear Solid 4 bends over backwards trying to give explanations and tie up loose ends for every single thing in the series, who are The Patriots? why is Vamp still alive? what will happen to Snake? etc etc, Metal Gear Solid 2 was SUPPOSED to end with some mystery, with some stuff left open to debate and imagination, but 4 provides answers to all of it and the result is that it feels very forced, like Kojima was making up stuff as went along (The explanation for Vamp’s powers is the best example of this, no way was that what Kojima had in mind when he created the character in 2), plus Kojima consciously tries to tone down the crazy plot twists this time and make everything crystal clear to avoid any confusion

but on the flipside, while the story does feel forced, it IS undeniably cool to see all of the major characters in the series return for one last (hopefully) hurrah, if a conclusion to the story just had to be done, this is as good as it could have possibly been handled and Kojima does deserve credit for that…

*deep breath* ok now the gameplay,  remember that? the basic premise behind it is SOLID (har har), basically the idea is to take the camouflage gameplay (but automatic this time instead of having to choose from menus) of 3 and transplant it into active warzones instead of the jungle, that’s a cool idea, but the game also puts more of a focus on shooting as well as sneaking, not only are guns and ammo 100 times more plentiful, but there’s a third person targeting camera this time that makes it more like your average action game, you can’t just play the game like an average action game though because of your “Psyche meter”, which means the more you shoot the more stressed out Snake gets and the harder to control he gets, it’s obvious that they had to put that in just to give you more motivation to sneak

it’s ok though, I played the game on hard and got a decent challenge, I had to take things slow and frequently got my ass kicked, the gameplay itself is pretty good and doesn’t get enough credit, everyone’s so focused on the story, but I don’t have too many complaints with the actual gameplay, the only real downside is some of the time the game almost feels more like a Splinter Cell game than a Metal Gear Solid one

another thing is the game is broken up into “chapters”, which is also a doubled edged sword, instead of the whole game being set in one fleshed out location with a lot of character (like Shadow Moses, Big Shell or Tselinoyarsk) it’s set in locations all over the world, while it would have been boring for the whole game to be set in the same nondescript Middle Eastern city you play in at the start, the downside is that having more traditional levels makes the game feel more like your average action game and less like a METAL GEAR game, you know what I mean?

but the plus side is that it does allow for greater variety and more unique gameplay, only about half the game has Snake sneaking through battlegrounds, the other half has crazier stuff, like one chapter where you’re in a nondescript Eastern Europe city wearing a disguise trailing a guy while trying to avoid hired mercenary guards, not only is that chapter unlike anything in previous Metal Gear games, it also offers a pretty hefty challenge on Hard (one part I had to keep doing over and over again)

another chapter has you *SPOILER ALERT* revisiting Shadow Moses! it’s incredible to see it rendered with PS3 graphics (in fact, like God of War 3 it’s a good showcase for the PS3’s power) and is by far the coolest part of the game, yeah it’s total fanservice, but it’s very well done fanservice

so overall Metal Gear Solid 4 is not a bad game, it’s got some flaws to be sure, but it deserves a better reputation, that said though out of Metal Gear Solid 1-4 it’s by far the weakest of the series…

METAL GEAR SOLID: PEACE WALKER – ok now this is where for me, things start to really go wrong, I did not really like Peace Walker at all, in fact I was actually shocked at just how much I disliked it, I was very disappointed, to me this is the game that says that the Metal Gear series needs to be over for good

where do I begin? first off the gameplay, it’s just flat out boring and uninteresting (“boring and uninteresting” pretty much describes the whole game), there’s camoflage in the game, but it doesn’t work at all,  so instead you try to sneak around in a more traditional way, which sounds alright, expect that it has the camera and controls of Metal Gear Solid 4,  so this basically translates to shooting the enemies with tranquilizer darts and moving on, yawn

I think one of the biggest problems is being a PSP game (although I played it on the HD Collection) the game is broken up into mini chapters that only take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete or so, so just as soon as you get going the chapter is already over and you’re on to a cutscene, the debriefing and the main menus and then selecting the next chapter, then the briefing and ugh, it just RUINS the flow of the game, yeah I get that it’s a handheld game, but for one thing why does the world need a handheld Metal Gear game in the first place? and for another you had the Metal Gear game on the Gameboy Color that didn’t need to be broken into chapters (which I’ll get around to reviewing that one day)

being on the PSP is really what kills the game, everything has to be scaled down because it’s a PSP game, I already mentioned the chapter breaks, but then you have the graphics, this might seem unfair because again,  it’s a PSP game, but when you’re playing a Metal Gear game in 2011 that looks worse than Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3,  released in 2001 and 2004 respectively, it just makes you wonder “what’s the fucking point?” the game at best looks like a budget PS2 game circa 2003, yippee…

and then, also being a PSP game means we can’t have normal cutscenes, they have to be that fucking “motion comic” bullshit with that shitty “IDW comics” art style (the company that did the Metal Gear Comic), it might not be so bad if the artwork had things like color and the characters actually vaguely resembled the characters in the game, instead Snake (or Big Boss, whatever) looks like a crazy hobo and everyone else looks almost nothing like their character models do, what the fuck is this supposed to be? like those “courtroom illustrations” you see on the news? hey you know all that stuff is going on in real time guys, but please view these “artist’s illustration” of events we didn’t have the technology or money to show you, if it was literally impossible to have cutscenes done with the in game graphics, why not make the cutscenes animated instead of this lazy motion comic crap with shitty art? probably because that would take too much time and money, laaaaaaazy

the result is that I just couldn’t bring myself to care much about the story, not that it was that interesting to begin with, something about AI and a prototype Metal Gear and righteous South American rebels fighting the big bad US and yawwwwwwn,  it’s obvious Kojima has pretty much run out of ideas as to where to take this universe, just let it end already

and there’s other problems too, like the boss fights, you don’t fight any squad of super soldiers this time (probably because Kojima just flat out can’t think of any more ideas on that front), instead you fight either tanks, helicopters or robots,  yes robots,  robots like out of some other video game series entirely, tell me, if there was AI advanced enough to pilot Metal Gear like robots in the early 70’s, why did the later Metal Gears (like Rex) need pilots? where did all this AI technology go and how in the hell would AI like that in the era of Pong be possible? I know the Metal Gear series has had anachronistic science fiction technology before, that’s kind of what makes Metal Gear Metal Gear, it’s not a huge deal, but the difference is that the the other stuff was at least plausible in a Michael Crichton kind of way, having advanced AI in 1974 when the Magnavox Odyssey was cutting edge is just silly

*sigh* ok one more thing, another aspect of the game is the Sim like minigame of managing the “Militaires Sans Frontières” PMC company, you pick weapons to be “researched” (real advanced stuff like machine guns and shotguns, ya know stuff that they couldn’t just buy) and even pick soldiers to go fight in places and whatnot, it’s all very boring, what was even the point?

man, it’s crazy that the Metal Gear series has sunk so low, we’ve gone from the classic first three games to Peace Walker, the series has gone from bringing me almost to the point of orgasm to making me say “meh”, I would have thought you were nuts back in 2003 if you told me that was the future of the series, I never would have imagined this is where we would wind up, it’s depressing…

(for this next part, please listen to this music for the right mood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47ihdTKk4xc&list=FLaI511E9DAWLBwZEMTXN40A&index=87&feature=plpp_video )

it’s time for Snake to hang up the bandanna guys, it had a good run, now it’s time for it to be over, but the problem is that Konami is greedy as fuck, they never want to do something new, first they ran Silent Hill into the ground and then Metal Gear, when will it be enough? I used to think you were cool Konami…

I still love Hideo Kojima though, I don’t really blame him so much for this, what needs to happen is Hideo Kojima needs to start a new series, maybe something sci fi themed again along the lines of Snatcher or Zone of The Enders

what we need is Hideo Kojima’s Bioshock Infinite, by that I mean Bioshock Infinite is a perfect example of what the gaming world needs more of, it’s not a direct sequel to Bioshock, it’s a whole new, fresh and beyond brilliant take on the same themes, by the same developers and that’s what Hideo Kojima needs to do, something NEW, I’m convinced that he still has plenty of good games in him and I’m also pretty sure that one day he will come out with a new game that will recapture that magic we all felt when we played Metal Gear Solid for the first time, I can dream…..

P.S. oh yeah, I did say that I would say something about Metal Gear Rising didn’t I? I’m pretty “meh” to be honest, it doesn’t piss me off, I’d rather the Metal Gear series be totally over, but at least this is a spinoff with totally different gameplay

it could be cool I guess, the impression I got though is that it looks pretty dated, it looks like a game from 2007 or something, but I’ll check it out and review when it does come out

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IT’S BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2012 by Griff

just got the news today THAT HOLY FUCKING SHIT THE READ OR DIE FRANCHISE IS ALIVE, IT’S ALIVE, IT’S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!!!!!!

OH MY GAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWD !!!

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2012-02-23/new-read-or-die-manga-darker-side-story-outlined

words can not describe how excited I am right now, I mean this is literally a dream come true, for YEARS I’ve been waiting for this, YEARS

now granted, what I’ve always really hoped for is more anime, one that would be a sequel to R.O.D The TV, this is a manga and it’s a “side story”, not a sequel to R.O.D The TV like I had hoped (at first I was thinking maybe they couldn’t get another anime off the ground, so they went with a manga instead) and according to the news story it’s a “darker story”,  so no three sisters and a “different” Yomiko this time

that’s a little disappointing yeah, as I said in my review I didn’t like the R.O.D manga nowhere near as much as the anime (although I liked the Read or Dream manga better than the first R.O.D manga), but that manga was made before any of the anime and even before most of the novels, so maybe Hideyuki Kurata hadn’t quite found his legs yet with the story, but this is post R.O.D The TV and many years later, so I’m sure Hideyuki Kurata has some great ideas up his sleeve

but let me tell you buddy, at this point in time I will settle for ANYTHING R.O.D related, ANYTHING at all, just the fact that the franchise is still alive has me as excited as I would get on Christmas day as a kid, now anything is possible, who knows, maybe we could see more anime one day, I’m a hell of a lot more optimistic than I was in the past

my ship has finally come in and it is GLORIOUS! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tYPzSGVHOc

Metal Gear Solid series part 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 21, 2012 by Griff

three words,  Metal. Gear. Solid. those three simple words gave me so much joy in my teenage years, I really can’t describe how much the first three Metal Gear Solid games blew me away, it was pretty much the gaming equivalent of Star Wars for me (and many others), some generations had “A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far Far Away” I had “Snake? Snake!? SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!”” (dun dun dundundun dun dun DUN! *gunshot sound*)

I will literally for as long as I live never forget my experience playing them all for the first time, I’ll never forget seeing the E3 trailer for Metal Gear Solid 3 for the first time on the X-Play E3 special, I don’t mean to get too graphic, but seeing Snake in the JUNGLE!? wearing CAMO? kicking ass Rambo style? it was enough to almost literally give me a sexual climax of some sort,  excited doesn’t even begin to describe it, if you haven’t seen it in years I suggest you try to look up that first E3 trailer (I know it used to be on youtube, but I’m not sure sure if it is anymore) and watch it again and see just how amazingly edited and staged it was for a video game trailer, it’s by far the best video game trailer ever made…

so yeah, I guess you could call me a big fan, but as with any fan of any major franchise, frustration always eventually follows, but we’ll get to that later, I wanted to experience the series in it’s heyday so last November I bought that “HD collection” and played the whole shebang from the start (don’t ask me why I’m only now writing the reviews)

METAL GEAR,  METAL GEAR 2: SOLID SNAKE:  so before I get to the Solid games I’d like to briefly mention  the origins of the series, I played these on the (of course) bonus disc included years with the special edition release of Metal Gear Solid 3 (and also the HD collection), I played Metal Gear only once and almost 4 years ago and I didn’t have a desire to play it again, to be honest I flat out don’t like it, at all, it’s curious that the first game in the series would be so disappointing but what can I say? it’s an exceedingly difficult and tedious game where you’re constantly wondering what the fuck you’re supposed to be doing and where to go,  I actually printed out a Gamefaqs guide to help me beat it just so I could say that I did, but I didn’t get much out of it, the plot is very basic and recounted numerous times in the other games, pretty much the only cool moment in the game comes right at the very end, with a part where Big Boss calls you on the radio and tells you to turn the game off (sound familiar?)

so forget Metal Gear, but if you’re a fan of the series you owe it to yourself to play Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake, it’s probably one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve ever had in gaming, it absolutely rocks and is SHOCKINGLY similar to Metal Gear Solid, the biggest difference is that it’s just in 2D, it’s crazy how ahead of the time and cutting edge this game is for it’s time (1990), this is pretty the much the real origin of Metal Gear as we know it, plus it just has such an overall cool old school style and atmosphere and the music is totally bitching

there are a few downsides though, the game’s not too hard (especially for a 1990 game), but there are some really painfully tedious moments in the game, if you thought some of the other games had a lot of backtracking it’s nothing compared to the constant backtracking in this one, so it lacks the replayability of the later games in the series, but it’s still a blast to play every so often

METAL GEAR SOLID –  honestly now, what can I say about this one? chances are if you’re a gamer you’ve played it yourself (and if not, what in the flying fuck is wrong with you?),  it’s a stone cold classic, one of the best games ever made period and certainly one of my personal favorite games

replaying it though was an interesting experience (and I’m talking about the PS1 original, fuck that Twin Snakes noise),  it had been a couple of years since I played it and going in I almost expected to be a bit bored because of not only how many times I played it in the past but how dated I thought it must be, but boy was I wrong, playing Metal Gear Solid again is like spending time with an old friend or watching one of your favorite movies, yeah it’s technically dated, but complaining about that is like complaining that the shark in Jaws is not CGI, the game is an absolute masterwork for it’s time and because of that the game still impresses on even a technical level because it’s insane what they somehow managed to get the PS1 to do

so yeah, Metal Gear Solid is a great game, but you knew that didn’t you?

METAL GEAR SOLID 2: SONS OF LIBERTY – uh oh, this is where things start to get a little controversial,  Metal Gear Solid 2 is without a doubt one of the most controversial games among gamers in history, it’s truly a love it or hate it affair and most gamers tragically seem to hate it

it’s weird when you think about it, the game got absolutely glowing reviews by the gaming press at the time of it’s release and now it’s reputation is largely that it’s a piece of shit,  how’d that happen?

well it’s simple, all of the complaints boil down pretty much to issues people had with the story, for the uninitiated the storyline in this takes some shocking twists and turns (dare I say the most shocking plot twists in video game history?) that just flat out pissed people off, but see, that was exactly the point, if something in the story pissed you off, well it was meant to

I’m not gonna write a huge plot analysis, but basically Hideo Kojima (the series creator) decided to take his new-found wealth and success and instead of giving what people wanted and expected decided to create the world’s first post modern video game, what he was trying to do was make a statement on video games as an artform, on the digital culture we live in, it’s some seriously thought provoking and intelligent stuff,  it’s pretty much the gaming equivalent of an arthouse movie, you aint gonna get that shit in your Goddamned Call of Duty games

but alas, it was not what people wanted and the game got hit with endless hate,  even from the gaming magazines themselves that once praised it, this has always perplexed me because it’s like someone complaining about a David Lynch movie or Terrence Malick movie or something, if movies as an artform can be allowed to be bizarre, shocking and not what the audience expects, why not video games? that’s all I’m saying, I know I’m coming off as pretentious, but people didn’t lose their shit over the similar plot twist in Bioshock, it was hailed as brilliant even though another game had already did it (and better, as much as I love Bioshock ) 6 years before

well for me I just flat out love Metal Gear Solid 2, I love pretty much everything about it, the graphics, the music, the voice acting, the plot, the characters,  everything, if there’s any complaints at all it’s that I wish there were more boss fights (and in fact there were originally going to be two more that got cut), but regardless it’s one of my top favorite games of all time and my personal favorite of the Metal Gear Solid series

and what I don’t think people give it enough credit for is the gameplay,  it took Metal Gear Solid 1’s stealth gameplay and perfected it, but people were too busy raging over the cutscenes to notice, even though you could just skip them…

METAL GEAR SOLID 3: SNAKE EATER – ok so now we’re back to a game that the fans actually liked, the last one that was largely loved as a matter of fact,  some even say it’s the best of the series, but I disagree and here’s why

first off, make no mistake, this is a great game, a classic, the idea of making a prequel Metal Gear Solid set in the cold war era 1960’s, staring Big Boss and putting it largely in the jungle instead of the typical Military Base is flat out genius, one of the best and most out of left field premises for a video game sequel ever

and the Boss fights, good Lord the boss fights, not all of them are really anything special but the few that do stick out stick out for a reason, especially the sniper duel with The End, this is such a brilliant moment, without a doubt not only one of the best moments of the entire series but one of the best Boss fights in history

so I love Metal Gear Solid 3, make no mistake, but replaying the entire series I just realized that it’s not the be all end all of the series

the main problem is thus, the whole camouflage aspect, the idea is that you’re sneaking through the jungle and need to hide from the soldiers right? it works well in theory but the problem is that it’s just too easy to hide and shoot the enemies one by one as they walk by

now I’m not normally one to complain about a game being too easy,  I played it on hard and certainly found it more of a challenge than I remember in the past, but not challenging enough, maybe I should try it on extreme, but in this case the first two games had such perfect balance in difficulty that it’s kind of jarring, the game is simply not as tightly designed as it’s predecessors, you have a lot of options, but most of the time there’s no real need to use them

but it’s certainly not enough to ruin the game or anything, but it’s just not the best in the series, that’s all…

so that’s the end of part 1, part 2 will come soon where I’ll cover Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, plus my thoughts on the upcoming Metal Gear Rising

Griff gets nostalgic, Media Play

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 7, 2012 by Griff

I’d like to try my hand at writing a different kind of post on here besides just reviews, my generation is really big on nostalgia, I mean huge, sometimes I wonder if everyone goes through that at around the age my generation is, I don’t know, but I do know that pretty much everyone my age fosters a healthy relationship with their inner child, for some people their childhood seems to entirely define their adulthood, people like Roger Barr of the website I-Mockery for example, the prevalent theory as to why that is is because we as a country are going through some pretty rough times, I think that’s a big reason why…

so I’d like to write some autobiographical posts about random memories that I have, but first a bit of background on me, I am a 22 year old white male

today’s post though is not about my childhood, but my teenage years, they weren’t that great (but who’s is?), but that was due to more real family problems than typical teenage angst, maybe I’ll talk about that at a later date, but point is I went through some hard times back then, but I made my own happiness, today post is about one of the best, maybe even the best, memories of my teenage years

does anybody here remember Vera Lynn the store Media Play? it was a big box store that contained music, books, movies, video games, electronics and even musical instruments I think

sounds like Best Buy right? well there was one thing that set it apart and made it literally Heaven on Earth for me, anime, lots of and lots of anime, literally more anime than I’ve ever seen in a store before or since

sure, you see a couple of anime dvds at Best Buy or whatever, but evidently Media Play had actually struck a deal with several anime companies and dedicated an entire section of the store to the stuff, not just dvds, but manga, toys, T-shirts, CDs, it was madness, utter madness

but wait, there’s more! see they held a special thing every other Friday I think  called “anime nights” which was basically a mini convention, I’ve never been to an anime convention in my whole life (although I’ve always wanted to) and this was the closest thing I’ve been to ever going to one, it was fantastic, a decent amount of people would show up, even a few would cosplay, this was the first time actually meeting not only fellow people who shared my interest in anime, but just meeting fellow nerds in general

so thus begins my personal story of Media Play, ok journey back in time with me to the year 2005, I was looking for dvds of R.O.D The TV, I can’t remember how exactly it happened, but somehow I had stumbled upon the Media Play store in Savannah Georgia, about an hour away from me (that’s a picture of the actual store above) and I was floored, not only did they have dvds of R.O.D The TV, but as previously mentioned they had more anime than I had ever seen in my life, I was stunned

while there I think I got a flyer that advertised the anime nights and when they were, so you better believe I showed up

I can’t remember how many of them exactly I went to, I don’t think it was many though, but I visited the store itself many times that year, I couldn’t get enough, I mean when I say it was Heaven on Earth for me I’m pretty much speaking literally, I bought my first ever volume of manga there, I bought a couple of video games there, I could have almost lived in there

and the anime nights were so much fun, there was everyone there from teenage girls to 30 something guys with long hair and beards (you know the type,  guys that have been nerds since the 70’s or so, I call them the “Elder Nerds”), I mentioned cosplay and there wasn’t a whole lot, but I do remember a little girl dressed as *this character* from Inuyasha (never watched that one, so sorry I don’t know the name)

but here’s where tragedy strikes *cue sad dramatic music* it just seems like something that great was just not destined to last, at the very start of 2006 Media Play closed for good, the entire company went kaput, I remember when I heard I was in disbelief, I wanted to cry…

sound melodramatic? where here’s the thing, the very last anime night I went to….I met a girl, Pamela was her name, I worked up the courage to talk to her and we hit it off, I mean we both shared the same interests, we were the same age and she came off as shy like me, I’m not gonna say she was drop dead gorgeous or anything, but she was cute…

I never saw her again, if only I had asked for her phone number,  I could have, but I was shy, I didn’t want to “rush things”, I thought I would see her again at the next anime night, little did I know there would be no next anime night, that was literally the last one

I went to store one last time during the going out of business sale, I had hoped to see her again, but no…and to this day I still have never really had a “girlfriend” and I’ve been on a grand total of one date, pathetic aren’t I? what can I say, I’m a nerd

why does life do things like that to you? it’s like something out of a movie or a song, I mean what a cruel, bizarre coincidence

sometimes I feel like my life since 2005 has just been one long dream, I’ve been stuck in a rut ever since, not knowing where to go, what to do next (cue Pink Floyd’s Time), sometimes I wish I would wake up and it’s 2005 again, sometimes I wish I lived in a kinder alternate dimension, one where Media Play never closed, one where Geneon and ADV never went out of business, one where anime’s popularity grew and grew instead of going back underground again, I wish, I wish, I wish…

the Media Play building remained there for a few more years, complete with the sign, a sad reminder of what had been lost, until eventually it was torn down and replaced by….wait for it….a fucking Publix grocery store, my least favorite store on Earth…

sometimes life gives you a very clear, concise Fuck You.

God of War trilogy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 7, 2012 by Griff

ah God of War, the series that brilliantly mixed (the original) Clash of The Titans with Heavy Metal (the movie and the comic book, not the musical genre) resulting is a fresh and badass take on Greek Mythology, it’s one of my favorite video game series from the last several years as a matter of fact, but I have not played any of the games in the main series since around when they first came out, so for Christmas I got the HD collection of GOW1 and 2 and sat down and played the whole trilogy back to back and I thought I had a few interesting thing to say about them, so without further ado

the premise behind the whole series is thus, you play as Kratos, a bald, bearded and pale Spartan who is a total, absolute badass and can do or kill anything he puts his mind to (it’s kind of inspirational is a way) and in the first game he puts his mind to killing Aries, the titular God of War, but first he must find Pandora’s Box stashed away in a ridiculously deadly temple

the world he inhabits is the one of Greek myth, but more violent and grim than you might be used to (this aint Disney’s Hercules) where human life is cheap and evidently monsters are always only a stone throw away from ripping you to pieces

anyway God of War 1 was a mind-blowing game when it was released in March of 2005, back in the last console generation it was rare for such a AAA title to be released in the spring (the large majority of really good games were only released in the fall back then, which is still somewhat the case even today) and it was an absolute breath of fresh air, the graphics, the story, the combat, the controls, it was all top notch

playing it again today for the first time since 2005 it’s lost a lot of it’s luster, the most apparent thing is how dated the graphics are, even with the HD remaster, it still looks decent for a PS2 game I guess, but things that once seemed mind blowingly epic, like seeing a giant Ares in the background, nowadays seem pretty tame compared to what comes later in the series and the game is a bit too repetitive, there’s only really a handful of enemies and you fight them over and over and over

but hey, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great game, the music is still fantastic, the story is still great and it just overall still has such a great sense of adventure, when you finally reach Pandora’s Box after hours of questing through the temple of Pandora you really feel like you’ve truly accomplished something, it’s a great feeling and it was overall a nice trip down memory lane revisiting it

but this is a series that only got better as it went on, which brings me to God of War 2

first off let me say that the graphics in this game are freakin’ mind-blowing for a PS2 game,  I know that the HD remaster sure helps, but how in the heck did they get the PS2 to put out graphics of this caliber? not only is this a huge step up from the first game’s graphics but it’s insane when you go back and compare older PS2 games to it and try to wrap your head around the fact that this is the same hardware, they really pushed the PS2 to it’s limits

not only are the graphics themselves amazing, but one thing I forgot about is the art direction is equally amazing, they really played up the fantasy aspect of it, some parts of the game almost give me a Never Ending Story vibe (which I wonder if that was intentional considering the whole “80’s fantasy” vibe of the whole series), sailing through the beautiful looking sky on a Pegasus, wandering through misty swamps filled with ancient Greek ruins, exploring beautiful temples, just amazing

that’s not the only improvement though, there’s a heck of a lot more variety in the enemies and the environments this time so it becomes not as repetitive

so yeah, I don’t really have any complaints about that one, it’s pretty much perfect, the PS2 couldn’t have asked for a more worthy swan song

so finally that brings me to God of War 3 for the PS3

and once again I have to say that the graphics are unbelievably stunning, literally jaw dropping, I talked a lot about how great the graphics in God of War 2 are, but that’s for PS2 standards, God of War 3 has incredible PS3 graphics and I can’t emphasize enough how incredible they are, you really need to see it in motion for yourself, it looks like a CGI movie, the texture on Kratos skin, the motion blur, it’s by far the best looking console game I’ve ever seen and comparing it to God of War 1 is like comparing a PS1 and PS2 game

and to you want to about epic? God of War 3 has some of the most epic set-pieces ever seen in a video game, right from the very start of the game it’s filled with “holy shit!” moments, there’s one moment in particular that I wont spoil that involves meeting a character from the first game again and feels like the developers put it in their just to show how far the hardware has come

but tragically, I can’t say this one is quite perfect, there are no major flaws with it or anything, but late in the game, it starts to feel like it’s losing steam

I think the problem is, God of War 2 ends on a cliff hanger and God of War 3 picks up right where that one left off , but they can’t have the game be too short, so once again they find a way to send Kratos  “back to square one”, which is fine, but the last part of the game before the final boss fight (I’m talking about the Daedalus labyrinths level) is tedious and nowhere near on the epic scale as the rest of the game,  it feels like the developers stuck it in just to pad out the length of the game a bit, but if they wanted to make the game longer, why didn’t they have you see more of the city of Olympia instead of just briefly stopping by? (probably because that would have been more time consuming than the simple looking Daedalus labyrinth level, that’s why)

and the final confrontation with SPOILER Zeus is not bad, but not as epic as you’d hope, I read that the developers had to actually cut a few things out of the final boss fight due to time constraints, that sucks

and the actual ending of the game itself, well I have mixed thoughts on it, it’s one of those endings where it feels like they wanted to have their cake and eat it too and have it both be an overall finale to the series, but with just enough room left open to another sequel in case they ever decide to make another one

what you get is an ending that just feels a bit anti-climatic and leaves you wanting more, it’s not a TERRIBLE ending per se, but it is a shame the game couldn’t have gone out with as big of a bang as it starts

so, to sum up, it’s really hard to say what the best game in the series is, objectively I guess I would say God of War 2, since it has a “the best of both worlds” thing going for it, but the graphics in God of War 3 are so amazing that it really makes it hard to say that

but really, the God of War trilogy works best as just that, a trilogy, taken as whole it’s a simply amazing video game series that should be experienced by anyone who plays video games

P.S. how did I manage to go the whole review without mentioning the nudity? yes the God of War series has nudity in it and God of War 1 was the first game I ever saw nudity in,  I remember how shocking it was to see BARE BREASTS in the original God of War back in 2005,  I mean whaaaaaaat? nipples in a video game? that just doesn’t happen! I had gotten used to seeing bare butt-cheeks in thongs in video games, but actual nipples was unheard of (perhaps I should mention that at the time I was an internetless 15 year old),  it is hilariously ironic that 2005 was the year of the beyond infamous “hot coffee” scandal in hacked versions of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, which was a “sex scene” that had fully clothed, nudity free robo humping and THAT was what the news media decided to absolutely lose their shit over, not the game with actual nudity in it, go figure

these days it’s hard to get too excited over PS2 quality nipples, but the nudity in God of War 3 is….nice, I love though how in this day and age it’s ok for games to show a little nudity without the media going into Defcon 4, but of course the news media has pretty much given up their crusade against video games in general (at least in America, not so much in the UK), these days they’re on to much more juicy scare tactics like “the economy” and “Barack Obama is Hitler” and whatever the fuck Fox News wants to you to fear these days

Heavy Rain

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 3, 2012 by Griff

Heavy Rain is the latest attempt in the long running quest of making a video game that feels like an “interactive movie”, this is an idea that dates back to those  cheesy (and almost always awful) Full Motion Video games like Night Trap or Sewer Shark on consoles like the Sega CD or 3DO

that idea laid pretty much dormant until the game Indigo Prophecy dusted it off, which I actually played back in 2005, it was a good game, but it had some obvious flaws that held it back from greatness, for one the graphics weren’t too great even by 2005 standards, but what really held the game back was the infamous plot twists that happened late in the game, the plot pretty obviously involved the supernatural right from the start, that wasn’t a problem, the problem was that the game’s story piled on ridiculous supernatural (and one awful science fiction) plot twists on top of plot twists and so late in the game that it just lost everybody, it was almost as if the developers figured that if the story was going to have the supernatural in it they might as well throw every supernatural cliche in the book in it (the end of the world, magic, secret conspiracies, super powers etc), but in 2010 the same dev team returned with Heavy Rain

I don’t normally review brand new video games, I figure with all the million other gaming websites reviewing them who’s gonna care about my opinion? when I review games I usually go for older games that I think deserve some more attention, but in this case I thought I had some things to say…

the plot of Heavy Rain involves a serial killer dubbed the Origami Killer who kills children (yikes) that kidnaps a man’s son and the various characters (including the dad) who try to track him down and rescue the boy before it’s too late

ok, long story short I absolutely loved this game, but it has some flaws that keep it back from greatness

it’s actually pretty ironic, the flaws are pretty much the opposite of Indigo Prophecy’s, whereas that game had too much story, introducing too many out there plot twists too late in the game, Heavy Rain has the opposite problem where there’s not enough story, there’s a couple of pretty big plot holes and information about characters that’s just never given

I found that pretty strange, so I did a little research on the inter-webs and discovered that a lot of stuff in the game was cut out, there was supposed to be a plot twist late in the game that veers slightly into the supernatural territory (or more like magical realism), but was cut out, probably due to all the backlash Indigo Prophecy got for the supernatural story elements, but here’s the thing, without it it leaves a pretty big plot hole

and then you have the back-stories of characters that are never explained, take the FBI agent Norman Jayden, he has a special device called the “ARI” that are these glasses and gloves that are basically an augmented reality device that help in the investigation, but where did he get it?

well in that case I read that there was a whole planned series of DLC episodes that acted as a prequel to the game filling in the back-stories of the characters, sounds cool right? but only one came out (and it has nothing to do with the main story) and the rest were evidently canceled for some unknown reason, why?

so basically what we’re left with is an incomplete game, that sucks, it sucks hard

still, there’s a lot to love about the game, incomplete though it may be, the story is still very compelling and it’s amazing to play a game in this day and age where the storyline is as much a selling point as anything else

the graphics are very solid, nice high quality texture work, the music is fantastic, the voice acting is great and the game overall has a very mature (and I don’t mean just blood and guts) atmosphere, I love that it’s finally ok for a video game to show a little nudity without Fox News having a meltdown (and by comparison when Indigo Prophecy came out in 2005, there was a little bit of nudity that was cut from the American release)

so it’s pretty much exactly the same as Indigo Prophecy, a very interesting, fun and well worth playing game that is nonetheless held back from greatness due to story issues, here’s hoping maybe next time David Cage and Quantic Dream will finally get it just right…