Friday, July 2, 2010

The 3 Gaming Companies. Explained

I've been feeling the urge to go a little more in depth with this. So without here it is, an explanation of the three gaming companies.

Before I start, yes I know the Eye Toy was the real first motion control device for gaming, but seeing as Nintendo built a system around motion controls, they get the point.

Gaming has come a long way. No one can deny that. But what have the big three, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, done for the American gaming industry? Nintendo is the oldest, most experienced and doesn't look like it will go down until Armageddon. Sony has been there for a while, found it's footing and is ready to stay. And then Microsoft has come around, doing things right with the 360, well sort of.

Let's look at the eldest child first. Nintendo has been making games since the 1980's and before that was a card game company. They have fought and won over countless advertising campaigns the competition had against them. They have developed a longstanding and loyal fan base with the Super Mario and Legend of Zelda series and have perfected giving their fans what they want.

As the oldest child, Nintendo is the first to set the "growing pains" for the industry. From family friendliness to the graphics wars to motion controls. Nintendo has been through them all. When the Sega Genesis came out, the huge "Sega does what Nintendoes't" campaign boasted about better graphics and blood and gore in their titles. Nintendo retaliated with the N64, which blew the PS1 outta the water graphically, but is still hesitant to accept that blood and gore sell in the marketplace. This is seen by the games that with the shelves today for the Wii, No More Heroes, MadWorld, and the like are overflowing with blood. Making this like the when that kid in your high school didn't grow till his senior year. I can't knock a company for having some values it doesn't want to compromise. This whole motion control bullshit is just one more thing that everyone has to get outta their systems, plain and simple, it's a gimmick. At the end of the day, the people flailing their controllers around are the same ones that turn the controller on the side when they play MarioKart. "Oh no a left turn I have to turn the controller 90 degrees to the left!"
Anyways, Nintendo is afraid of change. It's true. They didn't want to ditch the cartridge format even though CD's were cheaper and easier to produce to the 3rd party, and they constantly release the same games. While I love Zelda and Mario, Zelda has been the same game since A Link To the Past, and since Super Mario 64, the plumber has only gotten a few new toys to play with. No new heroes have really come into the Nintendo spotlight, and all of the best selling games are a part of a longstanding series. Don't believe me? Look at the news from E3 this year. Nintendo is releasing a boat load of games, and re-making some of it's best hits. Not too surprising thought, Sony has most of the 3rd party developers and cross platform generally games aren't as good.

Let's look at the Youngest child. Microsoft. in an effort to grow up quickly it hopped onto the screen boasting better graphics. Dropping out Halo and it's multi-player onto the hoards of people obsessing over graphics and not wanting to play these "kiddy" games. I don't think I can pinpoint the exact moments it happens, but when a new type of gamer hops into the world of video games, it changes. Halo was "cool". Regenerating health, space Marines, Sci-fi. It scored. And the kinds of people who played Halo, also played a lot of sports games. People wanted realism and online multi-player. The Xbox didn't have much to right home about the, good games were also on the PS2, and the stuff that sold were Halo remakes and sports games. When the 360 was released, things got better. These "Haloids" had time to find out about actual fun games, the community had time to adjust and learn to like Halo, and more 3rd party support went to the 360. But we were still shaken, games now needed to be more realistic. I never saw a reason to own the Xbox. I want a 360, but it's like buying an Apple product. There will always be a better, cheaper version if you wait three months. Things are better since it came out. Hard drives are standard, multi-player has been made better through online play, systems have more support from developers and since gaming is now mainstream, it is easier for the 3rd parties to find a starting place. It strove to be different, to reach out to a new audience, and it succeeded

Which brings me to Sony. First to use CD, successfully (sorry SEGA). Which gained a lot of 3rd party support. Cheaper and easier to make 3rd party games for, it quickly outsold the N64. With the help of the Final Fantasy series and developers like Naughty Dog. It was obvious that Sony was here to stay. Sega lost support through failed add-ons and, though the Dreamcast might have been better than the other 3 consoles released at the time, we will never know. Loads of games came out for the PlayStation. Strange games, new games, stuff we had never seen before. With the 3rd dimension opened up, videogames were about to have a universally accepted change for the better. The PS2 came out, and became the best selling system of all time. And why shouldn't have been? It boasted the lowest price and the largest library. So many gems, and a whole lot of RPGs. The PS2 bridged the gap nicely from the Gamecube to the Xbox. Serving as a pleasant middle ground, it wasn't uncommon for multiple consoles in the same house, exposing gamers to other types of games, like RPGs. The massive output of RPGs for the PSone and PS2 made RPGs more popular, and can be attributed to how popuar RPG elements are today. The middle child, it doesn't need to try to do anything to stand out, but follow along with the others. It has the most friends because it doesn't want to piss anyone off.

Also, Microsoft? I'm still calling it Natal, and do you remember how well the Eye Toy did?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dark Angel: Vampire Apocalypse

Been a minute since my last review so...

This game is pretty bad, on a lot of levels. In fact it is so terrible that I knew how bad it would be at the used game store. Holding it in my hands I was able to feel the massive aura of suck that is Dark Angel. This was made much more apparent by the owner of the store telling me "It controls like Baldur's Gate's retarded cousin."

Let's explore why this game sucks. In depth. Where did it fall apart?

The game starts with no small cut scene or explanation of what to do. You are placed in a poorly lit city where the 5 villagers are fighting a group of monsters. Once you beat them, you can talk to the villagers. They tell you to go to the other cities, to do the same thing there. Then you can pick up quests. The quests are "Go here, get this". This is either a person or the town's precious artifact that increases your stats if you have the right item. Yes, the most important item in the town is unguarded, and in the middle of town square Or the quests are "Go here, kill this" which either a group of enemies or a boss.

Not to bad of a selection, but seeing as there is a total of 6 places to explore, it gets old fast. Repetitive, big flaw in the game. Made worse by the 6 or 8 types of monsters, and each zone is populated by about 2 or 3. Oh, and half of the zones share the same monster.

Let's look at the monster types, they seem to be a zombie, a lighting shooting zombie, a big spider, a wolf and a few other generic creatures. Apparently they have names, and some weapons have give bonuses to certain monsters. This should be used more often, but seeing as there is no way to tell what creature is what makes it much more tedious.

Ambiguity, another flaw. A big one. After 2 hours I wanted to know what the hell I was doing, so I looked up the GameFaq. The game failed to tell me what I was doing, as did the instruction book, so it was off to the internet. I found out that I have a year's worth of game time to get stronger and make the world better. Also found out that the three stats for the world: Military, Economics, and Research, are used to get better weapons and armor. After the year passing I would have to fight the final boss. "Screw that!" I thought, I've played a good amount for two days and it's not even June. I'm not putting up with this crap for another week!

Third flaw! Woot! Almost done! So the game is dark, lighting wise, so it's hard to see what's going on, the camera angle is fixed, and the graphics are fairly weak. Not done here yet, oh no. There is background music. Well, there is sometimes background music. After slaying some baddies I was rewarded with a terrible 80's rock guitar riff. And how could I forget the death wails of the enemies! The repetitive, annoying death wails.

Well, I'm now as bored with this review as the game, so I'll just list the rest of the flaws and call it a night:

No plot
no guidance
no explanations
pointless items
Bad leveling pace
Almost no penalty for death
Bad difficulty cure
Bad loading times
Set game length
bad music
Bad AI
Bad U.I.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So, What Really Happens?

After spending my weekend playing Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, just to see all the endings in the game, I started to get a little pissed. Mostly because all the endings are pretty different. I've seen the "Good" ending, so why do I want to see the 7 others? I know the canon logical ending, but what else could have happened? Half are slight variations and half are "bad" and one is just...different. Forget the fact that each ending takes hours to unlock, why did I do it? The completionist in my had to see them all, and looking them up online goes against my principles. But let's get on to the subject on my mind, multiple endings.

In the case of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, only one ending really works because of the sequel. Overall, multiple endings are a mixed bag. If taken in the sense of a game as single story, how do you know which one is the proper ending? Video games in general are a story, where we get to participate. We get to explore this world created for us, but no matter how you look at it, we walk the path the writer has laid before us. How should the story end though? Why leave it up to the player?

Proper endings. Seems like it shouldn't be hard to pick out right? Well, take Cave Story. With no sequel, we are unable to deduce what was the intentional ending. While fleeing is obviously not the proper ending, does saving Curly give the proper ending, or was her sacrifice part of the story? Are you supposed to go above and beyond with the game or just save the island and the friends you made? While the "standard" ending, take Disgaea again, is much sadder than the proper ending, but the standard ending almost makes the most sense story-wise and starts to pull at your heart strings, almost leading to believe it was intended by the writers.

Alright, so why let the player decide? Stupid question. Any game where you can change the ending based on your actions increases the level of immersion the game can provide. Of course, in some games it is just used to increase replay value. Chrono Trigger is the prime example of both. With the ability to fight the final boss at any point in the game, you get the option to skip out on content during later play-throughs and change history, immersed and leaves you wanting more.

Wrapping up, so are they good or bad? Overall, when done right, multiple endings are one of the best things for a game that is not intended for a sequel. Where if a direct sequel is in the works, tread lightly developers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

R.U.S.E One Hour Review

Checking up on my Steam games list, I was blessed with a beta test of R.U.S.E, a RTS with the ability to screw with your opponents by setting up fake ambushes, camouflaging your whole base, or with a few other tricks.

Not going to lie, RTS's were never my forte, but this one is kinda fun. Against a computer. Pit yourself in a match online and you will be treated to a metric shit-load of fake attacks, because the developers, in their infinite wisdom, made all of the ruses free. Fake bases will be set up all around you, and then they will be hidden, then an air strike will be sent on you, followed by an ambush of tanks.

Granted since this a beta, once the game launches, real people will stop doing this, but it is a free beta, so these dudes are everywhere.

Also, the beta presents some problems, troops are hard to select, and you have to send some of them off right when you make them. Planes are great, but they constantly need to refuel and pick up more ammo. Planes of course, being the only easy thing to select. They have a nice little picture in the bottom corner, with a number of how many you have, and click on it multiple times to select multiple units. Something I would love for all my other units.

The A.I seems to be pretty good, easy isn't retarded, or stupid hard. It's easy, good for beginners, I didn't challenge a "hard". So I can't tell you if it is the generic, all-powerful omnipotent being from most RTS games.

Keeping this review pretty short, because it is a beta test, so problems will be fixed and whatnot. But my advice, play against an AI opponent first. Understand how the ruses work, and what certain troops can really do. It's a game based on deception, that takes some strategy to win.

I'm going to buy it once it comes out, so I can play against some non-assholes. Well, in all fairness, fake tanks and air raids every two minutes with an all out attack in the middle some where might be a good plan....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Luna Online: 1 Hour Review

Luna Online is a F2P MMORPG with a little twist, you are encouraged to make a family, date and get married. Very anime inspired and simple with the character creation. Male or Female, human or elf, each with 5 different face and hair styles, and a Fighter, Mage or Rouge class.

It's an MMORPG. So the story is of no real importance, and trust me, skip it, It's wordy and poorly formatted. Instead of word wrap, words get a few letters kicked down to the next line, making it a little annoying to read.

Stats are easy, you only get a couple skill points to increase them every level up, so progress feels slow. You also get some skill points, which you use to buy skills. The skill system is neat, as opposed to each class earning the same skills every few levels, buying a skill unlocks more skills. and with skill points being scarce, you can make a unique(ish) character.

Combat is easy, controls are simple, click to move interface blah, blah, blah. It is obvious combat isn't the main focus of the game, dating and starting a family is. Dates take the form of couples only instances. They have special items, and I guess completing enough of them allow you to get married.

Crafting is simple. You can upgrade weapons by enchanting them or by reinforcing them. Neither are too impressive, and they yield slightly different results. Reinforcing gives special bonus, like higher accuracy or critical hit chance, while enchanting increases the attack or defense of your weapon or piece of armor.

That dating focus makes this game interesting. In my first 15 minutes, didn't realize other people were trying to talk to me. Scrolling up the chat pane I saw people trying to get to know me. Where was I from, how old I was, and if I want to party with them. A refreshing break from the 20 minutes spent LFG in other games, spamming chat with 13 other players, none of which I can party with. Of course, this was a little annyoing too, in a game where community was so integral to the experiance, I didn't want to piss anyone off right away. So I spent some time grinding with a "friend" and once they left I went on to the first big city to become a citizen. Oh, that was a treat. Upon the map loading my chat pane was filled with gold spammers, and the main road was overflowing with private stores. After finally finding the NPC to talk to, and actually clicking on her, I registered. Becoming a citizen means signing up for a really lousy dating site. You give your age, location, sexual preference, 3 likes and 2 dislikes. (For kicks, I put loneliness under likes.) Leaving the city of bots and AFK players, I wanted to kill some time taking out quest mobs, I was having a little fun getting used to the controls and play style. Then I was challenged to a duel. A duel is kinda like saying hello in Luna, as you cannot see a players stats or equipment, so you will either be asked your level (a lot!) or challenged (A LOT!). If you destroy them, they want to party with you, if it's close, they want to party with you, and if they beat the ever loving crap outta you, they switch characters so they can party with you. I lost the dual, and joined a party with someone. Killing her quest mobs, I suppose, she seemed more interested in finding out who I am and getting to know each other, rather than questing, leveling up, and getting cool gear. Then it was time to make dinner, so I said goodbye, accecpted the friend request and logged out with 6 friends in 60 minutes.

All in all it was a fun game, I might stick with it for a month or so, I want to check out some things that I didn't get to yet. Like the importance of dating, families and guilds.

Oh, and a family and guild are different by the way, it was hilarious seeing people type "Please, I need a Family!" in chat all the time.