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Title: My first review in 2009
Posted: January 15, 2009 (12:14 AM)
So, I didn't post any new reviews in December, thanks to work I was doing on a game guide. And January is now halfway through, so I figured that it was time to review a game. Here's the link:
Castlevania Judgment (Wii)
I'm a bit rusty but mostly I like how the review turned out. I'll try to stay in better practice as I continue through the year. You'll probably be seeing a lot of Wii game reviews from me in the weeks ahead, so watch for that!
Counter: 43 reviews to go until I reach 500!
Posted: January 02, 2009 (12:15 AM)
2009 is the year that I will write a fantastic trilogy in the fantasy genre, the year I will top 500 reviews posted on HonestGamers, the year I will overcome the worst of my credit card debt and the year I will pay more attention to my physical condition. What is it for you?
Title: Re: The Last Remnant
Posted: December 25, 2008 (06:56 PM)
I've been playing a LOT of The Last Remnant these past few weeks. A potential conflict of interest prevents me from posting a review, but I still thought I'd give you all a heads up on my thoughts on the game... since they differ in some ways from our official review we posted (though I felt that the score we awarded was fair).
The main place where I differe in opinion from our review is in regards to the story, which I felt was more competent than how it is presented. Withotu spoilers I can't say much beyond that. All I can say is that the reasons the other characters had for helping Rush, the main character, aren't anywhere near as ambiguous or unlikely as Beck described in his review. In fact, there was every reason in the world to help Rush find his kidnapped sister (the main story point for the first half of the game). That's not giving the story a free pass, mind you. It's not mind-blowing or anything. It was very good, though, and just unique enough to be interesting.
Another point where I differ in my opinion is that I think the review seriously undersold side quests in the game. It did mention that they open up new areas and such, and that's true. But what the review didn't mention is that they open up lots of new areas, then some more on top of that and then some more after that. I have never played a game where so much of your experience depends on your willingness to take some initiative and experience the side quests. In fact, if you're anxious to rush through the game it can definitely be done. There's no problem there. You can probably beat it pretty easily in around 30 hours. However, you will not have experienced much overall. You'll have missed out on about half of the destinations you can visit, many interesting storylines, a ton of moves and abilities and secret characters... Really, you will hardly have even played the same game.
The review didn't touch on some other things that sound minor, so I'd like to give them some exposure here (to the few who read this blog entry).
One thing that amazed me is that the game lets you save nearly anywhere. If you're not in battle or a cutscene (and cutscenes can easily be skipped), you can save. Anywhere in any dungeon or town or on the world map... you can save. That's just fantastic.
Another point is that dungeons are more than just straight lines with monster gauntlets for you to consider as you head to the next plot element. The dungeons actually have many winding twists and secret paths. As you complete side quests, new portions of the dungeons open up that you couldn't explore before. And new monsters show up in them, even from one visit to another, even if you didn't have a reason to re-visit except "for the hell of it."
There also are rare monsters that appear almost at random... powerful beasts that maybe can mop the floor with you, but the components they drop are incredible. And with components, you can make cool weapons and such, which is very important if you want to stand a chance against your tough-as-nails enemies.
The battle system, by the way, is pretty great. You are controlling units of soldiers instead of individual soldiers. This adds some tactics to the experience, but not as much as you might think. It also means that battle scan be quite drawn out. So why do I think they're great? I like that almost any fight can be the death of you. You can actually pull multiple monster groups into a fight at once for more danger and bigger rewards (as monsters are always visible on the map). And during battle, as our review mentions, there are quick-time events that pop up where you can press buttons to do more damage, to skip a mosnter's turn so that you can keep raining damage on your enemies and so forth.
The Last Remnant truly is a deep game. It's just right for some people and everyone else will probably hate it. But if you've been looking for something massive and in the JRPG vein, it's a game well worth checking out (especially since the price at a lot of places online has dropped to $40). I've absolutely never encountered a JRPG with more content. Even after playing for weeks and beating the game, I keep finding new side quests--and whole areas of the game--to explore. It's nothing short of spectacular.
The biggest down side, really, is the assortment of technical issues. Load times are too frequent for my liking. You'll even encounter then between portions of a cutscene on occasion. The frame rate also chugs during some battles and when you head into a new map, sometimes the most detailed textures take a second or two before they pop into place. It does look a bit odd. Still, you can install the game to your hard drive to reduce the impact of many of these concerns.
I've spent much of my free time these past few weeks with The Last Remnant. I haven't always enjoyed myself, but in general I am finding the experience extremely worthwhile. Probably few people will look back at this as one of the great RPGs of the generation. Most people will likely forget about it. But if you want to head off the beaten path and try something a bit different, try The Last Remnant. It does enough things right--and different--to be well worth a look.
Oh, and PC and PS3 versions are coming if you don't yet have an Xbox 360. Hopefully they'll fix a few technical issues (fingers crossed), but otherwise Square-Enix should just leave things alone. The game is great.
Title: For Genj...
Posted: December 03, 2008 (05:53 PM)
This is for Genj:
You Can't Touch This!
Title: Sims 2: Apartment Life review - behind the scenes
Posted: December 01, 2008 (04:33 PM)
The results topic for the recent alphabet olympics included a comment from one of the judges--Janus, I think?--that I would have done better to let my wife simply write down her impressions for the review. I said that probably wouldn't have worked too well, but now you get to be the judge. I found my wife's analysis of the game as I was cleaning up my office. Below you'll find what she thought of the game, cleaned up grammatically for easy consumption.
+ It's easy to pay the rent.
+ It's easy to move in.
+ You can change the decor.
+ You can have a room mate.
- The apartments are limited to one town.
If you've read my review, you know that I wasn't satisfied with that for my final review. I did ask for more information than she had provided, and my Q&A session with her resulted in a review that I feel was superior to her original analysis (even though it wasn't good enough to beat anyone but bluberry in the competition).
I don't recommend that anyone try reproducing my experiment, by the way. It's difficult to get good information about a game's inner workings from someone who doesn't regularly analyze games herself... even if that person does play video games a fair bit (some weeks, my wife plays more games than I do!).
Title: Blazers and Star Ocean
Posted: November 30, 2008 (08:09 PM)
Last night, I stayed up until 4AM. This morning, my wife woke me a bit before noon to let me know that I was about to miss a Blazers game. I'd mentioned wanting to watch more of those this season, since I like basketball but haven't actually watched a full televised game since... wow, since getting married!
Anyway, it was a good game to watch. Blazers took an early lead over the Pistons and at one point led by 14 points in the first quarter, but then the Pistons brought in their bench players and started to make things more competitive. There were two points in the game where the Pistons actually led. Neither point was at the end of the game, where the Blazers led by 11 points.
It was interesting to me to see how much the players on the court resembled their digital counterparts in NBA Live 09, which you might recall me reviewing earlier this year for the Xbox 360. For example, Roy is really a great player and did a lot of the same style of plays on the television screen today that he did for me when I was actively playing the game on the Xbox 360.
It was nice also to see Oden actually doing something other than twisting an ankle. He had quite a few rebounds--8, I believe it was--just in the first quarter. He predictably spent a lot of the middle of the game on the bench and I can't help but feel that he's one of the least active of the players when it comes to running around on the court, but his rebounding was a big part of the Blazers victory tonight and for that all Blazers fans should be greatful.
So yeah, I enjoyed the game and watched the whole thing with interest. I'll probably try to catch more games when possible, though far too many of them take place while I'm busy at work.
Oh, and I also wrote a review for Star Ocean: First Departure (PSP). That's the game that kept me up so late last night. The review felt like a great way for me to finish up the busy month of November. It's the game I would have liked to review for the Alphabet Marathon. I have a sneaking suspicion that it would have done better for me...
Title: System updates suck
Posted: November 18, 2008 (01:37 AM)
I'm so tired of system updates, particularly on the PSP. That system just doesn't see many new game releases. It's mostly just multi-platform stuff that almost no one cares about or maybe a game or two a month that anyone gives a fig about.
This month, that game is Star Ocean: First Departure. I've had it for a bit, but tonight I finally took it out of the shrink wrap and settled down to enjoy playing it.
Then I discovered that my wife had been using the PSP and had let the battery die. So I found where she left the charger, plugged it in next to my bed--where I was going to play it, because that's what handheld systems are for--and turned on the power. After resetting date and time, the game started to load.
Then it was time to update to version 4.05 or whatever. Seriously, every time I play a new game on this system, I have to load an update. I guess it's because I only play new(ish) games. But still, it's kind of ridiculous. In this case, it was a huge pain in the butt because with my battery still low, it won't let me start the update.
So basically, the update is holding my gaming session hostage. I have to wait for everything to recharge before I can start playing. In other words (as I look at the clock and see that it's now 12:44 AM)... not tonight. Maybe I'll read some Agatha Christie instead.
Title: Legal stuff of interest
Posted: November 12, 2008 (05:58 PM)
There's an interesting news article here relating to Batman and legal actions apparently being brought against the filmmakers:
It reminds me that in the Czech Republic the other week, a young man was hit by a guy driving a company car. Mortified, the driver picked up the body of the teen and dumped it in the nearby forest. Only the thing is, the teen survived and was able to identify who had hit him. Naturally, this lead to a lawsuit, but not the way you think: the company the driver was working for when he did the hit-and-run is now suing the teen that was struck by the vehicle for damage to the company car.
What happened to the days when people could only sue when they had a genuine grievance?
Title: How did you spend your last 6 hours?
Posted: November 11, 2008 (06:26 PM)
I spent mine working on the site. The result is 18 news articles (many of them with accompanying cover art submitted today, and sometimes screenshots) and a new review for Fable II. Not bad for 6 hours of work, eh?
Now I need to get ready for my real job. This is one of those evenings where I'm almost looking forward to it, just because my brain is fried from all of the work I did on the site. Tuesdays are always that way, the busiest day of nearly any given week. I'm glad this one is essentially behind me...
Title: Introspection on the brink of 10 years...
Posted: October 21, 2008 (03:41 AM)
In just a few short weeks, HonestGamers will be celebrating ten full years of existence. That's long enough that I was still single, still a teenager and fresh out of high school when the site was first conceived. It's a third of the time I've spent on this strange planet.
That's sobering, to think that for nearly 10 years, I've been crouched over one keyboard or another, coding and re-coding the site and writing little notes about how things are growing and improving and how the future is bright and cheery.
Against all odds, time has proven those outlandish predictions to be true. I dared to dream that someday we'd have more than a few thousand hits a year. That has happened and now we have that number of visitors every day, to say nothing of the total number of hits. I dared to dream that someday we'd be able to review games that publishers send us rather than waiting to cover things when they hit bargain bins and almost no one cares about them. That also has happened. Most importantly, I dreamed of a time when exploring the site's complete content could take hours or even days. This too has happened.
Without all of you, my original goals could never have been reached and surpassed. We wouldn't have nearly 6000 quality reviews posted right now, or nearly 34,000 games listed in the database or more than 30,000 screenshots posted. In fact, if I'm to be perfectly frank, there probably wouldn't even be a site here at all.
So thank you for making everything a success, for helping the site to reach the 10-year mark in such great shape that I have no trouble imaginging an even brighter future as it heads into the next decade of existence. Thank you for getting behind my vision of a haven for intelligent gamers and retro enthusiasts and making it our vision.
As November rolls around and we head into the next 10 years, my hope is that many of you will continue doing what you've already been doing so well for so long. I hope that you'll all continue to enjoy the results, too. It started as a casual hobby, but HonestGamers has become a significant part of my life. I come here because it's the place on the Internet I most love... not just because I created it, but because so many of you got involved and helped shape it into one of the most spectacular gaming sites around.
Don't ever forget how much each of you have poured into what the site is today. Thank you for everything you've done so far, and let's continue working together to make the next 10 years even better!