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Title: Pleasure, Pain, and Ghost Stories: A Year in Review
Posted: February 13, 2010 (04:48 PM)
I wasn't going to write one of these. I wrote a fair number of reviews last year and the thought of organizing them all into a mega-review seemed ridiculous.
But then I did it anyway.
I clearly remember almost every moment of playing Valkyria Chronicles. Itís just one of those visually captivating games that leaves you with a lot of good surface impressions. Originally I had planned this review to focus more on those elements of the game, because they really are overwhelming. I ended up talking more about the things that upset me.
I think part of this has to do with the fact that during this time I had decided that, after years of watching it, I no longer liked anime (something that came about mainly because I got into film making and realized how wasteful anime scripts are). Valkyria is one of the best (worst?) examples of an anime game. Itís incredibly verbose, but mostly repeats the same sentiment over and over again. Itís also extremely over dramatic, when subtlety would serve it better.
Then, too, I was put off by the gameplay being broken. As has recently been shown in my SOTN review, Iím not a fan of games where I feel like creating challenge is up to me. I think I did a decent job of explaining exactly how Valkyria Chronicleís system is broken, though I wish Iíd explained better how the visual appeal can end up steam-rolling this dissapointment.
Still, aside from some poor grammar choices and an obvious unfamiliarity with the online posting format (the paragraphs and transitions are a little wonky here) Iím actually happy with the final product. Plus, the line about Welkin being a boob still makes me chuckle. He really is.
The first thing that gets me on this review, every time, is that I was kind of a hypocrite in my writing. I think it had only been a week before that I complained about someoneís Perfect Dark review, which only covered multiplayer. Then I go ahead and write a review for Killzone 2 that focuses pretty much only on multiplayer. I guess the difference was that I felt Perfect Dark had a pretty in-depth campaign, whereas Killzone 2ís campaign was pretty bland.
That said, I think I did a good job here defending my decision to go multiplayer. In rereading this, something thatís interesting is that I start off by stating how much I donít like online shooters and then go on to sell Killzone 2. I think the fact that the audience knows Iíve been sold on something I donít usually like does a lot for this review.
The only real issue I notice here is that my jokes fall a little flat. I was still trying, at this point, to be a humourous reviewer, which is fine if youíre good at it. Really, the best way to get people to laugh at a game is not to try to get them to laugh at you, but just to point out things that suck about the game (and maybe get a little sarcastic or irate about it in the process)
Oh, and NG4 folk hated this review for not giving the game a 10.
This is one of my favourite reviews of the year. Not because I think itís particularly well written (I actually think that the introduction goes on a little long) but for other reasons. For one, itís a game Iíve played for ages but never thought to review, so doing so felt a little like justice. Second, it was really well recieved by the Archmage community and I think maybe the only review of the game on the web. That feels cool.
Aside from that, thereís really not much to say on this one. I tried to write to my audience and I think I achieved that pretty well. The only other thing I can think to say is that you should really go play the game, especially if youíre Aschultz. Youíd really like it and itís free.
Ah, goddamit. I think this is one of the best reviews Iíve ever written, but itís missing a paragraph explaining that score of 8. Really, it just needed one brief paragraph to take everything Iíd written and explain how the co-op is so good that it turns all of that on its head. But see, at this point, I hadnít had a chance to really get a good co-op game going. And the single player sucks. Goddamn terrible Capcom AI. I hate Sheva. You CANNOT beat this game on impossible with the AI partner. Not gonna happen.
Co-op is a funny thing. It can make a bad game amazing, but itís also one of those things that is damn near impossible to review, since so much of the co-op experience relies on things outside of developer control, like having a friend to enjoy it with. The cool thing about RE5ís co-op is that it is set up so that players can really use whatever co-op strategy they want. They can clean up if they go at things with good tactics, but they can also just do what they think is best in a situation and probably come out okay (but with less ammo and herbs).
Of course, if you get some asshole stranger on your team, heíll spend all your ammo and herbs in a split second and then leave, totally fucking you over. Which, incidentally, is a perfect description of Shevaís AI. Some people will never find that perfect companion and then I'm not even sure the game is an 8.
This game took forever to come out. I think it got delayed, like, six times. And that was after Iíd written the review for it. Mytran Wars was one of those reviews that I had to redo a couple times to properly justify my ire. The result is a review that I really wanted to enter in the Team Tournament. I ultimately couldnít release it early enough for that purpose (like I said, the game kept getting delayed) but I think it wouldíve done well. Itís probably one of my cleanest reviews and set me on the whole ďget to the pointĒ path that Iím still walking.
I have to say I'm pleased that, when the game finally did arrive, most major reviewers agreed with my points about the game, especially with the pacing, which had been so bad that at first I thought my game cartridge was busted.
A side story here... I experienced a true-to-life haunting while I was playing Mytran Wars. Itís kindíve a story that has to be told in person for full effect, but suffice it to say that I was watching someoneís house and, during a shower, was confronted with the apparition of a woman that did not want me in ďherĒ house.
My Resolution version of this review was better. Both times Iíve rewritten a review for Resolution itís come out better. Makes me think I should rewrite every review completely at least once. But then thereís that whole issue of actually having a life. Still, despite my odd Christmas ramble at the start, this review was actually pretty well received by the site.
I donít think Iíve ever felt so dead inside as when I played Syberia. This was a game Iíd waited years and years to have a system capable of playing it. Seeing it butchered so badly on the DS gave me a stomache ache. I keenly remember playing it in my parentís living room and at one point just putting down the system and hanging my head in my hands until my Mom asked me what was wrong.
How could I possibly explain? It was the ensuing conversation that led to a lot of the introduction to this review. Except the christmas song. That I thought up while walking home from work.
THIS WORLD IS SHIIIIIIIIIIT! still makes me laugh, though it had to be taken out of the review for ethical reasons.
I still like reading this review. This was my ďtell a storyĒ days and I think of all those reviews, this one did the best job at it. I still laugh at the ďPhoton Blast is betterĒ line. When you can laugh at your own writing you know youíre either a good writer or terribly narcasistic... or, in my case, both.
I like the guy who came on the site and claimed that my review sucked because Sacred 2 has a good camera system. First of all, thatís not true. Second, even if it was, I love how of all the terrible things Iíd pointed out about this failed Diablo clone, he chose to defend the camera. How does that work out?
Anyway, I wrote this review pretty quickly, all things considered. My biggest hold up was actually feeling like I hadnít played enough of the game to properly judge it. With big games like this, I like to give them time to show me everything. Then I realized that Sacred 2 had shown me everything in the first five minutes and I promptly wrote the review and never looked back.
Ah, FFVII. Iím glad I finally wrote a review for this one. I think the comments made during the brevity contest were all pretty spot on and, had I been a bit more careful with the writing, I probably couldíve scored higher. Iím just glad no one got upset that I didnít cover the gameplay. Everyone seemed to understand the approach I was taking to the game and were mostly saying it could use fleshing out. Which is good, because I really do think that FFVII, after my last playthrough, is an extremely dark game and few games have captured the same detailed view of a depressed world. The gameplay is inconsequential at this point.
I think too many RPG reviews focus on the system when generally the system in RPGs arenít very interesting or innovative. The real thing I think people want to know about an RPG is ďwhatís the general ambiance of the game?Ē Ambiance and setting are what make RPGs come to life. A great battle system is a nice plus, but few are the RPGs which keep people coming back for their amazing battles.
In any case, I donít think this is a bad review by any means. I do think there could be more substance to it, without increasing the word count any.
Wow, check out my snarkiness in the feedback section! Donít know why I was such an asshole back then. Probably because I had no direction in my life and was working a shit job after breaking up my five year relationship. Itís no excuse, though, so I apologize in retrospect for my assholish words... though I actually did mean my final thanks to everyone in the topic, that wasnít sarcasm.
In any case, thank you all for slapping me upside the head about that sister line. With the tremendous powers of EmP, itís terribleness has been forever erased from the face of Honest Gamers and now the Flower review can be read in peace and tranquility with love in your heart.
Also, apparently NG4 thinks Iím gay. They obviously donít know that I just suck cock on the side.
Way of the Samurai
This was my strongest review until the summer, when my writing really picked up a notch. looking at it now, itís a little stiff in its inflection and pacing, but the overal fun of the review is still there. The tragic story of Menji is one that I think deserves to be made into a graphic novel or a webcomic.
This review was really hard to write. It was around this time that my computer stopped playing games well and finally died on them altogether. It wasnít my first time playing Undying, but I had kindíve planned on a full replay before writing. My situation forced me to work off of half a replay, as well as memory and a very fine strategy guide I happen to own for the game.
Taking that evidence and shaping it into an honest review was a challenge. Not because I couldnít remember things (I actually had a very clear memory of the game) but mostly because I couldnít quite figure out what wasnít satisfying about the experience. Thatís where the stategy guide ultimately came in. I found myself reading and rereading its extensive chapter on character history and enjoying it more than I had enjoyed the story during gameplay.
Thatís when I realized that Undyingís problem lies in its presentation of that story, because itís not really present during gameplay. Thus this reviewís ultimate angle. Other than that, I went with a kind of introduction I hadnít tried before and couldnít help myself from poking fun at Clive Barker. That guy is silly.
Tokyo Beat Down!
One of the hardest reviews of the year. Tokyo Beat Down was one of those games that took me forever to figure out the problems with, as it had a sense of humour and style that acted as distractions to keep me from hating it. I think this review ultimately captured that while also nicely debasing the game for its terrible attempt to make a beat-em-up.
I thought there was a line in here that bugged me, but on re-reading it, I canít find it. So weíll call this one good and done... or done and good, if you prefer.
Side note: when I sold this game, the guy at the counter bought it directly from me so the store wouldn't have a chance to sell it. Despite my warnings he was very excited and his exuberance warmed my heart just a little bit. Some good has come out of Tokyo Beat Down, even if that man is still an ugly teenager who works at a gamestop in the mall.
I went in recently and changed this review around a lot. The original version was just... redundant. And it mentioned Myst, which I really shouldíve played again before running around congratulating it on being... whatever it is.
I think I went a bit overboard with the voice clips in this one. But they are really awful. Kindíve like how the voice acting destroys what is actually a pretty neat game, I think the accumulation of voice clips and camp in this upsets what wasnít such a bad review. At least the intention was good.
Fat Alber- Princess
Never again will I give a positive review to an online co-op game. I was excited by Fat Princess for about a month after this review was released. Then I realized that people donít know how to play online games co-operatively. I havenít played it since. But itís tough to write reviews for online-only games. They are so dependent on the player base and on updates and patches. In this case, I still think the original idea behind Fat Princess warrants the score I gave it, but I give the player base a fucking 2, or maybe a 3 on a good day. Ah hell, letís boost it to 4... the majority of them donít have mics so at least I donít have to listen to them whine racial slurs. Of course, that could also explain why no one can get their shit together and form a proper charge.
I wrote this review at the same time that I was writing the one for Mytran Wars and they took drastically different paths to their respective finish lines. In all honesty, I wish Iíd read This review before making my own attempt. Itís a much more streamlined approach to the fact that Steambot Chronicles is what you make it and you can make it a lot of different things. My review tried to tackle that a little more technically and the result is a very slow read that doesnít do much for itself.
This is one of my favourite reviews for the year. It was really fun to review a game in a genre that I donít really like and be able to come away from it with an objective review that totally bypassed all of my biases. Writing this review, and later SOTN, taught me a lot about the differences between going into a review biased (which is bad) and having an experience during a game that others might consider biased (which is not bad, but is something you have to justify).
I do think thereís a wierd transition in the beginning of this review where we jump from a good introduction to what feels like a second introduction as I talk about the name of the game. But I think that was just a sign of my developing style early in the year. I hadnít learned yet how to remove the fat from my reviews.
Ultimate Alliance 2
Another tough review. These games that are passable but nothing special are really hard to review. A review for a great game is filled with enthusiasm. A review for a poor game is filled with humourous ire. But a game that is ďjust another gameĒ kindíve leaves the reviewer hanging in terms of emotion. Thereís a lot of tricks you can use to still fit in ire and enthusiasm, but in this case I think I just walked the middle line of neutrality.
That last line isnít true anymore.
This game highlights the inherent failing of the DS online and multiplayer, er, functions. I say functions very lightly here because very little about the system actually works. The only game I ever managed to play a decent amount of multiplayer on was Mario Kart DS and then it took sometimes fifteen minutes to get in a match. All of these complaints, by the way, can be easily carried over to the Wii.
I think Jason had a good point about the introduction to this review being a little wierd. I think I know where I was trying to go with that, but... like... did I just forget to go there or something? It never ties back into the review and thus leaves the whole thing feeling like it was supposed to be meaningful... but is instead about some strange downloadable game where you play as warring factions of water. Maybe I was just trying too hard.
I was set up for disappointment in DMC4 and boy did it deliver. I blame this game for making me so critical of RE5. I really am tired of seeing Capcom release the same damn thing year after year.
Overdrive had a good point about the ending of this review being too stacked with all the negative comments about the game. Reading it now, though, I can see why I did it that way. There wasnít really a place to put those things in while talking about the other aspects of the game. I possibly couldíve left them out or maybe taken a different approach to the game, but Odinís Sphere is one of the toughest titles to review because itís so unique. You have so much ground to cover to make the player understand how the game feels and handles... I actually donít think Iíve seen a great review for this game anywhere on the net. Itís just too new and unique to review properly, at least if you go at it from a technical angle.
Not my favourite review by far. Actually, I think this is one of my worst reviews of the year. The problem was that I just went ahead and wrote it without reading what was already out there. Had I done that first, I wouldíve realized that my approach was not only unoriginal, but it wasnít even tactful or well-written. I do think I had a good thing going with the intro. I still often call upon WWKD? to steer me right.
Another blaise game that I had to try and spice up a bit so that people didnít fall asleep while reading about it. I think I actually slept through the last level of Wolenstein. The main character is ridiculously overpowered and the game is stupidly linear. The gaming world has to come to realize that First Person Shooters are not easy to make. Developers just slam some shooting mechanics into a neat setting and think theyíve created the next Half Life. It doesnít work that way and I donít understand why people havenít realized this, yet. Even the most recent Call of Duty fell into that trap. I think Iím done with FPS for a while... at least until Half Life 3 comes out.
8-bit reviews are fun to write. Thereís no rules, really, because very few people actually care whether the game was good or not. They want to know how crappy it looked, how awful the controls were, how terrifying the 8-bit music was. Some people, like the Angry Video Game Nerd and Seanbaby, have made careers out of insulting NES games. But I like to actually have fun, so that path is not for me. Plus they are way better at it than I am.
I canít play Fatal Frame. I get too scared. But I think it was Lewis who pointed out in a System Shock 2 review that a good horror game can take debilitating fear and still make you want to eat it. In Fatal Frame terrible controls just serve to make the player feel helpless to affect the game, which is different from feeling helpless because of the gameís scenario or a lack of weapons. The more cold-blooded of us will continue to play and just feel frustrated... the pansies, like me, will stop playing and write a bash review bitchiní about the controls.
I think maybe two people on the site read this revie. Bioshock reviews are simply not popular on Honest Gamers ever since we posted fifteen of them. It makes sense, though. Bioshock had to be one of the most-hyped games of the last decade and that kind of publicity invites discussion post-release. There was no middle ground on Bioshock; people either thought it was the second coming or they felt that it had been way over advertised and was a pretty medoicre piece of shit. I fall into the second category.
X-Men: NES version
You know what this review taught me? Use HTML in your reviews, because it always looks better than straight up text. I havenít really followed that rule closely since writing this, but looking at it now, I think the visual benefits of those three bullet points are evident. Other than that... yeah, the whole ďanything goesĒ approach I mentioned in my last 8-bit review.
Virtua Fighter CG Portrait
Itís nice when a company takes a series youíve been complaining about for months and releases a game that fixes everything you had talked about. Makes you feel noticed.
I wrote this for the ďWe Hate YouĒ something-or-other contest. I hated writing this review. It took me forever to properly justify why I hated the game and then longer still to figure out how to get the reader to hate it, too. Outside of Hello Kitty I donít think Iíve hated a game quite as quickly as I learned to hate Warhawk. Those opening cutscenes are teeth-grindingly bad and the gameplay gives you a headache. Not to mention the graphics look like the original StarFox dipped in ominous amounts of brown.
I really donít have anything else to say about Dead Space. Between two reviews I think everything that needed to be said was. It was nice to have this win ROTW, though, because I thought it was a huge improvement over my original version (the only review Iíve ever taken down off the site). I did learn something cool from this review, which is how fun it is to go back a year after youíve first played a game and revisit it. Itís very revealing.
The review that awoke the Penguin!
Some people (penguins) questioned the nostalgic direction I took with this review, but in my mind, there could have been no better game to highlight the nostalgia factor. I thought I showed that during the review, but maybe I shouldíve tried harder? The poster may be a little gimmicky, but I think itís appropriate in this case because itís very game-centered and not about getting you to laugh at how clever I am (which I donít really think I am). Itís just a highlight of one of those memorable SNES lines we all know and some of us love.
Thereís that nostalgia, again.
There was so much BAD about Obscureís cheesy opening that I had to really pull myself away from a review that was unbalanced with criticism. Because, really, it does some cool things with the Survival Horror genre. Suvival Horror games are tricky that way. They have two distinct goals: good gameplay and a chilling atmosphere. So rarely do they get them both right and I canít understand why this happens.
In retrospect, I shouldíve mentioned the chainsaw. Itís the weakest chainsaw ever. Like, the spoof-saw, or something.
Lara Croft in a general kind of way
Iím really pleased with the way this review turned out. It was written during the Team Tournament, which holds everyone, I think, to a higher standard of writing than usual. Not everyone loved this review and ultimately I think it lost during the tournament. Looking through it again, I think maybe people found a little bit too much of ďmeĒ in the review, which is understandable considering the way I wrote it. I still like this one, though. Probably one of my favourite reviews of the year.
Title: A humble request of the staff
Posted: February 13, 2010 (12:14 PM)
I know this is not usually how we do things here, but as I was going through my old reviews for my "year in review" I came across something that would be awesome to have changed:
A great review ruined by one unfortunate sentence about pushing sisters down stairs, as pointed out by many. Don't know what I was thinking, but I was young! I had not yet had the full benefit of a year's worth of criticism and commentary.
If any staff member has a free moment, they could help me out on that one by just removing that entire paragraph... please... ? Seriously, that would be awesome. In my mind, considering the game, it's the most regrettable mistake I've ever made in a review for the site.
Title: Heavy Rain Demo: Review
Posted: February 12, 2010 (08:29 PM)
The demo for Heavy Rain came out this week and I spent the last hour playing it, exploring the various things the game has to offer. The demo is a four part affair. I'll take you through all four parts and discuss the various ins, outs, and potentials of the game as we go. Obviously, there's some small spoilers, so if you don't want to know ANYTHING about Heavy Rain or how it plays, don't continue.
The first part is a tutorial in which you guide a portly middle aged man (who looks remarkably like Jack Lemmon in a trench coat) down a dark alley. Right away we can see that the game is beautifully produced. Water trickles off surfaces, the lighting casts realistic shadows, and the main character's gait is captured perfectly; the uncomfortable hunched walk of someone who has seen too many wet days (living in Oregon, I see this walk a lot). When the character has an asthma attack, the spasms that wrack his body are beautiful to watch (in a disturbing kind of way).
About that asthma attack... the game starts us off with a healthy dose of the quick-time-events (QTE) that we've been promised will pepper Heavy Rain quite liberally. We get to experience how any action outside of walking is controlled through QTE, whether it be sucking on your inhaler or opening your car door. These controls feel very responsive and generally fit the action that's being taken (for instance, "pushing" the analog stick over and out to open a door, and being able to control how fast the door is opened by the speed of your movement). Examining objects is also pretty cool. It's not done in the classic adventure game way, where you select an object or have to lead a character over to it. Here it's done by hitting L2, which pulls up a rotating list of the character's current thoughts. When the character spots something of interest or has a thought about something, it appears in this list. It's an innovative take on the old method which cuts down on the frustration of adventure games of yore, where you were constantly trying to get the character to move into the right spot to check something out long after you'd seen it.
For getting that complicated stuff right, it's shocking that simple stuff goes wrong. You move forward with the R2 trigger and steer with the left analog stick. Oddly, the game steers based on camera orientation, which is something I thought we did away with back in the days of the original Resident Evil. It's reappearance here isn't only unwelcome, it's out-of-date and out-of-sync with every other third person game out there right now. As the camera is constantly moving and shifting, the developers are going to be hard pressed to explain why they choose to use this method. Hopefully there's an option to change this in the final release, but I doubt it. It really does break the otherwise extremely immersive experience.
The tutorial ends with the as-of-yet unnamed character entering a building and we switch to part 2. Part 2 demonstrates a lot more of the "sandbox" elements of the game. I don't mean that you get free reign over where you go or that you gain access to a whole city to explore. It's more of a "sandbox director" experience, in which you are presented with a scene and your choices and actions change the way the scene plays out.
In this case, the scene finds our character (who we learn through his thoughts is Jack Shelby, a private eye) looking to question a hooker about the Origami Killer. She was the mother of one of the murder victims. Right away we are made aware of our control over the scene. Jack can question the desk clerk about which room Lauren (the hooker) is in (and then persuade him with some cash, if he doesn't feel like talking) or walk on by and try to find the room by knocking on all the doors. When you get to the right room, Lauren tells you she "only does appointments" and tries to shut the door. You can either stop the door with your hand or let it close and knock again.
These kind of changes are obviously cosmetic. Regardless of how you do it, you've got to get in Lauren's room. Once there, however, we start to see some more meaningful branching paths. Try to bribe Lauren to talk about her son's death with money and she'll become irate, telling you to "get the fuck out of her room" and leaving you with no leads. But try to appeal to her motherly nature and she'll be more talkative. I find a little bit of fault here with how these persuasion choices are laid out. Sometimes it's not clear what kind of statement certain choices will elicit from Jack. For example, it's by clicking on the choice to "trick her" that you end up appealing to Lauren's motherly side. That said, the fact that you can miss out on an entire scene just by making the wrong choices is appreciated and adds a huge amount of potential replay value to the game.
The last part of the scene also highlights the sandbox nature of these scenes. As you leave Lauren's room another man comes in... forcibly. Rush back into the room to help her and you suddenly hit a plethora of branching QTEs as you're introduced to Heavy Rain's unique combat system.
Like the rest of the game, the combat system feels like a scene in a movie that you direct. Push open the door as the punk comes to answer it and you can greet him with a headbutt. Kick it open and he'll charge at you for the first strike. Failing to hit the buttons correctly or fast enough or not performing the proper action (some QTEs require you to shake the controller or hold multiple buttons at once) will cause you to miss with your blows or take blows yourself.
There isn't a health bar; your progression through combat changes based on what actions you succeed or fail at. We've already heard that some combats can prove fatal and change the course of the game (from interviews we've learned your game doesn't end when a character dies, they just drop out of the story) but in this case combat just serves to either leave Shelby bloody or the punk bloody... in either case, Lauren threatens to call the cops and the punk flees. Thus, however intricate the combat progression might be, the changes in this particular combat are just cosmetic. However, what isn't cosmetic is that you don't have to do this scene at all. As the punk forces his way into the room you can choose to ignore Lauren's screams and leave the building. In either case, Part 2 ends at this point, leaving me interested in seeing how these kind of decisions will affect the story of the game in the long run, as well as things like whether or not you choose to leave your card in Lauren's room in case she remembers anything.
The third part of the demo showcases the ARI system, which is going to make up the forensic part of the game. As Federal Agent Norman Jayden, you arrive at a crime scene for a victim of the Origami killer and proceed to examine the scene to find clues. The ARI system is simple enough; by pushing right and up on the controller, you'll whip out a pair of high-tech sunglasses and some bitchin' gloves and enter a mode similar to Arkham Asylum's detective mode. At this point, you wander around the crime scene and light up general areas with your glove to see if you reveal any clues. If you do, you can examine them in more detail. Some are red herrings, mostly caused by the sloppy police-work going on around you. Others, if pieced together correctly, may set you on the trail of the killer.
Note that when I say pieced together correctly, this is player logic that I'm talking about. Unlike adventure games of old, you don't have to investigate every little thing or find them in certain orders to locate the trail of the Origami Killer. The clues are there to point the player in the right direction. As in the last scene, it's also up to the player to decide if they want to follow the clues.
In my first playthrough of this scene I hunted down all the clues, following them ultimately outside of the crime scene and over to a busy road before the trail went cold. I went back to my car loaded with information. The second time I played, I wandered around, talked to the police and drank their coffee, took a rudimentary glance at the body, and left. As with the previous scene, I'm hopeful that these differences in player decisions will have an impact on future scenes.
Playing through twice also highlighted the dynamic environments that Heavy Rain creates. My first time through I was completely distracted by all of the policemen wandering about. I actually felt claustrophobic in their midsts as I stumbled around looking for my clues. The second time around, I spent more time on the fringes of the masses and got to see things I didn't the first time, such as a freight train passing through the crime scene, or a journalist in the shadows madly taking notes on a pad.
The final part of the demo is a video trailer highlighting the "heaviness" of the game (it starts with a video asking a character to cut off his finger to save his son). After viewing it multiple times and putting it together with what I experienced in the other parts of the demo, the most accurate statement I can make about the game is that it has potential; maybe more potential than any game that's come out in the adventure genre.
The presentation is over-the-top, so I don't think anyone has to worry about not having something pretty to look at, and the two characters we meet in the demo are interesting in an accessible and realistic way (they aren't over-the-top). From the demo, Heavy Rain could be the Noir RPG that only the most clever GM could hold; could be the Jacob's Shadow we never got to read; could be Sin City 2. All of that is going to ride on how well they develop the characters, how much influence the player's decisions have over the story, and how well the story pans out.
Now, for anyone who has played Indigo Prophecy, that is not a comforting list. It is true that Quantic Dreams failed to deliver on their last big game and, worse, failed to deliver after a hugely promising build up. But Heavy Rain is interesting and unique enough to warrant them a second chance, I think. It will either be the game that cements Quantic Dreams as a lackaluster designer or the game that wipes their slate clean and allows gamers everywhere to say "all is forgiven." I have high hopes for the latter.
Heavy Rain comes out on the 23rd of this month and is exclusive for the PS3.
Title: Addendum to my Silent Hill review
Posted: February 12, 2010 (03:10 PM)
I know I gave the game a 6/10 and I do still stand by that from a general gaming perspective, but I won't feel right until I post this small addendum. After all, sometimes it takes a while for things to fully sink in with a game.
I have to stress how the endings are designed to hit you based on your personality. The ending I received was built for me, music and all, and it hasn't stopped affecting me since I saw it. I know I mention the fact that the game should be played through to get the "best" ending, but in thinking over the game today I realized that's a bit of a misleading term. Any ending you get will be the best for you because it has been tailored to what your beliefs and motivations in life are.
While it's still true that most gamers will not want to play this a second time and thus might need to consider carefully before buying the game, I do think, in retrospect, this aspect of the experience was not made apparent enough in my review.
My Hello Kitty review, on the other hand, I have nothing to add to.
Title: And now for something completely different
Posted: February 09, 2010 (11:08 PM)
Stay tuned for a Hello Kitty review.
Title: MSN username
Posted: February 08, 2010 (12:43 PM)
I realized I should probably put up my MSN username if anyone wants to talk about gaming or reviewing with me... or contests, or the meaning of life, or whatever:
Username: Zipp Dementia
If that doesn't work for whatever reason, try: firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: Silent Hill Shattered Memories: PSP
Posted: February 08, 2010 (11:52 AM)
Alright, my review is awaiting approval in the production room. I actually studied up on my HTML before doing this one. I was beginning to feel a little antiquated, just relying on standard text. I'm a big believer that you have to use the full extent of the medium offered to you and HTML allows you to do things like embed pictures, sound, video, etc. I want more of my reviews to start using these things, at least pictures.
As for the game, it had a really good ending, but there was a lot of tedium involved in getting there. I was really pleased with some of the innovations, such as the lack of a combat system (which actually hearkens back to the Alone in the Dark days) and the eerily accurate personalitu profiling. But all this came with some poor design choices that ruin the effect.
It should be up later today. Check it out and let me know what you think! If there's one genre that fascinates me, it's the survival horror genre, so I'd be happy to have some discussion about it.
Title: GBA emulator for Mac?
Posted: February 08, 2010 (12:18 AM)
Anyone know of one? Please? I'd really like to play Mother 3...
Title: All sorts of cool technology happening here
Posted: February 07, 2010 (06:47 PM)
No, I'm not talking about those new glasses from Britain that let you price compare and see what people's addresses and personalities are just by looking at them. Nor am I talking about those new tables which are giant touchpads and allow you to write an essay, buy online clothing, and spill soda all over your expensive new computer-table all at the same time.
I'm talking about some changes to my personal set up. For one, I've finally hooked up my laptop to my big screen HDTV. Combined with a USB keyboard and mouse, I now park my laptop to one side of my desk and just use the huge screen to do all my work and internet browsing. I've ascertained that all of the following are made better by this:
- writing reviews
- internet gaming
Furthermore I took apart my PS3 last night with my dad's help and got to see its beautiful (and very nicely laid out) innards. I then removed its 15-blade fan and put in a nice 19-blade fan that has it running thirty times quieter (and about twice as cool) as it was before.
I'm really glad I got this done because the fan noise was getting on my nerves and I wanted to take care of it before the (hopefully) immersive experiences of Heavy Rain and FFXIII become available for purchase.
The above paragraph doesn't do justice to how ecstatic I am to have a new fan in the PS3. It's also the only system I've ever owned which I've dared to open and modify. I'm glad I did it. I feel sort've like I've consummated our relationship now.
In other news, I need a girlfriend.
Title: Post Apocalyptic film set
Posted: February 02, 2010 (05:32 PM)
Here are some photos from my movie, "population 2."
I have high rez pics of the footage coming, so expect another link this week.
Title: Gone Filming, back Sunday
Posted: January 29, 2010 (01:03 AM)
I'll post pictures when I get back, as soon as they are available to me.
Title: internet browsing
Posted: January 25, 2010 (09:17 PM)
Sometimes when I'm browsing the internet, I feel like Scrooge McDuck diving in his gold vault... only not as happy.
Title: I'm Issac
Posted: January 24, 2010 (12:54 AM)
One of my side jobs is being a nude model for the art institutions around town. I happened to model last year for the guy who did the cover for Dead Space II.
I just found out he used my pose for the cover. So, yeah... that's me on the cover, more or less.
Title: heavy Rain
Posted: January 24, 2010 (12:50 AM)
Tell me I'm not the only one completely stoked for this.
Is anyone doing the four-day challenge?
Title: Castlevania Gear
Posted: January 23, 2010 (11:46 AM)
How much you want to bet Hideo does some sort of pseudo-historical thing with the series timeline?
Title: First film shoot coming up
Posted: January 21, 2010 (12:05 PM)
We're doing our first shoot Sunday the 31st. It came together very quickly this week when we found an abandoned bar that we want to shoot in. However, the place is only available until the 1st, when they give the lease to someone else who will inevitably clean up all the wonderful dust and broken glass and what not that we need for our shoot.
In any case, I got word to the crew and director, expedited the costume that our actress needs, gave the go ahead to start developing the shooting version of the scene as well as storyboards, etc. etc.
I'm building a dolly for our use, shouldn't take me more than a day with my dad's help. I'm also getting the money needed to rent the place and I'm pulling in partnerships with local companies to grab their insurance for the shoot.
It's a lot of craziness to fit into the next three or four days.
I'll post pictures of the shoot when we're done!
Title: First review of the year!
Posted: January 19, 2010 (08:41 PM)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
I was only somewhat surprised to see that my review of this game is one of the more negative ones on the net: SOTN was heralded as a work of genius when it came out and is still considered so by many.
But read my take on things, see what you think.
Title: Dragon Age first impressions
Posted: January 05, 2010 (11:26 PM)
Combat system I like a lot. Yes, it's a lot like KOTOR, but I feel like the fat has been cut off the abilities. Actually, much of the game so far appeals to me.
My one gripe is an aesthetic one. The voices of the characters just don't seem to match the models. Anyone else notice this? I think it's because most of the body models are the same with just different heads mounted on them, so old men with scratchy beards and hoarse voices stand as straight as youths and have the lung capacity to speak more... less... old...
But it's also the stiffness of the animations and lip movements and the surprisingly poor textures.
EDIT: This just in. Dragon Age females have massive camel toe.
Title: Games for 2010
Posted: January 04, 2010 (12:08 PM)
I'm hoping that by the Summer of 2010, my collection will include the following:
- Half Minute Hero
- God of War 3
- FF 13
- Dragon Age: OWNZED
- Assassin's Creed 2
- Heavy Rain
On New Years I had someone scream out "Dragon Age!" while I was having sex with her. That kinda sold me.
Title: More Chrono Break
Posted: January 03, 2010 (04:18 PM)
The chances of me roping in anyone here who is not already reading this are slim, I know, but it's never too late to start checking out my work, now the efforts of more than a year's worth of writing.
What better way to start the new year than with another part?
Posted: December 29, 2009 (06:43 PM)
Title: Castlevania en retrospect
Posted: December 29, 2009 (12:32 AM)
I very rarely recommend Angry Video Game Nerd episodes, but if you haven't seen his latest four-part treatement of the Castlevania series than you have to click the link below.
This is part 1. I figure you can find the other three parts without my help.
I'd actually really be interested in hearing what people's own experiences with Castlevania are like. For me, it was a series I was always on the periphery of. I found them fuck-hard, for one thing, and that sort've pushed me away from them throughout my childhood. Also, they actually scared me when I was a child. Like, Simon's Quest I had to turn off the first time night fell. Yeah, I was kind've a pansy. Hell, the battles in FF4 used to scare me. I jumped every time that goddamn swirly screen came up.
I didn't really get into Castlevania until recently, actually, with the newer DS games, though I'm probably one of the only people to actually play the N64 game ALMOST all the way to the end. That game sucked hard.
You know, there's something lacking in the DS games, though. Even the old playstation games, widely considered the best of the series, somehow lost that old action feel of the originals. I think part of the problem is that, with the exception of Super Castlvania, Castlevania games never controlled all that well. The PS and DS games kind've fix that by giving you a shit ton of spells and items to wreak havoc with, but the complexity of items and leveling and what not seems to take away from the series for me.
What I'd like to see is some kind of mixture of Castlevania 3, with its branching paths and exploration elements, and Super Castlevania, with its mastery of the platforming sections. Maybe toss in the epicness of the boss fights in Symphony of the Night.
But I don't know... it seems now there's a Castlevania game out every two months. To me, that's when things stop getting interesting. Same goddamn thing happened to Megaman.
Title: Final count!
Posted: December 28, 2009 (06:17 PM)
After looking at the dates of my reviews, it seems I managed to do 35 this year. While only half the number of reviews that our illustrious webmaster submitted, it's not a number I'm disappointed in. It's an average of three reviews a month, which feels about right, though it means that I submitted 28 reviews last year in half the time. Not sure what that portends.
Title: Christmas Loot...?
Posted: December 27, 2009 (01:59 PM)
I'm actually not a fan of Christmas. The commercialism surrounding the holiday drives me insane. Therefore, while I did pick up some carefully thought out presents for a few friends, I didn't really expect or desire any presents myself.
However, a few friends returned my favour and bought me some pretty cool stuff, nonetheless. Well, one friend, actually. He picked me up the card game Ren Faire, by the guys who did Lunch Money. It's very good. The point is to dress up for the rennaisance faire, which is achieved by placing clear cards over character cards so they actually "get dressed."
To get money to buy costumes, you have to play cards that make you or other players do ridiculous things, like belly dance or tell jokes or act out shakespeare plays with your hands as puppets. It's very fun in a party.
Title: Thinking about seeing Sherlock Holmes....?
Posted: December 26, 2009 (10:31 AM)
... don't. It's terrible. Bad acting, hackneyed plot, awful script... I haven't seen a film try so hard to be good since The Spirit* Just do yourself a favour and skip this three-hour monstrosity. Go see Avatar instead.
*It's not as bad as The Spirit.