Monday, April 30, 2012

Annoying Games Journalism, Brought to You by Siliconera

I don't really like to slam news sites on the way they do things (even though I can't say I haven't done this in the past), but sometimes there is just a line and I get bothered when people cross it or, sometimes, just skirt it for one reason or another.  This is what just happened over the course of this past weekend with Siliconera and if you frequently visit the site, you've probably already been exposed to it.  It's kind of a big thing over there for a myriad of reasons, though most of them have to do with readers being disappointed.  Obviously, I'm one of those people since I'm taking the time to actually write about it when there are quite honestly bigger things, for me at least not in the broad spectrum afoot (God of War: Ascension talk, how my Persona 3 Portable game is going (Like I said, for me), etc.), but I like to think that my annoyance is steeped in rationality where I can agree that the annoyance (and verbosity of) some are not.

The reasoning is pretty simple and it's all about the handling of the information that Siliconera has.  Yesterday (barely, it was posted at midnight), Siliconera had a post go up with the title "Siliconera Will Reveal A Square Enix Title on Monday", which is, uh, pretty direct.  The body of the article leaves even less room for speculation (as to the status of the title, at least) as well.  (Ignore the obviously editted-in-today part at the bottom)

We have a treat for Siliconera readers this week with news about an unannounced Square Enix game. I can’t say anymore for the moment other than this will be a Siliconera exclusive and the game will surprise you.

News on an unannounced game.  I don't feel I really have to take this single sentence apart and explain where the confusion comes from, but I'm gonna, since apparently there was confusion and there is also confusion as to how there was confusion.  Confusingly.  An unannounced game, in 98.7354% cases (Which might be a percentage I just made up) means a game that is yet to be announced, as in a game with a definite future, wherein there is a logical announcement window that comes before the pre-release or hype window that comes before release window that comes before post-release support.  This is the implication because this is how the word is used.  This is how words are used.  You don't always have to say everything and in fact, sometimes things are better when you don't.  But when using words, there is an unsaid agreement between you and the person or people you are speaking to that you understand how words work.

Now, is it true that "Unannounced" can also stand for a game that was never announced because it died (or, ahem, 'is in limbo') in development?  Yes.  If you're being literal, that is also a way you can use the word because technically it means that.  This, as you can imagine, is where the problem comes in, and there's even precedent for this exact thing, which I will get into in a moment.  Basically to come right out and say it, this "Unannounced" title from Square Enix is, indeed, unannounced, because it is a game that was being worked on by (the now defunct) Cavia, and was planned to be shown off at 2011's E3.  As in the E3 that came and went almost exactly one year ago, wherein this period of a year, the game has not been announced.  The game is called (hell, just codenamed still) "Catacombs".  But, I'll get to that in a moment.  (I know, I know I just said that about something else, I'm getting to that now)

Now, like I said, there is a very clear precedent that's been set here in the past with the way you handle a project that is cancelled, most likely going to be cancelled, or is cancelled but might be revived because hell why not.  In fact, there is a very clear precedent to all of these with Square Enix games themselves which is absolutely all the more baffling that I have to even write this post.  When "Fortress", the Grin Studios project, was cancelled it was, well, cancelled and then news sites were like "Well, this was in development, here's some screenshots and art and such, coulda been cool".  It is still most likely dead in the water.  I don't even know what the hell "Project Dropship" is, but it was another cancelled title that was, well, cancelled and presented as a cancelled project.  And Gun Loco was announced, cancelled and presented as a cancelled project after being cancelled.  Cancelled.  (Because I certainly didn't say that enough)

So maybe, maybe people are a little annoyed with people who present a project that is most likely cancelled as an unannounced title, given the past and the circumstances thereof.  As I said, there is an implication and you can be as coy as you want about it, but the truth of it is is that you just can't do that.  I don't really blame them, however as I don't think it was done 'maliciously' or in an attempt to drum up hits (though it's likely done that), but simply was an example of poor judgement which, as always, should be pointed out sometimes.  The worst part about the whole situation, however? "Catacombs" actually looks pretty interesting.  Cavia is dead, though, has been dead and will continue to be dead.  The last time we had a game that was finished by Squeenix after the creativity left, we got FFXII.  Yeah, -that- ended well.

Maybe I'll fix this up with some actual Catacombs info or do up a post about it individually, but for now, I'm tired of finishing this post on my Vita.  On the plus side, however, -look how dedicated I am to this-.  Also modest.  Screw it, we're doin' this -live-.  (Because the storms have passed and I don't have to do this on the Vita.)

So, as I said, "Catacombs" looks pretty interesting, actually, since it does what Cavia, well, does and just throws a whole bunch of stuff together that somehow just friggin' works.  Reading the little bit of information Siliconera had to offer at this point in time, it seems like it's an FPS, RPG, Action and Roguelike title all in one.  Every floor of the tombs or the underbelly of the museum seems to be randomly generated (save for a few, I imagine), hence the roguelike, the RPG elements come in through the spells which are cast from rings that are found scattered here and there (possibly a level-up system as well beyond the one the weapons get) and the rest is pretty self-explanatory.  Because it's just weird and mish-mashy and pure insanity, I have some faith that it would actually just work (provided Cavia was still together and at the helm, obviously that won't happen and I don't think it would work otherwise), and it really would have been an interesting title to see come out.  I guess technically it could still come out just won't be the same.

The four characters seem fairly unassuming on the surface, but given Cavia's characterization, I can't help but wonder just what the hell would come from the game had it been made.  Based on the backstories for characters in past games, I'm sure not a single one of these people would have had a positive life (Perhaps Matt, but it seems like his son might be dead or missing at the start, so...), nor would it get any less depressing as the game went on.  And that would have been pretty interesting at the very least, since I imagine, despite the type of game it....would have been, it would have been very, very story-centric.  Which, again, would have been pretty interesting to see how they would have pulled that off.  Sigh, too bad about it, though  Damnit, Squeenix.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Just Cause 2 is Just Bottomless

After playing Just Cause 2 for hours upon hours at a clip, jumping from location to location and not leaving any until I have 100% complete of that area, I'm hesitant to believe that this will ever, in fact, end.  This is despite direct knowledge that it will - it simply feels that way because no matter what I do, it's simply a drop in the ocean.  Strangely enough, it does not discourage, but encourage further playing, since I do realize that it adds up and I do know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Still, it's quite an imposing thing, having as big a map as the one in Just Cause 2 with as much to -do- in it, since it is far and beyond what other games would logically have.  I suppose I could say this as a positive and a negative thing, whereas some other aspects of the game unfortunately come across as merely negative.

One of these aspects is the rather lop-sided reaction of the Panauan Army, which I have come to loathe tremendously through my experiences with location hopping, as it directly interferes with my ability to do so in an enjoyable fashion.  You see, to explain my circumstances, I feel I have to explain the game a little, so allow me to do that really quickly.  The locales of the game can be categorized pretty easily:  you have (Military) Communication Stations, Military Bases, (Military) Harbors, (Military) Airports, Cities and Towns.  (I might be forgetting something, but if I am, it's not important right now.)  Now, as you might realize, they're fairly differentiated by what you would expect the most military resistance from and what you wouldn't expect a lot from.  As in, if I were going to storm a Military Base to blow stuff up, or run into a town and blow up a solitary Propaganda Truck, I would expect the former to be the more difficult task.

Just Cause 2 thinks otherwise.

I can storm a Military Base and spend ten to twenty minutes looking for everything contained within, and not have so much as a call for reinforcements come across the radio.  Even as I'm shooting guard after guard in the face with my Super Shotgun and blowing up giant tanks of gas and shit, nobody thinks I'm causing enough of a problem that they can't handle it themselves.  Or....something along those lines I guess.  The point is, from start to finish, I can 100% a Military Base with no problem, getting, at most, Level 3 Heat for my troubles.  I guess, on its own, this isn't too surprising, nor is it something to seriously consider or worry about.  After all, level 3 in a 5(?) level system is pretty high after all, and the upper tiers are likely reserved for story purposes and times when you just do not stop causing chaos.  At least, that's what you might think.

The problem comes in when I see a Propaganda Truck in a town or a city.  It is a problem because they are usually flanked by a couple of soldiers which, on their own, isn't too bad, or barely any resistance if you have a fully upgraded shotgun.  However, approaching said truck invokes a reaction that confuses and infuriates me, as I can literally watch the Heat Gauge go from one to two to three before I even throw a grenade inside of the truck and when I do and it explodes, I have level Five Heat out of fucking nowhere.  Because I brazenly blew up a truck that was spewing a recording of the President to the townsfolk who, by all accounts, have probably learned how to tune it out, what with having to live with it and all. 

From this moment after the truck detonates, the game harkens back to the days of yore, the days of Grand Theft Auto III, when the commonplace was to cause chaos until you had a five or six star wanted level and make a dramatic last stand because there was no fucking way you were surviving that.  While not quite that impossible, Level 5 Heat has afforded me plenty of experience in hijacking helicopters (one session giving me nine hijackings, on top of the likely half a dozen helicopters I simply shot down from my own copters) simply because they will not stop fucking sending them after me and the whole while I am simply left in shock of the fact that I am getting shot at by three military helicopters at the same time because I blew up a truck.  There is something wrong with this.

As you might imagine, this exercise in frustration has given me pause when it comes to completing Villages as locations as, if there is a Truck present, I simply have to destroy it, and of course in doing so, it means that I will then be stuck spending the next fifteen or so minutes fighting and evading my way out of a level five heat so that I may continue playing the game without having helicopters trying to examine my head with rockets.  Conversely, I exhale a sigh of relief every time the next undiscovered location turns out to be anything else, as it means that I will simply not have to deal with that awfulness, but rather, I look forward to the eventual cat-and-mouse game that surfaces at 92-97% completion, wherein that last piece of something beckons me from its hiding spot, as if some perverse game of Hide-And-Seek, wherein the goal is to find and consume or destroy, depending on that which is sought.

Still, the important part is that Just Cause 2 is fun, even after all these hours I've put into it.  I may have, in anger, once exclaimed at my television, "THIS.  SHIT LIKE THIS IS WHY YOU'RE TWENTY DOLLARS!", but I do consider it a success for gaming if just because it has raised the bar in crafting an open world that is truly that, as well as giving you the means to explore every inch of it in a way that is both enjoyable and interesting.  While the world isn't bursting with life, it has its own quirks and it has raw size if nothing else to make it feel like something worth celebrating in this particular way.  In many ways, I look at Just Cause 2 as something to show off potential more than anything else, since where the game isn't tight enough for me to consider it 'great', it's good enough to be quite fun, and it offers me plenty of times to say "Man, if only someone who churns out top-shelf quality could get a hold of this", to drool at the possibility therein.  If only, indeed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So, I Started Demon's Souls

All at once, it was everything I expected, yet completely different than I anticipated, and I'm left feeling a little mixed about it all.  Demon's Souls is a brand of difficult that you simply cannot fathom until you've experienced it for yourself and even then, it's hard to condense into words.  It's even harder to form sentences elegantly with those words in a way that sufficiently expresses the 'Demon's Souls Experience' as it were, but I feel like I have to try it anyway.  At least, I -want- to try it, which is surprising and expected all at once as well.  In all reality, that's kind of what Demon's Souls is, or what it engenders - seemingly opposite things being used in the same breath as a valid form of explanation.

I honestly kind of hate Demon's Souls, but at the same time I think I will come to like it as something very very special.

My first experience with Demon's Souls is likely not my own, in fact, but the same experience so many first-time players have had.  I spent about fifteen to twenty minutes crafting the face of Mikhail Metzinger (Unfortunately, the character limit forced me to reduce this to Metziner), set him in the minimal garb of Barbarian because I liked the look of its Strength and Magic stats and started.  Just past the introduction, I began, stumbling through the controls in the tutorial area comprised of what I can only assume are practice dummies that can walk and, should you do absolutely nothing, kill you because that is, indeed, how Demon's Souls rolls.  I wandered without direction other than the path that seemed correct and eventually stepped through the veil that took me to the area with Vanguard, that which instantly makes what type of game Demon's Souls is obvious.

Harkening back to the olden days, Vanguard is a foe that you are not -supposed- to defeat, but despite this you may yet have a chance.  Personally, I died with a single hit to him, but I've heard tell that it is possible to kill him at that tender, starting point.  Wherein most games, you would have some sort of reward at this point for doing that which is 'impossible', the reward for doing such a thing in Demon's Souls, or so I've been told, is a foe even stronger, even deadlier.  You see, Demon's Souls wants to kill you.  And it will succeed, one way or another.  Now, I could say that this is because the game has a reason for this, which is to introduce you to the Nexus and to the core mechanics of the game itself, and that might be part of it, but make no mistake, it is not the whole truth of it.  Demon's Souls simply wants you to die.  Over and over again.  And over and over and over again.

I was not so ignorant of Demon's Souls to find the death to Vanguard surprising; in fact I expected it.  I welcomed it, for it was the initiation.  The trial by fire necessary to steep you down into the mechanics and into the game proper.  I had hungered for that moment for longer than I had realized and when it came, it was swift and it was sweet.  I had a moment of revelry alongside the game because it meant that it had now officially started and I was free to enjoy it as the vast majority of the internet insisted that I should, that I would.  After an unfortunate false start with Boldwin (I, er, didn't realize hitting the crates next to him would also -hit him-) I began with the archstone and went to the first real level.  That's when the enjoyment of the game came crashing to a halt.

In, again, what I imagine is not an experience solely of my own, I steeled the first section rather easily, expecting the soldiers to burst from the wooden blockades along the edges of the area and meeting them with brute force, the crush of wood against flesh, followed by looting those that bore anything and moving on to the next one.  At the giant doors, I went left as is the only way a new player can go, and a message emblazoned on the ground gave a rather cryptic message:  "Beware of an ambush" with a fairly decent rating.  I believed it, and, after a few moments of waiting, figured there was no such thing, at least not right here, and crushed the nearby barrels, hungry for hidden loot.  And it was then that a crossbow bolt to Mikhail's spine lead to his first non-Vanguard death.

That was fine.  Whatever, it was a death, if I'm going to play the game, I have to become immune to these things.  So I got back to the spot of my death with ease and charged down the alleyway, spotting the crossbowman early enough this time.  I circled around up the platform and clubbed his face in, finding a macabre satisfaction in the action and turned that same thirst to the two soldiers in the area.  Well, rather, -one- soldier, as the other unfortunately threw himself down the convenient pit of doom right next to this raised platform.  Entering the building nearby, I moved past the table to engage the soldier that showed up, but the ambusher from behind caught me off-guard and in my haste to try and maneuver myself in prime position to take them both out, I accomplished the exact opposite and met my demise once more.

This cycle repeated again and again - I would get further in and die, find my body and get further in, and as I did, my frustration grew.  This wasn't a challenge, this was trial-and-error; throwing yourself off a roof again and again to find where the ground was softest.  Eventually, however, after fighting a knight enemy atop a castled area with catapults and going through the fog beyond, only to die because I stood too close to an exploding barrel that I couldn't see until a thrown firebomb was an inch away from it, this was when I found my breaking point.  Filled with a bloodlust that could not be sated, I rushed the first grunt in the starting area and clubbed him across the face at the tail-end of a charge.....only to have my weapon break.  Unable to do anything beyond use it, which went as well as you can imagine, I died right there as three more grunts sought vengeance for their slain comrade and they found it in my rather untimely death.  Having lost all those souls, including those from killing that Knight-looking fellow twice, I was done.

Infuriated, I turned off the game, and turned to people who knew the game, recanting my tale to them and finding no solace in their words that this was normal.  Already, I knew it was and it offered no amount of comfort, nothing to soothe the pure -rage- at what I saw as design stuck too far in the past.  Because I didn't see it as a challenge, but simply tedious - You go until you die, find your body and use that knowledge to get a little further.  Again, it's not playing, it's merely throwing yourself at a wall until it breaks and it's not fun.  Of course, that was thinking grown out of frustration and I don't really think I consider that to be my final opinion on the game.  In fact, not but half an hour after I quit the game, I felt the urge to get back into it, which I've stemmed since that night, mostly by enjoying Just Cause 2 when that game isn't throwing entire fleets of helicopters down my throat for blowing up a fucking propaganda wagon are you serious I just obliterated two entire military bases and you get pissy when I blow up a van in a town?!  But I will get back into it.  Mikhail's journey is not over, not even close.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale Officially Announced

So it was rumored long ago, and more recently resurfaced as something of a near-confirmation of said rumor, but now, finally, it is official:  Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is a thing that exists and what a thing it is.  Thankfully, the Playstation Blog has provided a video that isn't an entire episode of GTTV that I had to watch at 3 AM last night just to find out about this, and because I'm nice, I've provided it above.  Just...go ahead and take a look at that, let it sink in for a moment and then we can continue.


Ready?  Yeah?  Okay.  I know what you're thinking, and yes, it does look like Super Smash Bros. which we all kind of expected months ago when it was hinted.  Hell, there's probably not a person among us who -hasn't- thought of this idea at one point or time.  This speaks to the merit of Super Smash Bros. being a good idea, but also not broad enough to cover scenarios that we, as gaming people, would like it to cover, thus necessitating other games like it.  Like this.  So yes, it -does- look like Super Smash Bros., but you know what?  Awesome.  I honestly don't see any semblance of a problem with this whatsoever, nor do I logically see any reason why anyone should.

People are quick to cry 'rip-off' and put a real negative slant on the word, but why is it a bad thing?  Super Smash Bros. is (apparently) a highly successful and entertaining franchise with a neat, quirky concept that has been done many times before and will be done many times after this.  (the last SSB game I've played, for reference, was the original on the 64)  It's not like Nintendo has been the paragon of innovation itself, lately, so maybe let's calm down a little, yeah?  It gets a little tiresome hearing how Nintendo does no wrong and is the best at everything and such whenever someone dares to take a concept they popularized and put their own spin on it.

What really matters here is how much fun the game is and initial reports point to "Very".  Which is unsurprising, since that's just kind of how these games are, provided the mechanics are tight.  Games in the same vein that have come out in recent years seem to have overlooked that part, which I imagine is where the whole disconnect and low opinion of the game's chances might come from.  But the fact of the matter is, no matter how much people want to pretend that the Sony line-up can't be great, it's likely going to, so with the character line-up solid, we just have to look to the developer for the mechanics.  Given that it's basically a First-Party studio (I said basically) and the fact that they're likely going to be working close with other first, second and third party studios to ensure that their characters are used properly, they'll likely get a lot of additional help.  I'm really not concerned about that part.

Now, I've brought up characters several times here in previous posts, so I'll try not to re-tread my previous thoughts too much.  Clearly, Kiryu Kazuma is one of my picks for a possible third-party member, as well as Solid Snake or even Ezio, and knowing that there will definitely be third-party characters in the game is quite uplifting.  I mean sure, like I said, I expected it, but the verification is quite nice and gives me room to speculate further.  Problem is, with this open a net of possibilities, it's hard to really narrow any of then down, but I do have a few ideas.  Being a fighting game and, since the series has been particularly friendly to Sony in the last iteration(s), a cross-over fighter from Mortal Kombat (most likely Scorpion) wouldn't surprise me at all.  Between the Cross-over of Kratos in the PS3 version of Mortal Kombat [9] and the fact that they're doing a Vita-specific version of the game speaks highly to their buddy-buddy nature which suggests they just might be willing to help out.

Of course, there are quite a few people clamoring for characters from the PSOne era and there's absolutely no problem with that at all.  And with his recent resurgence to public knowledge thanks to Skylanders, Spyro the Dragon seems like another pretty easy choice.  Spyro got his start on the PSOne all the way back in 1998 and, even though it's a third-party game and series, there's still quite a bit of association there with the Playstation brand.  Similarly so would be the inclusion of Crash Bandicoot who, for a little while back then, was almost the de facto Playstation Mascot.  The series is third party now as well, but with its Naughty Dog roots, and its start on the PSOne as one of -the- titles to have, it's certainly not inconceivable and in fact, I would say it's quite likely to happen.  Or rather, I'm sure more than a few people would start grumbling if he wasn't in, despite it being completely up to another company entirely.

It's a strange position to consider and I don't think I've managed to have it fully sink in just yet.  I just sit here, trying to think of big third-party studios and the games they've had prominently on Playstation systems and all I can think about is the first-and-second-party characters, with the possibilities therein.  Playstation has been around for a long time now and while some of us might remember growing up with Sega and Nintendo going at it through the Genesis and Super Nintendo, we're in a time period now where there are people who have literally grown up playing Playstation games when we were playing NES ones.  Where we might've had our first experience with games through Super Mario Bros. or Duck Hunt or Crystalis, their first times were through Tomb Raider (Lara Croft is a totally viable character, by the way), Spyro, or Parappa the Rapper.  I think we would all do well to not underestimate the actual weight the characters in Battle Royale can have.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Platinum Get - Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3

Earlier this week, you might have noticed that I ever so diplomatically shared the fact that I had finally conquered the Online Portion of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 which was a terrible hurdle considering the way the online portion of DWG3 is set up.  Not well, that is.  It is set up not well.  It's not good, is my point.  And I am free of it now - never again must I sully my enjoyment of all things Warriors by waiting fifteen minutes to play a minute of the game with people I don't honestly care one whit about.  Now, the manner in which I obtained this, my nineteenth Platinum Trophy, is quite strange and amusing to me, but let's do a little backstory before I get to that, yes?

Now, as the picture in the tweet above states quite clearly, you have to complete 100 Online Missions to get that trophy which is honestly one of the longer trophies in the game since this was KOEI's first foray into Online with Gundams and it shows, which was rather unfortunate.  To do a mission, you choose from the about two dozen missions offered (if that many) and you can join a party already underway or create one of your own.  Fairly standard, of course, and the parties can be from 2 to 4 players.  Unfortunately, this early stage is actually where the first wrinkle shows up because after making a match, you can't then adjust it or force a start - so if you have a four person party opened but can't quite find a last person, you wait or you close it out and try again.  And while you're waiting, this is where the second wrinkle comes in, and it's quite an annoying one.

DWG3 features a "Play While You Wait" option for Multiplayer Participants which is exactly what it sounds like; you choose your Gundam and hop into the map early to mess around in it and play the game.  Sounds alright on the surface, right?  Well, the problem with this mode is that it is entirely fluff.  If you hop in it and end up beating the mission before someone else joins your game (which is an entirely real possibility), absolutely none of it saves, you don't get a tick in your online missions played, nothing.  You are then merely dumped back into the waiting room, as it were, to wait for that last person to join still which is as sad as it sounds.  The other bad part of this is that, when you enter it, it doesn't force everyone in, however, if the room fills up while one or more people are playing while they wait, it has to get them out of the map before it can count down to start the Gundam selection which precedes the countdown to start the map, also known as a loading screen.  Basically, it adds unnecessary seconds to an already too-long process, which just annoys me.  The worst part about it is that after you do this successfully, you play the map and they generally take all of one to five minutes to complete.  You'll have waited more than played in most cases and all you get is another notch.

Then you do it 99 more times.  Like, literally, the exact same process.  There are no persistent rooms - when you create a match that's exactly what you do, create a single match.  So even if you have a buddy to help ensure that you'll get these plays done up, that's 100 matches you have to set up individually, which as I said is a time-wasting process no matter how you go about it.  It takes the mere prospect of joy out of the equation and leaves you with an experience that is as lackluster as you might expect, because there is simply not enough gameplay pulled from the amount of time you have to invest in this poorly slapped-together mode.  It took several nights of effort and frustration and the last outing in this was by far the worst; population has dwindled severely as you might expect, and it's rather difficult to pull three people together in a single match, much less four, but 13 times I managed it, bringing me to my 99th match completed.  So close.  So.  Close.  I could almost taste it.  The three matches before had been gotten into easily enough, but then I came upon a horrifying sight.

There were no open matches.

Not a single match was open for someone like me to hop in and play and it took five minutes of refreshing the list before I found anything.  However, those matches were all 1/4 or I just simply could not join, presumably because the open slot(s) were private ones, thus keeping me out, unable to attain this last match.  And that happened for ten minutes until finally one new match opened in a fight against the Psycho Gundam, piloted by Four Murasame.  As if someone had sensed my anxiousness, they opened a match with only one slot as if to beckon to me.  "Come here, Mogs.  Play this last match, end this torture for yourself."  And so I did, and it was good.  The match went on as they ordinarily do, I charged the giant enemy and kept wailing on it until it died while support from my partner kept us afloat, and within two minutes, the trials were over.  I was victorious.  The trophy dinged, I saved, exited the game, synced my trophies and backed up my save, just like that, and then I went to bed.

It was a bittersweet victory, however, as I knew the true challenge lay ahead, in finishing the task of raising all the characters to Friendship Level 5, which I believe I have talked about at length here before, so I will refrain from bringing that back up.  When I stopped playing Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 before picking it back up for Online Missions, I was well on my way, but my spirit had simply been downtrodden too much, it was more than I could be happy with, so I had to step away to return at a later date.  That later date was today and, with a resigned sigh, I dove into the game and looked up my friendship scores to see who needed a little attention.  It was then that a miracle happened.

I hit up to go to the bottom of the graph, to see just who were not in the "Level 5" category, and I went to the bottom, assuredly.  The...bottom of the Level 5 Category.  In those moments of confusion, the 'ding' of a trophy sounded out, and the popup of "Purebread Innovator" in the upper right corner distracted my eye to it.  Still, it didn't sink in just what had happened, nor did I realized what was then going to happen.  Directly after that single pop-up disappeared, yet another 'Ding!' sounded out, almost more cheerfully than the first, and the words "Ultimate Dynasty Warrior Gundam" finally brought it home.  I was done.  The Platinum trophy was mine.

I don't know how it happened, nor do I know why.  My theory is that Friendships persist and grow in the online mode as well, since that's the only way I can make any sense of it.  The only problem with that is that I simply don't remember who was at Level 4 or even 3, so I can't really confirm that I fought alongside those people, nor was I informed of any of these Friendship ups, but you know what?  I don't care, I'm done.  I can put the experience of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, mixed as it was, behind me and continue on to different ventures, to different games and enjoyment.  It may have been the most anti-climactic Platinum Trophy I've earned to date, but it's no less satisfying.  And with Nineteen down, I just have to soldier on towards number Twenty, emboldened by this new victory.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Some Interesting Sleeping Dogs Information

Siliconera had a neat interview with a couple of the head dudes from United Front Games to find out a little information about the upcoming game, Sleeping Dogs, which I have been really interested in as you might know by now.  It has a storied history already because of its inception and rebirth, but we've been over that before, and this post is more about the future of the game anyway.  Information has been a little scarce on it so far, as is normally the case, but with this interview, we get a nice little peek into the inner workings and the thought put into the game so that we might be able to think and imagine how the end-product will actually turn out.  A few nice little tidbits have been parceled out here and there but there's one little factoid that I am particularly interested in, and it's pretty much the single bit I picked out and went "Yep, making a post about that" when I saw it.

The actual name of the article at Siliconera is "Sleeping Dogs' Fighting System Inspired by Tony Jaa Action Flick "The Protector"", which is....a little familiar round these parts.  I mean, I may have talked about it a while back because I thought it was a fantastic martial arts movie.  Oddly enough, I was beginning to think that I was the only person to actually know about the movie since trying to talk about it to others always ended the same way:  Showing them two clips and then going "Yeah, I told you it was awesome" when they're blown away.  But I've never actually been able to talk about the movie with someone who has shared knowledge of it prior, which is a little frustrating.  So seeing it referenced by an outside source was a little surprising at the least, as well as highly encouraging.  If I may quote a section...

I think the first piece of reference material we used was a scene from Tony Jaa’s The Protector. What we knew from the get go is we really wanted to have a combat system that incorporated multi-directional combat, the ability to grapple and counter enemies. We wanted to combine strike based gameplay with a lot of environmental interaction. Environmental interaction has always been what we consider the key hook of our gameplay. It’s something we try to bring about in all of our systems. Making one big violent sandbox was our initial concept.
[...]I remember when Mike first came aboard and started working here he sent me this clip from The Protector – it’s the scene where he goes up the spiral staircase.  It’s an amazing fight scene because he uses melee and he uses the environment. There are no camera cuts. It’s all continuous. Mike said with the team’s experience I feel confident we can deliver that and that was in the fall of 2007.

I hate linking the same video twice, but it's topical and totally worth it:

If you're going to reference anything for a combat system for a video game this is definitely on the fucking list and I'm absolutely ecstatic that Sleeping Dogs is going to have this influence in it.  I can only hope they really get to this sort of level of interactivity with the environment and the surroundings, because that would be amazing.  It does seem like, at the very least, they're taking the core to heart, since it's at least -attempted- at length in several different areas and in several ways, though they won't go into detail.  "There is a fish processing plant action scene that has particularly violent props in there. I won’t spoil them, but those are some of the my favorites." Is about as in-depth as they'll go which, on one hand, I can respect that.  On the other hand, goddamnit, stop holding out on us.  I want to look forward to some environment interaction as seen in the live-action trailer the game lead with, which makes a whole lot more sense now.

Something else that is a little more exciting for me personally is their approach to guns, which saw a fairly heavy focus so far as well.  The team understands the difficulty in trying to balance melee with shooting and, no matter what, you're going to have to have your feet firmly planted in one camp, even if you're leaning into the next.  For Sleeping Dogs, it sounds like the feet are planted in melee as they try to really have firearms that are worthwhile but not too good, nor too bad.  Described as "power ups", guns seem like they'll supplement the core combat, which will more focus on you getting to a foe to melee them, rather than hanging back and pumping round after round.  You're not going to keep guns for a while; it seems when it's out, it's gone, meaning as I said, the focus seems to still be on melee.  As you all know, I love me some friggin' melee combat, so this is making yet another tantalizing game for me to purchase in this flood of games.

It's safe to say that Sleeping Dogs has had a place on my radar, but with every mention it seems to move closer and closer to the center...which is good and bad.  As I said, I have too many games already, both unpurchased and purchased, so it's not like I need another one to look forward to.  On the other hand, it's always nice to be excited about something because, well, how often do you really, truly get to be genuinely excited for things?  Fairly often, yes, but it's not reliable, and it's not a constant, so we really should enjoy every single time and every single moment that real feeling kicks in.  Here's looking forward to part two of the interview which will likely either get a few bits editted here, or if it's big enough, will be a post all on its own.  Until then, I'm going to go watch The Protector again and see if I can count just how many bones get broken during the fight scenes.  Because it is a lot.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's This "No Games" Crap?

This is going to be another one of those unfortunate occasions where I let my fanboy flag fly free (yay alliterations!), but I assure you that it's only because I really really get annoyed when people like to pretend that things are so much worse than they are.  As such, with all the whining and bullshit going on with the Vita (that launched two months ago, officially mind you) has made me a grumbly person lately because of all the doom and gloom at, uh....certain corners of the internet.  Because it's a Sony product or because people don't really, uh, have good pattern recognition skills or something, the fact that fifteen AAA-quality games haven't come out for it yet means that it's failing and it's selling poorly because there are, ahem, 'no gaems' for it, which means that it's the worst thing ever, etc. etc.  So, I've taken it upon myself to sort of root out just how the releases have sort of worked out between the 3DS and the Vita.

So, let's talk launch line-up where most everyone, even detractors, will give the Vita the win or at least the benefit of the doubt here.  It's well-deserved, since the line-up was fantastic by any measure, much moreso in comparison, but you'll get those people who say launch games don't really matter.  Mostly because their chosen system had shitty launch games, assuredly, since a good launch line-up just really doesn't come around that often.  Still, let's take a little look at some of the games that launched on March 27th, alongside the 3DS, shall we?  Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, Nintendogs + Cats (One of three versions, apparently), Pilotwings Resort, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, and Samurai Warriors Chronicles.  Those are the five top scoring games via Metacritic at launch and they go from 85 to 61, which is fairly respectable, all told  since launch games aren't usually, er, spectacular.  A 61 for a launch game isn't particularly the same thing as a 61 for a game that comes out a year or two into the system's life.

Now, let's take a gander at some of the Vita games on (or before) launch and see how that works out.  Rayman Origins, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, Lumines: Electronic Symphony, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, and Super Stardust Delta all ranging from 88 to, uh, 82.  But you're like "Gee, Mogs, there are like three ports out of those five games and that's a bad thing!" and I go, "Well, so is the 3DS picks?  But, okay..."  So cut out Street Fighter IV, Lego Star Wars III and Samurai Warriors Chronicles (Because I'm sure it reuses assets, or if not because I'm being generous and not cuttings Nintendogs+Cats), and cut Rayman Origins, Lumines and BlazBlue, and you still have Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Not to mention the non-ports in the list) at a solid 80 above the 71 for all three versions of Nintendogs + Cats.

So this is where people will tell you that launch games don't matter.  Who cares that a major first party game was released at launch (because Nintendo didn't really do one), it's all about the follow-up, it's all about the games that come out afterwards, when the first big ones start cropping up, -that's totally what's important-.  Okay, whatever, so this is when we look, and the next major release would be The Legend of Zelda:  Ocarina of Time 3D.....or it would be, but, as we've discussed, ports are evil and terrible and ruining the industry and such, etc. etc. so it doesn't count.  Resident Evil:  The Mercenaries 3D came out on June 28, 2011, a full three months after the 3DS' some poor reviews and really, really dumb save game ideas, so maybe we shouldn't count it, yeah?  So the next 'big' things would be Shin Megami Tensei:  Devil Summoner Overclocked for third party and Star Fox 64 3D for first party which released on August 23rd and September 9th respectively.  Both are ports/remakes, so again, we don't count them in the interest of fairness.

It's not until December 4th, a full eight months following the 3DS' release that a 'major' game is released for the 3DS in the form of Mario Kart 7, which I'm counting as a wholly original and new game because jesus christ if I don't I'll be looking forever.  There are a few things before there that I would personally count for myself, but they're hardly big draws to the system - Harvest Moon:  The Tale of Two Towns most specifically.  Mario Kart 7 was really the first hard throw into the 3DS and ever since, they've been doing better, but fuckin' eight months of console ports, remakes and assorted drivel alongside niche or low-profile games does not a game library make.  Mind you, the 3DS was still selling for $250 for four and a half of those months, which clearly plenty of people were happy to pay for reasons that are pretty much beyond comprehension aside from "It's a Nintendo Handheld".  People are pretty forgiving of having no real games when it's not a Sony Handheld apparently!

So let's return to the Vita now which has been out for two full months.  I feel like I have to reiterate this fact a few times just so it sinks in.  Because, again, two months is not a lot of time in which a system should be, or could be, saturated with games, despite what anyone thinks.  We've already covered the launch games (aside from me stating directly that there were 26 of them), so let's move beyond that, yeah?  In the span of the two months since we've had the Vita, we've had the following releases:  MotorStorm RC (for free, mind you), and Unit 13 (which admittedly has some technical problems, apparently and was Zipper Interactive's swansong, unfortunately) which either use Known Entities in the form of Branding (MotorStorm) or Studio (Unit 13 with Zipper), making them fairly high-profile games.  Also we've had MLB '12:  The Show and Disgaea 3:  Absence of Detention which I won't link nor mention beyond the mentions all the above ports received.  Not only that, but in the next few months, we have Gravity Rush (First-Party title), Resistance:  Burning Skies (First-Party title that makes use of an existing brand), Mortal Kombat (Yes, a port, but I mentioned all the other ones), and, unless it gets announced otherwise, LittleBigPlanet (First-Party title that makes use of an existing brand).  If none of that changes, that's all between May and the end of June which would put it at four months after the release of the system.

I guess the problem here is that there's not really a whole lot of fluff coming out for the Vita every week like, well, every other system that's been out for more than two months.  I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that this is because Developers looking to put fluff on the system are just now getting or putting in for their Dev Kits, meaning that they won't be releasing for a few months yet.  It's the classic Quantity over Quality argument given new form in 'Console Warz', and it's quite frankly bullshit.  I know people who are going to tell you that the Vita 'has no gaems' aren't interested in little things like facts, and it seems that those are the majority at the moment, but that doesn't make it true.  So if you take away anything from this, then, hey, take away the facts here, double-check them for yourselves, even.  I understand opinions differ and can make all sorts of things seem true or not, but they're only opinions; no more.  Of course, if I'm wrong in anything I've presented here, do feel free to let me know.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Legend of Korra is Pretty Great

I don't do cartoon posts very often - in fact this will be number two, where the first one was for the Regular Show (which is still pretty great, btw), and it's pretty indicative of how much I think of that show and now this one to devote some paragraphs to it.  Though, I should forewarn you, if you've not seen Avatar:  The Last Airbender (the series, not the mostly-terrible movie), then you may want to skip this post since A) it won't make sense and B) it'll spoil TLA which is by and large, pretty great as well.  Aside from the obligatory "kids will be kids" episode in the last book.  Really....really nonsensical.  Anyways, yes, as The Legend of Korra takes place after The Last Airbender, you'll sort of lose a few things in the process if you just jump into this.  So, yes, you have been warned.

Now, I really liked The Last Airbender, as it was pretty cool and did a real good job of balancing the wackiness of a cartoon series with the seriousness that the material deserved.  I won't recap the show, mainly because at this point I've concluded you either know it already, or have resigned yourself to confusion, so it's a little unnecessary anyway.  The last few episodes of The Last Airbender, which were actually sort of spliced together in movie-format were pretty friggin' amazing - it's hard thinking that anything in that same universe could really top it.  So when I heard about The Legend of Korra months and months ago, I could not share the excitement that my friends held.  'There's really nowhere to go but down', I thought.  'You don't need to sequelize something to make it better', I said.  So I didn't pay attention to it as the hype started to build closer and closer to it coming out.  And even when it came out, I gave it no real mind.  That was a couple weeks ago. 

I may have really underestimated everything about the show.  Not only the show itself, but the talents of the writers behind it, and the general voice and support talent involved.  With just three episodes down, I am excited for the Legend of Korra in a way that I haven't been throughout its entirety to the point up until the other day, and my mind has been completely changed on the prospect of it.  There is....something special to the show that I just can't quite put my finger on, but it's that same quality that attracted me to The Last Airbender in the first place, and I'm quite glad to see that it has persisted.  It's hard to tell just what it is, especially with only three episodes of it, but it really just exudes that certain thing that you really want.  It just makes me really look forward to seeing it unfold.

I will say that it is a little odd seeing the world of Avatar advanced 70 years as it has been in Korra, but for as odd as it is, it's also fairly cool.  It's quite steam-punk-ish in a sense, though at the same time, the technology seems to be on the cusp of transcending that, being that there's pretty much fully functional kick-ass motorcycles and sporting event fields with lights and buzzers and all sorts of neat things.  Still, working in a factory, charging a machine with Fire-bending (or the advanced form of using Lightning) is a viable option for work, and it still has a fairly 'classic' look to the way buildings have been designed and set up.  It sort of -is- kind of a weird schism in that aspect, especially with the real nature focus that's inherent in the Avatar world, but that combination really ends up working well, though how that's possible, I have no real idea.

I guess the only real weak point so far is the plot, without spoiling too much.  I mean, -again- three episodes in, but there's been a dramatic reveal of a potential big bad as well as an 'endgame option' sort of idea, so I don't think it's entirely too early to start thinking things up.  My problem with it, I guess, is that if you replace "bending" with "magic", then you have the plot for countless amounts of fantasy fiction, and that's just....what it is, I guess.  I always advocate that it's not the destination, however, but the journey and the road that takes you there that matters, and I'll stick by with that, but I'm not holding my breath for a plot-twist that -really- drives the story up.  I'd welcome such a thing openly, of course, and I almost have to think that it -will- happen, consider the show might be set up as the first, which means there's a lot left to it.  With any luck, it will, and I'll be able to write up something here gushing about it!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gaming By The Numbers - Dynasty Warriors Next

As we all know, gaming takes time.  A lot of it.  Just as a bare experience, popping in your average Brand-new Action Adventure title, you could expect to put in a few sessions of a few hours before you complete it.  Even more if you want to play it again for any reason, and especially even more if you're a completionist and/or a trophy/achievement hunter.  Being a trophy hunter personally, I do end up sort of contemplating the amount of time that might go into getting all the trophies in a game and sort of put that against a gains vs. rewards system in my head, (The rewards are 99% of times the experience, rather than the nigh-useless trophy) and more often than not, one of the main factors involved is 'time invested' because, well, like I said, gaming takes a lot of time, and I have a lot of games, meaning that's a -whole- lot of time that I don't technically have.  If a game is fun enough, however, it's worth it to keep at it before jumping headfirst into a different experience that may or may not be as fun.

Dynasty Warriors Next is a game that I've talked about quite a few times on this blog by merit of it being a Dynasty Warriors game that is also on the Vita, and I've stated quite a few times that the time investment it requires is astronomical.  And it is.  But I don't really think I've really been able to quantify that in an easily digestible manner, much less an overly complicated and long-winded way.  Being that I have a penchant for doing the latter of those two things, as well as the fact that I honestly do love presenting numbers in the way that's sure to follow, this sort of post was inevitable.  Probably not for Dynasty Warriors Next because I'm honestly never going to get the Platinum for it (unless I find three other people with Vitas who are good at DWN and own it, goddamn local co-op modes), but some game nonetheless.  If I owned another game for the Vita, I would likely be playing that in lieu of playing Next, but Golden Abyss is as beat as it's gonna get (as in, completely) and I can't -only- play Persona 3 Portable on it.

So, what are most likely the longest challenges in Dynasty Warriors Next are the two that are presented as thus:  "Formed a sworn oath with all of the officers." and "Formed a marriage pact with all of the officers."  I have ranted and raved about these particular trophies time and time again because they are quite literal in their meaning; you can form a marriage pact and swear an oath of brotherhood (or sisterhood) with every single officer in the game.  And thou must.  It's blatant game-padding, and absolutely horrid in practice because of the random nature of Conquest Mode (wherein this must be accomplished) and, again, the only reason I'm playing it because I really don't have anything else until Resistance:  Burning Skies.  (Provided it's the first 'must-buy' game of mine that comes out)  Nor do I have the money to really jump the gun on anything else unless I catch a real deal.

So let's do some basic set-up stuff here.  In the game, there are 65 Officers overall.  Breaking that up, (because it's important to the overall goal here) 13 of them are women, thus making the remaining 52 officers men.  Now, it's important to separate them like that because KOEI are not the most progressive people, thus only women can marry men and vice versa, and men can only be best buds with other men, and women can only form everlasting bonds outside of marriage with other women.  So no matter what, you're going to have at least two characters on stand-by to switch between (Male and Female) to make these bonds to complete the task.  It also starts to complicate math because now I have to factor on different things between the two scenarios and blah blah blah.  Really, there's just a lot of build-up and things to consider which I imagine you'll see as it starts to unfold.

The shortest 'game' you can set to reliably get bonds before it's over is the Three-Force Map, which offers 12 territories between three forces, thus granting four initial territories to every force.  In an example game, you can reliably get 1 Marriage (kind of obvious, I guess) and 2 Sworn Oaths, depending on how lucky you get with gold.  The easiest way to force this is by picking one opposite gender person, and two same gender person as your subordinates, using their tactics whenever possible (again, gold-reliant) and trying to carve through China without taking out both rulers to stretch the process out enough to ensure that the friendship builds properly.  Being conservative with numbers, I'd say that if you can use their strategy every turn (as well as having them in battle with you), it takes 5-7 turns of that before they're all yours, so let's go with 6.  Of course, you will almost never have the amount of gold you might need (though you can supplement this by bringing along Dong Zhuo or an edit character with the Tax strategy, as you'll get free gold at the cost of being a dick), so it won't always go this way.

A turn comprises of the strategy phase (picking your strategies, where you're going to invade and who you're taking into battle) which takes all of a minute, and the battle phase wherein you fight and conquer the map which can take from, conservatively four minutes to 15 on the high-end.  (Depending on how duels go, how unnaturally resilient the enemies are to getting hit in the face with a giant fucking club, how long it takes to capture the main camp as a result of that, etc.)  So let's err a little to the higher end with a nice odd number of 9.  So, using that, we can put a full round at about 10 minutes.  (Taking into account the network stuff, the other turns, it may be closer to 11 minutes, but whatever)  Using our earlier number of 6 turns in a game, that's 60 minutes to get one marriage bond and two sworn oaths.  That is precisely 1.5384615384615385% of the goal for Marriage (1 out of 65) and 3.076923076923077% of the goal for Sworn Oaths (2 out of 65) but let's simplify the numbers to 1.5% and 3%.  Of course, it's not -quite- that simple, since the whole course is a bit thrown off since, as I said, you can't just go swath after swath through as the same character and the pool is highly dis-proportioned.

So, being that there are 52 men and 13 women, a single go in, assuming you're playing a male character for this part, you now only have 50 and 12 to go.  60 minutes in and you've got about 5% of it down.  In the time that it takes for you to get those other twelve marriages (720 minutes) you'll also get 24 more Oaths.  This leaves you at 26 oaths left to go.  From this point, let's assume that you -can't- sub in a third Oath for the marriage pacts you no longer have to make (because I don't have any clue as to whether you can make more than two.  I would think not, since 'history' presents 2 or 3 ' oath brothers' only, not 4) so you have 13 (26/2) more plays to go, clocking in at 780 minutes.  Now, 1560 (720+ the first 60+780 or just 780+780) minutes, or 26 hours, later, you're halfway done.  This is assuming you've gotten the perfect luck all throughout, no screwing over through the Conquest Mode random number generator or anything.  Now you have to do girl mode.

Girl mode sucks, as you might be able to tell already.  You can only make one marriage gamble per game, and the above time-frame was taking into account the rough minimum amount of turns, since it kind of takes the same amount of time, provided you have all three working at the same pace.  I'm assuming that you can't make more than two sworn oaths in a single game, but let's imagine you can for a moment since it'll make Girl Mode a little more bearable.  If you take 26 and divide it by 3 instead of 2, you've got 8.6, rounded up to 9 which takes that total of time down to 540 minutes, taking the above time down to 1320 minutes or 22 hours.  There's no easy way to say it, 52 men means 52 plays means 3120 minutes or, well, 52 hours.  So, all told, there's 74-78 hours just for two trophies.  Let's say you can cut this time down to 45 minutes per play, by being 25% more efficient, that still clocks in at 58.5 hours.  And let's say the stars fucking align, and you perform at 25% higher efficiency and you can form three bonds per game, cutting the above time from 1320 minutes to 910 minutes or just over 15 hours, plus the 2340 Minutes (52*45) or 39 hours for Girl Mode for a grand total of 54 hours.  These are just the raw numbers here.  And this is only for the portion of the game that you can reasonably quantify and guess on since it relies the least on luck.  I'm looking at you, second officer cards, you pricks.

So, all in all, if you want to get a platinum trophy for Dynasty Warriors, you can expect to dump at least 54-78 hours into the game before you make a good dent into it.  This is pretty much precisely why I'm not really fucking bothering, but am playing the game to enjoy slaughtering mans with the side-goal of trying to have part of this 'challenge' done in the event that I could do the impossible and get the Coalition Mode items somehow, which is pretty much the -only- thing I most certainly cannot do.  I hope my long-winded explanation and break-down wasn't too terribly boring, but as you know, I do kind of enjoy doing 'by the numbers' stuff like that, and will likely do it again in the future.  If not, well, you can reliably skip these kinds of posts when they come up, I suppose.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Is "Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale" "Title Fight"?

Forgive the, uh....terrible image.

So, it's certainly been a while since we've heard word of it, but the rumored 'Title Fight' has made a resurgence and how.  For a quick recap in case you forgot (and don't want to read the provided post), 'Title Fight' is a proposed fighting game that features the 'stars' of the Playstation First-Party Line-up, which is quite extensive actually.  When it was initially rumored, there wasn't a whole lot of info beyond "Trust us, this is totes legit, here's a model screen of Sweet Tooth" as well as a list of five characters that were 'definitely' in the game so far when it was, assumedly, early on in development.  Those characters being the above mentioned Sweet Tooth, Nathan Drake, Kratos, Parappa the Rapper, Sly Cooper, Fat Princess, and Colonel Mael Radec.  Aside from that, the only real information on it was that it was being worked on by a studio called SuperBot Entertainment which, as you might notice, still does not have a Wiki-Page, presumably because they haven't released a game yet, which is a thing that is said on their own web page

SuperBot is hard at work on our first title, being developed for the PS3. As soon as more information is available, this is where you’ll be able to find it. Screens, videos, interviews, if it’s out there, it’ll be here.

If rumors that I can't source at the moment that are directly in this Joystiq Article that I am too blind to see are to be believed, then perhaps that site will update this coming Thursday with information for this game.  Because apparently there will be another reveal of a PS3-exclusive title that day, which makes planning for my Thursday very easy (or maybe Friday, depending on when it goes up).  Aside from that, the only bit of information is that the domain "" is a thing that was just registered by Sony Computer Entertainment America which would put Title Fight's official name as, uh, "Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale".  Which is...just awful.  I mean, I really don't like to poke fun at names, and I honestly don't care, but come on.  While it is clearly on-point, something a little less long-winded (coming from me, that's a laugh) would have been perfectly acceptable.  'Title Fight' might not have been quite enough, but Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale (PASBR) is just too much.  This is "On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness" levels of too much wordage verbosity territory here.

Really though, as I said, the name doesn't matter and with any luck, that won't be the release name.  What really matters here is what the game is going to be like which, well, is completely friggin' nebulous at this point.  All we can figure on is that it's going to be a 'fighting game' which is about as realistically concise as a newspaper that's been soaking in bleach.  There are quite a lot of sub-genres and 'styles' that have been defined in the Fighting Game genre, so knowing that it's a Fighting Game is just as helpful as knowing it's a PS3 game - which is not very.  I -imagine- we can kind of guess that, being a fighting game in the same vein as Super Smash Bros. that it might take the same approach (I'd hope not a literal copy-paste), which narrows it down a little, but it's really hard to tell.  I'd rather it not be, like a super-hardcore fighter like MvC, SF, etc. because that just ain't my scene and I'd like to grab this if at all possible.

Really, there's not a whole lot else to state here other than this is kind of what the situation is.  The character list is potentially huge (though I imagine it will be small-ish in scope for this first bout(heh)) so the ones in the above image technically aren't that off (some of them are practically guaranteed gets, even), but I can't help but hope that we'll get some cross-overs from characters that aren't first or second party, if even just as a 'cameo' character (thus assuming they might not be available for a potential sequel).  The example I gave last time was Kiryu Kazuma and obviously I'm sticking with that (because of the Exclusivity), but even Ezio, since he's making the fighting game rounds (and Ubisoft is kind of in good with Sony) or like Solid Snake (Since he has also been in a fighting game before) would work.  There is a literal wealth of characters that could be in this thing if it is, indeed, a real thing, and I can only hope that Sony picks some good ones.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Datura Official Trailer Released

Forgive me for the lack of Youtube link, but I can only find the official version on Vimeo at the moment and rather than wait for a Youtube version, I'll roll with it and probably strike this out.  Anyways...

So, Datura, 'that floating hand game' has an official trailer (what is this, friggin' trailer week?) now that is quite different from all the teasers we've seen so far and I'm....not quite sure what to think about it.  I'm just going to preface the whole post with that fact because I mean, the entirety of the reason I -liked- Datura from the start was because it seemed so different.  But now that we kind of have a clearer picture, I'm getting a little concerned at just how different the game appears to be, though from the group who made Linger in Shadows being involved probably should have tipped me off a little and a little earlier than now.  The trailer is more or less all over the place both literally and figuratively as one moment we see our floating hand protagonist in the back of an ambulance, and the next they're handcuffed in what I can assume is the back of a police van.  From there, the trailer goes on to take us to to the forest we've seen time and time before, the arctic, a hospital and a battlefield straight out of one of the world wars, perhaps.

Of course, that is apparently the whole point of the game, or at least that's what the GDC Footage taken a little while back would suggest.  In the video, it's explained that the Forest is sort of a 'hub' world from which the player will go to the different 'stages' after finding items of import.  After ripping the face off of a statue, the player finds a pickaxe that, when grabbed, transports them to the arctic area wherein the player has to choose between digging out a literal trophy (that I imagine grants a trophy in the final game) or a human being trapped under the ice.  It seems pretty black and white, and I don't know if the game is going to be static or if things will change based on your decisions, but in the video, choosing the person leads to the ice breaking and the player being submerged in the icy waters.  So it's quite possible that Black and White are not quite what they seem, which I would certainly hope is the case, as well as it being touched up with randomness or, again, developmental impact from choices.

Still, as the game gets nearer and nearer, I start to wonder if it's going to be a game that you can play with both hands, or if the (seemingly cumbersome) single Move Wand control scheme (barring using a dualshock) will be the only way to go.  With it saying you can 'explore', that's precisely what I want to do; I want to be able to use a Nav Controller to walk around like normal instead of looking in a direction and pressing Triangle to advance or whatever wonky sort of movement scheme shown off there.  Beyond that, the game doesn't look quite as tight as I would hope for, having a second or so lag between movement of the Wand and movement on the screen.  I suppose I just feel like I can feel all my excitement draining away for the game because it's not seeming like it's going to be what I expected or, perhaps, what I hoped.  Instead, it might simply be a really artsy game that uses the Move Wand to try and justify the peripheral.

I guess we'll find out soon enough, though, as the game is rumored to release on May 9th in the UK.  Of course this doesn't mean a lot, as SCEE and SCEA aren't quite the best at coordinating things between each other so SCEE stores sometimes see games come out weeks or even months after the SCEA folks have played it, beaten it and moved on.  Similarly, SCEE has had a couple games (not many, just a couple) come out without so much as a word for an SCEA release.  So while the ideal scenario would be that it comes out on May 9th in PAL regions, with May 8th or the following Tuesday being NA's release date (with a demo), I can't say that's going to be the case for sure, nor should Joystiq.  But, eh, they kind of do that a lot and oh well.  We'll just see what happens because there's not that much time between then and now, and I expect to see details relatively soon!

Bonus Post - Dragon's Crown Being Published by Atlus

The Playstation Blog has proved to be an invaluable source of information these past couple days with the God of War:  Ascension info and now this.  Now, we all know that the future of Dragon's Crown has been in a nebulous position these last couple months, and we were just sort of left holding the bag and waiting for further information.  And lo and behold, out of friggin' nowhere, here is said information.  It's almost like they said it was going to come out or something.  Now, while any news on the game's future is good news I'm sure, there are a few bits of that that will be slightly disappointing to those who carry a vested interest in the game, Chance.  And I just want you to know, Chance, that I'm making this post with you in mind, Chance.

Now, first off, the obvious bit is that, as stated a couple times now, Atlus will be handling the publishing of both the PS3 and Vita versions of Dragon's Crown, pictured above...kind of.  I'm guessing the picture was in the blog post to show that both games will be in physical format (as well as digital for Vita, obviously), since aside from that there's no real purpose or flair to it.  They will -also- have a little hand in the production of the game, apparently, which is likely pretty cool.  The post goes out of its way to mention that they will be 'key' members of the internal development team who has worked on the Persona series which...again, I don't really see the connection, but I think this is all hype fodder.  The post is very, very inclined to get you as excited as possible before dropping the two bits of unfortunate news on us.

First off, the game(s) will not see release in 2012.  I know, Chance, you're already looking for the Vadernoooo video, and it is unfortunate, but hey, 2012 is pretty friggin' packed already, right?  At least, that's been my opinion of the year, since I know friggin' six games that I -have- to buy before the bell tolls on January 1st, 2013.  The second bit of bad news is that the game "simply cannot retail for $29.99" as "it would have essentially destroyed any chance for profitability".  Now, I'm not quite sure if that's Atlus being super-up-front about things, or Atlus with a classic wink-and-a-nod approach, but I'm going to heavily lean towards the former.  The Vita version of the game is apparently going to go up on the Pre-Order pages as $39.99, the general MSRP for Vita games, which isn't much of a surprise.  The PS3 version didn't have any real mention, however, so take that for what you will.  If it's going to be a full-price PS3 game, then perhaps you can hope, at least, that some retailers will have a discount for buying both as they did for The Show just recently when it came out.

So that's really the long and short of it.  Dragon's Crown is still a thing that is happening and is now being handled by Atlus, in so far as publishing and certain producer positions are concerned.  We can expect it sometime in 2013, but with no real narrowed down scope beyond that quite yet.  When it'll retail, the Vita version will most likely be $39.99 as most Vita games have been, and the PS3 version will likely be anywhere from $39.99 to $59.99, since anything near the original $29.99 price-point just wouldn't offer a whole lot of profitability.  If we know one thing, it's that Atlus knows just how to make a game profitable, so no worries on that field.  Here's hoping we get some more information on it all sooner rather than later, because I know there are certain people who will be chomping at the bit for it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Next God of War is "God of War: Ascension"

So yesterday, in the wee hours of the Eastern Time Zone morning, God of War:  Ascension was leaked with a mock-up box art and a teaser trailer.  And quite shortly after, it was officially announced by Sony who I'm sure didn't plan on announcing the game at 1 AM PST.  That alone seems pretty much enough to state, coupled with the above trailer but, as we know, I try not to just plop down a trailer and walk off (Not that there's anything wrong with that) because I like to pretend you guys enjoy my breakdowns of them.  And I kind of like to do them since forcing myself to pick away at a trailer lets me pick out pieces I might not see if I just watched it a couple times and was done with it.  It also just makes me feel like I -did- something instead of just found a trailer for a post.  This is a writing blog, after all, so I like to be writing in it.

Anyways, before I really get into the trailer, there are a few interesting little tidbits to share before we get into the meat of it all.  The first, and likely most important bit is that Todd Papy, former Design Director for God of War 3, has jumped up into the big leagues, apparently, as he seems to be the Director of God of War:  Ascension.  I mean, he said it and everything.  This does mean, of course, that God of War is still in the hands of Sony Santa Monica, despite the trailer lacking said branding.  If you don't want to check the blog post linked above, the direct quote is, "For those of you who haven’t had a chance to check out what the team at Sony Santa Monica Studios has been working on", which is pretty indicative there.  And more news about the game is incoming, as soon as April 30th where a live-stream event will take place, showing off the game and answering select questions from Twitter that are submitted between now and....tomorrow.

Now, the fun bit.  For the trailer itself, it's quite lovely to look at, using the same sort of art style that 3 used a lot of at least (I don't remember currently if the other games had it as prominently) which was quite neat.  Of course, we don't really get a lot from the visuals and thus must then pay attention to what the trailer is saying to get the idea of the next game.  And the idea, in keeping with the name "Ascension" seems to revolve around the time before Kratos became a servant of Ares to begin with, and was but a regular Spartan Soldier (General?) fighting against the armies of Mortals.  Or, at least, part of the game will likely be that, as the Ares part might happen towards the middle rather than towards the end.  Maybe.  This is all kind of conjecture at this point, but really, it seems to hammer in the point of "Before Ares", which means a Human Kratos without the Blades of Chaos.

This presents a sort of schism in the schools of thought going into the game.  Some people think that, since in this, Kratos would be essentially a 'normal' human (overlooking that even as a Human, he was pretty much King Badass) which might lead to a different kind of gameplay overarching the game.  Really shaking up the formula instead of having it be another foray into the semi-cinematic Action scene.  Others think that it will retain the God of War spirit, but embody that with a different weapon to start, perhaps a normal Xiphos blade, or the classic Spear/Shield combo that we've come to envision as standard fare for Spartans.  Myself, I'm firmly in the latter camp, but I can understand why there is the hope embodied in the first camp, since some people, crazy people, can't allow themselves to get excited for the type of combat that has been prevalent in the God of War series from its inception.  Or, they say they don't want it, but when it comes down to it, they buy it anyway because it's friggin' God of War.

Now, as this has all been purely conjecture more or less, it leaves one wondering just how much of a prequel the game will -actually- be.  Will it contain itself into a single tale that sits before Chains of Olympus?  Or will it have a connection with God of War 3 in a sense that it will eventually place down a hook for the 'eventual' God of War IV that has made the internet rounds so extensively?  With whispers of a Spring 2013 release, as well as the idea that some First Party devs have already gotten their hands on theoretical PS4 dev tools, it could make a lot of sense to throw Ascension down as a piece to keep the God of War brand in peoples minds so that, perhaps in next year's E3, they show off a God of War IV made for the PS4.  With just so many fours, it looks so tantalizing.  Before I get too conspiracy theorist, however, I believe I should stop, since it is a bit off-topic anyways.

The big bullet points here to encapsulate one last time, I suppose, would be:  God of War: Ascension is the next God of War game.  It will be for the PS3, made by Sony Santa Monica with Todd Papy at the director's helm.  Tomorrow at some point, we'll likely have a little more info thanks to the Live Stream event, but for now, we don't have a whole lot to go on.  It -seems- to be a prequel from the teaser trailer, but anything beyond that, even trying to state something as a supposition or 'fact', is purely conjecture.  Personally, I just can't wait to play another God of War game as, unlike the majority of people who see fit to comment on Gaming News Sites, I still have deep deep wells of excitement that I tap in for the franchise exclusively.  So long as the game is as brutal as the last, if not more, I'll be happy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nintendo Spoiling All of the E3 News

Yeah, yeah, so it's not -all- of the E3 news, but Nintendo has officially outed two of their own announcements, which, if you think about it is a good chunk of an E3 presentation.  These two things, especially, would probably be 'big things' for Nintendo to spring (though one isn't a surprise at the least), which would have, in turn, made the presentation seem better.  I guess they're hoping on people to be excited for specific things going in, rather than hoping their 'surprises' will earn a lot of good will.  Or...I'm just overexamining things.  Which is entirely likely since I do that a lot, which is something you all know about quite well.  Regardless, I think two announcements like this is a big enough deal to talk about it for a bit even if I don't...personally care about the contents all that much.

Unsurprisingly, the first announcement was the existence of a Mario Game for the Wii U that they're planning on showing off at E3.  Now the particularly 'big' news about this is that the game will be based on the Super Mario Bros Wii - Mii Edition game that was showed off last year.  Which is apparently what is in the above picture and....doesn't look exactly thrilling to say the least.  I'm sure the end product will end up being something to possibly hold a little excitement for, I feel like until it's out and played, it will just be known as "New Super Mario Bros. Wii with Miis", indicating that they think of it not as a finished game, but as a game that is directly linked to another game as a sort of 'cash-in' attempt or something.  Luckily, this would be the first time that a Nintendo IP would be used in such a fash-...


Anyways, for my part, I played about five minutes of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and absolutely hated the physics used in it.  I then embraced the hilarious irony that this game was likely touted for those controls and those physics by the very same people who would bash LittleBigPlanet and its ilk as 'too floaty' or 'sloppy'.  I'm pretty sure that it's well known that the controls in NSMBW are -not- spot-on or even close, because that's part of the, er, fun of it, since it caters to the 'party' aspect of it.  The griefing that can be had with said physics in Multiplayer is likely legendary, those I would suggest partly so because it's just, well, poor unfortunately.  Regardless, that's just my opinion and it has been quite a while since I played it.  I'll just have to fall back on the ol' 'Different Strokes for Different Folks' so as to not make it seem like my word is law or anything regarding this.  Because it certainly isn't, as it's not even popular opinionWhatevs.

The next and undoubtedly much more interesting news is that another one of the E3 reveals will be A New Pikmin Game that has been long, long, long-awaited.  Of course, there aren't a whole lot of details beyond "We're doing it" and "People who loved Pikmin games will enjoy this", presumably meaning that it will, you know, be Pikmin 3 and thusly a continuation of the franchise in much the same way as the previous two games played.  It's going to play like a Pikmin game, is kind of where I was going with that, but that's mostly conjecture on my part.  If past reports are to be believed, this will, as well as the game above, be shown off as a Wii U game and, if Nintendo really wants to sweeten the pot, they'll announce it as a launch title as well.  So they can build up a really good launch and people can then say that a good launch line-up always makes a good system while continuing to ignore the Vita because.

Unfortunately, I don't know a whole lot about Pikmin as a series as it was one of those things that I ignored by virtue of not owning a GameCube and not caring about Wii games beyond a few non-Nintendo franchises.  (Also Animal Crossing)  I guess the thing of it was using armies of little creatures to gather parts of your crashed ship to return it so you could fix it and leave?  Every Pikmin seems to have a different element it's good with which makes party management of them crucial and adds a strategy element to the game as well.  Of course, this is all from cursory glances towards the game, so I could be well off on the concept, but that is what it seems like to someone who's just looking at the series quickly.

A Pikmin 3 has been something that I'm sure a lot of people have wanted, and I think I remember some clamoring about it last year, what with Kid Icarus finally being revamped and all.  So with any luck, this will be the game that those people want, the true threequel to the Pikmin franchise which has been fairly ignored to this point.  And...with any luck the Super Mario Bros. Mii game will be good as well.  Better than New Super Mario Bros. Wii, at least, hopefully, even though I doubt anyone will care if it's not.  But with two E3 announcements down, I have to wonder if there's going to be any other announcements to stem the leaks, or if we'll just get the usual exciting E3 fare.  Personally?  I'm hoping for the latter because it is just so much more fun that way.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Thougts on Persona 3 Portable Thus Far

So, as you all know, I've been playing Persona 3 Portable lately, quite a lot I should say, and I do believe I've officially hit end-game (and I don't think I'm being premature in saying that), so I kind of wanted to talk about how I think about the game to this point as well as offer my idea on how it's going to unfold.  Either so when I beat it and I'm right, I can point at this post and say "I called it!" or, if I'm wrong, I can point to this post and say "Boy, I sure was off, huh?".  Either way, it's fun to be had by all as I'm no stranger to saying things and then being completely wrong in predicting them, as we all know.  It's kind of a running gag and all for this blog, so I know you're all familiar with it or will be.  Regardless, since this will have quite a few Persona 3 Spoilers, I'm taking it upon myself to state that fact as well as using a page break as I have become accustomed to doing in situations like this.

So, below this point, thar be spoilers.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pokemon Black and White 2 Official Trailer

So, I hate to do two Japanese Trailers in a row, especially when I had another post in mind, but, I mean, this is kind of important.  As you know, I was absolutely flabbergasted by the possibility that Pokemon Black and White 2 (Officially Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon White 2, as in two separate games) were actually -sequels-, direct ones, to Pokemon Black and White, and eventually came to the position that, well, maybe they're not sequels.  Since the above trailer is in Japanese and thus I cannot glean anything from it, I'm going to rely on Siliconera here who has some good info which paints a pretty clear picture for the games being, yes, direct sequels.  Also breaking my heart.

If you've already watched the above video (you probably should if you haven't, that is the point), then you'll notice that there are two new protagonists; a boy who doesn't understand how hair works, and a girl who suffers similarly, but in a much less visually annoying way.  If they're not upstart trainers learning the ropes under the wing of the new professor researcher (Akuroma), I may just go out and buy a hat just so I can eat it.  Also as you might have suspected, the only other person featured in a clearly-not-a-gym-leader-way is the new rival who also suffers from "What the fuck is hair", a terrible terrible affliction.  I -know- it's a slippery slope to start pointing out a 'formula' for one game series and decrying it as a bad thing, but come on, this is blatant Checkbox-ing if I've ever seen it.  The only thing this is all missing is showing off the "Team" of the game which will probably be the clueless remnants of Team Plasma ala Team Rocket in Gold/Silver.  Because it's not going to be the first thing re-purposed from the older games.

From what I've read, the setting of the sequels seems to be that, two years after the events of Black and White, your protagonist, whomever you pick, starts their pokemon journey in a dumpy little town (called a city but apparently there's not a lot there) that has apparently magic'd into existence in those two years.  Also, half the region has gotten really cold and wintery for some reason.  Which isn't directly taken from Pokemon Platinum or anything, no sirree.  Regardless, that's about all we know, but if I were to make something up, add my own little conjecture, I think it would go something like this:  The professor researcher Akuroma (he will probably get a better name in English) tasks the player to go out and explore the world to register the 300 types of pokemon that are in the Unova region, citing that the sudden climate shifts and some other weirdness has caused more species to relocate to the region.  As it has been for a decade or better, thirteen to fifteen year old kids make better data collectors than adults because hell, the kids are gonna run around the nation anyways right?  Again, purely conjecture here.  Just...going out on a limb.

I know I'm being a bit overly critical here, but it's only because I have some real strong feelings about what's going on with this, as you might be able to tell.  While a 'direct sequel' is not exactly new for Pokemon, as in all reality, Gold and Silver (and Crystal) were direct sequels to Red and Blue, since they carried the same plot over and worked at it.  The Team Rocket angle, what with it being disbanded yet some members not knowing that, meeting up with Ash Red, hell, just going back to the region in Red and Blue after some years, it was definitely a sequel.  To my knowledge, Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald and Diamond/Pearl/Platinum didn't carry this on, but in a sense, that's kind of the point I'm making here.  At least Gold and Silver, being a sequel, was wrapped up in being a Pokemon game as well, in that there was a whole other region, and that it was just enough content to be its own game as well as having the sequel hook.  In some ways, the sequel aspect might have been understated and not explored fully enough.  Whereas Black and White 2 offer the same region (with new locales) and seems built around being a sequel that also happens to be a pokemon game, since it follows the formula checklist.  It's partly semantics that I'm playing at here, but I'm sure you get what I mean.

In most cases, this would be the point where I say, "Despite all that, I know I'm going to buy it because I'm a whore" but you know what?  I'm not sure.  There is a good chance that I won't really care about this enough to pick it up, especially with, as I keep mentioning, the wealth of games 2012 is already offering.  Thinking about it, I have never owned a copy of Pokemon Platinum and, considering it never went down in price, there's a good chance I never will unless it's far, far down the road as a digital title on the 3DSi XL or whatever will end the 3DS line (or start the line after it), provided Nintendo goes with an online venture like that which, as everyone has proven, isn't fool-proof and isn't always easy money.  So unless something really wows me between now and its release, I may just go ahead and skip Black and White 2, hoping that something else will come out that will actually innovate the franchise.  Only time will tell if that's going to happen, though!