Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Final Fantasy XIII-2

I started playing this game because I liked Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VI to be precise. I started off with waiting for the cutscenes to end and the gameplay to ensue.
I was barely able to put up with everything from the start of the game to the actual exploration and fighting.
After having played Sonic Unleashed I have the feeling that part of the starting area was either ripped and mildly changed from that game, or vice-versa.
Come to think of it, there was a part of Sonic The Hedgehog from 2006 that was very similar to the starting area, which leads me to think that the area was copy/pasted from that instead.
You start off fighting a giant demon thing and then meeting the guy who you think should be the central protagonist, Noel Kreiss, but isn't. Although you control what he does once you don't actually ever play as him, which annoys me because I really wanted to.
You instead play as the hero of the last games wimpy little sister, Serah Ferron.
I wouldn't mind having to play as the whiny little girl if this was a 3D action RPG instead of using some weird AI system that teleports you to a pocket dimension when you touch an enemy.
There are Quick-Time-Events outside battle to deal extra damage to the enemy before you enter actual battle.
Now, like most (If not every) other Final Fantasy (And Square Enix) game aside from the XIII quapology you can usually switch between the main characters either by pressing Select or by going into the menu and changing the lineup.
I wouldn't complain about the battles except that they seem more random than the ones in Final Fantasy III and I wouldn't complain about the rest of it if I got to play as Noel Kreiss. He's the manly hero (As manly as allowed by Square Enix), the last of humanity from a bleak and not so distant future and Serah is an insecure girl with a moogle that turns into a bow and sword. All I want to do is Devil May Cry my way through the enemies, it'd be so much better if Squenix would stop dancing around the issue of making it an action-RPG and just let you use X to swing the sword and Square to shoot the bow instead of making you sift through a menu trying to figure out what will kill the enemy quickest.
The game itself says that you don't need to have played Final Fantasy XIII-1 to play XIII-2, but I was left wondering what was going on through the whole thing since all the first part of the game does is make constant references to XIII-1, for instance Lightening gave her blessing to Serah to marry Snow, but I never figured out who snow was until one of the flashback cutscenes told me he was a big burly guy with no shirt and a fur coat on, who looked about twenty something. Serah looks like she's about 14 and so does Noel!
All in all the game could be better and doesn't live up to the standards of better games like Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, and many other Squaresoft, Enix, Square EA, and Square Enix games. I've been trying to make myself play some more of it, but I just don't want to, the story isn't interesting, the combat is formulaic, and on top of all that whenever I pass the game in the library I'm always distracted by better games like Smash Bros Brawl, Need For Speed Undercover or take your pick of Guitar Hero games.
That being said it could also be worse in many ways, there could be a lot of load times, the graphics could be choppy, and to controls could be brok...
The camera! The camera system is beyond broken and it's not that easy to change it. On top of that the menus are terrible to navigate and even more confusing than turn-based RPGs usually are. I never claim to understand everything a character can do, I just try and get everything to be the best and go with that, I still can't for the life of me figure out all the stats and combos and stuff in Dungeons and Dragons, Growlanser 2, and Final Fantasy III and I still have a good time playing those games, but with this game it's like trying to run twelve Dungeons And Dragons characters at once.
Back to the pacing, it doesn't just drop you into the story and let you do your thing like Final Fantasy III, The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear Solid (Granted it's got a fairly long cut-scene at the beginning but it's not as long as the intro of XIII-2) Chrono Cross, or Castlevania SotN, and that's a very bad thing because the story is extremely slow and I almost fell asleep.
I can't rate this game so much as compare it to better games and say what it needed to be better, it's not very good but I'd rather play this game than say, Iron Man 2 or Superman 64.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Resident Evil

Resident Evil came out on the PSX in 1996 by Capcom, it was one of the first PSX games to be rated M, and one of my least favorite games
I started the game as Chris Redfield to match my rule of only play characters of my gender, skipped the FMV because my PlayStation was a model that didn't process them right, and started playing.
Right off I wondered why Chris didn't have a gun, he is of course a cop on a rescue mission.
Only later did I find out that he had dropped his gun in the original opening sequence, and that it made no difference that I couldn't see the FMV.
I was immediately shocked by the lack of logic to the controls, a tank variation that makes it had to move around, I was given a controller configuration screen and somehow it glossed over the fact that Square was run, and from that point on I was astounded by how slow Chris walked, and by how little that the buttons had been used, we've got start, X, Square, R1, and the joypad/left analog stick, Capcom seemed to be trying to make an SNES game by the limiting of the controls, or worse, a 3DO game. Would it have been too hard to assign "Attack" to R2? The first time I tried attacking I was trying to use R2, because you'd think that "Fire" would be one of the trigger buttons, but Capcom is as logical in its control schemes as it is storytelling. Even the Dualshock revision only helps a minor bit by not having you wear your thumb out trying to play a 3D game with a direction pad. I played the Chris Redfield portion with both the standard PSX pad and that ASCIIWare one you saw in my fifth generation feature. Anyways, I died as Chris because there wasn't so much as an in-game tutorial to teach me the controls and I gave up on the game as unplayable. After some googling I found that Jill Valentine starts out with a gun! So I decided that when I started the game a second time I would play as Jill. This was after I had gotten a PSone (With Dualshock) and played some Metal Gear Solid and Chrono Cross.
Let me summarize this for you Capcom, the right analog stick exists for a reason other than just for decoration, you could have made the game playable and maybe enjoyable if you had used the right analog stick for character rotation instead of leaving it unused, the perspectives are hard to get used to, and the entire control scheme needs to be a bit more spread out, you could have primary, secondary, and tertiary weapons at your command for all the buttons you left unused, and why didn't you remap "run" to L3 when adding dualshock support? It would have made sense and given me one less thing to find wrong with the game. Now we come to the fact that they didn't take the opportunity when the Director's Cut came around to fix the translation or put in the rest of the FMV that they cut out or make it in color, I thought that Chris Redfield was an idiot who forgot to bring his gun to the middle of nowhere on a rescue mission, I didn't know that he HAD DROPPED HIS GUN running from mutant creatures, if I had known that I wouldn't have ragged on him not having a gun. With all the zombies, mutants, and stuff in the game they actually thought that SMOKING was something they had to cut from the opening?
 Then there's the fact that the game seems like a low budget indie title released late in the lifespan of the PlayStation by an unknown developer as their first game instead of an early 5th generation title by CAPCOM no less.
Now, if the game had used a more common third person perspective instead of fixed camera angles as it did, this article wouldn't be nearly as long, or as negative. In fact, they could have KEPT the tank controls if they had made the camera a follow-behind and given you some kind of first person perspective, they had more than enough buttons even on the PSX launch pad to do that. Tank controls are perfectly FINE if they're implemented properly, but Resident Evil team passed that up in favor of annoying camera angles that try to enhance the "Horror" aspect of "Survival Horror", which the game also fails at miserably. I wasn't expecting a zombie dog to jump in the window as I was walking down the hallway, and that startled me. But I was in no way scared by it.
Back to the controls, someone will probably comment saying that I just don't like tank controls, or I think they belong in driving games (Not entirely untrue), but as I said earlier, tank controls are perfectly fine if implemented properly. In fact, I can list several games that AREN'T driving games that implement tank controls better than Resident Evil: Resident Evil: Survivor, 007: Tomorrow Never Dies (Again, right analog stick people), Resident Evil: Revelations, Perfect Dark, and Goldeneye 64.
You might say that I just don't like Resident Evil, but I did mention RE:Revelations and the first Gun Survivor game in that list.
Now, I have a hard time classifying this game in my head, it definitely doesn't fit into the "Classic" category that Metal Gear Solid, Ocarina of Time, and Sonic 2 do, but I can't decide whether to put it in "over-hyped over-blown but unique" with DooM, Earthbound, Goldeneye 64, and the 2D Mario games, or just chuck it in with the rest of the pure crap in the "Highly over-rated and beyond stupid" box with Slender, Imscared, Minecraft, Angry Birds, Farmville, The Sims, Virtual Villagers, the Madden series, and World of Warcraft.
I'll have to say you're better off getting the Wii port of the GameCube REmake, or the original GameCube remake for the simple fact that the controllers are much better and everything about it is better from the graphics and FMVs to actors and voice-acting, I'm not planning an LP but if I get a free copy I won't hesitate to stick it in my Wii and fire up the camera.
Do I recommend it? Play the game and make up your own mind, since liking it is hit or miss depending on what kind of person you are, what you like in a game, how much patience you have, and how much you're willing to put up with from a game.
I can't rate this game unfortunately, it's too half and half for me. If they had fixed the control issues it would have been a decent game, but they didn't to my knowledge, and I am 100% certain that if Nintendo had forced Capcom to use the Zelda engine for the remake that it would have been a thousand percent better.
Cya tomorrow, I think I've got something planned.

Slender test video

A bit of desynch but only a bit of tweaking will fix it next time, don't ask me why I played Slender with it.

Nintendo Direct

New of a joint venture between Nintendo and Atlus has been revealed via Nintendo Direct, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem is currently in development.

Along with that, Nintendo has announced The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD to tide players over while they develop the new Zelda game, gotta say that I'm looking forward to both!

Friday, January 18, 2013


One might ask why I would watch a Taylor Lautner movie ever? Especially since he starred in and was just as bad as everyone else in the Twilight fiasco. Well here's why:
I will take the time to mention that while he does slide down glass at one point in the movie, immediately prior to that his gun had just been taken away (A revolver no less), and there was no broken glass in the scene.
What the box makes you think could be any typical Spy Thriller is actually just the story of the son of a spy who's life is turned upside-down by a bunch of people blowing up his house and killing his parents.It starts out far too slowly and has far too little action to be called an action movie. Just a bunch of stuff that happens between when you insert the disc and when you take it out and return it to the place you found it.
Everything about this movie tries to be "hard core" and it would have succeeded had it not been mainly a movie about teen angst that tried to mix in a few spy elements. Separate the two and you could have had two different movies. In fact, with the coherency of the plot being so low, and the entire thing seeming a bit mashed together I wouldn't be surprised if they had taken the outline for a spy movie and tacked it onto that of a teen movie.
Had this been about a burned NSA agent, not the estranged son of a spy, had the bad guys not been so easy to spot, had it not misused the cast, and had it been longer it would have been a perfectly good, and entirely different movie than this one, it also would have been what I expected from a movie with one of its taglines being "They stole his life, he's going to take it back"
Aside from the promotion of the movie being misleading, there are also a few plot-holes that need addressing:
1) The CIA can not operate on American soil: This means that the operative of the main agency in the movie should all be arrested by the agencies that can operate on American soil, or at least reprimanded for not following the rules, which is my main problem with the Cody Banks films. Do the idiots who make these movies not know about the NSA or paramilitary? Now, when the setting is outside the US or the agency is a semi-legal prelature of the CIA then I don't complain (See Burn Notice) but this is beyond bending the rules of the real world to the point where in movies like these the CIA is about as generically used as skeletons, black cats and bats are in haunted houses.
2) After sliding down the glass as shown on the DVD cover and one of the posters of the movie, Lautner's character twists his ankle, a few minutes later he's perfectly fine.
3) If this movie was any more over-reaching with its plot I'd say they tried and failed to combine Burn Notice with some bad 1990s teen drama (Specifically, Roswell) and then stuck a few decent actors in it to sell it.

All in all this is the definition of a B movie, bad writing, bad acting, bad concept, and bad marketing, I give it a 2.3*, because it doesn't deserve an even numbered rating.

Photo credits google image search.

A history of gaming from the fourth generation to now (opinion)

Some SEGA fan in the early '90s probably called Nintendo shortsighted for never releasing any of the proposed 32 bit CD addons for the SNES, then the Mega-CD and 32X flopped like a fish and those people slunk away to find something better to do. Then came the 3D era of gaming in the fifth generation, SEGA and Sony had just gone the CD route and Nintendo chose to stick with cartridges.
This is when the "Nintendo is short-sighted" train started being the "cool" thing to do, then it was found that the SEGA Saturn, Atari Jaguar, and Sony PlayStation were in order: Released too early with not nearly enough games or support, overpriced and under-powered, had issues with any and all FMVs, and for all of the above: DRM that is beyond laughable. Nowadays you can stick any CD game into any computer and make a copy of the game, no problem. The worst part is the PlayStation never corrected the DRM issues even with the thirty four revisions it had. Other issues were fixed with each revision of hardware, but the FMV issues stayed until they were fixed in the late 5000 series, not to mention there were other issues leading up to the 5001 model, namely the disc drive wearing out due to plastic components, etc.
You may say "Alex, there are ways to play and make pirated games from cartridges too" but you can't just run out to the corner shop and buy a stack of them on the cheap, then use any and all free software to copy them, you need specialized hardware and software for most of those. For the rest you can buy SD cards or flash drives, but they're more expensive (Although flash memory is getting dirt cheap).
Then came the Dreamcast, PS2, and Xbox. The Dreamcast's DRM was even more of a joke than the Saturn's or PSX's, the PS2 could be hacked with any off the shelf cheat device and a USB memory device, and the Xbox has so many mods someone wrote a book on it. People may have called Nintendo short sighted for no in-built modem, hard drive or even a hard drive bay on the GameCube, but on the plus side there exist very few hacks for it aside from one involving Phantasy Star Online and the modem that Nintendo released eventually. On top of all that optical burners were becoming standard equipment on most computers  and recordable media was getting cheaper by that time, which also spelled problems for the PSone since it lasted until 2004 and did I mention they never fixed the DRM issues? At least SEGA got wise and fixed the Dreamcast's lockout before they discontinued it.
The year is now 2007 and the Wii and PS3 have just been released, the PS3 cost $500 new and the Xbox 360 has been out for two years and has had countless hardware and software issues to the point of Microsoft giving every console an extended warranty. The PS3 might have less hardware issues, but it's still got enough, as well as a $500 price point. Even though they eventually dropped the price it's still $200 new even though I'm writing this in 2013 and right about now Sony should be releasing they new PS4 or Orbis or whatever. On top of having less hardware issues the Wii also has a wider selection of control options, ranging from typical D pad and two buttons, to full on usage of the motion controls.
Mind you they weren't perfect until recently, but even the pre-Motion+ WiiMote is better than the Kinect's control.
Now, you might be able to pick up a USB drive and SD card, then hack the Wii to your hearts content, but the Wii is nearing the end of its lifespan and Nintendo has released a new console to replace it.
Shifting to the handhelds, Nintendo handhelds have only had one exploit that anyone's been able to use, and that's SD adapters. The DS series compared to the PSP series is like comparing an adamantium safe to a wooden box, all it takes is a few off the shelf materials and you can have all the homebrew and pirated PSP games you want, wheras if you want a DS to SD adapter you have to spend upwards of $50 on one from a shady dealer in China instead of popping off to Wal-Mart or Staples.
This brings us to the eighth generation of gaming: With Sony pricing the Vita around the same as Microsoft is pricing the Xbox 360, the various proprietary hardware required, the lack of a PSP to Vita service in the US, and the fact that five years from the manufacture date the screens of the Vita will lose the blue in them, Nintendo is still winning the console wars, especially since Sony seems to not pay attention to the people telling them to start making things cheaper or they'll go under. Did I mention that despite proprietary hardware galore the Vita was the first to get hacked, not the 3DS with its SD cards and IR port?
Honestly in this entire mess Nintendo and SEGA seem the most sane, at least they've managed to patch their issues whilst still keeping what people like about them, unlike Sony which disabled PS3 Linux support on the second hardware revision of the PS3.
All in all I have to say that when people hate on Nintendo for no doing what the rest of the big companies are that they're just shooting off their mouths, the PSX was under powered and used an inferior media format, the Xbox 360 and PS3 are more likely to fail than the Wii, and will cost more to replace, and the Vita is flopping like a fish.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Spider-Man 3 (Wii)

I haven't posted anything for two weeks, so this is gonna be a doozy.

Spider-Man 3 is based on the final part of the Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, a movie which tried to be dark and gritty, and wound up wasting the cast, characters, and what might have been an interesting plot. The game is by far worse, although it starts out nice enough. The tutorial isn't patronizingly stupid, and you get to beat up thugs in a burning building. After you leave is when everything goes wrong. The sandbox style of the missions, the fact that the missions are contained within their own area instead of just telling you what to do and letting you do it. The dialogue for Spider-Man, the thugs, informants, and essentially everyone is re-used ad-nauseum, to the point of which you know EXACTLY what someone's gonna say before they say it. After you get used to "Are you the REAL Spider-Man, or just some other DORK in a suit?!" you can tell exactly how much of the game is unneeded padding, they waste your time collecting logos so you can unlock the black suit without any risks of a game-over, which like most optional suits I passed on collecting and instead opted to finish the game ASAP. Here's how it works with most games I borrow from the library: I get it, play it all week, then take it back after I finish it on the last day. I did just that, but it took several late nights to finish it. The upgrade system leaves you with a load of stuff that's A) hard to pull off, and B) mostly useless. The fights all get repetitive and most of the game would do better as a boss-rush than a full game.
Now we turn to the graphics. This game has some of the worst graphics on the Wii I've seen.
Now, I will not play the "it's low quality because it's on the Wii" card, that is one card I will never play. I will, however play the "Activision got lazy and didn't put the kind of effort into this game as they did Goldeneye" card, since this game looks worse than most GameCube or Wii games. On the GameCube, we have Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil: REbirth, Resident Evil 4, and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes to name a few. What do they all have in common? More detail and better looking graphics than Spider-Man 3. Even Iron Man looks better than Spider-Man 3 (although it's not any better)! The cutscenes looked like early PSX era, but worse. I can actually say that the cut-scenes in this game are put together worse than the ones in Metal Gear Solid because although MGSs graphics are a bit less detailed, the writing makes up for it. The character models in Spider-Man 3 look bug-eyed and the rigging for their movement is jerky at times, usually in cut-scenes. Worse than that, they only used a few members of the cast as voice-actors for the characters (and the ones that aren't original cast sound A) nothing like their movie counterparts and B) bad voice-acotors). Basically the people they show in the opening credits? That's the people from the movie and it ends there. Also the writing is even more convoluted than the movie, some of the scenes go from touching and relatable, to off center and out of focus. The black-suit origin goes from accidental to blatantly un-noticed, and on top of that it's a lazy, badly made game that would be excusable on the PSP or PSX, or even early Dreamcast or PS2, but not on the Wii, and not from Activision, and not in 2007, the year that Metroid Prime 3, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Rogue Galaxy, Persona 3, and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. All of those games look and play better than Spider-Man 3, came out in the same year, and have more replay value, simply because they make you want to play the game once, whereas Spider-Man 3, I had a hard time finishing it once.
This brings us to the difficulty curve, which is a bit insane. I usually make it a point to not read the manual, walkthrough, cheat-guides, or hintbooks unless I'm stuck repeating the same boss twenty times in a row, which I was stuck doing several times, even though I dialed the difficulty down to minimum!
All in all I wish I had spent my week better, after the game ends you have a never-ending game, so if you want to waste your time helping the police of New York City clean up imaginary gangs you can.
Something that would have been better would have been letting you embrace the black suit and take over Manhattan and the world, instead of having only one ending, the one where you kill Venom, Harry just disappears, and the happy ending of Flint Marko confessing what had happened to Peter and Peter forgiving him not happening, and leaving so many loose ends to the plot of the game that you wish you'd never played the game.
I feel sorry for the people who bought it new, just like I feel sorry for the people who paid money to see Spider-Man 3, as I get most of the movies I see from the library I didn't have to pay to see it, but people did, and people paid for games like this.
The worst part is that it has no reason to be played again, the collection quests take forever and it's no use anyways since your reward is clothes.
The only good thing is the webswinging and free-roam, which are the only redeeming aspects of the game. Ignore all the non-required missions unless you're bored and you can explore NYC to your hearts content.
I'm not sure if I've talked about the upgrade system and how annoying it is, like I said before, most of the moves are hard to pull off and there are only a few that help you, and most get unlocked automatically if they're mandatory.
All in all this game gets a 3.2* rating, being bad enough to garner a rating below 5, but having anough good aspects to keep it above a 1.