Monday, December 30, 2013

End of the year

So 2013 is coming to a close, and I figured I'd actually post something this week. I haven't been doing much for a few months because by the time Sunday rolls around I'm usually too tired to care and by the time Wednesday comes by I'm too busy to do anything, and then the cycle repeats.
So, people are choosing their games of the year. I figured I'd list out my top five before I did anything else.
#1: Fire Emblem Awakening.
I haven't been able to play much of this game, but I have to say that it's probably one of the games I've had the most fun with. Tactical strategy is one of my favorite kinds of RPGs, another being action RPGs. Speaking of which, #2 is Pandora's Tower: Until I Return to Your Side.

So yes, technically the game is two years old, but it was only released in the US this year. Combine some of the best looking graphics on any console with a story that's as riveting as it is heart-breaking and gameplay that's some strange combination of Devil May Cry, The Legend of Zelda, and God of War, and you've got a game that's as entertaining as it is fun to play. When I say "strange" I don't mean "bad." Although some (I don't know who, I just figured somebody probably thought that at some point_ might decry the relationship part of the game as boring and unnecessary, it helps you actually learn that the woman you're fighting your way through hordes of monsters to save is actually a person you should care about. A sweet, loving girl who you feel bad about letting down. The game is fun, the story is equal parts sweet and heart-wrenching. Granted, I didn't actually finish the game yet, but I'll get there soon.
And now on the #3, Grand Theft Auto V.
Okay, so I haven't played a whole lot of GTAV, I don't even own the game, I just played some at a Halloween party someone brought a PS3 and a copy of the game to, but I enjoyed what I did play of it. Granted, I didn't play enough to be able to give it any kind of rating, but I did enjoy myself. My one complaint is that running around on foot feels really awkward, and that running shouldn't be mapped to a button when we've had analog control for consoles since 1996!
Moving on to #4, Dead Rising 3.
So yes, I don't own the game or the console it's on, but in the end, it's fun to kill hordes of zombies with a bulldozer. Or alternatively, a chainsaw strapped to a shotgun.
And now to #5: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD.

Okay, at this point I'm just grasping at straws, but to be fair, I only bought two new games this year and it's just pure luck that I was able to have more than two games on my list this year. I'm sorry, what? Okay, my editor has just informed me that I have to put games I've actually played on this list. So Wind Waker HD is going to have to go. By the way, my editors name just so happens to be Alex Shannon.
So here's the actual Number Five of my Games of the Year list: Sonic Lost World.
So I've played less of Lost World than I have of Dead Rising 3, GTAV or FEA, but I've at least PLAYED it. And I enjoyed it. 'Nuff said.

So 2013 has seen the whole two years late entry of Microsoft and Sony into the latest generation of consoles, several revisions of the last gen consoles and a couple of the current-gen ones as well. It has seen the entrance of new IPs and sequels to old hands alike. All in all, another tumultuous year in gaming, as is to be expected every time a new generation of consoles comes about. Personally, I've been working on redesigning the website, but unfortunately Blogger doesn't seem to like the logo that I designed for the header. I also considered at several points in time shortening the URL down to four letters, but then I figured that I'd have a helluva time changing that over, from having to put up a redirect on the old URL to the new one, to changing all of my bookmarks over, to changing what is automatically posted with all of my YouTube videos, to changing my Outlook signature, to etc, etc. Looking back on what could roughly be called my "career" as a journalist, I should have just given up on the whole "Blogdude" thing and just put my name on the damn content. Anyways, a little too introspective there. My name is Alex Shannon, and I'll see you guys in the new year. Hopefully it will bring as many good movies, books and games as the old one.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Xbox One

So, I was able to log a few hours on the Xbox one today and I have to say, despite what I expected, it's actually a decent console. I'm not going to get one any time soon though, I'm gonna wait for the prices on used ones to go down past fifty. The controller surpasses the Xbox 360's with it's excellence, and it's just barely behind my PC controller in comfort. It feels like what it's been billed at, a controller that has been tested for perfection. The triggers are great and all the buttons as well. The sticks feel like they'd last longer than the 360's and the D-pad could easily be called one of the best. Out of the launch titles, I've only played two. Madden 25 and Dead Rising 3.
Out of the two, I'd have to say that DR3 was the one that I enjoyed the most. By which I mean I actually ENJOYED it.

A quick review of Madden 25 would have you know that there's too many functions for every interface command and that they change from second to second. The cut-scenes are glitchy in that sometimes players clip right through others while running and the player models look like they were ripped from a PS2 game.
That's not to say the game doesn't look good. When not zoomed in on the players it actually looks quite nice. The field looks the best looking ground texturing I've seen (Although I suspect if you were to hug the camera to the ground and point it straight down it'd look as blurry as the ground textures in CoD4 and MW2 do when you do the above) and the GUI looks quite nice. My problem is that unlike a lot of games you can't just pick it up and go if you've never played it before. The complexity of the commands makes it impenetrable for a beginner and it's killed my interest in sports games. I wouldn't recommend it. 3.4* Moving on.
Unlike with Madden 25, I have played sandbox games before. As well as survival-horror games, third-person brawlers, and third-person shooters. I didn't even start off at the beginning, I was using the save file a friend had already beaten the game on because the XONE didn't want to let me sign in with my XBL account. I love it, I'm gonna have to play the first two Dead Rising games one of these days, and if I ever get an Xbox One this is gonna have to be on my list. Despite me randomly getting bored with sandbox games occasionally, when I want to play them, I usually have a lot of fun. The ability to fashion makeshift weapons is awesome, if a bit illogical (Like '90s adventure-game illogical) at times. I like everything about DR3 except that the games GUI sometimes make it hard to tell where to go.
Also, according to the Wikipedia page the game doesn't have load-times. HA! What they should say is that it has one BIG loading time every time you load up a save. Other than that it's a great game. 9.3*
All in all, I'd say that the Xbox ONE really needs some time to get more games and for the price to go down. Also for them to work out all the kinks in it. It's a good console. It's better than the way I thought it would be, but it's not perfect. Then again, no console is. Well, maybe the DS.
Who am I kidding? No console is perfect, everything's got its own special brand of problems, and it's still early in the eighth generation of gaming, so those problems are yet to present themselves long term. There are the obvious hardware and software kinks in the Xbox One and PS4, but they're probably going to be worked out over the next year (At least I hope so.)
I'd like to apologize for my lack of content over the past month, I've been busy cleaning the house, prepping for the Christmas special, working on next October's Halloween special, prepping the new campaign storyline for the DnD group I'm DMing for, working on a project with my dev group, and although I've had the content, I just haven't had the energy to put that content into writing. Took me two days to write all this up, and I wasn't able to devote a whole lot of time to it. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and happy holidays for all. See you on Youtube at noon for the next 24 days!