Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Dead Island Review

Slaughtering hordes of undead on a huge, entirely explorable island? Severing limbs, decapitations, cutting away at zombie flesh to show their insides? Yes, please!
This is exactly the kind of game i've been waiting for, for a very long time. Playing it makes me think of it as a hybrid between Dead Rising and Left for Dead. Mind you, i haven't finished it yet, but i'm 70ish% through the main story, and i have to say, kudos to Techland for making this amazing game.

One of the first things noticeable is the beautiful graphics. I mean, this game was announced in '06 and was released last month, but if they spent that much time working on the game visually, then i take my hat off to them. If only that worked for Duke Nukem..
Seriously though, the sky and clouds are lifelike. The water effects and animations are stunning, The vegetation around the island is just amazing. I with i could say the same for the NPCs, but i really can't.

You play as one of four characters, who seem to be a colorful bunch. I went with Logan, because he's a blade expert, and throwing knives are just plain cool. You're put on this island at the start of the game with no real clue where to start. It doesn't take a lot of brain power to work out though. One thing that becomes blatantly obvious is the Aussie accent, that comes from 80% of the population, and about 40% of them are horrible. Once you adjust to that though, it seems natural.

The leveling system is a bit generic, but you don't fix what ain't broke, right? It works really well with Dead Island, and the skill tree. The skill tree is broken up into three branches, much like Borderlands, and it's extremely well balanced. The game has you constantly upgrading and readjusting your weapons and skills, so it never really gets old.

There's plenty of variety in the zombies appearances as well, as long as some proper variety in the enemy classes. From regular Walkers to Suicide Zombies to full raging straight-jacket wearing Rams, it's always entertaining!

Weapons are a lot of fun to use, and to deck out with the many mods they give you. There's nothing like Electrifying the sweet Machete you picked up, and wreaking lightning havoc on whatever stupid undead get in the way.
Vehicles are fairly common around Banoi, but there's nothing really special about them. Mowing down zombies in the street is fun and all, but it only lasts for so long..

Some quests get a bit tedious. Escort missions and scavenger quests are quite common in DI, though they're balanced out with the story quests, and the "Go here and kill everything in sight" quests, which i thoroughly enjoy.

I haven't really had any major problems with the overall performance of the game. Other than some minor rendering and framerate issues, the game runs really smoothly. Mind you, i play on Xbox, so i can't vouch for PC or PS3. I'd imagine it would be the same though.

Overall i'd say this is a really solid game. There's a lot of funny moments that aren't really intended, like the character's dialogue when he agrees to something. After a man heartfully asking me to "put his wife and child to rest", Logan replied with a cheerful "Yeah, i'll give ya a hand!". The stunning graphics, smooth feel, and balanced gameplay make this game worth your spare time.

To be fair, it does have obvious flaws. I'll still be adding it to my list of favorites though!

 9.5/10 

Saturday, 2 July 2011

10 games I'd like to see get remade, or get a sequel.

So, everybody knows by now that The Legend Of Zelda: OoT has been remade, and this got me thinking, what other games could do with a remake/sequel? I've come up with 10 that i'd personally love to see again.

Fighting Force (1,2)
Remake or Sequel?
Either.

I remember this badboy like it was yesterday. It was a 3D fighting game, which you could pick up items, tear things off walls to use as weapons, and destroy parts of the environment.

Simply. Epic.

 Conkers Bad Fur Day
Remake or Sequel? Either.

I know, there's already been a remake, Conker: Live and Reloaded, but i mean a TRUE remake. With the original multi-player and all. Either that or a sequel. Yeah, that'd be amazing..
A sequel was also in the works, but it was cancelled..
 The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Remake or Sequel? Remake, obviously.

This has to be here, since OoT has already been remade recently, it just wouldn't be right if it wasn't.
Plus, rolling around as a Goron was so fun!

 Croc (1,2)
Remake or Sequel? Either.

I miss this game so much. For all you who didn't play it, you don't know what you were missing. I can't believe most people don't remember Croc!
 Gex (1,2,3)
Remake or Sequel? Remake.


Who would've thought that jumping into TVs and finding television remotes as a lizard with sunnies could be so fun? Such an amazing game, it would be a shame to just let such an awesome reptile die..
 Blast Corps
Remake or Sequel? Sequel.

Destroying a city as a huge robot, to stop a nuclear warhead from exploding and destroying it anyways? Yes, please. With today's technology, a sequel would be amazing! Of course, the story would suck, but with the Frostbite engine or something, gameplay would rock!
HeXen (1,2)
Remake or Sequel? Remake, or a Port?


Doom with magic? Sounds pretty lame, right? Well, not to me. I loved this game! Unfortunately, i don't think i could adjust to it again. Still, i'd love to see it again!
Pokemon Stadium (1,2)
Remake or Sequel?
Sequel.

How many Pokemon are there now?
646. That would make one hell of a Pokemon Stadium game now. I think it's about time, don't you?
MediEvil (1,2)
Remake or Sequel? Either.

Those of you who remember this, i think you'd agree that this game was rather excellent. You play as Sir Daniel Fortesque, the first knight to die in the Battle of Gallowmere, by getting hit in the eye with an arrow.

 It mixes humor with a dark kind of fantasy. It's awesome!
Road Rash 64
Remake or Sequel? Sequel.

A bike racing game, which involves baseball bats, swinging chains, and any other thing you can think of to knock the other bikers off their bikes. Sounds good. Sequel, please!




There's so many choices when you think of what you want to see again, but i chose 10. Do you think i chose wrong? What would you take out/put in?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Borderlands 2; What i'd like to see, and what i wouldn't.



So we all know how much of an amazing game Borderlands is. Well, most of us. It's a Sandbox Action RPG, and an amazing one at that. Since this games epic success, it can only be assumed that we're gonna get a sequel. This brings up the question; How can Borderlands be improved? I have some thoughts on what would be good, and what wouldn't, but keep in mind they are personal opinion! Some of these ideas could be completely ridiculous to you, like i've seen with other peoples ideas..

I don't mind if any, or all, of these aren't included. Gearbox made an amazing game, and will do so again. I have no doubt about it!


A Change of Scenery

For those of you who have played Borderlands, you would more than likely agree with me here. The whole "Desert wasteland complete with mountains of trash, and buildings made out scrap metal and rusted up corrugated iron" thing gets a little old. (Reminds me of a place I'm a little scared of..)

How about we travel to a new planet? Complete with different scenery and different support characters. I don't mind the main characters, I actually love Mordecai. This could also provide opportunities to throw in a few more groups of enemies too.

Sorry buddy, but i don't think the water is gonna come back on. Ever.

Skill Trees

I'd love to see the skill trees make a return, but to be honest, they didn't seem to make much of a difference to the gameplay. They did, to a degree, but when a similar level Hunter joins my game, i find it a little hard to tell the difference in gameplay between them both.

Perhaps adding maybe 2 more sections to the Skill Tree, simply to change things up a bit. For example, Mordecai has 3 sections to his Skill Tree:
  • Sniper: Obviously helps level his abilities with Snipers.
  • Rogue: Grants new abilities for his Pet Bird, Bloodwing.
  • Gunslinger: Grants new abilities for the Pistols.

Perhaps the two we could add could be:
  • Blademaster: Mordecai uses a Blade for his melee attack, so perhaps this tree could simply be to level his melee skills, or add abilities to his blade.
  • Team-player: This section should focus on giving the team extra bonuses and whatnot. An EXP boost when an enemy is killed, or increased bullet damage for specific weapon types whenever you're in the game. Borderlands already features this stuff, but the team relies on Roland for this kind of support too much.

Added Loot System and Same Amount of Guns

This is where Borderlands really shines. It's essentially the whole point of the game. The core game alone has over 17,500,000 variations of weapons. That's epic! They could be varied in appearance a little more, but who's complaining?

This is Borderlands in a nutshell. Seriously.

What i really want though, is for Gearbox to make it a little more difficult to mod weapons. With literally millions of weapons to find, i honestly don't see why people feel the need to make a gun that can fire 1,000,000 bullets per second that do 1,000,000 damage each. The point of the game is to find the equipment to make you better than everything, not mod a gun that can beat anything. It's literally the first question we ask when someone joins our game. "Do you have anything modded?" "Yes?" *Boot*

Also, a great idea would be Armor Loot. I know there is already Shield Loot, but Armor Loot could add in more amazing factors. Like, depending on what part of the body you're shooting, the Armor equipped would play a role in how much damage that body part takes. It could also factor in the armor customization element, which would set you apart from other players.

A Better Dueling System

Dueling was fun in Borderlands, but it got stale quickly. Especially when the person you were dueling was a slightly higher level than you. What made it really fun though, was leveling up the characters, and fighting to decide who is the best one.

There needs to be some way to make it more interesting. Something that would help us find the motivation to get the "Win 1,000 Duels" Challenge (I've only won 14). Perhaps making money not-so-easily attainable, and then having the players betting money, or loot, to see who can win. That would be enough motivation for me during the first half of a game!


A Way To Tell How Much Money You Have

In Borderlands, you can max out your money legitimately by selling every weapon that you come across and don't want. Maxing it out means getting the counter stuck on $9999999. Fairly easy, but annoying because you can't tell exactly how much you have.

Although, there is a challenge for "Earning $9,999,999", though the game has glitched for me, and it's counting downwards. My progress so far? Well, it says i have earned -$2,140,883,184. I owe some dirty pandorian a lot of money..



Character Customization

So far we can add up to 3 colors to a pre-designed character. Woo.

Well, I'd like to see a decent character design system, where you select a class, then design a character within the guidelines for the class. That way, there won't be any ridiculous character designs, but each one will be personalized to the player's preference! Sounds amazing, right?


The Same Humor As The Knoxx DLC

I don't literally laugh at games very often, especially when I'm playing them alone (What's the point?), but The Secret Armory Of General Knoxx had me in stitches for a lot of it. I mean, the core game was ok, but that DLC was amazing. Use that as a guideline, and the next game could be freakin' hilarious!


No Gun Creating

Seriously guys. Come on.


A Choice of Active Skills

Right now, it's one action skill per character. Why not have a choice of 3? That would change the gameplay enough to make each character individual. It'll also add a lot more replay value to the game, as if it could have any more replay value than it already does!


There are probably a lot more, but no more came to mind whilst typing this. What do you people think? Good ideas? Bad? Tell me what you want to see in the game. It's coming. Randy Pitchford let it slip during a Gearbox Community event. He knew it, and judging by the expression on his face, it was a big mistake. Developers read forums and blogs as well. It doesn't mean your idea will even be slightly considered, but let it be known anyways!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

To the people hating on FFXIII for being different.

Depending on whether you read everything on this blog or not, you might remember me doing a post on the people that hate all over the Gears games looking the same. Well, now I'm doing a similar thing. This, however, will be targeting the other narrow minded people, that think that a game franchise needs to recreate the exact same game with every release.

An amazing story, makes an amazing game. Simple.


Most people know of Final Fantasy, simply because of the amount of releases it has. It's known for it's often amazing storylines, turn-based battle systems and open-world RPG gameplay. The difference with FFXIII?
  • It's storyline is still amazing.
  • The battle systems were changed though, from slow-paced and turn-based, to fast-paced and real-time. Of course the haters would hate that!
  • The open-world gameplay was made a lot more linear. Square Enix did this, because the XII haters were saying that it wasn't linear enough! You can't win with these people!
Of course, the storyline doesn't really allow the game to be non-linear. If you pay attention to the story, the L'Cie who are chosen need to complete their focus before their time is up. They don't know when that is, so obviously they aren't going to go wandering around the streets looking for something else to do! They're also absolutely hated when they become L'Cie, so they can't just roam cocoon without being prosecuted, which is the first 60% of the game! The Final Fantasy games are legendary for their storylines, with each one being distinctly unique, so any fan would really pay attention to what is going on in the game, and how everything fits.

The haters whine about the games characters and story being impossible to connect with, but it forcing you to be connected anyway. Each character has something to have most people connected to them. For example:
  • Snow: Being a huge romantic, i felt connected with him the most. With his fiancee, Serah, being solidified in crystal, he needs to find a way to save her. That's his whole motivation to save Cocoon, in a nutshell. What really connected me with him was a scene where he finds Serah, stuck in the crystal in the crystal lake, so he stays behind alone, to try to dig her out.
  • Lightning: People who are overprotective of siblings, or someone. That person is Lightning. She blames Snow for Serah becoming a L'Cie. Meaning, her whole motivation is to save the world, to save Serah from being a L'Cie, and mainly save her from her partner.
  • Sazh: Draws parents to connect. His son turned to a L'Cie, and he wants to save him. Obviously this is what every parent wants, to save their children

The key is empathy. That's how you connect with the characters in any game. Being blinded by how different the game is to how you expected it, means that any other emotion besides hate will be blocked out.

The fact that the haters are simply hating because of change is ridiculous! There have been 12 other main FF games in the franchise. This isn't including spin-offs, or sequels. Don't be surprised when Squenix decide to experiment. They have in the past, and they will in the future. FFXIII brought a whole new audience to the FF series, instead of the typical fanboys. I'd expect they're going to continue with this gameplay, as well as the original gameplay. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of variety in a franchise!

What annoys me most is that the people hating on Final Fantasy for being different after 12 games, are the same haters that hate Gears Of War for being the same after 2 games!

I just need to remember, everyone hates everything. Simple. There's always gonna be people that will absolutely drill a game because they think they can do it better, or they wouldn't make the same mistakes the developer did. They can make the perfect game. It's exactly why everyone hates movie adaptions of games. Which is also why movie producers are too scared to set foot near the big name games.

People are silly.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Saints Row 3; What's different?

So, if you've played previous Saints Row games, you'd know that it's essentially GTA with a whole heap of fun stuff to do in between missions, like my personal favorite, Insurance Fraud. Well, this is about the new game, Saints Row: The Third.

So in the first game, you get recruited into the Saints, and take control of Stilwater by taking out the other three rival gangs. You then get 'sploded in a boat. In the second game, you wake up after being in a coma, and find the city has been taken by three new gangs, and the Saints have been crushed. You take the city, by taking out the new gangs. Easy.

Well, in The Third, you start with control over the city, and then try to rob a bank. You fail, and make another gang, The Syndicate, mad. They take you up, try to negotiate, and you being the awesome stubborn guy you are, you get yourself thrown out of a plane. They take Stilwater, and now you need to take a new city called Steelport.




The Syndicate

So, the new gang is actually one gang, with three divisions (Naturally..). They consist of The Morning Star, The Luchadores and The Deckers. Apparently instead of the gangs each having a separate storyline, their stories are interconnected. This means that the direction you choose to go with one section of The Syndicate, will influence what happens with the other two sections. There will also be multiple endings. Should be awesome!


Multi-player

Saints Row 2 introduced multi-player and co-op through Xbox Live or system link. The Third will not have multi-player matchmaking, but will still have co-op. This means without the multi-player, there will be more focus on the co-op side, which in my opinion was the best part of Saints Row 2!


Gameplay

The gameplay looks a lot smoother judging by the E3 gameplay footage. There also seems to be a lot more melee-style moves available to you at the beginning of the game. SR2 was notorious for the huge amount of things you could do as small side missions, which would give you bonuses. Well, SR3 apparently has a lot more of that.

There is also a new way to, i guess, "Level up" in SR3. Respect points before were only really used to gain access to missions, but now, they can allow access to a perk-store, to help you finish the game your way.

New weapons have been added, including a Laser Designated Air-Strike, a and a Remote Controlled bug, which can be placed on vehicles. Also included is a err.. adult play thing..

The ability to customize weapons has also been added, which includes adding scopes to your arsenal or a larger clip. I assume you'd be able to add guns to cars as well..

Vehicles have been redefined, and are now easier to drive. I think they were easier before, but hey, whatever works!

Remember in San Andreas, when you could eat a lot, and you would get fat. Well, now you can do that on Saints Row! This will probably mean you won't get as much customization at the start of the game, but moreso by exploring and finding customization places.

At the end of certain missions, the player will be able to decide the finale. For example, killing prostitutes, or sending them back to the Saints HQ to boost gang morale.

Health regeneration has been added, so you don't need to always have a constant supply of food, although they will probably keep it for emergency situations.

Graphics, physics and destruction of vehicles are also being improved.



While all these features are being added, or tweaked, I can't help but think that SR3 may be setting itself up for fail. I mean, Laser Designating? That seems a little too far, even for a Saints Row game. Nonetheless, i can't wait for it to be released, hopefully it's as good as THQ is boasting! And now, we wait..

:)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Videogames; Why they aren't bad for you.

"It is games that give us something to do when we have nothing to do. We thus call games 'pastimes' and regard them as trifling fillers of the interstices of our lives. But they are much more important than that. They are clues to the future. And their serious cultivation is perhaps our only salvation.." -  Bernard Suits - Philosopher
It's no secret, the majority of adults are against videogames because they are "bad for you". However, back in the late 19th century, people also claimed that the telephone would be bad for us. It was deemed a "social threat", much like videogames are today. The thing is, anything new that isn't completely understood, or looked at from the wrong perspective, is immediately believed to be "bad for us". I'm gonna give some reasons and statistics showing why videogames aren't entirely bad. Obviously these are a generalisation, and in no way apply to everyone.


Stress relief

Videogames are an amazing way to relieve stress, much more so than reading a book or watching a movie. We do these things to become immersed in a world that isn't our own. Reading a book leaves this world to our imagination. The world isn't shown to us exactly as the author intended it, but rather we need to create this world in our mind, while you have no choice in how the story will go. Watching a movie is much the same, except the world is presented to us as well as the story, giving you zero choice.
Gaming, however, is the most effective way to become immersed in a world. It allows you to be the character. It makes the world yours. It gives you choice. You can control the character, shape the world as you see fit, turn the story in the direction you want. It allows you to do all this, without disrupting anybody in the real world.


Improves Hand-Eye Coordination

Pretty self explanatory. Gamers spend their time on games, not controllers. They don't need to pay any attention whatsoever to the controller they're holding, whilst playing a game. Studies have been taken on this, tasking non-gamers to play 50 hours of gaming over 9 weeks. This improved the non-gamers ability to switch seamlessly between visual and attention tasks, which is a valuable life skill to have.
Researchers at New York's Beth Israel Medical Centre, have found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made fewer mistakes and performed laparoscopic surgery faster and more accurately than their non-playing peer.


Improves Visual Abilities

It improves your ability to concentrate on multiple tasks at once, and improves your peripheral vision. This is an essential skill when driving, because it requires you to scan the roads constantly, across a wide field of vision.
It also improves Contrast Sensitivity, which is the ability to distinguish between colors, for example, gamers have been found to be more effective at seeing more shades of grey. Also essential when driving, particularly at night or in fog.
With age, these skills begin to deteriorate, but with videogames, you can counteract this.
Fast-paced action games are said to be the best for improving these visual and attention abilities. Who ever said CoD was all bad?

Social

While adults really don't think so, videogames are incredibly social. It's not a group of people sitting around a table, talking and drinking tea. No, it's a group of people, sitting around their own console, talking and slaughtering zombies or something. This brings people with similar interests together whilst doing something they love! This gives people more and more to talk about, and introduces people to others around the world. If that's not social, i don't know what is.


Team-building

Ask any employer, and they'll tell you that teamwork is an essential skill to have. Videogames are amazing at building this. Take Battlefield Bad Company 2, for example. It's an objective based game, with 12-player teams, each with specific roles to cater to, such as being a Medic, or handing out ammunition, all the while trying to achieve the objective. This is an ideal trait for any employee to have.


Provokes Positive Emotion

"When we’re depressed, according to the clinical definition, we suffer from two things: a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity. If we were to reverse these two traits, we’d get something like this: an optimistic sense of our own capabilities and an invigorating rush of activity." - Jane McGonigal 'Reality Is Broken'.

This is exactly what videogames provoke. We play games to challenge ourselves. We don't need to play them. It's not exactly a necessary step to achieve a fulfilling life, but we do it because we love the challenge, the sort of challenge we can't find in reality. Once we complete it, we get a sense of self accomplishment, and a rush of happiness because you were able to.





There are many more positive benefits that stem from the gaming world. These benefits are what many parents overlook, perhaps trying to urge their children to become more like them. In reality, technology is improving, and the gaming world is becoming a major part of it. Games will continue to grow and evolve, and there will be more and more positive benefits which will come from it.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Minecraft; Why it's so great.

I think it's about time i wrote something on Minecraft. So by now, nearly everybody should know about it. It's a game that encourages creativity and whatnot. It's essentially LEGO for teens. For the people who have no idea what it is, however, here's a video that shows you some of the Minecraft world.



Looks silly, right? Wrong. It's actually incredibly addictive, and fun. Very fun. I only came to try it out of sheer boredom, after months of a friend trying to talk me into it. Trust me, it's worth it. Let's go through a couple of things, so you can all know what all the rage is about. Keep in mind, all the pictures in here are from our own personal server. There is much MUCH better stuff out there.

What is Minecraft?

Minecraft is a game solely about building things out of blocks. Each block is different, and there is a big variety of things you can do with them. You do, however, need a certain type of tool to mine certain blocks. Sounds simple, right? Well it is, to an extent. Here is an example of the safehouse me and a friend built, right at the beginning.

Yes, that is lava inside that glass.
Now, visually, it's nothing special. At all. Everything is blocky, even the players. Amazingly, the simplicity adds to the experience. It takes some getting used to, but i wouldn't have it any other way.

At night, monsters come out, which is the main point of survival mode. They try to get in, and you need to build so they can stay out. Monsters spawn in the darkness, so every part of the interior of your place needs to be lit up. There are multiple monsters that can spawn, ranging from zombies to spiders. The most troublesome though, are the creepers, which explode taking chunks of whatever you've built with it.
All hail the mighty golem.
And it's creator.. Superman?
That's right. Superman. All skins are customizable in Minecraft. On the server i pay for, we have four people contributing to a slowly growing city, with an odd combination of persona's. Personally, i play as Vincent Valentine from Final Fantasy, but apart from that we also have Superman, Sailor Moon, and a guy from Crysis. The default skin annoys me so much, so i urge people to change it.

The world of Minecraft is huge, and oddly beautiful. I know, what could be beautiful about a bunch of blocks? It's strange, but you'd have to see it properly. The size of the world is roughly 6 times that of planet Earth, assuming each block is 1m³. That's huge.

If all of that isn't enough to impress you, think about this. Minecraft started out as a small one-person project. Markus Persson, Minecraft's creator, is now making over $300,000 each day. He makes this much money, because he made a game about blocks. For all you people thinking of designing an indie game, why not give it a try? It worked out alright for him!

An entrance to my mine.
Obviously to get resources, you need to mine them. However, if all you want to do is build, and you're an op, you can simply spawn all the resources you need. I don't do this, because i play games the way they're intended. The only thing I've done so far is change the time from night to day!


This game is simple, hellafun, and amazingly addictive. I know it looks childish, but when you get to play it, you'll find it's far from it. Before paying though, i would suggest playing the free version on www.minecraft.net.

I'll leave you with a couple more screenshots of our server. It might not be interesting, but it shows what I've been up to! Right now, I'm in the process of making a rollercoaster!

Far away view of my monument.

The greenhouse.

Thine commandments.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Mario; is it dead, or is there still potential?

We all know him, and most of us love him. Ok, maybe not him, but in some way or another, something makes us keep coming back to the franchise. I'll go through the games to date, not including cameos, so we can all make a decision.
Keep in mind, Mario has been featured in over 200 games, so i'll only be covering the main series.

Mario Bros. (Arcade)

The game that started it all. Not very exciting now, but it would've been amazing for it's time. The game simple consists of one level, in one frame. Rather simple, but look what it did for games now.
Super Mario Bros. (NES, SNES)

A sequel for Mario Bros, and the first Mario on console. This game was more adventurous. You play as Mario, or Luigi in 2-player, and travel to different worlds in search of the princess, who has been kidnapped by Bowser. It's the first game to have featured special blocks, in which you get power-ups from. Enemies can also now be jumped on to kill them.


Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES, SNES)

The next in the original series. This game introduced a few new things which the previous game didn't have. First, it introduced another dimension to the gameplay; vertical. You could now travel upwards instead of the traditional horizontal. Second, it introduced the ability to travel backwards, to earlier parts of the level you have already passed. Thirdly, you could now pick up and throw objects, instead of only being able to run and jump. Enemies can't be jumped on in this game.
This games story is simply Mario and the gang trying to rescue the world from the evil guy, King Wart.

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES, SNES)

The third game in the NES trilogy. This game introduced several more elements to the series. In addition to running and jumping, the player could now slide, fly, float, swim, throw hammers and jump higher. Enemies can also be jumped on once more. It also allowed for navigation of each of the worlds, via a mini-map. The story is based around the Princess getting kidnapped once again by Bowser, and the brothers trying to save her.

 Super Mario World (SNES)
The 5th game in the series, and the first to introduce Yoshi, a dinosaur which Mario can ride, and can eat enemies. The game is essentially the same as the previous one, but with Yoshi.
The plot is similar as well, but while rescuing the Princess, who has been captured again, you're also tasked with rescuing Yoshi'.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)

The first game where the player takes the reigns as Yoshi, instead of Mario. In this, Mario is an infant, and the Yoshi' are tasked with transporting him safely throughout the worlds. Power-ups aren't common. Yoshi also has the ability to swallow enemies as eggs, have them follow him, and throw them. He can also somehow transform into vehicles..
The plot for this game is odd. A stork is transporting Baby Mario and Baby Luigi to their parents, and Baby Luigi gets kidnapped. Baby Mario then falls onto the island and is picked up by a green Yoshi. They then try to rescue Baby Luigi.

Super Mario 64 (N64)

The first Mario game to go 3D, and the first on Nintendo 64. This game is considered "Revolutionary" for it's amazing camera controls, and 360 degree movement with the thumbstick. The game introduced caps, which Mario could wear to dematerialize, become entirely metal, and fly. Also introduced was the triple jump, which is used often in more recent games, and the wall jump.
The point of the game is to rescue the princess, who has been captured by Bowser, by collecting 120 stars hidden in painting worlds.

Super Mario Sunshine (GC)

Similar to Super Mario 64 in a lot of ways. This game gives Mario a water gun that looks like a vacuum cleaner, which can be used to hover, sprint faster, spray, and shoot Mario high in the air. Yoshi also comes into play later. He is able to eat fruit and spray the juices, and changes color depending on the last thing eaten. The object of this is not to collect stars, but "Shine Sprites".
The plot revolves around Mario and Peach taking another vacation, to a place shrouded in darkness. This is because a Mario "Imposter" is stealing the Shine Sprites, and you are tasked with getting them back.

New Super Mario Bros. (NDS)
Very similar to the original side scrollers. It featured 3D polygons rendered on a 2D background. Several new power-ups were added, including the Mini-Mushroom, which shrunk Mario to a tiny size to access new areas, the Mega-Mushroom, which grew Mario to a large size to crush through any obstacles in his way, and the Koopa Shell which let Mario retreat into a shell to slide down slopes and kill enemies with ease, it also helped him swim faster.
The plot is also similar to the earlier games. Princess gets kidnapped and blah blah.


Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Person 1: I think we've used the same setting more than enough times now, what can we do next?
Person 2: How about we send Mario in space? We haven't done that yet!
Person 1: You, my friend, are a genius.

That's the sort of conversation i would expect to lead to an idea like this. Surprisingly, it was actually pulled off well. You can now travel galaxies as Mario, and completely circumnavigate planets. With the added physics, the player can jump from object to object with ease. After collecting all the Star Bits, you can also play as Luigi, which changes gameplay a bit. There are also new power-ups in the game. These include the Bee Suit, which allows you to hover, and scale certain obstacles, the Boo Suit, which allows you to become transparent, and the Spring Suit, which allows you to reach new heights. There is also a new flower, which allows you to shoot ice and freeze enemies. A new star, the Red Star, allows you to fly for a minute also. The game makes use of the Wii Pointer, which you use to collect items with. It also features several ways to make re-visiting worlds fun, by offering challenges.
The plot revolves around rescuing the princess. Again.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

Obviously very similar to the New Super Smash Bros. on the NDS, with a new set of worlds and levels, and a few small differences. This game features 4 player co-op with a twist, all players share a screen. The other players play as Luigi, and two toadstools. This makes for some hectic Mario playing. You can bump, punch, carry, or throw the other players around. Also added is a new way to reach heights. By tilting the controller quickly, with the aid of a Propeller Mushroom, you fly into the air, and hover back down. Also added, is the Ice Flower, the Penguin Suit, which allows players to slide along ice and water, and make it easier to navigate both. Each player has seperate lives, and when a player is hurt, they retreat into a bubble. Another player must then pop the bubble for the player to come back into play, thus losing a life. Players can also once again ride Yoshi'.
Yes, we need to save that woman again.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

Essentially the exact same game, with a couple of added power-ups.
You can now use the Spin-Drill, allowing players to drill through a planet, the Rock Suit, allowing players to smash through obstacles, and Cloud Suit, which allows players to create small platforms.
You can also ride Yoshi on certain worlds, and you can control his tongue with the pointer.
Super-sized Bowser kidnaps the princess, and you need to save her, once more.

Super Mario 3D (3DS)

Not released yet, and not much detail has been given. Apparently it will be a cross between Super Mario 64, and Super Mario Galaxy, and "Completely Original". Apparently the Super Leaf power-up will return. Mario will also complete a level by reaching the flag, and can die by getting hit as Small Mario, or falling into a bottomless pit. It also features content from other Mario games too.
The plot will no doubt be the same as the rest..

Super Mario Bros. Mii (Wii-U)

Will more than likely be extremely similar to Super Mario Bros. Wii. Also, it is being said that other players will more like be a hindrance than a help.

Side-scroller Mario? Saving her again..


Mario has also been Karting, Smashing characters from other franchises, Shrunk down to Party on a board game, Tennising, Golfing, etc. I'm not really sure how much more that man can take. He's on a plumbers salary!

I think it's safe to say, Mario has had an amazing run. Do you think he should continue? I mean, it does still have a lot of potential, what with the huge fanbase and all.

And just so you all know, every time i mentioned Mario rescuing the princess, i had the same image in my head. I think by the fourth time saving her, he would probably resort to beating her up behind the scenes (I don't condone violence against women). I mean, that would explain why she gets kidnapped so often, and why Mario learns all these new moves. Because he's angry.

Anyways, is his time up, or do you think he can keep going strong?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Final Fantasy XIII-2; What's changed?

I'll be honest here. I haven't finished the first FFXIII yet. I'm right at the end, but that damn Barthandelus keeps absolutely dominating me. Now, i refuse to play FFXIII-2 until i finish FFXIII, this however, hasn't hindered my excitement! I'll go through what's changed and what hasn't, and hopefully you Final Fantasy fans will be as excited as i am. I won't be looking into the story side of this game, because i don't want to spoil it for myself!


Playable Characters

The only playable characters that have been revealed thus far.

New

Serah Farron

Lightning's younger sister, and Snow's fiancee.
She is in XIII , though unplayable, as she is the person Snow and Lightning are trying to rescue throughout the length of the game.
Now, apparently she is the one rescuing Lightning.





Noel Kreiss

Not a lot has been revealed about Noel. The E3 demo showed Noel being extremely protective of Serah, which may indicate something. Although, a major part of the first game was the romance between Snow and Serah, so I don't think this will be changing anytime soon.
He will also have a more prominent role then Lightning in the last game.



Returning

Lightning (Claire Farron)

Serah's sister. A line in the E3 trailer implies that Lightning dies at some point in the story, though i don't think she will.
She has also undergone an awesome costume change. (Compare this picture with Lightning in the video above)



Snow Villiers

Serah's fiancee. It is unclear what his role will be in XIII-2. I can only assume he will occasionally be a playable character.
Motomu Toriyama also commented on how Snow will react to Serahs new friend, and how much time they will be spending together. He remarked that Snow's personality isn't a jealous one, and that he won't mind at all.
Personally, i really hope Snow lands a serious role in the story. He is the sort that feels responsible for everyone, and always tries to lead in the right direction. To not give him an important role would be silly!

Unfortunately, nothing has been revealed on whether Sazh will be in the game. Hope either, but i only care about Sazh. We can only assume they won't, as Vanille and Fang will not be returning for the sequel.



Exploration

As we all know, FFXIII was extremely linear for about 70% of the game, and then the remaining 30% was semi-linear. FFXIII-2 will have towns, and greater areas for exploration. Each person within the town will have it's own AI, and also mentioned was that the game will have a monster raising component, but that's all the detail given.

There will also be Side-Quests, which were lacking in the previous game, Mini-Games, and "Plenty of complexity".


Cinematics

The cinematics in Final Fantasy games have always been second to none. The amount of work and detail that goes into them is phenomenal. Well, adding to the amazingness of the cinematics, are cinematic action sequences. This will mean that during battle, occasionally an action icon will pop up, and if performed correctly, the strike will deal a substantial amount of damage to the enemy.

Also adding to the experience, will be dialogue trees. Occasionally, within a cinematic, a dialogue wheel will come up, similar to Mass Effect. This allows you to choose what dialogue a character will say. This will effect the story to some degree, but not by a lot. The game may have multiple endings, so perhaps the dialogue wheel will influence this.



Battle Sequences


The game's battle scenes will remain very similar to the first game, with some small changes


Enemies will no longer simply linger in an area, and pursue you when they see you. They will now spawn in front of you, with enough space to act with the Mog Clock.

The Mog Clock appears when you see an enemy, and will change color as you approach. This will determine whether who starts the battle with an advantage, you, them, or neither.

Fighting a monster will be a lot similar, with the Paradigm system still in effect. Upon defeating a monster, however, you will have a chance to adopt it into your party. It will then take up a character slot, and different monsters can be set to individual paradigms.

Lightnings summon "Odin" will make a return, however whether or not Noel has a summon is unknown. Serah will not have a summon, but a moogle instead.

Moogle's are small creatures that act as a lot of things, including scouts, and even transformational weapons. Serah can also take the monsters into her party.



Squenix have been keeping a tight seal on information regarding FFXIII-2. At any rate, it looks like it's going to outdo it's predecessor. I'm looking forward to it's release early next year (December this year for Japan), i've just gotta work on finishing the first one beforehand!

Below is my absolute favorite scene from Final Fantasy XIII. The scene Snow proposes to Serah and then they ride through the fireworks. The amazing graphics are after the proposal. Yes, i'm a gooey romantic, get used to it.

I would suggest watching in full HD to see just how amazing the cutscenes really are in XIII!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Battlefield 3 vs. Modern Warfare 3;

DICE has taken aim at Infinity Ward, with the main goal; to destroy them. I know that sounds a bit cliche, but that's exactly what they're both trying to do. And now, things are getting interesting.

The two most anticipated games of this year, in my opinion. Obviously both have completely different gameplay styles, and are made by completely different companies. I'm gonna compare different aspects and see which game is more worthy of the attention. I'll try to keep it fairly even weighted, though some of this will be my opinion, because i'm a huge supporter of the Battlefield series.

Also, due to both developers playing it rather smart in their marketing, not a lot of information has been released for certain aspects of both games.


Here's gameplay footage of the two, so you all know what i'm on about.


Single-player

I won't list the story, but just information relating to the campaigns of each.

BF3: Ok, so not much information has been released on the single-player side of BF3, but i'll list what i can.
  •  It's been estimated that the campaign will be around 8-10 hours long, of course, the game isn't finished yet, so it could be more.
  • Obviously Battlefield isn't all "ACTION ACTION, with a side of ACTION!". No, Battlefield is focused on the experience of war. A lot of the game will be slower-paced and boring for those who want nothing but to shoot some bad guys.
  • The single-player will be less sandbox-like and more linear. This means it won't be like the Bad Company games, but more like the Call Of Duty games, just slower-paced.
  • Vehicles won't be used as often as you would expect. But, naturally this would be the case if the game is being made more linear. Expect a lot of walking.

MW3: Infinity Ward has been a bit more lenient than DICE in letting information on the game out.
  • The game will feature 15 missions. Now, this is less than MW and MW2, which both had 18 missions. Whether these missions are longer, or whether more effort is going into the multi-player, remains to be seen.
  • Looks almost exactly like MW1/MW2. This isn't exactly a bad thing though. (I won't get into that again, but look at the my previous blog post for why.)
  • As expected, the campaign will be full of short sequences including a lot of gunfire and rapid scene changes. Expect a really fast paced game.
  • It's being said that this is the game that will tie up the loose ends from the previous two games, and finish the story of the main characters in the previous two. It will also introduce multiple new characters who will then take the reigns in the coming MW games.

 Multi-player

BF3: A lot more information has been released for the multi-player aspect of BF3.
  • Classes have been completely re-made. Assault: Can now revive and give health to players, and can also swap out the revive kit for the grenade launcher. Support: Can now resupply team members with ammunition. Engineer: No significant change, is still responsible for dealing with vehicles. Recon: No significant change.
  • DLC has already been confirmed. Back To Karkand will feature maps form Battlefield 2, and will come with the pre-order. Also, with a pre-order, players will receive bonus weapons, equipment and ammo that will put them at an advantage over other players. (As a fair gamer, i don't like this.)
  • DICE apparently have "Exciting innovations" to squad featured, although nobody knows what they are yet.
  • BF3 will support 64 players online for PC, and 24 players for console versions.
  • BF3 will also have more weapons and unlocks than any other game in the franchise.
  • Changes have been made to the ranking system, so players now have motivation to reach the top level.
  • The ability to go prone will make a return!
  • Co-op campaign has been confirmed.
  • The ability to pilot jets will be making a return as well.
  • Team Deathmatch has been added. 

MW3: Info was "leaked" about certain things being in the game, but were then dismissed and corrected by an Infinity Ward employee. I will not list some of this until it's been properly confirmed.
  • The game is believed to have 20 multi-player maps in development but it's not sure how many multi-player or Spec Ops maps will make it into the final game and how many will be offered as downloadable content.
  • The game will not have Stopping Power, One Man Army, Commando, or Tactical Nukes.
  • Spec-Ops will include a Horde-Style mode, and a Mission-Mode.
The Maps:

Multiplayer Maps

  • Alpha
  • Alps
  • Bootleg
  • Bravo
  • Brooklyn
  • Carbon
  • Coast
  • Dome
  • Exchange
  • Hardhat
  • Interchange
  • Lambeth
  • Meteora
  • Mogadishu
  • Paris
  • Plaza 2
  • Radar
  • Seatown
  • Underground
  • Village
Spec Ops Modes

Survival

  • Carbon
  • Dome
  • Radar
  • Seatown
  • Village
Mission

  • Civilian Rescue
  • Flood the Market
  • Invisible Threat
  • Little Bro's
  • Out of Africa
  • No Fly Zone
  • Wing Man


Graphics Comparison


Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbite 2.0 engine, which will allow for some devastating demolition, while still making the game look beautiful.

Modern Warfare 3's new engine has been kept on the down-low, however. The only details given are that they have moven on from the MW2 engine, and added "lots of cool stuff".

Above: Battlefield 3
Below: Modern Warfare 3




Battlelog and CoD Elite


Now, Call of Duty Elite has been outed, and has had most details revealed. Battlefield's Battlelog however, has been outed, but very few details have been released. I will explain what CoD Elite is, and what features we can expect to see in Battlelog.


CoD Elite


Ok, so CoD Elite. It was made for two functions. To improve your gameplay, and to create a Social Network within CoD.


Functions added to improve gameplay include:
  • Stat tracking. This is said to be a more advanced tracker to what we all think when we hear it. It shows the standard K/D ratio and blah blah blah. That's a given, the interesting part is that when you view a map, the service will give you advise on how to improve. For example, if you die in an area a few times using medium range weapons, it will suggest you try long range. This is an interesting addition, and should help you improve, even in the slightest.
  • Stat comparison. You can view another persons stats, and add them to your own personalized leaderboard. This means if you meet a really good player, you can compare with them, and watch them to pick up on their playstyle.
  • Weapon use suggestions. The Elite service will link you to Youtube videos which show you the recommended way to use each weapon and perk.
Functions added to add to the social side include:
  • Clans. You can start a clan, request to join one, set up a match with a rival clan, and more. The idea of choosing a clan color and having that color show up on all clan members weapons is being considered.
  • Groups. Similar to groups on facebook, this will be used to connect players to other players with similar interests, not necessarily even gaming related!
  • Theatre mode. Film yourself, share with friends, and top clips will be showcased.
  • Competitions. Prizes will be given to gamers who win, while still meeting the criteria. Criteria will be ranged, things like flamethrower kills, most kills within a time limit, or even simple like most points.

CoD Elite Premium

Not much has been said about this. The only thing revealed is that it will include more daily prizes, and the prizes will be better. This will also cost money. The price hasn't been revealed yet, but a lot of features will still be available for standard users. Whether this premium is worth paying for is yet to be seen.


Battlefield Battlelog

From what i understand, this idea was only concocted because Activision came up with CoD Elite. The service will be extremely similar. The only things revealed, and in very little detail, are:
  • "Powerful" Social Tools
  • Feeds
  • Detailed Player Stats
  • Friends Lists
  • Squads
  • Platoons
  • Voice Chat
  • Following Friends Progress in Real Time
  • And More?
And as a final in-your-face to Activision, Battlelog will be 100% free of charge!


I firmly believe Battlefield will win this war against CoD. The improvements made to Battlefield 3 are amazing, but Modern Warfare still seems lacking to me. I guess it's just personal opinion, but i'm interested to see what others think. Have i left something out that could send one ahead of the other? If Battlefield does take the lead, Call of Duty is going to need to make some major changes to be able to remain strong. So, i'm hoping it does, because everyone will benefit from it in the long run.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

To the people hating on all the Gears games looking the same.

So, i'm seeing all over forums and comments on videos saying that the particular person won't bother with another Gears game, because it all looks the same, visually and with gameplay. I'll give reasons why this sort of statement is unjustified for both.

Visually

To the left is a comparison picture of Gears one, and Gears two. This is a multi-player map, but i'm only using this as an example to explain the Visual stuff.

To start things off, lets look at the color scheme. Don't be hating on the Gears games for that sole reason. Obviously, the Gears world is being torn to pieces, and things are going to get a little dull. The game is supposed to look gritty, with the most common colors being brown, grey and green. The developers aren't just going to change the playable area to bright blue skies and lush green fields. No, the gritty look of the game is obviously important to establish the setting and general feel for the game. Don't act surprised when they don't brighten things up.



Above: Splinter Cell Conviction
Below: Gears Of War 2

 Now, for the less shallow minded people that know a thing or two about game engines. There are a lot of people that say the Unreal Engine's games all produce the same appearance. That's ridiculous. The Unreal Engine has been used on a LOT of games, including the Splinter Cell games, Ghost Recon games, and even the Leisure Suit Larry games!

Now, none of you can tell me that they look similar to Gears Of War. Hell, even LucasArts has signed on for another Star Wars game to use the Unreal Engine. Let's hope it's Star Wars Battlefront III!



Anyways, to expect Epic Games to change the Gears Of War appearance is ridiculous. They have a story to tell, and they can expect to finish the story the way they intended it.

Gameplay

For those people who are complaining about these games having the same gameplay every time, my advice for you would be, deal with it. You can complain all you want, but no matter how much you try, Epic Games isn't going to provide you with a completely new gameplay style at the end of their trilogy. All that's asking is a completely new game, with a Gears Of War skin. No, just no.

If however, you're referring to the multi-player aspect of Gears, it's reasonable to ask something new and innovative of EG, which i think has been delivered upon in Gears 3. My example for this being, the new horde mode, which allows you to play as the Special Locust, such as the ticker.



For whoever reads this, what do you think? Am i reasonable to think all of this? I mean, obviously this post isn't targeted at people who dislike Gears Of War, but more so people that are turned off because of it's appearance in sequel games, compared to the original, and people who come to expect a sequel game to be completely different in terms of gameplay. Two completely unjustified reasons for disliking a perfectly good game.

Nintendo Wii-U; Information on the console and my opinion on it's chance of success.

So as we all know, Nintendo have been developing a new console said to cater to the audience they had before. You know, when it wasn't encouraging weighty people to get fit. Well, this year's E3 revealed what they've been working on, and it looks.. interesting.




The Tablet
Wii-U with the HD Zelda Demo.

As you can see, the Wii-U looks extremely similar to the Wii, aside from the slick design. In a way, this reminds me of the Nintendo DS, in that it has 2 screens, one being a touch screen, mainly used for menus.
The tablet features the standard 4-way directional pad (D-Pad for short). It also has the X Y A B buttons, as well as dual circle pads. Of course the Select and Start buttons are there too, alongside the home button. On top are two bumper buttons, and at the back there are two triggers.
Now, judging by how the tablet is layed out, Nintendo will have trouble making games like CoD an enjoyable experience, as they always have. The touchscreen on the controller could prove valuable in games like that though, for example, using it to display the leaderboards/scoreboards.
Interestingly though, whilst this console is targeted at the hardcore gamer, it features a cam in the top center of the tablet. I can't really see a lot of uses for it in the future, but i guess it's just another feature there for those who want it.


Multi-player

One major letdown about this system, is that so far it is only confirmed that ONE tablet can be used per console. The reason being obvious, the tablet is wireless, and synchronizing 4 tablets to one console, and displaying the right image with the right timing and the right frame rate, would be insane!
Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto gave some insight on this:
"Our basic premise is that you can use one with a system."
But don't get all upset about not being able to play with friends. He also said not long after:
"We are doing research about if someone brings their controller to their friend's house and they want to play together on Wii U to whether or not something like that would be possible."
It MAY happen, but the amount of synchronization needed would be huge.


Backwards compatibility

It has also been confirmed, that the Wii-U will not be backwards compatible with previous console games. Obviously this isn't referring to anybody hoping to play standard Wii games, of course that's being considered. This is referring to the smart people, that might be thinking about the Gamecube games.


Games that have been confirmed for the Wii-U

The following is a list of games confirmed for release on the Wii-U.

Super Smash Bros
Lego City Stories
Tekken
Assassin’s Creed
Darksiders 2
Batman Arkham Asylum
Ghost Recon Online
Dirt
Aliens Colonial Marines
Metro Last Light
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge

Also, on the subject of games, it has been confirmed that games from 3rd Party developers will be coming to the Wii-U, as you can see from the list above. This means Nintendo will get some amazing games that will be available on all 3 systems, with similar content. It's not like the CoD games. You know, they're good on Xbox and Playstation, but on the Wii, they completely sucked. Hopefully, it'll be just as good on the Wii-U.

Pricing of the Wii-U

Nintendo has always been relatively cheap compared to its competitors in the game market. This console however, is going to be a lot more expensive. How expensive? Well, EB Games has it listed on their online site for $600AU. Kotaku thinks this may be a bit of a overprice. They believe it'll be released for about $400AU. At any rate, expect it to be around those two, so Nintendo has risen to match Sony and Microsoft in price. Let's just hope it's worth it!


A theory on the direction Nintendo is heading

I originally thought the Wii-U was a horrible idea, and that this had no chance of working. But then I had time to think, setting aside the handheld consoles for a moment, maybe this could be the point where Nintendo split one development line into two.

Line 1 being the party system, complete with motion controls and whatnot, catering to the party/casual audience, who don't mind making fools of themselves.
Line 2 being a handheld controller-type console, catering to the hardcore gamers, who prefer to just sit and play games seriously. Like a boss.


In summary, i think the Wii-U has the potential to bring back the older Nintendo fans that were lost at the Wii, but it'll all depend on the direction the games go, and how Nintendo's competitors will retaliate.