Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Rez was originally released for the Dreamcast in Japan back in 2001 and then later released on the Playstation 2 and Dreamcast in Europe, created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi (who went on to create modern rhythm game classic Lumines) the game is an on-rails rhythm action shooter.
Back when it was released my gaming tastes were quite simple, fighting games, role-playing games and traditional action games, so an artistic on-rails rhythm shooter didn't even show up on my radar, I was too busy trying to chain shoryukens.
From what I heard though the game didn't do to well, mainly because it was so far ahead of its time that it just didn't click with people, sure it has a cult following and is one of the most loved games in video game history but it wasn't a mainstream success (maybe that's where some of the appeal is).
Over 5 years later, lucky for me and probably a considerable amount of other gamers Mizuguchi and Q Entertainment have put out a gloriously high definition remake of Rez, and it, is, fantastic.
The premise is taken straight from the 80's to suite its general aesthetic, more on that later. The player takes control of a hacker who is traveling through a computer network in an effort to locate and restore a crippled artificial intelligence known as Eden, it seems an information overload has caused it to question its own existence and shut down.
The gameplay is extremely simple and on its own very shallow, you simply hold down a button and then move the cursor onto any on screen enemies, this locks onto the target and then a simple button release shoots a laser and destroys the approaching computer nasty. The pulsating avatar is able to simultaneously lock onto a total of 8 targets so the trick is to hold the lock on button then use your cursor to mark your targets, let go and then watch as they turn to dust.
The visual style of Rez enhances the colorful 80's techno-hacker theme that is prevalent throughout. It's a very Tron esque wire frame world filled with a variety of enemies comprised of evil geometrical shapes. Although they are initially overwhelming you slowly start to realise that the visuals are like nothing that any game, or movie for that matter, uses today, while it was common place back in the 80's where everyone thought the future would involve rainbow colored wired architecture it isn't as cool in the modern day, however Rez takes this old-school visual style and delivers it in beautiful high definition, and it works.
The third and final piece of the Rez puzzle is the audio, like Mizuguchi's current works music is an integral part of the experience, the retro trip-hop soundtrack just adds the final touch of crazy to this game, every action in the game adds a little beat to the overarching soundtrack, everything from a button press to a laser shot or explosion has an effect on the background audio.
" Gameplay is the heart of every game, if the gameplay isn't particularly interesting or fun the game isn't fun, so what makes this game so good?"
Thats what I kept asking myself during my short breaks from the game (after about half an hour of continuous gameplay I found myself feeling a bit dizzy).
Around two hours into playing the game it hit me, Rez isn't a game in the traditional sense, it's an experience, the eye-catching visual design, retro trip-hop soundtrack and simple but intriguing gameplay all work in unison to make an interactive experience that is unmatched by any modern-day game.
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Although there was a myriad of unforgettable games in 2007 one of my favorites became a casualty of the next-generation transition, you would think that with the outlandish install base the Playstation 2 has (and continues to expand on) that console owners would seize the opportunity to play a good RPG but alas Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 has enjoyed limited success courtesy of devoted fans of the series and a select few that have heeded the favorable words of their enthusiast information outlet of choice.
A lot of the devoted fans are probably internet savvy enough to have already got their hands on the game, even if some of them utilised less than legal means, tut tut. All that remains are the devotees who have been patiently waiting in foetal position since 2006, the true to their word pirates who “only downloaded it because they couldn’t wait and will buy the game when it comes out to support it”, and maybe some new PS2 adopters looking to broaden their horizons.
The Playstation 3 hasn’t got a lot of games; while the library is expanding with excellent games like Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank leading the charge this 'growing phase' leaves the perfect opportunity to check out any PS2 games that have been foolishly missed, so there’s a lot of potential gamers who could end up picking up a somewhat niche title, then again if you’ve got a 40GB model you’re in trouble.
Sunday, 27 January 2008
Saturday, 26 January 2008
Namco Bandai recently announced the return of three Soul Calibur veteran fighters, the nun-chuka user and part-time Elvis impersonator Maxi, ranged staff user Seong-Mina and Yun-Seong (also known as "Isn't that just Hworang from Tekken with a blade?").
Obviously not as exciting as their earlier announcement about Darth Vader and Yoda but still noteworthy. I can't say that I've played with Seong-Mina long enough to form an opinion, but Yun-Seong and Maxi are two characters that I have spent copious amounts of time mastering. Maxi is one of the most frustrating and psychologically devastating characters to square up against, his attacks are very quick and his movements are extremely hard to read, especially when you're under pressure, skilled players can string together crushing combos that will leave any unprepared player babbling like a confused baby.
Yun-Seong is a very fun character to play, he has alot of fakes and is able to string together juggling combos.
As you can tell I am dying to play Soul Calibur 4, so much so in fact that I'm going to pay Soul Calibur 2 now.
Thursday, 24 January 2008
Good news everyone! (It is really hard to do a Farnsworth impression in text format), I have been lucky enough to be involved with the launch of a new UK based gaming website, although the site is still getting on its feet I have confidence in what it will become.
So if I'm not posting regularly it might be because I'm working on the site, either that or I'm dead, in which case someone please notify my family.
Obviously this site is the greatest site on the internet and every second you spend away is a waste of your lifetime, this statement is bias free and 100% factual.
Head over to www.slicegaming.com
Capcom has confirmed that Street Fighter 4 will be playable at the AOU Amusement Expo 2008, this yearly expo is centered around arcade games and will be the host for a playable build of Capcom's hotly anticipated Street Fighter 4.
As well as Street Fighter Capcom will also have fate/unlimited codes and Sengoku BASARA X at the expo but lets face it, Street Fighter is where the lines will form.
Thanks to Kotaku and Famitsu for the heads up on this one.
2008 is set to be a great year, there are a number of very tasty upcoming games, Burnout Paradise, Metal Gear Solid 4, Mario Kart and Smash Bros. to name a few.
One of my most anticipated games is Devil May Cry 4, the one time PS3 exclusive is merely days away from its multi-platform release but like the spoiled gamer brat that I am I want it now, lucky for me Capcom heard my cries for a demo despite the fact that I had a pillow smothering my whimpers of desire, the demo has been released on PSN and Live in Japan and the States but as of yet only on Live in Europe, I'm optimistic that the demo should be out on the European PSN later today since the 360 controller isn't exactly built for use with this type of game.
Sunday, 20 January 2008
Although the Nintendo Wii is an undeniable success most hardcore gamers feel like Nintendo has turned it's back on them, other than Nintendo's first party titles the Wii game catalog consists mainly of party games, disturbing fish petting simulator and PS2 ports with tacked on motion controls, so its nice to see third party publishers working on something different for the Wii, something that even the hardcore market could enjoy.
One of the most promising third party titles is Zack and Wiki, a adventure puzzle game from Capcom. I got my hands on this game yesterday and although I've only played it for around two hours I am impressed and to a large extent, relieved.
As I said I haven't played the game for too long, and much of this playtime was getting acquainted with the game mechanics, how the game utilizes the Wii controls and getting stuck on one of the puzzles.
The premise is simple and from the short section that I played the story takes a back seat to the gameplay. You take control of Zack and to some extent Wiki, the newest addition to 'The Sea Rabbits', a lovable group of pirates. After being attacked by the Rose Rock pirates you crash land on an Island where, after a short introductory puzzle, you find the trapped remains of Barbaros, a legendary pirate.
Barbaros explains that his remains have been scattered and offers his mythical ship in exchange for Zack's help in putting him back together.
The game puts the Zack into a level and then leaves the player to utilize the contents of the level to solve the puzzles and get the treasure, this is where Wiki comes into use, although the game does have enemies they are mainly used to solve the puzzles, Wiki is able to change into a bell and turn enemies into tools which Zack can use, for example, shaking the Wiki bell while near a frog turns the frog into a frog bomb, using the bell on a centipede transforms the angry bug into a centisaw which can then be used to cut down trees.
Zack and Wiki is one of the few games that uses the Wii remote creatively and accurately, at various points in the game the player is required to use the motion controls to complete the tasks, the game asks the player to think of the Wii remote as a physical representation of the item Zack is interacting with on the screen and handle it as they would in real life, the on screen assistant pops up regularly to show the player what to do, for example when using a crank the Wii remote should be held horizontally with both hands, then, the player should move the controller in a circular motion just like a real crank, when inserting a key into a lock the controller represents the key and is to be rotated as a key would be, much of the motion controls have appeared in other Wii games such as Metroid, Wii play and Wii Sports but the fact that the controls are built into a fully fleshed out game as opposed to a mini-game collection makes it far more satisfying. Although the controls are fun to use there are some aspects that take a little getting used to, the game uses a point click interface to move Zack, clicking on any accessible area of land will make Zack move there but I found myself simply holding the A button then moving the Wiimote to guide Zack, similar to the way Link is controlled in The Phantom Hourglass, in this case the Wiimote acts as the stylus, I won't lie though, at times I found myself wishing I could just plug in the nunchuk and move him around with the analogue stick.
As well as the intuitive and creative controls the games visuals are very pleasing to the eyes, it is done in a very anime style which is appropriate since many of the characters seem as if they are taken straight from an anime , this is especially true of Wiki, the solid colors create a very vibrant world that is a joy look at.
Zack and Wiki are great characters but they I don't expect them to gain the popularity of other duos such as Rachet and Clank or Jak and Daxter, nevertheless they are extremely entertaining to watch, even though they do the same little poses and the animations are repeated they are still fun to watch, much like Link in Zelda.
Although they are great characters Wiki can become extremely annoying after a while especially when you are stuck on a puzzle, the characters don't actually speak instead they make noises to represent speech and convey emotions similar to another great Capcom game, Okami. Wiki seems to have been voiced by a Japanese girl, the flying monkey regularly bursts into squealing fits, for the most part this is cute and endearing but when the same high pitched noises are strung together in succession it can become a bit annoying.
This game has let me breath a sigh of relief, for a while there I was starting to resign myself to the fact that the only good games for the Wii would be the established Nintendo games and a few rehashed third party games in between but this game has given me hope in third party development for the Wii, all it takes is some care, consideration and creativity, the three C's for the Wii.
So far I am having a blast with the game, the puzzles are starting to become more difficult but I'm looking forward to delving in deeper into this quirky and creative game, thank you Capcom.
Friday, 18 January 2008
Heres a gameplay video brought to you by the fine folks at www.gametrailers.com, one vaguely exciting aspect is the connection icon at the bottom right of the screen, online play anyone?
Wednesday, 16 January 2008
1. The Hotspot: GameSpot's weekly show, tune in for a recap of the latest happenings in the video game industry, oh and they also take your phone calls and e-mails.
2. GSUK: Fortnightly podcast from the Gamespot UK team, pretty much the same deal as the Hotspot but focusing on the UK.
' Welcome to the GameSpot UK Podcast, our regular audio show in which we recap the biggest news and trends in the gaming industry over the past couple of weeks and talk to people in the industry about what’s happening in their world.'
3. Kojima Pro Podcast: The Kojima Productions podcast hosted by Ryan Payton is a must listen for any Metal Gear fan, with interviews, regular guest presenters and if your lucky some exclusive news about MGS.
4. Cheap Ass Gamer: Tune in to hear the opinions of a large white guy in Japan and a professional game blogger. CheapyD and Wombat keep me entertained on a weekly basis and they can keep you entertained too simply by clicking http://www.cheapassgamer.com/
5. Major Nelson: Xbox lives Larry Hryb a.k.a Major Nelson and E spend an hour or so of their precious time to keep us updated on all things Xbox.
6. 1up yours: 'the premier videogames podcast where hosts Garnett Lee, Shane Bettenhausen and John Davison report on the videogame industry and the community that surrounds it', or thats what they say, I agree.
7.EGM Live: The companion to Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine, featuring an assortment of 1up Ziff Davis favorites.
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
Opinion has been divided about Assassins Creed, you could say it's the Marmite of video games, you either love it or you hate it. Although I've always had my opinions on the game I decided to keep them to myself until I completed the game, this was mainly because I heard from a number of places that you have to take the complete package into account before formulating an opinion on it, the ending has a substantial impact on the game 'apparently', I say apparently because I haven't actually completed the game yet, and I can't see myself doing it in the immediate future.
Like many other people I was incredibly excited for Assassins Creed, I'll admit it I was a complete sucker for it, the parkour, the amazing visual design and art style, hell, even the futuristic aspect that permeated the trailers intrigued me to no end, so when the game was finally released I forked over my hard earned money, rushed home and gave it to my PS3 to devour. The first hour and a half of the game was video gaming bliss, it was a beautiful game, the visual style had me tingling even though it was being done an injustice by being played on a widescreen CRT with distorted colour thanks to a family member walking by it with a magnet.
After spending over half an hour diving from rooftop to rooftop effortlessly, and realistically moving among the inhabitants of the city and scaling the detailed and historically accurate architecture of the city i decided to actually get on with the game, after the introductory fall of Altair i was let loose into the city to gather information and assassinate my first target, climbing the different viewpoints i stopped to marvel at the draw distance and amazing structure of the city, then launched myself into a graceful fall animation.
From there it just got better and better, my next task was to pickpocket some information, it was simple, press L1 to lock on, tail him and then press circle when i was close enough to yank the information from the unwitting chump, the animations of Altair, the target and all the citizens made the simplicity of the gameplay far more enjoyable.
Next up was the interrogation, again, very simple, lock on, tail him and then beat the information out of him. The actual assassination was amazing, I scaled the rooftops to the target, mingled in with the crowd and then took him out like a real assassin would, it was very satisfying, Ubisoft nailed making the player feel like a badass ninja assassin.
From there it was a downhill experience, after the initial high wore of I began to notice things I wished I didn't, most noticeably the mission structures were all the same, there was absolutely no variety, you were forced to the same tasks over and over and over again.
Then the inhabitants started to feel artificial, all the beggars kept repeating the same dialog in the same annoying overly aggressive voice, they were remarkably loud and lively for beggars, while the mentally challenged citizens added character to the city they started to hinder the gameplay, it was impossible to walk passed them without attracting the attention of all the nearby guards, while this didn't mean much in a large portion of the game early on, in the latter areas where you are constantly being watched these troubled citizens would often cause me to fail my mission, many of the inhabitants would react the same way with the same dialog, while it might be unreasonable to expect Ubisoft to record hundreds of different lines of dialog for each citizen a little bit of variety would have been nice, it just seemed out of place, a last-gen limitation in a next-gen game.
As the game went on I found myself caring less and less about Altair, this was in contrast to Desmond who I never really cared about from the start, I couldn't understand why i didn't care about this amazingly rendered badass character, he was an assassin who used parkour and had all the qualities of your cool anti-hero, he should be right up there with Snake, Samus, Ken and all my other favorite gaming characters but i just didn't care, then I realised what it was, his voice, Altair's voice acting was very unimpressive, he said the words but he was emotionless, there was no anger, no sadness, nothing, no life, just a bland neutral tone throughout the game, he was a lifeless character in a city bursting with character and life, this made it almost impossible to connect with Altair.
The story-line in the game was very uninspired, which is one of the most disappointing aspects of the game, the premise is very intriguing, the location is unique and with the futuristic aspect included the possibilities were endless, but what it turned out to be was a run of the mill predictable story, I had barely done my second assassination when I had already figured out that Al-Mualim was going to end up on the sharp end of my blade, this meant that after a certain point I was playing the game only to complete it and feel like i had got something for my money, I was simply going through the game just to see the ending and get closure, it could be argued that my lack of patience contributed to my enjoyment of the game, or lack thereof but I am a patient person, especially when it comes to games, I've played through all the Splinter Cell games, the Metal Gear Solid games, and a number of other games which require patience before the payoff, but this I couldn't take, I just wanted to complete it so I could see the ending, as a result the different features of the game started to become obstacles which I just couldn't enjoy, the already weak combat gameplay became even more annoying due to the fact that the guards were extra vigilant and the placement of the sentries rendered the rooftop huts useless for escaping the guards, the only option the game gave was to fight, the fighting boiled down to 2 buttons, hold R1 to block and then press square as the enemy began their attack animation, the simplicity sucked all the gratification out of the impressive attack animations and brutal kills, the parkour aspects of the game are just as simple, all you are required to do is press hold R1 to run then press X to jump, the depth and fun is in guiding Altair, jumping in the right directions then moving him to the scalable areas of the buildings, in comparison the combat had no other layers and therefore no depth at all, the combat has been described as a very simple rhythm game game, attack then follow up the attack when the sword makes contact with the enemy but this could have been implemented in a much better and deliberate way.
The AI of the enemies is extremely poor, especially when every other aspect of the game is so realistic, the enemies simply wait their turn and it can be up to 10 seconds before one decides to attack.
The game became a struggle and I found myself becoming frustrated and annoyed as I continued to play, the last few assassinations consisted of informant missions, fellow Assassins wanting Altair to dispatch with some pursuers, these missions were extremely frustrating thanks to the abundance of suspicious guards standing between you and your target, the mentally challenged citizens and the guards remarkable ability to move just like Altair around the city (these parkour trained guards made Altair feel very ordinary).
Eventually I gave up, and every time I go back to complete the game I find myself going through the same emotions and just turning the game off before i loose my cool, my PS3 doesn't deserve to be punished for something it hasn't done.
So how do I feel about Assassins Creed, one of the biggest games of 2007, after writing at length about why I found myself frustrated at the game you'd think I would be preaching my dislike for the game like a disciple of Salahuddeen making his opinions about the Templars known, but I think this game gets a number of things right and would go so far as to say it is a game that has helped the games industry take a step forward, it has raised the bar for games in a number of fields, graphically it is one of the most impressive games not only of 2007 but it surpasses many of the games scheduled for a 2008 release, the detailed textures both on the character models and the cities as well as the amazing draw distance make this game very aesthetically pleasing.
The animations are breathtaking, along with the extremely detailed character models they breathe life into the game, each character is given substance and a physical influence on the world around them, Altair and the citizens all react realistically to each other and external stimuli, the attention to detail is astounding.
While the storyline is predictable, it takes place in a unique setting, a welcome change from a war torn Earth invaded by aliens.
If I had to sum up Assassins Creed in a few words, I think I go with, 'Assassins Creed is a great interactive tech-demo showcasing the power of next generation gaming', it makes me excited for the future of video gaming and who knows maybe I'll complete it one day.
I love my wii, it's small, pretty and has Mario but it would seem my Wii doesn't love me back, so far i have only played Mario, Zelda and Metroid on it, there are no other good games for the system, sure there is the tidal wave of casual game and movie adaptations but lets face it, they suck lemons.
For me and many other 'hardcore' games enthusiasts Smash Bros Brawl is the light at the end of the old people and alpha mum filled tunnel but it seems Nintendo is not done with telling us it doesn't care about what we want, Smash Bros will be delayed until January 31st for Japan and March 9th for North America, expect the European version a little bit after that.
What the hell am i supposed to do with the thing now...
Monday, 14 January 2008
Fans of Resistance will be happy to hear that the Insomniac team are now working on Resistance: Fall of Man 2 (do these people ever sleep?), the game will have a single player campaign as well as a separate co-op campaign, 60 player online play and number of character classes, colour me excited.
Thursday, 10 January 2008
Wednesday, 9 January 2008
Soul Calibur has established itself as one of the best fighters on any console, over the years since the mind blowing Dreamcast version of Soul Calibur the games have just been getting better and better (with the exception of the abomination that is Soul Calibur: Legends), so my question to you is, how do you make a perfect game better?
The answer it would seem, is to throw it into a blender with Star Wars and create a Soul Calibur Star Wars milkshake....
Follow the link to the 1up exclusive story for more information.
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
If you have been keeping an eye on any gaming forums or blogs you will have noticed that once again the immortal MGS4 on the 360 rumor returned like a born again messiah, despite being confirmed as a fake almost instantly by Konami the rumor lives on, if you need proof of its exclusivity, Sony had it at CES.
It clearly says 'Exclusive for the Playstation 3 supporting the new Dual Shock 3 controller'.
I give it a month before the rumor re-surfaces, i hope it comes with one of those funny fanboy insult pictures this time though...
Saturday, 5 January 2008
2007 is now in the past and we have all moved swiftly onto 2008, and in the spirit of the new year i think i should do the obligatory 'Game of the year' post, so, here it goes.
1. Super Mario Galaxy: This game was a breath of fresh air and a return to form for everyones favorite podgy plumber. The game was cleverly split up into bite-size planets, each with its own theme, essentially each little planet formed a mini-game which meant you could collect one or two stars and go, or play all day and collect every single shiny star and get a special treat at the end.
2. The Orange Box: This package packs a punch (say that 20 times really fast, go on..), comprised of 5 games including the much loved Half-Life 2 and its two follow up chapters (Episode 1 and 2), the mind-bending Portal and the aesthetically pleasing and dangerously addictive Team Fortress 2, as well as being pure value for money Portal and Team Fortress 2 alone could stand as Game of the Year candidates, with deep, addictive and thoroughly entertaining gameplay the Orange Box will be remembered for years to come, and not just for its horrible box art.
3. God of War 2: This game is pure, visceral, testosterone fueled chaos, picking up where God Of War left of Kratos, the newly crowned God of War must defend himself against Zeus, with an amazing story, tried and true gameplay and the most intense interactive cut-scenes this side of Heavenly Sword God Of War 2 is easily one of the best PS2 games made.
4. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3: One of the greatest RPG's ever to come out of Japan, Persona 3 mixes a randomly generated dungeon crawler with a school life/dating sim, the premise is very simple; there are actually 25 hours in the day, an hour between midnight and 1am known as the 'Dark Hour', during this hour a strange and sinister tour, bad things are happening and you need to traverse the tower and take care of business. The game has you attend school and do 'normal' activities to create and strengthen your bonds with people thus giving power to your Persona, during the night time you explore Tartarus, a labyrinth tower infested with monsters and other ghoulish beings, the battle system sees you exploit elemental weaknesses and using your Persona's to defeat the enemies, how do you use your Persona's you ask, you pull out your pistol and shoot yourself in the head.
5. Call of Duty 4: This game is a refinement of all that is good in the FPS genre, while the single player is only around 5 hours, it packs a punch like Mike Tyson, the longevity of the game comes from its highly addictive multiplayer mode, adding an RPG twist on the multiplayer mode each game of deathmate, domination or ground war gives you experience points based on kills and accomplishing task, this allows you to increase the rank of your character (the equivalent of leveling up in an RPG) which in turn unlocks perks, these perks can be used to augment your character and gain experience even quicker.
Game Of The Year:
Persona 3: The eye catching art style, nicely done English voice acting, strangely catchy J-pop and sleek, addictive gameplay of Persona 3 adds up to an extremely enjoyable and unforgettable gameplay experience, I had the most fun i have had in months playing this game, it is my Game of the Year.
Friday, 4 January 2008
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Find out in the next part of GameVideos, 1up, EGM interview, enjoy!