Monday, February 11, 2013

Backloggery 2013  


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Games:  With current releases still in a bit of a lull, my 2013 backlog-athon continues…

> I mentioned in the last post that I was playing Dead Space 2, but I called it quits and bumped it to my "trade in for credit" pile.

It's definitely a pretty game. There's no doubt that a lot of time and effort were put into the production values, but my general feeling was that the developers were tasked with creating a sequel to the first game and didn't really have any idea what to do next.

Hey, check out this hallway!

I got about halfway through the game, more or less, and the entire time I was doing little more than walking through beautifully-rendered hallways while shooting ugly, undead creatures. There wasn't a lot of story happening, not a lot of characterization, and precious little variety in gameplay. The zero-G environments were a nice touch, but they were just momentary novelties that served to break up the corridor blasting.

Apart from the monotony of the gameplay, I was quite surprised to see that the weapons system seemed so totally ill-conceived.

While the main character can purchase a wide variety of weapons, the "nodes" which power them up are in short supply. This means that the game was encouraging me to stick with the same weapon or two (since these are the ones which I spent all my nodes on) and discouraging experimentation with other, underpowered weapons. The system would have worked better if the nodes could have been removed and re-used, but that was not the case.

Boring gameplay, boring story. Done.


> White Knight Chronicles. I'm pretty much done with JRPGs unless they are of the "incredibly fabulous" variety, of which this one is not. Next!


> Batman: Arkham City. While I was a huge fan of the previous game, Arkham Asylum, City rubbed me the wrong way from the start, and did nothing to endear itself to me as time went on.

When the game begins, the developers don't seem to understand what constitutes a clear, instructional tutorial. It's as if they assume I instinctively remember how to play the game after completing the last one, and rush through the familiarization process entirely too quickly.

Complicating things is the fact that Batman seems to have too many gadgets and too many moves from the start. Rather than starting small and slowly becoming acclimated, there were too many things to deal with at once, and I found it difficult to get comfortable with the controls. Even after playing for a couple of hours, at no point did the game feel natural or instinctual…

Alfred, prepare the Batwing... I'm going back to Asylum.

In terms of the story, I guess I'm not enough of a Batman fan to be drawn in by what was presented. 

Cordoning off a huge section of Gotham city and turning it into a prison is pretty absurd to start with, the Catwoman sections which were reported to be so important and integral by the developers came off as nothing more than non-essential distractions, and I didn't find myself motivated by anything that was happening... and neither did Batman. I get that he is a supreme bad-ass that stays cool under pressure, but after getting poisoned by the Joker, there wasn't any drama or any increased stakes. In fact, I forgot that he'd even been poisoned for a while.

Open-world games are fine, but they aren’t a huge draw for me in and of themselves, and I'm only a casual Batman fan to begin with. Simply combining these two elements doesn't feel like enough… Asylum drew me in immediately, but City felt like an unfocused, meandering mess that just left me cold.

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Games: It's not a backlog title, but I managed to get a copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening for 3DS, and I've been putting some time into it… it's not title I was eagerly anticipating, but I needed a portable title and word of mouth from people that I trust was almost universally positive.

I've played almost all of the previous games in the series, and while I generally liked them, I never managed to complete a single one. Maybe it's just me, but I felt that there were always massive difficulty spikes at the end of each title that bordered on cheating. Because of this, I wasn't too eager to get into Awakening, but it's been quite pleasant so far.

Toughest challenge in Fire Emblem? Leveling this kid up.

Despite containing the usual (and utterly tedious) ‘countries at war/political maneuvering’ bullshit that SRPGs can't seem to stay away from, the story has managed to keep in touch with its characters and hasn't become head-scratchingly convoluted yet. That's a huge plus in my book. 

Also, I'm becoming quite a fan of the system which builds friendship between characters... when two people feel connected, they give each other massive bonuses and can often chain attacks against enemies. Plus, it looks pretty damned cool.

Much has been made of the series’ reputation for its characters encountering perma-death if they die on the battlefield, but Awakening is the first to buck the trend by including includes a ‘casual’ mode. When selected, characters are simply knocked that of action and are ready to get back into the thick of things after the battle is over. Some may cry foul, but the original perma-death is still an option, and I've always been the kind of player who would simply re-load a save if one of my favorite characters died.

I'm long past any need to ‘prove myself’ by beating ‘hard’ games just for the sake of doing so, and in that respect, this new mode is a godsend. The game is still quite enjoyable without the uber-high punishment, and it saves me all of the hassle and stress associated with permanently losing characters.

Side note: apparently the game is becoming quite hard to find… I've heard several of my friends on Twitter report that they've been unable to locate any copies despite thorough searching, so if you are the sort of gamer (like I am) that prefers to have a hard copy, you better get cracking. 

Just FYI, the game is available on the 3DS eShop for those who swing that way. I think it's pretty crappy that the game is exactly the same price to download as it is to buy a retail copy, not to mention that Nintendo doesn't exactly have a great reputation for being flexible or fair when it comes to their download policies, but if that's the only option you have to play, then… it's an option.



********************PR/NEWS/INFO********************



Fans are Invited to Help KONAMI Launch New Action-Packed Game in
The United States, Mexico and Argentina

Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. today announced three different global events surrounding the launch of METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGEANCE. Fans of the upcoming METAL GEAR game are encouraged to attend these exciting events for a chance to meet Producers, Mr. Yuji Korekado from Kojima Productions and Mr. Atsushi Inaba from Platinum Games. Both Korekado-san and Inaba-san will be available for autographs at the times and places listed below.

United States
•       WHAT: Producers Korekado-san and Inaba-san will be available to sign autographs at GameStop. The first 150 fans will also be invited to an accompanying launch party at Hard Rock CafĂ© that evening, featuring a live performance by METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGEANCE music composer, Jamie Christopherson and orchestra.
•       WHERE: GameStop at Universal City Walk (1000 Universal Studios Blvd Universal City, CA 91608)
•       WHEN: February 18, 2013 from 8-10pm PST

Mexico
•       WHAT: Fans will have the chance to demo the game at Museum Britanico Americano. Producers Korekado-san and Inaba-san will be available for autographs.
•       WHERE: Museum Britanico Americano (#134 Colonia Centro Mexico D.F.)
•       WHEN: February 20, 2013 from 6pm-12am

Argentina
•       WHAT: Fans will have the opportunity to take METAL GEAR-themed photos, which will be printed on postcards. Producer Korekado-san will be available to sign autographs.
•       WHERE: Sony Style Cabildo (Cabildo 2070 Ciudad de Buenos Aires)
•       WHEN: February 22, 2013 from 8pm-12am

METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGEANCE will be available on February 19, 2013 for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft  at major retail stores nationwide.
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Following the recent announcement of Capcom Arcade Cabinet it’s now time to lift the lid and reveal the full list of classic 8-bit titles and how gamers will be able to transform their PlayStation3 or Xbox 360 into their very own customizable, HD 80s arcade.

Starting February 19 until early May, a total of 15 titles from 1984-1988 will be released on a staggered schedule available to purchase digitally either as a series of packs or individually, allowing players to choose what they want to buy. By purchasing all 15 titles, either separately or together, players will gain access to two bonus games absolutely free.

Downloading an individual title or pack will also give access to the Capcom Arcade Cabinet ‘platform’ which provides additional features including DIP switch functionality, a music player, and the ability to capture and share screenshots or video. When playing in standard mode, players will be able to access DIP switch-like settings to adjust their number of lives and difficulty, including a Casual Mode which tones down the difficulty level and makes it more attainable to see the end credits. Further features include 2 player online play for certain titles; a global leaderboard; a training mode with infinite lives to hone your strategy and an option to select either the Japanese or international versions of the individual titles.

In order to share their experiences with friends, PlayStation 3 users will be able to capture video of gameplay to post on YouTube, while Xbox 360 users will be able to upload screenshots to Facebook. Further additions include a sound gallery that allows players to listen to the background music of any of the games in their cabinet, and an art gallery which fills with new pieces as players progress through the games.

Game Pack 1 and the first individual title, Black Tiger, will be available on February 19. Xbox 360 owners will be able to play through the game with a single credit before restarting. On the PlayStation 3, players will have unlimited credits effectively giving them the full game for free.

Please see below for a full list of all the games and when they are available.

BUNDLE PACKS/INDIVIDUAL TITLES
NORTH AMERICAN SCHEDULE
PRICING
Black Tiger demo
February 19 (PSN)
February 20 (XBLA)
Free
GAME PACK 1
Titles: Black Tiger, Avengers, 1943: The Battle of Midway
February 19 (PSN)
February 20 (XBLA)
$4.99/400MSP
GAME PACK 2
Titles: Ghosts n Goblins, Gun.Smoke, Section Z
March 5 (PSN/XBLA)
$9.99/800MSP
Avengers
March 5 (PSN)*
$3.99
1943: The Battle of Midway
March 5 (PSN)*
$3.99
GAME PACK 3
Side Arms, Legendary Wings, Trojan
March 19 (PSN/XBLA)
$9.99/800MSP
Ghosts n Goblins
March 19 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Gun.Smoke
March 19 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Section Z
March 19 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
GAME PACK 4
Titles: Commando, The Speed Rumbler, Exed Exes (Savage Bees)
April 2 (PSN/XBLA)
$9.99/800MSP
Side Arms
April 2 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Legendary Wings
April 2 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Trojan
April 2 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
GAME PACK 5
Titles: 1942, SonSon, Pirate Ship Higemaru
April 16 (PSN/XBLA)
$9.99/800MSP
Commando
April 16 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
The Speed Rumbler
April 16 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Exed Exes (Savage Bees)
April 16 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
1942
April 30 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
SonSon
April 30 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Pirate Ship Higemaru
April 30 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Bonus Pack (for those who have purchased all five game packs or all 15 individual titles
Titles: Two titles (names to be confirmed)
TBC
Free for those who have purchased all previously released packs or individual titles
All-in-one-pack
Titles: All 17 games
May 21 (PSN/XBLA)
$29.99/2000MSP

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3 comments: to “ Backloggery 2013


  •  

    I liked the first White Knight Chronicles well enough when it came out a few years ago, but when I tried #2... I don't know why, but I just couldn't get into it. It was technically 'better' as there was more content, faster combat and all of that, but I quickly wound up moving on as well.

    I'm thoroughly enjoying Fire Emblem Awakening right now. The only other one in the series I have played to date was Radiant Dawn for the Wii, and I beat it and enjoyed it well enough, but I've been a huge fan of the strategy RPG scene for years (I really got started on it heavily back on the Sega Genesis with titles like Shining Force 1 & 2, Master of Monsters and Warsong, and then on the Sega CD with Shining Force and Dark Wizard).


  •  

    Hey Chalgyr!

    I'm curious, how do you think Radiant Dawn compares to Awakening? Dawn is the only one in the series I haven't played, but Awakening is so good that it might be hard for me to go back to something that isn't as polished... what's your opinion on it?


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    Hello Brad!

    I liked Radiant Dawn quite a bit when I played it. I actually reviewed it on my site if you want my overall impressions and don't mind a link to it?

    http://chalgyrsgameroom.blogspot.com/2010/12/fire-emblem-radiant-dawn.html

    I enjoyed the game at the time, and a lot of the same principles are there that you find in Awakening such as side-by-side units bonding to improve, and the overall tactics and such.

    That being said, I think Awakening has been better on several fronts. The visuals in Radiant Dawn were pretty weak and really, the game did not take me terribly long to beat it seemed.

    Not having played any of the FE games prior to Radiant Dawn, it's hard for me to compare, but one of my friends said that he liked it as well, but that he liked it less than the GameCube one, which I had never played.

    Hope that helps!