Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Obligatory SimCity Rant

ZOMG how can the mega corporate beast that is EA with all its staff and testers and managers and everything all come together to produce an underwhelmingly underfinished game that can only be played online?

Well dear reader you gotta break it down. and look at it from the stand point of a corporate machine:

Point 1. The always online aspect was an immovable benchmark for EA and the Maxis games. The growing trend in the previous sim games was online connectability with growing focus on the origin community and microtransactions i.e. buying outfits and furniture in the Sims 3. To set a standard for "always online" games creates benefits that are at minimum two-fold: all future games will be online and monitored, thus less piracy and less association with the internet swearword "DRM", and secondly to generate a sim-community for milking cash-cow games with standardised sign-up accounts across all games.

Point 2. The quality and technicality of the online experience was BORKED from day one. With most things in life, and especially in the corporate world where things get pipelined, outsourced and micro-productions are multi-managed, there is a standard formulae of Time vs Money vs Quality. And in most cases you can only pic two of these, and unfortunately the corporate strategy is to only care about Budget (Money) and Deadlines (Time) thus sacrificing quality. So the game, as polished as it may be, was papped out, without a viable or solid online test strategy.

Point 3. Marketing, you could probably conspiracy-theorise that the launch was orchestrated to drum up press and awareness of the title. i.e. No such thing as bad advertising.
"Oh dear, look at our game, its so popular and awesome that we cant handle the millions of people who are dying to play such an awesome game"
Where this may have been true in the aspect that Diablo 3 and Blizzard. It was also sorted post launch and relatively speaking swiftly. But at this point in time and technology, the level of online and multiplayer exposure in games there should not have been an outage of this level. More than likely the possibility of launching without rigorous testing of the online experience, was "marketed" to corporate heads.

And there you have it, these are the major reasons for why the big company didnt produce a worthwhile launch experience, hats off to unethical production and gaming.

Love and that was a pretty "grown-up" post, remember the days of discussing Soul Calubur boobies?

Richie X

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Special Day

We love Animal Crossing. Especially the festival days but no day is better than a Beached Samus day!

 Happy days!

Friday, March 08, 2013

International Women's Day!

So let's thank the new Tomb Raider  for paving the way for more games with female protagonists in them. Before the new Tomb Raider there weren't any games with female protagonists in them at all*. This exciting new trend means equality for all!

* Except Koudelka, Urban Chaos, Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider 2, Tomb Raider 3, TOmb Raider Chronicles, TOmb Raider: The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider the not very good one, Tomb Raider the remake of the first one, Tomb Raider LEgend, TOmb Raider Underworld, Resident Evil, Resident Evil Director's Cut, Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil the GC remake, Resident Evil the Wiimake of the Gamecube remake, Parasite Eve, Mirror's Edge, Heavenly Sword, Haunting Ground, Silent Hill 3, Silent Hill 3 HD, Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2: Stir of Echoes, Metroid Prime 3: Optimus Prime, DIno Crisis, Dino Crisis 2, Metroid, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, THOSE OTHER METROIDS, Beyond Good and Evil, Daikatana, Perfect Dark, Enslaved (sort of), Syberia, Syberia 2, Assasin's Creed: Woman's Hour, Gravity Rush, Xenoblade Chronicles (in our playthrough), Final Fantasy X, FInal Fantasy X-II, Final Fantasy XIII, Portal, Fear Effect, Fear Effect 2, Alien Trilogy, Bayonetta, Bloodrayne, Bullet Witch, Clock Tower, Charlie's Angels (x3), half of every game you can choose your character's gender in, Cluclu Land, Cooking Mama, Death By Degrees, All the Fatal Frames, Drill Dozer, Ghost in the Shell, Jurassic Park:Trespasser, ETC.**

** Super Secret Sub List: Games with fat girls as lead protagonist: Not Fat Princess. END OF LIST.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Queen's looking peaky must be all that horse meat

The media's gone a bit backward recently. With everyone now able to find the news that interests online and at their convenience they've become a desperate institution languidly reporting what Z-list celebrities are saying about other Z-list celebrities on twitter or making a meal out of stories that real world people just don't care for. Horse meat is just a labelling issue. I've not met a single person so outraged that they demand constant news updates about it. Now that Queenie's got a sniffle we hope she doesn't die. Not because we're a fan of her or anything but because we can't face the traditional media brownout as they run footage of the queen doddering about and waving on repeat. I can already see the faux-outrage at the distasteful jokes about the Queen's demise on twitter. 

 Fortunately, we've got a reporter embedded in the roller coaster virtual world of Xenoblade Chronicles and she's full of much more interesting news HOT OF THE PRESS from the Bionis. We hand over now to our reporter for exclusive 24 hour non stop rolling coverage.

"Something" you say. Fascinating. Join us after the break for our exclusive coverage of the latest leaked rumours from the Ministry of Records.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Super Scribblenauts

Along with the rest of the world, the potential of Scribblenauts blew our tiny little minds. Unfortunately, the first game had some control issues and we never picked up the second one.

However, we spotted a copy of Super Scribblenauts new for less than the price of a pint. This must be the long tail effect then yeah? a 91% price cut over two years is how the games industry maintains healthy profits beyond launch week. Surely. That's why the games industry seems to be weathering the recession and why development companies aren't shutting down left right and centre. Right?

Moronic business models aside, it benefits us well and we finally got around to the wonderful world of words. Why isn't this game in every classroom? Why isn't the media full of positive stories of gamers expanding their vocabulary through playing this lovely little game?

We're almost done with the challenges in the game and, like everyone who reviewed it back in 2010, Super Scribblenauts really highlights how we have absolutely no imagination any more. TV and games killed our imagination. There needs to be a word to describe that certain feeling, like when you've got time to kill and the Internet at your fingertips, more information than has ever been available to any of the great thinkers who shaped society, and within an hour you've ended up on Wookiepedia reading the pages and pages about Luke Skywalker's girlfriend and other pointless trivia. Super Scribblenauts gives us that exact same feeling. We can conjure up anything at all to help get through the challenges and within minutes we're struggling to think up alternative ways to navigate challenges without using a jet pack, light gun, crowbar and dirty space suit. Our failing of imagination isn't the game's fault, but the game does a great job of hammering this message home. 

The death of our imagination aside it's a beautiful game. We genuinely haven't laughed at a game for a long time until a Scribblenauts wizard conjured up a pedophobic bridal woodchipper. Well played 5th Cell, well played. This game is yet another DS game that's slowly swaying us towards declaring it to be the de facto greatest gaming platform (outside of PCs) of all time. If only the next generation of consoles could deliver half the diversity and innovation that the DS has, we'd be mildly interested in what next generation is poised to deliver. 

FFXIII-2 Done!

So I just thousanded FFXIII-2.

I had been apprehensive about this title as FFXIII was a little too long winded, especially at endgame, specifically because the final few achievements required 100+ hours and creating a spreadsheet to complete. FFXIII-2 however was a bit more fun to play. I took the plunge over the holidays as it was £9 brand new.

The Good:

  • A really fun storyline, jumping through different time periods, seeing how the events of FFXIII turned out and where they went. 
  • An oddly pokemon type mechanic where you recruit and level monsters throughout time.
  • Though some of the areas are reused from FFXIII it doesnt feel like it, as they have been redone with different time-period themes.
  • Feels like a classic Sqeenix game, A touch of final fantasy mixed with Chrono trigger but with a sleek new façade. 
  • The multiple "paradox" endings, where you can replay certain events and change their outcome.

The Bad:
An overly teenage angsty theme; the younger protagonists with the usual coming-of-age story.

This Chocobo Remix:

The Ugly:
A rather unconvincing bad guy with a camp purple headband.

In conclusion, it's really worth a punt for anyone who played FFXIII, at least the story line.


Richie X

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Okami Done?

We've mentioned before how we're slaves to progressing our Backloggery scanning the glut of games that we own but haven't beaten, let alone mastered. But we can't be alone in looking at 'the collection' and thinking "there's nothing to play". New games keep coming along and tempting us with their sexy new concepts, big graphics and face shooting shenanigans. But we've still got thousands of hours of untapped gameplay that won't cost us a penny. 

However, some of those games we'll probably never finish. take Okami for example. Released over 15,000 times, Okami is a beautiful game. Virtually every screen (outside of the menus) could, nay should be printed and adorned on all the surfaces of abodes. But there's a problem.

It's too big! Back in the day, when we had hundreds of hours to dedicate to games, this wouldn't have been a problem but these days it is literally too big to play. Here's how my last couple of playthroughs have gone.

Load the game up, think gosh this is pretty, spend ten minutes working out the controls again (the combat in the Wii version isn't the best), spend ten minutes refamiliarising myself with what all the calligraphy powers are, spend 15 minutes trying to work out which direction I was headed. Spend seven minutes checking the area just in case I missed feeding some local wildlife, spend five minutes going through the menu keeping a list of all the macguffins I need to pick up. Spend two minutes contemplating if it's worth it. Spend three minutes cursing at the next to useless map.

AND THAT'S IT FOLKS. That's my gaming allowance for a month or so (on the family TV anyway). According to the excellent Nintendo Channel stats I've played it 9 times and for a total of 13 hours. The average global play time is 23 hours but I can't see that this is enough time to play it to completion. Not when in my measly 9 hours I've barely picked up any stray beads or rare treasures, from the space on the save file screen it looks like I've still got another 9 celestial powers to pick up, tons more enemy types to discover, all but one of the named enemies to beat and a lot of animals to feed. There's also a tonne of areas I clearly don't have the tools to access to return to once I've got the appropriate tool technique. 

I might have to book a week off of work just to play it through without forgetting how the game works and areas I have to revisit.

It's not like I want my hand holding all the way through a game but some concession to the score of gamers who don't play games for weeks at a time are nice. Xenoblade Chronicles managed to keep us going with its very helpful checklist of quests that still left a lot of exploring to resolve. 

So it's one of those games we probably won't be finishing before out time is up. Which is a deeply depressing realisation to have. Most people don't obsess about the games they've never finished but a widely touted factlet is that most gamers don't finish games anyway. Shame.