Monday, September 3, 2012

New Addition

Hey guys,

I lucked out last weekend.  I found Top Gear 3000 for my SNES for $10 plus taxes CAD(worked out to $11.30), no shipping, no handling IN A FRIGGIN' STORE.   Kid you not.  I played a couple of races "testing it out", and then K put the kibosh on it. 

Something about spending time with her.  Girlfriends, sheesh.

For those of you who have never played a Top Gear game after the first one on the SNES and I believe Genesis, Top Gear 3000 is more or less one of the many games that helped inspire the driving sims that are Gran Turismo and Forza - except Top Gear only sported Ferraris back then, if I remember right.

So, you race (duh), earn money, upgrade your car and continue to race until you've completed the whole schtick.  It's a hell of a lot of fun, especially 3000, which has a gentler learning curve than Top Gear 2, where the series started this formula, continued to Top Gear 2000 (I haven't played Top Gear 2000, so I can't speak for it), and persisted to Top Gear 3000.  After it hit the next generation after the SNES with Top Gear Rally, you lost the privilege to upgrade, but could use different vehicles, and then it returned to form with Top Gear Overdrive (excellent game), which also let you choose vehicles as well as modify them.

Now, what's so special about Top Gear 3000?  Well, for one, it's not all that common.  Two, it was actually almost impossible to emulate for quite some time, and it had everything to do with Mode 7 graphics emulation.  SNES 9x can now do this.  However, back in 1999 - 2002 when I was trying to decide if emulation and I could ever be friends (not happening), it didn't.  So, now that Mode 7 emulation is possible, Top Gear 3000 carts on their own are worth about $15 - $20 on EBay before shipping fees.  Yeah, I beat EBay.  Like that was hard...

So, there you have it.  And if you can't find Top Gear 3000 (or, if I remember right, the even rarer Top Gear 2000), Top Gear 2 is a great settling point.  Do yourselves a favor and give this series a go.  The gameplay still holds up today.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Currently Playing

No, the Mass Effect Review isn't done.  There, I said it.

Anyway, as of the last little while, I've been dumping hours into two games on *gasp!* my PS3:  Dynasty Warriors 7 and Syndicate. 

Yes, I'm well aware that they are both available for the 360, but at the time, Syndicate was on sale for the PS3 only at a local shop, and Dynasty Warriors 7 XL isn't available for the 360 because Koei thinks that Mixjoy is a relevant feature.

Now, I think  all of you know about me and Dynasty Warriors:  I'm a jaded fanboy.  By the way, that said, Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires is sounding frigging awesome; you'll want to go to Koei Warriors when you get a chance and check out the skinny on the forums.

So, first up:  I finally conned K (girlfriend) into playing a Dynasty Warriors game; 7 to be exact.  Not working on XL yet; once I have the story mode scompleted, I will though.  Anyway, contrary to how she thought she might feel about it, she actually liked it.  I set her up with Yue Ying, although using the ge, not the staff.  She preferred the twin swords, though.  However, she bored of it fairly quickly as I had ass-raped everything on the field before she had a chance to fight;  Oh well, chance favours the prepared mind.

As mentioned, I've also been playing Syndicate.  What can I say about Syndicate?  Well, nothing that hasn't been said before; the single player experience is okay, the multiplayer experience is better.  Actually, it's not just better; it's awesome.  Unfortunately, it feels stunted.  While it's great that Starbreeze was kind enough to display zones using the classic Syndicate world map, there's only 9 levels; not 50 like in the original.  And there's no.  D.  L.  C. 

I kid you not.  What a wasted opportunity!

At any rate, for those of you who do play Syndicate online, my PSN handle is Rabbi_Voody, just like my XBL one.  I have started a Syndicate and am happy to welcome others within my ranks; we're (well, I'm) called Canuckorp, and the tag is CKP.

Okay, enough plugging my Syndicate (which, let's be honest, is a clan), I should probably gush about the stuff I like because it sounded like I was giving the game a back-handed compliment.  The multiplayer is fleshed out much better, and plays exactly as I was hoping it might; like a super-high-tech and brutally violent Rainbow Six (not that R6 isn't already brutally violent) - except you're all super-soldiers.  A huge portion of the mode is using and combining "breaching" (hacking) skills to attack, heal and manipulate the environment. 

Your abilities include damage buffs, kill hacks (everyone has a computer chip in their head, after all), self-resurrection and many other buffs or abilities, plus the ability to interact with objects that you just have to screw with, like lowering an enemy's shields are screwing with their special armour. 

The weapons are also fairly creative for a lot of run-of-the-mill standards such as pistols, assault rifles and shotguns.  Of course, plenty of other weapons such as the classic minigun are also available; you'll have to play more to see more.

Now, being that there are so few levels, there are luckily a lot of incentives to keep playing.  The first is the score; how you score will do two things; it will level you up and it will carry your research. 

Research is how you improve the weapons you can choose from as well as weapons that you may find in the world that are not available for selection.  To unlock these items, you earn tokens from killing heavies and wiping out enemy agents.  All in a days' work.  Now, research encompasses weapon modifications as well as breaching abilities, so it's definitely worthwhile to invest in.  Further, as you rank up, you can buy character modifications, which are unquestionably worth the investment.

The levels are actually very well done, although the variety is basically "total annihilation", "assassination" and theft (which also involves defending the get-away vehicle).    But it's so well-done, that I just can't put it down.  Oy.

Oh, and I finally acquired a copy of The Peace Keepers (SNES) for less than $30, so I'm really proud about that.  Fantastic game.  One of my favourite sellers on EBay,  Pedro's, is no longer with us, but I was able to get it from another seller, snesbrosauce.  If you're looking for good cartridge buys - especially SNES games, look him up.  It'll be worth your while.

Also, I have pre-ordered Borderlands 2 for the 360 (it is my dominant system), so for any of you who enjoy Diablo With Guns (aka Borderlands), I will definitely be up to killing bandits and mutants come the middle of September.  You have my handle (which was so subtley dropped at the beginning of this post).

What can I say, I'm a sucker for co-operative punishment.  Misery does love company, after all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Game Store For You

And no, the Mass Effect Review isn't done.  Well, it's half-way done.   Anyway, K and I were down in Lindsay, ON - or over in Lindsay, I guess - and we came upon Iceman's (nice Megaman reference!), which is a gamer's paradise.  They're located on 111 Kent St. W (the old downtown; it's absolutely gorgeous). 

They sell new and used games for the current systems and have an excellent inventory of classic games, and their pricing is ethical.  Not only that, but they also have a decent collection of music (vinyl, even!), comic books and movies.  It's a great one-stop location for your inner geek.

Even better, their staff is knowledgeable.  You're not going to run into any mass-market buffoons here who only know the latest EA Sports or Call of Duty title.  Well, they'll know about those, but they also know about Double Dragon, Tetris and Safari Hunt.  And, of course, Megaman.

So, if you're in Lindsay, look 'em up.  They're open Monday to Thursday and Saturday 10 - 6, 10 - 8 Friday, and 11 - 5 on Sunday, which means that if you're in the area, you have no excuse to miss them.  Even if you don't buy anything, you need to check the place out.  You owe the experience to yourself.

Monday, April 2, 2012

What's New

Hey guys, it's been awhile.  yeah, I know, the Mass Effect review isn't posted yet.  But just so you know, I'm almost done the gameplay part of it, which is the first of the two more difficult parts.  But then again, you guys know that I don't pull any punches.

Speaking of not pulling any punches, I'm about 16 hours into Final Fantasy X, and frankly...I don't like it very much.  Ever since Final Fantasy 6, the games have been so restrictive, and not having a world map to save on whenever you like - thus forcing oyu to rely on save checkpoints - is very frustrating when you have things to do.  As far as I can tell, it does eventually become less linear, however...I personally dislike the direction the game has taken.  The sphere grid, however, is a pretty slick character development tool, so at least there's one thing about the game that I like.  I also dislike most of the characters, especially Tidus and Rikku.

I also finished Splinter Cell: Conviction and Rage.  I'm on the fence regarding SC:C;  the stealth mechanics are there, but the title's far more of a shooter than anything else.  Oh, if only there was another Hitman game out before this one, maybe it would have attempted to compete.  Rage is absolutely gorgeous, but it starts to wear down in the latter half of the game and the ending blows.  The minigames, however, are quite enjoyable, especially the card game that's a new spin on War.

Further, I finally got the chance to play and finish Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Bayonetta.  I have to say, these two are must-plays.  Bayonetta to simply just experience it, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution to...well, live it.  Absolutely amazing game.

That said, beyond the ME review, my workload now consists of Final Fantasy XII, Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 3 (have played and beaten 2 and 4) and earning a few more achievements in Dynasty Warriors 7 and Skyrim.

So, play safe, have fun and keep hoping because that ME review will eventually get finished!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Worthwhile Gamestore...And No Mass Effect Yet

Hey guys,

In my travels, I came across a gamestore in the 400 Market in Innisfil, Ontario.  Unlike the other larger store in the 400 Market, this guy doesn't jack gamers, and his prices kick the crap out of what you'll find on EBay. 

His store is called Video Games 101, and he has a site, which, while a little basic, is definitely worth checking out. 

The guy has a passion for gaming, not just selling, so give him a gander the next time you're in the area on a Saturday.

And...yeah, no review yet.  It's coming, though.  I swear.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Its-a Comin'!

Alrighty then.  So, I've gotten off of my tuchas and started the Mass Effect review.  No word of a lie.  It is in progress.  I swear.  Next up will be another review coming...not sure if I'll give the treatment to Metal Gear Solid 4, Hunter The Recking: Wayward or if it will be something else entirely.  Maybe I'll do Darkstar One?  We'll see. 

Then after that I will - I promise - get onto finishing No More Heroes so that I can review it.

I swear on Buster's ashes.

Gem Number Next

So I finally had time to sit down with Bladestorm: The Hundred Years war.  I've had it since just after Christmas, but I haven't had the time due mostly in part to a) getting accustomed to my new job and b) buying it in the middle of Darkstar One (which I highly recommend, by the way). 

Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War is an original IP in a similar vein as Dynasty Warriors.  However, the similarities end at embellished history and melee combat.  You play the role of a mercenary who participates in real and fictional battles during the Hundred Years War (which, if I remember right, was 113 or 114 years long).  You'll meet real and fictional characters including The Black Prince (Prince Edward of England - not to be confused with Edward II, the son of Edward I, aka Longshanks) and St. Joan of Arc while kicking ass in the name of whatever currency is in fashion at the time. 

Combat is very different in that you control ranged, melee and cavalry support units.  However, you need to unlock different books which you'll find in battle or purchase to use these units.  Further, units are upgradable.  Or you can choose to go it alone, although that isn't recommended.  Hell, you'll get beaten like a baby fur seal in the off-season.

Each unit and equipment type also has special attacks associated with them, so it's worthwhile exploring the different units.  Plus, there's a balancing act between different equipment types and different units, and some of the unit special skills actually mitigate some of these deficiencies.

As far as I can tell, the game is a match of capturing control points, but there are "special requests" that you can complete.  These are usually a matter of beating certain officers or a fetch job of some sort.

So far, I'm finding the difficulty is starting to curve upwards somewhat steeply, so there's either something I'm missing or I'm rushing a little too hard.   Either way, the game is a lot deeper than the "professionals" laid it out to be.

I've also started to play through some of my PS2 games.  I finished Hunter The Reckoning Wayward.  So far, best game structure of the series, but the graphics and controls are utter garbage compared to the XBox games.  This seems more to do with the deficiencies of the PS2 controller, but it could also be that the devs dicked the controls to push the game out sooner.  That is a possibility. 

I've also played the PS2 port of No One Lives Forever.  So far, it's alright.  The dialogue is right out of Black Adder and Monty Python, though, so it adds a great touch of British Humour.

In truth, I've played a little bit of all of my PS2 games; Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XII, NOLF, Taito Legends 2, Killzone, and HTR: Wayward.  Final Fantasy X, from what I've played, is same crap different day - cool cutscenes, humdrum combat reminiscent of the extremely overrated Final Fantasy VII.  Final Fantasy XII, however...that's looking to show some huge promise.  Taito Legends 2 is an awesome compilation with a terrible menu interface that's about as user-friendly as a beartrap closed on your ankle and Killzone really is pretty mediocre.  I can't believe Sony had the chutzpa to sell that dreck as a Halo-killer, especially since Halo was no longer the shooter to beat by that time.  Halo 2 was, and it's hardly a game that requires much talent to beat, at least insofar as the singleplayer campaign was concerned.

Next up, I want to find the PS2 port of Deus Ex as I hear that it's quite competent.

After Bladestorm, I'm probably going to get to work on my PS3 backlog.  I need to finish Little Big Planet and Resistance 1 and 2.  After that, I'll take on Killzone.  I know Killzone 2 is good; the first 5 minutes of that were infinitely better than the first 5 minutes of Killzone 1, and I'm not just referring to the visuals and horrid audio, but if one can, it's better to tackle a series in proper order.  Couldn't be helped with Hunter: The Reckoning.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yeah. Right. About that.

Right, I just more or less ripped the design of Metal Gear Solid 4 a new one and haven't reviewed Mass Effect yet.

Okay, here's why:  The rippage of MGS4 was a blitzkrieg on crappy story telling (and seemingly unfocused).  This is because I can't give the game a fair review due to my biases against the style of storytelling...and the unnecessary amount of it.  I do not care for soap operas.  No, this is not a disclaimer; I may write an actual review of MGS 4.  You can like it or not.  But I think it's about time I lay my biases bare, because I will call out stupid components/mechanics of games when I see them.

And, just so you all know, I was finally able to grab a PS2 with FF X and XII.  Not expecting to necessarily enjoy X a lot, but XII looks extremely promising (and is the first FF I've been looking forward to since VII...and that was quite a disappointment to me).  I alos got Hunter The Reckoning: Wayward, so the trilogy is now complete.  Plus a few other goodies, including NOLF.  Don't know how the gameplay will turn out, but the dialogue's right out of Black Adder and Fawlty Towers, so at least the humour looks promising.

Being that I'm finding a little more time to do things in, I will hopefully have the ME review up in the coming weeks.  Need to beat the game again...I've kind of forgotten most of it other than that the series rips off Alistair Reynolds' Revelation Space series (although the two sidestories have so far been better than the main trilogy).

Anyway, keep safe and see you all soon.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Under My Belt

Okay, now before I start, let me say this:  MGS fanatics, walk away.  Now.  What I have to say will make you very upset. 

I have played several of the Metal Gear games from the NES up until today.  Beaten most of the ones that I've played except for the original MGS.  It isn't that I don't care for the graphics so much as the gameplay is a little too overly convoluted and, like every game in the MGS series, far too much value on story.  And Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is no different.

Visually, it's stunning in many details, although I notice frequent framerate drops, and many of the stealth actions of the previous games are...dumbed down.  Not to mention that the whole sneak-through-a-base thing is more or less paid lip service and the key-anditem-hunting game that actually helped make the series enjoyable is gone (mind you, I haven't played Snake Eater yet), and instead feels more like a fratboy actioner with firepower on demand.

However, the game is a lot of fun, when you're playing it.  When you're not playing it, it's because you're watching a 20-30 minute cutscene depicting cool stuff that you aren't actually doing (well...for the mostpart...won't spoil the one cool thing you do actually get to do).  Many of the boss fights are by the numbers - mostly because it's little different than any other MGS game. 

Now, luckily, you can skip the cutscenes, but then you don't know what the hell is going on.  And if you don't have time to screw around, you miss the whole point of Kojima's alleged masterpiece (and yet I've read Tom Clancy books more complex).

The shooting is rock solid, although I found the stealth left much to be desired.  While the weapons on demand was a pretty cool feature, it felt unnecessary, especially when a lot of the guns essentially did the same thing and it was more or less a matter of picking your favourite model. 

I think that the idea of aging Snake was pointless.  I realise that it is supposed to add another dimension of depth, but it really didn't.  The stamina bar and how it was used, however, did.  It certainly helped increase the tension in a boss fight or two.

As far as level design goes, all of the stereotypical locales are there, plus a nod to past games.  This really did not impress me, although it may be because I've read and experienced too many modern-day techno-thrillers.  However, desert, jungle, kinda sounds like a Ghost Recon game.

In short, as a storytelling vehicle, Metal Gear Solid 4 is a great fan service, but a slap in the face to the average gamer.  It is artificially lengthened by way of semi-interactive cutscenes that rarely progress the story so much as try to make characters look cool and throw in what seem to be contrived emotional bonds (e.g. token romance side-storylines).  This adds a level of superficiality that really denegrates the game as a game.  I realise some people might view it as art...but if it is, it's little more than David with a dress and cockring.  As offensive as that sounds, the whole point is that it's dressed up for the sake of dressing it up; underneath, it's still the Statue of David, and it doesn't need those things - especially when they're gaudy and unnecessary.  i.e., the game underneath is excellent, you just have to remove the fluffy excrement piled on top by a misguided director.  At least he was kind enough to give you the tools to get around them.

So, I sincerely hope that the next Metal Gear game incorporates story that you can read instead of needing to extrapolate it from deliberately paced cutscenes.  It needs to be told more efficiently, or at the least, the resources need to be on hand in an efficient manner in the game.  Because if I play MGS4 again, I'll be skipping those cutscenes; they're just too long for people with lives.