Thursday, December 26, 2013

Daily News 12/26/13

In this new daily segment I'm starting, I'll pull the top five news stories of the day about gaming and give you my quick spin. I know it's the holidays and it's probably the worst time to start this, but there was enough gaming news today to justify this abrupt start. So, without further ado...

These news stories are listed in no particular order of importance and will be filled with opinions that are not reflected by everyone, just Brent Metcalfe.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Final Instalment in the Future Series is Another Strong Outing for Ratchet and Clank

Quick Note: If you're not a fan of the series there's nothing here for you. But if you enjoy the games or want to enjoy a great 3D platformer with a solid combat system, pick this game up immediately. 

Since the original released in 2002, I've been playing Ratchet and Clank. I love 3D platformers, and Ratchet and Clank has always been enjoyable, with strong combat focused on unique weapons and a deceptively interesting lore. One of my fondest gaming memories has to be playing Going Commando in high school on mute while blaring the 311 Greatest Hits CD, and to this day I have to play the series with some form of rap rock or beach music in the back ground. Needless to say, I'm a fan. And despite the experimental nature of the past two games in the franchise, Into the Nexus is the perfect cap for the duo before we all turn in our PS3's for the next generation. 

Old Game is Old is No Excuse to Skip Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath on Vita

Quick Note: Though not without it's flaws, Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is an enjoyable shooter, especially for a system like the PS Vita, which is lacking some quality shooters. 

Anyone who knows me personally (or happens to look at my PSN account) knows that I don't particularly enjoy shooters, first or third person. Guns don't particularly appeal to me in any way and with a few big exceptions, the general shooter on the market does not tell a very compelling story, which is the major reason why I play video games. I've stumbled a bit through Bioshock and it's sequel, but with a 40+ hour work week I would rather spend my time on my console playing games I know I will enjoy rather than try out experiences I kind of get into. So when Stranger's Wrath hit Vita, I knew it was the perfect chance to branch out into a genre I am not very familiar with. Despite it's old school difficulty and controls, the game is surprisingly enjoyable, especially on Vita, where there is a definite drought of good shooters.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

PS Mobile: Make it Visible

You may not know it, but this week marks the second week of Sony’s Festive Giveaway promotion for PlayStation Mobile. For five weeks, starting last week, two PS Mobile games are being given away to users for free. These games are playable on both PlayStation Certified Android devices and PS Vitas and are created by a community of hobbyists and indie developers.  
What’s that? You’ve never heard of PS Mobile? You are not alone, nor are you a bad person for not even knowing what the program is. Despite the attempt to future-proof the PlayStation brand on cellular devices, Sony has left this small section of its videogames catalog to dry up in the sun, dying slowly and painfully, much like the Minis. However, there are some really great games amongst the mobile titles, and they deserve some much needed love. What can Sony do to make these titles more relevant to gamers?

How Sony Can Improve the Vita

I’ve always had an affinity for handheld gaming, probably because my first real gaming experience came from playing Link’s Awakening on the original brick GameBoy. The first game I ever beat to completion was Pokemon Yellow on my purple see-through GameBoy Color. Even as I get older, I still tend to game on my handhelds as much (if not more) than my consoles. I love my Vita. It has great graphics, awesome experiences and I can play it pretty much anywhere. Having said that, it’s not a perfect system. There is a reason why it’s being outsold (by huge margins) to the 3DS in every available market, including Japan. So what can Sony do to match its competitor in the handheld market?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Charming In Everyway Possible, Tearaway is a Must For Any Vita Owner

Quick Note: For anyone who loves 3D platformers, cute art styles, or just needs a game for their Vita, Tearaway is a must bye. It's special in so many ways and is enjoyable for anyone, regardless of their age or ethnicity. 
Like any good book or movie, the ending to a videogame is important. You want that sense of satisfaction to justify your hours of time and the monetary investment put into itSometimes it’s that final cutscenes to wrap up the amazing story. Other times it’s the come down off of that insanely difficult boss fight. Tearaway makes this moment special in a way no other game has because by the end, I felt like I had helped out a little friend, not just some character I controlled. The ending isn’t the only part of Tearaway that feels like it was imagined around the player, but the entire game is full of these moments to keep you chugging along to the end.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Why 'The Last of Us' Movie Needs a Different Ending

Spoiler Alert! Last of Us Spoiler Alert!

You have been warned.

So hours ago it was announced that 'The Last of Us' movie rights have been acquired by Sony. This is terrible. Or awesome. I guess it depends on your point of view. Regardless of what you may think, facts have proven that a majority of videogame movie cross overs are terrible.

Typically, they leave behind most of the universe it spawned from in order to make it more appealing to general audiences. This sucks for people like us who live, breath and sleep videogames, but it does make sense for these projects. The studios want to make money, and more people go do movies than play videogames, especially when you narrow it down to one particular franchise like "The Last of Us", which is not only a rather new IP, but a Sony exclusive. I know this, and I still hate it. But it's with this knowledge that I say that 'The Last of Us' movie needs to be different than the game. Not only to appeal to audiences that have not even heard of the game, but to retain the magic of the game for the players who cherish it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gaming Memories of This Generation

Gaming can offer so many experiences. The joy of reaching a high score on the leader board. The anger of getting shot in the back. The competition between you and your best friend as you race around the track. It’s amazing just how many different emotions and feelings you get from one game and how different those emotions are from others who play that same game. This is why games are art: they connect us, on an emotional level that is hard to tap into on any other medium. With the ending of the current generation in sight (though not quite here yet) there’s been a lot of reflection on the best moments of this past 8 years in gaming. Here are a few of mine. Spoiler Alert for those who have yet to play Journey, The Last of Us and infamous 2.

Proteus Let's You Explore With No Rhyme or Reason, For Better or Worse

Quick Note: Proteus is an interesting experience full of small surprises, but it feels like an incomplete experience. Great for quick jumps in and out, but it might be better to wait on a price drop before you dive in to this game.
Many games offer the freedom to do whatever it is your heart desires. In some ways, Proteus is that game, but emptier. Proteus feels like the start of a game concept rather than a full experience, but it is special and not like any other game out on the market.

Undead Adventures On the Go Suffer Slightly

Quick Note: The Walking Dead The Game: Season One is an amazing experience to play through, but the Vita port may not be the best iteration to play. If you only have a Vita though, $20 for the game and the download content is well worth the experience, despite the bugs.

In 2012, when the Walking Dead The Game: Season One hit the industry, it spread like a wild fire. It became game of the year across many publications, won numerous awards and succeeded across consoles and mobile platforms alike. Fall 2013, the game has finally made it’s transition to the PlayStation Vita, though not without a few snags along the way.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Flower On The Go Is Still A Great Experience

Quick Note: Flower for Vita is a fantastic port with a tiny control problem that may lead to less immersion in the game world. That being said, it’s still amazing. Buy it.

Sony has made a name for itself by rallying the support of the independent gaming community. Though today they lead a giant mismatched army of crafty creations, five years ago the company was still dipping its toe into the pool of indie gaming. Around 2009 could be considered the turning point, andthatgame company’s release of Flower for PS3 would be the spark that started the fire. With the launch of the PS4 well underway, it makes sense to port such a highly regarded, easy to play game to the new power house. But let’s not forget the handheld port, which can hold a candle to it’s console brethren.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Batman on the Go Is Missing a Few Gadgets in the Utility Belt

Quick Fix: Though there is an interesting story for hardcore Batman fans, this attempt at bringing the fantastic series to portable consoles falls flat with shallow combat, boring level design and an overall bland aesthetic. For hardcore Dark Knight fans, wait for a price drop before you consider. 
Not long ago in 2009 Rocksteady Studios proved to the world that a great Batman game was not just feasible, but would be so good that it would launch a series that is the standard for open world superhero games today. And while it’s no surprise a new Batman hits consoles this fall for a third time, the Arkham series is finally transitioning to handhelds, though not without some caveats.
In Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate you take the reins as Batman once again as he infiltrates the prison Blackgate after a massive explosion has released the Penguin, the Joker and Black Mask. Cutscenes are done in a comic book style animation, with the voice actors reprising their roles from Arkham Origins, which is a nice touch. After saving Catwoman from some goons, you have the choice to tackle each ‘dungeon’ of the three big bads in any order.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Paint Your Way Through Unfinished Swan

Quick Fix: With a fantastic twist on a similar game play mechanic, a whimsical story and only a few hours to complete, the Unfinished Swan is another key proponent that games can be taken as art as well as a fresh and fun game.

As graphic fidelity gets better and technology gets more advanced, games will continue to grow more beautiful. Thus, the debate of whether games can be considered art becomes more muddled. To throw more fuel to the fire, Sony and Giant Sparrow have released Unfinished Swan, a beautiful and elegant video game that helps keep the medium in the art category.

The Episodic Adventure with Bigfoot Begins

Quick Fix: Jacob Jones is a great puzzle game for pick-up and play on the PS Vita and for a cheap price of $3.99, it’s an easy buy for gamers looking for light entertainment.

The PS Vita is in a unique position to port over games that are both mobile and console quality. So for every Uncharted, you’ll see a Fruit Ninja and for every Jetpack Joyride you’ll see an Assassin’s Creed, at least in theory. This makes the platform an amazing bed of experimentation and ports, with both good and bad games. Jacob Jones is a mix of both, as the game was designed for release on both mobile platforms and PS Vita specifically. Though it’s only Episode 1 out of 5, Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery shines with tough puzzles and amazing presentation.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Though Dated, Sly Cooper is Still A Great Game

Quick Note: Though very linear and old school on level design and enemy AI, Sly Cooper is still a great game to play when you just want to play a game. For only $10 you can download a Playstation classic that will fill the gap between games and still enjoy a solid game.  

During my early PS2 days of gaming, I was kind of a snob. If it wasn't a JRPG or made by Square, I wouldn't have it. It took a couple of good friends and at least 2 hours of play before I even looked at my first action game (the original Devil May Cry). But by the end of my time with the console I had added great 3D Platformers like the Ratchet and Clank Trilogy and Jak and Daxter,  but Sly Cooper seemed to slip right through my fingers. After playing inFamous and inFamous 2, I decided to take a journey down memory lane and play some older Sucker Punch games, and though it is old school design, Sly Cooper and the Thievious Raccoonus is a fantastic game.

Time to Defy Gravity

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ninja Theory Blows Everyone Away in the New DmC

Quick Note: DmC is exactly what Devil May Cry should be. With small tweaks, the combat system is even better and faster and the story has more depth than previous iterations without becoming too serious. DmC is something all lovers of Devil May Cry and Action Games should play.

Action games are a dime a dozen these days, but the Devil May Cry franchise still seems to sit at the top of my list. Just something about that platinum haired asshole that makes me smile every time I play him. I know a lot of people just didn't like the juvenile dialog or the corner action sequences, but to me, that's what makes Devil May Cry shine. So like many, I was very leery of a new studio taking over, even if it was Ninja Theory. Well I am here to tell you that DmC: Devil May Cry is not only the best the series has seen (and I dare say it), but also a great step in the right direction for action games in general.

Monday, February 11, 2013

2D Platforming and Music Come to Life in Sound Shapes

Quick Note: Such simple execution and concepts help Sound Shapes shine through. Having a quick, fun and easy to approach campaign followed by Death Mode for the hard core 2D platformers and a smart and simple level editor, the game works well for just about any type of gamer. Add in the Cross Buy and Cross Save between the PS3 and Vita, and it's a solid package of gaming for only $15.

The 2D platformer has had a Renaissance of sorts over the past couple of years. From LittleBigPlanet to Rayman Origins to Super Meat Boy, it's hard to not be excited, especially growing up with the original Nintendo and Super Nintendo. What's unique is how each of these games differentiates (or doesn't differentiate) from the original platform champions. In Sound Shapes case, it differentiates in a unique way: the sound.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

inFamous 2 Blows Away the First in Every Way

Quick Note: inFamous 2 does everything bigger and better than the first. Abilities grow and are customizable, the story is far more engrossing and the combat is even more satisfying. Little fixes go a long way in this sequel, which is a must by for any die hard Sony Fan boy or third person action gamer.
Good or Bad: You Decide
With the first inFamous, I had a lot of hesitation. After getting it for free from Sony for the Great Playstation Outage, I sat on it for months. That was not the case with the sequel. After watching my room mate John play a bit and finished with inFamous: Festival of Blood, I was ready for inFamous 2. Almost too ready. I felt like I might have inflated my expectations for the game. How wrong I was. The game is amazing. Hands down, Sucker Punch has done an amazing job with the newest iteration of the series.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

More Graffiti Tags

I love graffiti. There's this sense of art and rebellion and expression all wrapped into one. I also am in awe on how quickly these pieces of art are pulled together. Here are a few pieces I've found recently:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Global Game Jam 2013

Another year, and another Global Game Jam. This passed weekend I worked with fellow group members to work on a prototype for our game "Dragon Soul". As a warrior searching to defeat the powerful dragon Zanzibar, you travel to his lair to fight the beast. Upon fighting the beast, the dragon easily defeats you and shatters your heart, leaving you to pick up the pieces. Though it's still having the finishing touches added to it, I will post some more information later this week along with some screen shots. This will have to do for now: