The first time I ever played Bioshock, it was because of a friend of my kids' uncle, who had just recently rented it right after it was released and brought it over to play. At the time, I don't think I even had an Xbox 360 yet, and was still trying to reacclimate myself to the video game landscape after my gaming hiatus. I knew about the game - well, I had at least heard of it - but other than that, I couldn't really care less about it. I knew the premise was that you were in a city under water, and that there were big, creepy guys with drills that chased you about, but past that, it was nothing I needed to care about at that point in my life.
Yes, it was a weird time for me, but it is forever part of my personal history timeline, and I can't change that. That time in my life helped shaped me to be the person I am today, for better or for worse, and while I realize I missed out on so much, I like to think I picked up a few positives out of it as well.
Anyway, I remember watching him playing it and still not being interested in it at all. I was asking a few questions here and there just for context about what I was watching, but it's not an easily explained game in the first place, coupled with my disinterest, and it only led to obligatory head nods and vacant stares.
And then it happened. He went to pick a lock, which was the first time I had seen this part of the game, and immediately my radar went off. I saw the pipe and water flow mini-game and perked right up. First person shooters were dead to me as a game genre, but puzzle games? Even if it was a small, brief mini-game just to unlock a safe or deactivate an alarm system, the puzzle aspect instantly made me interested in what he was playing. In fact, he was having quite a hard time figuring out how to complete them successfully, as I watched him fail over and over again.
Eventually, I got the courage to ask him if I could try to solve the pipe maze puzzle and help him out, and he graciously accepted my offer. So the next time he had to hack something, he tossed the controller to me and let me have a whirl, in which I was successful on the first try. Not to brag or anything, but those types of puzzles are my cup of tea. I love when video games challenge the mind, not just the reflexes of the hand. And that stupid little pipe game was all I needed to make me pay attention to the game.
I realize that the hacking mini-game was the least liked aspect of the game for almost everyone who played it, hence why they changed it to the much simpler hacking system in Bioshock 2. If enough people complain about something, eventually things will change. And yes, the new hacking method sped up the process exponentially, but for me, I was sad to see the pipe mini-game go away.
Years later, I would eventually decided to back to Rapture and give the game a decent shot. After all, other than the hacking, I didn't really play any of the game, and because I started watching it being played at an arbitrary point in the middle of the game, I had no idea what was going on in the storyline.
I didn't start playing it right away when I did finally purchase it for myself, however. I waited for some odd reason. Maybe I was just waiting for the right time to be in the right mood for that type of game, or maybe I just still wasn't super high on the game still, despite my previous fun with the hacking mini-games. Whatever the case was, I waited for a while. Then I had to get my wisdom teeth removed, which meant a few days off work and laying on the couch trying to recover and fight the constant pain. And to deal with the pain, lots of Vicodin were ingested, which is one of the few times in my adult life that I have heavily relied on medication to make me feel better.
Because I had nothing to do and nothing but time on my hands, I figured that would be the perfect time to play Bioshock. Yes, while heavily sedated and quite loopy from Vicodin, I journeyed to Rapture. Needless to say, it wasn't the best idea. When I think back, I realize how bizarre the game is already, but when you play it while practically hallucinating, that game became the craziest, scariest and more unbelievable game in the world. While I got the gist of what was happening, I couldn't fully wrap my head around it, because well, I felt like I couldn't even find my head at some points, as it seemed to be floating up in the clouds.
I managed to beat the game in those few days I had to myself, as the only thing I did was play Bioshock and sleep. I enjoyed it, but I missed a lot of it, so I did go back and play it again for the sake of better understanding the game, but even to this day, my memories of the game always revert back to the drug-induced mind-trip I had while playing it before.
It's funny how different a game looks when your memory or perception is greatly skewed. I realized this going back and playing some once again. Especially after playing Bioshock Infinite a few different times now, my excitement to get back into Rapture is at an all time high. While I have and have downloaded the DLC titled "Burial at Sea" which takes Booker and Elizabeth to Rapture, I have yet to play through it yet, thanks in part to all the games demanding my attention. But with that DLC chapter looming and this visit back to Rapture via the original Bioshock game, I don't know how much longer I can hold out before marathoning the whole series.
If you don't hear from me for a while, send help. I've either completely lost my mind or got stuck in an endless game of Pipe Mania.
If there is one thing that Nintendo has always done well, it's capitalize on their intellectual properties. I've argued this point for years, but even with the release of new Legend of Zelda and Mario games recently, the only chatter I have heard from non-Nintendo fans is that Nintendo only recycles their franchises over and over again, never adding anything to them and basically just making money off of nostalgia. What those people fail to release is that why their argument about never adding anything new to the franchises is ridiculous, the fact that Nintendo lives and breathes as a company because of nostalgia is completely accurate.
Nintendo is so successful in the video game industry because of the hard work and dedication they have put in to establishing franchises and characters and game universes, and making gamers continue to care about them and want to play the newest versions. It's smart business, and while they can't always be relied on for third-party titles, their in-house published games continue to strike interest in fans, touching on the nostalgic part of the heart every time. Truth is, Sony and Microsoft would kill to have several first party franchises they can reward their fans with on a regular basis.
It's not like Nintendo is lazy and puts out annual games that use the same formula over and over again and slightly upgrade the graphics every title, like other well known games are becoming notorious for. No, Nintendo treats every new game they release as if it was the first game of the series, hoping to capture the hearts of minds of new gamers with every release, never banking on the fact that there are established connections with the characters and worlds already. They take the time and care to create each game from the ground up, whether that be creating the next chapter in a series or recreating an old favorite.
One of those old favorites I decided to play again, to remind myself how special Nintendo is, was Punch-Out!!, which was an NES classic that is at the forefront in the minds of all kids from that era. Whenever a list of best sports games is ever compiled, Punch-Out!! regularly finds itself at the top or near it, and for good reason. It is a fantastic game and one I will always adore. But enough about the original - I already wrote about it once before.
No, I want to talk about the newest iteration of Punch-Out!!, which came out a few years ago on the Wii. I remember the announcement for this game, and I clearly recall being scared to death to think of a remake for such a classic. They weren't just making a new game, they were trying to recapture the magic the original one offered, by bringing back the old roster of characters. But if there is any company I trust to bring something back from the dead and remake it with the risk of disappointing an entire generation of gamers, I would trust Nintendo implicitly every time.
And boy did they deliver a knock out of a game. (Sorry for the bad pun, but I had to. You understand, right?)
Everything you liked about the original game is back in this newest version, from Little Mac being impossible to root against, to Doc Louis encouraging you all the way to the top, to Glass Joe and his winless record and of course King Hippo and his AH-HA moment when you discover the key to victory when pitted against him. It's all there, and then some, and never once did I feel like they were doing the classic game an injustice. Conversely, if this was the first Punch-Out!! game I had every played, I could totally fall in love with the franchise with just this one game. The proof is in the pudding when it comes to Nintendo delivering the magic once again.
The only thing missing from this game that the classic game had is Mike Tyson, even though late adopters of the classic game only knew of Mr. Dream as the final boss. Tyson was undoubtedly the epitome of a final boss, as when you finally beat him, if you ever did that is, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that would rush over you would be impossible to recreate. It's completely understandable that Nintendo chose to distance itself from Iron Mike all those years ago, but a part of me wishes that they could at least give a wink or a nod to the baddest man on the planet in some form or fashion one of these days. It will never happen, and I know that, but the thought of it just makes me smile.
This remake of an iconic classic NES title was refreshing, and a great way to remind everyone how deep the Nintendo catalog is in which they can call upon at any time if they feel so inclined. In fact, I would love to see more from this franchise in the future, as I think they could do some cool things with the GamePad of the Wii U. Heck, I would even take a 3DS version, as the 3D effects could be awesome.
But again, I'm just daydreaming here. Of course, I have only Nintendo to blame for that.
Last year when I got my Vita, I made a conscience decision not to buy any of the retail games available at launch. For one, none of the games really struck a chord with me as being must-buys, even with the new Uncharted game sitting on the shelves. Secondly, the games available to download from the PSN for significantly less money than the retail games were too tempting to pass up. I figured I could keep plenty busy with my Vita by just getting the PSN games, and with the inclusion of GameFly, it was an obvious decision to make.
Fact is, the games on the PSN pretty much carried the Vita for quite some time, and some would argue that they still continue to do so. At launch, however, there was no question about it, as overall, the quality and price of the games made the full retail games seem insignificant. In fact, Sony must have thought the same thing, as just a few months after its release, they put a few of biggest retail launch games up for free for PS+ members, including that Uncharted: Golden Abyss game.
One of the downloadable PSN titles available at launch was Escape Plan, a quirky black-and-white puzzle game that didn't get nearly the hype it deserved. It was great, it was easy to get in to and enjoy and had charm oozing out from every corner, in a very dark and disturbing way. When it was first released, however, the developers tried to force all the unique Vita features like the rear touchpad and such as controls for the game, and they weren't an option. Instead of putting a spotlight on the cool things the Vita could do, they made everything feel like a gimmick which only made the controls frustrating at best. Eventually they got the picture, and patched the game to add button support as control option, which opened up the game substantially.
They also released a few pieces of DLC, but unlike most developers, they didn't aim to make as much money as possible right off the bat. One of the DLC packs was only a couple of pennies for the first day, and another one was about half a buck, if I remember correctly. The prices have sense gone up to normal DLC prices, but they wanted to thank all the early adopters of the game, which of course was greatly appreciated.
I haven't put much thought into the game since then, however, as so many other games have graced my life that I just haven't even had time to think about it, I haven't missed anything though, as they went silent for quite some time. Well, to my surprise, the developers were actually working on a PS4 port of the game, which was just released completely under the radar. Best thing about it, is they gave it away for free to everyone who already owned the Vita version, including all the DLC. They did give it its own trophy list, however, unlike Sound Shapes, which means that you'll have to play it all over again to earn those trophies.
Don't fret, though, as the game is just as good and fun as the Vita version was. Same game, just with a nice polish on it. Nothing is different that I can tell, which isn't a bad thing considering it was free. The only thing about it is that they implemented a few touch controls to take advantage of the touchpad on the DualShock 4 control, and why they are a little finicky and cumbersome at time, they aren't too prevalent and probably won't keep you from completing a level with three stars, once you get used to them.
Now, the only thing I haven't tried is to play the PS4 version of Escape Plan via Remote Play with my Vita, essentially creating an Escape Plan inception or black hole. I might literally crash my entire Sony network of systems if I try it, but the more I think about it, the more curious I am. If you don't hear from me again, send help. Just not via the PSN.
Over the course of the year, I have wrote extensively about overall lack of skill and constant ineptitude with fighting games. I've played a few of them, and some of which I really liked (despite my futility) and others were utterly frustrating. Either way, its a genre of games I usually hate playing but love immensely at the same time. It's really hard to explain, but I don't want to harp on it anymore either.
With the year coming to end, I had to make sure I got this game in my year for the sheer fact of it being hands-down my favorite fighting game of all time. I poured more time and energy into this game back when it was first released than any other fighting I can remember, including the Mortal Kombat games back on the Super Nintendo as a kid. Hours and hours spent playing, practicing and unlocking everything possible, and just when it got to the point where there was nothing else to do in the game, I kept playing, if only out of love for the game.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the third installment in the franchise, but far and above the best of the series. It was the biggest, the most expansive and for obvious reason, the best looking game of the series. Looking back, it truly is a crowning jewel for the Wii generation.
I feel in love with the franchise back with the first game on the Nintendo 64, but never had as much time with that game as I would have wanted, much less the time needed to get good at it. When Melee came out for the GameCube, it was one of the games I played most on that system, and as great as it was, it always felt like it was missing something. With Brawl, however, everything I always wanted from the franchise was fully accounted for, and I couldn't ask for more.
Just in case it hasn't been perfectly clear in this crazy year of gaming, I am a HUGE Nintendo fan. I love everything about the company, and their first party games that they develop are easily some of my favorite franchises and their games, despite other games think they are just repetitive, continue to enchant me even after all these years. So naturally, a game featuring a mash-up of all the classic Nintendo characters is sure to strike a chord.
Don't get it wrong, though, because it isn't just about the playable characters that make these games magical, especially when talking about Brawl. Once you add in all the stages that accurately represent the games that the characters come from, the weapons and items that you are already familiar with and the addition of seemingly countless numbers of non-playable yet still participating characters that pop up all throughout the matches, and it's almost a Nintendo sensory overload. But if my senses are ever going to be overloaded, what better cause than Nintendo, right?
In Brawl, the addition of the Smash Balls was an excellent choice, and might have been the biggest ingredient missing from the previous two titles, and certainly something that I didn't even know i wanted until I saw it in action for the first time. Throughout each match, Smash Balls will randomly generate and float around the stage, waiting to be hit to the point of breaking. Not every Ball has the same damage tolerance, and each one is randomly generated it seems. One Ball may take one or two hits, while the next one may take up to five. And generally, as if not to over-saturate the gaming experience, you will see about two Smash Balls per match on average, which can always be adjusted in the match settings if you choose.
So what do the Smash Balls do? They give your character, if you are lucky enough to break it open, a super charged super special ability, with each characters having their own unique Smash attack (for the most part, as there are a couple of exceptions, but don't get my started on that). Each special move is awesome to watch and experience, and you can't help but sit back and watch each one as they happen with a smile on your face, even if you're on the wrong end of one. They aren't finishing moves, however, just automatic knockouts, and like I said before, can be used several times per match. Better yet, if you or an opponent has a Smash move available and is running around trying to get into the best position to use it, it can be stole with a single attack, thus making the anxiety of having one or seeing one in play that much more heightened.
The single player story mode, called the Subspace Emmisary, has always been a point of contention for most gamers, and while it isn't the best mode to play, it's certainly not horrible as many would lead you to believe. I actually enjoy playing through it, despite it making little to no sense, but honestly, what fighting game as a great storyline that makes perfect sense? Go ahead, think about it. I'll wait right here until you come up with one.
Unlocking characters, stages, items and everything else, however, is the best part of the game for me, without question. Sure, there are ways to farm them and speed up the process, but that takes all the fun out of it. And once you unlocked everything, which is a lot, I still never felt like there wasn't any reason to play. If anything, it just made me want to play and explore everything that much more, enjoying all the unlockables that were now available to me.
Before this game was released, Nintendo decided to start the hype train themselves, by creating the Dojo website, which released screen shots, bits of information and made character reveals on a daily basis, leading up to the release of the game. Sure, it was filled with spoilers and for those people who wanted to be surprised by what they were unlocking, it wasn't for them. But it is a fighting game, and Nintendo banked on the reveals as a good way of marketing, and I think it worked. In fact, Nintendo is so confident in the strategy that they are doing it again for the upcoming Smash Bros. game coming out next year, as they release a new screen shot every single day, which have included some previously unannounced characters and stages.
Truth is, I simply can not wait for the next game. Just playing Brawl again made me want the next game that much more. There is a version coming out for the Wii U, which looks absolutely gorgeous, and a version coming out for the 3DS, which features a slightly different and more cartoon/comic art style, which looks like it will be beautiful and perfect on the handheld system. They are still vague on the details of the game at this point, but of every game we know about being in development, this game is at the top of the list. Is it 2014 yet?
Over this past year on this blog, I have written a lot about Zelda. In fact, I had an entire week dedicated to the franchise, along with a couple of other games that didn't fall into the Zelda week. I've always thought extremely highly of the series, and I did my very best to fully express that during the course of My Year of Gaming. Well, since December is upon us and the final stretch of the marathon has turned into a sprint to the finish line, I want to give The Legend of Zelda one last hoorah before my final send off.
And what a fitting game to write about than this game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. I wrote about the newly released Wind Waker HD game, and while that is an astonishingly beautiful game, it was also a great game many years ago with a new, fresh coat of polish on it.. Skyward Sword, which came out a couple of years ago, was the freshest take on the series in a long time, and while that game had some amazing charm, it was pretty true to the classic format fans were already familiar with. Not that it was a bad thing, because as they say, why fix what ins't broke?
Well, sometimes you have to revisit the past in order to realize that you can always improve on something, even if it isn't broke inthe first place.
As I wrote about before, during my week of Zelda, A Link to the Past is my all-time favorite Zelda game, hands down. In fact, it is one of my favorite games of all the games ever, and if I could only play one game for the rest of my life, it would be a strong contender for the one to choose. It is a game that first got me thinking about the development of video games, way back as a kid. The creativity that the game brought out of me would go on to guide my interest and intrigue in the behind the scenes aspect of video games.
Quite frankly, I never thought I needed more from A Link To The Past. Sure, a remake would have been awesome, but I never sat there and wanted a sequel to it. As I heard on a podcast earlier last week, no one has ever looked at the Mona Lisa painting and thought, "Sure, this is an amazing painting, but I can't wait to see the sequel!" There have been many, many Zelda games since LTTP, but none of them ever tried to recreate, emulate or replicate the formula of that classic game.
That is, until now.
Nintendo and the Zelda team went back to the universe of A Link To The Past, and created another game, A Link Between Worlds. It isn't merely trying to make the same game, but rather add to the story and the world that was created all those years ago. The map is familiar, the enemies are all back from the first one, and the game just takes you back to what you know and love. This time around, however, they have added a new dimension to the game, and I'm not just talking about the 3D effects that work perfectly, even with the slider on the 3DS all the way turned up. No, what I'm talking about it is the painting effect that is introduced early on in the game, where Link can transform himself into a painting on the wall and move about along the walls, slipping in between cracks and experience new sights and perspectives on the world never before seen.
So far from what I have played, the idea works perfectly, and is executed to its fullest extent of potential. Another fascinating twist on the Zelda formula that they decided to add to the game is the ability to go to any dungeon you want at any time, not having to stick to a linear path of progression as you do in pretty much ever other Zelda game. If a dungeon is too hard or you are ill-equipped for it, just leave and go somewhere else. It's that simple. It's a great way to make a non-open world game feel more open and gives the players options rarely found in Zelda titles.
This game is making me fall in love with the Legend of Zelda all over again, which I already thought wasn't in question in the first place. It's taking me back to my childhood gaming, but also reminding me of how great video games are now today. Also, you may not have to fix something that isn't broke, but there is no harm in reinventing the wheel, as long as it is done r
If there was one thing that I could probably be accused of after a year long gaming session for the sake of this blog, it's simple to identify. One could easily say that if anything, I tend to like games too much. Not that I'm obsessed with games or sacrifice normal human activities or interactions in favor of playing games. No, I mean it in the sense that I find too many positives in games, talk too highly of sub-par games and generally just enjoy playing all types of games. I'm quick to defend a game that most reviewers hate, and usually end up critiquing harsh critiques of games.
Why am I like this? Mainly because I think all games deserve a chance, and if you lower expectations and hype from all games and just sit down and play them, you can usually find something to enjoy, even in the worst games. Sure, I totally understand feeling ripped off when you pay full price for a game and it turns out to be horrible, but when you buy a game, you are already interested in the first place, so why not just try to enjoy it?
The problem with our culture in this day and age is a mixture of game reviewers, retail stores over hyping new releases and more specifically, the Internet in general. If we weren't so locked in to Internet news sites and blogs and various other outlets, and didn't consumer so much information about games years before they are even released, the hype for games wouldn't be so great, thus making it harder for games to live up to expectations. We expect the best from every single game we play, and when something isn't perfect or what we expect, we generally overreact and spend more time picking out the flaws in games than we spend enjoying the good things.
Remember as kids when we would get one or two games a year? Maybe not all of us, but for me, that was the case for sure. A new game was treat and something to be cherished, especially in the NES days. And when we got a new game, we loved that game, no matter how bad it was. We would play the worst games over and over again, because that's all we had to play. Sure, we might be mad at our parents or grandparents for buying the worst of the worst, but we would still play those games. Now, we buy multiple games at a time, which means we have more to play. Add in the likes of RedBox, Gamefly and digital marketplaces, and we have never had more options for how we play games. The more options we have, the less enjoyment we find in the games we play, overall. Just a hypothesis, but I don't see how it can be any other way.
With that being said, my little girl and I rented a game to try out and play from the nearest RedBox, only because there wasn't any good movies to rent from it. She loves watching Adventure Time, and quite honestly, it is one of my guilty pleasures as well. With that, we decided to check out Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!, a fairly new release that I just haven't had time for. I've had my eye on the game since it was announced earlier in the year, but with everything else going on in this amazing year of gaming, it fell off the radar. Until now, of course.
The game itself is okay, at best. It's a dungeon crawler, much like Diablo, but in the Adventure Time universe. It's fun seeing all the characters and familiar styles used in the game, as even the normal cartoon voice actors were brought on to make the experience an extension of the universe. Sure, it gets repetitive and while the story is quirky in typical Adventure Time fashion, it's not the best looking or well designed game.
You know what I liked best about the game, however? I loved the fact that my five year old daughter loved it, despite not really being good at it. She didn't care. She was familiar with the characters and she loved every bit of it.
Like I said, there's a silver lining on every black rain cloud. Would I buy this game for full retail price? Not a chance after playing a little bit of it. But for one night, for a couple of bucks, my daughter and I had a great time. That's all the counts, right?
One good deed deserves another, as they say, right? Well, that's exactly why I chose to play the game I did for this blog entry. You see, a little while ago, I wrote about Puppeteer, which I praised highly, and even boasted about how fantastic it was on some podcasts. Well, my buddy Ben was highly intrigued by the game, especially so that he could play it with his boys, as it is a fantastic game for all ages to enjoy. Because of that, we met up one fateful day so i could lend him the game, since I was done with it and the only reason I would keep playing it would be going back for missed trophies.
The last thing I wanted to do was trophy hunt, with two new consoles and other various new games just around the corner. With my backlog and everything else going on, trophy hunting wasn't beneficial to me in any way, despite how much I loved Puppeteer. I would love to go back and play it through again, but I'm afraid playing it simply for trophies would knock some shine off of it for me. Maybe not, though, but regardless, I just couldn't do it.
So I passed it off to Ben to let him enjoy it. At the time, I didn't need anything in return, as I told you how much was on my plate already and coming up. But recently, I found out he was done with a game that I was extremely interested in, and so, he returned the favor by letting me borrow it from him, since he was done with it and all.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes has been a game I've wanted to play and write about since it came out several weeks back. But I held off on getting it for any current systems, because I had my eye on the PS4 version of the game. I did actually pick up a copy of the game for the PS4 version, but because of Amazon having some "difficulties" with my orders recently, I didn't actually get the game in time to make it part of my PS4 week. That's okay, though, as there are still a few days left in the year, I thought.
Well, then I caught wind that Ben had the Vita version, and instantly, I wanted to play that version first, especially for the blog. Why, you ask? It's simple, really. The console version of the game is massive and open-world, which means I would be able to get little progress in, especially with my attention being all over the place. The Vita version (along with the 3DS version) are stripped down games, which are completely linear and compiled into chapters, not just a large, open-world hub. It is a very streamlined gaming experience, which all LEGO games that have come to console and handheld have been like. It's a tried and true formula, and it works.
The reason I was so interested in it, I shamefully have to admit, is for the trophies. Usually, the Platinum trophies in these games are far and above easier to obtain than the console versions. Sure, you have to put in the legwork and beat the game, then do some grinding, but once you get going on it, the task isn't nearly as dubious as it would be on the console version. Truth is, I have never even come close to getting a Platinum trophy on a PS3 LEGO game, but all of them I have played for the Vita, I've got no problem.
So there you have it. I gave up Puppeteer to prevent myself from trophy hunting, only to borrow LEGO Marvel Super Heroes with the sole intention to trophy hunt. I'm skipping over the story and everything, mainly so I can experience it all on the PS4 when I get to it. But for now, it's just me and the trophies for the Vita version.
Thanks, Ben. I'm glad you seemed to like Puppeteer as much as I did, but just know, you are an enabler in my sick addiction to trophies. Hope you can live with yourself.
So first thing is first. No, I didn't do an entire, full, 7-day week for the Xbox One launch. I only did six days, because well, there were only six games I had and/or wanted to play for the system. I suppose I could have gave the Xbox Fitness program a chance, but despite downloading it, I know nothing about it. Plus, who wants to work out with a fitness game on Thanksgiving anyway?
Because of a lack of games to play, I only did six days for Xbox One. Deal with it. It has nothing to do with me favoring PS4 over the X1, or my underlying lack of commitment to the Microsoft platform. Think what you will, but I gave Microsoft and the Xbox One system every bit of attention as I did the PS4 before it. I just couldn't justify spending any more money on games I had little to no interest in.
Another thing people seem to want to know, as I have been asked quite a bit actually, is after playing and experiencing both systems first hand, is which system do I like more? Honestly, it's a hard question to answer, as both systems offer completely different experiences, functions and features that make them individual and hard to compare to one another. There are things that the PS4 does well that the Xbox One is lacking on, and vice versa. Also, because I have been spending so much time just playing games and writing for this blog, that there are still things I have yet to even try out on both consoles, like recording, sharing and streaming.
The biggest take away I have from almost two weeks of playing and writing about the two different brand new consoles is simple. I am super thankful for being able to get both new systems and enjoy them, as I realize how fortunate I am to be able to do so. Also, I am thankful that gaming is so popular, and that my life-long hobby has grown and continued to keep me entertained, enthralled and delighted after all these years.
Also, I'm thankful that there are so many different choices for gamers out there, as no matter what you are in to, there continues to be something new and exciting for you to enjoy.
Lastly, I am thankful that games like Tearaway continue to be made, as studios like Media Molecule aren't afraid to go against the grain and make games that are fun and whimsical, unique and bursting of personality. They aren't concerned with creating the most graphically powerful game, but instead insist on making great looking games in the style that they are.
In Tearaway, the entire game is made in paper-craft, which is a slight difference from the Little Big Planet games they are famous for. The thing about the game, however, is that the paper-craft art style isn't just for looks, but rather the entire focus of the game. Because the entire game is made of paper, essentially, it is able to showcase the unique features of the PS Vita system. It utilizes both cameras, the gyroscope and especially the rear touch pad. I could go on and on about how everything works in the game, but that would ruin a lot of the fun within it, as discovering it yourself adds to the charm.
I will tell you this, however. You, the player of the game, is an important part of the game, as you are essentially inside the game you are playing. Tearaway revolves around you, and it isn't until the end where you realize just how deep the seemingly shallow story goes. The ending will take you by surprise, in the best and most powerful way.
Overall, this is easily one of if not the best Vita game I have played all year. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to experience this game, especially on a day where we should all have so much to be thankful for.
I wrote about Knack for my first week with my PS4 series, specifically with how much I liked and enjoyed the game despite the criticism and overall negative outlook on it by the journalism community, which of course filtered down to the gamers, keeping many away from the game because of the review score. For reasons I just didn't understand, most reviewers just didn't like Knack, or at least didn't want to give it the credit it deserved for the great things it did. It's unfortunate, but thankfully, with my blog right here, I was able to enlighten and open some eyes and maybe convinced some people to go with their gut instead of what reviewers felt, and try the game.
Well, I can't help but feel like Microsoft has a game falling under the same hardships as Sony did with Knack. Ryse: Son of Rome has been one of those titles highly regarded and hyped up since the announcement of its existence several months ago, as it was clear that Microsoft would be leaning heavy on the gladiatorial combat game to carry their console-exclusive launch line-up. As the release got closer, however, the journalism community began to sour on the game, complaining about being repetitive, and ... well, not many other complaints really. That stigma that it was developing already was making reviewers nervous, and effectively keeping consumers wary of a Day 1 purchase.
Let's get this clear right off the bat. Yes, it is repetitious, especially in the beginning. But it's also pertinent to remember that this game is trying to showcase the Roman empire with some historical accuracy, which means it's trying to make the combat as realistic as possible. You don't use magic or crazy unrealistic weapons. You are equipped with weapons you would find in the time period, which for better or worse, didn't have a lot of diversity in their design.
The game is also very linear, as you battle your way through a pre-established path, not leaving you much chance for exploration. They never set out to make an open world gladiator game, but rather tell a flushed out story about a fierce warrior fighting for everything he believe in. With such a powerful story, especially one where the cut-scenes are absolutely gorgeous, I feel no need to wander off or do random side quests. The pacing of the game how it is laid out is perfect, and to knock the game for what it is and not trying to be more than that is a shame.
So yes, it is repetitive at the start. You only have a couple of moves at your disposal to use in order to dispatch enemies, but the more you fight and the more blood is spilled on the battlefield, the more you can upgrade your warrior to learn different attacks, executions and abilities. The game rewards you for continuing your journey, and I have no qualms with that. It really doesn't feel much different than other button-mashing brawler games, especially considering all the details the game is trying to showcase.
Oh, and this game is beautiful. Aside from the thousands of zombies on the screen at once in Dead Rising 3, or the individual beard hairs on basketball players in NBA 2K14, this game is quite the showcase for what "next-gen" technology is capable of, which is scary considering this is just the beginning for this generation of consoles.
Long story short, if Ryse: Son of Rome caught your interest at all, and you backed off because of the reviews, then you are missing out. If you can play it in any capacity, you need to do so. Don't let those always-negative game reviewers keep you from pursing your gut feelings. Allow this measly blogger to convince you to ignore them and play what you want, because you want to. That's what gaming is all about.
So when I got my Xbox One, I had this weird feeling that the launch line-up for games was pretty weak. I couldn't get passed how few retail games I wanted to buy when I picked up my system, and how it seemed like I would be relying on the XBLA to supply me with games to play on the new console.
What I wasn't thinking about at the time, which had to be pointed out to me, was that because I got so many games for the PS4 that were cross-platform, that when looking for Xbox One games to get, the selection seemed a lot more limited than it actually was. Despite my own Jedi mind tricks on myself, I also have to point blame to Microsoft for launching after the PS4, because for everyone who took the plunge and bought both systems, they hindered themselves on game sales as the opportunity to buy "next=gen" games came a week earlier on the PS4. Sure, some gamers would still buy some of those games on the Xbox One because that would be their system of choice, just as how the PS4 is my system of choice, but either way, it's lost dollars however you want to slice it.
Anyway, because I wasn't buying a bunch of retail games for the Xbox One, I did want to jump in to the XBLA games more so than I normally would. I am kind of disappointed that Sony knew how to bring attention to the PSN buy giving away two, quality games for free while Microsoft refuses to give it's uses anything worthwhile at all, and nothing for early Xbox One adopters.
Well, one of the games I decided to try out was LocoCycle, which I have heard a lot about for what feels like forever now, but seemed to lose it's own hype once it was close to release. I had actually forgotten all about it until I was browsing the store, and thankfully Microsoft decided to give it a featured spot on the main page.
The main reason why I was even interested in this game at all was because it was developed by Twisted Pixel, the development team responsible for 'Splosion Man, Ms. 'Splosion man and quite possibly the best Kinect game available, The Gunstringer. Truth be told, 'Splosion Man was the first XBLA game I ever bought, and I loved every bit of it. Back then, I was hesitant to jump in to the downloadable game market, but the premise of the game was just too compelling to pass up.
Now, with LocoCycle, the team has taken everything they learned over the years to put together a very interesting, unique game. The gameplay is constantly transitioning from one type of game to another, seamlessly I might add. Just when you get used to a driving game, it tossed you right into a shooter. From there, you might go to a brawler or some other type of game, but either way, you really have no idea what you're going to be playing from one minute to the next.
There is also an interwoven live-action short film within the game, which breaks up the over-the-top gameplay with a fun and entertaining little movie, that is almost more ridiculous than the game itself. Fortunately, the game never takes itself seriously, and seems to be self aware more so than it lets on. There are hints of mild racism revolving around the Hispanic mechanic of IRIS, the talking bike, which some people in the journalism community has taken offense to. But if anything, it just feels juvenile, not intentionally offensive. While you have to imagine the development team didn't set out to be racist in anyway, I could understand how some people could be sensitive to it.
Regardless, I have had a good time playing this game, more so than I thought I would, but as much as I hoped to. So far I have been plenty entertained with the XBLA options offered up for the launch of the Xbox One, although I can't help but feel taken advantage of instead of appreciated like I did with Sony.
Take notes, Microsoft. If you want to stay competitive in this arms race, especially in the digital download independent games arms race, look at what Sony is doing with the PSN.
XBLA = The Noyse
PSN = the_noyse
NNID = The Noyse
3DS F.C. = 3007-8109-2329
STEAM = TheNoyse
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Games played for project : 365