Monday, October 31, 2011

Games Played 10/24/2011 - 10/30/2011

- 10/24/2011 -
Dungeon Defenders - PC
Gunstar Heroes - PC

- 10/25/2011 -
Dungeon Defenders - PC
League of Legends - PC
Red Faction: Armageddon - PC

- 10/26/2011 -
Brave Story: New Traveller - PSP
League of Legends - PC

- 10/27/2011 -
Brave Story: New Traveller - PSP
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 10/28/2011 -
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
Dracula: Origins - PC
Dungeon Defenders - PC
League of Legends - PC
Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll - PlayStation 3

- 10/29/2011 -
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
Dungeon Defenders - PC
Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll - PlayStation 3

- 10/30/2011 -
Disney Universe - PlayStation 3
Dungeon Defenders - PC
Kirby's Return to Dream Land - Wii

Sunday, October 30, 2011

PS Vita: Get Fu@#ed by Sony a Week Early!

Sony is currently offering to release the PlayStation Vita a week early for those who are willing to pre-order the "First Edition Bundle" from Amazonor Best Buy. This is a nice option is you are willing to pay an extra $100 and get a couple of neat things with it like a game, a protective case, and a 4GB memory stick. But then you are also stuck with the 3G model that really doesn't make much logical sense to own. So why the hostile title you ask? Well, ever since I learned that the Vita is going to use a flash-based technology for its physical games and a proprietary memory stick for storage, I became less thrilled by it.

That little deviant thing looks like a money-hungry Sony executive.

Please allow me to explain: the Vita could have gone for a full digital distribution route, especially with the way that it was promoting the PlayStation Network Store as one of the main features for the system - but for whatever reason, Sony decided not to do this. I find this to be totally disappointing. I do expect for full digital distribution to happen to the consoles in 2 more generations but I thought that it would be different for the handhelds because of how games are distributed for mobile phones and tablet devices. Sony is making a big mistake here. The dual approach of selling physical games plus offering a digital version for some of the titles will eventually bite them where the sun doesn't shine. The setup does make sense however when we look at the storage solution for the Vita: the special flash stick that can only be used for the Vita. Sony is greedy, we know this is true. The Vita could have come with an internal memory solution of in the typical 16GB or 32GB increments but why provide that to the customers when they could charge a ton of money from the sales of the specially made memory sticks? Remember, even the awful PSP Go had 16GB of built-in memory! Granted, each physical flash card of the games will have its own allotment of memory for saves and patches but those who rather own digitally distributed games will be in the rut when it comes to getting access to an eventually large, readily available library from the Vita itself. Sony is a complete fool to think that full digital distribution would not work for the Vita since the mobile gaming industry is really flourishing. I have a feeling that this had a lot to do with the failure of the PSP Go. The thing that Sony doesn't realize is that the reason why the Go was totally lame is because there is no way that physical games can be played on it for those who already own a lot of UMDs and newcomers to the system didn't pick it up because the PlayStation Portable scene at the time of the launch was practically dead. I have a feeling that I would end up owning a 3DS with a dual analog stick first before I get my hands on a Vita.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Devil is in the Details!

Not too long ago, I shared my extreme excitement about the upcoming November 4th Steam release of Sonic Generations because of its Steamworks implementation and very low $29.99 price. Well, I was thinking of actually pre-ordering the game today until I noticed something suspicious from the very corner of my eyes. The game is shown as being developed by a company called Devil's Details. What?! Who the heck are these guys? Apparently the Personal Computer version is being outsourced instead of being handled by Sonic Team or their typical cohorts. This even sparked an interesting forum thread on Steam. I went to the developer's website - glad to know they at least have one - to check out the gaming history behind this UK-based company. The accomplishments listed don't look very promising - Nutrition Matters? - but they have some good experience in the development process of making console games. Well, this whole thing could mean that: a) Sega went cheap and wanted a little studio to haphazardly handle the port because the main focus will be the sales from the console versions, or b) not a lot of hard work was actually required to release a good PC port thus Sega entrusted the work to these Devil's Details guys. I really hope that it is the latter but my gut feeling is telling me that I should wait for the game to be released and check out the PC gameplay when it is available. Sega can definitely help out the situation by releasing a demo for the game as well. Come on Sega, you know that you cannot mess this up.

It could have been worse. They could have hired Backbone Entertainment...

Friday, October 28, 2011

LoL's Birthday and the Party Pooper

Yesterday was the 2nd birthday for the fantastic League of Legends for the Personal Computer by Riot Games and the company was teasing that there would be something special happening on that day. That special surprise ended up being the release a super special edition "Surprise Party" skin for the champion Fiddlesticks. At first, I thought that the skin was given to everyone for free and then I noticed that it was actually being sold in the store. I was quite disappointed by that but then I quickly realized that it was LoL's birthday, not mine so I shouldn't have expected Riot to be giving out free stuff versus having the fans shelling out some cash to get the limited edition skin. I never played Fiddlesticks before so I didn't feel the need to spend. Fiddlesticks, when played properly, is one of the most annoying and frustrating opponents you can ever face on the Fields of Justice because of his really nasty fear disable + massive area of effect damage combo and the "surprise" theme is perfect as a skin for him. I had to face one yesterday and coupled with the new skin, Fiddlesticks can become even more annoying, especially with all of the crazy fun colors and party blower noises ambushing my team at every turn. I don't ever get angry playing LoL but this new skin really did get my blood boiling a bit - but no, I would never ever rage. That would be so uncouth.

Not the kind of thing you want to see jumping out of cakes, especially from the opposition.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dark Souls, Bright Heart

I am quite surprised that I have been playing a lot of Dark Souls for the PlayStation 3 lately. I may not jump on the game on a daily basis but whenever that happens, I would end up spending many hours on it. Why am I surprised? Well, as fun as the prequel Demon's Souls was, I lost interest in that game after about a week or so playing it. I was expecting for the same thing to happen with Dark Souls but it seems like the more I play the game, the more I want to invest my free time playing it.

I don't think that I am even half-way through the game's content.

The most mesmerizing part of this game for me is the large interconnected areas. It does so much to the overall atmosphere of the game. No matter where I ended up being in the game world, I know exactly where I am in the grand scheme of things. I love losing myself in the varied environments, despite existing alongside creatures, as well as other players, who are out to get my blood. Throughout the many hours I have spent playing Dark Souls, I have only been frustrated a couple of times. I consider each death that occurred to my character a learning experience and I found the relentless challenges in the form of the tricky enemies as well as the tough bosses to be ridiculously fun. Perhaps when all is said and done with Dark Souls, I may go back to Demon's Souls. That may be a good idea because they may finally shut the game's servers down but I am sure that Demon's Souls would still be quite playable as a full single player experience - though  it would take a lot more work to fully explore it alone.

After a while, the environments become a bit too familar. They feel like... home.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Best Buy Goes for the Horror

I have always been interested in the many creative ways that games are being marketed to the public and I found that this recent Best Buy ad for PlayStation 3's Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception on the Internet to be quite intriguing:

Yes, that's exactly how you get people's attention...

There are many ways to show off the grand adventure that one could possibly find in Uncharted 3 and Best Buy has decided that the best way to exemplify that is to present to you Nathan Drake looking like he's being bitten from underneath a violent, stormy ocean by an Australian great white. Notice that on the top banner, they are relishing on Nathan's suffering by zooming in on the very, uh, attractive expression on his face. Fascinating, Best Buy... Very fascinating.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Games Played 10/17/2011 - 10/23/2011

- 10/17/2011 -
Castlevania: Lament of Innoncence - PlayStation 2
DJ Hero - PlayStation 3
The Last Remnant - PC

- 10/18/2011 -
DJ Hero - PlayStation 3
The Last Remnant - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 10/19/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3
Dungeon Defenders - PC

- 10/20/2011 -
Brave Story: New Traveller - PSP
Dungeon Defenders - PC
Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony - PSP
The Last Remnant - PC
Orcs Must Die! Demo - PC

- 10/21/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3
Brave Story: New Traveller - PSP
Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony - PSP
Rise of Immortals - PC
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - PlayStation 3

- 10/22/2011 -
Brave Story: New Traveller - PSP
Streets of Rage Remake - PC

- 10/23/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3
Brave Story: New Traveller - PSP
Dungeon Defenders - PC
Streets of Rage Remake - PC

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Target Gamer

I was looking for an instruction manual for one of my AV do receivers today and while rummaging through the storage boxes, I found  an old marketing material that I got from Target so very long ago. I was immediately transported back to my undergraduate years, when I mainly shop for games from the local Target store. Back then, I used to prefer shopping at Target to satisfy my gaming needs before I would go to Toys"R"Us or Gamestop because well, it was the closest "game store" I could walk to from my apartment.

Big boxes can make a lot of gamers happy. Things never change or do they?

The package above contains a game preview VHS tape, a discount coupon booklet, and a set of wish list forms that can be handed out to friends and family. I didn't get to use the coupons at all but I remember watching the preview video several times because it ended up being quite entertaining and I thought that it was a cool way to promote video games. We are of course talking about the 1990s here and the Internet hasn't dominated our lives the way it does now... If only I still have a VCR hooked up to one of my televisions somewhere in the house. I guess I'll have to watch the tape again some other time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rise from Your Grave, Immortals!

When I played Petroglyph's Rise of Immortals on the Personal Computer during its beta stage sometime in July of this year, I was not impressed. I was too spoiled by League of Legends to care much about the game at the time and perhaps I was the problem instead of the game itself. It didn't help that the queue time to actually play a match was extremely long back then - we are talking about a half hour wait here, which is extremely unbearable - so I didn't stay too long playing it. The game was officially launched last month on September 12th and it was even able to creep into Steam's free to play line-up late last month, complete with Steam achievements. I soon decided to download the game again on Steam and it had been sitting in my hard drive ever since. Tonight, I decided to check out the game again and you know what, Rise isn't that bad of a multiplayer online battle arena game.

It's really hard to mess up the MOBA formula, unless you are Land of Chaos Online.

If you are not familiar with the MOBA genre, it's basically a team-versus-team game where you start off by strengthening your character on the battlefield with the ultimate goal of destroying the opposing team's base. I am not going to lie to you, the art style for Rise is rather disgusting and the animation is horrendous but when all is said and done, it's definitely playable. Technically speaking though, it does feature a more complex map than LoL and I really do love the larger creeps and the more mature visual presentation. The items you can buy from the in-game map are weird and they have a really peculiar item upgrade mechanics. It's apparent that Petroglyph is trying to do things a little differently from Defense of the Ancients, LoL, as well as Heroes of Newerth and the best example of their departure from the norm is the pre-game hub where you can move your "immortals" around. Also, each of the immortals have their own talent trees and they level up outside of the matches. The problem with this is that when you are matched against high level players, they definitely have the advantage over you but I suppose that things will balance out somewhat once you have reached the highest level per immortals. The other problematic thing about this game is that there are only 14 immortals available to be selected at this time. Only 2 new immortals have been introduced post launch so it looks like things are progressing a lot slower in this game compared to the more established MOBAs. The good thing here is that this game follow Riot Games' free to play model which means that it is truly free. The more you play the game, the more points you can accumulate to permanently unlock immortals and buy trinkets for them. Just like in LoL, those who are impatient can always pay with real cash to get to the things they want faster access to.

Just because the character models are detailed, it doesn't mean that they are necessarily pretty,

I plan to keep playing Rise because it can definitely be rather entertaining at times. It just needs more characters but at least it feels a lot more polished than Realm of the Titans that is still in beta - oh that reminds me that I really do have to jump back on that game again and play it more. Since Rise will not cost you anything to play, give it a try. It certainly deserves at least that. Sign up for your free account through Steam or directly from the official website.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love, Loop, Technocity

     “Please state your reason for visiting,” the metal man next to the airport entrance door said and I looked deep into its red recording-camera eyes.
     “Visit due to business.”
     “Failed to confirm,” it said. “Please repeat.”
     I sighed and looked around. There were as many as 20 entrances into the airport connected by the transparent tube extended from the walls of each Airtrain.
     “Common buddy,” screamed a European guy behind me. “Give the robo his info.”
     “Busi-ness,” I told the metal man.
     “Please slide your business visa.”
     I did what the robot asked me to do and the entrance door swung right open. As soon as I stepped in, the door shut tight behind me. I followed the long, white, and brightly-lighted corridor until I reached the heart of the airport.
     It was busy, as always. There were loud noises of babies crying and adults arguing. I never liked Technocity’s airport.
     It was too human.
     Along the corridor leading towards the exit were geishas singing and dancing. As modern as Japan was, it still retained a lot of its unique culture.
     I wish I was Japanese.
     I rushed out of the automatic door and I had forgotten that it was already 1:00am. It was dark but in the distance, I could see numerous flickering neon signs and lights emitting from the city.
     Technocity International Airport was located on the highlands and the only way to get in or out was via the light-speed cannon-trains.
     A booming voice of a young Japanese lady speaking politely in Japanese suddenly filtered the early morning air and I could see people rushing towards the train station opposite to the airport. When the Japanese announcement stopped, it was followed by a sad, heavy Japanese-accented English translation of the same message, “Please wait at the train station for the next canon-train that will arrive in 5 minutes!”
     I walked slowly into the train station and lined up in front of the ticket booth. They all spoke Japanese so I couldn’t get myself into any conversation.

Steam, You are Galaxy's Gift to Gaming

I may not be too excited about Sega's upcoming Sonic Generations that will be released next month - I think Sega is still confused whether to focus on 2D gameplay vs. 3D gameplay so they implemented both - but here's something a little bit more exciting than the game itself: Steam actually secured the exclusive Personal Computer release of this game and will be selling it for $20 less than the console versions!

Steam, I want to kiss you hard and take you to bed with me every night!

This is just madness and if Valve can continue to do this, that is if they could ensure that console releases will be sold on the Steam client with Steamworks benefits like cloud saves and Steam achievements, there is absolutely no reason why I would want to get my games anywhere else. They do have to ensure though that the releases are cheaper as well as being good ports - Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was cheap on the PC but it lost the online multiplayer function - but judging from the fact that Sonic Generations has full Steam support, I have no doubt about this game being a superior version. The game is single player but even if it was online multiplayer, Steam would have been able to grant that quite easily. Looking at all of the full high resolution screenshots presented on the game's store pageSonic Generations is shaping up to be visually delicious and it is apparent that those pictures are taken straight from the PC version because it was in full 1920 x 1080 and everything is looking super sharp. This is a really interesting development and I look forward to a future where more Sega games will implement Steamworks. I may not been that excited about the game before but now I am very ecstatic about it now because I really want to support this big and very smart move by Sega!

A Very Decisive MEOW!

When I first saw this special pre-order trailer for the console versions of The Sims 3: Pets (the Personal Computer version that I plan on getting comes as as expansion), I was more annoyed than I was entertained. I suppose it takes an acquired taste to enjoy the "original narration by Randall" of the honey badger fame/infamy and even though the footage that was shown with that trailer looks really fun, I think it was a weird way to advertise the product. All they actually need to convince people to want this game is a really cool, utterly irresistible screenshot... Like this one I found on Steam:

Oh meow-meow!!!

See, no need to spend all that money to hire someone to do an annoying narrative over some cutesy footage when all you need is a picture of a cat trying to pounce a laser beam. It screams out that the game, which is now available, is going to so very cute that you will abandon your real pets... Only that I don't have any real pets. I do want a cat though. Oh now I'm sad.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PS Vita Release Date: Style Over Function

Sony has finally set an official release date for the new PlayStation Vita, the successor to the utter failure known as the PlayStation Portable. Instead of releasing it simultaneously worldwide, Sony has opted for the nationalist sentiment by making it available exclusively in Japan this December. In this day and age, you would think that the worldwide release is the way to go, especially since the Vita will be region free anyway from what I have heard thus far. The date when the new system will be available in North America and Europe is 02/22/2012. Awww, how cute but Sony, do you seriously think that gamers would find it amusing that you intentionally pick a cool date for the release instead of just selling it this December? I really don't think so.

And the dual-stick Nintendo 3DS will become available sometime before the above date?

Review: Epitaph

Epitaph (2007)
Genre: Horror
Format: Netflix Stream
Director: The Jung Brothers

Epitaph is a horror anthology that revolves around the ongoings at one Anseng Hospital back in the 1940s during the Japanese occupation of Korea. It all started when an old college professor was reunited with a lost album with pictures that were taken while he was serving as a young intern at the aforementioned hospital.

There are three tales interwoven into the narrative: the first involves the young intern being given watch duty at the morgue with a couple of fresh corpses residing within, the second is a story of a young girl being haunted by visions of her dead parents, while the third is a murder mystery where Japanese soldiers are being targeted by a serial killer. All of these tales are linked to the hospital staff and what makes things a lot more interesting is that even though each story segment is told one at a time, the scenes between them overlap frequently while the timeline defies chronological adherence. Things can get a little confusing but if you follow along carefully, everything makes sense and it helps that each of the mini-stories are always punctuated with a shocking moment.

Though the supernatural elements are really strong, the movie seems to be more concerned about a theme that is more grounded in reality: loneliness. Epitaph can get downright creepy at times and some of the scare scenes are really horrific but the most unique thing about the movie is that the chills came from a very morose and extremely emotional place. Take the story of the girl who lost her parents - once it was revealed in detail what caused their demise, it was hard to hold back the sorrow, especially leading towards that segment's cruel yet inevitable consequence. Epitaph is one of those rare horror movies that doubles as a potent tragedy, as evidenced by the flawed and tortured characters found within it.

With its twisted plot and disturbing horror, there is plenty of reason to love Epitaph. The historic setting also helps the movie gain an authentic blend of culture-clash in terms of both the look of the film as well as the characters and their background. The best part about this movie is that it tries to scare the living daylight out of you while making you sympathize with the fates of the characters involved in the horror - and that it truly succeeds in delivering both.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Monday, October 17, 2011

Games Played 10/10/2011 - 10/16/2011

- 10/10/2011 -
DJ Hero - PlayStation 3
DJ Hero 2 - PlayStation 3
White Knight Chronicles II - PlayStation 3

- 10/11/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3

- 10/12/2011 -
Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland - PlayStation 3
Dead Nation - PlayStation 3
DJ Hero - PlayStation 3
Infamous - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 10/13/2011 -
Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland - PlayStation 3
Infamous - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 10/14/2011 -
Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland - PlayStation 3
Dead Nation - PlayStation 3
Dead Rising 2 - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 10/15/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
Flower - PlayStation 3
Gaia Seed: Project Seed Trap - PlayStation 3
The Last Remnant - PC
League of Legends - PC
My Aquarium - PlayStation 3

- 10/16/2011 -
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review: I Saw the Devil

I Saw the Devil (2010)
Genre: Thriller
Format: Netflix HD Stream
Director: Kim Ji-woon

If you are looking for a revenge thriller than involves extreme violence, you should look no further than I Saw the Devil. This South Korean movie may lavishes itself in unrealistic scenarios of über carnage, taking away what could have been something a bit more cohesive, but with an unexpected plot development that will have you scratching your head and flinching your eyes, it makes for an entertaining ride into a dark world filled with murder and mayhem.

A serial killer made a horrible mistake when he brutally murdered a woman who just happened to be the engaged to a special agent who in turn decided to give the killer a taste of some pure vigilante justice. The utterly heinous killer is a repulsive scumbag who you probably want to eliminate with your own bare hands but what is interesting about this movie is that the special agent, Soo-hyun, decided to prolong the pain and suffering that he wanted to inflict upon the killer and this resulted in situations of destructive chaos for both himself and the killer. The movie likes to remind the audience that Soo-hyun has turned into a monster to rid of a monster but it didn't need to do that because it was so very obvious. At the beginning of the movie you will see that he's a soft-spoken man and a romantic, loving fiancé but as the situation with the serial killer escalates, all that training he got to become a special agent quickly turned him into a surgically precise, unfathomably cold, and relentless fighting machine.

As gory as this movie is, the brutal killings of the innocents are done off-screen. Apparently, the violence acts that you do get to witness on screen are being justified. This bias approach creates inconsistency and detachment when analyzing the movie as a whole. Sometimes, the most disturbing cinematic deaths do come from off-screen kills but that is not the case here. The fact that you get to see the extremely bloody, frenzied violence that occur to the unsavory characters completely  takes away any hint of savagery that was done on the innocents. Since the main motif here is the completion of a long, merciless, and meticulously planned revenge plot, it would have been good to capitalize on Soo-hyun's emotion. Though the ending seemed appropriate, it was also questionable whether to classify it as a success or failure for both of the opposing characters. What should have been explosively cathartic was just reduced to shockingly amusing but with such an overwrought plot, I should not have expected better.

I Saw the Devil may be void of any real payoff to the rough adventure that it puts you through but is still a fascinating movie to watch if you can stomach all the nasty blood and gore. There is hardly any dull moment as you are presented with one sadistic scene to the next. This one is only savage in its visuals but if you want something that can also ravage your emotion, try Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance instead.

RATING: 3 out of 5

The Truly Last Remnant

One of the most graphically ambitious games on the X-Box 360 is none other than The Last Remnant. It was actually way too ambitious because it ended up looking good in stills while being an excruciating eye sore in motion. I learned about that flaw a little too late because I did induct the game into my Game Library when it first came out in 2008. I really love the game's epic tactical battles where you control multiple army squads and it is always a good thing when Square Enix focuses the story on large scale political intrigues versus a personal journey to save the world. It's a shame though because the game is certainly one of the developer's true masterpieces but the 360 obviously couldn't handle the game with all the horrible texture pop-ins, monstrous slowdowns, and father time cursed load screens. I tried to love the game the best that I could but after enduring it for about 3-4 hours, I was through. Then, the Personal Computer version of the game came out a year after and I had been tempted to acquire that version but the priority of doing so was often overshadowed by my need for newer titles. Well, Steam had The Last Remnant on sale before and they did again yesterday - the offer is still available until 10pm PST today - and after downloading the game's demo, which ran perfectly with smooth frame rate, higher resolution, and faster load times on my PC build, it was time to finally get it. The texture pop in is still there however, this is based on the Unreal Engine after all, but it is very slight. I know that I will now be able to enjoy The Last Remnant the way it was meant to be experienced.

Uh, nice pants?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Real Horror of Dark Souls

I was playing some Dark Souls on the PlayStation 3 several days ago and I have discovered a moment of pure terror... No, this isn't a spoiler, you know I hate those and nor is it about the game being supposedly difficult: I have discovered the true evil of the game's improved world design where all the areas in the game are interconnected to form one gigantic open world environment compared the the first game's hub based gameplay. So there I was playing the game and after doing some back and forth exploration between two major areas for what I thought was maybe an hour or two, when I looked at the clock, I saw that I actually had been playing the game for 5 hours.

Yes, you can always get to that aqueduct for another short-cut run but...

I realize now that this game exists in a different space-time continuum. It tricks you into thinking that the world is smaller than it actually is with the clever introduction of shortcuts that you can discover between the different areas because even when travelling through those shortcuts, it will take some time for you to get to the places you want to be in this game. The fact that you get quickly accustomed to the layouts of the different areas through the process of pure repetition means that your brain will always perceive that you are going through them faster than real time. The game may not be all that hard but boy it does require you to really spend a lot of your free time on it. Quite evil.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Must Resist Guardian Heroes

Another one of Treasure's gems has made a graphically-enhanced re-release on the X-Box 360 yesterday and that game is Guardian Heroes - a 2D hack and slash action game that first made its appearance on the SegaSaturn. Though this should be a great news for someone like me since I don't mind getting the game again because of the addition to the cleaned up graphics and the widescreen aspect ratio, the problem is that I do not want to pay for X-Box LIVE Gold anymore so I would prefer to get this on the PlayStation 3.  The game is definitely very playable to be traversed alone both for the story mode and the versus mode thanks to the addition of smart artificial intelligence but still, this game should be more of a blast when played cooperatively or competitively with others online. Sega has yet to announce a PlayStation Network Store release for this title but rumors has it that at least it is being put into consideration. I have a feeling though that this one would end up as a X-Box LIVE Arcade exclusive but I will do my best to remain patient and not get the game too quickly because I really don't want to regret that decision later on.

How much time should I wait? One month? Two months? Three maybe?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Vase

     "I want you to have this," she said reassuringly. "It's not much but you know, it's something that I hope will remind you of me whenever you look at it."
     Sarah gently placed a vase on Alex's desk. Alex looked at it with a mild sense of interest. It was a small but modern looking decorative vase with a simple landscape of a desert and a mountain range carved as well as painted on it. On one side, the mountains were depicted with warm colors and the opposite was true on the other side.
     "Are you sure?" Alex asked. "This looks really nice."
     "It's yours! I never really liked it myself... I always thought that it would make a good farewell gift," said Sarah. "It's very you."
     "Temperamental you mean?" Alex teased. "One day I'm happy go lucky and the next day I'm cold as ice?"
     "No. Flexible," Sarah responded quickly. "That's always been how I see you. Very flexible."
     "I'll take that as a compliment," Alex said. "Thanks for the vase. I think it's pretty."
     "Well, just don't forget to take it with you on your way out. We won't let you in the building anymore starting tomorrow you know."
     "Oh you know that Penny will let me in," he said. "Besides, you guys probably would be very happy to see me since they haven't hired anyone to take over my position yet."

Monday, October 10, 2011

THAT Desperate for an Exclusive?

I have been playing a bunch of PlayStation 3 games recently, with Dark Souls and Bleach: Soul Resurrección occupying most of my gaming time these days. I mentioned last week that I wanted to give my Nintendo Wii with a much needed workout in the form of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World but that hasn't worked out as planned though I have not given up on the idea as well as the actual game. Today, while I was ejecting the Dark Soul game disc out of my PS3 console, I noticed the following screen:

Apparently the indie-strategy game Eufloria is now available on the PlayStation Network Store but the most intriguing part for me is the "Only on PSN" stamp that Sony proudly advertised for the game. When I saw that exclusivity claim, I knew that the game was previously released on the Personal Computer, so I did a little digging on Steam and found the store page for the title:

Pay special attention to the game's release date on the PC: October 20th, 2009! So not only  was that exclusivity claim invalid, the fact that Sony is putting too much time celebrating this game's release despite it being a rather dated title made it seem like Sony was desperate to show some exclusive titles on the PSN. If they really want to offer something unique in that "Only On PlayStation" and "It Only Does Everything" level, how about releasing that patch to allow all PS3s to be fully backward compatible? That would be a lot more remarkable.

Games Played 10/03/2011 - 10/09/2011

- 10/03/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3

- 10/04/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3
Glitch - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 10/05/2011 -
Atellier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland - PlayStation 3
Avadon: The Black Fortress - PC
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 10/06/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 10/07/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 10/08/2011 -
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 10/09/2011 -
Dark Souls - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

Friday, October 7, 2011

Preview: Dark Souls

Dark Souls (2011)
Developer: From Software
Platform: PlayStation 3
Induction Date: 10/04/2011

Being the sequel to Demon's Souls, one of the most hyped-about games of all time, Dark Souls has also been given the same kind of attention from both the media and the gaming community. Seeing how the first game was able to translate into quite a profitable venture despite as offbeat as it was, which is also of course a trademark of developer From Software - I bet they wish more people would play their other games - Dark Souls has been given a confident multi-platform release both on the PlayStation 3 and the X-Box 360 as well as it is being published by Namco Bandai instead of Atlus, a mark of its transition from the obscure into full mainstream. The question here is of course whether or not the game deserves all of the hype it generated.

You can make some really ugly faces in the character creation screen.

Dark Souls is an action role playing game where you traverse strange locations and kill even stranger demonic enemies. The opening movie is vague but fascinating, showcasing a world born from war that eventually becoming decayed by darkness. Even while playing the game, you only gain little information about the game world by the characters you encounter. I like this about the game because it forces the players to soak in the environments and the things they see to become fully immersed in the game. When you first start the game, don't bother spending too much time with the character classes. The options are an illusion to ease the players into the game and are only there to determine the starting weapon or spell that you gain access to because once you get into the game, you pretty much have all the freedom to assign stats as you see fit.

Enjoy the little slither of light whenever you can find it.

Both the first game and Dark Souls self-proclaim themselves as being hardcore hard. Don't believe all that hype and myth. These games are not that hard. As a matter of fact, Dark Souls is even easier than the first game due to its design changes. Instead of gaining access to a hub where you can travel to the many locations in the game like in Demon's Souls, this game's setup is a lot more linear. Instead of the central hub, when you die, you now will be reincarnated at the last bonfire save points you visited that are scattered across the game’s huge interconnected world. This means that you don’t have to second guess yourself on which location to explore anymore because your access to new areas are progressively presented to you. Whenever you visit the bonfire, the new freebie health pots are replenished as well. Let’s talk about death for a bit and yes it is true that you will die a lot in this game but that doesn’t mean that the game is difficult because you will then rise back up, and though you will lose the souls you have collected that are needed to level up – and you can pick them back up if you manage to get to the spot where you died – you don’t lose the actual game progress you have made. Sure, the enemies will re-spawn and you have to dispatch them again but that is a beautiful thing because the game is all about pattern recognition. Since the layouts of enemies are always the same, you will quickly learn how to best approach the situation. Don’t avoid getting the game because of all those lies you heard about it being supposedly hard because hard would be dying and then having to start the whole game again and this game isn’t that. Is it frustrating? Yes, it can be because the game is designed to initially overpower you in stats and expectations. You will notice that the game will only manage to kill you by presenting unforeseen situations, large enemy numbers, sudden enemy ambushes, and the huge amount of damage the enemies can inflict upon you. Once you have learned the layout of the world and boost up your experience level, the game quickly becomes almost too easy but of course it still means that you will feel accomplished by that revelation because it does take some dedication and patience to get there.

Mr. Boar-head likes the bonfire!

There are of course some other things you can do in this game than explore the world and killing monsters. There’s a player-versus-player element where you can invade other players’ worlds or be invaded by others, and there are also loots to collect, spells to learn, co-op to participate in, as well as crafting to be done. Just like Demon’s Souls, I really do like the decidedly offbeat and the unforgivingly somber energy of Dark Souls and it is not often that you get to play a game filled with dread and desperation. That being said, I really don’t like how this game is marketed as being too hard but they have to get people’s attention of course. It’s like telling little kids not to watch a violent horror movie – the more you warn them, the more they want to see it and you know that they will eventually gain access to actually watching the movie. My guess is that the publisher feels the same to entice the general gaming audience. The more they touted Dark Souls as being extremely hard, the more curious gamers would get. And the more curious they become, the higher the probability of them getting the game. Many may have been convinced or probably psyched by their own self-fulfilling prophecies but to me, it’s just a game that requires some thinking on the player's behalf. Still, that hype really has nothing to do with the actual gameplay and it doesn’t make the game any less fun to play.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Atelier Totori: Size Matters?

I received the "Premium Edition" of Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland for the PlayStation 3 today courtesy of that person who just loves me so much - thanks hun - and I was very surprised by the size of the box. Apparent NIS America did a false advertising when it comes to the box size for the game as you can see from the description below:

When I saw that "oversized box" description, I was expecting this:

Instead, I got this:

Somebody at NIS America messed up big time! The funny thing here is that I never liked the "oversized box" and they really don't have to use that description to entice people to get a pretty "special edition" release for the game that comes with a nice art book and a soundtrack CD because fans of the Atelier series would still be more than happy to get it.

Review: Trapped Ashes

Trapped Ashes (2006)
Genre: Horror
Format: Netflix HD Stream
Directors: Joe Dante/Ken Russell
Sean S. Cunningham/Monte Hellman/John Gaeta

Isn't it interesting that there are not a lot of new horror movie anthologies out there? You would think that it would be easy enough to find three or more short horror tales and then cram them up into a feature film. Perhaps the filmmakers know that it's not as simple as things may seem. To pull off a successful horror anthology, you do need to worry about things like the overall pacing and also, each story segment has to be impactful so that the audience will stay interested along the ride. Trapped Ashes is able to cope with the former well but falls a little flat in the story telling department.

A bunch of people found themselves trapped in a large room of an old haunted house set-piece during their Hollywood studio tour. Their tour guide suggested that each of the guests share a personal true horror story to mimic a scene that took place in that very room and maybe, just maybe, they would be able to escape their confinement. The first tale started things off strong with a story about a pair of killer breasts: it's quite a disgusting body horror sequence that is also very humorous. The second tale involves a couple's travel to Japan and how the wife was disturbed by a demon from hell but even the authentic Japanese milieu cannot save this one from utter mediocrity. The most shocking part to this second tale is that it was directed by the Sean S. Cunningham! The fact that he replaced potential gross-out live actor sequences with bad anime is a testament that he has definitely lost his horror touch. The third tale doesn't fare as well either. It's about two good friends and a woman that comes between their friendship. The problem with it is that it's a bit too long with very little narrative fluctuation. Thankfully, the lull from the last two tales becomes a great setup for the explosive fourth tale that involves the story of a surrogate, non-biological twin. What is most impressive about this tale is that it is broodingly dark and depressingly emotional, almost scary even but most definitely very creepy. The actual trapped tourists framing device also has an interesting though somewhat predictable finish to its own story.

At the end of the movie, I was really baffled by the difference in quality between the two effective stories and their weaker counterparts. Surely sometime during the film-making process, it became obvious that the other two tales were just not up to par. Trapped Ashes is worth your time just for the first and last twin-related stories. If the other two tales were just as strong, this could have easily become a modern horror classic.

RATING: 3 out of 5

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

September 2011 Gaming Analysis

The results shown below are of course based on the combined data from the Daily Game Log which should provide a clear indication of a game's usage frequency. Bear in mind that even if a game is played twice or more during a particular day, it would still register as 1 in the Day Count column below. In a sense, "merits" are given based on how often a particular game can make me play it again throughout the entire period of the month on a daily basis. A game that makes a gamer play it over and over again or at least spend a lot of time with it... Isn't that what we mostly want from a great game? I don't think it's really fair to count all the way down to the number of hours played since some games only require a short amount of time to properly serve their purposes.


Total Games Played: 44

Another month dominated by League of Legends on the Personal Computer - will this ever change? Probably not, especially with Dominion mode being released last month. I did expect myself to play more of Dead Island but that didn't happen. The problem with me is that I like to play co-operative online games with the people I know and once their activities on a particular game started to cease, the time I spend on that game became impacted as well. I really need to snap out of that and just play with anybody available, even if that ended up with hardly any social interaction - which is better than losing gameplay time.

This Month's Inductees:

Total Inductions: 22

Monday, October 3, 2011

Games Played 09/26/2011 - 10/02/2011

- 09/26/2011 -
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World - Wii

- 09/27/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Streets of Rage 2 - PC

- 09/28/2011 -
DJ Hero - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 09/29/2011 -
The Binding of Isaac - PC
Glitch - PC

- 09/30/2011 -
Glitch - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 10/01/2011 -
BloodRayne: Betrayal - PlayStation 3
DJ Hero - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 10/02/2011 -
Avadon: The Black Fortress - PC
Bleach: Soul Resurrección - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
White Knight Chronicles II - PlayStation 3

PS2 Games on PSN

I just realized that perhaps the Mayans were right. The world will end in 2012. Why am I saying this? Well, because Sony had just announced that they will be selling 4 "rare" PlayStation 2 games on the PlayStation Network Store on the PlayStation 3 - God Hand, GRiMgRiMoiRe, Ring of Red, and Odin Sphere - and a majority of the responses I have seen around the web revolved around the curiosity of whether or not these releases will have trophy support. Are you kidding me? People are a lot crazier than we thought...

Don't get me wrong: If you never had these games before, getting them on the PSN
is mighty fine. It's just that without the return of backwards compatibility, Sony is doing us wrong.

What I really want to know is whether or not these releases signify the coming of a new patch that will enable the "newer" PS3 consoles to recognize PlayStation 2 discs and play those games properly since it is apparent now that the PS3 is of course more than capable of running PS2 games. There had been a rumor in the past that Sony was going to release a PS2 disc-drive add-on for the PS3 but that never became true but even if such a device would be needed, it would still be an appreciated gesture despite forcing those with PS2 games to shell out more money to play the PS2 games on the PS3. But that would be a lot better than what Sony is doing now, which is to resell digital versions of PS2 games on the PSN while blocking their users access to the console's capability of playing PS2 games unless you still have the early PS3 models - mine already passed away. I am still a little hopeful though. Maybe with tomorrow's release of these games come the announcement about PS3 being fully backwards compatible again. Still, Microsoft was able to get away with selling classics on the X-Box 360 instead of adding more games into the console's backwards compatibility list. And with the way that the general public is reacting to this news, Sony will be able to get away with it too, with a lot of cash in their pockets. I have been suspecting that Sony was going to capitalize on PS2 games on the PSN ever since they made the jerk move of ending the backwards compatibility support and I am bit surprised that it took them this long to start doing exactly that.

Update Note: 10/04/2011 - It has been confirmed that the PS2 games being released are just basic ports and will not feature improved graphics nor trophy support. No words yet on a firmware update to allow full backwards compatibility with PS2 discs - I suppose we shouldn't be holding our breaths on that one because selling PS2 games on the PSN will make Sony a hefty profit. Also, I failed to mention that Maximo: Ghosts to Glory will also be a part of today's launch.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Takes a Lot of Work to DJ!

I inducted DJ Hero for the PlayStation 3 into my Game Library earlier this week and it came bundled with the turntable controller. I never thought that a game that makes you pretend to be a DJ, mixing up music tracks at the clubs could be so much fun. The turntable controller itself is definitely one of the best music game peripherals ever made because messing around with this thing can be quite enjoyable. I especially love the rotatable platter and the whole thing is even designed to accommodate those who are left handed or right handed. The selection of mixes found in the game itself are addictive to listen as well as play along to but there is an unfortunate side-effect to playing this game too often and too long. My hand and wrist were hurting a bit and I eventually found it almost impossible to scratch the platter while placing my ring finger on the blue button. Perhaps I just don't have the right hand posture on this device - there was no tutorial in the game in regards to the proper hand placement. Perhaps a real DJ would have done this whole thing a lot differently. Maybe I just need to play the game even more to get used to it but I think it is probably better for me to just play DJ Hero in moderation despite it being extremely fun.

S-scratch--s-s-s-s-cratch! Ouch!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

League of Legends: Social Tips for New Players

League of Legends on the Personal computer has seen more gameplay time than anything I have played in recent years. I love the game but that doesn't mean that I love the community as a whole. After playing this game for about over a year and a half, the community is still riddled with a lot of nasty, nasty individuals. Though Riot Games is taking some efforts into cleaning up the community with the early introduction of the Summoner's Code and then the recently implemented Tribunal system to discourage the bad player behaviors (not to be confused with someone playing the game badly but more of players who have no manners), it is impossible to control this problem completely especially the fact that it is a free game and everyone can always make new accounts to play the game. If you are a person of decent morality, interacting with a lot of the players in this game will shock you, that is if you never played a Defense of the Ancient clones before. When I said that these people are nasty, I meant they are really, really rude: they will do whatever they can to ridicule you and make you feel like you should no longer be alive on this earth. How bad can they get? Well, it can go from the usual "let's make fun of your mom" to racist/nationalist remarks, and all the way to death threats to you or your loved ones. I have experienced these personally and/or seen them in the reported Tribunal cases. So here is a guide to help you survive these initial encounters with the very colorful - no wait, let's not even mask that up - the very spiteful, evil people who you will definitely encounter while playing this game. Hopefully, this well help you get through the rough early impression so that you can discover the exciting gameplay deep within this masterpiece of a game.

Things may get less inviting than the login screen once you started playing the game
but there are ways for you to prepare for the darker side of the LoL community and prevail in the end.

1) Familiarize yourself with the Summoner's Code. It is your friend because it becomes a good standard on how you should interpret the behaviors of other players in the game and of course, how you yourself should behave.

2) If you are able to, it would be best to find real life friends you can play the game with. This will save you the pain of having to play with the rotten individuals just waiting for you in matchmaking.

3) Never, and I mean NEVER reply to any rude comments made towards you whether in retaliation or to defend your position. These individuals will never, ever see the errors of their ways. To them, they are always right and there is absolutely nothing you can say nor do that could change that. By participating in a debate with them, you are nourishing them with the very sustenance that they crave for: attention. Also, the conversation will bleed over to the rest of the players in the match, creating a persistent negative atmosphere in the game.

4) When you encounter rude individuals, just use the ignore feature in game so that you won't see anymore of their messages in the chat screen. Hit the tab key and the team roster will pop up. At the very right, you will see chat bubbles in conjunction to the players' names. Click on it and just enjoy the match.

5) Use the report feature at the end of the match every single time you are treated with disrespect by clicking on the exclamation icon next to the name of the player in question on the post-game screen. The impact of this is not immediate but the report will go through the Tribunal system to be judged by other players who choose to participate in that process.

6) Participate in the Tribunal itself once you have reached level 30 by logging into the Tribunal page daily and pass judgments over the reported cases. The more people are involved in this process, the better the community will become. Not only that, you will also be rewarded with Influence Points when your judgments are in sync with the majority of the community.

7) Befriend the polite players whenever you meet one. Focus on improving your skills as you keep playing the game while ignoring the ragers, griefers, and trolls. Keep doing this and you will find yourself in pure LoL heaven!

If you have been avoiding LoL before because of the things you have heard about the community, believe me, you can still find a lot to enjoy from this magnificent game. I am able to have fun playing the game daily and so can you! Ready to join the better fraction of the community? Click here to open up your free summoner account!