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Saturday, March 31, 2012

So We Thought the First Trine Was Pretty...

I have inducted Trine 2 by Frozenbyte yesterday and I was blown away by the sheer majesty of its visuals. The first Trine is still one of the best looking game ever and this sequel manages to outdo the original by providing even more elaborate stage details and a stronger fantasy-infused artwork. Both games are certainly better looking than 99.9% of games ever produced up to this day. It's not only about the visuals either, these games feature imaginative platforming fun that blends perfectly with some action and little bit of role playing. The unfortunate thing here however is that you have to play this game on the Personal Computer to revel in all of its glory.

A reunion of brain and brawn.

Let me tell you why I said that. The curious being that I am, after playing Trine 2 on my PC for an hour, I was just itching to see how the game looks on the consoles. So, I downloaded the PlayStation 3 demo from the PlayStation Store. It was promising at first, because the game was running at 1080p. This is usually a trustworthy indicator that a game is running at that resolution natively because the PS3 will only run 1080p when the source is actually native, unlike the X-Box 360 that will always upscale all signals to 1080p. But then after the title screen loaded up, I immediately saw the difference in quality between the console and the PC version. The game was almost running in slow motion because I just played the game in silky smooth 60 frames per second on the PC and the PS3 version was running only half of that if not less.

I wouldn't mind living in that beautiful village.

Then came the finishing blow. The game looked so blurry with jagged aliasing on both the environments and the character models. Apparently, even though it was running at 1080p, the graphics assets were upscaled from a much much lower resolution. The exquisite details seen clearly on the characters were gone and the ground texture works were also lost to the whole blurry mess. I was really shocked by this. I was certain that the current generation consoles would be capable of at least running this at a much higher resolution. Perhaps the developer just didn't spend as much time on the console versions. One thing is for sure, if you want to experience the true beauty of Trine 2, one of the most gorgeous games of all time, you will have to get the PC version. It's on sale right now at Steam for the duration of the weekend - act now, it's less than $10! Other developers should be ashamed that they charge more for visual mediocrity in their games. All the screenshots posted are from the PC version.

I love my consoles but the PC is the way to go with this game.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Am I an Evil Sim Overseer?

While driving around the other day, I told my spouse about the funny little situation I encountered while I was playing as myself in The Sims 3 for the Personal Computer not too long ago. The spouse laughed really hard at me when I said "I knew what I had to do at that point," referring of course to me killing off the character because he was unable to do anything but stand still. The spouse thought that I was cruel to the Sim and that I had maliciously killed him off so I had to carefully explain that the character would eventually die anyway so there was truly no reason to keep things going but speed up his death even though I could have just started playing as a new household.

Time to create... Time to destroy!

The spouse thought that it was still a poor excuse so I elaborated that this particular incident with the poor guy was nothing compared to some of the other intentional actions I have taken in the past. Like the time when I crammed a bunch of Sims into a small house and influenced them to sleep around with each other. That was a lot of fun. Those poor guys and gals, their emotions torn asunder, their lives ruined forever. Still, the spouse wasn't convinced because those Sims may be messed up for the remainder of their puny little lives but there were no deaths involved in their predicament. So the spouse was convinced that I am a Sim killer but at least the conversation sparked my interest to get back into the game. After that horrific bug, I was upset with the game and I didn't plan on getting back on it for quite some time. As a matter of fact, I have thought of another diabolic setup for my next Sims family. It's so evil, so wrong, and so... filthy? Hey, I tried to play the game nicely but apparently, the game didn't like that methodology so much.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Sine Mora

Sine Mora (2012)
Induction Dates: 11/09/2012, 03/21/2012

Besides Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun, both being Treasure masterpieces, Sine Mora is the only other shoot-'em-up that is successful in delivering intense yet highly emotional shooting action. The game borrows its presentation heavily from very many of the genre's finest games - it even manages to include a reference to Contra: Hard Corps - but this side-scroller is able to turn the hodgepodge of ideas and nods into a coherent whole.

When you commit to revenge, you will do anything to achieve it.

The game is very restrictive in terms of how it is properly played. Everything is attached to a timer that can be extended by destroying enemies as well as picking up time extension spheres. Whenever you are hit, time will be deducted and if it reaches 0, the game is over. Even at the lowest difficulty, this gameplay design forces you to play very aggressively while minimizing damage to your ship and at the higher difficulty settings, you will not be able to survive very long without managing this with nothing but the purest of perfections. To help you survive a little better, you are given the ability to speed up time, which is interchangeable outside of the Story Mode, and triggering this ability will make everything else on screen slows down to a crawl. But unlike other games that feature enemy bullet management mechanics, using this ability will cut off your score multiplier, which means that you cannot rely on it. If you are able to survive the onslaught without ever using it, then you know that you're going somewhere with the game. In addition, you are also given a special weapon, which varies by ships, but even using this will stop your score multiplier. The only things that you can really trust are the power-up pick ups that will permanently boost your ship's firepower, as long as you don't get hit that is. Sine Mora is certainly custom made for the hardcore shmup crowd.

In the air or under the sea, you won't escape the billions of bullets.

The rigid gameplay is fun enough but the things that made the game impressive are its engrossing story and beautiful graphics. The game tells the story from the perspectives of multiple pilots who are part of two groups of time travellers, both with their own end goal. One group is lead by a father who is out to exact revenge on those who he thinks are responsible for his son's death while the other is a band of rebels who are out to save their people from the destruction caused by their enemies. The most intriguing part of the narrative, aside from the fact that it doesn't follow a chronological timeline, is that it's quite a dark tale. You will be questioning the motives of the characters and your emotions will be toyed around with as the story progresses. There are deep themes of loyalty, sacrifice, revenge, as well as cause and effect blanketed around the whole notion of time travel versus power struggle. The game does like to use foul languages though thus it's "M" rating, but then again, there is a situation of a sexual nature somewhere in there that would have caused that. The story can be confusing at times but I think that it's great that it doesn't try to explain itself - you have to find the meaning of everything on your own. Graphically, this is easily the best looking game in the shoot-'em-up genre thus far. The "steampunk" look is represented masterfully in the stage layouts, the ships, as well as the game's ridiculously huge bosses. The game uses a full 3D engine though it is basically a full 2D game in its design. There are plenty of cinematic sequences where the camera moves freely to capture the scenery. I do feel that these cut-scenes are unnecessary however because they interrupt the flow of the gameplay. Speaking of the cinematic, notice from the screenshots that the game is even presented in a 2:39:1 aspect ratio, which to be honest, is a bit of an overkill. The game would have still worked without it. As if the visual delights are not enough, the game has a seriously offbeat and disturbing soundtrack that further strengthens your involvement in the game's depressing storyline.

Time travel has its rules and it also cannot flourish without absolute power.

Sine Mora offers enough play variations to keep one busy for a long time, which is necessary for a single player game. I like playing the Story Mode because it's a fulfilling and complete gaming experience that lasts about an hour and a half without skipping the cinematic. The higher difficulties however can only be played via the Arcade Mode. There is also the Boss Attack to practice fighting against the game's crazy monstrosities. The game will take a long time to master but the stringent time extend mechanics can be frustrating to deal with, not to mention that it is a little too gimmicky. Still, Sine Mora is one remarkable shmup that must be played by fans of the genre.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Wild Man Suddenly Appears!

Today is the anniversary of the North American release of the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo celebrated the day by... sending Reggie Fils-Aime to greet all 3DS owners via the StreetPass Mii Plaza. It was a cool little event but surely, it could have been a whole lot more. I mean, Reggie could have granted us additional things from the Plaza mini games like handing us more than the usual one puzzle piece in Puzzle Swap or has super special power to defeat the enemies in Find Mii. Oh well, there is always next year. Perhaps they are waiting to show-off the super cool abilities when Shigeru Miyamoto gets sent our way.

Does this mean that we're close friends and that you'll give me a Wii U at launch?

Se(g)a Change

I have never been the one who would induct games into my Game Library just for the sole reason of supporting a favorite developer because I have always been about the games themselves. But I made an exception today when I got Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I on Steam for the Personal Computer. Mind you that I actually already gotten this game on the X-Box 360 and it ended up being just an okay experience so what made me take such a wild action? Well, I am beginning to love Sega again - the love went away after they started destroying Sonic himself - because they have started to embrace the Steam brand of digital distribution to the fullest lately.

The stages are a lot of fun but the horrible bosses ruin the game.

It's no secret that they have released poor console ports in the past like the disastrous Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing without multiplayer options, but newer games like Sonic Generations as well as Sonic 4 both got full Steamworks treatment. The recent announcement for the PC version of Binary Domain that will also fully utilize Steamworks is a clear indication to the preferred PC distribution channel for Sega and we should all be very happy about this. I think it's important to support these Steamworks-integrated Sega games so that they are encouraged to bring more games to the PC side of the gaming universe. Can you imagine playing a Yakuza game without any horrible load times? It's possible on the PC. Sega games are the perfect fit for PC releases and the Steam integration will ensure that it will be a profitable venture for them. How about that upcoming Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown? - it would be great to see that being released via Steam! Make it happen Sega.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Games Played 03/19/2012 - 03/25/2012

- 03/19/2012 -
Peggle Nights - PC
Shinobi - 3DS

- 03/20/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Sonic the Hedgehog - PlayStation 3
Warriors Orochi 3 - PlayStation 3
Waveform Demo - PC

- 03/21/2012 -
Altered Beast - PlayStation 3
Golden Axe - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations - PlayStation 3
Sine Mora - X-Box 360
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus - PlayStation 3

- 03/22/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Sine Mora - X-Box 360
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus - PlayStation 3

- 03/23/2012 -
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Sine Mora - X-Box 360

- 03/24/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
The Rise of Atlantis HD - iPad
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus - PlayStation 3

- 03/25/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdown - PlayStation 3
The Rise of Atlantis HD - iPad
The Sims 3 - PC
Sine Mora - X-Box 360
Warriors Orochi 3 - PlayStation 3

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Sims 3 Bug Equals Violent Death

Today is a sad day as the Loner Gamer has met a strange, excruciating death in the world of The Sims 3 for the Personal Computer. I encountered a horrible bug that caused my Sim to stand still, unable to do anything until he finally collapsed and died... It was horrific, especially the fact that I was playing as the Loner Gamer and I wanted to give him such a happy life. For some reason, the Sim was paralyzed by an auto-command to go paint that was cancelled as there was a big "X" on top of the command shown on the top left hand corner of the screen. I tried inputting new commands for him and I even restarted the game several times as well as going in and out of the city map amongst many other things in an attempt to save his life. The bug was so powerful that my Sim couldn't even faint from exhaustion, an action that would have overridden everything else. But alas, the only answer to the dilemma was obvious and the only thing I could do was speed up the time while recording the last moments of my Sim's life using the game's video capture feature - which unfortunately was set to low quality and no sound. Just as the pet shelter woman barged into the house to collect my two neglected cats, Death came to claim the Loner Gamer. If you choose to watch the video below, notice how the Sim was able to turn his head but was basically frozen in time. At one point, his cellular phone was ringing but he couldn't answer it... So depressing.

Warning: This video portrays real Sim death. Viewer discretion advised.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (2012)
Genre: Adventure
Format: Theatrical Release
Director: Gary Ross

I was very surprised when the spouse took me to watch The Hunger Games yesterday because of a co-worker's recommendation. I had no interest in watching the movie, especially after from I learned about the story a while back. It sounded like the infamous but excellent Japanese novel/film... Battle Royale! Apparently, author/screenwriter Suzanne Collins claims that she had never heard of it before the completion of her novel that this movie is based on. Whether that is true or not will always be up for debate but I went into the theater, though perplexed by the spouse's choice, with an open mind.

The movie is about a cruel reality television show that's named The Hunger Games - which is by the way, a horribly unimaginative name - which features contestants plucked straight from the youths of 12 to 18 years old from the 12 districts under the rule of an overseeing Capitol. The game is simple: they have to kill each other until only one remains. It's the 74th game since its creation, and it serves as a reminder of a rebellion that occurred against the Capitol and thus a way to control the population of the districts under its rule. The plot may come across shocking to most American audience because killing children in a movie is a serious taboo but let's hope this movie has changed that perception from this point forward. But just when you think that this movie has guts, it certainly can't claim the glory that could come from such a risqué proposition.

You see, the movie is very good when it comes to building up momentum. All the things that happened before the actual game started were actually quite engaging. I really enjoyed seeing how the "tributes" are selected using the lottery system and the things that they have to go through before they start killing each other, which involve wooing the crowd and potential sponsors. Once the kids are placed inside the large, confined arena, things start to fall apart. Sure, some of these contestants are really, really young and you would think that it would be extremely easy to score a bunch of emotional deaths for us the viewers but the way that the whole game is shot, it feels like Suzanne Collins and director Gary Ross are almost ashamed of this part of the supposedly bloody tale. Well, I supposed the PG-13 rating was a clear indication that things are going to get so downplayed. I am a believer that off-screen deaths can be very devastating but the way they were handled here are just so unconvincing and lack any hint of panache. You can't give us an incredible build up only to show us a rushed, unexciting, below mediocre pay-off. It's just plain criminal.

The Hunger Games had so much going on for it halfway through: Great casts, eye-popping visual designs, an intoxicating, believable world filled with both oppression and excess but when it's time to make all of those things stick while inside the hunting ground, everything begins to falter instead. If they want to make the eventual sequel works, they really have to commit to the promise of the idea and not compromise to be just like Capitol, whose only interest is to make some money while ensuring that the audience remains merely docile.

RATING: 2 out of 5

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Last Guardian in the Game Room?

I knew that the Komainu statues just would not be enough... Now that I am presented with a better alternative for the guardian of the Game Treasury in my Game Room, everything makes perfect sense. To guard such an important place in the house, I need a strong, confident, powerful, and cunning monster in addition to the cool little statues. I think that this is going to work out really well:

You'll have to get past me, Yoshi the Danger Dog, first!

Naruto Shippuden: A Non-Gamer Approval

Do you know that there is one effective way to determine whether a game looks really good or not? Ask a non-gamer and I have an easy access to one in the form of the spouse. Non-gamers look at video games differently than us and that also makes them very attentive to flaws in both gameplay as well as graphics because we as gamers are used to being somewhat forgiving and accepting of the gaming norms. For example, turn-based battles in role playing games, how my spouse despises them. "Oh why are they just sitting there while they are being attacked?" The Soul Calibur series also couldn't escape the spouse's keen observation: "Hey, he should have died from that stab. Why is there no blood?" Basically, it's almost impossible to impress my non-gaming spouse with my video games. Then, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations by CyberConnect2 for the PlayStation 3 arrives yesterday...

Ryu and Ken are at it again... Oh wait!

After I booted up the game, I called the spouse to watch me play like I would normally do when I start playing a new game just to entertain myself with the non-gamer criticism:

Spouse: "Is that a game that you're playing?"
Me: "Yes, it is, I am controlling the character."
Spouse: "Wow, it looks like a cartoon. Is that a real game?"
Me: "Yes, it's the actual in-game graphics. They are using cell-shading but the character art makes everything pop."
Spouse: "Stop using your fancy terms, I just want to know if that is a game."
Me: "Yes honey, it is. Looks good eh?"
Spouse: "Yeah, that's really nice. I think I want to play that with you sometime. Hey that nasty girl just used some fart wind from her mouth."

Even the game's menu screens are looking incredible.

Oh my galaxy. I never thought that the spouse would ever volunteer to play a video game with me just because of how nice the game looks. I myself consider the Ultimate Ninja Storm series to be impossibly beautiful visually but to actually hear it from the spouse? I would never have guessed that in a billion year. Generations is another one of those games that will stay beautiful forever and it is another testament that we truly don't need new consoles to generate majestic, hardware defying, high quality graphics.

The skull is not going to recover from that blow to the head.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blood in the Game Room

I am still recovering from the horror of this: Tonight, my Game Room has been stained by plenty of human blood. Was it an act of vandalism? A sign of devil (or god) worship? Or something else entirely? Well, it was the third option actually. I hit my left foot on the doorway to my Game Room hard. It was quite painful but it's always painful when you hit your foot so I didn't even think about checking the damage. I sat down on the chair in front of the entertainment center for a while and then started walking around the room to set myself up for a fun gaming session. When I noticed that the pain was still there, I reached down for my foot and felt the nasty coat of blood on the sole of my feet. Upon closer inspection, there was a big gash next to my small toe - yikes! I am very bad with blood so I yelled out for my spouse who immediately came to the rescue to help me bandage the wound. When I stepped back into the Game Room, I noticed that there was blood everywhere.

It was very messy underneath the chair.

As if the pain was not bad enough, cleaning up the blood made the whole experience a whole lot worse. The blood stains were so rich and thick... and the smell that permeated the air was just so... strong. I think I would have been in pure ecstasy if I was a vampire. I will never look at my gaming space the same way again. It's funny of course that now that I can barely move that left foot, I have the cravings for Dance Masters... No!!!

It took a while for the bleeding to stop and it still hurts like a LIVE Gold subscription fee.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

LIVE Gold and Plus?

Not too long ago, I got a complimentary 3-month entry back into the X-Box 360 LIVE Gold service and now, I am on the PlayStation Plus! You know that I don't like both services and I do feel that Plus is as disgusting of a scheme as LIVE Gold but since I wasn't able to give away the codes that I have for the free one month access, I decided to just use one myself before the expiration date of the 31st of this month. Well, I do have one left so if you are interested, feel free to let me know before that date arrives. This does mean that I have to plug in a credit card information into my PlayStation Network profile, something that I have been avoiding ever since that fatal security accident that occurred last year. Since Amazon.comhas stopped selling codes for the PSN games, it is now unavoidable to use my credit card if I want to get anything from the PSN Store. But of course I can always just pick up one of those PSN Cards, which may be more of a hassle if I want to get something quick. Since I plan on getting several games from the PSN Store, Journey being one of them, I thought I may as well use the free month of Plus. The first thing I did after I signed up? I turned off the automatic renewal for the Plus subscription...

That "+" symbol next to your profile is such an eye sore...

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Month with Yoshi

It's almost a month since the spouse and I adopted our girl Yoshi and she is settling in nicely into the household. Our lives these days have definitely been enhanced by Yoshi's presence, especially the fact that Yoshi is always there wherever we go inside the house because she is not very independent and the spouse spoiling her is not helping with that situation one bit. The real question here is whether or not having Yoshi around has an impact on my gaming habits and the answer to that is a definite yes. I take Yoshi out on a half hour walk twice a day, in the early morning and in the evening - that used to be one precious hour that I would spend on gaming.  Since Yoshi likes to spend her time resting in my Game Room, seeing her all super cute sometimes convinces me to spend some time with her instead of starting up a game. The one big impact however is that now I get more mileage registered on the pedometer of the Nintendo 3DS - too bad there is a limit to the number of coins you can earn daily as well as the maximum accumulated that you can hold on to. By the way, Yoshi is still unwilling to play any multiplayer games with me. Oh well, I still love you a lot my spoiled little princess!

Should I grab that controller or should I grab... this?

Games Played 03/12/2012 - 03/18/2012

- 03/12/2012 -
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
Where's My Water? Free - iPad
Storm Strikers - iPad
Super Crossfire HD - iPad

- 03/13/2012 -
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 - PlayStation 3
Infinity Blade - iPad
Super Crossfire HD - iPad

- 03/14/2012 -
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Super Crossfire HD - iPad

- 03/15/2012 -
League of Legends - PC

- 03/16/2012 -
Crysis 2 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Rhythm Heaven Fever - Wii
Shinobi - 3DS

- 03/17/2012 -
Crysis 2 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Rock Band 2 - X-Box 360
The Sims 3- PC

- 03/18/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
The Sims 3 - PC

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Loner Gamer as a Sim

First, he brought you a downloadable version of his Mii on the Nintendo 3DS... Now, he has created the perfect The Sims 3 replica of himself for you to enjoy! The Loner Gamer presents to you...  the official Loner Gamer Sim! This Sim has the faithful physical representation of yours truly, complete with the proper personality traits and his distinctive fashion sense - which actually consists of a lot of monochromatic black and grey clothing. So you love his website and his style of writing... Now you can do the woohoo with him to your heart's content! So you hate his view on X-Box LIVE Gold membership... Well, you can now inflict unimaginable torture upon him! It's all up to you! Download him, er me, from the official community website today by clicking here.

Disclaimer: Huge Game Library not included.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

LoL: Double the Classic Skins

I got two more alternate skins for League of Legends on the Personal Computer. Riot Games are retiring a bunch of classic skins at the moment and they have all received a 75% discount each. Most of these are sadly color-swaps but there are a couple of standouts and I snatched them up without hesitation: the Safari Caitlyn and the Time Machine Zilean. Hopefully, these skins will make me start playing this game more again because I haven't been rigorous with my LoL sessions lately and DOTA 2 is not to be blamed for it because I haven't been playing that game as well! One day, I hope that I have at least one alternate skin for every champion in the game through these skin sales.

I agree that Zilean should retire but Cait, she's way too young for that!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Diablo III: Should I Go Big?

Perhaps they have sensed an incoming cataclysmic apocalypse of galactic proportion or that they just know World of Warcraft: Mist of Pandaria is not going to hold people's interest after the rampant criticism, but whatever the real reason may be, Blizzard has finally announced a solid date for Diablo III yersterday. The unholy date when your wallet will get raped? It's May 15th, 2012. Now I still and will continue to have that conviction that I would only pay a maximum of $39.99 for a video game but with this game, I have a feeling that I may be making an exception - unless the spouse intervenes and buys me the game instead. I have played the beta - the excruciating teaser that it was with such limited content access - and I know how grand this game will be. Blizzard has been infected with that $59.99 for a Personal Computer price point disease but the real question here, should I go big and get that ridiculously priced, guaranteed to leave you poor Collector's Edition?

$99.99 is a whole lot of money...

I did have an epiphany when it comes to "special editions" recently so that in itself has become a good reason why I should stay far, far away from this so-called "Ultimate Diablo III Experience". Let's think about it for a moment. What makes this so... "Ultimate"? That it has an art book and soundtrack CD? That it has a behind the scene Blu-ray? That you get... a pet for World of Warcraft that I don't play anymore? The only thing that is actually interesting in this package is that wicked Diablo Skull USB that contains the complete second game in the series. I do not own the first and second Diablo. I played these on a friend's computer a long time ago so it would be nice to actually get Diablo II this way. But it would it not be cheaper to just get it separately? And we all know that once Diablo III is here, there is really no reason to play the second game again. If there is anything good about this expensive edition though, it would be the big box it is packaged in... If you have seen one of these Blizzard boxes, you know they look cool and they make you feel really hot and bothered. But is that enough to justify the price? Maybe. Just maybe... Because, it is Diablo III. Yet, I can just do a digital pre-order to be able to play the game immediately once the server is up. Yes, direct digital distribution works. I always find it funny that people think that once we go all digital, people will have problems downloading a game on day one... It's called a "Pre-Load", and it's beneficial for both the gamers with the quick access and the developers with the guaranteed sales.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Like Ninjas But...

Microsoft's LIVE avatar costumes... Who doesn't like them? I may not like pay-to-play online mentality of the LIVE service on the X-Box 360 but our cute avatars surely deserve nothing but the coolest looking gears. Well, Microsoft is offering a super-deadly ninja outfit through their X-Box LIVE Rewards program for free for those who decide to change their gamertag!

There's nothing cooler than a ninja. This is the truth.

I was like, well, sure why not. I don't mind dressing up my avatar in that ninja getup and it's not like I have never contemplated on changing my gamertag from "Bardnoon Lord" to "Bardnoon" just to streamline things for me a bit. Then I clicked on the link to check out the details and I noticed that the cost for a gamertag change is 800 Microsoft Points ($10) and I was like... Why would I want to do that just so that I could score an outfit with a value of 320 MP? You have to offer me something more substantial than that Microsoft to qualify this promotion as something closer to a real VIP treatment...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

February 2012 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.

OVERALL BREAKDOWN:


Total Games Played: 61

Well, it finally happened. It is to be expected that League of Legends for the Personal Computer would consume most of my video gaming time but last month was a record breaker for it was played every single day of the month. Don;t expect a repeat performance though because I got my beta access to DOTA 2 earlier this month and that has caused things to change as you will see in March 2012's analysis. Still, I do prefer LoL gameplay over DOTA 2's - LoL is a lot more polished, user-friendly, and fun. I really don't see myself abandoning LoL over DOTA 2 but both will dominate all of my free time.

Tied at second place are Final Fantasy XIII-2 for the PlayStation 3 and Phoenix HD for the iPad. I really did enjoy XIII-2 but I returned it back to GameFly before I could get to the end of the game, thinking that I was going to cancel the rental service subscription. Phoenix HD is a great game to play in bed while waiting for the spouse to join me. Since it's basically a survival game where you have to destroy never-ending waves of enemies that shoot crazy amount of bullets at you, it is really easy to just jump in and out of the game.

Then we have DariusBurst: Second Prologue for the iPad. I always have to sit down and focus whenever I play this game, which is something that can't be said about a lot of these other iOS titles. I love that the game is tough to master and I do plan to play it a lot more often.


This Month's Inductees:

Edit 07/21/2012: Nano Assault (Nintendo 3DS) - 02/02/2012

Total Inductions: 15

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Infinity Blade Bleeds Visual Awesomeness

I know it has been long delayed but I finally got my hands on the much hyped iOS game Infinity Blade by Chair Entertainment. I do know that there is already a sequel out for this 2010 game that was just released late last year but since the original is way cheaper, I thought I should visit it first. The game has quite an interesting concept in which you play as generations of valiant knights who is out to destroy an evil God King. The unfortunate thing about this game is that it is repetitive by design due to its intriguing narrative loop but the role playing element does make it rather addictive because you want to keep leveling up. The meat of the game is its battle sequences that involve anticipating your opponents and responding to their attacks using a variety of touch commands. But I am not here to discuss the gameplay of Infinity Blade, no. I am just writing this to express my admiration for the game's gorgeous Unreal Engine 3 graphics.

Do I really have to tap that thing's crotch?

I have seen a lot of screenshots of the game but I have been skeptical about the graphics for the longest time. Surely a lot of these folks who are amazed by the game's visuals don't own even a current generation console if they were so easily impressed? Well, let me tell you that I was wrong to doubt this game's graphics. It is magnificent - the game looks as good as an X-Box 360 game. Sure, there are some low texture resolutions here and there but those problems persist on the current generation consoles as well. The environments look expansive even though they cannot be freely explored. The only thing that takes away from the game's visual treats is the lack of real time shadows.

The close-ups reveal a lot of details on the character models.

It's really amazing what they can accomplish with the current iOS technology, which I am sure will be further boosted with the upcoming iPad 3 but I think we should realize however that a game that looks this good for the iOS only consist of 2 titles - Infinity Blade and probably its sequel. Although I am very delighted to have experienced the pretty sights generated by this game, I am a bit sadden to think that we have another case of untapped potentials here. It true that game developers will always have access to the best of hardware technology but only a very few of them will do something remarkable with it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Severity Severed

I have decided to do away with the "severity" system that was implemented for my Purchase List. The system was there to assist me in prioritizing the games that I wanted more thus the games that I would focus on inducting into my Game Library first before the rest. It was broken down into 3 levels with "Severity 1" being the most important while "Severity 3" being the least important. It took a while, but I began to realize that this system didn't work all that well because of unforeseen, ever fluctuating factors like availability and price. I have decided in the end that if I wanted to have a game to be a part of my collection, then it would just be as important as the rest of my list of games that interest me.

Wished it was a simple cut and paste job.

The list has now been separated by platform only and I must say that the task of consolidating those titles into their respective platforms was a lot more involving than I thought. I took this opportunity to delete the games that I no longer want - there were quite a bunch of them - but the list itself is still pretty darn long. It's interesting to see that I still want a lot of games for the Nintendo DS but it's obvious that the reason for this is that I prioritize getting games for other platforms first and foremost. I do like how the Purchase List looks like now so I have accomplished my mission. As a bonus, I will not be hearing anymore complaints that I usually get when the spouse tried to get me a game as a surprise but got confused by the tiered listing.

Games Played 03/05/2012 - 03/11/2012

- 03/05/2012 -
DOTA 2 Beta - PC

- 03/06/2012 -
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
Space Invaders Infinity Gene - X-Box 360

- 03/07/2012 -
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
Scramble with Friends Free - iPad

- 03/08/2012 -
Blade Kitten - PC
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 - PlayStation 3
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Stacking - PC

- 03/09/2012 -
Mass Effect 3 - PC
Orbitron Revolution Trial - X-Box 360
Scramble with Friends Free - iPad

- 03/10/2012 -
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 - PlayStation 3
Ikaruga - X-Box 360
Reaxxion Demo - PC
Storm Strikers - iPad
Zen Pinball - X-Box 360

- 03/11/2012 -
DOTA 2 Beta - PC
Mass Effect 3 - PC
Poker Smash - X-Box 360
Storm Strikers - iPad
Zuma Deluxe - X-Box 360
1942: Joint Strike - X-Box 360

Friday, March 9, 2012

Go Go Origin?

As you may know, I am a big fan of Valve's Steam. I really would rather have all of my Personal Computer games delivered to me digitally by Steam. That is the only reason why I was not a big fan of Electronic Arts' Origin and Ubisoft's Uplay. I have found a cool feature of Origin today however that has made me view Origin in a completely different light. I was made aware that EA has allowed some retail copies to be registered into Origin and that the list of older games that will be support this feature will be continually expanded. Though I wasn't able to register my retail copy of Crysis into Origin, I did manage to add Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition into the client.

Now that is cool!

Why is this so special? Well, if anything were to happen to your retail discs, you can now just download the games from the Origin client. Actually, you don't have to worry about using your retail discs again if you have a fast enough connection because you can just have the client install the games for you. Imagine if Sony allows for this on the PlayStation Vita where you can just register your PlayStation Portable games in some fashion and get the digital version of the games for free. But of course Sony would never allow that to happen. I do have quite a number of EA Personal Computer game discs in my Game Library so I am looking forward to register, or at least attempt to, all of them into Origin.

Now Playing PC Mass Effect 3

The spouse decided to end my weekday with a bang this morning by giving me a marvelous gift: the activation code for BioWare's Mass Effect 3 for the Personal Computer. This means that the self-fulfilling, nasty human Commander is back! Ingrid Shepard will once again put her gaudy make up on and show the entire galaxy that she is not to be triffled with by eliminating the Reaper threat while finding some time to f*ck another subordinate - even though during the last outing, that didn't work out so well when she ended up with a turian. Ah, the life of a Systems Alliance Commander...

Ready to Renegade her way through all incoming situations. Don't mess with Ingrid!

I have played through the game's prologue and though it felt somewhat rushed, it was better than the way that Mass Effect 2 began because it didn't involve some implausible situation to accommodate players who are new to the franchise. I have heard that some people were having problems with transferring their previous character data into the game but that didn't happen to me. The concerning thing here is the fact that like the previous game, this PC version suffers horribly from inheriting the awful low resolution texture works from the X-Box 360 version. The game runs smoothly at 60 frames per second at native 1920 x 1080, which is of course a galaxy-wide improvement over the console versions, but those awful textures marred what could have been a handsome looking game. BioWare did release a high resolution texture pack for Dragon Age II on the PC shortly after release so let's hope that the same will happen to this game. If I didn't get so hooked on the idea of Ingrid kicking @$$ and taking names, I probably would have waited a couple of weeks before continuing to play this game just to see if those high-res textures could make it into the game so that I wouldn't have to get to the very beginning of ME3 again.

Only in a Japanese RPG: "Lily" Action

So yeah, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 by Idea Factory and Compile Heart on the PlayStation 3 is one rancid looking game but despite all of its extremely flawed graphical exterior lies a strangely intriguing game that revolves around references to the "gaming industry" though not as sharp nor as astute as one could ever hope for it to be. I never played the original but I don't think that would help me understand the game's attempt at creating a story. All I know is that I am playing as "CPUs" or Console Patron Units who are designed based on game consoles and are trying to save the "Gameindustri" from certain doom because citizens "take no issue with acquiring items illegally". Yes, you can scratch your head now. So, the story is gripping because it is so confusing and the turn-based battle is serviceable enough but then before you even know it, blatantly sexual situations started to get thrown into the mix of the narrative... and then before you could even figure out if things should make sense or not, this happens:

I think I now know why the relationship meter is called "Lily Rank".

Thursday, March 8, 2012

We Don't Need New Consoles Reason #1,000,574

Is there really a need to release new game consoles when a majority of game developers will continue to place their toilet seats on top of our faces while we are sleeping quietly in the dead of night? By now, we all know that 99.9% of all games produced did not take full advantage of whatever platforms that they were released for. Today's example is Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 for the PlayStation 3. As fun and dirty as this game may be, the graphics is beyond horrendous... The cut scenes are wishy-washy where sometimes you are given flat 2D artwork of the characters but then sometimes they used the 3D models of the characters. The details in the texture works are nearly non-existent and even if they were trying to strive for that anime look, they have failed miserably because of the poor character animations. The most inexcusable thing in regards to the game presentation however is that even though this game is so ugly to look at, it cannot even run at 60 frames per second. I think it even runs at below 30 fps constantly. With the pathetic amount of polygons being utilized in the game at any moment of gameplay, there is absolutely no reason why this game cannot run with perfect frame rates. This is one of the many reasons why console makers should stop creating new ones until all developers start to take things more seriously. Remember folks: we don't need new game consoles nor bigger and better graphics card. We need COMPETENT developers.

When this becomes the only thing that this game cares about, you know that we're in trouble.

How could they get away with producing something with such a horrible graphics engine?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bedazzled by Dazzle

Ever since I started playing the DOTA 2 last night, it's really hard to pull myself away from it. I will admit that the gameplay of League of Legends feels more satisfying in comparison but when it comes to the game presentation, DOTA 2 is pure perfection. I just love the character design, the detailed map graphics, the way that everything in the game is properly scaled depending on the terrain elevation, the engaging character comments, and the list goes on and on. Before I got into the beta, I have watched so many DOTA 2 matches and the one character that I always look forward to playing as the most is non-other than the pinkish purple Shadow Priest, Dazzle. Now that I have experienced several matches playing him and well, I really like him a lot.

Dazzle's healing spell, Shadow Wave, doubles as a potent damage dealer.

I love Soraka in League of Legends because of her passive aggressive nature and the same is true with Dazzle. He has a healing spell that when used in can cause damage to enemies who are near and his ultimate has that dual functionality where it increases the allies' armor while applying the opposing effect on the enemies. But the one ability that truly makes this hero remarkably memorable is Shallow Grave. This spell will shield allies from death for 5 seconds and of course it is best used when you or one of your teammates is on the brink of death. It's even more rewarding when using it turns a team fight around. I have tried a number of different heroes as well - that Queen of Pain is quite funny - but it looks like I have found my first DOTA 2 love in Dazzle.

Of course it helps when his ultimate ability looks cool when you cast it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Free Gold is Good Gold?

Today is a good day for me apparently because on top of being able to play one of the most anticipated video games of all time, DOTA 2, I received 3 months worth of X-Box LIVE Gold subscription from one of my X-Box 360 friends. An old friend of mine has been hounding me about getting back on Gold and I was contemplating on getting the $2 for 2 month deal that is currently being offered on the dashboard but hey, free is a lot better. This will be a true test to see if I could ever give this service a second chance. I am really in it to be able to play with my friend - and also to be able to find individuals who wants to enjoy some casual Culdcept Saga matches - because I still feel strongly that the service should be free. Hopefully, I will be able to pull myself away from DOTA 2 in addition to League of Legends and maximize the 3 month access that I have activated tonight. But at least now I can put that LIVE iOS app to good use.

Will it be a golden experience this time around?

DOTA 2 in My Steam Client!

I cannot believe this... I finally got access to the DOTA 2 beta from Valve today. I was so surprised that at first I thought it was a spam email. I am a big fan of the multiplayer online battle arena genre, mainly thanks to League of Legends and only time will tell if DOTA 2 will be able to dethrone LoL. Though I practically have played DOTA in the form of Heroes of Newerth, I have always adored the way DOTA 2 looks. I plan on playing against the bots first before I start playing against other players and I really hope that the community will not disappoint me - that they will be welcoming and friendly and if not, I am hoping that Valve will match Riot Games' tenacity when it comes to promoting a healthy, positive environment for all the players. The game is being downloaded by my Steam client as I am writing this. I cannot wait to play the game!

I cried... I actually cried when I got this email.

Games Played 02/27/2012 - 03/04/2012

- 02/27/2012 -
Bad Apples: Battle Harvest - iPad
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PlayStation 3
Nintendogs + Cats: French Bulldog & New Friends - 3DS

- 02/28/2012 -
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Phoenix HD - iPad

- 02/29/2012 -
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception - PlayStation 3

- 03/01/2012 -
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 03/02/2012 -
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Luxor Evolved - PC

- 03/03/2012 -
Big Bang Mini - NDS
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Luxor Evolved - PC

- 03/04/2012 -
Big Bang Mini - NDS
DariusBurst: Second Prologue - iPad
Freezing Birds - iPad
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PC/PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Luxor Evolved - PC
Space Invaders Infinity Gene - X-Box 360

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kingdoms of Amalur PS3: Why?

I have been playing about 8 hours of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for the PlayStation 3 that I have rented from GameFly and I am not enjoying it that much. No, this has nothing to do with the gameplay - I love the action-oriented, quest-heavy role playing action that is presented by this game. The problem has something to do with the game's graphics. When the demo of the game came out, I downloaded the Personal Computer version via Steam so I have been spoiled by how immaculate this game looks on the PC. On the PS3, the game runs at 720p and the fluidity of the 60 frames per second found on the PC version is missing. Just to make sure that I was not merely hallucinating, I downloaded the game demo on Steam again and after looking at the image quality of the game running at 1080p on the PC, I can't bring myself to play the PS3 version again. I don't know why I did this to myself but then again, perhaps it's a good thing that I did. I want to experience the best version of this game. I am going to return this game back tomorrow and find a PS3 exclusive game to rent instead. I will still keep Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception that came in with KoA even though I have issues with that game as well. The story mode feels like an interactive movie instead of a video game. People just need to get over their man-crush for Nathan Drake - and that kid Nathan section is just a little too creepy - and see the game as it is: a vanity project with mediocre gameplay.

You are going back home tomorrow buddy.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

So Glad I Didn't Get a Vita

I went to my favorite electronics store two hours ago and I was able to check out the PlayStation Vita for the first time. At first, I was so excited to be able to finally hold the Vita in my hands but that excitement quickly turned into utter disappointment. The first thing I noticed was that the Vita just didn't feel right in my hands, perhaps it was a bit too light and too thin. The supposedly "real" analog sticks were so small and sloppy. To be honest, I actually prefer the slide stick on the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo 3DS. Then, came the utterly ridiculous load times to get to the 3 game demos that I tested. We are talking about worse than PlayStation Portable load times here. It was so long that at one point, my spouse laughed and told me that the device may be broken. The scariest thing about this is that the demos were installed into the Vita itself! When I got home, I went online to check the load time for the actual game cards and apparently, those are quite lengthy as well. What? This is utter rubbish. Lastly, when the games actually loaded up, I was so disappointed with the graphics. PlayStation 3 quality my anus. Some of those texture works - I tried both the new WipEout and Uncharted - were ugly and the way that the visuals were displayed on that over-hyped OLED screen made them look like they were made for the PlayStation 2. Yeah, the Vita is pretty much dead to me. I will just stick with the 3DS thank you very much! The coolest thing about not getting a Vita is that I will not be missing anything because the games released on it are already available or will be eventually be on the PlayStation 3.

The worst way to spend your $249.99 + crazy memory card price.

Friday, March 2, 2012

On the PC, Not the 360

I went to the xbox.com website earlier this evening and imagine my surprise when I saw that the recently released free-to-play flight simulation for the Personal Computer, Microsoft Flight, took the main promotional section of the page. Sure, Microsoft has added the Game for Windows LIVE titles onto the website for a while now but this just strikes me as being quite odd.

Uh, are you telling the 360 owners to go get a PC and play on LIVE for free?

I mean, the idea of a great looking free title by Microsoft that is also free to play online may make the X-Box 360 fanatics who only play on that platform uncomfortable because the game even has achievements and that they have to pay to play the online components of 360 games. I just hope that this will bring awareness to those who still think it's alright for Microsoft to charge money for online multiplayer as well as access to the things you can utilize for free anywhere else, like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and the like. Click here learn more about Microsoft Flight and if you don't have a gaming PC, well, it's really time that you get yourself one.

Luxor Evolved: Leave Earth Behind!

Ah, the Luxor series... It's MumboJumbo's answer to PopCap Games' popular Zuma series. Both games are about destroying trails of rolling balls by effectively matching 3 balls of the same color by shooting a ball straight into the moving formation. I used to own Luxor 2 on the X-Box 360 and thought that it was superior compared to Zuma on the same platform - I regretfully sold the compilation disc that it resided in with my back-up 360 a couple of years ago. Luxor 2 was special because it felt more like a shoot-'em-up: you control a ship at the bottom of the screen and it helped that the game offered plenty of crazy power-ups. When Luxor Evolved, the latest in the series, was released on Steam yesterday, I immediately inducted it into my Game Library. I could have easily gotten the past entries of the series because they are available on Steam but I just couldn't help myself with this release because when I watched the trailer, I had a feeling that the game would be very good... and it is!

The special 'shmup stages are reminiscent of the Galaga games.

So, the Luxor games have always had a story element to them but this one abandons all of that and transports itself deep into space. Maybe it senses that Egypt is about to become a theocratic nation, which is a very good reason to flee that place, just saying. So the game is really about getting the highest score possible as you are presented with progressively complex action stages. The goal is still the same - you must destroy the formations of colored "spheres" from reaching your "pyramid". They travel along trails that are visible on screen to help you plan out your move. You are given one colored sphere at a time to shoot at the formations. Destroying a formation will result in an explosion of fruits and things that you can collect to further boost your score. There are power-ups to assist you in your task and the more you progress in the game, the crazier these power-ups become. The game is faster now and if you look closely, it is easier to combo match this time around. The game sends out spherical formations in short bursts and getting rid of a certain part of each formation usually will result in them collapsing in their entirety. The fast-paced gameplay definitely makes the game feels more like an action game than it is a puzzle game and that makes Luxor Evolved a lot more fun.

Pretty colors that will make you weep! Such beauty comes from imagination, not technology!

But let's not kid ourselves here... The gameplay is just half of the reason why Luxor Evolved totally rocks. Look at its graphics! With silky smooth 60fps animation and a striking neon-infused, wire-frame retro art style, Luxor Evolved is successful in ensuring that it will remain beautiful forever! Its references to the classic games of old are fun to discover and appreciate. The loud, pumping space-age soundtracks that mix well with the action and reaction of the gameplay complete the entire experience. The mesmerizing visuals and the game's infinite replayability have resulted in the first must play title of the year 2012. MumboJumbo may claim themselves to be the "Premium Casual Games" developer and there is nothing wrong with that but with Luxor Evolved, they have finally made a real mark in the gaming universe.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 5 out of 5