Saturday, 20 March 2010

Review of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena

Alright, time for another review. I have just finished The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, which as some of you might know also includes Escape from Butcher Bay. I am reviewing both of these games, since I had not played Butcher Bay before. So without further adieu, let's start.

Monday, 15 March 2010

No I won't see The End: Far Cry 2 (Review)

This is a game which gave me mixed feelings. What I think about the gameplay, the story, the atmosphere, the level design, and etc somewhat conflicting. All I can do is try to explain what happened when I played it, and how come I won't see The End.

No I won't see The End: The Witcher (Review)

I really wanted to like this game.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

22 of my opinions (about games): #10-22

Let's keep going!

10. I really prefer PC to consoles, but that's personal.

Yeah, the PC isn't objectively better than the other systems. I just prefer it for a multitude of reasons. Lack of vendor-lock-in, mostly.

11. I don't just need eyecandy.

I like stories, narrative, and atmosphere more than explosions.

12. I mean, I like explosions, but I don't like them as much.

It's not really a "they are bad" thing but an "I don't like them as much" thing. They tend to look better on the PC, though.

13. Sonic's 'friends' didn't really cause the death of the series.

Really, the death of the series was bad design. If the games were designed perfectly, nobody would care about friends. No really, you wouldn't. The games are marked by bad design, not by bad characters. Don't go hating on Big the Cat just because they decided to badly design a section of the game around him.

I mean come on he's a half-wit hermit fisherman with a pet frog who travels around looking and sounding adorable. It's not nice to make fun of something like that. That's like making fun of a puppy for living in an abusive household.

14. I suck at retro games.

Like really, I don't think I've beaten any game made before 92'.

15. Bowser... is kinda pathetic.

Like, he keeps getting taken down by a plumber. A PLUMBER. This is a guy who unplugs toilets and installs bathtubs for a living. Good in a zombie apocalypse? Probably, knows his way around a wrench. Good at battling a tyrant turtle? No. So that means that Bowser must just be really inept.

The only thing more pathetic than Bowser getting defeated repeatedly by an average Joe is that fact that he successfully kidnaps the princess. The Mushroom Kingdom is the most docile kingdom I've ever seen. I'm not sure if they even know what a guard is.

Oh well. It's just a silly game, after all.

16. The Wii has a lot more good third-party games than people give it credit for.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, Metroid Prime 3 (it was outsourced!), Broken Sword DX. There, that's three. Most people seem to joke that there isn't even one. So... yeah. There's three. Be careful about that. Choose a number like five or something. It's unlikely to ever hit that.

17. I don't like Smash Bros.

There's just not enough finesse, really. I like really stylistic fighters where you have to think and strategize and it's more like ballet than a brawl.

18. Samus is a person.

And the important part is how it doesn't matter that she's a woman. She's a strong female character on her own, she doesn't need any extra trimmings. I'd say she's a pretty good example of a good female character. Well, if she was actually character. Because really, at this point she's a suit of armor. (Or a snug jumpsuit but that's beside the point.)

19. Gears of War is a power fantasy, and kinda silly if you look at it out of context.

But really, so is Hellsing, so I'll shut up about that.

20. I don't care enough about The Legend of Zelda to care if they have voice acting.

Sorry but I'm just not really interested in the series.

21. Luigi is more interesting than Mario.

Mario is always the star, but Luigi has more characterization. We've seen that he's a relative coward, getting nervous easily. He's also taller and leaner, so not as good at fighting. That being said, he still helps out his brother when he can. Hell, his brother gets kidnapped by ghosts and what does he do? He enters a very creepy mansion all on his own, scared out of his wits, in search of his brother. Damn. That's heart. That's loving a brother. That's just a swell guy.

22. Bullet-time is still cool...

...under some circumstances. One: when used to show someone who is moving too fast to see. As in, everyone else slows down but they stay the same speed so you can see how much faster they're going. The One did this. It works well for popcorn-movies. Two: To show inconceivable details, like a bullet bending in Wanted. Three: It's an awesome ability in shmups.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

22 of my opinions (about games): #2-9

Now let's continue on with some more points:

#2 - The Legend of Zelda really needs to spice things up a bit.

Okay, they're really fine games. I can't find much of a problem with any of them (except Twilight Princess because something about the characters' weird voice noising grates my nerves), but they're pretty much all the same thing. I mean yeah, you're a wolf some of the time in one, you're on an island in another, you can change size in another... but it's still the same thing.

Imagine if instead of Portal, Valve instead made a Half-Life 2: Episode 3 in which Gordon got a Portal Gun and nothing else changed in the plot, except a little scenery. Would it be a good game? Probably. But nowhere near as good as Portal is.

What I'm trying to say is that The Next Legend of Zelda is a lot of work for what could be an even more awesome game. But it won't be because Nintendo won't let it. And that's fine, cause there's people who like retreading old ground for whatever reason, or maybe they just want a game to play and aren't look for a new experience, but it is still regardless a little stale.

Just jazz things up a little. Pull another Wind Waker and I'll be happy.

Oh, Wind Waker is the Zelda game I liked the most. Just my opinion.

#3 - Super Mario Sunshine controls better, looks better, has more consistent design, sounds better, and has a better story than Mario 64.

This is an odd one that I can't really put my finger on. People say that Mario 64 is far better than Sunshine. I don't even mean Nintendo Nostalgiacs, I mean people who play them each for the first time in close proximity. I dunno, I think it's pretty simple.

Super Mario Sunshine has more reactive controls and more angles of movement thanks to newer hardware. Therefor jumping is more fluent. Sunshine has better graphics cause it's on the Gamecube. Music is better too. Story is actually present; there are cutscenes (multiple!) as you go through it.

I guess the only difference is that the levels in Sunshine are very similar in style, instead of varying wildly. And I dunno, I like that better, but maybe that bugs some people. I thought it was neat to have an environment that actually felt all like one place, but maybe that's just me. Regardless, people are entitled to their opinion, just I'd like to hear some solid reasons for why Mario 64 is better aside from "because it was so much better, it was awesome."

#4 - I love PC Gaming

There's about a handful of exclusives for each console that I would make as my favourites, or at least as being excellent. Hotel Dusk on the DS, Broken Sword DX on the Wii, Mario Kart Wii, Tales of Symphonia, Final Fantasy X, etc etc. Consoles aren't bad, but I really love PC gaming. For every console game I love there's probably about 5 PC games.

And I love PC gaming mainly because it's often customizable. You can tweak the resolution and the screen size and the controls. Sometimes you can even mod the game (which was the saving grace of Fallout 3).

I know a lot of people say it's annoying that you have to update your computer every other year but... you don't. I've only updated my computer every 5 years or so and can still play most games. Hell, Far Cry 2 in DX9 mode runs everything on High with no problem, and the components in this baby are probably 3 years old at least.

#5 - One of the greatest games of all time was made in 1976

It was called Colossal Cave Adventure. It started a genre. It was fantastic. Probably none of you would like it, though.

#6 - Halo is a decent game, and the co-op is fun.

There's nothing technically wrong with Halo. It's just incredibly cliché and engaging in the loosest sense of the word. In singleplayer, at least. I wouldn't play online because I'm terrible at it.

#7 - Splitscreen multiplayer is fantastic.

No really, what's better than sitting on a couch with a bunch of buddies and playing through a game? I would submit that doing so with a girlfriend may be the only thing, but that's beside the point! Splitscreen is awesome!

Too bad it stopped being on PCs anymore. Come on guys, bring it back!

#8 - In fact why don't you have splitscreen when you have online?

If you can do it between two computers you can do it on one. We have dual cores and everything now!

#9 - Oh yeah, and do it on the PC.


22 of my opinions (about games): #1

I'm weird. We've got that out of the way. To say that I'm the average gamer is just not true. I'm not very good at games at all. I really love games. But I have some weird opinions. The type of opinions that make most gamers fume and froth at the mouth.

Earlier I made a post [edit: Post has since been removed, hee - Future March] which was flame bait (some people fell for it), about some of my controversial opinions. I'd like to go over them again, in detail, and explain them. They're not as extreme as I earlier stated, but it was fun to watch a few people get frothy over something silly.

I'll be releasing responses in chunks so that posts aren't too long.

1. Nintendo's release model is similar to EA Sports' (Madden).

I called out The Game Overthinker for so violently bashing on Madden for being the same game over and over again, and rewarding Nintendo for doing something very similar. He said the difference was that Nintendo is doing it so people can have fun, and EA is doing it to make money. I think there's one major flaw in this viewpoint, though: It makes Nintendo look like a person. It isn't, it's a soulless corporation. Miyamoto has a soul, sure, but Nintendo doesn't care about you in the slightest. It's a corporation. All corporations are as animals; they simply want to eat, survive, and reproduce in the form of sub-companies and licensees. Claiming that Nintendo is somehow better than EA is a fallacy at its base, as it calls Nintendo a person. They are one and the same.

As for the release model, there are some similarities. Nintendo releases another entry in a series, usually one with very weak plot and little if no connection to the proceeding game. The gameplay follows the exact same formula for each installment, though there are variations in camera angles, level design, powers, and eyecandy. Yes, you could say that it's enough of a difference that they aren't just remaking the same games over and over again. That being said, it's also similar enough that calling them completely separate is rather silly.

Madden games are basically the same thing over and over again, near-identical gameplay with only changes in camera angles, eyecandy, management, and rosters. That being said, Madden 09 is different from Madden 08. It would be silly to call them the same game. Granted, a lot less silly than calling Twilight Princess the same as Ocarina of Time, but still silly.

That's not to say that either of the series are bad, mind you. The former gives nostalgiacs their buzz and allows them to play something familiar in a new way, feeling like once again they are worry-free children. The latter lets football fans feel like they are part of each year's best games. Both are sure to turn a profit, and that's all the corporations care about. Their similarity is in the fact that both are viable ways for a corporation to make money, and both cater to a specific portion of gamers.

Honestly it's kind of silly to fight about. They're not even similar to each other. I just wanted to bring this up because a lot of people seem to hate the opinion that Nintendo may not be a benevolent god-being. Maybe if I actually thoroughly enjoyed most of their games I would feel the same. Regardless, the only ones I did were Super Mario Sunshine, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Mario Kart (SNES, Double Dash, and Wii). Sorry, but Nintendo doesn't make my kind of games.You guys can have as much fun with them as you want, but please stop bashing football fans over what they enjoy. You can have your nostalgia and they can have their football. Me? I'll keep to my mysterious islands.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Good Horror Villain: Dracula

I just finished reading Dracula, the classic novel by Bram Stoker. It's the first novel I've finished for about 6 months, as I've been very busy. It was fantastic, though. Aside from being very well-written, the villain of the book (Count Dracula) is just downright creepy. He is, put plainly, a supernatural stalker.

And if it ended there, he's just be a slasher villain. But what puts Dracula up in the ranks of good horror villains is simple: You can't understand him. His motives are, at best, vague. We know his goals: He wants victory over London, and he wants specific women as his servants. But we don't know why. We even know what he's going to do next, almost night by night, often even where. We don't know how. He keeps getting stronger, he learns more of his powers, he adapts, he's smart. He has weaknesses and works against them. He always keeps a trump card up his sleeve, so he can escape with a power that the heroes don't know of yet.

And it's the fact that Dracula is so hard to get inside (the mind of) which makes him a creepy villain. You can't sympathize with him, you can't understand him, as he's just not human. There's nothing to understand. He preys, he's a hunter, he has some strange motivation which he never lets on, and is very specific about what he does next. You can learn of his strengths and powers, but only through experimentation and vague legends. You have to test your luck.

I think some people misunderstand what a scary villain is. It's not something that can screw you up majorly, it's not someone who has a lot of power. It's someone who is doing something bad and you can't learn why. He is indecipherable, almost mad. Yet madness alone isn't scary. Dracula's scariest trait is that he's sane. He's so sane and logical that it's scary that he acts like a madman. He does things all for a reason, and you'll never understand why.

It is, quite simply, fear of the unknown, fear of death, and fear of evil, all rolled into one suave package. It's downright creepy.

And that's fantastic. Anyone who wants to read some well-written, nay, amazing, horror should read this book. I give it a full recommendation, just for the villain.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Tonight I finished the backbone of an IF I'm working on, called [CURRENTLY, NOTHING]. For those of you who don't know what an IF (Interactive Fiction) is, wikipedia has a good summary. You can go look it up.

Anyways the point of all this is that I thought I should make a small devlog of sorts, going over what I've developed so far and talking about how things work.

From the player perspective:

Unlike a normal adventure game which sets which objects that can be used together, this game runs by matching attributes instead. So instead of saying "if used item is object" you say "if used item posesses attributes of etc".

The entire point of this is to try and make a more natural and logical puzzle-solving process. If you've got a stick, a broom, a crowbar, whatever, as long as it has an attribute like "long", it can solve the puzzle. One might argue this makes things too easy. No, this makes things fair.

A lot of adventure games have a set "death point" of an object. After using a stick in the proper location, it "breaks". It's an excuse to declutter one's inventory. But in this game, an object breaks once its integrity hits or drops below zero. Actions all use a certain amount of integrity. For example, jimmying open a door may require an integrity of 20. A stick may have an integrity of 10. If you try to open the door, the stick will break, but the door will not open since the object didn't have enough integrity. Yet if you try something like a crowbar (integrity of 100s), the door will break open, and the crowbar will be only slightly damaged.

I won't list the chart here, as it makes things too easy. The game never gives exacts, just tells you how strong something feels. This makes things more challenging, as if you use the wrong item somewhere you may not be able to do something later.

From the developer's perspective:

5 3 0
6   1
7 4 2

So each room has an array of chars. There are 9 spots in total, and each either has an x or an o. The numbers are weird and out of order because java uses columns then rows, instead of rows then columns.

W     E

x = No exit
o = Open exit

This can be expanded further when things such as doors become necessary. Then we can include locks with symbols like k.

The map class basically is what contains all the rooms. So you have rooms inside maps. I guess you could say that they're like a bigger room. So you would have a house map, and a street map, and a cave map, etc.

Map is arranged as follows:

0 - - -> 10
| + + +
| + + +
| + + +

Down, then right.

I'm writing everything in Java, and so far only have a console interface. So it will be fairly portable. Huzzah!

I'll post more updates as real progress is made. It will probably be rather slow, but I think this will turn out to be very interesting indeed. [edit: There has been little progress, and do not expect any news to be coming. The project is temporarily abandoned. - Future Shade]

Saturday, 6 March 2010

That's not how you advertise. ...again.

No seriously, how do you screw that up.

EDIT: While watching the video for Bridge to Nowhere by Sam Roberts, it referred to it as a U2 song, and then later as a Lady Gaga song. Like... that is bad design. FACEPALM.