Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Sunday, December 1, 2013
TL;DR: Deus Ex Human Revolution is worth buying if you like Action RPG’s and is pretty cheap.
Some of the greatest RPG's of all time came out of Square during its early days such as Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, and Final Fantasy 6. Then the dark days came. Square experienced a drought in creativity after the release of the wildly popular FFVII which started the now overused trope of the mopey emo-hero. Some Square games gave good reason for why the hero should be Mopey (Lost Odyssey) but most just used the angsty hero as a way to create character depth in a shallow character. However just as Square fans started to wonder if the company was even remotely capable of putting out any sort of good AAA game Deus Ex: Human Revolution hit shelves.
Lets be honest with ourselves, its unlikely that you've heard of the Deus Ex series before and that's totally okay. The Deus Ex series up until Human Revolution was only ever released on the Computer, a platform that never had much in the way of advertising in the pre-internet age. Human Revolution is a prequel to the entire Deus Ex series taking place before advanced prosthetics (called Augmentations in the game), were wildly common place. Ethical and Moral questions are posed over the course of the game about what it means to be human in an age where anyone can easily trade in their old fleshy bits for steam-punk robo ones. This is a naturally dividing issue within the game as two major opposing factions surround the issue one which believes the advancement of prosthetics can only help while others believe its unnatural and only seeks to destroy what it means to be human... naturally this wouldn't be complete without worldwide conspiracies involving mega-corporations and misinformation spread throughout the media.
And this mostly happens in Detroit…
Human Revolution plays like every other over the shoulder action game released in the past decade. Standardization plays heavily in its favor as it minimizes how much time players need to spend on tutorials, a victory for everyone. The controls are literally perfect, when I was playing the first thing I noticed was how every button served a purpose and spent at least half of my game time cycling through the hold-out button and the holster button just because I liked the sound the tazer makes when whipping it out.
Okay so the controls are great but who cares about that if the actual content of the game doesn't utilize those great controls? Well let me tell you what good sir... ma'am... sa'am? Deus Ex Human Revolution combines the stealth aspects of the Metal Gear Solid games, the Espionage Aspects of Hitman, and the hacking aspects of the later Fallout games. AND IT WORKS! The thing that consistently amazes me to this very moment was how well all these features seamlessly were combined in this game. So Adam Jenson, the main character, he's got stats that you can toss points into that allow him to do some things better then others and allow you to customize him to suit your play style. Say you have to break into a secret government facility, well you can choose to sneak in innocuously by Solid Snaking your way past the guards, or using you 733t hax0r skillz to turn all the automated forces to your side and casually walk in while the guards are busy or distracted, the final method is for your inner sociopath where you can build Jenson up to be a murder machine that can shoot bombs out of his arms and eat bullets as if they were a typical breakfast. Oh did I forget to mention that you can go through the entire game without killing anyone? Yeah, thats an option. You can defeat all enemies (sans boss characters) with non-lethal takedowns or non-lethal weapons, which is perfect for stealth runs. Basically:
Sneaking is pretty typical, you avoid cones of sight ala MGS and try not to make noise. You can also take alternate hidden routes to objectives like sewers or air ducts. If you encounter enemies you can use non-lethal take downs or non-lethal weapons to knock out enemies.
Hacking is very strategy and luck based where you try to capture nodes without being detected by the computers system. The hacking system is leveled and gets harder as the game progresses so if you plan on playing this way you'll want to pool a good number of points in it.
Murder-Time Fun-Time, you like murder? Well you can do that, a lot, with guns, or a sword arm thing.
Like I mentioned you play as Adam Jenson, the head of security guard for Sarif Industries, who wind up having to be heavily augmented after most of his body is destroyed during a terrorist attack. The game is semi-open world where you are introduced to large sprawling hub worlds which have side-quests and many opportunists to obtain background information that explains the mysteries surrounding the attack and Adam himself. A good example is Detroit, the starting hub, once you are dropped off in it you can quickly run around and start working on a sting for a prostitute cop, get a guy to lose his job, or just destroy entire gangs for the hell of it. Besides just doing side quests you are presented with many choices throughout the game which shape Jenson's character and his reactions for later quests which is pretty cool and generally makes your experience somewhat unique as one player may make Jenson a sociopath, or a literal Saint who selflessly gives and gives with no expectation of return. You get to visit quite a few hub worlds multiple times but each time you leave one you lose access to those side quests permanently which sucks mightily as I didn't realize this on my first play-through and missed a bunch of them. If there is anything I particularly hated about the whole “hub world” thing was the fact that you don't get the option to revisit them when you want, which stands as a reminder that the game is very linear at its core even though it presents you with other avenues of enjoyment outside the main quest. No matter how far out you travel you inevitably come to a wall that forces you to return to the main quest.
I can gush about Deus Ex Human Revolution for hours, it has great story, great gameplay, and really well made environments with high levels of detail which resonated very well with my inner child. I highly recommend Deus Ex for anyone who likes Action RPG's with optional Stealth Elements. Its story will very easily keep you on the edge of your seat with its many twists and turns and with how much your own choices and actions affect the world and Jenson himself. There are many versions of the game available, but the definitive version is the Directors Cut which includes “The Missing Link” DLC which explains the events of a time skip that occurs during the main story, and is pretty fun as stand alone story. By the way, you can shoot hoops, nuff’ said.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Alan Wake is about a big-shot writer named (what else?) Alan Wake who's been dealing with a debilitating case of writers block and needs to unwind. Alan and his fiancée Alice decide to check out a small mountain town in Washington called Bright Falls to try and revitalize Alan's creative juices by having a change of pace. Upon arriving in Bright Falls Alan meets a strange old lady who gives him a key to a cabin in the middle of a lake on top of a dormant volcano. Everything seems to be going pretty well until the game drops the bomb that Alan's wife is afraid of the dark. Well as fate would have it the sun inevitably went down and the island in the middle of the lake wound up having unreliable power. The power goes out and Alice predictably flips out. After some shenanigans and dialogue Alan decides he needs to go for a walk to clear his head, but just as he walks out he hears Alice scream. Alice somehow managed to find herself coming down with a case of drowning and Alan leaps into the lake to find him, while he's in the water he swears he sees a strange old lady pulling Alice into the water. Alan Blacks Out. Fast-forward a week and Alan wakes up in his care dangling precariously off a cliff. Why did it take him a week to drive off a cliff? There are questions that need answering and this game answers them.
Puzzles can sometimes be pretty abstract in what they want you to do; frame of reference time, there will be a part where you have to fight a tornado full of cars and boats and stuff. Its not exactly easy figuring out how best to approach the problem with your puny flashlight and a handful of flares especially since at a point during your fight you have to start platforming while destroying buses and crows that come at your jugular. I'm kind of a sucker for events like this, it gets the blood pumping and forces you to make snap decisions.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Many apologies for the hiatus since the last installment of Ninjatendo. Sadly, I was captured by a roaming clan of ninjas, hellbent on revenge for my disgraceful review and I barely got away with my life. I fought them off as bravely as a duck with a broken wing and a lame foot walking backwards on a conveyor belt. Tonight, we will tackle some of the highest highs and lowest lows of the US ninja releases for the NES. If you are interested in any of the games mentioned, feel free to click the links below the video. Enjoy.
One final honorable...or rather...dishonorable mention: Shinobi.
Where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and Legend of Kage are both excellent arcade ports, Shinobi leaves a lot to be desired. Which honestly is a shame, because arcade ports were the bread and butter of Tengen and most of the games they released for the NES were stellar versions of great games. Afterburner, Gauntlet, Fantasy Zone, Ms. Pacman - these are really great arcade ports that need to be played. However, this port of the 1987 arcade game is severely lacking. The graphics are subpar, the action feels sloppy and slow: in the arcade, Shinobi was an agile acrobat of a ninja - in the NES version, his attacks are clunky, stilted, and he is pretty much missing all of the stuff that makes him a ninja. he no longer LOOKS like a ninja, he doesn't rock the cool sword that he does in the arcade and Sega Master System versions: he just clumsily throws one sad throwing star at a time and hopes to save enough of those hostages to earn a bonus stage. It is one of the games on the list that I can safely say is better passed over. Perhaps I was clouded by nostalgia when I called it "Pure Ninja Awesomeness" back in February of last year...perhaps I was being tongue-in-cheek...the world may never know.
TMNT 2: The Arcade Game
TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project
TMNT: Tournament Fighters
Kid Niki: Radical Ninja
Little Ninja Brothers
Ninja Gaiden 2
Ninja Gaiden 3
Shadow of the Ninja
Sunday, June 30, 2013
TL;DR: Morrowind is a really good game and you should buy it. Choose the Game of the Year edition over the standard edition. Here's a quick video that will tell you what you're in for.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Way back in 2003 a tiny little handheld was announced during a time when everyone was going on and on about how the future of gaming was in MMORPG’s. Which is kinda’ true, but I’m not here to discuss how eventually we’ll all be wearing virtual reality helmets trying to solve the mystery of your friend falling into a coma. I’m here to talk about a Handheld console that has had almost as many revisions as the Xbox 360. The PlayStation Portable boasted some of the best spec’s of any handheld ever conceived at the time having the prototype GUI of the PS3, the ability to play movies, view pictures, and most importantly it played games with graphics similar to that of late era PlayStation games. Despite boasting such impressive specs and such impressive features the system was marred with a host of design flaws and marketing problems. Aren’t you lucky you have me to explain all this?
The PlayStation Portable was Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s long line of successful handhelds originally launched on March 24, 2005 in North America with mixed reactions as many weren’t to thrilled with how much more expensive it was than the Japanese version. Despite retailing at $250 the Sony managed to push 500,000 units in the first week alone. The handheld was revolutionary for its ability to not only play games but act as a sort of media center by being able to play not only games but music and video, it also boasted higher specs than the Nintendo DS and was able to play games at higher resolutions and with better graphical quality. The PlayStation Portable also could utilize WiFi for both local and online play of games similar to the Nintendo DS. If you ever became bored of how the systems interface looked you could download new themes and backgrounds for the system and customize the media icons to make the system more personal.
You’d be surprised at the level of variety.
The PlayStation Portable went under many revisions with its final form being the recently released PlayStation Vita. Sony has had to deal with many bumps in the road involving both marketing and building its gaming systems. If it isn’t from terrible marketing campaigns, to poor anti-piracy measures they've more or less spent the past decade on a steep learning curve as they’ve been trying to reach the plinth that the other gaming giant Nintendo has been standing proudly on for decades.
All games on the handheld come in either UMD form or can be downloaded from the PlayStation store and saved onto a seperate memory stick.
Tiny DVD’s, who would’ve thought they’d catch on?
Pros and Cons of the System (Overall)
- Media Center: Can be used to play MP3’s, view pictures, and play UMD’s and stream video
- Some good First Party titles: Sony somewhat dropped the ball on the PSP, although they have published some good games they’ve also published lots of shovelware in the form of generic sports and shooting games. But Ratchet and Clank, and Ape Escape more then make up for it?
- High Resolution Screen: 480 × 272 at a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen in layman's)
- Decent amount of good third party games: Atlus, Capcom, and Konami have a host of great games on the console from many of their flagship series.
- Region-Free (sans E1000 and PSP Go!): The 1000 – 3000 series can play UMD’s from any region.
- TV-Play: From the 2000 model up the system can be hooked up to a television by using a special TV-out cord
- Multiplayer: The system supports Adhoc and WiFi multiplayer
- WiFi: All the models besides the E1000 have wireless capabilities
- Expensive: The PSP (depending on model) can be very expensive
- Shovelware: For every good game there is twenty sports and call of duty games
Proprietary hardware: The system only accepts specially made power plugs for each individual model, based on the differing shapes and sizes of each console many accessories such as cases and screen protectors need to be rebought for each different model.
- Small Library of games: The PSP does not have the largest video game library boasting only a couple hundred games.
- Hard to repair: Like all things in life PSP’s can break and when they do they come at a price. PSP repair parts are not only expensive (pushing $10-$20 for a new screen alone) they aren’t easy to repair. The process for taking apart and replacing anything is terribly convoluted and not really worth the time of anyone who is inexperienced when it comes to fixing electronics.
- Short Battery Life: All of the PSP’s average between 4-10 hours of battery life. The newer models may be able to last longer if you get a new battery slapped into it.
- Region-Locked: The E1000 and PSP Go! are both region locked. The PSP Go! because you have to use Sony’s online store which only lets you download games for the region you registered with them. The E1000 can only play games for the region it was designed for.
- Released: March 24th, 2005
The first model released, it boasted graphics unseen in the handheld market and the ability to play movies and televisions shows sold in the form of UMD discs. Within the year of its release a system update allowed the handheld to surf the on an opera based browser. If you wanted to be able to use the internets on the PSP you had to make sure that the system was set to it as there is an external switch that alternates between both ad-hoc connections and Wi-Fi. Compared to previous handheld consoles the PSP boasts the crispest, largest, and most colorful display.
As the first version in the series it sets the bar that many of the redesigns will attempt to surpass, it features Local and Online play through Ad-hoc or a Wi-Fi connection and can play videos and music off of a Memory Stick Pro Duo.
Pros and Cons
- Infrared Connection: I could never find a use for it, but some people did by making their PSP’s remotes for their TV’s.
- Metal Frame: The 1000 model has a metal frame and many of the internal parts are made of metal which helps if you are prone to dropping things.
- Cheap: The 1000 model is the cheapest model (used) out of the series
- Wireless Multiplayer: It supports both Adhoc (local) and WiFi multiplayer
- Media Center: It can play movies, music, and pictures
- Download Play: If you have a PSN account you can download games onto a Memory Stick Pro Duo and play them!
- Bulky: The PSP – 1000 isn’t the kind of system you just cram into your pocket. Its bulky (and in some manners maybe unwieldy) which is natural considering that its Sony’s first shot at making a handheld.
- Short Battery Life: Unless you buy a high quality new battery it is likely that you will only be getting between 2-6 hours out of your PSP
- Only one flavor: The original PSP only came in a glossy Piano Black
- Spring Loaded UMD Bay: By pressing a switch the bay pops open, but if its handled to roughly the bay can break.
In at E3 2007 Sony announced their first redesign of the PlayStation Portable which was thinner and boasted a much brighter screen then the previous model. The 2000 model was the beginning of a series of design improvements which trimmed the fat of the console down while adding extra features. The only major improvement internally is that it has double the cache memory of the 1000 model which helps with load times in most of the games. There are also claims that it has better Wi-Fi connectivity but in my experience I found no noticeable difference between the 1000 and 2000 model. The screen is slightly brighter and the system comes in a variety of flavors and special editions.
A small aesthetic change is that the UMD door is no longer spring loaded and you manual open and close it, the battery is also slimmer so you can’t swap batteries between the 1000 and 2000 models. A pretty big addition to the handheld is a headphone and video out port so that you can connect the system to a TV which you can play at a whopping 480x320 resolution! :o
Pros and Cons
- Low-Profile: The PSP – 2000 is significantly more lightweight and slimmer than the original 1000 model.
- TV-Out: The PSP – 2000 has a combo headphone and video-out port that you can use to connect to a Television using a special cable.
- Fast Load Speeds: The extra cache memory allows the system to load and read games, video, and music faster than the 1000 model
- USB Charging: The 2000 model is the first in the series that allows you to charge the handheld with the any mini-usb
- USB-Computer Connection: You can sort and mess about with the content of the memory stick and even update the system by connecting it to the computer
- Flavor Variety: Blue, Black, Red, White, a host of colors are your to choose from along with several special editions.
- Decent Battery Life: The 2000 one a fresh battery can get between 6 – 8 hours
- Instant Messaging: You can download Skype and chat with your friends. It does not support video even with the Camera add-on.
- Manual UMD Bay: The UMD bay is now manually opened and closed which prevents almost any sort of malfunction involving the drive bay.
- Plastic Frame: An odd revision is that that the 2000 model is made entirely out of Plastic which isn’t terribly sturdy and can’t take much of a drop.
- Low Quality Video Out: Even though the system has video-out it isn’t high quality by any stretch of the imagination and is letterboxed.
Physically the 3000 model seems almost identical to the 2000 but the handheld has an even brighter screen with better refresh rates than its predecessors. The Screen on the handheld is coated in an anti-glare material so that you can play games under even the most obnoxious of lights The console also has a small microphone now built in and so that when you scream at the system for freezing while you try to play Mobile Suit Gundam Crossfire it can actually hear it. Besides the better screen the innards of the system are basically the same and I noticed no improvements in the playing of games compared to the previous two consoles.
Some owners have complained of screen tearing issues.
Pros and Cons
- Everything from the 2000 model: The 3000 model retains all of the features of the 2000 while adding new ones
- Microphone: The PSP – 3000 comes with a fully working microphone
- Anti-Glare Screen: The screen of the handheld has an anti-glare film that eliminated the most common problem with handheld gaming, the reflection caused by the sun. Now you can game at any time of the day with no real hassle!
- Improved screen: The screen of the 3000 is brighter and features much more vibrant color then the 1000 and 2000 models
- Screen Tearing: There have been reports of screen tearing during regular play. Screen tearing is when during regular use lines temporarily appear on the LCD that can impede gameplay.
- Microphone: Despite having a functional microphone no known game released in North America utilizes it. It can be used for some homebrew games though.
- PlayStation Portable E1000
- Released: Sometime in 2011
Disclaimer: This is a PAL console but it is technically a revision so I’m including it for posterity.
The E1000 isn’t a rerelease of the 1000 line, it’s actually a budget model retailing a paltry $99. How could the get away with such a low low price? Well they did that by removing every single piece of extra hardware and software from the console giving you a barebones experience. Have you ever hated how fingerprints so easily stare back at you when you play a system with a glossy finish? Well the E1000 is the only PSP to have a Matte finish which prevents that scenario from ever becoming reality. The entire back part of the system is one big foldout drive for the UMD which in my opinion is an odd design choice.
Pros and Cons
- Cheap: The E1000 is the cheapest (new) PSP on the market
- Lightweight: The E1000 is the lightest and slimmest of the PSPs (mostly because of all the things that were removed)
- Decent Screen: Unlike the 3000 model the E1000 doesn’t have any of the screen tearing issues but has a screen that is just as vibrant and bright.
- No Wifi: The E1000 only supports local multiplayer and does not have the ability to utilize WiFi for either online play or for surfing the internet.
- No Microphone: Oddly the E1000 doesn’t feature a microphone.
- Plastic Frame: It feels cheap, and I don’t think it could take a drop very well.
Real Talk: I have no idea what Sony was thinking on this one. So the PSP Go is a radical redesign of the console for I assume Sentai heroes. The system is significantly thinner then all of the other models and features a slide-out design similar to modern texting phones. Long gone is the UMD drive and separate battery, both replaced with an internal rechargeable battery and a 16gb hard drive. Sony made it very clear in designing the system they wanted you to purchase games from their online store and download them to the console, especially the PSone classics which it was campaigning very heavily.
Pros and Cons
- Compact: For the hero on the go you can fit this in even the tightest of tights. Seriously though its pretty small.
- Designed for the hero on the go: It’s the only logical explanation for its existence.
- Internal Storage: It features 16gb of internal memory for saving your downloaded games.
- Decent Battery Life: You can get up to 10 hours of usage on a full charge
- Bluetooth: If you have a device that supports bluetooth controllers you can use the PSP Go! as one.
- Digital Download only: If you like the PlayStation Network then you’ll love the fact that you can only download games onto the system.
- No UMD support: You might as well toss out those UMD’s because the Go! can’t use em’
My personal recommendation will always be original 1000 model due to its durability and low price point. HOWEVER! I understand that it does not have many of the features of the later models, such as instant messaging, access to Sony’s PSone classics, and the fastest of load times. Objectively I’d say the best bang for your buck is the PSP 2000. It has not only a host of features but you can get it in different colors and special edition variants. I cannot in good conscience recommend the PSP Go! or the E1000 they both take away so much from the PSP experience while replacing it with nothing substantial.
PSP Trivia: The PSP Go!’s design was used to create Sony’s Xperia Play line of smartphones.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Television, Film, Video Games, and Music. The foundations of our media-oriented society and the building blocks of a mutual relationship that society has with its entertainment. Many can argue that trends in entertainment have a profound impact on societal trends, and others could argue the opposite. It can lead to a "chicken versus the egg" conundrum of what came first; the popularity of cheesy polyester leisure suits or the popularity of Miami Vice. All I know is that I worship at the altar of Don Johnson and don't trust anyone who doesn't.
So here I present a "chicken and the egg" question: how, why, when, where did America pick up its fascination with ninjas? Somewhere in the 1980's, films and video games were overrun with "Ninja" this or "Ninja" that. My best guess is that the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles played a key role in everything in the late 80's to early 90's being Ninja-centric, at least over here in America. You had films like Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja Vengeance, 3 Ninjas, Surf Ninjas, American Ninja, Zombie Vs Ninja, and more. Everything was ninja, ninja, ninja.
So naturally, much like every cold-war era Atari or Intellivision game being named "Space" something or "Star" something, you had no less than at least 10 Nintendo games that are directly related to the dark, mysterious art of Ninjutsu. Some of the games were groundbreaking and hugely influential (the Ninja Gaiden series) and others are confoundingly confusing (The Last Ninja.) Let's dig in!
|Truth in advertising! You jump through trees and everyone wants you dead!|
|Grandma, this is sooooo NOT Ninja Gaiden!|
|Do all ninjas have random thugs walking around in their dojos?|
|It's like Chubby Cherub, but fun!|
Those evil, evil dogs!
Ninja Kid does feel amazingly dated, but is a lot of fun in a similar style to the first Goemon game. Run around, jumping between platforms, shoot at enemies, wash, rinse, and repeat. There are minibosses and a map screen between levels that allows you to pick which level you want to play first. It's a lot of fun and is relatively dirt cheap compared to its uncommon sibling Chubby Cherub, so I recommend picking this one up!
|New APP coming: Zen: Intergalactic Fruit Ninja!|
That's just round one of this two part series on Ninja games for the NES. Stay tuned as we recap some of the heaviest of heavy hitters and a few more hidden gems. You won't want to miss it!