Tag Archives: Xbox

Review: Halo – Combat Evolved (PC) ~ Not On The HaloBox

Halo-Combat-Evolved-Cover-Art-wallpaper.jpgWikipedia entry

If you would ask my friends and old class mates what the best shooter is, they would reply with a game out of the Call Of Duty series. But for me, that was Halo. That changed when I played the Bioshock series. I have already talked about the Bioshock series, so it’s time to talk about the original Halo game. The game that started this whole franchise. One series I can’t finish sadly since I don’t have a XBOX or XBOX ONE. So, I have only played this entry and the sequel. In any case, enough introduction! Time to talk about the actual game. And as usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the content of this article and or the game in the comment section down below. 

Cortana

halo1

In this game, you play as a very iconic character in the video gaming world. The name is Master Chief. So, you get woken up from your slumber and go through some basic tutorials before your ship gets attacked.

You crash land on Halo. And things happen from there. The story isn’t that much present in the game. But, that’s because the game is only 10 hours long. The base game is really short, but it’s a whole lot of fun to play through. But don’t worry, if you don’t have enough Halo, you can either go and play the multiplayer or download one of several single player campaigns made by fans.

In addition to that, Bungie released in 2004 a special version of Halo with mapping and modding tools. Called, Halo Custom Edition.

The story itself is good. It’s not great since it ends with a big cliffhanger so you have to buy the sequel to know how it continues. I wish that the story got a bit more development. Since we got amazing voice acting. I love the voice acting in this game. Also, we don’t have a silent hero for once!

The writing itself is also good. But again, shame that the game is over so quickly. I do have to admit, that I played over 100 hours on Halo. I have played a lot of multiplayer and I got okay at it. I’m terrible at playing shooters online, but I enjoyed my time on Halo. Mostly with the Capture The Flag mode. I’m also surprised that after 16 years, there are still people playing this game online.

What I was even more surprised about, this game still gets the occasional update. Something quite handy is that when you have an out-of-date version of the game and want to enter the mutliplayer, you get a message to update your game and the updating tool automagically launches.

Multiplayer and such

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Like I said in the previous paragraph, I rather enjoyed my time in the multiplayer. There was also a possibility you could have edited maps, and you didn’t have to download additional mods to play on them. I rarely got lag issues.

But, for the sake of this review, I’m going to focus on the single player. The only other thing I’m going to say about the multiplayer is that it’s difficult to find the same server to play on with friends sometimes. I had several Skype calls lasting over 30+ minutes of me and my friend(s) trying to get into one server.

Visually, this game still looks pretty great in my opinion. I wouldn’t have changed one thing at all when it comes to the visuals. The animation is also very well put together. You visit various inside and outside locations. Something I really like is the consistency of the visuals. I don’t mean that every area looks the same, but I mean that a lot similar building styles return over the whole game. But, I think you will better understand that statement when you have played the game.

Actually, now that I think about it, there is one thing that I would have changed. It would be awesome if this game had a bit more enemy variety. Since this game has the “recolor but stronger” issue you find in a lot of RPG’s. It’s such a shame. But, the campaign is such a wild ride, it didn’t bother me that much.

Something I really enjoyed in this game is the difficulty. The further you get in the game, the more difficult enemies and situations get presented to you. Another big plus in my book is that the differences between the difficulty settings are not only the amount of damage you take from enemy hits. Oh no, I have the impression that the enemies are also more aggressive in the harder modes of the game.

There were a few things I would have changed in the single player. First of all, I find it disappointing that the plasma swords can’t be used in the single player nor multiplayer without mods. This is a shame, since you can use every other weapon that your allies and enemies use.

I can’t sign.

halo 3

The controls of this game are excellent and very responsive. I also like that during the tutorial section, you get the option of selecting which camera control you would enjoy more during gameplay.

Something I didn’t always like were the controls for the vehicles. They lack just a tiny bit of weight to them.

While there aren’t a lot of different weapons to use in this game, I don’t mind it a whole lot. Since each weapon can be used in it’s own situation and it’s so fun to master a certain weapon.

Honestly, I wish I could sign along with the chanting of the soundtrack. Since the soundtrack for this game is amazing. It sets an amazing mood and I love listing to it. When I hear the main theme, I always get so nostalgic.

Speaking about that, the sound design is amazing as well. Also, your enemies use the right balance of speaking just a little bit of English, but the sounds they make when being hurt are great as well. The atmosphere the music, sound design and the visuals make is so great. I get pulled in every time. Even when I was replaying parts of this game for this review, I always played longer than I intended.

This game is that much fun and addictive. You go from place to place shooting down loads of enemies. With the help of your radar, you navigate through some various terrains.

For those who don’t know, this game has a quite unique mechanic. It’s the regenerating shield feature. When you get hurt, it goes off from your shield meter. When your shield meter is down, your health goes down. But, when you don’t get hit for a moment, your shield meter refills again. So, skilled players can beat this game without picking up one health pack if they want too.

But a feature I liked the most are the sticky grenades. They were so fun to use. Too bad, that there wasn’t anything you could do during multiplayer matches when you wanted to get them off. Well, it’s a risk you had to take.

One nitpick, I have is that the sections where you could use the enemy vehicles were a bit too short. But don’t worry, you can use these a whole lot in multiplayer. Just like the shield mechanic. This made multiplayer matches that more thrilling to play. Since you can’t easily kill everybody. You need to have more than one shot to kill somebody. Apart from fall damage, there isn’t a way to one shot kill somebody in this game as far as I know.

So, that’s all I wanted to talk about this game. I think it’s time to wrap up this article and give my conclusion (or my TL;DR for the lazy people)

Conclusion

The bad:

-The main game is way too short.

-It’s difficult to find the same server or game sometimes.

The good:

+ Fun story, writing & voice acting.

+ Great visuals.

+ Amazing soundtrack.

+ Great multiplayer.

+ The modding community.

+ …

Conclusion:

This game still holds up after being over 16 years on the market. When you want a more updated version, you could play the Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition that came out in 2011 for the XBOX360 and XBOX ONE. But, I don’t own either of those consoles.

The biggest flaw of this game is that it’s way too short. Yet, due the vast amount of mods, maps, campaigns and such you can download and even an editor that’s released free of charge, you can download a lot of additional content for you to enjoy. Apart from that, the flaws in this game are so minor, they would be all nitpicking. This game is a fun ride from start to finish.

I do have a lot of nostalgia for this game, but I replayed it recently before I started writing this review. And all the nostalgic memories come flooding back. It’s quite a fun game to play and I think I might go and beat the game again when I have the time.

If you are a fan of shooters and haven’t played this game yet, you owe it to yourself to play this game. If you aren’t a fan of shooters, well, I think you read the wrong article. If you have played this game, I hope this was an enjoyable trip down memory lane.

On that note, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game, I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoy writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 90/100

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Game Quicky: SteamWorld Dig (3DS – eShop) ~ Diggy Diggy Dig

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Official website

So, last week I finished the eShop title SteamWorld Dig – A Fistful Of Dirt. At first, I was planning to write a full-length review, but after I found out that I was able to beat it in 5-6 hours, I honestly think that a Game Quicky is a better fit for it. I bought this game with some spare money I had after I bought a bigger game. So, how is this game? What is it about? I’ll get right ahead and review this game. 

The bad

526601_447804061976814_797694473_n.pngIn this game, you have to explore a cave where a family member has gone missing. You arrive in a small town with only 3 inhabitants.

So, one negative is that this game is way too short. It has so much potential.

The second negative in this game is that the map system isn’t perfect. I wish I was able to scroll through the map that’s on the bottom screen.

The third negative is that the final boss is very difficult if you aren’t prepared. I seriously advise you to upgrade your character as much as possible before you go and fight the final boss.

And the final negative is that you can’t carry enough ladders in my opinion. You can’t mine sideways, but a solution for that is you place ladders. Speaking about ladders, it would be extremely handy if you were able to remove them after you placed them. Since I wasn’t able to to that.

The good

SteamWorldDig_0006.jpg

About two years ago, I reviewed an Android game called “Mine To Escape“, and the gameplay in this game is similar to that one. And really, this game is truly addicting in my opinion.

I loved exploring the caves to mine ores and minerals in order to buy new equipment and upgrades.

The writing in this game is also superb. I played through this game twice since I was too drawn into to the story. The writing and characters are very well written.

This game is can be easy but can be difficult as well. If you are not paying attention where you dig, you can bring yourself in trouble quite quickly. I love that there aren’t any health packs in the game so, you have to either be lucky that an enemy drops a health pack OR go buy it from one of the shopkeepers on the surface.

Visually, this game looks very nice. Together with an easy to understand interface and responsive controls, I loved exploring the depths of the caves.

The music & sound design is one of the game strong points as well. It’s really relaxing and atmospheric. I found that I enjoyed the game less when I wasn’t able to hear the sound & music.

In conclusion

So, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. If this game was longer, didn’t had problems with the ladders and map system, I would have given this game near perfect marks.

I said it before, the reason why I do this in a style of a game quicky is because the game is too short to have a full review.

This game is a real gem on the 3DS. But this game is multi-platform. So, you don’t have an excuse to not give this game a shot. If you like what you have read and seen, I urge you to give it a try.

The game is really well put together. But like I said in the negatives, there are some issues. They didn’t bother me too much but they were quite irritating.

In any case, I want to thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Game Review: Mad Max

Some of you may be familiar with Mad Max, but some of you won’t. So what is Mad Max? In one word: glorious.Image result for mad max

I mean that in the truest sense of the word. It feels out of this world. At first glance, one might think it’s they are over-the-top movies, but they’re much, much more than that.

Everything in this world feels painfully real. The suffering, the tragedies, the characters, the wasteland, … The films have a very distinct style that has influenced pop culture more than you might think: it launched Mel Gibson’s career, the raiders in Fallout are heavily inspired by those in Mad Max and it spawned countless rip-offs by Italian and Turkish directors, as well as American ones. I feel like I need to discuss the films briefly before getting to the game. After all, that is what inspired its creators to make the game.

The great thing about the Mad Max films – and the game – is that they all feel different. The first film was very grounded in reality and quite slow-paced, though that is not a bad thing. The second film, The Road Warrior, was generally considered to be the best one. It established the character as he is still known and loved. He’s deeply flawed and haunted by his past, but that makes him feel very real. The third film, Beyond Thunderdome, has its problems; most of them caused by Hollywood mingling. And then there’re last year’s Fury Road, now regarded as the best of all four films. Tom Hardy plays Mad Max, not Mel Gibson, and his performance is excellent.

Now Max is a bit of a difficult character to talk about, because he is both simple and complex at the same time. He’s simple, because most of his actions throughout the films and game are selfish. Even helping people is often because it makes things more convenient for him, but at the same time he won’t harm the innocent. He doesn’t really care about who lives or dies, as this is a harsh world and survival is key, but he won’t just kill anyone for the sake of killing or just for fun. It is a very hard thing to explain. It’s almost instinctive. You just understand him on an emotional level, not an intellectual one. You just know if something is in-character for him to do or not, but you can’t really explain why. I say this, because there’s something I want to discuss at the end of this article after the SPOILERS warning.

Now onto the game! I’m not exactly sure when the game is set in the timeline, but it feels like it takes place right before the events of the fourth film: Fury Road. But, like with the entire Mad Max saga, the exact time has never been important. You start off the game losing the famous Interceptor, the car Max drives, and battling Lord Scrotus. You put a chainsaw through his skull, but he survives and throws you off a fast moving truck. You then set out on a very simple quest: get your car back and kill Lord Scrotus. This is very much in theme with the films, where the story is often quite simple and just a structure for strong characters.

And strong characters is what this game has. The portrayal of Max is pretty much spot-on (except for a little thing that bugs me in the ending). You find a hunchback named Chumbucket who is a car nut and believes you are some sort of Saint sent by the Angel to clear the wasteland. He offers you a car that you can upgrade and change the appearance of during the game. He is a fantastic character, obsessed with cars and fixing cars and thinking you’re some sort of deity. And of course, Max goes along with it, because it helps him. Where in other games having a companion around can be frustrating, Chumbucket is nothing but helpful. He brings you the car when you signal him with a flare gun, fixes the car when it’s damaged and most of his dialogue is really entertaining.

Visually, the game encapsulates the look and feel of the films very well. It’s a gorgeous game with a wonderful art style. The graphics won’t blow you away, but it’s not trying to either. It’s aiming for aesthetics rather the latest and greatest in graphical settings.

The story is very simple, as I mentioned before. There isn’t that much to talk about here, other than that it’s very much in theme with the films. The end goal is to get your car back and kill Lord Scrotus, but it can take you a while to get there. You can choose to just follow the main quests and do the bare minimum to unlock new upgrades for your car, so you can continue with the missions, but that will make the game a lot more difficult. Still, you’ll probably have to put in twelve to fifteen hours to beat this game in a hurry.

As a sort of side story, you can try to loosen the grip that Lord Scrotus has on the different regions by doing certain mini missions. You can clear out camps, destroy their totems and sniping towers, clear minefields, et cetera. Lowering the threat levels in regions unlocks more upgrades for Max and his car. This is where the game really shines in my eyes, as it makes the gameplay more varied. Clearing the camps requires more combat, destroying the totems and sniping towers is mostly done from inside the car and you need a special buggy that can carry the mine-sniffing dog to clear out minefields. Some camps have difficult bosses or certain things you have to destroy. Having done almost everything there is to do in this game, I racked up a very respectable 54 hours in this game. Not bad at all for having paid less than €15 for it in a Steam sale.

There aren’t a whole lot of negative to this game, I feel. The driving controls could’ve been tighter, but most of the time they’re just fine. Two locations in the game are locked off after the mission is over, which means that if you didn’t pick up the collectables or scrap, they’ll be lost forever. This is odd, since none of the other locations become inaccessible. Lastly (and I’ll get into more detail in a bit) there’s one thing that happens right at the end that I feel is out of character for Max, which makes the ending a bit less enjoyable for me.

So overall I highly recommend it if you like the Mad Max films, but even as a general gamer, it’s a very fun game. The combat is fun, modding the car gives you lots of options and the characters are very enjoyable. The highest praise I could possibly give it is that if  I were to rank this game alongside the films, the order would be (from best to “worst”): Fury Road – THIS GAME – Road Warrior – Original Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome. So yeah, very close second 🙂

 

 

–SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE GAME BELOW–

 

 

This is what happens at the end of the game that bothers me a bit. After the final boss battle, we see the truck that Lord Scrotus is driving close to the edge of a cliff. Max decides to ram it with his car and Chumbucket, still believing the car is the sacred tool, sent by the Angel to be used by you, doesn’t want you to destroy it. While charging at the truck, he climbs on the bonnet of the car, trying to convince you to stop. Max tells him to jump of and Chumbucket says he’s willing to die with the car. Max then proceeds to jump out of the car, right before it hits the truck and both vehicles fall off the cliff. I know Max is a character who will do pretty much anything to achieve his goal, but I feel like killing Chumbucket was very much out of character. Max doesn’t hurt people, unless he feels it’s absolutely necessary and I feel like killing Chumbucket was not. You may disagree with that, but it’s how I feel about it.

First Impressions: Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain

Due to delivery issues in my country, I had to wait until the ninth of September before I could get my hands on the PC version of MGS V. I’m someone who prefers physical media, so even though I could’ve bought it earlier on Steam, I wanted the actual disc. The wait was worth it. Something really great happened in the first fifteen minutes of the game that just got me hooked. It may be the greatest thing I have ever seen in a game. Beware: SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST THREE HOURS OR SO AHEAD.

As some of you may know, I am a big fan of the series. I’ve been waiting for this game for a long time. Years even. It’s almost as if the setting of this game has been perfectly altered to my preferences. It’s set in 1984, my favourite year in history, also in my favourite decade. The year that in my eyes epitomises the ’80s. You also play with my favourite character of the series: Big Boss.

After the events of the previous prologue game (that was only about 90 minutes long), MGS V: Ground Zeroes, Big Boss wakes up in a hospital from a coma he’d been in for nine years. This is where something great happens. I don’t know if people have been picking up on this and I haven’t been looking around on the Internet, since I am trying to avoid any and all spoilers. Any content whatsoever.

MIRROR

About fifteen minutes into the game, the doctor tells you people are still looking for you, wanting to kill you. For your own safety, you should change your appearance. This is when we get a very well done character creation screen where we get to change our face. There are a hell of a lot of options, almost as if you are creating your own Sim in the Sims.

Now here’s what makes this great. I was worried about this. I wanted to play with Big Boss as I knew him, so I tried to create a character that kind of looked like the older, grey haired Big Boss. After I was done, though, I was pleasantly surprised. The doctor gets killed before he can carry out the operations. You are still Big Boss.

I really hope this never gets brought up, ever again in the game. Not because I don’t want to change Big Boss’s appearance (which is also true), but because this would make it the single greatest joke I have ever seen in a game. If this is never mentioned again, the creators of the game spent a great deal of time coding a character creation screen that works really well, and all of that for a joke. Possibly it’s a tool they created in-engine to make their own characters to make development easier, but still. I’m a little afraid it’s going to be brought up again, but I remain hopeful.

I feel it’s maybe a nod to MGS 2, where you start the game playing as Solid Snake, but the second part (and majority) is played with Raiden, an all-new character. This displeased many gamers, so it would be funny if that is part of why this was put into the game. For a second, it looked like they were pulling a similar kind of trick; making us think we’re going to play with Big Boss, but forcing us to change his appearance. Then they pull the rug out from under us. “Nah, we’d never do that to you again.” It feels like they’re saying with a smile.

But what about the game itself? I played through the entire prologue, the hospital section, in about an hour. Truth be told, it is not the best gameplay ever, and it uses a trope I don’t very much care for. I’d describe it as a playable cutscene, where you take a few dozen steps or perform a few little actions and the game takes over for a few minutes, showing us more of what’s going on with the story.

I remember people complaining that MGS 4 had too many and too lengthy cutscenes. This was something that never bothered me, since I love the story, but I can understand the complaints. The ending cutscene was a little shy of an hour, so I feel like in MGS V, they have made a compromise. Instead of having the first hour be an hour long cutscene, it has some sort of gameplay. All in all, despite not liking this trope in general, I was deeply engrossed in what was going on, making this still very enjoyable.

After that, the game really starts and we are dropped in a very expansive, open world. You wander around Afghanistan looking for a captured friend. How you tackle this mission is all up to you. Will you visit a few outposts first, gathering intel, or will you go to where he’s captured right away? It’s all up to you. This is where the game really comes to life. The amount of player choice and agency is incredible, and perhaps a stark contrast when compared with the first hour, but I understand why that had to be done. It’s like the first act of a movie: you need to establish the world and the situation, so I’m not upset at all.

So gameplay is great and the visuals? They’re stunning. Digital Foundry did an article about the PC version, which is incredibly well optimised. (This is also pretty much the only content on the Internet about MGS V I looked at.) Even low-end CPU’s like an i3 can run this game, no problem, provided you have a decent GPU. The standard graphical settings come very close to the PS4 and XBone settings, but when you bear in mind that most of those are set at “HIGH” or “MEDIUM”, you can imagine how gorgeous this game looks at “ULTRA” settings.

Fortunately, my GPU’s are beefy enough to handle the highest possible settings. A high draw distance, loads of post-processing effects, high quality lighting and textures, and even volumetric clouds. The first three hours seem very promising. I love the visuals, the gameplay is great and the story already has me hooked, so guess what I’ll be doing today?

Review: Papo & Yo – Artsy Fartsy?

A while back, this game I had never heard of came with the monthly games you receive as a PlayStation Plus member. I played it for half an hour then, but I put down the controller and removed it at that time. I decided to give it another try and I just felt like I had to discuss it.

Because it’s good? No. Maybe. Hard to say. It was fun enough that I played through it, but it didn’t need to be much longer. The game wrapped up in just under four hours for me, but then again, I’m a slow gamer. In wanting to write a review about this, I decided to do a second play-through to gather all 25 collectibles and got halfway in just an hour. Knowing how to solve the puzzles makes it incredibly easy.

So what is the game about? You’re a little kid being transported to a slightly peculiar world, where you meet a little girl who taunts you and runs away. You decide to follow her. Later, you encounter a monster that follows you along the way.

It’s a little hard to explain what his part in all this is, but he’s a part of puzzles. You need to use fruit to lure him somewhere in order to progress, or have him fall asleep so you can jump on his belly. It sounds a little ridiculous, and it almost feels that way at times.

The puzzles themselves are okay. They’re not great or even good, but at least they’re not infuriating. The most difficult – and perhaps aggravating – puzzles are those where the monster is angry, because he ate a frog. Then, it will chase you and throw you around. You need rotten fruit to calm him down again. Yes, really. I’m not making this up.

Graphically, what can I say? It’s an Unreal Engine 3 game. It doesn’t look impressive, and is bugged by frame rate dips and tearing, but overall it’s fine. Just that. Fine. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons uses the same engine and, while plagued by tearing as well at times, looks far more impressive than Papo & Yo does. Especially the worldbuilding and environments.

The controls are good, though. I rarely missed a jump and that’s not always a given in 3D-platforming games, so kudos for that.

My main problem lies with the story. Mind you, I will go into spoilers here, but if you have half a brain, the intro of the game basically tells you everything you need to know. Now if it were a much simpler story, I’d be fine with it. Perhaps a story of a boy trapped in a fantasy world, trying to escape. Think The Unfinished Swan. It wouldn’t need much rewriting either. Or perhaps the girl took something from you and you need to get it back.

The problem is that, to me, it felt like the creators wanted to make a game with storytelling similar to Shadow of the Colossus, but failed. It’s easy to criticise, I know, but it feels like the kind of story a first year student of film school would come up with.

There’s not much dialogue in the game, and what’s being said does not sound like any language I ever heard. Speech bubbles do appear next to the characters when they say something.

Now brace yourselves, because you will not see this one coming. Especially not after the intro, and the first flashback about an hour into the game where you see yourself sitting in the back of a car being driven by an adult male. Oh, and there’s a quote, from the game director himself, saying: “To my mother, brothers and sisters with whom I survived the monster in my father”, right when you start the game. The monster is your father, the frogs represent his alcohol abuse and the girl was the person you father hit with his car.

I had a suspicion this game was fairly personal, from the director’s own experience. Looking up some information about the game confirms this. I don’t mine a personal story done well, but I just feel like this game is laying it on thick. It feels like they’re trying to be subtle and use metaphors, but it’s so blatant.

I feel like I’m being really harsh on the game, but in all honesty, it’s not terrible. I’m just very sensitive when it comes to metaphors and artsy fartsy storytelling. Would I recommend it?Perhaps. I know of people who have very much enjoyed this game, so who am I to take that away from them?

What does strike me as odd is that most outlets give this a positive review. The only major outlet that gave it a bad one, was IGN. “The on-paper premise of a traumatic childhood brought to life as a playable short story is brilliant, but the wounded execution can’t quite sell the emotional expression.”, is what they had to say and I tend to agree a little.

I guess it’s a decent game if you like that kind of story, but if you’re looking for interesting puzzles, you’d better look elsewhere. It’s also an easy game for completionists and trophy/achievement hunters, as my two playthroughs gave me a lot of trophies in a total playtime of around six hours.

Eighth Gen Talk – Continued Thoughts and MGS2

A while ago I wrote a 1600 word behemoth talking about my thoughts on the current generation of games consoles and the state of gaming. I recently played a game that made me feel even more strongly about this. Basically, it concerns the second-to-last paragraph talking about innovation in games. I’d like to talk just a little more about that. I promise: this article will be a little shorter.

Image result for firewatchThis all started last week when I was talking to my cousin about the seventeen minute gameplay video of Firewatch. That game looks incredible. Even if it’s not open world and more linear than it appears, I cannot wait for it to come out. If you don’t know what Firewatch is, I’ll briefly explain. It’s a game about you, some guy, starting a job as a forest overseer in the eighties, and things happen in the woods which you have to deal with. The gameplay video looks like I could absolutely loose myself in that world.

After our discussion about the video, I talked about my favourite game series of all time: Metal Gear. It had been a while since I played through all games, but I picked it up a few weeks ago and I’m up to Metal Gear Solid 2 as of now. Even though I have played this game several times, I was really intrigued by it this time. It has never been one of my favourites in the series, but in light of recent developments in the gaming industry, I now look at it with a whole fresh perspective.

The first section of the game takes place on a large tanker ship. It is here that I started to pay more attention to the game’s mechanics, looks and details than before. The first thing was the lighting. This game uses dynamic lights and shadows in many places. When the enemy is close to you and the flash light on their weapons shine on you, it appears like there are light shafts and your body interacts with it. I am sure this isn’t a true volumetric light source, since that technology was not in place in the early 2000’s and is very computationally intensive, but it still looks impressive. Especially considering this game was released in 2001. Let that sink in for a second. That’s fourteen years ago.

Sure, this game doesn’t have the most incredible graphics by today’s standards, but at the time (and especially for an early PS2 game), this game looked incredible. Frankly, I still think it does. It has an aesthetic, which is more important than graphics, and it’s what a lot of modern AAA-games seem to miss.

Truly impressive, though, are the details. On this tanker is a crew lounge filled with lovely little details that make the worlds feel so much richer. There’s a plasma TV playing and when you shoot it, it breaks. The screen doesn’t just go blank; it starts to go black in a circle around where the bullet hit and goes outwards until the whole screen is black. A magazine rack is also present. If you shoot the individual magazines, they fall on the floor. They might be upside down, open or lying on the front page, and when shot again, they change position.

There’s a pane of bullet proof glass (seen above), but when shot about twenty times, it breaks into a million pieces. Again, like the TV, it starts to break where you last shot and it goes outwards from there. In the corner of the room is a bar (also seen above), stocked with glasses and bottles that all break and fall differently. Shoot at the plants, and leaves fall off and they wiggle.

Later on there is a boss battle with a female character named Fortune. The explosions in that fight cause the lights on the ceiling to swing, making the shadows on the ground change and again adding to the believability of this world.

These things are not new in modern games, but they were then. This game tried to push a new system further than any other game of its time. Mind you that this game did not compromise on its resolution and played at 60 frames per second. Knowing this, makes it look even more impressive.

The current generation seems to rely too heavily on things that have been established in the generation before (PS3/360), and to some extent even the one before that (PS2/Xbox). Aside from looking prettier, there seems to be little new. Little that is pushing better hardware, and that’s sad.

First Impressions: Castlevania – Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Shadow (3DS) ~ It’s Just Fun!

castlevaniamof

Wikipedia entry

So, my best wishes for the holidays. I have something special to announce. I got myself a wireless controller for my PC. That means that I can now play even more games than before. In addition to that, it’s the 50th article I publish on ButtonSmashers. Yes, 50th! And I’m nearing a big number on my personal blog as well. So, I’m extremely thrilled about that. But this is totally beside the point, I told you guys that I wouldn’t write any new article in 2013. I kinda lied. This is a new article, I guess. While I’m waiting for a download to finish to use my controller on, I played a bit of this game on my 3DS. It’s surprisingly better then I expected it in the first place. That’s why I decided to write an article about it. It would be lovely if you left a comment with your thoughts on this article and or on this game. So, let’s go. 

Story

castlevaniamofs.jpgIt’s going to be a shame to admit this but I know next to nothing about the story in the Castlevania series. It’s a shame really since I quite enjoy the Castlevania games. It’s actually Castlevania game I’m waiting on downloading on Steam.

The story, for as far I can understand, is pretty thrilling. The writing is pretty neat. I think it’s brilliantly written.

While I was thrown off at first by the presentation of the cutscenes, when I placed my 3D slider to the max I actually rather enjoyed the art style.

From what I have heard, this game will take place from different points of view. You don’t have to tell that to me twice to know that I’m going to play an excellent story. I have played multiple RPG’s from Konami and I was never let down by the story.

The voice acting. Wow. I mean, it just blows my mind how good it was. And actually still it. In the cutscenes, the voices add so much to the game. Yet, I’m under the impression that the game sometimes has a bit of a slowdown in the cutscenes with the 3D slider on. But that might just be me though.

“Mash”

castlevaniamo4Let me be clear on this, I hate button mashers with a passion. It broke the shoulder buttons of my original DS and I’m still kinda pissed about that. Yet, I’m glad that I learned my lesson and I don’t have to make other devices suffer the same fate.

ButtonSmashers don’t demand skill. In a sense they do, the skill to be able to tap a button very rapidly. While this game sometimes has it quick time events and it’s “mash the attack button” moments, I never really felt that they were a “mashing fest”.

Since when you aren’t careful, you’ll die. And in typical Castlevania style, the hearts don’t give back your health. You have to find fountains. And they aren’t close together. You have to react quickly and try to save your health.

In terms of controls, it’s acceptable. It’s one of the more weaker points in the game. While there is no “tutorial”, the controls are displayed briefly on the screen. So, experienced players won’t be annoyed by them.

While researching for the article, I came across an article on this game which called the combat one of the negatives. Well, here lies a problem. Since this game is a sequel to a 3D game, the combat is, of course, less bloody and such. I give them that, yet when you look at how this game works well in terms of combat as a 2D game, I think it can be excused.

Yet, something I didn’t welcome with open hands is the fact that when you die, you can get respawned in a boss fight with full health. Yeah, when you killed the boss halfway, you will respawn there.

Verdicts

castlevaniamof2Besides the weird respawning, there is something else that bothers me. The animation isn’t that great in my opinion. And before you write angry comments, let me explain.

The animation on the characters and such is great. Yet, we can’t really enjoy it that well since it’s a bit too zoomed out. It makes the game feel unfinished and that they use this technique to hide that.

While I already said that the controls aren’t the greatest, I have to talk a bit more about them. After you got used to them, they are pretty nice quality. The big issue is the fact that you need to get used to them. I wished that special powers could be done with a touch on the touchscreen.

The game is a good challenge. It isn’t too hard to be frustrating, but it isn’t too easy. This is a pureblood action adventure game. And the adventuring is really present. While you can easily see where to go next, exploring around gives you additional content. And more monsters to fight.

Defeated monsters give you XP. And when you level up, when you have enough XP of course, you unlock new moves. You can quickly check the moves list in your inventory so you have no excuse that you forgot the controls when you didn’t play the game for a while.

Also, Konami didn’t use any excuses in the art style. The game is pretty. Too bad that the game is a bit zoomed out. Otherwise, the art would have more detail in them and shined through a bit more.

I’ll probably go more in depth with my review but I’m liking this game so far. The music is also really nice. I like the soundtrack. Such a shame that no real good quality versions are uploaded to YouTube, so I could share it with you guys. In the sound department, this game is really well put together.

So in conclusion, this game would have been a lot better with some minor tweaks at the controls and a bit more zoomed in. But I think I’m going to leave it here. When I’m reaching that milestone on my personal blog, I’ll write a long special article. Thanks for reading and have a safe Christmas.

What’s a retro game?

Thanks Smashy for this.

Thanks Smashy for this.

Trying to come up with a definition for a retro game is extremely difficult. Many websites give different information. But which one is right? I did some research and broke my head about this question multiple times. After a while of thinking, I came up with my answer for the question. In this article I will explain more about my though process about this question. So even consider this to be a controversial topic, which I totally don’t get. But feel free to discuss in the comments down below and who knows, we might make the real definition of a retro game. Keep in mind that I try to make a definition here of what exactly is a retro game. Like “when is a game retro?”.

What’s a retro gamer? 

For answering that question we need to ask the question, what’s retro? When does a game turn retro? Is the previous entry in the series when the sequel releases a retro game? Or does it need to have a certain age? If we check WikiPedia on this one, there is an issue. They don’t give a clear definition. Also, they say when the most popular time period is. So, according to WikiPedia it should be 20 years old, looking to the popular period.

But then on other gaming blogs, they talk about games being 10 to 15 years old. So, there is some unknown things about retro gaming.

Promotional image for the DS game Retro Game Challenge.

Promotional image for the DS game Retro Game Challenge.

I think we can all agree that the Playstation 2 is now retro. Since it’s discontinued and the PS3 is out, plus the PS4 is soon going to be released. But let’s look at another console. Is for example the DS retro? I would say so, since the 3DS is out for a while and the mainstream gamers don’t really care about those games anymore.

Definition of a retro game.

So, are retro games, games where the mainstream doesn’t care about anymore? Yes and no, bargain sales don’t count. But I think I can say that whenever a game starts to get sold on second hand stores for low prices or not anymore on store shelves, it’s retro for sure. But wait, that isn’t correct since my local game store sells some old games and some of them are first hand.

Let’s look at it from a different angle. We are currently going to the 8th generation of consoles. The Wii U, PS4 & XBOX one. So, in my eyes, generation 1 till 6 is retro. But when does generation 7 turn retro? When generation 9 is released or announced? Or when generation 8 is well on it’s way?

Some might say that when something is discounted, it’s retro. When it’s not being sold anymore, it’s retro. And I disagree on one level. What if a company went bankrupt? Would their latest releases be considered retro? That would be a far stretch.

Yet, one thing is for sure. A retro game is an old game. But there is still a lot of debate when exactly a system turns retro. The issue we still have is about generation 7. Well, I think as soon as you barely see generation 7 games on the shelves, they are considered retro. When the first hand copies are becoming extremely hard to get. Since saying that games that need to be at least 10 years old to be considered retro, leaves one big time gap to be questioned. So, a game that is for example only a 5 years old, isn’t retro yet?

Is it even possible?

wii-u

In 2013, the Wii U is anything but retro.

For a while, I thought it would be impossible to make a definition for retro games. On all the forums I visited for researching this topic, everybody starts giving their own opinion. And some are very different then others.

Years are said, requirements or examples. What strikes me as odd is that many new questions start to raise. How do you call games that aren’t retro? Modern games? And why are always the handhelds left out?

It becomes even more difficult if we try to think about what games exactly you need to look at to make a definition. For retro games, do we need to take games like Android and iOS in a count? Or even the online flash games or Facebook games?

Let’s actually give a definition of a video game.  What is a video game? WikiPedia gives a great definition.

A video game is an electronic game that involves human interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device.

So, actually we need to count games created online and games created for tablets or phones into our group of games. Sadly enough, many gamers will rage at me for saying that. Since they don’t see Facebook games as actual games. Yet, I would refer those people towards the definition that I gave. Okay, copied from WikiPedia. Plus, I don’t think the developers would like to call their product an interactive application or a game wannabee.

Flaws in the logic

And then you get creations like this.

And then you get creations like this.

Like I said in my previous part of this article, there are always flaws in somebody’s logic. When somebody says that the previous generation is considered retro games, I have a small question for you then. Let’s take the 3DS for example. The 3DS is released late 2011. Are games from 2011 retro or not?

Honestly, it’s a combination from factors that decides when a game is retro. But I think I found a great indication for looking if a game is retro or not. The sales graph.

Think about it, if you look to a sales graph, you first get the early adapters who buy the game without looking to reviews. They are extremely hyped and they want to product. If you look to an usual sales graph, there is a point where it goes down in sales. In my point of view, I think you can say that a game is then starting to get retro.

Mainstream games will continue to sell. Like for example Minecraft, it might be an old game but it keeps selling like crazy. Whenever a game starts to “die” in the interest of the general public, the sales will go down. With that, the developer starts to get more and more costs of supporting the game. And eventually they start to support the game. Around that time, the game starts to become retro.

So I think that you honestly need to look to how much the game is sold, for which price (compared to the original), how much general interest there is, if the developer supports the game…

But then again, there is a flaw in my logic as well. Games that are overlooked, aren’t really the issue since they get sold. But I’m talking about free games. Those can’t be sold.

Well, I think I’m going to leave it here. What do you guys think is retro? I look forward to reading the comments.