Playstation Experience/Top 5

The recent events have unveiled a solid number of titles I would be rather interested in playing the upcoming year. So here’s a few highlights.

1. First up, Uncharted 4: A Theif’s End. Yes I still do need to complete the third game before I even think of this one. Theif’s End looks even prettier and more breathtaking than before and I have always considered it a top trier adventure. Nothing too deep or complex but very enjoyable and very satisfying. I have had a whale of time playing the series eventhough Nathan’s attitude started to rub off on me after the first game and his character has essentially become a George Clooney of video gaming, you know, the kind of happy-go-lucky, carefree, playful, I-live-on-the-edge-without-care ladies man persona I do not have much time for. Still I want to see the finale or at least what I believe is going to be the end of Drake’s escapades.

2. Next, I am glad to see PS Vita library growing, especially in the RPG department. Suikoden II has just been ported to PSN and Vita so I might give it a whirl in the future especially since I have always been intrigued by the series.

3. I used to think I did not have much time or patience for Little Big Planet but the minute I saw the footage for the third game I immediately felt the urge to play so I might seriously consider buying it once it’s out.

4. Now Final Fantasy VII HD for the PS4? I don’t care what they say I will gladly play it again.

5. And finally, the newest edition of Metal Gear Online looks solid and really well-made, like the remaining games in the series. It almost pains to have to say no to it since I’m rather hopeless with competitive titles where frequent shooting is involved.

Drakengard 3//First impressions

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You know the feeling you get when it seems like you have got nothing to play eventhough your backlog thinks otherwise but then you stumble upon something that makes you excited again? That’s Drakengard 3 for you.

The moment the previews for this title emerged I immediately knew I wanted it. There are several reasons for that. One- Taro Yoko, and his quite unique approach to storytelling, script and characters, being involved, two-one of my favourite composers Keiichi Okabe partaking, three- the fact that I loved NieR, obviously I could not have felt any different about Drakengard 3. Although I am fairly new to the series I do recall bits and pieces of the first two games and from what I remember it was not half bad.

Gameplay is nothing I have not seen before, it’s pretty basic yet fast-paced and engaging especially with different types of weapons to upgrade and acquire. Being able to switch between them in battle and mid-air fights including your dragon add an element of variety as well. Relying on your companions though, who join you later, might not be the best of ideas as it can be futile which is a shame especially because it really is a nice selection of characters. The AI on the whole is rather horrible.

Appearance-wise I know it has gathered plenty of criticism and I can understand why, but personally the quality of graphics does not bother me as the design ticks all the boxes and you know how I pretty much value a good design above everything else these days. Texture is something I barely ever focus on and I always am finding it hard to complain about because in this case I’m too busy bonding with the characters. And those in Drakengard 3 paired with the horrifyingly odd (or oddly horrifying) sense of humour are the star of the show.

Drakengard 3 is an interesting pick. It knows how to tell an intriguing story, it offers a great range of personalities with heaps of chemistry between them and an aesthetically pleasing both level and character design. If you appreciate those more then you will likely look past the earlier metioned technical and visual issues and should not be dissapointed since the title is flawless in the other departments.

Wishlisting #christmas

I have always been a wee bit obsessed with all sorts of lists especially wishlisting hence th’day I’ve decided to come up with what I personally would wish to put my hands on. Some of it might seem like an unattainable dream since I usuallly seem to be getting infatuated with titles exclusive to the platform I never own.

Two releases I have been frantically eyeing up recently are Bayonetta 2 and Dark Dream Don’t Die. The first one is an obvious pick since I adore the predecessor and the latter … I genuinely pray for it to appear on Steam at least. If you’re a Deadly Premonition enthusiast you will understand and share my obsession. It’s one of those titles that radically stands out and is so entertaining the hours of play seem to just fly by. I would assume and hope Dark Dreams is no different.

Seeing as the RPG mood never seems to take a backseat with me I have been stalking the PSP library quite frequently. I’m nearly done with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, which has been a sheer joy to play, and I’ve decided I need to take a closer look at other classics. So far Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth and perhaps Riviera: The Promised Land seem to be the closest to my preferences.

And finally something I have been lusting over this whole year. PS Vita. Also, ideally Persona 4 the Golden together with it.

What’s on your list?

GOTY 2014?

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It’s almost that time of year already, isn’t it? I think November makes it safe to begin the game of the year chats (& the christmas wishlisting). My annual picks are usually rather questionable because it is always either something that is a relaunch/remaster/remake so technically it should not count or something that was released in Europe within the timeframe but yonks before everywhere else so … should not count either.

I believe last year it was Deadly Premonition and the year before that- Catherine. This year is not any different. The title I have spent most time with and have still tons to do within the extras department is indeed the Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD remaster. I don’t think I have even been this excited for a relaunch of something that I had played a crazy amount of times in the past and know by heart entirely.

 

A beautiful tale about nothing in particular #Tales of Xillia

I believe last time I spoke about this title was months ago when I was not too far into the game. I remember liking it but wishing it would have been more exciting … . Fast forward 4 months, and I have made a good chunk of progress but I swear it feels like the game is neverending. I don’t really have anything new to add but I still wanted to talk about it mainly because I feel like I should love it but I just cannot commit.

The game does almost everything right and when I try and make my mind up on what exactly it is that it’s lacking I struggle. The level design is stunning. Every town, dungeon or any other place has got its on distinctive style and feel to it. The environments, the architecture, even the smallest elements like the icons in the menu pages, are crafted with some serious dose of effort and attention to detail making exploration a dream come true. What is more, there is plenty of good reasons to replay the game since you are given countless side quests to complete, extra dungeons to explore plus two equally main protagonists what offeres two different paths you can take. The gameplay is dynamic, very dynamic in fact, the battles are frequent and the bosses especially in the later chapteres of the game are quite challenging.

For a title that is so well made and polished up in all of the above-mentioned aspects I would expect the story to be on a comparable level or just better than average. So it is rather unfortunante that this is the only element that would need some serious beefing up. Both the plot and the characters feel rather familiar and predictable, on the whole it’s just not that fascinating. I have got nothing against recycling old formulas for the most part as long as they offer something new along the way. Tales of Xillia sadly does not and for that reason it feels tedious to watch.

My point is I always expect something extra special in terms of storytelling and Tales of Xillia is painfully lacking in that department which is a shame because it’s pretty advanced and complex in the other aspects. The packaging is great but the content is not as shiny.

On Henry #SilentHill

It’s ok … it’s just a dream.

If there’s anything other than undeafeatable ghosts Silent Hill 4: The Room is receiving the most negative feedback on it is the main protagonist Henry Townshend. A soft-spoken introverted tenant who clearly does not stand out. Very little there is to know about him at the very first glance, even his neighbours admit they barely notice him and have got not much to say about him either. Although it is still possible to find fractions of information about his past, current life and interests with a bit of an effort and exploration throughout the game he still remains your average boy next door.

Yes, Henry is not necessarily the most exciting and colourful character. And that is okay. But what he really has been criticised for is the fact that he is not very vocal about his emotions, feelings, thoughts etc. when facing the most gruesome scenes therefore he is not believable/relatable. Well, I beg to differ. Henry has been given a hard time because he has a tendency to freeze up and act irrationally and for the most part is pretty reserved and not very expressive. Consequently, he is frequently compared to his entire opposite, the sassy outspoken Heather and recently Murphy whose reactions to traumatic surroundings for some unexplainable reason have been set as ideal patterns. It isn’t really fair since in my eyes there is no such thing as a default, primary or a better reaction to disturbing circumstances. People respond to certain elements in many different ways and the way Henry does in fact is not that uncommon which paradoxically does make him believable.

Why level design is what matters

As it’s been mentioned before exploring is probably my top favourite thing to do in a video game. Therefore design or style direction is crucial. It’s something I could talk about for days. It’s what I notice first and pay the most attention to in my titles. And that involves both the outdoor backgrounds, landscapes, the interior as well as menus, equipment, etc.

The reason I am always so drawn to it is probably because it requires a lot of creativity, skill in craft and imagination. It adds volumes to the atmosphere and makes my favourite activity- exploration- a dream. Games like Demon’s or Dark Souls both share the same about of care and attention to detail making the architecture and setting exeptional. Others like NieR, Ni no Kuni, Ico, Legend of Dragoon or Final Fantasy titles offer an entirely different but equally immersive approach.

Silent Hill 2 in my eyes has a solid number of beautifully designed enviroments, the indoor areas in particular. The levels go amazingly well together with the story and the mood of the entire game. Here’s a few stand-outs.

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A Gamer Grill ft. @gunbladeproxy01@BradBraddington

This month I thought of doing something a little bit different and let the fellow gamers do the talking. Today’s questionnaire’s featuring &.

Prologue. What was you first memorable gaming experience?

My first gaming experience would be … When I was about 6 years old my sister was baby sitting me and needed someway to entertain me so I would stop climbing the walls and generally misbeheaving. She put me in front of the SNES and put in a copy of Super Mario Bros: All Stars, I unfortunatly can’t remember which of the Mario games on the cartridge I played first but 2 and 3 definietly stick in my mind the most from that time.

Playing Asteroids on the Atari 2600 when I was about 5 or 6 years old.

Category. What would you say is your favourite genre and what titles would represent it best?

That’s a hard question, I could narrow it down to my top 3 which would be Horror, Open World, and fighting games. I would say Horror has a way to capture my attention and emotions like no other game can, I love being scared I guess. Since everyone has heard all the usual best horror games ever (Silent Hill, Resident Evil or Fatal Frame) I’ll try throw in something different. So I would have to say Forbidden Siren, also more recently Outlast and Five Nights at Freddy’s scared the shit out of me. I love Open World games such as GTA, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Sleeping Dogs etc. I guess I love that feeling of a game environment existing independently around you and you can behave as you see fit in that world. As for fighting games, I love competition and nothing is better than knocking some heads together on Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

A few years ago I would probably have said RPG but I would now say Fighting games like DOA5U, Tekken Tag 2 and Persona 4 Arena. I’m not extremely good at them but I have fun with them. I have a lot of fighting games. Most of them on my PS3.

Ingredient. What are your favourite aspects of a game & why?

It depends on what type of a game it is. A good story and interesting characters are a must have feature for an RPG. You need to be hooked by them to put a ton of hours into an RPG. Fighting games also need interesting characters but they also need cool gameplay and environments. Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate has all three of those aspects. Sports games need to be as authentic to the sport that they are based on. Racing games need well designed courses and good racing controls for me to get interested in them.

Again I find this hard to pick one single answer. I love artistic design or vision in my games, Silent Hill 1/2/3/4 all had incredible design both in their level and their characters. The developers had a vision and they clearly worked hard to potray it properly and create a terryfying experience for gamers. An example of this would be Final Fantasy X. Tidus and his merry group are all intricatly and fantastically designed just as much if not more than the world that they explore. I guess that level of detail and creativity makes them seem almost…alive and you are part of their world as you play along. They take you somewhere you’ve never been before. It’s similar to Edgar Alan Poe, when you read his literature he was able to make the reader visualize his characters and their world on such on an intricate level that you felt you were really there. Artistic design can also extend to audio elements of games. Niers soundtrack for example is to die for and is simply incredible. I must admit that I have a wee bit of a bias towards the good ol’ piano.

Persona. Can you think of a video game character that resembles you personality wise? Who would you say you admire as a person in a game?

I can’t think of one of the top of my head but Aya Brea from the Parasite Eve games and Solid Snake from the MGS games are a couple of characters that I admire.

Which character do I relate myself to? That would be Tidus from FFX. Not to toot my own horn but I felt like he’s always positive, always moving forward, very protective other those he cared about. Plus some other aspects of his personality, like quirks you see throughout FFX would fit with mine, plus the annoying voice all the time lol. Who do I admire most as a character? Easily gotta be The Boss from MGS3, she sacrificed herself for her country knowing she would forever be known as a traitor, she gave everything for her country and more. I can feel the tears coming. Also Raiden for being the sexiest man in video games.

Treasure. What would you say are games that are not getting enough recognition for their quality?

 It always sucks to see certain games not earn the recognition and/or sales that they deserve. A recent example being Swery’s D4 on X1. I’ve been hearing that despite fantastic reception from gamers and media, it’s selling horribly. As for games I’ve actually played I would say Valkyria Chronicles and its sequels. Although the games are hard as frozen nails they managed realise a beautiful game world/characters, and incredible turn based gameplay. Unfortunatly the game sold next to nothing and we’ve never seen the third title released outside of Japan.

Tetris. It’s a simple yet addicting game that you don’t hear about a lot. Games like Bejeweled and other match 3 type of games are popular now . The Parasite Eve games are also games that are not getting enough recognition for their quality. You know that I could go on and on about the PE games but I will most likely do that on my gaming blog eventually.

 I’ve got a couple of others that I thought didn’t get the respect they deserved, such as Nier which I harp on about a lot! Incredible, incredible game that it’s a peak representation of artistic design in chracter development, story and of course the jaw dropping soundtrack. Resistance 3 sales more or less killed the franchise which also upset me. Resitance 1 had an incredible multiplayer experience but was hampered by a lackluster single player. Resistance 2 was very forgetable all-around but Resitance 3 was simply incredible on all fronts, a fantastic campaign was backed by a fairly good online experience. The most over-looked game ever has to be Clive Barkers Jericho, wow that game was awful in so many ways but I absolutely LOVED it and it makes me sad even talking about it now knowing that there is a 99.9% chance we will never see a successor, even worse considering that cliff-hanger ending.

Hype. Can you think of any games that rightfully deserve all the popularity they have been receiving?

Games like Persona 4 and Grand Theft Auto V are a couple of games that deserve the hype they are getting. Both are amazing . The Metal Gear Solid series also deserves all of the hype they get when a new game is announced.

 I can’t recall a single game ever living up to its hype it seems like an impossible goal to accomplish but in part this is largely due to how wild people expectations become. Destiny, GTAV those sort of things never quite lived up to the hype but people still bought and enjoyed those games. It’s hard to say if a game deserves its hype or not but there is no denying that it’s a big part of making a game nowadays. Hype works and Destiny and GTAV sales prove that.

Pet peeves. All the little things that irritate you, now’s your time to vent.

Time Limits in games…ever, in any circumstance. Unskippable cutscenes, people replay games sometimes ya know? Lack of maps or general direction. Multiplayer trophies, uttetly pointless. When you have cables going all over the place for your consoles (more so an old problem). Putting games in the wrong case, “it’s just a game”.

Campers in First Person Shooters is the most recent pet peeve that I have. What’s the point of just standing there and waiting for a kill??? It makes no freaking sense! The developers spend a lot of time making the maps for the game but campers will only see that little corner that they decided to hide in. Another pet peeve of mine is bad checkpointing in games. Grand Theft Auto IV was definitely guilty of that. It got so bad that I gave up on the game and deleted it off my 360. The good news is that GTA V doesn’t suffer from this problem. Another pet peeve related to GTA is annoying “Dudebro” characters. GTA IV had a character named Brucie who always acted like a douchebag. He was another reason I gave up on GTA IV. Yesterday I encountered a similar character in GTA V named Dom. That character almost ruined an enjoyable mission for me. Luckily, I can just avoid any future missions featuring Dom. He is not a big part of the main story like Brucie was in GTA IV. The final pet peeve I will mention is unskippable cutscenes. They can get really annoying in parts of a game that you keep dying in.

Online. How often do you play online? Do you have any great online experiences to share?

I play online games a lot. I mostly play fighting and FPS games online. A few great online experiences that I can think off the top of my head right now are great matches of DOA5 and Tekken Tag 2 with you and Brad.

I play about the same amount online as I do offline. Games I have loved in the past or currently recommend would include Team Fortress 2, Dark/Demons Souls, any of the Tekken games and I’ve always enjoyed dabbling in the old Civilization V game.

The Current. What are your recent favourites & a GOTY as of now.

My current faves are GTA V on PS3, Rouge Legacy on PS3 and Vita, and Far Cry 3 on 360. Rouge Legacy is also my GOTY as of now. It’s addicting and fun. The gameplay fits perfectly on the Vita. It’s great if you just want to play a quick game of something.

GOTY as of now- Dark Souls 2 and I’m currently in love with Dead Rising 2: Off the Record and Team Fortress 2.

Epilogue. What do you look forward to the most in the year 2015?

EASILY MGSV, I truly cannot wait for that one. I NEED a next-gen console for that. It’s going to be GOTY 2015 no doubt about it.

I am looking forward to Dead or Alive 5 Last Round on the PS4. It is good that Tecmo Koei is putting DOA5 on the current gen consoles. I will definitely play a lot of that as Mila, Phase 4, or Hitomi. I am also looking forward to Persona 5, Bloodbourne, MLB 15 The Show, Tekken 7, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and any others that I can’t think of right now.

 

The notes. #September

This month has delivered a good handful of interesting news and updates so far including my highly anticipated releases. Persona 5 being at the very top of my list has finally got a proper trailer featuring possibly the main protagonist.

God Eater 2 Rage Burst has been announced for the PS4 as well as Vita which is a good thing eventhough it is highly unlikely for it to show its face outside of Japan. It really is a shame since the first game was a gem when it comes to action/adventure RPGs.

Also I have to admit Tales of Xillia 2 is looking rather tempting especially when it comes to character design and Tales of Zestiria is shaping up nicely too.  I haven’t decided if I will be purchasing though since I’m still not quite sold on its predecessor.

And finally the amount of news that reached the surface today took a while for me to process. Yes, Tokyo Game Show. Bottom line is -so far-that I like/want everything. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD will be out to buy the upcoming spring and has been updated with a brand new footage AND will include a playable demo for Final Fantasy XV which has received a rather dashing new trailer. Both are looking all kinds of lovely so I’m even more enthusiastic about the releases.

Phantasy Star Nova is out this year in the east for PS Vita and today’s news give us a bit of an insight into the game. It does look like the customisation still remains a vital part, maybe even better this time around.

Are you interested in any of those?

Plot or gameplay?

I often find myself wondering if I enjoy video games for the right reasons mainly because most of the time if not always I tend to focus only on the way a game is designed, what the sound is like or who the characters are and why they are who they are. If I enjoy the plot I will gladly accept lengthy cutscenes and a ‘barely there’ gameplay. If the plot is lacking I’m never fully satisfied unless it’s a fighting game. Silent Hill 2, which is generally considered an iconic game, has been praised for its distincive horror, plot and atmosphere but criticised especially recently for its simplistic, archaic and not the most exciting gameplay. And I agree.The gameplay IS not very complex but I’ve never had any complaints since to me it feels almost like a transparent part of a bigger picture that I would never notice or think much of. So I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a flaw since it is …good enough … [for a game that is powerfull in other aspects].

Tales of Xillia & Silent Hill:Downpour impressions

Tales of Xillia

This one has been my introduction to the ‘tales of’ series for a few weeks now. I haven’t really felt head over heels with it eventhough I believe I’m well over half way into it and there’s plenty of outstanding aspects of the game. Combat and interface/design are probably my favourite features. The first is fairly fast-paced and multidimentional, the latter is beautifully crafted. Consequently, both make the battling and exploring highly exciting. I would be entirely happy with the title if it wasn’t for the in my opinion mediocre storyline and characters. Both are interesting just enough to keep me focused although the abundance of dialogues between the protagonist and the companions can sometimes be tiring. All things considered, it might not be entirely fullfilling but it is a solid and enjoyable title.

Silent Hill: Downpour

I was avoiding playing it for a long time mainly because I had seen plenty of footage and had a general idea of what the story and characters are like and frankly speaking was not really interested. So I did not really see the point of playing it myself until I had no other option but to press start. In short the game has got a decent beginning and an end but the main body is pretty lackluster. The characters, the setting and mainly the horror feel very flat and uninspired which for a Silent Hill game is pretty bad. I do not mind the monster design that much but the inventory is frustrating. Healing yourself while being chased or in battle is a pain, map could have been more accessible and I lost count on how many times I accidentally launched my weapons in the air. Sadly, it might actually be my least liked entry to the series.

The notes. #August

That’s no moon. It’s a #supermoon! Tomorrow’s full moon: 14% closer to Earth & 30% brighter http://t.co/GnuRamoFTC pic.twitter.com/ZgywPHMtYA

— NASA (@NASA) August 9, 2014

Looking forward to that. Sadly there’s not been any major gaming this month … yet. As usual my inability to stick to one title at a time is here to blame. My blacklog has gotten bigger than ever and I’m seriously frightened for once so as usual I’ve been ignoring it and grinding on the good ol’ favourites (Final Fantasy X-2) on the side feeling guilty.