Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday Update rundown.

Alright, I have a grab-bag of goodies to go over, so let's begin.

Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D Contains Permanent Save Data

So in an attempt to curb used game sales, Capcom has intergrated a new save system into their latest Resident Evil game.  They will not allow you to reset your save data on the cartridge.  This means, no matter what, you cannot delete your save info from the game (through default means, mind you).  This means, if you buy a used copy, everything will already be unlocked for you.  It'd be like starting a New Game + right our of the gate.

It's an interesting idea, but I can already see some people getting up in arms about this.  Hopefully it doesn't create a backlash like the Ubisoft fiasco.

More Details About Final Fantasy XIII-2

So, this will be mainly gameplay changes I'll cover here.  First, you can talk to people again, like classic Final Fantasy games.  Second, the world is far more open, with branching paths with treasures and monsters.  I cannot tell you how much the first game screwed this one up.  I'm glad to see that the sequel is not so chokingly linear as FFXIII was.  Third, the combat system from the first game in completely intact.  I actually REALLY enjoyed the combat in Final Fantasy XIII, and I only played for about 20 hours (About the time when all the good stuff gets unlocked).  The combat has a definite flow to it that makes it very satisfying when you take down a difficult boss.  Hell, the combat was fun for another reason, there were no easily stompable enemies.  Every fight could potentially bring you down.  To compensate for the tougher fights, they allowed your HP to recover after every fight, and it worked.

One of the newer features though, is the ability to actually actively get Pre-emptive strikes on the enemy.  When one appears, you have a timer appear, if you engage when the timer is green, you get a pre-emptive strike, and the enemy is slowed, or you're buffed, or whatever.  Engage on the red though, and your party is surprised, and now has to fight buffed enemies.

There's a ton of crap I could write about, but for some reason, I haven't had the spark to write an opinionated piece about the news I'm reading.  Maybe I just need to fire up the PS2 and play some RPGs or whatever and make a review or liveblog of a game.  Yeah, that sounds pretty relaxing actually.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tabletop Gaming (Pt. 2)

Alright, time to wrap this up.

World of Darkness

The World of Darkness setting is actually quite fascinating to me.  It can be set in any time period, but most often is placed in the current year.  The core game has you playing as humans, in which you can take on natural or supernatural occurrences.  The expansions (Such as Vampire: The Masquerade, or Mage: The Awakening) can be played either as their own seperate game, or run in conjunction with the base World of Darkness game.  Simply put, the expansions are just new ways to play the game.  Hell, some campaigns even have the human players turn into Vampires, Werewolves, or Mages in the middle of a game.

The system for WoD games is fairly straightforward and easy to learn, making it a good introductory RPG.  The main difference between this series and say, Dungeons and Dragons, is that you don't earn XP (experience points) for killing enemies.  You earn it for doing story-based things.  If you think of a clever solution, or avoid a lot of trouble, the Storyteller may award extra XP.  Experience in WoD isn't like Experience in DnD, you don't level up when you hit a set number, instead you spend your XP like a currency, to make your character stronger, or more adept at a given task.  This way, growth is more open, instead of railroaded by a class.

The World of Darkness series of games is meant to be played almost as a horror game.  With it's darker tones, and focus on the supernatural and things outside the player's control, it isn't all 'fun and games' in the world.  I recommend this game to people who are interested in a tabletop RPG, but are put off by the High Fantasy of Dungeons and Dragons.


Shadowrun is set in the near future (2077 I believe) after a series of semi-catestrophic events.  The future setting allows it to add fantastic technology, but blends it with some familiar things.  Cars still exist, but computers can now fit in the palm of your hands and are more powerful than any current consumer PC on the market.  Guns also still exist, but they can be fitted with microcomputer that can link up to your glasses, contacts, or cybernetic eyes for better aiming and a HUD.

Leveling up in Shadowrun is akin to leveling up in World of Darkness, get Experience to raise attributes and stats.

The setting details are pretty fascinating for this game as well.  You play as a Shadowrunner, a street mercenary hired by a corporation to complete some task.  This could be an assassination, data theft/manipulation, escort, courier, etc.  No matter what the task is, there's likely to be danger though.  There are no preset classes, but there are archtypes your character can follow: Hacker, melee, weapons expert, etc.  Hilariously enough though, you can have a hacker who's deadly with an Automatic Shotgun... just sayin'.

The Corporations play a big part in the game.  The country is run by the Mega-Corps, a dozen or so giant companies that control huge sections of land across the United States.  Most of them are competitors with each other.  You will probably make enemies out of most of these AAA companies during the course of your Shadowrunning career.  Law enforcement is usually handled by high-grade Rent-A-Cops called Lone Star.  Their services usually go out to the highest bidder.

Shadowrun is a little more complex than World of Darkness (it's magic system takes a bit of learning), but otherwise it's another good tabletop game I'd recommend.

Well, there's a brief look at 4 different tabletop RPGs that I'm familiar with.  If there's any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to leave a comment.  Also, leave feedback if you want to see more of these, or if you want me to just focus on the video games.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tabletop Rundown (pt. 1)

Hey, this IS a gaming blog.

Anyways, right now I'm going to run down a few different tabletop systems that I play.

Dungeons and Dragons
The standard staple of the Fantasy RPG style game.  Lots of number crunching here, so be prepared for that.  The two "Editions" that I play are 3.5 and 4th edition (4e).  Each edition has pros and cons associated with it, so we'll dive into those.

Lots of character choices - With 3.5, you have a lot of choices for your character race, simply because the Monster Manuals have a template for letting you play as non-standard races.  Level adjustment means that a Drow (dark elf) can join the party, with the proper level adjustment (I believe Drow level adjustment is +3, which means that a level 1 Drow is equivalent to a level 3 or 4 standard race).  This opens up tons of options for a player to play some really strange characters.

Extensive Skill System: This can be both a blessing, and a curse.  It lets your character have training in various areas, but some of them aren't as useful as others.  While you can take ranks in Craft and Preform to earn money (or to do any of your Bard class features), you then end up with some semi-useless skills like Appraise.  Again, it's all about the depth you wish to put into your character.

Better Magic Item System: Ok, this is just for laughs, but it's hilarious seeing a Frost Flameburst Holy Vorpal Longsword (in order: Extra frost damage with every attack, extra fire damage on critical hits, extra damage against evil alignment, and vorpal is in 'mess your shit up' territory).

Multiclassing: Multiclassing in 3.5 is rewarding.  A good player can manage his levels for his character.  Unlike  4e, you aren't limited to a single multiclass.  For example, a player could be a Ranger/Rogue/Bard if he so desired.  This also means that Prestige Classes (think of them like, Advanced Jobs from any of the Final Fantasy Tactics Games) can be multiclassed as well.

Combat: Combat is slow and boring if you aren't a spellcaster.  Most of what you do is "I hit it with my sword" type stuff with no other effects, whereas spellcasters get all sorts of fun spells to mess with that have a variety of effects.

Difficulty Curve: 3.5 can be a tricky game to jump into, with it's extensive book-keeping and whatnot.  It can be really off-putting for people who haven't played a game before.

4th Edition
Easy to learn: Once you learn a few key phrases (At Will, Encounter, Daily, Utility, Push, Pull, Slide), you can understand the basics of the game fairly well.  With the streamlined skill selection, you don't need to dive through all the different skills like you did in 3.5.  The game is easy to learn for beginners, and a seasoned player can pull a character together in short order.

Increased Level Cap: The level cap in 3.5 is 20.  In 4e, it's 30.  The difference this makes is noticeable.  With a higher cap, the enemies and campaign can feel a little more spaced out.  What this also does is allow for 3 different tiers of play.  Heroic (levels 1-10), Paragon (11-20) and Epic Destiny (21-30).  Heroic tier is the foundation of your character, where you play just the base class (Ranger for instance).  At Paragon, you become more specialized within your class or race (Stormwarden for Ranger makes you better at killing things with two weapons for instance).  Then Epic Destiny re-generalizes your character and makes him into some legendary typecast (Demigod).

Honestly, I had some reservations when I first started playing.  It seemed like it was more difficult to make an individual character.  Once more of the supplementary books were released though, more build options, powers, feats, and general stuff came out that helped that.  I suppose one of the con's is that it's Hard to completely break the game (Pun-Pun in 3.5 can DESTROY A GAME if the DM allows it).

Part 2 will come in the future and will cover other games I'm familiar with.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

First Person Shooters, my thoughts

Let me begin by saying that I don't HATE FPS games.  I'm just on the best of terms with them.  But this sums up one thing that bugs me.

I will compare this to games that I enjoy...

                                                                        Team Fortress 2

                                                                          Deus Ex

The biggest similarity between them?  Fast paced shooting, with the only sight aiming coming from snipers.

Even Doom and Deus Ex suffer from this next one.  The color scheme of most shooters is pretty horrible.  I mean... it's bad.  There's a huge focus on browns and grays in these games anymore.  It's kind of... annoying. There's not much that distinguishes the games from each other.  There's not much I can detect from Call of Duty and Battlefield (From playing/screenshots).  I'm talking strictly based off graphics here.

I don't know... maybe I'm being too rough on the genre, but I can't find anything to really to latch onto to like the genre.  The genre seems to have stagnated ever since Destructable Enviornments were introduced.  Nothing really fascinating has come since.  It's almost formulaic as how the games are made.  Cover based shooting is kind of irksome to me.  I prefer faster paced games when it comes to shooters.  Shoot fast, run fast, react fast, be careful of what little life you have.  That used to be part of the challenge.  Do I rush in?  Do I have enough life to survive a rush?  Or do I take it carefully, moving slowly?  Or do I try to find health before rushing?  These types of questions make you assess your skill and the situation at hand.  Personally, I liked that, but eh.

Licensed Music in Games: Where Did It Go?

I am very much a child of the 90s. I grew up on the original PlayStation, and during that time, there were plenty of games that were notable not only for the game itself, but also for the soundtrack. One game serves as a reminder, or perhaps a symbol, of this bygone age: N20 - Nitrous Oxide. For those of you who have not heard of this title, the gameplay is pretty much Tempest 2000 on acid.

Having never done acid, this is about as close as I've ever been.

The game was fun, but got repetitive after a while. One of the real highlights, however, was the soundtrack, composed in its entirety by The Crystal Method. The soundtrack fit the game like a glove, and still stands out as one of the game's main selling points. Between 1997 and 1999, it was pretty much required by law for PSX racing or vehicular combat games to feature Rob Zombie in some way or form. Zombie was featured in the soundtracks for Twisted Metal III and Sled Storm, as well as composing some of the soundtrack for Gran Turismo 2. He was also a playable character in Twisted Metal 4. Then, there was the Wipeout Series, which consisted entirely of techno tracks by groups like Future Sound of London, Cold Storage, and Paul Van Dyk, who also happened to be in the Sled Storm soundtrack.

My point is, licensed music was all the rage, so what happened to it? It seems like after the Sixth Generation of consoles, licensed music in video games had disappeared altogether, except for rhythm games, sports games and the occasional racer. There may be some games that feature licensed music, such as Alan Wake's intermissions and Brutal Legend, but those are few and far between (VALVe's Portal and Left 4 Dead games some of the sole exceptions). Now, I'm not knocking original soundtracks; Dead Space just wouldn't be Dead Space without an orchestra playing the lowest pitches they can, and the amount of detail and effort put into the Halo and Killzone soundtracks is staggering. But there was something charming about those days, something oddly compelling, knowing that if a game was adrenaline-soaked fun, it'd have the soundtrack to match, maybe even one of your favorite bands of the time.

Yeah, maybe those times are relics of the 90s and best left in the past, but even so, sometimes it's just fun to open the Guide/XMB/Music player of your choice and blast some good music, rather than all of these epic soundtracks which are commonplace today. I know plenty of people that do that, even for games with soundtracks like Halo. I do know that I certainly wouldn't mind hearing some Carcass in the next ultra-violent zombie apocalypse shooter, or maybe even some good, old-fashioned Rob Zombie in the upcoming Twisted Metal reboot. It'd be fun.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I recently began playing Okami for the PS2, and it made me realize something.  The PS2 might have been the best console for RPGs to exist to date.

There's a few reasons for this, and to demonstrate, I'll make a short list.

1) Graphical Limitations: While the graphics of the PS2 are very appealing and impressive for the time, it also limited how much "realism" could be inserted into a game without it looking hokey.  Due to hardware and storage limitations, putting too many realistic polygons into a game would severely hinder it elsewhere.  BUT!  There is a plus side to this.  Without the burden of hyperrealism, games were allowed to have a distinct style.  By looking at a screenshot, you can see that graphical distinctions were really noticeable.  From Dark Cloud, to Persona, to Final Fantasy, each game had a distinct style that they used.  Hell, look at Psychonauts.  The game has it's own art style, it's not afraid to be different.

Comparing this to the PS3 for a moment, most of the high profile games for that system are all done in a realistic sense (in terms of overall graphics).  God of War, Bayonetta, Brink, and FPS all try to latch onto this realism that escapes them, for better or worse.  While I'm on the PS3, I will give mention to 3D Dot Game Heroes.  I salute their ability to go against the grain.

2) Improved Soundtracks: Don't get me wrong, I love some soundtracks from the SNES days.  But there's only so many 16-bit loops you can listen to.  This improved with the PSX/N64, but the audio was pretty iffy at times.  On the PS2, we started to get some nice, crystal clear sound that could really sell a mood.  Not much to say on this one.

3) Gameplay: While interesting and exciting concepts were released in previous generations, the PS2 took them and ran with the ball.  Take the Tales of [x] games for example.  On the SNES and PSX, their combat system was a nice change from the typical JRPG turn based combat.  Now on the PS2, the combat doesn't get bogged down, no matter what flashy attack is going on, or how many enemies are on screen.  This same 3D, Active battle also worked well in the Star Ocean game for the PS2 (Til the End of Time).  The games just feel smooth and polished.  While this all can be attributed to the developers putting some good QA on the games, I doubt this type of fluidity would be available on older consoles.

Sure, I'm probably bias, and I'm sure there are current gen RPGs that I'm omitting, but for my money, with it's healthy game library, and above points, I'm proud to say that I'm a PS2 gamer.

E3 Recap

While many of the industry greats attended Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011, I sat back in silence and observed. Most of the time while tenting my fingers.

So, here's my honest opinion on how the three main companies did this year.

Even before E3 began I had a gut feeling that Microsoft would not be bringing anything new to the table this year. Sometimes I hate it when I'm right. There were a bunch of casual/family-oriented Kinect games, a few sequels, an HD Remake... and that was it, really.


Of the Kinect games, none were particularly notable: There was a Fake-Disneyland Exploration game, a Star Wars game where you wave your hands around and shout "Lightsaber, on!" which is supposed to be cutting edge when it's been done since at least 2003 (the earliest example that I can call to mind is Rainbow Six 3: Lockdown for the Xbox, and at least that you could control your whole team instead of just turning a lightsaber on).

Then, there was the announcement that we all knew would be coming at some point: New Halo trilogy. I'm skeptical about it quality-wise, but I'm willing to give the new dev team the benefit of the doubt until I see a reason not to. There were also the two givens: Gears of War 3 (which we all knew was coming anyways and who's presentation contained Ice-T for some reason) and Forza Motorsport 4 (which will always be Microsoft's answer to Gran Turismo and nothing more, customization options aside). The most shocking announcement revealed that Minecraft would be coming to Xbox and would have Kinect support. While the fan-made hack of Minecraft to support Kinect amounted to waving your arms to chop materials, here's hoping that they'll think of more innovative uses than that, and it's always good to see an indie developer get the recognition he deserves when making such a great game.

If E3 was a competition, Sony would have won by default because of Microsoft's falling flat on its ass and Nintendo's newest console being difficult to place bets on as of yet, as well as containing the least-stupid name of the new consoles. The long-rumored PSP successor was revealed as being the PS Vita, which, hardware-wise is one sexy piece of machinery. Dual and improved analog sticks, dual touch-screens, a camera, and processing power that very well may surpass the Wii's... at only $249. Yes, you read that right, $249.

Sony's third-party support came through once again, with Irrational Games revealing a BioShock project. Also announced for the new handheld was an Uncharted game, a WipeOut game (CROSS-PLATFORM MULTIPLAYER WITH WIPEOUT HD), and a few others. Irrational also announced that their upcoming title, BioShock Infinite would not only support the Move peripheral, but would also come with the original BioShock on the same Blu-Ray. There was also more footage of games like Resistance 3 (also Move-enabled), the SSX reboot, and Need For Speed: The Run.

When it comes to E3 showcases, Nintendo certainly knows how to be classy. The Nintendo showcast opened with a live orchestra playing tunes from the Zelda series; effectively opening with the very same strategy that they seemed to use during the presentation: Banking on nostalgia. After the opening ceremonies, Nintendo unveiled their latest console. Hopes were high for this new console. After all, people got over the Wii's stupid moniker pretty soon, right? Nintendo had to have learned from their mistakes and make a new HD console, right?

Well, both yes and no. The HD is there, the processing power seems to be there, but the stupid name remains: the Wii U.

More like No U, amirite?

The controller has a big-ass touch screen smack-dab in the middle of the controller. One design decision that I find baffling is that they put the buttons BELOW the analog sticks.

Nintendo knows best.

For games, all the obvious entries were there: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, generic party games along the lines of Wii Sports, and so on. The surprise here is that The Wii-U has more solid third-party support than its predecessor, with Gearbox, EA, and Sigil Games all hopping on the bandwagon, stating that the Wii-U is a graphical powerhouse and even more innovative than the Wii. Unfortunately, when footage of some third-party Wii U games was shown, this footage was revealed to be PS3/360 footage. Not a good way to unveil your new console.

So, during E3 '11, there were many new products unveiled: Some destined to be a towering success, some potential blunders, and one thing that most of us aren't even sure to make of yet. Either way, the next year will be a very interesting time for the industry, in more ways than one.

Second Post

Hello world, I am The Mighty Traestorz and I will be your copilot for this often-turbulent flight through the gaming industry.

About Me:
Interests: Various sub-sub-genres of metal, games (of course), being overly pessimistic
Current Consoles: Atari 7800, Atari Jaguar, PSX, PS2, PS3, Xbox, 360, PC (Windows 7), PC (Windows 98), NES, SNES, N64, Genesis, PSP, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance (not the SP)
Favorite Franchises: Halo, Dead Space, Mortal Kombat, Doom, Quake, Wing Commander, Star Wars, Command & Conquer, Killzone
Favorite Genres: FPS, RTS, Rhythm, Fighting, Twin-Stick Shmups
Mildly Annoyed By: CoD, Activision, Pop Music, Metalcore/Deathcore, Rap, Country, Stoners

So yeah, sit back and enjoy the flight. And try not to kick the seat in front of you too much.

First Post

Alright, this is a test introductory post.  Mainly seein' how this will turn out.

As you can see, this is a gaming about blog... I mean blog about gaming.  Beware the strong language at times.  Those easily offended, well... what's wrong with you?

A bit about myself gaming wise.
Age: 22
First Console: NES
Current Console(s): PS2, PC, NDS
Favorite Consoles: PS2, SNES
Favorite Genres: RPG (Both Japanese and Western), Sports, Action-Adventure

More information will be made available later.