Thursday, July 2, 2015

Greatness in Half

Bayonetta 2 is a game that nearly never got made and you have to wonder why Sega felt lukewarm about publishing the sequel. It does feel like a lower budget game than the first game for sure, clocking in about two-thirds the length of the first Bayonetta. You could make the case that the first game was a little too long but the way Bayonetta 2 ended left me feeling like THAT WAS IT? Ok the ending was nice and wrapped the story up nicely leading to the events of the first game even if it's way too similar to DMC3 ending.

The story of Bayonetta 2 does not revolved around Cereza, her story arc was done in the first game and here she is just dragged into the thick of things. A bit like how Kiryu story was completed in the first Yakuza and every installment of Yakuza games is not really about Kiryu. I was playing Max Payne 3 recently and I didn't like how the story narrative shifts from the wealthy family Payne was protecting to human trafficking. Bayonetta 2 has the same type of narrative shift, first the story is about Cereza trying to rescue her friend Jeanne and then suddenly, it's about time travelling and trying to get to Fimbulventr. I supposed you can't expect much of a story when the game starts and ends with Bayonetta shopping in a high end district.

The fighting mechanic is very much the same as the first game except now you can use a widespread climax attack instead of one torture attack on a single enemy. It's useful when you are fighting in a big crowd especially if you don't want to waste the torture on the wrong enemy in the midst of the chaos.

Platinum Games are learning from their western counterparts, you can see them trying to create these cinematic interactive experience like the Uncharted games. When you fighting a boss sometimes the background shifts and your summoned is fighting the other summoned in the background. It's frantic and looks really good but having to juggle combos while being distracted by all this is sometimes a bit too much. Go back to the first game that is included in the packaging and you can appreciate some definite graphical improvement.

In the end this doesn't feel like a full fledged sequel to me more like, Bayonetta 1.5. All the players that made the first game great are back but constraints held this one back a bit.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Keep The Home Fires Burning

This mobile strap comes with first edition copies of Devil May Cry 3 JP Edition

The Devil and Bayo series shares this weird symbiotic relationship. They obviously have the same fanbase (me being one) but coincidentally the games never competed head on. 

The Devil series did their thing and faded away for a bit then the Bayo games came and kept the fires burning. I don't think it would be too far to say that if it wasn't for Bayonetta, DMC4SE would never have happened. 

One man that has a hand on both series is action director Yuji Shimomura. He crafted the cutscenes in both the series, making the games just as fun to watch as it is to play. Yuji started in this genre with DMC3 which is probably still his best work if you asked me. His work on the Bayonetta series has been less impressive perhaps because the Devil work were so outstanding.

I can't pick out a single impressive scene from Bayonetta 2. That creative energy that I expect from Yuji just isn't there, not sure if the story and characters just didn't suit his strengths. Bayonetta 2 felt like a lower budget game to me and considering how hard Platinum fought to make that game, I believe that to be the case. The cutscenes felt just as long as the first Bayo but less impactful, there isn't much scenes of showing off that you come to expect. 

DMC4SE new scenes looked very promising, I can't wait to see what Yuji has cooked up as it certainly looked like he found his vigor again. 

The inside of the strap has a different color depending on which character

This is for Vergil. There is also one for Dante and Lady

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Waiting Game

These days, games get released not once, not twice.... you get the drill. Lebron knows what I'm saying.

I'm talking about Game of The Year Edition, never mind the remastered and HD edition this time. 

I waited a really long time for Red Dead Redemption GOTY edition almost to the point where I forget why I wanted the game at the first place. Looking back, I wasn't very eager about this game until the Undead Nightmare DLC came about. Being a fan of all things horror, I was probably more interested in the DLC than the actual game itself so it made sense to wait it out for a complete edition. Sure I could have gotten the standalone DLC first but I always find DLC pricing too absurd for my liking. For the record, I did actually play the original Red Dead first before getting into the Undead Nightmare. 

Most of the time it's almost impossible to wait for a Complete edition if you are really eager on the game since day one. Quality DLC takes time to develop, unless it's some cheap tactic employed by a publisher to withheld finished content to release down the line. Most of the good DLC like Left Behind and RE5 felt like genuine afterthought made due to positive feedback of the original game. By the time those DLC came out, the original games were aging in dog years by gamer's standards.

I had no idea that The Evil Within was going to have DLC story content when I picked up the original game. I don't keep track of every game out there to point where I even know about games I have no intention of playing. Thankfully the main game was satisfying and pretty meaty content for a single player game. Mikami isn't one to cut back, I always thought RE4 was probably a tad bit too long for its own good. The Evil Within never overstayed its welcome, it's long but never felt draggy. The DLC added more to what was already a pretty strong content for a survival horror game. Probably good enough for me to consider double-dipping on a complete edition for The Evil Within PS4/Xbone version.

It's nice to own the complete edition of a game, having all that content in one convenient package. However, there is something cool about owning the first edition of the game. You can denied that, it's almost like a badge of honour among your geek friends.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Playing for Fun

Playing games should always be about having fun. I remember reading that the worst thing a game can do is to make you feel like you wasted your time.

I totally agree with that but unfortunately that sometimes means achievements. Or in this case, trophies.

A game can be fun but in the end if I failed to make any progress during that time I would feel like I wasted my time. Like when I’m about to power down the console and realized I didn’t make a new save file, the feeling of wasted effort comes creeping in. It could be a brutally hard action game or an adventure game with a devilish puzzle (Cing).

It could also be a second play through when I need to locate every emblem (RE) or collectible (TLoU) in the game. By then, I would need the help of a guide because I obviously couldn’t locate every bit in my first play through. The problem is the more dependent I’m on the guide, the less fun the experience becomes. I don’t play by my normal instincts anymore and the constant need to check the guide breaks any mood the game creates.

In the end, I don’t feel like I wasted my time because I achieved something. Did I have fun? Probably not as much as I would like to. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Silently Gone

The good ole days of demo discs

Crazy things that only happen in this digital age - digital copy of demos selling at a high price.

Yes the PT debacle. 

Now I'm not going to talk about my disdain for the project but I figure the news of PS4 containing a digital copy of the demo warrants a mention. After this game was announced to be cancelled, sellers started putting their ps4 with the demo up for sale on eBay for absurd prices. 

The thing about digital files is that it multiplies each time it's copied or in this case, downloaded. That's part of the appeal for publishers to go digital, they don't have to deal with the hassle of estimating how much to print. The more they print the more cost they incur. Instead just put the digital file online and the demand will determine the distribution flow with no additional cost.

So the PT demo was available was quite a while as I remembered a certain penny-pincher talking about it more than six months ago. Its distribution easily exceeded several millions if we just estimated a percentage of the 20 million plus ps4 users downloaded it.Now it's no longer available and unless someone reserve-engineer the ps4 hardware to copy the demo, you are not likely to get it anymore. But at the end of the day, it's still just a digital file made up of nothing tangible and distributed over a million times before. Who in the right mind would pay so much for a demo of a cancelled game?

A few years ago, EA sports also cancelled their NBA Elite (a re-branding of sorts of their long running NBA Live series) game shortly before release. A demo of that game was available on PSN before the game was cancelled. The removed demo never amount to anything of value but I read that retail copies of the finished game surfaced briefly before being pulled from the stores. Now those retail copies are serious collector items which I can understand but not this digital age nonsense.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jumping The Gun

I have a set of 5 figures but I keep coming back to these two

What's the first button you instinctively reach for when you want the character to jump?

It's usually the lowest button on the controller regardless of what system or generation, that's how buttons are normally mapped to by default. You don't go against the system especially if it's a technical action game like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta.

The first Devil May Cry game mapped the jump action to the Triangle button. That's right, it's on the highest button on the gamepad for reasons I failed to understand. The buttons also cannot be re-configured so you are basically stuck with unlearning what you learnt through years of playing these games.

Thankfully as I tend to have multiple copies of these games, I discovered that the Japanese version of Devil May Cry doesn't have this type of insane button mapping. Jump is actually mapped to the X button like how it usually is. For once, owning multiple copies of the same game actually paid off and I can put this import copy to use despite have to start all over. Or if you are not the nostalgic type, you can always pick up the HD collection as it's seems they have fixed this problem on the HD reissue.

This anniversary re-issue is actually pretty sweet, it comes with a bonus soundtrack disc and a nice new cover art. When I first bought it, I even got a bonus DVD of the wesker report and trailers for other Capcom games. Those were good times, too bad it never lasts as with all good thing.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Crossroads

As a consumer, cross generation games have really put me in a dilemma.

On one hand, I don't want buy a new hardware to play games that I can also play on my old system.

On the other, I don't want buy an inferior version (last gen) of a game that I know will undoubtedly look better on newer consoles.

Yes the old master race. Yet I find myself buying PS3 games lately that contradicts myself. Partly some are for collection purposes which I will gladly buy the PS4 version as well. But mostly it's also because the price drop is sufficient to the point where I think it's justifiable for a last gen version. 

You see I could never understand why the pricing of cross-generation games are roughly about the same. There is no logic to that, yes it's the same product but not exactly the same quality (in terms of aesthetic not the actual quality). If the pricing was adjusted to reflected that maybe it would make things easier. Then again, nobody will upgrade their hardware if games cost less and are still available on old consoles. 

I also realised the game itself is more important winning the master race. RE4 on the Playstation 2 was a pretty inferior port but it didn't diminished the greatness of that game. Everyone had good memories of it despite the fact that the inferior port was probably the most played version. 

In the end a great game will undoubtedly a great game, everything else is just superficial. 

Unless we are talking about RE4 Iphone edition or Dead Rising Wii.