Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tale of Two Sisters

Fatal Frame 2 is a curious choice for a remake on the Nintendo Wii since the original version appeared on the Playstation 2 (and later Xbox) so the graphical leap isn't what you would come to expect for a remake. The plot of the remake remains largely unchanged with the exception of the new endings introduced here.

This Wii version has six endings in total, including the one where you can opt to just save your own hide and leave the twin sister behind when she gets abducted at the last chapter. I have seen four of the six endings now and honestly, the original ending is the one that resonates most when I think of this game. It's the only ending I unlocked when I played the original version on the Playstation 2 and it's a fitting end to the story.  I remember the original version forces you to play the game again in Hard mode in order to unlock the other endings. The developers have fixed this on the Wii remake, you don't have to play the game twice to experience the other endings - the ending you received is based on how well you play so you can actually reload from a save file near the end and get a different ending each time, assuming you know the criteria for locking that particular ending.

There is one ending where both sisters survives but Mio ends up blind because of the events but so far, each ending I got is pretty tragic and dark (meaning either one or both sisters dies).

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Yakuza 5 Final Impressions

When Team RGG made Dead Souls, they clearly pushed the game engine as far as they could. In fact, I would say they over-exert the system resulting in frequent frame-rate drops and long loading time. Dead Souls is a low point in SEGA stellar series especially after reaching great heights with Kenzan (the first spin-off), it would be a shame if the game ends the series run outside Japan.

Yakuza 5 is a turning point for the franchise with a new game engine which will be basis for the next few installments in the series (Ishin appears to be running on the same engine). When you first play Yakuza 5, the difference is not immediately noticeable as there isn't a great graphic leap from previous installments. The improvements comes from a gameplay perspective which I will share from my observations having finished the game. Obviously there won't be any spoilers as I will probably cover the story some time later, now onto the improvements found in Yakuza 5.

1. The Gang Fights

Kiryu is a beast when it comes to fighting even with hoards of yakuzas, it doesn't matter how many they are Kiryu will always be the last man standing. The last few RGG games have big epic brawls but you can fight up to about 6 to 8 yakuzas the most at one time, the game will usually show a screen of more yakuzas stepping in before 'loading' a new wave of enemies. This time you get to fight them all, no screen to hide the loading if you can see them, you can fight them. This is a major step, big epic brawls are what RGG games are all about - just imagine how many more yakuzas the game will have on PS4 system. 

2. The Chase Sequence

I can't remember when the chase sequence in RGG games started but it was really clumsy at the beginning and team RGG knew this as they kept improving it with each installments. It always felt ridiculous when you begin running around in the same 'laps' over and over again if you can't catch up to the guy fast enough. Now you can do more that just tackle the guy, you can execute a whole set of moves including a cool drop kick if you get close enough. No more laps too, the chase sequence actually covers a wide area of the city crossing through busy traffic and crowd (Did I mention the cars are no longer just part of the background?). Team RGG finally nails it right in Yakuza 5 but I wish they would focus more on tailing missions instead, which was introduced in the Kurohyou PSP game and seen briefly here in the taxi missions.

3. Seamless Transition 

This was the big selling point before Yakuza 5 was released but I'm not convinced if it's a fully seamless transition to 'combat mode' when it comes to random encounters. It feels more or less similar to Yakuza 3 which was a big leap from Yakuza 2, there is still a loading time only this time - more enemies can join in or escape from the fight depending on how well you are doing. You are never quite sure how many you are fighting unlike in the past games' random encounters, it's always a fixed number of enemies you have to clear them all to win the fight. In Yakuza 5 if the remaining enemy gets scared and run off - you automatically win the fight, I can't really appreciate this feature so I'm writing it down last. 

There you have it, Yakuza 5 improvements if you can't be bothered with the game or was not impressed by the demo. The last game engine was use for up to 4 installments so it remains to see how long team RGG will keep with this.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

When Being Sneaky Isn't Enough

There was one particular moment in The Last of Us when Joel and Ellie are still trapped in the city ruled by the hunters that I encounter a bug. I sneak past two hunters positioned at the upper floor of a building then took down one hunter in the way of the escape route but when I got to the ladder - the button prompt to lower the ladder didn't appear ! 

I could tell from the Ellie's body language that the two were still in sneaking mode as the remaining enemies were nearby. I had no choice but the proceed back to the nearby building and take care of those hunters on the upper floor before the button prompt would appear. This being a survival game where resources are limited, sneaking is a big part of the game. Unfortunately the one moment when you decide to kill only when necessary, the bug in the game forces you to go out of your way to kill the remaining and waste more precious resources. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I Need More Platinum Trophies

As you may have noticed, I have earned two Platinum trophy in my PSN account - a figure I'm not contend with and fully intend on adding to but a third Platinum trophy probably won't happen until next year. Until then I'm going to list out what my third Platinum trophy would likely be but I haven't actually made up my mind which one I'm intending to pursue. 

1. Resident Evil 6 

This is an obvious one, Resident Evil trophy requirements are the most un-imaginative of them all, just keep beating the game on higher difficulty modes and eventually you will achieve the Platinum. The only problem is the game isn't very good, it would be hard to stomach finishing such a long game over so many times. The percentage of trophy completion is a bit misleading here, I'm actually only short of around 8 more trophies from the Platinum. 

2. Vanquish 

This is a tough one to crack, probably even harder than say Yakuza 3 Platinum trophy. It would be de-moralizing to come so near but unable to achieve that one missing trophy in order to unlock the Platinum. Then again, I remember thinking the same thing of Yakuza 3 before eventually beating that one.
There are six trophies for finishing the Hard mode (the easy part I reckon) and one for completing the challenge mode (the one you will throw your controller in frustration). Tempting to try but then I remember I haven't finish Bayonetta since I started that game again. 

3. Shadow of the Damned

This is an easy one, a bit similar to RE6 trophy requirements but a much shorter game and definitely more enjoyable than RE6. One problem with this one is the trophies are not "stackable" so I have to finish the game on Easy mode to achieve Platinum. Now having finished the game once on Normal mode, do I go from Easy to Hard mode or Hard to Easy mode?

There are several notable games exempt from this list due to the fact I lost the save files when my first PS3 broke down. I'm not against chasing those Platinums down but I would rather not waste time replaying what I already unlock before.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Last of the Generation

Just the other day I was having a conversation with a friend about the games left on our buying list for the PS3 - be it games that are already out or yet to be released. He only named one game (GTAV - GOTY edition) and while I did the same, I can't quite remember which game it was. 

I do remember I left The Last of Us out from my list which I quickly added that it would be nice to own the game when it's all said and done, especially since Naughty Dogs denied rumours of an enhanced PS4 port. Well I have finally added the game to my shopping cart when Play-Asia announced their weekly deals line-up for this week. Now it's just a matter of waiting for the game to ship once the next stock arrives and pretty soon, I will be able to see what the fuss was all about. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grasshopper Needs to Learn New Tricks

Killer is Dead is probably the last first-day purchase I will get for the PS3, in fact I actually had the game on pre-order months before it shipped as I was worried Play-Asia might revised their pre-order price.

The US edition came pre-packed with a bunch of goodies that are supposed to be limited so you never how fast these things tend to run out if you are waiting for a price drop. The bonus items turned out to be a little lackluster, the soundtrack disc is missing the ending theme song and the artbook is more of a pin-up book to be honest.

At least the game turned out to be pretty fun but in the end, Suda games are starting to show a trend of being unpolished and lacking enough good ideas to make it a truly great game.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Big White Elephant

With the next-gen consoles just days from release, I thought it would be nice to address some issues which only the biggest of geeks would be interested in -backward compatibility. Yes I know this topic has be discussed and dissected apart to the point where the conclusion is always remains the same; everyone wants backward compatibility but nobody ever really makes use of it.

The trend I am noticing these days is how backward compatibility also affects the second hand game market especially in the early days of the console launch. Try looking up second hand prices of Wii games and you will notice that most are fetching high prices. Not so much for PS3 games, in fact from what little I gathered most gamers are actually letting go of their PS3 games because they know the PS4 will not be able to play them anyway. So this creates an abundant supply of unwanted PS3 games on the second hand market as opposed to the Wii.

Now the Nintendo Wii U has not be generating brisk sales as its predecessor but the "hardcore" gamers that refused to support a non-HD console during last generation are among the early adopters. Naturally they would have missed out on the Wii software and thus, are now generating high demand for exclusive games such as Xenoblade, Metroid Prime Trilogy and even The Last Story. In fact I would say demand for Wii games are even higher than when the console was still active because of the rampart piracy of Wii games so Wii users weren't buying the software either during that time. Now getting the legitimate disc might be the only option to play them  upscaled on the new Nintendo Wii U console, assuming that the Wii U console have not been cracked open for piracy (I'm not too up to date on this matter). Therefore the demand for old Wii games are pretty high these days compared with the PS3 or even XBOX 360 games.

How about you, are you buying or selling old games these days?