Sunday, February 12, 2017

Never On Time

A new Zelda game don't come around very often, that's why it's a pretty big event for the game industry and more specifically zelda fans.

I remembered the last few Zelda games launch very vividly, I remember the hype just as much as the games themselves.

I remember A Link Between Worlds getting released with a highly-sought after gold-plated 3DS. The timing of the release around Black Friday made it impossible to get one of those of gold 3DS locally without paying an arm and leg. I wanted both the system and the game as I have yet to own a Nintendo 3DS that time. I didn't managed to get the gold 3DS after all but I did managed to win a copy of the game, A Link Between Worlds shortly after buying a 3DS system. I finally played the game late last year and it was very bit as good as you would expect.

I remember the last Zelda console game the Skyward Sword was such a long wait coming that I actually bought a Wiimote Motionplus in advance. I didn't expect Nintendo to put out a rather affordable bundle of the game and gold-plated wii-mote that would quickly sold out. Once again, I missed out on another fan coveted Zelda piece.

Since the Wii was my first Nintendo home console, I had the grand ambitions of finishing both Wind Waker and Twilight Princess before the Skyward Sword came out. Somehow I could never decide when and which version of Twilight Princess to play and I felt no sense in playing Skyward Sword before TP. So eventually I ended up missing Skyward Sword at launch but the hype was very real and still vivid to this day.

I finally got around to playing Twilight Princess Wii version a few years ago when I already have Wii U system. I think I was also re-playing the HD version of the Wind Waker. Though long overdue, Twilight Princess didn't feel aged to me as the scope and scale of the game was far more than I was expecting. 

This year the hype is back as the new Zelda game is coming out in less than a months' time. I finally have a copy of Skyward Sword now and I'm just starting the adventure despite knowing I wouldn't finish it in time for Breath of the Wild. I have already pre-ordered the regular (and only) version of the game for the Wii U system. No more fancy bundle or special editions, not that there are any available for me to buy on the Wii U system. I just want to play the game and have a copy on my shelf as part of my Zelda game collection. 

This time, I will be on time for the hero of time.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Prep Me Up For More

I was expecting ZombiU to be mediocre and at best, a generic zombie game . The one thing I didn't expect was how addictive the game is.

ZombiU creates tension by obscuring your view in first person mode and giving you a third person view of your character and surrounding in key moments. This creates a sense of dread as you are unable to pause the action whenever you are stationary.

It's as close as you will get to feeling like you are in a zombie movie. It's never an easy choice between running away or staying to fight. Using a melee weapon or using a firearm. You are constantly making split second decision and living or dying by your choice.

When you finally fall victim to a fatal zombie attack, you will think about what went wrong and can't wait to get back to where you died (in normal mode). You see you will get one try with your survivor, die and you either re-spawn in your safe house as the next survivor or worse, come to a complete end if you are playing the merciless Survival mode. That's the world of  Zombi U where no one is truly safe except the guy speaking to you over the radio.

It's a testament to the developer's craft that the game is able to sustain its level of tension throughout the duration. You never get the feeling of being too powerful even when you get better firearms. This game is truly underrated because it was released exclusively on an under-performing platform.

Often times in this generation, exclusive games tend to feel short and unfulfilling because of how expensive it is to make games solely for one system. Zombi U doesn't give the impression of any cut corners and remarkably looks really good for a launch game. It's a shame that even when released on other systems, it continues to fly under the radar as opposed to more recognizable zombie games like (yep you guessed it) Resident Evil 7.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Running Out of Time

Having waited 6 years to finally play Alan Wake, I knew I didn't want to repeat the same with Quantum Break. After all, life is just too short to wait around. 

I didn't think Quantum Break would get a wider release on Steam let alone a fancy retail edition. When the timeless edition was announced, I knew I just had to get it despite costing more than double the Steam price. After all, the previous Remedy games distributed by Nordic were all stellar and well worth the money. I even pre-ordered it on Amazon when I couldn't get a confirmation from any local dealers whether they would stock this. Luckily for me, the amazon order got delayed in time for me to cancel it when I found a copy at the local store during the first week of release.

Somehow the events leading to getting the game is more interesting than the game itself. The game is still good but it isn't a timeless classic like the original Max Payne. I have loved Remedy games since the first Max Payne as we shared the same love for Hong Kong cinema. Selling off the Max Payne IP wasn't a total disaster when the property is in capable hands like Rockstar studio. It could have easily ended up like the Fallout series in Bethesda studios hands.

Quantum Break was the first time I felt Remedy games was trying to capture the old Max Payne magic again. Alan Wake was a great bold departure for the studio and although it wasn't as innovative as Max Payne, it was still one of the better horror games I have seen. The only problem I had with Alan Wake was I felt that the story was getting in the way of the game at times. Quantum Break has similar issues, in fact far worse considering this is science fiction and not a horror/supernatural story. The logic of time traveling is simply not explained or logical enough to lend the story credibility. 

I remember reading in the Max Payne manual that Max has the ability to slow down time in bullet time but don't ask how, just go along with it. Sure it's the easy way out but it works and in the end, nobody was really asking why bullet time exists. It felt like Remedy was trying to come up with a logic for how bullet time exists with Quantum Break. The game is fun when you get to play it in between the horrible TV show that was made in conjunction with the time. But I didn't fully understand the story because Remedy never took the time to lay down the rules of time-traveling in this story. It has choices that greatly affect how the story unravels so I'm definitely going to play it again soon. 

But finishing QB for the first time left me a little disappointed. It felt like it spent too long in development hell and ideas were never fully realised, the game is surprisingly short when you discount the TV show running time. I certainly won't mind having more levels of gun fights in this game but it's pretty clear than Remedy ran out of time and money making this game.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Let's Be Frank Here

One sure way to know if I played a great game is that I can't stopped thinking about it even after I finished. The game lingers on and I feel satisfied enough not to play another game yet.That happened with Alan Wake, I proceeded to watch the bonus material and subsequently finished the DLC episodes.

Unfortunately the same didn't happened with Dead Rising 3. Something was missing, that intangible factor that makes a game great.The game felt long and repetitive. Of course the same was said of Alan Wake but I certainly didn't felt that way. 

This new Dead Rising game removed the loading time in the previous games, providing a truly new experience for the series. Unfortunately, the city Los Perdidos that you are trapped in feels lacking in character. For sandbox games, the real star is always the city. If the city isn't interesting then your game isn't going to be very memorable.

The formula of finding other survivors and psychos is beginning to feel very routine now.  Each survivor will always have a quirky request before joining your crew but it always boils down to a lame fetch quest. The psychos are just as predictable as well. This series is in dire need of a new creative change of direction.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Times change, people change

Since playing on the PC, I have been experimenting with different genres that I simply couldn't on consoles as the games were too expensive. Even during PS2 heydays of piracy, I rarely explore outside my favorite genre and publishers because there were more than enough for me to play. Well, times changed and people changed - so true, these words uttered to me not too long ago.

That's why it was so refreshing to play the Tomb Raider reboot after all these different genres. The cinematic action adventure games are always fun to play because it doesn't have the grand scale of the RPG genre. You play one action set-piece then watch a cool cutscene before proceeding to the next. No boring conversation with NPC that last up to 40 minutes of just two people talking. Or spending 30 minutes looting every inch of each item in the room.
A lot of time is spent squeezing Lara through tight gaps. This gives you a nice view of her, well you know.

This Tomb Raider reboot borrows elements from other games in the genre but still manages to stand as something different. I love how the platforming is not so straightforward anymore as each area is big enough that the path forward isn't obvious. The gun fights feels borrowed from the Uncharted games but without the bad melee sequences included.

There are new ideas that are never fully developed as the game progresses. Early on you are taught how to hunt wild animals to feed Lara but once the fire fight started, there is no more emphasis on this part anymore. Suddenly Lara doesn't need to feed anymore in order to heal, she just needs to stay out of the bullets way.
Other times are spent rappelling Lara around like Spider-Man on impossible lengths that should have broke her arms off

Another thing is each area introduces a different relic to hunt. First you could be sniping old charms hanging from the tree then in another area, you are burning scrolls off the wall. How is one supposed to keep track especially it never made clear when you reached a new area.

These nitpicks aside, this is still one of the best games I played this year. I finished Dead Rising 3 before this and I have yet to blog about that one. It's hard to write about a game that didn't leave a lasting impression on me. It's certainly not outside the genre that I'm accustomed to so it was a surprise that I didn't like it. Perhaps my expectations and standards are higher after experimenting with new genres.

The Tomb Raider reboot reminded me that there are no substitute for my favorite genres after all. I guess you could say, the more things changed the more they remained the same. This is what I believed, maybe more so than how people changed over time.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Horror Drag

Alien Isolation is a game that will interest fans of the horror genre or the Alien franchise. I happened to be fan of both so this was another game I wanted to play on my PC. The only thing I wasn't keen on was the first person view but upon finishing it, the first person view felt like the right choice. 

I feel like having no weapons in a horror game like just an easy and obvious design choice in a horror game. It doesn't work most of the time like how Shattered Memories have proven. Alien Isolation thankfully didn't adopt this approach but for most of the time, you didn't have an effective weapon against the Alien. The problem is once you get the flamethrower late in the game, you feel invincible as you can stop the Alien from attacking you. 

There are obvious pacing issues with this game, it drags far too long and ruined some of its goodwill and credibility earned with a bad ending. Some of its climactic moments occurred in the middle of the game making the end parts of the game a bit boring by comparisons. While RE4 was also a bit too long for its own good, the end parts were never boring thanks to Mikami's sense of pacing. In Alien Isolation, I thought the game was ending in several different instances before the actual end of the game. 

Aside from the bad ending, there are no bonus content upon finishing the game. Well there are survivor mode and maps but those are not related to the story mode. Thankfully the pre-order bonus included 2 DLC episodes based on iconic moments from the original Alien movie. I recommend playing the movie DLC after finishing the game but I can imagine there are fans only played these episode without bothering with the main game. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Superior One

War. War never changes.

Except he wasn't talking about the console war which changed quite a bit over the generations.

I remember during the PSOne/PS2 era, I didn't have a PSOne yet and most of the RE games and MGS took more than a year to reach the PC platform. I was never really a PC gamer by choice, more like a PC user by circumstances but let's not get into that here. Eventually when they do get ported, these games didn't looked any better on PC than on the 32-bit systems. That was when it ran like it supposed to if it's a "good port". There were no DLC back then so you weren't getting additional DLC for free like you normally would for late PC ports these days.

Then you have the infamously bad PC ports like RE4 and DMC3. These PC ports were ported long after its console release so it wasn't like there wasn't enough time to make a decent port. I never experienced these ports myself but heard enough to know they weren't good PC ports by any means. It certainly was a good time to own a console game if you liked console games and certainly hard not to feel like the superior one. 

Then the tide started to change sometime during the PS3 generation. PC ports no longer run and looked like it's console siblings. Most of the time, the PC ports looked superior and is released on the same day for all major systems. The most notable game being Tomb Raider 2013 which didn't have the luxury of releasing on the PS4 system yet. So the old generation console version and the PC port looked worlds apart from what I read. I was lucky enough to avoid the old console version and managed to pick up the PC version on the cheap during the recent Steam sale. 

This generation is by far the worse, the PS4 is finally getting definitive/upgraded version of games PC users have long enjoyed since the day of release. But PS4 users are not getting these upgrades for free, you have to re-purchase these games again and start over. Even then, the definitive versions may not run as well as expected like the recent RE5 on the PS4. On the other hand, PC users get these upgrades for free most of the time. Not to mention the games themselves are already cheaper if you don't mind going full-digital via digital distribution service. 

So war has changed quite a bit, at least in terms of system wars. Sigh, I just want to play the best (or better yet, only) version of a game, is that too much to ask for?