Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tomb Raider - I Have No Idea if I'm Suppose to Explore Tombs or Her Wounds.

     Tomb Raider from back when I played it during the early 2000's was about playing as an explorer of tombs.  Who oddly had stiff jumping which caused her to fall down cliffs like a manikin and fighting dinosaurs gaining wounds.  Now we are playing as a poor unfortunate soul of a super natural witch spirit thing while getting brutally beaten around.  This game seems to be one of those reboots things that is popular lately, where instead of a new IP a company just reuses an old franchise for nostalgia bucks.  It makes me think game companies took the recycle, reuse, reduce thing shamelessly at full force for everything.  But this game dishes out more pain to itself more so then I could ever do sadly.  Anyway let's talk about if this is game worth excavating for.

    The Tomb Raider as I said before is a series that was about exploring levels while doing awkward death jumps.  Searching high and low for hidden artifacts, medkits, and other things like getting eaten by a bear.  So having the series rebooted in a post Uncharted world, many people would think it would rip off the series that borrowed from it.  Ironically that isn't the case, the game feels like Metroid with out the interesting atmosphere for lack of a better description.  It's pretty much playing through the story and getting better gear to explore more of the island to FINALLY explore tombs, which I thought was the goal of the game.  Seems that the developers of this game wanted to tell a story of how Lara came into her own, as a monster known to kill anyone or thing in her way.  And it's funny to say that because everything gameplay wise feels inconsistent with what is going on with the story.

    After their boat crashes and Lara finds camp the game implies we need to hunt for food to survive a'la Metal Gear Solid 3.  Yet it's not needed, after hunting the first deer I never bothered hunting because there was no real need to outside of pretending I'm a survivalist.  After shooting the first deer we see Lara uncomfortably having to kill the creature for food, which sets the tone that she isn't into killing.  Which later on in the story she pretty much mows down the crazy cultists one after the other, it's suppose to show she grew as a character.  Personally I thought it was fitting to a degree, but it's very jarring with how far she goes.  Where in one scene she bursts through a door with the soundtrack whaling and screaming how she will kill everyone while shooting off a grenade launcher.  Granted I will admit her methods of killing can be very off putting for someone who couldn't slice a deer open originally.  Besides hunting the islands wild life (and by that I mean the non-human animals) we get into the platforming aspect the series was known for.  And it's a welcome upgrade compared to the old Tomb Raider games, I was pleased they didn't nick all of the designs from Uncharted's tomb.  Platforming here has different colored ledge's and walls to show where you can grab.  Not so obvious to where it's annoying, but not so hidden to where you are hopping up everywhere while hearing Lara huff and puff like a fat guy trying to reach the top shelf for a bag of Cheetos.  As you go through the story Lara gains new methods of getting around, though to be fair it's just different ways to climb.  Along with Lara's shift in ethics on human worth, the combat itself has been shifted to more modern gameplay.  By that I mean wave after wave of the same three types of enemy's; with a special one thrown in once and a while to keep the player from falling out of their chair from boredom.  It's pretty standard for a third person shooter to be honest.  Dull, but not to the point of wanting to drop Lara down cliffs to see how devs rendered another death scene.  The only interesting fights involve you scuttling around to hit an enemies weak point.  Besides that you mow down so many crazy cultists to the point where you ask yourself, how many of these fuckers have been stranded on this haunted island.  All while in the process of gaining XP for skills that really don't help with anything.  The only useful one is for getting more scrap, and using your Ax for attacking.  For me it's because I mostly used the bow and arrow to get headshots.  With that said it leads one to wonder what is the point of skills if they don't better your ability to liberate the head from the body of a cult member.

    During your plowing of cultists you learn that the island is indeed super natural.  As evidence shows how any vehicle who tries to save you ends up in a pile of fire and screaming terror.  Seems Lara has a knack for getting people around her killed, on purpose or not.  Even her expedition team wonders if they will live hanging out with the walking death machine.  Speaking of her teammates they're just cookie cutter background fodder.  Hardly in the game to the point where I don't remember nor care about them.  Just feeling like they are a means for Lara's end, another bullet in her chamber.  The only two who have enough spot light to matter is the scummy archaeologist who telegraphs betraying you harder then Lara shoving an ax in your skull and Sam.  Who is pretty much just a talking macguffin who won't shut up.  Yet I still didn't care about them, I just wanted to have a fight the cult leader in a way that wasn't semi scripted bullshit.  Yet the game didn't even give me that...  No instead you fight the some demon thing hyped up by cult members through out the game, and it's just a dodge and shoot battle.  But at least after that you can fight the cult leader in a lame fight with dual pistols, just like Lara did in the old games (wink wink nudge nudge).  Which would have been cool to do through out the game instead of just this one fight, but with how third person shooters are made nowadays doing so would leave Lara with more holes then a blowup doll at an orgy.

    At the end of this stupid dig through the nonsense I feel the game is average at best.  I don't get what makes Tomb Raider (The Reboot) special outside of the fact it's from the Tomb Raider franchise.  Combat feels like every other third person shooter killing waves of mindless idiots, with a leveling system that feels pointless.  Being able to increase your abilities with a weapon to get more XP (yay).  Even gun upgrades fill token, awesome I can now reload my shotgun a bit faster and blast another load slightly harder in some dude's face.  I only felt like I grew in power as I gained more weapons and even then I preferred my bow and arrow.  The game in a technical sense isn't bad, and it is entertaining to play.  I just can't help shake the feeling that while it is slightly above average it didn't do enough to help it stand out for me.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The New 3DS - Who The Hell is This For?

    I am a tech guy who enjoys playing with different hardware, either has a hobbiest or just as a consumer.  I'm not an expert like most tech people, it's just a hobby I have to flex my programmers brain.  So I'm used to reading and hearing about new revisions of devices I already own, it really never bothers me because it doesn't automatically make my device I own completely useless.  The New 3DS Nintendo announced though left a nasty taste in my mouth though.  Mostly because of one of new selling points is that certain games will run only on it.  It's not so much that Nintendo is going to fragment the market (Which I can see happening), it's more so that Microsoft and Sony might see this as a good idea to copy.  But after thinking about it, Nintendo is kinda responding to all the complaints about lack of decent hardware.  Which is odd because even though the 3DS is destroying the Playstation Vita in sales and is getting great games, people still think it's not good enough.

    As I said before I have a lot of different types of hardware, and over time new versions will always come out; that is the market.  For example the different Arduino's and Raspberry Pi's revisions, where they have different features or fixes for newer models released.  I have a Raspberry Pi B that has a revision new called B+.  It added more USB ports with better hot swapping, different connector for composite video, and other features like more GPIO pins.  Now the B+ was made to not make the A and B models useless, they oped to not use a newer CPU to avoid fragmenting the OS's made for it.  Which means that even though it has more stuff for the hardware, it doesn't make older boards useless and dropped in terms of support.  Which is good given it's a teaching tool first, and a fragmented board market can make it hard to jump in.  Unlike the New 3DS where Nintendo announced that because of their better specs the system can run games that older 3DS's can't run.  This isn't new, the DSi did this where the eShop allowed the system to download games the older DS couldn't play.  That didn't cause an outcry and I believe the issue steams from the fact that most DSi eShop games weren't good, and games that could use the DSi's newer features didn't lock out people with older systems.  Instead the game Nintendo was showing off was Xenoblade Chronicles.  So instead of mostly gimmicky games that wouldn't have lasted as a cart release in a store, it was a game that people petitioned to have released in the states.  This is worrying because it means people might have to buy a newer version of a current gen system to play newer games, and that is a legitimate concern.  Personally I'm not completely worried because Nintendo has done this before, only not to this level.  So for me given the track record it's a wait and see.

    My worry is that companies tend to copy ideas that work in the market place full boner.  I'm referring to Microsoft and Sony, where devs have been reporting to have already tapped the system capabilities.  This is a bit of a worry because if the two cave to the possible demands from developers and release the XBox One.5 or the Playstation 4 1/2 would devs completely abandon the older hardware for more leg room.  Common sense would say no because publishers would like to hit as many consumers as possible.  Which is why even after the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One games still were coming out for the last generation's system during the post launch window.  On the other hand hardly being able to hit the 1080p and 60 frames per second benchmark marketing has hyped up, plus how devs shunned the WiiU because of it's lacking specs could most likely make Sony and Microsoft think; "If Nintendo can take a system already selling well and give it better specs for it to play better games, why not us?"  This whole mess really make me thing about the Playstation Portable and how Sony didn't listen to demands to add a second analog stick.  They knew it would cause a unwanted hardware fragmentation with their games.

    My thoughts on The New 3DS itself is that I think it is ugly.  The second analog stick is very small and looks like it's oddly placed.  I'm not fond of the Super Famicom button colors, pretty sure if brought to the states it will be changed to match the Super Nintendo colors instead.  I honestly don't like the idea of placing the game cart on the bottom of the system, because you can hit the bottom and have the cart pop up.  The ZR and ZL buttons are oddly placed for me personally given how I hold the system.  I think the IR tracking is smart to allow the players to hold the 3DS in more then 4 slightly different positions.  For the new CPU though I'm not surprised it was done if they were adding a second analog stick.  When Kid Icarus came out the devs claimed that they couldn't do dual analog because the CPU wasn't powerful enough.  Personally I don't believe that because it could support analog+styus input (two analog values), but that's just me.  The biggest group of people this will cause headaches for is the "casual gamer".  When the 2DS came out I noticed Pokemon X and Y had stickers added to them stating it works on the 2DS.  How is Nintendo going to market this new version so people know which game runs on what?  They already screwed up on the WiiU, and the 2DS is having issues of it's own.

    That is my honest take on The New 3DS, I honestly think it's too soon to do something like this.  It's looks poorly designed, and I will just wait for the The New 3DS Hyper Edition.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

She Wiggles, She Jiggles, and She Julienne's Carrots with Her Hair

During the time when the Gameboy Color was the hot new handheld to own, I lived in a town where to get anything that wasn't super popular like Poke'mon I had to drive out of town.  Being a ten year old kid I didn't have this option at all, which was how I missed a few games I recently got a chance to play thanks to the series of tubes known as the Information Super Highway.  One of these games is a platformer that I have a theory was made with future space wizards and is powdered by unicorn tears, Shantae.

This is the kind of game that people would pigeon hole as a "Metriodvania" game.  The kind of game where you explore an area as far as your current skill set can take you; then you get a new skill that expands where you can explore and find goodies while fighting different bosses (I wonder if that is a analogy for office work).  Rinse and repeat as much as I bet she does with her hair, imagine the crud that gets caught in it.  For this romp through the world we play as the titular character Shantae, a half genie who whips her hair so hard it kills people with pure shock and awe.  The story is pretty standard for a platforming adventure game.  The villain Risky Boots steals a ancient a magical device that could change the world, a steam powered engine.  My first thought was that she would use this on the open sea and end up using planks from her ship to fuel it.  While thinking about the logic of this the game decides to give me quick smack and drop her grand plan on me.  She is going to use magical items to in short make a perpetual motion machine.  Scientists around the world must be eating their collective hats to not have been able to think of that idea.  While on paper this idea works, allowing her to sail on the high seas forever has a few problems with this.  Like food, I think those pirates need to eat an apple or two avoid scurvy.  Anyway because Risky Boots attacked and stole the steam engine from the town Shantae goes off on a journey to stop her plans.  And I honestly like the set up to explain why Shantae has to stop Risky Boots.  Most adventure games you're a hero who was prophesied years ago by a wizard high on shrooms that you and ONLY you can save the world.  Instead in Shantae the reason she has to stop Risky is because it's her job as the Town Guardian.  Yep, she risks her life stopping Risky from ruling the high seas in order to keep her salary as required by her contract.

While I said this game would be pigeon holed as a Metriodvania game I personally feel the game play is more akin to Zelda 2.  Just instead of a overhead map for the world it is all two dimensional platforming.  Both have towns where you go to do your shopping and talk to the locals about what is going on around the area like a genie who isn't Risky in disguise.  The difference is exploring the towns in Shantae is done really well and very differently.  Most games have you run around a town in overhead view, which gives a feeling of less people and buildings to explore.  Instead in this game you stand in the center of town and look left and right in a panoramic view.  This makes what could be a town with wide open spaces appear to be very busy and makes it layout feel tight.  I have never seen this done before and I'm honestly pleased, It gives the towns more life and cuts down on wasted space.

Outside of town you are on the hunt to find the magical maguffins of the week to prevent Risky Boots from accomplishing her goals.  But we know how this goes; you beat her to each item and near the climax you lose them to her for a epic final battle (Which if you think as low as I do the battle would be a pillow fight over her burning ship).  You main method of attacking during this trek is using your hair like a whip.  Not as painful as real whip but the shock of getting hit by hair is enough to just die I would think, plus I'm pretty sure she uses Head and Shoulders Spiky Formula for that extra POW.  I just can't stop thinking how easy it would be to get her hair tangled up or just get a massive headache.  I would have just gotten a real whip if I was her, but that would lead to a discussion about who is sexier Indiana Jones and Shantae.  Which is a different topic all together to be honest.  Another game play mechanic that isn't seen in many other games of the same ilk is dancing.  Which I must admit I would be lying if said I didn't spend about a hour or two of game play alone just messing with that.  Dancing is how you transform and teleport to town, which is done by hitting a sequence of buttons in perfect time with the tempo.  I like this because it requires skill with timing, and because a dick you didn't see hits with you a projectile causing you to die and start over from your last damn save.  Not like other games where everyone waits for you to play your song in constantly shifting measures because you can't remember the notes(I'm pretty sure I just made a musician cry somewhere).  After doing the Hair Whip Shuffle to a dungeon it's pretty much standard fair.  Find stuff in the dungeon to let you progress deeper in, and find a transformation to let explore more of the dungeon and over world.  After getting to the end of a dungeon you fight a boss, and I was honestly let down at this part of the dungeon.  I only think two dungeons found a way to integrate the transformation associated with that boss.  It felt like getting teased expecting a fun climax, but surprise she burps the garlic buttered toast in your face and your excitement wilts like a flower.  Overall while the method of attacking and transforming is fun, the game feels pretty standard.  Which is not a bad thing, it's the same as taking your old car which runs well and adding CD player to it to give it something new and exciting.

Where this game truly shines is with the graphics and how smooth the animation is.  Normally I don't care how a game looks unless it stands out in a extreme way.  But this game leads me to honestly believe that Wayfoward is just a bunch of binary wizards.  Who forged assembly code from the souls of the damned developers who lost their mind trying to hit this level of graphical power.  Everything feels smooth and clean which is something you don't really get much on the Gameboy Color with each character seeming to having more frames of animation then normal.  It gives the feeling like this game was meant for a "better" system like the Game Gear or the Atari Linx.  On top of that the music is really catchy and fitting with the world you're in, I honestly have a hard time getting the music out of my head.  Even if it's just bleeps and bloops from the sound processor the music has thought behind it.  Not just what is passable and sounds like a tune, but I would like to hear these songs played live one day.

Overall I was very pleased playing through this game.  It shows a level of care, like this was a passion project.  Not something you see that often anymore in games, it's always farting out a game that was made for money.  I can't wait to see what Wayfoward has coming next down the pipeline.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Final Boredom XIII

              As a person who enjoys J-RPGs I have to concede to some of the reasons why people don't like my favorite sub genre.  I have heard it all such as boring gameplay, bad characters, and horrible story; And like this review it is all opinion of course.  And I will admit there are J-RPGs where I hate one of those aspects while enjoyed others.  Take Final Fantasy V for example, it is has a slightly entertaining but over all boring story.  Yet it has gameplay that brings me back over and over again.  Unlike Final Fantasy XIII which personally is so horrid on so many different facets that I am amazed and a bit scared that this was created.  For me Final Fantasy XIII should be a case study in all the things that doesn't work in a J-RPG.

                It's hard for me to pinpoint what offends me about this game the most, but I would have to say the characters are the worst offenders.  Every character in this game is ripped right out of the "Japanese Anime Character Stereotype How To" book.  Lighting the angsty solder sadly has the most growth out of the cast even if it's just "I accept you as my brother in law".  The rest of the cast for the most part made me want to beat me head in.  I grew sick of Snow acting like a moron while not seeing how his actions can affect other people and learning from them; all while being angsty about his girlfriend being a crystal.  Hope who won't shut up about his dead mother and angst about it throughout a good portion of the game.  Vanille who acts bubbly while hiding her own angst of turning a kid into crystal, while her friend Fang is a live and let live type.  Last is Sazh, which pretty much went "My son is crystal", "You made my son crystal, you shall die", and "Killing you won't do anything, lets finish our focus".  Not much growth since he just went from an emotional outburst to a rational conclusion in the span of one cutscene.  I was so numbed from how awful the heroes were I somehow got it in my head they where the bad guys, and I blame that on how bad the plot was.
                The plotting in this game is awful and feels like it is full of holes the whole way through.  The story constantly implying you were the "bad guys" then reversing it so much I thought the game was having a bi-polar attack.  What made it worse was that the game kept dumping datalogs on me after each story moment to understand what happened.  Why the hell do I need to read extra datalogs to explain a cut-scene that just happened.  It's like if Mass Effect had a scene talking about the Reapers being bad yet good then vomiting a datalog on me to say "Oh no they are bad because raisins".  I don't even want to talk about the villain who is so pathetic that he wants you to kill him, all that was missing was a ball gag in his mouth.  I get that his overall goal, but it is odd that if he was made to perform a task wouldn't that imply that his task is to destroy cocoon?  Also in the end he tells the  heroes that he wants to be killed.  In response the group says no, so just talks his army into killing him.  Which in turn causes our brave heroes to want to stop the army, but fighting and killing the big baddie in the process.  Sadly playing the game felt like a metaphor for cradle to spike covered grave, I honestly wished for my disc to explode so it would give me some excitement.

                Having to view this masterwork of storytelling I believe is my new personal hell.  I have never found a game to point to when people ask "How come no one likes J-RPGs".  But this game hits all the complaints people have with the sub genre, slams a bell on your head and beats you with a hammer.  This game should really be called a corridor RPG, much like corridor shooters that have come out in recent years.  Only difference is a corridor shooter will require more brain cells then smacking the X button when a bar is full.  "Clip-clop clip-clopping" down hall ways and narrow paths having to hear your footsteps the whole time.  I honestly think someone saw the scene in "Monty        Python Quest for the Holy Grail" where the guy was clapping coconuts for horse steps and thought that was something to have in the whole damn game.  The only relief is during battles where you can take a nap if you manage to set up a sippy bird to smack the X button for you every seven seconds.  Ninety percent of battles had me scan then just smack auto-battle until I hit a new enemy.  When it does get hairy I just have to swap pre-defined roles I had to set up like a mother trying to get her five year old ready for school.  So now it is smack auto-battle, and if my health is low I swap to a medic team auto-heal and switch back.  After you fight enough battles and get your angst high enough you get to spend time in the Crystarium to level up.  And it's not like the Sphere Grid system or the License system where you pick how you want to grow, it's just moving a node to predefined slots.  So there is no choice just tedium and worse off it gates you so you can't over power yourself until you get to a certain point.

                All and all this was a depressing fantasy I would love to leave for reality.  I much rather just play one of the older Final Fantasy games or a current gen game like Lost Odyssey.  This game is just crap in a very pretty and thin wrapper.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Review Between Words

     Me and The Legend of Zelda series has had a strained relationship, it feels over the years I've grown to hate the 3D games more and more yet the 2D games I love.  I wasn't honestly worried about it being bad because it's a 2D Zelda game, I was worried because of all the changes to the core aspects.  Shockingly besides once again playing as a mute nitwit who just hits things with swords because raisins it's a really fun game.  Once again we are playing as Link who as always is sleeping off a massive hang over, shockingly woken up to deliver a sword to the captain of the Hyrule Knights.  As always bad things happens and a princess like person is kidnapped so it's up to Link to steal the sword he was SUPPOSE to deliver and save the princess.
     The story around Link and the good guys is honestly boring, I was more interested in the evil lady  who her only goal was to turn people into paintings and make the world "beautiful".  Wait that's a guy, are you sure?  Ok well the bad guy is cool with the power to put people in paintings, it's very interesting compared to Ganon I have to admit.  After trying to save the princess you are defeated and saved by a weird rabbit man who gives you a bracelet for free rent in your house.  He is bit of a ass honestly given that he does this without a yes or no from Link, but honestly we would have to imply that answer (And deep down we would all take advantage of him).  So once again our young hero treks out to save the princess and loses again and is forced on the wall as a painting.  You know this makes me worry that Link is more of a mindless goon he gets by on pure luck, because it just so happens that bracelet lets you jump in and out of the walls.  This revelation leads us into one of the few changes in this game that defies series staples.

     The core mechanic of this game is wall jumping, Link goes into a wall and can move around said wall with limitations of course.  For some reason light fixtures can hinder my movement making me unable to continue.  But oddly enough Nintendo satisfies one thing people would have tried to do with this power and that's sneak into a women's house while she is changing.  Yet like all weird things instead of calling royal guards she just blows Link....a kiss.  Besides breaking and entering on a whole different level with the Zelda games a new feature introduced is "rent to own" items.  Where instead of going to a dungeon and getting the same tired items you can rent them from the rabbit man who set up shop in your house (My money is on it's a front for Romani Milk).  I honestly like this because I can explore the world out the gate without it saying I didn't get an item in dungeon X provided I can afford it.  Because of this dying causes me to lose my items, so it's on my head giving death a little bit more of a bite.  That is until you break enough pots to own said items which then makes death a minor inconvenience that you can brush off, outside of a number that most likely only you and a few weird people on forums care about.  The last major addition to the game that I love is fast travel and save points.  I love being able to fast travel without having to remember a song to teleport me.  And with these spots being save points it feels more definite, where I don't worry that I didn't really save or not.  But with the more open world nature of the game the dungeons are flat lined in terms of puzzle difficulty, not that dungeons in Zelda games where hard to begin with.  I never cared for the puzzles that involved items, it was the wall puzzles that felt more unique and required more than two brain cells.

"yet like all weird things instead of calling royal guards she just blows Link....a kiss."

     With all these new additions Link finally ends up in Lorule, haha I see what you did there...*sigh*  It's reverse of Hyrule but it's more alive than the version in A Link to the Past, instead of just bandits and petty people it's a true kingdom.  They even have a leader who isn't a deranged power hungry nut job, who craves ultimate power to rule everyone.  The need for the Tri-Force isn't for power more so to protect and restore their own world they ruined trying to protect it.  I honestly felt sorry for the villain and her plight to fix a legacy her ancestors left for her to handle.  She really felt like a queen trying to take charge unlike Zelda who is just there for the most part to be kidnapped.  After Link stumbles into his victory we learn the rabbit seller was no other then Dark Link, who I was waiting to pop up somewhere for me to fight.  Shockingly no, this Link has personality and is more interesting.  He is pretty much a coward who ran instead of fighting, I honestly want to play a game with this version of Link.

     With all the good, I don't honestly seeing myself playing this game again, it doesn't have that hook that makes me want to play it multiple times.  It still follows the 3 dungeons to get master sword and more to piddle around in.  It even has that metaverse from Ocarina of Time the sages you save hang out at.  Adding a hard mode alone isn't enough to get me to explore this world again.  It isn't Minish Cap where it's a world only known to kids and it feels different, or Wind Waker where the ocean feels grand.  A Link Between Worlds "Dark World" feels like the autumn skin of Super Mario World, and that really isn't enough to bring me back.  Take that as you will, I enjoyed my time as a fly on the wall but I don't think I'm going to stay a wall flower for this game.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Silent Protagonists and the Great Snore

I love playing RPGs, they are my favorite genre to play in all of video games genres.  But when I play an RPG(Or other genre of games games for that matter) I get sick of controlling a character who doesn't talk.  It never makes any sense to play as a character who doesn't talk in a game where everyone else spews their life story at you.  Note I'm not talking about games where you build your group of heroes from scratch since part of the idea of those games is that it's your story (Etrian Odyssey is a good example of this), I'm talking about games where you have established characters to experience the story.  It feels like game designers want to make the main hero to be the proxy for the player to be immersed in the story that is heavy in atmosphere already, and it's something I've been questioning as of late.

A great example is the MCs from Persona 3 and 4, they are suppose to be our proxy's to the story being told around them yet they feel flat.  They are both in wonderful worlds where the supernatural is around them destroying their perception of what they thought was normal, yet they are dead pan the entire time only making slight remarks when they are asked something.  What annoyed me the most with this is when the MC from Persona 3 sacrificed himself, and I really didn't feel anything about his death.  And this is why the proxy idea falls flat for me, if you don't have a personal point of reference how do you know what to feel?

Which is weird because a character death can be emotional to me, Nanako from Persona 4 had a really powerful death scene because you had a point of reference that they provided.  The scene was powerful because how everyone around her was sadden by her death.  We have a group of people who fought countless demons but the death of a friend they couldn't save broke them all down.  Yet the MC was pretty much "...", I would love to know what he was thinking at that moment.  Yeah he would have been sad but what would he have said?  Would he curse the person who put her in the TV, or would he have been mad at himself for not saving her in time.  We only have our own imagination to fill in for this, which would be ok if the game didn't give us a bad ending for thinking he would get revenge.

Another example would be Issac Clark from Dead Space, before the sequels we played as an engineer who slips on the action shooter helmet and we never hear him speak (A problem with most games of its ilk).  And part of the plot of this game was based around finding your wife who may or may not be dead, and it is lame because Issac never speaks and the game just tells us we should feel bad for him.  Why can't Issac speak so we know what he is thinking instead of being bold faced told?  This is a huge contrast to Solid Snake, who's "death scene" still haunts me.  Even if he didn't kill himself seeing him trying to build the courage to do it, and with the fear he was facing to pull that trigger was powerful image.

I have other examples like how Golden Sun has the "hero" be a mute and the "anti hero" talks, however in the sequel the "hero" finds the ability to talk and the "anti hero" loses the ability to talk for some reason or another.  Problem is I love the worlds these games can build, and the supporting cast that lives in it.  But when the person who is suppose to be the driving force has dialog that pretty much consists of motions and snippets of dialog choices it's not interesting.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pokemon Has Evolved to the Third-Dimension

Ever since the beginning I've been a fan of Pokemon.  I still remember eavesdropping on a classmates conversation about the game and going to K-Mart that same day to get a copy of Pokemon Blue.  The game had entranced me and ever since then I've had become a fan and played each generation ever since.  Now that Pokemon X and Y is out it not only introduced a new generation of kids to the series, but introduced the main series to the third dimension.  The question now is did this series now evolve into a Dragonite or a Bibarel.

Pokemon has never been known for it's stories.  With just a basic framework of get 8 badges, beat Team [Insert Name Here], then beat the Elite Four.  It's served Game Freaks for years and there is nothing wrong with it, but there is no good glue to hold the bits together.  As always you are a ten year old trainer tasked to solve a mystery more suited for a scientist then a child but child labor is cheaper though.  Eventually you run into more story related people, first is Lysandre who's outfit screams "I am leader of Team Not Rocket" and the other is Diantha who foreshadows that she is the champion.  After getting a few badges from the everyone is a winner league, you run into Team Flare who is the evil group of this region.  Which opens a few interesting themes the creators could inject into the story.  Going from how Team Flare talks they want to kill off most people to conserve resources in a very crazy population control scheme.  There is a subtle theme of classism in the story given how only Team Flare would survive while everyone will die with an absurd entry fee to join.  But the story trips over itself snapping its legs though with plot holes and bringing up plot points but barely touching it.  Why is it I had to fight for the right to use Mega Evolutions, yet three other people also some how have the ability.  Which is compounded even more when Lysandre himself uses it as reason for his plan, saying "There was only one and you had to fight for the resource".
I like how no one in game seems to think he isn't evil.
What is the point of the legendary outside of a power source for a weapon that looks like a nuke.  What was with the tall guy who only shows up three times, we know he was the king who launched a nuke yet almost nothing else.  All this screams "we will expand upon these points when we make Pokemon Z".  The reason why I harp on the story is that in a RPG people normally play for the story.  And it feels like they want to touch on a lot of interesting concepts, but they want to leave holes open to fill in for the "third version" of this set of games.  And I know this is gear towards kids, but kids are not that stupid.

The three big things Gamefreaks gave us is the new Fairy type, Mega Evolution, and the game is now in 3D.  Fairy types changes the type match up and allows some pokemon who was not as good to have some worth.  Bringing in Fairy type curb has stomped Dragon types, and it makes me giggle knowing if I could take a fairy type to fight lance in Red and Blue he would be crushed.  Being only weak to Steel and Poison types and strong against Fighting, Dark, and Bug (while immune to Dragon) it seems that Fairy types will be "hard" to kill in the metagame.  I just like it because I can make my joke about having a male Gardevoir named Bridget even funnier.  Mega Evolution sounds interesting but how it is now it's just a gimmick, my key issue is that not enough pokemon can use it.  It feels they just picked pokemon they could make look "cooler" and ran with it.  It mostly feels like a situational tactic to use, and with so many pokemon that can't use it versus that can use it I wonder how useful it really is in the online battles.   But what most people who played pokemon might notice is after so many years pokemon is now in 3D.  Which I'm glad because I'm honestly sick of the whining from fans for it seeing how the DS could not render 3D without ugly textures, yet fans wanted it for that system.  No one seems to sit back and think about how many DS games that use 3D didn't look that great.  But for me the big changes was EXP Share, the changes in breeding, EV training, and I can customize my character.  Being able to train a bunch of pokemon quickly is a massive plus for me and knowing their EV and being able to directly train them makes playing the meta much more approachable.  Having better control over the stats via breeding shows Game Freaks wants to get rid of any need to hack pokemon.  The last feature is character creation and I just love how I can now make a trainer closer to my look giving it a more personal journey through the game.  Not much with it besides you can change how you look so like most games with the feature it's just there.  Even with these changes pokemon is still pokemon, so if you hated pokemon before this won't change you.

After finishing the story I couldn't really find an excuse to want to start over outside of playing through it again with a challenge imposed on myself seeing how boring the story is.  Even post game feels a bit boring seeing how I can only hunt for mega evolution stones only between a certain hour.  And it feels very sparse for what you can do after you beat the story.  After all is said and done it's not a bad game doing what it is trying to do just fine, but if your bored of pokemon or never liked it I would honestly skip it.