Friday, 29 April 2011

PSO2 Trailer

As the title says, here is the trailer for Phantasy Star Online 2. Like the other series Sonic Team works on, this one's had a string of titles ranging from merely tolerable to history's greatest crimes. From what I've heard, the difference between "Online" and "Universe" is the difference between Batman Begins and Batman & Robin. Looks like they're going for the middle ground here(Batman Returns?). But like the Sonic games, the music seems to be the only aspect of these games that rarely suffers. And there's also the matter of continuity betwee-

Holy shit! Blackface!


Wow.

Actually though, it's not nearly as bad as say, Oil Man. The face actually could work. The problem is the colour of his lips and face, which spring to mind Al Jolson instead of what dark-skinned human beings actually look like. At least this would be an easy fix when it comes stateside.

Well, except there's also the writing. I mean, yes, sometimes we get Sazh Katzroy from Japan, but we're not always that lucky. But then, I wonder how many people will even notice this in a game that is more about online co-operative gameplay than a focus on story...

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Yahtzee: "The Enemy Within"

Who would be so foolish as to think he could legitimately judge a console that's only a few weeks old under the same criteria as dead products, without the benefit of hindsight that comes from analyzing the Turbografx-16? Who could exhibit such a lack of accountability, or even common sense as a critic, beyond a member of the Fox News family?



This is Ben Croshaw. He is the worst thing to happen to video games since Full Motion Video Dana Plato. He didn't create the wailing and gnashing of teeth that consumes intelligent discourse in this hobby. But he has seen an inexplicable rise to fame for exacerbating that feral atmosphere. He didn't start the fire, but he is throwing a peculiar number of tires on it. And this only acts as an encouragement to the folks who are normally told to shut their pie holes already, nobody cares that you think "Xbox is gay", Steve.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

George Romero With An Electric Hammer

...Game of the Year?

Okay, technically it's DLC for a game that's already out. But come on. Danny Trejo, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Robert Englund vs. zombies. That should be EVERY GAME!

(If there's a low-point, it'd probably be Michael Rooker, who you might remember as the worst character from The Walking Dead.)

EDIT: Wait, I was mistaken. Michael Rooker isn't the main character in The Walking Dead. I thought that was the guy with the one stoned facial expression. Turns out Rooker's the one who played the racist biker dude character.

Okay nevermind, I'm glad he's in there now.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Grand Jury Prize 2010

After my "Ten Favourites" list, I decide on 'an alternative to 1st place', just as a special mention. Got the idea from Roger Ebert's Best Of lists. He calls it the Grand Jury Prize, which he based on the way film festivals go about it. And I am nothing if not unoriginal and completely lacking in imagination.

In 2008 I chose Braid.
In 2009 I went with Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.

Here's my choice for 2010, and why:



In Defense Of Cutscenes

...I like cutscenes in video games.

No, I don't know what is wrong with me. Or why I am "teh GAYZ", as I imagine would be the typical reaction if I could think of anyone else who liked cutscenes in video games. Perhaps it would help if I re-iterate:

I like GOOD cutscenes.
 
Pictured: A damn good cutscene. Think games are art? You pretty much have this to thank for that.


I don't like unskippable, badly-acted, quick-time event, Resident Evil 5, free time-destroying travesties. I like being able to put the controller down and see a little movie as a treat, maybe to learn about the characters and situation in a way I couldn't when I was in control. Maybe see a dramatic camera angle or the expression on a character's face that we usually don't get to see. Maybe to hear someone attempt to say something clever. Maybe to see something dramatic happen to one or more of these characters, in ways that couldn't be done with gameplay.

Ways like body-language. There's only so far you can go with canned animations.

Friday, 22 April 2011

An Open Letter To Xbox Live Arcade

To the people in charge of the Xbox Live Arcade service, specifically whoever decided on the transaction specifics for the Indie Games section:

Why, why, WHY do I have to always have an online connection to play Indie Games? Especially ones that have no online functionality, beyond a leaderboard for comparing how long it took you to beat.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

An(other) Open Letter To Bob Chipman

Dear Bob,

Listen, we're all worried about you. We've all been watching your "Anti-Thinker Saga", and... well, okay, that's not true. A lot of us just gave up when you started putting in a baffling evil-twin side-plot into your videos. What we HAVE seen is the fallout; your stubborn refusal to budge on something that is clearly not working. We have watched as your web series, which once focused on opening an intelligent dialogue on entertainment matters, developed into this... this cry for help. This ham-fisted, unironic, overdramatic enterprise so full of itself, so completely unaware of its own ineptitude it would make Tommy Wiseau cringe. We know not where your pain began, Mr. Chipman, but we hear your anguish.

But it's got to stop. You can't keep doing this to yourself. You can't keep doing the same thing that you know everyone hates and expect to get different results. I understand that every critic wants to be a film-maker. We get to a point where we think we could do better than those guys, and we try it, and it's terrible. But if we give up, that would be seen as a defeat. It might undermine whatever authority we have to speak on these matters.

I tried to convince myself when I got that itch that I was "too far in to quit now". Although it wasn't so much film-making for me as general story-telling. Comics, in fact. I was so convinced my years of pointing out failures in other people's works would mean my work would be spun gold. I should have known when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em. I would have spared the world one of the most humiliating chapters of my life, and on the internet that shit is not quickly forgotten. In fact, the failures of our species are archived for all to see.

I could not escape my hubris. I flew too close to the sun. But you sir, you who have made me and many others really stop and stroke our chins in contemplation, on subjects that aren't approached as thoughtfully as they should be, or as much, or at all. You, who dared to question if the greatest thing holding back video games are not merely the people who make and sell them, but those who consume them. You, whose videos have made us all want to put more effort into having sensible, thought-out beliefs on these things:

THERE'S STILL A WAY OUT FOR YOU.



Listen, you and me haven't seen eye-to-eye on a few things. You think "Final Fight" would make a better movie than "Shadow of the Colossus", whereas I... think you should know better than that. But even I don't think you deserve this. No amount of sour grapes can make me will this cruelty on you, your series or your audience. You are too old and too talented to be making my amateur mistakes. You're better than this.

That, and the very idea of the Anti-Thinker is just impractical. He's a bloated, hit-over-the-head stereotype strawman, essentially saying your opinions backwards and with less eloquency. How is that an improvement over addressing to your audience, clearly and plainly, how you feel? When you did attempt to sneak in a point or two, they felt stifled by having to compete for the spotlight with your ridiculous "quest". It is actually hurting your ability to convey an opinion, which is what you do better than anything else!

I think the problem is that you tried out this storyline stuff in a series where it was never meant to happen. "The Game Overthinker" was never meant to be a story-based show. It's just a means for you to get a dialogue started on certain issues you think need more attention. If this amateur film-making self-indulgence were confined from your other content, there wouldn't be a problem. But shoe-horning it into your series on screwattack makes about as much sense as placing "Rapelay" into Super Mario Bros. 3. There may be a time and place for everything, but it wasn't here. 

Did you start to feel having "The Big Picture" accomplish the same goal made the Overthinker series redundant, and that a story would justify its continued existence? Were you just running out of stuff to talk about across three different shows? Is there seriously no better way you could think of to commemorate fifty episodes than by ruining the previous seven? Can we expect this clownshit from Escape to the Movies?

Like I said before, every critic wishes he could be a film-maker. Every one of us has that itch. But there's a reason why you are a critic instead. Please, heed these words well and know that in spite of everything, a few of us are still here for you. You are too valuable a reminder that the entertainment we consume is worthy of appreciating on a deeper level. In a world with Twitter and Facebook updates, we need people like you. But we can't help you until you can help yourself. 

"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem.They're in there every night, they see how it should be done every night, but they can't do it themselves."

-Behan, Brendan Francis
 END OF LINE

~A.H.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

FFIV & Portal 2: Days Away

Did anyone else know they're updating Final Fantasy IV again? But this time for the PSP, with those crazy high-res 2D artz they gave to I and II a while back, instead of the DS's cute, stub-handed polygon models? And that it was coming out on the same day as Portal 2? April 19th. Sheez, that's only like 3 days. Surprised both of those flew under my radar like that.




Friday, 15 April 2011

THE MIGHTY AVENGER

The following is a thing that actually happened not half an hour ago:

DAD: "If you thought the Jesus/Easter Bunny connection was weird, get a load of this:

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Old Republic: "ZWING!"

Two Bioware posts in one day. Huh. This one won't be as long, I promise.

Here's one of my beefs with The Old Republic, the next in a line of "WoW-killers" that has never so much as hurt World of Warcraft's feelings before sputtering into an early grave. Every player in this MMO will be able to play as a Jedi, if they want to. You can also be a bounty hunter or something.

But seriously, who ISN'T going to choose to be a Jedi? Who is going to turn down a lightsaber? A few diehard Boba Fett fans? Won't this game just become a sea of bright red and pink and blue and green glow wands prancing about on fetch quests? And if everyone is a Jedi, doesn't that by virtue make it significantly less special than when there are very few left(which I believe was kind of the point of the original trilogy)?

AH YES REAPERS

I can't say I'm totally on board with the changes in Mass Effect 3 just yet, but I'll try to remain cautiously optimistic.

In all seriousness though, I'm hearing a lot of "Garrus is back", but not a whole lot of "Jack, Legion and Tali are back and Miranda is dead forever because gawd what a fucking awful character". Personally I'd like a Vorcha squad member, just for the intimate and thoughtful conversations.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Crysis 2

Shamus wrote about Crysis 2 a while back, and I meant to talk about it. Somehow that slipped by, and now it's no longer topical, but fuck you I'm talking about it anyway.

He describes at length how the entire game features characters barking orders into your headset. And not just the big stuff, either, like "You have to capture the base from the alien nazi werewolves"(that's what Crysis is about right? I don't have a PC that can run it, I wouldn't know). No, apparently they have to hold the player's hand through every single step, chattering incessantly about every single simple task so that the player is awarded absolutely no freedom to explore different options for himself. This is a problem in more than just Crysis.