Friday, December 24, 2010

Looking Forward #4

It’s been a while since I wrote a post, so I thought I’d mesh another “inbetweener” with my overdue editorial.

I’ve been playing a lot of games on and off over the past couple weeks.

-Plants vs. Zombies; I like to settle into tower-defense games every now and then, and this is definitely an amusing way to pass the time. It’s not as “addictive” as I thought it might be given its wide acclaim, but I like it. It’s challenging and humorous (I especially like Crazy Dave and the notes that the zombies leave you sometimes). Also, new environments and plants introduced on a regular basis (in addition to the game throwing gameplay curveballs every so often) give good incentive to keep playing. I’ve been playing through it on my Macbook Pro, just got to the backyard. No post on it though.

-Super Smash Brows. Brawl; This is literally the only meaningful game I have ever had for my Wii other than a short stint with Tales of Symphonia 2 (which I never finished). Usually I just Gamefly any other Wii games I feel like playing, and even that’s pretty uncommon. Still, it’s just as fun as it was when I first played it during the spring of..07, was it? I pretty much only play Pokemon Trainer nowadays; he’s really fun to play as, though I hate how vulnerable you are switching pokemon.

-Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War; Just finished a third playthrough this past weekend; this game is just as fun as I remember. The story, characters, thematic elements, and audio all fit together into a surprisingly invigorating package. The ending left me feeling great. Like Ace Combat Zero, I’m probably going to forget the story as a whole in the next couple days, but key elements like Chopper, the “Ghosts of Razgriz”, and the unification of Osean and Yuke pilots to thwart Belka will likely stick with me forever. I might write a post on this.

-Kirby’s Epic Yarn; Wow, I’m kind of disappointed. I love Kirby, and I love his games (hello Kirby 64!), but I had the exact same problem with this that I had with Super Mario Galaxy 2: boredom. The graphics were creative, the theme was creative, and there were certainly some cool gameplay elements, but the game still felt bland somehow. It’s not lack of trophies or “next-gen visuals”, or else I wouldn’t have enjoyed AC5 as immensely as I did. I thought it might have been lack of story combined with the fact that it’s a 2D platformer (a genre I don’t usually enjoy that much), but Kirby is one of the few series in this genre that I do like! I think it’s because it didn’t feel like a Kirby game. I don’t think I’m going to write a post on this.

-Dead Nation; This is a quality title, but man it can be challenging at times! Expect a post when I feel like it.

-Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light; I haven’t actually played this in at least a week, due to Dead Nation overtaking it as my top-down co-op shooter for the time being. Expect a post on it when I feel like it, IF I feel like it.

-Sly Collection; Slowly chugging through this. I beat Sly 1 and now I’m on the second case in Sly 2. Good times. I think I’m going to do an overview post for the title as a whole, rather than posts for each game.

-Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood; I’m still enchanted by this game. I’ve just about polished off most of what the singleplayer has to offer (aside from plenty of death and mischief). Getting 100% sync is going to take FOREVER though (currently at 72%), because I still have guild challenges to do, missions to get full sync on, shops and buildings to renovate, and a few quests left to do. Crappy internet and really long matchmaking times mean I STILL haven’t had more than a couple chances to really sit down and have some fun with the multiplayer.

My only topic for the time being is mobile gaming. I’m not much of a mobile gamer. I have an iPod Touch and DS Lite. I have a number of games for both platforms, but comparatively speaking, I don’t use them that much on a consistent basis. Still, I’ve definitely had my share of good times playing portable games (most of them being immediately related to Pokemon, Phoenix Wright and Custom Robo). There are a couple philosophies that permeate the mobile gaming industry. One is the belief that portable games should be highly accessible, and playable in bite-sized segments. This is the principle that the iPhone App Store is built on. Sure, there’s a large number of “hardcore” offerings available, many of them being ports or carbon copies of console games, but they don’t enjoy nearly as much attention or market penetration as the smaller-scale games such as Angry Birds and Slice it! do. The other philosophy is that portable games should be have just as much scale and oomph as their platform’s hardware allows. Console gaming on the go, if you will. This is the primary method you see on the PSP and DS (especially the former).

There’s definitely a number of compelling cases for either side. God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, and any number of DS or PSP RPGs both new and classic stand as good examples that the idea of portable games having plenty of scope is certainly not a bad one. But titles representing the other side of the coin pop up just as, if not far more frequently, and are lapped up with less hesitation. The key difference is the customer demographics. Many of those larger games require an install base, either behind the company, franchise, or even the genre to be successful. You can’t just pick up and play a Dragon Quest game without knowing what an RPG is, or whether you enjoy them. You won’t have as much fun, probably. Casual games like Brain Age and Peggle aim for the less gaming-inclined members of society. There’s a sort of “step right up” theme that they present, offering the average person a bit of fun for low cost; no prior knowledge required.

So, as Apple continues to forge a path for casual gamers with the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad, Nintendo and most likely Sony have their own products coming within the next year or two. Nintendo presents the 3DS, which hopes to draw casuals with its no-glasses 3D capabilities, and mainstream gamers with a surprisingly solid library full of classic remakes, ports and just plain good games. (*ahem* Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton). Rumors are swirling real heavily around the existence of the PSP2, which is said to be packing enough power to rival a PS3. Personally I think that’s a stretch, but given the approach they took with the PS3, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony continued to take the hardware route, strictly upholding the principle that mobile gaming should go hand in hand with console gaming. We’ll see soon enough how well either the 3DS or the PSP’s successor does, and how the App Store (and eventually the Android Market) continues to influence and warp the portable gaming industry. For now at least, I think there’s always money to be had making a small game aimed towards the casual demographic, while developing a larger game will continue to hold some level of risk.

Now, what I’m looking forward to.


-Mass Effect 3; Now that it’s coming to PS3 as well, there is a possibility that I will actually get ME3 for that, but for the moment at least my loyalty lies with the PC version.

-The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; Well, well well! A new Elder Scrolls game! I’m not really that invested in the series, having not played any past Oblivion--though I’ve heard really cool things about Morrowind--but I became truly addicted to Oblivion when I first played it on PS3 (which I acknowledge was a mistake). The prospect of delving into another hugely open world game like this is pretty daunting, which is the main reason I’m not actually that hyped for Skyrim. But we’ll see.

-Dragon Age 2; I really liked DA Origins, at least until I played ME2, which made it seem a bit bland. But I really, really loved the way the game got you to invest in the story through frequent decisions presented to you, some of which were weighty, with options that each had their pros and cons. It was an amazing showcase of Bioware’s writing ability. Now I’m looking forward to them taking all of that and bringing it into a game that’s actually fun to play, not just great to experience.

-Guild Wars 2; After Guild Wars showed me that an MMO didn’t have to be all PvP and grinding, but could also feature a compelling story and PvE component, I never looked at other games in the genre the same again. Maybe that’s changed in the past couple years, but GW2 is still the only MMO I can see myself playing.

Playstation 3

-LittleBigPlanet 2; It’s a shame they couldn’t get this out in time for the holidays, because it would have gotten huge sales, I think. But the delay only means this will be an even more quality product than it already will be. You’ve got to understand that this is no longer just a platformer; this is a portal to a whole new world of creativity. It’s pretty exciting just to think about the possibilities.

-Dead Space 2; I was surprised to find I enjoyed the first Dead Space quite a bit, what with its engrossing atmosphere, compelling narrative, and dismemberment feature. So I’m really looking forward to its installment AND its PS3-exclusive DS Extraction bonus. Plus the multiplayer sounds kinda interesting; a cat and mouse sorta deal where you have one side playing a squad of marines and the other side playing the necromorphs trying to tear them to pieces. It sounds like something you might get if you mixed AC Brotherhood’s and L4D’s multiplayer’s together.

-inFamous 2; I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t actually that hyped for inFamous 2, even though I enjoyed the first one. However, I get more interested in it every time I read about it.

-Batman: Arkham City; I’m not gonna lie-- this and Mass Effect 3 are probably my MOST anticipated games of 2011. There’s games that I can’t wait to play like LBP2 and Uncharted 3, and then there’s games I’m simply frothing at the mouth for in anticipation. Like this game. Jesus Christ every time I read about this game, I just get more and more excited!

-Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception; Don’t get me wrong, I’m really looking forward to playing this, and it will probably be a day one purchase. But I’m still disappointed that there probably won’t be offline co-op. Naughty Dog will probably find some other way to make it amazing, though.

-Resistance 3; It sounds like they’re trying to take the best of the first and second games and bring them into R3, which is a good thing. As grateful as I am to hear that co-op campaign is back, I still can’t help hoping they bring the separate co-op mode back in some form. It really grew on me. If Halo can do it, why can’t Resistance?

-Ace Combat: Assault Horizon; The announcement trailer for this game was pretty amazing, and I’m certainly hyped for it. But I am disappointed that they’re bringing it into the real world this time. I was really enchanted with the fictional worlds they had dreamt up for previous games. Now I can’t help but feel it looks a lot like “Call of Duty in fighter jets” now.

-SSX: Deadly Descents; Another SSX game! I’ll admit I didn’t see this coming, though it’s definitely not unreasonable. It looks like the series is taking a more serious, grimdark turn, with grizzly-looking dudes fighting for their lives as they snowboard down the most dangerous slopes in the world. If they execute this theme well, it could be really cool. But it sure doesn’t feel like SSX.

-Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One; I had doubts about how well this game would work. I mean a four-player Ratchet and Clank game sounded awesome on paper, but I couldn’t imagine how it could be properly handled, concerning the camera. But after watching a gameplay walkthrough, I was sold. I’m officially looking forward to this game.

-Bioshock Infinite; A Bioshock game that isn’t grimdark? Sure, why not? I haven’t played Bioshock 2, but I played and really enjoyed most of the first game.

-Twisted Metal; This strikes me as being purely a homage to the “good ol’ days”. I never actually played the original Twisted Metal games, but I’ve heard good things about them, and looking at the concept it does sound like good fun.

-Motorstorm: Apocalypse; I’ve always felt the Motorstorm series is a tad under-appreciated. Maybe it’s because the racing genre as a whole isn’t as prominent this generation as it used to be, but they’re all top quality titles. It got my attention with Pacific Rift, and though I didn’t jump on the bandwagon back then, I’m ready to now. Definitely looking forward to this gem.

-Catherine; I wasn’t paying much attention to this until I looked it up on a whim and really read into its concept. Now I’m all ears. The premise is something you could only expect from Japan, with some elements from the eroge, horror, romance, psychological, visual novel, and adventure genres all tossed into one big melting pot. I don’t even fully understand it, but I really want to.

-Metal Gear Solid Rising; After the colossal buffet of plot and everything MGS that was Metal Gear Solid 4, I’m STILL not sure I’m ready for Rising, as cool as it looks. Good thing its not due out for some time, probably.

-Final Fantasy XIII Versus; What with the FF14 fiasco and a lot of people not liking FF13 (though I liked it a lot), this stands as the last thing people may still be looking forward to from Square-Enix, myself included. Here’s truly hoping they don’t mess it up.

-LA Noire; This is another one of those games that I have to read about to really become interested in. And from what I’ve read, it’s going to be pretty great. Rockstar’s had a pretty good track record, so I’m actually confident it will satisfy expectations.

-The Last Guardian; I want to be excited about this game, but given it’s probably not coming out for at least another year, and Team Ico’s still being tight-lipped about its development progress, I’ll just have to put my energy into being excited over other Arkham City.

-Sly 4; Yeah, I think it will come eventually. And Sucker Punch will find some way to make it a good time. That’s all I have to say on the matter.

-No More Heroes: Hero’s Paradise; I liked No More Heroes well enough, but grinding boring tasks to get to each boss killed it for me. I am looking forward to giving it another chance with this port, though.

-Tomb Raider; pure 3rd person action-adventure games likes Jak and Daxter and the Tomb Raider franchise haven't been quite as prominent this generation, even though I enjoy playing them. Even though so far Crystal Dynamics (the developer) has only released screens and a trickle of info on this Lara Croft reboot, it's already piqued my interest, offering a younger and far less experienced Lara stumbling through what appear to be some of her first adventures, promising the addition of a survival element to gameplay. Color me intrigued.


-The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword; I’m beginning to consider selling my Wii. This is the only game on the horizon for it that I’m interested in, and from what I’ve seen of it, even this new Zelda game doesn’t look like it will be as fun as past titles have been. But it’s a Zelda game nonetheless, and thus something worth looking forward to.


-The hardware itself; Though the reported battery life (3-8 hours playing 3DS games) is regrettable, mostly everything else about this new portable tickles my fancy, from unique features like Cross Pass and AR functionality, to the hardware utilities such as 3D cameras and an included charge cradle (New tech, regardless of what it is, is always at least a little exciting to me).

-Tales of the Abyss; This is probably my favorite entry in the Tales series, and it sucks that it's no longer being printed. So imagine my surprise when it was announced it would be remade for DS!

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