All About Guest_1001
Ah, the good old days of Turrican . . .
It's been over a year since I posted anything here on Gamespot. I lost interest for a few reasons -- didn't like the site updates and a moderator decided it'd be fun to throw his weight around in one of the unions I frequented -- but I guess I'm back now. I'm not sure if any of my friends are still here but, if they are, I'd be glad to see a few friendly faces. ^_^
I came back to Gamespot because I realised that I didn't have any online friends who were gamers and, with a game with such a great story as Heavy Rain being released, I felt the urge to talk to someone about it.
And now "fat" PS3s have an issue that means we can't play it.
The thing is, I don't know why it's happening and I'm not out to blame anyone. But it's been related to both PSN and Trophies and, if either of those are the case, then it annoys me. And yeah, I know my first blog upon returning shouldn't be a fanboy rant but I can't help it. I'm not interested in online play or Trophies and couldn't care less about either of them. In fact, I think games would be better off without both of them. PSN doesn't interest me at all -- I've played games online plenty of times before and the only one I really like, remarkably, is Bioshock 2, and I still like the single player more -- and there's nothing in the Playstation Store that I want. I've often thought that Downloadable Content makes a game feel unfinished and is a rip-off in most cases (I'm looking at you, Dead Space and Soul Calibur IV!) and I don't have a problem with going back to demo discs if I want to play demos. Having said that, with people who haven't been online for weeks or months reporting their PS3s not working as they should. I doubt it's a PSN issue.
Trophies are even more of an annoying issue for me because I never wanted them in the first place and yet, it appears, our games no longer work because the Trophies fail to load. And yet I didn't buy Heavy Rain because I wanted more Trophies. I don't buy any game for Trophies or Achievements so why on earth is my PS3 dependant on them for me to play a game?
The frustrating thing is that, assuming this is a Trophy-related issue, those of us who don't even want Trophies have to suffer because of those that do and if Sony had thought to give us the option to turn off Trophies, this would never have happened. Then not only would we be able to play our games right now but those of us who actually play games because they like to play games wouldn't have to put up with a little grey box popping up in the corner of our screens every so often to drag us out of an immersive experience like Heavy Rain.
Even though this might not be a Trophy-related issue at all, the number of people complaining about the fact that they might've lost their Trophies is very telling. I could understand if it was your saved data but Trophies? I don't get it. It makes me wonder what these people did before the X-Box 360 was released and they had to play games without Achievements. Did they refuse to buy the latest consoles and hit games because they didn't have any little box popping up to tell them that they just got 5 Gamerpoints? Somehow, I don't think so. The point I'm trying to make is that if it is the Trophies causing these problems then we're better off without them. If something so superficial is causing such serious problems, get rid of it. Then maybe people will finally go back to playing games because they like them and we won't see so many "Need help with getting _____ Trophy" topics on game boards.
... Bet you're wishing I never came back now, aren'tcha? ^_^
My blog was starting to get dusty, considering I haven't wrote anything in it for two months. So why not start with the topic on everyone's mind (except for the new GS look, which I hate. Only able to view five of my friends' most recent blogs? Madness!): the Beijing Olympics.
I have absolutely no interest in sport but with a lot of free time on my hands and everyone talking about that opening ceremony -- which I still haven't bloody seen -- I was bound to watch it at some point. And now, I'm pretty much an addict. Although now that most of the sprinting and hurdles are over, I wonder how long I'll remain addicted; a 5000m race can only hold my attention for so long before I start watching Frasier on another channel.
I'm also constantly surprised by how excited/patriotic I get when it looks like one of the UK's athletes is going to do well (third in the medal standings, thank you very much). The thing is, I don't know how well my American and Chinese friends (yes, I'm proud to say I have friends from China) can relate to this because they're doing so well; it's pretty much guaranteed that the US and China are going to do well, so surely there's less excitement, right? I may be wrong, since I heard mention of the battle for medals between the US and China during several events. I always wonder how each nation will be represented to other nations too; I can only speak for myself but it seems that any event aired will get a replay but if there's a British athlete, it'll get about five replays and if we win a medal of any colour, it'll get over a dozen of them. Not that I'm not pleased to see our athletes get some credit but there's a limit: when Great Britain's Christine Ohuruogu won the gold medal, a big deal was made about how she managed to beat the US's Sanya Richards. Who came third. Jamaica's Shericka Williams wasn't even mentioned.
I also have to give a special mention to Tasha Danvers, who got a bronze in the women's 400m hurdles. I might've started watching female runners for the wrong reasons but I was definitely excited for the right reasons (although I still happen to find Tasha attractive, I have those assistant girls to ogle now, not that I do. The ones who you see in the stadium now and again, carrying the athletes' bags and stuff). Although even then, Jamaica's Melaine Walker was hardly mentioned, despite coming first and setting a new Olympic record (although credit goes to American former athlete Michael Johnson for the satirical remark "you know, Melaine Walker set a new record, I don't know if anyone noticed").
Also, despite being straight, I seem to have a man-crush on Usain Bolt. Now THERE'S an athlete. By the time the race starts, he's already at the finish line, looking at his watch. By the time every other athlete finishes, he's sitting at home watching the replay. I'm hoping that, should Usain Bolt come to London for the 2012 Olympics (non-Brits - be prepared for disappointment), he'll run in event, go so fast that he explodes like the DeLorean from Back To The Future, reappear at the finish line as an old man and still go on to set a new world record.
Which reminds me: the Beijing 2008 videogame is out. I haven't played it so is there any differences between the nations? For example, if you're playing as Jamaica in a male sprinting event, can you put less effort into it than the other athletes?
First things first: I don't want anyone else's MGS4 experience to be swayed by my own opinion and I do honestly think it's a good game. But that won't stop me from tearing it to pieces. Note: This blog contains big spoilers about Metal Gear Solid 4. Don't read until you've completed the game from beginning to end.
First annoyance: Raiden. The only thing worse than a pretty boy in a game is a pretty boy in a game who everyone is making out to be badass. Every time the guy was off the screen, someone asked "where's Raiden", "how can we heal Raiden", "we can't do this without Raiden". When I first saw the trailer of Raiden destroying the Gekkos in the South American street, I was annoyed with it and it's only the revelation that the Gekkos aren't the new Metal Gears that have stopped me from being as annoyed now as I was then. Even so, I still find it absolutely ludicrous that early on in the game, Snake, legendary soldier that he is, can't destroy two of them with guns but Raiden, a full-grown man in high heels with the face of a little girl, destroys a whole street of them with a sharp piece of metal. Suspension of disbelief is one thing. Accepting garbage like that is quite another. Consistently, he's shown to be better than Snake. Giving Snake advice on tracking? That annoyed me. I felt the same way when it was shown that Raiden was quicker than Snake at freezing the bombs on the Big Shell in MGS2 (so it was Snake's fault Peter Stillman died, rather than Raiden's, the more inept of the two). On Shadow Moses island, during the genuinely excellent Metal Gear Rex sequence, why did Raiden leap from Rex halfway through the base-escaping segment? As far as I can tell, there was no reason for him to. Well, that's not quite true, there was one reason; when Raiden gets crushed at the base's exit, it allowed Snake to turn around and say "Raiden!". Of course, Japanese developers wouldn't be satisfied lest their androgynous pretty boy loser gets some acknowledgement. Not to mention his single-handedly holding back of Outer Haven, which he again survived (and ruined what could've been a good analogue to the Ninja's death in MGS1). And then he came back at the end to strike FROGS soldiers with lightning. Deus Ex Machina in MGS? Who'd have thought (*cough* Fortune *cough*)!? Lastly: Ninjas suck anyway. If there's a less mature archetype for a character, I've never seen it (except maybe the crappy loner angle, which Raiden shares with such terrible characters as FF's Cloud and Squall). Raiden genuinely ruined the game for me and honestly, the best thing for him would've been the announcement during the game that he had died and just let his legend live on. He's dead to me anyway.
Annoyance number two: Snake's underuse. Why does Snake say so little in MGS4? After the first two or three acts, he's reduced to one or two sentences in all of his appearances. It's tragic to see the character that showed his knowledge of Keglinec after Sniper Wolf's defeat in MGS1, made his thoughts on VR training and live exercises clear in MGS2, reduced to saying practically nothing throughout the game. Snake's dialogue consists of three things; 1) Telling other people the situation and taking advice. 2) Asking questions. 3) Joke lines. All three of these things put the spotlight on the other characters and the joke lines just make Snake look like a buffoon. This was not the Snake I wanted to see for his final outing. We don't see him pondering his imminent death, even though he surely knows his end is near. We don't see Snake react to Liquid as anything more than "the bad guy". We don't even see Snake get nostalgic upon his return to Shadow Moses island, as so many of us surely did.
Three: Nostalgia. MGS4 practically feeds on the stuff. Naturally, the plot stems from MGS2 and 3 but that's not what I mean. In some cases, the nostalgia is very welcome; Shadow Moses island is, without a doubt, the high point of the game. In other cases, it's not so welcome; why couldn't Konami learn from their mistakes and let Raiden die in a ditch? The weird thing about the nostalgia is that there's either too much of it or not enough. I would've loved to see the other bits of Shadow Moses island that I remember so fondly, such as Psycho Mantis' office, the room where we fought Vulcan Raven and the super-long elevator leading to it. And if we're going for nostalgia, why not more? As far as I can tell, the only reason there wasn't a visit to the ruins of Outer Heaven is that Kojima isn't a fan of the first two games (and perhaps it's not as recognisable). Other bits I could do without. Screaming Mantis' revelation of being Psycho Mantis upon her defeat. As funny as the fake Psycho Mantis trying to read the nonexistant memory card and vibrate the Sixaxis controller, it only reminded me of one thing: Psycho Mantis is gone. Which leads to:
Annoyance Four: The Beauty and the Beast unit. To be fair, these weren't too bad as boss fights (with the exception of Raging Raven, who I didn't like). As characters though, they might as well have not been there. Their only notable characterisation was a Codec call from Drebin after each Beauty's defeat. Considering each Beauty's defeat was also exactly the same, it's a disappointment. Not to mention there was practically nothing new about any of them, character-wise; they took their names from MGS1 characters and their emotions from the MGS3 Cobra unit. Their costumes were dull grey and unoriginal mech designs. They didn't hold much interest for me.
Number Five: Accents. I've mentioned this before but, while I pointed out that it was the English getting screwed over on accents, it turns out it's every nationality except America. The Middle-Eastern militia sound like all-American patriots. As do the South American rebels and the Eastern European freedom fighters. Come on . . . it's not like voice actress Jennifer Hale can't do an English accent (KOTOR's Bastila Shan is a flawless example) so why is Naomi clearly American? Not only a retcon but a disappointing one. I was excited when it looked like Major Zero was going to make an appearance. How did it feel to find he had no speaking lines? Frustrating isn't a strong enough word . . .
Sixth: Johnny. Johnny should never have been more than a background character and this really proves it. Another annoying pretty boy. Would Meryl fall in love with him if he was the 30-something plain guy that I imagined he would be by now? Of course not. And has anyone else noticed that once his gorgeous face was revealed, his diarrhoea stopped (as immature and bad a running joke it was, it's severely bad continuity)? Undoubtedly another case of Japanese developers portraying their pretty boy characters as infallible, just as they did with Raiden's crappy ninjaness, as Squaresoft did with making FF8's Squall Balamb Garden's commander, despite being drastically inexperienced and just as Capcom did with DMC's resident loser, Nero (and before him, Dante).
Annoyance Seven: Anime influences. Silly things like a camera close-up and whooshing sound after the tiniest movements (it happened when before the assault on Outer Haven when Drebin moved his arm and lifted his head). It happens with other stuff too, like bad jokes and dialogue. And then there's "Akiba" (a ludicrous name) and Raiden, the two ludicrous androgynous boys, Raiden's supposedly "cool" ninja armour and moves (I, for one, am not impressed by silly sword slashes) and that bloody awful dialogue line in every Japanese game where one character says another character's name and nothing else, supposedly to represent an emotional moment (for example, "Otacon . . .", "Raiden . . ." or, at its most ridiculous, "Big Mama . . ."). As far as I'm concerned, MGS could be infinitely improved with movie influences, which is what so much of it is based on anyway.
Eighth one: Dialogue. When Big Boss finally makes an appearance, I was jumping for joy. Not only was the definitive villain finally in the game but he looked great too. But what happened? Practically nothing. We didn't hear a word about Outer Heaven or Zanzibar, Big Boss' new and equally ignoble death (by Foxdie; one of his others was being burned using an aerosol can) or his reaction to his dream being realised, or what we were led to believe was his dream; a soldier's place being on the battlefield and eternally receiving recognition in the world. No, Big Boss was just there to round off the story rather than give us any insight at all. True, maybe Snake's underuse comes under this category too, since there was so much Snake could've added to this conversation but didn't (if I remember correctly, he said two sentences). There was even less reaction to Big Boss than there was to Liquid. That's not the only case of bad dialogue, of course; "Eye Have You" is a particularly cringe-inducing line. MGS is at its best when scientific or militaristic, so why can it do that so well but screw up the more human conversations so badly?
Number Nine: The Codec. The Codec has always been a magnificent part of MGS, great to use if you ever feel like having a sandwich. Can someone tell me why there's only two frequencies, Otacon and Rose? Neither of whom have anything particularly good to say. If there are any others, I'd like to know, but it's a disappointment as it is. For the final game in the series, I would've thought more would be offered, not less.
Ten: Aiming, Enemies and Weaponry. The more observant amongst you will notice I haven't at all mentioned anything about gameplay. That's because MGS is as good as ever where and when it really matters. But there are flaws. A lot of flaws that make me think MGS4 is the worst game of the series. Put simply, I didn't buy MGS for some over-the-shoulder run-and-gun game. That's not MGS. Throw in the Rat Patrol unit and the FROGS soldiers and it's a standard (or perhaps even substandard) shooter. After what I just said about the final game in the series offering more instead of less, it might make me seem like a hypocrite to complain about the weaponry but, in this case, it sames to go for quantity instead of quality (despite some exceptions, such as the Railgun, Stun Knife and all non-lethal weapons). It's all very well putting weapons like the Sleep Satchel in the game but MGS isn't as "sandbox" as it used to be. Gone are the days of MGS1 and 2 where footsteps were silent and enclosed corridors were everywhere. Usually, gameplay is what you make of it but the game seems far more limited than it used to be. The enemies are the same; the Gekkos are basically Metal Gear Ray-lite, with the same method of defeating them. It's a shame that so many games do this now, offering tactics to beat enemies rather than just making them hard as nails.
I don't want to seem too down on MGS4. It's good. Very good. But it could and should be more. I love the OctoCamo and face masks (although I yearn for a Liquid one, or special abilities for them, similar to the Cobra Unit Camo in MGS3). I love that there's so many extras added into the game. I love the boss fights. I love the CQC (even though, again, there could be more). I love Sunny. I love the Metal Gear fight, unquestionably the highlight of the game. It all goes to make one hell of a game. But it's a shame that so many of the other "one hell of a game" qualities have been ditched.
Oh yeah, I might've forgot to mention it but, um, Raiden? He's a tad annoying.
My Recent Reviews
Nostalgia fans unite! Here is the remastered, Hi-Resolution intro sequence of multi-platform cult classic game, Another World ("Out Of This World" in America). Re-released at the game's website: http://www.anotherworld.fr/anotherworld_uk/index.htm
A short video showing some gameplay elements of "Sid Meier's Pirates!" on the PC. Sorry about the low quality. Music by Duran Duran.
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