Wasting Time With Neon!
Diablo III should be amazing. After all, it's the sequel to the legendary Diablo series. Blizzard went from Diablo to focus on Warcraft but than later resurrected their famous and influential RTS, Starcraft and now have Diablo III. It should be amazing.
The game is the fastest-selling PC game of all time. It's like a testament to the staying power of what has become my favorite gaming platform and a slap in the face of all the detractors that think PC gaming is dying. Blizzard hit the sales jackpot, selling over three times as many copies of Diablo III in one week than Microsoft has sold Xbox 360 consoles in Japan across six years. It should be glorious.
Except it isn't. I hate DRM. So much that I avoided buying many games that featured it. But it was bound to happen one day eventually. You can't complain about how much you hate something, not with true passion at least, if you haven't experienced it first hand. Oh I felt my annoyance when I played Diablo III a week or so ago and saw a notification pop up telling me to log out of the game in the next ten minutes because Blizzard had to do some maintenance on their game. Oh there was annoyance.
Sure I've had the game for over a week now and have only totaled about four hours of play. Sure, I've been busy. I mean who wants to stay home and play videogames when you have air-pressure nail guns to play with? When you have a hammer to play with? When you have parties to go to? When you have a psychotic woman that needs to be constantly desired by you or she'll cut your balls off? Each of these things are infinitely more entertaining than playing a videogame. They always have been and they always will be. Who wants to play a videogame when you have to exercise? Who wants to play a videogame when you can go buy yourself some nice clothes and shoes? These are, again, things that are more entertaining than videogames. In May I've spent $60 on videogames. In comparison I've spent hundreds of dollars on clothing and shoes. I've spent hundreds of dollars on things for the house like a chandelier, light bulbs for the cieling fans, etc. Hell, I've spent hundreds of dollars on just filling up my gas tank. I've also burned a hole in my account because as what's her face puts it "Baby, you pay for the expensive sh*t because I'm not going to."
I'd rather spend money on all of these things than on videogames. But when my friends, particularly a certain female partner in crime of mine tells me I should buy this game (likely as an excuse for her to complain about her boyfriend as she knows I'm not doing text conversations with her about it), I think to myself "You know what, maybe just this once I can drop $60 on a game and deal with the DRM that it comes saddled with because I enjoy my friends. I enjoy going out with them, I enjoy partying with them, I enjoy mellowing out with them, I enjoy sitting quietly and staring at the sky with them, I enjoy studying for exams with them and I enjoy afternoon naps with them, hell, I just freaking enjoy my friends."
So yeah, I like my friends. A lot. And I figured $60 for days like today where I don't have work and can casually sit around and start up Diablo III for a quick game just to see what's going on for the simple sake of seing what's going on wouldn't be so bad. Until I see a "Breaking News" bulletin on the side that tells me that since 3 PM there have been server issues. And I try logging in. Multiple times. Across about an hour I'd wager. Sure, I read some news on the NBA Playoffs (Go Spurs Go!!), noticed a new season of South Park on Netflix, checked Facebook and started typing up this piece for everyone to read and throughout that entire time I have sporadically tried logging in to Diablo III and have failed each time.
When it comes to lesser entertainment, games are fun. They have their place as a nifty, interactive distraction. And yet I can't play the biggest PC game in years. Why? Because Blizzard decided, in their infinite wisdom, that even single-player needs to be done through their servers. So that Diablo III shortcut on my desktop? Useless. What am I greeted with when I double-click it? A login screen. One that can't log me into the game I paid $60 for because Blizzard decided that they want to track everything people do. I wish I could tell you if Diablo III gets better after the first four hours or if it remains the same, dumbed-down and ridiculously cheesy mess it started as. But I can't. Because I can't log in.
Millions sold in days. What should have been viewed as a reason for celebration by fans and a magnificent study on the true sales potential of the PC platform by publishers that have tried to leave it behind over the years will instead be looked at how one of the largest and most respected development teams botched a chance at something exceptional. Good job, Blizzard. Microsoft, Sony, EA and Capcom couldn't have messed this up any more than you already did. In a way, that's kind of something to be proud of, too. Because it takes a special team to outstupid one of those four.
I played a game. Now you get to read a blog that's like what I used to write and not the one sentence masterpieces you've become accustomed to. Why? Because I played a game for the first time in months! Go me! (Actually I played Game Dev Story a little before Diablo III, so I guess that's the one I played, but screw it all).
So dat Diablo III huh.
So I bought it due to peer pressure. My friends are all playing. :/ They forced me. Well, one of them forced me. OK, so she didn't force me so much as she told me to get it or I'd be a little wuss. OK, so she didn't say that, but she forced me. So me and my bud go to the store, pick up a copy and join the social revolution! Or not.
I said I wouldn't buy it because it wouldn't be as good as Torchlight and the whole always being online thing would suck. So, yeah, I was right on both. Torchlight is like $10 and better than Diablo III. Torchlight II is just around the corner and will release for $20 on day one and if you pre-order it now you get the first Torchlight for free. Look, all I'm saying is that Torchlight is better than Diablo III.
Diablo III is super-freaking corny. I understand the fanboy defense is "But it's Diablo!" The rebuttal goes, "it's f*cking 2012, make your games good, people." So you'll want to skip the story altogether. You'll also want to ignore all of the lore entries. You'll also want to skip all of the in-game dialogue. Your little objective screen will totally tell you EXACTLY where you need to go to kill monsters without having to worry about potential brain-damage from everything else around the game. Thankfully, Diablo isn't about that extra crap, and the monster-slaying and loot-finding is still fun as hell (no pun intended). Thing is, for $10 or $15 or free, whichever, Torchlight has a better loot-drop system that makes the mouse-clicking even more addicting than Diablo III can manage.
Diablo III's level-layout is also super-linear. This isn't a bad thing. I like linear design, but I know many "internet gamer warrior forumite douchebags" hate it, so I'm taking this time to tell you that Diablo III is an overhead version of Final Fantasy XIII. Just like Mass Effect is a third-person shooter version of Final Fantasy XIII with some dialogue choices. I'd be busy praising FFXIII, but Square-Enix released FFXIII-2 so I kind of hate them right now. Story for another time (actually, that's a lie, I'm not going to post anything about it). Anyway, Diablo III is linear. You want to run off the beaten path to discover hidden dungeons for some sweet loot? It doesn't exist. At least not in Act 1 it doesn't. Now the dungeons themselves are naturally linear, but they're actually designed very well and I give a huge HUGE edge to Diablo III in terms of dungeon design over Torchlight. They're just more unique and interesting to explore. Granted, I can do without all of the nasty, ugly accents in this game. Everyone needs to STFU and take a cue from The Legend of Zelda: no dialogue can make a good game even better. Yes, I know, it's 2012 and voice-acting still sucks balls. Which is why some of these games need to adopt the whole, "no voice-acting rule." Hey, The Artist won Best Picture, I think I can handle a game without spoken dialogue.
Anyway, skills are super-streamlined to the point of being almost insulting. I don't want to talk about it, but Torchlight. Better. In. Every. Way. Imaginable. The thing about Torchlight is that it's a budget game that's fairly short when compared to other games in the genre (like the excellent Diablo II, the finest example of the genre). It's you going down one dungeon after the other and just killing monsters. Simple? Yeah. Fun? Yeah. But it was the appetizer that would lead up to Torchlight II.
And if for no other reason to be excited for Torchlight II over Diablo III than just look to the awesome decision of having the player ALWAYS online! So there I was making my way down the Cathedral to the Skeleton King boss. You know, the final boss of Act 1 that people who have the guest pass (three of which are included with Diablo III) can play upto for free to get a decent taste of the game. Yeah, him. There I was making my way down dealing with the cluttered ass HUD where I have my map, my objectives, my chat and some notifications when I get a surprise update: Server will shut down in 13 minutes for maintenance. ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME!? I'm playing solo you b*tchass developers. I dropped $60 on your stupid game that isn't even as good as the competition which I paid $10 for at the same store and it's upcoming sequel that will sh*t all over your game, and you boot me from your server for maintenance? MAKE A F*CKING OFFLINE MODE LIKE EVERY NORMAL F*CKING DEVELOPER.
All in all, Diablo III is a fun game. It's basic right down to its very core. Sure, I can't customize my character's growth like I could in Diablo II and Torchlight, but extreme streamlining helps for allowing you to use up to six skills in battle in real-time. Thing is, it's a cakewalk on Normal and again, unlike Torchlight, Diablo III does not allow you to select your difficulty. The game is well-designed and flashy which really isn't a knock-against a game that should be flashy to begin with. But the lore, plot and characters are only "cool" if you're thirteen. Sane people will skip everything. People with friends who play the game may cave in and purchase the game. But the truly tasteful folk of this here internet are all waiting for the anti-Diablo III, and Runic Games know how to serve that up just right.
Boo-hoo, cry me a freaking river. I've been less active on here since I haven't been playing videogames, meanwhile half of the patsies on this site are being inactive because their blogs don't registers new comments automatically.
Does it suck? Sure. Will it get fixed? Sure. Do you need to set your priorities straight? Yes. Yes you do.
Here's a much better one!
Got my two actors lined up for Wednesday. Got a sound mixing gig later in the month and I get to edit audio on two shorts after that as well.
Dates with the lady have been going pretty swell aside from both of us being so damn busy that we're lucky to see one another once a week. I guess text and phone conversations are better than nothing, but I hate talking on the phone and texting so.... yeah. Next week. Gotta hold out. I'm texting and blogging at the same time. I'm so f*cking chic!
Also, f*ck Vita. SW is boring. Blademasters is dead. I haven't completed a game not released on a phone since 2011.
New Linkin Park song isn't bad. They haven't had a good album since Meteora, then they suddenly became little b*tches. This song is still pretty b*tchy, but it's the best single they've had since 2003 when we got Feint. In conclusion, Linkin Park sucks. Just not as much c*ck as they used to.
JK Rowling announced her new book, The Casual Vacancy. Apparently it's a dark comedy about the death of a man. And it's for adults. Yay! Releases in September. Guaranteed to be better than Halo 4 and Call of Duty 4.7
Senior Thesis here I come? I sure hope so....
Oh and Marketing test from hell. Good sh*t.
Must polish resume..... such a pain.
That's all, so bite me. Or have a nice day. Take your pick.
Not bad. Kind of funny, kind of entertaining, but I'm not big on the whole socially awkward characters thing going on. Really dug that in the final season that the Spartans that beat everyone up were actually women. It was funny to see that while the guy they were protecting was in a butterfly dress. But hey, whatever.
I guess it's worth a watch. I don't play MMOs so a bit of it escapes me, but still entertaining enough.
Half-Life 3 or Episode 3 Revealed
Valve make some solid, highly polished games that try new things. You can't fault them for that. Now, Portal is not to my tastes. Neither is Left 4 Dead (OK, Left 4 Dead ESPECIALLY is not to my tastes). Dota 2? Meh. So what has Valve done that has me so excited for the next game or episode of Half-Life? Episode 2. On the short-list of genuine, must-play shooters of this gen, Episode 2 is right at the top. I don't understand how Portal stole the show in 2007 (well, it was new, so I do understand) but Episode 2 is the best that Half-Life has ever been. It packed in more intensity, fantastic level design, excellent characterization, witty writing, engaging gameplay and open-ended combat in its six or so hours that it put the rest of the series to shame. And the game ended on such a ridiculously high note that I find it inexcusable that Valve have taken close to five years between Episode 2 and what was meant to be Episode 3.
I want the reveal. I want the acknowledgment that Half-Life 3 or the next episode is on the way. The shooter genre has declined. The titans have fallen. F.E.A.R. released in 2005 and there hasn't been a single good F.E.A.R. game since then. Halo 4 is set to release this year and the only thing going through my mind is "why?" Crysis rocked the open-ended design in 2007 and promptly lost it in 2008 and 2011. Vanquish may never see a sequel and never earned the sales of slower-paced, mainstream titles that literally play the game for you. Every game is hell-bent on becoming Call of Duty. Just take a look at 2011. What game stood out the most? Gears of War 3, a game that couldn't be CoD whether it wanted to be or not. Everything else? Basically reskinned Call of Duty. There was a time when the two titans were Halo and Half-Life. Other shooters like F.E.A.R., Far Cry/Crysis etc tried to compete and carve their own niche. Those niches have been lost in the realm of FPS. Only a select few TPS like Vanquish stand out from the crowd in a meaningful way. Only a few FPS stand out from the crowd like BioShock Infinite. But when most of the shooter devs have lost their way it makes me wonder: where's Half-Life 3? And can it be the game to make things right in a world where Bungie is under Activision's wing, in a world where Infinity Ward and Treyarch are stuck rehashing the same basic structure of a stale series, in a world where Id have apparently lost their way, in a world where Crytek are losing their way, where's Valve and why haven't they shown anything about one of the most important shooter series of all time?
Pandora's Tower with a North American release
Operation Rainfall has been a success in relative terms thus far. Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story guarantee that the Nintendo Wii will be sent off with a bang and not a whimper, unlike the GameCube. But that bang needs the exclamation mark at the end. The lifespan of the Wii is basically finished. Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story are both AAAE experiences that will end the system's life as beautifully as it began with Twilight Princess. But Pandora's Tower can be that exclamation mark. It can be the game that shows Nintendo as a publisher is willing to take a chance on a game as dark and mesmerizing as Pandora's Tower. Definitely more of a niche release, moreso than the already niche games being released in the other two. But nothing would show faith and a bit of appreciation to the Nintendo faithful than to send them off with a third, grisly adventure.
Nintendo Reveals a New IP for Wii-U launch
And as the Wii's life comes to an end, we prepare for the Wii-U. With it Nintendo aim to take on Microsoft and Sony in a more direct manner. Like it or not, the Xbox 360 and PS3 are here to stay. Everyone begging for new hardware are out of their freaking minds. The sales of both platforms are still RISING, which is ridiculous. But that's what's happening. So Nintendo are aiming for third party support. So we can expect new Zelda, Mario, etc. But I want a new IP from Nintendo at launch. One that's a more traditional IP than the Wii Sports/Fit/Music line-up they started with the Wii. When was the last truly great new IP alaunch title for a system? It was released on November 15, 2001 and it was called Halo. It's been way too long and it's time for Nintendo to show us something unique. Something that paves the way for how the Wii-U can be used and to help lead in to what will be the newest entries in their already excellent, established line-up. Zelda and Mario are awesome, but I want a new adventure and 2012 is the time when it should be released.
Microsoft Reveals a new IP
Nintendo are not starving for exclusive titles. Their backlog is so huge that they can pull out a revival and everyone will cheer. Who wants a new Star Fox? A lot of you. Who wants a new F-Zero? A lot of you. In fact, Nintendo's catalogue is so huge that they can essentially make a new IP based on string, put Kirby in it and suddenly there's a brand new experience that no one has ever played through, and completely different from your typical Kirby game.
Microsoft? They can't do that. Halo is finished. Whatever this Reclaimer trilogy nonsense is, I'm not convinced of it. Gears of War is finished. They lost Mass Effect as soon as EA scooped them up. Too Human never panned out. Rare died back in 2002 when they released Star Fox Adventures, so don't anyone tell me MS killed them when MS gave them multiple chances to do something big. Crackdown never worked out. Lost Odyssey won't receive a sequel. Blue Dragon was apparently middling. Itagaki left Team Ninja so there's no more chance of Dead or Alive or Ninja Gaiden (lol, Team Ninja these days, lol) ever being released as exclusive titles. Oh, and Fable died. Fast. Alan Wake may or may not receive a sequel.
So where does that leave Microsoft? They have Halo by name, they have Forza Motorsport and they're hell-bent on supporting Fable. Let's face facts, there's one good Fable game. One. And it isn't the most recent one, nor is it the newest one that's going to release this year. There's only so much evolution that can be done with a sim-racing series. Halo 4 may or may not actually be a Halo title at this point (343 ain't no Bungie, so I'm not expecting them to do anything other than copy Call of Duty). Sure, MS has Twisted Pixel, but they're biggest success is a Kinect title, and it likely will be the platform that they continue to support exclusively with their quirky games. Microsoft needs something to freshen up their roster. A new IP is the way to go. I know they won't do a revival of the games we actually want: Crimson Skies, but they need a new IP. I don't care if it's a shooter, an RPG, an RTS or what have you, Microsoft needs something new, because if 2012 comes along with the same line-up I've seen since 2010, it's going to mark my full second year having not purchased an Xbox 360 exclusive since Halo: Reach. Yeah. That was in September of 2010. Microsoft, do something. I know you're selling a ton of systems and the kids love them that Call of Duty and Mass Effect, but I want to see you guys put in some effort in establishing a new IP.
Kingdom Hearts III is announced
What the f*ck happened to Kingdom Hearts? Can anyone tell me? No, not the stupid weaboo fanboys. I mean, legitimate gamers (take that statement however you want). Kingdom Hearts released in 2002 to some decent praise. 2006 saw Kingdom Hearts II release to even more praise. There are six spin-off games,four of which were released AFTER Kingdom Hearts II and another that's going to release this year. It's 2012. The series has become so overblown and cheesy that it's hard to give a crap. Kingdom Hearts is a series that has always fascinated me and instead of seeing the series continue I see it stagnate. Kingdom Hearts III is a game we should have seen years ago. Instead, we're stuck with waiting for the newest 3DS spin-off. I'm so excited. Not.
It's time to cut the crap with this series. Pretend like the stupid spin-offs never happened and just continue from part two. And no I don't want to hear the KH fanboys defend any of the spin-offs as being relevant. I don't give a crap. I want Kingdom Hearts III. Knowing Square-Enix though they'll likely announce the HD Collection or some crap and all of the fanboys will squeal with delight as they say it's a sign of good faith that III is on the way. Just announce it already. And while you're at it, cancel Versus XIII. No one gives a damn anymore. Make Kingdom Hearts III, Dragon Quest X and Final Fantasy XV. I don't want to see more spin-offs. No Versus XIII, no XIII-3, no Kingdom Hearts 3D, no HD re-release. JUST MAKE THE F*CKING SEQUELS, MAN!
A good game is magical, and that's all that Peggle is: pure magic. With talking unicorns, zen-master owls, a happy sunflower and a totally rad beaver, Peggle gives a wonderful, cheesy, childish and warm first-impression. It then continues all of that with its gameplay, which is all about shooting a ball at a few orange pegs within a screen full of blue pegs. That's Peggle. And it's awesome. It requires strategy to win, and with over fifty levels of addictive puzzle gameplay in the adventure mode, and just as many levels in the Challenge modes, combined with the ability to duel either the computer or your friends, Peggle is one of the most fully-featured puzzle games ever, with ten different power-ups for different styIes of play within the same levels.
Playing with touch screens controls is intuitive, though not as sharp as playing on a computer, but that's offset by the 85 percent difference in price. It's all the same great content as the PC version and it can go anywhere with you. That and having Ode to Joy break out in the middle of a cIass with all of your friends wondering what you are playing is just a priceless experience. There's Tetris, there's Peggle and then there's everything else in the puzzle genre. Popcap struck gold with Peggle and one of the smartest decisions they ever made was to make it available on the App Store.
I've also played some of Beat Hazard Ultra. It's nota bad game, but it's based on a gimmick: the game works on your music. I have to admit, blasting enemies away in a twinstick shooter to the tune of a Christmas song has its appeal, and it's one that doesn't last all that long. The good news is that the actual game mechanics don't suck. It's a good thing the game's not terribly expensive, it was $3, I got it for free, but it falls short compared to other great games of the same genre like Geometry Wars. It features a few modes but your high scores are based off of each music track, it isn't an unending experience for you to strive to be better. The experience is the duration of a song. It's fun, but if I want to shoot stuff on iOS, Espgaluda II is a much better fix than Beat Hazard Ultra. It's pricier, but you get what you pay for, and honestly, cost shouldn't be that much of a factor when it comes to excellent games, particularly when we're only talking about a few dollars.
I've completed a mission in Alpha Protocol. Just the one. Still a bit too soon to say whether or not the game is actually good or not. I will say that the opening sequence sucked. Absolutely jarring, but hey, whatever. The first mission itself wasn't bad though, the writing is sharp, the dialogue options are way better than anything present in any of BioWare's games and then there's the fact that the premise is really cool too. But the things that are cool are outside of the gameplay, and I have to admit I'm still confused as to what the hell is going on in the game. I'm hoping it starts coming together as I play a bit more. Way too soon to say, but I love Fallout: New Vegas and so my hope is that Alpha Protocol is good.
I did patch to the latest version which removes the DRM entirely. The graphics are pretty good too and the game itself isn't buggy at all. In fact, it's much smoother than Fallout: New Vegas. So I'm wondering if the original release is what was glitchy and they fixed it up or if things were blown out of proportion. It's likely the former, but still, interesting game, confused as to what's really going on just yet, but it wasn't bad or even boring. I am playing a soldier. I was going to do a Field Agent, but a few people told me boss fights suck in the game so I should level up guns. I took your advice fellas. It is a stat-based game so I'm not playing this like Gears of War or anything, but it isn't bad. Nothing particularly stood out just yet, but again, it's way too soon to tell.
Midnight in Paris. Great movie. Watch it. I think what makes it special for me is that I've studied each of the characters portrayed in the movie, and I studied them under the lens of cinema, either through Criticism in Cinema, Film History or Film as Literature. I've seen their movies, read their books, admired their art, etc. And the theme of life being better in a time other than your own is just a wonderful idea that's portrayed beautifully in the movie. It's fantastic,charming, humorous and romantic. It's definitely worth checking out even if you aren't familiar with the works of Hemmingway (I own the complete collection), F. Scott Fitzgerald (shame on you) Salvador Dali (again, shame on you) and the rest of the sterling cast. Owen Wilson hasn't been in a movie this good since The Darjeeling Limited (2007) and Wedding Crashers (2005). Woody Allen hasn't made a movie this good in years. It's justa wonderful movie!
NBA Trade Deadline passed. Portland Trailblazers are dead. Sorry charizard, that girl that had you wound up for this mediocre team is probably crying over the fact that they have basically decided to sink in the rankings for the next year or two before rebuilding.
Orlando still has a chance in the East with Dwight Howard. They're third, behind only Chicago and Miami. New York is choking, Milwaukee is grateful for eighth place due to NY's piss poor chemistry. The 76er's have found a way to win games without a star, which is commendable, but they're not good enough to make it through the playoffs against Orlando, Miami or Chicago (unless Chicago's injuries get worse, but even with injuries they're still number 1 in the league). Atlanta's decent but won't make it past round 1 if they end up against one of the top 3. Boston's full of geriatrics and Rondo who is excellent, but isn't enough to carry a team of has-beens. Than there's Larry Bird's Pacers. They're getting better and better. If they remain in their current position and so does Philadelphia, we'll be in for a nice even match-up. They're both good teams, neither has a true star player, but both are winning games through team-play so I'll be looking forward to the potential meeting of these two teams.
Meanwhile on the West, things are a bit more uncertain. The top three teams are Oklahoma City, San Antonio and the Lakers. What's surprising about this is that the Spurs and the Lakers are so high. When the season started I didn't think either would be this high in the ranking. OKC is just balling right now and I expect them to take the West but my Lakers fanboy doesn't want that to happen. Anyway. San Antonio, they're about as old as Boston, but they're holding up so much better. And with Stephen Jackson back they might be able to shake things up, though Jackson is 33 now. The Lakers got rid of Luke Walton (finally, guy never played, decent but what's the point if you don't get any minutes?) and Kapono. We got Eyenga and Sessions. What has me a little sad is that Fisher was traded for Jordan Hill. I figured he would have been great coming off of the bench with his experience. But Sessions is an upgrade for sure. With Eyenga and Hill the Lakers also have size back in their favor. With sissy-ass Odom requesting to be traded with all of his wishy-washy feelings and his terrible under-performance in Dallas I say good riddance. But what Odom provided for LA was size. With Bynum, Gasol and Odom all around seven feet tall the Lakers were a force that needed a guard. Odom was a little girl and he lost the size and never got the guard. Now with Sessions there's a younger, faster, more athletic guard and with Hill there's another 7-footer to come off of the bench. Eyenga? I don't know. He's like a rookie or something they might try developing him.
But just because LA and SA are two of the top three doesn't mean anything's safe. Memphis, like Chicago is playing without key players, and they're kicking ass. The Clippers lost Billups to injury but they found a new shooting guard for the time being. They're also much improved and there's no denying that Chris Paul is one of the greatest point guards in the league. He's a top five player in the league right now. Dallas is starting to come together though I don't see them going anywhere this year. Same deal with Houston. Houston has D. Fish and some other older veteran players that they acquired, but that won't be enough. It might do some good for the first round, but that's about it. And Denver? They're the same type of team as Philly, no star but all about team play. If they remain in 8th they'll never pass OKC. Not to mention, Utah, Minnesota and Phoenix are still contenders for the final playoff spot.
But the West is more volatile than the East. Anyone can tell you that the top three teams in the East will move on to the second round. But I doubt anyone will guarantee that SA and LAL will move on. There's a good chance that they might, but the West is more even in terms of talent than the East so anything could happen. If the standings remain as they are though we'll see San Antonio take on Houston. A team of old-timers vs a team of young guys that just acquired some old-timers. Then if the Lakers remain where they are they'll face Dallas. Dallas won last year and they swept the Lakers in the second round. Kobe Bryant tends to keep a chip on his shoulder about these things. The rankings are really close though so anything could happen in the West. The talent is fairly evenly distributed through the top teams. Anything could happen in the East as well, as long as we're talking about any of the teams below rank 3. The Top 3 are fearsome, particularly Miami and this might just be the year that they win.
I'm honestly hoping for an OKC VS Chicago match-up for the Finals, but with Chicago's injuries and Miami's talent, things could go South Beach's way this year in the East. We'll just have to see if Durant and Westbrook know how to handle Wade, James and Bosh.
F*cking Final Fantasy IV. If ever you made an argument that game stories suck, you haven't played F*cking Final Fantasy IV. This game freaking rocks! The only issue I have with it is that in terms of gameplay it lacks the depth of Final Fantasy III's Job System. You could literally form your party any way you wanted to at any point in time. I was able to switch Arc from Black Mage to Dragoon as I saw fit depending on the scenario as an example. I feel like I can replay the game with a Geomancer and Ranger and end up with a different experience.
In Final Fantasy IV my party is always pre-determined. The characters that I get to play with, the roles that they have, it's all decided for me before I even journey out. I initially thought of this as a way to think that Final Fantasy IV is over-rated compared to Final Fantasy III (i.e. yesterday) but now I realize it's just that Final Fantasy III is severely under-rated for its introduction of the job system. Final Fantasy IV? It's name just changed to F*cking Final Fantasy IV. This is a game all about the story and it is memorable as hell. When more then one guy loves a woman, someone has to lose. When you give yourself up to passion you may not make it back. When you give it your all for your friends to live, you may not be there to see things through to the end. When you let hatred consume you, you may never see the light again. That's Final Fantasy IV.
Your party members die. Love interests die. The last time I had a party member die on me was in Eternal Sonata, and even then it was just the one person (well, she was a love interest too for another character so I guess she fit a few of the criteria). The only knock against the game is that the combat system lacks the depth of Final Fantasy III. However, each game in the series is a unique entity. While Final Fantasy III was more fun to play from the standpoint of combat, Final Fantasy IV is a fully-realized world that takes its cues from the theater. It's like a play, it reminds me of times at Shakespeare. There was a moment that screamed of Romeo and Juliet. Another that screamed of Hamlet.
And Golbez? What a badass villain! He trumps Barthandelus (FFXIII) and Xande (FFIII). Barthandelus was cool, but a puppet master hiding behind smoke and mirrors. Xande was just a pissy brat who wanted his immortality back (and later moved aside for The Dark Cloud, which really was just a giant monster for you to fight). Golbez already has his army. His minions, including the Four Fiends. Barthandelus never had that. Sure, some of the characters were willing to fight for him but because they never knew he was deceiving them.And Xande had his followers, but he wasn't really fleshed out.
But Final Fantasy IV ups the drama. Villages are burned unwittingly by the hands of your characters. People really die, and it helps bring the tension of theplot up. While the battle system feels basic because of the predetermined party at all times, the world, characters and story make up for it. In that respect, FFIV is a revelation for the series, and as I move my way through the game to my eventual tango with Kefka in Final Fantasy VI, the one entry I've been DYING to play(well, of the NES era the one I wanted was FFIII, of the SNES era it's FFVI, of the PS1 era it's FFIX and of the PS2 era it's FFXII, but VI was always the one I wanted to play the most), I can appreciate it for what it does. What bothers me however is how FFIII doesn't get the recognition it deserves. While I hear FFV improved the Job System, I have to tell you, the damn thing was so addicting in FFIII that I did random battles for fun. That is not the case in FFIV.
Other than the dramatic adventure of Cecil, I did complete Infinity Blade. There are two endings and I have to say I kind of prefer the alternate ending to the actual ending. Turns out the God King ain't such a bad guy after all.
But while we're on the topic of mobile games, let's talk about the upcoming heavy hitters from the two biggest series in terms of hardcore games and casual games. On the hardcore side there's Infinity Blade. It earns probably the most praise. I have no idea if Infinity Blade II is a huge improvement or not, but I'm interested in it. On the casual side of things there's Angry Birds. Here's the deal though, both games are getting sequels and both are inspired by two of the finest games around. Thing is, one's going in the right direction, the other isn't.
So which one is going in the right direction? Angry Birds. Yup. Have you seen the goofy NASA trailer? Yeah, it's silly, but then you see the gameplay and do you know what it's inspired from? Super Mario Galaxy. Yeah, Angry Birds Space brings in gravity and spherical planets to help make an experience that looks like a ton of fun!
So where did Infinity Blade go wrong? It took it's inspiration from Diablo. Basically, the tight one-on-one combat that made the series famous on iOS is nixed for a dungeon crawler. In my eyes this is a mistake. Granted this game is being developed by Epic and not ChAIR, but graphically it looks weaker and there are a ton of games like this on the App Store already. Pocket RPG (nominated for Mobile GotY last year on GameSpot) is one example. Why try and mess with the identity of your best new IP since Gears of War?
A Look at ChAIR
I've been unfortunate enough to have played three of ChAIR's four games. Yeah. I've been around since their debut. I've even reviewed all three of the games I've played. What's the consensus? ChAIR have gotten better with each successive game. That's a compliment in a way, but it'll take time with Infinity Blade II to know for sure if I'm spot on. However, GameSpot apparently agrees with me as their scores for the games are6.5, 8.5 and 9.0. Let's take a quick look:
Released in November of 2007, Undertow was likely lost in the deluge of what is one of my favorite years in gaming history. Big name games set the tone in a huge way for the year and almost all of them were a success. But ChAIR decided to debut with an XBLA title that was set underwater, giving it a BioShock tone in a way, and it used the Unreal Engine 3. It involves some online play and has a boring story. The levels all look similar, but the game utilized the UE3 pretty well. On the whole it was quite bad since the gameplay itself lacked any real depth.
My Score- 4
In 2009 all was forgiven by many gamers. Why?Most of them didn't think Undertow was as bad as I did (they rated it a6.7 compared to my 4.0). ChAIR was acquired by Epic Games and they made what most people consider to be the best original XBLA game ever. I disagree, that honor goes to Castle Crashers, but that's beside the point. Shadow Complex is a nostalgia grab, trying to emulate the feel of Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night in its level design and power distribution. But Shadow Complex lacks the soul and heart of these games. It bores you with needless exposition, constantly points you in the right direction and lacks a truly compelling world. Worst of all, it stars Nathan Drake. It's a beloved game by many, but a true gamer knows that it doesn't amount to anything other than a pure, soulless copycat. Functionally, it works. But it aims for people's nostalgia, and the only thing Shadow Complex made me want was to replay Symphony of the Night.
My Score- 5
Around Christmas of 2010, iPhone 4 (and I guess 3G) owners were treated to a graphical showcase with Infinity Blade. It didn't give you any real freedom in its beautiful landscapes, but neither did Undertow or Shadow Complex. But it looked fantastic. Significantly better than either of ChAIR's previous two games. It was a short game, much like the previous two games, hell, even shorter, but was based around perfecting your timing during combat. Make a wrong move and it's curtains for you. But that's not a problem because of how good the combat is. Infinity Blade is a showpiece more than anything else, but it's also the best game that ChAIR have developed and the best game that Epic have been associated with since 2006's Gears of War.
My Score- 7
The team has tried different gameplay across three different properties. They have become efficient with the Unreal Engine 3 and they have gone from sci-fi to modern to fantasy settings. It's good to see their rise in quality going from bad to mediocre to good and I can only hope Infinity Blade II continues the trend. They may have given up on Ender's Game and their other licensed works, but at least they've gotten better with each new game. I have reviews of each game for those interested in reading them. Who would have thought I'd end up sticking around with ChAIR, huh?
For reference, my scores for ChAIR and Epic combined: Gears of War- 9, Undertow- 4, Gears of War 2- 6, Shadow Complex- 5, Infinity Blade- 7. Unreal Tournament looks lame as hell so I'm not playing it, I fell asleep during Gears of War 3 as well so either I was tired or the game just wasn't good. Either way, Infinity Blade is the brightest star in Epic's roster right now and I think they're making a huge mistake with Infinity Blade: Dungeons.
Infinity Blade is a beautiful tech demo. It showcases the potential of what games on iOS platforms can look like and back it up with some excellent battle mechanics. But the experience in Infinity Blade is short-lived and based entirely on repetition. When you consider that the development team is Chair and that they are owned by Epic Games that doesn't come off as a shock though as both teams are known for short games that make you do the same thing again and again.
Infinity Blade begins with a man challenging the God King. It's never explained why, but apparently being killed by the Infinity Blade means that your child will follow in your footsteps to fight the God King. What does this mean? You die by the hands of the God King, you start again 20 years later, or 18 years later or if your son was a late bloomer and took awhile to make him some babies, 22 years later (apparently they have babies young in the world of Infinity Blade, but when your fate is to die, you might as well just go for it and enjoy the moment while it lasts).
The game is set in an ancient, fantasy castle where various monsters will stand in your path. They are a hideous bunch, but they look fantastic! The environment especially is beautiful as you make your way to the castle, underground, across the ramparts, and inside it. Each area looks stunning with a ton of detail. Unfortunately the environments aren't open for you to explore. Your character simply walks to where he is meant to go. And if you are skilled enough you can technically beat the game in about thirty minutes. Admittedly, that's a tall order that would require sharp reflexes and no damage taken, but not entirely impossible.
Combat involves you making slashes on enemies with your finger. There are two buttons to dodge enemy attacks to either the left or right, there is a button to block, though your shield will break if you only block and you also have the option of parrying enemy attacks. As soon as you can get past their defense through dodging, blocking or parrying you can attack. But if you attack before enemies will either block, or simply cause massive damage to you. Infinity Blade is a game of precision, and timing both your defense and offense is what makes the combat feel so fresh, challenging and entertaining. Unfortunately, once you get a feel for the game combat boils down to the same thing. This still takes awhile, but if you can defeat the God King more than one time you have a solid enough grasp on the game where you simply won't be surprised by what's thrown your way.
As you level up and earn gold you can purchase better items. Each item you equip can be mastered and for each item mastered you earn an additional skill point to help either increase your health, attack, shield or magic. It helps add some extra depth to the game's light RPG elements and helps mix up combat a bit as well.
There are branching paths in how you can reach the God King and this feels as if it was done in an attempt to make the game have more replay value, but ultimately, the content is so limited that the branching paths won't do much to build on the game's length beyond a few battles.
Infinity Blade really shines as a showpiece for iOS. It is actually really cool to show it off to friends and family and let them know that your phone is capable of playing games that look as fantastic as Infinity Blade. But the game works as more of a showpiece to impress people rather than as a full-fledged game. At its initial release at the $6 asking price it was simply too pricey for what was offered. But at its current price of $3, Infinity Blade will provide a few hours worth of fun, which makes it perfect for short bursts of gameplay between cIasses, or on a quick break at work. But as a full-fledged game Infinity Blade doesn't match up to the true iOS cIassics: Final Fantasy III, Chaos Rings, Espgaluda II and Jetpack Joyride. But for $3, you do get a hell of a showcase game.
...I will be playing Alpha Protocol. I found it for $4.90 with free shipping on Amazon. Did a quick Steam check where the game is listed at $20. If anyone is interested in it, I'd say that's more than a fair price for the game. PS3 version is like $14 and 360 version is like $10, so at those prices I think it's a safe bet. I don't know if I'll be able to play much as I've been having difficulty making time to play anything not found on my phone.... OK, that's a lie. When I have free time I'm playing Jetpack Joyride. I've already completed every single rank three times and I'm halfway through my fourth run. Game's dope!
I also purchased the first Infinity Blade. It's price is cut from $6 to $3. Everyone talks up the sequel, but I don't give a crap. I have the first game, because it's $3. I also got Beat Hazard Ultra because the price was cut from $3 to $0. Not too shabby.
Also, this episode of the Hotspot is awesome. Whether you know or not I'm studying two things. Sound and Marketing. By Sound I'm learning Production and Post-Production, and with Marketing I'm aiming to go for a Masters. So, I really enjoyed listening to this episode since it is based entirely on sound. I honestly used it as an excuse to try and purchase Dead Space 2 (It was $7), but then I found Alpha Protocol at a cheaper price. The way I figure, Dead Space 2 isn't going anywhere.
I know I can't be the only person scratching my head at Halo 4 right now. Why was Master Chief in a Warthog, or rather, something that looked exactly like a Warthog? Isn't this game supposed to be set on a planet that humanity didn't reach before? And what type of enemies is he going to face? I'm sure we'll find out at E3, and you know, Alex Seropian says he's confident in 343's abilities, and I put a lot of weight on what Alex Seropian says, but it's hard to believe the guy when I'm seeing Halo 4 as it is right now and left wondering what the point of it all is.
A new Forza game and a new Fable game apparently exist. This is cause of course for the Cows to get excited because the Xbox 360 only receives sequels. Than when a God of War 4 trailer leaks (could be real, could be fake, I don't give a damn because it's God of War)they all moo with excitement. Listen, Microsoft, Sony, fellas. Halo has run its course. I'm sure God of War has run its course and I'm sure Gears of War has run its course and I'm sure Uncharted has run its course, etc. I don't even have to play these games to confidently state that they are the exact same sh*t.
In other news, there are rumors of a "Steam Box" and again, I have to wonder what the point is. The rumors go in two directions. One rumor states that the Steam Box will be similar to the Android OS in that it'll basically be a machine that lets you play games on Steam. The other rumor is a full, fourth console. First of all, we don't need a full, fourth console. What, would Valve be the first-party extraordinaire on it or would they pull a MS with their first party line-up? Maybe the appeal would be discounts on games like they do right now. But as far as machines that run Steam, let me tell you exactly what they are: Computers. They work with PCs and Macs so what would be the point of a Steam Box? It just sounds stupid since I already have a Steam Box. My damn PC.
Then there's Halfbrick, developers of Jetpack Joyride, the best game I've played through 2012 so far (yes, it's better than Final Fantasy IV, SNES fanboys can suck it, I'm even considering actually raising the score because this is how addicting games should truly be made). These guys have a massive update planned for Jetpack Joyride that adds new gadgets for youtomess around with and it's coming in April! But even better news is that they have a new IP in store for us and it'll be out this year. What does that mean for those of you that hate cell phones? Nothing, really. It just means you can lead your lives as you always have. What does that mean for those of you with cell phones? Potential nirvana.
In non-gaming news, I got a raise, my friends and I are planning to go to EDC in June, it'll cost me some cash, but it's worth it! And I rewatched Reservoir Dogs. Excellent movie, truly shows Tarantino's early potential of the theatrical which he now has a solid grasp of. Great movie, Vic Vega is the freaking man! I know a lot of people dig his bro, Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction, but my favorite character in Pulp Fiction remains as Jules. His journey from a killer to a man that believes God sent him a message to basically being a modern day samurai is spectacular! Vincent's journey of getting shot, well, not nearly as spectacular. The Vega's are an unfortunate bunch, but there's something badass about a man dancing to disco while carving a cop's face.
I also have Hugo and Midnight in Paris waiting for me. I'll check them out soon. Also, my friend loaned me Boogie Nights, and I hear that one's pretty good but I'm too lazy to watch it. That and somewhere around here The Aviator and There Will Be Blood are waiting for me too.
Oh yeah, and apparently The Last Story kicks ass. Way to go Gooch!
Jetpack Joyride is a simple game. It's basically an infinite run game. Your goal is to take your stolen jetpack for a joyride in the very high-tech lab that looks like it's underwater. So with no way out just live the dream. Live the high life. The glory's fleeting, but you need to enjoy it until you die. That's the point of Jetpack Joyride. A brief, fleeting moment of fun repeated over and over again. Whether you die from electric zappers, moving lasers or a barrage of missiles, you just keep at it, because that's the dream, to live in the moment and not worry about the consequences. How do you go about living the dream? You tap the screen with your finger and your little fella flies with his jetpack through all of the obstacles in your way. That's it, simple and ridiculously fun.
But Jetpack Joyride is more than just a simple pick up and play game. It's a testament to pop-culture over the years. Whether you dress your guy up as Dragon Ball's Goku with golden hair and stupid orange suit to match or take one of the game's many vehicles for a spin, whether it's the Terminator 2 inspired Bad As Hog or the homage to Angry Birds, the Profit Bird, which literally sh*ts money as you fly through the game, Jetpack Joyride is a blast to play. The graphics are colorful, the hit detection is spot-on, the music is catchy and the gameplay is so ridiculously addicting that simply calling it addicting does not properly tell just how addicting this game is.
Jetpack Joyride is the culmination of the various concepts introduced during the early era of mobile gaming. It brings in simple, one "button" gameplay in a surprisingly challenging game that never punishes players. While Angry Birds will be most fondly remembered by the masses as the years pass, Jetpack Joyride will be cited as the true coming of age for the mobile games platform. It is a true testament to the potential of mobile gaming and no iOS user should be without it. To put it simply, Jetpack Joyride belongs on your phone as much as the Facebook app does.
There's some topic floating around about the most badass characters introduced this gen. All I know is that the TC did not list Sam Gideon and I take major issues with that. Anyway, here are what I consider to be the ten most badass characters introduced this gen! Of course, this is in no particular order.
I'm starting the list with Sam Gideon. The man f*cking rocket slides and blows sh*t up in the most exciting shooter I have ever played. He smokes, he flirts with the womenfolk and he blows sh*t up in the most exciting shoote.... oh, you see what Vanquish does to me?
If you don't know who Bayonetta is, than you don't know a damn thing about action games. She's a wild, slutty, badass b*tch with guns on her heels. She pole dances with enemy weapons and shoots them as she spins around. Her attacks strip her down to her bare essentials and she goes the full nude for when her attacks literally eat the bosses. Yeah. Her hair. It eats bosses.
I know. It's a hat-trick of Platinum badassery. But Jack Cayman isn't just the guy send in to beat people up in Varrigan City and to save some rich fella's daughter. Nah, he's the former champ and he slaps the sh*t out of that rich fella's daughter. And he's got a chainsaw arm. AND HE'S VOICED BY STEVE F*CKING BLUM!
Lightning is badass. She is the toughest freaking cookie this side of role-playing without coming off as a laughable, one-note joke (BioWare, I'm looking at your cast for Mass Effect 2). Who is the first to jump into danger without hesitation? Lightning! She might evolve as a character due to the events going on around her, but many of the game's characters evolved because of her.
Before they introduced the douchebag with the hair in Fthrear, Point Man was a masked, no name, silent type with heightened reflexes that were off the charts, dead-eye aim and martial arts prowess to match. You've got a problem with Paxton Fettel killing people and telepathically controlling an army of cloned super soldiers? Well, no problem, you've got Point Man. And he isn't afraid of anyone. Not even that b*tch Alma! Boy, it sure would be nice if they made a true sequel to F.E.A.R. though, wouldn't it?
I know what you're thinking, there's no way that guy is a badass. Well he is. Yuri takes justice into his own hands, becoming a vigilante and killing off anyone he deems to a threat to innocent people, even if it is unlawful. It's actually contrasted perfectly with a triangle of characters that include Flynn, who is dressed in shining white, who believes in a justice through the law. And then there's Duke, in blood red clothing, a man who believes that the only justice is to restore balance to the world regardless of the lives that it may take. Neither of them is evil, all three of them are badass and all three of them are in it for the greater good, but seeing their ideologies clash is what makes Tales of Vesperia the best RPG of this gen.
That's my boy. Emotionally stronger than a vast majority of game characters, The Kid has been through hell, and he survives hell only to endure more hell. And he endures it with a hammer three times the size of his head. There were many reasons why Bastion was my 2011 Game of the Year, The Kid being one of the most badass protagonists ever conceived definitely helped it along to the top spot.
Geralt of Rivia
Geralt of Rivia gave up on many of the pleasures most of us take for granted. He became a mutant that people despised just so he could still protect them. The conflict that Geralt faces is what is truly a monster? Is it the beasts that people are afraid to face? Or is it a new type of monster: racism, drugs, hatred, etc. And if so, do we find the monster in man or do we search for the man in the monster? No one character ever faces the almost frightening, real-world parallels that Geralt does, and he does it all with love lost, and a future that may never lead to happiness, with a kin doomed to die out. But never forget, "That sword... is for monsters!"
Delta Squad may be just a pack of wild meatheads. Hell, they may be all sorts of cheesy cliches, but you know what? They are so f*cking badass! Chainsaw guns galore, stupid smack talk constantly going back and forth. Back in 2006 these guys made every high school kid feel like a badass. They faced every ridiculous scenario you can imagine and while Epic tried to dilute the awesome with "emotion" they never could kill the badass entry these guys made. Men don't have emotions. Not when there are chainsaws attached to their guns.
You say you like badasses? Welcome to Santa Destroy, where Travis Touchdown is going to kill every damn assassin and thug in his way with a laser katana just so he can maybe have sex with Sylvia Christel. Is it worth it? Hell yeah. Travis has a sense of honor and it shows across the span of the first game (and is barely shown in the sequel, but we don't talk about that sh*tfest). There was something genuinely touching at watching him try to spare Holly Summers, only to have her kill herself to teach him a lesson about the world he had entered. And then to bury her on the battlefield. Contrast that with the cowardly and masochistic Destroyman who was afraid to die and used cheap tricks to win. His death was a thing to savor. No More Heroes tookyou through a range of emotions through its gameplay, and all of it was helped around by a normal guy that likes anime, videogames and wrestling, who one day decided to become a badass.
So over the past week or so I've watched two movies, Moneyball and Drive. OK, I've watched more than two movies: A Man Escaped, Double Indemnity, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Paths to Glory and many more. But let's talk about Moneyball and Drive. Moneyball is nominated for Best Picture (though it won't win because it doesn't have the Directing nomination) and people in general are pissy that Drive wasn't nominated for Best Picture. So, let's start with Moneyball.
If there was ever any doubt about Jonah Hill's acting chops outside of gross-out comedy, well, Get Him to the Greek should have been your first clue that the kid knows how to play a dramatic role, but Moneyball hammers it home. This is a wonderful movie that never tries to wow you with special effects, blood and boobs. It's one of those movies that is carried by excellent writing, an intriguing premise and fantastic acting. Everyone is spectacular. If you can find a weak performance in Moneyball than I can only consider you as one thing: a liar. Everyone is on their A-game.
The editing is sharp, so much so that it keeps you enthralled from one scene to the next. And the sound mixing is perfect. There's never a moment where you suddenly stop and go like, "Oh, ew, that sounds looped." Never. The movie is masterful and it's an American cIassic that will unfortunately lose to the pretentious The Artist. Moneyball is a fantastic movie. How do I know this? I hate baseball. I think it's one of the most boring sports ever created. But Moneyball is good enough to draw anyone in and keep them hooked for the two hours it runs. It's a beautiful movie and well worth the Oscar nomination. Both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are worthy of their acting nominations, because Moneyball takes them through the full range of emotions and they execute all of them beautifully. The screenplay deserve the nomination because these guys took something that was already a coolconcept, turned it into intelligent entertainment and set the perfect framework for these actors to provide one of the most memorable sports movies of all time.
Drive is the movie that almost everyone loves. I like it too. But this is no Oscar nominee and anyone that thinks it was robbed is a shallow tool that's impressed by styIe over substance, because that's all Drive is. There are some serious audio problems too, like how the dialogue is ridiculously low in comparison to the music and effects. There were a few lines that I simply did not hear. That's a problem, because movies are audio-visual experiences, and the audio part of Drive is severely flawed. The cinematography is really dope though and the editing is as well, so the actual visual part of the movie is really impressive.
Drive is more like a cartoon than a movie though. It's heavily stylized. Everything is drawn out and slow-paced. Characters talk and there's this long pause inbetween everything. They could have easily shaved a solid 10 minutes off of the run-time if everyone was talking normally. I understand there are some times where people kind of have those pauses, but not for every conversation. The action itself is pretty creative, I dug that Driver (did I mention that the main character of the movie doesn't reveal his name at all throughout the movie, yeah, another stupid decision) knows how to use a hammer to mess people up. The action is cool, but the acting feels fake because of the long pauses. The movie is a study in stylized action. It's stylized characters in a real world setting. It's entertaining and a good bit of fun if you're into crime movies, but Drive can never ever match up to the true crime cIassics: Goodfellas, The Godfather, The Godfather Part 2, Casino, The Departed, The Usual Suspects, etc. Hell, it may be a stylized crime movie, but it can't even match up to other stylized movies like Snatch. It's good, but if you think this was the year's best movie or you think it was robbed of Oscar nominations, than your taste in movies is sh*t. It's a fun flick, but there's no substance here.
Final Fantasy IV
I've been playing it more, and let me say this is a huge leap from Final Fantasy III. I think Final Fantasy III may have has a deeper combat system because you can change jobs at any time, learn new abilities and more your characters basically anything you want them to be. In Final Fantasy IV the roles are set and your party is always decided for you based on the events in the story, but lightwarrior was not kidding. This thing is a theatrical beauty. It is operatic in every way. There's more emotion packed into this 16-bit game that any modern release this gen.
And I now know what a "Spoony Bard" is. This game is ridiculous. I can't wait for FFVI after I finish this one up.
Final Fantasy III is under my belt. With it the crusade to play through the Final Fantasy games has reached a pivotal point. Granted, the Zelda games are still a daunting task alongside it. I'm still at that part in Ikana Canyon where I have to go to a well or something. I'm only typing that as a reminder to myself. Whatever.
But the gaming does not stop with Final Fantasy III. I'm a man on a mission and these games must be played. But what caught my eye was in fact something else. It was a sale on GoG. A buy one get one free offer on all Dungeons and Dragons RPGs. So I bought Planescape Torment and Baldur's Gate and chose Baldur's Gate II and Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone as my two free games. Not to mention that if you buy any game at all you automatically get The Temple of Elemental Evil for free. Based on GoG prices that's $46 worth of gaming for $20.
So I installed Planescape Torment and played it for about an hour. Honestly, one hour is not enough time to guage whether a game of this magnitude is actually good enough. Looking at the pedigree of the development team and my recent playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas, I chose to create a Nameless One that was more focused on uncovering memories and receiving XP bonuses and dialogue options rather than one based on strength. Morte's pretty funny, but the game is really peculiar. I really hope I like it.
But stupid WRPGs aren't what my year is about. This is a year dedicated to the Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda titles. Now, this may break archville's heart, sorry bro, but I chose to skip on Final Fantasy VI and decided to purchase Final Fantasy IV. I'm playing as the Dark Knight Cecil right now and it's an awesome game. I've got more time put into FFIV than Planescape Torment, despite starting both at relatively the same time. I honestly am finding these old-school JRPGs to be better than both older and more modern WRPGs.
Regardless, it's a contest between Planescape Torment and Final Fantasy IV and the winner gets my free time, a tie however would probably really draw this thing out. But right now, FFIV has a significant edge over Planescape Torment.