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For Harmonix the long time ago was November 2005, the time when most of us first saw the appeal of playing fake guitars in video games. Its fair to say the music made us smile also, as what looked like a game of niche appeal (especially considering the lack of commercial success of games like Guitar Freaks) became a complete phenomenon. Of course Harmonix eventually parted with Guitar Hero and upped the game once more with Rock Band, ditching the singular instrument focus and opening up a whole new world of gameplay possibilities and music. Rock Band hit the states in 2007 and has since been my go to series for the entire genre, Guitar Hero had the name and a bit more popularity, but it was Rock Band which won over the hearts of so many. The novelty of strumming a guitar along with your game was no longer the key factor and Harmonix exhibited a level of professionalism and polish that Guitar Hero werent pulling off. Sure, if you were crazy into the devil and tired rock n roll iconography then I can see how Guitar Hero would be the game for you (when you arent playing Doom of course), but Rock Band was the one for me.
I can only speak to my own experience here, so forgive me for generalising, but I think its fair to say that if you cared about music (and specifically rock music) Rock Band was the gold standard. It was a game made by music lovers for music lovers, with an appreciation for the art form it presented. Just look at The Beatles Rock Band, which was the perfect tribute to one of (if not the) greatest bands of all time. Every aspect of the game was lovingly crafted and all went towards giving you the authentic (though entirely drug free) Beatles experience. Iconic moments were faithfully recreated, the setlist did a great job of showing the bands musical arc and the visual details and buckets of extras just couldnt have been better. It was a true loving letter to the bad and is still a highlight of my video game collection (I feel obliged to say that I am a huge Beatles fan, so make of that what you will). The Beatles Rock Band wasnt the only band specific rhythm game of 2009 though, remember Guitar Hero Van Halen? Honestly, I would be surprised if you did. Harmonix advertised the Beatles to the ends of the earth, going as far as to create a truly fantastic awkward E3 moment featuring the surviving Beatles and Yoko Ono on stage (separately of course). The Van Halen treatment on the other hand was very different. Perhaps aware that they were still making spin-offs while Harmonix was putting out a proper standalone video game (superb in its right), Activision decided to pretty much write Van Halen off. As people gave away their $60 just to play Beatles tracks Activision were giving Van Halen away as a freebie if you bought Guitar Hero 5. This (perhaps unfair) treatment of the game made Guitar Hero Van Halen look more like the free CD or game disc you get with a magazine than a proper tribute to a beloved rock group. Perhaps this was appropriate though, you dont set a B-movie up against Citizen Kane, and while the Beatles game was praised for its attention to detail and authenticity Van Halen was criticised for lacking in this area.
This only part of why Rock Band became so much more important to me than Guitar Hero though. I love music, I love rock music especially, and Harmonix treated it with the reverence that I think it deserves. The key factor though, and the reason why I still play Rock Band 3 to this day, was the Rock Band store, and here we have the true point of this blog. That opening verse form Don McLeans American Pie is more relevant than forced connections between it and the path of Harmonix. Its true that they started a long, long time ago (ok not that long ago, but cut me some slack), made us smile and eventually decided to make us dance when given the chance. The importance is not this though; the importance is that American Pie is the final song to come to Rock Band. Recently they stated they were stopping weekly song releases and now Harmonix have announced that they are stopping updates altogether, and what a way to end it. Im not the biggest fan of the song, I like it and am listening to it as I write this blog, but I will not deny how appropriate it is as a finale. Personally I would have been perhaps more on the nose and tried to get my hands on The End by the Doors (Im imagining Apocalypse Now levels of darkness and insanity in the backing video) but really American Pie is a better fit. This is really an end of an era, these plastic instrument games were so big and this is the last hurrah. Its a genre I dont see coming back next generation, and it is one Im going to miss, for Rock Band (and perhaps plastic instrument rhythm games as a whole) this truly is the day the music died. But what a legacy they have left behind! The dedication Harmonix put into supporting their product is really impressive. Some have criticised them for putting out three Rock Band games rather than pure DLC, but for me Rock Band 3 was so good that this was never an issue. The flow of DLC may have stopped but we are not left deficient in content, there are over 4,000 songs to pick from on the store now, and while half of those are user created Rock Band network songs this still represents quite an achievement.
I will be honest, the Rock Band store never had everything I wanted, but it was never going to. It had enough to satisfy me though, and enough quality material to put a couple of hundred tracks in my personal library (really the limit was my wallet not the quality on offer). This is a paltry amount compared to the Rock Band libraries of so many of your but it was still a significant investment and one I dont regret for a second. This is kind of a sad moment for me then; Im proud of my Rock Band library and am now forced to accept that songs I wanted will never be there. I never really expected the songs to appear but living in denial is still better than being hit in the face by reality. I dont feel we should be saddened by the end though, or rejoice it, merely reflect on the amount of support Harmonix put behind their product for good or for bad. It may be a genre you have no interest in, and you may be happy to see it exit the stage after its final encore, but I think you should still appreciate it. While Guitar Hero sequalised the genre to death Rock Band did live the dream we wanted of a platform for music, and the occasional sequel just refined this further. Harmonix were truly a developer who cared about music, and cared about their product, you may not miss the updates (you may be glad the clutter has gone from XBLA and PSN) but I for one will miss it and I know there are others out there. So I would like to take this moment to thank Harmonix for going above and beyond the call of duty and for showing a genuine passion for what they make and what they represent.
I will leave you guys with a short list of my Rock Band dreams, and I would like to hear yours, so here are five albums that I would have loved to see in Rock Band (not my five favourite albums, just ones I would love to play in the game). Though realistically my biggest wish was Led Zeppelin Rock Band,
1. Appetite for Destruction- Guns n Roses (This would have to be uncensored, which could cause an issue, but this would be so much fun to play. One of the best rock albums ever written and would be a blast on all instruments (bar keyboard I guess))
2. The Bends- Radiohead (Not their best album (though up there) but the one which best translates to a music game)
3. Argus- Wishbone Ash (I saw Wishbone Ash play most of this album live and it was just amazing, when it comes to pure musicality and just amazing guitar music you dont get much better than this)
4. Physical Graffiti- Led Zeppelin (If I cant have the full game, at least give me my favourite album... Oh, I cant have that either? Dammit.)
5. Kill Em All- Metallica (I think this album might be the most fun Metallica album to play, and I would really love to play (Anaesthesia) Pulling Teeth)
More like Colonial Mehrines, am I right? Ok that was terrible, I apologise for that. Moving on.
I completed the campaign of Colonial Marines today and I have to say it is the worst game I've played in a while. First of all though, here is a short video I recorded of my early impressions with the game's campaign. Enjoy.
So I was pretty down on the game then, and it got worse. Well basically it just didn't change, after that point I started fighting humans and that wasn't very fun. The enemy AI across the board is just terrible, soldiers frequently ignored me, ran around for no real reason or just cowered next to a waist high wall leaving a bit of body exposed to be shot. They also died real easy and pose little threat, the armoury in Colonial Marines is vast and you can use any gun at any time (apart from power weapons), on top of this ammo is super plentiful and so are health and shield items. This means there is no real sense of danger ever, and this is added to by dull corridor based level design and repetitive enemy encounters. You enter a room, xenos appear and they run at you and die quickly, the show no sense of self preservation or tactics, or just basic intelligence, they just run at you and die. The one bonus is you get to use a pulse rifle and a motion tracker, but the motion tracker is useless because the game is so predictable. For one thing, a little icon comes up every time it wants you to use the tracker, so you know aliens are near (or other enemies) so there is no shock factor to it, and then the enemies always run straight at you and there are never very many of them. You just don't need a radar at all. The pulse rifle sounds great, but the shooting never feels great, the aiming is a tad sluggish and hit detection just seems a bit off sometimes. However accuracy is never really needed so no trouble is caused, it just makes for a game that never feels great to play. Sure it is serviceable, but it's never wholly enjoyable. On top of this the game just looks ugly, sure they nailed the Aliens aesthetic and that's great, but the graphics from a technical standpoint just look dated. I was maxing it out on PC and it just looked old, and yes the corridors look like corridors from the film Aliens but they sure do repeat a lot.
So what else is there? Oh yeah, story. Well the story is ineptly told and characters seem to go out of their way to keep you out of the loop. The plot itself is supposed to segue between Aliens and Alien 3, do some explaining and give you your Alien fix. It does nothing of the above, it just exists and it makes little sense in the larger canon. Certain things just happen and at one point something real major happens in regards to Alien lore, and instead of giving an explanation a significant character just says it's a long story. This is a pivotal moment, and it's just this happened, we don't know why but it's fan service and you like fan service right? The story is also ruined by abysmal cutscenes which are horrible compressed and feature the worst facial animation. Sure it makes Bishop seem like an android, but I half expected a twist to come that would reveal every person in the game as an android. Characters flap their mouths in an out of tune way with dialogue as they stare glassy eyed with no other facial movement bar the occasional blink. It just looks awful.
So if you want to spend a boring five to six hours in a game that looks kinda of like Aliens but doesn't feel like Aliens, buy this game. Staple facts about the franchise are just ignored and disrespected, sure you get an audio log everynow and then which is kind of neat, but that is it. Aliens as an enemy are belittled, the Alien queen especially who you eventually confront as she follows you harmlessly around a room whilst you pull four switches and press a button. The Alien queen, one of the mos iconic and awesome sci-fi monsters and this is how an encounter with it is treated. Once again, there is no fear and no tension but a palpable sense of boredom. Taking down the Alien queen should not be boring.
Nobody wake up Hicks. It's better he never sees this.
Basically guys, don't play this game. As a shooter it's completely mediocre, it's serviceable but there is nothing else to it. Everything kind of works, but nothing works really well. As an Aliens game, it's straight up bad and kind of disrespectful. If you don't like Aliens then the game will carry no interest to you at all, if you do like Aliens you will hate it. It's not a good position to be in.
As you can work out from the rather creative title, today is my Birthday. A decent Birthday also, as of now I am 21 years old. Now this isn't quite as impactful in the United Kingdom, but there's still a certain importance attached to it. So of course after an excellent night in the pub last evening I am now lazily enjoying my Birthday present in all its glory. What you ask? Well I was lucky enough to receive a lovely new iPod touch and am finally getting into some iOS gaming. So far that has mostly meant a lot of GTA: Chinatown Wars, Infinity Blade 2, Letterpress (oh so much letterpress) and some Joe Danger Touch. All of which have been excellent, GTA may not have the best controls but it works on this platform and has a great sense of humour to it coupled with great varied activities to enjoy. Mostly I have been drug dealing, and it's surprisingly addictive (well I suppose addiction shouldn't be a surprise in this case) seeing as really it's just a little economic sim (mere buying and selling). Really it could be anything and be just as entertaining. Joe Danger Touch has really impressed me though as it feels like it has been made from the ground up for the system rather than slapped on it with awkward fake buttons. The touch controls are all really good and it's just super fun. Infinity Blade is simply gorgeous and I'm having fun with it, and letterpress... Well it's as you expect a competetive word game to be. It's fun. So that's mostly what I've been playing, I am open to suggestions though so Gamespot people, what iOS game do I need what do you recommend etc? So with that I am off to enjoy the rest of my day. So long people!
I know this is a bit late, I meant to post it earlier but got caught up in other things (sorry). So what is this anyway? Well it's not quite what it looks like, these are not my game of the year awards but the awards of the Critical Path Podcast. Of course I was part of said podcast, but what I am stressing is that these do not just reflect my opinion but reflect a lengthy argumentative process full of compromise and personal defeats. The knock on effect being, I don't wholly agree with them all, but I stand by the choices and think we did a decent job. I welcome you all to critique our picks, but before you do so I would recommend you to listen to the podcast which I have linked to below. I know it's long people, but this kind of process takes quite a while and we wanted to be thorough. If you have any questions about why so and so game won or why your favourite game is nowhere to be seen, refer to the podcast for a full explanation. There are plenty of games we loved that couldn't make it on because of a lack of consensus. Also if some of the categories don't make sense, there are almost adequate explanations for them all on the podcast. I also think it's a decent listen, but then again I would.
If you like what you hear, then check back every Sunday for new episodes of the Critical Path Podcast (you can even subscribe on itunes).
(Spoiler Warning: We talk about the games of 2012 in explicit spoilerific detail, we also spoil tangential things with no regard to others. If you are yet to see the Matrix or haven't played a game that has been released before this very point, you have been warned!)
So now all that is out of the way, here are the awards!
Best Use of On Screen Money:
Winner- Assassins Creed 3
Runner Up- Max Payne 3
Masochistic Game of the Year:
Winner- Tokyo Jungle
Runner Up- FTL: Faster Than Light
Best Use of Baldness:
Winner- Max Payne 3
Runner- Hitman Absolution
Best Assassin Game:
Runner Up- Mark of the Ninja
Winner- Far Cry 3
Runner Up- Assassins Creed 3
Runner Up- Mark of Ninja
Best Use of Player Choice:
Winner- The Walking Dead
Runner Up- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Winner- Spec Ops: The Line
Second- The Walking Dead
Third- Dear Esther
Winner- Max Payne 3
Second- Halo 4
Third- Borderlands 2
Best Download Only Game:
Third- Hotline Miami
Winner- Torchlight 2
Runner Up- Borderlands 2
Best Competitive Multiplayer:
Winner- Halo 4
Runner Up- Guild Wars 2
Best Looking Game:
Second- Assassins Creed 3
Third- Max Payne 3
Winner- Hotline Miami
Runner Up- Halo 4
Winner- Guild Wars 2
Runner Up- Borderlands 2
Best Walking Dead Episode:
Runner Up- 2
Winner- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Most Disappointing Game:
Winner- Hitman Absolution
Most Surprising Game:
Winner- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Best Open World:
Winner- Rook Islands (Far Cry 3)
Runner Up- Tyria (Guild Wars 2)
Best New Character:
Winner- Kenny (Walking Dead)
Runner Up- Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)
2011 Game of 2012:
Winner- Portal 2
Runner Up- The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Game of the Year:
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
2. Max Payne 3
3. Halo 4
4. The Walking Dead
I realise this a gaming website, but there was one huge response to my top 5 films of 2012 blog. It was, where is Django Unchained? Well Django Unchained only came out yesterday in the UK, and for that reason (being a UK resident) I hadn't seen it. Now I have, and I feel that I owe you guys my take on the film. So here goes.
Django Unchained is a highly entertaining movie; its brilliantly funny, sharply written and well acted. If you have an affinity for Tarantinos sensibilities there is no way you wont enjoy your time with this film. However its also tonally quite confused, leaving it as a fun movie but one with no lasting impact. Its classic Tarantino b-movie style revenge, in a way it feels like Tarantino making a Tarantino movie, aping his own style rather than doing anything different. This isnt really a problem, the man has made some exceptional films, but Django doesnt reach that level, it has high points where the film starts to excel, but as a whole it merely manages to entertain. Of course entertainment is something we want from a film, but the reason why this is somewhat of detraction here is because Django shows a clear want to be something more than entertaining. It wants to say something, it wants so give a lasting impact, it wants to expose a part of history for what it was and make you think on the past. It wants to do this, but it fails to do this. This is due to an imbalance of tone and how self referential the film is, Tarantino has caught himself up in a web of his own tropes and is determined to peddle out the sharp witty dialogue he is known for, and the bloody violence, at any point. All of this is done well, but it doesnt gel with the films other ambitions.
If youve been following the film its hard to separate Tarantinos claims about it from the movie itself. They are very different beasts and linking the two can cause the film to be a disappointment. However, if you are to judge the movie on its own terms you have the net result of a superbly crafted piece of entertainment that gives you what Tarantino does but in a new setting. This isnt a Western film that just happens to be directed by Tarantino, this is a Tarantino film that just happens to be set in the old West. If you look at the directors claims though a different picture is painted, one of an important movie, an eye opening movie. Django Unchained is not that movie. Tarantino holds himself responsible for bringing the topic of slavery to the lips of the world, because obviously nobody even thought to tackle or talk about this before Quentin put pen to paper. He also claims to be drawing peoples attention to the reality of it all, he himself speaks of a holocaust that happened in the States that people dont know about and his aim is to show things for what they are. Noble aims indeed, but not ones he achieves. If you know anything about the world you will go into Django Unchained with a negative view on slavery, you will also exit Django Unchained with a negative view on slavery. As a society we are pretty aware that slavery was a bad thing and Tarantino does little more than re-iterate this point with little nods to look dont these slaves have it bad. Theres nothing special about it on this front. Now of course there is still the aim of showing a historical account, the point of exposing how bad America was. This is a separate thing, it expects you to know slavery was bad and then educates you by giving accurate examples of how the American people used to act, shaming us with history. Once again, a fine aim, but one not reached.
Fun Fact: Tarantino is terrible in this movie (thankfully not for long)
The core problem of Django Unchained is its tone. The film is so over the top and detached from reality that its hard to learn anything from it. Yes horrible acts towards people of a different race are depicted, but it never seems like something real, it seems like back-story for a B-movie revenge flick. This is a revenge flick that is excellently realised, but it is only this. The film goes for the ludicrous at every point, it plays for laughs throughout and even when it turns sincere it is a fictionalised sincerity which applies to a fictionalised world. The characters are brilliant, they are well acted and cleverly written, but they dont feel like real people in the slave trade, they feel like characters from a Quentin Tarantino film. Quentin plays to his strengths, but he does so at the jeopardy of his ambitions. Whats more troubling though is the films depiction of violence. The trouble doesnt come from gratuitous violence on screen; the gratuitous violence is for the most part highly entertaining. Its all unrealistic and laughable in a way that works for it, its not used to shock or to make you uncomfortable, it is used to entertain. For the most part its successful, when early on somebodys head oddly explodes from a gunshot, the scene is set. Violence is entertainment for the next few hours, and it is knowingly so. The trouble comes when Tarantino tries to have his cake and eat it. Not only does he use violence for entertainment, he attempts to use it for other means. He attempts to shock the viewer, unsettle them, and show them something real and gritty that they dont want to see or accept, and ultimately use this to show how bad the slave trade was. This just causes a large dissonance though; you cant go from comically over the top blood splatter to a very real portrayal of the whipping of a slave. It doesnt fit and it detracts from the film later. Something could have worked with this, he could have turned the table on the viewer and stuck with a you think this is entertainment, well lets see how it really is. The problem is he flits between the two and neither has an impact. A particularly excellent and suspenseful scene is ended with the threat of brutal violence, its gripping stuff and an unappealing prospect. However the very same scene is followed up with a lengthy and hugely bloody gun battle, once again featuring unrealistic amounts of blood spraying everywhere and clearly using violence as a way of amusing and entertaining the viewer. This falls flat though and the scene is off putting due to the carryover from before, its also far too long, the end result being a contradiction in tone. The film cannot quite decide whether it wants to seriously say something about slavery or just be a violent and really funny revenge film. In the end it is just a violent and very funny revenge film with a few weird forays into out of place sincerity that fail to make an impact.
Christoph Waltz however is superb, take note Mr Foxx!
Overall it is a really good film though, a great film actually, it's just nothing special. It's not a film to hold up against Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, merely another solid Tarantino flick. Personally I will take a solid Tarantino flick any day of the month, but there comes a point where it isnt quite enough, where his films become expected and pedestrian rather than seminal moments in cinema. Thankfully he still gets great performances out of his actors, Christoph Waltz is the standout as the hilarious Dr Schultz and Leonardo DiCaprio is almost as brilliant as Monsieur Candie. Jamie Foxxs Django fits the bill, but the morality of the character is ultimately quite strange and earns him the role of a well acted caricature. Samuel L Jackson is as entertaining as always, but is just playing himself once again. The problem here is that his character starts out as something slightly different, and just lapses into pure Samuel L Jackson when needed. This makes for entertaining diversions, but its stuff youve seen before and its mildly inconsistent. The bottom line is this, if you like Tarantino movies this will work for you as an excellently made piece of entertainment. Its a bit too long and can drag in places, but not aggressively so, its a self-indulgent movie but Tarantino just gets away with it (who knows, next time he may not). If you want something that excels, something with meaning to it and, basically speaking, any kind of lasting impact, Django Unchained doesnt deliver. It may set out to achieve this, but its attempts fall flat and are all half baked. Tarantino is too busy trying to do what hes known for and make his style of movie to commit to something else. This means you get a fun film with some great highpoints, but some out of place moments that detract from the picture as a whole.
This is it ladies and gentleman, my five favourite games of the year. But first a disclaimer, I will admit the what I view to be the best game released this year (by quite some margin) and my favourite game released this year, is not on the list. Purely because it's a re-release of my game of the year last year, so if people want to say, 'how come Prepare to Die Edition didn't make it' you know why. It's the best game this year but I felt it didn't have a place on my list, Dark Souls got its praise from me last year, and remains one of the finest games ever made. So let the blog commence!
5. Spec Ops: The Line
This was a game I had no interest in at all. I dont care for modern military shooters and this one looked completely generic. How wrong I was. Spec Ops is definitely the most interesting game I played all year and is a landmark release for the medium. Now I recognise that on a gameplay level Spec Ops is flawed, its unexciting and overly generic, however besides that the game does so much right. What really made the game excel for me is how in reality it was a commentary on military shooters, rather than just one itself. It took the tropes and it subverted them, it instilled the player with familiarity and then shocked them when it became something so different. Its a game that goes some way to show the effects of war, in several intelligent ways, and one that has a stance. It has something to say and it says it so well, but importantly it says it through being a game. Spec Ops is the most important game of the year, but its a game that isnt fun. That is weirdly why it is so brilliant, I did not have a good time playing Spec Ops, but its in the same way that I dont have a great time watching Apocalypse Now (an inspiration for the developer). I still think Apocalypse Now is a tremendous movie and I still love Spec Ops. Its not a game you enjoy, but its not un-enjoyable in a pejorative sense, it does what it sets out to do and is excellent for it. Its an eye opener and wholly thought provoking, if you havent played it you should.
4. The Walking Dead
It seems Im in tune with the rest of the known world when I say Telltales The Walking Dead is rather magnificent. Ive been following this series from the beginning, picking up each episode as it came out and awaiting the next (Ive also reviewed every episode along the way for WikiGameGuides). I think I echo everybody who played these when I talk about the emotional attachment to this series and how it affected me in a way games usual dont. I cared for the characters deeply, and I agonised about my decisions. I echo the words of my good friend Ran Harpaz when I say that the Walking Dead is not a game that makes choice matter per se, it makes the act of choosing matter. Its a key difference, I didnt feel my choices had far reaching consequences that impacted the game, it carried on regardless and most things were the same whatever. In the moment though, it completely mattered because the choices were so well crafted. They were truly grey and questioned personal morality rather than abiding by a games system. Im somebody who has fallen out of love with morality systems; they are too clear cut for me. Recent games like Mass Effect 3 and inFAMOUS 2 really hammered home the bits I dont like about these conventional systems (though I stand by Mass Effect 3 as an excellent game), causing me to flock towards the Witcher 2s and Dragon Age: Origins of the world. But Walking Dead took it further, and while I agree that it was the act of choosing that was important here, I would also highlight the character impact as most important to me. My choices didnt change the story, but they changed how I felt about it and how I approached it. They didnt change the game but they changed me to a certain extent, and importantly they changed how I interact with characters. Situation A may still play out the same way every time, but Person B is angry at me because I took choice C. This really doesnt make a difference, but because I was invested in the characters it made a difference to me. It would upset me when friends took against what I did, or I would make sure to speak my mind to a character who acted wrongly in my eyes. Though this didnt change the overall picture, it changed my experience and thats what really matters. Yes the gameplay wasnt really good, it could drag, the pace was frequently halted and certain segments were completely misguided. But in spite of this, purely due to writing quality and interactivity, The Walking Dead excelled.
For me, Fez is the best 2D puzzle game since Braid. I say 2D purely because Portal 2 exists, and I havent really thought about whether I prefer it or not. I probably do, but Fez is still amazing. Why Fez worked for me is due to how unique it was, and how it turned out as something completely different from what I expected. If you havent played Fez but want to, dont read on, the discovery process is magical and I dont want to spoil anything for you. If you are not in that boat then let me tell you why I love Fez so much. It is partly because of how crazy it is, its a game which required me to write out several full pages of notes, which look like total gibberish, just to decipher its puzzles. Notice I say decipher, not solve, Fez is a game you decipher. It is so much more than a faux 2D world that you can spin to marvel at the clever design and the wonderful pixel art. Its a deeply complex puzzle; the whole game is one massive puzzle. Everything exists for a reason, what looks like background detail is all part of the riddle; its a game where you have to work out a new written language, set of numbers and a code made up of Tetris pieces. All of these things you need to know in order to solve Fezs grander puzzles, but getting to this stage is a puzzle in itself. You have to note repetition, keep an eye on the environment and actually work things out. Not just work out mechanics and apply in game logic, you have to use your mind, your external reasoning. A basic example of this is having to translate and solve a riddle, but the more complex examples are so brilliantly obtuse yet achievable that you cant help but sit and wonder at Fez. Its a remarkable game, the music is great, the aesthetic is wonderful and its just so very charming. Its beauty though is in how imaginative and creative it is, how different it is. But importantly not just different for the sake of it or having different as its only plus. Its great at what it does and it inspired something wonderful. Fez was so complex and abstract that it united the internet to solve it, it wasnt a case of get stuck and look up an FAQ. If you got stuck you headed to a forum where others were stuck and you discussed it, you worked it out together. You shared ideas and you had a social experience. Sadly thats not something you can capture again, if you didnt get in at the start, you missed out on one of the best parts of 2012. It was a magical time and Fez is a magical game.
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
At one point, during my deep XCOM binge, my housemate came into my room with his girlfriend and said that if she wanted to see what a man addicted to a game looks like, she should look in my direction. XCOM was a game that grabbed me for a long period of time, all I thought about was XCOM, all I wanted to do was play XCOM and all I talked about was XCOM. Perhaps this is a bad thing, but I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time. Taking my team of elite space marines to tackle the alien menace, whilst also making sure my base was researching what I needed, properly built and that countries were happy with my progress. Every facet of the game was excellent to me; I loved the tactical ground combat and the base building. They complimented each other and made the game as great as it is. It was also the most satisfying game this year, though it wasnt the pure fun of Far Cry 3, it was so much more engaging and worthwhile. Satisfying is the perfect word for it, when your sniper pulls off that headshot that he really shouldnt, when the aliens come in and the odds seem so against you but your tactical decisions wipe them out in a single turn, there was nothing as gratifying for me this year. Though XCOM may have lost some of its novelty with repetition, and how you can get to a certain point where you have broken the games back and nothing really bothers you (a step away from the brilliant challenge that made it so involving) I still put a great 60 hours into it. Its impressive that Firaxis made this deep yet accessible traditional strategy game in 2012, its modernised and streamlined for sure, but these arent detractions. Its just brilliant and one of the best games Ive played in a while.
1. Max Payne 3
Apparently some people dont like this game. That confuses me. As you can tell by its placement, I adore Max Payne 3. I would call myself a shooter fan, but that doesnt mean Im a fan of most shooters. In fact Im generally very critical of the genre; Max Payne 3 though is a game that reminded me that when a shooter is good, there isnt much that can match it. For me Max Payne 3 is just a superb shooter, and this surprised me, sure I loved the previous two games (especially the phenomenal Max Payne 2) but I wasnt huge on Rockstar this generation. Ive recently rediscovered Red Dead Redemption, and fallen in love with it in a way that I didnt when I first played it, but the things that Max Payne was offering are things I dont class Rock Star as being good at. Rockstar make some decent open world games, why Red Dead is great is because of the sandbox open world. Where Red Dead falters is its core gameplay (especially gunplay), the pacing and some parts of the storytelling. A great linear style shooter like Max Payne needs to have excellent gameplay (especially gunplay), the pace needs to be spot on and if the game is going to be as good as those that came before, the core storytelling needs to be amazing. What Max Payne 3 showed is that the flaws I see in Rockstar come from their open world formula. It makes their games overlong (bloated) and the structure they abide by makes for story and gameplay conflict. This was gone in Max Payne, this game was just amazing. The production values where top-notch, the sense of style was sublime and it was just a joy to play. The game was a decent length, but excellently paced with nail biting action and perfectly judged quiet moments. The game posed a decent challenge, but wasnt overtly hard, it was just really fun. The core shooting (if you are a sane man and turned off auto aim) was perfect, the precise dot and your freedom of movement meant satisfying gunfights where skill had a deciding factor.
Some took against how fragile Max was, and how crazy shoot dodging was no longer the deal of the day. Well, I had got that deal done to almost perfection in Max Payne 2. Something different but excellent is fine with me and the game felt enough like Max whilst offering something new. It wasnt carefree anymore, it was tight and you had to cleverly use the skills at your disposal to get through. It wasnt just diving around; it was knowing when you should dive and when a dive would pay off. It was knowing to use cover and to use slow down from cover to rack up the head shots. It all came together for me, and it was also complimented by what I found to be an excellent story. It was dark, and brooding, and superbly written. It was very Rockstar, and not very Remedy, but it was very good. If you want to complain that its different from one and two, then you are right in saying its different. Its not a complaint though. One and two exist and three is an excellent game that captures enough Max Payne to make it fit, whilst allowing Rockstar to make it their own. Im glad they did, because it made for an astounding game that is no doubt my favourite game of the year. Judging by other peoples lists its not a popular choice, but for me it is the obvious one.
My barrage of list based content is about to come to an end! Bear with me now for the main event (in my eyes) my top 10 games of 2012!
10. Far Cry 3
In a way, its telling of how good this year actually was that this game is so low down on this list. Far Cry 3 is an excellent open world game, a brilliant shooter and is one of the most fun games Ive played all year. Its an incredibly dumb game, and I mean that both as a sincere compliment and a piece of criticism. The good dumb refers to the fun aspect, when I decide to go hunting bears using a car or finish off a mission by running at my target only wishing to knife him as I repeatedly stab myself with health syringes. As an open world sandbox Far Cry 3 does so much right. There are enough activities on offer to invite you to spend a good deal of time doing anything but the story, and that is where the game shines. Climbing guard towers, taking down outposts silently (if possible), driving missions, conventional side quests and the hunting were all a blast. The hunting especially, due to the progression of great unlocks that made it meaningful. This was all complimented by the way everything interacts in the environment which creates a great degree of improvisation to everything in the best way possible. One time I was silently scouting out an outpost with my camera, and then a tiger attacked me and in fighting it I drew attention of everybody and went on the all out offensive. This means using my full destructive arsenal not just silenced assault rifles and causing utter chaos in ways I didnt even know the game supported. Fire spread wildly (I tried to burn the enemies out but the fire spread to the bit of jungle I was in... Bad move), some structures fell (only small wooden ones admittedly) and it all felt completely out of control whilst leaving me in total control. It was superb.
The game has its detractions though, and they really impacted the overall experience for me. I loved hunting, but it was over too soon, a very subjective complaint but one I can make on a personal list. I rushed out all of the crafting stuff and then the animals became set dressing that posed no threat, and that I didnt need to interact with. It also committed a cardinal sin of dropping me in an empty open world after I finished the story. I had done the side quests, the outposts and the hunting, leaving a world with no enemies and no real activities to do. I expected to keep playing after I was done, but there was no reason to not just quit the game. They core issue though was the story, which started out so strong. It seemed self aware but ended up embracing its clichés and stupidity and coming off as very bad. It got to almost thematically offensive levels and desperately seemed like it wanted to say something but it would rather you just killed everybody ever. Leaps of logic were forgiven at the start because the mood implied something else was afoot, nothing else was, it just ended up extremely stupid. The endings themselves are also awful (a running trend this year it seems), terribly written and laughable. The game started off so well, but the last third fell apart, melding poor story with poor missions and throwing everything I had enjoyed out the window. The last thing I did in Far Cry 3 was attain the completion achievement, and it seemed very appropriate when the words What A Trip popped up to the accompanying jingle. The trip was great, but the destination leaves a lot to be desired.
Player choice is an interesting thing, something that usually brings to mind story choices and dialogue trees. For me Dishonored is emblematic of player choice at its best, and it does it in terms of gameplay. This stealthy gem placed the player in superbly crafted open ended environments and gave them a suite of tools, the rest was left to you. Movement and combat was refined enough for the level design to work and enabled you to enjoy the game no matter what direction you carved out for yourself. The powers worked together in smart ways and the mechanics just blended together for a seamless gameplay experience. The world was brilliant also. Few things were as satisfying to me this year as my non-lethal run through Dishonored. It was a game so mechanically brilliant that it felt like a simulation, a fictional magic assassin sim. Thats my kind of sim. Now I have issues with the game, the lack of new game plus was a big deal for me and the story was not good at all (culminating in another poor ending). Not having new game plus put the game in a situation where you didnt always have access to the game at its best, when you have multiple complimentary powers that you can utilise in imaginative ways. By the time you get the unlocks in the game you are hampered by having picked certain base skills that seem rather necessary, meaning you dont just have all the cool stuff, and the fact that some of the later missions arent as open and awesome as what came before. You then have to start again and wait to get to that point to do all the crazy things you hear about, when you combine time stopping and possession in bizarre ways. This was a genuine issue for me, I just feel the game could have shown why it was great and could have been greater if it really allowed me to let loose. Just let me carry on and do crazy stuff in the superior early game levels.
8. Halo 4
Im a massive Halo fan and this was a really good Halo game. The campaign was really solid, and packed a decent emotional story (with a poorly told sci-fi narrative accompanying it), but this is mostly here because as writing this I want to go play Halo 4 multiplayer. Halo multiplayer is just how I like it, and 343 did it so very well. Its got enough CoDesque persistence to keep me invested and addicted, without all the CoD stuff I dont enjoy. Ive never been a fan of the fundamental balance of CoD multiplayer, and Halo 4 goes a bit down that road but only steals the certain elements I am ok with (luckily). In the end theres not much to say about Halo 4, its just a really solid Halo game, and thats super awesome. The shooting and movement is as perfect as it ever was and Spartan Ops is lame. Halo 4, pick it up.
7. Hotline Miami
If you want a game that will pump you full of adrenaline whilst also giving your brain a workout, look no further than the sublime Hotline Miami. Hotline is something to behold, it takes control of you in a hypnotic fashion with its sublime soundtrack and fitting visuals. Its a completely coherently designed game where every element compliments another and works towards an overall picture which is nothing short of masterful. Its brilliant from a gameplay perspective and its brimming with thematic interest. It doesnt beat you over the head with a message, it lays things out for the player to think on and make his or her mind up about. In doing this it becomes one of the most interesting games of the past few years, and its also super fun. The ultra-violent and lightning fast gameplay feels spot on; its challenging, but strategic and not frustrating. The Meat Boy like short levels and instant reloads keep you playing whilst the sound and visuals also glue you in place. Hotline Miami just works, from top to bottom it works. Its sublime.
After a lot of violent games on this list, Journey is a great change of pace. Its also just great. Not only is it eye wateringly gorgeous, its completely joyous. Its easy to overlook Journey in retrospect, or look upon it cynically, but when you are playing it is impossible to do it any disservice. The feeling you get in that first playthrough is completely magical, and as a jaded human being Im tempted to look back scornfully, but then I remember how the game made me feel. It was wholly involving, I cared about anonymous bits of cloth, I took in the minimal exposition, and I felt like I went through all kinds of trials and tribulations to get to my destination. I didnt wholly know why I needed to go there, but I knew above all else that I needed to reach it. Was it because of some cave paintings or hints at a mythology? Simply it was because it was there. There was nothing but me and my destination as soon as I crossed that first hill and I would do anything to get there. This was hammered in by what it took to get to the mountain and how they made it feel like a struggle while still creating a wholly accessible game that will be celebrated as a landmark title for years to come. I dont know if I will revisit Journey, I dont know if it will stick in my mind, but I know that while playing it I was completely in love with it.
Top 5 Films of 2012
The two that almost made it: Avengers Assemble and Argo
5. Indie Game the Movie
This totally counts. It came out in 2012 and it is a movie, it's even got movie in the title! Though saying that, there was that game 'Street Fighter the Movie' and 'Joe Danger 2- The Movie' came out last year... Hell I even have the game 'The Movies' on my shelf. So apparently in games movie can mean game also. But in this very specific instance, this is an actual movie. It's a real good movie to, you could point out its perhaps pretentious artsyness with its panning shots of buildings or whatever, but I'm not going to. The core of this movie was some enlightening interviews with a variety of Indie Devs (Team Meat, Jonathan Blow and Phil Fish) that chronicled stages in the life of their games. Whether it was release period, post-release reception or just pure development, it was all really interesting. It gave a seemingly very open and honest look into the world and by letting the developers speak for themselves it didn't artificially colour your opinion of them but let you form your own. It wasn't look at these great guys that make games, and it wasn't wholly the whining of people that make games for a living. You wouldn't sympathise with some people, but you would be totally won over by some, but most importantly every aspect they looked into was fascinating. I'm not going to beat around the bush; I love video games (as I'm sure most of you do) so I have a vested interest in hearing about this subject. I also particularly love Super Meat Boy, Braid and Fez, so a documentary on the three is my kind of thing. That being the case I still think this is a great film somewhat independently of my bias. It shows another side to game development that some people don't realise exists. Specifically it goes against what some of the stereotype for a game developer is and shows them as ambitious, but relatively normal people. I would recommend it to anybody, though partly to show others how interesting games can be. Maybe it is just that it is about Indie games I like, but hey, still my number five film of the year. Go buy it. And then watch it, obviously.
No surprise here, I mean everybody loved this movie right? Wait... What?! Say it ain't so! Well I love it. I was so surprised this film got so much bad press. Like all of you I was fully on the Prometheus hype train, watched the trailer countless times, shouted the trailer noise at housemates, re-watched the two films in my Alien box set that matter (you know the ones), and got generally giddy. A friend visited me in Uni just before it came out and me, him and some of my housemates all booked tickets for the very first screening, at midnight. And I was blown away, it was a universe I just wanted to stay in. World building on a fantastic scale from a beloved director, stunning cinematography, thought provoking themes and open ended elements. Some good old fashioned nasty bits also, it fit the bill for me. It had me interested on a philosophical level whilst also just enjoying the whole sci-finess of it all. It could be a bit on the nose at times and certain characters didn't stand out or perhaps annoyed (and Guy Pierce's casting just seemed a bit pointless, if you want an old guy... Hire an old guy), but the whole was far greater than the sum of its parts. I'm the guy who usually complains when a movie is too long, and Prometheus didn't feel long at all even though it hit the two-hour mark. I wanted more but I didn't feel unsatisfied, I felt I knew enough and couldn't wait to see where he took the series next. Was it an Alien movie? Technically yes, but to all intents and purposes no. On a filmic level, it's not the same kind of movie, and I fear people went in expecting that and came out disappointing. I got an engrossing and intelligent sci-fi movie, and was totally taken aback when other people started to go see it and took against it. I went to see it again, still really liked it, and now I have it on Blu-Ray waiting to be watched again.
So I'm a massive James Bond fan. Glad we got that out of the way. I liked a James Bond film... Surprised? Well I kind of was, especially after the terrible Quantum of Solace (or 'Question of Sport' to Wittertainment fans) and MGMs financial woes, Bond dropped off for me. I still loved the old stuff, but the new stuff was not good and Bond seemed dead. But then Skyfall information started to pour out and I was back on board, I loved Casino Royale and had great faith in Craig (who I still view as one of the better Bonds). Of course I was still cautiously optimistic, I mean it was an anniversary year, they had big boots to fill and they could easily mess it all up. Thankfully they made a frankly excellent film. Just excellent. In a year where I thought I was done with overt action movies because video games give me that but better (the all action Expendables 2 trailer was dull without a controller in hand and the action in the Dark Knight somehow failed to excite me at all),but Skyfall was genuinely thrilling. My jaw dropped on occasions, mostly metaphorically, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next piece of superbly choreographed action. Beyond that, I really liked the story stuff and the down time. The cinematography was superb, certain scenes (like Bon's arrival by boat in Hong Kong) were simply beautiful to watch. Though when you have director of photography like Roger Deakins(known to me for his work with the Coen brothers (my favourite directors)) you are bound to get one good looking movie. Couple that with American Beauty director Sam Mendes and Javier Bardem playing the villain. You have quite the recipe the Mr Bond. I especially liked how they seemingly caught JavierBardemas he walked off the set of No Country for Old men and said, "that thing you just did, can you do it again, but with a touch more... Bond villain". Well he delivered on that account. So the film was great, it balanced homage and foray into new territory perfectly, and managed to capture Bond whilst recognising Bond doesn't quite fit in toady's world. In my mind it was a triumph, and a true return to form for a beloved franchise.
2. The Cabin in the Woods
I'm a huge Evil Dead fan, I'm also a massive Joss Whedon fan (did my user icon give it away?). You tell me you have Joss Whedon producing an Evil Dead inspired horror movie, well I am onboard. You tell me it's a highly intelligent piece of genre commentary that is also supremely entertaining. I am more onboard! You then tell me one of the LOST producers is also a producer (Drew Goddard), and then tell me that Drew was also a LOST writer and him and Whedon are also writing Cabin in the Woods. Firstly, why are you telling me things in this elongated fashion, out with it I say, secondly... Did I mention I also love LOST? Well I'm so onboard now I may actually be singing sea shanties in the captains quarters. What are you telling me now? Drew Goddard wrote another movie... Pray tell me what movie it was. Cloverfield you say? I hated that movie you say? Why yes I did. Well I'm slightly less onboard now, but still onboard. Maybe I'm just by the mast. But naval analogies aside, I was pretty excited for Cabin in the Woods. Turns out I was right to be excited. This movie was amazing. Brilliantly funny, full of great gore and it actually managed to be an intelligent horror movie. Maybe it's not really a horror movie, but it is clearly inspired by the, and largely about them. Horror is a genre I enjoy, but it's usually so mindless and so cliché heavy. This film took the clichés and... Well watch it. It's the kind of movie you don't want to say much about, maybe I said too much already. Well you should have seen it (if you were able to). It was fantastic, the second best movie of 2012 in fact!
1. The Master
Seeing as this blog seems to be one of my admitting I love things, it's time to admit I love Paul Thomas Anderson movies. If you love Paul Thomas Anderson movies, then you will love the master. If his previous films haven't done it for you, you will probably hate this one. The Master is a film that I thought was nothing short of incredible, though weirdly I can see why people wouldn't like it. It is a film which has no conventional narrative, it doesn't tell a story which starts some place and definitively ends in another. It just meanders around the intertwined lives of two characters. The strength of the film was just how brilliant those characters were and how enthralling it was to be in their presence. If there is any justice in the world, and I am pretty sure there is some, Hoffman and Phoenix should walk away from this Oscar winners in lead and supporting actor categories. It should also get best film and best director, and Amy Adams should get something, she was excellent. It probably won't get all this, but I don't overly mind because I know it's the best film of 2012. The atmosphere is perfectly judged, and though it lacks a real structure the film doesn't drag or lack direction. It keeps going and you keep wanting to watch it. PTA is a man that puts out long movies, but this has never been an issue with me. Boogie Nights and Magnolia may have been about three hours long each, but they engrossed me throughout in a way some ninety minute movies can't. The Master was another movie that I could have spent so much more time with, but I didn't feel like I was short-changed. I got a glimpse into the fascinating and disturbing lives of two sublime characters, and am thankful for it. Also I need to mention Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, who once again delivered a superb score that matched the unconventionality of the rest of the movie. The bottom line on this one is that if you want a flawlessly directed and beautifully shot period piece that may or may not be directly based on the origins of scientology (or at least it's early days) then you should see the master. Even if you ignore scientology connections it still paints a superb picture of why such organisations can be so seductive, and it doesn't just damn them but shows a potential benefit to them while not shying away from their downfalls. Ultimately of course it's a somewhat negative look on the whole thing, but it isn't just a movie of frauds, this means something to these people the problem is just how far things get. It's fascinating and it's something you won't forget. Dare I say it? I'm going to say it. The Master is quite simply, masterful... Apologies for the pun...
Its time to go back to the future ladies and gentlemen, let us look towards 2013 and the games there that excite me the most. Only five games remain so lets get them down in a list format!
5. GTA V
Who knows, helicopters may even control well!
I hated GTA IV, for me it didnt work on any level. The story was bad, the gameplay was stuck in the previous generation, it controlled poorly, the tone was inconsistent, the game repeatedly contradicted itself, the mission design was repetitive, the characters were atrocious... I could go on. I wont. One thing they did manage was to create an impressive city that felt alive to a certain extent, though it was plagued with weird AI issues and the inescapable fact that it was really just set dressing. It was a backdrop, an impressive one, but still just that.
So why is GTA V so high up on this list? Well because it looks awesome. Rockstar have made strides for me recently, Red Dead Redemption was a marked improvement on GTA IV in every way (and while I still have issues with it I ultimately really liked the game, potentially loved it). LA Noire may not have been them but I thought it was brilliant. Though admittedly the bits I didnt like in LA Noire were the bits that felt like a Rockstar game. Max Payne 3 was bloody spectacular though, one of the best games of this year and easily one of the best shooters of this generation. Rockstar have also impressed me with what theyve shown of GTA V though, the trailers have been awesome and the tone they are going for seems far better than its troubled predecessor. Everything I've seen so far, I've liked, high praise. I may have hated it but GTA IV was an interesting game, and it showed promise, this one should capitalise on that. Also GTA has been so good in the past! They may have lost me last time but I am still interested in the series. Cant wait for this one.
4. The Last of Us
Young Ellen Page and Old Drake, together at last!
Who isnt excited about this game? It looks incredible, nothing short of that. Everything Ive seen of this game so far has made me more and more excited with it. Its a developer I love and its supposed to being made by the A team behind Uncharted 2. Remember Uncharted 2? That game was one of the best wasnt it? This sure is a departure from that, but in a great way, it seems like the anti Uncharted in key ways and that is in no way a bad thing. It looks to have the same level of polish, but a step down from the high octane over the top action of Uncharted to something arguably more real, is a welcome step. Naughty Dog have already crafted great characters and got some emotion out of me and now they are going whole hog for it. On the whole this seems like a rather unique game and a great new IP. Its something different, and once again something interesting.
3. Bioshock Infinite
Hold up a second... That's the Drake's Fortune box art with a flag on it!
Ive loved both of the Bioshock games, admittedly the first was the masterpiece but the second was still rather brilliant. Bioshock Infinite is looking like another intelligent shooter with an engrossing world, but super fun looking gameplay. The themes look simply fantastic, dealing with issues of race in a straight up way is something you dont see in games (at least not often). You are used to a metaphorical conceit or beating around the bush, but this seems different. Also the game seems like it is going to blow my mind, theres always something crazy in Bioshock, and I cant wait to see what is up Ken Levines ornate philosophical sleeve this time. That Revenge of the Jedi thing was insane, and if that is the stuff they are showing us, what are they hiding? This game is set to be stupendous, and those in the press who have had their hands on it have had nothing but praise. God damn am I excited for this game. I need it now. NOW!
2. Dark Souls II
... Dark Souls...
Its Dark Souls. DARK SOULS. I mean we all know that Dark Souls was BY FAR the best game of last year and easily one of the greatest games ever made. This is a sequel to that game. So far we know little, who knows if it will come out in 2013, who cares? Its Dark Souls! There may be talk of making it approachable, but they also started talking about Dark Souls by saying that it would be way harder than Demons Souls, and lets be honest here, it wasnt. I mean its not like From Software are the kind of company who would deceive or actively troll you, I mean its not like they made Dark Souls or something... Oh wait...
1. Beyond: Two Souls
I don't know what excites me more... Well I do, but I'm not telling.
Wait... This game isnt Dark Souls? How did it manage to grab the number one spot? Well it managed that because I cant remember the last time I was this excited for a game. I loved Heavy Rain more than possibly anybody; I awarded it the prestigious honour of my 2010 game of the year, and still hold up that it is one of the highlights of this generation. I am not blind to its issues, I just think that it manages to surpass them, it overcomes them, it wins you over in such a way that it excuses itself. Is this a good thing? Potentially no, but what a fascinating game! A brilliantly ambitious title that fascinated me in a way few other games have. So that is the reason why Beyond Two Souls is exciting me so, another David Cage game where he has learnt from Heavy Rain but can provide us with more of it strengths. Theres still nothing quite like Heavy Rain for me and I want a bit more, from capable hands. Not done to death mind, but a bit more.
So thats a reason... Heres another one. Ellen Page. Im willing to admit that Im a huge Ellen Page fan. Ive seen the majority of her films and retain that she is superb, they may not all be winners, I mean that Tracy Fragments film is completely atrocious, but then there is Juno, Hard Candy and Inception, just fantastic movies! Quite simply a hugely talented lady. I watch films just because she is in them, so now you tell me she is in a game, and she is a key element of it... I need it.
Thats a top 10 done then, come back soon for my top 5 movies of 2012. Oh yes, more padding between now and an eventual top 10 games!
2012 is coming to an end, and its the perfect time to post game of the year stuff! Everybody else is doing it, so why hop straight to 2013; I mean will we even see 2013? Well Im pretty sure we will, the reason for my glance into future is not apocalyptic fear but because my traditional top ten just isnt finished yet. I have enough games under the belt, I have the things I have played in a tentative order, but I am painfully aware that I havent played Far Cry 3 yet or Assassins Creed 3. These two games are hopefully Christmas games, so will be played and they may impact the top 10. Well I dont think AC3 will, I loved AC1 and simply adored AC2 but since then the series has somewhat lost me. That Far Cry 3 game though, I hear it is good. I feel that one thing 2012 games have lacked for me so far is wallets made of sharks, and I hear FC3 can remedy this grave oversight. The knock on effect of this is I will not have a top 10 until Ive played through Far Cry 3, so instead I will produce some premier filler with a most anticipated top 10 for 2013. So without further ado, I bring to you, part one of my most anticipated games of next year:
10. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Is it Sly, is it Batman with a tail? Find out in 2013!
Thanks to a wonderful HD collection I was able to catch myself up with this series. Sly 1 may not have rocked my world, but Sly 2 was just excellent. It had the humour, it had the characters and it was just incredibly fun. Its a kind of game that you dont really get nowadays so the promise of more is always welcome. Of course I played Sly 3 as well, which frankly I really enjoyed. A step down from 2 and featuring notable issues, but still a fine video game! Im more than ready to jump back into this cell shaded world, so why only number 10? Well first, I would advise against words like only, to make it onto this list is an achievement after all. The reason why it is at the lowest spot is because theres a level of uncertainty. Im pretty sure it will be good, but delays due to the Vita version made this fall off my radar somewhat, and of course it is a new developer. A handheld game developer as well, and if you know me you will know I dont overly care for handhelds. Though on the other hand, this could be a good move, Sucker Punch disappointed me with inFAMOUS 2. Their new love for badditude and forgetting how to write decent characters or narratives would have made Sly 4 an interesting game. So new blood may be in order, lets just hope it doesnt end up like a Golden Abyss.
9. Star Wars 1313
2013's Disney Game of the Year?
Is this game even coming out in 2013? Who knows, thats a big reason why this is relatively low down. I think it looks amazing, but we know little about it and let us be honest here, it looks a bit generic. Its Star Wars: Uncharted, but ridiculously pretty. But wait a minute, I love Uncharted, and I love Star Wars and Im a fan of a pretty game as well! So Im waiting out for more info on this one, but if all goes as planned it should kick some arse. Like all clichéd Star Wars nerds, I love me some Boba Fett, so a dip into the Bounty Hunting side of Star Wars is something I can wholly get behind. After playing a Bounty Hunter on the Old Republic for 100+ hours I still have more room in my heart to shoot some people and not use a lightsaber or throw people with my mind. I mean why would you throw people with your mind and use an elegant weapon of a more civilised age when you can shoot a dude? Ok, put like that it sounds lame... But its not!
What do they think this is, Fez 2?
Another game that looked amazing at E3, but we have had silence on since. If this game lives up to its promise then it should be a lot higher on this list, but really we know too little. In theory this game will be astounding, it looks like a really interesting world that you can interact with in a new way. It also looks gorgeous, of course it could just be a standard shooter with a tacked on hacking mechanic... Lets hope its not. It may not even come out in 2013 also. In theory, colour me excited.
7. Tomb Raider
A lovely clip of Lara and a thug extracting information from a poor girl
This game could go one of two ways, its marketing campaign has been equally impressive and troubling, but for now Im just going to hope its great. This could be an opportunity to add something to a character who has become a bad punch line, and the survival stuff if pulled off could be really exciting. Im imagining a mix of Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid 3 and Heavy Rain. I love all three of those games, so lets get our quick time event on as we pull branches from our legs and utilise a cover system. Im down for that, it could be all flash and no substance, and it could be just exploitation, but it does look at least interesting. Im always down for interesting.
I plan to do this a lot...
As somebody who has recently returned to PC gaming, I am fully prepared for some typical PC thrills. Back when I was but a young boy I put many an hour into Sim City 2000 and later Sim City 3000. Sure I was pretty terrible at it, but that didnt matter to me back then, I just liked placing loads of landmarks and pelting my city with asteroids and the like. It will be great to jump into Sim City as a legal adult and probably still spend my time childishly destroying cities, and now I can kind of destroy other cities. I am eagerly anticipating joining up my city with some friends nearby, and then polluting the hell out of them. If you build near Stephenage City be prepared for a hard time. So far this game is just looking excellent; all I see of it excites me greatly. Sure you could say its dumbed down or simplified, but Im kind of all for that. Im not a hardcore strategist, just make a quality title and I dont care if its a step down in complexity from previous titles, those still exist after all.
Those five games will do it for now. My top five will hardly be a surprise to anybody but I will leave you waiting anyway. Check back soon for five games that excite me more than these five, and these games are pretty exciting!
Ladies and gentleman, I wish to talk about the PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale roster. The reason I want to talk about this list is because, frankly, its a bad list. Its too short, it has weird choices and stupid omissions, and mostly because this is as good an excuse as any to theorise about my perfect wacky Sony themed fighting game. So here is the original list:
1. Big Daddy
3. Evil Cole
4. Colonel Radec
5. Dante (New)
6. Fat Princess
8. Jak and Daxter
11. Nathan Drake
12. PaRappa the Rapper
14. Ratchet and Clank
16. Sir Daniel Fortesque
17. Sly Cooper
19. Sweet Tooth
Lets start at the beginning and work our way down. Big Daddy, what a weird choice! I love Bioshock, I really love it, I think the Big Daddys are awesome, and if I ever play this game then I can see myself picking Big Daddy a lot. Does that mean I think it is a good choice? No, not for this game. If I were to make a fighting game of just games in general, maybe Big Daddy would make it in because Big Daddys are awesome and I like giant drills. This is a Sony fighting game though, and Bioshock does not make me think of Sony, it was a 360 exclusive for a year and is therefore more of a Microsoft game if anything. Its like putting Comander Shepard on the roster, yes he/she has appeared on the Playstation, but he/she is not a Sony character (if anything he/she would be more at home in a Microsoft fighter). So if we have Big Daddy here, I think we should have Shepard, and Tim from Braid would be cool, maybe even Master Chief. In fact if we can have random third party characters which dont make you think of Sony at all but have appeared on their platforms I want Ryu. Its a fighting game, give me Ryu. So in my perfect Sony Smash Bros game Big Daddy is gone and Ryu is in his place.
Cole should be in the game, I want inFamous 1 Cole but I realise that he is no longer relevant and they cant just ignore inFamous 2 (as much as I would want them to). The problem with Cole on the original roster is that he is two characters. You only have 20 dudes on this roster and two of them are Cole. So many great Sony characters didnt make the cut but Cole made it twice. Now what they should have done here is a Zelda/Shiek or a Samus/Zero Suit thing, they have different moves (because good and evil Cole do) but they take up one character slot and you can switch between them in game. Preferably they could work in a morality system into the game, say if you kept beating up poor little Sackboy or PaRappa you would lose Karma and turn into evil Cole. That would be really rad actually, that should be in the game! Sony, take that idea. Now we move onto Colonel Radec who just shouldnt be in the game. AT ALL. He is not iconic in anyway and is here when many iconic Sony figures are not. Out with him I say, if Killzone has to stay because it is still a reasonably relevant Sony franchise that they have to show that they support, just put a generic Helghast in. Or give me a character which is Garza, Sev, Rico and Natko...I totally just named those dudes without looking them up, I apparently have a good memory for TERRIBLE characters. Still I think having them in the game would be hilarious. But seriously why is Killzone here and not Resistance? I mean Resistance has little identity as a franchise, it keeps changing too much, but at least throw in a Chimera. If you are going to put in Killzone you cant just ignore Resistance. I demand a Chimera!
So Dantes time has come. He is out. Now I may be biased here (I dont have any affinity for or connection to Devil May Cry) but this new Dante they are putting in is not a PlayStation character. Original Dante yes (he would be a great choice, I love him in MvC3) I dont care if hes been replaced in his own series the main point of this game for me is a celebration of Sony. New Dante does not fit in here. He is out. Fat Princess can stay though, no explanation needed, shes just a good choice. Heihachi can also stay, if we are doing one character per franchise (apart from inFamous apparently) then Heihach is 100% the correct choice from Tekken. Good job Sony. Jak and Daxter are a no brainer, and they are one character! Not much to say about them. Of course Kratos is a perfect choice - and if I do play this game he will be my go to guy - because he is Kratos and I want to rip up Sackboy ancient Greece style!
Now time to stop that winning streak, the next character is Nariko from Heavenly Sword. In my All Star line up she is out. Heavenly Sword is basically irrelevant now, Im sure she is great, but we have limited space here. So out with her I say! Nathan Drake is of course a great choice, though if we truly are going to stick to this one character per franchise thing (unlike Sony) I would kick him out. What Uncharted character would I put in? Well Im tempted by Cameraman Jeff just to be a jerk, but the Uncharted character I want in this game is Karl Schafer. Karl would just be hilarious, a his appearance and dialogue in Uncharted 3s online component have bewilderingly shown that, a) he kicks ass (when I play as him of course) and, b) he loves violence (his random snippets of dialogue are genuinely worrying). So in my perfect All Star game, we have Karl Schafer. Hell yes.
PaRappa the rapper, he can stay. Raiden can go. Now I love Raiden, he is super awesome. I loved him in MGS2 because of how his character tied into the story and I loved him more in MGS4 because he kicked arse. However, he is not my MGS character of choice to be in this game, my knee-jerk reaction is Old Snake. Solid Snake is already in Smash Bros and Old Snake is only on PS3 (and iPhone I guess, but shh). Thinking about it more, I want Otacon. Wait a minute, I have a better idea, what I really want is the Metal Gear MkII from MGS4. That would be amazing. Sony please take that idea, please! Now of course Ratchet and Clank can stay, I guess Sackboy can stay and Sir Daniel... Well he is definitely staying. I have played about 40 minutes of MedEvil so Im hardly an expert, but hes a cool character and a nice relatively obscure choice.
Sly Cooper is obviously a great choice, Spike is apparently from Ape Escape and I know nothing about him. Ape Escape is a PlayStation thing though, so I guess he can stay. If any of you have a better character from the franchise then please suggest in the comments and I will amend my roster. Sweet Tooth I am cool with, he can exist in my utopian game roster society, as can Toro, why not. That cat is a Sony mascot, one that may be irrelevant in the West but is Sony enough to stay. So thats their choices analysed. Now onto my additions, this is where the fun begins ladies and gentlemen.
I spent a while looking through lists of exclusives, and thinking of games that make me think PlayStation, in order to compile some characters who would be in my game. So here they are in no particular order. Lets start with Buzz then, why isnt Buzz in the game? He has a stage, but that isnt enough. Im no fan of Buzz, I have nothing against him but Im no fan, but he would be a fun addition and there is the possibility for him to play really well. How would he play? Who knows, Sony work it out. Next on my random list I have written dude from Demons Souls which is terribly specific. Basically I love Demons Souls and it is a Sony exclusive, and a blue phantom character would be rather great, especially in the fluted armour set. Of course being from Demons Souls he would have to have the following mechanics:
· One life only
· Can write messages (why not)
· Can summon other players from the roster to fight with him
· Can invade other random matches, you are playing with your buddies; you pick Dude from Demons Souls and start a match. All your friends are together but you are randomly in another match and another Dude is randomly fighting your friends. Genius!
Next I want to see the main character from Journey. This one isnt a joke at all; he/she/it should really be there and would be fun to play as. My next suggestion is another stupid one though. A car. Now hear me out! Sony has a lot of exclusive racing games, Gran Turismo, Ridge Racer, Modnation, Motorstorm and maybe some others. There should be a car you can play as (an anthropomorphic car) which you can choose between the skins from any of those games. Imagine beating up Sackboy as a Ford Fiesta. Pure hilarity. Cars have been in fighting games before, so this should be in here.
Now back to a serious suggestion. Ethan Mars should be in the roster; of course if you press X he merely says Jason. Failing that... A giant origami crane, in fact I want that more than Ethan. This great addition would also factor in Sonys love of Folding at Home (see what I did there?). So that one turned silly, this one will stay serious. Wander from Shadow of Colossus or Ico and Yorda as one character. I want Wander though, he really should be in the game and Im surprised he isnt. Do you know who else should be in the game? The King of All Cosmos! Or just play as a Katamari and pick up the other fighters, both would be great.
Now I think we should give the PSP some love and have a tribe of (or just one) Patapon. Ive seen them in a stage but I would prefer to play as one of them, especially if I had to put in Patta Patta Patta Pon inputs in order to move forwards and attack. That would be really annoying, but also super cool. I also have Kaz Hirai on this list, Im just going to say if you pick the Ridge Racer variant of the car, it transforms in to Kaz Hirai. Which is the best idea ever! Talking of great ideas that may only appeal to me, Ive been playing a lot of Tokyo Jungle recently (because its brilliant) and therefore the Pomeranian dog which you start off as in that game should be a contestant. That thing is a stone cold killer and would fit with the likes of Kratos and Sweet Tooth on the roster (and Karl Schafer of course).
Now for some ones that might have some licensing problems, but I still want them. I dont really like Final Fantasy, but Final Fantasy VII is a playstation thing right? Put Sephiroth in the game, or Cloud, or aChocobo. I will say Sephiroth because people seem to like him a lot. I also want Crash and Spyro, but it seems they have moved away from Sonys clutches. But Big Daddy was never really in Sonys clutches, so get Crash and Spyro dammit! While you are getting them, put Jimmy Hopkins from Bully in the game, Bully was originally a PS2 exclusive and for me is still a PS2 game. The same is true for Amaterasu; you could have Issun as well! Okami was a PS2 game to begin with and Amaterasu works in fighting games (well, shes been in one, I wouldnt say she works as such (that spammy wolf!!)). While we are on the PS2, I want somebody from SSX (that was originally a PlayStation franchise). A snowboard could be a weapon and a cool way to get around the stage, and it brings the kind of lunacy I want in this game. I also want Sergeant Cortez from Timesplitters, he can replace Radec as our token First-Person Shooter guy. Two more serious requests, firstly Lara Croft (not specifically a PlayStation character but she is a big reason for the success of the PS1). I also want Tony Hawk in the game, the first Pro-skater was originally a PlayStation game only and having Tony Hawk in a fighting game would be really fun and super funny.
Who else do I want? Well Im near the end now but I have some gems left here. First of all that guy Gabriel Logan from Syphon Filter, a PlayStation franchise! My reasoning here is purely I want to taser people until they set on fire. I also want the family from Incredible Crisis as one character, Mr Domino and Pepsiman. These all need to happen. And finally I want somebody from Resident Evil, because that started out on the PlayStation. I have thought long and hard about this and my pick is... Barry Burton. He could have moves like the Jill Sandwhich and the master of unlocking, Im not even sure what they would do, but they would both involve him creepily summoning Jill to do his bidding... I still want him in the game.
So I have fixed this roster! We have the original at the top and now we have my vastly improved gang of true all-stars:
1. Cole (Good and Evil)
2. Garza, Sev, Rico and Natko
4. Old Dante
5. Fat Princess
7. Jak and Daxter
9. Karl Schafer
10. PaRappa the Rapper
11. Metal Gear MkII
12. Ratchet and Clank
14. Sir Daniel Fortisque
15. Sly Cooper
17. Sweet Tooth
20. Dude from Demons Souls
21. Protagonist from Journey
22. A Car
23. Giant Origami Crane
25. The King of All Cosmos
27. Pomerian Dog
29. Crash Bandicoot
31. Amaterasu and Issun
32. SSX Snowboarder
33. Sergeant Cortez
34. Lara Croft
35. Tony Hawk
36. Gabriel Logan
37. The Family from Incredible Crisis
38. Mr Domino
40. Barry Burton
40 is a better number than 20. Im taking pre-orders for Stephenages Sony Smash Bros now.
Due to moving house, and the lack of internet associated with that process, I will not be able to post a blog at the exact time the new episode goes up. A new episode is going up today though, so keep an eye out for it. Now this isn't hard to do because now you can SUBSCRIBE TO US ON ITUNES!
You can do this by pressing this lovely link right here: LINK
You can also check the podbean site for when the latest episode is posted up later today, you know if itunes isn't your thing for some reason. SECOND LINK!
So get your friends to subscribe on itunes, give us a review etc if you want (would be much appreciated) and hopefully enjoy.
The enjoyment you can have this week includes discussion of Dawnguard, Walking Dead Episode 2, The Amazing Spiderman (game), Virtual Fighter 5 Final Showdown and The Secret World Beta.
Episode 11, a decent one this week as we actually have some relevant games to talk about... Though that doesn't stop us from talking abotu irrelevant ones at length for your amusement. So join myself, Ran, Daniel and Blane (who arrives late) as we sail the seas of the pacific ocean to bring you all the hot topics from the world of video games!
As always, hope you like it, and tell your friends!
It's that time again, the Critical Path podcasts enjoys a post E3 hangover as they talk about games that haven't been relevant for years! Join us for in depth discussion about such titles as Morrowind, Assassin's Creed 1 and MGS4. After we get that out of the way we talk about some topical stuff, like a recent demo and an interesting news story. Oh and we go off topic a lot... So nothing new there.
Guests: Daniel (Dapman418), Diego (Nintendo_Warrio) and Blane (Bzilla56)
Next week join us for news on if Max Payne 3 works on a personal computer and if Lolipops effectively work as chainsaws.
Like most people, I have opinions on 2012's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Therefore me and some good friends recorded a little something to let you know the factually accurate award winners at E3. So tune into this audio delight for insightful and (hopefully) entertaining commentary on the E3 that was!
Oh, and my sources tell me you can find and RSS feed there, so those that understand what that is, do the thing that it does with it. You know what it is, follow that feed or something. RSS the hell out of it!
I promised an E3 podcast and here it is!
So now we have a hosting site with all kind of magic on it, a new name (Critical Path (the only vaguely gaming related thing we could grab that wasn't already taken, and a decent name in itself) and a stable archive of all the old episodes. So give the a listen, get your friends involved and spread the word.
This weeks is a rough one, not much editing work and the audio quality makes it sound like we were actually at E3 (which makes it feel legit I guess), but we get some good talk in. Also, expect another E3 podcast after the show itself where we do a big summing up and talk game of show stuff.
See you then!
It's been a while people but we finally have another episode. Prepare yourself for tangentially filled discussion about that there game with the devil in it and the one with loads of jumping. Apparently they are big, we talk about them, it's rad. Also prepare yourself for disturbing accusations against beloved game developpers... Sorry Warren...
So without furhter ado, I give to you, A LINK!
And if you don't like that link... Try THIS LINK (where you odnt need ot download, you can just listen).
Like it? Tell your friends. Force it onto them. Make them like it. Ensure COMPLETE GLOBAL SATURATION
I literally just beat Diablo 3 (which was great) so it's about time I wrote a blog about... Demon's Souls. Yeah. Demon's Souls. Well a while back I wrote part one of my Demon's Souls blog, and I was totally going to write part two but then I got real busy. Some exams started happening and revision took over for a while. I was still playing games, I picked up Rock Band 3 and took 'The Stephen Gillespie Experience' to the highest reaches of fame (then I picked up Rock Band Beatles and 1 and 2) and I beat Demon's Souls of course, but I just didn't want to write. Spending the whole day writing notes and reading notes made me want to spend an evening in any way but writing more stuff. Anyway I digress, Demon's Souls.
So Demon's Souls is really good, really damn good. Surprise huh? Also a great co-op game. Now I know a lot of you think Demon's Souls isn't a conventional co-op game, but that just isn't the case. My housemate and I played through the entire game in co-op, because we are that rad. Now what does one need to co-op Demon's Souls? Well first of all you both need European copies of the game (as previously mentioned), because then you can play the game online. Oh and you need two PS3s. Then in theory you can Demon's Souls co-op. So how does Demon's Souls co-op work, this is something I'm sure some of you don't know the answer to so let me detail this out.
There are two character states in Demon's Souls human form and soul form, when you die you go to soul form and can only return to human (revive) by using a certain reasonably rare item or killing a boss. You will spend most of the game in soul form, you glow a bit (which is rad) but have half health. Well there's a pretty much impossible to miss ring in the first level that dramatically raises your health in soul form, so it's not as bad as it sounds. Health is still significantly lower, but high enough to make things playable. Now in soul form you can drop your soul stone down, this means you place an item which pops up in the world of other players on the same server as you, and if they are human they can see it and interact with it. Interacting with it gives you the option to summon the soul form player into your world as a blue phantom, meaning you can co-op. Now co-op lasts until you beat a boss or somebody dies. Beat the boss and get humanity, die and get nothing. As a blue phantom you don't get loot but you do get souls from kills. Also you don't lose souls if you die as a blue phantom, which is a nice bonus.
When you are a blue phantom you are literally in a world that is not your own, therefore if my housemate Josh summons me in level two and we beat the boss together, the boss is dead in his world but I have made progress in mine. I come back with a nice amount of souls from my many triumphs, and importantly I come back human. This means that I need to do the level in my world; I'm human now and can summon. This is where tendency comes into things. Demon's Souls is a weird game guys, it's really good, but weird. It has this tendency system which impacts on your character and world. There is black tendency and white tendency and each world has its separate meter, white tendency makes things easier and black makes things harder. There are other changes, but, I will keep it simple. Well I will mention that different tendency unlocks special events in certain levels, which is great. Anyway, why mention tendency? Well your world tendency lowers (goes towards black) when you die in human form in the level. This means that you don't want to die in the level when in human form, why mention this? Stop being so impatient...
Well as things stand I just killed a boss in Josh's world, he's progressed in the game and I haven't. Now I'm a kind soul but I would like to progress, and I would like to play with Josh again (there is a ranking system and we ranked each other S every time, S is the highest rank of course, so next to my soul sign it says I've played a lot of multiplayer sessions and gave 100% S rank, it looks like I'm a pro). However Josh is in human form, and needs to be in soul form. This is done by dying of course, but he doesn't want to die in the level. So after every boss the person whose world is now bossless goes back to the hub world and commits suicide. Yeah commits suicide. Dying in the Nexus doesn't affect tendency people, so things are good. He is now soul form, I'm human due to killing a boss, so now we do the same level in my world. Yes we did every level in the game twice. But we beat the game in 20 hours, so we kinda owned it.
Now that's the basics, but Demon's Souls require some co-operation, and as you all know there is no voice chat. How do you solve this, you move your TV into Josh's room, you move your PC into Josh' room and you plug both PS3s into the same router. Seemed like a way to get us on the same server, and we were clearly on the same server seeing as we co-oped the hell out of the game. This meant that we were now a tactical machine that could communicate and co-operate like From Software precisely didn't intend us to. This didn't make the game too easy, it was still a challenge, but it became a different kind of challenge. We had to tailor our skills to each other and compliment each other's play styles. It basically became a really great tactical co-op game. Oh and it was hilarious and well worth playing every level twice. So for all of you out there thinking Demon's Souls cannot be played like your standard co-op game are completely wrong.
Anyway, I have a copy of Max Payne 3 on my desk which I refused to open until my exams were over. I had my last exam today... See you guys later.
This is Part 1 of my Demon's Souls tale. It's basically an explanatory introduction that I wanted to get out of the way before I wrote part 2, which is what I wanted to write about.
Any of you who know me may also know that I prefer Dark Souls to every game bar Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Now already a lot of you will be judging me for that sentence, and many of you will now think less of me, but that statement really isn't the point of this blog. The reason I mention this at the start is that something you may not have known is that for a long time I had no interesting in playing Dark Souls. Dark Souls fell into that category of games that are clearly very good, but that I respect from afar, a list of games I have that includes things like Ninja Gaiden. Basically stuff that I personally don't want to play, but my lack of wish to play them doesn't mean I think they are bad games. It's a weird point to make, but I think it makes some sense. The reason for this list is that I don't really like hard games. This may sound stupid seeing as Dark Souls is my number two games, but playing Dark Souls has not changed this for me. Basically I'm not a great gamer, I'm fine at games but I'm in no way particularly skilful; I'm decidedly average. This means that infamously hard games are simply too hard for me, I wouldn't have any fun or make any progress. The kinds of games I like, usually, are the ones that give me a challenge but do not frustrate. The kind of game where I will hit a stumble every now and then, but it's always the case that it's not so hard that I will never be able to press forward.
Incidentally I feel I should add my housemate's character in Demon's Souls is called Old Snake. Purely because you can make a dude in that game that looks a lot like Old Snake. Sadly I can't show you this, but it is true.
Now Dark Souls is a hard game, but it's a cohesive experience. There are numerous ways to get around the difficulty, some very clever ways, and it's not really a matter of reflex testing (though it can be) but persistence. The whole structure is built to be played time and time again purely because it's pure trial and error, just by experimenting you will find a way to get through almost everywhere like a pro. Basically you don't need to be amazing at games, just really persistent. The game does get cheap, but you can always fall back on certain gameplay mechanics to get past this difficulty, whether it be a good old bit of farming or a delve into the fantastic co-op. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about Dark Souls. I'm here to talk about Demon's Souls. Why I mentioned Dark Souls is because the only reason I played it is because my housemate (Josh) bought it at the beginning of this year. Now I was super pumped to watch him playing but, because I had heard it was super hard, I had no interest in playing the game. That all changed when I watched him play and realised I needed that game in my life. I just wanted to play it so bad, so I borrowed his copy (me playing it when he wasn't in the house and him playing it when he was in the house) and ordered one of my own.
Now I fell in love with Dark Souls, but still I didn't want to play Demon's Souls. Dark Souls gets away with doing a lot of things that would be considered as bad in other games, and half of my love for Dark Souls is due to its open world and how it is structured. So for those reasons I didn't really Demon's Souls, I didn't specifically want something like Dark souls again (I love it but one is enough (or so I thought)) and Demon's Souls doesn't have the structure that I came to adore. However recently, Josh bought a copy of Demon's Souls and history repeated itself. I watched him play it and wanted it. I played a bit on his PS3 (messing about and killing NPCs) then borrowed the game under the same circumstances, starting a new game on my PS3. Now for a complex reason I can't be bothered to get into, my setup in my room is as follows. My 360 is hooked up to a HD screen and my PS3 is hooked up to an old standard def English TV. Don't ask why, it just is, and it's a tad annoying (for playing PS3 games anyway). Now the copy of Demon's Souls Josh bought was an American copy. It was just the one the shop had. This was no problem on his HD TV, but due to me using an English TV and Hertz differences between our standard def TVs and American TVs I couldn't play the game properly. Well, that's a lie, I could play the game fine, but the game wouldn't output in colour. I had to play Demon's Souls in black and white. So I ordered myself an English copy (a brand spanking new one) and played the black and white one in the meantime.
Colour TV... It's the future!
Any of you Yanks that have Demon's Souls may know that the servers are going down this month. Which sucks. So I was determined to playthrough it before this happened, so I couldn't stop and wait until I had colour I had to play now. However, I didn't really think about the logistics of this set up. When my EU copy arrived it wouldn't load my previous save (a save I had put about 8-10 hours in maybe). I hadn't thought about this, but then I realised the EU game has a different publisher and is kind of a different game. Complete with different servers, servers that aren't going down. At this point in time Josh had beaten the game (I watched him do so, he picked the second ending (the evil one I guess) which hilariously doesn't give you a trophy) and I explained to him the situation. After this explanation he decided to re-buy Demon's Souls. This meant going into town with Demon's Souls, Modern Warfare 3 (he didn't want to play it) and inFAMOUS 2 (I told him he could borrow my copy) to trade in to get a European copy of Demon's Souls (and the Orange Box with the left over money it turned out). Before this we did something a tad devious, his US copy of Demon's Souls had a full colour manual, my EU copy had the same manual but black and white. So we swapped over, so he could keep the colour manual for when he had a UK copy (trading back when he got his new game). Devious eh? So now we are a two Demon's Souls household, and that leads me to the end of this instalment of my Demon's Souls tale. The next tale is by far better; it's about what we are doing with our two copies and the fun we are having with the game. So keep tuned for the next instalment!