Dec 25, 2016

52 Weeks of fun and games

In an attempt to get some games off my insane backlog I decided to take the 52 game challenge in 2017. The basic rules are simple: Complete 52 games in 52 weeks, the rest is up to the individual taking the challenge. And because of that I made a set of rules for myself.

1.: A game counts as beaten when the credits roll or the main Storyline is completed. A racing game counts as beaten when I win every race / championship the game has to offer.

2.: Episodic games only count as one game for the entire Season. 

3.: I have to beat at least one game on each System that I own. This means PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, PS Vita, Dreamcast, X-Box, N64, Wii, GameBoy Family (GB, GBC or GBA) PC Oldschool (DOS / Win9x) and PC Modern (any game the Retro Machine can´t run)

4.: A game counts even if I started it in 2016 or earlier.

5.: A game won´t count if I already have a review for it on this Blog. Lucky for me that it isn´t that many. This is because I want to write a review for each game I complete for this challenge.

6.: Arcade / Arcade Style games only count if I beat them on default difficulty settings, however the amount of credits needed is irrelevant because at an coin-op macine I could throw more money at it to continue, I see no point on doing it on a single credit. However the default difficulty settings do matter to me because at an Arcade Cabinet you are usualy unable to change these settings.

7.: With the exception of Arcade and Arcade Style games the difficulty setting doesn´t matter unless a lower difficulty setting prevents you from playing the whole game. Games from the Doom Franchise have to be played on "Hurt me Plenty" or above because life only begins at "Hurt me Plenty"

8.: It doesn´t matter if it was done in Single Player or Co-Op, however if the Co-Op campaign is different from the Singleplayer one it only counts if the Single Player is beaten.

With all this being said we will see us next year with the first game and much more frequent content. 

Dec 18, 2016

The Prequel you always wanted

Contains stuff that may be considered Spoiler. I don´t care if you read any further. After watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story today two things became very clear: The first one is that Star Wars as a Franchise is much better off without George Lucas. Yes, he created the Franchise in the first place and the original trilogy is incredible, however with the Special Editions and his obsession with changing movies years later and the mess that is the Prequel Trilogy it became obvious that someone else with fresh ideas would be needed to keep the franchise a succes. Don´t get me wrong here, I don´t hate everything about the Prequels, at least half of Episode II is good and Episode III is a very enjoyable movie all around, but I consider Episode I to be one of he worst movies I have ever seen and I still think that everything that was important about that trilogy could have been told in a single movie. The second thing I realised while watching Rogue One was that this movie is what the Prequels should have been. At least I never needed such an detailed background story for he the main villain of the original movies, like I said that should have been one movie, and then the rest of the prequels should have been about other events that lead to Episode IV. And Rogue One really isn´t about the background of any character we already know, heck, all charachter that already where established in the other movies don´t have much screen time anyway, it is about the series of events that ended with the Rebels getting their hands on the plans for the Death Star and it explains why it had that design flaw that allowed them to destroy the station later on, and that explanation doesn´t even feel stupid. We even get a first impression of the Death Star´s capabilities without the movie ever spoiling if it realy is capable of destroying entire planets. In fact Rogue One doesn´t spoil anything about any of the other movies. At times the movie feels more like a Sci-Fi war movie than Star Wars, but that isn´t really a bad thing because all of the action is done very well and it never feels out of place. You don´t have any Jedi battling it out, these are the rebels we are talking about, they are normal people that can´t use the Force. Yeah, sure, you have that blind guy that seems to be able to use a bit of the Force and you see Darth Vader uses a simple Force tricks, but all of that isn´t anything too fancy. Both myself and all of my Star Wars loving friends really enjoyed this one.

Dec 10, 2016

Stupid Dog-Bird-Thingy

If a game spends too much time in development it has a fairly high chance to disappoint. In a best case scenario it may look and feel a bit dated when it finaly hits store shelves, however it is at least as likely to simply just not deliver to all the hype and expectations that where build up over the years. And when Team ICO announced The Last Guardian back in 2007 that game actualy was a reason for me to get a PS3 because I liked both ICO and Shadow of the Collosus that much. Back then no one could have guessed that the game would end up on the PS4 instead, but that´s just how things go down sometimes. Similar to Duke Nukem Forever it is a wierd feeling to finaly have the game in your hands and to play it. And while some games do change drasticly during development, espescialy if they are in development for almost a decade, or sometimes even longer, I have a strong feeling that the version of The Last Guardian we get to play now is actualy fairly close, if not exactly the same, as what was intended years ago to be released on the PS3. Of cause this has both good and bad sides, on the positive side you get a unique artstyle that is just as beautiful today as it was years ago in the first official trailers, on the bad side however you get a camera straight out of hell that makes the cameras in most N64 games look good in comparsion and a control sheme that feels just a bit off every now and then.

As with the other games from Team ICO the Story isn´t the strongest point of The Last Guardian, and to be honest it doesn´t have to because what really matters here are how the boy and Trico (that´s the Dog-Bird-Thingy) interact with each other and how their realationship develops during the game, and every gameplay element is build around what the boy and Trico can and can´t do on their own. The boy has to open gates, find food barrels and get rid of eyes made from stained glass, otherwise Trico either can´t or won´t progress any further down the path, on the other hand Trico will help the boy to reach places he could never reach on his own and since the kid can´t fight the enemies on his own the beast will deal with them for you and in return you remove spears that get stuck in his body during combat to ease the pain. Usualy it is very clear or at least easy to understand what you have to do in order to progress and even the two or three places where it isn´t as obvious you probably won´t need a guide to figure the solution out on your own. However even when you know what you have to do it isn´t always easy to achieve your goals, and that´s because Trico can be a pain to deal with, you see, the feathered beast has a mind of his own and while that gives him a lot of personality it can get in your way. Sometimes it takes him ages to follow you or he decides to jump down the tower you just climbed up only to go up again the moment he reaches the lower platform before finaly making the jump with you he was supposed to do in the first place and every once in a while you get pushed around while giving a target for Trico´s ranged attack, however while getting pushed around you now aim either on Trico itself or on a blank wall.

From a technical perspective you don´t have much to complain here. Sure, textures tend to be on the lower side of the resolution scale and on a regular non-pro PS4 you get Frame Rate drops down into the 20-ish region, but it´s always playable and at least for me it´s not a dealbreaker. And while the Soundtrack is great, there isn´t a single piece of music in the game that I could remember. Don´t get me wrong here, that isn´t necessarily a bad thing, but outside of combat situations the music tends to be very quiet. The only real issues I have with The Last Guardian are the insane amount of patience you sometimes need to get Trico to do what you whant him to do, the camera that on a regular basis doesn´t focus on what would be important at that moment or just doesnt work properly at all when you are on Trico´s back inside a smaller room and my third issue are the climbing controls when you try to get on or off Trico. In my opinion it is the weakest of the Team ICO games, wich doesn´t mean that it is a bad game, I just think that if it had been released on the PS3 back when it was supposed to that it wouldn´t have felt so wierdly outdated in some areas, but still, the game comes highly recommended none the less.

May 23, 2016

Demonic Invasion in Progress

If you ask me what my favourite Video Game is the answer will always be the Original Doom from 1993. Over the years it became somewhat of an ritual for me to beat it at least once a year. For such an early FPS it did so many things right, every weapon has it´s purpose, every enemy has an weak point, the levels are fairly open considering the limitations of the engine and computer hardware and the music kicks some serious MIDI-Ass. I wouldn´t go so far to say that is perfect, but it is pretty close. Doom 2 while still being very good didn´t too much for me. Some of the new enemies it introduced wheren´t balanced enough and overall it has the awkward feel of an Expansion Pack sold as a new game. After that humanity had to wait a whole decade to get a new Doom, and what a change of pace that one was. The Original games where fast, twitchy, gore fueled and heavy metal powered games, Doom 3 slowed things down. A lot. It had the same enemies, weapons and basic story as the original, but the gameplay was much more of an Horror game that in places took it´s time to build up some suspense. And because of that the version of it on the Original X-Box is the version of Doom 3 you should play. It cut´s out a lot of the slower parts, shortens some maps and feels a bit faster and more like an action game because of it. Between 2004 and now we only got an Add-On for Doom 3 and an re-release for more modern Hardware, but we finaly got a new Doom, and oh boy, what a glory one it is.

And to be honest with you I´m somewhat surprised that I even say that it is good at all, I hated both the Closed Alpha and Open Beta Multiplayer Tests for it, I was highly sceptical when I watched Videos with 10-15 Minutes of uninterrupted gameplay of it, I didn´t like the idea of even having unlockable weapon- and armor upgrades and yet I am now here saying that it is the best FPS I played in the last decade. Why you may ask? Well, because it is a modernized version of the Original. It is fast, twitchy, gore fueled and heavy metal powered. Everything is designed to be fun, nothings slows you down while you plow your way through hordes of demons, heck, you shouldn´t even slow down while in combat, Imps are bombarding you with Fireballs while the Pinky-Demons blindly charge in your general direction and only stop when they hit a wall or die. And because reloading weapons would slow you down you don´t have to do it, all the ammo you have is ready to be fired all the time, only the double barreled Shotgun (better known as the Super Shotgun) has a reload animation, but it happens so fast that it never becomes a problem. And even the Glory Kill dubbed Killmoves don´t get old over the duration of the campaign, the animations are quick, they are varied enough and they give you a short moment to take a breath when in combat. And even though there is a fairly decent Story somewhere between all the gore it never get´s in the way of all the fun, it just does whatever it needs to do and even the Doom-Guy himself doesn´t give a fuck about the details.

 The campaign levels are filled with secrets, each one even contains an unlockable Classic Map, featuring Pixelated Glory from Doom 1 and 2 and populaed with the new interpretations of the old Monsters. They are fun to play, but they need a slightly different approack than in the originals because of the changed gameplay mechanics. But the fun doesn´t end when you finish the campaign, after that you can jump into either the Multiplayer or the Snapmap mode. The later is basicly a Doom Lego Set that allows you to easily build your own maps with predefined room pieces, then you can fill it fith demons, objects, weapons and such fun things, set some rules, make it Single- or Multiplayer or even Co-Op. This Mode alone could be the source of endless fun. Sadly the Multiplayer is much weaker than everything else in the game. The reason for this is probably the fact that the MP-Part wasn´t developed in-house at id-Software. It was outsourced to an Studio that previously worked on the MP Parts of Call of Duty - Ghosts and the Halo Masterchief Collection, and you can see and feel that everywhere. It features Weapon Loadouts with just 2 Weapons and Customizations straight out of Halo. Don´t get me wrong, the MP is fun for a few matches, but it surely is nothing you will play for extended periods of time. Overall the new Doom surely is a loveletter to fans of the originals and it can even be considered an apology for Doom 3. It comes highly recommended.

Mar 15, 2016

The Butterfly Effect

Sometimes a small event or a decision that seems rather unimportant may have a huge impact later down the road, like a Butterfly flapping it´s wings today in New York City may cause a Tornado in San Francisco 3 Weeks later. This is referred to as the Butterfly Effect, and even though it is also a great movie I won´t be talking about that today. Maybe someday later. And that´s because of the game Life is Strange, a episodic Adventure game from the french developer Dontnod Entertainment about students at an art Academy. Yeah, I know, it sounds kinda boring, and the fact that most, if not all, of the characters fit one cliche role or another, however the story about missing girls, drug dealing rich brats and the end of the world is well presented with some twists here and there thrown in for good measure. You play as Maxine "Max" Claufield, a 18 years old photography and movie nerd that doesn´t really have many friends. A huge portion of the game is spent with either getting information or items from other people or solving puzzles, both tasks are centered around Time Travel mechanic that allows you to rewind time within certain limitations. While you rewind Max keeps Items and Information she gathered before, sometimes that opens up new dialouge options or a event you triggered just didn´t happen. At some points the game will face you with decisions that will make things a bit easier or harder for you at a later point depending on how you decided.

Like I said earlier the game is presented in an episodic format, and if done right this can work in favour of the game. Luckily Dontnod got it right at their first try, the fact that each episode is presented as a single day helps here. Sure, it isn´t quite on the level of episodic perfection as the Telltale games, but each Episode of Life is Strange is decent in lenght, filled with enough content to keep it interesting and something happens in every episode that feels important. In addition the game also manages to make your decisions feel important with people reacting different to you depending on what you did or didn´t do before, some scenes are even only avaiable if you did certain things before. And right there we got the big issue with Life is Strange: Your decisions only feel important, but even on your first playthrough you may come to the conclusion that it doesn´t realy matter what you do. The problem at hand is that the game switches timelines and realities so often that it doesn´t really matter in the long run and even if you feel that you screwed something up you can usualy rewind to fix whatever you feel you did wrong. The next sentence may be considered to be a Spoiler by some, so read at your own risk! The sad part about this is that at the end you realize that nothing you did mattered because the only decision that is relevant to trigger each of the two endings is the very last one.

Don´t get me wrong here, the Story is very interesting and emotional in places, even on a second playthrough, but you will never get rid of the feeling that the developrs struggled to find a way to make your decisions important in order to trigger different endings. If you had asked me how I felt about the game right after I finished it for the first time I would have told you that it was one of the best gaming experiences I had in several years, but after thinking about it a bit and playing through it a second time I feel a bit different about it. Everyone who likes a well told Story should defenitly play it, and for the most part Life is Strange is able to keep the illusion alive that what you are doing matters, but it in the end it is little more than those choose-your-own-adventure books that in the end will always come to the same conclusion using different approaches. The unique visuals don´t try to be realistic, they have more of an slight cartoony feel to them with an heavy emphasis on colors to go along with the mood of the main characters and the realy amazing soundtrack never feels out of place.  Overall it is still one of the best gaming experiences I had in recent years, but with a major flaw that most people tend to overlook.

Mar 9, 2016

So, what is this all about?

Hi, I´m Drunkasaurus Rex, otherwise known as Soonjai, I´m from germany and I do stuff for a living. I started this Blog many moons ago in my native tongue and just recently decided to change the language because reasons. What the Blog is about? Movies and Video Games. Content may be postet irregular and there is a chance of grammatical and spelling mistakes. I don´t care much about them, so I will leave them mostly where they are, heck, I always had more spelling mistakes than Blog entries here. Why is my english so good if it isn´t my native language? Because Movies and Video Games! You see, ever since I knew enough english from school to understand it enough I started to watch movies that where produced in english in that language, at first with subtitles, later without them. The first time I played Morrowind I kept a dictionary at hand to be able to understand it. It was quite the journey, but well worth it.

I started playing video games in general way back on the Commodore C64 and for a good while I thought that Super Mario Bros. was a rip-off of the Great Giana Sisters. I didn´t knew better back then because we never had an NES and I played Giana Sisters a few years before I played the first Super Mario Bros. game. I´m not a fanboy of anything, I just like video games as a whole, but I have to admit that I tend to prefer the PC and Sony Systems as my platforms of choice. I grew up on Nintendo consoles and the PC at home and Sega systems at my grandparents place. I got my first Playstation 1 system at a time when the PS3 was avaiable, so it became a fairly late love for me. For both games and movies I like stuff from most genres avaiable, but for both medias I tend to like stuff that isn´t the flashy AAA content everyone if blabbering about. I also consider myself as a fan of Uwe Boll, I can´t help myself here, but most of his movies have a certain appeal and charme that I really enjoy. Except for Alone in the Dark. That one is crap.

Since I hate rating systems for media content (i.e. X/Y) I won´t use any of that nonesense here. In my Opinion these rating systems are utter nonesense and worthless when it comes to decide if you, the reader, would or wouldn´t like whatever it is I´m writing about. For the same reason I don´t care about any Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoe or IMDB ratings, neither from "Professional" Reviewers nor from the general public. Or can you explain to me what the real difference between a game with a 79/100 and one with a 81/100 is? That all being said: If you have any questions, just ask, I try not to bite your head off. Comments about grammar and / or spelling mistakes will be deleted no further questions asked. And now, let´s get this show rolling!