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.