Category Archives: Pre-New

Backtracking to Success

Resident Evil: Revelations Preview

Art imitates life on a frequent basis, Resident Evil a horrifying example of this adage. The series reputation is as dead as any of the enemies found within, and has been shambling along with barely a leg to stand on for awhile now. Revelations came out on the 3DS early last year, and represented an  attempt on Capcom’s part to backtrack to success. Returning to a slower paced, much need refocusing on survival horror was what Revelations was all about. The title was successful enough to merit a console port, for all to enjoy, and to give those like me a second stab at reliving the glory days of Resident Evil.

My initial thoughts in starting up the demo?

1998…*sigh*…I’ll never forget it.

RE Demo Intro

(EDIT: My particular preview deals with the Wii U version, but I am to understand that all of the consoles share the same gameplay.)

The story for Revelations takes place between RE4 and 5. The demo itself takes place on a ship at sea (The SS Queen Zenobia), with Jill and her new partner, Parker, investigating what has become of fellow BSAA members, Jessica Sherawat and Chris Redfield. You’re thrown into the demo with very little understanding of how far into the story it takes place, but you know Chris has been captured, and Jill has to do what she does best: unlock the way to success.

RE Demo 1

Any fan of the more recent RE titles will feel right at home. The controls and camera follow the classic template set forth by RE4, leaving very little to complain about in either regard. Many will be thrilled at the ability to move while firing of course, as the series has made some strides of progress in making Resident Evil a more active experience. The controls on the Wii U gamepad were incredibly comfortable, with the ability to aim and fire just as effortless as any of it’s console brethren.

One aspect of personal success the Wii U gamepad can claim, is within it’s possession of having a touch screen in the controller itself. This allows for some easy inventory management, quick map referencing, and fast healing at a touch of the button. You can also play the game directly on the gamepad itself, for any of those who wish to fully recreate the portable experience, or just want to kill some infected on and off their own couches.

RE Demo Extra

The pacing and sense of dread of the classic Resident Evil’s is captured to a T in Revelations. While the pre-rendered backgrounds and tank controls may be gone, the sound design and dark ambiance helps to keep the tension alive. Revelations isn’t the over the top action fests 5 and 6 were: you will have some nervous down time to contend with. I say this thankfully, as the claustrophobic hallways and subtle music hanging in the air, will remind you of Resident Evil’s suspenseful past with effortless tact.

One of the gameplay elements that will compliment all of this is the introduction of the “gun scanner” dubbed the Genesis. This useful gadget acts as if a firearm, and allows you to scope out your current surroundings for items, bodies, and whatever is currently trying to eat you. I found The Genesis adds another element of fear into the mix, as it forces even more suspense in the art of investigation.

RE Demo 2

I believe the Wii U version was prevented from reaching full potential, as it is the only console with a gyroscopic controller that can boast a screen. This may sound non-sequitur at first, but when you consider ZombiU, another survival horror game on the same console, had a scanner you could manipulate by physically moving the controller, you can then relate to my disappointment in not being able to enjoy the  luxury, while playing Revelations. The feeling of physically moving around the scanner adds a level of intimacy and heightened suspense you just don’t get with tactile controls. Both sensations still exist with conventional buttons, mind you, just not in equal amounts.

While the slower paced moments of intrigue will keep you guessing what’s around the corner, Revelations is not guilty of skimping on satisfying combat. Much like it’s predecessor RE 4, the fluid camera and accessible controls make the fights straight and to the point. The enemies cohere to the back to basics approach most of the game is modest about. These abominations are but mere step ups from zombies, and that’s a good thing. These disgusting, more bestial representations of fear will lurch slowly towards you, in their efforts to eat you alive. They will be warmly welcomed adversaries, to anyone who misses an easier target, and the tensity they represent.

RE Demo 3

The nuances of Revelations give way to reminders of the past, and will be glazed over by most, but appreciated by the loyal. Small nods to  habits of Resident Evil’s history will be found through out: speechless text describing objects and doors, red ammo boxes shining in dark environments, forced moments of back tracking through narrow hall ways. These elements and more will likely anger newer players, but will be lauded by vets.

To give you an idea of how starved I am as a long time Resident Evil fan, when I encountered a locked door that demanded a customized key, complete with ridiculously forced naval theme, I physically licked my lips with satisfaction. This type of back tracking and fetch questing may be a loathed relic of game design past, but reminds me of the charming presence Resident Evil had, once upon a time.

RE Demo 4

That’s not to say Revelations relies solely on rested laurels, nor is the game play just a cheesy call back to RE’s of the past. A lot of time and effort went into fusing the qualities of the past, with the efficiencies of the present, to give us the best of both worlds with. The moments of creeping death found in Revelations are effective at creating chills, while the louder get up and go sections of combat leave little to be desired there after. Boasting both brutality and gore, Revelations has an admirable quality, of servicing both existing camps of Resident Evil players, without sacrificing quality: a welcome sight of horror to behold.

RE Demo 5

The demo, while robust in flavor, is a short meal. Most will probably blow through it in a mere ten minutes, though I got close to a half hour with my more ernest approach, in stopping to smell the undead roses. The demo ends on a cool cliff hanger, and explores quite a few intrigues I’m looking forward to uncovering, when the full game comes out on the 21st.

RE Demo Ending
While the demo is very bare bones, and Revelations does represent a port from a portable system, the trial made much clear to me. The reason Revelations has been given a second chance, is through one undeniable truth: simplistic confidence. The game celebrates both the lineage that has come before it, without forgetting to create new experiences, in an effort at making a better tomorrow for Resident Evil. I’m very happy to be given another opportunity at supporting the game, as the Revelations demo did more for me in 10 minutes, than Resident Evil 6 did for me in 10 hours.

While some people may poo poo the price point, now is the absolute wrong time to stand on a refusal of finance. Capcom may commit to horrendous gaming atrocities on a regular basis, but this is one act of kindness that should not go unrewarded.

Everyone has screamed for a better Resident Evil, and Revelations is here to make you scream.

~Pashford

RE Demo Final
(You can also check out some of my other work at gamersyndrome.com)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Pre-New

Honing the Blade

Hey Gamers.

I have many ideas swirling around in my head, in regards to trying to entertain you, my dears gamers.

It's more entertaining that a Baby Ruth, I swear.

It’s more entertaining that a Baby Ruth, I swear.

While this site’s focus is video games, with the total number of staff member currently at one, I am definitely limited in scope in volume, and variety.

Sometimes, having neither.

Sometimes, having neither.

Despite this, I still have optimism that this site does two things very well:

1. Keep me from endlessly trying to speed run Doom 2 till my eyes fall out.
2. Is about video games.

Not a very lengthy resume, but others before me have have put forth resumes far worse.

 

For Example.

For Example.

What I’m driving at here, is I’m always open to posting experimentation and the like, and trying to stay on track with whats up in the gaming verse. While I don’t think my regular news posts, culture critique, or random rants are going anywhere, I realized a great many of you do enjoy the act of not only playing games, but reading about them.

Imagine that.

Perhaps a bad example.

Perhaps a bad example.

In any case, in an effort to continue to expand my own topical horizons, while entertaining at the same time, I bring new focus to ATE. I’ve only done a few scant previews in the past, and really only one official review to speak of. In this regard, I will make a point to pick a new game every week, and give you the low down, from top to bottom. I won’t have this replace other regular content I’ve spoken of, but it will help to create a better dichotomy of content in the long run. I will provide a preview at the beginning of the week, and will provide a review by weeks end, thusly finishing the cycle. I will also provide other first impressions or after thoughts, if the case arises. I know review scores are a hot topic and very contentious point of debate, but I can not ignore their valued reality.

Despite how silly it can all really be.

Despite, in reality, how silly it really is.

So, in following some form of standard procedure, I will rate games on a scale of 1-5. I find, at least in my musings of the subject, it best fits what I wish to say about the games, and how what qualities they have. Obviously, no system is perfect, as even a 5 out of 5, doesn’t understate the cultural significance of the aforementioned experience…but translating dozens of hours of emotional and abstract interactivity into a singular number is an incredibly flawed process to begin with.

Anyways, I wish to start my whole attempt with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, as it’s a title I’ve been meaning to get to for some time. Some of you may remember me having already written a preview for the game, which I will re-post now, out of loyalty to formula. I will than play the game throughout the week, and give you a full report by week’send. I’m hoping this further satiates those who are nice enough to give me the time of day, and helps to push my own gaming goals forward, in seeing the best (and worst) of what this crazy industry has to offer.

Happy Gaming,
Pashford

Leave a comment

Filed under Pre-New, Review

Filthy Gorgeous

Reboots seem to be all the rage these days,  though some of them just make people angry. You always have to be mindful of the difference in how a possessive fan boy approaches the situation, and the meaning behind the series needing a fresh start. Tomb Raider created an iconic  game, and dominated the mid to late 90’s with it’s stylish approach to combat and exploration. Many years passed, and due to mismanagement, Lara Croft became more of an outdated relic of bad stereotypes than a positive female protagonist. Her series followed suit, and went through some dangerously low times in terms of meaningful quality. You can imagine gamers  surprise when Tomb Raider was front and center with a live demo at E3 2o11, and how enthralling the new take on Lara’s adventure would be.

After a long wait, the game has finally launched. I now provide a lengthy preview of Tomb Raider (PS3), and the hell that follows.

2013-03-12-161353

From the get go, the developer Crystal Dynamics, makes short work of setting the stage. The intro of the game helps create a sense of foreboding  and paints the grim tale, of what young Lara is going to have to do to survive. The direction the devs (CD) want to take Lara in is apparent from the start, with a concerted effort in making Lara far more human, and weak because of this reality. This reboot represents a coming of age story, and in being so, robs Miss Croft of her unrelenting icon status that made her untouchable. Lara is no longer a super star, now, she is just a survivor.

2013-03-12-161617

The intro of the game wastes no time in throwing you to the wolves. Lara is aboard a ship that hits a terrible storm, and is quickly ship wrecked soon after. With Lara stranded in the middle of a storm on an unknown island, she spot her friends and yells for help. The cries go unnoticed, and no sooner than Lara’s spirits are crushed, her skull follows suit, as an unknown figure bashes her over the head. You’re than treated to the in-coherency  of being dragged to your doom, armed with nothing but a sense of helplessness and  sympathy for Lara. Anyone familiar with the now famous live demo reveal, will be relieved. The beginning portions of gameplay represent a familiar scene, and one that helps to flip Lara’s world upside down.

TR Upside Down

Upon being imprisoned, Lara’s captor suspend her upside down, till she withers away into nothing. Normally, this is the part in the game where the female is horribly under written as victim, helpless and without means until saved and given purpose as reward. The Tomb Raider reboot, on the other hand,  pulls a rugged 180, and reminds you Lara is no Damsel in Distress. With you in control, and Lara not wanting to take this shit hanging upside down, she escapes her imprisonment by lighting herself on fucking fire, which leads to a rather painful fall of freedom.

Rock on.

.TR Free Fall
After making a hard landing, Lara refuses to rest on her laurels, and takes care of her newly discovered impalement on a metal rod, by ripping her body up and away from the destructive piece of metal. What entails is her mad dash in escaping this gritty cave. She does so with bravado, sometimes on her hands and knees, covered in her own blood, and claws her way through the grime that represents the cave’s brutal nature.

Crystal Dynamics puts on an impressive show of  standing behind Lara’s new essence of struggle. The opening sequence, from the first moment Lara realizes trouble for her endangered crew mates, to her desperate escape from the cave. The games hones in on this  concise pacing, and never stopped doing so. This timeliness does well to remind both you and Lara,  enjoyment will hinge upon your ability to survive, and this message is reinforced unapologetically throughout the experience. Lara will be threatened, crushed, stabbed, and assaulted at every turn. The impressive resiliency comes with Lara’s inability to handle these situations from a basic gaming heroics  stand point, as she lacks all but her wits and her will to survive. She may be robbed of resource and power, but she’s never robbed of a strong sense of survival. This makes her a more  engaging character than most.

TR Engaging

The Game looks gorgeous, with the combination of weather effects perfectly complimenting the grit and grime of the experience. This ideal mixture. and sense of disheveled beauty,  really helps to sell the dirty shit Lara has to drudge through to keep her heart beating. I believe Tomb Raider marks the beginning of the end of current gen games, what with the Wii U already out, and the PS4 promised for by yearsend. Not that this is a bad thing, some of the best looking and playing titles come at the end of their respective console cycle. This reality comes from the devs having the lower costs on their side of making games, as well as the intimate knowledge of working with the hardware for as long as they have. This truth is shown in full force, as the game has a hot streak of playing Filthy Gorgeous, and plays just as well.

2013-03-12-162827

Part of what helps to keep the games suspense hanging in the air is the seamless nature of the clutter-less HUD. No real invisible weapon schematics, stats, or information bars hanging  over your head at all times. Save for tiny glimpses of interaction icons and combat ques, your line of sight is unfettered, with only the gloriously bloody scene unfolding as your source of entertainment. The inventory exists within the same vein, as the game has a very need to own basis about it, what you can carry on Lara’s physical body, is what you get.

TR Cave

This helps focus the player in Lara’s dire circumstances, with more time for exploring and general progress towards a possible tomorrow.

While the game doesn’t let up in challenging your will to survive, it’s not without some reason .

Pressing L2 (PS3) taps into Lara’s “Survival Instinct” This will give you a sense of direction when you become completely lost, or a little bit of a push when you think you might be stranded. Earlier on in her escape from the cave, you help Lara make her way through some tricky spots with the cunning use of fire. Lara’s legs will also be of major importance, as she desperately finds ways to out maneuver falling debris, dangerous drops, and collapsing cave crevasses.

TR Struggle

You’ll find yourself altering and destroying your own environment to break free to the other side, through whatever means necessary.  This basic tool (of fire), helps re identify the rather simple approach to the smooth mission design, and helps give insight to the savvy nuance Tomb Raider has conveyed since first showing.  The full title embraces these desperate dashes for your life, to overcoming the unknown dangers of forgotten cave systems with nothing but the basics. The blend of action and exploration, at least in the first hour, sets a good precedent for a well rounded adventure, one keeping you throwing yourself forward  with painful anticipation.

2013-03-12-164050

Cyrstal Dynamics does more than provide an impressive amount of graphic fidelity, their constant use of well framed cinematography also gives way to a more interactive experience. For example, they don’t show a lengthy twenty minute video of Lara’s boat crashing at the beginning, and than have a plot device tutorial drone explain it to you a moment after,  as if you possessed some form of intense amnesia. You get a small glimpse of the catastrophe, and the boat simply crashes. Lara finds out through pain, exploration, and observation that this event has occurred. The game performs favor to gamers in this regard, by assuming we want to play the game, rather than just watch it.

2013-03-12-170107

The exposition beyond the event is minimal and to the point, maintaining an abbreviated sense of pacing, in order to get you back to the dying.

The simple mission design, escape from imprisonment , obtain the ability to make fire, eat to avoid starving to death, fills me with joy on the back to basics approach the game maintains. This straight forwardness declutters your mind with needless information, to keep you focused on the action at hand. Whether that be through finding hidden journals, tracking animals for sustenance, or keeping quiet while foes approach.

This isn’t to say the game is so far up it’s own ass in terms of simplicity, that it abandons basic tenets of gaming experiences. Auto saves exist, regenerative health is par for the course, and you have the ability to upgrade Lara’s basic actions through light RPG elements. Once you create your first fire, you effectively make a hub area to return to, which you can use to customize Lara, fill out her journal, and save any progress you don’t want burned alive.

TR Lara

After Lara’s hardcore cave escape, and the discovery of her missing friends as a result of the ship wreck, she sets out to continue what she does best; survive. Lara makes her way through some brush, and makes good use of her climbing abilities via a downed airplane. You’ll help her scurry, barely so, up and over the damaged craft, all the while tensing your grip as to not fall to an untimely death. While I was photo capturing for this piece, I was reminded the game wasn’t automatic, as so many action endeavors are now a days. A second too long, and Lara went plummeting to her death. I was almost relieved at the sense of dark repercussion,  knowing my efforts thus far haven’t been needlessly guided.

2013-03-12-170205

Once again finding her baring,  She finds a walkie-talkie, and some clues to her friends where abouts. The supplies come in handy, to make the aforementioned fire “hub”. From here, the over bearing truth of hunger rears it’s ugly head. Lara sets out to find a way to fetch some grub, and does so upon discovering the almighty bow and arrow.

2013-03-12-171029

I was delighted to find out I’d be doing a bit of stalking in the jungle, and helped remind me of my days playing as Naked Snake in MGS3. The Bow and Arrow quickly become your best friend, as does the detailed flora and fauna you’ll be slithering through. Once the food is obtained, and the Bow and Arrow has been given a test run, you are once again challenged with your fear of the dark, as Lara stands hesitantly above the unknown.

2013-03-12-173444

As we go from bad to worse through out the early stage of the game, Lara struggles deeper and deeper into the jungle, from dank holes, to deep jungle intrigue. At the end of my preview run, the going got tougher, and Lara finds her self stumbling into a bear trap. As the rain crashes down and her screams for help went unanswered, the angry growl of a bestial kind came  from just beyond the bushes.

With her leg caught in a snare, and no one to rely on, Lara nervously readies her bow in anticipation for what lies in hungry wait.

TR End

I’m astounded from early (full retail build) impressions, the game has managed to meet and beat my excited expectations. From the drastic moments of despair, to the calming sound of the wild, the Tomb Raider reboot is a fantastic start to a re-defined character. The title looks greats, feels good, and has a great sense of direction.
Even beyond the game play, which I would describe for easy digestion as Resident Evil 4 meets Snake Eater, I have this renewed sense of who Lara is, and will likely intrigue any gamer looking for a fresh twist on the somewhat stale action cliches of the past several years.

2013-03-12-170700

The game is very mindful of the direction Lara is being taken in. It’s not as if she puts on this farcical frail facade from moment one, and than instantly re-embodies  a sense of video game impossible. You won’t find her shoving 100’s of guns into an invisible bag, and withstanding 10000 bullets worth of death. Every little encounter feels like its means something to both you and Lara, helping to create something real. Even with a simple a task as walking over a log feels genuine, as Lara approaches the situation just as you do, hesitantly for the first time.

Her contextualized nature of the struggling is a drastic and powerful divide from her once familiarly unstoppable avatar, instantly endearing her to me as a character. Lara is a surrealistic kind of bad ass in this reboot, as opposed to someone who exists only in the hyper fictionalized,  making Nathan Drake look like Bugs Bunny in comparison.

I had to rip myself away from playing the game long enough to inform you, that this game effortlessly impresses.

It looks as if survival has a new name…

…and it’s Lara Croft.

TR FInal

Leave a comment

Filed under Pre-New

Re-imagining the Knife

Approaching a series that spans over two decades, the expectations of quality are set quite high. Metal Gear has existed in several successful forms, and has even pulled off a card battler with ease. The MG universe is ripe for exploration, and just because Solid Snake has since retired from the battlefield, doesn’t mean the fighting stops. Metal Gear Rising: Revegeance takes another look at the MG universe, this time, with a clean cut approach, and a familiar warrior to enter the fray.

2013-02-15-184230

Through a collaboration of Konami (Metal Gear Solid) and Platinum Games (Bayonetta), Metal Gear Rising looks to explore further the action side of the MG games, while maintaining the quality game play and story line quirks the series has been known for. Set four years after the events of MGS4, we explore the unexplored terrains as Raiden, who has been recently equipped with a new cyborg ninja suit, with which better to enhance his fighting capabilities.

The crux of the game play will be akin to other action titles of the same genre (Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry), possessing a fast paced combo system with a new angle. Raiden’s High Frequency Blade will act as the conduit for all things awesome, as you have the ability to cut your foes and environments anyway you see fit. While simple combo’s exist within the confines of your regular mobility, and you can use “Blade Mode” to turn into super slow mo badass supreme. The effects of the slowed time will allow you the concentration to dispatch your foes as you effortlessly cut them to pieces. Your right control stick will allow you to change the angle of the blade real time in 360 degrees, ensuring your cuts will be accurate, and devastating…

…or, if you want to get real perverse, your cuts can be as ineffective and sloppy as you want them to be, the choice is yours.

Rising 3

The demo starts off with the option for a tutorial, which is immediately reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid 2’s own VR missions. The game will further litter the smaller nods to the series past, as to keep you in touch with the roots from which Raiden grew. The tutorial of the demo is very barebones, and only allows a quick run down of the aforementioned Blade Mode, and basic sprinting jumping mechanics. I felt as if the training session was a little too brief, and left me wondering how many combat subtleties existed that I was unaware of. (Turns out, a lot, as the almighty counter can quite easily change the tide of a battle. Flowing in between Blade Mode, Ninja Run, and the lock on combo system offers a bit in the ways of fighting maneuvers, but isn’t touched upon).

I brushed it aside, as I started up the main mission briefing. The Opening for the demo (and possibly, the whole retail game), is yet another nod to MGS intro’s of the past. Raiden is given a run down from fellow squad mates about the urgency of the enemy threat, as he quickly accelerates towards his target by way of ocean grazing one man jet. The intro is graciously done, and somehow combines the majesty from MGS 1, 2, and 3, with a little cyborg ninja thrown in for some extra flavor

Rising 2

The Codecs still exists too, and predictably adds further layers of intrigue and humor to the player at any given time. I’m very glad they did not do away with the all important communications system, as Raiden helps to point out “It’s nice to see the basic system hasn’t changed with this new body”.

From the get go, you will find controlling Raiden empowering, as most cyborg ninja’s tend to be. The departure from the slow and quiet moving essence that is Snake will certainly open up any Metal Gear’s fans eyes. Despite this, the faster play will delight as you flash Raiden too and fro around the battle field in the blink of an eye.

The sword and sword play often act as your measuring stick of entertainment. The game will constantly give you new ways of seeing how your slicing measures up, very usually ending with a chaotic gore fest as your final measurement. You’ll be very engaged and surprised even from the first free bee encounter, as you quickly dispatch three foes within a seconds time. They’re powerless bodies turning clock wise in the air as you choose the next major appendage they will lose, always one cut away from the end of a battle.

Rising 4

While the ever existing experiment in “Will it Slice?” is highly addictive, Raiden’s other feats will not fail to be noticed. His blade countering technique can deflect bullets and cut rockets on the fly, and his fast moving floor slide gives you fun reach and entraining foot work. The enemies aren’t the only thing that’s fun to cut, as you will encounter anything from boxes, cars, and the more absurd like watermelons, to best practice your very own version of being a Samurai Delicatessen. Delicious.

While the endless fodder that the ground troops provide is a great exercise in combo technique, some of the meatier battles, like that with a Metal Gear, are even more explosive. Your first encounter with one of the bi-pedal mass produced cow imitators from four will remind you of why Raiden is now the new boss. These battles will reinforce the notion of how much stronger he’s become. While I found the counter attack tango with the mechanical beast entertaining, I rushed forward and cut down the synthetic abomination to smithereens within seconds. The team at Platinum really nailed the feeling of how effortlessly Raiden ripped apart the titular enemies in MGS4, and give you a sense of invincibility through the handling of your blade.

Rising 6

While I blew through most of the demo, and made an easy time of it, the demo’s boss, with whom I’m now appropriating the name Mr. Woof Woof for, reminds you it won’t all be a walk in the park. The fight starts off with a classically stylized Metal Gear encounter, complete with near death and taunting words galore. Once the battle commences, you’ll have to play a far more aggressive blade game, whether it be offensively or defensively to stay alive. The counter will help make or break your boss battles, and timing your rush and utilizing your Blade Mode for maximum damage will help reach higher ranks and better scores.

The ending of the boss is needless to say, a bit by bit blow of aerial proportions. You will be given a brief couple seconds to juggle the beastie in the air, as you hack and slash your way to a better tomorrow. A satisfying ending to another epic exchange in the realm of Metal Gear bosses. With good form, the parting words of Mr. Woof Woof even allude to a clever cliff hanger, like many Metal Gear Bosses and parting words that have come before.

Rising 7

The demo was overall, far more entertaining than I had imagined. The High Frequency Blade, in my eyes, gets top billing, despite Raiden being the main character. With the overhaul of Raiden’s character as a bad ass, I stand impressed they were able to match him with a weapon that out performs his lethal bravado. The Blade Mode helps to cut a niche for the game in a market over crowded with top notch action titles, and the demo only gave me a small taste of what was to come.

One of the other elements I appreciated aside from the fluidly brutal combat, was the cohesion in which MGR’s story seems to have. Not content with just a one off, Kojima’s work on the game (along side Platinum), has obviously added a major benefit, as the main story acts as a direct consequence for the events in MGS4. While the Patriots and S.O.P are no more, the back lash from their fall has created a more technologically advanced alternative. The game does not exist in a vacuum, and the very apparently developing culture of cause and effect is appreciated., and helps accredit an already robust game universe. A spin offs true test is to stand on it’s own, and Rising does so, while providing further interest to the main story, an obvious plus for new comers and MG vets alike.

2013-02-15-201448

February 19th seems further now than ever, and If the demo is anything to go on, with just a little more patience, we’ll be enjoying a cut above the rest in no time.

1 Comment

Filed under Pre-New

The Attic: Hyper Dimensional Long Necked Rainbow Future

Title and picture Related, I swear.

Title and picture related, I swear.

Support for the Dreamcast, at this point, far beyond it’s twilight hours, is nothing short of astounding. For anyone unaware, official hardware support ended for the system in 2001, so games coming out on the damn thing in this day and age has many aghast. Heart warming to others who yearn for the past (and those who appreciate it).

The Dreamcast still holds a special place in many gamers hearts, and for good reason. The system’s main competitive downfalls foreshadowed the future of the industry, with piracy being a key point. The PS2’s multimedia functionality with the DVD drive, and a lack of third party support also acted symbolic as the final nails in the DC’s coffin. Despite this, the system had an unmatched launch lineup (even to this day), and an oddly fantastic library of titles.  This is on top of many of the system’s seemingly premature tech rationality for consoles at the time, like a dedicated start up menu hub, online support, and screen in controller action with the VMU’s.

Too Future.

Too Future.

In any case, the system still has my admiration too, and some of the games still trickling out for the system from indie devs stands to impress. One of the latest, Neo XYX, is a schmup after my own heart. The game looks to be smooth as bullet hell games get, and anything that helps to build the house that Silvergun and Ikaruga did, is okay in my gaming book.

Due to the optimistic realization I had about a new Shoot’em up for the Dreamcast, I thought I’d take another opportunity to add another chapter to my feature “The Attic”.

My first round of posts involved the earliest of days, in the before times.

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, speaks at the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York
In the Long Long Ago
(Clicking on the above link makes the joke funny!)

While my first attempts at humor and game relating writing are, adorable, I marched on with confidence, always striving to improve. This next post for The Attic, entitled, Hyper Dimensional Long Necked Rainbow Future, is my very first freelance game review for the site, gamersinfo.net, which was posted on December 30th, 2007.

Enjoy…

And now for our feature presentation.

The Attic: Hyper Dimensional Long Necked Rainbow Future
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Review: Space Giraffe

In my mind, a company by any other name than Llamasoft could not do justice to a game entitled Space Giraffe. Be prepared for a bombardment of chaotic visuals, an audio track as helter-skelter, and gameplay that can only be described as an abstract twist on classic arcade gaming. Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, “Your eyes can deceive you, do not trust them.” He could have been talking about Space Giraffe. The aforementioned gameplay might dissuade the faint of heart, but reward anyone who would give the game the chancesto see that it something beyond sight and sound: it is a feeling, and that is one quality that many games fall short of.

Rainbow 4

Obscured by layers of visual happenings is a very addictive and simple game – once you get into the groove of things. Your avatar is of course a giraffe, with a clearly visible extended neck and extruding hooves to move you on the long trek. Your giraffe stays on the outer rim of a gigantic 3-dimensional surface – think of it as a far stretching tunnel rave drenched in an explosive rainbow of madness – while you try to navigate to and fro, all the while avoiding enemies tasked with your demise.

The gameplay begins with learning to defend your giraffe using bullets he is able to shoot from his hooves that can either destroy foes or reflect back the enemy’s bullets and buy some much-needed time. As a last ditch effort, your giraffe can jump – allowing ample clearance for aerial destruction with your hoof projectiles – boosting you to the neutral zone in between the giraffe’s safety and the enemy’s home field: the Power Zone.

The almighty Power Zone can be as small as mere centimeters or as far reaching as to invade the area where enemies spawn. The crux of the battle is fought in the Power Zone as the exchange of enemy fire, hoof bullets, and number of power-ups is excitingly evermore present as time progresses. The Power Zone not only slows enemy bullet speed, but allows aid in the form of more accurate hoof shots. Here is also where the Bull Rush occurs.

Rainbow 5

As you destroy enemies (or the giraffe does his aerial acrobatics), the Power Zone becomes extended and weakened. When enemies reach the outer rim of this extended Power Zone and the giraffe is near, you may in a delightfully satisfying endeavor, use your avatar to physically bull rush any number of enemies in a domino effect and rack up a much needed multiplier which in turn gives you a greater score.

However, if the Power Zone is not extended, very little can be done to continue self-preservation. A single smart bomb is issued per life, and its effects are great indeed. If all else fails, activate the smart bomb and any enemy within proximity will be instantly obliterated, allowing you another opportunity to continue your quest for high score domination.

Rainbow 6

What I feel really makes Space Giraffe stand out from many other arcade titles, is that while all of this crazy jumble of incoherent madness is going on, there’s a seemingly conventional humor underlying all of the levels. From Mario quotes to obscure fighting game references; Monty Python to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; and even the eyes of Jay Allard on the introductory level – not to mention some far left of conventional level names – it all really sets a mood of subtle hilarity.

After spending as little as 30 minutes with Space Giraffe, you’ll find yourself  responsive not only to the action on the screen but also to a smorgasbord of color leaving you with a feeling of success at overcoming wave after wave of bizarre enemies. It is a sense of accomplishment and fun, added to the humor, which separates an arcade game from the truly fun arcade games.

The bonus levels are a nice touch to the already nutty trip, by giving you a breather among the madness. Once activated after certain power-up requirements are met, you let your giraffe drift in nothingness as you steer his hooves through flower pedals as he remarks on how tasty they may or may not be. Accompanied with the music, they are somehow calming and very welcomed among the incredibly hectic later levels. I thought the music, while not memorable, did a very good job of accompanying the onscreen action at any given point, and further cementing the norm space giraffe never frequents. Of course, even for Space Giraffe, the good comes with the bad. Luckily in this case, I don’t believe the negative outweighs the positive by a long shot.

Rainbow 7

There is one true negative that comes to mind with the level variety – not the variety itself mind you but perhaps some of the design within. Within the later levels of Space Giraffe, when all the baddies are present and accounted for some of the levels power zones are that of pure insanity. And it’s not the crazy good I’ve mentioned thus far, but the kind of crazy only the maniacally evil in possession of mustaches they may fondle could possibly enjoy. Some are clear and away unfair as they are a straight shot to the enemy spawn point, with little to no respective camera control to the action. Others are so mangled in zigzag, that there is little time to react and therefore no way to determine from which angle you met your demise. Memorization of levels is obviously a must for the latter portions of arcade architecture, but I feel to a point and purpose. Understanding abstract is wild enough, but comprehending and thusly moving thru what can’t be seen? A might unfair me thinks. Luckily, the poorly designed stages are few and far between and the vividly entertaining levels progress nicely with advancing skill and entertainment.

For those who have physical limitations and cannot tolerate intense light and sound the eyeful that Space Giraffe emits may not be for you. The graphical engine based upon the neon light visualization software from the Xbox 360, that accompanies the music player when listening to music. If you might be one of the people who is even remotely aggravated by its mere mention, I give condolences for your anger management problems, and advise you, among other things, to steer clear of Space Giraffe.

I grew up and continue to love arcade experience and the challenge they provide, and Space Giraffe is no exception. While a learning curve exists – with level 32 standing at a wild exception to an abnormal difficulty bump early on – I can only comment that the later levels will truly test dedication and arcade merit, as I have only marched my giraffe a bit past the afore mentioned third of the games entire content.

Rainbow 8

I find this to be the greatest feature the game possesses, in a charming way to compliment an experience that may have been lost otherwise on all but the hardcore and giraffe fetishists alike In the end, as much as entertainment is first and foremost for me as the most basic of principles, difficulty is always a close second when dealing with any game – and an underlying rule in arcade experience. In this example, you can only play through a game once, so any arcade game worth its numbers in high score has to maintain on the value of replayability. With what I feel is a falling standard, or the very least, a shortage of purely awesome challenges in gaming, something like Space Giraffe is easily refreshing for an old school challenge, and well within the reaches of sane learning curves to boot. Conveying what Space Giraffe has to offer is only offset by how much of a strange first impression the game gives. I would point out that anyone with a healthy appetite for the alternative would benefit greatly, leaving plenty of room for the curious, and just as much for anyone else thirsting for a greatly unique arcade experience.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
A little rough around the edges, to be sure. One of the main elements I enjoy about looking back at some of my old work, was my aptitude in analyzing game design, but not possessing the articulation to do so. I will hide behind the fact that this work was edited by someone else on the site, which relieves me of some of the intense pains the grammatical errors bring. As a younger writer, I also adhered to the bad habit of run on sentences, and my prose is quite dry in describing some of the more technical aspects of the game. Space Giraffe is a hard exposition to convey, and with sentences as awesomely confusing as “allowing ample clearance for aerial destruction with your hoof projectiles”, you can imagine the difficulty I had as a first time freelancer in writing an effective review.

I was super excited to get the chance to be free lance, and few smiles on my face have reached both ears as effortlessly, as the smile I possessed when I got the code to unlock this game for free. For free! All I had to do was play the title, and tell people about it!  My Cloud 9 was sitting dead center in Giraffe Space. Needless to say, I’ve put a lot of years and efforts into honing my craft, which you will likely see in the future when I post more topical reviews. My true confidence pushing me forward involved an endearing critique from my first Editor, Kelly who said “Your reviews all come together at the last minute. If I’m ever unsure or weary about the game, your last paragraph perfectly surmises everything I’d ever need to know about what that game is all about”.

A long march in back of me, and a rainbow future in front.

(Also not Bobby Kotick, which is a form of success).
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pre-New, The Attic

The Cave

Double Fine represents, what I believe, to be a quality litmus test of a gamer. Not the only one, mind you, as there exists all kinds of gamers with all kinds of tastes. Someone who knows of Double Fine by name, and appreciates their work, however, has already passed my standard of excellence. At the very least, I may enjoy the thought that fans of DF may just have a body made up entirely of funny bones.

Or Metal.

Cave Rob

For those who aren’t in the awesome know, Double Fine is a company founded by Tim Schafer back in 2000. Tim Schafer did some awesome stuff when he worked at LucasArts, including Grim Fandango, which stands to be one of my fav PC games of all time. Double Fine continued the tradition of all things terrific, as they put out titles like Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. These games represent the small niche of titles that can legitimately boast about their humor, without being unintentionally funny.

Cave Pete

DF’s latest outing, The Cave, looks to be continuing the companies trend of quality, and bringing forth a memorable past to create a worthwhile future.

The memorable past I speak of is the lost genre of point and click, and all of the wonder the genre created. While at LucasArts, Tim Schafer, along side Ron Gilbert (on quite a few projects), helped pioneer the P&C experience with games like Monkey Island and Full Throttle. While both went there separate ways in the later 90’s, they eventually found a common ground with conceptualizing “The Cave”, and thus, returned to old form in a P&C game that looks to be worthy of both of their names.

The game can be very explicit.

The game can be very explicit.

The premise of The Cave very simply, is to explore. While the experience is mainly puzzle solving, you will have a dash of plat forming, and an endless slew of humor to help guide you in the mysterious environment. The game’s main character focus, is on seven strangers, all of whom have some business to take care of within The Cave’s confines. For example, The Time Traveler is trying to solve a paradox, while The Hillbilly is simply trying to find a lost love. The diversity of the characters, and the odd contrast of what drives them, helps propel you in their own bizarre self-discovery.

 Would be one hell of a dinner party.

Would be one hell of a dinner party.

Further, the characters themselves aren’t just palette swaps. Not only do they all have individual stories that will unfold through a series of cryptic cave drawings, but they all possess their own special powers. The Adventurer can use a grappling hook to get over ledges, while The Monk possess the power of telekinesis. This offers itself to a greater sense of replay ability, and helps to cultivate the differences in the seven personalities, and their own individualize portions of The Cave. While the introductory areas will help familiarize you with your characters of choice, you will very quickly realize how deep The Cave goes. Your interest will be peaked as you pass by sections and elements foreign to your particular group of three chosen adventurers. You will excitedly speculate about what’s around the corner meant for one of the other personalities, and what sly jokes would service their insane puzzle solutions.

I wonder how this will end?

I wonder how this will end?

The setting of The Cave itself has a robust array of emotions, the game expresses a lot with very little. The art style has a simplicity, that when mixed with the ambient music, helps to relax you while solving the puzzles. The weird aside is the further into the cave you dive, the darker the tone of the game will become. All of the characters have this strange appeal, but something a bit unsettling which helps to spark your imagination. In fact, the whole game has a marvelous sense of wonder about it, which creates a curiosity that will propel you to reach the bottom of The Cave and find it’s dark secrets.

ISo a Time Traveler, a Monk, and an Adventurer walk in this cave...

So a Time Traveler, a Monk, and an Adventurer walk into a cave…

One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed the first part of the game so much, isn’t because of this weird haze of villainy that seems to pervade the subtleties of the design. The contrast provided by the Scahfer/Gilbert humor is on display from everything to the fun puzzle solutions, to the dialogue and narration. The narrator for the entirety of the game is The Cave itself, which goes to great lengths at killing you with kindness, or at least, making you laugh till it hurts. From The Cave’s philosophical ramblings, to his fourth wall breaking game explanations, and even confessions involving the difficulties of dating that being a talking cave presents, and you get an idea of how absurdly riotous most of the game effortlessly achieves.

Must be this I    I curious to ride.

Must be this curious to ride.

I wanted to provide quick first impressions of the game on launch day, but sadly, was delayed. I’m happy to report I believe this game is impressing me on much the same level the LucasArts games of tradition always did. Time has certainly failed to slow down Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, as The Cave comes well equipped with charm, and a cultivated sense of quality. The game is available on most formats, and you can grab it on Steam for a great price (that’s before an awesome Steam sale mind you).

Do yourself a favor and grab a copy, and I’ll leave you with one final thought from Ron Gilbert, co-creator.

“I felt if [the characters] were just talking all the way through the cave, they would be less of a mystery, They would have the ability to just lay out what their issues are and who they are, and I want players to get to the end of the game and still have questions about them.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Pre-New