Monday, June 13, 2016

Top 5 Games of the Year (so far)

Well shit, it seems like just last year I was writing something similar to this. How weird.
Just in time for E3, you can have a list! Hooray for lists!

2016 has been quite the year for games, and shit have I played a few.

5. Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon, a rogue-like turn based strategy RPG got its official release in January, after being in Early Access for about a year. I didn't play the Early Access version because I knew I would play it when it got a full release, and I am glad I waited. Darkest Dungeon is one of the most difficult and most fun games to come out this year, and definitely my favorite game to come out of Early Access. Sadly, though, the fun gameplay wasn't enough to make the grind of this game fun for more than a few hours.

4. Alienation:

Alienation is the only Game of the Year consideration that isn't something I played on PC, so there's that. Housemarque has pretty well perfected the top down twin-stick shooter, and with DeadNation also being one of their games, I would say their track record is pretty good. Fun gameplay, decent customization, and the Destiny-like loot system really makes the loop of this game pretty fun. I doubt this a real actual Game of the Year for any outlet, but it definitely deserves some kind of recognition.

3. Doom:

This game, along with Wolfenstein: The New Order is one of the best shooters to come out in recent memory. Something about this game makes it so fun; whether it be the tongue-in-cheek humor, the fast, fun gameplay, or the unexpected skill/weapon system. Everything about this game just seems to work so well together. Constantly running and gunning and glory killing the shit head demons, all just to save humanity, you are the Doom Marine.

2. Overwatch:

Man, what can I say about Overwatch. I love this game, and in reality, the only reason it isn't my Game of the Year so far is because there isn't a story mode. I don't expect one, and wasn't expecting one, but one would be great. The characters are fun and charming, the gameplay is varied, fast-paced, and fun, and the different characters and classes are all easy to pick up and fun to play. Though playing alone isn't the most fun, it is still a blast - given you get a team that doesn't all want to play Reaper or Bastion, fuck you Bastion I hate you. I can see myself putting a lot more hours into this game.

1. Dark Souls 3:

Dark Souls 3 is the Dark Souls 1 sequel we all wanted. The combat is solid as hell, as it usually is, the weapon/build variety is large, but not too big, the lore is as ambiguous and hard to find as it always has been and the added FP and weapon arts mechanics add a few more gameplay styles. I love this game. I've beaten it 3 times and have about 70 hours into it and still have the urge to play it. Though other games have taken my attention from it, it is still a great game and a perfectly capable Dark Souls sequel.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What Should Happen With Konami's IP?

Last year, around the time Silent Hills - a Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro game teased by the downloadable PlayStation game P.T - was cancelled, news broke that this was the result of some bad blood between Kojima and Konami. Little did we know, this was just the start of what we were about to find out from Konami. They removed Kojima's name entirely from the cover of MGSV, removed P.T from the PlayStation Store, cancelled Silent Hills, and even dropped out of publishing games as a whole. So what is to happen to their IP's legacies? What will happen to Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, and Silent Hill?

Konami - MGS1

The original Metal Gear, released in Japan on the MSX2 in 1987 and later came to the NES, came out to decent critical reception, enough to justify a sequel Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which released in 1990. Eight years later, we would get what we all know Kojima for, Metal Gear Solid. The action-espionage thriller shipped six million copies, came out to great critical reception, and even got a few sequels and spinoffs. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was Kojima and Konami's last game, though, so what is the next step for that game? We already know they have a "Big Boss" themed Pachinko machine, but what else are they planning on doing with the IP? It's not very likely they sell it to another publisher or game dev studio, and I'm not even sure it would be the right decision. Who else can do Metal Gear like Kojima did? Maybe Naughty Dog, if you're looking for a more story-driven game like Metal Gear Solid IV or Metal Gear Solid. Naughty Dog did just see commercial and critical success in their newest game Uncharted 4, so maybe they would be the ones fit for taking Kojima's place. But, let's face it, Konami isn't likely to do a new Metal Gear Solid game in the near future, if at all. Kojima, now, is off on his own with his own studio Kojima Productions, and is currently touring game studios looking for an engine to build his new game in.
silent hill

Now, what about Silent Hill? Though the last few installments of the game - Homecoming, Shattered Memories, and Downpour - weren't very well received, the first three games are some of the premier survival horror games. Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2, and Silent Hill 3 all came out to critical acclaim, and it is definitely one of the pioneers of the genre. We can see games like Alan Wake, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and Fatal Frame taking from the games, whether it be in atmosphere or tone. Regardless the reception of the latest games, the series still has strong potential in the right hands, Outlast developers Red Barrels Studio have done a pretty good job with their take on survival horror, and may be able to give their take on a sequel or reboot. Outlast is arguably one of the better horror games of the last few years and it would be interesting to see what they could do with a third-person view. But, the last Silent Hill game that was released came out in 2012, and with our last hope, Kojima's Silent Hills officially cancelled, it isn't likely we'll see another game anytime soon.


Castlevania Symphony of the Night is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time and makes up half of the term "Metroidvania". It is the inspiration of many modern games and is definitely considered one of the better IPs of all time (despite the newer iterations being lackluster). Games like Batman: Arkham AsylumAxiom Verge, and Ori and the Blind Forest  are all games inspired by this and Super Metroid, and, in the right hands, we can see the game get the revitalization it needs. From Software nailed the tone and ambiance of Bloodborne, and they could do something great with the Castlevania series. The Gothic architecture, gruesome enemy design, and fast-paced action gameplay would be the perfect setting for a Castlevania reboot. Other than series creator Koji Igarashi - who is working on his own game, Bloodstained - From Software is probably our best bet on a decent series reboot. But, come on, Konami will probably take this series to their grave.

Great games like Castlevania, Silent Hill, and Metal Gear Solid, can get the treatment they deserve in hands of third-party developers, that is, if Konami is willing to sell the IPs. As good as that sounds, though, it may likely never happen, there is way to much money in the Pachinko machines they are making, and, well, we all know what Jim Sterling has to say about Konami. So, what do you guys think should happen with their IP? What developers would you like to see work on their games?

Friday, May 6, 2016

What's Wrong With Call of Duty

Rant incoming so no fun pictures ahead.

So, the newest Call of Duty game "Infinite Warfare" got a trailer recently, after multiple leaks regarding the setting. Regardless, in Call of Duty fashion, the trailer was awesome. Action, music, drama, the whole shebang. Honestly, it made me want to play it. Along with the announcement of CoD 4 Remaster, boy, Activision knows what they're doing.

But what are they doing differently this time around? Every year a new CoD comes out and every year they play exactly the same with a couple new/different mechanics, but other than a few minor things, nothing but the story and multiplayer maps change. Now, I don't really dislike Call of Duty and I really like the Black Ops franchise - the last one I bought was Black Ops 3, despite only playing it for a few hours - but really, I'm just burnt out on the series. Personally, I'd rather see them (Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer) take an extended break from the series and then put out a massive, amazing shooter, akin to CoD4, where they really changed how first person shooters work.

I suppose the title here is misleading, there isn't anything inherently wrong with Call of Duty, it's just that getting the same game with a different skin every year is tiring, but I guess I'm one of the few who thinks this way, because every year a game is released, and every year Activision sells millions of copies. Call of Duty, by no means, is a bad game, but, putting out more or less the same game every year is getting old.

A lack of innovation in games is something that really bugs me. Big budget yearly releases (i.e. Call of Duty and Assassins Creed), in my opinion, should be the ones innovating. Instead, though, they play it safe just to get the sales; it is the indie developers that are truly changing the game industry. So why aren't they innovating? Because people buy the shit out of these games, they sell better than most games that come out every year. People like Call of Duty, nothing has changed since CoD 4, yet every year these games come out and sell tens of millions of copies. So why try to fix what isn't broken, I guess.

Call of Duty, mechanically, is a great game, though. Shooting is tight and responsive and the multiplayer is decently paced, so there is a reason people buy and play it every year, but at some point people have to burn out on paying upwards of $100 for the same game every year. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dark Souls 3 Has Some Bad Design Choices

The more I play Dark Souls 3, the less I'm reminded of DS1 and the more I'm reminded of DS2. The way the phases of the boss fights are set up doesn't make the bosses more fun, it just makes them 1 phase too long. These aren't like Bloodborne boss phases, they're an excuse to mask bad game design with difficulty. A boss that has a healing spell, multiple phases, and upon killing him he regains all his health is not "good" design, it is just lazy. Adding difficulty for the sake of being difficult is not good, but being naturally difficult is good. At times, Dark Souls 3 feels like it is taking too much from Dark Souls 2, and not enough from Dark Souls - which is still my favorite of the series.

Enemy placement is something that I also think could be better. At times it felt like no thought was Putting 10 moderately difficult enemies in one small area is not "difficult" it's just shitty, bad game design. Making progression annoying is bad. If you put 10 moderately difficult enemies in an area, but spread out to a point where you're not having trouble with more than a few at a time, it is still difficult, but it is not shitty. Now granted, these are very isolated incidents, but they do exist nonetheless, and when they do happen, it seems to be especially bad, if only because the rest of the game world feels so expertly crafted. Come on From Software, I thought you learned this from the failure that is Scholar of the First Sin.

Dark Souls 3 is still the Dark Souls 2 we all wanted. It delivers well on the gameplay and the throwbacks to the other two games are also very well done. The areas are intricate, though it doesn't have the same cohesiveness that Dark Souls had, and it sometimes feels like areas are blatantly designed to trick you, but I guess that is just how Souls goes. One area, in particular, is probably my favorite of any Souls game because of how you get to the boss, but otherwise, it is pretty terrible (come on with the poison floor and the giant dog-goat things).

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Top Ten Dark Souls Bosses

Just in time for Dark Souls 3 I have my first list! Here we go, I love Dark Souls (and vanilla Dark Souls 2 was pretty good (fuck SOTFS though)

10. Velstadt, The Royal Aegis

"Velstadt was always at the King's side as if he were his lord's own shadow. After the King retired to the Undead Crypt, Velstadt followed, never to return."

One of the more epic boss fights in Dark Souls 2, Velstadt has a wide range of attacks and he just looks awesome. Decent music sets the mood for this pretty cool boss fight, and what lies after him kind of makes the fight that much more worth it.

9. The Last Giant and Giant Lord

"Apparently, the trees in the Forest of Fallen Giants are the remains of the Giants from long ago. Is this really the last of them?"

In case you didn't notice, these are the same enemy, which would explain why when you first encounter The Last Giant he hates you so much. In the Memory of Jeigh, you go back in time and seemingly kill the Giant Lord, and when you encounter him in the present you put an end to his misery. This isn't a good boss fight, but the story behind it is pretty damn cool.

8. Bell Gargoyles

"The guardians of the first Bell of Awakening."

Before you ring the first Bell of Awakening, you emerge through the fog onto the rooftop of a church, only to be greeted by a gargoyle animating and flying down to stop you from ringing the bell. As you chip its health down, another gargoyle jumps down to join the fight. After finally beating the two beasts, you ascend a few ladders and make the first step towards an amazing game.

7. Darklurker

"Soul of what lurks in the Dark Chasm. The Dark Chasm of Old is the remnant of some ancient, dissipated being."

As far as I know, this is the only boss in the souls series that is locked behind a questline. A pretty difficult questline at that. It is also the only boss in a souls game that I haven't beat, so I guess I have to respect that. Getting to the Darklurker is fun, but, like I said, difficult, and is said to be one of the hardest bosses in Dark Souls 2.

6. Old Dragonslayer

"The Old Dragonslayer is reminiscent of a certain knight that appears in old legends."

Corrupted by the Abyss, Old Dragonslayer, compared to his Dark Souls counterpart, now has darker powers; though they both have similar move sets. The nostalgia of this boss fight is really what makes it memorable. Opening the doors to a towering cathedral only to be greeted by one you've almost surely bested in the past. Just awesome.

5. Chaos Witch Quelaag

Once a daughter of the Witch of Izalith, but now a chaos demon. Special beings have special souls, and Quelaag's soul contains all aspects of Chaos.

Arguably the hottest (ha that double entendre was pretty damn good, IMO) boss in Dark Souls, Quelaag was the first time I ever struggled in Dark Souls. I probably attempted to beat her for 10 hours, and when I finally beat her, the entire game clicked and I finally got Dark Souls, I understood why it was so appealing. 

4. Knight Artorias, of the Abyss

"Soul of Lord Gwyn's Knight Artorias, who was consumed by the Abyss. The legend that Artorias repelled the Abyss only told half the story. It seems that he was defeated, and his honor preserved, by some unsung hero, who is the true victor of the Abyss."

Really my favorite character of all the souls games next to Siegmeyer, Artorias is just a complete badass, one of The Four Knights of Gwyn, and simply awesome. Said to be the first person to walk the abyss, Artorias's story is tragic. He lost his life and his dog, Sif, by being consumed by the darkness of the Abyss. Oh, and to make the fight even better, you are the true victor of the Abyss.

3. Sif, the Great Grey Wolf

"Soul of Sif the Great Grey Wolf, who guards the grave of Artorias the Abysswalker."

If you met Sif in the DLC prior to fighting her, the magnitude of this boss is only heightened. Artorias's companion in life, and guard in death, all Sif wants to do is protector her former master. Wielding Artorias's giant sword, she plans on keeping the grave safe, but in the end, she submits to you. She starts limping around and it is sad as hell, honestly.

2. Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough

"Soul of Ornstein, Dragonslayer Knight who guards the cathedral in the forsaken city of Anor Londo."
"Soul of Smough the Executioner, who guards the cathedral in the forsaken city of Anor Londo."

This boss fight, from a mechanical and difficulty perspective, is the best in the series. Two completely different fighting styles and two different ways to combat them. From a story perspective, it is pretty good, too. Ornstein, captain of The Four Knights of Gwyn fights with grace, and when Smough is felled, he absorbs his power fluidly. Smough, the executioner, a ruthless fighter (and person, really, he liked executing people so much he started eating them) just wants to destroy you, and when Ornstein is defeated, he just smashes the body to absorb his power. The music to go along with this fight is pretty damn good, too.

1. Gywn, Lord of Cinder

"Soul of Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight and Cinder, who linked the First Flame. Lord Gwyn bequeathed most of his power to the Gods, and burned as cinder for the First Flame, but even so, Lord Gwyn's soul is a powerful thing indeed."

This fight is really cool, and as you can see, my favorite fight. He's not a particularly hard boss if you can parry, but just everything about the battle is awesome. The music, the setting, and the actual character are great. All of your hours of play have lead to this boss, and he is just ruthless. You defeat a literal god and choose to link the flame, or let the fire fade.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Is the PS4K Indicitave of the Future of Gaming

Sony has all but announced the PS4K, a more powerful system, and seemingly a half-step in the current console generation. The new console is rumored to boast more powerful hardware with capabilities to run games in 4K resolution and maybe even have PSVR capabilities built in. This new console is said to release by October of this year, but no dates have been solidified. But, what does this mean for the industry? What does it mean for development cycles and the games that come out? What about current PS4 owners?
Sony is seemingly trying to change that with the PS4K. Incrementally updated consoles could mean a shift in the industry as a whole, but we already see Nintendo do this with their Nintendo DS handhelds (there have been nine of them released over twelve years) and it seems to be working but are people willing to spend another $400?
As we all know, a new iPhone comes out every two years with a half step in between. Consoles come out every five to seven years and that's all we get for those five years, no hardware upgrades or anything like that (unless you're the N64 and have an expansion pack.) Yeah, we get new the iPhone every few years but do we really want to do the same for new gaming consoles every two years?
Other than more power, what does the PS4K offer to devs? Likely, the only motivation a dev will have to develop for this new system is sales and so, if the PS4K comes out, sells well, and is definitely the superior system, what is keeping the devs from completely abandoning the PS4? Is there really a point in keeping the older system, whether it be downgrading the games or just not making the games for the older system? Not that porting a game is necessarily bad, but if it turns out like Hyrule Warriors did on the 3DS, which is bad, that is not something I want to see happen on PlayStation.

It's safe to say it takes a few years for developers to get into the groove of making games for a system. Comparing GTA: IV to GTA: V, one released at the start of the PS3 life cycle and one released at the end of it; there is obviously a big difference not only graphically, but also in scope. GTA: V's map and content are much more substantial than GTA IV's. This comes from knowledge of the architecture and time. If the architecture is changing and the time is getting shorter, it makes it harder for the devs to give us quality games.
The PS4K has a really good chance of splitting the PlayStation community. About 40 million PS4s have been sold and you would imagine not all 40 million people would make the jump to this system. Gamers and the gaming industry has been used to consoles taking five to ten years to release with, usually, pretty big jumps in hardware and capabilities, when the PS4K comes out, it will need to do really well and change the industry as a whole to not be a complete flop.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Week Of Thoughts

Basically, what I'm doing here is writing a shorter thing in this one post every day for a week and then just posting it as one thing. This will help me feel more productive and also help me write more. Because I think of writing a lot and then I just don't. Whether it's because I just don't feel like something is good enough or because I just don't get around to it. I don't know, but here we go.

Blizzard Patches Diablo 2:

Yes, you read that right, Diablo 2, released in 2000 recently got a new update that "focuses on system glitches introduced by modern operating systems" and this seemingly won't be the last update we see for this game; Blizzard is also "working to improve our cheat-detection and hack-prevention capabilities," and they're also hiring people to "maintain legacy games", so we can probably expect other games to be patched as well. Actually, as I write this, Blizzard has released a patch for Warcraft 3, and also said there is more to come for that game, as well.
Really though that's all I have to say. It's awesome Blizzard is taking time and resources to continually support nearly 20-year-old games with sequels, even. Can you name another developer that has done that? Bravo, Blizzard, bravo.

Jim Sterling Being Sued by Digital Homicide:

So, I wasn't going to write about this because I'm very obviously biased, but I want to, at least, give an opinion.
In December 2014, Jim Sterling, a pretty popular Youtuber/game critic, made a video regarding a game released on Steam called Slaughtering Grounds. This video was basically centered on how this game was the epitome of why Steam Greenlight - a system that lets indie developers submit games to the community to be sold after they are voted for - is not very curated.
The developer of this game, Digital Homicide, wasn't happy about this video and released a video themselves insulting Sterling. The conflict has only gotten worse with Digital Homicide releasing more, shitty, half-baked games and Jim Sterling continuing to make them points of topic in his series The Jimquisition.
A few days ago, Digital Homicide announced on their website that they would be suing Sterling for about $10 million for assault, libel, and slander. So I guess that's that. Rather than fixing the shit of their games, they (Digital Homicide) are throwing a tantrum and suing. I'm excited to see where this goes.
For a more in-depth, less opinionated piece, read this (thanks,  Patrick Klepek).

Stardew Valley Mini-Review:

PC - Steam

Stardew Valley is a really good game, my game of the year so far, actually. After quitting your dead-end job working for a large corporation, you inherit your grandfather's farm in Stardew Valley. The core gameplay loop involves; buying and planting vegetables, fruits, and other things; raising animals; fishing and foraging; maintaining relationships with the townspeople (if that's what you want to do, of course)  and even fighting bad guys in the mines. You can basically do whatever you want, if you want to be a suave farmer who gets all the ladies and makes beer, you can be that. If you want to be a weird, rich hermit, do that if you want to. This is a really chill, super fun game and if you are remotely interested in Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon, this is a game for you.