Sunday, August 30, 2015

MKX Cancelled on Last Generation Consoles.

     Let's not act like we all didn't see this coming, MKX got cancelled on last gen consoles. Is this indicative of the industry moving forward into the current generation of consoles? Last generation consoles are relatively weak compared to their newer iterations, and the games coming out now are more graphically sound, and are asking more and more of consoles and PCs as time goes on. It takes a very optimized game to be able to run on last gen (we are seeing this with MGSV and the fact that it looks decent on PS3 and X360) and while I'm glad those two consoles haven't been phased out completely, I think it's time for devs and publishers to embrace the new consoles and make truly next gen games. I'm sure that PS3 and X360 will be supported for a few more years so those who haven't "upgraded" yet have time to move up and experience these new games on better consoles.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mobile, MOBAs, and Microtransactions

     I believe we (as gamers) have stepped into a new generation of gaming, or at least something similar to one. The mobile gaming environment may have inherently bred the microtransactions, and MOBAs have brought it to the more hardcore gamers. While mobile gaming is nickel and diming players, the MOBA aspect is purely aesthetic purchases. Regardless the way these games are utilizing microtransactions, it still isn't justifiable in my eyes.

     The mobile gaming microtransactions, while bad, aren't the worst form of them; devs put out games for free and need some way to monetize it. They basically play off peoples' impatience by saying "hey this is going to take 4 hours unless you give us a measly little $.99" and boom, you've spent money on a free game, their exact intent. This, to me, isn't the most effective way to make consistent money, but there are the "whales" that will pour a lot of money into the games like Age of War or Angry Birds 2.

     MOBAs, I think, brought microtransactions to bigger, more serious games. We see this in DOTA2, SMITE, Heroes of the Storm, LoL, and the like. Throughout these games, you can purchase skins, characters, and mounts. Some you can purchase with in-game currency, and things like skins and mounts are usually purchased with real money; some Heroes of the Storm characters are outrageously expensive at around $10. All MOBAs share a similar economy with each other, selling cosmetic items for real money, and other things for in-game currency. Regardless how harmless the cosmetic items may be to some people, others fall into the "haves and have-nots", which is basically jealousy; you see someone who looks really cool, and you want to look like them, so you buy the skin that they have. Small collectibles like DOTA2 hats are another way devs take advantage of the microtransaction system, and it plays on people wanting to get all of the collectibles (like Trophies or Achievements).

     The worst of these microtransactions are when a game charges the full $60 and still wants to nickel and dime you all the way through with them. Games like Assassins Creed Unity, Mortal Kombat X, Dead Space 3, GTA Online, and the newest offender, Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. Games like this - cleverly dubbed "Fee to Pay" by Jim Sterling - are really not okay, the devs say the purchases are optional, but no games have microtransactions because they don't want you to buy them, they're based off impatience, wanting to have everything, or just thinking something looks cool.

     These 3 things have started a new trend in gaming, and hopefully these things get better, or just go away entirely, though, in my opinion, some of these microtransactions are harmless cosmetic things.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Black Ops 3: Beta Impressions

Disclaimer: As it says in the title, this game is in Beta and everything in this write-up is subject to change.

     So, this weekend I got into the Black Ops 3 Multiplayer beta and, in short; it's pretty damn good. The mobility is great, gunplay is tight, and the new Specialists are great. I haven't bought a Call of Duty game since the previous Black Ops installment, but so far the beta has me hooked; zombies mode also helps the chances of me getting this game. The jetpack and wall running adds a depth to mobility that I haven't seen in a shooter in a very long time, and it is refreshing. It seems to add something new to the same shooters we've been getting yearly since 2009. The gunplay, though, is arguably the best of all the FPS games out right now. It is tight, responsive, and the guns feel great. They seem - from what I saw - more varied than the previous Call of Duty games. (Quick note: Black Ops 2 was the last Call of Duty I played, so I may be missing something in Ghosts and Advanced Warfare). Specialists seem to add another layer of strategy and help change up the gameplay a bit. They add different special weapons and abilities that help a person specialize in a certain character and truly master them while giving multiple options to everyone.
Overall I'm excited for Black Ops 3, it seems like a big jump for the series, being on of the first games to come from the three-year development cycle. Hopefully this is the first step to bigger, better Call of Duty games.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


     MOBA's are a newer, intense genre of video game that is quickly gaining a large following and player base. DOTA2 and League of Legends are the two prominent ones, with Heroes of the Storm and Smite rising in popularity and other mobile iterations having a smaller following (Vain Glory is probably the best and biggest mobile). DOTA 2 just had it's biggest ESports event, The International 5, League of Legends their ESports event LCS, and Heroes of the Storm has their competitions at Blizzcon, so there is obviously enough of a following to host huge events with millions of dollars in prizes.

     MOBAs seem like a hard genre to get into, and it is, but the easiest one to just pick up and play is Heroes of the Storm. Mechanics and objectives are very clear and often easy to grasp and it's very fun (if you're into that sort of thing) to play. HotS is overall a good introductory MOBA. If you're looking for a deeper game with more, deeper mechanics, you'll want to turn your vision towards DOTA2 and League of Legends. They're the most popular MOBAs and arguably the most complex, having deeper combat, more characters, and a store. Stores in MOBAs add a depth that is hard to grasp; it adds many different character builds and plenty of variety. If you just can't get enough of the intensity that is a MOBA, I would recommend Vain Glory, it's the deepest and best MOBA on iPhone, if you're looking for a more simple one, The Witcher Battle Arena is pretty good as well.

     MOBAs are  quickly rising in popularity (if they aren't already popular enough). Though the deep mechanics and complex strategies seem to be the main deterrent for new adopters, but the fun gameplay and intense matches will definitely pull you in.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Nostalgia in Gaming

        Have you ever sat thinking "Maybe I should hook up my NES and see if Mario Bro's works..", or even your PS3 or XBOX 360! Nostalgia plays a big part in our gaming preferences and publishers often play off of it to market remakes or even new IPs. Reliving our childhood years and playing old games is something we all want to do, and most of the time, it is good from a nostalgic standpoint, though some games don't really age all too well (I'm looking at you, Nintendo 64 collect-a-thon games!) Even if they don't age too well, it's still fun to go and see how you remember the games and how they hold up. These games, though, aren't always as good as we remember them, and we have to realize that though some of the older, childhood classics we loved didn't stand the test of time and that the majority of new games are better than old ones. This isn't the case for every game, because a lot of old games still look and play beautifully, and really have held up. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Late Expansions

     Recently, a new expansion for Diablo 3 (released in 2012) was rumored because of a job listing Blizzard posted. Diablo 3 being more than 3 years old, I find this weird, a major patch and possible expansion coming so late into the game's life cycle. Though the player base has seemingly been slowly declining, Blizzard still supports this game, giving regular content and balance patches; this is 3 years in and this is super unorthodox for a game like this, late-lifecycle support seems to occur only in MOBAs and MMOs. We've also seen this in GTAV with the multiple releases on all platforms and patches for the online aspect adding heists and content regularly; Rockstar still hasn't dropped hints of a legitimate expansion.
Aside: This extended support for games is by no means a bad thing. Whether it is extending the dev period of a new game or sequel, or just support because it's what the players want, there are very few ways in which this could turn bad.
Is this a rising trend? We see games like Destiny or Street Fighter 5 having "Ten-year plans" or being turned into something like a platform. I think this platform movement is a great thing; yearly releases like Call of Duty could easily be turned into a platform, with the occasional $30 expansion or $10 DLC. Really, any annualized games could really be given this treatment in different ways.

     I, for one, embrace this new expansion timing, especially if it means longer dev cycles and better, non-broken day one's for games; seriously, the broken game releases are getting a little out of hand.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ESports: A Rising Industry

     ESports, a rising movement in the gaming industry, is quickly growing in popularity, and this past weekend, the biggest tournament in ESports took place, The International 5, or TI5 where the focus game of this tournament is DOTA2, a very popular MOBA from Valve Software, and literally millions of dollars are at stake. ESports is quickly becoming a legitimate sport with teams, drafts, salaries, trades, and big budgets, just like conventional sports teams. Even ESPN has given ESports airtime, covering games like DOTA and Heroes of the Storm; the adoption of the rising medium for gaming has come with some hate, though, and was even criticized by popular sports radio voice Colin Cowherd.

     ESports is a very legitimate and growing industry with millions of dollars being spent and won. TI5's prize pool topped out at more than $18 Million, and $16 Million of that was raised by the DOTA2 community, this says a lot, because there is obviously a massive following and appeal. With the money, audience, and rising popularity of ESports getting bigger and bigger by the year - despite the hate ESports get from the sport "purists" - I suspect the industry will thrive, and grow even further as a legitimate sport.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Rating the Souls Games

     The Souls series (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, and Bloodborne) is arguably my favorite game series of all time, and I obviously have my favorites, though they are all great games. The replay value is great, the difficulty is punishing, yet rewarding But, this list will be in the order of my least favorite to my favorite.

4. Demon's Souls:

     Though I do respect its influence on the series, and I like the dark setting of the game,  I just haven't played it enough to have a legitimate opinion on it. The controls just didn't hit it for me, and I just felt no need to play it.

3. Dark Souls 2:

     I have played the shit out of this game because it is a great game, but I think it is a bad sequel. The mechanics were solid, the replay value was great, there are plentiful weapons (I think that is a downfall, but can also add to build variety), and good environments (again, a double-edged sword). The lore in this game seemed like it was unfinished (and this was almost proven in SOTFS edition, which I haven't really delved into too much) and the areas seemed disconnected geographically and design wise. It almost seems like a Demon's Souls style of Hub-Zone and different portals to other worlds, which I don't like.

2. Bloodborne:

     Let me start off with saying that this game is damn good. The gameplay is the tightest of all, the lore is great and deep, the art style and level design is great, the enemy design is great, it's an almost perfect game. Where this game falls short, though, and why it's not number one on my list is its replay value. While trick weapons add depth to the combat, there is not many of them, and the lack of weapons take away from the replay value. There is a very strong meta that basically makes one weapon the most viable for a build (that is just how I feel, sorry if that upsets you (actually not really that sorry, this is an opinion piece)) and that takes away from replayability.

1. Dark Souls:

     This game is in my top 3 favorite games of all time, the design and inter-connectivity of the world is great, the enemies look cool, there are plenty of weapons and armors to build your characters around, and the bosses are spectacular. Also, the lore and the story is ambiguous, but not to the point of being unintelligible. The covenants were functional and fun to be a part of and they added a depth to PvP that made being in a covenant feel worth it.  Also, Solaire (Praise the Sun \[T]/).

Friday, August 7, 2015

RETROspect: Super Metroid

   Super Metroid released in 1994 on the SNES, and is a sequel to Metroid and Metroid 2 -combined they have only sold 4.5 million units so nothing groundbreaking in Nintendo terms, super Metroid sold even worse than the two, though. I played this game for the first time over this weekend, and I was amazed that I had never experienced before. The music, gameplay, the pace of progression, map design, and basically everything else about this game is great. Where it shines, though, truly, is its legacy. Along with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, this game helped coined the term "Metroidvania" a type of game which standouts by its large, singular map where progression comes with unlocking new weapons, perks, or the like, and gaining access to new parts of the map.
You can see Metroidvania influences in a lot of modern games, like Dark Souls (map connectivity, non-linearity) and Batman Arkham Asylum (progression tied to getting new equipment), among others.

     Public demand for a new classic Metroid game seems to be pretty high though it could just be a vocal minority. I don't think it would be very lucrative decision on Nintendo's end because of game development costs being so high and the relatively low sales (just under 17 million copies across all the games), but, those lower sales could just be telling of the times. It would be pretty cool to have a new Metroid game in the classic style, although it may not appeal to the younger audience of Nintendo, it would still bring back the millennials that played and loved Metroid.

     Overall, my experience with Super Metroid was very good, retrospectively,(I did it! I did the thing!) I can see how this game has influenced the industry and the games, and I can see where games have taken from this one.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fallout 4: Gamescom Report.

     Today at Gamescom Bethesda announced that Fallout 4 had no level cap, that the game didn't end after you beat the main story. This is good news, it is hopefully saying that there is an "endgame" of sorts, or just more content, a la Witcher: Wild Hunt. Hopefully, it shows that many hours will be added to the game post-story because that is something I believe many people are looking for these days; bang for your buck. Bethesda also said that the shooting will be better, there will be bigger battles, and combat will be less clunky, which will be a great improvement on Fallout 3/NV.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Destiny Drops Dinklage

     This week, Game Informer reported that Destiny developers Bungie was dropping Peter Dinklage's dialog as Ghost, your know-it-all companion. Dinklage did was the first casted as Ghost, and we all thought he'd be the only one, even though the community wasn't too impressed with the way he sounds. The majority of people thought his performance was drab and sounded phoned in (I didn't think it was bad, but it wasn't the best).

     Bungie's replacement for Dinklage is Nolan North, best known for voicing Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series though he also voiced The Penguin in Batman: Arkham Knight. Bungie and North are re-recording every piece of dialog in Destiny and will be patched in on September 15 along with The Taken King expansion.

     This is a very weird happening, I can't find any examples of a main character's dialog being completely re-recorded post-release. Is this a sign of a broken relationship between Dinklage and Bungie? Possibly, but probably not. It's likely that Dinklage, with his Game of Thrones and his other movies, is just too busy to record anything of quality for Bungie. Still though, as much as I like Nolan North, Dinklebot will be no more.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Konami: What the Hell is Going On?

     So, over the last few months I've been following the events going down at Konami, and in short, I think it's the nail in the coffin for their gaming branch. They fired the director and creator of Metal Gear Solid, their flagship game, Hideo Kojima. Cancelled games, removed credits, and shoddy PR came with letting go of Kojima. At first, relations seemed okay because he is still working on MGSV and seemingly had another project (Silent Hills (P.T) Guillermo Del Toro and Kojima's reboot of the horror franchise) in the works. But, Silent Hills was cancelled and P.T was removed from PSN entirely.
Aside: Why was this bad? It shows that some shady stuff is going on behind the scenes at Konami. The complete removal of a game from a digital download service like PSN shows the power of publishers over the service, too. Essentially, publishers took away the rights of a purchased game (despite being free) and that's kind of a big deal, because like, what if the game had cost money? Shits bad, yo.
Even if you had purchased the game and had it in your library you couldn't play it (if it was downloaded on your PS4, I hope you didn't delete it).
     Just recently, though, I think the industry has seen Konami's true colors; they removed Kojima's name entirely from the cover of MGSV even though it is his game, and sources say his name isn't (or won't be) in the credits. Yesterday, a report out of Nikkei (Japanese website) says that employees are treated like prisoners: complete with monitoring lunches, no internet connection, and public shaming. The article says that the less capable devs are getting reassigned to jobs like security guard or janitor.
     People, like myself, are wondering what acutally happened between Konami and Kojima. Let's face it though, there's a high chance that Konami wasn't paying Kojima what he needed to make the game he wants to, I guess we'll see in September when MGS drops. Also, there's a small chance that this is just another one of Kojima's publicity stunts, I'm sure that is what we are all hoping for.