Miss February of Gaming

Originally the contents of this blog were going to be part of my last blog, but I really needed an entire blog to talk about Halo.

Mer_PSB_TW_TMNTSU

Mercenaries – I have never played this properly before since the only experience I had with it was a demo on the PS2 around the time it came out.

Project: Snowblind – This always looked like a fun, solid shooter so I picked it up.

The Warriors – Hart has recommended this to me for years and I finally caved in.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up – Reviews and videos of this led me to believe it was a good Smash Bros. clone by the same company that made SSB Brawl. I found out very quickly after playing it that this is far from the case. It isn’t even good enough to be called a “poor man’s Smash Bros.” Everything about it screams rushed and low quality. The announcer sounds stupid, music is forgettable, lack of much of any content (characters, stages, modes of play), all stages are pretty lame with more emphasis on stage hazards rather than being fun to fight on (lone exception is the dojo stage). The fighting system itself feels less fun than Smash Bros. and April is the best character by far in this game and can do an easy juggle combo that does a good deal of damage. You can extend this combo easily doing way more damage if your opponent is close to a wall. Very disappointing to say the least. RATING: 2 out of 5 / 4.5 out of 10

Borderlands – I finished this shortly before starting Halo and currently have a Lv. 38 Soldier after going back and playing a little of the second playthrough and playing more co-op with a few others. The game is a very solid shooter with Diablo-esque randomized loot drops with lots and lots of different guns. This game is everything it was said to be with nothing extra to get in the way. There’s no real story here, just a bunch of missions to get experience to level up and customize your special abilities, lots of cool guns, and some good boss battles. If you are a fan of shooters Borderlands comes recommended by your truly! RATING: 4 out of 5 / 8.5 out of 10

Dark Void Zero – My thoughts about this game are the same as they were back two blogs ago so go read that if you are interested. Not bad, but I felt there was too much bad 8-bit game design there as if they never learned anything since that era or thought that was somehow an endearing trait for their game to have. Their loss. RATING: 3 out of 5 / 6.0 out of 10

I’m currently playing through Rygar: The Legendary Adventure for PS2 and you can expect my thoughts on that next time. See ya then!

ボーダーランズ

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Final Thoughts: Halo

Wooo boy! This blog is all about my experience of playing Halo for the first time and will cover my thoughts about it.

NOTE: I WILL NOT TOLERATE ANY FANBOY REACTIONS HERE FROM ANYONE! IF I SO MUCH AS SENSE YOU THINKING OF REACTING LIKE AN IDIOT FANBOY, YOU WILL BE DESTROYED!

One that thing before I start: Check out this review of Halo I found here on GS as it is fantastic.
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HALO (XBOX; 2001)

– Graphics & Audio
As I review this game I will try to keep it in perspective and review it as a game released during the year it came out like I try to do with all games I review after the fact. Halo’s graphics are superb and are no doubt at the top of the heap and the audio is equally top notch. Great sound effects also help to create an atmosphere that few could match at the time. Unfortunately, the visuals are brought down by the incessant reuse of the same textures over and over again. To make matters worse, there are many instances of reusing the exact same contructions of areas over and over again and in a row! When I noticed this trend of same hallway in between the same larger room over and over again I was laughing at the game and thought it was a joke! I have never seen such blatant copy and paste in a game before or since Halo’s release. This makes the game very boring to look at regardless of how technically proficient it is and most of the game is like this which is unfortunate. And no, I don’t care if the game “got rushed at the very last minute” as I’ve already heard that one before. It’s still lazy design and there is no excuse for it.

– Story & Characters
I found the story to be a very by-the-numbers video game sci-fi story, but even so, was still good enough to hold my interest to the end. As far as narratives go in video games that is pretty much as good as you can expect in most cases. The characters, on the other hand, aren’t particularly memorable at all. The least memorable of all was the main character, The Master Chief. He has absolutely no personality and is as boring of a character as you can imagine. To make matters worse he is impossible to relate to being that he is nothing more than a walking, sometimes talking, suit of armor. There is nothing relatably human about him, no emotions, nothing. The voice actor voices him so flatly as to come off sounding completely bored. The two best characters by far are the ones who are not human: Cortana and 343 Guilty Spark. Cortana is clearly the moral compass of the story and emotes and is voiced well. A solid character. 343 Guilty Spark was the best one and had far more personality than any other character in the story and it’s a freaking machine! I really liked it when he neglected to specifically mention that Halo, if activated, would destroy all sentient life in the galaxy.

– Weapons
The weapons in Halo are largely a good mix that are satisfying to use, but I wish they sounded like they had more oomph than they do. My favorites are the plasma rifle, sniper rifle, pistol, and especially the shotgun. That shotgun is pretty damn great and made the Flood seem pretty weak. I wish I could have had access to the shotgun the whole game instead of only for the last handful of hours when you finally encounter the Flood. The grenades are damn sweet too! The take-it-or-leave-it weapon was the assualt rifle. It was great against the weaker enemies, but otherwise it seemed pretty useless. The crappiest was definitely the needler. It wasn’t good against anything and after I realized that I stopped using it entirely.

– Vehicles
The vehicles are all useful for the most part, but the way you control them all with the controller, while OK, is not a particularly good control scheme. The Scorpion Tank, Ghost, and Banshee are all done well and easy to control. The Warthog on the other hand is a piece of garbage! It is so hard to make it do precisely what you want it to do because it slides around like on ice all of the time regardless of what surface you are actually driving it on. The Warthog also has the additional problem of having no weight to it as if it weighed 10 ounces instead of the 3.25 tons the manual claims. The combination of these two huge problems makes it so it is very easy to turn it around when you don’t want to and to tip it over. A light breeze could tip this damn thing over! All of the vehicles are pretty good, but the Warthog can suck it! I hate it more than any other vehicle in any game ever!

– The Missions
The missions in the game are largely fun endevors for kicking much ass, but there are a few problems with them. One problem is the length of each mission. Each one could have easily been half the length and it still would have been long enough. The constant use of copy-and-pasting segments makes the length even more unbearable and made the game feel like it droned on for much longer than it actually did. Other problems with the missions was that there were a few segments in the game that were pretty frustrating the first time because instead of just wiping out the enemies and continuing with your objectives like most of the game, you are expected to find a different way to accomplish these segments without the game giving you any indication that this is the case. You just end up finally realizing that after seemingly endless enemies keeping relentlessly coming at you that keep making you die time and time again. After you know the trick of what to do, then it’s extremely simple. The worst mission segment in the game is “Warning: Hitchhikers May Be Escaping Convicts,” yes, the very last segment in the game. They expect you, in one go, to pilot a Warthog (the worst controlling vehicle in the game) through a very poorly designed obstacle course where precision is required. Bull-*******-****! What happens then is you are constantly running into obstacles, getting turned around, and making jumps that you frequently tip over from. It would be a great ending piece, but the Warthog controls so poorly that it is far more frustrating than fun.
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So, that’s it for my final thoughts my Halo loving friends. Halo is a great game that pushed the FPS genre forward for consoles, but does indeed have many blemishes that seem to have been forgotten or ignored by most fans and they pretend it’s some perfect game that it definitely isn’t. Until next time, keep things in perspective.
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RATING: 4 out of 5 / 7.5 out of 10

ヘイロー

Games Update for January

Hey everyone, Usagi back once again to let you know about the gamin’ happening on my end. No new purchases this time (I know, kinda surprising, huh?), but instead some info on what I’ve been playing and what I think about it.

Bayonetta – I finished this a little more than a week ago. Yes, I played the PS3 version and beat it pre-patch. Other than the long load times which were pretty annoying at times, it is a fantastic action game that fans of the genre should not miss no matter what! After the patch came out, I tried it and was very impressed! The load times are completely fine now and the little ones that happened frequently when you picked up items are completely gone, just make sure you install the game with the new install option to get all the benefits. I just wanna put it out there that the game never had any framerate issues worth even mentioning and any reviews that mention it as a problem were written by idiots. Some blew it WAY out of proportion (Giant Bomb, IGN). The only problem worth mentioning ever were the crappy load times, which are now completely fine. Post-patch the game is perfectly playable and enjoyable on PS3 so just choose whichever platform you normally prefer. This game will definitely be a contender for action game of the year by everyone, mark my words.

Borderlands – I started this one right after finishing Bayonetta. I got it in a sale and end of 2009 because it looked like a lot of fun to co-op with others and go around blowing dudes away with a bunch of cool guns. I definitely have been enjoying it and am currently at Lv. 31 with my soldier. The game’s visual style is pretty neat as it is cell-shaded, but more detailed than most cell-shaded games. Borderlands definitely starts out not the best, though. It seems to have this hump you need to get over in order to start kicking ass which seems to be around Lv. 13-15. After that the random weapons seem to start getting much better and much less frustrating as long as you aren’t trying to do missions that are out of your league.

Halo: Combat Evolved – I started this about 10 days ago, but only played past the very first “get off of the ship w/ Cortana” mission. You can thank Borderlands for that! I will probably get back to it this week since I can’t play Borderlands right now because I have my PS3 boxed up at the moment. More on that at the end of this post.

Dark Void Zero – This is an interesting DSi Ware download “NES” game to complement Dark Void on PS3/X360. I got it mainly because I still had 500 of my initial free 1000 DSi points from when I bought the DSi last year. I can say I don’t like it all that much. For one thing, the graphics look pretty unappealing even for NES standards. The color palette is weird and pretty ugly. Also, the game has ground enemies respawn if you go back to the same place they originally were which isn’t something that was endearing about that era of gaming. They also don’t take advantage of the extra buttons on the DSi and keep it to only two buttons just like the NES, which is stupid because makes the game control worse than it would have otherwise. You can only hold a single weapon at a time too, which is pretty damn annoying. All in all, I am not liking Dark Void Zero much, but I’ll be playing it some more soon and perhaps it will grow on me, but I doubt it.

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon – Much to my surprise, Hart704 found out that this game and a lot of others hosted by GameSpy on PS2 still have active online play with many of them still with players playing! Since we both have this one I decided to create an account and we played 21 matches online so far. The performance is amazing and was quite fun! Will definitely be playing more of this. Hart704 did a recent post in which he links to video he shot of he and I playing some of MK: A online.

About the earlier mention of my PS3 being boxed up: I am going to sell it on eBay this week because I just ordered a new slim model. With all of the reports I keep hearing from people’s 60GB models giving up on them in recent months, I’d rather sell it now and have it pay for the new one rather than wait until it gives out on me and have it be worth nothing. People love the 60GB model for the backwards compatibility, but I have never needed it. I am selling it with everything it originally came with plus I’m throwing in a second SIXAXIS controller and a 6 ft. HDMI cable too and all in the original box. If anyone who reads this is interested in acquiring this without the hassle of winning my eBay auction, they are welcome to it for $300 + shipping (which would include a tracking number). The system still works perfectly and has never had any problems. My above words are not any indication of problems with the unit. It may very well last for many years longer. I have pictures of everything included too so feel free to ask any questions you may have. Even if I list the auction, you can still PM me here if you are interested.

EDIT – auction is now listed here: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330401294243&ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123#ht_2969wt_1026

I will still sell it to anyone reading this for $300 + shipping via UPS with insurance and tracking number. If you are seriously interested, PM me.