Welcome to my blog about, at least mostly, games. Here you can find reviews, impressions, pictures and things that I think are interesting enough to write about. If you want me to speak up on something, then write it to me. Want to discuss something in a post then write it in the comments. Hope it will be good reading for you.

fredag 12 december 2014

A look back at the top 5 hopes for JRPGs

Pixels never looked so good.
One of the first posts I did back in 2011 was about how the Japanese RPGs had been almost extinct and that the world needed to get back to what they were doing in the golden age of JRPG, with games like Final Fantasy VI and VII, Chrono Trigger, Sukoiden and Secret of Mana. Even later games like the Shin Megami Tensei-series (Lucifer's call for my sake), Tales of Symphonia and Star Ocean 3 held up really well, but a decline from there could be seen, as the stories became more embarrassingly written and the gameplay didn't quite hold up. Something like Final Fantasy XII took chances and made an, in my opinion, great game, if only lacking in character. Eternal Sonata was a great JRPG and did everything right regarding gameplay. The problem was that the dialogues were horrendous, just completely terrible, and they dragged on, with ethic speech after ethic speech.

I think that the problem with many Japanese game in general, is that the scripts just can't compare to the huge RPGs like Mass Effect, or games like Enslaved, Uncharted or the Last of Us. And somewhere there is where I started to feel that another good JRPG might not be the something I was going to see again, and the genre has been declared dead many times, even though many games were released, that was really good. Games like Bravely Default, Kingdom Hearts and of course, Persona 4. Tetsuya Nomuras The World Ends With You, is another great example of good JRPG that came out the wrong side of JRPG greatness, with new innovative gameplay and a great story.

Slaying heartless never looked this gorgeous.
Okay, so the problem with me looking back at the five games I listed as the hope of JRPGs, is the of them, almost four years later, is that three of them still haven't been released, and of the other two, I only tried one of them. Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy versus XIII did a spectacular show at the 2013 E3, and little me bounced up and down in excitement. The excitement for KH3 never really dropped, and I just got a hold on the KH2 HD-version and now have a new found hype for the continuation of the series. The now titled Final Fantasy XV on the other hand, looked awesome to begin with, and it still might be, but a lot of recent footage have made my hopes go down for the game. Who knows, maybe it'll surprise me.

Okay, so before all that, Persona 5 is going to blow my mind. It is, there is no other acceptable outcome for the game, yeah okay, maybe I have my hopes up just a little too high, but come on, it's Persona 5, how can I not have my hopes up for this title but yeah, time to get down to earth. Persona 5 hits me sometime next year, on ps4.

Okay, so of the ones that actually got a release then? Ni no Kuni was the one I played of them, even though I heard that The Last Story got pretty good reviews. I was kinda torn by the two. I liked the style, and the animation is amazing, you can see that Studio Ghibli put a lot of effort here, just great. But still, it was a bit too slow for me I think, I couldn't really get into it, unfortunately. I heard it got great reviews though, so I might give it another go some day.

One of this years best games.
I want to talk about another game as well, that I played a lot this summer on my newly acquired Ps4. The game is Child of Light, and is developed by a small studio within Ubisoft, that uses the amazing Ubi art graphics-engine. This game just reeks of atmosphere, an amazing lead character and great gameplay. It gets a bit slow at times, and the difficulty is a bit bad, normal is way too easy, and hard is good for a while, but the need to grind gets bigger and a bit annoying. But if I'm going to be serious, this might be the best JRPG released on this side of 2010 (not counting P4Golden, re-release).

Like a hero at the bottom of the mountain, after having been kicked of the floating island at the end of the second act, the JRPGs are on their way up again, maybe Persona 5 can hit mainstream, maybe Final Fantasy XV turns out to be just as good as VII, or maybe Kingdom Hearts III will contain a Star Wars world, a Marvel world, and a world based on Frozen, and thereby acquire both nerds, Marvel-fans and a new batch of teenage girls, singing "let it go" with Donald Duck. If only...
Do you want emancipation?

måndag 3 november 2014

Review - Batman: Arkham Origins

The Arkham series brought my interest in Batman from cool superhero to me now being a really big fan. Arkham Asylum introduced everything from classic Riddler challenges, its absolutely superb fighting system, really good story, awesome villains, a badass Batman and cool bosses. The game's only weakness was the length of the game that was too short in my opinion. Arkham City was Batman perfection, 25 hours were spent on the first play-through, better story, a bigger ensemble of villains, cooler Batman, one of gaming's coolest boss battles (Mr. Freeze) and an already great fighting system polished to perfection, and the game trounced every single game that year. (yes even Skyrim, but it's overrated ... more on that in a later post perhaps ....). I loved it so much, that I two years ago dressed like Hugo Strange on Halloween. So I followed the news of Arkham Origins with cautious positivity. Cautiously because of the announcement that Rocksteady would not be developing this part. But it was still Arkham, how much wrong could you really do?

The game is placed five years before the events of Arkham Asylum and City. So it is a greener and more of a beginner Batman that we encounter, where he is only two years into his career as Gotham's protector. So of course he doesn't have as cool a suit and not nearly as many cool gadgets as in the other games. Here comes mistake number one. For that statement is completely wrong, the suit looks much more armoured out, and Batman begins the game with most of the gadgets he needed to amass five years later. Worst of all is the Grapple-boost, which in Arkham City is told to just be a prototype that Batman must master to use. Here, it's standard from the start. It takes away the illusion of a prequel when it makes him more equipped than in later editions. I mean, did Batman just think, “Nah, the villains are way to easy for me, I should dial down on the awesome gadgets to make it fair” in the previous instalments? The only thing that really show a more inexperienced Batman is that he must discover the villains who would otherwise be obvious to us. But perhaps one can overlook this. Perhaps.

It's Christmas, and Black Mask has just promised a sum of money to eight assassins, for anyone on this single night that can kill "The Bat". Just like the Batman's Origins-twist, it is a promising idea that opens up a lot of gameplay possibilities. And just like Origins-twist, it's clumsy and poorly executed. The bad guys you encounter (even those beyond the eight main ones) are presented clumsily and hastily, and with the exception of two or three, they are all boring and predictable, and in some cases, not at all as themselves. The story takes an unexpected and unwelcoming twist quite so early in the game that makes you angry yell "huh ?! In this game, too? "The story does not get much more interesting than that, either, and I struggle through the game mostly of the motivation that I need to play it through at least once, I mean, it's still an Arkham-game.

The boss fight are almost all broken down into two categories. Fight against the big guy,, where you dodge and hit, or in Predator Mode, but with boss guy. Only two fights deviates from this formula, and only one of them is entertaining. A big step backwards when you see what was done with the Freeze-fight in Arkham City. In general, it feels as if the Warner Bros.-team not dared to change too much, have been too cowardly and run on an idea only halfway

For what is good in the game is three things. First, the Predator occasions are still really entertaining. Nothing compares to hear someone yell "Where are you ?!" while watching their panic reflected in movements and heartbeats. But it's never as good as in City, mainly because they are fewer and in scenery that are not nearly as inspiring or imaginative. But not bad

Second, the fighting system is still good. Why change a winning concept? But it never feels as refined or perfect as the City, and you never feel that you master it the more you practice, for it is not quite as smooth and flowing. This can actually get really frustrating in the harder fights, where your timing needs to be perfect, and the game doesn't register your counters directly. But still the main draw of the game.

Thirdly, and here it comes the part with not daring to move away from the original, the new thing that they put into Origins is a system to reconstruct crime scenes. By going back and forth in the event you can find new clues and get a bigger picture of what has happened at a crime scene, and bit by bit quite like a puzzle, you piece the pieces together into a crime canvas. This is actually really entertaining ... well when the opportunity is given. For when I can play through the game and encounter such a scene three or four times, then there is something wrong. It's so good, why isn't there more of this? I wish it could give room for really big crime scenes so you really get to feel how it is to be the world's greatest detective. But even here it falls flat.

I'll be honest and say that I have not tried the multiplayer mode much. My friend has, however, and he says this of his experiences: Clearly the greatest component of Arkham Origins, even though it has its flaws, and suffers from a server and connection issues (it can take a long time to find people to play with). The setting is cool where you either play as the Joker's gang or Bane's gang in a gang war, but with Batman and Robin lurking around every corner, played by another team. Make up your own gang member and start gang wars, it's Batman saga from the villains' point of view, and it's pretty cool.

Finally Origins is not a bad game, and if you like Asylum and City, I think you'll get through this too, at least once. But it is still hard to feel anything but disappointment when virtually everything is a little worse than in Rocksteady's masterpiece.

måndag 27 oktober 2014

2013, a look back, or, about time!

Yes I know, 2013 is long gone, and almost half of 2014 have already passed, but still, I like doing these flashbacks of the year gone by game-wise, so I will continue doing them.

Of the games released in 2012, that I in my 2012 flashback said I wanted to try in 2013, there are some I've played, some I've not, here's my two cents.

Dishonored                                                   Never played, might get back to it though
Journey                                                          Never played, might get back to it also
Hotline Miami                                              Played, loved, but never got through might pick up
Gravity Rush (If I get a Vita)                        Played a little, liked, might get back to it
Halo 4                                                            Played, disappointed, but will finish, someday
Assassins Creed III                                        Went like all Ass-Creed games for me
Botanicula                                                     Never played, small chance of picking up
Far Cry 3                                                        Played through, loved it
Thomas Was Alone                                      Never played, small chance of picking up
Dear Esther                                                    Never played, small chance of picking up

So yeah, 2013 started with equal amount awesomeness as disappointment, but then again, both those things are part of the theme of 2013. DMC: Devil may cry was the first game I played, it was good, really good, but I've already said that. After that I tried another favourite of mine, or really, of me and my friend, Army of Two: Devil's Cartel. This was worse, a lot worse. The core mechanics have been dumbed down, no way to dodge, like in the other games, no in-game brotherly love-things to do, no fist bumping button, although we did it a lot ourselves. But the story is pretty much the most insulting thing you could do to this series, simply horrible. You who have played it knows what I'm talking about. The big twist, incredibly stupid, I saw it coming very early, and it's just insulting to the fans of the other games. Customization was awesome though, I spend a lot of time there. It fells kinda like, if you put the story of the first game, with the gameplay of the second, and the customization of this one, into one, that would be the ultimate game. But yeah, this was a bit worse in almost all aspects of the game, than it's predecessors, another theme you'll see later.

Another game that pretty much wowed me was of course Bioshock Infinite, a game that I had a lot of anticipation for, and that delivered on almost all accounts. The story might be the best of 2013 and the characters, the acting and the setting is up to par with it. Gameplay is great, mostly, it just felt a little more hard to control that the other games, which was a shame, but I still recommend it for all it's worth.

One of the most positive things I have to say about this year in gaming, is the often named "worst uncharted game ever" Tomb Raider. I really liked this game, I found it fun to play and I actually spent a lot of time collecting all the stuff and got 100% completion for it, and it felt worth it. One might argue that the characters themselves might be a bit underdeveloped and uninterested, Lara included, but it's still so well acted that you might not even notice. I'm definitly looking forward to the sequel in 2015.

I also played a bit of Metro: Last Light and found it to be really entertaining, something I didn't think I would when I first started playing it. It has a nice balance between stealth and combat, and the AI-problems with the last games are (mostly) fixed. Definitely something worth checking out if you feel like playing a good FPS and have run out of other games to play.

Remember Me was a really bad film, that in no way inspired the game with the same name. The game on the other hand, was a quite good action-game with a story I actually really liked, and got really in to, with twist and turns that I found really engaging. The combat was well done, if only suffering from a bit of the repetitive side of style. The segments in where you rewrites someone's memories to fit your own agenda is both really disturbing and a really great and original segment of the gameplay.

I had huge hopes for The Last of Us, as a huge fan of the Uncharted-series. And the story and acting and characters and all that stuff is amazing. I get drawn into the world immediately and just love it. I played it for three hours straight when I got it, on release. But since then I never played it again. I'm not sure why, but I thing that despite all the great stuff about the game, I was disappointed. It was mostly because of one thing, that seems to be starting a trend lately. And that is story over gameplay. I'm not saying the gameplay of The Last of Us is bad, no it's quite good, nothing special, but good enough. But I really feel like I'm just playing the game to get trough the story. I need to be able to love the gameplay as much as the story, I need the gameplay to engage me and actually feel like a part of the story. Tomb Raider had kinda the same vibe, but fortunately for them, the story wasn't anything special. Maybe I'll pick up The Last of Us again, maybe not, but I will never see it as the masterpiece that many critics and fans hail it as.

Next up is the obligatory Suda 51 game of the year, Killer is Dead. And I got to say, after the quirky and really fun experience I had with both Shadows of the Damned and especially Lollipop Chainsaw, I was kinda underwhelmed by this. The story and the characters seems way to serious to be a Suda 51 game, and comes of like genericly Japanese, with horrible story trying to be deep, and angst men trying too hard to be serious. And the date-missions are, to put it lightly, embarrassing and awkward. With all that said, gameplay is still good and I played the game through, having a good time, so not that bad, just not up there with his other games,

Diablo III for consoles, awesome game that me and my friend had a blast with during the fall, and really not much more to say here, I love consoles more than PC (Come at me bro) and this fit me like a glove.

Rayman Legends was another game I looked forward to for a long time, and when it was finally released, I loved almost every second of it, incredible and amazing game. The music-levels might be the best thing I have ever played, a delight every time. Maybe even a bit too awesome, since it made the other levels feel like busy-work to get to the amazing reward. But still really fun busy-work, so can't complain. If you, like me, loved Rayman Origins, you'll love this one even more.

I also tried two HD-remixes, DuckTales: Remastered and Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix. Both as good games as they were when they were first released, an not much more though. fun to play again though.

Man, I've played a lot of games this year, comes with having a real full-time job I guess. Anyway, Beyond: Two Souls. what a piece of crap that was. David Cage thinks he can get away with releasing another interactive film, but I was already tired of it when Heavy Rain came out, that only got away with it because it had a fun murder mystery behind it, but this is just horrible, like watching a film that is ten hours long, and not a good film either. just a long for perverts quest to get to see Ellen Page shower (definitely not me).

Here we go, Pokémon X and Y, have you ever played a Pokémon game, before, then you know what you're up for. As far as that goes, this part of the franchise make the most to change a lot of the world, which is a good thing, I had a lot of fun with this for a great while. Check it out, if you're a fan of the series, but then again, if you are, you probably already have.

Lastly, I need to talk about the game I looked forward to, for a very long time, that I hoped to be, and that I wrote in the expect of 2013-log, that I thought would be the game of the year, of 2013. It wasn't, oh how it wasn't. Not even close. That honour I proudly give to Bioshock: Infinite, followed by DMC: Devil May Cry. Actually, I'm not even going to do this here, I'm going to review the living shit out of the crap-fest that is Batman: Arkham Origins and I will try to be merciful, and open, but I know in my heart that this can not go unpunished. I will review, long overdue.

(Catching my breath)

Lastly, here are some game from 2013 that I hope to get around to (or already have) in 2014:
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Pikmin 3
Saints Row IV
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Killzone: Shadow Fall
The Wolf Among Us
Super Mario 3D World
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

I'm not doing a anticipated for 2014, It's a lot too late, this might actually be a bit fun to read, but I'll see you soon for at least two reviews, maybe even more. Until then, have a nice time and game on!

måndag 2 juni 2014

Mario Kart 8 quick impressions

Okay, so I got a hold on Mario Kart 8 this friday and here's my thoughts.

I really like it, I mean, this might be the best game in the series. It's a lot more balanced, where the really epic boxes definitly exists, but are a lot more rare. You can acually go through a grand prix withous having one blue shell, or lightning, being fired. This makes for a more skill-based game, like the first game on the SNES. Granted I have only ever played the console-games, so I don't know how the handheld games are, but I always heard they were better. 

The most impressive thing about the game is the level-design. When I playd with some friends, the frase "that was a really cool track" was uttered very often. A lot of it has to do with the tracks often switching from air, ground and water, from normal gravity to upside down and all around. It feels great and plays great!

I like how all the Super Mario World-bosses are available as playable characters, we especially grew fond of Roy, who looks like bowsers very metrosexual brother. All in all, I really like MK8. A true must for all owners of a Wii U, or a good reason to get one!

tisdag 6 maj 2014

Final Fantasy XIII - Revenge of the Rant

Ah, Sith-day the perfect day to be angry and say stuff like, I really, really hate this game!

You know, I think I get it now, what really drives me apeshit-crazy over this game. I recently picked up Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remix, and I just have to say that it made me get why I hate Final Fantasy XIII so much. The writing of it all, I just don't get how bad it gets. I mean, I played through FFX and even though Yuna is an unoriginal shygirl that always needs to be rescued, and Tidus is way too annoying for me to think he's an appealing character, I still feel for them. They are still characters, and (SPOILER) when they have to part ways at the end I seriously started to tear up a bit, (but not really because I am a man!) and that's with the worst characters in the game, (well except Rikku). The point is, the story and the writing has me invested, even with the annoying characters. Annoying  doesn't make them bad characters. And I mean, both Khimari, Lulu and especially Auron are awesome badass characters. But Final Fantasy XIII has no sympathetic characters at all, constantly makes me ask one simple question over and over and over, the question all writers fear to hear about their work: WHO IN ALL THE WORLD TALK LIKE THIS?!

I mean, there is cryptic, and then there's pulling shit out of you ass! I played the demo for Lightning returns and even though they have improved some things gameplay-wise, I still don't think that Square-Enix gets why people hated Final Fantasy XIII in the first place. It's not the battle-system, it's not even the linear world (but yeah, it's that too), it is the piss-poor characters, the story with more plot holes than a Michael Bay-film, and it's a script that is nowhere near believable. 

And I'm not saying that other Final Fantasy-games had stories without plot holes, they did, especially FFX, but the thing is that Final Fantasy X still is a good game, with a good story, because it knows how to distract us from the flaws, because there is always going to be flaws. But they are just so easy to see in Final Fantasy XIII. I think much of that is the script being as bad as it is.

I realize that I have contradicted myself in my first rants, where in one I hated that the characters weren't more similar, and in the other I said I wish they were less alike. The thing is, I want to be able to evolve my character in a path not usually their way, like when I made Yuna a badass warrior who did 99 999 damage way before my Auron ever could. But not all "jobs" are available for every character at the start, and when they do become available, they're really expensive. This means that a very specific set of characters are the preferred team, and choosing another team might make the game way too hard. There's no reason to play again, I'm just going to pick the same team that time again. But I still do want it to be a change in what characters I use, but there are no individual attacks or the like, no Limit Breaks or Overdrives. You got the Ecle-whatever Summon-thing, that I guess are different, but the sure felt the same, and I never used them much anyway so the feel pointless. The problem is that this just adds to the blandness of the characters. The Limit Breaks added character in for example Final Fantasy VII. Only Cloud could do the awesome and devastating Omnislash, only Tifa could stack her Limit's on top of each other. Only Cid could call a missile strike from the Highwind, or light a dynamite on fire with his cigarette, because it makes sense, and it builds character.

Yeah, I think I'm done. Well, not really, I never did get to finishing the thing, never got past the last boss, and I do feel that I have to, but just not right now, not for a while, and I'm done ranting, if you did like the game, could get into the characters and so on, fine, good for you, I just really couldn't, and I know many agree with me. But yeah, it hurts seeing a series I love so much get this kind of treatment. I am psyched to see the next instalment, and Final Fantasy XV does look really good. But then again, I have been wrong before.

måndag 5 maj 2014

Zelda Playthrough diary entry #1

Okay, I finally got my hands on The Legend of Zelda for the NES, my long planed playthrough of all the games on their original consoles can begin!
I'm going to write here, every day I play, kind of like a diary, share my thoughts, what still holds up, what doesn't hold up? How has the series progressed until now, how has it evolved. I will therefore play as much as I can of the game, trying to get all the things you can get, for the ultimate Zelda-experience.
I don't currently own all game though. I am missing a Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, The Oracle of Seasons and the Minish Cap. I do have The Wind Waker, but only the HD version on the Wii U, so I will have to get that one as well. 
On top of all this, I am only doing the main Nintendo-games, meaning no CD-i, no Crossbow-training and I will not do the four swords adventure. 

In any case, I started playing The Legend of Zelda today, and had an approach to it much like Skyrim, a childish-"you can't tell me what to do" kind of thing. So after the introductory level 1, I started exploring, and realized how much I remember from playing this game over and over as a kid. Where to blow a hole, where to burn a bush. So by the time I got ro level 3 (which I did before level 2, because I couldn't find it.)
I had acquired some sweet new gear in from of a sword and a ring that somehow changes my clothes, reducing my damage. Still, the game is a but challenging at times but gets easier a my gear becomes more awesome. Not sure if that's bad yet...
I don't really mind the controller, at times I get a sore thumb from the steering cross, but it's fun to play the old NES again. 
What strikes me the most though is how fast you're able to advance. I got through the first four castles plus some exploring in about 2 hours, That's almost half the game. It strikes me as a completely different experience that the games of today, giving more of a replay value because it's just that fun. And it gives you more time for exploring.

It's no wonder that the first game became the ultra-hit it was, I get it. It holds up, it's different than the games of today, but I might get in to that more later, for now, this is me giving my two cents on this day of playing. Stay tuned, as this long series of posts (and hopefully a revival of the blog) is far from over.