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Smash TV Review

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smashtv_boxPlatform: Arcade, microcomputers, NES, Master System, Game Gear, SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive, Xbox/Gamecube/PS2/PSP (part of Midway Treasures)
Released: 1990
Developer: Williams
Publisher: Williams/Midway
Digital Release? Yes, it had a digital release on XBLA (360) but was delisted in Feb. 2010

Smashtv01These days there is a good chance any gamer is familiar with the “twin stick shooter”, a concept where you move with the left stick and shoot with the right.  Back in 1982 when fantastic game designer Eugene Jarvis premiered the concept in Robotron: 2084, it was unlike anything we had ever seen.  The merits of that game, and what it brought to video games, cannot be denied and if you want an idea of how Robotron played you need look no further than recent neo-retro release Rock Boshers Dx.  It wasn’t until almost a decade later, in 1990’s fantastic Smash TV, that Jarvis along with a talented team at Williams created one of the most addicting arcade games from my youth.  Set in the year 1999 – oh how we thought so much was going to change with the year 2000 back then – Smash TV has you and potentially one other person shooting it out in a room-to-room TV studio playing the most violent game show of all time (Running Man anyone?).  It takes the building blocks of Robotron: 2084 and brings it into the nineties by giving you a second player, having you kill tons of humans instead of rescue them like in Robotron, and of course you’re doing it all for cash prizes to selfishly grow your wealth.  I loved it then and I love it now.

Smashtv02Anyone who has played modern twin stick shooters like Geometry Wars will immediately notice that most of your tactics will hold up in Smash TV and you will get quite far on each life.  Don’t get cocky enough to think that this means the game is beatable; it was, after all, a quarter drinking arcade game from the people that brought you NBA Jam a few years later.  Your odds are so stacked and boss battles like the always shown (and here is no exception) bald tank boss will have you cranking out credits in order to finally reach the final bonus level, The Pleasure Dome.  In fact, the game was so crazy hard, long, and expensive that although there is mention in the game text, the original 1.0 version of the arcade shipped without a pleasure dome implemented because the developers didn’t think anyone would beat the game.  They were wrong, dead wrong.  Fans across the country were spending God knows how much money to reach the Pleasure Dome only to be greeted with an unfinished ending.  The development team wasn’t all bad, though, aside from quickly implementing the Pleasure Dome and getting updated boards out as soon as possible, there’s a bonus room south of Arena 3 that will flood the room with keys and potentially get you to the end of the game without costing you too much money.  There’s also a fantastic announcer over your gameplay voiced by Paul Heitsch (known for other Midway greats like Mortal Kombat) and even the line “I’d buy that for a dollar!” from the movie Robocop, so what’s not to love.

Smashtv03It was understandably ported to just about every home console, microcomputer, and even the Game Gear portable by publisher Acclaim (aside from the arcade ports in the Midway Treasures Collection).  While the overall port didn’t lose much in the conversion process, even on the NES and ZX Spectrum, the control scheme took the biggest hit and to this day I feel the SNES is the only appropriate place to play the home version thanks to the four face buttons easily emulating the second joystick.  Once Smash TV came home, much like other home ports such as Revolution X, the challenge was mostly in trying to complete the game with the limited number of credits the game allowed.  Sure, a quick cheat code or Game Genie could overcome your health or credits issue, but I still can’t believe there was a time where a home port of an arcade game designed to screw you out of credits didn’t automatically give you unlimited credits.  After all, you would assume that’s the draw to getting the home port.  Either way, Smash TV has much better ways to play without resorting to the 8-bit and 16-bit era, but back in the early 90s it was the only option and a fun weekend rental.  If you were lucky enough to pick up the online arcade port on XBLA before it was delisted in early 2010, you can even play the game with online co-op as it should be played these days but it appears Midway licensing has eliminated this title’s definitive version.  If you want to get together with a buddy on the couch and have some fun shooting guys for an hour or two, the spectacle that is Smash TV can be a ton of fun.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 (review policy)

Written by Fred Rojas

March 24, 2015 at 11:34 am

Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) Review

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fahrenheit_xboxindigo_prophecy_ps2Platform: Xbox, Playstation 2, PC (both the original and the just released Remastered Edition)
Released: 2005 (worldwide)
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Atari
Digital Release? Yes – Available on Xbox 360 as an Xbox Original and Remastered is on Steam ($9.99 for all versions)
Price: $8.00 (disc only), $10.99 (complete), and $46.97 (new/sealed) per Price Charting (prices are for PS2 version, Xbox/PC versions a bit lower due to re-release)

Jam’s Take

Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy in America) is one of those games that attempted to create a interactive film experience. Some excepted this concept with open arms, some people frowned on it proclaiming it technically wasn’t a game. Well several years has passed since that fateful release in 2005 so lets see if Fahrenheit is still worth investing in.

Fahrenheit’s story has you following three character Lucas Kane a 9-to-5 IT worker who has a fondness for reading Shakespeare in diners, Carla Valenti a young cop who is claustrophobic and Tyler Miles, Carla’s police partner and your typical comic relief in a cop duo but he likes basketball, which is ok in my book. Essentially New York as well as the world is starting to get cold, really cold and bizarre murders are occurring round the city where normal folk are killing innocent people then themselves. I won’t spoil the story too much as it is the games strongest draw. What I will say is the game is filled with a fair few twists and turns playing out very much like a film, if it hooks you from the beginning it is very likely you will play through to the end.

ss-fahrenheit-001Fahrenheit is a game that starts you off in one hell of a predicament. You start the story as Lucas Kane, during a brief period of possession Lucas cuts open his own wrists and then proceeds to stab the hell out of a innocent guy in the toilet. He then comes to his senses and the player takes control. This is quite something for a game as this rather tense moment is timed you can either go through a long process of hiding the body and the evidence and sneak out of the diner without anyone suspecting what you did, or you can just run out the door in a panic. The entire game is played out by the players decisions, some choices lead to death which means you have to re start the scene though there are usually multiple routes to progress through the story.

Gameplay wise you basically control your character with the left thumb stick and you then use the right thumbstick to interact with items in the world displayed on the top frame of the screen. The game then has this simon says quick time event system which plays out during the major action screens. You basically have to use both analogue sticks and move them in time with the displays on the screen. The game positions this in the centre of the screen so you can watch the action. Being the anxious gamer, I was much more concerned with getting the prompts correct than watching the scenes.

fahr2An important mechanic the game uses which I felt never seemed to have a big enough impact on the game as it should is the mood meter. Basically certain choices and decisions you make in the game will impact a small bar on the bottom right of the screen that pops up to show the mental stability of you character. Should your character get too depressed the game is over. It seemed like a great mechanic to use in the game maybe affecting how you react to other characters in the game, sadly it really doesn’t have any impact on the story unless your intentionally getting your character depressed to see the game over scene. On that note that’s one thing I admire about the game if you die or fail you get a scene that pretty much ends the story of the entire game rather than a typical game over screen. Of course you can try the scene again where you left off but this is a clever concept to close the story entirely should you not want to continue further.

Graphics for the game are standard affair. The 3D character models and environments are showing their age by today’s standard of games. If you enjoy the story the graphics will not deter you from the experience, most of your experience will be spent in snowy environments and peoples apartments though there are a few surprise locations you will not expect. This game also used motion capture on the characters so most of the animations were carried out by real life actors. The game has a nice little documentary giving a over view how the game was made like a dvd extra which is something I wish more games incorporated.

fahr3The soundtrack to the game is pretty good. This games uses music from real artists like Theory of a Deadman and Nina Simone and giving them some pretty good exposure most likely increasing their own popularity and music sales. Even if your not too fond of the music the game does a good job using it at the right scenes where it would make sense to fire off a certain song like good old ‘love TKO’ by Teddy Pendergrass during a make out scene. The games score stands head over heals as the strongest music in the game, most of the melodies just feeling so hopeless and sad, matching the mood of each scene so well like a blockbuster film. Combining both the music and score together makes a killer combination which the game also allows you to listen to at your convince in the extras menu. In case that wasn’t enough the voice acting is solid. This is pretty important for a game that is heavily story focused. Almost every character is believable in their role although occasionally you’ll come across the odd line of dialogue from a character that just makes no sense usually from the background extras.

Fahrenheit is not a long game at all. Unlike most games this game is designed for you to see it through to the end, you will probably complete it in two long gaming sessions. Should the quick time events bother you too much you can turn the difficulty down making it a lot more manageable, which is something I actually recommend in this game since it is story focused. The game has multiple endings but after completing the game the first time it is unlikely you’ll be playing through the story again straight away. This is one of those games you’ll probably play through once a year and maybe just do things a little different compared to how you remember doing them before and you will most likely see scenes play out differently each time you play through.

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Of course the big deterrent is if the story doesn’t grab you then you won’t like this game and will likely fall into the crowd of people who moan that this is a film not a game. Personally I praise designs like this but I guess a lot of that’s stems from one of the other passions in my life which is of course is watching films and this game does a fantastic job of creating a interactive story telling experience that just works. The game isn’t arcade action or FPS fragging, it’s a unique game that allows you to determine your own path through it. I recommend this game for everybody to try especially to those who are looking for a more casual experience. Plus if nothing else if your a busy gamer this is one game I can assure you most people will complete.

Final Score: 3 out of 5 (review policy)

Fred’s Take

When it comes to video games and what I like in them, I’m all over the place.  I’ve claimed to be all about story, but then tear down the very genre that helped define storytelling in video games.  At the same time I claim that Resident Evil is my favorite game of all time and it’s not particularly good at gameplay or story, so despite how annoying my taste can sound, it really just comes down to how I feel about a certain game and not typically the sum of its parts.  That’s why I’m so ambiguous about what I think about Fahrenheit – yes, as Jam stated it’s Indigo Prophecy in the States but that’s all changed with the Remastered Edition and let’s face it, Fahrenheit is the cooler and more appropriate title.

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In one regard the game evolves the story from being a simple concept, a man who awakens to find a dead body with him in a bathroom, to a truly out of this world science fiction story with the entire world at stake.  We don’t take too long to get there either, which is another enchanting part to Quantic Dream’s storytelling, and the progression is weaved in so naturally it’s like the time you accepted a shark can blow up from an air tank in Jaws.  All of this seemingly quick progression is pulled off thanks to the concept of taking control of multiple people, which is compounded by the fact that you’re playing both the criminal on the run and the cops tracking him down, and the rarely pulled off concept of the unreliable narrator.  When visions and reality start to blend with Lucas, especially when you mix those with the conceived true realities of Carla and Tyler, it makes for a quite impressive effect that you either allow yourself to get engulfed in or snub for face value.  I have to admit that in 2005, many games were trying to do what Fahrenheit does, but it’s one of the few titles that successfully pulled it off without becoming too boring or vague.

ind_proph_1Now as I said I’m torn on the value of this game and clearly I’m on board with the story, but what hitches me is both the assembly of that story and the gameplay elements that get in the way much more often than they assist in the experience.  Let’s focus on the assembly of the story that I so graciously praised.  It has you switching back and forth between Lucas, Tyler, and Carla on a regular basis, but already in the setup you can see the conflict of character development and plot dynamics: there is only one criminal and two cops.  As a result we are forced to split the detective work between Tyler and Carla at the expense of learning too much about their personal lives in what starts off as nice touches to character development and ends up in what appears to be filler levels.  The early establishing scenarios where we get to see Carla and Tyler’s home lives is useful because there’s a lot to take in visually while they are having a simple conversation on the phone.  We learn about Tyler’s relationship, both characters’ apartments, the fact that Carla seems to own the same sleeping underwear outfit that David Cage puts in every female lead he has in a game, but I feel that beyond those moments we are then led on odd wild goose chases for simple snippets of data or clues that could be best integrated into a larger scene surrounding it.  Jam felt this game was short, but the first time through probably took me around 10 hours and frankly I only felt that about six or seven of those hours (and the scenes they contained) were worthwhile.  I’ll give credit to the fact that Quantic Dream was still trying to figure out how to skate the line between movie and game – which they still haven’t figured out and no longer holds water with later titles – but many games in the mid 2000s were shorter than Fahrenheit and had more to offer as well.

ind_proph3Then we come to the “gameplay” elements, the weakest link in all Quantic Dream games.  Aside from a bit of tank-controlled point-and-click adventure shenanigans, you are mostly left to play through action sequences via quick-time event (QTE).  I’m not the biggest fan of QTEs, but not because I find them difficult or without value, and rather because they change your focus from the action going on in the game to arbitrary button prompts along the borders of the screen.  A perfect example of this is the office sequence early in the game, where Lucas has to escape from a surprise attack (I won’t spoil what), and you’re forced to ignore the relatively cool sequence of events as Lucas evades his attackers.  Did you get to see those events?  Can you revel in the interesting close calls and near misses?  Nope, because you were busy looking at the bottom of the screen for the next blue arrow or X prompt.  It begs you to do two things at once: watch the action and play the game.  Few can do this and I’m definitely not of that smaller group.  This gets even worse when the game really ramps it up in the middle and forces you to do an insane series of button prompts in Lucas’s apartment during an apparent dream where a pathetically rote series of casual visuals play the backdrop.  This portion is double-fail for me because it not only shows off how stupid the QTE element is and the frustrating nature to which it’s integrated, but also that the developers didn’t even bother to couple it with something interesting on the screen.  By the time I completed that sequence that had nearly 100 button presses and the ability to only fail 3 of them (I will admit I believe I was on hard difficulty), I was both physically exhausted and had about had enough of Fahrenheit.  Aside from investigation and QTE, there are a handful of stealth elements in an military base that prove Quantic Dream is also terrible at stealth.  Put it all together and I felt at times like the game was daring me to quit.

ind_proph_2

As you can see, my thoughts on Fahrenheit are all over the place.  It’s like an ex-girlfriend that was so crazy I couldn’t bear to stay with her but the good times we had were so acute that I couldn’t imagine not going back.  This game always tempted me with some interesting plot points and that air of mystery right before slapping me across the face with challenges that go against everything I like about video game difficulty.  In the end I can admit that I love the over-arching plot and the ending is something worth seeing through, but that doesn’t me an I have to like the potholes I found myself in on a semi-regular basis.  I guess in short, play the game on easy.

Final Score: 3 out of 5

farrenheit_indigo_prophecy_remastered_game_coverfah_cenDid you know that Quantic Dream recently released the Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered version of this game that upgrades the visuals and adds controller support on PC?  Oh and I guess everyone’s all overjoyed that the censored sex scenes in the US version of the game are back in all it’s polygonal video game detail, for whatever that’s worth.  It’s only been out for just over a week, but against his better judgement Fred will be taking a quick look at it for this week’s Retro Game Night so watch for a video with snarky commentary to go live on Saturday.  Hell, it may just convince you to give this unique title a try.

Written by jamalais

February 5, 2015 at 11:50 am

Mini Podcast: The Legacy of Shinobi

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shinobi_post

For this week’s mini podcast Fred tackles the Sega franchise Shinobi, and more specifically the Joe Musashi games from the earliest years of the franchise.


Download this episode (right click and save)

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 31, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Retro Game Challenge: Shinobi (PS2), Part 2

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More than a year ago, Fred  featured the Playstation 2 game Shinobi on Retro Game Night.  I was told that this is a brutally hard title that will test my skills.  He put it to the back burner, but after recent feedback we’re returning to these games to take up the challenge.  In his own words, here’s Fred’s reflection:

I remember playing it at first and didn’t understand what the big deal was.  Shinobi’s battle mechanics are pretty basic, not even coming close to the skills required of games like Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox.  While the two games may be compared based on premise, time of release, and challenge, they couldn’t be more different.  Shinobi is not hard at the beginning, it’s barely a challenge, while I know plenty who haven’t completed the first level (and specifically boss) of Ninja Gaiden.  All of that changed with part 2 of this Retro Game Challenge.  Shinobi ramps up fast and despite beating the level at the end, it made my blood boil and wasn’t worth the effort I put in.  My conquest felt cheap, possibly even cheating.  I’m not done with this title, but my skepticism on it’s fairness and ability to provide a proper challenge that I enjoy in gaming, is raised.  I guess we’ll see.  In the meantime, enjoy a video that starts very positive and ends with a nearly embarrassing response from me.  As you may have already guessed beware of crass adult language near the end.

Written by Fred Rojas

January 27, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in PS2, Retro Game Challenge, Videos

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Just Because: Die Hard Arcade (Dynamite Deka) PS2 Complete Playthrough

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Recently Fred played Die Hard Arcade on the Sega Saturn to show off one of the oddest directions licensed franchises have gone in games.  Well the game was known as Dynamite Deka (Dynamite Cop) in Japan, but retained all the Die Hard similarities, and was re-made in arcade perfect form on the PS2 (only in Japan as part of the Sega Ages 2500 series).  When Fred noticed it on the Japanese PSN for the PS3 – and at only ¥400 on sale, ¥823 normally – he had to pick it up and play through it.  Feel free to grab it for yourself if interested, but without further ado we present the complete playthrough of Dynamite Deka.

Written by Fred Rojas

January 20, 2015 at 11:34 am

Talking Ports: Half Life on the PS2

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I’ve always wanted to dedicate an article to Half Life on the Playstation 2 (PS2). However, Half Life is one of those games I genuinely get a bit worried about when reviewing, since so much as mentioning anything negative about this series will cause the entire Valve fan base to storm on you with torches and pitchforks. No where is safe, you are screwed. But since so few people have even played Half Life on the PS2 hopefully, its safe to come out of my Half Life hermit cave and talk about it.

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Now here is where I make my first shocking statement: Half Life on PS2 is the first time I ever played Half Life. One redeeming factor maybe that it did lead me to playing the game on the PC later when I was able to. Anyway, I was in day one for Half Life on console. I’d been anticipating the game since the hyped up Dreamcast port which never official surfaced outside of the homebrew scene (despite being advertised in leaflets that game with games at the time). It seems like a lot of the assets used to make the game on the Dreamcast surfaced on the PS2. Whether your a massive fan of the Dreamcast or not, its hard not to argue this game was much more suited to the PS2 due its its dual analogue sticks. This was the time where First Person Shooters (FPS) were finally getting easier to control on consoles, with thanks to Halo, gamers where just no longer stomaching the single analogue nub system famous on the N64 and Dreamcast.

hl_ps2_1Half Life on PS2 is technically an HD remaster (but just up-scaled, not actual HD graphics). The graphics received a massive overhaul and for the time looked fantastic. Enemies and human character models looked much more polished and some of the guns such as the assault rifle were completely remodelled. The recharge points had little probes for example, the health station had a syringe that would come out and stick your character. Though its very much a cosmetic change it does look pretty cool. The entire campaign was playable and you were able to save anywhere just like the PC version, which was quite uncommon for console games. Everything in the PC version is present on the PS2 even the humorous gore.

I actually played Red Faction on PS2 before Half Life and it was clear to see that a lot of the inspiration for that game came from the Half Life design. I also remember a article in PS2 Official Magazine confirming this from the developers.

hl_scro_gonNow the developers decided to include an interesting idea to make the game a bit more simple on the console. That feature is the dreaded auto lock-on system. I absolutely hated this and still don’t care for its inclusion to this day. This was probably a feature that was originally designed for the Dreamcast and probably made sense with its controller restrictions. Basically, what you do is when an enemy is in the area a simple press of the button will literally force Gordan Freeman to lock onto the enemy with his gun cursor pointing in more or less the correct area. It felt very similar to the lock-on feature [this is known by many as “Z-targeting” – Ed.] in Legend of Zelda Orcarina of Time (you know, just without the fairy shouting at you). Now you would think this feature would make the game a lot easier, but for a lot of the enemies, especially the boss characters like the scrotum monster on Xen (you know the one I’m talking about) the feature doesn’t lock-on properly and causes practically no damage. Its inclusion feels pointless especially when the dual analogue controls seem to work absolutely fine. Of course many would argue the controls can’t possibly compete with mouse and keyboard, but for a console port this was a fine effort.

hl_alienThe original Dreamcast version was going to feature the additional campaign, which later became Blue Shift, and was eventually released separately for PC. On the PS2 the developers included a co-op campaign that can be played in split screen, even if your playing alone. It’s a fantastic inclusion to the package. When you do play the game alone it’s a bit awkward because you have to control both of the female characters separately. A press of the button will switch back and forth between the characters if you are in the area alone your partner will defend themselves but will not move, they will just stand there like a loon till you move them yourself. This makes playing it solo feel very slow as you are literally travelling through the level twice. Unlike the main Gordon Freeman campaign, which is a continuous campaign with no level breaks, the co-op campaign is split up into individual levels you select from a menu. There is more backstory to the Half Life universe that even ties into the story of Blue Shift. So if you are a die hard Half Life fan and want to experience every campaign possible you will need to dust off your PS2 and get this game to experience the co-op campaign as it was exclusive on PS2. Not sure whether its worth all that effort though, since the co-op is very short. You do receive a fantastic bonus co-op mission where you get to play the aliens in the game; it’s brutally hard but its a nice touch.

hl_decaySo is Half Life on PS2 worth picking up? Well these days probably not so much especially since Half Life got another HD remaster in the form of Black Mesa on PC [as of this writing, Xen, the least popular portion – but also the ending – of Half Life is not included in Black Mesa although the development team reassured in early 2014 that it is coming and will be improved from the original – ed]. Die hard PC gamers will most likely laugh at this games existence despite the improvements the developers made to the graphics. The reason you may want to consider the title is if you already own a PS2 because this game is crazy cheap. Back in the day I paid full price for the game and I didn’t feel cheated. I later sold my entire PS2 collection but when I started collecting again I found Half Life on PS2 for a single British pound, and that’s still the going rate for this game. To this day I have an interest in PC ports to console even if they are most likely worse. It’s fascinating to see what developers do to a game to make it work on restricted hardware. Another fascinating example like this is Half Life 2 on the original Xbox and I may cover that in a later article.

Written by jamalais

January 19, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog, PS2

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Now & Then: God of War 1 and 2

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God of War feels like a series that just exploded in popularity but has now been lost in the gaming community abyss. Last year the God of War Collection (featuring the first two games in the series) was released to the Playstation Vita to such a poor reception that a lot of friends were generally surprised it was actually released. Then again the same group of friends were gob smacked that Borderlands 2 also came out on the Vita. Now, it could be argued that this lack of enthusiasm may be due to the lack of interest in the Playstation Vita. But forgotten or not, I’ve played through both God of War games so it’s time to see how they hold up today.

gowhydraI was originally a massive fan of the very first God of War game on PS2. When I was first introduced to the game by a friend I got so into it we played through the entire game together in one single sitting, something that I rarely do with a video game. We spent a lot of the experience just gob smacked by how the PS2 was able to include great graphics and set pieces. Of course a lot of the great visuals are attributed to a fixed camera control and the set pieces being controlled entirely by quick time events (a feature I’m glad has started to disappear in the gaming industry). The game felt like a breath of fresh air. Although the game did not introduce a completely original experience it seemed to take elements that worked with other games like an anti hero storyline, hack and slash gameplay and upgrading your character with orbs. The game was not perfect, even for the time people criticised some of the challenging sections in the game most notably the infamous Hades area where you had to get pass various traps and obstacles. If you were hit just once you died instantly, leading to some massive gamer rage grinding your enjoyable experience to a complete halt. What made God of War stand out at the time was the epic adventure, where you travel into areas no man can supposedly enter (and the game clearly displays this by having dead bodies littered everywhere). You really felt like you were on this impossible quest. Every time you beat a gigantic boss or got pass a deadly trap you really felt a sense of achievement. The bosses were also enormous like the infamous hydra, a fantastic way to open the game and a design feature that seemed to carry over to all future games in the series as well. The game was well received by critics and gamers so it pretty much guaranteed a sequel. The developers seemed confident of this as well as the message “Kratos will return,” appears once the credits have finished at the end of the experience.

gow2It was no surprise that I was anticipating God of War 2 on PS2 even though it was released very late in the life cycle. The game was very much the same experience as the first just with a new story and new weapons (although I never used these I always stuck with the blades). You were once again tasked with another impossible quest. For some reason I found this experience quite bland. Although there were small changes to the gameplay, with new magic spells and new outrageous set pieces. For example, flying on a griffin then jumping onto an enemy one, cutting its wings off and leaping back onto your own. However, it really just felt like more of the same. I think what really disappointed me was the ending, which for the time did what we called a “Halo 2” where it ends on a crappy cliffhanger. I don’t know why but for the time this sort of ending really pissed me off and lead me to avoid God of War 3 on PS3 for quite some time, just because I was acting childish about it. This didn’t stop God of War 2 receiving massive critical praise and selling very well despite its late release.


gow2_vsRevisiting the first game on the Vita was quite a pleasant experience. The in game graphics having been polished up look fantastic on the OLED screen. The game visually looks surprisingly similar to the HD version on the PS3. A notable problem is the cutscenes in the game have not been given the same graphical upgrade. In the original game the cutscenes merged very well with the in game graphics so it almost looked the same. In the HD versions the cutscenes look blurry and worse than the in game graphics. Consequently taking you out of the immersion of the game. This same problem is present in the second game as well. Of course since the poor Vita lacks the extra buttons on a PS2 controller it does mean buttons have been mapped to the touch screen. But you may be pleased to hear they really don’t effect the experience. The back touch pad is only used to open chests, save and interact with objects of interest. The front screen maps two additional abilities which work very well. After playing the God of War games on PSP its refreshing to have the game use two analogue sticks again, something very few PSVita games require with it’s limited library. I was quite surprised that I still got stuck occasionally. God of War likes to throw the odd puzzle section at you and some of them are head scratchers. The rage quit moments are still just as awful to play through if not worse on a portable. One area in particular (the trials of Hades to be specific) has a section where you have to navigate across balance beams and it requires pin point precision, getting touched by a moving blade or falling leads to an instant death. I spent ages here, almost to the extent that I almost quit the game for good. It’s these dreadful sections why most people get put off the series.

gow2_bridgeUpon playing God of War 2 I actually enjoyed it a lot more the second time. Unlike the first game, I haven’t replayed the second game since the PS2. So I was able to enjoy the game for what it was. Though the game still has those moments where you just want to throw the portable across the room (the worst here being the section where the bridge is collapsing and you have to swing to escape). I guess I got more into the story this time through. The first game plays out like a greek tragedy, the second game is basically Kratos being an ass and wanting things his own way (this solidified his anti hero status with the series moving forward). God of War 2 unlike the first has a new game plus feature and just like the last time I played the game on the PS2, I started playing the game again with all my abilities unlocked and just lost interest really quick. The game just lacks any form of challenge in new game plus and is only worth playing if you want to unlock everything. A surprising omission from God of War 2 on the Vita is the game lacks any trophy support, though I understand trophies serve no purpose but for bragging points, it was weird that I unlocked trophies in the first game but not the second. Also trophy support is so common in games nowadays its hard to ignore when it isn’t present.

gow_sagaI really would only recommend God of War on the Vita if you feel you must absolutely have the game on the go. Since the majority of my gaming is done on the go I tend to warm to games like this, but I’m very aware I’m in the minority. If you want the most God of War in HD for your buck the best buy by far is the five game collection called God of War Saga, which is only available in America (it includes all three core games and the two PSP games) – however, if you have a PS3 you can play any region game regardless of where you live, the game is still available very cheap to this day.  Overall, God of War is one of those series to me that I still think out did itself on the first game and ever since then just hasn’t really evolved It hasn’t stopped me buying each iteration but let’s just say my expectations of the new game in development are not high.

Written by jamalais

January 16, 2015 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Ready, Aim, Fire!

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This week Fred and Jam tackle the wonderful world of light gun shooters.  What started as a mere carnival game evolved into one of the more interactive – and for some of us fun – genres that has not withstood the test of time.  With the advent of newer screens, the technology that made light guns possible is now ruined by delays of no more than a fraction of a second.  In this episode we discuss the history, technology behind, and our fondest memories of the games that utilized the light gun peripheral.


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Written by Fred Rojas

December 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Test Your Might

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This week Fred and Jam are throwing around fighters of the 90s (that aren’t Street Fighter II or Tekken, we did a show for those already).  In the 1990s, the fighter genre was the most popular type of game available (like First Person Shooters today), and among those that have withstood the test of time there were plenty of others that played the field.  From Mortal Kombat to Soulcalibur you had plenty of arcades (and home ports) to drink your quarters in arcades.


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Podcast: Silent Hill 3 Revisited

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Ever since the 10/01 episode “Silent 3vil” released, we felt one thing was severely missing: everyone’s impressions on Silent Hill 3.  In honor of Halloween Fred, Jam, and Vos all got together 30 days later and had a little round table discussion about what we appreciate about the third and final Team Silent installment in the series.

Please Note: This episode is a follow-up to an earlier episode this month (Silent 3vil).


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Written by Fred Rojas

October 31, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Posted in podcast, PS2

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