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Podcast: Nier Game Club

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In the first game club for the new format Fred, Jam, and guest Fortengard jump into the ambitious world of Nier.  Developed by dissolved developer Cavia and published by Square Enix, this is one of the oddest titles to appear last generation.  In this episode the hosts dissect the development, campaign, gameplay, and audio/visuals of this divisive cult favorite.

Opening: Snow in Summer
Fishing: Song of the Ancients Fate
Town: Song of the Ancients (Devola)
Open Area: Hills of Radiant Winds
Dungeon: The Wrecked Automatons
Closing: Yona (Piano Version)


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Written by Fred Rojas

July 27, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in podcast, PS3, Xbox 360

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Dishonored Play Diary

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Trying something new here.  Dishonored is a game I (Fred) have not been able to play properly and the first video in this series shows why.  As a result, I’m trying to be more laid back and complete the title without worrying about perfect stealth and perfect pacifism.  Instead of a “Let’s Play” I’ve decided to do a new type of series called a “Play Diary” and here’s what these will be.  This video series currently only has one video, but will update as it grows.  No new posting will be created for each video.  If you want updates, I recommend subscribing to Fred’s channel.

Let’s Play videos are tough because the person playing them has to constantly be speaking to an audience, it stifles gameplay, and it’s a bunch of work to get live.  A longplay is easy because you just capture and upload, but only a handful of people watch it.  We’ve noticed that the commentary gets more views, but that people watch them for short periods, whereas a longplay is only seen by a smaller group but they watch often to entirety.  The Play Diary starts with a full length “quick look” of an hour or two with commentary followed by update videos that are about 5-15 minutes that cover several hours of gameplay and commentary.  In addition, the entire longplay is uploaded as a playlist for those that want to see the full playthrough.  Hopefully this is a more user friendly way for everyone to see what they want.  This will not completely replace my “Let’s Play” videos because certain rare games will want to be viewed from start to finish.  The video below is the playlist for the diary and the longplay playlist can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlLaoX7aLm9_32Aqpog3OgW2ZenWg_mV8

Written by Fred Rojas

June 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

Doom Retrospective

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As I said in a previous article regarding Wolfenstein 3D, “Wolfenstein 3D did it first and Doom did it best.”  The same team, id Software, created both games so it’s less of a competition and more of an evolution.  While I agree that all games are a team effort, the technology that runs these games can sometimes be credited to one person.  In the case of Doom that one person is none other than John D. Carmack.  By this point most of us are aware of John Carmack and what he’s contributed to video games as a whole, but back in 1992 he was the guy creating a new engine for a new game.  That engine was called the Doom Engine.  Carmack claims the name Doom came from the movie The Color of Money in which Tom Cruise describes a custom pool cue as “doom” when questioned as to what’s in his case.  It was created to enhance the first person shooter to include different heights, distances, and even sound effects in stereo for a more realistic type of game.  In truth the hardware of the time couldn’t handle rendering a 3D world so the game is actually all on a flat plane in the code, which is why rooms never overlap and you can shoot a guy on a ledge by just aiming at the wall beneath him.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but in 1993 I hardly noticed.  Doom had positional breathing of mutant men, lighting effects (including dark rooms), a hybrid cyberpunk and distopian Hell setting, and a ton of violence.  It was the rock star of the video game world.

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How Bad Could It Be: Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

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Formerly known as “Is it Kusoge?” the series has changed to “How Bad Could It Be?” and we’re playing notoriously bad games.  In addition, these videos are more brief cut together highlight reels to determine what Fred thinks of the game.  This time he’s looking at the 2006 release of Sonic the Hedgehog on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  How bad could it be?

Warning: This video contains adult language.

Written by Fred Rojas

February 26, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in PS3, Videos, Xbox 360

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Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster Review

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You know, I was actually really looking forward to playing through Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster. I thought to myself, “sure I’ll be part of the problem and buy this game I already own,” and the fact that the physical copy also came with Resident Evil Remake (in glorious HD) only sweetened the deal. I am a Resident Evil fan and I am not ashamed to a admit it.  Has time been good to Resident Evil 0? This review will explore how the game stacks up on today’s consoles.

resident_evil_zero_n64_prototypeThe background of this game is something that has always fascinated me mostly surrounding its release and how things in gaming were back then. Originally pitched for the N64 and getting as far as a prototype being made for the train segment of the game, this was Nintendo inviting Capcom to team up for the first time since those cool Mega Man games and Disney titles on the NES/SNES. In an offered deal, the two companies had planned for a Resident Evil game that will come out nowhere else. Well this invitation did intrigue Capcom and especially sat well with Shinji Mikami (the creator of the series). Capcom would go on to develop three exclusive Resident Evil games for the Gamecube as well as release three other cannon titles on the platform as well. The exclusives were Resident Evil Remake and Resident Evil 4, arguably two titles that became incredibly memorable, and inbetween this we saw the release of Resident Evil 0 (Zero). This game really was Capcom’s last hurrah of the pre-rendered background style game with a fixed camera and those tank controls which we all just love to joke about today. It was also the last game in the series where you could get mad about a key taking up an entire slot in our inventory. After this game things changed dramatically with Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 0 was released at a time were people were a little burned out on the traditional style of the series (and it had been in development almost 5 years when it came out) so although it received decent reviews, it is often considered a low point.

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Written by jamalais

February 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Substance Review

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Editor’s Note:  Jam originally wrote this review back in August of 2015 and somehow I missed it for almost six months.  This won’t happen again but I figured we should still show love to a great game and a great review.  Sorry Jam.

Metal Gear Solid 2 was possibly one of my most anticipated video games back in my youth. I eagerly awaited its release in 2002 (a little later than the rest of the world in Europe because game companies hate us). Kojima had been very smart in teasing the hotly anticipated sequel to the PS2 classic with various trailers and that infamous pack in demo with the full retail game Zone of The Enders, which no one played. We just couldn’t wait to play as Snake. On release I’m happy to admit my fan boy goggles were literally set to “Fan-tastic” as I played this game and loved the ever loving hell out of it and not buying in to some of the games criticisms post release. Well I’m older and detestably more mature so its time to return to the title and see how it fairs today. To research for this review I played through the game on the the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on Xbox 360 and PSVita. The game had multiple releases on a lot of consoles but this review pretty much speaks to every version of the game.

mgs2_snakeMetal Gear Solid 2 puts you back into the shoes of the legendary Solid Snake, who has now gone rouge with his new pal Otacon from the first Solid game. They have formed the ultimate bro-mance to travel the world and take down metal gears (those are bipedal tanks if you’re not up to date with the series). Snake ends up on a ship passing through the Hudson River in a scene which is frankly fantastic if you’re a fan of cinema. Snake casually smokes a cig in his rain coat and gradually picks up his pace to then bungee jump off a bridge onto a ship. Re-watching this cinematic is still wonderful and possibly my favourite opening in the series. So you’re all happy playing as your hero Solid Snake. You fight a Russian girl, you take pictures of a metal gear along with sleeping soldiers, and then the game ends. Well, at least your control of Snake ends.  It has become known as the biggest historic bitch slap to the face of gaming history. After playing literally a couple of hours of the game, you are then put into the shoes of the far less interesting character: Raiden. Yeah, Raiden is no Solid Snake.  He has blonde hair, is pretty skinny, and lacks that testosterone appeal that we are used to from the much preferred Solid Snake. So you play as Raiden thinking “no big deal we’ll get back to Snake soon.” Wrong! You continue as Raiden for the rest of the game. So it’s kinda of disappointing but doesn’t completely ruin the gaming, its just not the Metal Gear story we were expecting.

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Written by jamalais

February 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

Retrospective: Saint’s Row

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When Grand Theft Auto III hit the Playstation 2 in 2001 it was unlike anything we had seen before.  Sure, the sandbox concept had been dabbled with from time to time and by the name alone it’s clear that Grand Theft Auto had been an established franchise, car stealing and hooker beating included.  It was GTA III that put everything together and re-established the concept of 3D world building and open variety of player choice.  Despite all the freedom of GTA III – not to mention the fact that most of my friends have explored Liberty City and put tens of hours into the game but never played more than the first handful of missions – it’s a very linear game.  Not only that, but as missions progress the game gets quite difficult and the open alive city is a drawback to completing missions.  That’s where Volition and Saint’s Row step in to attempt the next step: an open world where everything you do from running around to side missions affect the main story.

Saint’s Row began life in 2003 as a PS2 game called Bling Bling.  Senior producer Greg Donovan discussed the genesis of the title at GDC 2014 and the difficulty of pitching the game to THQ, which up to this point had not published anything like it.  Donovan and his team envisioned a game about a free world and all the minutia that make up that open world to recreate the gangster lifestyle.  The actual phrasing from the pitch video was, “Bling Bling is a third person action game about style, music, gangs, and guns.  It is the video game equivalent to a rap music video.”  Donovan and developer interviews since haven’t been too forthcoming with how the game eventually became a sandbox open world game, but given that both GTA III and Vice City were already out when Bling Bling began development it almost makes sense that it would take on the same style.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 5, 2016 at 11:00 am

Altered Beast Review

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Altered Beast was a game that lived in screenshots.  Like it or not, the arcade System 16 classic was less known for the roller skating rinks, bars, and bowling alleys that it was intended to get popular on and instead became the poster child for early Genesis advertising.  I say this as someone who was under 10 years old at the time it premiered, though, so perhaps it was burning up the arcades, but all I seem to remember was it coming home.  I did get a chance to play the title in coin-op form at my local bowling alley, but after a handful of attempts that never got me further than the second level I gave up on replaying the game.  When it came home, however, I needed it on my Genesis and I replayed it constantly.  In fact, for a game that is not only easy but also quick to complete (probably about 30 minutes), I find myself replaying it more than most other games from my past.  This even more odd given that, sadly, Altered Beast is not a very good game.

altered_beast_arcade_beast_modeThe premise is that of a centurion of Greece brought back by Zeus to save Athena, his daughter, who has been kidnapped.  Upon your resurrection, you now gain the ability to take the form of different animals in a sort of “were-” hybrid (werewolf, weredragon, werebear, etc) that can be accomplished by collecting power-ups in the level.  Beyond that Altered Beast is nothing more than a walk to the right and beat up everything in your path game, often known today as a brawler, but given that it pre-dates most of the Konami licensed brawlers and Capcom’s Final Fight, it was significant for the time.  Levels can vary in length, but if you know the game in the least – and what needs to be done – you’ll clear each one in 5 minutes or less.  Given that there’s only 5 levels, that’s a short time span.  When I refer to knowing what needs to be done, that’s the need to destroy the albino wolves in each level, which contain the power-ups needed to make your character’s strength grow and eventually trigger “beast mode.”  Each level rotation has 3 albino wolves and it takes 3 power-ups to go into beast mode, so you have to do it right the first time through or go through another rotation of the level that is usually harder than the first.  Beast mode refers to your character transforming into the aforementioned were-beasts from earlier and has even crept its way into pop culture as a meme.  While there are new enemies in each level, they all take basically the same amount of hits to defeat and aside form some basic change in behavior, don’t differentiate very much.  That’s still not to say this game didn’t have talent behind it because designer Makoto Uchida would earn some notoriety for his future work on Golden Axe and a personal favorite Dynamite Deka (Die Hard Arcade series).  Co-designer Hirokazu Yasuhara is even more notable with his planning and design on the early Sonic the Hedgehog titles before moving on and being involved in the design of Jak & Daxter titles with Naughty Dog and eventually the first Uncharted.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 1, 2016 at 11:00 am

Tomb Raider Anniversary Review

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The original Tomb Raider was more than just a 32 bit title that launched a strong Playstation franchise, it was a cultural phenomenon.  For those that have ever played it, especially if you’ve recently gone back, it’s rather difficult to appreciate that game without the amazing strength of nostalgia.  Fortunately when Crystal Dynamics took over for the franchise with Legend the company’s second project was to remake the original.  As the following reviews will attest, it was a good faith effort to not only switch up the mechanics and polish the weaker points of the first game, but ultimately the need to keep many of the levels and designs intact tarnish the experience.  Crystal Dynamics played it safe with how little it tweaked of the original formula and what resulted was a game that feels so updated and tight at some points and so sluggish and archaic at others.

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Written by jamalais

December 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Ongoing Series: Tomb Raider Anniversary

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For the November game club we are playing through Tomb Raider, both the original and anniversary. Fred is tackling Anniversary. By popular request two versions of each video is being uploaded: one with and one without commentary. This has commentary, so if you wish to see the one without simply go here.

Written by Fred Rojas

November 17, 2015 at 11:00 am

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