Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Games Vs Games - A hipster among sheep

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I usually keep some sort of game magazine subscription going to keep up to date with what's new and cool in the gaming world and also get some ideas for which games to invest time and money into next. As I have become more and more interested in computer games and less in the newer consoles (a price issue really, I have a computer and can not afford new consoles) I've decided to switch from a console gaming magazine to a PC one.

Regardless of TV or computer games, I've noticed a trending theme in these magazines. Inreasingly more and more articles are written about how games can transcend their lowly state as mere games and become more than simply entertaining, because we all know having fun is for stupid people anyway, right? You may have noticed a hint of sarcasm there but don't worry - there will be plenty more before I am done here.

It's no news or surprise to anyone that the gaming industry, and games generally, have something of an inferiority complex towards other means of entertainment. If you tell people you're really into books or movies they will most likely think you're cool. You're even cooler if you start quoting books or movies, or have deep discussions about them. Not so much for us gamer equivalents, unfortunately. Although more than 30 years have passed since gaming became a thing, we're still reluctant to tell people how much games mean to us and how much time and effort we spend on them. I used to be like this but feel like I have mostly overcome it and can now gladly tell anyone that I can spend hours a day on gaming. That probably 80% of my free time goes into gaming. Fortunately for me, in my line of work this has actually turned out to be something of a benefit. As I work a lot with young people, I have an easy way to open up a conversation with almost anyone, as long as they're into some sort of gaming.


I miss my undead...


I've become something of the "corky gamer girl" at work (because that's what you are if you like games), and I haven't noticed anyone having a problem with it. I do get reactions when I first tell people, like "really? That much time?", but no one really cares what I do in my spare time. There are people around me that I still can't talk about this with of course. My grandpa would have a hissy fit and probably not speak to me for months if I told him how much time I spend with games, although that time is equally matched by his time watching TV. It doesn't matter. To a lot of people today gaming is still seen as a menial form of entertainment. That it is in essence mostly dumbing anyone who spends "too much time with it" (whatever that is). There are many reasons for this and discussing them might be another post all together. That's not what I wanted to talk about today however - instead my point is that even after all this time, we gamers still sometimes feel bad about what we love to do most. Shameful even, we hide and lie about it like we're talking about drugs. In the past I've said things like I was "going to this event with friends" when talking about raiding, because that's what it basically is anyway and I couldn't be arsed with the looks and trying to explain. No one would question a movie night or a book reading club. But oh I forget, they're sociable. Yeah, sarcasm again.

Because of this, gamers have constantly seeked to transform games into something that all the non-gamers can understand and accept. Sure, you can argue that fuck everyone else, if they don't like your gaming then what's the problem? Well, there is a problem if you're living at home and your parents refuse to let you game at all because they just don't understand it, or if like mentioned you constantly have to hide and lie about your gaming because your "irl" friends think you're weird otherwise. I think, trying to increase the status of gaming as a form of entertainment worth to spend a lot of time and money on is a mission worth working for. But there are good and bad ways to go about it.

We're already seeing a form of trying to get games into everyones hands in the form of "simple" games that are Angry Birds and Farmville. Many gamers would argue that these are barely games at all, which of course, they are. There is a danger with these games that goes beyond the scope of this post, but is still necessary to mention - the fact that more and more gaming studios will focus on these small (ie cheaply developed games) that are easy to sell rather than the big, risky projects that we love. This is a real fear going through the gaming community at the moment, but I'm not overly worried myself. As long as there is an interest there will be a product, somehow.
 

Happy birds are much cuter though
These two things however, gamers low self-esteem and the market being flushed with "mindless mini-games" has led to an interesting development, and this is where this new trending theme comes back into the picture (you remember that thing I mentioned in the beginning?). More and more articles in gaming mamagazines are about games that are not supposed to be games. They are not designed to be fun, they are designed to be... important. To tell a story. To make you think. To make you feel something. You know, unlike regular games which you just play like a mindless drone because you can't help yourself (whoops, sarcasm!).

I don't mind meta-games, or "deep" games, or poetic games at all. I think they have their time and place as well, and thought we could all live in happy co-existance although my personal interest in them is generally low. I can find it interesting with wanting to create a game that is primarily designed to make you reflect over your own gaming behavior or the meaning of life, rather than to  "just" entertain old school style. I even subscribed to a magazine that started a couple of years ago called "The Enemy" in swedish (Fienden) which was a gaming magazine about games without a single review in it. It discussed games in a sort of abstract, study of ideas kind of way instead and I was intruiged by the idea. Sadly it was cancelled after the first issue.

But then I read an article that somehow really wound me up. It got me furious in fact, because of one little quote. The quote was from Michaël Samyn of the Tale of Tales game studio, and you'll have to bear with my amateur translation as  the magazine is in swedish;

"The problem with games is the 'game' part. That a game per definition is about learning rules, use them to overcome an obstacle and then win, and which therefor is almost always suited to tell only one story - the story of someone who's constantly challenged by enemies and defeats them. It's because of this that games can never be a meaningful form of expression." (Paraphrased, Svenska PC Gamer p.30)

I don't even know where to get started with this quote. What really grinds my gears is saying that games can't be a meaningful form of expression. In the article, Samyn continues discussing how the core structure in games is what is standing in its way to.. what, really? I'm not sure what he thinks "regular" games are lacking at the moment? The possibility to make us feel? To make us engrossed, entertained, to think and contemplate? For some reason I take this personal. It's like he is saying "remember those awesome memories you have of playing FFVII? Remember how cool you thought it was and how happy you were, and how still today it makes you smile? Yeah unfortunately that was just a lowly experience, it wasn't really meaningful". Then what is, I must ask? And who is Samyn to tell me that what I feel playing a good game isn't "real", "worthy" or "meaningful" enough? How can you even use such a word, "meaningful"? I thought I was the only one who could say what was meaningful to me or not.


You will not take this experience from me
The worst thing about it is that it doesn't even make any sense. That is like saying "The problem with driving a car is the 'driving' part. You have to shift gears and turn roads and stuff. That's why it can never be as fun as flying a plane". Or like saying reading Harry Potter can never be as meaningful as reading Frank Kafka. You're comparing apples and oranges here! I'm not saying Samyns own games are shit, frankly I don't have a clue. I'm saying that his games are not designed to give me the same sort of experience as say, Neverwinter Nights, so how can you even compare them? If I have fun playing NWN, then that is exactly what I am after and the experience is meaningful to me.

Yes, games have rules. In case you haven't noticed, everything in the universe has rules. I can't walk through walls even if I wanted to, and have to obey to the rules of physics (although in quantum-physics you can go through walls theoretically, but that's beside the point). I am sure the games Samyn creates have rules too and I am sure that if they didn't they wouldn't be very fun games. Wikipedia states that;

"Key components of games are goals, rules, challenge, and interaction"

Although there is no clear definition of a game, I am sure that without a goal to strive to and challenges to overcome, it wouldn't be much of a game. An interactive story maybe, but not a game. When I play a game I want that challenge, and I want that goal to make the challenge fun to overcome. That is why I play a game rather than watch a movie or read a book. When I want a story without interaction, goals, rules and challenge, I go to those forms of media instead. So what is Samyn trying to tell me?

In fact, Samyn has started an organisation called "NotGames", focused on creating games (well, not games) that have risen above and beyond what regular games are trying to accomplish. Even the article goes on to point out that by saying you're making "NotGames", you're basically saying you're making anything, because anything except a game is a notgame, and who would be the target audience for those creations? In the article some game studios that have hooked on to the idea admit that they don't want to call their creations "notgames" for the fear of losing potential customers. You know, gamers. Who play games.

And what kind of a concept is that anyway? You wouldn't see anyone start a car company called "NotCars" or a sausage brand called "NotSausage". If they're not what they're not trying to be, then why even point it out? By saying you're not making a game, you're immediately connecting your product to games, unless you're just trying to be Captain Obvious.


I'TS NOT A CAR!
Why make THIS an issue to fight for when there are real issues within the gaming industry. Like the above mentioned fact that games still have a really low status as a form of entertainment, besides the fact that basically everyone plays some sort of game sometimes and that it's at least as big as the movie industry (I'm guessing). Or how about the fact that anyone not conforming to general play style in the increasingly popular online games is often ridiculed and turned into an outcast, basically making gaming into a "do it our way or no way at all"-style. These are things I think are worth addressing and trying to change - not that regular games are not "meaningful" and "deep" enough.

The last few years I have been thrilled to see indie developers getting a chance to disitribute their games and find markets through systems like Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter, to mention a few. The gaming community doesn't just need yet another FIFA or Medal of Honor, there is room for pretty much anything. And it is true that one of the most popular games of recent years, Minecraft, came from a no name creator rather than one of the big developing studios. It is clear that good gaming can come from anywhere. Of course there are differences between these games, just as there is differences between movies and books. And I don't mind us comparing the games, discussing which and what is better. But let us not discuss gamers. Let us not go there where one choice of games is held as better than another choice. Is the person playing To the Moon living a more meaningful life than the person playing LoL? I find the choice in games can hardly say anything about that. Gamers are already fighting the view of gaming being the lower choice of entertainment, do we really want to faction up within the community as well?




In the end all of these creations want to be games,
no matter what they call themselves, and I think they should be treated equally, within their own merits. When a movie reviewer reviews Die Hard 5, he's not comparing it to Shindler's List (I hope). He's not telling us which one is more meaningful. The review is not based on anything else but the quality of the movie - as a movie within it's own genre. I think IGN reviewers Anthony Gallegos did it right when he gave To the Moon a 7.5 because of a great story but weak gameplay. If you choose to tell your story through a game you need to think about all aspects of the game. It is true that really great stories can make you forgive mistakes in graphics, gameplay and physics. But if you're playing a game these will all still matter - just look at practically any Bethesda game of late. And if you want to make games, don't belittle the competition and even worse, the choices of potential customers.

The article writer points out that it's easy to write off the whole idea as Samyn being a pretentious wannabe whos creations will be art - but not games. Those creations will have their place in the world as well, but they'll have as much to do with games as anything else - inspired by and from perhaps, nothing more. And I am perfectly fine with that. Like I said, I believe in letting anyone create, like and play whatever they enjoy whether it be Mass Effect or Okami or something else completely. What I don't believe in however is gamers looking down on other gamers for their choices. Like I said; It's tough enough having to defend what I do to everyone who don't play games, I really don't want to start doing it within the gaming community. 

Right now I think Samyn and others like him are doing themselves a disservice. They have a really interesting idea on their hands, but decide to go all hipster with it, alienating the very people that might be interested in it by calling them and their game choices sheepish. Yes, philosophical games can be great, but so can regular games. Because there is no denying that no matter how much you strive to find that thing that make people really think, enjoy and feel like they've made something meaningful with their life it's hard to beat a plain old simple, awesomely fun game. These don't have to be exclusive and the one is not better than the other. As long as I get happy from playing it, it's meaningful to me. Just look at Tetris and say I am wrong.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Game Review: Broken Sword 2.5

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Although I consider myself a gamer-grrrl (yeah, I went there), there are very many game genres I love in theory, but suck at and hence very rarely play in practice. Genres such as shmupps (Gradius), beat-em-ups (Turtles in Time), run & gun shmupp (Contra), shooters (Half-life, System Shock) and horror games (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Amnesia and so on). Each of these genres hold a ton of games I would love to play, in some cases I've tried and failed miserably, in others I've just haven't had the nerve to try yet and so I've left them for now. Hey, at the moment I'm just proud with myself for finally getting into strategy and adventure gaming somewhat.

And then there is point-and-click adventure games, which I also totally love but by the sweet mother of all Red Herrings am I bad at puzzle solving. I'm not even very fond of puzzle solving, outside of games that is, and I suppose that reflects on my skills (or rather lack thereof) in puzzle solving games. I still love them, but the problem is that if they're either not involving enough, story-wise, or just plain too hard, I usually leave it at loving them from afar. Because of this I haven't played overly many point-and-click adventure games, but got around to finishing a couple from the Monkey Island series, Full Throttle, The Dig and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. All from LucasArts, I know. They know how to do point-and-click adventures, what can I say?

Then I've played Broken Sword 2
, which I actually really liked. Unlike the LucasArts games, well especially the Monkey Island series, the Broken Sword games are less crazy in their puzzles and could maybe therefor be seen as easier. I don't think they're easy at all, but at least they rarely ask you to combine the rat hair with the pen and the paper sheet to create a fake lollipop to give to the blind kid to get the key to the door to... well you get the idea. The Broken Sword series has given me an opportunity to play a different kind of point-and-click adventure and I loved it.

I was therefore very happy to read that a couple of fans had taken it into their hands to release a "proper" sequel to Broken Sword 2, lovingly called Broken Sword 2.5 or Baphomets Fluch (that's german for Curse of Baphomet, I guess they were germans who did it). I say "proper" in quotation marks because there already is a Broken Sword 3, it's just not as popular as the second game, and I've never played it either. Apparently these fans, along with most other people, didn't like the turn the game had taken from pretty hand-drawn 2d graphics to 3d graphics, and wanted to see if they could make it better themselves. Since I haven't played the third game, I can't say if they succeeded, but I can tell you whether I think it's a worthy sequel to Broken Sword 2.


Recognize this we do
I really liked the art-style of Broken Sword 2, so I too was quite bummed to see the switch to 3d graphics. I am glad to say that BS2.5 looks pretty much exactly like it. In fact, the title makes it justice since this feels more like a DLC or a little extra play on the original BS2 than it's own game. Although it takes place several years after the story in BS2, this one borrows heavily both in characters and locations. If this game wanted players to get a nostalgic feel of the good old days of BS2 with the possibility to play a new adventure at the same time, they've definitely succeeded as you'll recognize a lot if you've played BS2.

Overall this game follows the recipe of BS2 by the book. The puzzles are similar, everything looks the same. I am amazed that they managed to get voice actors for all the characters, not only in one but in two languages - German and English. I only listened to the German voice actors shortly, but thought they sounded good. The English voice actors also do an ok job.

Since I am completely daft at puzzle-solving I struggled a lot with this game. Like I said, I've always loved Broken Sword for it's, relatively, logical puzzles and that goes for this game too. That's not to say that some of the puzzles are quite difficult. In the end you resort to simply combining everything you have with everything you see in a routine pattern, but there are less things to click on here on each screen than in many point-and-click adventures which makes this a little less time-consuming. And once you figure it out you'll obviously think "ah yeah, of course".

Since George (the main character) travels all around the place, it must be difficult to design areas where you make sure the player gets everything he needs to continue elsewhere, without making it too obvious or simple. This is something BS2 did at some points, if I rememeber correctly you for instance find a "heap of garbage" towards the end that conveniently contains everything you need to continue. BS2.5 only suffers from this mildly, and only a few of the puzzles feel like they should've been better (the dog in the train for instance). There are a couple of instances where you die (ie Game Over) if you don't act quickly, which I find is a fun break to the usually slow pace that is common in point-and-click adventures, as long as it's not done too often.



Yup, still familiar
The story is, in all honesty, not very interesting compared to BS2, mostly probably because it hinges so much on you having played that to have any interest in the plot in this one. So much that it doesn't offer much on its own. George finds out his girlfriend Nicole has gone missing, The Knights Templar from BS2 seem to have something to do with it and he sets off to find out what. If you haven't played BS2 the story of BS2.5 falls completely because of its shallowness. This is forgivable since it's probably pretty much assumed that you will only play this game because you liked BS2 so much, and then mostly as an excuse to relive that game rather than offer anything new.

This leads to me often getting the feeling that characters and situations are put in there just to be a nod to BS2, but again this is forgivable because that is really what this game is all about. It just means that if you have no interest in the Broken Sword games you probably won't understand much of what is going on (or read this review in the first place, so there is that). There is no characters development or any real explanation to some characters existence, it's a long series of cameo appearances mostly.


And this is BS2, not much of a difference right?


Now, I make it sound like this game isn't worth you time at all, but that's not it. If you liked BS2, all I'm talking about above are exactly reasons why you should give this game the roughly two hours it takes to complete it. All through the game you will smile to yourself and think about where you met that character or what you did in that location in BS2, and that is all this game wants to do. Reminisce, while also offering a little puzzle-solving fun. And if you finish it, you get a little bonus at the end, I won't tell you what though! But it's little things like that, that make me extra happy and like a game all the more.

It took these guys 8 years to complete this game and it is completely free of charge. If that's not dedication I don't know what is. It's fun to know that the creator of Broken Sword, Charles Cecil was contacted about this game before the creation began and gave his consent and thumbs up. In fact I am amazed at what they have managed to accomplish and think it's blasphemy that it hasn't got more attention. The only problem I have with it is that it is a bit too short and I only wish they would've had the money to go even further with this story. Maybe because I too really wish for a "proper" BS2 sequel. It's extremely true to BS2, as a game trying to honor its legacy should be, and if you had any fun playing BS2 you should definitely check this out. It is worth a couple of hours of your game time.

Friday, February 15, 2013

5 Games That Need a Remake

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So, System Shock 2 has "finally" been released on GoG.com, apparently a highly anticipated re-release of a game this year. I put it in " (quotation marks) however, because personally this might as well have been the first release - I completely missed this game the first time around so I can't really say finally to this happening. The game was released in 1999 the first time, when I was only 14 years old and considering I still sleep with the lights on occasionally I am sure 14-year old me would've shit herself just looking at the cover of this game. Besides, back then I only had a Mac and this game probably didn't run on that (always find somewhere to sneak some Mac-whining in if I can).

This time around I was intrigued though, the game looks really interesting. I love what they do over at GoG.com, releasing old games in playable versions again is a genius idea and now I've put both this and Planescape Torment on my list of games to buy. I might quite possibly add Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale to that list. So I have been, and will be, playing a lot of old school games lately, both on console and computer. And it has got me thinking a lot about stuff like graphics, game play, controls - then vs now. A lot of the games I play are perfect the way they are, like for instance Settlers 2. They've tried improving on that concept numerous times but I honestly think that it can't get much better than how they did it in the second game. Not even the graphics need to get better, they're perfect already (both in the original and the 10th anniversary edition). I can see and understand what I need to see and understand, I don't need it to be HD 3d or what not. In fact I think it would be worse off with more schmancy put in it.

Sarah Kerrigan?

But then there are a ton of games out there that are so much fun to play, they are basically perfect, but they could do good with a little face lift. System Shock 2 might well fit into this category. I'm not talking about changing the story or the characters or the gameplay in any way, simply hotting up the graphics a bit (or a lot) or change a couple of bugs here and there, just to make the game look and feel the way it truly deserves. Since there are so many games out there that would deserve this treatment, this is not going to be a top-list, simply five games that I, off the top of my head, really feel need this and that I would throw money at in an instant if it was made. See it as a part 1, and there might be a part 2 in the future.

5. Stalker
I'm a pretty big fan of the concept built up by the Strugatskij brothers short-story Roadside Picnic, although I'm actually not overly fond of the book itself (might be the horribad swedish translation of it that I read though). The story, as Wikipedia puts it;

"Roadside Picnic is a work of fiction based on the aftermath of an extraterrestrial event (called the Visitation) which simultaneously took place in half a dozen separate locations around Earth for a two-day period. Neither the Visitors themselves nor their means of arrival or departure were ever seen by the local population who lived inside the relatively small (a few square kilometers) area of each of the six Visitation Zones. Such zones exhibit strange and dangerous phenomena not understood by humans, and contain artifacts with inexplicable, seemingly supernatural properties."

 The book spawned a movie (which I like) and a game series of three named Stalker: Clear Sky, Stalker: Call of Pripyat and Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. Now, I will admit that I have never actually played any of these games myself, but my ex loved them fiercly so that I got to see a lot of gameplay from them. And I will agree that they look like a lot of fun, and like I said I totally love the concept and the games follow the book idea very closely, making a really interesting game series out of it. It is scary as shit and really requires you to think as a survivor to make it through the game.

It desperately needs to be remade though, but this one probably needs the graphic update the least of the games on the list. What it does need however is a total sweep of all the bugs and sometimes weird design choices that riddle the game. Because this game is so good, yet so filled with sometimes crippling bugs it has a fairly big fan base that has taken it into their own hands to remedy the situation. There are loads of good mods to download to all three of these games that ease up on some of the worst bugs and issues. Creds to their work and dedication, but it only goes to show how much this game series needs, deserves and would joy the fans to get a complete overhaul.

4. Escape Velocity
This is probably a game not many of you have heard of and I don't blame you. EV is a modest little space game, and actually there are three games in the series although they are all very similar. You shoulder the role as the captain of a ship and... that's pretty much it. What you want to do with that ship and how you want to spend your space traveling days is completely up to you. You've got a vast expanse of space and loads of star systems to explore. You can choose to trade, do quests or turn into a pirate if you like. Considering how small this game is, it really offers a lot and I remember spending hours with it when I was little. If I remember correctly it was one of the first games I paid for, since if you don't a little space shuttle comes and pesters you for money (it's a shareware product) and in the end he is out to kill you. Once you've paid the 5$ or whatever the game cost back then, he leaves you alone though.


Pew pew
When I was little I usually stuck to trading, keeping track on which goods were wanted in which systems, where I could buy them cheaply and sell them expensively. If you venture too far away from the center, that is the Sol system, you will eventually enter creepy regions held by rebel confederations and even further than that is not much more than pirates who will attack and rob you on sight. If you feel up to it you can upgrade your ship in many different ways, either getting bigger freighter models to ship more goods, or getting combat models to fight the pirates yourself. If you don't feel like fighting but want to be able to defend yourself, you can hire escorts and bodyguards that will do the fighting for you. If you're skilled enough you can disable ships and board them and well, there are just lots of things to do.


All systems lead to Rome
So this game offers a lot in terms of gameplay and fairly much in content, but it has an extremely simplistic graphics style. It doesn't really need more, in the sense that it's perfectly playable and fun the way it is, but I just always feel it could give so much more. For instance most planets, moons and space stations can be landed on (if the local government allows it), but is only represented by the one screen, with a picture of the planet landscape and a few different places to go to like "Trade Center" to trade, "Shipyard" to buy new (or used)ships or "Bar" to get quests and hear gossip from around the galaxy.

I just try to imagine how awesome this game would be if it had actual 3d graphics, or at least a bit more than it offers now. If this was turned into a game with a million dollar budget rather than what it might have had now, something with graphics similar to Mass Effect maybe. It could be an MMO too with people trading, pirating and rebeling all over the place. Come to think of it, maybe this is what EVE Online is?

3. Jackie Chan's Stuntmaster

I'm a pretty big fan of Jackie Chan, I'd honestly give just about anything to meet him and I am super excited just at the prospect that he might be in Expendables 3. I wish he wouldn't age so that he could just go on and make magnificent movies his entire life, if someone deserves immortality it's him. But just because Jackie Chan is just about the coolest person alive, doesn't mean any of his games are any good. I've only played one though, and it is pretty awesome - Jackie Chan's Stuntmaster on PSX.

I read a review on IGN about it and the author mentions one of the things I really like about the game - that there is so much of Jackie in it. It isn't just his name on the cover, the entire game feels pretty much like playing one of his movies. Jackie has done motion capture for the character you play (which obviously is Jackie himself) meaning you do loads of cool kicks, punches and jumps just like him. He has added a lot of little Jackie-lines, quirky one-liners that crack me up each time and are sometimes nonsensical in a hilarious way. Here and there on the levels are items lying around, really random things like a big fish, a paint roller, a plunger, anything really, that can be used as a weapon for a short time. Each weapon comes with it's own unique combination of kicks and punches where Jackie combines the weapon into his fighting. Everything about this game oozes Jackie, so if you're a Jackie fan this game is a must have.


Name one other game where you can smack people with a broom?

 But even if you're, not this is still a pretty good beat-em-up (although I suspect all the Jackie stuff gets annoying unless you love Jackie). I'm only on the third level and get my ass handed to me. The control is pretty sophisticated, with the possibility to counter-attack, roll, kick, target-lock, punch and combine all of those things in different combos. The AI isn't too clever, but damn are they fast sometimes, so you have to think carefully about offense and defense to not end up surrounded and beaten to a pulp. The game also offers some platforming and collecting, which is quite fun since it requires some good timing to do well (and not die).

So how cool would this game not be if it was updated to modern graphics? If Jackie consisted of not 10 pixels, but maybe 10.000 pixels (or whatever amount we use nowadays)? Funnily enough, the reviewer on IGN thinks the graphics are very good, and they probably were back then (the review was written 2000), but now they could definitely do with a lot of polishing to make Jackie look as cool as he can. The control could maybe use a little tweaking, but overall this game is pretty perfect the way it is. And it would totally rock ass if it was even prettier.

2. Resident Evil 2
I doubt this game needs much of an introduction, even if you've never played it you've most likely heard of it. This is the second game in the Resident Evil series, which apparently is Capcoms best selling game series (yes, even better than Megaman and Castlevania). A lot of people consider this second game to be the best, although I know many think the newer games like the fourth and fifth are pretty good too. Personally I prefer the first one just because it really gets the ominous feeling down perfectly and because it is the basis for the freaky story that is the RE series. The latter games take the virus to all new levels, where you mostly try to just reduce the damages of Umbrellas (possibly the best name for a villain company ever) plans of world-domination (or whatever, that's what it seems to escalate into anyway). But in the first one you simply discover all of these things, and that is also true for the second game that takes place in the same time but in a different location.


This...
Now if it wasn't for the Gamecube remake of RE1, that game would've been on this spot on this list. But since we got that, I feel like RE2 is next in line, not only because they've promised us this remake ages ago already. Where did that go to? I have no idea. If the RE1 remake didn't sell enough to make Capcom want to give RE2 the same love I'd blame that more on the lack of interest in the Gamecube than lack of interest in the remake.

...could be this.

I actually like the changes they did to the original game in the remake, they kept enough of the original to make it feel familiar but added a lot of new things to make it worth a replay not just for the updated graphics. Admittedly, the original is ugly as shit and needed that remake so badly, whereas RE2 is ok graphic-wise. But it would look so good with the same crisp graphics as the RE remake or the graphics of RE6 for instance. And like I said - it has been promised. Now deliver.


PROMISES!

1. Final Fantasy 7
Big surprise, right? I know it's a pretty obvious choice, but that's for so many reasons. FF7 is one of the games that really got me into gaming and I have so many good memories tied to this game. I'm not the only one, tons of people love this game for its great story and awesome characters (except Yuffie, I still hate her for stealing my materia). The music is superb and personally I think the replay
value is really high.


Nice eh... hands?
But there is no denying that this game is really, really ugly. I mean, I can look at it and think it looks kind of good out of nostalgic reasons. The fact that the characters hands are made up of one big square looking block and that they don't really even have faces in game is kind of charming, in a way. It does require you to fill in a lot with imagination, and I don't mind doing that. But seriously, I'd chop off my pinky toe for a ff7 that has the graphics of Advent Children.

Square Enix knows this! And it makes me wring my hands in furious agony knowing they're probably sitting on that gold mine to save them on a rainy day, the same way Nintendo is probably releasing Pokemon X&Y soon to beat the crap out of Sonys handheld (when they've probably had the game for ages). And they really wouldn't have to change anything about the game except the graphics, everything else is perfect!


Oh look, fingers.
I heard somewhere at some point that the reason they hadn't released a remake was simply because the data used for ff7 was outdated somehow, so that they would have to redo it all from scratch. That might be true, but Capcom did it with RE! And if Capcom didn't have to go through the work of redoing all the graphics from scratch, somehow, I am sure Square Enix will find that it is worth their time and effort, as it will surely end up selling better than their latest installment of FF. So Square Enix, look at these puppy eyes - > ._.

Hear my begging: Puh-puh-puh-puhleeaaaaaaase do a remake on ff7!

Yeah, that should do it.

Like I said though, I have a couple of other games that could fit on this list, but I needed to have some sort of limitation to it, or I would sit here writing a book about it. I'll save them for a potential second list! What other games do you think should get the remake-loving?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Field Report - Play ALL The Games

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Wow guys, it's been over half a year (8 months!) since I last gave an update on what I'm up to. Why haven't you said anything?! I'm sure you're dying to know! Enough with all the videos of me pretending to heal and what not that I post on this so called blog, and back to a little good old face to face (well uh... computer screen to computer screen) talking, shall we?

Last time I took some time to tell you about what the heck was going on around here, which at the time I barely knew myself, I felt like my WoW gaming was definitely coming to a very slow end. Slow, because I don't really want to quit. I still have fun in WoW, but thruth is I play it less and less. But I think I am cutting ahead here, let's get back to June 2012. Life was looking up, WoW was somewhat looking down. I had just gone through a long playing period of "The Dying of the Guilds" (hey that's a pretty good movie name), where I just swapped from one guild to the next and watched them crumble around me. Admittedly not from one week to the other, but maybe that just made things worse in a way. Just as I got comfortable in one guild it felt like it was time to pack my bags and find a new one. It killed a lot of things within me, but especially my desire for progression raiding. Also my work schedule didn't really allow it. Now, finally, it seemed in the end that I found a guild that fit me. Apparently they did have some guild drama where a lot of the raiders left leaving them back on 10 man where they had been a pretty decent 25 man, but you know what? I didn't even notice. And I am really glad at that. So what AM I doing in WoW then?

World of Warcraft
The answer is, not much really. Nowadays I log on once maybe every other day, do a couple of dungeons on my alts and after no more than an hour I am satisfied. I raid on average once every ten days to two weeks. Eventhough I had a short period where I absolutely loved doing dailies (yes even me, although I've basically never done dailies before because they're so boring) and logged on every day to do at least that, nowadays I literally only do a dungeon or two every other day. Although I knew this day would come I couldn't really picture it in my head, but now I am there and I am quite happy with it. I still can't really get myself to quit WoW because I am STILL having fun with it. I still love, love, love to heal on priest. Really, I do. My work doesn't allow me to raid very often but I don't even want to. Four hours every other week is fine by me. My guildies are lenient and nice, they suit my current gaming needs just perfectly.

All this time not playing WoW has led to something I've been longing to do for 7 years of being hooked on WoW however - play all the other good games that are out there. Before I finally felt like I was somewhat done with WoW (not just yet though) I just couldn't really find the time. Although there are loads of games I love to play, WoW was always just a little more interesting. So what have I been putting my time into lately?

Kotor2

I remember watching my brother play Kotor (the first one) ages ago thinking "that looks pretty fun". For some reason I had a fear of any but the kindest of games (the ones without enemies), a fear that I've finally overcome with the help of WoW among other things (I think actually growing up helped a lot too). So I decided that I wanted to play Kotor2, remember vaguely the story of the first game. Mostly I remembered really liking the combat system, and I was right - I do. There are a lot of things about Kotor2 that makes me pull my hair in frustration though, especially all the bugs and crashes that anyone whos played it is well aware of I am sure. I intend to do a little write up on the game when I done playing it however so I won't go into too much detail with it here. Let's just say that that game should be grateful it is as interesting and fun to play as it is, or I would never be arsed to try to plow through all those weird crashes I am having with it.

Guild Wars 2
I bought GW2 just a month or so after release, tried a race I can't even remember the name of right now and decided I didn't really like it. A couple of weeks ago however I thought I would give it another shot, probably after reading some sort of review or article on it (those always peak my interest). This time I did a Charr Warrior and that definitely suited me a lot better than the Necromancer I had been. There are a lot of things I like about GW2, and I think they've done a good job with getting me to want to discover the map and do the quests. Giving you almost everything for a one-time sum is just extremely generous when I compare to how much money I've put into WoW. I can only hope more MMO's try that because unfortunately another monthly cost is what is keeping me away from trying games like A Secret World. What I especially love about playing GW2 is how extremely noob I am at it however. This might sound strange but it makes me think about all the noob players I've encountered in WoW, how it amazed me that they knew so little about the game and also (at least some of them) seemed so uninterested in learning. Now I am walking in those noob-shoes myself and I totally get it.




As I play GW2 I am mildly interested in grouping and dungeoning, or even finding out how and when to do those things. I am perfectly fine with playing GW2 as a solo game that happens to have other players crossing my path every now and then, at least for now. I did join a guild, but mostly because I accepted some things that came up on my screen. And also so that I could ask someone about things I don't understand in the game. I have little to no interest in crafting or selling things on the Auction House (that I assume exists, I don't actually know!). I just got my first Trait, or so I think and I don't have a clue about what to do with it. I run around and bash enemies, but biggest goal with the game being to discover the world really and I have missed that feeling. Nothing is important or feels like a must-know or must-do. I am glad with doing everything wrong, probably gearing like a muppet but as long as I can kill stuff I am happy.

Pokemon
I've pretty much continously played some sort of Pokemon game ever since I got my hands on a Pokemon Blue. So far the only generation I haven't played is the second one, with Gold and Silver, but I will remedy that soon as I've got Soul Silver now. Currently I am playing Fire Red however, and loving it of course. I also decided to buy Pokemon Conquest after reading some good reviews on it and it is actually loads of fun. I agree with the people who say that it manages to combine Pokemon and strategy gaming although it does seem impossible. It is a fairly simple strategy game, which suits me. I actually quite like Strategy games and have tried many different, from FF Tactics to Disgaea, but I don't always have the patience with all the tinkering. In a way Pokemon Conquest is a good way to get started on strategy games and I might give my other ones a new chance once I am done with this one.




Console games
I started out as a console gamer actually, it's only in the later years that I've gotten into computer gaming. Nowadays I actually prefer the computer when it comes to newer games. My interest in ps3, xbox 360 and the wii (and now wiiU) is very limited. I just can't bring myself to pay that much money when I only want to play a handful of games, most annoyingly obviously is that I want to play a few on each console.

I am playing a lot of older games for consoles nowadays though. I'm only really missing a Sega Mega Drive to be able to play all the cool old games, and for some reason my NES doesn't want to work at the moment. The last couple of months I've been playing some PS, PS2 and Gamecube games (mostly Resident Evil, but I hope I will get around to playing Suikoden V and finally finishing FFVII), and also recently plugged in my SNES for some Super Mario World action.

And a little bit of this and that
And then there are a load of other games that I give a half an hour here and there. I started playing Settlers 2 again just the other day, I don't know how many hours I've put into that game in the past. I'm playing SimTower too, damn that game is addictive. I used to love it as a kid. I've been playing quite a lot of Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers too. I really love MtG and only wish I had someone to play it with, but this is a decent substitue. The fact that you can't really build your own decks doesn't bother me. I've been away from the game for so long I wouldn't know where to begin anyway so this is the perfect way for me to just jump into it to get a little bit of MtG fun when I have 20 minutes to fill somewhere. I did buy Skyrim some while ago but I feel that I'm already juggling too many games in the air and need to finish some of them before I get started on that one, as I suspect that might want a whole deal of time from me. My plan is to get Kotor2 done and then get started on Skyrim, it's not going anywhere so I'm not really in a hurry.

In other news I am really, really looking forward to the new 3d pokemon game, X & Y, but who isn't right? I have a DS but not a 3DS (the bf does though) so either I'll have to buy one or if I can contain myself I will wait until he is finished and play after him (but who am I kidding).

How is the gaming treating you guys anyway?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Will of the Emperor 10 Man Disc PoV

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Just yet another little video of a raid boss kill from me. Again, since this content is getting outdated (and the kill in the video was done in November or so) I'm not going to do a guide of this unless someone would like me to. Otherwise, if you have any questions regarding the encounter feel free to ask!

I find this fight quite worthy of being the end boss of this raid, it's challenging without being annoying really and has some tough bits for every role in the raid.