Editorial, Feature, Gaming, Video Games

Alessio & The Beastly Backlog: Shovel Knight

Welcome to another entry in my on-going series: Alessio & The Beastly Backlog. Last week we talked about The Astronaut’s The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, which was a first-person exploration / crime-solving simulator game with a whole lot of story to drive the player forward. This week we have the opposite type of experience in a myriad of ways: Shovel Knight, a fun side-scrolling adventure game more akin to Zelda II and Megaman that has very little narrative other than just enough to get you motivated to get through its beautifully designed stages and boss encounters.

Feature, Video Games

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review | Metal Gear Tuesdays

The day that all of the haters, skeptical fans, and Bayonetta fans have been waiting for is here, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is here! But is Revengeance the sharpest tool in the drawer? Come on, I’ll feed you, baby birds!

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360)
Plays Like: Devil May Cry and this cutscene from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots had a baby.
Difficulty: Mid, with a well paced learning curve.  

Since the original announcement of Rising‘s existence as a spin-off series, I’ve been eagerly anticipating more Metal Gear, knowing well that the spin-off would be a twist on the traditional MG gameplay made me all the more excited. I’ve never been a huge fan of Cyborg Raiden Mk. II of MGS4 fame (preferring his weak and “normal” version from MGS2 personally), but I love me some Japanese hack-n-slash action games, especially from the boys over at Platinum Games.

For those of you that saw my gameplay time with the demo, you probably remember my fears about the combat system getting tiresome over time, or the lack of other weapons hampering the main title, well, all those fears were for naught! Rising is kick-ass, fast-paced, and a hell of a lot of fun! Crank up some cheese metal and let’s get to dissecting this game!

Revengeance starts off with a brief cutscene and then that’s it, the game starts and never really slows down. One second you’re fighting a gigantic Metal Gear RAY, much larger than any other RAY in a Metal Gear game, then you’re on a train fighting Jetstream Sam, Raiden’s rival and Antonio Bandaras impersonator. The game feels like Zone of the Enders, in the way that you swim around the game world drifting in and out of battles, except with loads more gore and a much more over-the-top mentality. It’s like every idea that was thrown out by the writing and conceptual team just stuck, regardless of how ridiculous it was, and it just works so well.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if the game just was less ridiculous than I expected or if the game just presents the player with its view of “normal” so quickly that it just all feels right, but the game never really felt as corny as it really should have. I mean, the characters are all ridiculous and super stereotypes, and the plot seems to bend reality and the possible at every step of the way to make room for Raiden’s quest to be the best bad-ass to ever fight for justice and peace, but it’s never to such an absurd level that it makes you feel weird about it as a player. The world sets expectations and follows them, but not in a mundane way. It’s odd… like Adam West’s depiction of Batman, it all just feels… right. Really right.

And the gameplay fits just the same. It’s all just super fluid, fleshed out, simple yet complex, and so addicting, even if it doesn’t seem like it would be at first. Revengeance is the first game this year that I’ve stopped playing and craved playing it more while I was away. It just all makes sense. Platinum Games really pulled a number with this title, from the gameplay and performance to the pacing of the boss fights and reward system, all in a little over two years. Which brings me to my next point: this game is tough as nails as you progress into New Game+/higher difficulty territory. The tutorial level, in a sense, acts as a gut-check for all players, even in New Game+ modes, striping you of your power-ups and add-ons and forcing you to rely on your instincts and fighting mechanic expertise every time you start a new game. The game hits you with uneven odds sometimes, but every fight, besides the final boss fight, is fair. Nothing beats the feeling that you get after you’ve overcome a giant group of enemies, ranging from bigger bads to smaller foot soldiers, by parrying tons of attacks and chaining together blade-mode kills. Oh… sweet, sweet blade mode. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Overall, if you’re not into purely action based titles, or don’t like gore and massive amounts of violence in your video games, this one isn’t for you. However, if you miss a simpler time in video games, when the mechanics of a title were fairly easy to learn, but the mastering of the mechanics took hours and hours of practice and culminated in a triumphant endorphin release of glory as you destroyed the game’s big bads, then strap yourself in. This game is a blast! It’s a combination of the giant number of unlockables, VR missions, extra difficulty settings, enjoyable pacing, fast and addictive gameplay, and promise for actually interesting sounding DLC (involving playing as Jetstream Sam, some missions as Bladewolf, Raiden’s canine robo companion, and having a talking Solid Snake wooden sword) that make this game such a treat. Some folks may shy away from the $60 price-tag, but I definitely think that where the six hour or so campaign leaves you hanging as far as time x dollar spent, the number of extras and replay value more than make up for it.

PROS:

- A new Metal Gear game, and hopefully the start to a nice spin-off series or series of spin-offs.

- Goofy, over-the-top, storyline and music actually make this whole experience coalesce in a way that I didn’t think was possible.

- Super fluid, thought requiring, minimalist combat that is also extremely addicting

- Unlockables in a modern video game?! YES!

CONS:

- It ends.

- PS3 exclusive DLC

- Gray Fox Skin and Fox Blade only available through Gamestop pre-order

Podcast

Controller Freaks 11: Sam’s Bad Day

Sam, Jordan, Aaron, and Alessio are back once more for some random tomfoolery…and probably one of our most racist segments yet! Boy howdy. In this episode, we discuss:

  • What’s eating Sam?
  • Seg-yous? Seg-wheys?
  • SuperGNES: Android’s premier every game emulator
  • Dead Space 3
  • Racist WiiU news
  • Sony’s console follies (and Alessio’s Vita dilemma)
  • Call of Reparations: Black Suffrage
  • Next-gen used game locks
  • Final Fantasy XIV is poop
  • SportsTi.me
  • SimCity
  • Porn in your fridge (oh no…)
  • B-List superheroes that aren’t actually B-List superheroes
  • The GeekTi.me complaints department
  • Giving Gordon Freeman a voice
  • Aaron thinks Gabe Newell is gaming’s George Lucas
  • We come the closest we’ve ever come to murdering each other

You still with us? Good. Congratulations on an 11th job well done. Hope to see you for the next episode (though probably not next week. We’re skipping next week).

Controller Freaks (Episode 11)

 

(Credit for the Atari controller goes here.)

Podcast

Controller Freaks 5: Math Effect

We’ve survived the end of the world, we’ve survived Christmas, and we survived over a month of this show. Now, Sam, Jordan, and Alessio (but not Aaron, because *pfbbbt*) are back for round 5. We think we might actually be getting the hang of this podcast thing. Too bad no one listens. Today, we discuss:

  • FTL: Faster Than Light
  • Secret pedestals
  • How we buy each other games we don’t play
  • The Metal Gear series
  • The Kingdom Hearts series (as if 3.5 wasn’t enough)
  • .hack and Jordan’s dumb people math
  • Cluefinders and JumpStart (yes, seriously)
  • Adventure Time’s game is actually excellent
  • How to spend Amazon gift money
  • The future of digital games
  • The “Eighth Generation” of games
  • The World Ends With You
  • Mysogeny (but only a little bit)
  • How GTAV and Mass Effect 3 cause shootings, apparently
  • The “Mother” Demographic
And for the record, our headquarters was relocated to a cave. An actual honest to goodness cave. We’re currently exploring new location options.

 

Controller Freaks (Episode 5)

 

(Credit for the Atari controller goes here.)

Podcast

Controller Freaks 4: Obligatory Christmas Show

I’d make a “T’was the night before Christmas” joke here, but there are two too many in the actual show. This is GeekTi.me’s Christmas Special, wherein we try too hard to inject Christmas into something that really doesn’t need Christmas in it! HOW FUN! Points of discussion include:

  • Our favorite Final Fantasy summons
  • Arkham Horror
  • An unfortunate discussion about ESRB’s K-A rating
  • Rage! Game of the Year!
  • A special Quality Christmas poem (by Sam and Jordan)
  • Our Christmas Gaming memories
  • Potential Half-Life announcements
  • Our worst ever gaming related Christmas presents
  • Spandex
Be sure to stay tuned after the outro for something…special.

Controller Freaks (Episode 4)

 

(Credit for the Atari controller goes here.)

Podcast

Controller Freaks 3.5: Kingdom Heart Attack

Have you ever wanted to hear a Kingdom Hearts fan awkwardly attempt to explain the convoluted story of Kingdom Hearts? If so, you’re in luck. If not…I am so sorry. Since the crew got all scrambled because of The Hobbit, we weren’t able to record on our regular night. So with Jordan sick and Aaron and Alessio off being Italian somewhere…the burden of time wasting fell to me. Now you have a whole hours worth of Kingdom Hearts plot to listen to before Kingdom Hearts III comes out.

Who am I kidding? Kingdom Hearts III is never coming out.

There are a few “ums,” a lot of “uhs,” and quite a few “what am I doings,” but I hope you like it. And if not…I am so sorry. You will receive a full refund. We’ll be back next week with Episode 4, but until then…good luck.

And yes SPOILERS for every game in the Kingdom Hearts series, if that wasn’t immediately apparent.

Controller Freaks (Episode 3.5)

 

(Credit for the Atari controller goes here.)

Podcast

Controller Freaks 3: Persona 4 Golden Shower

This week, Jordan, Sam, Aaron, and Alessio discuss cool beans awesome things. The guys discuss:

  • How we totally write things
  • Persona 4 Golden
  • LittleBigPlanet Karting
  • How no one will let us forget about Jimmie Johnson
  • Skyrim with Guns (FarCry 3)
  • SkyBlackopsHalo 2 The Sequel
  • Nintendogs and also Cats
  • Our Top 3 Games of the Year
  • PetaMon
  • Our most anticipated games of 2013
  • HD Remakes
  • Game Character Ball Punching
  • Reviews from the Future

 

Controller Freaks (Episode 3)

 

(Credit for the Atari controller goes here.)

Podcast

Controller Freaks 2: Halo is a Cool Guy

This week, Jordan, Sam, and Aaron discuss a plethora of things, none of them being Mass Effect. Discussion includes: Need For Speed: Most Wanted, More Halo 4, Lego Games and Epic Mickey 2, the Wii U, how to make Fallout New Vegas more challenging, how to make a successful video game movie, and how to break the internet with Jordan Carroll.

Controller Freaks (Episode 2)

And for those who care, pertinent episodes of GeekTi.me Players are here:

Alone in the Dark and Jimmie Johnson.

(Credit for the Atari controller goes here.)

Podcast

Controller Freaks 1: It Begins

Join Jordan (Ploogle), Sam (DeadpoolSkye), and [REDACTED] (Yoshifett) for a discussion about games you won’t find anywhere else! This episode: Mass Effect, Hitman, Halo 4, and more.

Note: Jordan’s audio was recorded improperly and could definitely sound better. Those responsible have been sacked.

Controller Freaks (Episode 1)

(Credit for the Atari controller goes here.)

Feature, Film & TV, Video Games

Doctor Who Needs a Video Game

I am a complete and utter Doctor Who fanatic. Those who know me will also know this. I’ve been directly responsible for a mass amount of people entering in to the world of Doctor Who, a feat that I’m proud of.

One of the things I’ve always wanted was a Doctor Who video game. Not the mobile games, or the BBC adventure games, or even The Eternity Clock (a 2D side-scrolling…something or other). I want a full-fledged Doctor Who action game. A game where you can take on the role of the Doctor and, potentially, others to help rid the universe of its “problem children.”

The game would be a third person “action puzzler” (I suppose that’s the best genre I have for it). The big deal about it is that it probably wouldn’t be a 100% traditional action game. The Doctor is the most pacifistic action hero ever. He has his moments of rage and anger, but his big thing is that he doesn’t use guns or a whole load of violence if he can avoid it. He is certainly an action hero, but he doesn’t really follow many of the action hero tropes. How does one utilize this fact and make it into gameplay?

Puzzles, of course! Really well designed puzzles! The Doctor has numerous tools at his disposal. The Sonic Screwdriver and the psychic paper would be the two primary tools, but the Doctor has gathered so many off the wall objects over his several hundred year life that I’m certain many cool items can be used and implemented in puzzle solving. Perhaps a puzzle as simple as using the Tenth Doctor’s 3D glasses to make your way through a safe path of a toxin ridden room. Perhaps it’s as complex as using multiple tools to flip the quantum neurospectromitor and reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. Maybe your companion is trapped in a room and is being closed in on by Daleks, and you need to use your sonic screwdriver and some kind of cryptographic transmogrifier (if you haven’t figured this out yet, I’m making up a whole mess of words) to unlock the door in time. Who knows? The thing with puzzles in a standard action games is that there’s a lot of reality it kind of has to be grounded in. The beauty with sci-fi is that you can dream up all manner of nifty puzzles using all manner of nifty gadgetry. And short of giving the Doctor a Portal Gun, 3D puzzle solving with handheld tools seems to be the trick.

But it wouldn’t be all that fun if there was only puzzles. Herein lies the problem. How do you add more gameplay elements to a character that won’t feature much combat? You add two things: Stealth and Investigations.

The first thing that will probably be implemented would be a stealth element. Large amounts of dangerous enemies are not good things and the Doctor would be in the thick of it (as always). Of course, unless there was some sort of strategic advantage to it, the Doctor wouldn’t rush directly into a confrontation with a horde of Daleks. That’s where stealth comes in. Perhaps you alter the environment to create safe paths around obstacles, like using a crane to lower some metal pipes down to create a path over patrolling baddies. Maybe you can overload a circuit to create a large explosion that draws enemies near to it so you can get through unseen. Perhaps you act as bait while your computer controlled (or, dare I say, partner controlled) companion activates necessary…y’know…things that need to be activated. Maybe you even use your Screwdriver to rewire a drone for an inside job. Subterfuge is important, and there should be numerous creative ways to finagle your way through potentially dangerous situations.

The investigations portion would probably be a lot like an adventure game. A big part of Doctor Who is that the Doctor stumbles into situations with virtually no information on what’s happening and discovers things as the episode proceeds. In the game, the Doctor would have to search the environment and question NPCs about events in progress to get a bigger picture of the situation and how to best proceed. Maybe he finds an old photograph that suggests alien interference with their location and then uses that photograph to ask the owner of the place about strange goings on. Of course, it wouldn’t be fun or a challenge to simply get answers in a string of scripted responses. You would, for example, need to present the right clues and select the right things to say to a character to get all the information you need out of them. What I’m suggesting is, essentially, Phoenix Wright except as Doctor Who. It’s a system that would work incredibly well, I believe.

Of course, there might just have to be straight up action portions to the game to balance out the stealth and puzzles. Maybe you begin a level playing as the Doctor’s enemy and set up the mess that the Doctor has to fix. Maybe in the middle of a level, control switches to an enemy and you have to hunt the Doctor down to bring in the next portion of the story. Maybe there’s a character that is the Doctor’s ally, but not opposed to violence as he is (such as River Song or a potential new character) that takes a more “hands on” approach to the entire situation. It still probably wouldn’t be a traditional shooter or anything like that, but it can add some things to the spectrum of gameplay styles for people who want to do something different.

The best part about this is that you could probably play it two player. The Doctor, for his own sanity, always travels with some form of companion. Whether this is a game exclusive one that gets whisked away on some crazy adventure or the Doctor’s existing companion in the show at the time, there’s still room for player 2. Of course, the AI would have to be smart in this game for any of the tricks you might need to pull in game, but just imagine if you had a friend along for the ride.

As far as the story goes, there are two different ways they could take it. The first way would boil down to one long story taking place over several hours of gameplay. The focus would be on one enemy or group and you work your way up to the final encounter with them over the course of your game. The idea of linear story telling shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you.

The second way (and this is, honestly, my preferred way) is an episode/mission structure. In this case, you’d have several different missions you could undertake that would focus on a different enemy in different locales, but were shorter, overall, than the straight story. I like this option because it offers the widest array of villains they can include in the game as well as the widest array of stories (and I love me a good Doctor Who story). The best part (and this structure would work better for this) is that in between missions, the TARDIS could act as a story hub. You could control the companion in the TARDIS, talk to the Doctor, explore the rooms, and learn more about the Doctor Who universe. If this is a companion created for the game, perhaps you learn more about him/her as well.

If the powers that be could gather a top notch developer to build some beautiful mechanics and some regular Doctor Who writers to pen a fantastic story, I think a 3D Doctor Who game could do incredibly well.

At least, as a Whovian, this is what I tell myself.

(All screenshots taken from Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock for PS3, Vita, and PC.)