Doesn't it tick you off when they have downloadable games, and they are only downloadable on one platform, or in some territories?
Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty came out on disk as well as a download in Europe and Asia, but only as a download in america, and since I don't have much space on my PS3, and don't feel like having to download it over again every time I need to delete it for space, I ordered a copy online... Tsk.
Cost nearly twice as much, but at least I will have it.
Under constant debate and crossfire is the state of PC gaming. I thought, hey why not throw my 2¢ in, for what it's worth.
(Author's note: By PC gaming, I mean computer gaming, not only gaming on Windows systems)
PC gaming has been a cornerstone of of the gaming market for many years, being the top dog for periods of time, and usually staying miles ahead of anything available on other systems.
These days, as people put it, it's on the verge of dying... So what led it here? Is it really going to die? Could it be saved?
To start with the first question, we shall go back a few years.
In the late 80's, computer gaming started with the help from gaming-computers, like the Commodore64 and Amiga, along with having it possible for any user to create their own games for it.
Because of the life-span of consoles, and the fact that computers could be constantly updated, the games made for computers could be significantly better then those found on the consoles, nearly all of the time. With the early 90's rise of Real-Time Strategy games and turn based strategy games PC gaming really found a niche to fill.
As the years went on, heading towards the late 90's, Keyboard and mouse became the 'hardcore' gamer's control of choice for FPS games, with buttons, or a single analog stick simply not giving the same range of control.
With the rise of Sony with the Playstation and the Playstation 2, gaming consoles found their way into more houses then ever before, expanding the gaming market far beyond it's previous numbers.
I believe at this point was the start of the decline of PC gaming. With the rising amount of consoles, the games that made the most money were designed for consoles. While developers still made games for PC, development was shifting towards consoles, as with everything in the industry, it took a while.
In the time from 2001 to 2005, the number of games designed for consoles increased by an imaginable amount, and the number of PC unique titles continued to shrink, and PCs became more and more for a dedicated audience.
A few problems accelerated the decline of PC gaming. The first of which is the raising cost of the PC hardware, and the speed of which it needed to be updated, making it very hard to keep up with PC gaming unless you had a lot of time and money to dedicate to your PC. With the easy of use with consoles, (No worries about compatibility, no having to install anything) PC gaming, while not changing, became something you had to put more effort into. With the raising cost of developing games, independent PC full quality titles became harder and harder to find, lagging more and more behind with quality.
Lastly, we have Piracy, the big one. With the raise of file sharing starting with such services as Napster, file sharing quickly became easier and easier, with even casual computer users downloading stuff. Sony had problems with Piracy on their hand-held platform, the PSP, which led to a lot less games coming out for the system for nearly 2 years. Yet, with all the piracy on the PSP, it wasn't even a sixth of the sales (15%ish) while current PC piracy estimate 60%-90% piracy rates, something that no one can ignore.
These days the PC has a few dedicated developers, and hardcore fans, but mostly survives on the hand-me-down ports of consoles games, which are often delayed and contain harsh DRM (Digital Rights Management/Copy Protection) along with, often, missing features.
With companies like ID, Valve, Bethesda, and Blizzard all at least looking into console gaming, with all but one of those companies with at least 1 confirmed console game, it's obvious that PC gaming isn't on the top of the pile, in fact, it may not even be in the game.
So, is it going to die off?
No. PC gaming has some things still not adapted by console gaming, and will never completely die.
One thing PC gaming has in favor for it is the fanbase of dedicated "PC Fans" that will support it till the tides turn neon and all the jazz. There are also people that enjoy being able to work and play on the same machine. There are the people that use their PC simply to play MMOs (Massive Multiplayer Online games) like World of Warcraft, and nothing else. And finally, there are the casual gamers, the ones that play 'The Sims' and the games on facebook, or myspace.
There is also the matter of modding, being able to take apart games and make your own content, or even just using developer supplied modding tools. The content created by fans can far eclipse what the original developers thought was possible, and sometimes overshadow what the original developers made.
Then the biggest difference between console gaming and PC gaming is probably the fact that anyone can make a game on it. Anyone can make something that has the potential to become popular, which is something that is much harder to do, and more costly on consoles.
Even with all this, I believe PC gaming as we knew it, the PC gaming from the 90's is gone.
So, could PC gaming be saved?
Interesting question, to say the least.
As I said before, I think PC gaming as it was in the 90's is gone, and I don't think it will ever come back in the same way... That being said, I don't rule out the possibility of some other form of non-casual gaming taking hold, but I doubt it will be what any of us are expecting right now.
I say, "Maybe" is a good answer, since really, the future isn't 100% predictable.
So, say goodbye to the dominant rain of PC gaming, and accept it for what it is, a choice of how to game, and don't push what you know isn't true onto others, ("Console gaming sucks!", "Console gaming will never match PC gaming") because, really, no one wants to hear it.
These are the opinions of Jon God, and this article was written Wednesday, October seventh, two thousand and nine, or "10/7/2009".
Game reviews, or any reviews for that matter are a hard thing to justify. There are many reasons for this, and I will go over some.
One big reason, which I will get out of the way now, is personal opinion. This one alone should make people wary of trusting any reviewers, even ones that often have similar tastes. By the mater of nature, we all are different, it's in what we like to eat, our favorite colors, what music we listen to, we all have different tastes, it's just human nature.
So why then, do so many people seem to just listen to reviews, without thinking or experiencing it for themselves? It seems like often times, people are too eager to follow the bandwagon, not letting themselves enjoy what they personally enjoy.
Another reason that reviews shouldn't be taken for truth is the concept of what makes a 'good' game without personal opinions. Some would say it is the compilation of good game mechanics, good level design and graphics. Some would say it's all about the music and story.
Following this, without taking personal opinion into account, should a 'good' game be fun to everyone? If not, then what does it mean by 'good game'? A well put together package? If so, I hardly see reviews being taken as anything more then a footprint to show what a game might be, not a formal description of what to expect in terms of quality of fun.
Reviews often rate different parts of a game, Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, ect. This would mean that a game cannot be good without these categories. However, sometimes there are games that will inevitably fall into low scores in all the categories, yet be a good game, so what are the scores for?
And why numbers? What do they mean? Sure you can say a 9/10 means the reviewer is rating it a nine out of ten, which is a good score. Now look deeper, what does a 10 mean? A perfect game? Some people think that, and others don't which makes drawing any kind of comparisons with reviews quite impossible. Finally, what equals a rating? Should 5 be average? If not, then what is the point of all the numbers that low. Generally, you see reviews give even 'pretty awful' games fives and sixes, which makes the point of having any lower numbers very small. Sure you could run into a game once in a while that deserves it, but it makes it that much harder to tell which games are good or not, as the rating system is more like 1-5, and even then the ratings usually land in the 7-10 range, making it hard to really see a point in the numbers.
So are reviews worthless? Maybe, depends on your definition of 'worthless'. I believe they should not make up your mind for you, but perhaps guide you to understand what the game is like, not to give you and ending opinion on the game.
"Jon God, you are being hypocritical! You review reviews yourself!"
This is true, but I don't write them to convince people of anything. Instead I try to write them as a guide to what the game is like, giving good and bad parts about it, along with number scores, for those that can't go without them, then finally having a "Overall Fun" Score which really is how much fun I PERSONALLY had with the game, and not a overall score out of the list on numbers, or the listed good and bad things about it.
It's up to you to get what you want out of what you read, but I implore you to look beyond letting reviews make up your mind, and really play what you enjoy. Don't worry if it's reviewed harshly. If you do this, you will get more out of your gaming experience.
PC users often say "RTS games don't work on consoles," I would like to start by saying, I really don't believe that, any game can work on any console, only if done right. Something like Medal of Honor: Heros proved that the PSP could do a First Person Shooter...
Anyways, the Halo series is one of my favorite, and I've sunk many hours into playing the games. Bungie, the developers of Halo are like old friends to me though, developing a few of my other favorite games, Myth I, Myth II, Oni. Myth was my favorite RTS, and possible my favorite game ever, so when an RTS of Halo was announced, I was excited, even after a cannon-destroying trailer, I still cut them some slack. I heard that it was being developed not by Bungie, but by Ensemble Studios, which I also didn't mind, hearing how famous they were.
[Myth II, by Bungie, 1998]
When I finally saw the game in action I was let down though, as it seemed to really be a RTS with Halo stamped on top of it. A lot of stuff in the game really made it seem not like Halo, from the videos and I was a bit skeptical. I stopped caring about the game, and heard there would be a demo, and a day before the demo came out or so, my Xbox 360 died, which made me have to wait until recently to try the demo.
The game starts off with a tutorial led by perhaps one of the most generic voice actors I've ever heard, they walk you through a lot of parts of playing the game, but they don't tell you some important stuff. Also, you can't skip any dialog in the tutorial, making it very annoying if you understand something early.
The actual game starts with some pretty pre-rendered cutscenes, but the story seems very generic, which is sad, because the Halo universe really interested me, and I read almost all the books, and played the games, so it had to be really bland and unoriginal to throw me off.
[Some fighting in Halo Wars]
The gameplay is really simple, however it works, I had no problems at all controlling any units or playing the game, to me it was as easy to control as any other RTS, no matter what the platform. Everything worked the way it should, but there wasn't a lot of options, and compared to some other RTSes I've played, it was quite simple. Simple isn't a bad thing however, as it didn't drag on as much as some RTSes.
The problem is that you don't have to worry about resources as they are infinite, and you can only build in select areas, so it boils down to something more along the lines of chess, with strategy only in how you move, rather then how you use the environment to your advantage.
This in general wouldn't be much of a problem if the actual combat was more interesting, but as it stands, it revolves around selecting all your units and telling them to attack. Really, I wish there was some skill involved other then that. Myth showed that controlling units in itself was a possible skill, and when they've taken away so much else in this game, it would be nice to have other parts of the game that make up for it.
[One of the Pre-Rendered cutscenes]
Some might say "Well, this was an experiment for RTS games on the consoles!" Well, they might be right, but what about games like the Original Halo? That revolutionized consoles FPSes, no matter how you look at it: Suddenly there was a ton of console FPSes, and they all started to have Halo's mechanics. And the original Halo was a much better, and more interesting game, which is a shame, because everything was there for this game to be a really amazing game, they just didn't put things in the right places.
Overall, this game came off to me as bland, boring, uninspired, and just not that interesting. Sure everything works, and some might say that's a feat in itself, but for me, I will wait for a console RTS, that not only works, but is worth playing through.
Jon God thinks Bungie should reacquire the rights to Myth, and make a forth game.
Name: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII System/s: PSP Developers: Square-Enix Release Date: 3/24/2008
As I mentioned before, I saw Final Fantasy VII quite some time ago. When I first saw the game, I really loved it, but after finishing it and thinking on it for a while, I realized it was only alright. There were many problems with the game, and the story was extremely hard to follow, in general, I though it was a good Final Fantasy, but not the best.
I've often talked bad about Final Fantasy VII, mostly to explain to people it's not "god's gift to video games" or anything, it's just a pretty good RPG. So, when they announced the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, I wasn't extremely excited, After playing Dirge of Cerberus, not liking it, and watching the movie, Advent Children, which was 'alright', I didn't expect much from Crisis Core, in fact, I ignored it for quite some time after it came out. That was until a friend lent it to me, and even then it took me a while to even start playing it.
The game follows Zack Fair, a character that was shown extremely briefly in Final Fantasy VII, and only in a secret cutscene. He and his friend, Angeal are sent on a mission to find a deserting high ranking officer from SOLDIER (A Special Forces Unit). The story becomes more complex, and interesting plot points are revealed.
There are a lot of parts of the story where things happen that seem really impossible, and you just have to suspend the disbelief. There's also a lot of parts to the game where characters really are just slow reflexed, or clueless to further the plot, which can get annoying, when you watch something happen, you know the character could stop, and they don't...
However, on the flip side, there is a lot of really good story telling as well, with interesting characters, and a good backstory for a lot of events in Final Fantasy VII. There are many times I was surprised at how clever some of the story telling was, with flashbacks tied into combat, and some interesting plot twists. In general, the story is pretty good.
The graphics are amazing, being some of, if not the best on the PSP, looking better then even Portable Ops. The character models are detailed, the textures are high enough resolution, and the environments look great. Really, graphics wise, there's not much to complain about. The pre-rendered cutscenes are also quite good, perhaps not as good as Advent Children, or Dirge of Cerberus, but still close.
The music is generally good, with some really amazing songs, that I will listen to outside of playing the game, but it also has a lot of really forgettable music, which sound more metal-y and doesn't match the game as well. Still there's enough good music for it to get good marks from me. The voice acting is hit or miss, some of the characters are voiced very well, while others are almost embarrassing, the general voice acting is decent, nothing that will destroy the game.
Unlike Final Fantasy VII, this game is an action RPG, and plays a bit more like Kingdom Hearts. The fights are in real time, and you can doge, block, attack and cast magic, using the face buttons. The trigger buttons switch between attacks, magic and items on the menu, and the cross button accepts what you selected. While the combat works pretty darn well, the developers made it way too easy to just mash the attack button and beat almost every fight in the game. Sure you can use magic, but for most fights, it's easier to just attack repeatedly. This isn't to say all fights, as the later bosses will force you to do other things, but most of the small monsters just feel like grind.
Being a action RPG, the game is extremely liner, and the main storyline only took me a little over 15 hours to complete, but you can carry over all the items, and experience you collect over the game into a new game, to unlock more, and there are dozens upon dozens of side missions, which I am told can take you up to 100 hours to complete, so if you're into that, there's a lot of stuff to do other then the main quest.
One thing that really stuck me about this game, is the ending, which is one of the best I have ever seen among my many years of gaming. It's extremely well done, with a good mix of gameplay and cutscenes, but if I say anymore I will spoil it, so go play it yourselves.
What I liked:
Story: The story was interesting, and I was happy to follow it to the end. The characters, and everything else kept the story going well. Main Character: One of the better main characters Square-Enix has popped out recently. Though he at first might remind you of Tidus, you realize he's not taking it seriously, and it's just a show he puts on. In general, I liked him a lot. Gameplay: The gameplay is quite good, and everything works the way it should. There's a good mix of timing strategy and execution. Ending: It's good. Beat the game. See it yourself. Final Fantasy VII references: The references to Final Fantasy VII were done quite well, and some of them were quite silly. Music: Be it remixed old tunes, or new tunes, this game has quite a few memorable tunes that you will end up humming to yourself. Voice Acting: Some of the voice actors are pretty good in this, the main character, Zack, for example. Sephiroth and Cloud were decent as well. Flashbacks: The in-fight flashbacks were genius, they made the game a whole lot better. Gave backstory without being too intrusive. Pre-rendered Cutscenes: The pre-rendered cutscenes are quite good in this game, being better leagues better then most PSP game's pre-rendered cutscenes. Some pretty cool looking moves: Some of the combat moves in this game look great, and are fun to watch the many times you see them throughout the game. Good use of source material: You can tell the developers really liked Final Fantasy VII (It's not the original team, though it has some of the members) the world is recaptured quite well, and they tried very hard to now tarnish the name.
What I didn't like:
Story: There are parts of the story that are just bad, you have to sit back and go "Who thought this up?" Difficulty: The game is really easy, I beat the game only dying perhaps 5 times, and not hacing almost any trouble at all. Most of the time you can win by repeatedly attacking without any strategy. Music: While there is a lot of good music, there is also a lot of generic metal music, in the style of Advent Children, which you probably will be glad to not have to hear after beating the game. Voice Acting: Some of the voice actors just aren't good and really get on your nerves, it's a shame. Some pretty dorky looking moves: After seeing some cool combat moves, it's a shame to see some of the worse looking ones, especially over and over again through the game. Not enough environmental intractability: Really, the environment is pretty static, minus chests and people to talk to. I wish there was a little more to it... Camera can turn against you sometimes: While the camera outside of combat is usually good, it can get stick on things, which is really bothersome. The camera in combat is annoying, due to the fact that it cannot be controlled, most of the time it works fine, but there's always those other times... Main villain isn't very interesting of a character: The main villain seems like a mix between some of the villains in other Final Fantasy games, and has little personality, which makes him very uninteresting. Some parts of the game really test your ability to suspend disbelief: There are really some parts to the game which will take you out of the world, because they make no sense, and aren't explained. Feels like a spin off: As good of a game as this is, it feels like, due to the fact that it is a spin off, it can't reach the feeling of a full game. This isn't actually completely a bad thing, more just a fact about the game.
Presentation 8.5/10: While there are problems with it, there is just so much good about it to ignore.
Graphics - 10/10: Everything looks spot on, can't complain.
Sound - 8/10: Some bad songs, and below average voice acting bring down otherwise fine sound design.
Gameplay - 8/10: While the difficulty makes things very easy, the game is still fun to play. Loads of fun.
Lasting Appeal - 8/10: While there's a lot to do other then the main storyline, it's not for everyone, as it is very simple, and there's not much story behind it.
Overall Fun - 9/10: Yes, it has it's problems, but they didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying this fine game. The ending is incredible, and worth playing anything to get to it, luckily the rest of the game is a lot of fun as well.
Yes, this game is worth the $30 price tag it currently bares.
Name: Final Fantasy IX System/s: PS1 Developers: Squaresoft Release Date: 11/13/2000
My first Final Fantasy title was Final Fantasy VI for the SNES, and I remember seeing a large portion of it, though never beating it (Not until more recently that is). Years later, I was brought back to the series with Final Fantasy VII, this time the person was watching playing made it all the way through, so I saw the end of it. Later I saw a very small amount of Final Fantasy VIII, which I wasn't drawn to. Finally we come come Final Fantasy IX, which to me was my favorite.
The Final Fantasy games usually consist of a long in depth story, with lots of well written dialog, amazing pre-rendered cutscenes, and lots of turn based battles. While the last few games in the series went with a more techno-punk theme, while this goes with a much more fantasy/steampunk world.
In comparison to the last few Final Fantasy titles before it, this game is a lot more light hearted, which could have been a disaster, however, it's done so well, it makes it hard to imagine a more serious version. The game does have a serious story, and it is done very well, but it also has very silly moments to it, and I think it's safe to say, it will make most people at least smile.
The game follows a kidnapping of a princess, and ends up dealing with crisis on a global level. The game is pretty well paced, only slowing up a few times. One interesting feature of this game is the ATE (Active Time Event) feature, letting you see what other characters are thinking, how they are acting, and what they are planning, which gives it a depth not often found in video games.
Something that puts this game above so many others, is the characters; they are all well defined, and have their own problems, moods, and backstory. Throughout the game the characters change, and by the end of the game the depth the characters have is nothing short of stunning. While books generally are expected to pull of this type of character development, it's rarely seen in other media, and this is one exception.
The graphics on this are top notch, they are not as realistically styled as Final Fantasy VIII, but they still look quite good, even today. The character models are all very styled, and different from one and another, and the backgrounds are all detailed and pretty. The animated cutscenes are fairly good, though occasionally, I think some of the characters look a little strange.
The music is also amazing, setting the mood for the world, with dozens and dozens of songs. Almost every song in this game is pure quality, with memorable tunes, and atmospheric sounds. A lot of the locals in the game are perfectly accented with the music that go along with them.
The gameplay isn't as customizable as Final Fantasy VII, but in being so, it helps make each of the characters unique, with their own fighting styles, making you choose your party to suit your playing style. The battles retain the ATB (Active Time Battle) system that the earlier games used, making it turn based, but active at the same time. While there is nothing particularly new about the battle system, the good graphics, camera angles and characters make it completely forgivable.
Playing through the game is a lot of fun, and it's amazing to notice all the little things about the world and characters, but it's amazing to see that no detail was spared on non important segments, lots of the side quests are well designed and interesting, while they didn't need to be. There is also a huge amount too the game, with hours and hours of stuff to do not relating to the main storyline. If you were looking to get 100% it would probably take you well over 100 hours.
While the story may be simplistic, the characters make it a unique experience, and hold everything together. As I mentioned before, this game really pulls you in with the depth of things, no one is really a bland character, with everyone, including small characters seeming to have their own lives, thoughts and agendas. To me this game defines the genre by pulling the best parts of books, and the best parts of movies together into an interactive experience.
What I liked:
Good Story: While the story isn't as complex as Final Fantasy VII, or VIII, it's still a great story, and holds it's own. Outstanding Characters: This game has by far the best character development I've ever seen in this industry, with Metal Gear Solid in second. Still it's not the closest second. Very good gameplay: The gameplay, though not original, is still just as good as the other games, and therefore remains very addictive, and wonderful. Huge amount of content: You get your bang for your buck, with a playthrough taking generally around 40-60 hours, along with tons of side quests and content. Amazing soundtrack: One of the best video game soundtracks of all time, up in the ranks with Chrono Cross, Shadow of the Colossus, and Metal Gear Solid 3. Pretty graphics: The graphics in this game are pretty, lots of pre rendered backgrounds, and good character models. Simply a pleasure to just see all the areas. Good art style: The art style is a lot lighter then the previous Final Fantasy titles, and it's nice to see a more fantasy-y Final Fantasy. All the environments and characters truely look like they belong in their own world, the one you are playing. Nice variety: While the game is primarily an RPG, they mix up the gameplay, by forcing you to play with certain characters at some points. There are also a load of mini games and side quests, with require you to do different things. Colorful: This game has color, again another departure from VII and VIII, with bright locals, and colorful clothing, which is welcome addition. Cute: There are some generally cute parts to this game, be it people's feelings, character designs, or the Moogles (A certain species of animals). Genuinely funny: This game consistently has it's funny moments, and it would be hard to not at least smile. There's also a good amount of humor, rater then too much, which is a hard balance to strike. Good Ending: While I thought Final Fantasy VII's ending was rather insubstantial, this ending is really good, it makes sense, ties things up, and is well done. Active Time Events: This feature alone made the game unique, everything else is the icing on the cake. Not to say this is the only good thing about the game, far from it, it's just a huge leap in the series, and it's a shame it hasn't been used since. Things I didn't like:
Plot elements towards the end: Towards the end of the game, there are a few plot points that seem to be just thrown in, even so the story flows fine, it's just a little strange. Final Battles: While the game overall is well done, it seems they didn't spend enough time on the final battles, as they aren't anything super special, and can feel a bit too easy compared to some of the other bosses. Some things not fully fleshed out: While the story finds a way to flow through everything pretty well, there are a few times I wished some parts would have been used to their full potential, no such luck. Again, this is only a few times, and it wont distract from the story. Main antagonist is a bit too feminine: Okay, wow. The main villain in this game can easily be mistaken as a female, he dresses like one, and looks like one. It just is really odd when you look at him, and think "That's a guy?" Pacing falls a little slow sometimes: On occasion the game will slow down and feel a bit boring, however this only happens once or twice, and isn't a huge deal.
Presentation - 10/10: Really everything flows together so well, I can't find a reason to bring this down.
Graphics - 9/10: While the cutscenes occasionally make the characters look a little odd, the graphics overall are quite amazing, and the art style is wonderful as well.
Sound - 10/10: Great soundtrack, and good sound effects, nothing to complain about here.
Gameplay - 8/10: While there's nothing really wrong with the gameplay, it's not very original, being very similar to almost any other Final Fantasy title.
Lasting appeal - 9/10: Sure it may take longer to bread a Gold Chocobo in Final Fantasy VII, but there's still a lot of extra content here, and overall, it's a game you'll want to come back to.
Overall fun - 10/10: This is one of those games I will remember forever, it's just so good. There are so many good parts about it, and really, it helps me define everything that makes video games special.
People often ask me, what is my favorite game. I don't think, after all the games I've played, I could choose a favorite, so I think, what are my favorite GAMES... And even then it's hard, so I came up with a list of 80 of my favorite games, which I will now present you with, in 10 parts.
To start this list off, I chose random games from a larger list, and this is in no particular order, so here we go:
Ah Myth II, one game I always refer to when asked my favorite games. Myth II was a one of kind apart from it's own series, in the RTS genre. It sacrificed unit building, researching, and resource managing for a much deeper combat experience.
The game took place in a Lord of the Rings like world, albeit much darker. The game was violent, gritty and just overall much darker then most stories set in this time period. The story stands as one of the best game stories I've seen to date, still. It has top notch story telling, and music to go along with it.
The gameplay gave control over moving individual units, and give them unique powers, making them feel worthwhile, while in most RTSes, your units are just cannon fodder to throw at each other.
The game was amazing online, and may be one of the best games I've ever played online. The online is so good, people still play it today, more then ten years after release, thanks in part to the incredible modding tools released with the game that allow for almost anything, and the dedicated community.
Really, there's not much I can say wrong about the game, it even featured online Co-Op up to 16 player. Just amazing stuff, completely worth finding a copy, since there are patches to allow it to run on today's systems.
Name: Shadow of the Colossus System/s: PS2 Developers: Team ICO Release Date: 10/18/2005
This game is interesting, I first played the demo of it on a demo disk, and didn't like it. However my older brother rented it with a few other games while working at a video rental shop. I gave it a second try and loved it.
The game is unique in a number of ways, with a huge free roaming environment, very light but touching story, beautiful graphics, and epic boss fights. Also this is the only adventure game that I know of that only has boss fights, and no smaller enemies.
Walking around the huge wilderness, the place really comes to life, with pretty much no copy/pasting of level pieces, which makes the whole map different everywhere you go. I could go on about the little details, like your in game horse's AI being really lifelike, the fact that the hero isn't perfect, and stumbles and such, but I think it's better to just try it yourself.
The bosses in this game are beyond any other game, after you play this, no future bosses will seem that special. Each boss is well done, and a lot of fun to fight, they all require different strategies and fighting them always feels exciting, which is really amazing.
The music and story telling in this game are also quite amazing, and I couldn't talk about the game without bringing them up.
Again, it's hard to find anything wrong with this game, it's just amazing, and a complete classic, I request you go find yourself a copy now.
Name: DRIV3R (Or Driver 3) System/s: PS2, Xbox, and PC. (There is a GBA version but it's different) Developers: Reflections Release Date: 6/21/2004
Okay, stop rubbing your eyes, I really put this here. I know a lot of people hated this game, gamers and critics alike, with it's glitchy gameplay, boring plot, and it's similarities with GTA.
I however loved this game, sure there were problems with it, but it didn't stop me from playing it for hundreds of hours.
The story was a lot more 'Hollywood' then the preview games, but it didn't matter because that's what the games were going for. A Hollywood chase movie.
The gameplay in this game was glitchy, but most of the glitches occurred when you were on foot, where the controls, and AI was terrible, however while you were in the car, the handling and gameplay was unparalleled. The driving physics were so good it made it hard to play any other driving games for quite some time.
Even though the game was glitchy, it was still fun, in fact the glitches made it fun in it's own way. I often looked for ways of glitching out of the map due to complex tactics. I spent many hours walking around looking for such glitches.
The game had really miserable in game music, but the music used for cut scenes was really good, and I listen to the soundtrack to this day, lots of good choices for songs.
The graphics to this game were also quite good, with a great lighting engine and good models for cars, with astoundingly good damage modeling. Made GTA look like a mid range Dreamcast game.
Overall, sure it had it's problems, but I had fun with it, and still consider it to be one of my favorite games, so it can't have been *too* bad...
Name: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past System/s: SNES (Later, GBA/Wii) Developers: Nintendo Release Date: 4/13/1992
Jeez, I love this game so much, I played through it many times, and I don't think any Zelda game will be as good ever again. This game had charming graphics, nice music, absolutely wonderful level design, and a great map and concept.
This game was long, but in a good way, with each dungeon being unique and interesting, due to the wonderful level design. Some of the gimmicks and tricks used in this game are so wonderful, it's sad that any time they have been used since they just don't seem as good.
The game changed a lot depending on how far through it you were, being able to access new areas with the items you obtain along the way. There are some really clever secrets as well, which add a lot to replay value.
As adventure games go this is near, or on the top, just amazing all the way through.
Name: Star Wars: Droid Works System/s: Mac, PC Developers: Lucas Learning Release Date: 1998
Ah Droid Works, another game I didn't initially like. I avoided playing it for a while, but when I finally did play it, I fell in love with the game. It has great graphics for it's time, a interesting story, fun gameplay, and lots of customizability.
The game's main feature is being able to build your own droid, which you send out on missions. Different parts can drastically change the way your droid performs, and it's a lot of fun to find the parts you like, and make your optimum droid.
The missions provide a nice bit of variety but it's sad you have to play a lot of them over again a few times with small tweaks. Still the way they shake things up keeps it fun.
The game is light hearted, but still has an interesting story, which is an interesting mix. For a marketed to kids game, teens can still find it fun, if a little cheesy.
Overall, it was a quite good game, especially for what it was trying to be. I know I'll always remember it.
Name: The Secret of Monkey Island System/s: PC, Mac, (Numerous others) Developers: Lucas Arts Release Date: 1990
One of the earlier point and click adventure games, and darn was it original. Really it's one of those games that captivated a lot of people with it's unique story, setting, humor, and characters. It also boasted interesting puzzles and great dialogue.
On it's surface it might look like an average pirate adventure, but you look a little closer, and you'll notice that the game has it's own rules, and it plays by no one else's but it's own.
This game made me laugh aloud more then most games, which is saying something. It also made me use it's own in-jokes, and references, even on people that didn't have any idea what I was talking about.
It's classic, you can't deny it, something you go back and play now, and notice that it paved the way for quite a number of other games.
The game was just good, and I can't really put into words what I mean by that, so I will just say it again: This game is good.
Name: Star Wars: Battlefront System/s: Xbox, PS2, PC, Mac Developers: Pandemic Release Date: 9/20/2004
Battlefront. This game I missed so many times before finally trying it. I kept watching it played at parties and such, but never got behind the controller myself. It's a shame, because when I finally did play it, I loved it, every second of it.
Battlefront, while not doing anything really original, does it right. It puts together a number of concepts, and does it will enough to be an immense amount of fun.
Pulling all the battles you saw in the movies, along with a handful of new ones, the game really found itself a lot of fun in chaotic battlefields, great mutliplayer, and good bots.
Again, the game is quite simple, and not very original, but it's something I have played for years, and will continue to play for years.
You may remember what I sad about this game in my review. Still I'll recap for those who didn't see it when it went by the first time.
This game is the best Tower Defense game I've ever played, it made me notice the genre, and actually pay attention to it afterwards. This is in part due to the many things that make the game great, style, balance, Co-Op, difficulty, replay value, and updates.
The game was nearly perfect on release, but future updates have made it even better, with the expansion pack, and free patches. These releases have added hours of gameplay onto a game I already spent hours upon hours playing.
Really, just find a way to play this yourself, it's simply the best in the genre.
And that's it for this part of "Jon God's top 80 games" Hopefully I will continue with this soon
I have been a long time Driver fan ever since playing Driver 2: The Wheelman Is Back for the Playstation 1, back when it came out. I dumped hours upon hours into that game, playing it on and off for years. Sometimes I go back and play around in it to this day. After playing Driver 2, I purchased Driver 1: You Are The Wheelman it was more original for it's time, but it didn't grab me like Driver 2 (Which coincidentally the first free roaming game which allowed for large 3D cities, the ability to steal vehicles and walk outside of your car.). DRIV3R came out later, and although it was horribly glichty and unfinished, I put close to the amount of hours I had put into Driver 2 into it. Later Driver: Parallel Lines came out, which had different characters, a different setting, and vast changes to the franchise. I liked Parallel Lines, and dumped many hours in it, but it was a very different game then they previous.
Ubisoft bought the original developers from Atari, who had been responsible for the mess that was DRIV3R, and for miss managing Reflections (The company responsible for Driver). To recoup the cost of the purchase, they released Parallel Lines on PC, and made a spin off for PSP, named Driver '76.
I remember being very excited for Driver '76, because I had wanted a Driver game on PSP, but in the time leading up to release, I had forgotten about it, and only remembered it upon seeing it in a store, and purchased it.
The game follows Ray, a somewhat minor character from Parallel Lines, giving him a little bit more back story, which is hinted at in Parallel Lines. Sadly, the plot itself is the worst in the series, being one of the most generic video game stories I've ever seen. The story doesn't make any logical sense with plot holes, and very 2D characters. It's hard to take the game seriously, even if the game wants you to.
The story is told through comic book style cut scenes, which are similar to Max Payne, or Portable Ops, though in a more Spider-Man ish American style. They are actually pretty well done, with things down to ink dots shown, sadly, the content isn't very interesting, with boring dialog, and cardboard cutout characters. Every twist of the story can bee seen from a mile away, and nothing will surprise you, except how bland Ray's back story is.
The gameplay is pretty much a port of Parallel Lines, but with a confusing control scheme, doubled up buttons, and missing actions. You can no longer look to the sides of you, crouch while on foot, and the camera is horrible to use on foot. In general, it feels like the control scheme wasn't given much thought, and due to that, it suffers. The gameplay is also brought down by controls hampered by non-pressure sensitive buttons, making it impossible to not burn out, or turn slightly. Often you over steer due to the twitchy steering sensitivity. While in general, the core mechanics are good, from Parallel Lines, the controls on the PSP version all but destroy what was once good.
The graphics look, for the most part okay, pretty much simplified Parallel Lines toned down. While the graphics are okay generally, there are some strange things, like Lines in the middle of the road being 'off' and buildings not connecting correctly. The character models, and characters animations suck, with less frames then the original game. The car animations still stay intact, which is nice.
The music is pulled straight from the first half of Parallel Lines, with no new songs, and all the bad songs from before, only to skip a song, you now need to pause the game. The soundtrack has a lot of good songs, but they are drowned by a lot of really boring songs that ruin the atmosphere when in a car chase, and just don't belong in the game.
The voice acting, besides Ray and his friend Slink is horrible, like, some of the worst I have ever seen. It sounds like the people had no experience acting and aren't right for the roles they play. One of the chinese people sound like someone doing a offensive chinese accent. It's nice to say Ray and Slink's voice actors return, but they weren't amazing to begin with, and can't save the show. The sound effects in the game are also ripped straight from Parallel Lines, and were good before, and are still good now, nothing really to complain about.
The amazing felony system from Parallel Lines, which was probably the most unique thing about it, has been reduced to rubbish, with instead of meters, you wither have it, or you don't. The felony systems also fails due to the removal of the safe houses, and only way to get rid of on foot felony. The open world with no menus and everything accessed in game has also been put down, in favor of menus, which is a shame.
The collectables in this game do nothing at all, making collecting them utterly pointless. The removal of cheats also puts a dent in replay value. They did add a multiplayer mode, but it has serious lag issues, that make the 2 players playing not experience the same thing. Sometimes one player is alive on his screen and dead on the other players, in general, avoid the multiplayer.
Overall, it's a shame they didn't focus a little harder on this game, because it could have been amazing. Oh well, keep your fingers crossed for a *real* PSP Driver game.
What I liked:
Returning Voice Actors: It was nice to hear Slink and Ray's original voice actors, even if they weren't top notch. Solid Gameplay Returns: The core gameplay mechanics from Parallel Lines are here, even if not full intact. Full City From Parallel Lines: Has the complete city from the first half of Parallel lines, which is huge, and amazing on a handheld. Cutscenes Look Cool: Thecomic styled cutscenes are cool to look at, it's a shame what was going on was better. Nice Amount Of Side Missions: There's a nice amount of side missions which include racing, destruction derby, payment collecting, and more.
What I didn't Like:
Horrible New Voice Actors: The new voice actors are so bad, it's painful, it sounds like they are not actors at all, and they are just terrible at playing the roles assigned to them. Characters Are Not Likable: Even the returning characters aren't very likable, saying bad jokes, and just not being anything but annoying and dumb. Story Is Generic: The story in this game is just horrendous, not only is it generic beyond words, but there are plot holes, and the overall story is just bad. Doesn't Use Set Pieces Provided in Parallel Lines: There were a few hints in Parallel Lines to Ray's past, but none of them were used here, making this whole game completely pointless. Plus, the city is pretty much exactly the same between this and Parallel Lines, despite years of time passed. Multiplayer Is Horrid: Multiplayer is so bad, it's not even worth playing. Not only are the modes worthless with only 2 players, but the lag is so bad, one person can be still diving around on one screen, while dead on the other. Glitchy: The game is really glitchy, and not in a good way. Sometimes cops see you and don't chase you. Bad Controls: The controls are not well thought out, and hurt the experience more then almost anything else they did wrong. Not being able to steer slightly, makes you hit things when trying to drive in a straight line all the time. Missing Features: They took out things that held the formula together in Parallel Lines, like the safe houses to remove felony, and the ability to crouch and look left and right while driving. Very Little New Content: The game may have most of the content of the first half of Parallel Lines, but it really has very little new content, which is a real shame, and makes buying this almost un-worth it if you've played Parallel Lines. Very Easy: The Driver series has been notorious for being difficult, with the first three games having a mission the bordered on impossible, Parallel Lines was a lot easier, but still was a little challenging, this game however is far too easy, with only a few missions making me even retry. Horrible AI: You could almost say there is no AI, since the cops will often drive in the wrong direction after seeing you commit a crime, and the AI doesn't dodge while you shoot at them. In general, the AI is just horrible. Short: You could beat the game in a few hours, with the main story being like 4-6 hours long. For a free-roaming game that's disgraceful. Freezing And Slow Down: The game freezed on me a number of times while I played through it. Often the game just stops while you are driving for a few seconds, and you think it's crashed, when everything starts moving again. This doesn't happen only once in a while, it happens more like at least once a mission, and that's unacceptable. Often with very little acting on screen, the gameplay slows down to extremely choppy framerate, making it harder to play. Collectibles Are Pointless: There is no reason to collect the collectables, as they do nothing at all. It's sad that there's a whole multiplayer mode for trading them, since there's no reason to even have any.
Presentation - 6/10: The cutscenes are cool, and the menus work, but from then on, it's downhill.
Sound - 6/10: While there's a lot of good music, and the sounds are great, the voice acting is so bad it's painful, and there's also a lot of music that doesn't fit.
Gameplay - 6/10: Though the gameplay itself is alright, the controls, and gltiches bring it down a large amount.
Lasting Appeal - 4/10: The single player is only a few hours long, and the multiplayer is not playable. The only saving grace is Take a Ride, but even that is broken.
Overall Fun 4/10: I just felt like the whole game was wasted, the whole way through, everything about it could be done better, but as it stands, it's really just bad. Nothing about it is good enough to set it aside as anything other then garbage.
I thought Capcom swore off console exclusives, and went completely multiplatform? I can deal with that, it's fine. Then they ported Dead Rising to the Wii.... It was now on every platform but PS3. Now they are making Lost Planet 2 for 360. Weren't we over this?
I love Katamari, I found the series when looking at the demos on a demo disk I had gotten. After my first play of Katamari, I was weirded out, and stopped playing. Later I showed some other people the demo, and we all actually got into it. From then on, I rented, then got the game for myself, later I got the other games in the series too.
The Katamari games are so bizzare, that when playing I often have to remind myself, that you just can't question Katamari, it's just in it's own world, where things make no sense. The more you play them, the more it's apparent. Yet they had such charm, and were really unique as games go.
When I heard the Katamari creator was making a new game, I was excited, and have been waiting for it since. The first videos of the game were shown, and no one could understand it, it seemed to make less sense then his first games. More videos were shown, and things still didn't make sense. Finally the game is out, and there were very few, to no official reviews, so I just had to wonder if it was any good. I have to say, this game is weird, weirder then Katamari, or any other game I've played. There's no objectives, no enemies, no time limit, no way to lose, and no way to win. It's hard to even classify this as a game, more like a toy, or interactive art piece, because although it's not really super pretty or anything, it definitely has it's own art style.
The gameplay consists of the player controlling the 'Boy' (a worm like creature with a face on one side, who looks like a worm with 2 pairs of legs) who is controlled by both analog sticks (One controlling each pair of legs), and eating things, similarly Katamari, you can only eat things that are around the same size, or smaller then you. Eating things takes up space in your body, and you will poop it out if you don't have the room to fit it. To solve this problem, you stretch the 'Boy' longer, so he can fit more inside him. The more you eat, the bigger you get, meaning you can eat bigger things. Depending on what you eat in the game, when you poop it out, it can rip your butt off, which you will have to eat to fix, otherwise things come out the hole left in you.
There are trophies in the game to get, which are the only real objectives while playing around. Otherwise it's up to you, to do what you want to do. Like I said before, this is more of a toy then a game; something you can play with in whatever way you want, but there is no 'right' way of playing with it. Overall there is the communitive effort: For every meter you stretch, you can upload it online, which adds to a global length (Which is represented by the 'Girl'). Once the global length hits a large enough size, the 'Girl' stretches to the moon, and new levels will be unlocked for all players of the game.
There's a large amount of content in the game, with randomly generated levels that are better then any I've ever seen. I went through probably thirty levels, and they looked like they had been made specific, rather then random, which says something. I don't know how they got such a good randomizer, it it helps the game a huge amount.
The graphics look like they could be pulled out of Katamari almost, they are colorful, and things are done in the same style. The people aren't square anymore, and it's much higher resolution, but otherwise, could pass for Katamari graphics. This isn't a bad thing by any means, just a comparison.
Katamari was noted for having really good, quirky music, so it's a shame this game has only one song, and it's just a guitar playing. The song is really not that great, just kind of ambient. Luckily the game allows for custom soundtracks, which can allow for great pair-ups. In addition, a hidden mini-game has a song which is catchy as all heck.
There are a lot of little details about the game that are amazing, so many little things, like, pressure sensitive buttons allowing for the amount the Boy's mouth opens, to being able to eat the manual and credits. There are so many little details that will make you laugh and smile.
It's nice the game has a fun tutorial, but it really doesn't tell you everything, which had us playing for four or so hours trying to figure out some simple things that went unexplained.
What I Liked:
Simple, yet catchy: The game is very simple, yet someone who enjoys more complex games will find some fun in this catchy game, it's just catchy, you play it once, and you want to play it more. Creative: Again, a game like nothing else, really, it's hard to compare it to anything else, it's just so off the walls weird. Artsy: You can tell the person that made this has his own art style, sure it may be simple, but that's where the charm comes from. Weirder then anything: You are guarantied to be weired out the first time you play this, and you will be able to weird out any of your friends with it. But in a good way. Creates great quotes: The quotes this game produces are so amazingly wonderful, I can't even begin to tell you.. "Where my butt go?!" "I need to grow longer" "Eat your butt quick!" Something that will last a long time: This is a game you will come back and play every once in a while, for years to come, it's just one of those games. Community effort is awesome: I love the idea of the community working together towards something, and I would love to see it used in more games. Price is right: No one can argue with a $5 price tag, it's low enough, that even if you don't like it, it's not a huge risk. Lots of content: For the price you pay, you get a LOT of content, it's amazing just how much is in the game. Colorful: In they current days of the grey and black shooters, it's nice to see a colorful game grace our industry, this game has more color then a a few games put together. Details: There are a ton of small things to notice, find and laugh at, be it secret mini games, or being able to spin a roof with motion sensing.
What I didn't like:
Perhaps TOO simple: Unlike Katamari, there's no objectives, which makes this a 'you never win' game, which can turn people off. I'm not surprised, yet I feel that way with games and enjoyed this, so you might too. Music wasn't good: The background song is really 'meh' and grades on you after a while, it's a shame it didn't have a great soundtrack like Katamari. Tutorial doesn't explain everything: It took hours of playing to find out some things not explained by the tutorial. Also to find out some things, I had to go online. Not good design. Camera sucks: Ugg, the camera control is really difficult, and even once you've gotten used to it, it's still clunky and clumsy. Controls could be better overall: Doubling up buttons, and overall control scheme could be a lot better.
Presentation - 8/10: Though almost everything works, there's a few problems, overall. Graphics - 8/10: They are simple, but done exactly how they are supposed to look, which is very silly.
Sound - 6/10: The music sucks, and there's not a lot of sounds, though they are fine in general.
Gameplay - 8/10: The core gameplay is great, though the control issues bring it down.
Lasting Appeal - 9/10: You'll be playing this for quite some time, perhaps even years.
Overall Fun - 9/10: Even with the problems, I had a lot of fun with this, and can't wait play it more. Bravo!
Noby Noby Boy is available from the Playstation Store for $5, go get it now!
I am Jon God, I run a Dark Castle forum, recognized by the creators of Return To Dark Castle. I also run the Dark Castle Blog, and Dark Castle Wiki. I have now started a new blog, "Video Game Garbage" ad along with my other blog, "My Video Game Rants", I can vent about certain parts of the video game industry, or post news and reviews.