Now in High Definition

Posted in Opinion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2012 by Daniel Geikowski

Earlier this year I picked up a couple of HD remakes of some classic games, being the Metal Gear Solid Collection along with the Silent Hill HD Collection.

With the Xbox 360 being my primary console over the years, it was finally my chance to own these great iterations in the series. Sure, I’d played them before, but now I had the chance to own them.

Theses two titles are a great example of HD re-releases done right. Sure Silent Hill 4 was available on the Xbox, but the Silent Hill HD Collection has arguably the best two iterations, Silent Hill 2 and 3.

The Metal Gear Solid Collection was also great, featuring MGS2, MGS3, MGS: Peace Walker, as well the old Metal Gear 1 and 2 games. The only disappointment was the omission of the original Metal Gear Solid, but beggars can’t be choosers.

We seem to be living in a time now where there are HD remakes coming from all directions. A lot of people argue that there is a lull in new IPs and creativeness in the Games Industry, and HD remakes are a way to make some money with little input.

However, I see it as giving a new generation (for lack of a better word) the chance to experience some truly classic games. That’s what HD remakes should be limited too; amazing games that gave something new to the gaming culture, something truly special, wildly popular games.

We all have those few games close to heart that we’d love to see remade for gaming today. I’m no exception.

The following are three titles I’d love to see receive a HD remake:

1. The Warriors

As I was playing the recently released Sleeping Dogs, the combat reminded me of The Warriors. I cannot for the life of me think why this hasn’t received a HD remake, or even been released on the PSN or XBLA.

Maybe it’s because Rockstar are focussed on building new titles. Regardless, The Warriors is another great title from the guys at Rockstar.

The plot of the game covers the events preceding and during the movie. In my opinion, the game far exceeded the movie in terms of quality. The combat is both entertaining and visceral, with some truly over-the-top moments.

Add to that it had something Sleeping Dogs neglected: multiplayer. My mates and I spent countless hours running around together beating the crap out of gang members and pedestrians alike.

Good times.

2. Sonic Adventure

With news of Sonic Adventure 2 coming to the PSN and XBLA, I’d love to see a HD remake of Sonic Adventure. I know it’s available on XBLA, but I’d just love to see the game with a coat of today’s paint.

I know the vast majority of Sonic games released over the recent years have been rubbish, but this is purely for nostalgic purposes.

This was the first Dreamcast game I bought, and running around the Emerald Coast in 3d was a truly amazing experience for this long-time Sonic fan.

The biggest selling Dreamcast game deserves that.

3. Shenmue

Hands down my favourite Dreamcast games, and one of my favourite games of all time. A truly ambitious game, at the time it held the World Record for the biggest budgeted video game. From memory, in order for Shenmue to turn a profit, every Dreamcast owner had to buy the game…twice.

The series was designed to contain 16 chapters, spanning 3-4 games. The Dreamcast featured Shenmue, followed by Shenmue 2, which thankfully got ported over to the original Xbox.

The game has a loyal cult following, where the slightest mention of Shenmue 3 whipping fans into a frenzy (myself included).

I can’t really say why I love this game. It has the dubious honour of bringing QTEs to the forefront of gaming which we still see today.

Also, a lot of the game features mundane tasks. Walking around, talking to people, getting a job, all the fun stuff.

But it just has that certain charm to it. Being a fan of Japanese culture, I spent hours just walking about taking the game world in.

They HAVE to release Shenmue 3, just to bring us rabid fans closure to Ryo Hazuki’s quest for revenge.

That Old Familiar Feeling.

Posted in Random with tags on August 10, 2012 by Daniel Geikowski

I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve been playing games pretty much non-stop over the last couple of months, or that the new University semester has just started, but I’ve haven’t been putting much time into playing games recently.

Sure, the majority of us have other responsibilities that arise as we grow older.

Work, bills, studies, birthdays and many other commitments start to take precedence over games. But there are those like myself who make time, because they just can’t get enough of Video Games.

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted Video Games to be a part of my future. Not simply in a casual level, but professionally also. I’m still undecided on what exactly I want to achieve in the Industry.

I not only love playing games, but also discussing the various themes and messages that each game presents to the player. So I started putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and started up my own blog. I had received some positive feedback from people, and after submitting some work to OXCGN, they were keen to have me contribute on a regular basis.

Nowadays, as I’m playing through a game, I tend to look a little bit deeper, play through the game more than once, in order to understand a game’s message, in hopes of producing a thoughtful article.

Recently though, I’m just in one of those moods where I’m not desperate to play games. I’m sure other gamers can understand what I’m trying to say, but I guess nothing out there is enticing me to play.

For example, I picked up Max Payne 3 on release, and played that non-stop for over two months. After moving on to another game, my attention just wasn’t there. Sure, I’d play for one or two hours, but had no interest in playing on after that.

Maybe it just comes down to the fact that what I’m playing isn’t new. I’ve seen and done it all before. I need a new experience.

But then again, I can play Ocarina of Time again and again, along with Deus Ex and BioShock.

Maybe that is the testament of a truly brilliant game. No matter how old it is, you’re able to sit back and be amazed all over again.

Maybe that’s what I’m waiting for.

Ramshackle Review – The Darkness 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Review with tags on August 8, 2012 by Daniel Geikowski

The following is a review of The Darkness 2 I wrote earlier this year when the game was released.

- February 11th 2012

It’s been two years since I’ve seen Jackie Estacado. Two years since he inherited The Darkness. Upon inheriting The Darkness, his Uncle Paulie, the head of the Franchetti Mob, decided that he didn’t want anybody to challenge his leadership as Don. This included Jackie….

Paulie threw everything he could at Jackie in order to take him out, but The Darkness was too strong of a force, and Jackie seemingly would not die. By continuing to be a thorn in his Uncle Paulie’s side, Paulie and Police Chief Eddie Shroat too away the thing he loved most…Jenny.

By taking away the only thing he held dear, Jackie had become somebody with nothing to lose. After embracing The Darkness, Jackie took out Paulie and Shroat to become the new Don of the Franchetti Mob. 

However, he was still empty.

Fast-forward two years, and Jackie reigns as Don, and has buried The Darkness inside him, refusing to use it. He still mourns for Jenny. However, after what seems to be a rival mob hit, he is forced to once again unleash The Darkness in order to combat a new threat trying to take out not only Jackie himself, but also The Darkness he wields.

After playing the original Darkness back in 2007, I have been eagerly awaiting a sequel. Now having gotten my hands on a copy, I can say I’m pleased with what Digital Extremes have produced. Upon seeing the graphics utilised, which is similar to cell-shaded games of XIII and Jet Set Radio, it pays homage to the game’s comic book origins. It also maintains a nice balance between being too realistic or cartoony.

Not Pictured: Other henchmen getting brutally murdered.

The Darkness makes you feel like a fucking badass, pure and simple. The ease of being able to deal out death and destruction is impressive. Whether it’s picking up people themselves and tearing them in half, or yanking their skulls and spines out, it all looks and feels painful and brutal. I remember the first time I pulled a mobster apart wishbone-style, I loudly exclaimed my joy in expletives, much to the amusement of my fiancée’s family. 

The ability to “quad wield” as the game states, is much easier than I thought. Playing on the 360, the left and right triggers act as the traditional left and right arms, and the left and right buttons control The Darkness heads. This enables the player to play around with multiple combinations over more traditional FPS games. Jackie can dual wield a pistol or SMG while using a car door as a shield, while decapitating enemies with the other Darkness arm. The left demon arm is used for grabbing, the other for slicing. Whether you’re slicing through enemies, or grabbing them and tearing them apart, The Darkness gives players a multitude of options which keeps the gameplay fresh throughout the campaign.

One of many vicious takedowns.

That shouldn’t be too hard though, as the campaign is short. Incredibly short. Not quite MW3 short, but short nonetheless. Even playing through on hard mode, I breezed through in about 5-6 hours, well short of a standard 10-hour FPS. However, that shouldn’t put you off a purchase, as the will be a thoroughly entertaining 5-6 hours. Even though there are a few cliché moments along the way, The Darkness II packs punch and a few surprises along the way. Completing the campaign unlocks the New Game + Mode, and the skill trees Jackie has gives more longevity and replayability. They are clearly setting up for another sequel, let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another five years. 

If you have a few other mates with a copy, there are also some co-op missions which are stand-alone, but also complement the main story. The missions feature four characters with separate and unique abilities to play along with. Missions ranged from objective based to the traditional Mob Hit missions. These obviously add more longevity to the game, and be more entertaining if you have mates to tag along with you.

The Darkness II is a good game, and if you never got around to playing the first back in 2007, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy. Acting as the origin story, The Darkness works to establish Jackie and The Darkness he fights inside. While The Darkness II is a decent game in its own right, experiencing the first heightens allows for a deeper connection to Jackie and other characters, and a better understanding of the story. The Darkness II will not disappoint any fan of FPS looking for a change to the standard FPS fare.

Asura’s Wrath: Rampaging it’s way into a new genre?

Posted in Action/Adventure, Opinion with tags , , , on July 26, 2012 by Daniel Geikowski

Ever since Asura’s Wrath had been announced, I had kept an eye on the game’s progress. Being a fan of Japanese Anime, such as Dragonball Z and the like, the game looked to take various cues and themes from Anime Pop Culture. The art style looked to be a nice balance of hand-drawn and computer generated images. Battles take place on such an immense and global scale. Asura’s Wrath promised an engaging story, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.

Asura’s Wrath places you into the angry boots of Asura, one of the Eight Guardian Demigod Generals tasked to protect the Realm of Shinkoku from the “Gohma”, beings who have been corrupted and wreak havoc across the planet. After an initial battle with the Gohma, the angry Asura gets even angrier once he is betrayed by his fellow Generals, who murder his wife, kidnap his daughter, and kill Asura himself. Funny how that happens. Asura becomes so angry that he comes back to life 12,000 years later to dish up some revenge. Hijinks ensue.

Body Odour is his strongest weapon.

While the art style and story are worthy enough to attract gamers to Asura’s Wrath, the gameplay might not. Well, not the actual gameplay, more like the amount of gameplay. See, there isn’t a lot. Players will need to get used to watching a 5 minute cutscene, playing for about 2 minutes, before sitting back to watch another 5 minutes of dialogue.

The gameplay varies from time to time, ranging from Beat ‘em Up brawling one minute, to On-Rails Shooting the next. I know that might not sound like the most exciting gameplay I know, but the context is what helps make the gameplay a tad more exciting.

You see, Asura goes through some crazy scenarios. At various points throughout the game, Asura will be flying through space blowing Gohma into pieces, fighting a blind dude on the Moon, fighting another guy about twice the size of the planet, and my favourite, trying not to stare too much at the attendants while bathing in the Hot Springs. I’m serious.

See?

Each one of these crazy scenarios are presented in Asura’s Wrath as an episode. Each episode plays out like an actual Anime series, complete with start and end credits, recaps, and teasers for the next episode. This allows players to play through the game at their own pace, without any fear of forgetting the context of their current situation.

This makes Asura’s Wrath a polarising title. The absence of hefty amounts of gameplay will most likely turn most gamers off, feeling like they’ve been cheated, they haven’t got their money’s worth. In around the 6 hours it takes to complete the game, probably no more than 2-2.5 hours of that is actual gameplay. Also, every gamer’s favourite mechanic, the QTE, features quite heavily throughout the game. Sure, it keeps you on your toes while you’re kicking back watching the cutscene, but after an hour or so, it gets a little annoying pressing Y or mashing B all the time.

Repeatedly mash B to win.

However, as an Anime fan, I thoroughly enjoyed Asura’s Wrath. No doubt other fans of Anime would also find more enjoyment here than the ordinary gamer looking for their next action fix. It got me thinking, is this a new genre?

Asura’s Wrath is obviously a video game, but is essentially an Interactive Anime Series. A lot of people state that some games are now becoming like Interactive Movies, so I think it’s a natural progression. Asura’s Wrath works to bridge the gap between games and movies/anime, and does it somewhat successfully.

Sure it’s not for everybody’s taste, but fans of various Anime would love to get a chance to gain more Interaction with their favourite series. Imagine if the Dragonball Anime was given the same treatment? Neon Genesis Evangelion? Cowboy Bebop? It allows fans to experience the narrative while also interacting within their favourite worlds.

The art style fits Anime pretty well.

This sort of setup would work well with the current feature of gaming, DLC. Asura’s Wrath has DLC in the form of new Episodes. It allows players to gain more insight into the story of Asura long after finishing the main game. I believe an Anime Series could work well, with new Episode or Season DLC being released sporadically, to keep the narrative flowing. Then there is the debate of whether gamers should shell out the money to purchase DLC, or wait for a sequel to expand the story. Perhaps each entry could work as one or two seasons, with episode DLC incorporated into that?

Whatever the case, I believe there is a future for titles such as Asura’s Wrath. Sure, it’s not the first game to feature an episodic structure, but it’s presentation has struck a balance between Anime and Video Game, it opens the door to a new category of media. A category which allows for more interaction with our favourite worlds.

You can’t get angry about that.

Time to get settled in…

Posted in Random on July 9, 2012 by Daniel Geikowski

Hello to those very few out there who have been reading my blogs over on my previous blog site, but I am now moving over here to WordPress which is better suited to the guys over at OXCGN.

As I’ve been lucky enough to have some of my previous work published on their site, I’ll be blogging here from now on.

This is pretty much the obligatory welcome message rubbish. With that out of the way, stay tuned for more GAMEZ!

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