Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review: "Final Fantasy: Dissidia" (JPN)

I've always been a person who likes to grind in single player games (but never gets it done ^^;). When I first heard of FF:Dissidia, I thought it would just be another crap game that's trying out a new mechanic that wouldn't be enjoyable. Games from series tend to be like that if that branch off from a genre that they originate from.

So I decided to just give it a shot, since putting all the FF series together in one game has been a childhood wet dream of mine. KH didn't really do it for me (only FFVII and up) but it's still a good game that made me a little happy, but a little sad since I can't use any of the FF characters.

So enter FF:Dissidia into my PSP. I wasn't expecting much, but I was quickly hooked once I figured out how the battle system works and slowly the ability to customize each and every character. Of course, I mentioned I liked to grind and so yeah, there are actually levels and AP in this game. For those unfamiliar with what AP is, it's basically points used to master a skill equipped by your character.

The game mechanics are relatively simple once you start noticing the numbers popping up on the battlefield. Each character have two main stats on the field, mainly Brave and HP. Brave Points are those big numbers on top of your HP bar at the bottom of the screen. Exactly HP numbers are located in a small font at the bottom of the HP bar.

Just like there are two main stats, each and every character in the game have two main attacks, namely HP attack and Brave attack, with HP attack being the square button and Brave attack being the circle button. Like what it means, Brave attack attacks the opponent's Brave and HP attack attacks the opponent's HP. However, Brave attacks also increases your own brave points, so to simplify everything, Brave attacks essentially absorbs opponent's Brave points and place it into your own Brave points.

Finally, to make sense out of both attacks, your HP attack damage is exactly the same as your brave points. After you execute and hit (keyword is HIT), your brave points will drop to 0 and slowly regen to your base Brave Points.

"Breaking" is a mechanic whereby if you are being hit and your brave points goes below 0, you will enter a "Break" status. Before that happens, your opponent will be rewarded with brave points equal to the number right at the bottom center of the screen between both your hp bars. How this number is generated is still beyond me (the japanese might know already tho -.-). In a "Break" status, you will slowly begin to regen to your base Brave before everything if normal again. In this mode, if you hit with your HP attack, you will completely restore you from the Break status, but you will do 0 damage.

Here's a brief image overview using my inferior photoshop skills:

There are more mechanics in the game but these are the basics that will get everyone started with the game.

Now we come to characters. Every FF from FF1 to FF10 have their main character and villain in the game based on jap translation and what I already know:

FF1 - Warrior of Light
FF2 - Firion
FF3 - Onion Knight
FF4 - Cecil
FF5 - Bartz
FF6 - Terra/Tina
FF7 - Cloud
FF8 - Squall
FF9 - Zidane
FFX - Tidus

FF1 - Garland
FF2 - The Emperor
FF3 - Cloud of Darkness
FF4 - Golbrez
FF5 - Exdeath
FF6 - Kefka
FF7 - Sephiroth
FF8 - Ultimecia
FF9 - Kuja
FFX - Jecht

Also to note, there is a 'hero' from FFXI named Shantoto (a Tarutaru race character) and a villain from FFXII named Gabranth.

This game also features online play (duh). Although you can handicap your level to match your opponent, the skills you unlocked for that character will still be available.

FF:Dissidia is also aware of the time and date set in your PSP. There are events generated onto some dates where you will get special bonus (like EXP modifier) for the entire day. This is perhaps to encourage people to play the game at certain dates.

I find it nice to listen to battle themes I remember from all the FFs, espacially the FFIII boss fight and FFV Gilgamesh battle theme. Most of the themes are recreated for the game, and some are reused from previous concerts (FFVII's One Wing Angel theme was reused from the FF Orchestra that happened a couple of years back)

From a spectator point of view, the fights looks like the scenes from recent FF games and movies (Crisis Core and Advent Children); alot of flying, hits and stuff like that.

Overally I think it's a surprisingly great game. Too bad it's in japanese. Alot of things I don't know or couldn't be bothered to translate, but if you are a hardcore FF fan, this game is highly recommended =)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas everyone!

Congrats to all my friends who just POP'ed, good luck to those who just entered BMT, wish all the best for my CDO friends to survive in unit.

Also, congrats to Boonkin for entering OCS. There's no turning back now :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Review: "Tales of Vesperia"

There's nothing much to gripe about this game really. While I was thinking that JRPGs are on a decline (or rather, a dead genre), I decided to borrow this game from John. Tales of Vesperia is probably the epitome of today's JRPGs. Since 1997's FFVII, there hasn't been many JRPGs that can bring a story that captivates the player. Many remember the legendary JRPGs like Chrono Trigger, Suikoden II, FF4, 6, 7,Tales of Eternia, Tales of Destiny. At first I thought it was perhaps nostalgia, but Tales of Vesperia proved me wrong.

Packaged with the cleanest cell-shading graphics I've ever seen, very memorable characters (playable and non-playable alike), a polished combat system (haven't played Tales of Abyss to compare but anyway), the Tales series have come a long way with Namco. Many JRPGs just focus on graphics and end up having really shitty story (*cough*Lost Odyssey*cough*). Some even have main characters that you don't even feel like playing. I know that most game developers love to do something new, but sometimes, they don't have to go overboard and try a new unexperienced model that has a high chance of rejection. Instead they can just revise a working formula.

As for Tales of Vesperia, Yuri is one of the best, if not the best, main character I have ever played. He has done some unexpected things that makes him so awesome. Not only that, Yuri has managed to stay in his character from the start to the finish. What I mean by that? I meant Yuri at the ending is the same Yuri I know that the beginning, with only a few changes. One bad example is FFVIII's Squall. I don't know wtf happened to him at Disc 3 where he suddenly turned mushy. Players don't like drastic change in character without a good proper reason.

For once, random encounters are actually fun. I remembered clear falling asleep while playing Tales of Legendia. I mean, I can actually do combos. Fatal Strike is just too fun to activate to me.

The plot, like all Tales games, is to save the world. Of course, one can't judge an RPG by its ultimate goal, but by its route towards that goal. ToV has it's fair share of plot twists...a couple of them that makes you squeal and go wtf (in a good way). I don't think I have ever seen that in any JRPG (maybe when Crono died in Chrono Trigger).

The bottom line is: All JRPG developers should take a look at ToV and try to understand why it is hailed by some as the best Tales game ever made, and possibly, imho, one of the best JRPGs ever created. JRPG writers (espacially you Suckaguchi) should learn that it is mostly the memorable characters that makes a RPG so great. Rethink back into past JRPGs. Sephiroth, Luca Blight, Kefka, Magus, Frog, Kain, Delita, Gafgarion, Fei, Citan, Grahf. Those are JRPG characters of the past. Nowadays we have wat...Seymour? Gangora? C'mon please...

I don't think I can think of enough praise for this game. I'll even consider giving it a 10/10, but it has lousy villains. It's kinda weird actually...that you play through 3/4 into game and only just discovered who the sub-villain is.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Feed the boredom

Stole this from ZH's blog:

1) Where is the person you want most?
Right now? Probably working in TTSH.

2) Where will you be 2 hours from now?
Hopefully getting a nice sleep

3) Did your last kiss mean anything?
What kiss?

4) Does your ex miss you?
What ex.

5) Does anyone love you?
I bet you do <3

6) What are you doing tomorrow?
Try to make time move slower...again.

7) Are you easily confused?
At a great many things, yes.

8) Do you think you would make a good boyfriend/girlfriend?
I'll probably be a really good one when games really start to suck.

9) Where were you at 9am this morning?
Sleep :p

10) Do you fall for people easily?
Too easily than I could handle.

11) Everything happens for a reason?
Correction: Good things happen for a reason.

12) What does your last text message read?

13) What are you listening to right now?
MAZINKAISER ~Shitou! Ankoku Daishogun~ IN - Majin Kenzan!!

14) How was the week so far?
Awesome, but if will eventually end =/

15) Is there something you wish you could tell someone but can't?
Like 100 ways of describing how much life sucks?

16) Would you kiss the last person you kissed again?
Again with kisses.

17) Do you sleep with the TV on?

18) Are you too forgiving?
You are making me hate myself again.

19) Have you ever wanted to be a fire fighter?
That would be cool.

20) Who do you miss?
Mostly my younger self.

21) What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
Lotus Soup.

22) What are you stressed out about?
National Service.

23) Do you have anything in your pockets right now?

24) What do you do mostly in your free time?
Just thinking about it makes me stressed.

25) In the past week have you gotten sick?
Hahaha yeah man =D

26)Who was your last call from?
Missed call = Heber
Received call = my coy's armskoteman

27) What can't you wait for?
To down PES.

28) On a scale of 1-10 How good is life?
As long as I cannot decide what to do in the future, probably a 3. Could be alot worse.

29) Are you a high-maintenance?
After comparing with some people, I would say no...

30) Are you happy with the way life is?
No. And there are too many reasons why.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Anime Festival Asia 08 recap

This is probably the best weekend I spent since my NS started. To be honest, when I went I only went for 2 things: Mayn and SF4 competition.

On 22nd, I just queued up for the 2 day pass ticket and quickly entered Suntec City Convention Hall 403/404. I wasn't expecting much out of Saturday. I thought I didn't know much of Ichirou Mizuki's (aka Aniki) songs since I don't really know what on earth is Kamen Rider and stuff. The only song I recognize are from the Mazinger Z series.

So I went, played a few $1 (ouch) Melty Blood games, and watch the group SF4 competition matches. Only thing that I find notable is Weitian bringing Simon to the Loser's Bracket.

There were all kinds of booths...Hexaproject, Digipen, Bandai, Takashimaya, Odex, KKnM, Manga's quite a nice array actually. I must say I would be expecting more, but hey one shouldn't be too greedy.

So I waited with John until Aniki's concert. I wasn't prepared for what's about to come. Aniki is THE King. There's something about the way he sings that makes you...燃える。 I didn't know he sings Voltron or the Shin Getter Robo OPs. It is truely an experience that one cannot really express in words. You can feel the passion in his singing really.

On the 23rd (that's today), I arrived just in time to see Jianhui barely losing to Baehoon with his Balrog. Mayn is a great singer, but too bad she only sang like 5 songs. And she have to sing Youhei...yucks. Oh ya, I forgot to mention (because I probably instinctively remove it from memory) about the cosplay comepetition. English dubs scares me. I mean, people actually watch English dubs? It's so damn unnatural most of the time. It pains me to hear the Hitman Reborn cosplayer shouting "TO THE EXTREME!!!" out loud and hundreds of people clapping to it. It's just not right to me.

The most memorable thing about AFA08 to me is undoubtedly Aniki. I hope JAM project comes over soon...fat hope but one can dream right?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review: "Fallout 3"

Many people had high hopes for this game.

It was a game that's waiting to be released.

Fans all over the world, have been waiting for it since Interplay died and with it "Fallout 3: No Mutants Allowed".

Many years later, Bethesda, creators of the Elder Scrolls Series, took over. Many people grumbled about how worried that Fallout 3 would become just 'another Oblivion with guns'. I am not a fan of Oblivion, in fact I don't even like Oblivion (I like Morrowind though, but that's besides the point). People start imagining what it would be like to have a FPS/RPG-like Fallout, and despite my imaginations, I can only expect the worse.

All I remembered about Oblivion was the Assassin's Guild quests, which was crafted decently. The rest of the game is just bullcrap, the standard issue save-the-world thing, along with a game mechanic which would work well only in games like Oblivion.

When I started off playing Fallout 3, my first impressions are rather good, after all, I have waited probably 8 years for this. Nostalgia blinded me immediately after I see Pipboy and the Vault suit. Then it wore off and something else took over. It was the exact same feeling as playing Oblivion. So the worse came true, Fallout, is after all the wait, an Oblivion set in post-nuclear-war setting with guns.

Stats and skills are poorly revamped. All the stats, save Intelligence, are crap on their own, espacially Charisma which doesn't give anything other than greater successes to <Lie> dialogs. Since skills are now capped at 100%, and since it doesn't cost more to add skill points at higher percentages, it's easy to create a character that is really good at a couple of skills and decent in many others. My currently character is currently just really crap at Speech and Barter, aside from other weaponry skills which I don't need since I already got 2 which are really high (ie I have Small Guns and Melee Weapons really high, I don't need Unarmed or Energy weapon).

Perks are really dumbed down. You don't even need to plan much any more. Too many shit perks that are just "Each time to take this perk your Medicine and Science skill increases by 5!".

The Wasteland setting, the environment rather, is boring. It's really one dimensional most of the time but I can't really bash on that. I mean, it is a wasteland setting so I guess it's meant to look deary, but really it makes travelling so damn dull.

Quests are overall pretty well done tbh, but they could be done better. A lot better. But considering today's RPGs, it's already rather good. I just...wish it could be better. I can't describe here to avoid giving away random spoilers.

And of course we come to VATS, the attempt to make Fallout 3 feel like a Fallout game. Like all gimmicks, it looks good at first, but gets boring after awhile. I don't think they have a choice though, since they are trying to mesh together Fallout, an inherently TBS game, with Oblivion, an inherently FPS game. It is actually quite cool since they abuse bullet time, and especially since they solve melee in VATS by teleporting you to the enemy if they try to run away. A broken yet amusing bug/feature.

But undoubtedly, I feel that Fallout 3 could become GOTY for 2008. Overall, it's still a rather good game. I'm just disappointed at the perks, skills and stats system. It almost feels as if they are forced to implement RPG elements into an FPS game.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Alot of gamers are elitists. Alot of gamers WERE elitists. It is only natural.

It's hard to say what exactly I mean by a gamer nowadays, so I'll go by this simple defination: People who plays games seriously. Min-maxers automatically fall into this category.

I met up with this gamer dude in my platoon back in BMT. He's plays board games, DND as well as various console/PC games. I'm not talking DOTA and CS of course. I'm talking about great games like Baldur's Gate and Fallout...and new games like Mass Effect etc etc, you know the works.

He is damn elitist.

He shuns away 'ah beng'-type characters and looks down on 'typical' singaporean characters. I mean, he only talks to a couple of guys in my platoon. He knows I play tons of stuff more than him so he quickly associates himself to me. In front of me, he's nice and okay sort of guy, but then since I mix around alot with my platoonmates, I found an ugly side of him. He's apparently selfish, conceited and proud. He refuses to mix around with people who aren't gamers, people who clubs and plays soccer etc.

God, how is such a person going to survive at all?

Regarding about my previous post about no life, I believe that there is no life without people around you. The concept about making friends is so simple. You make a friend, you help him, he help you and possibly help each other in the future. If you make up with a cb ljpal, too bad, suck it up and continue being friends, if not mere acquaintances. Who knows that ljpal will change for the better in the future (or become a living joke for your entertainment if you are bastard like me).

Maybe because I'm too nice though. I love dissing people alot but I don't like to like literally tell them to fuck off. I only do it when someone is a real fucker.

I guess elitists can survive in the society after all, since there seems to be quite a number around the world and they haven't suicided or anything.

And congrats to all former elitists for quitting being one.


I haven't had a chance to post anything other than gaming due to 1) lack of time, 2) lazy to blog or 3) nothing else to blog about. So now I shall randomly post something because I have nothing better to do.  Most of my gaming time (via handhelds) are done in my bunk since we have ample free time, so when I get home, I prevent myself from touching them (why waste time playing PSP during book out when you can actually do it like 5-6hours a day in camp?).

So let's throw all these gaming topics aside for awhile.

Sometimes, I wonder what do people do at home, especially during their book out.  Book outs are precious and in turn causes people to plan and do their most enjoyable/favorite things. I'll leave people with girlfriends aside cause they will usually spend 90% of their bookouts with them.  Either that or they spent alot on them the previous week thus causing them to go into hiding for the next upcoming weeks to recuperate.

I'm more interested in what girlfriend-less non-gamer people do during their free time.

For me it's rather simple.  Whenever people ask me "What are you going to do during my bookout?", I'll just give a slight smile and go, "Bugis, maybe some DnD and I dunno, play some PC games." which would be followed by "Why Bugis? What is DND? What games...DOTA? CS?".

Most people in my camp know that I am, soul and heart, a gamer and a bit weeaboo and otaku (I just don't watch enough animes and even less now).  I spend most of my life playing games since primary school, holding my Game Boy wherever I go, and whenever, even playing in the dark with the light screen attachment thing while being car-sick (I get motion sickness while playing games in vehicles).  When I return home when I was only kindergarden, I would just turn on my SNES and play some mario and stuff.  When I go my uncle's house I would play on my 16-bit Sega all day.  Come to think of it, I don't think I ever spent a day without playing games until NS started.

A lot of people consider me a 'no-lifer'.  Most people classify people without a girlfriend or not actively searching for one a 'no-lifer'.  It's not that I do not want one.  It's just that having a girlfriend takes up a lot of sacrifice which I'm not willing to make yet, and also I have very high expectations of a girl.  I'd rather concentrate on my fucked up future first.

So anyway.  When I ask most people what do they do during their book outs, most would just reply either "Girlfriend" or "Club". Some would randomly jio a few friends to go eat some random food or play soccer. Others would just go, "erm...nothing much lor, just slack around at home."

That got me thinking for awhile.  For a person like me, slacking at home means playing computer games, some random piano or lie down read book and sleep.  For them, it means lie down and sleep? Most of them don't play much games other than DOTA or CS. Most don't even read books.  So if they have nothing to do, what do they do? Surf What do they surf on the internet? Hmm.  I'll ask next book in.  They must be doing something at home.  I don't believe people actually spend their book out solely on sleeping and laying down.

In the end, everyone has their own perspective.  Being the minority, I tend to get randomly bashed (verbally but it's not so bad cause it's just random).  Luckily it's the era of digital media.  So people who play a bit of games come to me for random gaming talk.

Oh well, I've involved the subject of games again. I guess it's rather inevitable huh? =p

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Review: "The Force Unleashed"

If you like Star Wars alot, play this game, if not, it would be a more buggy and disappointing version of the God of War series. Being the former, I am able to look past the shortcomings of this game. Barely.

You play the secret apprentice of the Dark Lord Vadar, secret even to the Emperor himself. Together, both of you secretly plan to overrun the Empire. That is the basic gist of the game. You start off as Lord Vadar himself, slicing through hundreds of wookies (or stormtroopers if you like) and abusing his vast force energy and powers. From the very start, you begin the see two problems with the game: camera and the fact that your lightsaber is a giant glowy rubber bat. I take back my word on 'slicing wookies' should've been 'batting wookies off the screen'. Still, despite this, batting people away is amusing, so is flinging them off platforms.

Your character is this son of a long dead Jedi killed by Darth Vadar. As you progress through the game, you will gain either yellow, red or blue points (forget the specific names, I know blue = force, red = combos and yellow = stats). So there are 3 different tables, namely yellow, red and blue, for you to spend your respectively-colored points. Yellow points affect your total force power, regen, health, etc. Red improves your combat skills (via new combos and such) and blue is your force abilities (push, lightning, etc). It works just like the previous Jedi Knight series.

One gripe about this game that most people find irritating is the lack of invulnerability time at certain animations like getting up from the ground. In fact, the game has no invulnerability time for your character. When he gets knocked down, while getting up, he will still take damage from all the enemies smacking you as well as random rockets from off the screen. You can always try to 'tech' out before you fall, pushing away some enemies for a short distance, but there isn't even invul time for that so you still can get knocked down AGAIN by some random rocket while in the teching animation. Sometimes, a simple knockdown in the heat of the battle might just cost you the game.

Gameplay feel is pretty much the same as most of your hack and slash games. It mostly follows the cinematic style of God of War. The game feels edgy and stiff sometimes, as if something unintended is going to happen soon but it didn't. I managed to get myself under the terrain once but even so, it's hard to reproduce it. Still, it's fun because it's Star Wars.

Graphics are meh. Nothing much to comment other than it is very Star War-ish. As for the's Star Wars.

All in all, the main thing going for this game is its IP. Without it, it will be just another God of War wannabe clone and shelfed off to one corner of the world. Then again, in GoW, you don't get telekinetic powers.

Friday, June 6, 2008

[Game] Dawn of War II 20sec gameplay footage rawr

Very wank-worthy in my opinion. Nothing could've prepared me for what I saw. I could expect it, but seeing it is more than believing it.

EDIT: is there a way to make wordpress accept HTML stuff?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: "Grand Theft Auto IV"

Wow, so many things to gripe about this game I don't even know where to start. Let me hit off by saying that I am not an avid GTAIV fanboy, I merely bought it because there seemed to be so much hype for this game, obviously from fanboys of the series. I have played past GTA games before but they haven't impressed me beyond the fact that it is a game with a theme that hasn't been done much before. Moreover, it has an open world, FPS content and...well tons of stuff. I wouldn't really be able to categorisize what genre the game is itself.

So GTAIV is just like the old GTAs: Find job, do job, get monies, repeat. There are many 'sidequests' to do at your own leisure like dating your girlfriend/boyfriend, run random side-errands GTA style, etc. I think I should start making sub headers for this so here goes:

#1: Too many gimmicks, aka too diversified, no focus.

As Gerald McReary would say "Too much fun, never any focus", I think GTAIV fits the description really well. There are a FUCkLOAD of gimmicks out there and none, imho, was brought out to an acceptable satisfying level. It all feels half-done except maybe the handphone.

1) The handphone is a pretty awesome feature. It comes with a camera, ringtone, phonebook and almost all the basic shit you can expect off a handphone. It's great because you won't get really bored wandering the streets. Plus, the handphone is the new way GTA allows you to restart a mission. "Opps, mission failed. Try again? Press Yes!" *beep* Feels like the matrix lol.

2) The internet feature is weak weak weak. It only means I have one more place to go (the internet cafe) to do jobs sent to me via email. Emailing is pretty pointless. Some missions let you do funky stuff like submitting your resume to get a job. Mostly, the internet is used to date other girls, which would lead to getting random bonuses if you date them to a higher level like 50% discount on clothes. Oh ya, you can download ringtones and themes for your handphones! Woo!

3) Police car computers. Steal a police car, search of criminals, kill them all. Full stop. Don't even get money i think.

4) "Shoot the door lock to force the door open". Nice. I don't see that more than twice though. Might as well ask me to kick open the door like Niko always does anyway in cutscenes.

5) They improved the hand to hand combat system. Press A to dodge and other buttons to counter! Golly! Sounds like...I dunno, Assassin's Creed! Cool! Wow, what's this? A gun! Hey it does the job faster...hmm...

6) AutoAim awesomeness. Tilt the R analog to switch between target. Switch, switch, switch, WTF WHY ISN'T IT TARGETING THE GUY 0.001CM IN FRONT OF ME?! *goes in and out of aim mode* Oh, you need to refresh the autoaim? You mean the autoaim target stacking isn't real time? Wait, it sometimes is. Arg I'm confused.

7) Press RB to hide behind corners. Gears of War style. Pretty cool, only that it isn't half as slick as GoW is. There's blind fire btw. And opponents blind firing = autoaim is useless. Auto aim is pretty good when you drive a car though, no wait you can't do that. Darn.

#2 The Cars

The chase camera for the cars is really irritating. It probably uses the same spring camera thing I tried to develop when I was still programming. There's a lot of things I thought I did wrong because of how crap I think it felt (like the camera goes lower when my target moves forward). After playing GTA4, I guess my camera isn't wrong in that aspect. Do you know how damn hard is it to aim a weapon while driving past all the traffic and the camera gradually going down. It was okay until I have to chase a rather fast car.

Oh note that if your car is, say a fast car like Turismo, if your car is moving at like 5km/h and hit into a bus that is turning at a 0.01km/h rate, your car would flanged at impossible distances and spin at uncontrollable rates. Lesson: Get a heavier car. They go with the flow of the traffic ya? You don't really want to move too fast in this game anyway. One thing I learnt about GTA driving is that the less mistakes you make, the easier the chase is. One fatal car accident = mission failed. By fatal I meant if you banged into another vehicle, if you spin 180 degrees thereabouts, you are screwed. Makes you wish you hit harder so that the car would face the right direction again. Alot of people complain about how goddamn unrealistic is the driving as far as suspension or light-weightedness of the cars go. It's all pretty true. Motorbikes are the fucking worst, unless you enjoy flying. Ya that shit is really fun :p

#3 Killing, car chases, and different variations of them

They could do alot more than just these you know. It is bad that I can categorize missions. You know, I don't even mind doing all those things, but the missions must feel somewhat different from each other. Giving different mundane reasons to do a car/bike chase is not really what players would enjoy. "Get him, he's trying to blackmail me!" or "Get him! He stole our diamonds!". C'mon Rockstar you can do better than that. I've seen what you can do to all the conversations and cutscenes that happen in the game. That is actually the best thing in the game btw. The only reason why I still play it.

EDIT: Okay perhaps I rant on too much about what I feel are the disadvantages to this game, so I'm going to say a few good things, most of which don't really matter to me but might matter alot to other people.

What GTAIV did pretty well, imo, was the overall environment. The sound, graphics, trashtalking on the streets, atmosphere blah blah...they were all quite excellent. And one gimmick I find really god is the GPRS system they added, which will show you landmarks as well as police search zone (searching for you of course) as well as marking out the fastest legal route to the destination. Also the best thing about this game are the characters. TBH, it's the only thing that keeps me playing. Jimmy, Little Jacob, BRUCIE, the whole McReary family, they were all interesting characters to talk to.

Story-wise, I wouldn't say GTA4 is boring. I mean, c'mon, it's the fucking mafia we are talking about. That genre alone makes everything interesting as it can be. Random trigger happy people, family issues, pawn-king relationship. Some of the missions gives you choices as to whether to kill person A or B, which makes you feel like some kind of shinigami or something. The conversations and cutscenes before a mission makes you go like "wow, this is so cool, I'm driving a truck of bombs", all heated up and stuff. But once you fail for dumb reasons, that feeling fades very very quickly.

Dumb reasons include:

- some car suddenly jerking in your way during a chase that you KNOW as a fact that is it NOT scripted since it happens only once out of like ten tries.

- Autoaim fails

- Police appears at the worst possible time during a mission. Mostly during some shootings and random hijacking. Yes police cars are NOT that common, and you never notice them. It's like you turn 360 and go 'hmm no police' and the moment you hijack, your GPRS kicks in and you start seeing the words "Lose your wanted level" at the bottom of the screen making you feel like turning off your console.

These are the most significant reasons why you might die. Maybe because I suck, but I doubt it. Then again, I don't play much GTA so *shrugs*.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

MDA's crap.

I haven't been really happy about the stuff going around with Age of Conan arriving in Singapore. I was planning to get it so that I will have something to do for the last 3 weeks before my NS. So it got delayed till 23rd due to shipping matters. I thought it was an SOP that games are to be shipped early so that shops can release them in time. Okay, that screw up, possible on EA's side, cost me 3 days. Okay cool.

Then on 23rd, it STILL hadn't arrived in shops. Why? Because MDA have to give a ESRB rating so it would possibly be out the next day. Okay, cool. It's just one more day, I can live with that. Saturday it STILL hadn't arrive? Wtf? Why, because MDA is sleeping I heard, phone calls can't get through. That means that it won't be out till Monday. Whoa it's past monday already, guess what? It's still isn't out. What the fuck is so damn hard about choosing a rating between M18 and BANNED. Is the Mass Effect incident going to happen again? Somehow GTA4 got away with their X'ed titties.

At least I got GTA4 now. Pretty nice game, but gameplay experience is pretty meh. A possible review coming up? :p

Monday, May 19, 2008

MMO design (part 1)

I've been thinking about MMO design in general, what games like WoW achieved and failed to achieve etc, why Vanguard has so much potential yet it was difficult to keep enough loyal fans and what I worry about Age of Conan. Sadly, I might not have the time to thoroughly explore Age of Conan.


In all MMOs, the best way to keep a crowd and have them entertain from level 1 to cap is the crowd themselves. Just making the world seem populated with PCs is enough to create a good online experience. You don't even need to have a designer to mash out 2 million unique quests to make grinding enjoyable. To me, WoW leveling experience is no different than EQ. Instead of you telling yourself what to grind, the NPC tells you what to grind and/or make you walk to weird parts of the world. Of course, this is with the exception of chain quests leading up to a big reward, like Epic Quests from EQ. Those actually FEEL like quests. Killing 5 rats...not so much.

So with that begs the simple question: How to make grinding fun? WoW answered this with quests. Er...lots and lots of quests. I haven't played enough Pre-WoW MMOs to know whether they have a spamfuck of quests like WoW, so I just assumed they came out with it. Or rather, expanded on it. A lot. The zerg way. Having a clusterfuck amount of quests, despite whatever adjectives I used to bash it, undoubtedly makes the grind from 1 to cap enjoyable. They point clueless players in the right direction, make them explore the world as well as giving them short term satisfaction from the rewards or the sudden exp bump.

Brad Mcquaid (rofl did I spell it right) tried to answer this question with the advent of Vanguard. Looking aside the horrible bugs and codings, Vanguard 1-50, pure leveling-wise, feels a lot like WoW, except that sometimes you can chop fallen treants. It may sound pointless but at least it adds to the fun. But that's all Vanguard added to the 'fun to the grind' topic imho.

Having played VG somewhat showed me the direction WoW clones can head to.  In WoW, the amount of quests seems rather balanced, nothing to complain or notice about.  The number of quests really fit the leveling curve.  VG has shown what happens if you take WoW to a more hardcore level.  20+quests in one area, blatantly asking you to "Run around and kill everything, click everything and loot everything, come back to us and complete everything".  It's really ugly and becomes a grind, because quests feels more and more meaningless and stupid.

An example, an undead infested town consists of Mob A, B, C and Clickable Object D, E.  Outside this town, littering the zone is Mob F.  Hmm, let's think of quests.  Kill X amount of A, B, C and F.  A is a subtype of F so you can kill 1 of them to update 2 quests! Two birds with one stone! Everyone loves that!  Also collect Clickable Object D and E which is usually guarded by Mobs A, B and C, but E is a little rarer so take note of that! Oh ya, remember to pick up Loot G from Mob B and C and Loot H from A.  Oh ya, explore the town too for me! That makes, what, 4 killing quests + 2 looting quests + 2 clicky quests + 1 exploration quest for a grand total of 9 quests for one little area in a zone.  I am exaggerating of course, but the idea is around there.  6 quests leading to an area is normal.  Why don't they just give me a couple of quest that says "Zone Name: Kill Everything!" or "Zone Name: Loot Everything".  Oh ya, because there are some people who like to read and follow the 'lore', who are level 30 and doing level 5 quests.  Sorry, almost forgotten about you guys.  Your love for the world is admirable.  Whoops, I'm flamin'.


Grouping is what makes an MMO an MMO. It's a Massive MULTIPLAYER Online Roleplaying Game. However, because nowadays people are getting busier and busier, and proportion of no-lifers and busy people is getting wider, soloing become inevitable. More than that, soloing allows people who cannot find groups something to do. MMOs must learn to strike the perfect balance. An MMO in which soloing reaps better work-done vs reward tio will be totally pointless.  In the case of WoW, pre-cap dungeons are totally unneeded due to the rate of leveling, the really fast item-level growth, and the ease of soloing.  Most already know that WoW pre-cap is a short tutorial to the actual game.

VG, imho, managed to strike some kind of balance.  Unfortunately, groups in VG is so damn scarce due to the retarded-ly low population.  VG has so much damn potential, but that's for another post for another day.  Still, however much I say how great VG can be, it is still, ultimately, a WoW clone with more stuff.

By now you might be wondering why do I keep referencing to VG and WoW.  Because they are, imho, the best examples to give.  There's not much to talk about, say, City of Heroes/Villains.  CoH/V is like EQ without loot and screwed up classes.  You just grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind like a monkey and grow extremely jealous of Scrappers and maybe correctly spec'ed Blasters because they can solo every damn thing with a lot less risk than grouping and seeing people fuck up.  Still, mob fights are fun.  Then you die, get fuckload of debt, cry and quit.  I don't even want to talk about the instances.

Some people think that leveling is a chore, while others think that it is a fun thing to do.  It is difficult to make a point that leveling is needed.  I would just do away with leveling imo and follow UO's example.  Then again, UO-model MMOs are really different from EQ/WoW-model MMOs, so this is something to think about. The more important questions have to be answered: Is leveling necessary? How to make grinding fun? With more and more casual players entering the market, it is important to cater to them since they are the bulk of your MMO's income.  Also, you must make sure that hardcore players feel that their achievements are equivalent to the time they take to play, compared to casual player.  If I spent 100 hours getting a weapon 2 dps higher than a casual player who only spent 50 hours, I will get very upset.  Obviously.  Saying that, I believe WoW managed to obtain a very good balance in this casual-hardcore catering aspect.


As far as RO-model and WoW-model MMOs are concerned, classes can be easily split into 3 categories, The Holy Trinity: Tank, DPS, Healer, the bare bones of a group.  Without them, groups will have a hard time dealing with mobs.  Smaller categories include Support and Crowd Control.  The trick is to make all your classes in your MMO to feel unique, like 'Class Defining Skills' or more.  All of them MUST feel useful for late game, raid or groups.  Bad example would probably be druids in Everquest.  They are a unique bunch.  They can heal, nuke, support and was one of the few classes to be able to solo.  Forming groups, people might just think 'why the hell would I want a druid?'. For heals, clerics are far far better, wearing better armor, able to give exp-return rezzes, and heal better.  For nukes, or dps, rogues, ranger, necro, wizards and mages can do it so much better.  No reason to grab a druid unless you are hard-pressed trying to find a cleric.

Another bad example would be CoH as stated above.  Good examples include WoW and DDO, but then again there aren't many classes. VG had almost every class as useful as it can be.  I can think of reasons why I want almost every of the 15(?) classes in VG.  I'm looking forward to what AoC can produce.

Class design is really tricky.  If you want to have 3 tank classes, you must make all of them unique as well as useful.  Sometimes I think VG is kinda lame in that aspect.  DKs and warriors are made noticeably more useful than paladins because they have more crit buffs/debuffs.  Rangers have lower dps than Monks but they are also made useful by having crit buffs.  Rogues are awesome dps and also gives crit buffs.  Everything in VG is centered around crits for MASSIVE damage due to finishers.

Still, WoW did a rather nifty job of balancing out all their classes.  At least they made warlocks, paladins, hunters and druids unique and useful (ideal group was supposedly warrior/rogue/shaman/priest).

More to come...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A new look, but somethings never change. (And Tetra)

Well, I shifted here even since I found out wordpress has this awesome 'SHIFT HERE' magic button that works for blogger, livejournal, etc. It is able to MERGE everything you every blogged into one big wordpress blog. Pretty nifty. Looking back at old blog posts, many things changed since then like my attitude and my interests, and many things remained the same, like how I feel about Tekken.

If no one read this 2 million-year-old news yet, Wilson Chia aka Tetra was fired for maoing his manager.

My opinions about this was quite simple: The manager deserved to get slapped. I'd only wished Tetra actually rip him apart. Phenic was probably the worst manager I have ever seen/read about. No matter how you twist the story, it will still be at Phenic's fault: He made his mindless button mashing girlfriend play DOA4 alongside Tetra. After 6 months, according to Tetra, she is still a mindless button masher. Although button mashing is bad enough in 2D games (in GG will cause counter hits for big damage example), I play enough DOA4 to know it is worse. Heck I don't even need brains to fight a button masher.

So this fiancee of Phenic insisted that his girlfriend's skills will work out in the end, again according to Tetra. I have to take Tetra's word for this because, well, only Tetra and Phenic knows about this detail and Tetra will be the one telling the world while Phenic will just deny everything. Supposedly, after 6 months of button mashing, Phenic's girlfriend remained the same and eventually, it didn't really work out in the end, causing SG team to lose a potential $2k/month contract (around there I think), and end up with a $500/month one (I think, and lawl it's worse than attachment pay).

So instead of letting other better girl players play at the DOA4 female category (there are, apparently), he let his lousy button mashing girlfriend to play instead. Madpiss.

And was Phenic is lousy ex-PGR Singapore Team player that died to some random uncle?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Review: "Mass Effect" - I will destroy you!

I have been playing tons of Mass Effect lately, like, tons. My weekdays just went by so swiftly everytime.

Mass Effect was very enjoyable for me. Every party member has some character development, combat was FPS-like, thus making it fairly enjoyable, voice acting was good, content/lore was acceptable, a bit of romance and deaths of important characters (spoilers). Too bad the main storyline only lasts for around 10 hours.

Sidequests are barely tolerable. In outdoors sidequests you have to explore the whole damn empty terrain with your vehicle to look for various key items. Indoor sidequests reminds me of City of Heroes quests. Every damn indoor instance looks the same. Everytime you enter a building, you see the same textures, but a different layout. It get really really old after some time.

On the topic of vehicular combat, it is a fucking bitch. Getting down to shoot is at least a hundred times more convenient, and considering that you get more exp that way combat from destroying stuffs from your vehicle, you'd rather stay out.

I would really really love if planets are less mountainous. Some are okay, but there are a few which I felt breathless, the negative kind of 'breathless'. Travelling and bouncing around my Mako is irritating enough, don't make it worse with such irritating terrain. And the camera. God, why do they do this to my eyes?

I wished there were more conversation between party members. And I wished choosing paragon/renegade actually has a meaning, not just dialog and random people hating you or dying. I guess I shouldn't expect much, since paragon/renegade isn't as dratically difference as compared to light/dark side in KOTOR. Plus, I wish being paragon/renegade would grant you special bonuses like in KOTOR, intead of just letting you add more points to dialong skills (charm and intimidate) etc.

I kinda liked their character growth mechanics but it could've been better. Soldiers seemed like complete shit as compared to what the other classes can do. Only good thing about Soldier is that you don't have to suffer problems like choosing what skills to add to, since you don't have much anyway. The only other use for the Soldier class is to unlock the Assult Rifle acheivement.

Lore is good but some parts sounds like Warhammer 40k ripoffs. Just look at Tali's people, the quarian as compared to Eldars:

- Create bad stuff that will drive their race to extinction? Check
- Doesn't live on planets, ie live on ships? Flotila? Craftworld? hmm
- Pilgrimage? Hmm sounds like Rangers!

I wouldn't want to compare the Protheans and Reapers to Necrons and the old race in 40k which I can't remember. The mere mention of the concept between Protheans and Reapers scream "Plagarism!" in my mind.

The story is good enough. It's better than Icewind Dale series. Then again Icewind Dale has shit for story. But at least it has the 'omg so that's what they are for' factor. However, I find the Reaper's (aka the big bad evil boss) reason to destroy really lacking and disappointing.

I expect many many things in Mass Effect 2. If they did the same to ME2 from ME1 as they did to KOTOR2 from KOTOR1, it'd be great.

And I don't want planetary travel anymore please...I'd rather do 15 more Citadel quests than to wander aimlessly around 15 different planets in my crap vehicle (ya it's that bad imo).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Review: "Super Smash Bros: Brawl"

I have been touching on Super Smash Bros Brawl on ZhaoHan's Wii these few weeks. It's incredibly fun, and I feel that this game might make it on the competitive stage, although I shouldn't be the one to judge that since I didn't play SSB: Melee in the first place. There seemed to be many complains by the Smash World community about Brawl, mainly because they felt the competitve level of the game has toned down to a crawl. The creator of SSB series, Sakurai, states that he's trying to "make losers and winners feel happy" (summerized), so the community interprets it (probably correctly) as "I don't want SSB to be hardcore competitive like a SF2".

I do feel that Sakurai managed to accomplish that though I've never actually played Melee to make a comparision and make a judgement. I had a blast playing 4 FFA with all items on. Items are goddamn fun, fun because they are damn random and some of them are very creative (eg football). Stages are well designed too. I mean, only Nintendo can come up with such unique stages. I liked the Sonic stage, mainly because I totally recognize it from the first Sonic game I played about 15 years ago when I was just a small boy. Nostalgia is fuck awesome. Too bad I don't think I ever completed the game. Good thing I still have my 16-bit sega in my uncle's house :D...I hope -.-

There are many characters in the game, featuring characters from games like Fire Emblem (Marth, Ike), Kirby, Sonic, Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Metal Gear (Snake), and of course, Mario Bros themselves. There is no doubt that this game has their fair share of tiers. Characters like Pit is arguably better than Wario, but from what many people feel, the game is more balanced than it was in Melee. They are only afraid that the ultimate strategy in brawl, in the end, is to camp and wait instead of advancing and chasing down an opponent. In short, many feel that this game will favor people with no 'O'ffence. A thread has been created suggesting to do a 'Heavy Brawl', which is to increase the gravity of the game, since Brawl is very much slower (and more floaty) as compared to Melee (from what I experienced within 10mins of Melee long ago).

Well, my group of friends playing Brawl isn't really at that level of expertise yet, so I don't really care or feel what they felt. Right now, we are just playing the game for fun, and slowly exploring the details the game engine and the characters.

I'm awaiting the next Brawl get together. I hope my arms heal up then (seems to take a long time to heal, 4th day and it just got worse).

Saturday, February 9, 2008

[Random]Happy Lunar New Year

Happy Lunar New Year Everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

[Random] Thai Pusam?

Throughout the 20 years in my life, I have not heard of this...festival.

So I simply ran headfirst into the middle of it. The middle of Thambiland. At its peak.

It was incredibly crowded. In fact it was so crowded I can't see shit. This is a totally different kind of 'can't see shit because its crowded'. This is darkness we are talking about. How the hell do people actually see what's going on on the road. I can barely see some random guy dancing around in front of some banner. It was really really hard to see. Not much of a surprise there though, considering the amount of times I walked past this place and almost missed them completely.

I think these Hindus have darkvision, or something. And I think they identify each other by smell. Holy crap, I think they do! All of them have the same bloody haircut, as if they only went to a singular barber. The ones WHICH don't are probably gays. Yes I spotted a couple and it was fairly significant. They looked less...of their kind.

But the topic here is Thai Pusam. The roadblocks made of steel and flesh everywhere, stretching from the start of Little India (the road towards SLS) all the way to Race Course Road (safe point).

To be honest, I felt a little scared. I'm afraid to speak about anything that has to do with them. What if I let slip a silly comment and a stupid one misinterprets it and starts beating me up. All of them will zerg me and the police can't do shit. They will probably cut up my body and sell them back in form of a mutabak. Paranoid? Better safe than sorry.

I should've snapped a shot, I really should, but I'm now using a camera-less phone. A zerg of the Hindu people is madness. I have seen zergs of chinese in Shanghai, large tourist groups of Eurasians, and probably zergs of blacks and all. They all looked different from each other, somehow (although botak people always gives me problems most of the time). The Little India crowd I'd always felt I lost my way because I thought I passed by the same person trice.

Lesson, stay away from Little India. God I bet the drain along the way home was filled with stuff.

Monday, January 14, 2008

[Random] First weeks of Jan

Its been a pretty fun week. Learning japanese now is rather fun, and attending lessons makes me feel happy, although I'm not that keen on learning katakana (katakana vocab test next week?! katakana VOCAB? >. all other builds that do better at what I'm doing". Ignoring him seems to work. So far.

I just ordered my X360 from Oldman. He'd better pick me good games or I'll fry him. YH and Dom were quarreling about the possession of Travis' X360 I heard...good thing I wasn't there. Seems that after 3 months of attachment, things aren't going so well. I mean it's quite a strange situation sometimes. Dom can be so damned blur at times, but he is much more reasonable than YH can be. While YH is damn aware of things around him, but he has shit for logic sometimes.

Why am I the only passive intern around in the company. Sadly, I don't really plan to stay in the company. I no longer find joy in making big huge 3D games anymore. I spent too much time making them, staying up late to produce results and rushing every weekly deadline. I guess I'm one who loses interest easily if I don't see any REAL progress for myself. Actually, no. I guess I just hate building engines. I'm okay with doing them, SIMPLE versions of them, but once you start adding maths and crazy requirements, I'm out. I want to use tools, not make them. I want to use a hammer, not create one.

That's why I enjoy 2D games. That's why I like to script and play with editors. That's why I love DnD. Ok here we go again :p

Its getting late now. I guess I'd better sleep.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's been a new year and I felt old, again.

I just passed my japanese testto skip elementary course...but I'm not sure if I should join. NS may be up sooner than I expect.

I have been playing too much DnD for the past couple of weeks. I can taste the mushroom swiss double in my mouth now...

Hmm, to join or not to join?