Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering Everquest

Yes, Everquest. To those who have played it back then before gaming became huge, it is the most magical, immerse and fun MMO in their lives. No MMO can replicate the same magic and feel. My friend John and I searched and searched for such an MMO with no avail. For my side, I've tried World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, Everquest 2, Dungeon And Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, Vanguard, a bit of Age of Conan, and many other p2p games. I've even tried f2p ones: Flyff, Guild Wars, Ragnarok Online, Ragnarok Online 2, Maple Story, 9 Dragons, 2 Moon, Granado Esparda, and a hell lot more I daren't count.

Search all we want, none could reproduce the same magical feel as Everquest did. I was still pretty young when I played MMOs, back then when 56K still existed within my house. I was only 13 or 14 when John first told me about Everquest. Back then, I think I was the rather daydreaming type, writing random fan-fiction, playing FF6 and other RPGs, etc. so the idea of an MMO really intrigued me.

I remember when we started off at Rodcet Nife server. The Magician was my first character. Ranger was my second I think. But I didn't get really far before we decided to shift to Innoruuk server where most Singaporeans play. There I believe I created Rhistel the Bard, which I later discovered to be one of the more fun and rather overpowered class. To cut short the chase, Rhistel fell off the world at Overthere, I couldn't play him, couldn't wait for GMs to respond for petition and stupidly deleted him.

Then I started Rhistel the Rogue, which I played till level 30 and stopped. After which I created Faylar the Bard. He was my main ever since. Much of what I remembered was post-Luclin. Most people who recalled Everquest have most of their good memories pre-Luclin, but I felt my experiences were irreplaceable like theirs.

I intended to type out a full list of the nostalgic things that I experienced in Everquest. In fact, I typed it out but I really had to stop. The stuff I remember is probably enough to create a short storybook. I couldn't do the same for current MMOs like World of Warcraft. In the MMOs nowadays, most of the stuff I remember are usually created by the community, not by the world contents.

We all know that one of the most important thing in an MMO is the classes. It's what draws people in. But seriously when you look at Everquest classes, they are severely lacking in depth compared to recent MMOs. Every fight, every raid, the warrior do the same 1 thing, Taunt. The rogue will do the same 1 thing, Backstab. The cleric will do the same 1 thing, Heal. The ranger will keep pressing the same 1 button, Range Attack.

Leveling in EQ was painful. For me it was less painful because bards are so overpowered in the soloing department. I bet it was unintentional too. I bet alot of things in EQ are unintentional. Accidents, rather. Anyway, EQ is based on groups. I think it's safe to say that at least 80% of the classes can't solo mobs that will actually give them decent exp. Even then, grouping is faster. Most people spend their time LFGing and idling, whether it's doing random tradeskills, helping out groups they are not even in, granting mass buffage for donations, and pre-POP/Luclin, granting teleport services.

It's all because they can afford to idle that there is actually a sense of community in Everquest. Yet another accident. I believe it's mostly because that there are so few things to do in combat for most classes that they can actually chat while fighting mobs. IDLE chat. Not "let's do this quest" kind nor the "pull that mob" kind. I'm talking about the "haha ya, anyway my son is coming home soon, I wonder what to get him" kind. I get alot of those conversations, mostly because people in EQ that time are easily more than 21 years old. Most are 30 I think. It's a little awkward for me, since I'm 14 at that time.

But that's what makes Everquest so great. Back then when there wasn't any social networks, when there weren't any other MMO to play, people will just hop onto EQ and play. They don't have to level, or gain exp. They just...exist in the virtual world, to chat, to explore to...have fun. It felt like a WORLD. Nowadays, with facebook and all that, it's not gonna happen anymore, not in my lifetime, or at least, not if social networking suddenly got banned in internationally (har har).

I still remember what my 2nd last guild was: Lords of Ancient Myth. Times with them were pretty awesome. I get to explore some old dungeons people don't visit anymore. Congh the Beastmaster will just go like "hey guys, I got the key to Plane of Torment, let's go next week!". I still remember Garlik the cleric I flushed my excess peridots to, Sofia his wife, and Sunna the druid. There was a rather noisy mage too, but I can't remember for the life of me his name. It's a small guild, but we had loads of fun.

Everquest is the place I dumped 2 years of my childhood into. I must say that I don't regret it. I have experience what few people have ever experienced and what further generations probably never will.

EDIT: Actually I decided to just put the list in. It can really go on forever: (!WARNING, HUGE LIST!):
- I remember starting out at Kelethin (Wood Elf) and falling down just to respawn at somewhere less confusing.
- I remember many elfs randomly falling down to do the same
- I remember the 3 lifts and their unofficial names: newbie lift, PoD lift and orc lift.
- I believe I still remember the way to the bank from PoD lift. You have to pass by a forge.
- I believe I still remember the way to Rogue guild; the nearest lift is newbie lift.
- I remember drinking alcohol at Kelethin is great fun most of the time when a fall can kill you.
- I remember following the roads, and asking directions from a high elf, who actually pointed me the wrong direction.
- I remember binding 'W' to the 'Sense Direction' skill.
- I remember the glorious camping days of Crushbone. Trainer hill, slavers, outside the castle and inside.
- I remember 'an orc trainer' drops that shield that gives light
- I remember Ambassador DVinn, the stupid outleveled mob that tore apart groups in the castle.
- I remember he drops Dragoon Dirk, a +2 (i think) Dex weapon that can be equipped at ranged slot for whatever reason.
- I remember cooking the 'Dark Elf Meat' he dropped into something edible.
- I remember camping the stupid Orc Scoutsman just to get his fibula for my newbie quest.
- I remember wondering why other orcs don't have fibulas.
- I remember the chessboard at Butcherblock Mountains.
- I remember killing random ogres patrolling around Butcherblock.
- I remember the buggy ass ship that's supposed to bring me to Freeport.
- I remember camping deathfist orcs for their belts for the great exp. I also remember dying to Hill Giants, though not as much as most people do (yay bard)
- I remember people without special sight need to really turn up their monitor's gamma just to see Commonlands in the night.
- I remember the stupid rogue poison vendor hidden behind some illusion wall.
- I remember you can go from outside South Freeport to outside North Freeport via a path behind an illusion wall, because North Freeport is governed by paladins who kill evil people.
- I remember Paludal Caverns, and the stupid exp they give from level 15-25.
- I remember those stupid monsters that inflict this long lasting DoT.
- I remember how monks love to train the entrance at Paludal.
- Speaking of monks, Fungus Covered Scale Tunic :)
- I remember swimming at Paludal is deadly: there are piranas.
- I remember running down Kithicor Forest (I think), only to be harm touched by a mob.
- I remember how Kithicor Forest is unsafe during the night as high level undeads will spawn.
- I believe I still remember how to navigate around Highhold Pass. The key locations are still in my head.
- I remember always accidentally heading towards the bandits at Highhold Pass.
- I remember South Karana is a nice place to farm spider silks.
- I remember that the Karanas are really huge zones.
- I remember getting lost at Qeynos, and I went there just to get one of my songs.
- I remember killing goblins at High Keep. There are 4 camp spots. I only remember warrior room and...seer room?
- I remember an ogre can block the rooms.
- I remember Captain Borsec being the only guard that doesn't carry Fine Steel Short Sword; he was carrying some dumb Rusty Longsword.
- I remember hiding one of my friend's corpses behind an illusion wall at High Keep before logging.
- I remember Lockjaw at the desert of Ro. Can't remember north or south though.
- I remember seeing the spectre tower at Ro. It was quite intriging.
- I remember Iceclad Ocean, the wierd looking gnome ship and the invisible pumas there.
- I remember the gigantic bridge leading to Eastern Wastes which was 'guarded' by 2 giants, who are actually damn small compared to the bridge.
- I remember Ry'gorr fort and the only way to find it is to follow the smoke the fort emits.
- I remember killing those geostones at Crystal Caverns I think hoping to get money.
- I remember Thurgadin hidden behind some waterfall that lags my computer.
- I remember the ice bridge there and all the dwarfs at the side pointing crossbows at it.
- I remember falling off the bridge without dying. Had to beg for a mage to CoH me.
- I remember kiting the wyverns at Cobalt Scar.
- I remember at level 30, I was queuing up for the Mask of Deception at Lower Guk.
- I remember all the people that helped me from Lunar's Light guild. I also remember all the attempts to help me obtain it. The attempt where John and one other Singaporean did resulted in server maintenance shutdown.
- I remember Eoie the bard and Beegfoots the shadowknight at the attempt that finally gives me the mask. Eoie soloed the BBEG at Lower Guk that time and was spamming about how awesome he is in guild chat.
- I remember all that took me a couple of weeks. 2 weeks for a mask that don't even give stats. But hey, it turns me into a Dark Elf.
- I remember John camping Stormfeather for days just to get the Eyepatch of Plunder. He got it when he skipped school.
- I remember hunting frost giants in Great Divide and cooking their toes for +2 STR/STA or something.
- I remember falling off a at the side of Kael Drakkel, because seriously in first person mode, I can't tell if it's a 90 degree angle at the other end.
- I remember being very accomplished when I can survive the fall in Kelethin.
- I remember falling off the spiral stairs at SolA, ended up in lava and dying like 2 mins later while trying to swim my way out. I have to ask for necro rez.
- I remember the stupid necro rez cost me 100pp just for the coffin reagent.
- I remember Brass Instruments were a real bitch to train because they are all harmful songs.
- KEI, the most powerful mindcrack ever and all mana users love it. Why the heck doesn't it work for bards?
- I discovered /gems and was actually addicted to it since level 29, when I got my first charm spell.
- ...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: "Kingdom Hearts"

This is a little dated, but I feel that this game deserves its own review. Honestly, when I first saw this game, it was pretty much a turn off. Disney + Square? How can this game be possibly any good? It really intrigues me that so many people around the world seriously thinks it's a great game and a must-try for all FF fans. It wasn't a couple of years later after its release did I managed to get hold of a copy of the game.

What got me at first was the colorful setting and graphics. Everything was bright and Disney-like. It wasn't a turn off. It was pretty. No sarcasm there. Basic controls were smooth, straightforward, and easy for an action game. One button to mash for hitting, a targeting system that includes lock-on, L-analog for movement, R-analog for camera, one button for jump, it's simple and easy especially if you played previous action games.

Colorful world, speech bubbles get the idea

The plot seemed very Disney-like, with mircales occuring, flowers,cheese all over and random happy/silly moments (c'mon your companions are Goofy and Donald). Okay, cheese is subjective, I guess. Anyway, when you put Square into the picture, things tend to get a little over-complicated. It's really not easy trying to explain 'miracles' without being silly, but you must respect them for trying. To sum it up, the setting, plot and story speaks of protecting what's important, sacrifice and all the righteous kind of stuff, which turned out to be rather decent in the end much to my surprise.

So here's the summary: You are Sora, a boy destined to become Keyblade bearer. Yes, Keyblade. I don't know how to defeat monsters with it, but hey it's a fresh idea that somewhat works. You are to travel across worlds with your companions and prevent darkness from spreading with your Keyblade and at the same time saving your girlfriend Kairi.
Of course, that's just the GIST of it, so there's a lot more meat to that.

Holy carp!

Together with Goofy and Donald, Sora travels between different Disney worlds and you will encounter familiar characters from said worlds unless you don't have a childhood. You'll encounter villains like Jafar, Scar, Hades, Shan Yu, Captain Hook, etc as well as 'main characters' like Mulan, Aladdin, Hercules, Ariel and lots more. Traveling to different worlds also gives you a breath of fresh air each time you are done with any of them since most of them are quite different from one another in terms of setting and atmosphere.

The cool thing about traveling to some of these worlds is that Sora and the others will try to blend into the setting. If you go to Pride Rock (Lion King), everyone will become an animal. If you go to Halloween Town (Night before Christmas), everyone will dress up for Halloween. It's quite a nice tidbit. Shows that the developers are willing to go an extra mile for this game.

As you travel, you level up like in a normal RPG. As you level, you gain more HP, MP, abilities, and spells. It's a simple system, but it's what makes players like us enjoy the game, where we wouldn't mind extending the lifespan of the game just to become more powerful. Along the way, you'll find familiar spells and items brought from the FF series like Fire/Fira/Firaga, Esuna, Potions/Hi-potions/X-potions, Elixers, etc.

It's Cloud! And Hades...?

Keep in mind however, that most of the stuff in Kingdom Hearts are Disney-orientated. Sure, you'll meet Squall, Aeris, Cid, Cloud and other familiar FF characters, but most of the content are heavily centered on Disney. FF characters seemed to be nothing more than being cameos. If you are a Disney fan, you'll definitely love Kingdom Hearts. If you are an FF fan only, not so much, but I'm sure you'll also enjoy it. It's quite interesting to see them interact with one another.

One last reason why this game is good, and a big reason at that, is that it is very polished. They even got the lip-syncing part accurate for BOTH the japanese and english versions of the game (youtube it, you'll see). Music is beautiful and can be nostalgic to some. The main theme, 'Hikari', is sung by popular J-pop artist Utada Hikaru. I think a lot of people became her fan after playing this game (guilty here). She sang both the English and Japanese versions of the song.

The characters from Disney made an excellent transition into 3D in Kingdom Hearts. They are animated, full of colorful expressions, and the lip-sync is close to perfect. The voice-acting is outstanding even for the new cast of people. Joel Haley Osment for Sora, David Gallagher for Riku and Hayden Panettiere as Kairi for those who might be interested to know.

Say, that old dude seems familiar don't you think?

In fact, the only part I didn't like particularly was the Gummi Ship portion of the game. When you travel from one world to another for the first time, you'll have to play this really boring flying-shoot-them-up game. For those of you who likes building stuff like Lego, you might enjoy it though. Otherwise, Kingdom Hearts is a great game. My hats off to Tetsuya Nomura who made all these possible and delivering one of the better games I've ever played.

I think the trailer is done really well, take a look:

Read the comments. Should be enough to get you started.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: "Heavy Rain"

"Heavy Rain" is like a movie just like how an interactive story book is like a novel; it starts off with the same beginning and depending on the actions you take, you will arrive on different endings. I know there are many games that does this to some extent, but 'Heavy Rain' is a game that heavily focuses on this aspect. If you've played previous Quantic Dream games (eg, Indigo Prophecy) you'll know what this means.

Honestly, gameplay-wise, 'Heavy Rain' does not have much to offer. It mostly involves you walking around areas, giving you random things to interact with, and occasionally an action sequence which requires you to do certain stunts with your controller.

Jayden in an action sequence

Really there isn't much to the action sequences. When it tells you to press R1, you press R1 before the time is up. When it tells you to flick the controller to the right, you flick it before the time is up. When it tells you to hold R1, X, O, Square, L2 at the same time...well you get why I call it 'stunts'.

To make it worse, I truly hated the movement controls. R2 to walk and the R-analog stick to set direction? It's quite irritating, but you'll get used to it eventually I guess.

Scott Shelby, private eye

So what's so great about this game? This game is either a hit or a miss to you. Either you really like it, or you find it really pointless. Like I said, this game is like an interactive movie. It's actually classified as 'Interactive drama' on Wikipedia. As such, it is very very VERY story-driven. The key focus of the game is the decisions you can make.

Decisions. In Mass Effect, KOTOR, Fallout or any RPG that are somewhat considered 'open-ended', usually you have decisions to make that either scream "WHITE WHITE WHITE!" or "BLACK BLACK BLACK!". In Heavy Rain, there are more 'grey' decisions, decisions that are kinda hard to tell if it's going lead to a good thing or not. A good example without giving away much spoiler would be: To drink the poison or not if your son's life depended on it.

Ethan, on his way to becoming a dog

Of course, since this game is story driven, maybe you would want a brief overview. You play 4 characters throughout the game, rotationally (wow that's actually such a word): Ethan Mars, Scott Shelby, Norman Jayden and Madison Paige.

Ethan was an architect with 2 sons. 1st son died, got seperated with his wife, gained schizophrenia and take turns to take care of 2nd son. Along the way, 2nd son went missing and was suspected to be kidnapped by the Origami Killer, a serial killer that basically drowns young boys. The son is the 8th victim-to-be I think.

Scott is an ex-cop-turned-private eye running around to check on the victims' families. He aims to find the Origami Killer by himself. He suffers from asthma.

Madison is a female journalist who suffers from insomnia. To sleep well, she checks in on motels. She is also investigating on the Origami Killer case.

Jayden is a profiler (I think) from the FBI sent to investigate on the Origami Killer case. He is a 'nice-guy' in general, but gets his hands dirty if need be. He uses a prototype equipment known as 'ARI', which helps him analyze on scene data on the go as well as organize his findings. He is also a druggie and occasionally suffer from withdrawals.

Ethan, now a dog

Hmm, come to think of it, all the character you play has some sort of sickness. Interesting. Anyway, I wanted to add in more details, but they potentially contain spoilers, or lead to conclusions that can spoil the game. As you can probably tell from the characters I've very briefly described, the main question of the game is 'Who is the Origami Killer?'.

With that, I will conclude this review. It's not really a bad game. Despite the limited gameplay, the cutscenes, storyline, and excellent cinematography (I believe Quantic Dreams has their very own motion capture studio) were enough to hook me throughout the whole game. Sometimes I even wonder 'why am I playing this?' in which the reply was 'because I want to know who the hell is the Origami Killer'.

Yep, everyone's favorite chapter of the game

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mayday pennings

It's already May, one more month before I can finally close this hell of a chapter to my life. I always thought that there isn't many things to blog about the last few weeks or maybe even months. Nothing is really worth blogging about when you are stuck in an army camp most of the time, when you have accepted what life is like around you and when you only have a month left to stay. As you care less and less about things around you, the less there is to talk about.

But in actuality, there are a bunch of small things I can talk about, just that they aren't really worth a whole blog post. If I can stick them to one or two liners, I'd rather post it on my wall in Facebook, where there are more people reading. Still, Facebook has its limitations. They cannot fully convey what I want to say on a topic. When I have a topic that I can sum up to a couple of paragraphs, I turn to my blog, this blog.

This is the reason why I won't stop blogging. It's like a Facebook wall, only that I can stuff more words into it. The only problem now with this blog I find is organization. It is incredibly messy. I totally agree that some topics are just there to fill space, to make my blog seem updated. As time goes by, I felt more and more that those post shouldn't even exist here. I should get them deleted soon.

I might not seem like it IRL (for those who know me), but I'm can be quite a organizing freak, yet at the some time, I can be extremely lazy. It feels like there are two opposing poles in me trying to tear me apart. Anyway, that's besides the point. The point is that I know this blog is really disorganized. For example, Labels that serve too little purpose. Restriction with blogger preventing me from auto-generating an organized list onto a nice page. This blog is supposed to double up as an archive for me to look back into, so I like my posts to be 'filed'. But enough of blogger. Let's go to other subjects.

Last week was my 22nd birthday. I thank everyone for the wishes and presents and apologize to those I failed to invite. There's a good reason, being my mum requested that I bring only 10 people. Naturally I would invite those whose birthday parties/outings I've frequent with first before adding on. Anyway, I had a great time hugging the toilet bowl for my life. At least now I know my real limit when it comes to alcohol.

This is pretty old news, but I didn't really have much to say about it apart from being glad and scared at the same time. I finally got accepted into Digipen's Bachelor of Sciences in Game Design. As I've probably mentioned before, it will be a 2-year-long degree course, with 3 semesters per year.

I really expect it to be rather stressful, and expect the lack of holidays and day offs. My only reassurance is probably what most people who went through the hells of DET tanking projects say: "If we can go through DET, Digipen shouldn't be that bad." School starts at 2nd of September. I think I need to start reading up a few basic stuff.

As the inevitable date draws nearer and nearer, it seems hard to accept that after June 11th 2010, my weekdays will finally be free again, and if they are not, I would be working for much better pay and probably something I enjoy more than what I do here. I definitely see civilian life at a totally different light now. Before I was just taking everything for granted. Now I know it isn't all that easy. Being in army taught me how shitty life can end up being for me.

I can already taste the freedom. I just need to have it whole. The only question is, how long will I take to adapt back to civilian? I was hoping a minimum of 2 months.

Plans for blogging?
Until now I have been just playing with words words and words. I would really like to do some videos for a change. No not those youtube fags that only screen their faces and go "er...Hi today I'm going to talk about...". Granted there are good ones, but there are bad. I think I have to be at least quite drunk to be as good as the good ones.

There are a bunch of ideas I have floating around which I can put into act only IF I have a video camera. That would everything I guess. I can start doing runs of games with commentary, and stuff like that. Maybe I can start doing stupid stuff just for kicks. The possibilities are endless.

Also, having a camera phone after my ORD is going to be so awesome.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: "Metal Gear Solid 4"

I know, I totally missed this game for almost 2 years and it's about time I completed it. But even being two years old, MGS4 is still great now and will still be, I expect, many years from now.

If I actually have to rate all the games I've played, I don't think any game deserves a perfect 10, but if there's a game that can come close to it, it's this game. Metal Gear Solid 4 truly is (close to) a masterpiece in many many ways. Hideo Kojima really outdid himself this time.

In MGS4, you play as Old Snake, or rather Solid Snake that just went through accelerated aging.

Look! You can control a robot too!

Storywise, MGS4 pieces together the loose ends of its predecessors. There is really an overwhelming amount of cutscenes, with some that can last for 15 mins (tbh, I don't know the actual timing, but I know they last very long). The motion capture is really clean, as well as the cinematography, choreography, voice acting and overall execution.

Gameplay closely follows the past 3 MGS games. There isn't a direct radar unlike MGS1 or 2. Instead it is replaced by the Solid Eye, which displays a motion sensor HUD and directly highlights enemies or items of interest. It's other functions include scoping and heat vision. The Solid Eye needs to be equipped to use and also has a limited battery life.

Camoflage at work

Camouflage is also another key focus to the game. Unlike MGS3 where you have to pick the right camo for the right environment, MGS4 conveniently comes with the OctaCamo, which automatically camouflages you based on your surroundings. You can also make Snake wear other things like suits.

Last but not least is the Psyche and Stress levels, which becomes increasingly apparent at harder difficulties. Located at the bottom of the Health bar, Psyche and Stress measures the psychological state of Old Snake. The lower the Psyche, the worse you perform. This includes your healing abilities, your combat abilities and your marksmanship. Of course, there are many ways to recovering it (like smoking).

Raging Raven fight

Now we talk about the environments. One thing I find that really puts MGS4 apart from its predecessors are the diverse places he operates in. MGS4 will have you roaming jungles, deserts, snowfields and even urban environments. In jungles you have grasses to hide into. In deserts, not so much. In snowfields, your vision gets real bad due to the not-so-occasional blizzard. Every chapter is a breath of fresh air.

And what does Hideo does best? Subtly breaking the fourth wall. Remember the time you have to switch controller ports to beat Psycho Mantis? In MGS4, Hideo smashes the fourth wall, bringing the art to a new level. He realizes that in sequels, the best thing to do is to awaken the sense of nostalgia in MGS fans. In that aspect, he really does it really well;

Breaking the 4th wall

Pressing 'O' at certain points of a cutscene flashes you blur and still screenshots of past MGS games related to the cutscene itself. The 4 bosses of the game is somewhat related to the 4 now-dead members of FOXDIE in the first MGS (Wolf, Octopus, Raven, Mantis). Heck, he even brings you back to Shadow Moses, the place where everything started.

What I realized is that MGS4 conditions the players really well to get them prepared for what's up-and-coming. The random videos at the start of the game may seem pointless, but note that it talks about octopuses, wolves, guns, etc, all loosely related to the game. Another noteworthy portion is when they make you play the first part of MGS1 before letting you play the chapter with Shadow Moses (note: MGS1 takes place in Shadow Moses).

Shadow Moses, in HD

There are returns of a lot characters: Raiden, Naomi, Vamp, Ocelot, Campbell, Mei Ling (^_^) , Rosemary, and even Eva. It's like some happy family reunion or something.

MGS4 has a fantastic array of background music and sounds. The music are all meticulous chosen and placed, inducing the right feeling to the players at the right time. The sound effects are excellent, from the gunshots, to the clicks of the Solid Eye and not forgetting the voices of the 4 bosses of the game. The laughter of Laughing Octopus, the cries of Crying Wolf, the screams of Screaming Mantis and the howls of Raging Raven...they still echo in my head until now.

Aside from the game itself, there are a multitude of easter eggs. Taking the camera only at the start of Act 4 gives you bonus photos, if you stall for 3 minutes with the second form of the bosses you get to photoshoot with them at a white room, and you can collect so-called 'iPod songs' across the game (which essentially collecting music you can play). Also you can collect faces and costumes for Old Snake, to simulate you playing another character. Faces include Meryl, Otacon, Raiden, Young Snake and even the polygonal MGS1 graphics snake.

The cast of MGS4, old characters now in HD!

Metal Gear Solid 4 is so good in so many aspects. It has great sound, music, gameplay, UI, graphics, replayability, controls...I wouldn't be surprised if it were rated at least a 9 at most sites. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of sites give it a full 10/10. Well, words can only tell so much, but I hope this conveys how awesome this game is: 'a DEFINITE 100% without-a-doubt must-try'.

NOTE: If you find the cutscenes boring, you either aren't a MGS fan, haven't played previous MGS enough to enjoy them, or you really aren't the movie type (really a shame if you aren't). Either way, I find the 'excruciatingly long' cutscenes of the game very much enjoyable.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review: "Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth"

I wanted to review another Ace Attorney game but couldn't because its past 4 installments hardly have anything different between each other other than a couple of gimmicks and obviously the story itself. 'Ace Attorney Investigations' was a rather refreshing change, while keeping the story just as great as its predecessors.

Remember how the Ace Attorney series used to follow a strict pattern of: Investigate -> Courtroom -> Investigate -> Courtroom? Life is really pretty tough on Phoenix Wright back then just to prove his client innocent. Now you play as the prodigy Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, where he brings the courtroom everywhere he goes.

Edgeworth brings the courtroom with him

There are a total of 5 chapters, and you hardly get to see the courtrooms we are so used to. Most of the time, you will be confronting various people at various places as Edgeworth sees fit. Like I mentioned, the courtroom is everywhere, so the courtroom battles we are familiar with happens everywhere, finding contradictions as Edgeworth walks around.

You can WALK now! WALK!

One of the changes is how Edgeworth moves around. Instead of just examining a picture of every area, Edgeworth gets to walk around, observe things around him, talk to people, etc. Although it's not that a drastic change, it is still a nice breath of fresh air. To me, I find that it's better than just tapping on locations to go. Feels more RPG-ish this way.

Piecing logic together...

The main difference is the 'Logic' minigame. As you find more clues, you get pieces of 'Logic' (essentially questions are sentences) added to your list. You can piece two pieces of 'Logic' together if they are related to form a new clue or 'Logic'. Like making mistakes in Ace Attorney games, piecing two pieces of 'Logic' with no relation to each other busts your health bar.

Now we move on to the plot. To me, this installment of the series has the best overall story of all. All 5 chapters are very very connected to each other, the first 4 loudly leaving questions unanswered. You will meet some old characters (Gumshoe, Ema Skye and much to Edgeworth's disgust, Wendy Oldbag) as well as new (Kay Faraday, Agent Lang).

Throughout the game, you see everything through Edgeworth's eyes. He is calmer and more serious, unlike the more willful Phoenix or Apollo. However, he does has his soft and comical side, especially when he meets up with Wendy Oldbag and seeing his hero, the Silver Samurai.

Symbol of the mysterious Yatagarasu

Last but not least, the story has a pretty huge spoiler regarding the Great Thief Yatagarasu, a mysterious entity that Edgeworth encountered. Who or what exactly is this Yatagarasu? It's the biggest question waiting to be answered for 5 chapters and trust me, it won't disappoint.

And the final chapter is pretty epic. Longest faceoff I ever played and the most persistent bastard I ever encountered. Enjoy the game!