6th-Gen, Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Overrated games of this generation

The Last of Us on PS3 got rave reviews. People are falling over themselves to lavish praise upon it. Hmmm… The story and characterizations are top notch for sure, but… No, no. I must reserve judgement fully as I haven’t finished the game yet. Although the endless ‘arenas’ and unbelievable surplus of ‘random’ ladders / chain-pulled garage doors aren’t really compelling me to do so. ANYWAY, here are the top five games of this last generation that everybody loved but me.

#5: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Kicking off with a double helping of Naughty Dog bashing (that sounds like masturbating to me), Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a very solid adventure game with stunning graphics. Lots of people seem to think that this is one of the best games of all time. I’m not one of them. Uncharted 2 was fun, but I did not think it to be exceptional. There were times in the game when I became frustrated. This frustration wasn’t born from the game’s difficulty but from it’s design. The seemingly endless hoards of enemies that frequently attack you feels quite like, well, a ‘hoard’ mode. It feels basic and tacky. The climbing also seems fairly rudimentary and limited when compared to something like Assassin’s Creed. I don’t mean to savage the game too much, though, as it does have some very strong elements. The script is decent and the acting is very strong. It makes for a compelling reason to finish the game, even when the gameplay isn’t pulling it’s weight. The graphics can sometimes dazzle and create truly special moments, such as climbing up high and catching the sight of a spectacular vista. In the end, I felt Uncharted was a solid game that was worth playing… But it didn’t meet my expectations for “The Best Game Ever”.

Can anyone say "uninspired combat"

Can anyone say “uninspired combat”

#4: The Unfinished Swan

The Unfinished swan had plenty of potential and after Journey, big things were expected of it. Unfortunately, The Unfinished swan is too pompous. It’s like a videogame art snob waving it’s arms around and crying “Look at me! I’m an artistic masterwork! I was made by trendy fucking beatniks that live in a new age condo in New York and drink nothing but wheatgrass shakes! ” Whilst it does get kudos for presenting an interesting idea and a nice visual aesthetic, it ultimately fails because it’s paint throwing gameplay is duller than dishwater. Do not be fooled. This is not a worthy successor to Journey.

Boring screenshot. Boring game.

Boring screenshot. Boring game.

#3: Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 is a very disappointing game. I was looking forward to it because, despite the circle strafing helicopter BS, I really enjoyed Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The campaign mode in BF3 is pretty much worthless. It’s overly difficult and boring to play. The co-op features are also poor. It’s just a disguised version of a ‘hoard mode’, where waves of enemies relentlessly come at you… Very disappointing. The multiplayer is the main meat, though, and always has been with the Battlefield franchise. Basically speaking, I don’t like that either. The matches generally consist of players camping prone in bushes or hiding in shipping containers, but they can’t really be blamed for that… Nature of the beast, I suppose. Another annoyance is that a lot of the maps are very tight and don’t give you any breathing space (Metro / Seine Crossing). It’s a case of; spawn, die, spawn, die, spawn, die… Not so much ‘Battlefield’ as ‘Battleroom’ or ‘Battletunnel’ or ‘Battleshippingcrate’! Ultimately I find Battlefield 3 very frustrating to play. Occasionally a team will pull together or I’ll get on a hot streak and I’ll have a great, fun match. But that only happens about once every ten games. The rest of the time it becomes a tiresome slog and just isn’t fun. And why play a game if it isn’t fun?

How fucking generic can you get?!

How fucking generic can you get?!

#2: Fallout 3

For most people, Fallout 3 will be a wonderful experience. For me it was a title riddled with annoyances. The glitches and dreary post-apocalyptic world were not good openers for sure but… I mostly just couldn’t get my head around shooting at something like an FPS but never being able to hit it because of level stats. If you’re not supposed to use the FPS aiming system, why put it in the game? If physically aiming at a guy’s head with a sniper rifle counts for nothing, why bother giving us a scope? I know it’s an RPG and you’re supposed to use the VATS system, but the hybrid aspects of the game just totally killed it for me. Take my fucking head-shot candy away from me Bathesda?! Bastards!

NOOOOO! Don't tease me with this. It's a myth!!

NOOOOO! Don’t tease me with this. It’s a myth!!

#1: God of War III

Everyone loves God of War III. Everyone but me. Sure, the game looks beautiful and has a fairly interesting tale to tell, so I can partially understand why people rave about it. Unfortunately, the simplistic button mashing gameplay, ultra-linear environments and truly awful jumping mechanics are harder to lend praise to. Seriously… Those jumping mechanics. What. The. Fuck. I have done more effective jumping maneuvers while being pissed up on twelve pints of ale and dealing with a case of the shits from a rancid kebab. God of War III was a game that I just couldn’t muster much passion for and ultimately had no fun with. Despite an entire decade separating the two titles, I would still much rather play the original Soul Reaver than this inexplicably popular turd.

Kratos looks hard as nails. But he jumps like a poof.

Kratos looks hard as nails. But he jumps like a poof.

So… Now I have doubtless insulted your favorite game, why not come back at me and tell me what’s what. FLAMEBAIT AHOY!!

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6th-Gen, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed

Transformed2

One of the most impressive games for me at E3 2013 was Mario Kart 8 on the WiiU. After a long time of being stuck in neutral, the franchise is starting to look fresh again. Nintendo have added drifting mechanics, the ability to drive on walls and ceilings and all manner of other F-Zero related shenanigans. Which once again makes it a trend setter within the lagging karting genre. Oh wait… No it doesn’t. Because Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing was doing all that already and doing it really fucking well.

the Nights into Dreams track is nostalgic heaven!

the Nights into Dreams track is nostalgic heaven!

Part two in the franchise, named Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, makes some major changes to the formula while building upon the superb core mechanics of the original. Adding craft which transform from cars to boats to planes within the same track was a great idea, mirroring classic karting games like Diddy Kong Racing. But just like the sterling original Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, Transformed goes far beyond it’s influences (mainly Mario Kart, F-Zero and Outrun) with blistering speed, amazing drifting mechanics and pinpoint perfect track design.

this screenshot makes me want to go to a water-park SO bad!

this screenshot makes me want to go to a water-park SO bad!

As with the original, Transformed plays excellently to nostalgia. The game features tracks not only from the Sonic series but from (deep breath now) Nights into Dreams, Skies of Arcadia, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Golden Axe, Samba De Amigo, Shinobi, Outrun, Afterburner and more. These tracks are represented with graphical perfection and their classic musical themes in tow. The character suite is also impressive. You have the usual suspects, such as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Eggman… etc. But you also have such oddballs as Wreck it Ralph, Joe Musashi, Vryss from Skies of Arcadia, the Dwarf from Golden Axe and… um… Danica Patrick. That’s a pretty wild mix! But no Ryo Hazuki of Shenmue fame this time around. Boooooooo!

remember kids; "Drinking & Driving is a Viking tradition"

remember kids; “Drinking & Driving is a Viking tradition”

Transformed also has some basic improvements over the excellent original title; the much-missed ability to play GP mode in split screen has finally been added and the themes of the tracks are much less repetitive (as noted above). The only negative thing about this title is the way that you unlock extra characters. In the original you earned coins simply by playing, which you could then spend on unlocking anything you liked. That was a great addictive system. Transformed forces you to play through a world tour, which involves drifting challenges, survival races and other Subsidiary modes. If you want to unlock all the characters (and why wouldn’t you), you also have to play it through on multiple difficulty settings. This means that only the truly hardcore players will get the opportunity to race as the dwarf from Golden Axe. I don’t appreciate that type of exclusion! That said, these modes are fun and addictive in a ‘trophy-whore’ kind of way and are well worth putting some time into. But still, don’t fucking tease us with a multitude of characters and then lock all the interesting ones away! That’s total bullshit, especially as a lot of people who buy the game will only want to play it when their friends come round.

What working adult in his right mind would play a Karting game alone for hours on end in order to unlock fucking Shadow the fucking hedgehog so that his fucking mates can play as the fucking thing for five fucking minutes a fucking month!? WHY SEGA, WHY!!!!

Um… Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is still far and away the best karting game available. So bring it on, Mario Kart 8!

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6th-Gen

Tokyochuchu on: Warhammer 40’000 – Space Marine

marine4

Does anyone remember the current-gen multiplatform title Space Marine? Space Marine was a highly derivative but ultimately excellent third-person-shooter.When I first thought about getting this game, I was really unsure about it. Reviews were good but not overly enthusiastic. It was almost a begrudging type of praise; “Well, we thought it was going to be shit but actually it’s not bad”. Damn the faint praise, I think the critics were just pissed that they had to put their knives away.

want some ketchup with that?

want some ketchup with that?

As I mentioned, Space Marine was a third person shooter but it was one without a cover mechanic, so it didn’t follow the Uncharted / Gears of War staple of staying in one place and popping off shots from safety. In fact, there was no real safety in the world of Space Marine. Progression on a battlefield took a lot of strategy and a lot of careful maneuvering. You needed to view the enemies, quickly decide priority targets and take them out as fast as possible. This usually involved switching up your arsenal, as the combat has a rock-paper-scissors element with it’s weapon effectiveness. This was really fun as the weapons were super-intuitive and had great, meaty feedback. Taking out rocket launching orcs with a sniper weapon before switching up to a plasma pistol for foes on the middle distance while fending off close quarters threats with a chainsaw while rolling out the way of enemy explosives… Take a breath now… was AWESOME! You also had to balance that with leaving a few minions alive so that you could regenerate health via an execution kill (no health packs, you see). It’s a lot of balls to juggle at the same time and it made every single battle intense and thrilling. There just wasn’t any filler in Space Marine because the combat was so satisfying and fun.

"But I am finished with YOU, orc." - Cpt. Titus

“But I am finished with you, Orc.” – Cpt. Titus

The story in Space Marine was fairly basic (a by-the-numbers mission gradually spinning out of control), but it was acted with such vim by the game’s cast (led by Mark ‘rent-a-cockney-villain’ Strong) that it genuinely entertained and made you want to know how it ended. The art design was on a different level, however… Warhammer 40’000 – Space Marine contained perhaps the greatest sci-fi world ever created in a video game. Big praise indeed, but the game’s every pour reeked with attention to detail and a deep sense of love, care and passion for the subject material. I’m not a Warhammer fan. To be honest, I never understood people’s fascination with the Games Workshop and all that miniature painting and shit. Space Marine was so fucking cool, however, that it actually compelled me to read a couple of Ultra Marine novels (which I enjoyed in a guilty otaku kind of way). More importantly, it was the only game of this current generation to make me immediately restart another playthrough after finishing it… Not including Journey, of course.

No helmets, boys? Brains don't like bullets, y'know!

No helmets, boys? Brains don’t like bullets, y’know!

So yeah… Mad, mad love to Space Marine. Whatever else THQ did in their lifetime, they will always have a clean slate in my eyes because they gave me this game. It’s a title I will remember forever and one I could never leave out of a discussion surrounding the PS3 / Xbox 360 console generation.

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