Metal Gear! Even just saying the words gets me pumped. A combination of cinematic storytelling, one-of-a-kind characters, and - most importantly - enormously fun, emergent gameplay made the original PSX title one of the landmark games of its generation, and perhaps one of the best games of all time. It spawned a number of sequels, both direct and derivative, based on the strength of its regularly ponderous but nonetheless captivating gameplay and narrative. The plot is regularly over-the-top or simply idiotic, and most gamers who don't know much about the series know it primarily for its enormously long cutscenes. Still others have given the series a shot and can't get past an antiquated, overly rooted-in-"tradition" control scheme that can feel clunky even to tactical infiltration specialists like the crew here at NODJ. Yet still others can't even get past the weird balance of anti-war melodrama and quirky moments and mechanics that the series defines itself with.
Regardless, it's one of my favorites, and as I said in my last update, I firmly believe that a great deal of that has to do with the climactic fights against the series' villains. These special moments show off not only great mechanics at work, but also incredible landmarks in the player's overall experience. They quite often pit the player against a seemingly invincible foe, and force the player to use their skill AND their brain to overcome the challenge. There are very few Metal Gear fights where overwhelming force is a viable option.
Now, I'm in complete fan mode right now, and it would probably be easy for me to just pick a ton of fights in the Metal Gear series and tell you how I great I think that they are. But I like you better than that, dear reader, so in the interest of fairness, I've decided to list what I feel are the top 5 greatest fights in the series, but also call out the top 5 worst ones. I recognize that the franchise has flaws (don't get me started on nanomachines), but I still love it, and I want you to understand why I love it in spite of those flaws.
As is often my Thanksgiving tradition, I polished off Assassin's Creed: Revelations today, and while it's not a bad game, it's by far the weakest of its "trilogy." The game has been lauded for bringing a definitive end to the stories of Ezio Auditore (the star of this trilogy, beginning with Assassin's Creed II) and Altair (the hero of the first game, whose story I bet you didn't even realize NEEDED a definitive end) while also serving as an appropriate launching-off point for the next stage of Desmond's tale (Desmond being the current-era Assassin-in-training whose ancestral memories you're playing.) But while all three of these heroes grow, age, and evolve over the game's narrative, Revelations has a singularly stand-out issue that prevents it from being a great experience, or even a particularly memorable one: the lack of a tangible, impressive villain.
Thanksgiving! One of the most tried-and-true American holidays, Thanksgiving commemorates food, and America, and freedom, or something, but usually just results in a lot of football, encounters with relatives that you'd just as soon forget, and small school children celebrating Native American culture with all the accuracy of F Troop. Personally, I see Thanksgiving as something of a mixed bag. I'm a fan of the food, and depending on which family members are close at hand, I can have a grand ol' time at family gatherings. But there have been plenty of years when I would just as soon sequester myself away and enjoy the extended weekend. And for good reason, too - gaming sweeps weeks usually guarantees there's a good list of games waiting to be played in that time frame. Some of my all-time favorites (Metal Gear Solid 3 and Assassin's Creed II) have had their inaugural playthroughs during extended Thanksgiving-weekends.
But let's be honest - there's some years where you can't escape. No end of good excuses, death threats, or pepper spray will get you out of a long-dreaded Thursday with the extended family. Don't fret, dear reader - I'm here to help you use your mighty catalog of gaming-related skills to survive the gauntlet of phony laughter and forced conversation that awaits you.
So, I'm playing Skyrim. It's my first Elder Scrolls title, but I loved the Fallout games and I'm sorta using that as my basis for what's going on around me. I haven't done a whole lot yet, but just wandering the world of Skyrim and seeing what it's made of has been pretty entertaining. The one that the game hasn't yet delivered for me yet is DRAGONS! I fought one, but based on the water-cooler discussions of my peers, I expected eight more dragons to burst out of the abdomen of the dragon I'd slain, each of them equipped with a pair of smaller, less comfortable dragons. I love dragons and I can't wait until the game starts pitting me against more and more of them. Until then, I'd like to share with you some of my fonder memories of dragons in the games leading up to Skyrim's supposed cornucopia of draconic opponents.
Uncharted 3 is finally here, and it's got me doing a lot of thinking - not simply about it, but about video games in general, and in fact a lot of stuff on top of that. If you take a look at Not Our Day Job with any regularity, you can probably name some of our favorite franchises off the top of your head - we tend to be pretty vocal and pretty regular with our endorsements of content that we feel is actually worth your time. Uncharted has long been a hometown hero for all three of us on the staff list, and I know that I'm not the only one that's actually more than a little surprised by the latest entry. Is it an incredible game? Absolutely. Is it a perfect game? By no means. Is it worth the time of virtually anyone with the inclination to play it? Totally. Is it a must-play title that will stand the test of time? That remains to be seen, dear reader.
Uncharted isn't just one of the most fun series to play - it's also one of the most watchable! If you're like me, then you're already hurtling head-first through Nathan Drake's latest wacky adventure, and maybe you've even brought some friends along for the ride! But like every great game, there's some tropes that just can't help but make you lift an eyebrow skyward. This week, NODJ encourages you to raise your glasses skyward as well, in celebration of Uncharted 3 and the jolly adventures contained within!
This started as a rant talking about BlizzCon 2011, Blizzard's fan convention, which took place this past weekend. In particular, I was going to try to chime in on Mists of Pandaria, the newly announced expansion to Blizz's money-printing MMO. Mists of Pandaria is the fourth expansion to the WoW since its original release in 2004, and its presence seems like a sure sign that despite talk of another original IP-based MMO, Blizzard has no intention of slacking on their bread and butter product. Mists has taken a lot of flack from the Warcraft community for being based around the Pandaren, a Kung Fu Panda mascot character that's essentially a self-inserted joke character by Samwise Didier, Blizzard's art director. These jovial, Asian-stereotype martial arts pandas would usually only make appearances proximate to joke content, like April Fool's releases.
Am I surprised that Blizzard decided to develop the Pandaren into a full continent worthy of an expansion's worth of content? Not in the slightest. What DOES surprise me is that even the meager bit of research that I began to do on WoW's goings-on has sent me into a full-on convulsion of Warcraft withdrawal.
I couldn't finish RAGE. I had high hopes for it even when it was a mere sparkle in John Carmack's eye. It was one of my first must-get titles of the autumn gaming season. I eagerly preloaded starting at midnight on its Tuesday debut (a good thing, too, since 7 hours later, it was only 52% installed...) I jumped in with gusto and relished the lack of drastic graphical problems that so plagued ATI users (I use nVidia). Everything was there that was promised - guns, a post-apocalyptic wasteland, quests, dune buggy drivin', crafting, more guns, mutants, and more.
I was not as a big a Demon's Souls fan as some of my friends, but I appreciate the idea of a new take on a tried and true concept. I had a hard time trying to get into it myself, especially knowing that a "sequel" was on the way in the form of Dark Souls - the same idea with a bigger budget. I didn't intend to pick it up immediately at launch, either - as you'll recall, I have a huge number of other games to play, and don't exactly have the time to devote to a 100-hour RPG. But the promise of dragon battles and the high review scores managed to grab my interest, and in a moment of overindulgence, I grabbed Dark Souls, adding it to the top of the autumn gaming pile.
I drastically underestimated what I was getting into.
Do you have any idea how many games are coming out this Fall? Odds are good that if you read the blog regularly, you've got a pretty good working knowledge of this year's game release schedule, but for anyone else not in-the-know - there are a lot of fucking games out coming out. Yesterday alone, three games came out that I have every intention of playing from start to finish at some point. That alone is likely several dozen hours of my life that's reserved. Roped-off. Quarantined. There's a little sign on the door handle that says "Do Not Disturb." The housekeeping ladies think I'm with a lady friend, but the truth is I'm still waiting for Rage to preload on Steam. And that's the offerings of a single day at the very beginning of the season. There's hundreds more hours of games on the way, and I want to play all of it.
But how much am I willing to invest in order to make that happen?
Although I'm a pretty well-entrenched PS3 fan, I've never been tempted to try out the Resistance series, nor has anyone ever really recommended it to me. Like you, dear reader, I don't have any particular bias against the Resistance games - I've simply never had the interest. Nothing about the games ever stood out as something that got my interest. It's a first person shooter? I sorta play a few of those already - what else can you tell me? It's got aliens? Maybe? Ehh ... still not buying it. It's got ... really good-looking graphics? To its credit, no one (except perhaps Insomniac Games) is out there saying that people should really play more Resistance. So when I went into Resistance 3 - for no better reason than it was available, and I was looking for something new to try - I had a certain level of expectation, but I was eager to be proven otherwise.
Two Deus Ex Friday features in a row? Are we getting stale? Does it matter? Judge for yourself, dear reader - this Friday we've got another Casting Call, and this time, we're taking a look at the heavy hitters of Human Revolution. Does Hollywood have non-augmented humans capable of representing the gold-and-grey world of the future?
Kingdom Hearts is my jam. I'm playing the awkwardly-named Birth by Sleep right now but my sights are set on the 3DS release coming - officially, now! - in Spring of next year. Whenever you've got spry and/or moody Japanese boy heroes fighting alongside Square protagonists and Disney celebrities, then I'm totally there. With the power of the Keyblade, there's no stopping me, no matter what's in my path - darkness, nonexistence elementals, or, as the new trailer demonstrates, mutant fruit bats, hippos, and panda bears.
I chose this edition of the trailer to post since it's got English subtitles:
Picture this: You buy a book relatively recently when it comes out, and you read it from beginning to end. Maybe you don't make it all the way through - parts of it are quite good, but it's pretty sizable. But let's say you do make it all the way through. What if, a few months after you were done with the book, you found out that the author was releasing a new version of the book, with a couple extra chapters added, another spellcheck pass, and now Chun Li does a lot more damage. Would you buy that book over again? Better still, would you buy the book and then reread it from start to finish again?
The Warhammer franchise, despite its long history of success in the world of tabletop gaming, has had a relatively lukewarm chronicle of video game releases. Despite many attempts to feature either the original gothic-fantasy setting (most notably 2008's Warhammer Online MMO) or the grimdark future-fantasy world of Warhammer 40K (as it's often abbreviated, standing for the "40,000," as in the number of years in the future the setting is meant to be staged in,) many games have have been well-received by fans but lacked popular support by the gaming public ... while others were simply downright awful. Relic Entertainment proved that they have the chops to make 40K titles, as proven with their two Dawn of War games - but wait, weren't those RTSes? And now they're making a third person shooter that emphasizes a balance between great shooting AND great melee combat? And it's available for home consoles? Really, guys? From the moment the game was announced to the day I put the disc into my console, I kinda figured someone was trying to fool me.
It wouldn't be the first time I've been fooled by Games Workshop.