Monday, November 26, 2007


So I have gotten quite a bit of play time in with Uncharted and I have to say I'm very impressed.
The thing thats strikes me most about Uncharted is how its just plain fun to play never does it get boring or tedious. You never get frustrated by the platforming or the shooting it's just so incredibly fun.

The graphics are some of the best seen on the PS3 thus far, the game is a treat for the eyes on a HDTV. Never a bit of slowdown although there is some screen tearing but not enough to pull you out of the experience. The jungles are vibrant and beautiful while the catacombs are dank and creepy. The vegetation in particular looks stunning as it sways and moves with the breeze. The effects of water on Nate's shirt after he comes out of a lake while simple looks stunning. Little details such as the explosion from a grenade or the water effects on the characters really is what makes this game so beautiful. And I haven't even gotten to the animation yet. Uncharted has bar none some of the best animations ever put in a game. Just little things like Nate flinching as bullets bounce off the cover he is hiding behind really brings the characters to life.

The Voice acting is perfect as well and not only in the cut scenes either. Nate will have you laughing and feeling for him as he is panicking while jumping from ledge to ledge his constant chatter to himself and Elena and Sully when they are around make him really feel like the everyman that Naughty Dog said he was supposed to be. The cut scenes are more cinematic then most films. They will have you laughing or being in suspense as to what is going to happen next. And the kicker is that you will care as the characters are so lovable. Naughty Dog did such a great job with the characters in Uncharted it makes me excited what we may see from them in the future.

The Game play as I mentioned earlier is just so fun, there is very rarely a lull in the action you are always either solving a puzzle, doing some incredible platforming, or gun fighting with enemies. The puzzles are fitting even if they are a bit to easy but that only serves to keep the pace of the game up and again not have a lull in the game play. The gun play is not to dissimilar from Gears Of War you have a cover system simply press circle and Nate will stick to the wall. You can pop out and shoot or blind fire. You can also roll in most directions and evade shots. You can also use Hand to Hand fighting combos if you so wish which are more useful then you may at first think. But where the game really shines is its platforming elements. It seems no matter what you do the game knows where you want to be. A death in the game will never be the games fault. In the older Tomb Raider games the grid like system in place would cause stupid death countless times, not so in Uncharted. This is how platforming should be in a game like this. Even though Tomb Raider Legend did away with the grid it could still learn a few things from Uncharted.

Uncharted is such a joy to play in every way. Never a lull in game play not even from a load screen as once you start there is no loading EVER. Lovable characters, great game play, awesome story, beautiful graphics. What more could you ask for? If you own a PS3 this game should be in you collection.

Monday, November 19, 2007

White Engine development hits a snag.

Square Enix has announced that the development of the White Engine has hit a snag and is moving along very slowly and as such Final Fantasy XIII will be delayed. For those that don't know the White Engine is Square Enix's in house engine that is the backbone behind FFXIII. Past expectations have placed the visuals that the White Engine can produce on par with those found in the film Final Fantasy 7 Advent Children. Square Enix reassured fans that the work on the White Engine will continue and that they haven't given up on it.

I personally hope that the White Engine makes it to the PS3 intact as I like the style it produces far more then something like say the Unreal Engine 3. Games running the UE3 have had many problems and it's worth noting it's hard to distinguish yourself from the pack when you look like everything else. Such as Gears Of War and Dark Sector looking so close it's hard to tell that they are in fact different games. Oddly enough one of the best looking UE3 games I have seen thus far is Square Enix's own The Last Remnant.

UPDATE: It would seem my worries on this story are for not as the source was in fact a mistranslation. During Square Enix's financial meeting the White Engine was mentioned only briefly and was not said to have development issues. Well that is certainly a load off my mind, I think I just heard a sigh of relief from a million SE fanboys.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blacksite Area 51 A dissapointment in everyway.

Awhile back when the demo for Blacksite Area 51 was released on Xbox live marketplace I was impressed. I thought the graphics were great and the game play while not incredibly innovative was good. But now a few months later upon the games release I have been underwhelmed in every way.

The story is horrid "Alien artifact brings dead soldiers back." None of the characters are even the least bit interesting in fact they are all stereotypes. The game play is slow and forgettable. The much talked about morale system is more or less useless because the AI is so brain dead. A fight near the end of the game is so annoying because the AI refuses to do its job. The point of the fight is that the boss has a weak spot on its back, the squad says split up and supply a distraction however once you have the attention of the beast the squad sits there and DOES NOTHING. And if you try to go for the kill shot the brain dead squad wont get the beasts attention and you wont be able to get the kill shot. A simple fight that should have taken no more then 5 mins took me more then 30 because of the AI.

The levels are bland and in certain missions too big. There is tons of pop in and tons of visual oddities such as your squad members running at a closed door disappearing and then reappearing next to you and it happens far to often. There are tons of collision detection problems which seems to be all to common in Unreal engine 3 games.

I wanted so bad to love this game as the Area 51 franchise has a special place in my heart from the arcade light gun game. But Blacksite under performs in every area: graphics, story, game play, multi player etc. It's hard for me to even recommend renting Blacksite. It's sad because I know I'm not the only one that wanted to like this game.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Earthworm Jim to return?

If you don't know who Earthworm Jim is I suggest you slap yourself and go do some research. Earthworm Jim was a game back in the days of the Sega Genesis that had a good sense of humor and was one of the few games back then that really was fun and funny at the same time. You can then understand my excitement at the recent announcement that Interplay is re-opening its Dev studio.

Interplay has expressed interest in making sequels to Earthworm Jim, Dark Alliance, MDK and more. All of these franchises are classics to be sure and if Interplay can get things right alot of gamers will be very happy. There is a problem however Interplay doesn't yet have the money to make this happen. As it is Interplay sold the rights to a Fallout MMO to fund the restart of the Dev. How Interplay will get the funds to get these games into development remains to be seen but here's hoping they find a way.

Xbox games coming to 360.

As some of you may know the 36o fall update is coming early December. Microsoft has announced the ability to download xbox 1 games via the market place will be added. On launch there will be only a few games such as Halo, Crimson Skys, Psychonauts and more. The games will cost 1200 Microsoft points (about 15$). Microsoft announced hopes to expand the downloads to as many of the xbox library as possible. I personally think this is great as some xbox games are becoming harder and harder to find.

In other news the Fall update will also include a family timer which will allow parents to control the amount of time their children play. The update is set to hit around December 4 so keep a eye open.

Monday, November 12, 2007

COD 4 Own it!!!

So now that Call of Duty 4 is out people have been asking is it better then Halo 3? Simple answer is yes but its really like comparing apples to oranges. Where Halo is more of a fast pace action shooter COD4 requires more planning. Thats not to say you can't run in guns blazing but it will more than likely get you killed.

First off Call of Duty 4 in my opinion has the best graphics thus far on a console. The sound design is absolutely incredible you will drool if you have a good 5.1 set up. The game play is as tight as it gets. It amazes me that Infinity Ward got a game that looks this good to run at a constant 60fps with never a bit of slowdown.

The single player campaign is brief about 4-5hrs but you can extend this by trying the game on a harder difficulty. The battles that you take part in are mind boggling. At times the amount of action is so intense you may need to pause the game and take a breather. The story is your typical action movie fare nothing you haven't seen before. The set piece battles that you take part in will leave your jaw on the floor.

Enough about the single player though the people will be buying COD4 for its multi player. Perks are awesome and really add uniqueness to the experience. For those that don't know what perks are they are basically ability's that you can earn and equip on your custom classes. A few examples of perks are something like Last stand when you are killed you don't die right off the bat you pull out a sidearm and get a chance to finish the job. Or martyrdom a perk that drops a live grenade when you are killed. Deep impact a perk allowing your bullets to penetrate deeper through walls. These are only a few of the many perks in the game. But thats not it, as your rank increases you will unlock new game types, weapons, attachments, camo, challenges, and more. Thats the beauty with COD4's online play is that you are always unlocking things there is so much to unlock its insane. And if you ever manage to unlock it all you can then mess around mixing and matching to try and make the perfect class. But the most important thing about COD4 is it's incredibly fun.

So like I said COD4 and Halo 3 are apples and oranges I still love both games and I still play both. That being said if you own both games you will not need to bother with any other online shooter for quite some time. With COD4 being near identical on PS3 and 360 there is no reason not to on it on either console. You owe it to yourself to own this game or at the very least give it a rent you wont be sorry

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

MS keeping 360 around longer.

I think most would say that the xbox's life was shorter then it should have been. Microsoft was to quick to abandon the console even though games weren't yet pushing the system to it's limits. Well it would seem that Microsoft has learned from it's past mistakes as this statement from Microsoft games division CFO Mindy Mount shows.

"Look at the PS2; they've gone a long-time and seem to have pretty good legs on what they are doing...If we were able to do that, as CFO I think that's great, because every year you draw it out you increase profitability."

So it would seem we can expect the 360 to stick around a bit longer then the 1st Xbox did.

Barlog leaves SCEA.

Cory Barlog better known as the director of God of War 2 is leaving SCEA. Word of mouth is that Barlog decided to depart to follow other opportunities. A SCEA rep had this to say

"We can confirm that Cory Barlog, Game Director for God of War II, is leaving the SCEA SM Studio and we are grateful for his work and creative vision for the critically acclaimed God of War franchise... Moving forward, we are confident in the God of War team, as they are an extremely talented group of people that are passionate about the franchise and dedicated to creating even more epic content with God of War: Chains of Olympus for the PSP and God of War III for PS3."

Kinda makes you wonder what a makes a guy leave a successful franchise like God of War. And more importantly how will God of War fare without him.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Story Telling in Games

I recently read an article that Kotaku linked to about story telling in gaming and thought I might offer up my thoughts on it. One thing the writer of the article says is he thinks that games these days have to many cut scenes and points out Final Fantasy as an example. Now I don't know about you but when I play a RPG like Final Fantasy I'm in it for the story. And while games can tell a story without cut scenes like Half Life 2 did, that method just wouldn't fit within the RPG genre.

I have never played a RPG that I thought had to many cut scenes and I played all three Xenosaga games which by the way is my favorite gaming trilogy( yes even over halo). I was in fact slightly disappointed when the 2nd two games didn't have as much cut scenes as I had expected. I remember playing Final Fantasy XII only about a month after having finished Xenosaga Episode III and despite loving FFXII thought that it didn't have enough cut scenes. A friend of mine later joked that I had been spoiled by Xenosaga.

My thoughts are that if a story is good and worth telling no amount of cut scenes can ruin the experience within reason of course. People constantly compare Film and Gaming in the storytelling department. Very rarely do I see a movie where I get attached to the characters and really care about what happens because after all I only invested about 90mins-2hrs in the universe of this movie which isn't really all that much for me to care. However games are much longer 10-20 sometimes even up to 50hrs long. When you spend that amount of time in a universe you find yourself getting more attached to the characters there. Don't get me wrong there are movies out there that I really liked but they are few and far between. Most of the time I see a film at the box office it is because the trailer caught my eye or its a nice little diversion from everything else.

Now I know everyone doesn't think and fell the way I do and I understand that. But the Hollywood types who say film is vastly superior to games in story telling need to be silenced. They must remember that compared to film gaming is still a new form of entertainment. And they also should remember that film wasn't always the king of story telling it is today. Books for a long time reigned as best place to get a story. They must also remember that film wasn't perfect right out of the gate it took decades to get right. Story telling in games will evolve and I don't think the pestering of film critics and Hollywood types is needed for it to do so.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Photorealism are we there yet?

So recently GamesRadar published an article discussing if consoles have become powerful enough to render perfect likenesses of actor's and actress's in games. This has always been something I have been interested in so I thought I would offer up my feelings on the subject.

First I will say with a simple no that consoles aren't yet powerful enough to produce these digital clones if you will. While you may be able to immediately identify a actor in a game that doesn't mean that its photorealism. I'm pretty sure that anyone who played the old ET game could tell it was ET they were controlling and that was nothing more then a few pixels. I for one don't think we will have photorealism until any random person could look at a side by side of a actor from a game and from a film and not be able to tell which is real and which isn't.

There are a few reasons why this won't happen for awhile. My biggest issue is hair(which GamesRadar touched upon in the original article). Hair has never really looked real in gaming outside of pre rendered cut scenes. Even in visually eye popping games such as Heavenly Sword Narkio's hair looks like nothing more then long red cloth tubes that randomly fly in all directions. And even worse are the games where hair looks like cutout paper with a glued on texture.

Second is that clothing in games is still hit and miss. Take Dead or Alive 4 for example. The clothing in that game looks incredible but when things get hectic it will go through the characters and flow in ways that makes little sense. And this happens in countless games.

I personally think that original characters always look better then characters modeled after a human being. Final Fantasy XIII's Lightning as she is currently known at this point looks far more realistic than any other character I have seen and yet she is in a fantasy setting.

So like I said there is still a few things holding games back from reaching Photorealism. I think it may still be a few console generations before we reach the "Holy Grail" of graphics technology.

You can check out GamesRadar's article on the subject here.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Japan's #1 360 fanboy?

This here is Jamzy, he's the biggest Xbox 360 fan boy your likely to ever see. See the Halo 3 logo shaved into the side of his head? Yeah he's a crazy fan boy he also happens to run the Xbox 360 Famitsu blog "360 Psycho" which you can find here. It's all in Japanese so unless you can read Japanese you are out of luck. I thought it was nice to finally see a Xbox 360 fan boy in japan. Maybe Jamzy can help give the 360 a bigger name in japan along with the help of Microsoft's aggressive plan to capture more of a audience there.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Snake says chillax

So Konami has announced that MGS4 will be delayed until Q2 of 08 which isn't that shocking and if it is you don't know Kojima to well. After the announcement Konami's stock dropped a bit and it seems that everyone thinks this delay is a bad thing.

I don't however think it's so bad. Some are saying the reason for the delay is so they can get the rumble functions into the game which is great(i would much prefer it out of the box then through a patch at a later date).

Also everyone needs to remember that the PS3 is getting a ton of Great titles between now and then such as Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, Haze, Devil May Cry 4 and Unreal Tournament 3. If you ask me the delay will give people time to experience more of the games coming in what is being called the best holiday season is gaming history.

So like snake said relax and enjoy some of the other games out there you will still get your MGS 4 it will just be a little later then expected.

The PS3 system seller?

Well I cant think of a better 1st post to start off a brand new blog then this. Awhile back when i bought my PS3 i picked up 2 games Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Resistance Fall of Man. Those 2 games were great. But since then my PS3 has been more or less collecting dust with the exception of Heavenly Sword which was beautiful but way to short. That is until now with the release of Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction which very well may be the PS3's 1st system seller.

The game has been getting rave reviews by all who touch it(with the exception of Gamespot who's lower score has caused something of a spat with Insomniac) with scores in the high 9's everywhere and a few perfect scores as well. I myself can't praise Tools of Destruction enough. While its nothing new over some of the classic Ratchet and Clank games back on the PS2 Tools of Destruction is so polished and so fun its hard not to love it. Classic platforming, crazy weapons(Groovitron anyone?), great humor, awesome voice acting, music that fits the worlds perfectly and a epic story just to name a few things i love about the game.

The best thing however is the balance the game has. While in most games like Tools of Destruction you will pick a weapon you like and pretty much stick with it until the end, not so here. The weapons are all so fun to use that not only will you want to use them all you will need to use them all as the final segments of the game get pretty crazy and you will be using up more ammo then you can imagine.

When it comes to gameplay you can't ask for more. Tools of Destruction has so much variety it's insane and again its all so incredibly polished. There's the classic run and gun that we have come to expect from the series and great platforming elements, the gravrail segments are eye popping as they give you dynamic views of the massive game worlds which are incredibly beautiful, arena battles, space battles and great use of the Sixaxis motion sensing.

I could go on forever. But with all these great things there are a few sore spots. Tools of Destruction has no multiplayer to speak of which is disappointing because past games in the series had it. Another complaint would be the cliffhanger ending(its almost as if Insomniac just played Halo 2 and thought the ending was a good idea and drew inspiration from it) which is surly setting up a sequel. Which is great but with Resistance 2 coming next it seems we might not see the next Ratchet and Clank for awhile.

However these minor complaints should not stop you from picking up Tools of Destruction if you own a PS3 you owe it to yourself to have this game in your library.