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X-COM: Best Strategy Game Ever

VS

At the time of this writing, I’ve played through nearly all of X-COM: Enemy Unknown so I feel that, aside for maybe a few things that happen at the end that are yet unknown to me, I am hopefully pretty accurate with this info. I’m not here to review the game; you can read about that anywhere considering this is a pretty high profile game. I am here to discuss the differences between the new Firaxis developed reboot and the original strategy masterpiece by Microprose. First and foremost, I know most people are saying they’re dumbed the game game. I don’t know if I really agree with that sentiment per se. Streamlined, definitely, but not necessarily dumbed down. Many of the micromanagement facets of the game that might have bogged down gameplay have been cut or changed and what remains is a sound strategy game where they leave you to focus more on the tactics of combat.

However, most of the things they removed are things that I liked. My list of grievances is as follows:

  • Having multiple bases is gone. It’s not something that would be required the way the new mechanics are set up, but I enjoyed this level of management.
  • Your soldiers level progression is predetermined. No longer are their stats determined by how you outfit them and method of play.
  • Rockets have been nerfed. Heavies can only carry 1 rocket per mission (2 with an upgrade). There are no inventory slots to take extra rockets and incendiary rockets are gone completely.
  • Aircraft options are limited. Hybrid craft are non-existent (to  my knowledge) which means that shooting down a craft and mopping up afterwards can no longer be a simultaneous affair.
  • Interceptors cannot be sent out in multiples. You can only send out one at a time and hope for the best.
  • Selling items is limited to only what is salvaged from aliens on a mission. You can no longer sell weapons, gear, items, etc, from your own stores.

Then there are some things that I’m mostly indifferent about. I acknowledge their change, and I can see why they did it, but either way would have been fine with me. Gone now are the different types of shots. Aimed shot, snap shot, auto shots are all gone  leaving everyone with just a generic fire mode. But Time Units are gone as well, so the amount of time each soldier used to line up a shot is irrelevant now anyway. TUs have been replaced with each soldier simply being granted 2 action points a turn, which allows them to move and then have 1 action or spend the entire turn running. Though this leaves less flexibility with what each character can do per turn, that also makes you think harder about what they must do. Setting up your soldiers personal inventory has been simplified, making it easier to just jump into a mission, but it also limits what they are able to carry, but that again makes you think harder about what to do with what you’re given.

Some changes they made are definitely logical choices that made the game better:

  •  Movement is far more fluid. Climbing, getting into cover, ducking, etc, happens automatically and doesn’t require a specific button press from the command icons.
  • Soldier classes. I know I said i don’t like that you can’t customize your soldiers as much, but having classes is great. Each class gets specific abilities that help further personalize them and add a new element to leveling up rather than just increased stats and researching new weapons.
  • New armor. All over the place. A handful of new armor types that have nifty functions like cloaking and grappling hooks.
  • By far the best – and by today’s standards, necessary change – is the addition of multiplayer, complete with leaderboards and customizable teams. The only thing I could hope for there would be some kind of co-op mode, but I won’t cry about it.

You can say this game has been dumbed down, but  it’s really just a different type of game. They wanted to take the focus off micromanagement and base development and put it more into the action and combat experience. Much of the tedium from the original game has been broken down, though I enjoyed parts of that tedium. Yes, they did simplify a lot, but the quality Firaxis put into X-Com: Enemy Unknown stands up on its own against the original. Plus, this is the most intelligent and tactically sound game that has been released on a console in years

For those of you who do actually come to this blog and follow it to any degree, I apologize for it’s rather lacklusterness lately. I’ve been super busy trying to buy a house, trying to get a new car, looking for a better and more fulfilling career (partly because I never saw the job I have now as a career). If anyone knows of any job opportunities around the southern NH area, seriously, let me know. I’d be willing to do nearly anything as long as it gets me out of my current situation. That being said, the car and house part of my time consumption are almost taken care of and once that’s squared away, I can get back into some serious gaming.

Xbox Ruined Wrestling Forever

Yeah, it’s been about a month since my last post. I’ve been extremely busy working on some projects which I’ll be talking about at a later date.

Anyway, Xbox didn’t really ruin wrestling forever, but they did ruin my favorite wrestling video game franchise, Fire Pro-Wrestling, by bastardizing it with their stupid avatars. We all know how much I hate these avatar games and generally I don’t even have a passing interest in them, so it’s ok. I go my way, they go theirs and we’re both content to leave each other alone. But now they have some real nerve invading my personal space.

I was first introduced to the series with Fire Pro-Wrestling S: 6 Man Scramble, for Sega Saturn. I knew then that no other wrestling game would ever compare. The editing features at the time put everything else to shame. Not just wrestling games, but everything. There had never been a game before (to my knowledge) with the depth of creation that Fire Pro-Wrestling offered. Graphics were never a part of it. The graphics weren’t necessarily bad, but they weren’t anything spectacular either, but it totally didn’t matter. When you can craft every little detail about your character – their entire move set, taunts,  individual body part sizes so you can have absurdly large Popeye forearms and tiny legs, the sound effects he yells out when doing a move, it becomes a tough act to follow. You can make your own federations, your own rings, they even have a variety of options for refs.

Fire Pro-Wrestling Returns was the latest console iteration of the franchise, released on the PS2 and albeit a rather convoluted editing system, it was the most well flushed out that the series has to offer. Though it still had one major hurdle; it’s PS2 limitations, that meant that there was no real online multiplayer support. That’s what this game always needed. With the ability to create all sorts of bizarre and bombastic wrestlers, you would of course want to show them off in online matches. XBLA finally gives us that opportunity, BUT THEY RUINED THE GAME!

Excitement was my initial emotion when I saw Fire Pro-Wrestling  available for download, followed immediately by despair. Why avatars? Fine, they didn’t want to use sprites. I get it, it’s an outdated medium for on-screen characters; 3D models are the way to go. But did they have to use those goofy avatars? The game acts like an even sillier version of WWE All-Stars. It’s way too over the top. Not that Fire Pro-Wrestling was ever a serious affair, but at least it had dignity god dammit! In the new one, the characters awkward gait belies the grace and dexterity that a true athlete has at their disposal. They walk around like dandy fops and have ridiculous moves that launch people 30 feet above the ring, acting as an over-embellished insult to real wrestling. Look, I’m no fool. I’m sure many of you are thinking that wrestling is already fake and ridiculous and over the top, so what’s the big deal? I’m a wrestling fan, and this is a very serious matter. Yes, we all know wrestling is fake, but there are still certain parameters you should follow to maintain at least some credibility. This new XBLA Fire Pro-Wrestling says bullocks to that.

Gah! I hate this all because the game is actually really good. I’m stuck in a terrible internal conflict rivaling that of Jessie Spano’s decision to date the short guy in that one episode. Some new elements have been added which almost made me want to overlook that the game is a joke. Creating your wrestler can be even more fun than before. Maybe not more fun, but more rewarding. After creating your wrestler in previous games, that was pretty much it as far as that wrestler’s tale goes. You’re free to do whatever you want while you’re creating them, but that immediate gratification leaves little rewards in the long haul. Your wrestler has more of a career-oriented, rpg style, approach to his creation. Participating in matches will gain you EXP and unlock more moves, which makes your wrestler feel more personal as you’re along with them the whole way as they rise to power.

I wanted so much to like this game. And I tried, I really did. Even now, I kind of want to play it, but it hurts so much when I turn it on. It’s like the 4th Indiana Jones movie…

Playing Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 is out. No time for any nonsense this week. Consider this a status update for the indeterminable future.

 

Voltron on XBOX LIVE & PSN!!!!!!!

Why didn’t someone tell me about this sooner?!

I was checking the weekly updates and I saw this available as an arcade game. I thought to myself, “Oh, it’s probably just some garbage game based on that lame ass new version of Voltron on Cartoon Network. NO! It’s not! It’s the 80’s lion Voltron. The game started up with the actual full intro from the cartoon and I had a fanboygasm all over the place. The menus play the Voltron theme and there’s video from the show between stages and official voice overs during the game.

Even after all my initial gushing over the intro, I was still certain the game would be like any other game based on a TV show – AWFUL! But it’s actually not so bad. It’s got a story mode with local and online modes as well, where you pick from one of the 5 lions, each with their own stats. The game is broken down into 3 different play modes – Lion mode, which is kind of like a SMASH TV game (seems to be a popular trend these days), space mode where you’re playing whats basically a shoot em up style where crap is flying at you from all over the god damn place and then Voltron mode, which I have not gotten up to yet because I was far too excited and had to share this post first.

Voltron is 800 MSP and is it worth the 10 bucks? Probably not, but I bought it anyway. Definitely worth $5 though, so if you aren’t a super nerd like me and you see a price drop, pick it up because it is a pretty good multiplayer game.

Xbox Avatar Games are Stupid

Stop making avatar games for Xbox Live. And I don’t mean games like Kinect Sports or whatever other Kinect games use avatars. Don’t get me wrong, those games aren’t worth my time, but I will at least acknowledge their right to exist. My problem is with the games you download from the indie arcade like Avatar Sudoku,  Avatar Lawn Mowing,  Avatar Fighter Online, or Avatar Granny Assassin (actually that one might be kinda cool if they made it). Does anyone actually download this garbage? I’m insulted that they even make these. I wish I could say that most people don’t care about the Xbox Live avatars, but I’d be dead wrong. This is apparent through all the real world money that is spent to acquire fake digital clothing items to play dress up and make your avatars pretty. What an absolute waste. If you’re going to throw your money away like that, instead of spending a dollar on that new shirt that came out for your Xbox Live avatar, that in no way is going to affect your life either positively or negatively, and if you avoid the transaction altogether you can continue on your way and nothing will have made a difference, donate that dollar to charity. Pretty much every super market ever has a donation thing. I really don’t want to infuse my political or social agenda on this blog, but instead of spending 3 bucks for that lighsaber – which I will admit looks cool, but is utterly useless in every aspect of your life – buy a pack of socks for the homeless.

Sorry that got a little off topic. So the indie arcade avatar games are never any good. If there’s a good one out there, I challenge you to find it and prove me wrong. I’m not too proud. I’m willing to admit when I’ve been bested. Or better yet, someone make a good avatar game. Since their inception, the avatars have painstakingly gone out of their way at every turn to make it abundantly clear how useless they are, but since they’re there, let’s give them something good to do.

Avatar paintball – garbage. Avatar Laser Wars – horrible. Avatar Fighter Online – why not just play Street Fighter? I’ve had these thoughts before but I usually keep them to myself.  I don’t like to be a hate monger, especially on the internet because we all know that’s the last thing we need to see here. But Avatar Adventure Online has me so personally offended that I just couldn’t hold it back anymore. It’s just dumb. The concept around it is dumb, the graphics are dumb, the playability is dumb, the enemies are dumb, the idea to make the game is dumb. Seriously, how many MMOs are out there now? How many of them are good? MOST of them are completely free! So right there, before we’ve even delved into why the game itself is bad, is a reason for why the avatar games should stop being made. Why would you ever pay money to play a horrible game when you could easily play another horrible, yet slightly better game, for free?! Yet still I was curious. I’ve played nearly every MMO I’ve come across and I wasn’t about to stop, so I had to at least check out the demo. I would say that I was disappointed when the game loaded up, but to be disappointed would make the assumption that positive anticipation was present. When compared to pretty much any other game from as far back as 10 years ago, Avatar Adventures Online still looks like it’s a few years behind. The landscapes, if you want to call them that, looked awful. Clearly the mentally challenged designer was rebelling, possibly infuriated by his lack of enemas.

Everquest

Avatar Adventures Online

If we do a side by side comparison to Everquest, considered to be the genre defining game, which launched in 1999, it still looks slightly better. The only reason a game shouldn’t be up to graphical standards is if it’s integral to the game design. Obviously a game designed to be 16-bit shouldn’t be expected to look like Crysis. But I don’t see any reasoning to intentionally take a 3D landscape, which uses polygonal features, and not use current gen lighting, texture mapping, etc, when the system it’s being played on is clearly capable of it. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people do miss the early days of polygon graphics and have a nostalgic soft spot for that “devoid of all detail” look. Oh, and the first enemy I came across was a big, round, dumb, bumble-bee. That’s when I turned the game off.

 

24 Hour Gaming Marathon for Extra-Life

October 15th has finally arrived and the 24 hour gaming marathon begins!. Anyone looking for some gaming action, feel free to join me at any point during the day on XBOX Live. Incase you didn’t know it already, my gamertag is Goresaw.

The days agenda will include, but will not be limited to:

  • Street Fighter IV – I do have the arcade edition so I’m open to any challenge
  • Warhammer: Space Marine – Seize ground ALL DAY unless someone sends me an invite to another game. Space Marine will be taking up the largest chunk of my day however.
  • Guardian Heroes – it’s 800 points from the marketplace. One of the best brawlers from Sega Saturn. If you haven’t already downloaded this game, stop what you’re doing right now and get it and then send me an invite!
  • Super Puzzle Fighter – like columns but with Street Fighter.
  • Borderlands – starting at around 9 or 10pm,  new game from level 1

I’m open to any challenge though, so as long as I own the game, let’s play.

Batman Arkham City 360 Misprint

For those of you who haven’t spotted it already, look just below Catwoman’s ass.

This is the back of the box for the Batman: Arkham City XBOX 360 Collector’s Edition. Why is this an error? Because it says it comes with an animated movie on blu-ray. I thought to myself, “How odd that the 360 would come with a blu-ray movie.” But it doesn’t. There’s really a DVD inside. This may be a minor error, but an error nonetheless. Didn’t they learn anything from the IGN logo copy and paste fiasco from the Okami Wii release?

Does this affect anyone? Is this a major life changing event? Is someone getting fired for this? Probably not and it’s all completely irrelevant. But it’s fun to point out someones irreversible publicized blunders.

If you still don’t see it, click on the image for a larger picture.

Donate for Extra-Life – FINAL WEEK

This is the final week to donate towards this fundraiser.  On Oct. 15th I’ll be taking part in this marathon of gaming to help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. Any donations are welcome. Remember, 100% of your donation goes towards charity. If you don’t think you have enough to donate, just think, even ONE DOLLAR can make a difference. And if you feel you can’t even do that, just pass this along to someone else and ask them to do it. Just click on the picture above to donate. And you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your chair to donate. Credit cards are welcome.

Wizorb

Arkanoid, Alleyway, Breakout, or by whatever else you know that game, has gotten a major overhaul. Wizorb is part Breakout, Part Devil’s Crush, part RPG, all awesome. It’s a game that embodies the exact reason of why I support indie games; it’s a game of passion and not necessarily of financial gain, though I’m sure the developers wouldn’t mind making profit off it. And who are the developers exactly?  Jean-François Major, Justin Cyr, and Jonathan Lavigne are the masterminds behind Wizorb, the first game developed by their recently formed Tribute Games. Jonathan’s own portfolio consists of working on a handful of games at Ubisoft, including one of my personal favorites, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game. Anyone who’s a fan of River City Ransom is totally legit in my eyes.

I only had to play this game for about 10 seconds before I knew I loved it. You all know I’m a sucker for new games made in that retro 8-bit style. I will invariably try out any game just because it looks 8-bit, but all too often they’re nothing special. Just trying to bank off my nostalgic sentimentalism of my youthful gaming. Although I would have played it for just the soundtrack alone – nothing beats a catchy chiptune soundtrack and sometimes I’ll forget I’m even playing a bad game if the music is good.  But Wizorb is the total package, and what’s more, it’s not just a cleverly re-imagined game, it’s an excellent blend of arcade style gaming, story telling, and genre mashing. You play as Cyrus the wizard, master of a secret magic, the Wizorb! Using your mastery of white and black magic you must help save Gorudo from a mysterious evil threat. Acquire gold and power ups by defeating enemies and beating stages to help the villagers rebuild their homes and bring prosperity back to Gorudo.

The gameplay is broken down into basically two parts – the narrative where you talk to townspeople and set of on your quest, and then the action stages which is essentially like playing breakout. Rather than just a lifeless bar and ball however, you control the Wizorb and Cyrus’s magical wand to deflect the orb, destroying bricks and enemies. Proving that his wizardly prowess is more than just a glorified inanimate deflecting bar, your control of magic allows you to shoot fireballs from your wand, or alter the orbs course with a gust of wind.  The inclusion of wandering enemies on the field was a nice touch and makes the game more dynamic. Otherwise I could have easily gotten that metronome style of deflect ball, break bricks, then repeat from many other various sources. And the far reaching goal of saving an entire town gives you more of a reason to play rather than just looking for something to do to kill some time. I would consider this a casual game like most of the ones you can find on an android or iphone, and I usually disdain casual games, but it’s that RPG element that completely elevates it above the entire genre. You may have played games like Wizorb before, but never one this well developed.

Developer: Tribute Games

Released: 09/28/2011

Official Site: Wizorb.com

Platform: XBLA – 240 MSP

Ninja Madness

A Ninja themed set of 3 quickies available from the Indie Xbox Live Arcade.

Ninja Stole My Bike

Ugh. This game is such trash. I won’t go into much detail about the gameplay, because there really isn’t much. Take an impossible game and make it more boring and then you have Ninja Stole My Bike. They took a genre of game where all you really do is press one button and found a way to make it less interesting. There are two redeeming qualities to this game however. For starters, it only costs 80 MSP, which is most likely more than what it cost to make the game. The other, which is probably already obvious to fans of YTMND.com, is the games namesake. Basically, your playing the cut scene from Punch-Out!! But instead of an up and coming boxer chasing a fat black man on a bike, you’re a pizza delivery boy chasing a ninja. So aside from the little chuckle I got from the connection to an overtly racist internet meme, this game is only worth it for those who have a major crush on these types of games and have played every other one in existence.

Developer: NinthDimensional

Released: 02/10/2011

Ninja Sneaking

Has that annoying chibi style of art, but that’s really the only negative thing I have to say about this game. It’s honestly pretty good for what it is. It’s a weird hybrid of a side-scrolling action platformer and stealth game, with a little bit of impossible game thrown in. Think if Solid Snake was storming Dr. Wily’s castle. The game has a much quicker pace than any Metal Gear though; you won’t be sitting there for more then a few seconds waiting for an enemy to turn away. You’re given two basic instructions at the onset of the game: Don’t be seen, and don’t murder anyone. The don’t be seen part was a given, I was expecting that considering the title and all. But the second part – no killing?! You’re a ninja and ninjas use swords and a swords sole purpose is to kill. Instead your sword is relegated to a glorified door slasher. The music’s not so bad either. I set my standards low for indie games, so I won’t say it’s good, but it’s catchy and goes with the pace of the game pretty well. This one’s also only 80 MSP and you could do much worse with a dollar.

Developer: Winglay

Released: 08/27/2011

Akane the Kunoichi

Kunoichi = female ninja

Definitely the most visually appealing of the three games reviewed. The 16-bit art style took me right back to the days of the SNES, with bright and vibrant sprite animations and backgrounds. This is a straight up action platformer. Akane performs as you would expect a ninja to – doing wall jumps, throwing projectiles at enemy ninjas, and harnessing her potent ninja magic. Although, the whole stealth aspect of being a ninja is thrown at the window. It kind of reminded me of Shinobi, but far more colorful, like if Nintendo had made Shinobi instead of Sega. The only real complaint I have is the noise she makes EVERY TIME you jump. I could really do without that, or at least some variety in effects. That aside, it was a pretty solid game. Controlled well, aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, and a halfway decent soundtrack. I’m not a particularly big fan of platformers, so for that to be my only gripe shows that there was a good degree of effort put into developing this title. At only 80 MSP, it’s definitely worth the dollar.

Developer: Haruneko

Released: 05/28/2011

Since this is my top pick of the three, it deserves a video.

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Thanks for reading!

By the way, if you’re still wondering about where Ninja Stole My Bike go its inspiration, GO HERE. But I warn you, it IS racist.

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