Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Dear Microsoft, this is how you get me to buy a Zune.

I don't have any facts or figures to hand, nor can i be bothered to Google them in the name of research, but I think it's a safe assumption that Microsoft's Zune doesn't sell quite as well as they had hoped. If you're not sure what a Zune is, then you're just proving me right.
Most would say that this is down to the overwhelming success of the iPhone/iPod touch. Personally, I think they fucked it all up when they changed my XBOX video library to a 'Zune library'. I never asked for it and now it takes an extra minute or so to load. These are minutes that I cannot afford to spare. However, there is a way to make this right, Microsoft, so do not despair just yet.

If you want me to buy a Zune, then there's only one thing that you have to do: make the Mass Effect 2 planet scanning mini-game an unlockable download with cross-platform compatibility. I'm serious. I want to be scanning when I'm bored on the bus, or taking a poo and then upload the resources into my main game. I need to be constantly productive on that game so that when I get to sit down in front of the XBOX, I can focus solely on being a biotic-upgrading badass, throwing mercs out of skyscraper windows and trying to nail Kelly Chambers. Lord, I could be a palladium baron if only given the chance, then she would definetly let me plow her. I could listen to Zapp and Roger whilst I did it. It would be beautiful.

This sort of thing is easily worth the £120 to me. Think I'm bluffing? Make it happen, I dare you. Planet scanning has turned me wrong. I think about it all the time. When I'm waiting for food to cook, or talking to people I don't like so much I just keep thinking that the time would be less wasted if I had planet scanning capabilities in the palm of my hand.

Nathan Drake is the coolest

It's official. Because we all said so. More features like this when I stop procrastinating.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Polls close tomorrow

Not had a chance to post much lately. Things are afoot though, so do not fear. For now, accept my apologies and know this: Nathan Drake and Gordon Freeman are tied for coolest character and not one of you fucks voted for Cody. I'll be closing the polls tomorrow so please vote if you haven't already or else I will be forced to do something creative and ingenious.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Coolest Game Characters of All Time: Voting Time

I can't believe we actually ran a feature for a whole week. Can you!? I doubt it, but sometimes we just pull these amazing things out of our collective behind. Sorry. Enough of this silliness, there are votes to be cast!

All week long you've been hearing from us about how our chosen character is cooler than the next and I don;t mind saying that they have all been thouroughly convincing. If you didn't write your own piece, then this is your chance to voice your opinion. We had enough ideas to easily run another week of this, but I don't want to get delusions of grandeur and frankly, I'm sick of typing the word 'cool' - it's almost lost all meaning to me. If you think there really is someone that we criminally left out, just let us know in the comments- I've already had an ear-bashing over Duke Nukem's absence.

I know polls are a sensitive issue here so I'm going to say just one thing. There are no prizes to be won. Only fame and adoration for a fictional character, so remember: when you cheat, you only cheat yourself. Your mother would be ashamed.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Coolest Game Characters of All Time: Gordon Freeman (Half-Life series)

Gordon Freeman. The Freeman. The free man. Just his name suggests transcendence.

Equal parts custom character [there are no cut scenes to disassociate you from the action - everything happens through your eyes and you control every action] and Nietzschean ubermensch. Pulled from time when humanity needs it most by the G-man, yet not a typical hero. A PhD in theoretical physics from MIT, Gordon is the strong silent type taken to the point of awesome. Even his PhD thesis has the greatest title ever, Observation of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Entanglement on Supraquantum Structures by Induction Through Nonlinear Transuranic Crystal of Extremely Long Wavelength (ELW) Pulse from Mode-Locked Source Array [I shit you not, this is actually part of the Half-Life canon]. No other character in video games has such an in depth vita.

Gordon is not your hulking behemoth (Marcus Fenix), nor does he have a squad or assistance in the majority of whatever endeavour the G-man has him take part in (Call of Duty, Bad Company, et al.), making what he is capable of even more remarkable. Nor does he have snappy one-liners, you are not able to speak to the characters in game with your own voice, so why should the character you are supposed to become say things you'd never?

That he is capable of walking into the enemy headquarters and prevent their entire destruction of mankind armed with nothing other than a crowbar, while at each step still maintaining the belief that you could in fact do what it is he is doing is why he is the greatest video game character of all time, and so, by proxy, are you.

Ignore all these false idols that you are asked to believe in; Nathan Drake, some blue (yes BLUE) hedgehog, a criminal with a girl's name; instead make the right decision and vote Freeman.

Friday, 26 March 2010

The Coolest Game Characters of All Time: Cody Travers (Final Fight, Street Fighter series)

If you want to talk about cool game characters then there is really only one place you need look: the house that Capcom built. Capcom have been showing character designers the world over how it should be done for decades now. Their characters exude a simple, timeless charm that sees personalities expressed in small visual nuances ; whether it be Ken's irritating thumbs-up, Dan Hibiki's tears or Barry Burton's magnum.To stand out as the coolest amid the inherent coolness of your brothers and sisters is no mean feat and one that is achieved by only one character: Cody Travers.

Despite my increasingly vocal professions of love for Mike Haggar, it is undoubtedly Cody who is the coolest motherfucker in Final Fight. The classic James Dean white t-shirt and blue jeans, coupled with those fly 80's shell-toes makes Cody Travers the kind of dude that mayor Haggar is happy to see railing his daughter. His only goals in life are to get all up in Mad gear's shit and save his smoking-hot girlfriend. Looking good whilst he does it just comes naturally to him.

When Capcom retired Cody from the Final Fight series he told them where to shove it. After saving Metro City and his girlfriend he just couldn't settle down. Cody was built to fight, so that's what he continued to do. You have to admire a guy who knows his purpose and managed to brawl his way from one fighting series and into another. Getting imprisoned for his violent temperament is little more than a slight inconvenience; he frequently breaks out, seeking more opponents, only to return for a meal and a roof over his head whenever it suits him.

Cody's coolness is not so much determined by his actions, but rather his mannerisms and the style he exudes in everything that he does. Opening fights by taunting his opponents to see if they can finally do something about his boredom, still wearing those shell-toes with his prison garb and wearing those handcuffs when he has the key. What a swaggering bad-ass.

Throughout this whole week of coolness, I can see no-one else that I would rather be. Cody is nonchalant about fights when I simply panic and by playing as him I effectively become cooler. If, like me, you think coolness is all about the style and the swagger, then Cody Travers has got it down to a fine art.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Noby Noby Boy is up in yo' hood

Krandal (justtherightbullets) got his hands on Noby Noby Boy this afternoon. He went on a rampage and ate all of the street's letters and unicycles. The inhabitants weren't pleased. They went ape-shit on him with their sticks, pigs and koalas.

The horrific imagery contained in the embedded clip may shock and upset some viewers. Please, don't have nightmares.

The Coolest Game Characters of All Time: Max Payne (Max Payne series)

We are looking for cool here, and to do that we need to ask what actually defines cool. After checking the dictionary and finding the definition to be ‘neither warm nor very cold’, I threw it in the bin and tried to come up with some attributes that I consider to be cool, again I drew a blank. So in desperation I got out all my old games and started listing the characters that I thought were cool. Having my list of names helped me a lot to whittle down to just one, or at least a couple, where some serious battling got me the name for my coolest character. So it came down to whom rather than what defines cool in my eyes.

So who is the coolest of them all...? Max Payne. So where do we start here?As with most things let us start at the beginning, he is a normal guy working as an NYPD detective, with a wife and baby daughter living in a leafy suburb, completely un-cool and that in itself adds to his status. But, after his wife and daughter are killed by drug junkies high on a drug known as Valkyr, Max becomes the ultimate badass one-man-army vigilante, and that makes him cool, in fact that makes very cool. He takes on gangsters with his trusty sawed-off shotgun and the uber-cool ability to dodge bullets in slow motion, in his eternal search for vengeance against the people ultimately responsible for his families’ death.

Max Payne is a true antihero; a man trapped within his past, a tortured broken man constantly reliving his “New York Minute”. His film noir storytelling and unique wordplay add so much to his persona, also added to that is his cynical view of the world and as we know everybody loves a cynic. I could go on and on here about his personal attributes that just exude cool but it all comes down to this. He is THE ULTIMATE VIGILANTE; he can slow down time to dodge bullets, has drug induced flashbacks, takes on the mob, is a tortured soul, has Russian friends, is on the run from the feds, drinks, is straight talking and takes shit from no one, and he wears a leather jacket. Someone please tell me anything there that isn’t cool. Also the game is full of Norse references and everybody loves Vikings, especially ones with Viking long-boats in.

So there you have it, the pinnacle of cool Max Payne

A faux-pas from me was to not include Max Payne 3 on my list games of the year to look out for, in my opinion a crime on my part and it will be in my machine the day it is released. Check out the stills released by Rockstar they look amazing. And before I get any comments Mark Wahlberg never happened.

-Token Gestures

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Coolest Game Characters of All Time: Me

Yeah that's right, I am the coolest games character ever created. Or more accurately, we are. For me a game can become even better when you're able to put yourself into the world given to you as it instantly makes you care more about whats going on in front of you. Sports games were probably the earliest genre of game that allowed you to create yourself or someone else, where I've had serious success lifting various trophies on the PGA Tour, winning a World Cup as captain of the Welsh football team, beating the likes of Stephen Hendry, Mark Williams and Ronnie O' Sullivan at snooker, and lifting various Naismith Trophies with my beloved Toronto Raptors. I've even been a pretty decent skater in iterations of Tony Hawk and also Skate, whereas in real life I cant even stand on a skateboard!

Now that online gaming has become a huge deal, this is another place in which you or I become the avatar and deal death to others. Call of Duty for example, I don't play as a US Marine or a Russian, I play as me. I take decisions as I'd hope I would in real life, and become the soldiers in games like these. Even in games where a character was already named and a history given, my imagination erases this and puts me in its place. In a previous comment on the Sonic post, I mentioned how I relate to Mario and this being a reason I deem him cooler and perhaps it's because I put myself into these characters' places that makes this happen. I'm clearly not a speedy blur hedgehog. A fat plumber? That's more reasonable!

When it comes to videogames characters, none have come close to what we've achieved.

Here's to the Custom Character.

Here's to Us.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Alan Titchmarsh Talk Games.

Are violent videogames right? Are people who know very little about them having an opinion even right?

The Coolest Game Characters of All Time: Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic series)

The thing about cool is that it emanates from within. There is no learning cool, or earning cool. You either are, or you are not. Many characters have strived for coolness over the years, and I'm sure my fellow contributors will construct good cases for their favourites through the week- as to why they should be crowned coolest. There is a clear victor in this category of course, and that is the immortal Sonic the Hedgehog.

Sonic can waltz to the top of this list wearing nothing but a pair of sneakers and white gloves. He needs no fancy props or foul mouth to aspire towards cool, as he is the very embodiment of the word. Destroying hoards of enemies and bosses using nothing but his speed and agility and always for the noblest of causes, he really is a hero. OK, so he's not packing a magnum .44 or throwing stars but that's because he doesn't need them to embarrass his foes. Sonic has a something far more deadly at his disposal. Style (Yeah, I went there).

Even too laid back and aloof for lovers, the first female into the Sonic universe was Amy Rose who immediately pursued a romantic interest in Sonic. Was he interested? Did he fall all over himself looking like a damn fool like so many hero-types since, as soon as a chick showed up? Did he hell. He treated her like she was in his way from day one and that just made her want him more.

If his very nature and attitude doesn't convince you that Sonic is the coolest game character of all time and you cant really figure out why you should place him above anyone else, consider this one important fact: for all he has achieved - he's not even trying that hard.

Sega invented cool. And it's blue.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Coolest Game Characters of All Time: Nathan Drake (Uncharted series)

Yawn. Old icons are old. There's a reason why we should only be concentrating on the here and now. It's called progress. Anything else is just hankering for childhood, and you don't want to be accused of that, do you, you big adult-nappy wearing fetish freak you? Thought not. So let's keep it in the here and now, and avoid all that Oedipal crap. And easily the coolest, nay, the best, character of this generation can be found in the swarthy features of one Nathan Drake.

Don't be fooled by all that "everyman" talk. He's not a normal guy at all. His grim satisfaction at snapping a neck followed by some lighthearted banter exposes the heart of a sociopath. And although his body shape could be rightly described as a little husky, he's still a skull-cracking alpha male with the face of an Abercrombie and Fitch model. Everyman? Don't make me scoff.

No, instead his appeal lies in the fact he's just a little better than you. He's not the ridiculous manbeast like Marcus Fenix, but for us cheetos-scoffing basement dwellers, he resonates far more keenly than any steroid-induced lunk. He's the jock in school who had flings with French teachers, or the guy in the pub who can break up fights with a glance. Everyone adores him, and you either want to be him or be on him.

Okay, his far-flung travels reek of Indiana Jones, and adventures are a hodge-podge of a thousand different tales. But damnit, for sheer out and out awesome, you can't get better than the Drake. No other game character conveys cowardice and guts in one wise-cracking, whimpering package. Who needs martial arts when you can throw wild haymakers and brawl like a champ? Of course he's too good to be true, but he's right at the edge of believeability, and that's all you need to buy into his untucked t-shirt wearing, wryly grinning, stubbled shtick.

He's Gerard Butler. He's Han Solo. He's the MAN.


The Coolest Game Characters of All Time

In my youth, coolness could be easily defined by The Beastie Boys and Bart Simpson, but as I grow old, weary and cynical, I start to think about the term more seriously. Coolness is an almost catch-all term for me and - I would wager - most of my generation, but there are certain characters, from all mediums, that once in a while make you re-asses the term and consider just what it takes to be cool.

Creating a genuinely cool game character is no mean feat, especially when you consider the potential lack of cool on the part of the player. Even David Bowie could be made to look a tit, were he placed in some sort of Avatar-esque situation that saw a 14 year old COD addict running him into walls, trying to find glitches.So often being extensions of our usually un-cool selves, game characters can often struggle to achieve genuine coolness. For that reason, this week at Split-Screen, we will be celebrating all those who overcome such hurdles and stand in our minds as true bad-asses and bonafide cool dudes.

Adjust your mindset back to the 90's, help us bring back the terms 'rad' and 'totally tubular' and cast your vote at the end to help us decided the coolest of them all. Keep watch for your favourite because there will be a new one each day. If you think we're going to miss someone out, e-mail me: to fight their corner and we'll post up your piece to help the campaign.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Review: Heavy Rain (PS3)

IT’S mile three, and the bear trial is well underway. Ethan Mars, a broken former architect, whimpers in his now-dented car as the police sirens cut through the night. GPS system bleating away, your frantic hand actions are guiding him to safety. For Ethan, his fear is never finding his son again. You’re just afraid Ethan won’t make it the whole five miles. It’s at times like that that Heavy Rain transcends most video games and becomes truly great. It’s a shame that the whole package has to settle for being something a little less.

Quantic Dream’s magnum opus certainly doesn’t undermine itself by way of its production values. Rejecting the extra bright splendour of an Uncharted 2 for the grit and grime of the real, it nearly bypasses the uncanny valley, the odd gaping mouth or vacant eye only momentarily detracting from an East Coast setting full of jilted hookers, suicide risks and the scum that always rises to the top in these sorts of tales.

Similarly, the voice acting does its job in propelling a game full of text, and though it wavers from Shelby’s phenomenal world weary rumblings to a French-Canadian casting decision verging on the ridiculous, it never jars too heavily or veers into Resident Evil style “master of unlocking”.
The gameplay in and of itself is almost incidental in a game that rewards you a trophy just for agreeing to participate in David Cage’s little dramatic experiment. For what it’s worth, the quick times aren’t perfectly synced and sometimes the icon designations are off – particularly some confusion as to whether to hold a button or bash it until your knuckle bone breaks the skin - but they do more than enough to suck you into the twisted tale of four protagonists and their hunt for the killer. No, it’s the story you came for, and that can be exhilarating and disappointing at the same time. Riddled with minor holes that have seen the bile-spewers rush to their keyboards, the story is secretly a second-rate knock off of a dozen movies you’ve bought from service stations. Inconsistencies spring up at every turn, and at times the game does lie to you in order to deliver its most gratifying punch.

Whether you can cope with a narrative that confounds when it offers control will affect whether you walk away from Heavy Rain with sour grapes, but while its script may creak, the emotion it conjures is like nothing before. You truly care, not in the "which option gets me the goodies" way, but in an emotional sense only a few games have touched upon. Without the usual rewards and points counters, you want the good endings just because you want the characters in your little world to get out of it unscathed. If a game can make you think about not getting the girl because it feels wrong, or risk failing the whole game completely because your moral threshold is overstepped, it succeeds. It's just disappointing that having come all this way, Quantic Dream couldn't have had the guts to take that final step. If every decision had prompted an auto save, and maybe if every character could have died early and often, or even failed early and often, the criticisms the game is rightfully facing could have been avoided. In a bid to deliver a gripping story, much of the danger becomes artificial, and early knowledge of that removes the one thing this game is fantastic at - wringing emotion out of every turn.

In months to come, the massive commentary on Heavy Rain will render it empty, pointless and moot. My only advice can be play it now, play it once and avoid the internet's naysaying. Controversial? Yes. A step or 50 short of greatness? Certainly. But it's one of the most essential games just to experience for this entire generation, and that fact alone makes it more than worth braving the downpour.


Press 'X' to Jason

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The fastest, most powerful console on earth! Well, not these days, but in 1997.

I've hoarded a lot of stuff over the years and occasionally I'll find something in a box that makes me squeal like Vanille on prom night (or casting magic, or jumping, or moving around a bit). Hence these scans of an N64 guide from Official Nintendo Magazine. The Tech-Specs on page 2 provide the most enjoyable reading with factoids like 'Over 1000 times more power than the moon-landing computer - FACT!'

(Click to read)

Just looking at the screen shot of square-lookin' Jaws from Goldeneye is enough to send me looking for my Moonraker Laser, and F-Zero X is possibly still the most enjoyable multiplayer racing game I've ever played. The rivalry with The Faux Bot was legendary too, it was like Godzilla vs Megalon.

These first 2 scanned pages are not all happy memories and staggering statistics about how Nintendo is better than NASA however - F1 World Grand Prix was not 'a truly awesome motor-racing game' in fact it was fuck awful and still leaves a bitter taste now, 13 years on. Worst buy ever.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Peter Molyneux employs Python

No, not that sort of Python. This sort:

That's right. Wannabe genius, professional delusionist and arse-puffer Peter Molyneux has employed the vocal talents of the actual genius John Cleese for his next installment in the massively disappointing Fable series.

You remember all those videos before Fable 2 came out? The ones where Pete threatened to change the gaming landscape and blow our feeble minds? Well, Pete now admits that they were all BULLSHIT because Fable 2 didn't have a fucking butler in it! Honestly, what kind of game doesn't have a butler in it!? How the fuck would I know when to change my character's clothes!? Thank Christ for John Cleese as 'Butler' then, because that's exactly what he does. You remember how shit the clothes were in Fable 2? WRONG! They weren't shit, YOU were shit because you didn't know how awesome they were! The Butler will stop this from ever happening again.

He may as well employ a real python seeing how little of a shit I give about the existence of this glorified DLC. Watch out Peter, you're upsetting the status quo with your revolutionary game design! What's that you say? You can now make wings come out of your character's back as well as making them burp? What a visionary.

via Kotaku

Yet another DLC 'outrage'

It seems like every other day now that there's some example of an outcry concerning overpriced or 'unfair' DLC. Capcom bleed you for Street Fighter costumes and now Activision want more money for Modern Warfare 2 maps. I've made my peace with Capcom - I'm going to buy those silly costumes if they make me, because that's the sort of schmuck I am. I'm not going to cry about it any more. Understandably, then, I can't see why anyone is moaning about the pricing for Modern Warfare 2's first downloadable map pack. Like that guy from Taken says 'the price is the price'.

The 'Stimulus Package' which is set to release first on the 360, will set players back an impressive £10 or $15 for five maps. On it's own that's fairly steep but the real kicker is that two of the maps are recycled from the first Modern Warfare.

As Kotaku points out, this really couldn't have come at a worse time. Even though it's hardly major news, it plays a part in solidifying just how crazy Activision are acting right now. Goose-stepping the Infinity Ward heads out of their offices [more] and denying their workers royalty payments. [more]

Is Battlefield: Bad Company 2 strong enough competition to add to this burgeoning cluster-fuck? You guys play it, so tell me and Uncle Bobby too, if you think he's listening.

Mad miniature skills

A slow weekend recovering from illness has allowed me to jump on the Heavy Rain origami bandwagon. There are a few large scale versions around on-line so I thought I'd try and make a mini one. Here it is^^- I think we can all agree I have achieved a certain degree of success.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

My custom fightstick

Even though I now use one of those lovely Madcatz Tournament Edition fightsticks to play my Street Fighter, I still own an old Hori EX2. It came out a long time ago, I barely used it, broke it and then left it in the cupboard. Thankfully Stick modder Extraordinaire, Cr0nt offered to max it out for me, with custom artwork and all the fancy buttons that make the Tournament Edition so lovely.
Progress has been slow, but things have begun to pick up pace recently. The main issue is that I've had difficulty choosing my artwork. I wanted to go for an old-school Street Fighter 2 arcade cabinet look, but I'd been having difficulty finding the resource images. Then, whilst over at the awesome Omega Level, I had a brainwave: I have to dedicate my arcade stick to none other than Cumshot Legend: Mr. Peter North.

Here is a mock-up of my design, I hope you all like it. Feedback would, as always, be much appreciated.

Final Fantasy XIII: 12 hours in.


Chances are that if you've already read something on FFXIII, then you've already heard it's 'linearity issues' discussed in one way or another. So far, I have seen nothing to dispute any of these claims. I have essentially been following a straight line for the entirety of my playthrough with barely even a hint of an unbeaten path or exploration in any form. The linearity is an inescapable fact, but the focus should be on what intersperses the path-following - some fantastic battles and drop-dead gorgeous cut-scenes.

As always, Square Enix doesn't disappoint in terms of presentation, boasting flawless, endearing and memorable character design, each sporting disticntive images and personalities. Sazh has a baby Chocobo living in his hair, Lightning is a smouldering badass, Vanille looks at me like she wants/needs me, Snow is essentially Ken Masters, but nonetheless endearing, Fang is just sort of there with her attitude being completely overshadowed by Lightning and then........there's Hope.

Ah, Hope. What an unbearable little shit this kid is. Always whining and moaning and trying to grow up , like he's trying to force an erection out. I swear he's going to end up bursting a blood vessel before the credits roll. I wish pain upon this little turd, he is a complete waste of Phoenix Down. Speaking of which, it is now referred to as a 'tuft of phoenix down'. Which brought me to the stark realisation that that shit was stolen off a real phoenix! do you know how rare that must be!? And I've been wasting them on that little turd when I should be selling that shit on the black market to crazy billionaires like Charles Widmore.

Back on topic now. The characters look gorgeous and I would probably do it with each and every one of them (except Hope) if I were some sort of lawnmower man virtual reality bisexual. They are wonderfully complimented by superb animations -particularly the faces; the lip-syncing is beautifully done and gives the characters a weight and believability which is integral to their personalities.

The game's other two main strengths are it's incredible soundtrack and unique battle system. With the latter being, again, something of a topic for debate.

At times, you could be convinced that FFXIII was being played on some sort of auto-pilot as you stare drooling at the lush visuals. In reality, it is a refined and streamlined version of traditional RPG battling. Rather than leaving it to you to figure out the best roles for your characters and having you chop and change accordingly, it organises varieties of roles into what are called 'paradigms'. In each paradigm, the characters on your team fulfill a different role. For example, one configuration will provide you with a medic, an attacker and another that casts supporting magic. You can opt for balance, or all-out attack but you will soon find that the best approach is switching between paradigms according to the direction of the fight- learning to go all-out or take a step back whenever necessary. Attacks and spells are doled out by the single character you control, based on your knowledge of the enemy. You can select specific actions, but the better option is to study your opponent and let the auto system do the work as it will always select the best course of action if you have enough info on your enemy.

Whilst it may sound all to easy, the new battle system is simply just shifting your focus, forcing you to be more considered, plan ahead and do your research. Rather than sacrificing depth wholesale, it simply trades some of it for a faster paced, more contemporary battle system that is better suited to a generation that is being raised on dull, uninvolving shooters that take a mere 7 hours to complete. Face it, our attention span is fucked. We brought this upon ourselves.

The soundtrack hasn't displayed a hint of Leona Lewis yet, but for all you haterz, just remember that it is going to be right there at the end to reward you for all your hard work. Otherwise, the OST is incredible: massively varied, memorable and appropriate. It runs the gamut of genres and has already embedded a few melodies in my brain. They aren't going anywhere and I will gladly whistle them upon request.

As linear as it makes it, the pacing and direction of my first 12 hours or so have been wholly appropriate. Your characters are on the run - the last thing they should be doing is dicking around looking for Chocobos to ride when there are bad motherfuckers with gunships and gatling guns after them, I know I'd be running. I retain a fair amount of good faith in the game, hoping that the pace will shift in order to keep my interest. If it were to continue like this for the estimated 45 hours playtime, I may have to kill someone.

Keeping the hope of change in my mind and getting to watch the characters mature and develop before me is holding my interest this far. Even that unbearable little shit Hope is starting to wise up and if that's not enough, there's always the promise of more boner-inducing Advent Children-esque cinematics to come.

There will undoubtedly be more to say about FFXIII further down the line and I won't hesitate in forcing my opinion on you all once again when I've played some more. For now, keep reading and share your thoughts on it in the comments. If you haven't played it yet - why the hell not!? Financial excuses are permitted.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

....And Justice For All

If you've ever played any game online and handled yourself pretty well there's a fair chance you've made some prick get mad and quit in an effort to take away your win. Street Fighter 4 is about the best example of this 'Rage Quitting' with sore losers quitting mid-match or just before the end in order to not give you the win.

Nowadays, anyone who plays SF4 online with have a disconnect percentage rating, but people still manage to slip through. Justice is served to such pricks in the form of
a website that names and shames quitters with screengrabs submitted by the cheated and disenfranchised. I wish I'd heard about this sooner. If it happens to you in future, make sure to submit and when you first visit, search for your gamertag. Only then can you understand the relief I felt at not being on there. Thank Christ.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

FFXIII is out, apparently.

Seems everyone is playing Final Fantasy at the moment and I'm no different. I was actually a little scared when I finally got the disc into the drive on Tuesday night, if the scaremongering was anything to go by I was in for 70 miserable hours. My fears soon evaporated though as soon as I saw how beautiful everything looked. I'll forgive pretty much anything as long as I'm enjoying looking at it- that goes for games, women, movies, you name it, and that's why the early linearity isn't a big deal for me. Obviously at this stage my impressions are based on the first section of the game but I'm happy enough so far. I like the battle system even if it could use a few more options at the beginning and I like the level system even though it looks like it could have pretty limited scope.

It would appear the game is like the attractive woman at the bar, sure she's a little uncouth and and has an Aussie accent that makes your ears bleed a little but they are small flaws indeed next to her beauty. You'll still spend the whole night trying to get her drunk enough to go home with you. So far, so good.

The important part is that it feels like a FF game which is what I personally wanted to get out of it. Look at the character design and the flawless soundtrack side by side combined with the emotionally charged storyline and that's what you have.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Something, something DARK SIDE... something, something COMPLETE

So, the Super Street Fighter IV line-up has now been completed.

Say hello to Hakan.

I've had some pictures for a while now and they made me chortle every time I looked at them, his ultra and super are amazing, particularly the across the shoulder shooting of his super and the slide to face plant of the ultra. I also love that his ultra is an anti-air move.

It is clear, at least to me, that this inclusion is a Dan for the grapplers amongst you. The pictures I have are seemingly stills from the video that Capcom have given to IGN to reveal (it could have been on us if we had as big a following) so I'll instead post the Famitsu scan so you can all try to improve your Kanji.

I don't think I have to tell you that his story will obviously have something to do with the children hanging around him and probably that barrel he picks up. Which grips me not in the least, but then who cares about the stories for any character in the Street Fighter canon?

From the video and the stills from it I can say that you should not expect him to play at all like the 'giefer. He has a Blanka style slide, a command grab that involves him dashing forward into the grab. From this we can already tell that he will not have the hit points that 'gief or Sagat do as he is a much quicker grappler, maybe more along the amount for Abel.
I have already mentioned Blanka, and I think this seems to be pretty much the starting point for him. Maybe a little quicker, but the game having been sped up and only having seen Blanka's Pikachu ultra I can't tell if they are actually the same.

It also seems that, like Dudley, Hakan has either a taunt that affects his play (makes him greasier), or its a special move that improves range on slide and dash etc. We have to wait to play him to see!

Here's him in action


How do you feel that the final character is a comedy character?
However you feel, what we now have is the finalised character select screen.

Details from Nakky's (developer) blog indicate that the cursor will remember the last character chosen after being turned off, if you so wish. There seems also to be an option to turn ON that god awful theme tune from 'vanilla' Street Fighter IV. There will also be an option to set the majority of the training room options so that you don't have to keep turning off the stupid freaking stun and turn on random/auto block (can you tell this is a pet peeve?)

Now that you have got hype, the next step is to get your game ready.
Youtube user mingtongzhi has provided some excellent videos of how to get more wins. Understanding how hitting your opponent works and what moves are safe is imperative to winning, as is knowing why mashing out an ultra or dragon punch when you get up is BAD.

See you in the training room!


Here are character changes as of the final retail build. As posted by Mr Wizard on SRK. He played it and was allowed to talk to the press!

Ryu - Ryu's medium and hard dragon punches hit twice now. Damage is down on it, but if you FADC, you only get one hit from it, so damage is down even farther. Trades to ultra from DP are gone, and most trades into ultra from SF4 are gone, but not all. Puts you in a floaty state, and you cant combo afterwards.

Ken - He is not looking good. They didnt give him much. He cannot FADC to Ultra2 normally. He didnt get crazy kicks from previous SF games. They slightly improved his fireball.

Chun li - She got 'infinitely better'. U2 combos easily all day. The upkicks target combo goes into U2, as well as EX legs anywhere on the screen. Its very dangerous. U2 gets all 20 hits every time, if it whiffs for a while and you get hit by the very end of it, you still take the full damage.

Guile - He seems to have been given nothing. Sonic Hurricane, his U2 is not good. Super into U2 is the only known combo into it. Down+Taunt puts on glasses, but doesnt give him any buffs or advantages.

Zangief - Very similar. He could lariat trade into U2 in earlier builds, but he cannot anymore. Rufus and tall characters can block his lariat low and punish with a crouching RH.

Rose - She can juggle off soul reflect into air throw or U1 or ex fireball. U2 is very good. Can corner juggle into orbs. Each orb can hit once before it dissipates, including on block. They do about 20% damage each on full ultra. Wiz noted that he needs to check what happens when projectiles hit them. When the orbs activate, there is a delay before you can do special moves again, including throw. They delay felt like 3-4 seconds. Orbs cross up very easy. Rose seemed powerful.

Blanka - Seemed the same, new ultra isnt that great, can get thrown out of it.

Honda - Noticed no changes, cant jump on reaction to U2.

Dhalsim - He seemed the same. U2 hit box is prttty small. Super hard to hit.

Balrog - U2 jumpable on reaction to activation. His U2 is bad, it has terrible range. Seemed too hard to land to be worth giving up U1.

Vega - Seemed the same. His Claw stays on a lot longer now, though. Ex dive off the wall doesnt go through opponent anymore.

Sagat - He does marginal less damage overall. Scar-uppercut does double damage, nothing more. If you do scar move, you cant do it again until you uppercut, but you can store the powered up state the entire round if you want. forward + RH still juggle state.

Bison - J.Strong into U2 works. Its not a charge motion so its very handy. U2 is a blockable stomp attack, and it can crossup! It hits hard, too! No known nerfs.

Rufus - Ex messiah kick is not as good, but still good. A few frames less on invincibility, and less damage. EX snake strike damage is way down. U2 doesnt seem to combo well. U2 is good anticrossup or antiair, but thats about it. Has to work for wins now

Fuerte - Fuertes normals are all faster now. U2 is extremely good.

Viper - No notable changes. She can U2 off EX seismo if you are fast. The recovery from U2 is ok. Rumors of mp thunder nerf are untrue or reversed, if its slower its only a frame or two.

Abel - He has a faster U2 cant combo but its fast and has armor if you hold the button, it looks to be very good.

Guy - Feels slow. Has cool chain combos into super. EX spin kick is vertical. EX shoulder is his best move, super fast.

Cammy - Cannon drill 'got a little better'. Uppercut damage nerfed pretty hard. U2 is terrible. U2 can be broken by using breaker.

Fei - Changes not apparent. Counter ultra can be broken by a breaker.

Gouken - No known nerfs. U2 still blockable, but backthrow into 5 hits of it into wallbounce into more fun works.

Sakura - Her crossup is back. Very good crossup. Makes her feel more like sakura again. U2 is the best choice. Its two ultras in one, okay damage, easy to combo, can aim it up or forward. EX hurricane to ultra is simple as hell.

Dan - Dan is secretly way better now, he got what he needed. Uppercut fadc U2 is strong. His fireball goes 60% of the screen now. The rest seems untouched, but this is 'all he needed' to be a contender.

Akuma - no known nerfs. Many of the nerfs from earlier builds were reverted. Infinite is gone, but you can still combo after Jab cannot link to HK anymore, so you cant loop it. Lv2 focus into new ultra wiffs, but works from Lv3 focus. EX airfireball into U2 works.

Gen - Only nerfs found so far, no chain combos, no mk .kick to hands at all. ex wall dive lost some invincibility.

Seth - Everything is the same, except his focus attack takes longer to hit lv2 now. Its not very good. U2 can combo anywhere you could combo stomps and does good damage.

Juri - Kara throw is good with HP. Wiz could only find a 5 hit Custom Combo in U1 mode without FADC. U1 mode is really long in duration. EX wheelkick seems nearly instant startup. Hitpoints seemed close to Ibuki's, but it was hard to tell.

T.Hawk - Hawkdive is his armor breaker. Hawk Upper cannot be FADCed at all, ever, at any point. U2 is bad, very very hard to hit. Feels slower than Zangief but stronger. His normals are very good.

Adon - He seems very weak. Both ultras are hard to use. Jaguar Tooth and Jaguar Kick are both unsafe on block. Air Jag-kick might be safe. EX jag kick is safe. Has a very good overhead though, one of the best.

Deejay - He seems decent. Nothing too bad, nothing too good. Reminds you of ST in that way.

Cody - He can only FADC tornado on first hit and the tornado wont come out. He cannot combo ultra after it. Has 3 levels of charge on his Zonk Knuckle, and its really really good and annoying. He says BINGO everytime he does it. You can combo into Zonk. HK ruffian is good.

Dudley - Not much to add to JWong's video, but he is probably #1 in the game.

Makoto - EX grab has 1 hit of armor! Outside of this, nothing to add to JWong's video.

Ibuki - Slide does not go under fireballs, air knife doesnt cancel out fireballs.

Hakan - Seems OK at first. Looks like hellboy red and is kinda fat. Has spiky hair. Has a 360 move where he puts you in his arms and sqeezes you out with oil slicked body. you fly across the screen at a 45 degree angle. He can slide along the ground face first and hit punch during for a followup (only when oiled up). Has an air grab where he belly flops. DP+K puts on more oil.
He takes out both hands and dumps oil on himself and it looks funny. He then glows white. When he has oil, he is 200% better. putting oil on takes half a second, and its duration based. EX oil lasts a long time. In non-oil mode, he is like gief. When he is in Oil Mode, he can chain everything, like x4 into mp. Moves in oil mode have more range, including 360. Front and backdash are better in oil mode too. All of his pokes have neutral and toward versions. Has a 'trap' ultra, where he lays down, and if you step on him, he grabs you. You cannot touch him at all, even if not attacking. You slip on his stomach like its ice. Then he 69s you as you slide along the ground and you fly out his buttocks.

The 2nd ultra is comedy as well. 720 motion, throws you up in the air and you board the OIL COASTER. You ride him going around his body till you are ejected into a wall at the end.

His super is double fireball with kick. Its a leaping grab thats crouchable, like Alex DDT he leaps at you.

Clearly he will not have had much time to get COMPLETELY to grips with every character and the news about Gen does not in any way surprise me. It does depress the hell outta me though. I'm still gonna lay a beat down on all you overpowered Dudley players (that's the ones that get into the training room, muscle memory the crap out of all of his chain combos and get his 1-frame links like overhead--super down -- NOT the Dudley players who just mash out his uppercut and don't know what a chain is, I will still beat them) as well as everyone else.

With this information will you be changing your character? Will you wait and play with each?
If Gen really has been nerfed (Why? Because he was SO STRONG in the IV? Did you ever try to play as him - you had to work FREAKING hard to be able to do anything with him) to the point that it becomes no fun to play him I'll end up picking someone else. These are sad times my friends, sad times.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Altered Beast was rad

I don't really remember this bit......

Via Tiny Cartridge

Friday, 5 March 2010

Joe Danger finds his way Home

Self-proclaimed 'stunt-em-up' Joe Danger has finally been announced as a Playstation 3 title. There are no mentions of strict exclusivity at this point, but the game is an undeniably good fit for the PS3. With Modnation Racers on the way and Sony's commitment to Littlebigplanet creators Media Molecule -Sony having just bought them and making them a first-party developer- the PS3 is on it's way to becoming the creative gamer's console of choice.

Personally, this is very good for me. As XBOX seem to focus more and more on shooters and adding teh jetpackz to their Haloz, I'll be more than happy to sit with my 'Arthouse Console'.

Joe Danger looks almost as adorable as Littlebigplanet originally did. Creating my own stunts, making pitfalls for friends and enemies - this title has massive potential. Get this on your radar now, then you can say that you read about it in Edge 3 months ago and totally knew it was an Indie game classic in the making, allowing you to laud it up all over your poorly-informed friends. Definitely watch the trailer below.

Via Kotaku

Thursday, 4 March 2010

New Platinum Games title lacks climaxing

Some new screens of Vanquish -the next game from Shinji Mikami and Platinum Games have emerged. You may remember we covered the announcement of the announcement a little while back. We were greeted with a mostly live-action teaser. It was rad, but like all teasers, gave us fuck all to be going on with.

These screens don't really give us anything more, but I have managed to gleam a few info nuggets from them.

1. That armour looks rad
2. It looks like a super-charged arcadey cover shooter
3. Falcon punch!

As cool as it looks, I can't help but be a little apprehensive about the disturbing lack of climaxing in these shots. Platinum Games have set a precedent of climax-filled action now, and I'm hungry for more. I feel that me and Bayonetta have now climaxed over enough angels together. Is Platinum not willing to further my climax quest? There are still so many baddies that crave to be climaxed upon: Platinum, do not blue-ball me.

More/full size here

Via Kotaku

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Valve 'announces' Half-Life2:Episode 3 [EDIT: MAYBE]

Being the typical Valve fanboy that I am I applied my steam updates and noticed that Portal had been given a fair number of new sound files. Wondering what the hell they were I went to the steampowered forums to see what it was all about.

Some folks also curious about the new sound files played them and to their surprise through the terrible static they felt they could hear Barney and Dr. Kleiner! There was also a non-GlaDos computer voice.

In an even more sneaky turn of events Valve had embedded images in the audio containers. When unscrambled these images gave a telephone number. This, another turn of genius, turned out to not be any old switch board. It was a data line. Those that had the old BBS software of course dialled in.
What they got no doubt surprised them again.

It was a GlaDos login prompt!

Its clear, at least to me, that in the Half-Life canon the missing Aperture Science ship is the one that is home to the whole game of Portal. I hope, nay - pray, that Gordon Freeman gets hold of the portal modification for his gravgun. I would wet myself with glee.

I've been pretty excited for this game since I finished episode 2 all that time ago. I'm a pretty patient man and upon finding out that Valve delayed it further so that they could make the game accessible for the hearing imparied - through the storyline that Alyx Vance had a deaf lover so had to learn to sign - I had yet more patience. However, my hype gland is in trouble of causing a myocardial infarction [that's a heart attack for those who don't watch House (although they'd think it was lupus first), ER, etc.]. I want to spend some more quality time with the bearded wonder. I want to mourn the loss of the end of Episode 2, I want to feel the pain as Gordon. Nobody could do this but Valve.

I want all of this and I want it now.

Capcom - pay attention. THIS is how you should do hype. Not by announcing a game, having the 'secret character list' leaked, pretending they aren't actually in it, then showing us one/two chars per month. Screw you - the Steam community jumped on this and within half day cracked it - working together like this provides an added layer of excitement and fun that isn't making money, just creating more hype.

I <3 u Gabe, once again I tip my hat at thee. You are an inspiration to us all.


Valve have changed the ending for portal!!!!!!!!!

SPOILERS WARNING: If you've not completed it don't hit play.

Does this mean we are to be recycled into a companion cube? Does the companion cube live and is it what's dragging us away? The asset in the game's files is actually a radio but has the settings of being roughly person sized, could it be combine? Is Half-Life 2 Episode 3 actually also Portal II? So many questions. So much awesome.


Monday, 1 March 2010

'Heavy Rain' to face legal trouble

Heavy Rain studio Quantic Dream has been faced with legal trouble today due to an unforeseen copyright breach. It seems that the game shares it's name with a niche pornographic film that focuses on the toilet-time antics of heavy-set ladies, or BBW's, to use the industry term.

Infamous BBW/Watersports director Sean 'Bojack' Evans - the auteur behind the original Heavy Rain - was flattered when he thought his movie was garnering mainstream attention. "I kept hearing all this stuff about Heavy Rain on twitter and on the TV. Usually my movies don't get mentioned outside of the porn community, so I was instantly curious, but honoured all the same."

On further investigation, Mr. Evans discovered that it was not his movie being discussed, but in fact, a videogame baring the same name. "I thought I'd give it a try, just to see if there were any more similarities and it turns out there's loads!" Mr. Evans claims that the four interwoven narratives and themes of isolation, depression, redemption and liquid were all initially included in his movie. "This French fella is definitely ripping me off....there's even a few fatties in it, he's barely even covered his tracks!"

Mr. Evans is now pursuing legal action to have a cease and desist order placed upon the distribution of Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain whilst a plagiarism case is formed. Stay tuned for further updates on this story.


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