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9/30/2011

The Nintendo 64 is turning 15 years today













The Nintendo 64 is celebrating fifteen years of life today (September 29th). That’s fifteen years since the game industry was completely revolutionized and changed from the 2D to 3D graphics. Of course, Sony’s PlayStation 1 and Sega’s Saturn also take an important hand at this. But the Nintendo 64 had so many memorable games and took so many step forwards with incredibly innovative titles like Super Mario 64 that I personally consider it the gap between the 2D and 3D era.

I remember back in late 1996 when one day, I was playing in my old house with a cousin and my dad came with my N64 as a surprise for me, he asked in the store for the “newest game” and got a fighting game called Bio FREAKS which I actually liked a lot and still like. Since I was little, I had no money and means to get my own games like I’ve been doing since the PS2 era, so I had to wait for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas to get new games.

My first titles besides that Midway fighting game were Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64. And even as a very young teenager I fell in awe at how the games had such advanced technology (for the time). I even remember being proud of having a console that told you then the controller was not connected. It makes me feel silly now days.

At the time, I used to spend hours and hours just walking around Mushroom Kingdom, Gruntilda’s Lair and Hyrule, specially the latest two, wondering how the developers created such worlds, imagining them drawing maps and spending huge amounts to time discussing every little detail so we, the users, could enjoy their creations.

The Nintendo 64 is by far, the console that made me become a real hardcore gamer. Of course, I love the Sony and Microsoft consoles equally to the Nintendo ones but the N64 is the one that started gaming as a passion in my life, instead of just a hobby or a toy like the NES and SNES were.

Many of my favorite videogames of all time have their roots on a N64 game, or are a N64 game by itself, like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask which I still consider two of the best videogames ever created. My first favorite developer company was Rareware, because of the N64 games they made. I didn’t enjoy them all but games like the Banjo ones, Donkey Kong 64, Perfect Dark, Goldeneye 007 and Jet Force Gemini divided my life in before and after.

The console had such a big impact on my life that with it, my “LAN parties” started. I used to go to friends houses and receive them at mine just to spend entire afternoons and nights on Mario Party, Perfect Dark or some fighting game, which gets me to think how curious it is that I never bought Killer Instinct Gold even though I was a huge fan and player of the first game. Well, another Rareware title I missed.

Curiously, a game I fell in love with in 1999 was Wave Race 64, which had already three years on the market. I was tired of the adventure and fighting games so I decided to try out a racing one and bought WR64 because it was cheap on a local store. Well it’s still one of my favorite games and while I do admit it doesn’t have much content I enjoy playing it every once in a while, in fact, it is the only N64 game I still go back to every now and then.

By 2000 I already had a Dreamcast, PSX and PS2 and became all-consoles gamer but the truth is that the Nintendo 64 will always have a place in my gaming time. As I said, it is one of the most iconic, if not the most iconic consoles in my life and I consider the catalog of games on it the strongest one out there, even better than the PS2, Xbox 360 and such.

Which gets me to think how fifteen years ago; Nintendo didn’t really aim exclusively to the younger audiences. The N64 was a console for everyone; you could find you usual Nintendo childish games like Kirby 64 or Mario Party and your bloody, gory and mature games like Shadowman, Perfect Dark or the Mortal Kombat titles. Also, I always think that if it weren’t for the N64’s lack of good JRPGs I probably would have never gotten a console from another company.

Because of my interest in Final Fantasy I spent money on a PS2 and a PSX and because of that I got interested as well in one of my favorite fighting game series of all time: Dead or Alive which I love with a huge passion. When thinking about it, the only thing the N64 was lacking compared to the competition, was that specific genre: the Japanese RPGs. Still, it is a great console that deserves everyone’s respect.

Fifteen years is a long time, but for me, it really feels like the console’s launch was just yesterday. When looking at its games, my console that still works and how pretty much everyone that I know played it and enjoyed the same games as me, I feel very happy and proud to be a gamer. I thank Nintendo for having started what we currently know as modern gaming because even though consoles now days are able to reproduce HD graphics, online gaming and even motion-sensing controls, the truth is that most of the games on them are simply N64 games that look better.

With that, the only thing I have left is to wish the Nintendo 64 a very happy 15th birthday and encourage everyone able to still take a console out and play it for a while to do it in celebration to the greatest Nintendo console of all time. 

REVIEW: Star Fox 64 3D (3DS)


 Star Fox 64 is one of the most memorable games of the Nintendo 64, considered by many as a classic and one of the best games in the console, rivaling huge titles like Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Super Mario 64. Because of this, Nintendo made the decision to remake the game for their new portable console, the 3DS so old-school fans and newcomers alike can enjoy the game in full 3D and everywhere they go.

It is a very simple shooter where you control a small spaceship on rails, that means the (with many few exceptions) you can’t really go anywhere you want besides moving the ship around the screen shooting enemies with your laser, charged shots and remote bombs. Star Fox 64 tells us the story of how a group of four pilots: Fox, Falco, Slippy and Peppy will travel around the galaxy doing missions in order to bring down the evil Andross and his army of monkeys.

You will always be in control of Fox’s ship while your three teammates will usually be seen on the screen chasing enemies and being chased by them. And depending on what you do on the missions, the squad will choose a destination once the mission is over. This is where the routes come to play. Before every mission, you’ll be able to see a map full of planets and a line representing which one you’ll travel to next. But if you complete a given task, you’ll be able to change your course and maybe do a different mission in a completely different planet. But at the end, all the routes lead to a final battle with the evil Andross.

Depending on the route you take, you’ll also be able to drive either a Tank or a Submarine in a couple missions. The gameplay changes are minimal, the only difference is that the Tank can jump and the Submarine cannot charge the laser beam but has infinite torpedoes. But still, it is a nice change Nintendo did to avoid driving the same spaceship in every mission.

Unlike many other Japanese on-rail shooters, the screen won’t ever be full of bullets and the difficulty isn’t very hard. If you die on a mission it’s because you made a silly mistake that can be done right on a second try. The 3DS game has a “Nintendo 64” with the original difficulty and a “Nintendo 3DS” mode that is easier and allows for gyro controls which to be honest, aren’t very comfortable. You can also change the control scheme to a couple of variations so you can choose whichever makes you feel more comfortable with the game

Graphically speaking, the game looks very good but it’s far from the best graphics on the 3DS. Older games like Ocarina of Time 3D or Dead or Alive Dimensions look better in both 3D and 2D. But Star Fox 64 looks pretty, specially on the missions with water and many enemies around the screen. When you turn the 3D effects on, the game runs perfectly and the frame rate doesn’t go down, which is great news given that this is a very fast game.

The music is very pretty; there are many memorable songs that were remade in better quality for the fans of the original Nintendo 64 version. They sound like common Nintendo songs and to be honest, the soundtrack is one of the best things about the game. The sound effects are also great, the explosions, spaceship dashes, lasers and missiles make cool sounds that give the feel that a real space battle is going on.

The voice acting is actually different from the original game, the voices sound very similar but are different actors. The lines are extremely silly, especially when they come from Slippy and sometimes they just sound too funny. If you’ve been on the internet on the past years you’ll recognize legendary lines like Peppy’s “Do a Barrel Roll!” or Falco’s “Hey genius I’m on your side!”

The gameplay is good, as I mentioned before, you’ll take control of Fox’s ship at almost every mission and they’ll all varied enough to avoid being boring. You’ll destroy satellites in different ways, chase trains, kill huge ships over a lake and things like that. But the thing is that no matter what route you take, the game is extremely short, taking about an hour to complete. The different routes and varied missions allow for lots of replay value but for today’s standards, the game is way too short which will result in players getting bored of it quickly, but I guess the developers couldn’t do anything about it since this is just a remake of an early N64 game.

Besides the story mode, you have a score attack mode where you’ll be able to play any mission aiming to break your records and the multiplayer where you’ll battle either the AI or friends in local-play to kill each other in Deathmatches, Timed Battles or Survival Battles. The thing is that the multiplayer modes aren’t very different and we don’t get many maps to guarantee a varied multiplayer. Also, it’s not possible to play it online which makes looking at the faces of your friends over the ships on the screen be silly since you have those people sitting beside you.

As I said, the game does have a fair amount of replay value. Playing through the story several times is fun and there are even some hidden missions in the 3DS game but they’re all short and not challenging enough to make you go do them many times. You can aim to have a high-score but since there’s no online multiplayer, there’s really nobody to compete with. And the multiplayer, while very fun, grows old quickly because of the lack of modes or maps.

In short, Star Fox 64 3D is a very good game that I recommend specially to the fans of the original N64 version. Newcomers will find lots of fun on it but if they’re already used to today’s standards in both single player and multiplayer games, they’ll get bored fast and most likely move to another game. I do recommend buying and playing it since it’s a great classic but comparing it to today’s games, Star Fox 64 3D falls short in many aspects.


Pros:

-          Many varied and fun missions take you to visit beautiful locations and kill lots of enemies
-          The different routes available allow for replay value
-          Multiplayer is really fun if your friend know how to play the game


Cons:

-          Story mode is way too short, no matter what route you take
-          No online multiplayer
-          Graphics and voice acting are better in other 3DS games

Graphics and Visuals………...8
Music and Sound Effects……..7
Gameplay……………………8
Replay Value………………...7

Overall Score………………..7.5 / 10

9/29/2011

Gaming update 29-09-2011

I spent the day on DiRT 3, Little Big Planet 2 and Starfox 64 3D. This last game is getting on my nerves. Since it is the first time I've played it, I'm dying a lot on the final levels and I haven't been able to kill Andross yet. I don't want to write the review until I finish the game at least twice over different routes. 


I also watched the final part of Hades' saga on Saint Seiya, an anime series that has been extremely popular in Latin America since the 90s. The truth is that I didn't like it a all. I was planning on writing an article about it but for some reason my fingers hurt a lot. I've been the entire day playing and watching House on DVD. But since tomorrow I'm not going out either I'll most likely have both articles ready: Starfox 64 3D review and the Saint Seiya one, which will be short.

Blogger is giving me a lot of trouble

The website has been a pain in the ass lately. I simply can't access it no matter what device I use, laptop, 3DS, Wii, PS3, etc. It always fails to load and sometimes it does but with everything messed up. I want to send an e-mail to them to see if they can help me. All the sites are working fine, I'm only having trouble with Blogger, it pisses me off. I need to find a way for the blog to work at all times.

9/27/2011

Square-Enix president: "Final Fantasy brand greatly damaged by FFXIV"

At a press conference today in Tokyo, the president of Square-Enix, Yoichi Wada has stated that the Final Fantasy brand has been greatly damaged and affected by the poor reviews and dislike of the public with Final Fantasy XIV, the latest MMO game (currently available only for PC) that was supposed to replace Final Fantasy XI. Wada has said that with the future updates, the company will re-do the game almost from the beginning with the objective of resurrecting it to what it was meant to be from the beginning.

Final Fantasy XIV has had one of the hardest first years in the lifespan of an MMORPG since it came out in September 2010. The game has gotten really poor reviews like a 4/10 in Gamespot, 5/10 in Eurogamer and an overall 49 in Metacritic. Also, the public has responded with really bad opinions about it to the point that many FFXI players that moved to XIV are going back to the first game because they don't really see a bright future for FFXIV and prefer the old one that has always had a strong population and gameplay (even though it has always been in the shadow of other games like World of Warcraft).


Personally speaking, I'd really like Square-Enix to fix the game but to be honest, I don't think the game will be a success now because it has been an entire year of bad reviews and opinions that  will always affect how the games does economically. But as a big fan of the brand, I can't help but wish the best for the game and the company working on it.

I "redesigned" the reviews page

For the past days I've been wanting to make some decorations on the reviews page. I wanted to have little banners of the games I've reviewed as the links to the actual texts but I didn't know how to do it or if it was even possible but I decided to try my hand with the blog's options and it came out fine.

Now, instead of just having an ugly text as the link to the reviews, there's a really small image that represents each game and by clicking on it, you'll go to the review. I'd actually like to have them one next to the other instead of above but Blogger was being a pain about it, I'll keep trying to do that tomorrow because I think it's going to look even better that way. I hope everyone likes it and finds it easier to find the reviews now. You can go to the reviews page by clicking here or just looking for it in the upper side of the blog.

Future review plans

I feel like I just took a very heavy weight off my back now that my Little Big Planet 2 review is up. I think it came along just fine, let's see what the people over Twitter think about it. Now the only review I'm really behind with is Pokemon Black, which I'm not even sure if I'll ever going to write now that I got Catherine, Resistance 3 and the other new games coming. 

What I'm sure about is that my next game review will be Star Fox 64 3D. In fact, I'll probably have it ready by friday or maybe even earlier. I haven't finished the game because I haven't played it much to be honest, I like it a lot but Resistance 3, Little Big Planet 2, Catherine and the N64 emulator took my entire gaming time since I bought it but now that R3 is over I'm going to spend some time on Star Fox to try and finish it a couple times over different routes and try my hand again at the competitive mode. 

After Star Fox 64, I assume I'll be reviewing both Catherine and Resistance 3. Mass Effect 2 will probably take more time because I haven't even started it and probably won't for a few days (maybe weeks). I fortunately already have the money for F1 2011 and Forza 4. I'll get F1 for the Xbox 360 so I can get another free game at my local store with the purchase of both games on the same console.

Besides the gaming stuff, I'll also resume watching the anime series I stopped watching for some reason and try to write a little more about them. I just don't want the blog to be filled with Anime and Figure collecting since the whole idea of it is talking about gaming, the other geeky activities are supposed to be a secondary thing and I'll try to keep it that way. 

REVIEW: Little Big Planet 2 (PS3)


Media Molecule’s creation Little Big Planet is, for me, one of the best and most innovative video games in this generation. The first entry’s amazing graphics, jaw-dropping physics, insanely cute sackboys and the user-created content made it a game that everyone wanted to play and try their hands on. The second one takes all that to another level, becoming better and better and adding a huge amount of content, tools and details that I truly never thought were possible with the power of the PlayStation 3

Even after the first LBP added great content in innumerable updates since it first came out, the new things Media Molecule announced and added to LBP2 made it the perfect workhouse for game creation since now LBP does not limit users to create only platforming levels. This time, anything can come up when you start searching for the highest-rated levels in the online modes, from a fighting-game level based on Street Fighter, to a vertical spaceships shooter based on classics like Galaga or Ikaruga, the limits are literally our imagination.

Starting with the graphics, I can say the Little Big Planet 2 is a truly beautiful game, the level of detail in every texture feel truly real. From the cloth the Sackboys are made of to the wood, plastic, metal and all sort of things that make every object in the beautiful levels in both the story and the user-created ones

The visuals are so beautiful that they can fool you to the point where things looks like a real group of toys who look like cute voodoo dolls are walking along a pile of objects trying to get from one point to another. Even the menus are insanely beautiful, making the game look really pretty, as if it were a more child-oriented video game like a Kirby title, but don’t be fooled, Little Big Planet is an extremely hardcore game, especially if you take the content-sharing aspects seriously.

The soundtrack is insane as well, sound similar to the first title’s songs but they now added a lot of curious tunes that fit perfectly with the extremely crazy worlds you’ll visit in the story mode. Another great new feature is that in many of the story videos, the characters have voice-acting that sounds amazing and were needed since this time, the game has a quite interesting story about a dark entity eating up the dreams of everyone on Earth and it’s up to the sack persons to defeat and stop it. Sounds simple, but the game manages to fill this childish plot with huge amounts of humor and crazy things.

There is a very cool and funny narrator who always speaks to you as well, especially in the tutorials which explain how to handle the tools for the user-created content. And it’s very much needed since the content is so vast that having a voice explaining things to you several times makes everything a lot easier.

Which brings me to the gameplay which is definitely the most important aspect of the game, like the first one, you’ll use a Sackboy or Sackgirl at all times, this characters can wear outfits of any kind to look like virtually anything. In the story mode, you’ll travel around incredibly curious 2D platforming levels jumping, avoiding traps, killing enemies and working as teammates or by yourself to finish the levels. At first, it sounds exactly like what we did in the first game but now we have a huge number of cool tools to use.

For example, there is a “Cakeinator” which is basically a cannon the sackboys wear in their heads and use them to shoot cakes to use them as platforms. Yes, cakes. There are also some gloves that allow sack persons to lift their buddies or other objects to reach otherwise unreachable areas or a controller that allows for the creation of objects which can be completely manipulated as if they were vehicles. In the story mode, these “vehicles” will usually be a giant jumping stuffed rabbit or a plastic lobster that can shoot lasers. But in the online modes, the vehicles people create can be anything, from Halo’s warthogs to wooden versions of Epona from Legend of Zelda. The possibilities are endless.

The controls are amazing, sackboys by themselves do the same things they did in the first game and it works just as great but now the “vehicles” and the tools for creation feel easier to use and more comfortable, and this is all in part thanks to a better control scheme made by Media Molecule.

The game features a big number of tutorials that explain everything from how to put a single object on the ground to how change the camera angles and the music. Little Big Planet 2 even allows players to make videos in case they want to give a storyline to their levels, which results in incredible stages that have more life and soul than the usual platforming ones from the first game that were usually either inspired by some other game or movie or just take from the imagination of the creator.

But, like in the first Little Big Planet game, creating good levels takes a lot of time, skill and dedication in the creation mode. It’s definitely not an easy task and will probably require several hours to just go through the tutorials to understand everything. But in LBP2, the creation mode seems easier to get into and again, the tutorials have a big impact at this since they explain everything in an excellent way.

All these things result in an amazing game that is literally infinite, after finishing the story mode, you can try and hunt down all the prize bubbles, costumes, stickers and decorations scattered all around the default stages and after that, you have millions, yes, millions of stages created by the users where you will see what the game (and the players) are really capable of.

 So in short, Little Big Planet 2 is not only one of the best and most innovative games of the generation, but of the industry as a whole. The charm of the characters and music, amazing HD graphics, physics and an endless amount of things to do on the creation mode and user-created levels result in a game that is enjoyable by all the public, from the most casual players to the most hardcore ones. It can be even considered a platform to create your own games by itself. LBP2 is a wonderful work of art that I truly recommend to everyone out there with a PlayStation 3.


Pros:

-          Amazing graphics, music and presentation.
-          Features some of the best physics in a PS3 game.
-          Literally limitless options with the user-created content.
-          Dressing up the sackboys can be a lot of fun by itself.

Cons:

-          Creating a good level requires a lot of skill and patience and it’s really not for everyone.
-          Many of the online levels can feel lame once you get used to play the highest-ranked ones.


Graphics and Visuals………....9
Music and Sound Effects……..9
Gameplay……………………10
Replay Value………………...10

Overall Score………………..9.5 / 10

Resistance 3 campaign is over! (SPOILER WARNING)

I just finished Resistance 3 and though I loved the entire game from beginning to the final level, I gotta say that the ending was shit. Nothing gets explained, NOTHING. The game teases you and gives you hints but at the end none of the plot holes or anything important from the story whatsoever gets explained. 

First of all, what the hell was Hale talking about at R2's ending. He said something like "Can you hear them¿ It's beautiful" while looking at the wormhole. Well I finished the third game and still have no clue who are "them" and what is beautiful. I have no idea where the wormhole lead to and what it's purpose was.

Dr Malikov gets killed by a bunch of savages and his files are gotten by a random prisoner in that chapter, he says something about studying the files further but after he escapes with Capelli, he simply leaves while the protagonist just continues his journey towards New York.


So seriously, story-wise, the ending was shit. Everything about the game is amazing, graphics, gameplay, weapons, enemies, music and even the story up to the point where it ends. Hell, we don't even get to see what happens to Charlie and Ellie when they all escape the Terraformer... I don't know if there's an extra video if I finish the game on Superhuman (I did it on Hard), will ask around but if this is the ending to Resistance 3 then Insomniac destroyed with their feet what they built with their hands. 

I will give a try to the multiplayer tomorrow and would even like to try the co-op campaign to have everything ready for a review before the end of the week. BTW I loved the game, it is amazing, it's just the ending that pissed me off a bit.

9/26/2011

Amazing 7 minutes video of Uncharted 3

A cool gaming website I always visit and get info from just posted a great video with seven minutes of Uncharted 3 gameplay. On it we see Drake walking around a desert and the ruins of a town before starting a firefight with a bunch of thugs. Check it here.

The website is called "LivingPS3" and it's in spanish, but the video is in english so don't worry.

Little Big Planet 2 review finally incoming

My Little Big Planet 2 review is halfway done, I know that I'm several months late on this one but to be totally honest I just forgot I wanted to write it and since I stopped playing the game for a while to pay more attention to other things the months just came by with no article.

I'd actually love for it to be up now but it's really late where I live and I'd rather go to bed, rest and write the final part of the review tomorrow when I'm not tired. In my opinion it is coming along really fine and I just don't want to rush or write something poorly because I'm tired right now but it will be up tomorrow Monday I promise.

I e-mailed Nintendo about a new Wave Race game


After spending some time in the emulators playing Wave Race 64 again I decided to e-mail Nintendo to see if I got any luck and get any info on a possible remake for the 3DS or a new game in the franchise for the Wii U. This is what I wrote:

"Hello Nintendo, My name is Miguel and I'm a gamer from Caracas, Venezuela. A small country in northern Latin-America. I'm writing to you guys tonight because I'm wondering what the situation is regarding the now-forgotten series Wave Race. I've recently unpacked my N64 and Gamecube and played both of the games you guys developed for it and in my personal and humble opinion, they're definitely two of the best games the company has ever done. 

So I'm wondering if there are any plans for a Wave Race 64 remake on the 3DS or if a completely new game in the series is in development or will be developed for the upcoming Wii U. Again, In my opinion, the current situation in the gaming industry where HD graphics and realistic physics are becoming more and more common could be the perfect scenario for the franchise. A Wave Race game taking advantage of the current systems would be more than welcome and could get a seriously positive response from the public in terms of reviews, sales, etc. I would really like to get an answer on this because I'm a big fan of the Wave Race series and I seriously feel that Nintendo needs to come up with a new entry so all the franchises that have made the company what they are can be available for the current-generations systems. Sincerely yours, Miguel Nieto."

I tried to be as polite and clear as possible because I suppose they get thousands of mails like this on a daily basis and I think it came along fine. To my surprise, a response arrived at my inbox this morning but with no good news about the future of Wave Race:

"Hello,

At this time, a new Wave Race gamehas not been announced for release here in the Americas.   More importantly, we do not have any information that tells us this game will or won’t be announced, but I will pass along your comments to the departments which make those decisions.

We often hear from excited fans asking if a particular game is going to be announced.  I don’t want to dampen any excitement you feel about the game, but I want to make it clear that until Nintendo makes an official announcement of a particular game there is nothing we have to share about it—regardless of any rumors you may have heard or announcements from Nintendo subsidiaries elsewhere in the world.

If or when we do make an official announcement about such a game, we will share all the exciting details on our website (www.nintendo.com).  Until that happens, we appreciate your patience and ask that you continue checking the website.

Sincerely,

Shawn Ford
Nintendo of America Inc."

I really hope Nintendo comes up with an idea for a new game in the series for the next generation. I really do believe the Wii U could be the perfect scenario for a game like that, taking advantage of the cool things that make current gaming what it is, like physics, HD graphics, 3D, etc.

Because seriously, think about it. Wave Race games were always made by Nintendo to show off the power of their consoles and their abilities to make great games. As a matter of fact, Miyamoto himself claimed several years ago that WR64 uses about 85% of the power of the N64 (without the expansion pack of course), that’s about the same as Ocarina of Time and more than Super Mario 64 so imagine that.

A weather system where the waves in the ocean could be controlled by physics is something I never stop dreaming about. Or a game where I can create my own racer and put him amazing outfits and decorate my jetski. It could seriously top many of the racing games who are famous right now like Gran Turismo 5 and all those if done right. But well, I can only dream and hope that one of these days, Nintendo will make the announcement I’m hoping for. 

Resistance 3 Campaign update (SPOILERS)

I think I might be near the end of Resistance 3 story mode. The game's objective is for Joe Capelli to reach New York City in order to destroy a Chimeran tower and I already got to NYC so there. The more I play this game, the more I like it. Insomniac definitely got it right this time, even though I did like the first two Resistance games they made. 

When I wrote my first impressions article, I mentioned how R3 makes you feel like you're really living in a devastated Earth where the Chimera have pretty much won the war and instead of seeing the conflict from a military perspective, we see it through the eyes of the civilian resistance group, finally being faithful to the franchise's name. 

Insomniac did a GREAT thing and added a couple chapters in the game where you encounter a group of ex-convicts who are some kind of barbarians who kill other humans for their resources, have an arena where their prisoners fight feral chimera and have managed to find a way for the hiveminds and drones to not disturb them. In the game, Capelli loses Dr Malikov to these savages and is then taken hostage but eventually finds a way to escape by luring the Chimera to the barbarian's hideout.

So there are parts in the game where you actually have to fight other human beings in a world infested with Chimera. I know there are a lot of people out there who will complain about this but the truth is that I loved that Insomniac came up with the idea and did a great job with it.

During the week I'll try my hands at the multiplayer to see how is it like and how much I suck at it. I might even enjoy it a little before Uncharted 3 comes out, who knows¿

9/25/2011

Weekend update 25-09-2011

There are some important things that I should mention here in the blog regarding gaming and other geeky activities from the week. The first of all is that I've ordered the gaming novels that I mentioned before my trip to Argentina. All of them, from Mass Effect, Halo, Unreal and Ico. 

I believe I'll have the perfect opportunity to read them at college now that I'm going to start studying again at mornings. I'll have to spend a lot of time outside home on business days because I'm also resuming my Japanese language studies this semester so I'll be out for several hours and reading these books could be a perfect time-killer when I'm not in class.

Another thing is that I played some Little Big Planet 2 to get all the information and stuff in the game real fresh again as to write a review tomorrow night. I'll be mentioning everything from the graphics and physics to the tools available for creation of levels. I hope I do a good job with that review.

The most important thing, in fact is that after all these long time, I FINALLY got a controller to work on the PC I'm using now. So the N64 emulator is a go. I'm using one of my Dual Shock 3 controllers for it since my Xbox 360 ones refuse to get read by any of my PCs. The driver to make it work is weird and doesn't work immediately but once it does it's perfect. I feels weird to play a Mario game or Wave Race 64 with a PlayStation controller but it also makes it special.

The N64 games look incredible on this PC, today I tried several classics like Pokemon Stadium 2, Super Mario 64, Mystical Ninja and others and I'm in awe at how those games from 10 years ago and more can look so good by just adding anti-aliasing.

I've actually spent a bit of time on Diddy Kong Racing, which I never played when I was a kid/teenager and I like it a LOT. I really can't explain why this game was always in the shadow of Mario Kart 64 when it's clearly a better title. I like playing it with Conker of Banjo but the small mouse girl is proving to be an excellent character.

As you can expect, I'm also playing lots of Wave Race 64, which always gets me obsessed for about two weeks. I remember that I had a strong urge to play that game in the first two months of the blog lifespan. Good memories from the beginning of the year when I was playing Donkey Kong Country Returns and Kirby's Epic Yarn.

Still, I think that I need to buy a good PC gamepad, there's a local store that has some very cool ones but they're a bit expensive. I might just buy one though if it's going to provide me with a secure and comfortable way to play my N64 games on the emulator, and not only that, but future PC games if I ever build the machine that my dad wants me to build.

So, I'm probably going to spend a lot of time from now on trying out N64 games I missed when I was young on the emulator, posting my impressions and opinions of them here and who knows¿ maybe the "retro reviews" I wanted to write when I first created the blog will actually happen. What's sure is that I've got a huge-ass mountain of games to play an the material for both my geeky life and the blog is abundant.

9/24/2011

Nintendo 64: Launching a Legacy - Wii Feature at IGN

Nintendo 64: Launching a Legacy - Wii Feature at IGN

This is a great article about how the Nintendo 64's launch and it's tiny analog stick changed the way we all played console games forever. I found the article in IGN. It's a great read and according to them, there are more like this one to come.

I recommend it.

9/23/2011

Catherine first impressions!

I didn't really think I was going to buy this game but when I had to make the decision between it and Alice: Madness Returns (which I already mentioned I wanted to buy here). I decided for Catherine because I feel that, where I live, Catherine will become harder to find in the future while Alice will just accumulate dust in the local stores.

I started it today and I'm glad to say that the things the demo show you are not even half of the stuff available in the game. Anyone interested on it must know that Catherine is more of a erotic animated story than video game. Sure, it has a lot of puzzles with tons of stuff to do, but the real deal here is the story. 

I've liked everything that I've seen so far. According to the game itself, there are eight levels and I'm currently on the third one. The story is about a guy named Vincent who is in the middle of a love triangle with two girls, one named Catherine and the other... Katherine. When he goes to bed at night, he starts having nightmares where he's trapped in a mountain of blocks and has to climb up as fast as he can to escape.

So, the gameplay has you climbing over countless levels of blocks where you push and pull them, use items, get money to purchase stuff and so on and outside the puzzles, you'll be able to control Vincent at a bar where he usually hangs out with his friends. I got very surprised at the amount of things you can do at the bar. You can talk to people, play an arcade machine, have drinks, answer to your text messages in Vincent's phone and even watch the news of the day in the TV.

But what I like the most about it so far is the animation in the videos and the voice acting. It's incredible to the point where I think the developers should make some kind of movie or small animated series about this story, aimed to the public who isn't interested at all in climbing thousands of blocks (trust me, I've seen a LOT of people on the internet who are interested in the story but not in the gameplay).

The experience is getting really good, much better than I thought it was going to be, and I'm happy about it because I paid a lot for the game, it was worth it. But as I already mentioned, the game is very different from what we are all used to in platformers, fighting games or shooters. As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure if Catherine is a puzzle game or just a "movie with some gameplay". Still, the game is very good and I recommend it a lot, at least as a rental if you're able to rent it where you live.

Resistance 3 first impressions!

I got the fourth and (supposedly) final game in this series which I've always liked a lot despite the hate most of my close gaming friends feel about it. I got it expecting it to be another generic shooter with cool weapons and enemies like the other two PS3 entries but the game has slapped me in the face. Resistance 3 is amazing.

First of all, Insomniac finally found the creepy and scary feeling the series needed to have since the beginning. In R1 and R2. You used Nathan Hale which was a super-soldier fighting hordes of chimera, the games were very good but the chimeras weren't scary, you didn't feel underpowered. This does not happen in R3, Capelli is simply a resistance member who usually encounters survivors and fights alongside them as he progresses in the campaign, which I won't spoil for now. 

You can see how the Chimera have actually advanced a LOT in their technology to the point where they're really close to exterminate the human race. The game transmits the feeling so well that you really feel like you're just one of a few hundred humans left in the world. The environments are incredible, everything feels desolated, dark, scary and sometimes you really don't want to explore much in case you wake a horde of chimera up.

I love the weapons I've gotten so far. Surprisingly, the Carbine is nowhere to be found (again, so far). But I've gotten my hands on classic Resistance weapons like the Bullseye, Marksman or Rossmore and they all feel better than ever. Like always, they all have curious and fun-to-use secondary fires and the new grenade types are incredibly useful.

One of the cool things in Resistance 3 is that many of the chimera you find are feral and not controlled by a hivemind which results in amazing scenarios where the usual Hybrids start fighting other feral chimera and you feel like a small fly in the middle of a war between titans, something like when the Covenant start fighting the Flood and you get caught in the middle in Halo.

I'll post more opinions as I advance through the campaign, I haven't tried the multiplayer yet, I'll probably do it over the weekend but so far this is the best Resistance game by a long shot. I truly recommend it to anyone with a PS3 out there. Seems like most of the reviewers out there where right in saying really great stuff about this game. Uncharted 3 will have a serious contender.

9/22/2011

REVIEW: DiRT 3 (PS3)


DiRT 3 is the latest entry to the off-road and rally racing series made by the famous developer team Codemasters. These games, which are all available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC have built up an important reputation for their realism in physics and damage, gameplay, graphics and multiplayer experience both online and offline, and the third entry is no different. DiRT 3 is definitely the best rally game of the last years, topping the two previous games and taking the experience beyond anything anyone expected.

If we go back to the beginning of this gaming generation we will remember that the first DiRT game focused mostly on the rally type of races where you race alone on a beautiful landscape and compete against other racers’ times in the same track while DiRT 2 leaned a little more to the X-games events like Rallycross, Raid or Landrush. Well DiRT 3 balances everything to a perfect harmony while adding two new and very fresh race modes: Gymkhana and Drifting which fit into the gameplay perfectly and are extremely fun.

Gymkhana is a mode that has taken extreme fame in real life thanks to the excellent driver Ken Block who has become famous for posting videos in YouTube of him driving around a specific area doing impossible tricks as if he were a skateboarder, usually doing advertising for important brands like DC Shoes or Monster Energy Drink. In the game, you’ll be able to take a car and drive around a prepared area so you can freely do tricks like drifting, driving over rings and crashing over specific obstacles for points, this mode reminds people of the old Tony Hawk games a lot and as soon as you try it out you’ll see why.

In the drifting mode you’ll race alone in a track back and forth trying to do as much drifting distance as possible for points, the objective in this mode is not to reach the finish line quickly, but to score the more points while drifting, so you can actually finish last but still win the “race”.

Besides those, you’ll find the usual Rally, Rallycross, Trailblazer, Landrush and Raid modes from the previous two games. Landrush and Raid have been really simplified to the point that there’s only one vehicle available for these modes and they’re not very common in either single player or the online modes.

Graphically, the game is insanely good, I never really thought DiRT 2’s visuals could be brought down go easily but Codemasters managed to take the third game’s visuals to another level. All the tracks look like places you’d love to live in. The snowy mountains, deserts, jungles and even the ruined tracks from the Rallycross events are extremely beautiful, there almost no mistakes in the anti-aliasing and the lighting effects are incredible, making everything look very photorealistic.

The game runs at a solid 60 frames per second most of the times, even when several cars are on the screen at the same time which proves the great ability to develop games Codemasters has, especially for the racing titles they make.

The sound effects are incredible as well, the cars’ engines, cheers from the public, voice acting from the other drivers and music in amazing. Like in the previous two games, most of the tracks are punk and rock songs but they fit perfectly with what the game represents. If you’re lucky enough to play the game on a 5.1 audio system (or better), everything is going to sound as if you’re actually driving a rally car on a championship and the feeling is incredible, very little racing games manage to do this.

The gameplay is the best aspect from the game definitely; it’s very easy to get into but hard to master. Like most racing games nowadays, DiRT 3 has assists available for the braking; steering and can even show a very helpful recommended line to follow in the tracks. All of these can make the game very enjoyable to casual gamers or people who are simply getting used to the gameplay, which is usually very different from course-based racing games like Forza or Gran Turismo.

But when turning those assists off and making the AI a little more difficult is when the game is more enjoyable. There is even a mode that turns off all assists and forces you to play from the cockpit view, which is jaw-dropping and perfectly recreated for every vehicle in the game.

In the online multiplayer (which requires the now-famous online pass most of the developers are using now days) is where the real fun is at. You can play both ranked and unranked games with random people from the internet or your friends list. The game usually chooses the mode and track and you have the option to veto it if you don’t like what the game selected for you.

The multiplayer runs very smoothly at all times and is always filled with tons of people ready to race (and crash) you. I really see it as the best way to learn how to really play the game since the single player mode is usually more oriented to unlocking new things like cars, tracks and new contracts with better teams who pay you more for your wins.

For closing comments, I can say that DiRT 3 is definitely the best off-road racing game of this generation. Both the single player and multiplayer modes have enough variety to provide hundreds and hundreds of hours of gameplay to most kind of players. The graphics are some of the best in any console or PC game, same with the gameplay and sound effects. All racing game aficionados and gamers in general out there MUST try their hand at this game because it easily competes with Forza 3 and Gran Turismo 5.

Pros:

-          Graphics, sound and gameplay are very realistic
-          The events are always different, avoiding repetition
-          Very competitive online multiplayer
-          Beautiful landscapes make looking at the game just as fun as playing it

Cons:

-          You can’t choose what mode and track to play in the online modes
-          There’s no penalty for people who play only to crash in the multiplayer.


Graphics and Visuals………..10
Music and Sound Effects……..9
Gameplay……………………9
Replay Value………………..10

Overall Score………………..9.5 / 10