Miscellaneous · Video Games

Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the GTA IV effect

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND BEFORE READING:

1) This is not “clickbait”, nor is it intended to be. I intend to show off my opinions and observations to whoever stumbles upon this without trying lure in potential readers in with catchy, misleading titles. Articles that do that are bullshit most of the time, and, whether you like what I have to say here or not (truth be told, I’m probably partially, if not more than that, wrong about some things here), I don’t intend to pull up to an art gallery with bags full of bull feces hoping to get a million dollars.

2) This is all theoretical – there’s a strong chance that what I believe to be the truth may not even be close. Please, do not go into this expecting greater examples than I could provide (given my opinions on the matter), revelations, or leaks in any way, shape, or form. This article is intended for the purpose of expression and is not entirely factual. Feel free to give me shit because I put Zelda in the title and my attitude towards it isn’t 100% positive, though… for fuck’s sake…

3) Though I do provide one with the concluding paragraph, I cannot provide an entirely comprehensive ‘TL;DR’ as I get fairly extensive with my opinions here. Just like “reading” War & Peace in one sitting, trying to quickly summarize everything I have to say here misses the point quite a bit if not entirely.

 

With those in mind, you may proceed.

So, I’ve been playing quite a bit of Nier: Automata. I have yet to touch the original Nier, (which has a cult following so passionate that a sequel exists in the first place) but I really enjoy Automata. I can’t really describe it very well, but here goes anyways – it’s like a Hack-N-Slash Zelda but with an emotional story, great characters (in my opinion), and gameplay-related twists. It’s a perfect combination… which is why it’s such a damned shame that it released so closely to Zelda. It was released with high fanfare and great reviews… but with a more critically praised game already out, why pick it up? Breath of the Wild is overrated, in my opinion. It’s a great game with excellent gameplay and a nicely done Open World, but it’s NOT the perfect game every Zelda fan and critic has been hyping it up to be. My biggest issue with Breath of the Wild is its narrative; it’s predictable as all hell,

My biggest issue with Breath of the Wild is its narrative; it’s predictable as all hell, and the characters, while memorable, have little emotional stakes throughout the story. You could say I’m lying here, but please consider that many of the motivations just boil down to saving Hyrule and that’s all. You could say it’s all about the Journey, but if the payoff, in the end, goes exactly as planned, was it as thrilling as it should have been? Sure, Nier itself can be predictable at times but it’s sure to infuse some surprise into those elements that you can see coming from a mile away. I’m not saying that Nier is objectively better (which, for the record, it can’t be due to differing opinions), but I do prefer it.

And now here’s where I connect Breath of the Wild and stop justifying the 50 dollars I spent on a game I genuinely enjoy. Grand Theft Auto and Zelda are not comparable in any obvious way, considering one is literally named after Car Theft and the other is a grand adventure in a fantasy setting. Looking past the gameplay, however, I was hit by a shocking revelation. The same over-praising of a game (with an Open-World, mind you) also happened 9 years ago with Grand Theft Auto IV. Like Zelda, it’s a great game that was released with incredibly high fanfare and, intriguingly enough, quite a “few” scores that don’t really present what’s wrong with the game.

Then I thought about it more and came to a conclusion. Zelda: Breath of the Wild has fallen under, what I call, the GTA IV effect. The GTA IV effect is when an ambitious and well-done game gets immediate praise for the things it does right but a ton of scores that tend to neglect the things it does wrong. The reason this happens is simple: extreme amounts of hype that somewhat pays off. If you expect the product you get to be the game of the century and then play it to find out that it was good, the critical part of you tends to shut up and the part of you that bought into the hype becomes louder. This doesn’t just happen with games, it essentially happens with every form of media. An example I’d like to use here comes courtesy of the 2008 version of me. When WALL-E was coming out, to say I was hyped would be an understatement. I was so eager just to see that little robot go on a grand adventure that any bad announcement that may have come would have hurt me inside. When it came out, I saw the movie and absolutely loved it. That year for Christmas, I got the DVD, a WALL-E themed journal which I just doodled in, a blanket with WALL-E on it, a sheet with WALL-E on it, and even a remote controlled WALL-E toy which I never, ever used. In retrospect, WALL-E is still a very good film, but not the masterpiece a younger me once claimed it was.

Just like 2008 me, when the critics reviewed Zelda they loved it and could only share the love they experienced with the game. Again, it’s a fantastic game but is far from a masterpiece to me. This, in turn, boosted the hype with its fan base which was already going into an orgasm-like state with what they’d played. Now is when I get to the point of this article instead of meandering: this type of hype can be very dangerous.  Say a Breath of the Wild 2 were to come out in 2020 and be very mediocre in every way. Instead of optimistically seeing the game as a flawed but interesting game, the fan base would flip out and think it was complete shit even though it’s not. Sure, you can say some people wouldn’t quite see it that way because it’s fucking Zelda, but this article isn’t about them; it’s about fans who bought into the hype so much that a decent, but not perfect, review of BotW by Jim Sterling (who gave the game a 7/10, which is still a great score) got him an almost instant DDoS attack by zealous fans (who I will now be calling Zeldots). Whether you’d like to believe it or not, there are people like that out there.

The reason why overhyping is bad is that it could tarnish the reputation of a talented developer if it doesn’t pay off in many ways. Sean Murray, up until the release of No Man’s Sky, was seen as a showman and developer with talent. Once No Man’s Sky was released and it was revealed that it was incredibly rushed and therefore missing many of the promised features, everyone who bought into the hype grabbed their pitchforks and began to focus mainly on the negatives. His name, as well as the title of his newest game, became a joke afterward. While Hello Games certainly has balls for still supporting No Man’s Sky after having so much shit flicked on them, not every developer will and those scared enough will jump ship, thus why Hype is bad. Failed hype could potentially kill a game just as it does with its player-base.

In conclusion, Zelda is a good game but it’s not perfect. I can see why the narrative that it is, indeed, perfect rings true to most people – it’s Zelda, after all. The hype was successful and is good for Breath of the Wild itself, but will not prove beneficial if any future successor to Breath of the Wild fails to meet the expectations it sets up for itself. Also, I talked allot about Nier: Automata in this article because I really like it. I’m being honest when I say I have no bias towards it (never played a Yoko Taro game before it and I’m not a big fan of Platinum Games or Square Enix).

And that’s all. I’d like to point out as a final FINAL thing that I do not claim to be entirely correct in any way with what I’ve written. See ya when I choose to rant about Disneyland diarrhea and have a good one!

Miscellaneous · Video Games

Terrible Games That I Bought (for some reason): Bloodbath Kavkaz

Have you ever heard of a “little” title called Hotline Miami? If you’re someone who looks at screenshots only, it’s a game you’d think is the worst thing ever, and from a glance, it’s hard not to see why someone would think that. The thing about Hotline Miami is, however, it was made by 2 geniuses who knew what they were doing and poked at people’s reactions to it. I’m not going to ruin the big surprise that the first game holds, but I think that if you do beat it and tried your best to follow along with the plot, it’s a great idea to look at an analysis of the events afterward to fully understand what I’m talking about here.

…oh wait, I’m supposed to be talking about a shitty game… my bad! Bloodbath Kavkaz, or Hotline Kavkaz (as it was originally called before Devolver Digital, the publisher of both Hotline Miami games, told the developers of this steaming pile to rename it), is not a good game. It’s not terrible because it’s a game that tries to copy off of the success of one of my favorite games of all time, people take inspiration from everything and it simply wouldn’t be fair for me to judge a game like that. It’s a terrible game because it was made by people who didn’t have a grasp on what made the mechanics in Hotline Miami work so well, to begin with.

The camera is terrible, and so is the movement. Everything feels clunky, and your ability to see the enemies is tampered by the fact that you can’t look around (basically what I meant by the ‘camera’). I’ve heard common criticism of Hotline Miami be that the AI is randomized so it’s almost pointless to think out your actions, and while I can understand that argument, I think the unpredictable movement gives the game the edge to let the player use its tools to come up with new tactics as they play… not in Bloodbath Kavkaz! When the AI isn’t just straight up cheating, it’s braindead. It doesn’t matter that the bad dudes you shoot at are stupid because you can’t look around the map like you can do in Hotline Miami, so the game becomes a giant game of trial-n-error over skill and thinking.

Also, there’s a story. All I could get from it was that it’s about some guy joining back into something (it’s not really ever made clear what he’s getting back into), and then I shot some dudes, and then the game glitched and the language switched backed to Russian. Oh yeah, that happens allot. Several times, while reading the poorly translated dialog that becomes comedic gold in areas where it shouldn’t (it’s seriously as if they used Google Translate or a person who isn’t very well-versed in the English language, to do the work for them), I suddenly wouldn’t be able to read what the developers intended me to read. It also starts out in Russian with the only way to switch it to English being buried in its options menu, and a super-buggy level editor that looks suspiciously like Hotline Miami 2’s editor, but only in Russian and with 50 times the bugs of Miami’s editor.

Yeah, don’t buy this horseshit. I bought it for less than a dollar, but even if I got it for free I still would have felt ripped off. Again, Kavkaz isn’t apalling because it apes a mesmerizing game, it’s apalling because the developers clearly wanted to make Hotline Miami but couldn’t understand why it was mesmerizing at all.

Miscellaneous · Video Games

Buyer’s Remorse: Shlock of the Dead

Let me tell you a little cautionary tale about a little thing called ‘buyer’s remorse’. If you don’t know what buyer’s remorse is, don’t worry. Imagine you have an old neighbor down the street named Joe. According to others, he’s selling Air Jordans for just $20, so, you go up to Joe, 20 bucks in hand, and buy the pair of shoes. You go home, rip into the packaging a little bit, and realize that Joe may not be the most honest person in the world. The shoes are really just 10-year-old Nikes, their soles have holes, their backs are torn, and worst of all, the only thing that resembles an Air Jordan is a picture of what you could have been lazily taped onto the shoes. That is buyer’s remorse, the feeling of regret for something you’ve purchased.

Now onto the story. The year is around 2011, some time after Christmas. My cousin has given me a Gamestop card, as always, and I go to spend it. At the time, I was really digging Rock Band 2, even though I already owned the newer installment. I liked the band system, and when friends came over, it was clearly my game of choice. I go over to the isle for PlayStation 3 games, and on the new shelf, I find a game called ‘Rock of the Dead’. There are no used copies of this game, just one new copy lying there, awaiting a buyer. That buyer was me – and woah boy, do I regret that.

Imagine if Rock Band 12 came out and its music selection was all relatively unknown rock and roll songs pulled from great albums. Also, imagine that game had unresponsive controls, even if you calibrated it 20 previous times to no avail. That is Rock of the Dead, or, as I’m more used to calling it in the far recesses of my mind, Schlock of the Dead. Everything about this game defines mediocre, but that doesn’t compare to just how unpleasant it is to play. It’s a game about killing zombies with Rock n Roll, and even it’s beyond dull writing with a weak performance from Neil Patrick Harris couldn’t make that premise exciting outside of the game’s design documents. Oh, and did I mention the game was unresponsive more than half the time I played it?

Perhaps the biggest red flag that this game was going to be as good as Elephant Pubes on a Tricycle is that it’s published by a little-known studio known as ‘Conspiracy Entertainment’. Their “fantastic” track record consists of numerous Licensed titles on the GBA, GBC, and Gamecube, and also some interesting shovelware on the Wii, such as Anubis II, Billy the Wizard, Ninjabread Man, and much more tragedies. If you can’t tell by that list, Conspiracy is not exactly known to pump out quality products. It was also distributed by Ufo Interactive Games – who’s games list shares some comparisons with Conspiracy’s, but at the time, was also filled with more shovelware than tie-in games. This was originally going to be only on the Wii – the worst sign of all. All of this should have been a red-flag to me, but I straight up ignored it and bought the game anyways.

And the worst part? Not only was it 30 bucks, but I could never refund the damned thing… at least, that’s what they told me when I bought it. Let this be a cautionary tale for all you young buyers: look closely into the shit you’re intrigued by BEFORE you buy it.

Freebie Fridays · Video Games

Freebie Fridays: Hard Time

Note: apparently, there are 2 versions of Hard Time - one a 2D version on
mobile, the other, a 3D game on PC. This review refers to the original 
version, released on PC.

Few games truly describe what a ‘Guilty Pleasure’ is to me than MDickie’s ‘Hard Time’. I don’t know what can really be said about the game that can’t be seen while watching someone play it, but fuck it, I’ll give it a go anyways. Hard Time is a game that WANTS to be a prison simulator, that WANTS to be taken seriously, but it’s not. It’s a game where you can make a low-poly version of Duke Nukem (without the catchphrases) that immediately attempts to murder everyone in his ward, using his fists and what very little knowledge he has. In short, the game sucks for reasons I’ll get into, but I’d be damned if I didn’t say just how much stupid, stupid fun I had with this one. I almost did another cheap and shitty game from my Steam library whose main purpose is to work as a dispenser for trading cards, but I couldn’t help playing this for more than a second.

My first experience with ‘Hard Time’ was creating my character. I immediately tried to make Hank Hill, naming him ‘Pro-Pain’, and giving him a ponytail by mistake. I then quit after less of a second of playing. This was because of technical issues related to the windowed mode and my 2 monitors – which I will spare you the details of. Either way, I created a new character… the same exact one. I began my crusade through the prison with the warden. The silly dipshit was just standing there giving me orders with a machine gun in his hand. It’s a good thing for the warden that guns do fuck all in Hard Time, you can unload clips upon clips of ammunition into your victims and they will still stand up anyways. After years of unloading countless metal shells into his chest, the warden was down. Then I wandered into my cell block.

‘The warden’s dead’, the speaker said, ‘but we don’t know who did it’, it finished, despite the fact that bullets leave a clear marking and I was still carrying the only gun responsible for inflicting such harm. And then a strange man walked up to me. He said, ‘I know you killed the warden, he was a good friend of mine’. I then proceeded to unload my infinite supply of slow pain into him until somebody knocked the gun out of my hand. After numerous bursts of uncontrollable rage, Pro Pain was a growing name in all wings of the Prison block… and yet no one talked about me. No chats about how he removed 2 legs off a guy, kicked him the head 50 times, then finally finished him off 4 days later… silence.

And then I gave up. Hard Time is interesting for some time, and it does make for some genuinely silly videos or discussions, but I’d be lying if I told you that this game was good. For a serious prison simulator, it makes no sense that there are swords everywhere, or that the wardens can decide to kill each other for no reason. Its controls are stiff as all hell, it’s mechanics are broken at moments, and the camera is terrible and often times clips into objects it should stay away from. All of this is to say before I mention just how ugly it looks, who blocky and gray environments are, how character models are just so poorly done and look so janky. This was all done by one man, which is understandable, but understandable doesn’t always mean exceptional.

Hard Time, is, after a while, a hard time to enjoy. It really isn’t good, but that said, it’s also damned well fun at the same time. It’s a real mixed bag, but it’s one worth checking out if you have the time to.

Miscellaneous · Video Games

Remembering the PlayStation TV

I bet you're wondering where the next Freebie Friday addition is - 
in which case, you're probably a mere figment of my imagination, 
but that's beside the point. Trust me, 
the next addition will come soon... just, not today. 
Instead, I'll be talking about the PlayStation TV: a short-lived, 
ill-fated companion to the already failing handheld system, 
the PlayStation Vita.

I remember there was a time when, while scrolling on YouTube, I saw a Japanese trailer for the PS TV. I thought it was ridiculous at the time, and in only a way Sony could handle things, they set it up to release alongside the PlayStation 4 – November 2013. Setting it up to release at this time was essentially a death wish for an add-on to an already dying platform. Again, Sony being Sony, they released it anyways. I think it’s safe to say: this quirky little device is on its death bed beneath the surface.

If you don’t know what a PlayStation TV is – and I wouldn’t blame for it – it’s essentially a PlayStation Vita that hooks up to your TV. It’s got it’s Operating System and some games I suppose. Though I never really tried it, I do believe you can stream things like Netflix and Hulu on here, but, just like the PS Vita, high quality of these services should NOT be expected. The real selling point of this was not just the ability to play PS Vita games on your TV, but also to stream PS4 games to another room. In my opinion, that selling point is rather weak considering the PS Vita can do the exact same thing, but not everybody knew that, so they used it as a selling point.

What really killed this device, however, was a total lack of support. To give you an example of this, one of the more recent games to be compatible with this device is Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number… a game released in 2015. It also supports the complete first season of Telltale Games’s ‘The Walking Dead’… but you’re shit outta luck if you want to continue Clementine’s journey, as the only piece of that game (Season 2) available is the very first episode – as someone who owns a physical copy of TWD:S2 on Vita, I can confirm this. The PlayStation TV failed even harder than it’s predecessor – and even that still has small doses of Indie Titles releasing on it. Why Sony decided to pit it up against the powerhouse of the PlayStation 4 is beyond me, but this is coming from a business that created a powerhouse of a handheld device and forgot about its existence in much less than a few years time, so it really doesn’t surprise me.

As a system… it’s okay. Though some games do have touch controls not available if you have the standard PS3 controller, they do make up for this with the ability to switch the device into a touchscreen mode. It’s a little clunky, but considering what they had to work with, it was the best effort they could do. As for the games – they run just like they did on the Vita. If you’re looking for an affordable games system with more than just a couple of games on it, this shouldn’t bother you, but if you want to play Borderlands 2 with 2 more people and a consistent framerate, you’re better off finding another solution.

In general, it’s sad that the PS TV died so quickly. Maybe it wasn’t the best of ideas, but it sure was intriguing. I’d say I’m disappointed, but Sony is notorious for this type of thing. I never expected it to be a smash hit – but at least some recognition for it would have been nice. Maybe if you’ve got a ton of Vita downloads that are compatible with it and don’t want to buy the games again, it’s worth a look, but despite how soft I am towards it, I really would recommend you steer clear of this dead deer.

Thank you, Amazon.com, for the featured image on display.
Rants · Video Games

Rant: Why I think Breath of the Wild’s story sucks

2017 has been spectacular for games so far, with instant-masterpieces like Nier: Automata, Nioh, Resident Evil 7, and so many more. Well fuck those because Zelda. Yes, if you have any mild interest in Video Games, you’d know what a smash hit Breath of the Wild is, getting more than enough 10/10s’, and a fanbase that will temporarily shut down your website if you don’t say super nice things about it (see Jim Sterling as a prime example of this). After playing it myself, I can agree that it’s a fun, but flawed, game… with a bad plot. I don’t get what convinced the world that the typical “Save this shit, you lazy cunt”  reasoning in a game’s story to get you to do something is new and fresh, something that you should beat people to shit over should you spoil it. Spoilers: it’s nothing new. “But,” I hear some overly-defensive soul say, “it’s all about the journey!”. That’s where I laugh in the face of those naive enough to think that the supposed ‘journey’ is enough to excuse a shitty, cliche story.

The journey, in my opinion, is a valid excuse when talking about a story that, while not perfect, is somewhat new in some regards, yet still decent in it’s own right despite the creativity it may lack. Think Indiana Jones, for example. This movies rely on this feeling that the journey overcomes the overall arching plot, but beneath that surface, decent stories await. Yes, their ideas may not be new, but the writers (I’m just going to forget about that Indiana Jones movie for now) damn-well know how to twist new ideas out of it. By the end, it doesn’t matter if the plot is new or old, the journey intensifies that feeling that what is happening is important. Meanwhile in Zeldaland, Gannon has taken over Hyrule! The idea of a villain winning isn’t ol- wait no it is. The Usual Suspects, Se7en, hell, even The Empire Strikes Back are all examples of this. You can use the excuse that Gannon isn’t himself, but that doesn’t fix the fact that, whether or not the villains won previously according to the lore, it’s a story where a young man sets on a quest to kick evil in it’s ass and prevails. Breath of the Wild, for all I know, might as well be a season of any listing of terrible recent shows, like Lethal Weapon, as it brings nothing new to the table, but acts smirk in lying that it did.

Zelda isn’t in a league of it’s own, either. It’s tri-hards (hehe) deserve to called out for their terrible actions (insulting + threatening someone over an opinion you don’t share and taking down their website as a tantrum will NEVER fall under ‘questionable’), but to say that Zelda is the ONLY one to pull this bullshit is wrong. An example of a game that does this right is 2012’s Journey, another one would be Earthbound, the rest that get it wrong are the countless RPG/JRPGs’ in which the world is in ruin because of some evil force and needs 1, or more, hero(es) to save it… does that sound familiar to you at all?

A point that I think needs to be further emphasized is that I don't 
hate BotW. It has solid gameplay, and I'd be damned if I didn't mention
it's fun Open World. Thing is: this shit has been said time and time again,
both by it's supportive (and in some cases, like the tri-hards,
overly-supportive) fanbase, people who aren't in that fanbase but like
BotW anyway, and critics alike. If you're silly enough to think that
I needed to point out what everybody else has already pointed out
for what I say to be valid, then you're quite the funny little goose.
-Logan
Reviews · Video Games

Review: Lone Survivor (PC, PS Vita and PS3)

What is it?

Lone Survivor is a 2012 2D Survival Horror game in the same vein as the Silent Hill series. Developed only by one man, Jasper Byrne, the game has been ported from the PC all the way to the Wii U and PS4. It follows 1 man, only referred to as ‘You’, who’s a ‘Lone Survivor’ (just like the name), as he attempts to escape his Apartment complex, which has been invaded by some unnerving monsters, to say the least. Along the way, some interesting things happen, and the main characters meets intriguing, albeit minor, figures. It really is a game that should be experienced without much knowledge, so sorry if I’m cutting far more information than I should off.

The Port Report

So, I played this on my PS Vita, PS3, and PC. I have only managed to finish the game on the latter, but I’ve played enough on all 3 to say that the differences are VERY minor. All 3 run practically the same, without missing a track of music, sound effects, or even performance issues. The only real difference is in the controls, which are simple enough for this to be translated to basically any platform it was ported to without a major difference in that regard. If you’re struggling to guess which platform you should get it on, just know that there are no real major, game-changing differences between them.

The Director’s Cut does add a few new endings, but since it’s release, essentially all versions are The Director’s Cut, without needing to re-buy what was previously purchased on PC.

The High Points (Pros)

Right off the bat, Lone Survivor has a brilliant, distinctive art style. Yes, it’s all pixel art, but the way it’s done is jaw dropping. Environments feel alive without ever needing to resort to an art style that would do that instantly. When it comes to the sound department, that’s amazing, too. Despite only being 30 minutes-or-so long, the soundtrack here is amazingly done, adding to the already fantastic atmosphere. Sound effects, like those from Monsters, are also amazingly done, too. All of it really adds up to an unnerving atmosphere that did crawl under my skin at moments. What should really be commended, however, is the story, writing, and choices. All 3 tie together expertly, adding a real sense of urgency to the actions players take in Lone Survivor. This game is perfectly ambiguous to make you think a little, but not too much, about what’s happening or happened. The controls are also incredibly simple, without ever having something that feels clunky across all platforms.

In Summary:
+ Beautiful art style
+ Amazingly atmospheric
+ Excellent sound design – from music to sound effects
+ Great story, Choice-Based Gameplay, and writing – all tie together perfectly
+ Good, simplistic controls

The Low Points (cons)

There are only 2 things I can think of here, but both do get annoying. The mapping scheme, and an annoying chase sequence. The game is presented in 2 dimensions, but the maps you’ll use to help you get around are crafted from a top-down perspective of the building, or part of the building, you’re in. While I did eventually get used to this, it took me nearly forever to do so. Then there’s a late-game chase sequence. Again, I won’t be spoiling anything, but it was far more frustrating than anything else. It was a real game of trial and error whether or not I could progress there, and that’s what actually stopped me from progressing for quite some time. That said, you can certainly beat it, and it’s something that only really happens once.

In Summary:
– Awkward, mind-boggling maps
– An annoying late-game trial-n-error chase sequence

Conclusion

Despite it’s awkwardly confusing maps, and that one crappy chase sequence, Lone Survivor is well worth trying. It’s beautifully atmospheric visuals, excellent sound design, simplistic controls, and excellent mixing of choices, story, and dialog make it a strong contender for one of the better indie games out there. I get that what I’m saying here has been said before, but trust me: this one’s worth it.

Verdict: A-

Image used taken from: TVtropes.com