The Importance of Trying New Things

And no, I don’t mean trying new vegetables or anything, because those are for people who actually enjoy the real world and nutrition and stuff.  This is a video game blog, for the love of God! I’m talking about trying new kinds of games.

I already hear what you’re saying, though, “But Luke, I don’t want to waste money buying games I don’t know I’ll like!” I have one word for that: GameFly. And before you call me a moneyhat, you should know that nobody in their right mind would sponsor a small blog. Unless one of you guys wants to…..

But back on topic, I can not stress how important this is. For example, I recently picked up the new SSX at Best Buy for $10 with a coupon, and I can’t get over how well it plays. The feeling of flying through the air throwing a snowboard around while a dubstep remix of “It’s Tricky” by Run DMC plays in the background is an experience that I’ve never had before, and it’s certainly something that you can’t get from any other game. Do I necessarily like snowboarding games? No, outside of 1080 Avalanche for the GameCube, but I picked this up because it looked cool, and I love it. Granted, it was only 10 bucks, so I didn’t take too much of a risk, but I’m still thrilled with the results.

Another example of this for me recently was LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes. Let the record show that I bought this one for the full retail price of $50, and while I’m not sure it was worth all of that, I can still say that the game was a refreshing palette cleanser. Sure, it’s buggier than a retail game should be and the amount of collectibles in the game is sheer silliness, but it’s great mindless fun. Running around as your favorite DC superhero (or in the case of what seems to be an exorbitantly large number of DC’s heroes, flying) and beating up thugs is fun at the most primal level, and it will surely make you feel like a kid again. Plus, the game looks shockingly good for a LEGO game, and the trophies are really easy if time-consuming.

So please, go out and try some game that you normally wouldn’t. Play a platformer or a sports game. Try SSX. Play a downloadable game. Just play something different. Trust me: you’ll be glad you had.

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Going on Vacation

I know your expectations of the frequency of my posts is already pretty low, but I’m going out of town for $10 days, so I can already let you know not to expect anything during that time period.

Also, the Journey Collector’s Edition gets me pretty excited. I’ve already purchased both Flower and Journey and their soundtracks, but having both of those games on disk along with Flow, which I’ve heard is a pretty interesting experiment, sounds fantastic. This Blu-Ray will also include 3 mini-games made by thatgamecompany, which is something that should get any fan of PlayStation excited in their nether-regions. Also included are the soundtracks for each of these 3 games, 2 of which I can guarantee you are incredible to write to. Finally, and perhaps most tantalizingly, each of these games will contain a brand new developer’s commentary, which completely sold me on this product.

 

If you don’t buy this, I don’t want you reading what I write.

In conclusion, prepare your wallet to shell out $30 on August 28th, because if you don’t, you’re essentially dead to me.

Sly 2: The Original Infamous

As I played through Sly 1 on the Sly Cooper HD Collection, I noticed just how similar the climbing in the Sly Cooper games is to the climbing on the Infamous games. It makes sense, considering they were both made by Sucker Punch, but other than that, I didn’t see many other similarities. Now as I play through Sly 2, I can see that many of the elements from the Infamous franchise were cribbed directly from Sucker Punch’s earlier games.

These elements are seen most directly in the games open-world hub segments, where it seems at point like something from the Infamous franchise. The acrobatics and the way that Sly jumps around the world from handhold to handhold is EXACTLY like Cole MacGrath.

Another element that seems similar between the 2 games is their structure of collectibles. Unlike most games, where collectibles just unlock concept art or whatever, the collectibles in both of these games actually make your character more powerful. In the case of Infamous, the Blast Shards give you the ability to hold more electricity, which drastically improves your fight ability. In the case of Sly Cooper, however, the game rewards you with new abilities very unintuitively. It just gives you the name of your new ability, and leaves you on your own to figure out A. what that means and B. how you use this newly discovered ability. On top of that, the collectibles can be quite finnicky to collect at times, where one of them will be placed at the top of a precariously high tower, and one misjump can cause you several minutes of making your way back up to where you were.

In addition to that, the combat as Sly and Bentley is kind of crappy while the combat as Murray is satisfying, leaving me to wonder why those additional improvements to the combat system weren’t made to the other 2 characters.

Regardless, Sly 2 is a pretty cool game, as was Sly 1. I don’t usually like stealth games, but the way that Sly can sneak around guards and assassinate them from behind is actually really cool, as is being able to play as all 3 members of the Sly Cooper team. The overly elaborate Rube-Goldberg-like ideas that Bentley comes up with to do heists is really fun, and aside from some low-res textures that crop up from the PS2 game from time to time, the game looks really good. Overall, the game is really fun, and it’s like 10 bucks on the PSN. I haven’t beaten Sly 2 yet, but I can definitely say that it’s already better than Sly 1.

Today’s The Day!

For a fan of the videogame industry, today is like the first day of Hanukkah: you know that for the next several days, you’re going to get plenty of gifts (note, I am NOT Jewish, so if this isn’t truly how Jews feel at Hannukah, I apologize. That’s just how I would feel if Christmas went on for multiple days).

But for a Sony fan specifically, today is like Christmas morning. Within hours of the time of this writing, Sony’s E3 press conference is going to occur, which means that presents of new game announcements will rain down on us. We have no idea what will be revealed, but all I know is what I WANT to be revealed.

1. Vita Price Drop

Let’s face it: the Vita needs it. It’s not that I think the device isn’t worth $250, it’s just that nobody else does. Sure, I would be a liar if I said that the price of the Vita wasn’t kind of keeping me from buying one, but some of that is just because I don’t have a whole lot of money right now (although that might be because I bought a penguin costume for $40 today). If Sony doesn’t make the Vita cheaper, the Vita will fail. It’s as simple as that. Not only does Sony DEFINITELY not want the Vita to fail, but I most certainly don’t want it to fail because I want to buy one to play all of those sweet games. Sound Shapes looks rad, as does Assassin’s Creed Liberation and all of the Vita games I said I was excited for at the beginning of the year.

One of these beautiful machines for about $170 would be a tantalizing deal for many gamers

2. InFAMOUS 3

I LOVE InFAMOUS. I think it’s one of this generation’s greatest franchises because it makes you legitimately feel like a superhero. Probably my favorite feeling that a video game has given me is using Cole’s Ice Launch to jump into the air and then using my Static Thrusters to fly 50 meters through the air simply because of my own power, and that’s one of the reasons I loved InFAMOUS 2 so much. I don’t care if InFAMOUS 3 comes to PS3 or Vita: I just want it. The only problem with this is that the end of 2 left the inFAMOUS story in a little bit of a strange situation, but after all, the franchise is based on comic books, which are known for their out-of-left-field plot twists.

Another one of these would be FANTASTIC

3. A New IP

As much as I love old franchises, having something new to mix things up every once in a while. Luckily, it looks like Quantic Dream has heard those of us who are clamoring for something new, as rumor has it that they will be revealing their new game for the PS3 today, entitled “Beyond.” If this new game named after IGN’s PlayStation Podcast (wow, that was a deep joke) looks anywhere near as good as Quantic Dream’s recent “Kara” tech demo, it’ll be a home run for team PlayStation.

This is supposedly Quantic Dream’s next game; is it? You’ll probably know by the time you read this.

4. Playstation Plus for Vita

I’m currently subscribed to PlayStation Plus, a subscription-based service that provides me with free PSN games, PSOne classics, and Minis every month along with a plethora of discounts on games that I might be interested in buying. Currently, these services only affect my PS3, but hopefully, today Sony will reveal that Plus will add value to Vita. This would be a HUGE win, as it would lead many more people to subscribe to this service. And honestly, if I knew that I was already accumulating free Vita games through Plus, I would buy a Vita. It sounds strange, but it’s absolutely true.

Will this be coming to Vita?

 

But of course, I’m just one PlayStation fan; every fan on the planet has a different set of wishes. So what do YOU want?

Image Sources: http://cdn.hypebeast.com/image/2011/06/sony-playstation-vita.jpg

http://cloud.videogamewriters.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/i2_ScreenShot_Cole_Grind-570×427.jpg

http://gematsu.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Beyond_Leak_10.jpg

http://cdn.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/psplus.jpg

The Monetization Behind Mass Effect and BioWare’s Genius in Doing So

I woke up at about 7 this morning, and right now it’s 11 AM. I’ve played Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer for 3 out of my 4 waking hours, and that’s after playing about 8 hours yesterday and 4 the day before.

Sure, at first glance, ME3’s multiplayer looks like a standard Horde Mode but with Mass Effect. Well, it turns out that Horde Mode set in the universe of Mass Effect is incredibly fun. Multiplayer is the only time in the Mass Effect series that you get to play as a race besides humans, and while all of the characters have pretty humanoid shapes, each race has unique touches that set it apart from any of the other classes. For example, just like in the single-player, geth have less health but higher shields than other races, and the Krogan are extremely durable but lack the agile combat maneuvering that other races have. (i.e. no combat rolls for the dinosaur-men)

Being able to play as any of a variety of races with your friends is incredibly fun

As strange as it may sound, Mass Effect’s multiplayer totally makes me understand why some people like FarmVille so much. You see, with each match you earn credits that you can spend on “packs” of 5 cards. There are various tiers of packs, each with rarer cards in the packs. Naturally, a higher tier pack costs more credits, but here’s where the twist comes in: you can buy these packs with real money.The tiers of packs are Recruit, Veteran, Spectre, and Premium Spectre. Recruit packs are extremely cheap compared to the other packs, and as such, you can’t buy them with real money. However, a Veteran pack is $.99, a Spectre pack is $1.99, and a Premium Spectre pack is $2.99. Of course, you can buy them with credits you earn by playing multiplayer, but that takes time versus being able to just plop down the cash.

The problem here is that even though I’ve spent some actual money in this mode (about $10, probably), I’m not getting a whole lot of what I want. All I really want is new characters to play as, but I’m mostly getting weapons, which I guess are cool, but what I really want is new characters. I guess their hook is totally working though, because I’ve already spent excess of  $10 in addition to having bought the Collector’s Edition of the game.

I can totally see this getting old fast, but to prevent people like me from jumping ship, BioWare puts out free content packs in what looks to be a schedule of every 3 weeks. So far they’ve put out 2 of these, but by this schedule there will be another pack out in 2 and a half weeks. Each of these packs includes a multitude of new weapons, 6 new characters, and 2 new maps. The genius part of this cash cow is that you don’t automatically get these with the free DLC; this new content can only be accessed if you randomly pull those cards from the packs (barring the new maps, who become available to everybody). This means that they keep us on the Mass Effect morphine drip while enticing us to spend real money on unlocking this content in a dastardly scheme that quickly turns free DLC into a nefarious way to get more money out of a hardcore Mass Effect fan like me. The thing is that it totally works.


The new characters from ME3’s first free DLC

By the time I’m done with Mass Effect 3, I can easily foresee having spent over $100 on the game (this, of course, includes the $80 Collector’s Edition that I bought). That’s absolutely RIDICULOUS for me, as I’m someone who usually hates spending money on DLC. I can definitely see BioWare releasing something like this multiplayer alongside the next retail Mass Effect game as a free-to-play game on XBLA or PSN, and I can 100% see them making a buttload of money off of this. If they start you off with the same thing they did in this multiplayer suite and make you pay for new characters or weapons, EA could make more money than Activision did with Skylander’s. Well, maybe not THAT much, but they could make a killing.

All in all, ME3’s multiplayer is fantastic, but if you’re the kind of person that can easily get addicted to games, be careful.

Luke: The World’s Worst Blogger

Here I am on April 21st, promising my readers that I’m starting this new initiative to blog more. And come April 23rd, I just disappear again. Well, no longer. Summer break has made its triumphant return into my life, and with it, a new age of blogging comes into my life also. This week I’ve done a ton of grimping (the unofficial term for playing PixelJunk Eden), played through Flower, and played approximately 8 hours of ME3 multiplayer. Which I finished, by the way. So this is a formal promise to all of you: I will post again. I’ll write about the Mass Effect ending, my impressions of the PixelJunk series as a whole, and why you should play Flower. Probably while listening to either the Flower or InFAMOUS 2 soundtrack, because I finally figured out how to get those onto my iPod (Thank God for that one. I thought I was just going to have some music sitting on my PS3 hard drive.) So I will return. Tomorrow. Because right now, I’m going to sleep.

Quickie: Journey

Just to get it out of the way: “Don’t stop believing in Jenova Chen.” There, I’m done. No more music puns. Unless, of course, that’s how you want it. Because any way you want it, that’s the way you need it. Gosh, I hate myself sometimes.

So, this quickie was supposed to be a review of Journey, but after playing through the game in one sitting, I’ve discovered that there is no reason at all to write a review for Journey. If you have a soul and enough limbs to hold a DualShock, you should buy Journey.

Journey is the story of a character whom I once heard described as “The Traveler”, although the game never gives your character a name. As your character wakes up in the beginning of the game, you see a mysterious mountain in the distance. The game never tells you this, but you feel the correct answer in your heart: get to the mountain. Ostensibly, Journey is a platformer, but in retrospective, it’s much more of a work of art.

Suddenly, only one thought appears in your head: get to the mountain

No game has ever emotionally affected me the way Journey has. Surfing down the sides of a sand dune made my heart leap with joy, but when my traveling companion disappeared at the end of that sequence, my heart was broken. I would give you more details on that segment, or any other segment of the game, but that might ruin the game for you, and that’s not at all what I want.

Now, I hear what you’re asking: “Traveling companion? So, like, I get to play with one of my friends on PSN?” No, quite the opposite. While you’re traveling the game world, another Traveler might appear in your world. There is no PSN name above their character’s head, and there is no voice chat. The only form of communication you have is a one-note call that also causes a glyph to appear above your head. Strangely enough, that’s all you need. This call can symbolize any emotion you want it to, and every single time I used my call, my new friend understood.

Once the credits roll, which will be at most two hours after you begin the game (it’s quite short), you’ll see the list of people that you traveled with. To my surprise, I traveled with 5 different people, and I now have 5 new outgoing friend requests on PSN. By playing Journey with someone else, we created a bound that we will share forever; we went on a journey.

Anything else I would say would have a possibility of ruining Journey for you, because the game doesn’t have a whole lot to it in the best kind of way. $15 for 2 hours of gameplay may seem like a rip-off to you, but take my word for it: Journey is worth it. If this were a review, Journey would get a 10.

Also, the soundtrack is INCREDIBLE, and only $5 on iTunes. I’m listening to it as I write this review, and somehow it makes a blog post entitled “Quickie” seem much more epic than I ever could.

Image Source: http://gematsu.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Journey-Screens_12-11-10.jpg