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REVIEW: The Brink of a Genre, Worth Exploring

Stretching The Edges of a Genre

Brink was developed by Splash Damage and published by Bethesda Softworks for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC. It was directed by Paul Wedgewood, Richard Ham, Olivier Leonardi, Chris Sweetman, Arnout van Meer, Richard Jolly and Stephen Gaffney. The Xbox360 copy was played for the purpose of this review following the day one patch released from developer Splash Damage.

Innovation rarely produces perfection, but it always brings something new to the table. Something on the brink of existing standards, stretching old rules with the new ideas it brings forward. Flipping on Brink for the first time, and watching it’s lengthy tutorial videos (10-30 minutes), you get the immediate sense that you are playing an ambitious shooter. Four classes, directly interdependent with one another, three distinct body types, and a plethora of weapons and abilities help shape the battlefield of Brink in a way that is rarely seen in this generation’s “run ‘n’ gun, lone-wolf” brand of first-person shooters. Brink’s team centric, objective-based battles are laden with a variety of fun opportunities, but they are also fraught with technical issues that will leave those with slow internet connections as well as eye-candy junkies disappointed. Visual issues frequently result in constant texture pop-in and online lag often interrupts the fast-paced flow of combat. Problems with the bot’s artificial intelligence in Brink can also be downright infuriating. There, is without a doubt, mountains of lasting fun to be had with Brink, however with all it’s innovation aside, it falls short of perfection.

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Latest Update From The Playstation Blog Regarding Network Maintenance

Hey everyone, I know I already posted about this earlier, but new news just went up on my Facebook feed, so guess what? You guys get to hear it too!
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Weekly Gaming News And Articles Collection Week of April 17th – 23rd

Hey all!

So, this is my first post and figured I’d start with a collection of some of the more prevalent news that’s come around this week so ya’ll can catch up if you’ve been working for the weekend and haven’t had a lot of time to check up on the news! My first review will be appearing on here later on, but until then, enjoy!


Playstation Network Is Down! Everyone Keep Calm!

So first of all, those of us with PS3’s (myself included) know what’s been going on since Wednesday. PSN outtage! And its been down for quite a while! It’s Saturday now, officially by the freckle on my arm anyways, and it’s still down! Reports have been coming in from various sources, but so far, the official word from the Playstation Blog is that they believe this whole event was caused by an outside intrusion–a hacker, perhaps. Some people say Anonymous is behind it, but hell, that’s more speculation and unfounded conspiracy rumors that I just don’t feel like getting into. Hit the link for all the deets!

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Uncharted 3 To Feature Heavy Customization

I want to kill everybody in the world–but also be fashionable while doing it. According to the Playstation Blog, Uncharted 3 will feature “hundreds of customizable parts, from accessories to shirts and pants.” These will be options even for protagonists like Drake or Sully. Aside from this, there will be weapon customization–of which you can catch a glimpse of during the trailer–which will be both fashionable and functional (think things like scopes, clips, etc).

We will see this customization in action soon, as the beta begins on June 28th, 2011–or sooner, for Playstation Plus members.

MASS EFFECT 2 – Review

MASS EFFECT 2 is a videogame developed by BioWare, published by Electronic Arts for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The Xbox 360 version was played for the purpose of this review. It was directed by CASEY HUDSON.

Isn’t it weird? We have written 28 (TWENTY EIGHT!) articles about Mass Effect 2, but not a single tiny review? It’s time we corrected that.

So! Although I knew it from the start that liked Mass Effect 2 a lot, it took me some time to figure out exactly why I liked it. I knew what I disliked in it, though. I also knew it was a near great game; basically, for the same reasons ActRaiser was a near great game: the game’s main mechanism had to be diluted in order to hide its flaws.

I’ve only became aware of where the greatness of Mass Effect 2 laid after examining Mass Effect 1. The original Mass Effect tried to play it as much as a new IP could possibly do, for it was, at the end of the day, essentially Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (or KotOR – also developed by BioWare) sans the “Star Wars” part. The plot structure, the moral choices, the items, allies and quest mechanisms surrounding the adventure of the newest Jedi of A Galaxy Far Far Away were all basically the same stuff we would relive during the tale of the first human “Spectre” agent of Mass Effect’s Citadel Council. Stuff like these usually leave me raging mad – after all, if I wanted to play that same game again I would… play the same game again! (Coming up next… our merry review for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood!)

Despite that, Mass Effect did manage to deviate from the mold, and during those times it shone – even if such deviations were eventually unpolished. Most importantly, instead of the tired old Light vs. Dark Side bickering involving lightsabers, furries and that same old desert planet that appears to be omnipresent despite being “the planet that it’s farthest the bright center to the universe”, we have a whole new – and incredibly fleshed-out – galactic lore involving xenophobia, the revolt of technology, the frustrating shackles of official regulations versus the abuse and the calamities caused by unregulated environments, all tied up in a neat bundle rich with background details.

It’s from this new, fresh universe that the greatness of the Mass Effect franchise emanates. It’s that mythos that elevated what would otherwise be a trite conflict involving Commander Shepard, the new sheriff in town, and Saren Arterius, a veteran Spectre agent from an alien race whose role is pretty much to serve as proxy Klingons, into something whose meaning and consequences we cared about. Read the rest of this entry

BIOSHOCK 2 – Review

BIOSHOCK 2 is a videogame developed by 2K Marin and published by 2K Games for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. The Xbox 360 version was played for the purpose of this review. It was directed by JORDAN THOMAS.

If a singular aspect, alone, can propel a game to greatness, than perhaps the original Bioshock was that game. The game’s opening piece, with an airplane crashing near a towering lighthouse in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and its now famous plot twist are still some of my favorite gaming moments of all times. Games like that don’t need sequels. Especially when their creative director declares they had already fulfilled their vision and moved on to other projects. However, it is not some director’s vision that moves the world of games around. It’s money; and it’s naïve to assume otherwise. So Bioshock 2 was born. An unnecessary sequel. But an unnecessary sequel isn’t a bad thing by itself, mind you – as proved Godfather Part II.

Still, I was skeptical about Bioshock 2 even though the new creative director was the guy in charge of everyone’s (but Tom) favorite area of the original: Fort Frolic. In the end, I was right to be skeptical for Bioshock 2 is schlock whose main achievement is to ease our nostalgia of the underwater city of Rapture.

I actually stopped for a while before deeming the game as schlock. Was I being too harsh? Especially saying that New Super Mario Bros. Wii (NSMBW) was good game despite adding nothing to the Mario canon? Here I realized my own bias of rating sequels: I demand more from sequels of games I loved than from games I disliked. After all, you rate things based on your expectation, which are determined by the original game. Looking back, this thought is consistent to my actions: I absolutely loved Super Mario Sunshine (sorry, Tom) and despised its sequel (sorry again, Tom), Super Mario Galaxy (to which NSMBW is also a sequel). So, for all intents and purposes, that’s why I believe I’m being just with Bioshock 2 in my evaluation.

The biggest problem of Bioshock 2 is that it never justified its existence. It has no raison d’être. In an interview with Jordan Thomas, the man stated he wanted to use the sequel to provide contrast to the schools of thought presented in the first game, “a new way of thinking and hopefully take it to a similar extreme”. By playing the game, I could see that he tried, but his vision never came close to being fulfilled. In the end, Bioshock 2 improves its shooting mechanics and little else. It learned nothing from the original game’s mistakes, its narrative themes are never fully realized (or even consistent with the ones from the previous game for that matter) and the missions demanded from the gamer are never satisfactorily justified, thus breaking the immersion.

Despite all that, Bioshock 2 is usually able to conserve the same atmosphere of the first game (but not always). Combat mechanisms are also better and new types of enemies helped making this game perceptibly harder. So, considering it improved the gameplay and keeps the atmosphere of the first game intact, shouldn’t I be more forgiving with the game then? Read the rest of this entry

Final Fantasy XIV Trailer from TGS 2010: Orgy of Wow

Setting aside personal opinions regarding the last handful of titles in the Final Fantasy series as well as the direction the series has taken since the Square-Enix merger, I boldly endorse Final Fantasy XIV.  The second incarnation of an FFMMO is upon us. And god damn, if the opening cinematic doesn’t make the Final Fantasy girl inside you scream with delight, there may be something clinically wrong with you.

The typical fruity colours and lame-looking character models of FFXIII, XII, and X are gone, featuring instead a much more medieval style art direction. Gone as well are the gimmicky features of recent characters. In other words, Final Fantasy has finally grown up.

Here’s to hoping this kind of art direction to take precedence in the next single player title in the franchise.

The game will be out at the end of this month exclusively for PS3 and PC.

David Cage Would Have Left the Industry If Heavy Rain Hadn’t Been A Commercial Success

Yes, seriously. In an interview with Games, David Cage reveals this shocking fact: “If Heavy Rain had been a commercial failure, I would certainly have had to go back to more standard types of games…actually, I would probably have left the industry,” he says.

Why go so far? Because David Cage wants games to mean something, of course–just like most of us do. “For me, emotion is everything. If you can create an experience that is emotionally engaging and though provoking…my point of view is certainly very marginal in the industry right now, but I continue to believe that the future of games lies in reaching an adult audience, not the way the Wii does, but in creating interactive experiences that carry depth and meaning, and trigger complex emotions. We should invent new ways of playing to get rid of loops, mechanics and patterns, as well as stop limiting ourselves to ultra-violent themes.”

Interestingly, this doesn’t explain why Heavy Rain can best be described as “Saw the video game,” and why there are so many ultra-violent elements to it. Would Heavy Rain have been as successful without those elements, would people have been able to appreciate it? Would anyone even consider it a game, then? Who knows. David Cage does think there’s a lot more that we could be doing to explore mature themes, though.

“There are so many things to talk about that have never been evoked in a game; so many worlds to explore; so many new ways of playing that we cannot even think of today, that it would be stupid not trying to go further. If we don’t do it, we will see our business decline and we will limit games to toys for kids and teenagers.”

Because remember, folks, the 18-25 year old male demographic isn’t actually THAT big. Why should our games strive to cater to mostly/only that demographic?

THE DARKNESS – Review

THE DARKNESS is a videogame developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by 2K Games for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The Xbox 360 version was played for the purpose of this review. It was directed by JENS ANDERSSON.

This article contains the following types of spoilers:

  • The game’s major plot points
  • A bunch of other stuff, I’m sure

The Darkness is a good game. You should play it if you find it cheap, because you won’t regret it. It counter-balances moments of near greatness with gameplay hiccups (you will get over them though). Its biggest shortcoming is an annoying moat that just stands there, attracting flies and mosquitoes, between the story and everything else.

It is also a game in which you can press a button to devour human hearts. What other justification for playing it do you need, really? Read the rest of this entry

Sony Patents 3D Screensharing

3D is here to stay, yes, and maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Y’see, what this Sony patent promises is local co-op play which allows a player to use the entire screen without obscuring the view of other players. With this, you can say goodbye to a screen parted 4 ways–a is a terrible thing to experience even on 50 inch TVs.

How does it work? “Technically, as the stereoscopic 3D system used by Sony televisions use glasses with “shutters” synchronized with the television, blocking out half the frames for one eye and half the frames for the other, you can instead set the glasses to shut out half the frames completely, allowing the “missed” frames to show a completely different image to another set of glasses synchronized to those frames.”

You can read the patent in full, here.