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Playstation Home Improvements: Take a lesson from Final Fantasy XIII

March 9, 2010 Leave a comment
Final Fantasy Chocobo

"Wark!"

WARNING: Marketing Idea Below. Hey at least I warned you.

With the release of Final Fantasy XIII people who are interested can pick up the PS3 version and apply to take part in the upcoming beta of Final Fantasy XIV – an MMORPG set in the wondrous world of chocobos and mages. While not everyone will get accepted into the beta, those that apply will receive a free in-game item for Final Fantasy XIV.

Since they have yet to announce if the game will be available for the XBox 360 all of the 360 owners currently receive are some avatar items. This creates a bit of a disparity between XBox 360 and PS3 owners. That’s fine by me, I mean 360 owners have been getting great things while PS3 owners are left to sit back and wait to buy their 360s.

But what’s important is that PS3 owners are doing something to get something. Playstation needs to take a lesson from this and use it to help themselves out. As of yet (at least to my knowledge) Playstation Home is relatively useless. You can play a game or two but nothing has yet to keep me coming back for more. The single most interesting thing they did in my eyes was Xi. They have all of these game specific spaces and all they really have to offer is “Hang out and chit chat!” Sorry Sony, not my thing.

However, imagine if while hanging out in Playstation home you were tasked to find things, or solve puzzles, or…well…anything engaging. When you solved the puzzle, found all the items, or whatever the task may be then you were eligible to receive an in-game item, map, tenting video, or some form of compensation to make us WANT to spend time in Home.

Now Sony, you and I both understand marketing and product placement. Imagine having a space that users flock to in order to receive special items and upgrades that are otherwise unavailable. Why I do believe you have some available ad space.

Just think of it. Someone comes in after searching for all 50 Golden Chocobo Statues to unlock that special sword to kill 50 wolves and get that special “You Killed 50 Wolves with the Sword of Home” Trophy and in the background they see a logo/image/video for a new game/movie/book/shoe/whatever. It’s like going onto a blog and finding a commercial for Final Fantasy XIII at the bottom of the post:

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Heavy Rain Review: Freezing Rain

March 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Heavy Rain PS3 Video Game ReviewAs my weekend drew to a close after the USA vs Canada hockey game it was finally time to start playing the full release of Heavy Rain. I had been anxiously awaiting this moment all weekend. It was finally time to play a game I had been waiting for since I saw the first released video.

Well as most of you know that wasn’t going to happen. Sunday night is when old model PS3’s shit the bed and mine was no exception. My glorious evening was cut short. I instead had to watch as giant inflatable beavers paraded across the closing ceremonies. Not really how I intended to spend my Sunday night, but who am I to complain about giant beavers.

Finally Monday night rolls around and it’s time. The Playstation Network is back up and running and so am I. An endearing and touching tutorial combined with beautiful graphics makes for a simply wonderful introduction to Heavy Rain. Even in opening credits look wonderful. I actually do not mind watching them. For a guy with ADHD that’s saying something.

Suddenly, Heavy Rain freezes. What? What the hell? Freezes? Okay, no biggie, maybe I got something on the disk. Turned the system off, pulled the disk out, checked it. Nope, spotless. Put it back in tried again. Interacting with Shaun, aww…touching father son moment. Okay, time to put the kid to bed. Why did everything stop moving? You gotta be kidding me. Heavy Rain freezes…again.

Okay this is getting ridiculous. Let’s try this again. Reload, luckily I didn’t lose too much of my game, only three or four minutes. Okay, put the son to bed. What happened…things are getting mysterious and now I’m hooked. What’s next?

Madison Page PS3 In Game Heavy RainOkay demo levels, I got this shiz down. Now that those are done we can…wait…loading screen stopped moving. W…T…F. This is three. I haven’t even been playing the Heavy Rain for an hour and it keeps freezing. Okay, one more try.

It’s been an hour and the game is kicking ass and taking names. I am 100% engrossed in the game and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Madison Page introduction. Okay she’s an insomniac, shower scene, level done, Heavy Rain freezes again. Okay that’s it I’ve had enough time for bed.

Heavy Rain: Review Summary

Heavy Rain is an absolute beauty of a game – if you can keep it working. The gameplay is a tremendous break from what I’m used to. It’s something different which may be the reason most reviewers are going ga-ga over it. However the story is actually compelling. It’s engaging, the characters are believable, and there is sincere substance to the game.

However the simple fact that it freezes so frequently will snap any gamer right back into reality. This is something that absolutely needs to be fixed. You may be asking yourself “Should I buy Heavy Rain?” If you aren’t one of the 500,000 people that already have it then don’t get it yet. Wait for a fix for the freezing to come out.

I have to give the game 4 out of 5. This is based solely on the fact that it keeps freezing.

Video Game Rating SealVideo Game Rating SealVideo Game Rating SealVideo Game Rating Seal

The rub of it all is that when the Heavy Rain freezing fix comes out it will probably be with a fix for seeing Madison Page in the nude. (thank you Kotaku)

Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening: Another New Party Member I Can’t Tent

March 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Dragon Age: Origins Awakening New Character MhairiDear BioWare:

Listen, its cool if you want to release an expansion pack where my characters can’t tent one another. Really, it’s alright. But I ask you: what’s up with filling this video game with female characters? The majority of gamers are male and that percentage gets even higher when you select gamers that play RPGs. I’m not saying I have anything against female characters, but when I’m coming fresh off the phenomenal tent-straviganza that was Dragon Age: Origins I feel a little…well….slighted.

Mhairi is (relatively) attractive, can take down an Ogre, loyal, and been fighting for a month without a joining. What’s not to want to tent? When you compare Mhairi to Morrigan she’s a wonderful delight. Morrigan was, lets just say, abrasive. I mean sure with the armor on nobody seems as cuddly, under the soft moonlight in a camp setting? Lets just say Sandal won’t be the only one doing some enchanting.

Here is Mhairi’s grand introduction:

Video Games and Relationships: Heavy Rain, Bad Company 2, Demon’s Souls

February 23, 2010 1 comment

As I was doing some work around the house this morning my thoughts invariably went to the world of video games (as they usually do).  I began to anxiously anticipate the arrival of Heavy Rain, the release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and ultimately rested on the fact that I will spend most of my gaming time today working at Demon’s Souls since the aforementioned games have yet to be part of my collection.

As I thought about all three games I began to think where they fit within the scheme that is my life. Some have choices that have no clear right or wrong answer and some don’t really require much in the way of decision making beyond the question “Do I use the door or make a hole in the wall?”. Some require careful thought and understanding and some require you to run in guns blazing leaving a lifeless wake behind you everywhere you go.  As I thought about each of these I was struck with various aspects of my life that fit within these very same descriptions.

Demon’s Souls and Team Sports

Back in college I played Rugby. I had the luxury of seeing it from two distinct viewpoints in my time there. When I started we had no coach and little understanding of tactics. We just ran fast, hit hard, kept getting up, and had fun after the game. We didn’t win many games but we sure won the socials. Eventually we grew to dislike our losing record and asked an old alumni of ours to help us out and be our coach. BTW: That really was my coach.

He taught us the nuances of the game, the skills, the tactics. He taught us how to read a pitch, a team, and the weather. The man taught us how to appreciate the game on a whole new level. It was the first time a coach had really taught me to understand a game on every possible level and what we were doing. Last time I checked Black Rose was undefeated in their last regular season and lost in the finals.

Demon's Souls for PS3When I first purchased Demon’s Souls I had no cable and no internet. I picked it up as I was moving into a new house (literally on the way). I had read all the hype and thought “Okay, it’s brutal, you die a lot, but how bad could it be?” Bad. Very. Very. Bad. It was like a baby taking it’s first steps:

  1. Walk a few feet.
  2. Fall.
  3. Okay bad guy there. Remember that.
  4. Walk a few feet.
  5. Kill bad guy.
  6. Walk a few more feet.
  7. Fall.
  8. Okay bad guy there. Remember that.
  9. Repeat process.
  10. Weapon breaks.
  11. Fall.
  12. Wtf…now what?

Then the cable company came by and gave me my wonderful internet and a whole new video gaming experience opened up to me. This game took me through the same journey as with Rugby. I started blind, running fast and hitting hard. When I logged in I read messages, watched other players failures, watched other player’s successes. I learned how to play the game. It was learning to understand the game that helped me to be better at it.

Demon’s Souls is not a Devil May Cry style video game where you run in, clear a room, be stylish, pose, and move on. You have to be calculating, understanding, and take your time. You need to plan, you need to see your next steps, think about your next action. Learn what the level is doing, where the bumps are, and exploit them. Learning how to play the game and learning how to play the game properly make all difference in the world.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Friendships

To be honest I am probably not the person you want in your squad, on your team, or in the same map as you. I am not the tactical player (which is why Demon’s Souls took so much getting used to). I am the guy who grabs the vehicle that makes the biggest boom and lays waste to a city. I am, for lack of a better word, out-of-control.

Kool Aid Man through wallThis is relatively indicative of my close friendships. Take last weekend. I walked into a friends house and put a hammer into his wall. We were removing the wall so it was acceptable. We then proceeded to do our best “Kool-Aid Man” impressions for the next twenty minutes before realizing that we were covered in drywall and that probably wasn’t the best thing for us.

A member of my wedding party used to take great pleasure in the fact that he owned a cattle prod and enjoyed using it on all of us. He took aim at me point blank with a potato cannon filled with wet paper towels. He put a live blue crab on me while I slept in my bed one morning.

Other friends and I would take turns punching one another in a game that was lovingly referred to as “the punching game” (creative I know). We had to institute a rule in our college house that banned fireworks from being used inside. This included using them outside and “accidentally” having them explode inside.

Walking into the house was an exercise in reaction time and potential property damage thanks to the “Sack Game.” We would hide in the hopes that we could give someone a surprise tackle.

We turned the inside of our house into a.) slip n’ slide b.) bocce ball court c.) paint ball range d.) 18 hole pitch and putt golf course including the “up the stairs bank off the window and roll down the hallway hole 13”. We didn’t get our security deposit back. In fact we owed more money.

Bad Company takes me back into my college mentality of “hell with it, go through the wall.” I’m not a sniper. I like to use explosive devices and lots of them. I lob grenades. I unload clip after clip after clip to kill one guy when it would be easier to stop and aim. Thats how I game. It may not be the best way, smartest way, most normal way, but it’s entirely a reflection of my closest friendships and how we interact with one another.

Heavy Rain and Romance

In every romantic relationship there are questions and problems that come up that have no clear and defined answer. In every romantic relationship there are moments that are as fuzzy as a kiwi and uncertain and unstable as Gary Busey. Often times there is no right answer and if there is you don’t know what it was until a long while later.

Heavy Rain for PS3 has tough decisions

Is there really a correct decision here?

Heavy Rain for the PS3 seems to have a lot of these moments. Moments where the right answer isn’t clear and if it ever becomes clear it will be so long after the fact that you won’t be able to do anything about it.

It’s not a game full of action, excitement, and stabbing. It’s just a game full of life, enjoyment, subtlety, finesse and a little bit of boobage.

It’s this aspect of of Heavy Rain that makes it most like a romantic relationship. It’s not going to be for everyone just like every relationship is not for everyone. It’s not a run and gun style video game. It’s going to make you react fast and deal with the consequences. Some gamers are going to love it, some are going to find it to be just okay, and others are going to hate it. Personally I can not wait for this game to get here. I’ve played the demo many times over and each time it makes me want the full release more and more.

Final Fantasy VIII: Squall’s Dead

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Final Fantasy VIII (FF8) happens to be another one of my favorite games of all time.  FF8 was my first introduction into the world of role playing games, and boy was that a wonderful experience.  I know a lot of people have issues with FF8, that it tends to be very controversial, and well, I’d like to throw an extra wrench in it.

Squall Iced

Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

I stumbled upon a theory and possible interpretation of FF8 the other day, and at first when reading through it, I was furious.  The idea is that Squall, the main character, essentially dies at the end of the first disc, when Sorceress Edea stabs him with the ice shard.  What happens from then on is basically ‘life-flashing-before-your-eyes’, except with a twist.  Instead of seeing what he’d already done, Squall sees the neat closure to the adventure and story they started in the beginning.  Essentially, everything from Disc 2 on is all just a dream.

Again, when I first saw this link, I wanted to scream.  I wanted to kick the computer.  I wanted to pound on the keyboard and yell that it wasn’t true.

But the further I read, the more I started to see how it was plausible, if not necessarily likable.

It’s true that once out of Disc 1, the twists and surprises start rolling in.  And, strangely enough, a lot of these twists connect the characters together.  All the main characters, minus Rinoa, all grew up together.  The Guardian Forces cause memory loss, which is why no one remembers each other.  Edea is married to Headmaster Cid.  Etc, Etc.  It almost seems…too neat.  Too tidy.

Squall's Dead

Squall's wholy. And potentially dead.

Even if I prefer the neat and tidy wrapping up of the story, with all characters happy, I have to admit that this theory made me think.  Made me wonder.  Is it possible…that everything was just a dream?

Check out the site and theory for yourself at SquallsDead.com.  What do you think?  Does the theory hold up?