Tag Archives: XBOX 360

The Joys of “Dumb” Fun

I love Dynasty Warriors.  It is completely ridiculous, hard to follow, and the voice work is so bad it makes you cringe. Yet, I cannot get enough of that game. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy every iteration of the series, but it is one I come back to every handful of years. It is completely brainless in its action, and it doesn’t take much to understand what the game wants you to do.  Its the video game equivalent of a “popcorn flick.”  There’s no real substance to it, and that’s okay by me.

 

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Screw Lu Bu. Seriously, for eight games the guy has been a total dick…

 

Normally, the games I play (and then in turn write about) are the types that are trying to convey some sort of message or tell a story in one fashion or another.  Usually, these games are fantastic, and move the art form forward.  This is always a good thing.  Yet, like the movies, not every game can be Oscar bait; there always has to be a Transformers.  A movie, or in this case a game, that reminds us that the medium can just be about “fun.”

The More You Know...

The More You Know…

Frank O’Connor of 343 Studios said that Halo was about finding the five seconds of fun, and then repeating it throughout the course of the player’s experience in the game.  In that game’s case its about that combination of shoot, grenade, melee, repeat.  They built a whole multi-million dollar franchise on that simple concept.  Dynasty Warriors is about taking on and defeating multitudes of nameless enemies by the hundreds and Gears of War is about chainsaws and “bros.”  None of these games are bad by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, its quite the opposite.  Yet, the majority of these are not game of the year contenders either.  They exist purely for the fun of the player.

 

Just a little bit of chin music...

Just a little bit of chin music…

 

Games like these are good for the industry. They exist as “palette cleansers,” “guilty pleasures,” and many other things.  Games like Halo and Gears of War are the summer blockbusters of the gaming world and are amazing experiences.  We need games like this.  Not everything needs to strive to be a Journey or Thomas was Alone.  Sometimes, we just want to play a game.

 

 

Escapism doesn’t have to be a bad word, and for many people who play games, that is the number one reason they choose to.  They want to experience something fantastic, they want to try something new, to see some strange new world and be the big damn hero.  That’s why Destiny and Infamous Second Son looks so appealing to me; they are both taking me to a different place and time and letting me experience something that I never will.

 

The only thing this game needs is Tauntauns...

The only thing this game needs is Tauntauns…

 

For every Fez, Hotline Miami, and The Witness; there needs to be a Call of Duty, Titanfall, or Ratchet game.  There is a place for all types of stories and mechanics in this industry, and with the upcoming generation there will be even more opportunity to see all sides of this entertainment medium explored.  So whatever your tastes; now more than ever, is a great time to be a gamer.  Enjoy it for how it makes you think…and how is sometimes gloriously doesn’t.

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Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie….

Spoilers for Sleeping Dogs

 

I’ll be the first one to admit that I am bit late to the party on this one.

Sleeping Dogs was the epitome of a “sleeper” game. It came out the same week as Darksiders II, and there wasn’t much buzz going into the game’s release.  Yet, as the reviews came through, the narrative seemed to change.  Garnering solid scores across the board (7’s, 8’s, and 9’s), Sleeping Dogs was no longer living under the shadow of its torrid past as a True Crime successor.  It had become the open-world underdog; a great game that sold based on word of mouth of those that had experienced its fullness of its created Hong Kong.  It was a “cinderella story” for the games industry.  It sold well enough at retail; but it wasn’t until it came up on Playstation Plus that I finally got around to playing it.

I should have played it sooner.

 

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Sleeping Dogs starts off similarly to moves like the original Fast and Furious; you are an undercover cop sent into the triads to attempt to bring them down without getting too deep.  Yet, it is from that starting point that the developers made a point to have the player start caring about those you are trying to bring down.  I laughed as I began the game, thinking, “I’m not going to go ‘native.’ It’s hero boy to the rescue.”  Yet, the further I played through, the more I began to question my motivations.  When a rival triad gang murders my boss at his wedding, after I had taken his fiancee around town to pick up her things the day before; my first thought wasn’t, “what will the HKPD need to do,” but rather, “get me the biggest gun you can find.”  This is a giant credit to the game’s writing staff and speaks to the strong narrative that they were creating.  There are tons of moments like this peppered throughout the game; moments of just gut, emotional reactions.  This is especially true as you near the end of the game; as it climaxes towards its inevitable conclusion.

 

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Mechanically, the game is quite sound.  The driving is better than GTA, and the overlay they use on the world to tell you where to go is incredibly helpful.  The cars and bikes handle well, and the game captures that feeling of drifting through the city streets perfectly.  Where Sleeping Dogs really shines is in its melee combat.  Though not as strong as the Arkham games (the new gold standard), Sleeping Dogs’ combat is still quite stellar.  It takes combines the rhythmic and timing based attacks of Batman, and adds in an almost fighting game style combo system.  These different button combinations have your character string different attacks and finishers together to great effect.  It becomes more about managing the group and spacing, than about comboing a single enemy.  Unfortunately, the lock on system isn’t that effective and sometimes button inputs aren’t that responsive; which makes the giant multi-man brawls you fight late game all the more difficult.  The gunplay is exactly what you would expect in an open world action game.  It’s perfectly average; but they do give you a bullet time feature that you can use when you hop over cover.  It’s fun the first time; but when you get good enough to clear out a room of ten+ enemies with one jump, it looses its luster.

 

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After completing the game, it is not surprising to see why everyone liked Sleeping Dogs.  It gave players an interesting story, solid gameplay, and a place that was both foreign and familiar at the same time.  Sleeping Dogs is better than the sum of its parts; and is worth the play through if you have the time.  Hong Kong is large and vibrant; with street races, criminal activity, karaoke  and much more flowing through its busy streets.  It was an exciting place to tell a story, and I hope that there are more to tell here.  If only I could remember to drive on the left side of the road…..

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Breaching the Event Horizon

This is a glorious time to be a fan of gaming.  Though not officially stated, we are on the brink of a new console generation and with it comes new concepts, ideas, and innovations.  Both Microsoft and Sony have had supposed “leaks” of their new specs and the rumor mill is churning with “news” by the day.  Everyone is excited; you can feel it in the air.  Sony and Microsoft are creating their “hype-trains,” developers are excited to be able to show their new games soon, and gamers are excited for what is to be the “next big thing.”  Even more interesting is the fact that it is no longer just the games that we are all waiting to see; but everything else these next generation consoles can do.  With the advent of Hulu, Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime, and all the other various apps that have come to the 360 and PS3; we are waiting to see what else these new consoles can bring to us.  This new chapter in the eternal “console war,” will not be won by exclusives and games alone; but by the “everything else,” and that too, is exciting.

 

This is the natural evolution of our hobby.  Gaming is growing up.  As we have seen newer games tackle mature themes and storytelling situations, so to our consoles have grown up as well.  For this generation and those coming after, gaming is part of our lives and our  consoles have begun to reflect that.  They are becoming more and more intrinsically part of what we do, keeping us logged in and part of the communities and ecosystems they create.  They strive to be our entertainment hub, and for many of us, that is what they have become.  With services like HBO Go, Amazon Prime, and others like it; there are those who no longer have a cable provider, but simply use their console as a delivery device.  People can have their consoles access their Twitter accounts, search the internet, and store all their photos for viewing later.  To say that the 360 and PS3 are solely about games nowadays would be to ignore the growth that has occurred over the last six years.

 

We are about to watch the birth of something amazing; maybe something that will change the game forever. (No pun intended)  Though more likely, we are about to witness the thing we all get excited for; simply, a new console.  Whether you are a Microsoft or Sony fan, everyone is waving their flags in excitement, and the inner child in all of us is waiting for the moment all is revealed.  Yes, we’ve been here before, and yes, there are things that make this launch a bit different and possibly have a greater impact.  But nonetheless, here we are waiting for the first shots to be fired across the bow, sitting in anticipation of what’s to come, and nothing could be more exciting.

 

Here are the links to the Original Kotaku articles that contain the supposed specs of the new systems…

The Next XBOX: http://kotaku.com/5982986/we-know-all-about-the-next-xbox-from-someone-who-says-theyve-got-one

The “Orbis” : http://kotaku.com/5977849/the-playstation-4-has-a-new-controller-fancy-user-accounts-and-impressive-specs-so-far

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