Of Dungeons (and possibly Dragons)...

Ok so I may have admittedly been a tad premature stating that there are no rpgs a little while ago, because suddenly I've realized that the first half of 2011 is pretty much the return of the dungeon crawler. Between Torchlight, Daggerdale, Hunted: The Demon's Forge, which just came out today and Dungeon Siege III which hits in a few weeks anyone who has a urge for hack n slash should be pretty satiated. Of course the real question is if you can't afford all of them, which ones are a good bet? Torchlight is already a pretty proven commodity, pretty much its only downfall is its lack of co-op. But its also been out for months so there's an incredibly decent chance you already own that. Daggerdale, despite bearing the Dungeons and Dragons pedigree has gotten at best so-so reviews for being a brainless, buggy hack-fest.

Now Dungeon Siege III is arguably has arguably the highest profile of these titles and a demo was released today. While it boasts solid graphics and varied hack-n-slash gameplay that is decently satisfying, it seemed to be lacking anything resembling restorative items. Now granted, this could be merely because it's a demo and they weren't included or you get them later, but relying strictly on energy orbs that randomly appear and/or save points is definitely a dealbreaker for me.

So that essentially leaves us with Hunted: The Demon's Forge. I guess the biggest issue with this is it's complete lack of profile. I had barely heard about the game until a few weeks ago, and the tagline about it being "a dungeon crawl for the Gears crowd" (referring to Gears of War) worries me some, as I'm not particularly fond of the Gears series. And then there is the lack of reviews. Granted, even for big critically acclaimed games review embargoes are not unusual, but the game is out, and there are still no reviews from any major gaming outlet of what is arguably the biggest title out this week. That really gives me more pause than anything.

This is fine for me, I've gotten back into the hidden PS3 gem Valkyria Chronicles, but for somebody desperately looking for a new rpg to play, this just seems like a huge pile of disappointment. Hopefully something will come along this summer to clear up the doldrums.

That's all for today, I will try to have another post up Thursday or Friday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark


What the Big 3 Need to do at E3....

We are fastly approaching this year's big video games show and it's easily poised to be one of the most exciting in a long, long time with a lot of big things to talk about from each company. Of course we have a rough idea of what the each company is going to talk about, but not every one of them is going to be addressing issues that are staring them right in the face, so here's things they should be talking about:

Microsoft: Microsoft's biggest failure nearly every year is that they always play it incredibly goddamn safe. I don't remember a single year where I was pleasantly surprised by anything or even really surprised at all for that matter. We need to know that Microsoft hasn't pulled a Nintendo-esque move and is solely focusing on Kinect and its new casual base. And while catering to that base with Kinect isn't a bad idea, how about some games to show that Kinect is not just the Wii in HD without a controller? Because so far we've seen nothing to prove otherwise. Sure there's a Star Wars game in development. Big whoop, Star Wars games hardly have a great track record and there's several on Wii that range from mediocre to completely terrible. Microsoft might even want to go as far as at least teasing their next console in order to show that they are not resting on their casual laurels. And show us what the hell you are doing with Halo now that Bungie is no longer involved with it. That could be a great new opportunity on a number of levels. Some new IP wouldn't be a terrible idea either frankly as I'm getting a little tired of the 360's biggest guns being Halo & Gears and virtually nothing else.

Sony: Whether or not Sony will mention the huge security breach is kind of a question mark. They have dealt with it for now and they may just want to move on. But I think they should at the very least address it and reiterate why it will never happen again. But far more important are both the Move controller and the NGP. Sony needs to make us care about these products. The NGP already has a pretty lukewarm reception before its even out and with the PSP being a platform for mostly emulation and ports of old games that's kind of expected. Move hasn't moved much,being poorly marketed and shoveled into games that don't work well with it or never needed it. We know the tech itself is good, let's get some games out that aggressively show off why someone should get this over the other options out there.

Nintendo: Lat year, I think Nintendo knew the Wii's days of huge profitability were pretty much done, hence why they decided to more or less push nearly every core franchise out the door in relatively short time. It was actually a pretty good time to be a Wii hardcore gamer last year (the atrocity that was Metroid: Other M notwithstanding). Now it's time for Nintendo to move on and I'm pretty sure they know that(though throwing us a couple awesome titles to send the Wii out with a bang would be nice. With the 3DS what I think they really need to do is show some software not coming next year but coming out by this holiday season that we must buy now because the library for the 3DS is looking extremely pathetic atm and there is virtually no reason to buy one. One thing I think they shouldn't do is announce a re-design already like they are prone to do with their portables, it would just stall sales while people wait.
Now the big question mark is of course "Project Cafe", with so many rumors floating around they can't possibly all be true. But regardless of what kind of tech and tricks the new console is sporting, it seems like Nintendo is aiming to get back into the more hardcore gamer market with this system (I have seen at least one article suggest that it would actually co-exist with the Wii and they would serve separate markets which seems plausible). In order to do that, we need some new, possibly mature IP along with the great franchises that made them the icon of the industry they are today. We also need the price point to not be something that makes us shake our heads, even $299 better offer us a helluva lot for our money considering what we can get from the competition these days. But regardless of what Project Cafe turns out to be, Nintendo really needs to make the case that this is the Next Generation of gaming or else people may just not care.

That's it for today, I'll hopefully have a new post up Monday or Tuesday (possibly with a review of Kung Fu Panda 2 depending on my schedule). Until then here's your BIG BANG THEORY CLIP OF THE WEEK:


Kung Fu Panda 2>Cars 2

This may seem like a really bold statement, especially given that one of these movies is not only from legendary hitmaker Pixar but it isn't even out for a month. Now I should preface this with saying that while I do enjoy some Pixar movies, I have not enjoyed all of their work. I found Monsters Inc to just be irritating, Finding Nemo was fairly underwhelming and the original Cars sort of had to grow on me. And even though Pixar has a much better track record than Dreamworks, the concept of a Panda being a master of Kung Fu still feels fresh enough to tell another story, even if its roughly more of the same. I mean just compare trailers for the two here:

Sure it's more animated Kung Fu action, but the story seems to fit and being that the original was a pleasant surprised, I am pretty excited for the sequel, which I'll probably catch next week when I might have time for it.

Now this trailer seems to scream unimaginative cash-in in nearly every possible way. Cheap toilet humor, a plot that makes no sense throwing the characters into a plot more fitting a 007 film. And what happened to supposedly indispensable team of Radiator Springs locals? Gone except for Larry the Cable Guy's 'Mater", who was easily the most annoying character of the original for anyone over the age of 5, but clearly that's who they are catering to since they crammed a lot more of him in there.

Admittedly these are kids films and maybe I shouldn't care, but Pixar seems to be one the few people that understands that older audiences have to sit through this kiddy garbage too and actually bothered with the idea of making FAMILY films that most people of any age would enjoy. This seems like a step towards being just another studio that craps out kiddy fare that probably rots childrens' minds. It's a Pixar controlled by numbers (Cars to my knowledge is their most profitable property) and that takes the properties we love and buries our fond memories with terrible sequel after terrible sequel. This may be me being completely paranoid. After all, they for now have stopped the Toy Story movies at 3 (all of which were excellent) and have claimed there will be no more, but even if they leave that series alone there are plenty of others they could shamelessly mine for years if not decades.

That's all for today, I should hopefully have another post up Friday. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Battle for Wayland Keep


The Top 8 PSP games that should be remastered on the PS3

Sony recently announced that they will be remastering certain games in HD for release on the PS3. I actually think this is a great idea, as while the system is/was kind of a disaster there were a pretty decent amount of solid games released for the system. There are a couple of pretty obvious options like the Metal Gear & God of War titles, in fact those are so obvious they aren't on this list. I'm really hoping we won't get ports of games that were already ports themselves, so here's 8 original PSP titles that should get a well-deserved HD upgrade:

#8: Lumines: This really solid Tetris knockoff may not be the most obvious choice. But it's a beautiful almost hypnotic experience that would probably be even moreso on a 1080p TV. And I think this would actually be a great title to incorporate Move into as it would add a whole new dimension to play.

#7: Daxter: One of the first great PSP games. Even more surprising considering it stars Jak's mostly annoying sidekick. This was one of the first few games that really showed off what the PSP was capable of with solid platforming and really good graphics practically on par with any PS2 title. A revival in HD would be welcome and also possibly a prelude to a long overdue proper Jak & Daxter title.

#6: Jeanne  D'arc: The PSP is host to a large library of great rpgs, nearly all of which are ports of older titles. Jeanne D'arc is one of the few original titles developed directly for the PSP and by the great minds at Level 5 no less. It would be a great standout rpg on any system, and frankly the PS3 could use it as it is kind of lacking in really solid rpgs atm.

#5: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is one of the biggest rpgs of all time, and fans are always clamoring for more of it. Pretty much all they've gotten so far is this PSP spin-off title, but it's a damn good one with a great story and really solid rpg elements and also help bolster the PS3's rpg library.

#4: Locoroco: This completely oddball little title may seem like an odd choice, but think about it, this game is all about motion, flipping the levels to guide your blobs along the way. With Move controls incorporated, this could really be a showcase title for Move that might help it get past the Wii-wannabe stage it's in at the moment.

#3: Valkyria Chronicles II: The original Valkyria Chronicles tale is an all too common one of a brilliant game championed by reviewers and its small core of fans but largely ignored by the general public. Luckily it survived to go on to the PSP (with a 3rd title already released in Japan and hopefully on the way here soon) but I'm willing to bet the fans of the original who also own a PSP are far and few between and they certainly deserve a shot to own without having to blow the money on a PSP just to experience it.

#2: Patapon: Another title that would be a great showcase for Move, but this is also one of the best and most popular series for the PSP, with it's original and unique gameplay. This is pretty much a no-brainer, really.

#1: Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters: Admittedly my love of the Ratchet & Clank games in general may make me a little biased, but this is just as good as any R & C game released on home consoles. And there is a another big reason. This excellent title did receive a PS2 port, but it was ugly & buggy. A properly done HD port on the PS3 is most certainly warranted and would also help the seemingly long time we are going to have to wait for a proper new Ratchet & Clank game (All 4-One notwithstanding, it isn't a traditional R & C game).

Ok that's the list. Hopefully this idea will prove pretty fruitfuland we will see lots of great ports instead of quick poorly done cash ins. I should be doing another post tomorrow, but until then here is your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: My Idiot Brother


Neverending Story...

Ok so I don't know when I'll get to give impressions on L.A. Noire since my local Blockbuster didn't even get it in (and this is the latest in a series of high profile titles, so odds are they aren't going to be around much longer. It did lead me to reactive my gamefly account but since getting brand new stuff is basically a crapshoot it may be awhile before I really get my hands on it.

Alan Wake was a high-profile title that had been in development for many years. And like so many before it, it failed to live up to the ridiculously high expectations set upon it. It's a shame really, because take away those impossible standards and you've got a really solid and creative game that deserved a better fate than largely being ignored. Well apparently we are going to get more of it in at least downloadable fashion. It's not as good as a sequel, but hopefully if it does reasonably well we can get into the further adventures of Wake because they are some of the more original you'll find this generation.

FInally, more supposed news about Nintendo's new ultimate console that does everything even more than the PS3 does. Apparently the controller also has a camera. Now this might have some credence given Nintendo's new focus on augmented reality gaming that they introduced on the 3DS, but it doesn't really gel realistically with everything else we've heard so far. Hell at this point if have the stuff is true it'll have to cost $1,000 and be a hopelessly complicated mess no one will ever figure out. Frankly I wouldn't be surprised at this point if Nintendo is just leaking out all this info so whatever they do have at E3 will be completely different from anything we've heard and we'll all be blown away.

Ok that's it for today, I most likely won't be posting this weekend, but we'll see if I have time. So until next week, here's a NEW FEATURE that I will post whenever I have at least 3 posts in a week (which is what I will try and do): THE BIG BANG THEORY CLIP OF THE WEEK:



Well after about a month the PSN network is finally back up and running, and to make amends for basically having their userbase not able to go online for that long and possibl having their data stolen, PS3 owners get lots of free stuff. Sure there are some free days with PS+ and other things, but what we mainly care about is FREE GAMES. Which Sony has promised to provide  as soon as the PSN store is actually up and running. Of course, since all the titles or games that have been out for awhile and are poplar games, a lot of people already own them which has some PS3 owners crying foul. Sony's stance is basically that this is what they've decided, and if you aren't happy with it too bad.

Now of course you can't please everybody, and people are always going to find stuff to bitch about, but I find this offer oddly arbitrary. 2 games is more than adequate but why only from a very select list of 4? I get they are highly praised, but that just increases the odds you already own the games. Why not just let us pick any 2 greatest hits titles or PSN titles that were $30 or less? That would probably actually save Sony money in the long run since some people may pick cheaper titles. It just seems extremely odd that Sony is supposedly bending over backwards to please their base and when the base raises some valid concerns their response is to be stubborn and blunt and not even consider amending the offer. Now to be completely fair, Sony didn't have to really do anything and anyone who actually throws a tantrum/threatens to sue or boycott is a moron, But it's very hard to understand Sony's reasoning behind why the list so limited.

Ok that's all for today, with a little luck I'll have a post up tomorrow (most likely Thursday though) with my L.A. Noire impressions. In the meantime here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Dimension Diver


L.A. Noire looks amazing. Can't wait til somebody makes a game out of it...

L.A. Noire is of course Rockstar's huge benchmark title that comes out tomorrow. It's already getting high marks from most of the major outlets. But I can already see the underlying problem, and it's a more common one than you'd think-All the reviews are talking about the compelling story, the amazing facial technology and the stunning recreation of 1940s era Los Angeles. But talking about how the game actually plays or whether there is really much gameplay beyond the bound to get repetitive interrogation sequences? Virtually non-existent. This has been an issue in games like Heavy Rain and Shenmue where way too much focus was on the story and somewhere along the line somebody forgot to program in exciting and compelling GAMEPLAY. I mean I love the dialogue stuff in games like Mass Effect and indeed pretty much all Bioware efforts. But if that's all there was to those titles, I sure as hell would not pay $60 to experience it. I'm sure that L.A. Noire represents a huge leap forwarding what games can be capable of doing, but so do a lot of tech demos, and this seems more like a really stretched out tech demo to me. I do plan on renting it this week so hopefully I can give a more informed opinion by Thursday or Friday.

Ok that's really it for my post today, but I am going to really try to post more often (try and really get back up to 3 posts a week like I used to), maybe more. So until next time, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Horrible Bosses



According to Fox News anyways. Now, I really, really don't pay attention to politics much at all. I think all the news networks are ridiculous, but it's always funny when they try and be relevant to people under 60. I mean let's say this actually happens, games go truly digital. Are consoles going to be the thing of the past? Hell no. They'll just differentiate themselves much the way they do now-exclusives games and services. It's already like this-there are things you just can't get on one system. Let's talk about mobile gaming-it's all the same right? Then why doesn't everybody have the same mobile gaming device? And frankly like it was said in the article, there is a huge difference between gaming on the go and gaming in HD on a giant TV. And a huge component of games these days is things like multi-player and DLC. Mobile devices aren't really well-equipped for either. I do think casual mobile gaming is here to stay but it might very well experience a bubble bursting with the hugely overwhelming amount of shovelware that makes most of the crap on the Wii look like triple A titles.

Ok that's really all I got for today, I should have another post up by Wednesday, in the meantime here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: A Knight's Quest


Not a Pirates life for me....

I was all excited to play the new Lego Pirates demo this week, but I found it woefully uninspiring. Now granted, part of it could be that between 2 Star Wars games, and Indiana Jones game, a Batman game and a Harry Potter game (and though I didn't play them there was also another Indy game and and yet a 3rd Star Wars game) that this Lego thing has just worn out its welcome. I mean how many times can you build and smash lego-fied things?

But thinking more on it. I thought the Lego thing had worn out it's welcome with the Indiana Jones games, but then really enjoyed both the Lego Harry Potter & Batman titles. Why is this? I think the key is memorable characters and locations being Lego-fied. As great a series of movies as Indiana Jones is, we really only care about Indiana Jones, nearly every other character is a complete forgettable throwaway. In Star Wars, Batman & Harry Potter , especially if you've read any of the literature based on those properties there are tons of well-established long running characters it is very fun to see a Lego version of. Pirates suffers from a pretty similar issue if you think about it. Aside from Jack Sparrow and maybe a couple of characters like Barbossa & Davy Jones who do we care about (hint if anyone cared about Will Turner or Elizabeth Swann they would be in the new movie)? So really I think what Traveller's Tales has to do for their next game is really find a franchise rich with lots of long-running well known characters. There are plenty still out there (I'd love to see something a little more out of the box like say a Stargate Lego game) so hopefully they will pick wisely rather than just choose a currently popular franchise without a lot of depth to it (i.e. please no Transformers Lego, at least not based on the terrible Michael Bay films).

Ok that's it for today, I am a little busy this weekend with going to the St. Louis Ren Faire (woot!) but I should be able to fit in another post Saturday or Sunday. Til then here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK:


7 Saturn games that deserve an HD release

Ok before I get into today's post I did manage to cast Thor last night and I'd say it's one of the better comic book movies in recent years. Aside from a couple of really terrible lines of dialogue (and I really only mean a couple, like two or 3) it was great action and a lot of fun.

Ok now in case you haven't heard one of the greatest Sega Saturn games is coming to Xbox live this fall-GUARDIAN HEROES will be hitting the Xbox (and possibly the PS3) this fall. That is completely awesome news. However there are plenty of other great games from Sega's ill-fated system that deserve a chance to be discovered by today's gamers such as....

For the time, Clockwork Knight 2 (and its predecessor) had absolutely gorgeous visuals and really tight 2D gameplay, and it was a far better game that somewhat aped the idea of Toy Story than the horrible tie-in games that looked and played like utter garbage. An HD remake (possibly with online co-op play) would be a great idea for this great but mostly forgotten platformer.

Sadly this great and unique game came near the end of the system's life. I mean how many games take firefighting and turn it into a cool futuristic sci-fi game? This was a quirky title that would benefit greatly from a graphical upgrade and slightly tighter controls plus it would offer something really different from virtually every other digital release right now.

Granted the D & D Collection is a unabashed copy of Golden Axe with the skin of a D & D game, but it's a really solid copy so that's hardly a bad thing. A solid arcade beat em up with 4 player co-op would pretty much always be a welcome addition to any online library.

Nights has seen a life beyond the Saturn but frankly it hasn't been a good one, leaving many to wonder why people were so fond of the original. The original still holds up as a fantastic title that would greatly benefit from an HD release, possibly even with Kinect/Move compatibility (and adding in the limited relase of Christmas Nights would be awesome as well).

Arguably the biggest crime committed against US Saturn owners that for some unfathomable reason, we only got one chapter of this 3 chapter release. The Shining series may have devolved into mediocre action rpgs but this last great turn-based strategy entry deserves a re-release with an HD upgrade and all chapters included.

I normally don't dig RTS titles, just normally not my thing, but Dragon Force managed to make it extremely fun and not overly complicated. I wouldn't even care about upgrading to HD, just release this amazing fantastic game (possibly combined with its Japan-only sequel) for about $10-15 and I'm completely buying it.

Really any of the Saturn Panzer Dragoon games could've been on this list but the classic swan song for the Saturn probably deserves to have an HD port more than any other. It has a great story and manages to seamlessly combine great shooter action and rpg elements, this is easily the best Saturn game ever made and really deserves to be given a chance to find a wider audience.

Ok that's the list I should have another post up on Monday. In the meantime here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Thor: Bring the Thunder


Apparently the Reaper invasion will have to wait....

Bah, posting has been screwy again, and I apologize, wife has new job that means a lot more money so all priorities have been helping her with that and leaving me a little too exhausted (and not much time) to write, but hopefully should be back to regular posting again. Now, as if waiting in a year where the RPG pickings are slim to begin with wasn't bad enough EA has decided that the game needs a little more fine-tuning, and as such, it's the first big 2011 game to be pushed into next year. It admittedly might have something to do with November already having several other huge games confirmed to be coming out before E3 has even happened (namely Uncharted 3 & Skyrim) so ME doesn't have to deal with a crowded field, but whatever the actual reason, if it means a more finely tuned end to one of the best rpg stories of this generation I'll gladly wait.

And even more rumors are flying  about Nintendo's new console, namely that it will have an 8 gig flash drive for storage. Now while this is a huge upgrade from the measly 512 megs the Wii had, considering the supposed level of upgrade we are dealing with here it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I'm willing to bet 95% of what we've heard so far is people talking completely out of their asses because if half this is true it just sounds like a doomed to fail concept before it even gets out the gate. I'm not really believing anything at this point until we hear it from the E3 press conference in just about a month.

Ok that's it for today I'll hopefully have another post tomorrow but no promises. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Conan the Barbarian