Friday, June 29, 2012

MadCap's Game Reviews - Pokemon Black and White

...wait, that's not it. Let me try again...

Ah, there we go. MUCH better!

Anyway, Pokémon is a franchise that I associate very closely with my childhood. I can actually remember picking up my old Game Boy Color and slipping in the Red or Blue versions and just having a grand old time, trying to be the best like no one ever was. Back in that day, there were only 151 of the suckers to catch. That sounded daunting back then (I only know of two people who ever have - and, unsurprisingly, I am not one of them).

Then Generation II came out with the new region of Johto and 100 new Pokémon to catch. I played through that and, just like Red, Blue, and Yellow, I had a grand old time playing Gold, Silver, and Crystal, and can remember many a time I'd spend grinding for experience and teaching my Pokémon to understand the power that's inside. But then...something terrible happened.

I slipped into that phase of my life in my middle school years where Pokémon just wasn't cool. My peers would mock and ridicule me and, like an idiot that I am, I caved and stopped for a number of years. But the series continued to endure and developed further...while still not changing a thing in sixteen (at the time of release, fifteen) years.

Enter Pokemon Black and White.  Unlike the previous games after Generation II, this one is wholly unique for a single reason: It's a brand new, never before seen region with brand new Pokémon, and literally none of the previous ones before you defeat the Unova Elite Four. And, strangely, that might be enough to carry this stable, at least for me.

You begin in Nuvema Town in the region of Unova where your two best friends (a ditz and a snarky jerkass who's a wannabe Badass Bookworm) and you have just gotten your Pokémon trainer's licenses and are heading out in the world to be the best like...yeah, you get the picture. Aiding you in your quest is the local professor, Professor Juniper, who gives you a choice in a starter Pokémon between a water ferret that evolves into a water samurai seal thing, a fire pig that turns into bacon...I mean, a bipedal fire pig, and a garden snake that becomes...a snake.

All joking aside, I actually like the aethestics of the Generation V Pokémon (though I question some of the choices of name as lazy) They're new and alien which I think is the point. This is a brand new place to explore. It's vastly different than anywhere we've visited in the previous games. Even the Route system is renumbered starting at 1, telling us just how far removed we are from the rest of the world. I enjoy it, and it very strongly reminds me of my days playing Red and Blue versions. A brand new world with all these strange and wondrous creatures to capture and help raise into being the best team I can possibly make them.

And as is traditional with the games, you travel across the land to gather Pokémon into your team and defeat the eight Gym Leaders in order to gain access to the Unova League and battle the Elite Four. Along the way, you'll randomly break into people's houses to see if they have anything to loot, and battle the region's criminal organization: Team Plasma.  No spoilers, but they people may have the dumbest plan of any villain in Pokémon ever. Just saying.

Apart from that, I'd say go for it. If you're just a die hard fan, or if you want to try to recapture that feel of the originals from childhood. A lot has changed, but you know what they say: The more things change...

Pokémon Black and White are available from Nintendo Corporation and Game Freak, you can even buy it right here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oh God, No...NO!

So...yeah...November, kind of got hooked on Skyrim...and then some other stuff happened with real life and computer trouble and me just not having the gumption to get off my sorry butt and get back to regular posting. Hopefully, I should be able to get back to regular postings once again. While I wasn't able to report on E3 this year as I wanted to (and by reporting I mean saying what I didn't like of what various game companies had brought out), I did want to look at some of the trailers that were presented that caught my interest.

First up, the Dead Space 3 trailer...

Meh...I don't know, I have mixed feelings about this one. While it was true I enjoyed Dead Space 2 a great deal, I criticized how it seemed to become almost an over the top parody of the original Dead Space. This trailer doesn't seem as bright and pretty as 2 was, and indeed seems to be going for the darker, more desolate feel of the original.

The operative word there being seems.

Also, in the trailer I've noticed more focus on Ellie (who, for God knows what reason, has two eyes now instead of the one she was left with at the end of 2) and no sign of Nicole anywhere. So we can only assume that Isaac has completely worked through all of that and we'll not see her mucking around at all in 3.

I've also heard of a distinctive lack of online multiplayer, which honestly is probably the most beautiful thing that EA could have done with this game. Not just considering my strong dislike against competitive multiplayer in general, but part of my problem with 2 was that time and resources were taken away from the excellent single player to work on the multiplayer and it still sucked.  But luckily, EA figured out that it was a really, really dumb move on their part and dropped it to add in a new co-op feature.

The co-op brings in a new character, John Carver, a "merciless soldier" to help Isaac tackle the threat of the Necromorphs. What's his story? I suppose we'll find out, though I have a feeling he's going to end up being the generic space marine that this genre usually farts out that Isaac has proven to not be (after all, he's an engineer, even if he is probably one of the most badass of badass men in the universe).

EA, just make sure we keep the super cool awesome jetpack, please?

And speaking of space marines...

Halo is a series that I have mixed feelings about. I thoroughly enjoyed the first game, like the second game after the complete pile of crap that was the pointless cliffhanger, and liked the third game for enough time to realize that the story had enough plot holes for me to pilot an aircraft carrier through. And before you get on the comments and tell me that 'Oh, Madcap, you need to read all the spin-off material and the comic books...', just shut up. If I want to delve into the expanded universe, then fine, I shouldn't have to in order to understand what the hell is going on in the main series.

Return of the Jedi would be in no way improved if I had gone and read Shadows of the Empire, to use a rather geeky example.

Also, I'm not going to rage on how Bungie is the creative force behind the franchise and how Microsoft is just going to ruin everything. Go ahead and feel free to give your carpal tunnel telling me how wrong I am.

Now on to the actual trailer, it's four years after the Human-Covenant War ended in Halo 3, and it looks like John 117 aka the "Master Chief" is back up and running again. And on a new world, we're reintroduced to the UNSC via the ship Infinity and the Covenant, as well as a seemingly completely new race that appears to be composed of AIs that mercilessly want to disintegrate everything in sight.

We get some gameplay footage of the Chief maneuvering his way through the jungles of this new world dealing with both the Covenant and with this new alien menace (Forerunner, according to a comment that Cortana makes on a weapon the Chief picks up). There's a new look at the HUD, and it doesn't seem to have changed all that much since Halo 3, but I say go with what works and it worked well enough. And for the first time in the series, the Chief apparently can use his fists in combat (not the butt of his weapon in a melee fashion, his actual fists) though it doesn't go all that well for him in the gameplay demo.

Oh, and there's an infrared mode in the Chief's helmet now...not sure why that wasn't brought up before. And his armor actually looks different, too. Weird, seeing as he got that armor in Halo 2 he somehow in between the time leaving Delta Halo in that game and crashing on Earth in Halo 3 that he somehow had a few alterations made to it and he's been locked in a cryo tube for the last four years and now it looks quite a bit different then it did in Halo 3. But at this point, why bother questioning it?

Oh, AND we get some more glimpses of Cortana possibly going crazy due to being an eight year old AI and having only supposed to have been in service for seven years. The condition, called Rampancy by the canon of the series, seems to have Cortana losing her mind as she seems to degenerate into a rather angry woman with glowing eyes. So...lovely stuff there.

Now I'm not big fan of Lara Croft (can't really say the same for her two best friends), but this trailer got my attention. Apparently they're taking the Hollywood approach and rebooting Miss Croft, starting out from scratch. Having never played one of the Tomb Raider games (a cardinal sin of gaming, I'm sure), I have to say it looks kind of interesting, though I spend most of the time watching the trailer wincing over Lara seeming to be stuck in a continuous loop of getting her ass kicked, at least until near the end of the trailer...where she nearly falls to her death from a collapsing cliffside after making a somewhat chuckle-worthy comment about hating tombs.

Not as much to say here as the previous two, but I'm somewhat interested. This might end up being a rental for me at least and, if I think it's all that good, I'll definitely buy it.
Dishonored got onto my radar a bit before E3, and I saw the debut trailer, which I liked. The setting - a Neo-Victorian steampunk-ish world with magic interested me, and you just know it's a Bethesda game when you start out in prison.

The gameplay trailer looks good. If I had to give a name to the feeling that the style gives me, it's definitely a Bioshock feel. As if someone were to mix Bioshock, Skyrim, and Fable, if you will. This is one that I am definitely looking forward to.

Also, people, stop crying out for Fallout 4. I don't know about you, but I don't want another rushed, glitchy mess of a game like New Vegas was after launch. Also, considering the ending of Lonesome Road, they clearly need more time in the development of the storyline. 'Cause, y'know...Lonesome Road sucked.

Not that I'm bitter about that or anything.