Dude Raider 3....

It is kind of amazing to think that arguably the premier exclusive series on the PS3 was originally labeled as an obvious Tomb Raider knockoff. This is arguably the main reason I even own a PS3 as other exclusive series haven't really been of enough interest on their own. This is a series that you can really point to just about anybody as a really good reason to own the system. The great characters and amazing graphics combined with some unique multi-player really make it something other games just haven't been able to replicate. I'd actually rank this as my favorite series of the current generation of consoles. It may lack the length & depth of some massive rpg like Skyrim, but in terms of a game being a pure blast from beginning to end, it's incredibly hard to match, and I sure as hell don't think it's been topped. All early reviews point to the latest entry impossibly being even better than the second one so I'll be extremely excited to grab it this week. I am going to do my darndest to get it Tuesday but admittedly this is a hugely busy week so that may not happen.

As I mentioned yesterday Uncharted 3 may be the biggest release of this week but it brings with it a whole flood of games that may have been better off waiting til the slower months of the year. Key among them Sonic Generations & LOTR: War in the North. Generations already seems like the best Sonic game since the Genesis era with it's back-to-basics approach but who's going to give it  chance when we've been burned so many, many times before and there's all this other stuff to play? LOTR is always a popular license, but it's not at any kind of high-awareness right now, and the last few games haven't been very impressive. All this and not a whole lot of hype for the game either and it seems like something destined to be completely buried in the wake of fantasy action/rpg goliath Skyrim which is out in just under 2 weeks. I do plan on at least renting one if not both of these titles so if I can I'll give my impressions on all 3 this week. Until then, here's your BIG BANG OF THE WEEK:


The month of too many games...

I think I can live with one less kidney, right?

You know pretty much every year for the past decade or so, consumers have been advocating a more balanced release schedule. The average gamer is now grown up with a job and family, so they don't really have the time or money to buy every game they want to right when it comes out.

Yet it seems like every year, more and more games come out during the holiday rush, and this might be the biggest ones to date. I mean off the top of my head this month you have Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim, Rayman Origins, Super Mario 3D Land, Lord of the Rings: War in the North, Sonic Generations, Assassin's Creed & Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Granted, Having only one system can make it slightly less daunting, but many households have multiple consoles these days so some tough choices will be made. I'm a huge Zelda fan but frankly Uncharted 3 & Skyrim have really caught my interest so that's probably all I'm getting this month and possibly for the rest of the year. Since my 3DS hasn't gotten a lot of play there's a decent chance I'll grab Super Mario 3D Land if I can, though.

But those of course are just the really big titles, there's a large number of smaller titles that probably won't be given much of a chance, namely games like Rayman: Origins, which looks absolutely gorgeous and promises insanely fun 4-player action. I certainly don't think I'll have time to play the new Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 which is a shame because I've found most of the Lego titles absolutely delightful.

So maybe it's in futility but again I beg game developers to stretch out their releases more reasonably across the year. Many of these could be released in the much slower months like January-March or June through August and get a much better chance to get attention. Instead, at least half of these titles will probably end up ignored and in the bargain bin.

That's all for today, I certainly plan to post tomorrow about some of the massive amount of games releasing on Tuesday, most notably Uncharted 3. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Kit and the Octopod


You almost had me Sony...

Really you did. I was slowly becoming convinced that the Vita might actually shown that you've learned not only from your mistakes but also Nintendo's. The $250 price point (because I don't see a lot of people paying $300 plus a monthly data plan to be screwed by AT&T every month) seemed pretty fair even with the 3DS' massive price cut because you were offering a second dual-analog stick already included in the design, gorgeous-looking games and a competent online component. And your launch actually has a real killer app in Uncharted: Golden Abyss along with several unique titles that could be awesome in their own right like Little Deviants.

But as usual Sony has to be Sony and have at least one glaring, possibly fatal flaw, and that's their obsession with proprietary media. And this is what might potentially kill the Vita. Because it doesn't have a hard drive, and it doesn't use that most ubiquitous of memory storage, the SD card, so common and cheap you can get it virtually anywhere. No, it uses an expensive memory stick. And not even the pro duo sticks that are already in existence, so it's not like someone could use one from their Sony Camera or PSP. While Sony claims the sticks aren't "required", that's like saying the Xbox 360 doesn't require a hard drive. This is an extremely bone-headed move. There is virtually no reason Sony couldn't throw in some bare minimum 2-4gb stick if it's pretty much necessary to save most files or download any content. If someone wants to pay out the ass for a bigger one, that's their call. But when someone buys a system it should come with everything that is necessary right off the bat, considering that key games like Golden Abyss won't even boot up without one in the system, I'd say that makes it pretty necessary. So in summary, Sony just lost a Vita sale, and I'm sure it's not the only one.

Ok that's the post for today.  I was admittedly having a little trouble actually sitting down and writing this week, hence why no post till now, but I should have at least one more post this weekend and I'll certainly try for two. In the meantime, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The Secret World of Arrietty


Ratchet & Clank: The Arcade game

So assuming you could even find one these days, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is pretty much what you would expect had you walked into an arcade and found a game cabinet baring its likeness. Whether or not this is a good thing is up for some debate. All 4 One delivers plenty of the trademark humor, huge fantastic boss battles and colorful fun worlds the series is known for, yet strips away a lot of what fans love. There is no exploration and minimal upgrading to your weapons, which is done by buying them through bolts acquired rather than through continued use. While the 4 characters have a unique special attack, for all intents and purposes they play the exact same. And the game removes a lot of incentive for co-op play in the first place, since only the host retains any bolts or skill points gained in play. I should say that while this may make it sound like a game I'm completely bashing, I still find it a fun and enjoyable title, but it doesn't have a lot of what makes a Ratchet & Clank game, and things that could've kept the multi-player interesting and long-lasting weren't implemented well or at all. Would I happily pop in a dollar and play this on occasion with buddies at an arcade? Absolutely. Is it something that would be constant presence in my PS3? Not a chance. It's fun but pretty much instantly forgettable with no real hook to bring you back once you've gone through it. Hopefully the next R & C game will be a return to form.

Nintendo is clearly pulling out all the stops in order to really convince people that it's worth buying a 3DS. In addition to Reggie's plug here, they had yet another big conference this past Friday, announcing things like a sequel to Find Mii (yes!) And bonuses for people who buy games and join club Nintendo such as  chance to win a Mario-themed 3DS. Will all this pay off with big holiday numbers? And if it does, will they buy the ugly-ass slide pad add-on? We'll just have to see. I would certainly take a lot of convincing to buy a $20 add-on controller that requires an extra battery frankly.

That is all for today, I should have another post up Tuesday or Wednesday. Until then, here's you BIG BANG OF THE WEEK:


Top Ten Heroes that deserve the Rocksteady treatment...

I really didn't see much of a point in posting impressions on Arkham City, it seems blindingly obvious to everyone that this is one of the greatest games ever and you can see that within minutes and I pretty much agree. Rocksteady has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Asylum was no fluke. If anything it was a warm-up. The real question is what's next? While a third Batman game is almost a certainty, I would love to see a Rocksteady-esque take on other superheroes. Here are the top ten I'd really love to see Rocksteady get their hands on:

#10: Superman-Might as well get this one out of the way, because it's so goddamned obvious. Superman has yet to be in a good game, and is in fact responsible for one of the worst titles ever. Sure, he's nearly invincible, which presents a challenge in keeping true to the character and yet making the game interesting. But I think Rocksteady would see this as a challenge, not a problem. He's also got a large gallery of friends and villains that haven't been well-represented either. I think you could make one based in Metroplis, focusing mostly on his Earthly enemies such as Luthor and Toyman, and if that works well maybe expand to his more otherworldly foes like Darkseid and Mongol in a sequel. This might be the hardest one to get right, but it seems like it's an almost necessary next step.

#9: Green Arrow:  A huge criticism of Green Arrow is that he's basically a Batman clone with arrows. Both rich billionaires who regularly employ teen sidekicks, it's easy to see why. What better way to establish differences than have Rocksteady take a crack at him saying, sure he's got a lot of similarities to Batman, but how do we highlight the differences? The most obvious way would be to really focus in on distance fighting and stealth. Arrow is no Batman in hand to hand combat, so he'd have to be a little more creative, but creatively using his arrows could be a lot of fun.

#8: Green Lantern: Arguably as hard if not harder to get right than Superman, but oh what a game this could be if done right. Although something based on Earth could work, a space-based adventure would be far more fitting, and something completely different for Rocksteady to tackle.

#7:  The Question: I think the Question would actually be quite easy to make a game for with the L.A. Noire template. Just throw in a little stealth and action, but focus on the investigation and interrogation side of things and you've got a game that fits Q downpat. He wouldn't even need a decent rogue's gallery, you could throw in  some major but normal DC mob boss like Zucco or Falcone as the primary villain. Throw in some crazy conspiracy mystery and you'd pretty much have the essential Question game.

#6: The Punisher: Much like the Green Arrow, the Punisher draws a lot of comparisons to Batman. Family was murdered by criminals, becomes a vigilante, yadda yadda yadda. Some would argue he's basically Batman with guns, and they wouldn't be horribly far off. An easy thing that would work is take the basic Batman template and throw in guns, but I would expect Rocksteaady to be more creative with that, really ramp up the action and make it run and gun gameplay, maybe something a little like Uncharted.

#5: Dr. Strange: Aside from a few supporting roles, the Sorcerer Supreme hasn't had much of a role in games, and it's a shame, because while his powers are a little vague and hard to define, he's got an interesting enough rogue's gallery and universe to make a more compelling game than most more famous heroes. You could go a lot of different ways with this but an action-rpg where you can upgrade abilities and learn new spells as you go would be extremely awesome.

#4: Daredevil: This one's almost too goddamn easy. Daredevil pretty much is Marvel's Batman in terms of the fact that he deals with mostly with regular mobsters and crooks in a crime-ridden slum and his style of fighting is pretty identical as well. You could probably just copy Arkham City filling it with established Daredevil enemies like Kingpin and Bullseye instead. And I'd be more than ok with that frankly.

#3 Aquaman: Yes Aquaman, even with your sliced off hand, you are still not a badass. You are still the joke of the DC universe no matter how many times they try to re-invent you. You know what could easily fix that?  A kickass game from Rocksteady. This could easily big the biggest challenge for any team because it could be goofy, but put his biggest villains in a Bioshock-like sunken city with some solid combat and I think you'd have a winner in your hands.

#2: Deadpool: Rocksteady might not be able to top a game as awesome as Arkham City, so why try? How about instead make a game that pokes fun mercilessly at it? Deadpool is huge right now and a game that features him spoofing good and bad superhero games alike could be very cool. It could be like the Serious Sam of superhero games.

#1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: To someone who has only seen the cartoons or movies, this may seem like an odd choice. But anybody who has read the original graphic novel knows there is a much more serious side to the green dudes who are mainly known for their love of pizza and goofy antics.  You could have some seriously awesome ninja stealth and combat, loaded with fanservice, but keeping to more normal enemies like Baxter Stockman and the Rat King with of course Shredder as the main villain. Co-op play would be a good idea, but not a necessity. This is easily the title I would most like to see Rocksteady or really any solid developer tackle and give it a serious run.

Ok that's the list. I should be back Thursday or Friday with an All-4-One review and possibly other stuff. Til then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: The Binding of Isaac


Character packs are the new horse armor...

Arkham City, arguably the biggest game of the year comes out Tuesday, already crammed with fanservice. In an unusual move of confidence, most reviews are out already so clearly there was no embargo but as expected the reviews are stellar so it's not like they had anything to worry about. The worrying thing is what's being offered in terms of DLC. You've already got Catwoman requiring either a brand new copy or $10 extra, then there's Robin & Nightwing, costing $7 a piece. Granted, none of this stuff is necessary, and of course perceived value is relative, but that seems a lot for one character not too mention it seems like milking the game bone dry already. I can't wait for the Blue Beetle & Booster Gold packs myself. I'll probably have a lot more on Arhkam City itself in my next post, which will most likely be sometime Tuesday after I've had a little time with the game.

Another huge game that's coming out Tuesday, but probably shouldn't have is Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. Because Ratchet & Clank is a truly great series that has been a reliable staple for Sony, but it's never been a mega-hit on the level of God of War or Halo, and to stand out in the shadow of Arkham City it would need to be that. Surely, it offers a solid alternative with its humor and co-op play, but if it had merely been released say in September which was overall a weak month, it would have gotten plenty of attention. I certainly am getting it along with Arkham City because I love the series and it offers a different kind of multi-player from the usual fragfests most mp offers.

Ok, that;s pretty much all for today, I might post again before picking up Arkham City & All 4 One, but if not my next post will definitely be impressions of those 2 titles. In the meantime, here's your BIG BANG OF THE WEEK:


It's Felicia Day!

In case you aren't aware of the incredibly talented (and downright adorable) Felicia Day, today brings you several ways to get yourself acquainted. First up, the 5th season finale of her incredible web series, The Guild is up on Xbox live today. It's easily the best web series out there, far funnier than most network sitcoms, managing to dole out more laughs in 5 minutes than they do all season, and it's free to watch so if you haven't seen it yet it's easy to catch up which since the episodes are so short you can probably do in a day (seriously, each season runs at most a couple of hours).
Then she's pulling double duty for the Dragon Age franchise, starring in a new web series based on it called Redemption, which you can watch the first episode of below:

And she's also a character in the latest Dragon Age II dlc, Mark of the Assassin, which seems to be a good way to keep yourself busy until Arkham City hits next week. In other words, it's an awesome day to be a Felicia Day fan, And frankly if you aren't there's something horribly wrong with you...

That's it for today, but I think I'll be able to post once more this week (most likely the weekend). Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Dragon Age Legends Remix



I know there are a couple of surprisingly good core titles for Kinect such as Child of Eden and The Gunstringer, but releases like this starring a guy who is clearly desperately clinging to his last minute of fame are much more representative of the overall catalog and keep Kinect pretty much at an expensive niche at best (do you really want to pay that much just to say voice commands in Mass Effect 3?) and just a silly Wii wannabe knockoff at worst.

Speaking of Mass Effect 3, multi-player has pretty much been confirmed, but with not a whole lot of details on how it will play out so far. I think this is a terrible, terrible idea. The gameplay in this series does not lend itself well to multi-player at all. This really seems like a desperate attempt to shoe-horn this in so it can have a wider appeal. But I can't imagine anyone who had no interest in the series before picking up the latest chapter simply because it has multi-player. I would support an MP-focused game set in the ME universe, that would make perfect sense. But it would require a pretty drastic change to how Bioware games play in general so I'm willing to be this will be a spectacular failure. But frankly as long as the single-player doesn't suffer, I could care less.

And that's really all I have for today. I have a pretty packed week, but I should be able to get at least one more post in, most likely Wednesday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The Raven


PS2 games on the PS3? What a novel idea...

It's not as big a deal as it used to be, but there was a pretty big stir when Sony decided to no longer make PS3's backwards compatible, especially since the Wii offers complete backwards compatibility & most original Xbox titles work on the 360. Now granted, this was a lot more important when quality PS3 titles were few and far between in the early days of the system, but it's still something Xbox and Wii owners  can lord over PS3 owners. I know I was pretty pissed when my backwards compatible 40 gig died and my options were to either spend a ridiculous amount on ebay for another or buy a new one that lacked the feature for far cheaper.

Well now Sony has decided to sporadically release "rare" PS2 titles as downloadable titles for the PS3. These will be straight and dirty ports with no enhancements, so if you already own the games, not a whole lot of incentive. The good news is the rumored price point is $10 for these games. This is good news when most good PS2 games easily run $20 or more used, and can be ridiculously high brand new (i.e. Godhand, which is in the first batch, is a weird little cult game but goes for $70 brand new on Amazon). So this may end up being a good move, depending on what gets released. I personally would love to see Persona 4 show up for $10, it still runs around $40 most places. What would really make this a sweet plan is to see some imports that never made it stateside, but that might be hoping for too much.

That is all for today, I should have another post up by Saturday. In the meantime, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: The Last Stand

Batman's still > than Spider-Man..

Ok seriously, what has happened since that supposed watershed moment in 2009 when Arkham City was released? This was supposed to bring in a huge renaissance of awesome super-hero based video games. We have had plenty of super-hero games in the last 2 years, and nothing has really changed, has it? Still one craptacular licensed game after another with no real sign of improvement. The one that stood out from the crowd was Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. It actually got rave reviews. I am a huge Spider-Man fan, I would love for there to be a great Spidey game. Shattered Dimensions was far from it. The camera was awful, the dialogue a pale imitation of any of the Spider-Men in it and the controls were pretty sub-par. Especially the incredibly terrible, nearly unplayable "Noir" levels which were a pale imitation of Asylum's whole stealth motif.

So I'm not horribly excited about the same developer releasing another Spider-Man game, which comes out tomorrow. That being said, they certainly trimmed the fat here, only focusing on regular Spider-Man and the 2099 version, which seems to form a more cohesive story. I guess if they actually improved the camera and combat it might be worth a look. I might rent it if I have time and opportunity, if so I'll post a review.

The other big release this week is RAGE from shooter gods id Software. But a lot has changed since the glory days of Doom & Quake. The FPS landscape is ruled by the likes of Halo & Modern Warfare & Battlefield. Rage will have to be something really special to stand out in what is an incredibly crowded field. My hunch is it won't, and as I only play shooters once in blue moon as is, I doubt I'll get around to it anytime soon.

-That's pretty much it for today, I should almost certainly have another post up tomorrow, but til then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK:  The Grey


My Top Ten RPGs of all time! For now...

Yup here it is, my totally flexible, ever-changing current favorite rpg list. I look at a lot of all time bests list and they seem so rigid, especially the ones seemingly completely stuck on previous eras as the only "golden age" of gaming. Also while I am a huge rpg nerd, I certainly have not played every game currently out there, so this is just a best of list of the ones I've played so far, which over the years is a fairly large amount.

#10. Kingdom Hearts: The second game might have been a lot more polished, but it's hard to top the original in terms of the wonder and wow factor that came along with the seemingly impossible but completely awesome merging of two universes like Disney & Square. Interacting with legendary characters from both never loses its appeal. I have gone through the game many many times and what it manages to really capture better than most is a pure sense of fun and imagination, Now if they'd just finally getting around to making another one for home consoles instead of releasing portable spin-offs...

#9. Lunar: The Silver Star: Now most probably played the very good re-release on the PS one but that was just a little extra polish to what was already a fantastic game and one of the few reasons to own a Sega CD. The battles were admittedly a tad simplistic and didn't require a whole lot of strategy overall, but what really makes the game stand out is the fantastic music and extremely fun and funny characters along with some of the funniest npc dialogue you'll ever run into.

#8. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars: Mario in a rpg? Surely you must be joking! It's amazing to see that what probably started off as a novel experiment has become one of the great rpg franchises. I have played and loved every Mario rpg since the first, but the series wouldn't have gotten anywhere if the original hadn't been completely fantastic which it was with a great fun story and the really novel idea of actually teaming with Bowser to stop a common foe along with the introduction of a turn-based yet interactive battle system that was really innovative at the time and still implemented a lot to this day. I'd really love to see a full-on sequel incorporating favorites from this and the Paper Mario series someday, but that's probably too much awesome to hope for.

#7.  The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion : I have actually never beaten Oblivion. I probably could have done it quite easily, the main quest is very direct and not all that.... oooohhhh what is that fortress/cave/temple over there?!? As most who have played it can tell you, there's just so much to do in Oblivion that it could take you years to actually get around to doing the main quest. Who has time to stop invading demons from another dimension? I'm busy becoming the head of all the guilds! I seriously do not think there is another game I have poured so much time into, it easily clocked in at a couple hundred hours by the time I finally stopped playing. If Skyrim is actually better, I may never need another game ever again...

#6: Rogue Galaxy: The PS2 was host to a ton of fantastic rpgs, and IMHO Rogue Galaxy was the best of the lot. It had a fantastic and fun story about SPACE PIRATES! Which needs to be a theme more often. The battle system was just a lot of fun and you could lose tons of hours doing side stuff such as synthesizing equipment or hunting down bounties or even competing in insect tournaments. All balanced by a fun and memorable cast.

#5: Shining Force II: I love me a good turn-based strategy rpg. And while there have been plenty of great ones since the 16-bit days, none has really held me in it's thrall quite like SF II. The huge cast, tons of classes and unlike most games in this genre, you could bring a huge party into battle (where as most limit you to a small party no matter how many characters you have) making it really feel like you had an army at your hands.

#4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: The year was 2003. George Lucas had just tried his hardest to destroy any love for Star Wars with the absolutely terrible Episodes I & II. Star Wars was pretty much beginning to lose traction, something previously unthinkable. Then KOTOR happened. The history of Star Wars games is not great to say the least, but Bioware is pretty much like the Pixar of the gaming industry, and this was their Toy Story. Throwing out a lot of what fans were familiar with and placing it back in a time when Jedi were plentiful worked pretty brilliantly.  A great story with a fantastic twist few saw coming. This was also the first game to really go into the whole morality system that has anchored most Bioware games since, which really allowed for the feeling that you were truly driving the story rather than just along for the ride. Add in a cast that stands right up there with the best Star Wars characters and you've got an epic classic that's hard to top.

#3. Final Fantasy IX: No list of best rpgs is complete without a Final Fantasy in there. I've enjoyed nearly the entire series, but IX is my favorite, mainly because it does an excellent job of blending what the FF series was in the 16-bit days to what it was moving towards in the future at the time. I won't argue whether the FF games have gotten worse or better, but this was a fantastic mix of the old and the new, along with a really fun story and battle system, along with my favorite FF character, Vivi. Also one of the best endings I've ever seen in a game, period.

#2: Secret of Mana: Magical. There's really no other word to describe how playing Secret of Mana feels. To be fair it lacks the fantastic story and truly memorable characters of a lot of other great rpgs, but it manages to create a wondrous journey backed by a beautiful soundtrack and managed to do right a lot of things modern games still don't do like have multi-player in an rpg! Not to mention mostly competent A.I. partners that didn't get themselves knocked out every couple of minutes (I'm looking at you, Donald Duck, though that can apply to characters in KOTOR and Rogue Galaxy as well). A great weapon upgrading system and a battle system that never got boring. You can easily still see this game's influences to this day, even if it's not really given credit for it.

#1. Chrono Trigger: This shouldn't really be a surprise, but then it's hard to be surprised by pure perfection such as Chrono Trigger. The combo-attack system was revolutionary then and I haven't really seen anything that comes close. The huge number of possible endings was a first and is still rarely topped. The easter eggs added tons of extra hours to a game that was already pretty lengthy. It also manages to tell a touching story filled with all the comedy, action, drama and romance you could pretty much ask for. This is the perfect rpg, and while I remain open to the idea that something better may eventually come out, I seriously doubt it.

Ok that's the list, but it's not a statement of fact. Better games may and in fact will probably come along, so if I need to do a big update to this list at some point I will. I should mention I excluded games where you might actually argue that they aren't rpgs, such as Legend of Zelda & Mass Effect, otherwise those would definitely be near the top. I might have another post tomorrow, but most likely it'll be Monday. Until then, if there's a game on this list you haven't played, you really owe it to yourself to check it out however you can.