If it ain't broke, well fix it anyways...

Any other time, a Zelda, game, any Zelda game, would not be buried in the news, but a portable Zelda just probably isn't going to make a big splash in the wake of both the PS4 & Xbox One. But you should probably pay attention to A Link between worlds, as not only is it a direct sequel to the seminal Link to The Past, but also what many are calling the best portable Zelda entry to date, and some the best Zelda in years (probably depends on your opinion of Twilight Princess &  Skyward Sword, I thought those were awesome frankly). But aside from the portable remake of Ocarina of Time, I've honestly never gotten into a portable Zelda. Maybe it's because they tend to try different things that while interesting ideas, don't actually work all that well (I'm looking at you any Zelda game completely controlled with the stylus).

Anyways, I haven't gotten too deep into this game, just far enough to get the new power of being able to melt into walls as a painting, but I'm loving it so far. Firstly, they removed arguably the biggest annoyance of the entire series-the artificial rupee limitation. No getting bigger wallets, you can just pretty much farm rupies to your heart's content, which is awesome because then nothing is gated by your inability to save enough funds. Also in case you haven't heard, you can rent items from a shop right inside your own house or even outright buy them. eliminating the artificial gates in all previous Zelda games, meaning a lot faster track to uncover all the overworld secrets and of course tackling the dungeons in any order you choose. And another new feature I love is that your item meter refills over short periods of time so you're never too low to use something. As for the melting into walls thing? It seems pretty damn creative so far with the few opportunities I've been given so far. The closest thing I have to complaint is that it is the same overworld as LTTP and the gameplay itself is still essentially the same but then they've created a worthy sequel to one of the best games of all time (at least based on what I've played so far, if I feel differently I'll address that in another post), so slightly familiar gameplay and an overworld I'm very familiar with and fond of is hardly a complaint. Bottom line, if you own a 3DS, this is an easy buy, and if you don't own one, this should be one of many games that should finally convince you to get one. Hell the 3DS might arguably be the best console period with all the awesome titles it has had in 2013.

That's all for today, I should be back tomorrow with a gamer cinema, until then, everybody enjoy their new games/systems!


The Xbox One can't win this holiday (but that probably won't matter)

If you take a good look at the Xbox One, it's a pretty solid device with a solid line-up (Killer Instinct & Dead Rising seem to be reviewing better than Killzone or Knack, though Ryse is reviewing pretty much as expected) and all the media apps you could possibly want either here or on the way. Even Kinect 2.0 seems to have really found it's groove as a voice command peripheral(nearly every podcast has spoke very positively overall about how well the voice commands work, even though there are a few forgivable hiccups). Not a bad package for $500, really.

But it doesn't matter. Thanks to arguably the worst PR bungling in the history of everything, MS just can't win this initial salvo. Most still have the impression that their original draconian drm policies are still in place, or that Kinect will be a NSA spy device or that it's focus on media apps means it won't have much in the way of games (which could be the case later down the line, but it's certainly not right now and probably won't be). Throw that in with the goodwill, cheaper price tag and the fact that in one day in North America, PS4 sold over a million units, this holiday seems pretty unwinnable for Microsoft. That's a hard number of units sold to customers, and if Microsoft tries any sort of dumb PR speak bullshit (i.e. the fastest selling Xbox in history, which it probably will be or a million shipped to stores vs. a million actually sold) they will be absolutely trashed yet again. So what should they do, probably just be glad they got the damn thing out the door and focus on the next round, most importantly, SHUT THE FUCK UP. Because you aren't going to win this round, and any attempt to look cocky or spin stuff in your usual PR bullshit will just blow up in your face. I cannot stress that enough.

That being said, don't let any of what I just said make you worry about the long term viability of the Xbox One or that the Xbox One is a wrong choice. As I said it's a perfectly valid choice and as I have said previously if it was financially feasible I'd have both consoles day one. In the long run, the Xbox One will most likely do perfectly fine, but it's best move this holiday season will to just be out, let the games and the console speak for themselves and focus on the first real killer title in Titanfall and the far more important Holiday 2014.

That's all for today, but I should have a post up tomorrow about the new Zelda and a gamer cinema up on Saturday.


The best next-gen (current gen now?) of the year will not be on PS4 or Xbox One...

Sadly it seems like the Wii U has just been lost in the next gen conversation, even though right now there is virtually no reason to buy a PS4 or Xbox One over it. It's cheaper, has a better line-up, has all the initial kinks worked out since it's been out a year already, and hey it's backwards compatible! (and yes, despite a lot of pundits bashing the Wii as they look back at this generation, there are a pretty solid number of great titles that were on it). Hell with it's mix of classic and Indy titles the Wii U's eshop offers far superior variety as well at the moment than Sony or Microsoft will have anytime soon.

And the likely best Wii U game to date comes out this Friday in Super Mario 3D World, a follow up to arguably the first must-have 3DS title, Super Mario Land. Btw, I would not mind this as a pattern-Make an awesome 3DS game, and make a spiritual bigger follow up the Wii U. Luigi's Mansion Wii U or Fire Emblem Wii U would be awesome, for instance.

Anyways, at a cursory glance, 3D world may simply look like yet another New Super Mario Bros. game, just in 3D this time, but that's not giving it nearly enough credit.

There's a ton of variety to the levels, a huge number of new power-ups, and frankly a sense of fun that the more serious next-gen titles seem to be sorely lacking. Remember fun? The whole reason we play video games in the first place? Sadly I won't get to experience the fun myself til at least Christmas as aside from Zelda my video game purchasing is pretty much done til after Christmas. But anyone with a Wii U should obviously pick this up and anyone looking to get a new console this holiday season would be better off getting Wii U than what Sony or Microsoft is offering.

That's really all for today. I should have plenty of posts this week though, with something on the new Zelda & the Xbox One this weekend and a Gamer Cinema somewhere in there as well.


Playstation 4: Still waiting...

Sony's tagline for the PS4 has been "Greatness Awaits", of course with the buzz from E3 essentially making Sony the hero of the gamer crowd, maybe instant greatness is what everyone is expecting. And because we have extremely short memory, possibly. The PS2 did not start out great, many would say the PS3 didn't get great until the last 2 or 3 years (and the Xbox & Xbox 360 had growing pains as well). In that tradition, the PS4 does not start out great, but I believe it is the foundation for a great system, with great games coming for it, so I'll touch on the positives and negatives and talk about the near future.

Yeah, might wanna skip both of these....
The Bad: To say there are no good games for the system is unfair, but the best offerings don't make a great case for plunking down $400. Knack is absolutely awful. I hate the art style, the controls are terrible (i.e. your primary means of dodging just isn't remotely responsive) and it's filled with cheap hits that pretty much instantly kill you, the checkpoint system is pretty bad too, often knocking you back several encounters. It's not old school design as some defenders have claimed, it's just bad design. Killzone is a pretty decent shooter, but decent won't cut it with competition like Battlefield and COD. It looks incredible at times, so the tiny flaws really stand out (like the awful, awful rain). So what are your best bets? Well, it doesn't offer any significant improvements but I'm having a blast with Injustice: Ultimate Edition and Warframe is pretty fun. Reportedly NBA 2K14 is fantastic and so is Need For Speed Rivals. So you have a couple solid games, but for those looking for something mind-blowing that's exclusively next gen, it's still about 4 months til Infamous hits and then the games should start rolling out on a regular basis. But if you just traded up to next gen, it may seem like a long dry spell.

Also that hard drive is going to fill up QUICK. I already have over 1/5 filled with just a couple games and apps (along with whatever the OS takes up). This probably won't be a huge issue for the first year, but with a slate of amazing indie titles in the pipeline and AAA games later in 2014 it could be. Yes you can switch out the drive but that's an added expense on top of your already pricey console.

The other issue that is bound to bug core gamers is that by optimistic estimations, the controller has 8 hours of battery life. Granted, for a lot of people who have you know, jobs and other things in their lives, that's not a huge deal, I mean I'm lucky to get more than 10 hours in over a week. But that certainly could put a damper on a big gaming weekend.

Do I even have to mention the craptacular headset? I don't think many are using it because in the online games I have played, no one has been talking...

Ok, enough with the bad, because I think it's pretty awesome hardware, so on with the Good:

All other controllers bow down before me...

Granted, I have still have yet to play with the Xbox One's controller, which by all accounts is also great. But the Dual Shock 4 is easily the best controller to ever grace a Sony console and arguably one of the best gaming controllers to date. It's just feels great and comfortable, the triggers are much improved, the touch screen use is minimal so far but unobtrusive and really responsive. The loss of the long-standing start & select buttons will certainly throw some off but you get used to the option & share buttons quick enough. This is just a great controller for just about any type of game.

The UI is also pretty cool, it's just slick and clean, and the ability to run two apps at once is nice so you can switch back and forth quickly (though understandably not two games at once). We'll see if they can keep it up with tons of games and apps but it's a really good start. It's also fast, though I don't think it's as fast as the Xbox one claims to be, but way way faster than the PS3 interface. The loading also works fairly quickly as I was able to start games after they downloaded just a little bit.

I also have to admit that at first my attitude about social integration was basically "meh", but I enjoy seeing my activites and achievements quickly posted to facebook with no hassle, which was not the case on the PS3 and especially the 360.

Then there is the freebies-Warframe, Blacklight Retribution & DC Universe Online are all great free titles that you don't even have to have PS plus for those. Granted you can download those on PC as well, but it's fun to be able to play them on your TV with a controller on your couch. Have PS plus as well? Awesome you get Resogun for free too (the less said about Contrast the better). That could potentially keep you busy for months without buying a single game. Not a bad deal.

I also love the Playstation App on my phone, getting to send & receive friend requests wherever I am is awesome, no more writing down usernames and then forgetting them ever again!

 In the end, I believe the PS4 will be a great system, it's already got the foundation there, which puts it in a much better state than the PS3 at launch so it will get there a lot faster than its predecessor. It's just lacking some truly killer games, but those will come soon with titles like Infamous, Destiny, The Order 1886 and more on the way already in the next year. And a ton of great-looking indie titles are on the way to fill the gaps in-between.  Add in Gakai and you certainly have a great system that is really geared towards gamers that still throws in the social and media apps you want.

I wish I could say I'll be able to give an in-depth look at the Xbox One next week but that's just not financially feasible. But with a little luck I'll have that by next April so it won't be too long til I'm enjoying that as well. I should have another post up by Wednesday. Until then everybody enjoy their new consoles. Or their current still awesome old consoles for that matter.


Gamer Cinema: Far Cry

Ah Uwe Boll, he may have mostly disappeared from the spotlight thanks to going back to making terrible movies not based on beloved game franchises, but for many years he was pretty much the poster boy for gamer rage thanks to his awful low budget films based of stuff like Alone in The Dark and Bloodrayne. One of his (hopefully) last assaults on game franchises was Far Cry back in 2008. I'm not greatly familiar with Far Cry, I only just picked up 3 on the cheap and can't honestly remember if I played the first 2 games. But this one at least seems to follow the basic plot of the first game, with an ex-army burnout and a reporter investigating an island where a mad doctor is doing experiments to create super soldiers.

The highest compliment I can give this film is that for a movie that looks like it was made for way, way less than it's reported $30 million budget, it functional. Don't get me wrong, it's a bad movie. The lighting is awful and that's not something I normally notice. The dialogue and acting (and dubbing in some cases) is pretty atrocious. But the plot makes sense (relatively speaking) and it's got perfectly functional action scenes. Really the only times I really cringed was when the dumb annoying comedy relief showed up, and that was way late in the film (one scene with him and the hero handcuffed together was particularly awful). It's no better or worse than most of the straight to dvd low budget mediocre stuff you see all the time, which instantly shoots it up above a normal Uwe Boll effort, where the entire film is pretty incomprehensible on nearly every level. It's still a pretty bad film overall, just managed to beat my bottom of the barrel expectations.

That's all for today but I have acquired a PS4 along with plenty of games to try out so look for impressions either tomorrow or Monday.


5 Reasons to buy an Xbox One first (and 5 reasons to buy a PS4 first)

Oh the console wars. I'm more than happy to bash a company that is doing in what in my opinion are stupid decisions, but ultimately it's because I'm a fan and I hate to see them make stupid decisions. Ultimately I want to own everything. I want own a Vita, will I ever? At some point probably, though Sony's weird insistence on proprietary expensive memory has made me hold back so far. More to the point, though I certainly plan on picking up a PS4 first for various reasons (hopefully with a little luck I'll have one early Friday morning as my schedule has worked out so that I have the opportunity to camp out at Best Buy for a midnight launch), I do plan on owning an Xbox One down the line as well. Still debating which one to get first though? Well here are 5 reasons to to actually get an Xbox One first, followed by 5 reasons to get a PS4 first:

5.   You are already in the ecosystem: Odds are you own an Xbox 360 if you are reading this. Do you care about your online identity, friends and/or Gamerscore and want that to continue? Yup than Xbox One is the way to go. Sony admittedly has done a fairly mediocre job making their trophies as attractive and admittedly though I am not a huge online gamer I played way more online MP on the 360 than the PS3 and I hardly doubt I'm alone there so if these are things that are important to you it's a pretty good reason to buy an Xbox One first.

4.  Kinect 2.0 could actually be cool: See this, where Major Nelson is able to scan a code in a matter of seconds? That is easily the first time I've seen anything good about the new Kinect. And it's pretty awesome. I also heard one of the Weekend Confirmed guys talking very positively about it being used in Zoo Tycoon 2 of all things. So it seems like the potential for something great is there, and it could even just be a cool way to easily operate your system as long as it works. As much as I have issues with the motion controls, the voice commands could be awesome if implemented well.

3. The power of the cloud: I know it's become a stupid buzz term, but cloud technology is something everybody including Sony is at least dipping their toes in, and MS is betting big that it is key to the future of gaming. It's a good chance that it is and it being such a central pillar for the Xbox One means most likely any big cloud gaming advancements will almost certainly be on Xbox One first, and possibly never on the PS4.

2.  A Stronger lineup (at least initially): Dead Rising 3 looks better than any PS4 launch game IMHO. Any does any PS4 exclusive have more buzz than Titanfall, which will be out in just 4 months? Nope. And if we are strictly comparing game line-ups from E3, MS easily had a stronger showing. Sony didn't have a really good answer for stuff like Sunset Overdrive and Project Spark. Will this be the same a couple years down the line? Who knows, but at least the first couple of years seem to favor the Xbox One based on line-up and history. And MS can always bring out their bags of money to lock up more exclusives.

1. Xbox Live: Pretty much the defining trait of the 360 at this point is Live. Sure, nearly every feature is behind a paywall, but Microsoft has been able to get away with that because the Xbox Live service is virtually unparalleled. Essentially if online functionality is of utmost importance to you, be it apps, online play or whatever, be assured that MS is pouring all it's expertise and resources possible into making sure Live is once again a great selling point for their console.

And now 5 reasons to buy a PS4 first:

5.  It's cheaper: Granted, at the end of the day, you shouldn't let a $100 price difference be the ultimate determining factor in which console you buy first (in fact it could actually be argued that if you can afford it you should buy the more expensive console first because the other one will be even cheaper down the line), but given that the consoles are roughly the same (and especially that the PS4 might actually be more powerful) and the games outside of a couple of exclusives you may not care about are the same, why not save the money? Especially if like me, you don't care about gamerscore and have no particular brand loyalty.

4. The Sony Legacy Library: Granted, we don't know exactly when it's coming, but when Gakai launches, you'll supposedly be able to access Sony's fairly vast library of older titles. Considering MS basically said it was "too hard" to stream older titles, this is a good selling point, especially if (hopefully) you can access your digital purchases from your PS3. If I can access my digital library on my PS3, I'll certainly have very little reason to hold onto it which would be great.

3. PS Plus/Free Apps: Ok so you have to pay for multi-player on PS4. For some that's a real turn off, but guess what you get with it? Free games and insane Steam-level sales, that's what. Also don't do MP? That's cool because every other online feature is completely free, even free to play online games. That's a huge selling point for me and many others.

2. More exclusives (probably): Granted MS certainly has the money to lock up as many exclusives, but they don't have the army of internal development studios Sony has and that really showed the last few years as 360 exclusives boiled down to nothing and the PS3 flourished with them. Sony is also clearly the preferred indie console, with many games showing up on the PS4 first if they are showing up on the Xbox One at all. Given that a large majority of titles will be on both, I'm more likely to be interested in the one that has more exclusive offerings at first.

1.  There will be no Japanese game scene on the Xbox One: Sure, FFXV & Kingdom Hearts III will be on the Xbox One as well, but those are huge worldwide tentpole titles. What about the next gen Disgaea, Tales or Persona titles? What about the next gen games from Level 5? Japan may have taken a backseat this generation, but plenty of awesome games still came out from the land of the rising sun and pretty much none of them were on the 360 except for very early stuff like Blue Dragon and Tales of Vesperia. If we are going to see a resurgence in Japanese game development, it certainly won't be on the Xbox One.

Ok there you have it, 5 pretty good reasons to justify buying either console first, but yes eventually toss aside the fanboy bullshit and own both, because otherwise all you are doing is denying yourself some awesome experiences for pretty petty reasons.


Gamer Cinema: Life 2.0

I admittedly know next to nothing about Second Life, which admittedly may not even qualify as a video game, and more of a social virtual site thing. It's not nearly as big as games like World of Warcraft but it's got a very dedicated following that clearly sustains it very well. But hey what better way to get a good look at it than a documentary delving into the lives of several players? That's exactly what Life 2.0 is, but it might seem very slanted towards the more out there players (or are these the average Second Life player, I don't know?).

Like a pair of married people who met through the game and are having an affair both in the game and in real life. The woman who actually makes a living off the game, seemingly at the expense of doing anything else however. And the man who feels the need to play as an 11 year old girl, and apparently playing as a child is frowned upon (most likely because it seems like the number one thing to do in Second Life is having virtual sex). Is this is representative of Second Life? Maybe? It's hard to tell from the small sampling, which seems to relish in focusing on these people who have bad personal and psychological issues but avoid them by playing the game. Also maybe this is just the source material, but it's fairly boring, though I've seen other documentaries on people addicted to online gaming that were at least interesting if completely full of it. Maybe it was hard to find more players willing to be on camera about it, but I really would've liked to see a wider variety, or at least one or two (there's got to be a couple) average people who play the game just as a sight balance. If you are looking for an introduction to the game or play it and want some additional insight, I can't imagine this not particularly in-depth piece that focuses on arguably the more fringe players would satiate either need.

That's it for know, but I'm already tooling around with another idea for a post so that should be up tomorrow.


5 Things I want to see in the next generation...

The next generation of gaming is almost here! And with it hopefully we will eventually see more than just shinier graphics, a new generation usually brings with it (eventually) lots of new seminal ways to game, sometimes to the point where it's hard to go back to older systems and games. Here's 5 things I really would like to see happen during the lifespan of the new run of consoles:

5. Breaks for long-running series: COD is easy to point out here, but we are already on our second Mario title on Wii U (with probably another on the way as a "true" successor to Galaxy) in just a couple weeks, on the 6th Assassin's Creed title, & the 6th Ratchet & Clank game this generation! And don't forget the middling prequels in the God of War and Gears of War series that basically had both those franchises limp off into the sunset of this generation rather than let them go on on the high note both of their 3rd entries had ended on. I'm not saying kill the franchises, but how about give them a little breathing room? I really think 3 entries in a franchise should probably be the max in one generation and that's stretching it. People are going nuts over Kingdom Hearts III because by the time it finally comes out it'll have been a fucking decade since we had a proper title on home console. You can keep doing the weird little experimental spin-offs to try out new ideas, but core series entries should only be once in a great while. I'm good with only getting one or two Uncharted games this coming gen, any more is probably overdoing it and watering down the overall product.

4. A good wrestling game: 2K13 actually wasn't half bad, but that's only by the standards of this generation. I don't even know how, but the A.I. of your opponents in the great N64 era games really knew how to work a wrestling match and wasn't completely broken. Also, Royal Rumbles that are actually Royal Rumbles, Survivor Series matches, etc. Basically better AI and the ability to have more than 6 guys on screen at once so we can have better match types.

3. New Ways to play Online: I'm actually pretty excited about games like Titanfall & Destiny, which seem to offer exciting ways to shoot people online, that's great. But how about games where we don't shoot anybody? Because we seem to be flooded with pretty much that in the first wave of online games. I'll point to an old weird favorite-Phantom Dust for the Xbox, a very unique fun card battling game and you just really don't see fun unusual risky stuff like that anymore. Or in the spirit of shooting people, how about in a different way like making a long overdue follow-up to the excellent Crimson Skies? A new generation should bring different experiences for people, not the same old stuff, leading to my final two things:

2. Revival of an old genre: Genres don't really die, but some do hide on the outer fringes for quite awhile. The tail-end of this gen saw two big genre revivals in the adventure & strategy genres with games like Walking Dead & X-Com (and Fire Emblem) proving those viable when many thought they were pretty much dead. What will make a comeback this gen? Personally I'm hoping for the Jrpg, not really dead but it has fallen on pretty hard times. Hopefully games like Kingdom Hearts III & Final Fantasy XV will be among many that bring it back to prominence.

1. A New Genre: A new generation of consoles hopefully brings with it the ability to create something wholly new that we have never seen before. With this generation arguably being the smallest leap in technology it may actually not happen unless we see some incredible innovation in the indie arena. I'm really hoping that's not the case and we'll see something unexpected that'll just blow our minds on a level beyond how good it looks.

That's it for today, I'll most likely have a Gamer Cinema up by Friday.


Not a pirates' life for me...

Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of the Assassin's Creed series. The storyline has been fairly laughable, and I just never felt the various systems at work jelled very well. This new one however, promised to be a very different take on the series, focusing more on the ship battles so highly praised in the previous entry and on exploring the open sea as a pirate, building up an awesome ship and a fleet to take down other ships and forts and whatnot. Sounds fun right? I wouldn't know, as the part of the game that is most definitely vintage Assassin's Creed ruined the game for me before I could even get very far with it's atrocious "combat" horrid enemy A.I. and glitching (including one guy who was stuck in rocks), the mildly buggy free-running and myriad other issues (like having to go to eagle points to "synchronize" an area so many times in the first hour I never wanted to do it again). Is the ship combat awesome? Probably, but if I have to deal with this awful other stuff I don't really care. Maybe this was excusable way back in the first AC, but since then there have been a ton of open world games with far better close combat and ACIV pales in comparison. If like in GTA it wasn't a major part of the game I wouldn't care but it's a pretty damn significant one here.

Ah, Sonic, you got me again. After the fairly decent Colors and your awesome racing games, I had some hope. And from every preview, your Wii U (and 3DS) exclusive looked great. Sure it liberally borrowed from Mario Galaxy, but considering that was easily one of the best games of this generation, that's hardly a bad formula to copy from. But then maybe that was a poor idea to begin with as the spherical level designs are awful and rob Sonic of his defining trait of speedy platforming as you have to really slow everything down. The homing attack, your primary offense is pretty spotty as well, which leads to cheap deaths and hits, especially in a boss fight. I guess if you were absolutely starved for an even haflway decent platformer this might do but you should probably just wait for Mario 3D World which will be out in just over 3 weeks (or if you have a PS3 get the cheaper and far superior Puppeteer).

That's it for today, not completely sure when my next post will be but at latest I'll most likely have a new gamer cinema up by Wednesday.