Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Radirgy Blog: The Return.

It's been a while hasn't it? Those with long memories will remember I took a break from the blog to try and pursue other goals and interests, sadly those goals and interests fell short of my original intentions and I am always changing my plans. But enough of my dead projects here is a game I got from Gamestation before it shut down.

God of War: Chains of Olympus serves as the obligatory spin-off prequel all popular video game franchises get at some point when fans become impatient while waiting for the next instalment in the main series. God of War Mini focuses on a kratos origin story which has no relevance or importance to the series as a whole. After killing an army of Persians and their pet newt Kratos is forced to go on a filler quest after the Sun God fell from the sky and lost his powers, this inexplicably causes the other Greek goods to lose their powers also. From there on you play through what feels like a “best of” edition of the previous two games, only without all the best bits, I could just end the review there but I should expand on this.

Kratos in my Pocket is a short game, this is to be expected of a spin-off title but the game is all fizz and no bang with the adventure coming off as lacklustre when compared to the other Kratos outings on the PS2. Gone are the days of items having a reason to exist, you still get the required god of war “breathe underwater” power up but in the case of Chains you only use it once and and only need it for one room, very progressive. There is a lack of exploration and the game ends up being even more linear than the originals. As far as the general design is concerned God of War: Size Matters is a God of War marathon where you play though familiar set pieces with familiar enemies in a familiar setting while creating a familiar Hack-and-Slash blood bath.
Is it the same old God of War? Yes. Did it need to be made? Not Really. Is it bad? It's actually pretty good, the gameplay holds up well on the PSP but only people hungry for more God of War will get the most out of this title

We've seen this a million times before.

In all God of War: Chain's of Olympus is a pint-sized mini adventure full of needless filler, at the same time it is also very well made and I can't really discredit the development team for trying to expand the universe and develop a character who had been previously portrayed as an unsympathetic selfish arsehole.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

This blog will be on indefinite closure.

This may be the last weekly update for a while.

When I started this blog in December I tried to keep it updated weekly but recently I have lost motivation. I don't want to be the person who is unhappy with everything but I have been considering three things, why I am doing this blog, what I have to work with and my web traffic, I know how pathetic it sounds but I cannot find motivation for something when the truth truth be told, no one is interested. This blog like most blogs are only read when people are bored and have nothing else worth doing. I am not convinced this is worth doing week in week out when I should be giving the time to more important things.
For those who are interested the post with the most views is the one containing pictures of the work I did for my Fine Art course, the number of hits it got dwarfed anything else I have done but they weren't hard numbers to beat in the first place.

Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not saying I am shutting down this blog but it isn't worth doing a weekly update when I have nothing interesting to talk about, I sure a lot of people will skip what I have just written because it doesn't interest them.
As far as my projects are concerned I still want to have a shot at filming an episode of my video game web show and see how things go on from there so don't consider it dead and buried just yet.

This may be the last blog post you see in a while, as things stand I am not in the mood to write about stuff which isn't worth writing about, no more filming updates, no more weekly video game reviews, no more complaints about small problems, no more needless filler and no short film reviews.
Most of this blog has seen me go around in circles, “I am giving up games”, “I'm not giving up games”, “I will update every week”, “ I won't update every week” it makes it hard for people to take what I write seriously, worst of all though it makes it hard for me to take what I write seriously.
When I started this blog I wondered how long it would take for it to run out of steam, the answer, a dozen weeks.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Working is a Mission: Impossible

For those who are wondering why I went quiet last week I will have you know I was on holiday. It is bad enough trying to work at home, never mind working when I am trying to relax. Yes being on a break demands relaxation and I find it near impossible to dedicate myself to working when I in such a state. Sorry if you think I am being lazy but I had more important matters to attend to.

Many of you loyal readers (which there are few) are probably wondering how the video game show is coming along. Well...
1) The original concept has been reworked into something more original.
2) The budget is stricter than first planned meaning having to work on the cheap.
3) I will not be able to use expensive tools such as capture cards or DVD recorders, I have to resort to pointing a video camera at a screen which is looked down on and seen as bush league.
4) Using a camera in such a way causes poor visual quality.
5) My vocal skills on camera are currently below the standard I would like to achieve.
6) I have been able to acquire the games and systems I wanted.

The show isn't going to look like this.

There are other smaller issues I have to express. When it comes to internet gaming shows the target audience is very demanding and fickle with what they want. The likes of virtual console, emulation and steam ports of classic games are an alternative deemed unacceptable by many. This audience of hardcore fans always demand the use of the original hardware, I know this because I was once part of such an audience and have seen what does and does not work in the eyes of the viewer.
I'm hoping the visual issues can be fixed by changing the output from aerial to AV or SCART, only time will tell if this works. If it doesn't then the project may as well be dead on arrival unless I can find a filming method which can fix all these problems.

Enough about the project. While on holiday I sat down and watched some films as it isn't something I do very often so here are some mini reviews.

Mission: Impossible (PG)

Tom Cruise plays the role of Ethan Hunt, a secret agent who is wanted by his own government after being set up in a mission which sees all his squad members murdered. Hunt must retrieve a file known as the “NOC List” in order to clear his name and expose mole responsible for the murders of his team members.
Cruise puts on a decent performance in this film as do many of the supporting actors, the cinematography and editing are two of this films strong points with the writing and overall characterisation letting the team down. The special effects used in the films climax look outdated by today's standards and it makes the whole scenario look ridiculous.
In all Mission: Impossible is a fun blockbuster and not much else, the film peaks with the infamous Black Vault scene and then begins to lose steam towards the end.

The Transporter (15)

Jason Statham is cast as Frank Martin, a former marine turned transporter of illegal and dangerous goods..
The Transporter can be best described as a silly, explosive, dumb action movie. Like other films of its kind The Transporter relies on its non-stop action to keep the audience interested, very little time is given to plot or character development. The one man VS an army mentality of the film is nothing new and at times the film will break all suspension of disbelief by becoming incredibly cartoon like with the action, we are talking car crashes where the cars explode spectacularly on impact.
The Transporter isn't a bad film but it is a one trick pony, outside of the action the film offers very little.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (12)

Desperate to defeat the Human Resistance the master computer Skynet sends a Terminator back in time to kill the leader of the Human Resistance, the human resistance also sends their own Terminator back in time to stop Skynet's Terminator from killing him.
Never was this going to top its predecessor Terminator 2: Judgement Day and never did this film need to be made thanks to Terminator 2's closed ending. Schwarzenegger once again plays the T-800, a cybernetic organism who is sent back in time to protect John Connor (Nick Stahl) from being killed by the T-X (Kristanna Loken), a newer, more powerful Terminator. The film completely recycles the plot of the previous film with some differences. In the previous film Judgement Day (the day where mankind was nearly wiped out) was thought to have been prevented, now we learn Judgement Day has only been postponed and is inevitable.
Compared to the previous film almost everything is a step below previous efforts, the casting, script, plot, story, acting and characters are no where near as strong and the film is overall less memorable.
If you look at the film alone though you will find it to be a great action movie with a tonne of incredible action set pieces which work around the basic run and chase plot.
Terminator 3 wasn't the sequel people wanted but it still does enough to satisfy fans of the series and newcomers alike.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Never Assume

Remember when I said I was going to start a challenge where I had to complete 50 video games and then quit playing video games for a year?
Well I've pretty much stopped caring about it, I know I broke my own promise and I am certainly not a man of my word but I think the person who came up with the phrase “Everything in moderation” was onto something.
When I started the challenge everything was about games, nothing else mattered, all I could think about was completing 50 video games as quickly as possible, I gave all my time to these games. I found myself in a worse position than before by going from went to one extreme in order to reach another, a foolish thing to do. I must have spent 20-30 hours a week playing games, you'd think 20-30 hours a week would get me through a lot of games, nope. Many of the games I played were known for their length, Deus Ex, Final Fantasy VI, Tales of Vesperia, Breath of Fire 3 and Pokemon Soul Silver, I could not keep up such a pace and be happy with what I was doing.
On the upside such extremes allowed me to finish some of these games and I can now sell them without regret. Good thing I sold them I needed the extra cash.

Money, Money, Yeah, Yeah!

So here I am sat down in front of a screen talking about how I no longer have much to show in terms of personal possessions but I'm happy and besides it is true what they say, less stuff means more room for activities.
I thought quitting video games would give me a better social life and help me make new friends, I now know I was completely wrong in thinking this. Never make assumptions about anything.

Anyway no game reviews or artistic pictures this week , I want to talk about something else instead.
I have a dream, well not really a dream but an idea I have had been pondering on for sometime. Reading this blog means you probably play video games, if you play video games then chances are you have watched shows about video games on TV or on the internet. Many people have had a stab at making it big online with their web shows and ideas, I'm going to foolishly attempt the same thing even though like this blog it probably won't go anywhere for a long time if at all.
I'm sure some of you readers have seen or heard of a Japanese TV show called Game Center CX, the show is about Japanese comedian Shinya Arino as he tires to conquer some of the hardest games ever made. The show is loved by many due to its mixture of comedy and drama, two elements known for complimenting each other. The concept of watching someone play videos games doesn't sound like much but trust me the execution of the idea is killer with some of the greatest video game related programming ever seen.
My project will be based on this concept, I believe with the right care and attention an English language adaptation could very well work. I probably won't even start production until the Summer or at the earliest Easter. I also have a few more film related projects in the planning stages.

I wonder if I can make better progress with this than I did with the Game Break Challenge?
Watch this spot.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Art of Pro Wrestling.

I recently finished one of my college art units so instead of writing I though I'd share something different this week. These are what I consider to be the best of the lot. You can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them.

Pencil, A5 paper.

pencil, A5 paper

Medium sized work:
Charcoal, A4 paper

Charcoal, A4 paper

Acrylic Paint, A4 paper

Chalk & Charcoal, A4 Black paper

Black Ink, A4 Paper

Supporting pieces:
Charcoal, A2 Paper

Final Piece:
Chalk, Charcoal and Soft Pastles, A1 Paper

Nine may not be a lot but I only wanted to post the pieces I thought were the best and the pieces I put the most time, care and effort into.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Takin the day off.

I finally took my driving test and I failed. Again. This isn't the first time I took the test and I'll be damned if I fail it again. It was a let down but I don't feel bitter about failing which is a bit odd because now I have to invest another £300 in lessons and re-takes.
I'm not in the mood for a video game review this week, I haven't really played or done anything I feel like writing about. I was going to upload the art work I did for my recently finished art unit but I didn't take any photos so expect them in the near future.

Recently I have had a few ideas going around in my head for some projects I have planned, I'm not going to share them though on the off chance of someone nicking my ideas and claiming them to be their own. In case anyone is wondering how far I am into the game challenge I have completed 4 games so far leaving me with another 46 left to go. Expect the number to jump up over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Retro Game Challenge CX

I can't help but think back to what I have said these last few weeks, a year without games? A year is a long time, I had to wait nearly a year to get my PayPal account back and it was absolutely insufferable. I haven't gone cold turkey on the challenge, I'd like to finish sooner rather than later. I don't want to be doing this for the entire year.
Personal gripes aside I took on several games this week and many of them were incredibly difficult, it would have been a shame to not have a game to review, thankfully I was saved by a game I forgot I had.

Retro Game Challenge is the video game adaptation of popular Japanese TV show Game Center CX. The TV show focuses on Japanese Comedian Shinya Arino taking on difficult classic video game challenges.

Retro Game Challenge is not a video game compilation but a “1980's childhood simulator” where you live through the 1980's playing various video game challenges. Each game is different and requires its own mini review.

The evil Game Master Arino.
Cosmic Gate
The first game you challenge is Cosmic Gate, a Galaga clone. The game is almost identical to Galaga. What divides Cosmic Gate from Galaga are the bonus stages, level wraps, power up's and cheats. Cosmic Gate is a fun and easy game to get into and is one of the better titles you can play.

Robot Ninja Haggle Man
Robot Ninja Haggle man is a throwback to the arcade style of platform games where the goal was to defeat all the enemies in order to proceed to the next stage. Haggle Man is a cute game with enough charm to carry it through to the end.

It is a playing games in your living room sim.
Rally King
Rally King is a game in the now defunct Bird's eye view genre of racing games. The game is one of the weaker ones and is hard to get into at first, once you understand the controls there is fun to be had but the appeal is rather limited.

Star Prince
Star Prince is a clone of popular space shooter Star Soldier and bears an uncanny resemblance to some of the series stronger titles like Soldier Blade on the PC-Engine. It is easily one of the best games in the set.

Rally King SP
Possibly the weakest game of the lot Rally King SP is just Rally King but harder, there isn't anything else I can say without repeating myself.

Robot Ninja Haggle Man 2
A direct sequel, Robot Ninja Haggle Man 2 manages to be almost identical to the original while also being a better game. New features and better graphics have been added to make the game feel like a true sequel and not just a rehash like Rally King SP.

Guadia Quest
Guadia Quest automatically got the thumbs down from me for being an old fashioned JRPG in the style of the original Dragon Quest. The longest and hardest game of the lot Guadia Quest will only leave hardcore JRPG fans happy. Good thing you can skip the game with a cheat.

Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3
Another strong entry Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3 took everything established by the first two games and threw them in the bin. Cute platform games are out and action games are in. Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3 can best be described as the love child of Temco's Ninja Gaiden and Sega's Shinobi, it isn't very long but it is still one of the best games of the set.

One of the most interesting features of this “eighties childhood sim” is the video game magazines containing news, hints and cheats for the games. These magazines are almost essential and will make beating the game much easier.

Retro game challenge is one of the more interesting DS games I have come across, anyone who is a fan of classic games or the TV show should consider giving this a go.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Game Break Challenge: Week 1

For those who missed my Red Steel 2 post I have decided to take a break from video games. I have spent too much time on them, not to say it has been a waste of time. I had fun but it would be good for me to try new things and accomplish goals I set a long time ago.
I have made a series of rules for my challenge:
I must play and complete 50 games.
I must play these games to the ending.
Once I have finished I must stop playing video games for a year.

For the first week I played a game I have been wanting to play for a long time, a game considered to be the best instalment in its 20+ year history.

I should use the American boxart but I like the original more.

Though the name suggests otherwise Final Fantasy III is actually the sixth game in the series, this is because earlier instalments were never released outside of Japan, to avoid confusion in the west VI was changed to III.
Final Fantasy III follows a group of unlikely heroes who are bought together by circumstance and a common enemy. This being a Japanese RPG each team member has a unique skill and a personality trait which makes them stand out, you have the thief, the steroid freak, the old bloke, an artist, a Sasquatch and half a dozen other characters who are special in some way.

This being Final Fantasy awards were never going to be won for the gameplay. I can't say there is a great turn based battle system in games but there is a lesser of evils. With JRPG games there are three common types of turn based battles, the really long ones, the balanced ones and the ones where you die all the time. Final Fantasy falls into the middle, the battles are never longer than they should be with many battles being incredibly brief. Some may be disappointed by easy boss battles but an easy boss is still better than a tedious boss.
The turn based combat may be more balanced than in most JRPG's but it is still turn based and sooner or later you will get bored of it. Once you have the skill system down beating the game boils down to repetition, using the same attacks over and over until enemies drop dead.
Outside of the battles though you have a large open world adventure filled to the brim with secrets. If I had to walk down a corridor for 50 hours while stopping every now and then to kill something I just wouldn't bother with the game. I want a sense of freedom, I want to see a world where I can go anywhere at any time and easily backtrack to objectives. Final Fantasy III lets me have all of this.

The narrative is one of the stronger ones I have experienced in a JRPG, the narrative wasn't focused purely on spectacle and drama but a good sense of humour, Final Fantasy III finds the correct balance of Drama and Comedy needed to make the story interesting and fun.

Though there is a lot of good to be said even the positive features eventually outstayed their welcome. Come the end of the game the difficulty balance had gone and I had to resort to tedious level grinding, even with high level characters it was still a chore to finish the last area. The only thing stopping me from quitting was the promise of an epic finale, I got my epic finale but I still left the game behind disappointed about those last 5 hours.

It took a large amount of time from me but I have no regrets over Final Fantasy III, in the end there was enough positives to outweigh the negatives. The game is easily one of the best instalments in the series.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Game Break Challenge

I've recently come to a point in my life where I feel it is time to move on and try something else. This may be sudden but I want to try it at least once and see how it goes.
I've made a challenge for myself, it is called the Game Break Challenge. Starting from now I will play and complete 50 games, when I have completed all 50 I must take a year long break from video games. I know this sounds like the ramblings of a lunatic but I want to give it a chance. If I stopped playing video games I would be left with a huge void I could fill with all new things, I could take up fishing or something. If anything this would be the perfect chance to read and watch the great films and books I have dodged over the years. The challenge starts next week, until then here is the last game I played before taking on this challenge.

Red Steel 2 is the sequel to the incredibly mediocre and drab Wii launch title Red Steel. With the memory of the first game fading away Ubisoft did the right thing and rebooted the series, moving away from the Yakuza concept in favour of something more original. Red Steel 2 takes place in a setting reminiscent of the TV show Firefly where Western and Eastern cultures have fused together to create an Asian Wild West world where men battle each other with Six-shooters and Katana's. The developers rectified many if not all the issues with the original game, Red Steel 2 is better than the first in every conceivable way.

Red Steel had control issues due to the Wii remote, the aiming was inaccurate and the sword play just did not work at all with unresponsive controls deciding the outcome by chance. It would be wrong to blame all of the problems in the original Red Steel on controls, even if Red Steel had been on the PS2 the poor gameplay and design would ultimately purge the game into the Average at best category. With the motion + add on the Wii controller is only now living up to its potential, Red Steel 2 was to be the game to live up to said potential but to be honest it is only half way there.
The motion + makes your gun aim perfectly and while the sword combat is accurate it still boils downs to flinging your arm from side to side like you are at a Piñata party.

The cel-shaded graphical style of the game makes it more visually appealing and attractive than its predecessor but as far as the Wii is concerned anything aiming for a realistic style may as well not bother.
The story and narrative structure is linear with the gist of it boiling down to “go here, do this, come back for your next mission”, a repetitive structure which gives the player the same set of tasks again and again, this problem falls on the side missions with each one being a variant of “destroy x number of these, find x number of these, kill x number of bad guys”. It comes down to is the game needlessly padding itself out. Take the side missions away and the game becomes short, and not Portal short where the game is no longer than it needs to be, Red Steel 2 is the type of short where you feel there is some wasted potential.
A lot of the potential is lost in the lack of challenge provided. The upgrades can over power your character making him near invincible. The sword techniques you learn is where all challenge is lost, half way through the game you learn a move called The Tiger, a move capable of blocking all attacks and breaking the enemies guard, once you have this technique the game becomes an exercise tool for your arm, even bosses bow down to the power of The Tiger.

I do like Red Steel 2 but it often comes off as being designed by a committee following a check list. Quick Time Events are used in one cut scene just for the sake of it. Many things in Red Steel 2 seem to be there for the sake of it. Maybe the developers had to pass a cliché test before the game could be released.
Despite all the flaws Red Steel 2 is still one of the stronger 3rd party titles on the Wii.