Archive | June, 2013

Opinion Piece: Yellow Journalism

28 Jun

So this is my first opinion piece and quite a departure from the typical LtapGamer review. I want to talk about hype and how we can so quickly get lost in it. Let us take a step back in time to 1898 to the spark of the Spanish-American war. While not the first use of hyperbole or exaggerated details in my opinion it was the first time that people were allowed to post something without thought or without credence; I am of course talking about Yellow Journalism or Yellow Press. This form of media has evolved over time and with the invention of social media one man or woman’s word becomes law or fact. But what does Yellow Journalism have to do with Game Reviews or Games Journalism? The fact is that the first review of a game with mass hype typically sets the trend.

We see this all the time a game comes out with mass hype from some well-known or indie developer and journalist want to sell a product. While there is nothing wrong with the idea of being a promoter for the less informed or the financially dependent; video game scores are worth their weight in gold.

Game of the Year

Game of the Year

I want to talk about a Zombie game that has recently come out and received tons of praise, some rightfully so but some that seem to be a bit of a stretch.

Last year Telltale games released a point and click adventure game called The Walking Dead. This game was episodic (short bits of the game were released every couple of months) and had cel-shaded graphics. From that sentence alone you would not assume much of the game but many journalists clung to the game claiming the story and idea of choosing who gets to live and die caused a great amount of tension. They shouted that this is a different experience and no two players would feel the same way along this five episode adventure. This game was heralded as the “Game of the Year”, “an innovation in gaming”, so on and so forth. Yet no one talked about its archaic nature or shoddy movement and buggy camera controls; and if they did it was mildly glazed over. Yet fans ran to the game purchasing the game digitally on almost every platform including iOS and Playstation Vita, but what made it so special? It was different? How? Compared to what? As I started thinking about the game more and talking to more and more people our stories about the game weren’t all that different, in fact many of us had the exact same ending or series of events. Games like the Walking Dead have been around for decades and we all grew away from them over the years. So why now, why did so many people claim it was the game of the year?

The answer is simple; we wanted to be a part of the conversation. Just like back in the Spanish-American War we wanted something to talk about with friends and family members that didn’t involve the everyday norm. In the gaming world the everyday norm now is Call of Duty or Halo, so when something so “different” came around we got lost in it, we were subsumed by it. We immediately agreed with the first person who told us this was the pinnacle of gaming. Is the Walking Dead a bad game? Absolutely not I enjoyed my experience with it but I would never consider it Game of the Year Nominee. So I hope that when this year roles around and you are with your friends or loved ones picking your next game or wondering what will appear at the VGAs you don’t get lost in the hype and you do your research. Vote with your wallets, use your head, and game on!

Advertisements

Vanquish

19 Jun

“There is but one way to prevent the destruction of NYC, your complete surrender”. After witnessing San Francisco go down in flames you might consider putting your hands up and giving up; or you might pick up a billion dollar Iron-manish  suit and wage war to save the world. Its time to dive into this months backlog with Vanquish!

Vanquish is developed by Platinum games and is an insane third-person shooter. Vanquish began development in 2007 and was released in October 2010. Published by Sega and Directed by legendary game maker Shinji Mikami, Vanquish sets itself apart from an Uncharted or Gears of war type third person shooter by combining fast fluid movement and precision aiming mechanics.

Black Stallion

Black Stallion

This game can be found for around 20 bucks at your local game store and is definitely worth a look. I played this on my Playstation 3.

Visuals: Vanquish takes place in outer-space in the near future on a space station orbiting the earth. Vanquish has lots of bright lights and colors splashes your screen as you walk, run, and slide your way through the many corridors and open terraces. The games character models look incredibly similar to Bayonetta, so much so that I found myself looking for Easter eggs or little hints to the developers other game. I think I have cracked the code for how the Japanese portray Americans in games; If you are loud and brash, you are a 7 foot tall 300 pound soldier with scars and a trunk full regrets. If you are the main hero you are in peak physical form with some form of oral addiction; smoking or sucking on something. If you play the part of the side kick you are slender and consistently terrified of the most mundane task “watch out for that tree”! Its not a perfect formula but it works.  I loved the character variation and level differences; no two places looked too similar and while you did have your repetitive grunts I never grew weary of them.

Story: You play as Sam Gideon who is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency researcher with an Augmented Reaction Suit that is sent into space to stop the villains known as the Order of the Russian Star. The President believes that Sam is the only one capable of taking on this classified mission to help save an “important” scientist who is on the rouge space station. Along the way Sam meets some new allies and kills some baddies. While I do consider the story just fluff to make you want to continue playing the game I did enjoy the banter between Gideon and other characters both good and bad on the screen.

Stop Drop and Roll

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Gameplay: I’ve never taken drugs besides the occasional allergy medicine but I would have to consider Vanquish a cocktail of Ecstasy and Speed all at once. Fast twitch game-play and a slow down mechanic made playing this game an addictive experience. I played on an easier setting simply to enjoy the gun play. Gideon is able to quickly weave around enemies and fire an assortment of weapons that made every shot feel exciting and different. I had so much fun trying to dodge bullets and shoot people in the slow down time frame that I found myself restarting levels to try and perfect that one sequence. On the other side of the coin I will say the melee and upgrading mechanics felt completely archaic. You could upgrade your guns to be stronger but visually there was no change that made it feel like I made a good choice in upgrading a weapon. The Melee was also incredibly strange and incomplete. You can only punch something or someone once or twice before your suit over heats and Gideon becomes useless for 10 or 15 seconds. I don’t understand why this was needed in the game but I think it would have been a nice benefit to be able to upgrade the suits melee abilities. I will end on a positive note and say that the ground sliding with jets on your legs mechanic was a ton of fun! This is another area where upgrading would have been nice, but being able to slide from one part of the level to the next while shooting bad guys became incredibly addictive.

Can we still be friends?

Can we still be friends?

Test of Time: If you have the money I would pick this up on a long weekend and beat it in one or two sittings. It’s a short game especially on the easier difficulties but talk about a fun ride. The best way to describe Vanquish is like describing a new roller coaster at an amusement park; You wait in line for hours to get on a two minute ride. People may ask is it worth it and the only answer is “you need to try it for yourself”

BROS system

Cy: Rent:  I am going to have to resonate with my Bayonetta review but unless you love games and want to own them all and replay them time and time again you could probably gamefly this game for a couple bucks and return it in one weekend. Its cheap now so it may be worth adding to your collection, my only advice is don’t play something slow paced like Gears of War after the adrenaline rush that is Vanquish, you will regret the hangover.