Tag Archives: PSvita

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!

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DarkSiders

10 May

Being a Playstation Plus member has its benefits. For those unaware of PS+ its Sony’s paid subscription service for its online service. One of the perks of being a Plus member is access to the instant game collection; Sony’s Dynamic (ever-changing) library of games which members can download for free. I’ve been a member for about a year now and I can easily say that $50 dollars a year is an absolute steal for the amount of deals and hours of gaming I get for joining this premium service. So why am I blabbing on and on about this service? My review today leads us to Darksiders a game that I would probably never have played had it not been for PS+

Darksiders was developed by now defunct Vigil Games in production with the now defunct THQ…do you see where I am going with this? Released in North America on January 5th, 2010 Darksiders was released on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. I read the so-so reviews and given my large backlog of games I could never bring myself to paying for a game that wasn’t in most journalists top ten. While the game certainly had its low moments I had a ton of fun playing this game. Lets take a trip through hell while I tell the tale of the four horsemen!

Black Stallion

Black Stallion

This game was played on a PS3 and can be found for less than 20 USD at most retailers.

This means WAR

This means WAR

Visuals: Darksiders looks like your standard open world 3-d action adventure game. While nothing stands out the levels vary enough that you never get bored with the game. Darksiders has a dark ascetic and plays well with the whole bright heaven and dark hell concepts. One of my favorite scenes in the game is when War the protagonist/anti-hero is riding through the desert fighting several worm enemies; this is one point in the game where you truly feel immersed in the experience and forget that you are playing a video game. The enemies don’t have a lot of variety  but the bosses look and feel different and add another level of visual fidelity with their bright spots and enormous size and detail.

Story: You play as War one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse trying to keep the balance between Heaven and Hell. You start out with your full arsenal at your disposal; Huge sword, Chain, Spells, and Demonic shape shifting form. Just like Metroid after the first couple minutes of the game War losses everything; while I wont get into details of who and why, lets just say War has to clear his name one bloody battle at a time. You are joined by the Watcher early in the game who is voiced by Mark Hamill  who does an amazing job as the dark and cunning watch dog for War. The actual story is ho-hum but the mythology and characters were interesting and a big draw for me.

Gameplay: Darksiders can easily be considered the Jack of All Trades and the Master of none. On minute you feel like you are playing the Legend of Zelda and the next you are Kratos the God of War slashing and dicing enemies left and right. The game does a great job incorporating game concepts like Mini-bosses, Backtracking, Hack-n-Slash and so on from other games, but they never work to the level of perfection that they should. I struggled quite a bit from the jump mechanics in this game; the timing seemed off when trying to jump from one ledge to another, or chaining combos. Jumping aside I never got stuck in my dozen or so hours in the game. The camera was never a big issue, and the animations were fluid; you fell because you fell, no other reason.

Looks like Link grew up!

Looks like Link grew up!

Test of Time: Darksiders plays great three years later. Due to the source material being relevant today with so many remakes and sequels of other games the dungeons and battles don’t feel dated just familiar. My suggestion for getting the most out of Darksiders is to pick it up after you have played a game like Final Fantasy or Rock Band. It’s a good game but if you just finished playing the latest God of War or Legend of Zelda it won’t stack up.

I am excited to play the sequel and hope that the new developer Nordic Games can give us the threequel fans deserve.

BROS: If you can get it under 20 bucks no reason not to buy this game, I don’t know where the funds would go at this point but you will get a dozen plus hours of enjoyment from this game and it will get you more excited about the sequel and any other adventures the horsemen may have down the line!

Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days

9 Apr

Let me start off by saying Hi! Sorry I have been away for so long but some recent changes in my life created a creative block. 2013 seems to be shaping up and with it I thought; why not bring back the LTAP; better late than never I suppose. I wish I was coming back on a positive note, alas the game I most recently played is one literally, for the dogs.

Released on August 17th 2010 and developed by IO interactive the studio behind the hitman games KAL2 seemed to be a game built for me; a short 3rd person shooter with a grand story and short play clock. I purchased this game in late 2010 and played it for the first time last week on my PC.

Waddaya Playin

Waddaya Playin

This game was played on a desktop and was purchased via steam for 4.99. You can find the game in the bargain bin at most Electronic stores.

Two guys just going out for a bite

Two guys just going out for a bite

VISUALS: Weird, weird, weird. So the game is played in the 3rd person and it appears that a camera man is following you throughout the roads of Shanghai; yet when a chapter is over the Camera man mysteriously disappears. This can be a bit jarring and caused me to have a couple “WTF” moments. Another issue I had with this 1980’s camera approach was intense screen tearing; intentional screen tearing, like when a finger print would get on the film of a cassette.  While I see what they were going for, the bands across the screen were nothing more than a cheap trick that scared me for a second as I thought my monitor was broken. The graphics were subpar with characters looking fairly similar and all the locations being some variation of wet and grey.

STORY: You are playing as Kane and Lynch two buddies who happen to be guns for hire. The story starts with them meeting in Shanghai and one small mishap spirals into a four hour bullet slog. There are ups and downs in pace but the story does nothing except break up the gun fights. While this game does add a sense of tension and a chapter that was incredibly gruesome  I feel the friendship mentality could have been tapped into a little more especially at the end a la Army of two. The end of this game was an absolute mess by the way (No Spoilers) but my word did it just fade to black.

GAMEPLAY: This is where the game truly fell apart for me. For a 3rd person shooter that is supposed to be a duck and cover game the cover mechanic was abysmal. Sometimes my character would not even stick to a wall or he would read the wrong wall and run across the level. The other aspect of the game the “shooter” aspect was just as appalling. Machine guns were worthless in this game as it almost appeared that my bullets were flying backwards, Head shots did not count unless you were using a sniper, and Shotguns have the range of Rocket Launchers. I could excuse one of the mechanics but not both. As stated above the Camera is also a huge issue here as it gives you this faux 2nd person view for a 3rd person shooter. There were times where I simply could not see anyone but I was getting ripped to shreds.

The Dog Days are over

The Dog Days are over

TEST OF TIME: NOPE! This game should not be played end of story. It was less than 4 hours long and it was poorly executed on all levels.

BROS: SKIP! Do not walk, RUN!

This game can be found for a couple bucks on Steam and Amazon but again; No means No. Support the Developer and buy another game from them just not this one!

Prince of Persia

10 Jan

I swear Nolan North does not have anything to do with this blog! This will be our third Nolan North game featured on Ltapgamer and probably one of my favorites. Prince of Persia which was first introduced in 1989 has seen several iterations over the years; from a ground breaking 2D side-scroller to a redefining 3D action game Prince of Persia has seen its share of changes in its 23 years on the market. Today we are going to cover the Xbox 360, PS3 game from 2008. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and released in the US on December 2, 2008 Prince of Persia takes the action adventure hero into a cel-shaded romp into the desert.

Not sponsored by Nolan North

Not sponsored by Nolan North

This game was played on the Xbox 360 and can be found at GameStop for 5 dollars or less!

Weapon of Choice

Weapon of Choice

Visuals: Prince of Persia (POP) takes the game series from its 3D world and adds Cel-Shading to give the game a water color vibe. This game oozes with color and adds a certain art vibe that will capture you from the first sandstorm til the final boss fight. There is quite a variety in color here and the world becomes more beautiful when you clear the baddies from the area. Cel-shading doesn’t always work for games as it takes some “realism” away from animations or visual effects; I feel as if the world of POP was meant for this art style as the characters though new seem like friends you grew up with as a child. Whenever I booted the game up I felt nostalgic as if I was opening up my favorite children’s book on a rainy day.

Story: You play as the Prince of Persia who seems to have drifted in the wrong direction in the midst of a sandstorm. You literally fall into the lap of a damsel in distress and your adventure begins. Elika is the female non playable character that follows you along in this mysterious land. We won’t spoil why she needs your help but you piece things together as you progress through the game. As usual with any Nolan North voiced game (insert wink and smiley face) you immediately have a strange romantic tension with the female character which starts as annoyance builds into friendship and inevitably ends with love.  Elika is a fun character that never got on my nerves and serves as a catalyst to the story. I found myself interested in chatting with her to get some background on her and the mysterious land we were trying to save.

Gameplay: POP has some great controls both on PS3 and Xbox. The prince will be scaling walls, hanging from ceilings, and fighting several baddies. The controls are intuitive and you know that it’s your fault when you missed a jump or didn’t parry properly. POP adds a new “don’t die” mechanic with the help of Elika that I found to be quite fun and never took me out of the game; the mechanic allows Elika to save you if you fall from a high point or if you get slain in battle. Some people found this to be obtrusive and thought it made the game too easy (your mileage may vary) Camera is good for the most part though with any game that you are climbing and jumping it may take an extra millisecond to catch up from time to time.

Prince and Elika

Prince and Elika

Test of Time: POP is fun, of the “newer” Action-Adventure games I think Ubisoft did a great job bringing the prince to next-gen consoles and I hope a sequel is in the works. If I did have one gripe with the game it was the ending of the story but again (No spoilers here.) I think if you are out shopping and you want to buy something for yourself or maybe a gift for a friend or family member pull out that FIVE DOLLAR bill and purchase the game; you really cannot go wrong with this game.

I think were going to get rid of the BROS SYSTEM for now

Cy: Pick it up its 5 bucks

Uncharted Golden Abyss

3 Jan

Fortune Favors the bold, throw in a pinch of luck as well! When I found out Uncharted would be on Playstation Vita I was very excited about taking a another romp through Drakes crazy fortune hunting world. Uncharted Golden Abyss is the 4th game in the Uncharted series by Naughty Dog but the first on a portable system. The kicker here is not only is this the first portable uncharted, its the first Uncharted headed by a different studio. Developed by Bend Studio known for Playstation and PS2 classics like Syphon Filter, Uncharted Golden Abyss Launched onto handhelds as a Launch Title in the US on February 15th 2012. Uncharted Golden Abyss makes the jump from Home console to Portable handheld with a few bumps and bruises, but it’s definitely a ride worth taking.

It's going to be a climb

It’s going to be a climb

This game was played on a PSVita. If you are a PLUS member this game is free for a limited time and can be found between 30 and 40 dollars retail!

Weapon of Choice

Weapon of Choice

Visuals: Uncharted Golden Abyss (UGA) is a vibrant game with great  contrast between day and night shots. Some moments you are in a deep cavern that is only lit by a few fires, while other times you are standing on top of a mountain with the sun glaring in your eyes. The game might not compare to Uncharted 3 Drakes Deception, but for the system its on I feel it really pushes the hardware to its limit. If I was to knock something I would say that the animations when climbing ropes is a little funky and the characters move like robots. Nate’s eyes are a little strange as well but you may enjoy the change in color.

Story: UGA is a prequel to the original three games on the PS3. We see a younger? Nathan Drake running around the jungle with a new character Dante who is Drakes friend and partner in this new game. A new female interest Chase also comes into the story and as usual plenty of quips will build as does the sexual tension. The three are looking for a secret treasure buried within the Panama jungle; a daunting task for sure, but throw in a General who wants the treasure for himself and were now roaming in Uncharted territories.

Gameplay: UGA gets to be one of the first 3rd person shooters to get full use of the right analog stick on the Playstation Vita. While I did love moving the camera and aiming it felt a little slow from time to time. Headshots that I would have easily have made in the 2nd and 3rd uncharted games were much harder in this game due to sensitivity issues (Your milage may vary). This being a launch game for a new system comes with all the perks of showing off the robust plethora of “stuff” the vita can do. You row with the back touch pad on a canoe, you make charcoal rubbings by rubbing the front screen, sometimes you even have to hold the camera up to the light to show cool puzzles. While some of these gimmicks are fun it did get daunting after the tenth charcoal rubbing or photo shot. I would definitely give this game a break on the gaming mechanics because Bend Studio has no where to go but up from here. Its a solid base and I am certain when they make another game these little things will be sorted out.

Test of Time: Uncharted has a great story and beautiful visuals; the irony with launch games are that they look great for the first year or two and then dwindle into the shadows. Uncharted 2 and 3 had time to grow and develop but Naughty Dogs original outing was far from perfect. I think Uncharted will be a game that is talked about quite a bit especially if a second one comes out but I could never see this game as the “best of the best” I am an Uncharted fan and I loved the characters and story so I am torn saying these things but unless you have Playstation Plus or get the game for cheap I would suggest renting this adventure. You will love every minute of your adventure, its just that the end result leaves you feeling a bit hungry for more!

No BROS SYSTEM this week:

Cy: Buy on the cheap or download for free!

L.A. Noire

27 Dec

Phelps, Badge 1247; …How can I help you Detective? What could possibly be the most droning back and forth of any game gets repeated time and time again. Welcome to L.A. Noire a game that takes place in 1947 Los Angeles. Noire takes you through a trip back in time in the shoes of Detective Cole Phelps as he deals with murders, mysteries, and fires. Developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games in 2011. L.A. Noire is a game with great narrative and suspense but falls victim to some issues that plague similar “open-world” games; more on that in just a moment.

Phelps, Cole Phelps

Phelps, Cole Phelps

This game was played with all DLC on a PS3. All versions can be found for under 20 dollars but I would suggest checking amazon every now and then for a 5 or 7 dollar PC download. It has been mentioned several times that I enjoy short story driven games so when I heard L.A. Noire was thick with Mystery and suspense I just had to boot it up. Several hours later I am sad to admit I just wanted to turn in my badge and burner.

Black Stallion

Black Stallion

Visuals: L.A. Noire uses a technology called MotionScan that uses several cameras to catch every facial twitch and movement and then animate it. This was something really fun to watch especially during the interrogation scenes, and I think it was a big part of the B+ Cast they had act in the game. I’d also like to point out that with the exception of a few cast members the entire cast of AMCs Madmen is in this game. Aside from the close ups the Graphics wont really do anything to blow you away, everything seems foggy/blurry and there was quite a bit of choppiness (your mileage may vary)  everyone knows that with an open world game sometimes the graphics take a hit but I think if you are used to Rockstar graphics you’ll have no trouble jumping in.

Story: This is the meat of the game; you play as Cole Phelps a Veteran of  WWII and you decide to join the force. Your good nature doesn’t seem to mesh with anyone in the department and it was a strange twist to be the hero no one wanted to be around. Characters come and go and I worry that by saying anything I will give away some of the plot points; just don’t get super attached to anyone. As Cole works his way up the Police change other parts of his life fall apart and certain parts of his past come back to haunt him. Remember story is everything; L.A. Noire like a television serial has a grand arc which we learn about in the beginning but then we forget about until the end. My issue with the story is that you do forget about the arc and you don’t really care about the cases you are working on. I became so frustrated with the game for several reasons but one of the big ones was that I just wanted to move on! When you do get back to the arc you realize the juice wasn’t really worth the squeeze.

Gameplay: L.A. Noire is a slow game, I would say its an updated version of a point and click adventure. You start a mission by driving to a location you search for clues and then chase down a bad guy or interrogate them in a room. The controls feel clunky, I don’t know if a mouse and keyboard would have made it better but it was hard getting from point A to point B without wanting to destroy my console, TV, and anything else in my path. The gameplay is exceptionally repetitive and will gnaw at a gamer who isn’t used to old school gaming mechanics.  I think I’ve made my point about the gameplay for L.A. Noire.

Test of Time: This game already feels old so I don’t know if this is a good category for the game. The story is great if you can plow through the game I think you may enjoy it. Just know that L.A. Noire is not an exciting precision shooter or a nail biting thriller. I personally would be OK if I never played this game. I had the Complete Edition with all the DLC and was so angry I had to slog through several more hours of cases I couldn’t care about. I love what the team went for in L.A. Noire but it should have been a 8-10 hour detective game instead of a 20-50 hour desk job.

NO BROS SYSTEM this week!

Cy: Skip

Spec Ops: The Line

20 Dec

Open your eyes, Open your eyes Walker. There could be nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the desert; injured and dehydrated. Enter Spec Ops: The Line; which adds a burning and crumbling Dubai to your desert nightmare. Developed by Yager Development  and Darkside Game Studios, and published by 2KGames Spec Ops: The Line pushes you the player to the brink of insanity. Spec Ops is a shooter that truly pushes the limits of not only the main Protagonist Captain Martin Walker, but also you as a gamer. There are no right choices in this game and we won’t spoil anything in this review but if you like your shooter with a twist; this 2012 shooter could be the way to go!

Welcome to Dubai

Welcome to Dubai

This game was demoed on Xbox 360 and completed on PC. I chose the PC version simply because of the cost. I am sure you could argue controller vs mouse and keyboard or pick apart the pixels but I did enjoy myself on both consoles.  As usual I want to start by saying I enjoy short games with grand stories and Spec Ops: The Line could be that perfect rainy day game for most people.

Weapon of choice

Weapon of choice

Visuals: Spec Ops: The Line is a great looking game; notice I didn’t say amazing. While I did think the Dubai background was gorgeous and certain moments were intense some things just looked dated. The character models looked very similar, the movements were robotic, and there is a vehicle level with fire that seems suspiciously last gen.  That said there were moments (Helicopter scenes, and rappelling out of windows) that were just a joy to stare at and it made me curious as to how there could be such a disparity between visuals.  One thing we will touch on later was how I loved the squad I was with and how they were so different from one another.  While it probably will never win any awards for visuals it is still a great game to watch from beginning to end.

Story:  Welcome to Delta, You play as Captain Martin Walker (Voiced by Nolan North) your squad consists of a straight shooter “second in command”  Lieutenant Alphonse Adams and a wise cracking Staff Sergeant John Lugo. You are sent into the heart of Dubai which at this point in the game is a deserted wasted land with rebels and soldiers replacing tourists and civilians. Your goal is to find Colonel John Konrad and evacuate him from the city; of course things are not always as easy as we would hope. You shoot your way up and down buildings, in helicopters, and trucks, all while fighting hundreds of soldiers and battling the weather. As you progress in the game and your choices add up you see a break down in your unit and in yourself. Dubai mirrors the emotions and troubles Captain Walker and his team face and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Gameplay: Spec Ops is a 3rd person shooter; a lot of people either love or hate the perspective ( I didn’t mind the perspective in this game). The controls can be tweaked to fit your style and I found movement and command prompts to be very responsive. I loved being able to tell my squad mates to open fire or go into cover, and never felt that my AI was hindering my ability to progress through the level. Depending on your difficulty level you can either breeze past the levels or pull your hair out in frustration (your mileage will vary)

Test of Time: Definitely not as old as Chrono Trigger our first post on LtapGamer, but with the way technology is moving today what was new a month ago could feel ancient at this point.  I would say Spec Ops: The line will be a great game years to come. The visuals are on par and the controls are very easy to use. One thing I cannot stress enough is how amazing the story was in this game. If you read this and are curious how to play the game, I would suggest getting a good drink and play on the easiest setting. While you may not love the bullet fest levels, the story will compel you to come back again and again. When it comes to 3rd person shooters I love the Gears series and Uncharted and think that this is a game that will stand the test of time. Just like Fight Club is now a cult classic and not the 1 Billion dollar money machine that Batman or the avengers are, Spec Ops: The Line will keep gamers talking for years to come.

BROS System:

Buy Skip or Rent

Cy: Buy! try finding it for under 20 bucks!

Kem: (Never Played it)  Rent