Friday, July 19, 2013

Watch Dogs and Unbelief

Watch Dogs is one of those games.  One of the games that seems to push its genres in ways that breath new life into them, but almost seems too good to be real.  I had played a bit of Uncharted 1 but that did not prepare me for how awesome part 2 looked: and it lived up to its hype.  Last of Us seems to also push that boundry in a genre that is populated fully with half ass attempts.  Heavy Rain was just a bunch of quick time events with Resident Evil like world navigation.  Hell, Resident Evil 4 was just another Resident Evil.  Gears of War was just another shooter.  Somehow they all turned out to be paragons of their style.  I like to think that I have somewhat of a broad imagination, but several things have jaded my view of what is possible in games.  Let's start in the 90's.

I still have a box of mid to late 90's video game magazines, and let me tell you, if people think internet journalism is full of bullshit, then you have not read a 90's video game magazine.  I go back and read blatantly false reviews about games such as "Plumbers Don't Wear Ties" and good reviews on games advertised all over the magazine when the game is notorious for being horrible today.  So after being burned a few times, I have learned to be discerning with promises of new and innovative gameplay.

Next up on my train of "this has taught you to be a skeptic" is the 2000's MMORPG scene.  This is an era where they did developer videos that lied directly to your face.  The showed off things that never EVER made it into the actual game.  They pretty much promised everything and their sister if you buy the 60 dollar initial release.

"You going to have housing?"
"Fuck yea we are, the best most awesome player housing ever!  Just... not at release, but its coming"

"What about PVP?"
"the most amazing PVP battlegrounds you can think of, everything is destructable and you can build cities that are useful and different than everyone elses' cities... a few months after release"

"Can you fly?"
"Fuck yea you can fly!(you can't actually fly)"

So when I hear about a game with such ambition that it starts clicking on the "impossible" meter, I kind of ignore it.  For about a year I ignored Watch Dogs.  It sounded too awesome to be true.  Most companies can't get within sight of being on par with Grand Theft Auto, the king of open world games.  Then here comes Watch Dogs claiming to be like Grand Theft Auto but with A.I. driven NPC's and all that hacking and magic spell stuff.  I put it in the bin with all the other GTA-killer claimants.

Then I saw Sony's E3 conference when they showed off the game, and I was very surprised that everything appeared to work.  In video, non-pre-rendered video, in a demo that seemed to tie everything together.  How much was optimized script and how much is actual sandbox, I can't tell, but I definitely pulled the game out of the GTA clone bin and put it in the "maybe pretty awesome" bin(along with Destiny and Transistor).

I've played my share of Open World games.  Red Dead Redemption is sort of made by the same people as GTA, so I don't know if you will count that.  I also played through Infamous, and while it gave me the best feeling of super powers in a game of its type ever, it was a very basic "open world" game, and felt a lot like PS2 era GTA 3, with not many of the updates to the genre in the decade since.

Watch Dogs looks like it might push the envelope AND work as an actual game.

I'll put the E3 Demo video below so you can check it out if you have not.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fighters in the Streets

EVO is over, so talking some Street Fighter is topical.

I think I played Street Fighter 2 at the Walmart arcade first, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was beside it, so I did not play the first "modern" fighting game much.  Next I played it at a few different cousin's house before I borrowed the cart myself.  I played a ton of it, learning the moves from the instruction booklet, and playing against the computer every day after school.

I remember Vega was the big barrier for people I knew.  If you did not know, the original had 4 bosses at the end that were not playable.  Vega would climb the wall, then jump off and grab you, doing TONS of damage, and then sometimes he would just keep doing that over and over till you're dead.  The people I saw get past him only did so because they were lucky enough that he did not do this move.  Then I figured out Guile could catch him in the air and ensure the win.  We all finally got to see the endings.

The next big thing was allowing the bosses to be playable.  SNES got Street Fighter II Turbo, and Sega Genesis got Street Fighter II Championship Edition, and generally they were the same game.  I opted for Championship because the Sega Genesis 6 button controller was tailor made for Street Fighter.

I had some memorable games of Street Fighter Alpha 3.  At the end of my 9th year of high school, we hooked up the projector in the Tech room and played some Playstation on the wall.  It was the largest screen I had ever played on, and this was well before flat panels came out.  Street Fighter was the natural game everyone fell to playing because everyone got a couple of minutes of gaming, then passed the controller.  That is the strength of fighting games, and the reason they were so popular before the era of death match or 4 player Golden Eye.

I bowed out during Street Fighter 3.  I remember the first version of this game.  It was a mess of a game then.  The animation looked awesome, but they got rid of everyone that had been a fixture to Street Fighter for the past decade.  This would be fixed in later editions, adding Chun Li, Akuma and more, but that was too late for me.  The other big hit?  The new consoles were made for pushing polygons, not working with system intensive 2D.  2D was out of vogue.

Street Fighter IV looked so good, I did not believe it was real.  Seriously, I saw the leaked screenshots and said "this is some high concept, but no way is it fast enough for actual fighting".  I had seen years of 3D fighters, some trying to fight 2D despite being polygons, and I never saw it done well or with precision.  Then Street Fighter IV exploded.  It made me feel like I was 10 years old again, everyone was playing Street Fighter.  It would be a long while before I would get into it myself, but Street Fighter IV is the game that doesn't die.  New characters get added almost yearly, and I don't mind payin 15 bucks for the updates they add.

My biggest problem is that I don't have people sitting next to me playing.  That's what is missing from my Street Fighter IV experience.  Online play is ok, and i know it always had the promise of "always someone to play with", but its just not the same as having 5 or 6 people rotating the controllers as you take turns learning the game.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Skypp Network

The Skypp Network consists of a few blogs of mine.  This one could be considered the main "hub" of them all, and focuses on my opinions and editorials about the gaming industry.  Skyppcraft is a gaming journal about what I am currently playing.  Skypp's Table is a blog about table top gaming, focusing mainly on RPG's like Pathfinder and Savage Worlds.  More about each can be found at their respective pages, links to which you will be able to find all over this blog.