Friday, August 29, 2008

Too Human - Early Impressions

Also posted this on Pinoyxbox.com forums...

Just played this game yesterday and finished the first and second level....that second level was really, really, REALLY long. I wish the boss fight didn't repeat itself too much but the trip to the boss had some really nicely designed areas.

I have to say, though...the cutscenes and voice acting in this game are SUPERB. There may be some choppiness here-and-there in the animation but the voice acting more than makes up for it.

The combat works sometimes and at other times I wish that I could see more feedback from the game as to whether or not I'm hitting something. It just needs more flashiness. For some reason it's more fun to use a gun/cannon in the game than to use your melee weapons (or maybe it's because of the character class I'm using, which is the defender)

I love the world of the game, and the characters (while they could have had better faces) are very, very interesting. Gamers who want their games to have oodles of story will have a lot to like in Too Human. You could play this game just focused on the storyline since it seems quite well done and is very engaging.

I will say the game does have a few gameplay problems, but none of the problems I've encountered so far make it seem like a game that deserves a 6 (as most review sites have mentioned). The town alone (which you visit after level 1) is so fantastically well designed; I love the intricately modeled statues all around the city.....I love how everything just looks and feels so 'epic' / 'grand' when you're traveling around the city. And even in the game levels themselves, you get this impression that you're in this epic story. Maybe it's the soundtrack doing it, or maybe it's the sound effects....Too Human is an epic game if you don't stop and nitpick the little flaws that it has.

There's a lot of improvement that they can do; I think a lot of it has to do with the smoothness of the user interface (UI). I just halts the game when you have to replace your equipment, and it needs more sound effects when you're replacing your items or editing your character or his skills. I guess that's what I mean to say when I say that the game needs more 'flashiness'....the UI has to tell you when you're hitting something, it has to prompt you more when you're changing items...and more importantly it has to tell you where to begin! When the game starts it's like it hurls the user into this extremely complicated interface that, if you're not a 'hardcore gamer' you'll either get lost or immediately give up. This game isn't noob friendly, folks. But it lacks certain touches that could have made it the perfect-hardcore-diablo-game.

But certainly there's a LOT of room for improvement and I hope that MS doesn't give up on the series. I hope they give it the Viva Pinata treatment (where they didn't give up on the game and allowed for a sequel even if the game didn't sell so well). I can imagine that the game MIGHT not sell that well because of all those negative reviews. But I can't see a game that deserves a '6', so far. The cutscenes alone rival MGS4 in terms of making the characters / universe seem so interesting.

Will post more impressions as I go through the game....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Details on Tekken 6 Tournament

I just read more details regarding the International Tekken 6 tournament that's going to be held here in the Philippines. Click HERE to read the full article on Hackenslash.

"RP to host international Tekken 6 competition
08/28/08

Posted under Arcade, Competitions
By Alexander Villafania
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will be hosting the International Tekken 6 Grand Finals on November 3, organizer Timezone Philippines told hackenslash.

Ana Cardenas Benitez , marketing officer of Timezone Philippines, said the Tekken 6 local competitions have also been moved to later dates.

The registration period will start from September 1 to 15 at several Metro Manila Timezone branches. The pre-finals will be held on September 27, she said.

The participating Timezone branches are Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3, Alabang Town Center, Bonifacio High Street, SM Megamall, Market Market, TriNoma, Robinsons Metro East, Gateway, Robinsons Ermita, Greenhills, Robinsons Galleria, Mall of Asia, Waltermart, Metropoint and Cash ‘n Carry."

Deluge of Games: Too Human, Tales of Vesperia, Infinite Undiscovery

It seems the deluge of games for the Xbox 360 is about to begin. I'm barely done with Soulcalibur IV (I'm still enjoying the online mode immensely) and I'm in chapter 4 of Ninja Gaiden 2, and here comes three more big Xbox 360 titles:
  • Too Human - I'm getting this despite what the reviews out there are saying. I have a feeling the reaction in the reviews is more because of Denis Dyack's little stunt on Neogaf rather than weighing in on the game's actual merits. I've posted earlier about not 'understanding' the game after three tries, only to figure it out on my third attempt...apparently there's fun to be had in the game, and I think that's the whole point.
  • Tales of Vesperia - be prepared to read a lot of posts from my wife about this game. Hmm...if that's the case, I'm not going to have that much time playing on the 360 since she'll be using it... O_O ... Uh oh....
  • Infinite Undiscovery - Another RPG!? This month is going to lose 100+ hours just to these games. Then again, that's what we gamers enjoy about these types of titles---their longevity and story value is incredible.

Impressions to come as soon as we get 'em :D

Oh, wait, we'll give out impressions as soon as we spend enough time with these games. Unlike other 'professional' gaming sites which just play through five minutes of each game to determine their value, we actually play through the entire game here in Third World Gamer, before we lay down judgment. We also play the multiplayer mode, if it's part of the game. And we do that, extensively.

It's a great time to be an Xbox 360 gamer; it's raining games once again, and I don't see any signs of it stopping anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

WCG 2008: WCG TV on Studio 23!

The World Cyber Games 2008 Grand Finals in Cologne, Germany is due in a few months time. I noticed an update to the official Philippine site for WCG. They'll be airing a TV show entitled 'WCG TV' on Studio 23 starting on September 13. The show will be aired every Saturday at 9:00AM.

I'm looking forward to seeing the show since it will have highlights from the various WCG events in the Philippines and in other countries; from the preliminary tournaments to the WCG: Asian Championship in Singapore. I also have a feeling the show will have coverage of the Grand Finals in Cologne, Germany, where the best gamers from around the world will compete in various games on both PC and Xbox 360 platforms.

Stay tuned to http://ph.worldcybergames.com/ for more updates as the date for the Grand Finals draws near....

Good Luck and Best Wishes to the Philippine Team for the WCG 2008 Grand Finals!

First International TEKKEN 6 Competition Finals to be held in the Philippines

I saw this poster outside of Timezone arcades and I also saw it on the official site for Timezone. It's interesting because apparently the 1st International Tournament for Tekken 6 will have their finals here in the Philippines. Here's a link to the news and an image of the poster I see in most Timezone arcades:

http://www.timezone.com.ph/promos.asp#p194

"Tekken 6 Competition

Author: Nedz Manangan
Promo Date: 7/1/2008 - 11/3/2008
MECHANICS: Be Timezone Philippines' representative to the First International Tekken 6 Tournament! Registration is on September 1-15, 2008 at participating Timezone Centers. Pre-Finals is on September 27 and Grand Finals is on October 28 at Glorietta 4 Cinema Lobby. International Finals will be held right here in the Philippines! It is scheduled on November 3 at the Glorietta Activity Center. For more updates on this competition, visit this website regularly.

PARTICIPATING OUTLETS: Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3, Alabang Town Center, Bonifacio High Street, SM Megamall, Market Market, TriNoma, Robinsons Metro East, Gateway, Robinsons Ermita, Greenhills, Robinsons Galleria, Mall of Asia, Waltermart, Metropoint and Cash n Carry"



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Soulcalibur IV CPU AI in Versus Mode...

...is quite fun to play against. Set it to 'VERY HARD' difficulty and you've got a virtual sparring partner to play against if no local players are online to play against.

The difficulty levels in VERSUS MODE for the AI are Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard, and Edge Master. "Very Hard" difficulty puts up a good fight, though since it is a CPU opponent it won't pull any surprises or weird tricks that human players usually do. I haven't gotten around to playing against 'Edge Master' difficulty but that's a personal decision because I don't want to get too stressed out playing the game. Practicing in VERSUS MODE against the AI is a great way to test out your own tricks and figure out some new ways to play. Of course, the best test of your own skills in Soulcalibur IV is to play against a human opponent, but when you can't find one (whether online or off), VERSUS MODE against AI is a nice alternative.

To play against AI, choose 'VERSUS MODE', then leave 2P set to CPU (or 1P, if you want to play on the right side). Changing the difficulty level is on the OPTIONS menu, in the 'VERSUS MODE' options. You can also change the difficulty while you're selecting your character, by pressing START at the character select menu.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pinoyxbox hosts SOULCALIBUR IV Tournament at ANICON 2008


Last year, Pinoyxbox was part of the GX-CON 2007, a Philippine console gaming convention. For this year, GX-Con has been renamed to ANICON 2008, and Pinoyxbox will once again be a part of this event.


Visit the Pinoyxbox at ANICON 2008 thread in Pinoyxbox.com to know more about the convention!

ANICON 2008
will be held on October 5, 2008 at the SM Mega Mall Megatrade Hall 3.

One of the things planned for ANICON 2008 is a SOULCALIBUR IV Tournament! Details are still being worked regarding this tournament (including the schedule, and if there will be any prizes or other things) but we're pretty sure it will be one of the tournament games to be hosted by the Pinoyxbox community.

Would you like to start practicing already for this tournament? Hop on to Pinoyxbox's SOULCALIBUR IV thread and find practice mates that are on the same ISP as you. In my experience, playing against other players on the same ISP for SCIV on XBOX LIVE has practically no lag! So it's great for preparing for the upcoming tournament.

More information coming soon! :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

IPhone 3G Launching in the Philippines Officially in 2 Days


I recently passed by one branch of Globe Telecom and saw a sign that said that the IPhone 3G was launching in the Philippines in 2 days.

Wow, I forgot all about this one. I heard that Apple was releasing the IPhone locally a few months ago; I was surprised that it was a matter of days before the IPhone becomes officially supported in the Philippines.

You would think that, in the Philippines where there is supposedly a small market for high-tech luxury items, and people supposedly don't have that much disposable income, that a product launch for something like the IPhone 3G is a crazy, impossible endeavor. Consider the price alone of the IPhone in the Philippines; a whopping PHP 37,599 (US$822.60) for the 8GB version, and PHP 43,799 (US$958.25) for the 16GB version. The truth is, not many in the mainstream Philippine market today can afford the IPhone.

But Globe and Apple sure have some guts for doing it. They know there IS a market that they can tap into that buys these things, even if they're expensive. Apple/Globe don't necessarily have to make the IPhone everybody's phone, but they can still profit from supporting it officially in the Philippines because there is a market segment that does appreciate the value of technology, and is willing to pay the price for it.

Kudos to Apple and Globe for having some initiative to bring official support for the IPhone 3G in the Philippines. It shows that they understand the importance of establishing a base early when it comes to brand new technology, and they know that it is possible to create a market for something where there is none. They know that IPhones will reach the Philippines eventually---actually, they're already available on the grey market as parallel imports, or simply because some Filipinos who went abroad took them home as pasalubong for their families. So why should Apple pretend that the product doesn't exist? Why not make it official? Great job, Globe/Apple; thanks for recognizing that the Philippines is on the world map. I, for one, surely appreciate that Apple values the consumers here who want to buy their product.

There was a time when cellular phones were also a luxury in the Philippines, and not everyone could afford them because they had a system where they charge you every minute for the time that you use the service. I remember speaking with people who said that cellular phones will never take off; landlines are easier to use and more viable. The cellular phone companies persisted; they invested millions to create the market for cellular phones in the Philippines, and thanks to their understanding of how the long view matters when it comes to business, they eventually succeeded in a big way.

That's how I see Globe and Apple's initiative to sell something as ridiculously expensive as the IPhone 3G. They're establishing their ground in the local market. They're not saying that they're going to put an IPhone in every Filipino's pocket, but they're saying that it's going to happen eventually.

Now, that's guts.

http://www.iphone3g.globe.com.ph/

"You are invited to be the first to experience the iPhone 3G with Globe on Thursday, August 21, 10PM at the Tower One and Exchange Plaza, Makati City.

Globe Telecom to Bring iPhone 3G to the Philippines on August 22

MANILA—August 6, 2008—Globe Telecom today announced that it will bring iPhone 3G to the Philippines on August 22. iPhone 3G combines all the revolutionary features of iPhone plus 3G networking that is twice as fast*, built-in GPS for expanded location-based mobile services, and iPhone 2.0 software which includes support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and runs hundreds of third party applications available through the new App Store"

LAST NOTE: If you must know---no, I'm not buying an IPhone 3G when it launches. I simply can't afford it. It's too expensive for me! All I'm saying is that I admire Apple/Globe's guts to officially support such an expensive product here in the Philippine market, that's all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Soul Calibur IV Observations

After a lot of multiplayer online matches in Soul Calibur IV, I just made some observations:

- Siegfried is incredibly strong. Not undefeatable but he's quite tough to fight. Some of his strings can be walked around (simply press diagonal up or diagonal down to walk sideways-forward) but you have a really brief moment before he can hit you again. You have to be very, very quick.

- Characters with long weapons seem to be quite vulnerable the moment a character with a short weapon gets in close. A good player will keep the proper distance if another player is trying to gain position. At first I thought this was a game balance issue; then I realized it's pretty balanced if the player with the smaller weapon knows what he's doing.

-It's interesting how the game prevents ring out in some cases; at first it seems weird and unnatural but after a few matches I realized it gives the other player 'another chance' if he gets tossed near the edge. It seems ring out is only possible if you're both on the edge fighting. If you're far from the edge, and then you get tossed out, you won't ring out even if it looks like you should (there's some kind invisible wall that prevents it; that 'wall' disappears once you're both very near the edge. That's the time you should be careful). It's good to keep this in mind....

- I love how I can switch characters in this game. In VF5 I was dedicated to just one character, in Soul Calibur I have a tough time picking a favorite because they're all so playable. I've spent the most time with Yun Seong but every so often Sophitia and Cervantes are good choices :) For some reason I find it more entertaining to pick the guys with the medium-range weapons and not the guys with the gigantic swords. I dunno, the guys with mid-range swords just have more entertaining combinations....

- Yoda and the Apprentice may seem overpowered, but they aren't. In fact I realized that Yoda seems to strike quite weakly compared to the others; he's just hard to hit since he's so short, and he has a very short recovery time when he strikes, which lets him have a lot of options. The Apprentice is quite strong but his weapon is mid-range; he's just as strong as the other mid-range characters and doesn't seem overpowered, too.

I have to admit, the Apprentice's force attacks look really, really cool :D

- This is the first fighting game that I've ever played with online speed that feels practically perfect, and lets in two more spectators, too. (4 players per match). I can imagine one issue that some players will complain about is the limited number of players per match, but I see it as a good thing because it really lessens the lag if there are only 4 players in each session. There might be a way for Namco to increase players, but I gotta say, I'm real happy with the way it is now. I hope future fighting games from Namco will be able to accomplish what Soul Calibur IV accomplished.

And I wish Namco-Bandai would share their fantastic net-code with Sega (VF5R) and Capcom (Street Fighter IV). I'm amazed that a Japanese game company finally got online play right this time. Most other games made in Japan don't have a well done Online mode; SCIV is the exception, and I hope it's a good beginning for future online capabilities in Japanese-made titles. Soul Calibur 4 just set a new standard for the quality of the online mode in a fighting game.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Soul Calibur IV Online Play - Join in the fun!

Photobucket

I only recently discovered the awesomeness that is Soul Calibur IV's Multiplayer Mode on Xbox Live....sorry I couldn't be more creative with my description, but that's exactly how I feel about SC4 online. It's incredibly, insanely fun, especially with friends who are living in the same vicinity or on the same ISP as you. I got to play some matches where my connection was just superb (5 blue bars on your connection rating means you've got a good connection going). If you're in the Philippines and want to experience how much fun Soul Calibur IV is with online play, check out Pinoyxbox's Soul Calibur IV thread and link up with players that are on the same ISP as you. Being on the same ISP guarantees you'll have an incredibly fun time.


For some reason, in the Philippines, different ISPs (even if they're all based in the Philippines) don't exactly connect well together. Let's say you're on PLDT and another player is on Globe. If you try to connect with the Globe player and play SCIV with him, your connection will be worse than if you played with someone based in Japan or the United States. I hear the case is the same for most other multiplayer games; for some reason local ISPs don't want to interconnect with their rival companies even if they're all based in the same country. Bah, crab mentality among Philippine internet service providers....:(


So the best way to experience SCIV's online in the Philippines is to look for friends who have the same ISP as you, add them to your friends list, and play online matches with them. Try all the characters....watch when other players are playing (thanks to spectator mode!); basically savor the entire experience. I'll gladly say that this game has far better net-code than Virtua Fighter 5, which didn't have a spectator mode to speak of, and didn't offer an online mode that is as feature filled (of course, that isn't saying that VF5 is a bad game---actually it's also a great game; it just has a few flaws with online mode that make it far from perfect)



SCIV is just such a fun game. I like it that I don't have to stick to just one character; I can actually play several characters and just do a few moves and already enjoy playing the game. I also love the beautifully-rendered graphics and extremely smooth animations which never seem to experience any kind of slowdown. It's a fighting game that reinvites all gamers to the fighting game genre, without being too dumbed-down or without lowering its standards too much. With gameplay options like guard-breaks, unblockable attacks and many others, the game isn't a simple mash-fest although that's the impression you'll get the first time you do play it. Namco Bandai deserves a lot of kudos for their accomplishments in Soul Calibur IV---it's also a good indication of the future of their own fighting games for console platforms. I'm sure the winning formula for online play in Soul Calibur IV will be in their next big release --- Tekken 6.

Friday, August 15, 2008

July 2008 NPD Sales Figures

Here are the latest July 2008 NPD sales figures in the United States:

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=331369

Many thanks to NPD for their support.

Industry up 28%, SW up 41% to $591.1M

HW
DS 608k
Wii 555k
Playstation 3 225k
PSP 222k
Xbox 360 205k
Playstation 2 155k

Top 10 SW
360 NCAA FOOTBALL 09 ELECTRONIC ARTS JULY 2008 397.6K
WII FIT W/ BALANCE BOARD NINTENDO OF AMERICA MAY 2008 369.6K
NDS GUITAR HERO: ON TOUR ACTIVISION JUNE 2008 309.7K
WII PLAY W/ REMOTE NINTENDO OF AMERICA FEB 2007 284K
PS3 NCAA FOOTBALL 09 ELECTRONIC ARTS JULY 2008 242.5K
360 SOUL CALIBUR IV NAMCO BANDAI GAMES OF AMERICA JULY 2008 218.9K
WII MARIO KART W/ WHEEL NINTENDO OF AMERICA APRIL 2008 174.5K
WII ROCK BAND SPECIAL ED BUNDLE MTV GAMES/ELECTRONIC ARTS JUNE 2008 165.8K
PS3 SOUL CALIBUR IV NAMCO BANDAI GAMES OF AMERICA JULY 2008 155.8K
360 SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION REVOLUTION TAKE 2 INT. CORP. JULY 2008 147.6K

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thoughts on Soul Calibur IV

Just picked up Soul Calibur IV and went through a lot of the story mode. I like the game and highly recommend it....the game has this 'polish' that makes it feel like a complete game, and it's a great game to enjoy with friends, too:

- The graphics are the best out of a Japanese developer thus far. The character models are really intricate and detailed, and I love how sharp everything is.

- The weapon effects and overall feel of the combat is fantastic. I have a feeling that some of the characters are overpowered, but I'm not sure if this is more of my inexperience with the game's mechanics that makes some characters feel too strong.

- The endings of some of the characters---some are pretty good, while others are just....weird. I wish they spent more time with each characters' intro instead of just having scrolling text in there.

SCIV really feels like an enjoyable fighting game that's very accessible for new players and fighting game veterans alike. I highly recommend it....it feels like a keeper.

For some reason I haven't developed a liking for a specific character yet, though.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WCG 2008 Asian Championship in Pictures

We took a lot of photos during the week of the WCG 2008 Asian Championships (ACG). Most of the photos can be found through this link here.

Here are just a few of them:


The Philippine Team for the WCG 2008 Asian Championship :)

The Suntec Convention Center

The Stage Area for the ACG



The Flag Ceremony

To see the entire series of photos from the ACG, click here for Pinoyxbox's official thread for the World Cyber Games 2008.

Playstation 3 to be officially supported in Malaysia

Good news for gamers in Malaysia: the Playstation 3 is going to get officially supported according to this news:

http://multiplay.lowyat.net/2008/08/12/malaysia-to-have-local-sony-ps3/

"According to several of our trusty industry sources, Sony Malaysia is poised to launch the PS3 sometime in September/October. Details are still very sketchy right now, but we were made to understand that this is for REAL.

Apparently, Sony is now hard at work putting everything together in place and they are doing all the necessary paperwork and groundwork to make the launch a reality. They have approached several local game distributors and our sources told us that they’ve even met with a senior executive from the Singapore office of an international game publisher recently.

No word on pricing, warranty details, bundle options, etc though. Rest assured that we’ll keep you updated once we get any more solid info from our end."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Asian Cyber Games 2008 - VF5 & GH3

Initially, I was not planning on going to the Asian Cyber Games but I’m glad that I threw caution to the wind, spent the remainder of our gaming fund and flew to Singapore to see the Asian Cyber Games 2008. Amidst the strange weather and all the walking I had to do crossing the City Link Mall going to the Suntec Convention Center, I can definitively say that I enjoyed myself. Me and my husband met so many great people in the ACG. As cheesy as it sounds, our experience in the ACG can be summed up by the WCG’s theme song “Beyond the Game”. While every single player desire to win, in the end the desire to meet like-minded gamers is greater.

Anyway here’s my short coverage for the Asian Cyber Games. For the sake of organization, I will talk about the 360 game titles: Virtua Fighter 5 and Guitar Hero 3 for now...

Virtua Fighter 5:

For me, this was the most interesting competition in the whole of ACG...not because my husband was participating in it but because you can see that all the representatives were indeed the best the world had to offer. VF5 is perhaps the most technical fighting game ever created and it is unfortunate that Sega was not able to market this game well outside Japan. There is no doubt in my mind that VF5 is currently the best fighting game ever and the most exciting to watch. The character balance is superb! There are no cheap tricks in VF5 that cannot be countered by a skilled player.
For the ACG the 8 countries that qualified, and their respective VF5 characters, for the tournament are as follows:

· Australia (Kage)
· Hong Kong (Aoi)
· Japan (Shun)
· Korea (Lei Fei)
· New Zealand (Akira)
· Philippines (Jacky)
· Singapore (Vanessa)
· Taiwan (Jeffry)


I was very happy to see a unique set of characters for the Virtual Fighter qualifiers. Even the other countries who didn’t qualify also showed exceptional skill in the game. I was not able to watch all the other matches but I can safely say that Indonesia (Akira) and Thailand (Lau) players are exceptionally skilled as well. The VF 5 players are also an interesting mix of personalities which made the tournament much more interesting.

Check out the videos of the Semi Finals and the Finals for Virtua Fighter 5. Granted, I haven’t covered any international gaming event before but it is my opinion that ACG 2008 VF5 competition is one of the best international fighting game tournaments ever! The final four countries are Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Singapore.

I certainly hope that Sega is watching or have heard the news about the fantastic ACG tournament for VF5. Perhaps they can release Virtua Fighter 5 R for the XBOX 360 and we can all hope that the game will be chosen for WCG 2009!

Semi Finals: Korea (Jeffry) vs Hong Kong (Aoi)
This match is really interesting because the Korean player used Jeffry, prior to using Jeffry the same player showed some exceptional skills as Shun Di and Lei Fei. If I'm not mistaken the Korean player is the 1st Runner-Up in the Korean VF5 National Tournament.



Semi Finals: Japan (Shun) vs Singapore (Vanessa)

This match showcases two of the most celebrated Asian gamers. The Japanese gamer 'Itazan' has won 2 VF:Evo Championships as well as several more in Japan. The Singaporean gamer 'Tetra' is known to be among the top Dead or Alive 4 players and is the most popular cyber athlete of Singapore.



Final Match (Bronze Medal): Singapore (Vanessa) vs Hong Kong (Aoi)
This match is particularly interesting because both players are well matched against each other. This match is also long, lasting for around 10 minutes.




Final Match (Gold & Silver Medals): Japan (Shun) vs. Korea (Lei Fei)
The Final match between Japan and Korea was absolutely amazing! This is the longest fight in the whole tournament and the game went as long as 5 matches!!! It was interesting to note that the Korean player has mastered at least 2 characters for the ACG. In the semi-finals he used Jeffry and in the final match he used Lei Fei. Similarly, the Japanese player is also a master of two characters, Akira and Shun Di.

Note: My videocam lost power during the final fight. Fortunately for the whole footage is uploaded in YouTube courtesy of sggamer.


Guitar Hero 3:
While my husband is a VF5 player, I am a Guitar Hero 3 player. My knowledge of Guitar Hero 3 is more than what I know of VF5....hehehe but after the ACG, I’m thinking of playing VF5 myself because I got so inspired after watching those fights.

Guitar Hero 3 competition at the ACG was interesting for a lot of reasons. A month ago the official rules for the tournament was released and the difficulty level was set to HARD with an official list of 8 songs to be played in the tournament. Two weeks before the start of the ACG, the organizers decided to change the rules of the tournament. The new rules state that all songs are now available but the actual game is set for Expert Hyperspeed 2! Now that was really a surprise since most of the Asian tournaments used ‘HARD’ difficulty for its tournaments in line with the official rules for the German competition. Also when you play Pro Face Off the speed of the note chart is increased. So playing Pro Face Off on Hyperspeed 2 on Expert is a lot faster than playing single player on Hyperspeed 2 on Expert.

But despite the changes, the Guitar Hero 3 tournament was very festive. Samsung proudly hosted the Guitar Hero 3 tournament at the ACG with the tournament ground set apart from the other games. Samsung put the Guitar Hero 3 booth right in front of the entrance at the ACG for maximum visibility. The great HDTV displays coupled with the latest Samsung Home entertainment center audio, the crowds certainly flocked to the GH3 booth whenever the tournament was on going.

The rules of the competition follows that the player with the greatest score difference in a best of 3 song match wins the match. At Expert Hyperspeed 2 Pro Face Off you really need to have fingers that look like they are flying off the guitar. The final four players are as follows:

· Korea
· New Zealand
· Philippines
· Singapore

In the end, PinoyXBOX’s very own Luis Benesa (finalcut713) grabbed the Silver Medal while New Zealand took the gold and Singapore got the bronze. The final song list in the match are as follows: Cult of Personality, The Way It Ends and Through the Fire and Flames.

To sum things up, things are looking very well for the Asian Cyber Games and for Asian gamers in general. If what we saw here is a preview of the skills of the Asian gamers for Germany, then Asia has a good chance of having a strong performance at the World Cyber Games 2008 in Cologne Germany!

Congratulations to all the players who went to the Asian Cyber Games! All of them have been given a unique opportunity to expand their horizons as gamers and they are all winners following the true spirit of the World Cyber Games.

WCG 2008 Asian Championship: Philippines wins SILVER MEDAL for Guitar Hero III


The PHILIPPINES wins a SILVER MEDAL at the WCG 2008 Asian Championship for Guitar Hero III! Congratulations to LUIS BENESA , a well-known member of the prestigious Pinoyxbox community, for making it happen! His gamertag in Pinoyxbox is "finalcut712", while his username in Pinoyxbox is "ScaR".

This was the first time in history that the Philippines has won a silver medal in the WCG Asian Championships, the previous honor belonging to last year's Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) team, which scored a bronze medal.

Here are the results for Guitar Hero III:

Gold Medal : New Zealand
Silver Medal : Philippines
Bronze Medal : Singapore

Go Philippines! Mabuhay Tayong Lahat! :D

For more results from the WCG 2008 Asian Championship, click here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Japanese launch for Tales of Vesperia

Back in 2005 during the launch of the XBOX 360 in Japan, this was what graced the front pages of several gaming sites with people laughing that the lack of support the Japanese had for the American console.


But lo and behold...the 'unthinkable' has happened!



That line in the picture above is the line for Tales of Vesperia in Japan. And its a sight that I would love to see happen more often. It's also a sght that indicates Microsoft Japan's long term strategy in capturing the Japanese audience seems to be pointing toward the right direction. More JRPGs and multiplatform games made by top Japanese publishers.

It is my opinion that this strategy will also prove to be more effective in the other Asian territories specially with the Japanese anime phenomenon. The 'Tales' Series has always been a popular franchse in Japan, while it doesn't have equal following as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, with each installment the Tales franchise gains more and more fans. 2008 marks the 10th year of the Tales Franchise and Namco is getting it started with a bang!

I certainly hope that I will get to play this game soon. There has been mixed reports regarding the release date of the English Asian Version of this game. Regardless, once I get my hands on it, I will no doubt post my thoughts regarding the game.

For now I leave you with the 'Opening Song' of Tales of Vesperia - 'Ring a Bell' by Bonnie Pink





And one of these days, I should post all the Tales Opening Videos in this blog since I loved the opening songs for Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Destiny and Tales of Destiny 2. Special thanks to Predator JP from TeamXBOX for citing the Famitsu article.

Going to the WCG 2008: Asian Championship

I'm flying over to Singapore for the World Cyber Games: Asian Championship (which starts this Saturday). I hope it will be a good experience for me...I'm participating in the tournament for Virtua Fighter 5. It will be quite a tournament, with some of the best in the world actually competing head-to-head; No, I'm not exactly one of the best in the world...I've got no past championships or medals to my name. I'm just an avid VF player who got a good opportunity. Of course I will do my very best!

I've been practicing for quite a long time now....for about 6-8 months I've dedicated my gaming to VF5 just to prepare for this tournament. I hope it pays off, and I put on a good showing. I'm not expecting to win big but I do want to play decently enough to represent the Philippines well at the games. Of course I'll aim to win but I don't want to put any guarantees or promises. I want to enjoy this experience and not be too pressured. In fact I think it will be something else to actually meet other people who play VF as avidly as I do. It's such a technical, difficult game that it's hard to find other players who really appreciate the depth of it. I just hope that more VF games will be made in the future, and that somehow Sega can find a way to promote it to more gamers, in spite of the game's difficulty / learning curve.

Good luck to the entire Philippine Team for the World Cyber Games: Asian Championship! :D

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

FINAL FANTASY XIII - Asian Xbox 360 Version CONFIRMED


Kotaku got a good scoop on this one:

http://kotaku.com/5033117/final-fantasy-xiii-xbox-360-asia-version-announced

"During E3, Microsoft announced that Final Fantasy XIII was coming to the Xbox 360 — but only for North America and Europe. However, the Xbox 360 was not announced for Japan. Add another country to the list!

At a recent Microsoft game exhibition in Taipei, Microsoft Taiwan's Entertainment and Devices Division head Grace Chou announced that Final Fantasy XIII for the Xbox 360 would go on sale in Taiwan, but haven't yet decided which localized version will be launched for the Asian territories.

We imagine that means it should be possible for Japanese Xbox 360 owners to import the Asia version and play it on their consoles — that is, unless the Asia FFXIII is region coded so that's impossible. This version could have the original Japanese language track with Chinese/Korean/English subtitles or it might be the English language version with Chinese/Korean subtitles. According to Chou, the language hasn't yet been decided.

Click through below for pics of the Taipei Xbox 360 event festivities, including ladies in sailor uniforms and a Dark Knight Xbox 360.
"

Was there ever really any doubt? They said it was exclusive to PS3 in Japan. Square-Enix has never stated otherwise in all their interviews. I'm quite confident this game will get a proper Asian version with multiple language subtitles, which is the treatment for most Asian Version games.

Great news for Asian Xbox 360 owners!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Writing Chronicles

Well, I've been writing chronicles on my experiences in 'Professional Gaming' (i.e. playing video games in view of an upcoming, high profile, international gaming tournament). I can't post them yet because, well, it will be more fun to post those chronicles after the competition is over.

The chronicles are really long. I wrote them for myself, actually; I want to log the experiences that I had in participating in something like this.

I'll post these chronicles next week (most likely on Tuesday).

What It's Like To Be A Pro Gamer - Part II

This is Part II of a continuing series that chronicles the whole 'Pro Gaming' experience that I went through this year. I guess I just want to have a memento of this week; I've never been part of any big competition like this; I think it counts for a lot for me to write this down as this week passes.

I've been writing these chronicles during the time near the actual dates for the Asian Championship. By the time of this writing, I haven't posted Part I yet on my blog, because I practically give away my training regimen in that post, and I think it wouldn't be smart to give away that information before the actual competition. Whether or not my practice sessions worked would probably be known by the time that I actually post this...Did I win? Did I lose? It will be fun to look back at these writings once the competitions are all over.

I will say that this chronicle has little in the way of actual information on my training...it's more of an interesting anecdote of something that happened that I don't want to forget.

For the past few days I've been reading messages on the forum from a detractor who thinks that I don't deserve to represent the country for Virtua Fighter 5. I will admit that, unlike my competition I haven't really devoted several years to this game. If I really count, I've devoted only about 6-8 months to practice, and really learning the game's ins-and-outs. I guess there are a few groups out there who are really hardcore fighting fanatics who feel that they're the ones who really deserve to get sent to these kinds of international gaming competitions.

For several weeks before the actual WCG preliminaries, me and my wife have been making a lot of noise on pinoyxbox.com, encouraging players who are into Guitar Hero III and Virtua Fighter 5 to join the World Cyber Games preliminaries here in the Philippines. We posted on the front page of pinoyxbox.com and even informed Alex from http://hackenslash.inquirer.net/ (from the Philippine Daily Inquirer) to highlight the date and time of the WCG preliminaries. Despite all these efforts, we still received some complaints (after the competitions have already been finished) from those in the hardcore-fighting game crowd that they didn't know about the tournament. I even read comments that were complaining about the fact that the tournament is on the Xbox 360 platform---something that none of us can really do anything about, considering that WCG is sponsored heavily by Microsoft, and I don't see the console platform for WCG changing anytime soon.

My point being, if these hardcore fighting game enthusiasts were really serious about taking part in WCG, they should have been at the preliminaries. Enough information was available online about these events, and given how net-savvy these gamers seemed to be, it would have been quite easy for them to find out the details of the competition. If they really wanted to take part, they could have easily bought themselves the console and game that was needed to prepare for the competition. I don't buy the excuse that the Xbox gamepad isn't well suited for fighting games. A hardcore fighting fan could easily buy the Hori EX2 fighting stick, which can easily be bought online. During the weeks before the WCG Prelims, these players could have ordered the stick, which was very much well stocked at the time, in play-asia.com.

Anyway, I just posted this to chronicle the fact that that happened. Kantoboy on Pinoyxbox said it best---it's crab mentality. It's a negative Filipino cultural trait that just emerged to the surface; maybe out of envy, maybe for some other reason; I'm not really too sure.

I acknowledge that perhaps, somewhere out there, there's likely a Filipino player that's way better than me at Virtua Fighter 5. I just wish that he showed up during the preliminaries; but even then, I can imagine he could also have detractors, too. Crab mentality is a horrible Filipino trait that has to disappear one day. It isn't constructive, and it's detrimental to any endeavor (not just gaming). I can imagine others who are successful in one way or another in other fields encounter the same thing.

Anyway, again, this serves as a chronicle of a few things that happened during the course of my short 'Pro Gaming' stint. I promised myself that I'd RETIRE from 'Pro Gaming' the moment this is all over (no matter what happens!). I will still continue to contribute in some way towards helping the Philippines send great players for any Xbox 360 related competitive events. I would love for the country to win in these types of tournaments, if only to show the world:

There are gamers HERE.

***

On Sunday, August 3, 2008, the priest in my church said something that was surprising to me:

"Hindi pa tapos ang laban..." (Translation: The battle is not yet over...)

He said that several times, and made the entire audience present repeat the phrase over and over again.

It's just interesting to hear that phrase being said over and over, considering what I've been through, practicing endlessly for this WCG competition.

Maybe God is trying to tell me something :)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

What It's Like To Be A "Pro Gamer" (For A Year) - Part I

I bought Virtua Fighter 5 in December of last year for the Xbox 360. Little did I know that buying that game would embark me on this crazy little journey in the world of 'professional gaming'.

DISCLAIMER:

First off, some expectation setting for readers.

NO, I do not see myself as 'the best player' in Virtua Fighter 5; not in the Philippines, nor in the entire world. Let me put it in writing to be very clear. I AM NOT THE GREATEST VIRTUA FIGHTER 5 PLAYER IN THE PHILIPPINES. When I use the term 'Pro Gamer', I use it to mean "being completely dedicated to playing just one game for a longer-than-normal period of time, for the purpose of playing in an internationally-sanctioned competitive event (in this case, the World Cyber Games)". I'm clarifying this because of a little incident recently wherein my involvement in this tournament is being seen as questionable. My thoughts on that matter have already been posted elsewhere, and I'm not going to talk at length about that. Just setting the record straight.

So, to make a long story short, I'm not bragging that I'm 'pro' at VF5 with this post. I just want to write about my experience playing a game "professionally". Maybe one day when I'm graying old already, this blog post will be an interesting memory to go back to, and this post for me serves as a 'time capsule'.

So I'm writing this for myself.

END DISCLAIMER

Going on with my story, a few months after December 2007 when I bought VF5, I found out that the game would be part of the WCG this year. At the outset I wasn't completely enthusiastic about it. I was hoping that Halo 3 or another major squad-based first-person console shooter would have been chosen for the local tournament. Since I've played VF5 for a little bit already by this point, I remember thinking, man, this is one HARD fighting game. I could imagine it was going to be a bit difficult to find players for VF5 for the local WCG because the game has this incredible learning curve. Furthermore, locally, it seems that the Tekken series is much, much more popular. Tekken and VF are so drastically different; I thought it would be pretty hard for any local Tekken player to just shift from one game to another.

At that point I also recalled the first character I started out with in Virtua Fighter (and I'm talking about in the olden days, when I was in High School! On my Sega Saturn...). The first character that I tried to master for Virtua Fighter....was Akira Yuki.

When I got VF5 for the Xbox 360, the first guy I loaded up to play was Akira again, because I thought my brain cells could still recall Akira's old moves from my Sega Saturn days. I was quite surprised to learn that playing as Akira became even more difficult than it used to. I couldn't execute a lot of Akira's new moves in VF5's in-game dojo.

So I picked the one guy that I used to loathe---absolutely loathe, in Virtua Fighter 1.

Jacky Bryant.

I hated that guy. Whenever I played as Akira in VF1, Jacky was this character that just seemed cheaper than most other characters. He was fast. When you play as him, most of his moves only require a single direction push along with a single button press. It seemed to me that a lot of his combos were so simple; you could mash any of the buttons and a combo could be made. He was so simple that my old, 12-year old mind thought---what a n00b character. (Note: The word 'n00b' didn't exist back then...hmm, perhaps my thoughts were more like, 'man, Jacky is for amateurs! No thanks!')

That's what I thought of Jacky back in VF1. I bought VF2 later on (again, for my beloved, but widely hated, Sega Saturn), and I still hated Jacky. Whenever Jacky would come up in single player mode, I used to loathe it because Akira just seemed so slow in comparison to Jacky.

Ironic, then, that Jacky is the character I ended up with, on this crazy journey called 'professional gaming'.

So for the past few months I've been learning the ins and outs of VF5; there seems to be no end to the number of strategies/techniques in this game. I recall going through virtuafighter.com's wiki and being completely overwhelmed on my first read-through. Abare? Sabaki? Nitaku?? ETEG? What??? Do all the VF players really understand each of these terminologies? The vocabulary one needed to build just to understand the wiki is quite incredible. Over time, I managed to figure out what most of these terms mean; it just takes patience, and admittedly, I wouldn't have had the patience had I just been casually reading on the site. Given that I was going to try out for a local gaming tournament, I took it pretty seriously. I guess I didn't want to look like a fool there, I thought. Besides, I also thought that, in case I did win (remember, I posted earlier that I had a gut feeling there wouldn't be that many participants), at the very least, starting out early in understanding the ins and outs of the game would help me later on. I never closed my mind to the possibility of actually winning, so I practiced in view of 'what if...'...what if I actually win this local tournament and end up representing the Philippines? I thought, perhaps I'd meet someone at the local tourney who was really good at the game; I might as well put on a great show, right?

I've chronicled what happened at the actual tournament in this old blog post here, for reference.

And yes, I did win.

By that point I'll be honest....I got this far thanks to a few things going for me:

- Extensive, extensive practice on using the ANALOG STICK for executing moves. I've read online that most moves are 'nearly impossible' using the analog stick. Somehow I managed to figure out how to get over that hurdle, with the exception of using moves that required diagonals like Jacky's High Angle Kick.

- Control Shortcuts LT, RT, LB, RB. Given that the rules at the time said nothing against shortcuts, I used them to great advantage.

- A lot of Xbox Live practice. A lot has been said about how lag affects the online game, but it's still useful to just watch what exactly do real players do in the game.

- Practice in Normal (Quest) mode against Conqueror A.I. at Sega World North. I'll admit that I was really just trying to 'memorize' every single move in Jacky's repertoire. In VF there seem to be so many moves to remember, so playing against the AI at a relatively easy setting was just there to build a good fighting strategy for me.

So by this point, since I had indeed qualified for the WCG Asian Championship, I figured had to really make some serious preparations. I invested in a Hori EX2 Fighting Stick (which was really expensive; I had to import it and pay exorbitant customs fees because Xbox peripherals are hard to come by locally). I bought it just a few days after winning the tourney because I wanted to get started practicing early. Another thing I did was I got rid of the habit of using shortcuts. I mapped out the buttons to be similar to the way the VF arcades are set up. I had this nagging feeling that the 'shortcuts' in VF5 would not be allowed in the future, because at the time the existing rules didn't allow 'macros'. Since Macros are essentially 'shortcuts', I had a gut feeling that the writers for the rules would eventually figure that out and change the rules mid way. Later on it turned out I was right, and now shortcuts are no longer allowed for the Asian Championship.

Another change I did was to set the AI to EXPERT difficulty and play in the most hardcore arcade in Quest mode, Sega World North. All the 'Conqueror' AIs go there and they really put up an incredible fight. You can only imagine how much hell the first day of practice was. The AI would block practically every string combo, and would throw at every lost advantage (whenever I pulled a move that took too long to recover, that automatically meant a throw for the AI). The AI would also dodge strings a lot, and punish severely; it could duck instantaneously, whiffed 'special high' kicks (basically you couldn't 'trick' the AI to fighting back when you hit them with a special high....it's just too smart), and recovered from staggers instantly.

Man, the practice was brutal. I would lose 20 matches in a row to one character. Or more....and when I moved on to the next character, that's another 20 matches worth of losses. It was really frustrating. I'll never forget how much pounding I did on that joystick whenever the AI did something that seemed 'cheap'. It just felt too fast...too incredibly fast.

At some point I pretty much thought, well, looks like I'll never learn this game at all. Might as well enjoy the free trip to Singapore...

Of course, I persevered...thanks to my wife's constant nagging....it's something else when your significant other is also a gamer. Later on I find out that she also played fighting games before; she played Chun Li in Street Fighter II and got pretty good at it in the old days. So she gave me some good feedback to improve my game. We started to use a video camera to record my matches against the Expert AI (there was no way, in game, to save replays of matches against AI). We also started logging stats on which characters I would constantly lose against. One other interesting strategy we created was to play against the Conqueror AI for Jacky, named 'Tricky J'. It seemed that this was the hardest Jacky AI in the game. By practicing against Tricky J every so often, I found new strategies for Jacky that I would never have thought of just by practicing against other characters.

I also continued reading online at virtuafighter.com, going through forum threads, reading other players' tips...I learned a lot. The game continued to fascinate me even further. I was finding levels of play that I never thought existed. By this point I figured out exactly what fighting game terms like 'nitaku' meant and how that does affect your game. That and a lot of other things. I also ended up buying the VF5 strategy guide for a very good price from this online Ebay.ph store And that had even more tips that added to my understanding of the game.

Virtua Fighter 5 is hard to learn. But if you take the time to learn it....what a game. WHAT A GAME. Absolutely fantastic. It's a technical marvel that will largely be ignored by the gaming mainstream---but it is clearly a fighting game masterpiece, something that may never pass this way again, given the current trend towards dumbing down fighting games. At this point I was beginning to think, how is this possible, this game seems like it's totally completely balanced. I have NO idea how SEGA made this game. How did they even play-test this thing? There just seem to be so many permutations of situations, combinations, strategies, tactics....how does SEGA keep track of it all? I'm just staggered at the level of professional dedication needed to really appreciate the game; and learning the game is rewarding in itself.

I also practiced online but over time I began to realize that the effect of lag was really significant. I didn't notice it in practicing towards the first tournament, but this time I did, because I couldn't execute fuzzy guard right, and I couldn't escape simple throws like Wolf's Giant Swing. I began to prefer playing against the Expert AI because it really gave a good challenge and it never seemed to become completely predictable. Sometimes the AI would do things I didn't expect; it was AI but it was eerily human at times, too.

Over time I also began to figure out that, no, the AI does not cheat in Expert mode. I'm of the opinion that it doesn't cheat because as my game became even better, I could see that the AI actually makes mistakes. Not too often that I would win every Expert AI match, but not too rarely that it seemed I was getting lucky whenever I did win. There seems to be a good overall strategy to fighting certain characters, and there is also a general strategy to put pressure on your opponent.

At some point I began to win consistently against Expert Conqueror AI. I had developed a good strategy that was moral (meaning 'safe play') but I also learned that taking risks is essential for the element of surprise. By this stage I was certain that yes, the AI doesn't cheat; because you can surprise it every so often (and it can do the same to you, too).

And now, it comes down to this....in four days I'm going to the tournament. I guess anything can happen by this point. I know that there are three possibilities:

- I can get eliminated in the first round and be absolutely slaughtered by the 'pro' gamers abroad who have the benefit of playing against humans on a daily basis

- I can win a few matches and make it somewhere but not enough to get in the top three

- I can be in the top three

Any of these is possible. Of course, when I go there, I'm playing to win. I'm not going to think about the advantage that international players have because it's pointless to think of that. In the end, what matters is that I've done my best and that I know I've done my best. I know my own in-game abilities and I can tell myself that I'm good at VF5. At this point I don' t know if I'm good enough to be in the top three; I just know that I know and understand most of the principles of the game. There may be some things that I don't know; I guess I'll just have to improvise.

Practice continues until the actual tournament matches. I'm in group D, together with Japan and Thailand. I'm actually looking forward to watching the pro gamers of other countries just to see how the best in the world compete at this level of play. VF5 is just so entertaining to watch; and even when you think that a match is going one way, it can go in the opposite direction and completely surprise you.

That said, I do love this game, and I'm going to miss it. I don't think it will be picked again next year by WCG, because based on what I've read, the turnout for the tournament was quite low in many countries worldwide. Blame it on Sega's distribution of VF5....the arcade game is barely available in most countries; even here in the Philippines I had a pretty hard time finding just one arcade machine for it. Also, I plan on 'retiring' completely from 'pro gaming' once this is all over. No matter what happens, whether I win or I lose, I will focus less on actually being part of the games, and focus more on getting other players to join in the WCG tourney next year. I guess I already miss just playing games as a 'normal' gamer. I missed out on so many titles this year just because I was practicing so much for Virtua Fighter 5. For next year I want to be on the sidelines; I just hope that the turnout for Xbox games would be better, and I also hope they'd pick an FPS or a third person shooter like Gears, because it's really popular with my gaming community, pinoyxbox.com.

So there, that's my view on what it's like to be a 'pro gamer' for about a year. It was an interesting journey and I enjoyed the ride. :)