Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dishonored - Everyone's GOTY - I don't get it

Dishonored. Every gamer out there talks about this game like it's the greatest thing. So I went ahead and picked it up. I had pretty high hopes for this game. Granted there are some great parts to it. It's really nice how you can teleport around like Nightcrawler. That's cool. But there's one thing that really, really bugs me about this game.

The game gives you the most awesome killing implements; you've got your sword, a gun, some traps, some skills that let you summon an army of rats, a wind spell like Skyrim's FUS ROH DAH! and many more...

...and ten minutes into the game, the game tells you that YOU CAN'T KILL ANYONE.

What the hell is this?

OK to be very clear, the game actually tells you that you have to have a low body count or else you will get a 'dark' ending.

Why would they do this? I mean, seriously. Why tell the player, no, why punish the player for playing however they like? Yeah well I don't really know what the game means by 'darker ending' but it sure discourages you from using those awesome skills listed in your in-game menu. It just limits your options. It's an annoying feeling because there are a lot of scenarios where a cool assassination might be good to do....but you always have that nagging feeling that every time you kill some hapless guard, the game will get worse for you. Killing increases the number of rats in the world and also adds some freakish monsters to the world's city. So it's really discouraging to even use any of the available super skills to deal out some damage and actually feel powerful.

It's an annoying thing that's just in the game, and doesn't make an iota of sense. Give player an arsenal...AND NOT ALLOW THEM TO USE IT! Talk about trolling.

"I'm going to put this Bazooka right here in front of you. Now here's a tank. Destroy it....but DON'T USE THE BAZOOKA. What. The...."

Well, so there. In other aspects the game is just OK; i think they were going for an Assassin's Creed + Bioshock feeling with this game. It succeeds to some extent though i wish they would branch out how you get a 'darker' ending or not, not through stopping the player from using the available options. Maybe they could have just given you decision points throughout the game that determined the course of the ending (no, no, not the way Mass Effect did it with A, B, C choices at the end where you can just save and load the final save and see all the endings, which is lame....they should spread out the choices throughout the game so you will need to play the entire thing again to see all the endings. Why don't developers make their games this way?)

I haven't finished the game yet. I already heard the ending kinda sucks (rumors on forums) so I'm a bit prepared for the inevitable 'Thanks for Playing!' message. The storyline is...just OK, not terribly mindblowing and there are some bizarre elements to it so far. Maybe they'll explain it later on, but there's some type of magical entity that gave you those killing powers and somehow it's related to all the rats appearing in the world, something like that. They were going for "original storyline" with this one....and it just ends up a bit strange. I don't entirely hate it but I have difficulty really sympathizing with the 'good guys' in the game, they just seem like a generic 'rebel group' a'la Star Wars or something.

The one cool thing so far in the game, is this disembodied, bio-mechanical 'heart' item that you have in your inventory. Point it at any NPC and it gives you some voiceover / backstory for that NPC. It also gives you backstory on the environments if you point it at that, too. It's a bit overly grave/dark/Tim Burton-esque at times, though, but i think that's the theme they were going for, anyway.

So I'll pass judgment until i finally finish this game. For now, it just sucks that I'm a bad-ass in this game with all these killer moves, and I can't even use them without ruining my character's storyline somehow. It's a big deal to me, so yeah.

UPDATE: Finally finished it. Not worth writing a whole new post about the ending. It's horrible!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Data Blitz Raid (scytherage's take)

My wife has given her thoughts and has provided a lot of the 'facts' about this story. I only caught wind of it today and I thought originally this was just some minor thing with NBA2K13 being the only game at issue. Upon reading more and finding out over 2 million worth of games were seized, wow, I realized this was pretty serious stuff. I also saw other posts on Pinoyxbox and other blogs about how bad it was, with the store being closed and essentially putting a halt to their business operations for a day or two....Looks like Datablitz was subjected to public humiliation in this incident. Note that not all people are gamers so to people not familiar with the games business it just makes them lose a bit of face to have police coming in, and word going around about selling pirated games for a store with a large ORIGINAL signboard at their stores.

I've read most of the stories and know some of the facts. In the end I'd rather side with Data Blitz on this.

They're not perfect, sure. But imagine a world without them. Just visit SM's Toy Kingdom and fathom paying 3,000 pesos for your games. That's a world I'd rather not live in.

Games are a luxury, they aren't a necessity. Perhaps that explains their high prices. But the question is always, how high should their prices be? That's a complex problem.

From what I know, the market here locally for games is rather small. We're not going to turn into Singapore, Hong Kong or Japan anytime soon. People have to have a lot of disposable income to get into the gaming hobby. So having games be affordable is crucial for it to grow.

I'm sure there will be those that would side with X-play because it's entirely possible they do have some rights to selling that game exclusively. But if they are going to make an issue of this, I don't think they should have approached it they way they did. The tactic they used just does not win them faith with the very people they want to sell their product to.

At the root of this problem are a lot of other issues, parallel importing, grey markets...honestly I'm no law expert so I'm not going to get into arguing on this side of the fence. What I simply understand is this: relatively speaking, Datablitz offers very good prices. Compare it to play-asia, compare it to shopping in Hong Kong or other Asian countries....the prices they offer is relatively fair. I guess my wife brought up a very good point about 'how exactly do they do it? do they evade taxes?'

We don't know that. It's not like Data Blitz is publicly traded or anything. That's their business. I'm to assume that they do; if you're in business in major malls like that, with hundreds of games and a lot of customers, then...you know what, if i was in that kind of business it would be a very stupid idea not to pay the right taxes.

It is entirely possible that they don't---but we don't know the facts and it isn't fair to think that 'because their games are cheap, they must be doing something corrupt/evil/whatever'.

The other thing is the idea of the 'exclusive distributor'; i have a hard time understanding this. Who made them exclusive? Is there some kind of court legal document that would say this? Completely out of my scope here, again i dont know any law stuff. But other stores are doing the same thing that Data Blitz is doing. If this whole exclusive distributor thing is such a big deal then how come other people are getting away with it? It seems the law in our country only applies to those who can pay enough to the cop who is going to catch the crooks. If the cops aren't paid, they won't do anything. That probably explains why pirated games/movies/etc can be sold in major malls even with the PNP just blindly passing by the stores. It's a strange, weird society we live in here in the Philippines. I think this whole Data Blitz raid underscores a deeper societal/cultural problem that needs to be addressed.

My simple view is that X-play probably paid an INCREDIBLE amount of money for exclusive rights to games like NBA2K13. When they eventually got the game and started selling them, they found out that the demand here....isn't really that great. They were probably expecting to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. But the truth is, game consoles, well, buying LEGIT games for game consoles is a middle class thing here in the Philippines. The middle class is about 1% of the population, and not all of that 1% buys original games. It's a really tough sell to market video games here.

So I can imagine these guys at X-play were stuck with thousands of unsold NBA2K13 copies. So what do they do? They start looking for someone to blame. They see Data Blitz, a successful business....and realize they can make back what they lost with their huge investment in ONE LOUSY GAME by suing the pants off them. I suppose their objective, really, is to get a settlement of some kind.

This probably has nothing to do with 'principle' or exclusive distributorship rights or anything like that. It's more likely about recouping that big investment.

If anything, the mistake of X-play is they probably overestimated the demand for NBA2K13. Yeah, you'll hear your buds talk about that game, if you're a middle class Pinoy with other middle class kids. But video gaming is NOT a "masa" hobby. Not everyone can afford it, even the pirated variety. It's still a big luxury here. And with people scrambling to make ends meet, buying a video game is likely the last thing on the majority's minds.

If they had factored in a bit of research before buying a billion copies of NBA2K13, then maybe they wouldn't be stuck in this conundrum. Market research is very important. It sucks to sit down and think and crunch numbers, but if you don't do it, you will end up like X-play here. One thing I've learned about starting a business (note: i dont have one but ive seen enough to know some things...), some people have great dreams but they dont have good plans, some people have great ideas but they dont have a good structure/foundation behind their ideals, and that's what usually kills great business ideas. X-play is likely going to be a classic example of this. But they are going the 'smart' route by going for the lawsuit.

Well, that is, if they win.....another thing is going the legal route can be expensive....

Other conspiracy theories ive heard --- the GMA connection, well that is troubling. If big media like GMA start seeing console games as a potential profit source, and if console games get handled like how X-play is handling it, we're going to see some dark times in console gaming here in the Philippines. Say hello to the 3,000 peso PS3 game. I really hope that does not happen.

But then again, if it does, I'm sure the market will respond in kind. By pirating even more games. Great job X-play, you just set us back 20 years in convincing people to support original titles. *sigh* *facepalm*....

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Datablitz gets raided for selling 'unauthroized' games.

Datablitz, the biggest gaming software retail chain in the Philippines, has just been accused of selling a ‘unauthorized’ game of NBA 2k13.  (Source)   Not because it was downloaded illegally and burnt to a cheap CD but because Datablitz did not buy some(?) of  their copies from the official and exclusive Philippine distributor of the game, XPLAY games.  Based on the article posted, PNP-CIDG (Philippine National Police -  Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) raided stores and the warehouse of Datablitz.  The complaint was filed because the games being sold apparently did not have the XPLAY sticker like the one shown in the image below.  Those in the Philippines might be wondering why the PNP-CIDG and not the OMB (Optical Media Board) well this is not about piracy but trade and business.

The truth is Datablitz is the errant party here --- if we are going to base it according to the law.  They probably got some copies from the gray market --- for what reason...who knows?   I don't claim to know the reason why Datablitz have other copies.  It could be anything from the 'golden and superior' R1 copies for NBA2K13 or simply because the gray market copies are cheaper and would increase their profit margins.

But its hard for me to fault Datablitz entirely.  It's difficult for me not to side with Datablitz because for the longest time they have been the only ones promoting original gaming.   But if you are a little familiar with retail and distributorships, you know how this story goes...

We can all cry foul about this and most Filipino gamers already have.  But for XPLAY to gain exclusive rights or even distributorship of the game, they must have dumped a truckload of money to 2KGames.  They must have TONS of NBA 2K13 games in their warehouse and the shelf life of that game(as if any game that has a yearly installation) is quickly nearing its end.  In a few months the game will be irrelevant as the next NBA 2K game will be released.  XPLAY must know that the Philippine gaming market is not big enough to profit from and they need ALL the retailers to work with them if they want to gain anything.

What XPLAY is doing is protecting their investment.  And they have the papers to prove it.  Papers that the law will recognize.  And what that Datablitz have --- unofficial gray channels.  I’m quite surprised this has happened since Datablitz is the the official distributor of EA games in the Philippines.  They should have known that it was possible to get into trouble by not getting from the official distributor.  And Datablitz is so big…they are extremely visible unlike those smaller stores in Greenhills.  Yes, its sad that the store that advocates buying original software is getting caught for something that may be a technicality.

I’m not siding with anyone here but just stating the sobering reality of Philippine trade laws and our small game industry.



Source

Update: X-Play has released an official statement regarding this. (Source)  I'll quote some parts and then comment:
"This is not a knee-jerk reaction from X-Play. In fact, meetings were heldwith Datablitz President, Winston Lim and his team to become X-Play'sprimary partner for NBA 2K13. Datablitz key executives Sandra Lu and OrphaOambas even participated in X-Play's distributor conferences and got all themarketing and distribution plans of the company.
Datablitz's decision to acquire and distribute NBA 2K13 through unauthorizedmeans despite these efforts, leaves X-Play no other option but to reportthis to the proper authorities, in which CIDG and the Regional Trial Courttook immediate action on."
As of this time, I haven't read an official statement from Datablitz regarding the issue.  But X-Play does state the reason for the raid --- Datablitz bought NBA2K13 through unofficial channels.  I don't know if Datablitz ever carried NBA2K13 from X-Play but considering they are the BIGGEST gaming software retail chain the country, them not buying would reduce the overall sales of X-Play.  I'm not sure if this would inadvertently affect retailers in the event X-Play raised their price due to the reduction in sales volume.  It might be likely that the cost of the game being sold to retailers (not consumers) would be higher and leave some retailers will little to no margin.  They are 'stuck' because they followed exclusive distributorship rule which is not just something that happens in the Philippines.  Datablitz got their game from the gray market, probably because the gray market offered a higher profit margin for them.

I'm not sympathetic to either party but now I understand what was the cause of the raid from one point of view.  This is NOT about gaming anymore it's about trade and business.

We may have our grievances with X-Play --- perhaps the SRP set for their games our expensive and naturally, gamers will gravitate to those who sell at a better price.  But at the end of the day, this is business and there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.

Update:  Finally Datablitz has released their statement. (Source)  I'll quote some parts and comment:

"were only asked to participate in meetings and/or to join XPlay's so-called "marketing programs" (which are really nothing more than just glamorized parlor game events). DataBlitz participated in the meetings and "marketing programs" out of courtesy to XPlay and no such thing as "primary partnership", whatsoever was ever discussed, offered, nor penned on paper, whatsoever."
"XPlay has never indicated in any form of writing or communications whatsoever to DataBlitz that they are the exclusive distributor of the game."
"If there suddenly are now parties out there who see the vibrancy of the gaming industry as a way to profit immensely by using sham claims of being the only party that possesses "authorized" stocks (whatever that means) in order to shove overpriced games down the throats of the gaming public, this kind of modus is just against the core principles of DataBlitz and something we just cannot and will not go along with."
"At the end of the day, we have the welfare of our customers at heart, not the twisted desires of these opportunists."
Ok that was long...and 'emotionally charged'.  Basically Datablitz was saying two things: 1) there was no written and signed partnership between Datablitz and X-Play for NBA2K13 retail.  2) They are contesting X-Play's claim that they are the exclusive local distributor of the game.  The rest of the statement was just how DataBlitz claims to be a champion for the local gaming industry scene here in the Philippines.

So given this, the ball is now in the court of X-Play.  Do they really have documents to prove they have exclusive distributor rights in the Philippines?  Hey, there are exclusive distributors in other countries so we do know this kind of agreement between the publisher and the distributor does exist.  It also appears its a classic 'usapan' vs 'pirmahan'.  Those in business would do well to know that several repeatedly signed sheets of paper hold a stronger value over 'friendship', flattery, 'smiles' and 'camaraderie' between companies.

My husband asks me why I am not entirely on the side of DataBlitz.  Well...I want to stay neutral here.  But I understand where DataBlitz is coming from.  The allegation that they are selling something illegally acquired stands to destroy all the years they spent marketing themselves as selling original and authentic software.

How about the government?  Well I would like the question the extent of their investigative practices... Do they know the all the facts or they just went in there and seized / arrested indiscriminately?   If X-Play can prove without a doubt that they have exclusive distributorship rights to NBA2K13, then no doubt the government will side with them.  Why?  It's simple --- X-Play pays taxes (hopefully).  This is opposed to buying from the gray market which is normally a foreign based distributor whose sales don't contribute anything to the government.  Sure they 'probably' both pay some importation tax, but one of them pays more to the Philippine government 

Yes...I'm cynical which is a far cry from what I was before.  But I have sobered up a bit. I don't know the good or bad guy here.  Frankly, I don't think there is such a delineation anymore --- everything is just 'shades of gray' (not 50! LOL).  So there, I prefer cynical neutrality and just wait to see how this business thing plays out.


Update:  Here are more details regarding the so-called raid of pirated software (Source)

The Philippine National Police - Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has seized P2.7 million worth of smuggled computer games in simultaneous raids held in various parts of Metro Manila.
Members of the Anti-Transnational and Cyber Crime Division seized 1,060 pieces of video game discs worth P2.65 million in raids held in 11 stores and one warehouse last Monday.
CIDG chief Police Director Samuel Pagdilao, Jr. said the smuggled items were confiscated in operations held at SM Megamall in Ortigas; Robinsons Magnolia in Quezon City; Elife @ Eton in Edsa; Park Square in Ayala Center; Rockwell Information Center; Greenbelt Expo Exchange, all in Makati; Market! Market! in Taguig; Robinsons Ermita in Manila; Trinoma in Edsa, SM Annex in SM City North Edsa; and the Datablitz warehouse in Pasay. 
Authorities also arrested 32 individuals during the raids. Eleven of the arrested individuals were charged after the CIDG determined the suspects’ involvement in the illegal activities. 
Senior Supt. Gilbert Sosa, head of the CIDG Anti-Transnational and Cyber Crime Division, said the 11 were charged for violating Section 168 or unfair competition in relation to Sec. 179 of the Intellectual Property Rights Law. 
The violation is punishable by a jail term that lasts from two to five years or fines ranging from P50,000 to P200,000. 
Charged were Glen Tena, Arvin Lamanilao, Christopher Decierdo, Frederick Japsay, Billie Jay Cuadra, Christian Dadula, Nico Villegas, Elvis Martin, Clint Fructuoso, John Badeo and Shannon Rosales.
The raid stemmed from the complaint of Jose Enrico Demetrio Dingle, head of security of IPVG, which owns X-Play Online Games, Inc. The company is the exclusive distributor of Blizzard Entertainment games and NBA 2K13 products. 
Sosa said Datablitz Inc. is not authorized to distribute and sell the computer games contained in the discs. He said the discs were also smuggled into the country from Hongkong and Singapore.


Ooooh...messy messy messy.  So there's even an allegation that the gray market copies were smuggled from Hong Kong and Singapore?  Ok...time to find those Customs tax receipts...  There is NO DEFINITIVE gaming market in the Philippines (at least on the console) so if you're selling games, you have no choice but to import them.  Importing is not a crime just as long as you pay the correct tax.  And smuggling --- geeze...that only happens if they didn't go and pay the correct tax or don't have papers to prove they paid the correct tax.  Customs officials SHOULD issue receipts for taxes paid.  Judging the value of game and its quantity, I wouldn't be surprised if the importation tax alone would be a HUGE amount.

And why in the world are they arresting those people?  Are they management (who actually handle purchasing) or the just manning the stores?

And there's more ...(Source)
Other gaming titles were also reportedly seized by the police, but Gonzales was not able to identify which specific titles they were.

Contrary to earlier reports by some news outlets, the pieces of software seized from DataBlitz were neither counterfeit nor pirated, but were just sold without proper authorization from the local distributor, according to the CIDG official. 

Gonzales said DataBlitz would be charged with violation of Section 168 of Republic Act 8293, or the law on unfair competition. 
Good grief...'unfair competition' law.  Messy messy messy indeed...  And what were the other titles that were confiscated eh and how that does that relate to the original complaint from X-Play?  Did they get Diablo 3 or WoW: Mist of Pandora too?  Or something else...?!?  And if 'unfair competition' law doesn't stick, it'll boil down to importation taxes.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Tiktik - The Aswang Chronicles

First off I'd like to say I'm not a big fan of local movies. I just don't like the way they're shot, and their storylines. They are very, very formulaic and you can tell from the way they're shot that all the acting bits were probably done in about a week's time (minimum) or a month at most. It's just hard to see the effort when there's just one or two camera angles. The sound is usually the type produced by equipment from the sixties or seventies (and there's always the same distinctive footstep noise that they use in every movie! And we're in 2012 already, wow...)

I'm just glad those elements weren't in Tiktik.

I went in this movie with rock bottom expectations. Their marketing says it's comparable to Avatar / LOTR; I wish they didn't say that, though.

But if you do compare it to the local 'big effects' films, Tiktik is practically light years ahead of all of them. (example: try watching Enteng Kabisote, then try watching Tiktik; you'd think they were made in different countries....)

I guess if you're going to watch this, try to keep an open mind, especially if you're like me and you watch a lot of US-made, big budget movies. It wouldn't be fair to try and compare this to those movies.

In my case, what stood out for me was the way the film was shot. It wasn't really the CG effects which 'impressed' me. The CG was actually very obvious and for some reason whatever computer system they used had a bit of a hard time rendering things in 24 FPS at least. But the sharpness of their regular camera shots was really impressive. It made the lead star feel like a 'big' star in a major film for once. It really did make a difference to shoot this digitally.

Dingdong Dantes is commendable in this movie in the sense that he totally seems to be into his role. He's quite believable as this guy from Manila who ends up going to some place far away and still acts like he knows better than everyone else. He completely sells the picture.

The actors I didn't like in this movie were Joey Marquez and Janice De Belen. They were acting like they were still in an old movie from a by-gone era of movie making. Janice De Belen just throws out that oppressive 'mother-in-law' role that is typical in most previous Filipino films. It's a tired cliche that I wish wasn't in this movie; but maybe the producers were wary that the masses won't bite if it didn't have anything already familiar to them. Joey Marquez starts out strong, but later on when the onslaught of 'aswang' starts arriving he completely overacts, barely audible with his high pitched voice as he expresses his disdain or whatever emotion he was supposed to demonstrate. If the movie didn't have these guys then maybe it would have been a bit better; I just thought they didn't fit in a movie which is supposed to usher in a more 'modern' approach to local filmmaking. They felt like the insurance policy in case people couldn't relate with Dingdong Dantes' character.

Lovi Poe is just, kinda there. Well, her only role in the movie is really to get chased, and the movie wouldn't exist without her. So she isn't supposed to really do anything except scream, and fire a few rounds when cornered.

Oh, I forgot to mention the effects. They were GOOD when they focused on the "humanoid" Aswangs using just some makeup and a few digital enhancements. But when the aswangs turned into superpowered monster dogs, the flaws in their CG became very apparent. I wish they darkened up the shots with the monster dogs a lot more, so that they would be more scary and believable. In this case you can really see they're computer generated....a bit more effort analyzing the lighting in their scenes may have helped.

So to put it all simply, yes this film is worth watching if you want to see how much better Filipino films can be if more effort was put into the sound production and the visuals. This movie is still a whole lot better than what is released during the Manila Film Festival (which occurs yearly at Christmas). I do commend the ones that worked on this film in the sense that you can really tell they worked hard on it. There were some great scenes in there like when the Aswangs (not in dog form) were surrounding the house. They did those scenes pretty well and potentially if they make other movies they can draw from that scenario to make various other great moments in the future. Dingdong Dantes really sells the character he is playing extremely well and he's just really hampered by his costars in this one. I'm not calling for a completely serious, horrifying version of this movie; maybe the jokes were just really cheezy at times. They can keep the humor for the sequel; just get a better, younger set of actors to tell a new set of jokes.

Overall, watch it, if only to support better quality, more effort, and more creativity in local film. It's a great first step.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Final Thoughts on RE6 (Jake, Ada)

As usual, just so busy lately so haven't been able to blog about this. I already finished the game several days ago. Overall I thought it was a great effort from Capcom, and that's saying a lot considering what happened with Street Fighter X Tekken.

- Jake - interesting character with a lot of what seemed to me were experimental ideas on gameplay. Those were generally ok but the experimental stuff may be off-putting for many, particularly the snow area and the motorcycle chase. He's a great character with a great resolution, but one thing i didn't like was all the repeated boss battles, which are recycled from Leon/Chris.

- Ada - Shorter campaign, again feels recycled through most of the other three....but in terms of story it goes somewhere (though admittedly, not very far, and nothing too risky). I like her explosive crossbow. Quick shot for easy kills with no need to aim.

What's unfortunate about Ada is they could have put more impact in her final cutscene. She just blows up a lab; nothing much there. I guess Capcom ran out of gas at that point.

I enjoyed the journey for what it was. Capcom put in a great effort. I'd raise the score to an 8.0/10 and that's the final score for it; just for the sheer volume of content this is a true sequel to the RE series. RE5 felt more like a side story---this actually goes places and involves a lot of the cast, which is nice. One twist I didn't like was SPOILER when they killed off Piers. That was wasted potential. In an interview with IGN, Capcom actually considered killing Chris. In retrospect, that may have had more impact but I suppose the board of directors at Capcom did not relish losing a key character, which is why they killed off the plucky sidekick.

He was a good guy. He'll be missed. There would have been some potential in having a character all virus-ed up and still play on the side of the BSAA...that would have made for a really cool sequel, but it seems to me that Piers is completely dead by the end of this.

*sigh* Game storylines are so frustrating at times. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Resident Evil 6: Thoughts on Chris Campaign

Finished the Chris campaign, here's more impressions of RE6 from my experience so far:

- The game design of having four different campaigns with different characters seems like a great idea at this point. The game just feels BIG. Nobody can complain that they finished this in 10 hours. And even if they do finish it that quickly, it just won't feel that long with the different campaigns and cutscenes to enjoy.

- A major event happens in Chris's campaign which I wish didn't happen. Let's just say that it would have been better to keep some characters alive for future iterations of the series, but hey, it's Capcom's decision in the end.

- I think the philosophy of Capcom when they make games these days is to focus on gameplay. While there's a lot of cutscenes in RE6, story-wise, the franchise literally goes nowhere. It's basically, here's your guns, now kill some monsters and enjoy. There's no focus on telling a story anymore...well i suppose this is true for a LOT of games in this generation of consoles and not just Capcom's games. Writing good story is not a strong suit for game developers even with the added tech that they have at their disposal.

- Chris's campaign feels like Capcom's answer to Gears of War; it has this military feel to it which never goes away from start to finish. If you're sick of those kinds of games you probably won't enjoy it. But for me it was nice to just kill monsters for fun.

- This game really works episodically, where you tackle one or two chapters per day...it makes it feel like it was really worth buying. If you grind through everything I can imagine it will get tedious because there's nothing to it other than shooting and killing zombies/BOWs. But in moderate doses RE6 is a great game.


- Using the controls I mentioned in 'the missing manual', my earlier post, made the game more fun....when i got to the later levels i thought these controls made the game too easy but then I was proven wrong in one part of the game....so i guess this simply means that all those controls in the 'missing manual' are base requirements to enjoy the game, they don't cheapen it at all.

This game is actually worth it if you like:
- non-stop action
- game length is important to you
- challenge

You won't enjoy this game if:
- you want more exploration in your horror games
- you want more story/deeper, more engaging storyline (Arguably, the characters become more interesting thanks to this game, even if nothing really happens to them! I don't know...subjective opinion on that one)
- you want RE to stay as a slow horror game with jump scares--if you have been waiting for Capcom to go back to this style of play, I don't think it's ever going to happen in the future. Just look at the direction of the movies and these recent REs; they're never going back.

Harder boss fight? Leon or Chris? --- I say Leon.

Better scenarios/levels? --- It's a tie so far. Leon's is slower but it doesn't make it better or worse. Just different, which makes the game more enjoyable.

Now on to Jake's campaign....


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Resident Evil 6: The Missing Tutorial

Apparently, we're all playing Resident Evil 6 wrong....the game is missing a badly needed tutorial that would make the experience less frustrating. Also, it isn't set up by default to optimal settings. See below:

(note: all button references are for the Xbox version)

- For your laser sight, pick 'Classic' which would revert to a tracing-style laser instead of a red dot. Much easier to aim.

- For your camera, set it to speed 2.

- For your aiming speed, set it to 7. These two camera/aiming settings should reduce the clunkiness of the movement.

- So you don't run out of bullets too fast, press LT + RT for a quickshot, which hits enemies that are very near you very quickly without aiming! It can also be a stylish animation depending on your character and equipped weapon.

- Quickshot uses your stamina bar which is that thing below your life bar. If you use all those up, you won't be able to do effective melee attacks.

- Melee also uses your stamina bar. That explains the "sissy kick" you keep on doing inexplicably....

- To refill your stamina, take cover (LT near a wall).

- To take down monsters easily, shoot them once with any weapon, run towards them (with your choice of move [shoulder tackle/slide], then kill them with a physical attack. This saves you ammunition.

- Equipping the skill "Firepower Lv.1" saves you even more ammunition.

- When you're out of bullets, run towards your enemy by pressing and holding A, then press RT to execute a shoulder tackle. Or you can do the slide animation which is already explained in some parts of the game (A + LT).

- You can switch directions while on the ground after a slide by pressing DOWN. Or you can turn by pressing left/right.

- To quick rise (an ukemi, yeah, like a fighting game), press A+Down as soon as you hit the ground!

- Huge tip: When you get those QTEs with the thumbstick, use BOTH thumbsticks to fill the bar faster!

The Quickshot and the camera / aiming improvements were the most useful changes to my gameplay; oddly enough, all these extra controls make the game EASIER! Not sure if it's a bad thing but I did find myself less frustrated.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Resident Evil 6: To Capcom -- comments from an actual gamer

I'll keep it short and sweet because I have a day job and I don't have much time. That said, I think Capcom needs to know what they did RIGHT and what they did WRONG in this game.

First off, Capcom, this game is not as horrible as the review sites say. I'm playing this at the same pace as every normal human being is, and I'm not rushing through it like a reviewer does. I'm not getting annoyed at little things though some things are worth mentioning for your next project to be better.

So listen to me, and ignore Gamespot, if you want to make more money.

- The camera. Guys, this really needs work. It's just too close. Compare it to Gears of Wars's camera....that one is just perfect. Some things i found odd is when you turn your character you can end up looking at your character's face/front. I think this is the problem. The camera should work in such a way that if you turn left to right, you should still be looking at your characters' back. That way, it's less confusing for the players.

Yeah yeah, I know you want people to see your ZOMG awesome 3D models. But we have the CUTSCENES for those. Don't bother with that during gameplay. Focus on making the game actually PLAYABLE or at least make the game easier for players to enjoy.

- the gunplay. I don't know why my headshots are missing! There is a certain degree of 'lag' where your shots dont land where you expect them to. I'm getting this on the Xbox 360 version, which is clearly superior to the PS3 version in terms of graphics. And given all the specs of the 360 this console should be able to handle the speed of the action better.

Yeah i suppose this was made to force players to equip 'lock on' skills but seriously....when you play it the first time it feels like a BUG and not a feature.

Both those points are the only complaints I have...oh wait, last thing

- Leon's story - you guys did not do a good job explaining the point of Helena's character, at least in this campaign. When it ends she feels like just some extra partner that Leon stumbled upon, her character is practically non-existent. Which is a waste, with all the stuff that was set up with her sister. There was just no good explanation for it.

I think this advice goes for every other game and not just RE6:

HIRE A TEAM OF WRITERS PLEASE.

But other than that, I like your game. I don't think your game deserves to be bashed so much by other players or reviewers. I can see the effort and I did have a great time with it, throughout Leon's campaign so far, anyway.

- The action was incredible, and really epic.
- The cutscenes were enjoyable to watch
- The setpieces were good, some of the boss fights were really good in terms of mechanics/what you had to do
- The locations were OK
- What happens in the game like China getting hit with a bioweapon was really spectacular in terms of the timing of it.

So yeah, it's a good game. So far I'd score your game 7.6 / 10. It would have had 2 more points if the camera and the gunplay was fixed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tekken Tag 2: A week or so later

I will concede...maybe IGN was right about the game's difficulty.

I've got a really bad win-loss record in this game right now. After a few days I suppose the ones who live in the arcades have finally picked this one up, and they're now proceeding to decimate all the newbies in their path. Including myself.

I'll admit, this game got me infuriated at times. It was about Marvel vs. Capcom 3 level infuriation.

I do admire a lot of things that Namco has done with this game. Great number of characters, great number of features, the online is perfect....a lot of what they did is great, heck I'm even glad they were nice enough to put proper CG endings on most of the very large cast. And not charging for costumes is one of the best things they've ever done.

But in terms of learning curve, it soon became apparent to me that this game is not for regular people like me. Well, okay, I'm still going to play this actually. I do like it. But I think I've come to the realization that perhaps I can't be good at this game. I'll still try but I don't have my utter dedication to it. I'll just play the game to enjoy it. Hell I may just even be stuck fighting ghosts for the rest of my days in TTT2 in its' 'Ghost Mode'.

The one thing that made TTT2 so hard is the way your opponents move. Movement in the game requires a dash motion, which is inputting a direction twice. Sounds simple enough. Actually in VF you can do the same, and in high level VF I've seen players use the same strategy. But for some reason, doing it consistently in this game is quite hard, and since getting hit ONCE can kill you, movement is so important. If you move slowly, your opponent already has an advantage. They can just feint all your hits and eventually land a counter hit into a 50% combo. It's insane.

But it has always been like that, especially in the arcades. Now I have a renewed respect for Arcade Tekken players. The amount of dedication (and credits!) to actually get good at this game must be incredible. If they're used to playing under situations like those presented in the game, they must be really gifted if they win consistently.

Tekken is a great game. I'll keep playing it. Just not sure if I'll succeed at playing vs. real people. If you're reading this and you're good at Tekken, consider yourself one of the greatest gamers on Earth.

Now, maybe if I was 20 years younger....
 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Review

Just picked up Tekken Tag Tournament 2 from Data Blitz the other day on launch. There has been a lot of good feedback from many gamers the world over about its netcode. Well, those gamers are in first-world countries so their connections are much better than ours over here in the Philippines, where our major telecommunications providers won't even interconnect with each other because of their business interests. Fighting game network code has not been so great for many games now, but the most recent releases like VF5FS and Persona 4 Arena have proven that it really is possible to have good online matches with fighting games.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 represents the next big evolution in online network play for fighting games. It comes with a ton of extra features just for online mode, include a detailed statistics-collecting website that connects with your game to let you know more about your own personal progress. It's a step in the right direction for the genre. While it is true that fighting games as a whole face a big challenge when it comes to inviting new players, part of their appeal really comes from learning how to play. If Starcraft and League of Legends can get away with having a high learning curve, then surely fighting games should be able to as well. TTT2 does provide some good training features which should help new players learn the game, but the effort will still come from the players themselves if they want to become good at it.

So the other night, my online pass for TTT2 finally worked. I finally got to try this game's netcode, and I'm happy to report that the hype for TTT2's online play is well deserved. As you know I'm playing from the Philippines which isn't really the best when it comes to online connections. But surprisingly Tekken Tag Tournament 2 works very well online even here! It's slightly better than VF5FS in terms of handling latency, and it's right up there with Persona 4 Arena, too. So have developers finally figured out the magic formula to make network fighting games work? TTT2 seems to indicate that they have. It will probably take a few more days of play to be certain about this, but I do know that when I logged off last night from PSN after several matches, with my Lars/Christie team (and note that I don't have a lot of experience in Tekken---i just used some basic skills....)....I really enjoyed myself playing. It was a very good experience. I'm glad for Namco and it's great that they aren't treating their players like ATM machines when it comes to providing DLC. All their DLC is free for players that pre-ordered, and supposedly if you don't preorder the secret characters will unlock eventually (not sure about that, but I do know they promised never to charge for their extra characters).

It's really unfortunate that Capcom didn't have this same level of post-release success with SFxT. With their DLC fiasco and all the controversy leading up to the launch of their game, I guess Namco was just smart enough (from a business perspective) to capitalize on their mistakes. Gamers can be harsh with their opinions on company business practices with their game releases, but in this case, Namco proved that  there's no harm in working for the best interest of the players.

I guess the only thing that detracts from TTT2's launch is that horrible IGN review that came out this week. It was really unfair and to say that the game is 'too hard to learn for most players' is just not right. Have they played Starcraft online? That isn't a fighting game but it can be downright brutal, and most players who don't practice a little will get their clock cleaned in 2 minutes. It's part of the territory when it comes to the fighting game genre to know how to play them.

Let's hope TTT2 will sell well despite that lousy review from IGN so that Namco's business guys can get some affirmation that they did a great job with how they handled this game's release, and how they listened to the players with improvements to the online game, and their approach towards DLC. Supporting games like Tekken is probably the only way to stop most game developers from DLCing every bit of content in future titles. Case in point, with Resident Evil 6, most of the extra modes are paid content that will come out post-release. Most probably it's done content that they just want to release to pad out their profits....*sigh* This type of practice just has to stop; vote with your wallets!

Monday, September 10, 2012

This is not an ad...but SMART has some ridiculous phone deals right now

So yesterday we were just casually browsing at SMART SM Megamall, they have this store called 'JUMP' that has all the nice smartphones on display for people to try out. We were approached by this salesman and he does his usual sales pitch. Of course I was thinking...well, give the guy a chance. Actually, we were in SMART yesterday because occassionally we've been annoyed by our phone connectivity issues with Globe Telecom. SMART trashes Globe a lot on the radio with their advertisements, but I can't say they aren't accurate. Every time I call my wife I have to say "CAN YOU HEAR ME?" over and over, at the beginning of the call. For some reason our voices get so badly distorted....and this is a problem that has never happened before. I recall for many years Globe's service was okay; we don't really think about it when there's a dropped call or delayed message here-and-there. But lately, it has become so bad that I never end a conversation with my wife without thinking, maybe we should try the other carrier.

Bah, I sound like one of those paid radio ads trashing Globe now! SMART, send me money!

Anyway, so I was there getting the usual sales pitch from the sales guy at SMART, and I was going over their list of phones. I saw something that caught my eye, something that I thought must have been a ridiculous typo.

(If you're not Filipino, you might not be impressed by this...so stop wasting your time now)

Take a look at this: http://www1.smart.com.ph/Postpaid/phones/2012/01/31/samsung-galaxy-nexus

Now, the guy was showing me this list of phone prices on his tablet PC, and one of the prices was the SAMSUNG GALAXY NEXUS for PHP 2,500.

Yes, PHP 2,500.

So my jaw dropped to the floor. HARD.

I asked the guy twice, is this some kind of joke? Are you really selling this phone at 2,500? And the guy said no. We went to the clerk and she pulled up some announcement page on her computer, and yes, the Galaxy Nexus was indeed for sale at 2,500 for Plan 800, and 3,500 for Plan 500.

The phone normally retails for 20k in Greenhills' tiangge areas, and you have to haggle and pray that you don't get a dud.

This was a BRAND NEW unit. Sure, it's carrier locked. But still...this was Google's flagship phone last year. Right before they introduced the Galaxy S III! For 2,500 bucks?! You mean it's cheaper than the lowest-end Android Cherry Mobile phone?

Considering we were already THINKING about switching to Smart because of our troubles, we didn't really hesitate much in making our decision. Originally we planned to pick it up next week. But then we realized that this deal is just too good to be true....the deal of the century!

We went back to Jump again and they suggested to have our billing statements reprinted at Globe, which was right beside their office. Originally we thought of the hassle of picking up all our documents and making preparations; it turns out you can just go to Globe's retail store right beside Smart and outright ask them to reprint your billing statements. So it was just too easy to switch! Well, other than the hassle of filling out forms....but in the end....when you can score a 20k phone for 2.5k, you just have to get it!

It was a really nice stroke of good luck :) Maybe that deal is still there....go to JUMP at SM Megamall, they might run out of inexpensive Galaxy Nexus phones! Other awesome deals we saw there for Postpaid 800

HTC Sensation 1.5k (though they said they ran out na)
HTC Sensation XE with Beats - 7.8k

Prices are about 1k more expensive if you get plan 500.




Thursday, August 30, 2012

Persona 4 Arena (PS3) Quick Review

Picked up Persona 4 Arena for the PS3 a few days ago. I've spent a little time with it and it's a great game. Atlus's Persona universe coupled with Arc System Works' grasp of fighting gameplay is a great combination. I only worry that this game will fall through the cracks, with TTT2 already due in a few weeks.

Quick run through of my thoughts on it:
  • The actual fighting game engine seems smoother than Blazblue, and the user interface is incredibly flashy. At times I find myself just admiring how good the UI is for this game.
  • Really simple for starters. All characters get a 'Mash weak punch' combo....basically you can just press one button, and get your character to do cool things that end with a super combo. Really nice, at least for me....I've never played the arcade version so this makes it feel worthwhile even if you just play it casually.
  • Story mode is done in Japanese 'Visual Novel' style. Will probably turn a lot of people off; it works for the niche 'anime' market but if you give it to a mainstream gamer they probably won't like it. I did enjoy it though. I'm glad they didn't go with the story style of Blazblue where everything is hinted at, or vague (like the TV show 'Lost'). This one is more straightforward.
  • When you figure out the moves and mechanics of the characters, the game becomes very hectic / fast. It reminds me of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 but (so far) none of the ridiculous inescapable tactics. Well, there was this one tactic from one of the characters, Kanji, that I couldn't escape originally. But over time (I think) i've figured out how to escape his throw mixup. So it doesn't get as completely crazy as MVC3, but it gets very close to it at times. 
Overall, this is a fun game. I like that the arcade mode has some semblance of exposition / "story". It still isn't superb in terms of storytelling, of course, but compare it to SFxT or other Capcom efforts and this seems golden in comparison. It also encouraged me to look for the Persona 4 animated series, which I'm also currently watching.(...it's quite funny! Great show so far, havent reached the end yet.)

So simply put, if you like fighting games, this is worth getting. If you like anime, this is worth investing some time indulging in, at least for the universe and characters which are great. If you're into Japanese styled artwork, this game has tons of it, and this game is worth owning just to admire the style and the art of it. If you're a mainstream gamer / COD4 kind of guy maybe this isn't your cup of tea. If you're waiting for TTT2, this will make the wait bearable. :) 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Missing The Action

I remember when the Xbox 360 and the PS3 were about to be introduced, there was a lot of excitement. There was a lot more to look forward to and following the gaming news was a lot more exciting.

Fast forward to today, and there's just too much secrecy with these new systems. With the stuff that was revealed (that game from Ubisoft which was supposedly next-gen)...it's great, but not really a huge leap.

Maybe I'm just getting older, but what I've seen so far isn't that exciting. I do want it to be but it just isn't. Also, a lot of the gaming news these days doesn't really paint a great picture for game development. People getting laid off immediately after a game becomes a success; developers just ignoring their fans' feedback; game prices getting higher even if the content isn't that much better....it's not a great time for console games. It just feels unexciting. I've had more fun following the film industry than gaming lately....with the 'superhero' movie finally getting actualized with 'The Avengers' and 'The Dark Knight / Rises'....those were a lot more interesting to me lately.

The other week I was watching some videos from 'The Angry Video Game Nerd'. I really enjoyed the video he made about SNES vs. Genesis. Man, those were the best of times. I don't know, maybe it's just age talking....I hate feeling this way but these days it's hard to get excited for console games.

It doesn't help that these 'current gen' machines are still ridiculously expensive, even after years of being on the market. The masses still play on older systems and you can't blame them. Maybe that's why people aren't buying games. It's not really that there are used games or pirated games....it's just not accessible at all. I can't explain how games like 'Angry Birds' can be priced under 5 dollars and deliver months of value to people, and you have these big triple A titles that just last for 10 hours.

Gaming's not in the best place right now. I hope that changes soon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Possible Solution for PS3 NAT TYPE 3 on Globe Telecom PROLINK Modems!

Long time no post...been busy with work but still gaming on the side when I have the time. One thing I have been trying to fix for practically months now is getting NAT TYPE 3 on my Playstation 3 when connected wirelessly via a Linksys WRT120N Router connected to Globe Telecom's PROLINK Modem/Router.

NAT TYPE 2 is the ideal set up to find games online easily and to connect to more players.

I'll probably update this post some time later today to clarify some things...in a rush because I'm also working...

Here was my setup before:

Linksys WRT120N
- Has DHCP Server On
- Getting an IP address from the Globe modem of 192.168.254.x

Prolink Modem from Globe
- Apparently also a router of some kind
- The public/dynamic(?) IP address from Globe was in this device and not in the WRT120N device, as evidenced by an address that was not 192.168.x.x
- Username and password was in the Prolink device.

After reading a LOT of information online, including this one:
http://conradmiguel.com/globe-broadband-setting-up-prolink-hurricane-5200-with-linksys-wrt54g2

I finally fixed it. The answer isn't in the blog post above itself, but in one of the comments at the bottom of it. As simply as I can possibly put it....both devices I had were routers. Globe's Prolink Modem was a router. My wifi router, of course, is the same thing. So the wifi router was assigning private network IP's like 192.168.x.x..and Globe's prolink device was also doing the same, assigning 192.168.x.x to the wifi router. Our network was following the wifi router's IPs, but somehow having this setup causes NAT Type 3 because when your packets go out of your network, it has to be translated twice. The first time, in the wifi router. The second time, in the Prolink modem/router. So to fix it, you have to disable the router functionality of the wifi router (the WRT120N).

Other solutions say you should bridge the two routers, but i thought that was a bad idea, since you would have to delete some settings on your Globe router.

The very last thing you would want to do when fiddling around with your internet access here in the Philippines is change the settings on the service provider's router. Calling Globe you will just get the lousy canned 'Is your modem plugged in? How many lights are you seeing?' replies from their customer support team. Not that they're bad customer support...but it's just hassle to go through the whole step-by-step troubleshooting thing where they start with the dumbest mistakes then let you wait a day or two for a technician. Not fun.

So I don't recommend bridging routers. Extremely bad idea to delete Globe settings in Globe modem. Trust me on this.

At least with the router you have you can just hit RESET and consult all the available manuals (whether online or in the box) to put your network back together again.

So here's how i did it:

On the router you own (in this case, my WRT120N)

1) Plug in via a LAN cable to the WRT120N. Log in to your router. Instructions to do this vary between routers. I found how to do it online.

2) There's a page on your router configuration that tells you what IP your router got from your modem. Write it down. It's usually something like 192.168.254.x where X is a number; in my case it was 100.

2.1) Write down the Subnet mask and Gateway. For mine it was 255.255.255.x (Subnet), Gateway 192.168.254.1

3) Now go to the Basic setup page of your router

4) It says that your router is set up to 'Automatic Configuration DHCP' or something like that. Change it to STATIC IP.

5) Now, put in the addresses that you got from step 2 and 2.1 as the Static IP, Subnet Mask and Gateway, respectively.

6) For DNS put in the Gateway value.

7) Turn off/Disable the DHCP server setting. It's on the same page as the Static IP stuff.
7.1) On the WRT120N for some reason it needs a second IP, a 'router IP' other than the Static IP. Put in 192.168.254.x + 1, where X is the value you put in step 2 above. For instance if you put in 192.168.254.100 in the static IP, put in 192.168.254.101 here. Simple, right?

8) Look in your configuration pages for a setting that says NAT: Enabled. Disable this.

9) In my case I also disabled this other stuff, though I dont know if its necessary:
a) Any port forwarding / single port forwarding settings that were enabled, were disabled again.
b) DMZ on WRT120N was disabled.
c) Firewall on WRT120N was disabled.
d) This is probably specific to my previous setup - disable MAC ADDRESS CLONING. Some people may not use this so you can ignore this step unless you know what this does.

After doing all the above steps your router should be just a plain 'access point'. It won't function as a router like before. This will pass that duty to the Prolink router/modem.

Now, unplug the cable connected to the WAN port of the WRT120N. Plug it in to ANY of the LAN ports on the WRT120N.

Check on another device, like a laptop, if wifi is working. After all these steps you may get some hiccups on the internet on your laptop. So reboot your laptop, then see if you can connect to your wifi network.

Try looking for your WRT120N in Windows, it should still be visible despite the changes. Check the STATUS page of your network card. If the address you get on your laptop is 192.168.254.x (where x is between 100 to 200) then the new configuration is working!

If not....hmm i'm not sure. Just reset your router and set your network back to the way it was....this may be too complicated for you....

Like I said, it took me MONTHS to do this, so forgive me if this complicated post is too, err....complicated! But if you can understand it...it's really useful information!

After connecting, confirm internet is on by surfing to any site.

If you can surf, you've sucesssfully done the first few steps. Now we will put the PS3 in the DMZ so it can easily connect to other PS3s out there in the 'wild'.

10) Log in to your Prolink modem. Check instructions http://conradmiguel.com/globe-broadband-setting-up-prolink-hurricane-5200-with-linksys-wrt54g2 The username and password is there. In my case it was 192.168.254.1/globe

11) Go to WAN settings

12) There's a UPNP setting page there. It's enabled but one of the select boxes has nothing in it. Select "PPPOE 1" (there's likely an option when you open the drop down, the first option is the right one)

13) Go to DMZ settings

14) Enable DMZ, then type in an IP address. It should be the same format as your router, 192.168.254.x. In my case I used 192.168.254.150. You can choose any number between 100 - 200, i think....

15) Save your settings on the prolink device.

16) Anyway, on your PS3, go to your Network settings then put in the IP address you set up for DMZ in Step 14. Subnet Mask and Gateway follow the one you got in Step 2.1. DNS can be the same as your gateway, or any public DNS like Google's 8.8.8.8 , 8.8.4.4 or 208.67.220.220, 208.67.222.222

17) Everything else should be default in Network Settings on your PS3, except for UPNP. You enabled that on the Prolink device in step 12. Enable it in Network Settings on your PS3.

18) Try 'Test Connection'. You should get NAT TYPE 2 now!

In NAT Type 2 with my Japan PS3 PSN account, I get a lot of matches in Street Fighter X Tekken...and here I was thinking nobody was playing the game anymore! I could barely finish a CPU match while waiting for a game.

UPNP being enabled should (theoretically) help any PCs in your network find games as well. Or, you could put in the DMZ IP address in your PC when playing a game on that. But that means your PS3 and PC can't play at the same time.

Hope this helps anyone in the Philippines trying to fix that pesky NAT TYPE 3 problem on Globe Telecom DSL / Prolink modems. Simply put, don't have two routers running at the same time. Only one device should do the routing. All these steps just made one router into an 'access point' that doesnt do routing duties on the local network. Any other router other than WRT120N should benefit from a solution just like this one, though the steps may be different for steps 1 - 9a,b,c

Another way to fix this is to just directly plug your Prolink modem to your PS3, but I doubt your immediate family will like that solution.....

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hungry Developers Make Better Games

I sit here wondering to myself, how is it possible that Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is a far superior game to Street Fighter X Tekken? Here we have two games, both in the same genre, with the same basic selling point for both of them (multiplayer competitive fighting)...one game has a much bigger budget and development crew than the other...one had a much larger marketing campaign and loftier promises...That was SFxT. I was one of the millions of gamers the world over waiting for the greatest fighting game experience since SF4 revitalized the fighting game scene. So when all the controversies for the game occurred, I'm one of those that were affected. When I bought SFxT it was practically an investment. You buy a fighting game knowing it will give you hours and hours of gameplay. You know it shouldn't end in just a week or a day. Multiplayer gaming guarantees the endless availability of competition, that the constant desire to improve at the game will drive you to keep on playing...

The game was a good game, but over time I realized there was a lot lacking with it. The character balance was not very well done. Other players have pointed out that most games degenerate into a race to who gets to successfully low jab the other player first....another thing I didn't like was the ambiguous cross ups, which were manageable in the beginning but over time just become irritating and seemingly unfair. You've got flying kicks where you just don't know how to block them. You can probably get used to it after a while, but visually it just doesn't feel right. You have to block backwards to block an attack that looks like its going through the front. I thought this game was supposed to invite new players? A good player will just exploit the ambiguity and destroy new players with constant jump-ins. There are also ambiguous low/high mixups....visually the attack looks like you should block it low; but you should actually block it HIGH...and the opposite also exists as well. So for the new cast of Tekken characters, they already have a distinct advantage over SF players who are unfamiliar with their opponent's blockstrings.

These were issues I grew to accept in SFxT. I tried playing with those in the game, I could manage and hold my own....but then, day after day I noticed the player base got smaller...and smaller....and smaller....

You don't need statistical information to back that one up....just go to Player Match or Ranked Match in SFxT....it's very hard to find other players, and it just seems like you're playing against the same people over and over. I'm not sure if it's a 'feature' of the game where it just gets good ping connections....but for several days I noticed there were just fewer players, and the variety was pretty dismal.

Here's this million dollar game....and it makes mistakes that make it feel like it was made for a lot less money. It's really unfortunate. I looked forward to SFxT, heck I even bought a new stick just for it....at some point I had wished I just saved my money.

Now, a year or so ago, Sega promised to bring in the latest revision of VF to home consoles: Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown. I was a big fan of the 360 version back in the day, so big that I even ended up on the WCG 2008 tournament for it. It was just a really fun game, and it had some really good netcode on the Xbox version. Aside from the announcement of the game, usually I'd hear about Sega's financial troubles...those guys are knee-deep in debt and I think they'll be out of business in a few years unless some kind of miracle happens. There were some news postings online about how Sega would just focus on a few key franchises, and many worried that VF5FS would never be released. Luckily those rumors didn't come true.

VF5FS comes out for the PS3 and Xbox (and I got the PS3 version, because I don't have a live subscription anymore....). It's every bit as good as the game I remember from 2008 for the Xbox 360. Even with the PS3's online hiccups, the game plays spectacularly.

Here we have a 15$ game that has:

- Superior netcode
- A well designed training mode
- A wide variety of characters
- Very balanced characters/movesets----it seems this game is even more balanced than the previous version of VF5!


For $15 the game feels like it's worth $60. Say what you will about its downloadable costumes....at least you don't need the costumes to win matches. Those are completely optional, and they aren't part of the download, so there's no argument about what content does and doesn't belong to the player....

Sega delivered in every way. And I still can't explain why their netcode is so good. The only explanation I could think of is maybe they have some old R&D from their Dreamcast days in that game. Imagine...they had VF working on 56k modems back in the late 90s/early 2000s! Maybe whatever R&D they already have is existing in that very game...and with today's high speed DSL connections the game just literally flies....even on matches vs opponents with grey bars, the game is playable. You can feel input lag but it still works! It's really amazing.

So maybe the only conclusion I could probably make is this: Hungry developers make better games. You have Sega, down on their luck, down by the billions in debt, on the brink of utter collapse....and you have Capcom, the superstar of the fighting genre today, well-funded and with a solid reputation....Sega just made the better game with probably the smaller budget when compared to Capcom. Their game is more inspired, more solidly constructed, and just damn more fun than Capcom's SFxT. It works very well in today's online gaming environment. It would be a real shame if Sega went under. I wish they wouldn't...I would really miss their games and their creativity in designing them. The last game I played from Sega was Binary Domain---that game flopped in the market....but it was a really fun shooter. The only challenge it probably had was lack of marketing. Sega's financial troubles are affecting its ability to sell their games. I just hope the very positive word of mouth for VF5FS will help push the game to more players and convince Sega that the VF series is worth keeping.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Return of the True 3D Fighting King: Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown on Consoles!

Quick review:

- Netcode is excellent, only had very few laggy games.
- Online matches are very fast; it's only a few days but I've had over 60+ matches already!
- The game feels easier for some reason (or maybe it's because of all my previous practice from years before)
- Just 15$ on PSN, FREE on Playstation Plus!
- For the price the game has a ton of value....you don't need to know every move to enjoy this game, just play it even with only a few moves and it can be quite enjoyable.
- So far the game is new so there's a wide variety of players; not everyone online is a 'super-pro' just yet, but that will most likely change over time (when people start moving on to other games...) so that only means one thing: the best time to play this (where you'll have the most fun playing it) is NOW!
- Playing on WORLDWIDE settings so I don't really think about the region of my opponents; but it never seems to be a factor at all...gameplay is just really smooth online!

So yeah, go get this game already. It's just 15$ for a triple A class fighting game! Just note, there's no story mode at all, so if you're in it for that, you may not enjoy this. But if you enjoy multiplayer fighting games, this one is worth the money :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Where is Gaming Now?

So, a lot of gamers are playing Diablo III right now. I gave the Diablo III 'demo', which came out a few weeks ago, a test run and honestly the gameplay wasn't really that compelling. It felt like a graphically updated version of Diablo II and not much else. I'm not sure if the first part in the demo is also the first part in the full game, but it felt severely lacking in exposition. The old adage 'Here's a big sword, now go kill something' was pretty much Diablo III, at the very least that was my experience with the 'demo'.

Maybe I'll try it someday. I just don't feel like spending 3,000+ pesos on it right now.

Where is gaming now? I don't really feel any huge interest in any upcoming games. There's Halo 4, sure, but that project feels like a cash-in more than anything, with Bungie giving up on it and basically Microsoft just pushing it so they're guaranteed some money come Christmas-time. There was Street Fighter X Tekken which held my interest for a while, but with all the controversies, the DLC thing, the bugs and the lack of real character balancing....I stopped playing it recently. Which kinda sucks because I just bought an arcade stick a few months ago. Oh well...maybe the fighting game thing is about to die down again.

There's League of Legends, which my brother-in-law says is a good game. Maybe I'll try that.

I've been playing on my phone a lot. These new smartphones are fantastic....they really pack a serious punch and it makes you wonder WHY you should buy any portable from a major console developer. Games are ZERO dollars at times, and with my working schedule sometimes it's all I can play.

I do wish there'd be a big game soon. Right now there just isn't anything to look forward to. So back to Temple Run and 'The Dark Meadow' on ICS....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Binary Domain joins the list of great Sega games no one bought

Playing this game during the week and really enjoying it.

- the characters are really entertaining. They seem to be written like RPG archetypes which is interesting in a Gears of War type of game
- Not using the voice feature in the game because of my living situation at home (don't wake the baby!)
- Action is really hectic and fun, it feels like a good old Japanese shoot em up with a TPS mixed in

I read somewhere this sold well below 100k which makes me feel really bad for Sega. They churn out great work like this, and it never sells.... so strange, really. I guess they can't (afford to) buy review outlets like the big Western game makers can.

Friday, April 06, 2012

That Mass Effect 3 Ending (spoilers!)

Just finished Mass Effect 3 in about two days (20 hours). Rushed through it like a Call of Duty game. That said I went in there assuming the worst, with all the negative feedback the game has been getting.

For some reason I enjoyed it. A lot. I enjoyed it without the hype, without the marketing, without hoping for some kind of mind-blowing revelation at the end. The game, by itself is so well crafted. It has some issues here and there like every other game (the cover system needs work) but that's about it. Overall, this still has what made the other two games great, particularly the dialogue system and the fantastic cutscenes. With this game, the cutscenes reach a level well beyond Square Enix's efforts with their own JRPGs.

Now, to the main issue at hand (with most people anyway). The ending. I liked it. It's unfortunate people didn't like it, but based on what I've seen i think a lot of people are imagining going to conventions dressed up as characters from the series, enjoying future books or games or whatever might be made that's Mass Effect related.

The ending totally destroyed that possibility. Stop reading now if you don't want to be spoiled.

I believe the end of the game is really about the end of technology. Why do we have it, and what happens if it goes too far. The game always talks about AI and synthetics and themes of genocide...these are all things possible through technology. If I had to interpret the whole storyline of Mass Effect in a short paragraph, it would simply be this:

So the very, very, very first civilization in the universe advanced so far as to create synthetic life. But this created conflict and this caused a war between organics and synthetics. The synthetics won, but because they live basically to serve the organics, they create a system to keep order in the universe. When a civilization advances too far as to create synthetics again, the very first synthetics swoop in and destroy that civilization. Why? To 'save' them from destroying themselves. It's a strange way of seeing it, but to a being that only thinks about keeping order and stopping chaos (essentially the aim/purpose of technology itself), eliminating an advanced organic civilization is the best way to maintain order in the universe. I think the Reapers saw Organics as beings with a pointless existence, they're there and all they do is cause war and discord. So to prevent them from doing that, to 'save' them, they kill them off. It's strangely logical if you think about it....to prevent war, you prevent the things that cause war. If organic life is that thing....then flush it out so there is 'peace' in the galaxy. It's an all or nothing point of view that only a machine could possibly have.

Okay, that's more than a paragraph.

Anyway, so this cycle happens over and over for about several ker-trillion years and eventually with Sheperd they somehow manage to stop the cycle. There would be no more reapers and civilizations throughout the galaxy would have to start from scratch (given all the technology is destroyed in the end). It doesn't guarantee that it all won't happen again, but all the civilizations that survived the war get to go on living, which is essentially the victory that they aimed for in the first place---survival.

I liked it. I guess I liked the idea of this enemy that has existed since the dawn of time. I liked the idea of these synthetic beings (the Reapers) seeing that destroying all organics is the only way to preserve peace...maybe to me it seemed they were partly right. There wouldn't be any chaos on Earth today if it weren't for mankind. It would all boil down to survival of the fittest among species, but I doubt you would see natural creatures destroying the world on their own. Humankind is fully capable of doing that, thanks to technology. So to save the world, you'd have to take out mankind....which is insane because who'd be there to enjoy the peace? But in this concept of peace, mankind is the least important aspect of it....so long as there isn't anything that can cause chaos or discord, that would be 'peace'...at least, the way a machine would view peace.

So yeah, it's complicated. That's why people hate it! And that's why I love it. It's very 'sci-fi' in the sense that you have to think about it. Not a lot of people normally do that when it comes to games, so Bioware was pretty gutsy for going for this kind of 'artistic' ending. Now they have to bear the brunt of all the bad feedback, but I think they did a great job.

Friday, March 30, 2012

How Video Game Hype Works

It's a strange irony that even with the added technology that we have today, people who use the technology to interact with others don't seem too happy at all. This stuff is supposed to make life easier but for some reason people still seem as miserable as ever (or probably more so)

Take any kind of pre release hype for any big game. Online conversations always start with great hopes and aspirations, reflections of games past and how "good" older games were. You find people who like the same game as you do and you start talking on the internet to hype each other about how great it will be when the game comes out.

But it always, always ends the same. Expectations aren't lived up to, none of the hype turns out to be real, and the game always looks worse than it really is. But I sometimes think that the Internet is what really adds to that effect. Imagine, you have these thousands of people finding anything and everything wrong with your 60$ game. Instead of making the most of what you have, you wonder about what you don't have. Because one guy online said it, and 2000 of his anonymous buddies agreed. It's like we want to be miserable by asking others to feed our misery. Instead of enjoying the 38 characters in your fighting game, worry about the other 12 that aren't there yet. Instead of enjoying a 40 hour fantasy epic, worry about the last five minutes and figure that you were robbed, even if you did have 40 hours of shooting aliens over and over again. It's one thing to tell a close friend about what you didn't like about a game, but its something else entirely to share it with a million strangers, and find yourself just forced to agree to the majority.

At the end of the day, when you read that 9.0 review to that awesome game and convinced yourself to buy it, there's no point in validating your opinion after you've let go of your money. You can be miserable about your choices, but only if you want to.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Using Globe DSL? Playing Street Fighter X Tekken? Make a JP PSN Account!

So out of curiosity I made a Japanese PSN account. In sfxtk matchmaking I noticed that, most of the time, players in Japan appear with yellow or green bars. Every other game had 0 to 1 bar. I was getting annoyed sitting there waiting for games on the Ranked Match screen half the time...so I guess this was worth a try....

Making a Japanese PSN account was easy...the form fields are almost the same as the others, and the postal code had no validation so I just put in a lot of 1's. When I looked for games in Endless Battle, all the games that appeared had yellow bars! I was able to play a lot of practically lag free games thanks to this!

Some other positives:
- spectator mode works!
- ranked match fight request occurs very often
-fewer rollbacks

This is on a 2mbps Globe connection.

So if you're on Globe Telecom DSL and are loathing the fact that you always get laggy games from the USA, try making a JP account. The net code really shines on good connections!

I'm on PSN as takeshicastle227....if you're also on Globe, send me an invite.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Street Fighter X Tekken - really short review + commentary on everything going on related to this game

It's pretty easy to review SFxTK if you play fighting games already. I wouldn't call myself a competition level player; I really just play for fun, but I wouldn't say that I don't hold my own when playing online. SFxTK is really a fun game and if you already enjoy fighting games and obssess over how to play them right, you'll surely enjoy this.

If you don't enjoy fighting games, this game can try to convert you but if you don't handle losing very well, it will be the same story as other fighting games. Honestly I didn't handle losing in Marvel Vs Capcom 3 very well, which is why I didn't invest in the next game, UMvC3. Marvel can be pretty infuriating, even with all the practice you put in, it all seems to boil down to character tiers (which characters are really the 'best' in the game). Unlike with SF4 where, while tiers do matter, you'll still have a fighting chance if your opponent is not very skilled.

Early on, SFxTK does not seem infuriating at all when you win or lose. No character seems too ridiculously overpowered though again that could change in a few weeks, with people already playing it. I must say that I am enjoying this game a lot, being able to juggle with Bison is really cool, and I found a new character in Juri that actually deserves my time to learn and play.

So the short answer is, if you love fighting games and know what a 'cancel' is in fighting games and how to do it, go right ahead and buy this

---

Now, in relation to everything else going on with this game in particular, there's a lot of controversy now related to Capcom putting in DLC in the game disc and not allowing people to use it. I also think it sucks but I don't think people who enjoy FGs should miss out on the game despite this. As a FG, SFxTK is really excellently made, I like the quality and production values on everything (even the music is better than SF4's). It's so unfortunate that a well designed game such as this is going through negative publicity because of what seems to be a very bad business decision on Capcom's part.

For me, I'd rather just enjoy playing the game with the characters that are there, enjoy it for what it is, and not think about what I can't get right now.

Now, with the network code of the game, they're using a new technique for online play which improves input lag but causes 'rollbacks' to happen (where the game could 'undo' an event if it gets data from both consoles involved in a match that tells the game that the wrong thing happened during the fight). As a player from the Philippines I can't really do anything about my online situation, it's going to be red bars everywhere. But what's the alternative? I could just go back to SSF4 but I've already played that game for more than a hundred hours. I'd rather take my chances with this game, warts and all. I've had a lot of good games in the past few days even with the rollback system and in some cases my experience is better than with SSF4's netcode.

And, FINALLY, flying kicks now work!

Well, in SSF4, I could never time my flying kicks right because of input lag. I have to input so early just to get it out in time, and it can be a pretty annoying experience.

With this game, I react a bit similar to how I would in an offline game.

Lets all hope that the sound bug gets fixed eventually.

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Last thing, there's a lot of stuff being said about the Xbox version missing features like characters, local pair play, etc. All I have to say about that is, in all my dealings with MS, it's pretty clear to me that fighting games are not very important to them. Shooters are their bread and butter and that's why they devote more attention to that genre than everything else. Can't blame them, honestly. I'm really not surprised that we're not seeing MS pitch the fighting genre as strongly as Sony does. Sony is in second place in the US and that's why they're getting their hands on anything that can help them to compete in the gaming market. They're gambling on the fighting scene to grow a bit more in the next few years.

I personally do hope that happens, but it really depends on the online experience improving for fighting game players, and it also depends on fighting games being more inclusive of new players and new fans. The culture of calling people 'scrubs' in the FGC has to end someday, if they want it to 'blow up' / become as important as other major competitive genres like RTS and FPS. The trick is figuring out how to lower the discouragement players get in fighting games when they lose. Maybe the rewards should be different after you enter a match? Maybe you should still get something just for playing? Capcom and Sony have to think really hard to make the genre more appealing outside of its hardcore fanbase, without destroying the elements that make fighting games an interesting sub-culture in the first place.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I bought a car!

Just recently purchased a car :D Honestly I've never bought anything this big in my whole life so this is a really new thing for me. I got the 2012 Kia Picanto, which is the new model with the styling made by that guy from Audi who Kia hired recently.

That said, I'm just posting this to help out anyone on the internet who bought a 2012 Kia Picanto in the Philippines.

If you're looking for where the VALET / PROGRAMMABLE SWITCH / BUTTON is on the new 2012 Kia Picanto, it's a black button that's directly behind the lever that opens the hood. The people at Kia couldn't tell me where it is...so I had to look all over the dashboard for it.

It's a very useful button, in case of emergencies related to your car alarm, or if you need to configure it.

That's all for today :D