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 stop wasting your time now)

Take a look at this:

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.