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PS3 | The Gamers Blog

 

 

When look­ing over my notes for this game, I came to the deci­sion to review this title as a pack­age, not a new stand­alone game. The orig­i­nal King­dom Hearts was released over 10 years ago, a lit­tle late to review a game based on its mer­its as a new title, despite my first play through of the title, though I am no stranger to the fran­chise. I do want to, how­ever, go over the changes made in this HD col­lec­tion and will judge the title based on what it is, an HD col­lec­tion. Over 40+ hours with the title, I had ups, downs, and a new bar at which to set HD col­lec­tions at.

King­dom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix is com­prised of three titles, King­dom Hearts: Final Remix (was a Japan exclu­sive), King­dom Hearts Re: Chain of Mem­o­ries, and 358/2 Days (pro­nounced 358 over 2 Days). The first two titles are in their entirety, but 358/2 Days is just re-mastered cut scenes with no game­play to speak of, which was cut due to hav­ing to take the time to rebuild the game( it was a DS exclu­sive), but there is still plenty of value here for your money. I com­pleted King­dom Hearts Final Mix, with­out obtain­ing every item and did not fin­ish every side quest in about 33 hours. The rest of the time was put into Chain of Mem­o­ries and watch­ing about an hour’s worth of the videos from 358/2 Days. Let’s break the title down.

 

King­dom Hearts was orig­i­nally released back in 2002 for the PlaySta­tion 2. It was a crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess, though it did have some prob­lems. The ver­sion that is included in this col­lec­tion is the Japan­ese exclu­sive “Final Mix”. The title fol­lows Sora, Don­ald, and Goofy on their adven­tures though orig­i­nal and Dis­ney inspired worlds to stop Ansem and defeat the Heart­less. Accord­ing to the games direc­tor, Tet­suya Nomura, most of the orig­i­nal game assets were lost over time, so most of this title has been rebuilt. The biggest changes have been to the cam­era and to the visu­als. Despite some weird mouth tex­tures here and there, this has set the bar for visu­als in an HD col­lec­tion. The games art direc­tions pops off the screen in great 1080p res­o­lu­tion and could eas­ily sur­pass some titles that were made more recently. Best of all, unlike some other HD col­lec­tions the full motion videos have also received the HD treat­ment, mak­ing them a visual treat. The cam­era sys­tem has been reworked from the shoul­der but­tons in the orig­i­nal game to the right thumb stick to mimic the cam­era from King­dom Hearts 2. While this is a great update, the cam­era can still be erratic and made some jar­ring move­ments dur­ing com­bat and other seg­ments. Plat­form­ing with the new cam­era made it more tol­er­a­ble, but the weird float­ing physics still kept it a chore. All of the music has been redone with live com­po­si­tions, instead of the syn­thetic based tones found in the orig­i­nal. I wish I had a set of head­phones for my PlaySta­tion 3, this game would have ben­e­fited from a bet­ter out­put than my T.V.’s speak­ers; the music is fan­tas­tic. The orig­i­nal voice work is still there, with per­for­mances by Haley Joel Osment, Billy Zane, David Bore­anaz, and James Woods. The voice overs are hit or miss in their act­ing abil­ity, but serve their pur­pose well. This is the meat and pota­toes of the col­lec­tion and as an HD re-master it is hard to fault. The game is beau­ti­ful, sounds great, and plays great. There are some design issues I have with the game, such as the lock-on being iffy at times, and the hunt for what to do next in some lev­els; but this is things that are a decade old, and are moot at this point. See­ing and hear­ing how great this title is now in the HD era, was a real treat, gripes aside.

 

Re: Chain of Mem­o­ries is a PS2 remake of the Game Boy Advanced title. The game plays dif­fer­ently than other titles in the series, with bat­tles using cards, instead of the typ­i­cal action com­mand sys­tem. Chain of Mem­o­ries takes place imme­di­ately after the first King­dom Hearts and has Sora and com­pany explor­ing the Cas­tle of Obliv­ion. The Cas­tle bases its rooms off of Sora’s mem­o­ries so expect a lot of recy­cled envi­ron­ments from the pre­vi­ous title. The card bat­tle sys­tem takes some time get­ting used to, and I still feel I don’t have a well enough grip on its intri­ca­cies. The game is much shorter than King­dom Hearts but is expected to be played through twice, so after two plays, you should clock in around the orig­i­nals run time. The game is much nar­rower in its scope and feel, and lin­ear by nature. It is a fun dis­trac­tion if you are look­ing for more to do with the 1.5 Remix after you have fin­ished King­dom Hearts, I would not by the col­lec­tion just for this title.

 

358/2 Days has zero game­play. It is a col­lec­tion of videos, play­ing out the story for the DS exclu­sive title. The col­lec­tion of videos spans almost 3 hours and while some are bet­ter than oth­ers, it can feel a bit drawn out and dull at times. It seems like a weird omis­sion to not include new game­play; this does com­plete the story line up until King­dom Hearts 2. As far as the chrono­log­i­cal order is con­cerned, these three titles line up one after another. In the grand scheme of things, if there is to be a King­dom Hearts 2 HD com­pi­la­tion, any new com­ers to the series would be caught up to speed with the over­all story arch, out­side of the PSP pre­quel, Birth by Sleep. While I am sure the game­play was cut for the sake of time and money, it is kind of a dis­ap­point­ment that it wasn’t included. The videos were made from the in-game engine and do include the beau­ti­ful updated visu­als as well as voice over work. There are tro­phies to unlock with the videos, which was a weird choice, though some maybe gru­el­ing for tro­phy hunters, be pre­pared to watch a lot of videos.

 

If you are a fan of Square Enix or the King­dom Heart series, then you already have the col­lec­tion. For those look­ing to get into the series, or some­thing a lit­tle light­hearted and dif­fer­ent, this is the col­lec­tion to buy. For $40, you could have received less con­tent, but Square Enix was very gen­er­ous in this col­lec­tion. King­dom Hearts, like I stated above, is the main course of this col­lec­tion and should be pur­chased as such. Chain of Mem­o­ries and 358/2 Days should be treated like DVD extra fea­tures, they are good addi­tions, but if you skip them, you are not miss­ing out on much. As a HD col­lec­tion, it is fan­tas­tic. I thought I had seen the pin­na­cle of these col­lec­tions with the likes of the ICO, Metal Gear Solid, and Sly Cooper col­lec­tions, but Square Enix has sur­passed these. While the oth­ers have included more sta­ble frame rates and higher res­o­lu­tions, most of King­dom Hearts Final Mix was rebuilt with this col­lec­tion in mind. It may be lack­ing in the amount of games offered ver­sus other col­lec­tions; the out­stand­ing reworked visu­als and audio place this at the top of my HD col­lec­tion list. The pack­ag­ing is one other pos­i­tive going for this col­lec­tion. I post an arti­cle about the art book pack­ag­ing on Tues­day, and if you are think­ing of pick­ing up the title go for the art book case if you can. I love the idea of pack­ag­ing being an art book, hint­ing at the ever pos­si­bil­ity of games as art. In clos­ing, come for the beau­ti­ful King­dom Hearts Final Mix; though be aware some game­play ele­ments have not aged par­tic­u­larly well. Chain of Mem­o­ries and the 358/2 Days the­ater are after din­ner mints that can be taken as you please, or you can ignore alto­gether. As an HD col­lec­tion, it sets a new bar for audio and visual re-mastering. I hope Square Enix put this much love into the upcom­ing Final Fan­tasy X/X-2 HD Collection.

 

+ A plethora of con­tent for $40

+ Beau­ti­ful visuals

+ Reworked audio is a treat

+ FMV’s have HD resolution

+ A great pack­age for new com­ers to the franchise

+ Art­book pack­ag­ing is fantastic

+ Despite cam­era issues and some cheap deaths, the game is still a blast to play

+ PS3 dynamic themes as unlocks

- The reworked cam­era is a nice addi­tion, but is still awful

- 358/2 Days was deliv­ered as a 3 hour movie

- Tro­phy hunters have to sit through the three hour movie

–Chain of Mem­o­ries can be a lit­tle repet­i­tive and the com­bat takes some get­ting use to

Final Score — 8.5/10

King­dom Hearts HD Review

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I’ve been around the gam­ing indus­try for a long time and one of the pre-conceived notions I’ve had as it’s grown and changed over the years is that new games should have amaz­ing graph­ics and they should get bet­ter with each install­ment. With that said when I first saw Hot­line Miami on Steam I sim­ply ignored it.  I didn’t even con­sider it until CABXYZ told me that I should give the game a shot.  At his sug­ges­tion and my insa­tiable need to get my Sum­mer Get­away 2013 badge on steam I decided to pick it up.

Firstly I want to say that at $2.99 it felt like high­way rob­bery… of the devel­op­ers.   Even at the $9.99 price tag I feel the devel­op­ers are under charg­ing for this title.  I would of gladly paid $20, $25 maybe even $30 dol­lars  for it and that’s say­ing a lot con­sider that it’s an 8bit over the top shooter.

Graph­ics – this doesn’t really apply here but that doesn’t mean the pre­sen­ta­tion can’t be cool and enter­tain­ing.  If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s not to judge a book by its cover and that’s what I did sadly with Miami hot­line.  Half the bat­tle is mak­ing a solid pre­sen­ta­tion with every­thing from the smooth menu, solid game­play, and inter­est­ing ani­ma­tions.  Every­thing from the blood spat­ters to the inter­est­ing cut-scenes make the whole pre­sen­ta­tion complete

Sound – This is one of the top high­lights of the game.  We at TGB absolutely loved the sound track.  I loved it so much I actu­ally went and pur­chased the sound­track.  It was that good and it’s one of my favorite in a game in recent his­tory.  Obvi­ously this isn’t a 5.1 sur­round game but the sound­track is def­i­nitely the winner.

Game­play – since this isn’t a high-powered game it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be… ultra smooth.  The game plays smoothly and it has a vast array of weapons to use rang­ing from your fists to guns and throw­ing knives.  I played the game with Mouse and Key­board but you can also play it with a con­troller on the PC ver­sion or you can get it on the PS3, Vita and Xbox360.

Story – if there was a weak spot there it’s prob­a­bly the story.  It’s not bad by any means but it was slightly con­fus­ing and mildly absurd but then how many games aren’t.

Value – I played through the game in about 8.5 hours.  So for the measly $2.99 I paid for it I got a hell of a deal.  This game has a ton of replay value as well as some of the achieve­ments will require you to play sev­eral mis­sions over and over again and to boot they are a blast to play.

Chal­lenge – This is some­thing I gen­er­ally don’t cover because I feel that most games are designed to appeal to the masses and not to the ‘hard­core elite’ of games and thus they are designed to be sim­ple, easy and some­times mind­less.   I’m thank­ful to say that Miami Hot­line does not fall into this trap and it’s very refresh­ing.  There were more than a few times that I actu­ally wanted to throw the key­board out the win­dow.  Miami Hot­line saves are really what drive the chal­lenge.  They aren’t annoy­ing but they are sim­i­lar to older games.  If you die at ANY point dur­ing one of the stages you start all over again.  Most of the mis­sions have 2 – 4 stages to fur­ther that every­thing is one hit kill so if you get hit or shot even once… you start over.  You will die and die often… there is even an achieve­ment for it.

In short Miami Hot­line is a must buy and is one of my favorite indie games to come out since Mount & Blade.  If you are a fan of the Super Nin­tendo or con­sider your­self a gamer period this is a MUST have game for your library.

Rat­ing: 9/10

 

 

I must first and for most thank my mother. She helped fuel my pas­sion for gam­ing and took an inter­est in my life from when I was young and still goes strong today. She came across an arti­cle on MSN that talked about where gamers have dis­ap­peared to and that this cur­rent col­lege bound gen­er­a­tion has greater inter­est in engag­ing in the out­side world rather than being in another world. The argu­ment has its good points and its list of mis­fires. The term “gamer” is a mis­con­strued title in a day’s where every­one has a smart phone or tablet that is a capa­ble gam­ing machine. When peo­ple think of “gamers” the first thing that comes to mind is a 30 some­thing– year-old, liv­ing in their par­ents base­ment, and drinks gal­lons of Moun­tain Dew. Yes, there are those that fit this per­sona, but not the vast major­ity. Take myself as an exam­ple, I am cur­rently job search­ing after being with a com­pany for more than 6 years, while I search I am work­ing full time on bring­ing news, and other fun gam­ing related quid through­out the week. My girl­friend and I have lived with each other for just over three years, I have com­pletely aban­doned soda, I am not over­weight, and despite hav­ing a huge game col­lec­tion, enjoy cul­ture, music, movies, comics, and other things out­side gam­ing. Yet, I am one of those peo­ple that if I am on the bus or sub­way, you will see me with a portable gam­ing device not car­ing what you think of me. My friends and gamer cir­cles all have full time jobs, most of them in rela­tion­ships, and enjoy other things out­side of gam­ing as well. Yet we are all pas­sion­ate enough to make a site about gam­ing work within the con­structs of our daily lives. The arti­cle went into detail about the com­ing con­sole gen­er­a­tion and the under­per­form­ing Wii U, as well as the down­fall of Zynga, Face­book, and Apple prod­ucts as gam­ing out­lets. There is one thing in the arti­cle I must cor­rect; Nin­tendo is not hav­ing an E3 press event because of the suc­cess of the Nin­tendo Directs. They feel they can reach more peo­ple through the live web­cast that can be replayed via their web­site and on the Wii U and 3DS. Nin­tendo has already taken respon­si­bil­ity for the Wii U sales with lack of soft­ware and bad mar­ket­ing; the 3DS on the other hand is hav­ing an already stel­lar year and is look­ing to fin­ish strong for the remain­der. There are sev­eral ways to get kids, adults, and cur­rent gamers excited about gam­ing and the prospects of sto­ry­telling, prob­lem solv­ing, team­work, and social aspects that come along with gam­ing. The arti­cle gave a grave reminder that, with this gen­er­a­tion of col­lege bound stu­dents that doesn’t care much for gam­ing, they will be mak­ing the games of tomor­row; and that scares me.

 

Gam­ing, just like any type of media, social gath­er­ing, or sports can have huge ben­e­fits. They can lead to mak­ing some­one feel socially excepted, help with prob­lem solv­ing, can lead to quicker reflexes; they can even help with vocab­u­lary and read­ing com­pre­hen­sion. But just like every­thing in life, it must come with mod­er­a­tion. Tech­nol­ogy is a won­der­ful thing and despite the author claim­ing this younger gen­er­a­tion being fueled by the out­side world instead of the dig­i­tal one, they have always had it. I see 9 year-olds on an iPhone and they are con­nected to Face­book. How many of these peo­ple that are inter­act­ing with the out­side world have their trendy phone on them ready to use that god awful vin­tage fil­ter to take pic­tures and upload them to Tum­blr, Face­book, Twit­ter, or Insta­gram? They have traded one game for another. Face­book likes, re-tweets, and the like have become the new points sys­tem. See how many of these col­lege bound teenagers could live with­out their smart phone and social media for a week. Social media fuels our busi­ness, but if I didn’t have to be con­nected to it, I could do with­out it. Despite Facebook’s slump­ing stock, Face­book has a game built into it with­out any­one putting the word “ville” beside it. This is where some of the gamers of tomor­row have gone, and just like gam­ing needs mod­er­a­tion, less “vin­tage” look­ing pho­tos shot on a bad phone cam­era the bet­ter. Does the inte­gra­tion of Twit­ter, Face­book, and other social media into gam­ing con­soles solve the prob­lem of the dis­ap­pear­ing gamer? Not really and how do we get these social media moguls into gam­ing? By chang­ing the game and dri­ving excitement.

 

The cur­rent con­sole gen­er­a­tion has reached its peak, about a year ago. Despite gamers being con­tent with the PS3 and 360, they need to go. They have ter­ri­bly old tech, poor infra­struc­tures, and there is no room to grow for game devel­op­ment; they are stuck. One thing that Nin­tendo did right, despite lack of horse­power in Wii and now Wii U, was they have brought new ways to play the game. Just like the media darling’s Google Glass and Ocu­lus Rift, they are new ways to immerse our­selves in this media. Sony, with the Dual­shock 4 is try­ing. They know the Move didn’t sell like it should have and it was time to move on from the motion gam­ing and try what is work­ing with tech out­side gam­ing with a touch pad. Now the DS4 still has all the nor­mal con­troller bells and whis­tles, but the inte­gra­tion of a small touch pad to do sim­ple things such as sim­ple actions or using it to select things like a smart phone could be a key in the fight of keep­ing peo­ple inter­ested. Nin­tendo did the same thing with the Wii U gamepad, and added much more func­tion to the device. Most of this gen­er­a­tion, gamers have known one con­troller and did not grow up in the times when each new con­sole devised a new con­troller with new ways to inter­act. I am for­tu­nate to grow up first hold­ing an Atari 2600 joy­stick that had one but­ton. Then with each suc­ces­sor, the con­troller evolved to add more but­tons, ana­log sticks for bet­ter range of con­trol and motion, to hav­ing force feed­back, and to hav­ing pres­sure sen­si­tive trig­gers for more ample con­trol. This con­sole cycle was an odd one. We started with the Wii Remote, Six­axis, and 360 gamepad; and then mid way through got bored and added more in the way of Kinect, PS Move, Wii Motion­plus, and the Bal­ance Board, and lost what made gam­ing spe­cial. With all these acces­sories and new ways we had to have to play the excite­ment turned into groan­ing at the retail counter and then the con­sole col­lect­ing dust. I was work­ing gam­ing retail when Wii Sports Resort came out and peo­ple were upset over hav­ing to buy an addi­tional Wii Motion Plus don­gle for some­thing they already spent money on. I know there has always been an acces­sory through­out the home con­sole cycles, things such as the Super Scope, Sega Acti­va­tor, the NES Power Pad, and Game Boy/ advanced play­ers, but not some­thing that ren­ders a con­troller moot to play some­thing that has the Wii Sports brand on it. I’ve never seen the gen­eral pub­lic clam­ber at a con­sole the way they did at the Wii. Doing some­thing as sim­ple as hav­ing a two but­ton remote so peo­ple could play Mario the way they did back in the 80’s was genius. Sadly because of this Super Mario Bros. Wii out sold both the bet­ter Mario Galaxy titles, but there was that excite­ment for par­ents to show their kids what open­ing a NES and play­ing Super Mario for the first time felt like, and that’s just it. There needs to be excite­ment once again. Yea anyone’s phone can run Angry Birds or Tem­ple Run, but can your iPad or phone be capa­ble of bring­ing you Mario, Halo, or Ratchet and Clank? I know a lot of par­ents that were PS3 own­ers that were excited for Ni No Kuni, the game by Namco, Level 5 and Stu­dio Ghi­bli. It gave the par­ents the deep, rich RPG game­play, but brought the great char­ac­ter design, and art of a Stu­dio Ghi­bli film. It was some­thing you could spend play­ing with your child that wasn’t tagged with any­thing from Nin­tendo. We need excite­ment in the indus­try, we need to cel­e­brate the dif­fer­ent, the fam­ily ori­ented, the indie, the PC, the Free to Play, the con­sole exclu­sive, and the block­buster AAA titles but with­out the hos­til­ity, with­out the fan boy schlock, and with­out stereo­types (includ­ing xeno and homo­pho­bia). If we share the excite­ment with our friends, colleges, passerby’s, consumers, and the peo­ple leav­ing gam­ing behind; we may be able to show them what it is about the hobby that keeps us enthralled with it.

 

There may be other ways to keep peo­ple and chil­dren inter­ested with gam­ing by incor­po­rat­ing it in dif­fer­ent ways. There are art exhibits, con­certs, books, comics, sound­tracks, and other media that the sto­ries games con­vey have bled into. Want to still get in your morn­ing run but what to be excited about the next Halo, lis­ten to the sound­track on your work­out. Love Mass Effect and want the sto­ries to con­tinue out­side of the game, visit your local comic or book store. Comics and books can be read in parks, the beach, on the train, in a plane, on your phone, on your tablet, or at home. I know read­ing game related mate­r­ial or list­ing to sound­tracks as I write or dur­ing my walks brings me to the con­sole space with excite­ment. Lis­ten­ing to sound­tracks of games I have played years ago, trig­gers mem­o­ries mak­ing my brain more active, while I am actively doing some­thing else. When my friends and I were younger, going out­side to play Laser Tag, play in the snow, play wif­fle ball or even climb­ing a tree became some­thing dif­fer­ent because we include gam­ing into those activ­i­ties. Dur­ing snow days my back yard and drive way became the Bat­tle of Hoth, Laser Tag was a mix­ture of Res­i­dent Evil and Juras­sic Park, and play­ing sports games gave us bet­ter under­stand­ings of those sports and we would mimic bat­ting stances, or moves we saw in the games. It wasn’t about the vio­lence or gun play or any of that, it was about cre­at­ing new, fun, and excit­ing expe­ri­ences from what we had played. We incor­po­rated games and story lines into our child­hood play, some­thing I see absolutely none of today. There is just no imag­i­na­tion in today’s youth. Maybe gam­ing is being passed up, because it is a cre­ative indus­try that some­times requires a cre­ative input from the player, and that cre­ativ­ity is just lost. I mean look at the styles of clothes now, none of it is cre­ative, it is all regur­gi­tated from the 70–80’s and I hate it. Maybe this gen­er­a­tion has become cre­atively ster­ile and the only way they can express it is through the new game of social media.

 

There are sev­eral things I have gone over to try and resolve this issue that is appar­ent. There is one way I haven’t yet addressed. In a recent inter­view with Peter Molyneux (for­merly of Lion­head Stu­dios and now at 22 Cans), how the Xbox can be suc­cess­ful, trim the media fat, and make it about games. With this gen­er­a­tion we have seen the sim­ple starts as being a DVD/Blu– Ray player to an entire media hub where it for­gets about being a game con­sole. The Xbox 360 dash­board is so bogged down with media apps, adver­tise­ments and other schlock that it makes find­ing games and game related mate­r­ial a chore. I don’t care that I can tweet, add Face­book friends, order a pizza, or have mil­i­tary pro­pa­ganda flood­ing the advert space; I want it to play games, con­nect me to peo­ple to play games with, and to let me lose myself in story and HD visu­als. Any­one can buy an iPad, Roku Box, or surf the web on their phone. Con­sole mak­ers need to make the con­soles focus and regain what we buy them for in the first place, to play games. I can buy a PC and do every­thing at once. But peo­ple by con­soles because of the dif­fer­ent game­play expe­ri­ences, ease of use, there is no updat­ing hard­ware and they can spend the money and be happy for years with what is in the box. I buy Nin­tendo con­soles for the inter­est­ing ways to play and their core fran­chises. I buy Sony prod­ucts to play orig­i­nal titles like ICO, Shadow of the Colos­sus, and titles that feel at home on their prod­ucts like Final Fan­tasy and Metal Gear. I buy Microsoft prod­ucts for uni­ver­sal con­nec­tiv­ity across all prod­ucts (from my W7 phone, to my Zune, to my Xbox, and my email), for the com­fort­able con­troller, their exclu­sives, and I am a bit of an achieve­ment junkie. Out of all three have I men­tioned that I can watch Net­flix, or get on Twit­ter, or because I like adver­tise­ment shoved into my eye­balls at every turn? No, and that is the way it should be. Each has their strengths and they need to feed off of those and focus on games.

 

With all of these thoughts I hope this lost gen­er­a­tion can take note, game com­pa­nies do a bet­ter job of show­ing that their con­soles are about games, and that games can make more of a social impact. The gam­ing indus­try is mak­ing more money than ever, but with so many techs out there, they are start­ing to not seem viable any more, but that can change and could bring new audi­ences with that change. The indus­try isn’t just loos­ing gamers, but cre­ativ­ity and desire. The “lost” gen­er­a­tion has had so much tech­nol­ogy avail­able from the start that they have become cre­atively numb, and socially inept, to where the only way to get them into gam­ing is to maybe mak­ing it sim­ple again. This gen­er­a­tion is not only ignor­ing gam­ing but other out­lets such as comics, and books as well. I had teen tell me that one Iron Man fig­ure was wrong because he didn’t look like he did in the movie. If he had picked up a comic first instead of insert­ing his foot, he would have real­ized he was wrong. The gam­ing indus­try has to change and we have taken fact to that issue, but maybe it’s also about time this gen­er­a­tion put down the iPhone, crappy vin­tage cam­era fil­ter, jack­ets with shoul­der pads, and social media to find out there is more out there. Maybe there is a mid­dle ground we are miss­ing here, there has to be a com­pro­mise. If I can get my mom to sit down and play Car­cas­sonne on the 360 with me, help her down­load Star Wars Pin­ball on her Kin­dle Fire HD, or have my future sister-in-law be amazed that Gears of War 3 looked more like a movie than a game; then there is hope. If I ever have kids, I would want them to be gamers, read­ers, and media enthu­si­asts as well as active in the real world. I want cre­ativ­ity to flow in every aspect. I have talked about mod­er­a­tion, the gamer’s social con­ven­tion, the indus­try it’s self, and a gen­er­a­tion that is need of cre­ative guid­ance. I want the games of the future to be a proud, cre­ative expres­sion. I want them to push bound­aries both in social, graph­i­cal, and game­play rel­e­vance. I have always hated the term “Video game” because it always implied some­thing that should be used by a child, or that had no artis­tic rel­e­vance, and was mostly looked down upon by the main stream. This inter­ac­tive media is suited for a bet­ter title. So, “lost gen­er­a­tion”, let’s work together to bring that audi­ence back, make con­soles about games, bring excite­ment in the field, and find a term more suited for this new cre­ative empire.

Old habits die hard and one hard­est ones for me to attempt to ditch in an attempt to play with some of my XBL brethren was the Key­board and Mouse setup that I’ve become accus­tomed to on the PC over the past 17 years.

Some of you may be ask­ing “Why would you lower your­self to play­ing games like Bat­tle­field 3 on a con­sole when you can play it on a PC at five times the visu­als and speed?” the answer to that ques­tion is… I have friends who refuse to con­vert.  So in attempt to keep those friend­ships intact I’ve pur­chased games that I nor­mally wouldn’t pur­chase on sys­tems I nor­mally wouldn’t play.  Pri­mar­ily Bat­tle­field 3(which I love) and Call of Duty: Black Ops II (which I can’t stand).

Obvi­ously my biggest com­plaint with con­soles is the lack of KB/M sup­port and forc­ing me to play with, what I con­sider to be, an infe­rior con­trol inter­face.  I gave it a good attempt on Bat­tle­field 3 and the best scores, on rush, that I could come up with where 5/18 or around that on a fairly con­sis­tent basis and I would place last if not close to last every other game.  I gave this a go for about a month before I finally got fed up and started to look for a solu­tion that would allow my old school gam­ing habits to func­tion on ‘mod­ern’ gam­ing consoles.

The solu­tion came in the form of Pen­guin United’s Eagle-Eye Key­board and Mouse Con­verter.  I decided to pick this up after I looked around the net for a solu­tion and hon­estly when one of my friends *Xbox fantatic* told me to buy it.

So is it any good?  In short… yes but it does have some draw­backs.  Let’s start with the negatives:

The Bad:

This was con­fus­ing to con­fig­ure even for an expe­ri­enced Sys­tem Archi­tect like myself.  I even­tu­ally fig­ured it out but it did take me about 6 hours from the moment I bought it to the point where I was play­ing.  There were sev­eral things about it that were hard to fig­ure out but once I got it was smooth sail­ing from then one.  The biggest com­plaints I had were this:

You have to have a wired Xbox *offi­cial* con­troller oth­er­wise you won’t be able to get the Eagle­Eye to sync with your Xbox.  Yes you have to plug in the wired con­troller into your con­verter every time you start your xbox and con­nect it.  Con­nect­ing it, from what I can deduce, allows it to steal the licens­ing from the con­troller and emu­late it on the con­troller.  Once it’s con­nected you’ll be fine until the next time you turn off your Xbox 360.

Sen­si­tiv­ity can be annoy­ing.  I’m used to high sen­si­tiv­ity on the PC and on the con­sole I was forced to pump the sen­si­tiv­ity all the way up to get it to the point where I could be com­pet­i­tive in games.  It’s still not what I would like but it’s far bet­ter than the alternative.

This com­plaint is spe­cific to Bat­tle­field 3 so I can­not speak to other games as the only two games I’ve played with this are Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Bat­tle­field 3.  It’s hard to use any vehi­cles out­side of the tank and even then it can be a chal­lenge as it is VERY slow to turn tur­rets.  It’s hard to explain until you’ve used it but once you have you’ll under­stand.  Don’t even try fly­ing a jet or a helicopter.

Finally the last com­plaint I had is hav­ing the right hard­ware.  This device only func­tions with spe­cific hard­ware.  Do your­self a favor and do your research before you pur­chase this and pur­chase it with the proper Key­board and Mouse combo.  I’ll do an arti­cle later on show­ing what I did to make it work.

The Good:

While there are… what some would con­sider a lot of neg­a­tives, there are a good num­ber of pos­i­tives as well, espe­cially once you get every­thing con­fig­ured the way you like it.

The biggest ques­tion is will this mak­ing play­ing an FPS on a con­sole bet­ter?  Yes it will and by a good mar­gin.  Yes graph­ics will still suck like they always do on con­soles but at least from a con­trols per­spec­tive things will be much bet­ter.  I went from being 5/18 and near last on the team play­ing rush to going 35/5 on a fairly con­sis­tent basis and get­ting MVP 1 –3.  You can tell right off the bat that you have a pretty big advan­tage from other play­ers by just the nature of con­trols.  Hav­ing said all that BF3 and COD: BO II don’t play the same on Xbox as they do on PC, they are much slower.

Eagle­Eye comes with some pretty slick con­troller soft­ware.  It allows you to fully cus­tomize your keys on your con­troller to their key­board and mouse equiv­a­lents.  Yes there are some that can’t trans­late over quite the way I’d like but it’s still much bet­ter than using a con­troller.  The biggest part is just mem­o­riz­ing what those are as you’ll still have to mem­o­rize what keys you’ve mapped to what con­troller but­tons.  You’ll need to know these for nav­i­gat­ing menus and such.  Once you’ve mem­o­rized those it’s smooth as butter.

Con­clu­sion:

Would I rec­om­mend this?  Yes… once you get past some of the quirks with go along with this prod­uct it’s a pretty slick prod­uct.  When you finally get it func­tion­ing it works really well aside from hav­ing to ini­tial­ize it every time I start my Xbox.  Hav­ing said that it’s a price I’ll gladly pay to not have to deal with clumsy con­trols.  While this prod­uct does need some improve­ments in the form of ease of use it still gets TGB’s stamp of approval.  Any­one else had expe­ri­ence with this prod­uct?  What did you think?

You can check out Pen­guin Unit­eds site here.  If you’d like to pur­chase it you can buy it at Amazon.com here. You can also pur­chase a PS3 version.

 

Almost 5 years after the launch of Devil May Cry 4, Cap­com gives its beloved fran­chise to a west­ern devel­oper in hopes of bring­ing the series to a new gen­er­a­tion. With a new visual style, refined com­bat, and Dante sport­ing a new look; would Ninja Theory’s exper­i­ment work or would it make the devil cry?

 

The game starts as show­ing Dante being an angry, young adult enjoy­ing his sin­ful ways in a club, tak­ing home a few “angles” to his trailer. Yes, Dante lives in a trailer, on the pier, in Limbo City. Limbo City is run by demons. Demons con­trol every­thing from keep­ing a close eye on the pop­u­lous, to eco­nomic con­trol, to keep­ing humans sedated to every­thing going on around them. Mundus heads all of this, the orig­i­nal pro­tag­o­nist from the first Devil May Cry. Dante meets Kat, who is in “The Order”. Ninja The­ory has always had either a strong female lead or strong sup­port­ing female char­ac­ters in their cur­rent gen efforts and DmC is no dif­fer­ent. Kat becomes very impor­tant later on. After he meets her the world around him trans­forms into Limbo it’s self and is hunted by Mundus. Dante meets the head of “The Order” and learns of his past that had been kept from him, so that his par­ents, Sparda and Eva, could keep him from being hunted. The story becomes more intrigu­ing but never becomes so far­fetched or so inco­her­ent that you lose track. It plays out as an ori­gin story to set up a sequel, but it lets us know these char­ac­ters in the new light Ninja The­ory has cre­ated. There is plenty of room at the end for a sequel and despite this being a reboot/reimagining there are plenty of hints here and there at the pre­vi­ous four games. In the begin­ning when Dante is ripped from his trailer and does a good job of get­ting dressed mid­flight, lands with a mop top on his head depict­ing him from the pre­vi­ous games. After he gets a good look at him­self, he jokes “never in a thou­sand years” and heads off. Dante is a bit crass at the begin­ning of the game but that cocky facade slowly fades over the course of the game leav­ing a semi-respectable antihero.

 

Game­play and the com­bat sys­tem is some­thing that has made Devil May Cry since the early PS2 days, empha­sis on combo, light­ning fast com­bat hasn’t changed. The frames per sec­ond have been down­sized to 30FPS instead of the 60FPS the last two titles have enjoyed. Despite the frames being cut in half the com­bat still feels just as fast and furi­ous. Besides hav­ing the sta­ple weapons, ebony and ivory and Rebel­lion, Dante gets a feast of new weapons and abil­i­ties. Mapped to each of the trig­ger but­tons are devil/angel ver­sions of Rebel­lion. The Devil ver­sions include an ax (Arbiter) and pow­ered fists (Eryx); these weapons are slow but very pow­er­ful and offer dif­fer­ent combo tech­niques per weapon. The angelic weapons, a scythe (Osiris) and a pair of blades (Aquila), are very quick but also light on the power. The game does a good job of mak­ing you use the spe­cific weapons out­side of com­bos with ene­mies rep­re­sent­ing fire and ice. There are also two whips for each side to tra­verse the ever chang­ing ter­rain. The red/devil one can pull out new plat­forms when directed and the angel/blue one acts more of a grap­ple hook more mobil­ity when directed. The plat­form­ing is solid, but I felt under­whelmed by the lack of a shadow for Dante. While it made the plat­form­ing more chal­leng­ing it was also harder to judge some jumps and could become frus­trat­ing. The cam­era is great but some­times can get in the way of com­bat; I lost Dante a few times in a cor­ner but it wasn’t any­thing detri­men­tal to the game. The game is built on the engine I love so very much; Unreal 3, which if you didn’t get the sar­casm, can be a pol­ished turd. There was one instance that I had revert back to a check point due to a fly­ing enemy get­ting stuck on some geom­e­try and couldn’t get around it. One of the boss fights failed to con­tinue until I jumped off a plat­form and rest the sequence. Now this could be a big deal but I have seen it in other Unreal pow­ered games (Mirror’s Edge, Mass Effect, Rain­bow Six: Vegas, etc) and have pur­posely tried to break them to see if I could, with vary­ing degrees of suc­cess, so DmC isn’t alone in that cat­e­gory. I would feel like I wasn’t doing my job if I docked it points because of some­thing Epic had never addressed in their engine. I am here to cri­tique the game not the engine, but I thought I would warn you there is a pos­si­bil­ity of these things.

With a new game we get new voice actors and new music. Reuben Lang­don does not reprise his role of Dante; Tim Phillips (an Aus­tralian born actor) takes over the role. Phillips does a great job of being a crass anti-hero and never falls out of his Amer­i­can accent unlike Sam Wor­thing­ton in Black Ops. All of the voice act­ing is excel­lent but some of the dia­log is a bit cringe wor­thy. There is a par­tic­u­lar boss that Dante has an F-you con­test with that seems like it was writ­ten by an angry 12 year-old. The sound­track was done by Noisia, a Dutch elec­tronic trio. Noisia has done music for other games such as some of the more recent Wipe­out entries, DJ Hero, and SSX. Nor­we­gian aggrotech band, Com­bichrist, also added some tracks to the sound­track. The elec­tronic scream rock feels right at home with the set­ting, fast com­bat, and Mohawk sport­ing Dante. Noisia has put their com­pi­la­tion of over three hours of music out on an offi­cial sound­track and is noth­ing short of epic.

So refer­ring to my ques­tion above, has Ninja Theory’s exper­i­ment worked? Yes, yes it has. Despite Dante look­ing like he fell out of a Hot Topic spon­sored rave, the game is very much Devil May Cry with all the lit­tle nuances of pre­vi­ous Ninja The­ory titles. If there is one thing Ninja The­ory has proven over the years is that they can take a good design con­cept, God of War (Heav­enly Sword) and Prince of Per­sia (Enslaved), and make it their own. DmC doesn’t fall away from the for­mula that made the series pop­u­lar in the begin­ning; it has a new coat of paint, some epic new beats, and a nice new per­spec­tive on Dante’s ori­gins. I played through the game on the hard­est dif­fi­culty unlocked from the get go (Nephilim) and clocked in around 9 to 10 hours. I only found a few of the hid­den doors that lead to chal­lenge rooms (which are also acces­si­ble from the main menu) and there are plenty of unlock­able dif­fi­cul­ties remix­ing enemy waves and mak­ing the game much more dif­fi­cult. There are leader boards that your scores are uploaded to after each level and there is always room for improve­ment. For all the hoopla that went around when the new Dante was showed off this is a great game that proves that the series is in great hands. If you’re a fan of the series or of action games or eye­liner, give the game a shot it deserves the attention.

 

Pros.

+ Uber Stylish

+Limbo is beautiful

+ Com­bat is bet­ter than ever

+ The sound­track is fantastic

+ Ninja The­ory nuances, like a strong female character

+ Despite the hate, I like the new Dante

 

Cons.

- It can be a bit brass and crude at times

- Enemy vari­ety is a bit lacking

- Plat­form­ing can be iffy

- Cam­era can be a pain in a few spots

 

Score 9/10

 

DmC: Devil May Cry Review

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