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by Ethos

Sunday Soapbox: Why Ethos Sucks

Sunday, March 28th, 2010
Me trying to kill Ethos.

Me trying to kill Ethos.

I’m sorry to subject you to what may seem like more filler material, but this is a truth the world must be informed of.

Okay, so I might have dropped the ball during God of War III Week. I can admit to it. But seeing that I was in the process of losing my job that week (don’t ask) I think I have something of an excuse, don’t you?

Apparently that’s not good enough for Ethos, inconsiderate fuck that he is. It’s evidenced by last Sunday’s Soapbox, which, if you recall, did little more than malign me. Wrongfully. So, in a form of brutal retaliation, I’m doing the same thing to him.

Ha ha! Ha! HA!

Seriously, though, the dude’s the worst. Everything he touches turns to shit. I fucked up God of War III Week, so to punish me he “took control” this week.

The week’s practically over, and what did we get from him? His standby Scatter Storming (really hardly relevant to the gamers of today, imo) and some PokeParty bullshit that nobody cares about. Seriously, am I supposed to give two fucks what little shits he chooses for his pet collection? No. No, I am not supposed to, and I won’t. Because Pokemon is dumb.

On the flip side, in the last seven days, I’ve brought you no less than two HLLs, and three reviews. And a Penny Arcade strip. And… something else, probably. But anyway, three reviews. I’d like to see Ethan match that in the span of three months.

Oh, and remember the little hissy he threw over the my God of War III review? Just because it was better than his? Gee, Ethos, I’m sorry you deleted half of your original review and then threw it back together last-minute. I really am. But don’t get mad at me for writing a fair, balanced, and well-structured review of one of 2010’s biggest games.

Oh, and while he may CLAIM to have finished Final Fantasy XIII, I won’t believe it until I see a review. And that won’t happen, because when it comes down to it, he’s the lazy fuck around here – not me.

So, there’s the Soapbox. Just as he promised. Hope you all enjoyed it! And I hope you enjoy this. Click on it for the hi-res version. Print multiple copies and post them in random places around your office. Hand them out to friends and family. Or, simply set it as your computer’s wallpaper, so that you never forget.

ethosposter

See?!

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

I promise a Riddles soapbox update and look… nothing.

I should never have trusted him, we were so consistent with these Sunday Soapboxes.
Riddles is an asshole.

Anyway, I beat FFXIII today. I truly could have cared less about the ending. What a missed opportunity with that game. I’m going to try and review it for tomorrow. Although I personally quite enjoyed the game, I have to warn you that I don’t think I’m going to give it an overwhelming score. The biggest spoiler I can give is that it will very likely earn the lowest score on Riddlethos yet. The Blue Dragon reviews don’t necessarily count.

PokéParty Update 03

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Here we are! The last update of the week. I’m about to get my 8th badge, and I still only have 5 Pokeymans in my party. I’m thinking of getting a Horsea to teach it the overwhelming number of stupid water HMs I need to learn, but then I have too much water and electric in my party.  Oh well, here you go.

TyphlosionTyphlosion lvl 36 - I know, I know. I’ve wanted to get rid of this guy forever. He’s actually pretty strong even though he looks like a dork. Still, if I can ever figure this Safari Zone thing out (the new Jhoto version is confusing even with the internet), I’ll ditch it for Houndoom in a second. If only fire wasn’t so hard to come by.

AmpharosAmpharos lvl 36 - Bloo-ya! It finally happened, and he’s just as strong as I remember. Only thing is, because of a strange twist of unexpected fishing events, I now have two electric types in my team which I wouldn’t prefer. So now I’m placed in the bizarre position of wanting to drop the Pokémon I’ve been waiting since the original Silver to have in my party again. Fuck you, Lanturn! Speaking of…

LanturnLanturn lvl 36 - If only this little random wasn’t so good. Very few Pokémon are good against it, and dual water-electric is insanely useful. Her moveset is perfect and her stats are good, so she’s not going anywhere. But it’s almost too perfect. I don’t want to teach her Waterfall because it’s physical, and I don’t want to teach her Whirlpool, because it’s a piece of shit. Also, Ampharos knows Strength and Thunder Wave (for catching wild Pokeymans), so ugh…I might end up with Lanturn/Ampharos/Seadra. Maybe to balance I’ll need to get rid of…

StantlerStantler lvl 36 - This guy has surprised me! After learning another move so I don’t have to ration so hard, Stantler has been a powerhouse. Still, I know normal-type Pokémon are largely doomed, and if I end up with half my party as water and electric, he’ll need to leave to make room for more elements. Sorry, bizarre, tough little deer.

PidgeotPidgeot lvl 36 - Nothing else to say about this dude. I guess I could comment on his ridiculous “hair”. I think I prefer Staraptor. Sorry, Pidgeot, I know you’re classic, and you’re going to stick around in my party, but the new guy is better.

Well! Wasn’t that fun! Maybe very few of you care about Pokémon, but at least I can update about the game I’m playing during its theme week. Riddles will have a Soapbox for you later. Or so he says, I’m not holding my breath.

Sweetness

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

I haven’t done a PokéParty update in a bit because it largely hasn’t changed until recently. So one is coming later. However, until then, look at Zorua and Zoroark, the only two officially known Pokeymans from the recently announced Generation V. It was assumed that these iterations (strongly assuming there’ll be two, like usual) would be on the DS, but now I wonder if they’ll appear on the 3DS. Anyway, both badasses below are the dark type, and Zorua evolves into Zoroark, but it’s not yet known if it happens through leveling or some other method. My guess is leveling. Probably high twenties.
Zorua
Zoroark

Hey! Look! Listen!

Friday, March 26th, 2010

HLLfinal

Mwa-hahahaha. That Blue Dragon Plus “review.” Man oh man, what a riot. Like I’d ever play that game.

Anyway. Hello, and welcome to the forty-sixth edition of Hey! Look! Listen! That’s right folks, I’ve written 46 of these things. Or… well, almost. Ethos wrote a few. But we’ll ignore that fact.

For your convenience, starting with issue #50 I’ll probably start putting the issue number in the title.

But yeah, that’s about it. I’m still unemployed. Let’s read some stories!

Xbox 360 to Receive USB Hard Drive Support

Well, it took them long enough but here it is. On April 6 Microsoft will release a system update for the 360 that will allow it to recognize USB hard drives, as well as flash drives. You’ll be required to specially configure the drive in the Xbox menu, and you can format up to 16 GB of space. You can have up to two drives connected at one time.

That’s… still slightly lame, but better than nothing. According to Microsoft, gamers will be able to transport “profiles, game saves, demos and more.”

As you can imagine, this announcement prompted a lot of Sony fanboys to gloat over the fact that the PS3 has had this capability for years, with no limit. However, a certain resident of the IGN boards named “tdgirard” swiftly shut them all down with this stinging, backhanded comment:

tdgirard

Ouch. (IGN)

Thanks to GamerLimit

Thanks to GamerLimit

Michael Atkinson Steps Down as Attorney General; R18+ Rating On the Way

Well damn it. I wrote about him once. ONCE. And he fucking throws in the towel. Mr. Thompson was far more tenacious than you’ve proven to be, sir Atkinson; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed.

Ahem. Not entirely sure what the specific reason behind Mr. Atkinson’s resignation was, but from what I can gather, he was rather mired in the poor political decisions of his past. His stance against the R18+ rating was just one of many controversies he was involved in.

Stepping up to replace Atkinson is John Rau, who apparently is fully supportive of an R18+ rating for videogames. Speaking to Chris Prior, president of the Gamers4Croydon party, he “indicated to me that the lack of an R18+ for games seemed absurd, and that it was really just common sense to introduce it, considering the vast majority of adult content is already available under the MA15+ classification.”

Well. Sounds like it’s just a matter of time. Good for Australia! (Kotaku)

The Future of Video Game Controllers… is YOU!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that title. Speaking frankly, this is really neat. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have created a device that’s capable of turning your own skin into a touchpad for electronic devices. Tapping your arm, for example, produces acoustic waves, which the device recognizes and turns into input commands. Watch the video for more information; it totally shows a dude playing Tetris with it, as well as Frogger. (Kotaku)

finalfantasyIXlogo

Final Fantasy IX is Probably Coming to PSN

This isn’t confirmed, but I mean hell, why wouldn’t they? Apparently, one of Square Enix’s producers Shinji Hashimoto has been gathering public opinion on a Final Fantasy IX PSN release. Speaking on the Square Enix Japanese Twitter, he had this to say:

“Thanks to everyone for your opinions on FF9. Regarding an FF9 download release, everyone is so passionate about it that I’ll be proposing it at the next board meeting. Look forward to next week!”

Well, there you have it. He’s going to propose it to the next board meeting. I’m guessing it won’t be too long before we see it join Final Fantasy VII and VIII on the PlayStation Network. (VG247)

penny-arcade-adventures-1Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 3 Cancelled

Bummer. I never actually got around to playing episodes 1 or 2, but I’ve heard good things about them, and I’ve always liked Penny Arcade. In an interview with Joystiq, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik confirmed that there wouldn’t be a third entry in the videogame series. But not all is lost; they supposedly plan on finishing the story somehow.

So, what brought about this cancellation? The developer behind the series, Hothead Games, is working on an EA game called Deathspank. (Yeah, no, that’s the actual title). I’ve never heard of Deathspank before in my life, but it’s the reason why Penny Arcade Adventures is being prematurely killed.

“They definitely could’ve done both games,” Holkins said. “I think they could’ve made DeathSpank and Episode 3 but I think Episode 3 would’ve suffered. I mean, I know it would have suffered. So we’d rather not do it than do it half-assed and so we’re going to finish that story but it’s going to be on our website.”

And that, as they say is that. No more Penny Arcade Adventures. They did, however, just release their 11 1/2 anniversary commemorative book, which you can see excerpts from here.

Ah, it’s so nice to have Friday night off.

Blue Dragon Plus “Review” – Give Up Already

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

BlueDragonBoxart

Note: I did not play this game. This is not a review. Hence the quotation marks around “review” in the title. If you can guess what I actually did, kudos to you.

Blue Dragon Plus is an RTS sequel to the original Xbox 360 game. Not sure why Mistwalker thought that this was a logical next step for the series, but hey, Final Fantasy XII did it, so why the fuck not? There’s more backstory this time, which is good because the original game’s plot sucked.

Blue Dragon Plus picks up a year after the events of the original game (if you can remember what those were). Apparently Nene is still alive, and he’s causing all kinds of trouble on these weird cubes that are actually worlds. So obviously, it’s up to you to go stop him again.

But nobody cares about the story, so let’s just talk about the gameplay. It’s pretty good, but for some reason all the battles take place on a grid, which is really stupid because Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings wasn’t on a grid. With the stylus thingy you select one unit or a bunch of units, and draw a path for them to move. This works okay except that once they start MOVING, they just go wherever the hell they want, which makes forming a strategy a little difficult. Then again, it does add a unique level of challenge to the game – can you defeat the enemy with an army that’s incapable of follow even the simplest of directives? Probably not, but if you can, you’re that much more of a badass.

Anyway, there’s more bad stuff to talk about. For some stupid reason, you have to be facing an enemy on the grid in order to hit them with a spell, which is stupid, because the grid is stupid. There shouldn’t be a grid. You should be able to hit enemies from any direction, and you can’t. Which is stupid. Also, there’s no way to automate spells, which is stupid as well, because sometimes there are a lot of units in one fight, and I’m not good with micro-managing.

But it’s not all stupid. There’s an overworld and stuff, and the player can progress at his own pace, which is cool. There’s lots of optional stuff to do, if you really want the game to last more than 20 hours, which I guess is kinda cool. There’s also menus and stuff where you can customize your characters and their shadows, which is SUPER cool.

Blue Dragon Plus is pretty much the best DS RPG spinoff I’ve never played. I only say “never played” because I’ve never actually played it. But if I did, I’m pretty sure I’d write a review like this. Plus, it came out on my birthday, which makes it that much more special.

Blue Dragon Plus

Second Opinion: God of War III

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

god of war 3 box artLIKED:

-Graphical presentation. Absolutely gorgeous

-Newfound usefulness in alternate weapons

-Improved puzzles and level design

DISLIKED:

-Painful cutscenes and dialog

-Lame final boss

-Lame ending, too

God of War has always been very, very good at what it does. Frankly, it doesn’t do much – it’s a really solid combat system, accompanied by a thin but badass plotline, and a bloody, over-the-top sense of brutality. Like its predecessors, God of War III executes this concept brilliantly, and in fact, it’s easily the best of the three. Some rather odd decisions have been made in the realm of story development, and the ending is sure to disappoint many, but ultimately, God of War III brings the franchise to the PS3 with style, to say nothing of ferocity.

You don’t need prior experience with the franchise to enjoy God of War III, but know that it is the final act of an ongoing saga. The game picks up precisely where God of War II left off, with Kratos scaling Mount Olympus with the help of the monstrous Titans. And from there, things go more or less as you’d expect – Kratos kills a lot of dudes. And, this time around, most of them are Gods. He’s hell-bent on having his revenge, and if you’re a franchise veteran, there’s a good chance you’ll want it just as badly.

god_of_war_iii_demoUnlike the first two games, God of War III attempts to adopt a more emotional, character-driven approach to its storytelling. If that sounds completely and utterly out of left field, that’s because… it is. It’s not all bad, really; for the first half of the game, it almost works. Kratos’ interactions with supporting characters such as the deranged Hephaestus come across fairly well, and some of the Gods you encounter during your journey actually succeed in being marginally interesting characters. Unfortunately, though, God of War III goes a little too far in this approach. When playing God of War I or II, did you ever stop and think, “wow, I’d really like to see a more human side of Kratos.” No? Me neither. Unfortunately, Santa Monica seems to think that we did. As a result, all cutscenes and dialog for the last quarter of the game range from painful to excruciating. One would think, if Santa Monica really wanted to tell a more human tale, they would have hired some better writers. And voice actors. They didn’t. God of War III tries to make Kratos more than just a bloodthirsty badass. And, unfortunately, all God of War III ends up proving is that Kratos is nothing more than a bloodthirsty badass. Or, at least, that’s all he should be.

While we’re throwing stones, I have a feeling that a lot of God of War fans will be disappointed in how the trilogy concludes. I’ve only been a fan for the last three months, and it disappointed the hell out of me. Obviously I can’t spoil anything here, but let’s just say that our friend Kratos does some things that go very strongly against his character.

Outside of its confused story progression, though, God of War III gets almost everything right. Not a whole lot has changed – despite its migration to a new console generation, Santa Monica has left the original formula intact. But a noticeable layer of polish has been applied to nearly every facet of the game, and as a result, God of War III is undoubtedly the best in the series.

GoW3-2As we’ve come to expect, God of War III is unabashedly huge, epic, and violent. The oft-discussed opening sequence of the game deserves all the accolades it receives, because it really is one of the most grandiose videogame setpieces ever created. God of War III will make your jaw drop more than once, be it due to the magnitude of the events on the screen, or their sheer brutality. As if the first two weren’t gory enough, God of War III ups the ante in some occasionally shocking ways. But despite this, I never thought the game “crossed the line,” as it were – every bloody, remorseless murder you commit manages to feel in-line with the general feel of the experience, and with Kratos as a character. Call me sadistic, but the violence level was actually one of my favorite things about the game.

Combat has always been the main staple of the series, and it’s definitely at its best in God of War III. Some subtle additions have been implemented, such as the ability to use enemies as battering rams, and Heavy Attacks that are actually worth a damn. Also worth noting is the slightly altered approach to Quick-Time Events: instead of throwing button prompts in the middle of the screen, they now appear on the side of the screen that corresponds with the button. (i.e., a prompt to press Triangle will appear at the top of the screen, and a prompt to press Circle will appear on the right side.) They also seem to be a little more forgiving this time around, which cuts down on the number of times you’ll see a “YOU ARE DEAD” screen on account of missing a button. It’s nice that the prompts no longer get in the way of the actual animation, which is all anybody wants to see anyway. At the end of the day they’re still dumb, but I can honestly say that God of War III’s QTEs rarely actually bothered me.

god-of-war-iii-demo02God of War has always featured a variety of alternate weapons, but God of War III is the first time they’ve ever actually been worth a damn. I actually found myself switching weapons to adapt to specific combat situations, and in fact the game makes you use alternate weaponry from time to time. Additionally, magic attacks are now mapped to specific weapons, which makes alternates that much more useful. Throw in the ability to switch weapons mid-combo, and you’ve got the deepest, most enjoyable combat the franchise has ever seen.

Any review would be remiss for failing to mention the boss encounters. For the most part, God of War III does not disappoint in this regard, and in fact, some of the encounters are extremely memorable. But a few of them feel like missed opportunities, and the final boss is just awful. In fact, it’s a big part of what makes the ending so bad. Santa Monica couldn’t have made Kratos’ final battle more boring and unimpressive if they tried.

New to God of War III are “items,” which have their own meter beneath the Health and Magic bars. For example, the bow from God of War II, which consumed magic, is an Item in God of War III. Along with it are the Head of Helios, which lights up dark areas, and the Boots of Hermes, which let you… run fast.

These minor re-toolings go a long way, and as a result, God of War III’s combat is some of the best you’ll find in a hack ‘n slash game. It’s intense, challenging, relentlessly violent, and like always, it’s an incredible amount of fun. Scoring a 188-hit chain on a towering boss monster is still one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.

Combat isn’t the only facet of gameplay that’s been improved, though. Granted, combat is still the obvious focus of the gameplay, but God of War III features some really well-designed puzzles to boot. So often, the puzzles and platforming in God of War I or II felt more like exercises in frustration than anything else. Santa Monica has officially rid the franchise of that stigma; in God of War III, the puzzles actually feel like puzzles, and the platforming will never make you want to rip your hair out.

GoW3-1Graphically, God of War III is one of the best-looking games ever released. While it can’t quite match the artistic vision and direction of games such as Uncharted 2, it’s easily on the same technical level. Textures and lighting effects are mind-blowing. Character and enemy design is nearly unparalleled; Kratos in particular looks amazing. Environments are huge, gorgeous, and always a joy to explore. All graphics are in-engine, too, which makes it that much more impressive when viewing the game’s fantastic movie scenes. Kudos also must be given to the camera work, which is often gorgeous – key sequences, be they bloody boss battles or simple platforming scenarios, are complimented by a dynamic camera that captures the action in a suitably epic fashion.

With God of War III, Santa Monica finally figured out how to match music to scenarios. Not sure why it took them so long, but it’s a welcome change to the franchise. At no point in God of War III will you be forced to listen to an obnoxiously bombastic orchestral piece whilst scaling a cave wall. Like the previous two games, the music is really good – and it’s even better now that it’s properly placed.

God of War III is an epic, beautiful action game that is a worthy purchase for any fan of the series, or of hack ‘n slash games in general. While it’s disappointing to see the game occasionally fall on its face in ways that I would never have thought possible, overall, it delivers the current-generation God of War experience that gamers have been thirsting for since the second game was released. I had a great time with it.

Note: This article is a second opinion. For our official review, go here.

GoW3SE

Scatter Storming. Issue #024

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

ss024I’m in a bizarre anti-social mood, so let’s just dive in.

Out of the field and back into the tunnel -
Although Pokémon has been taking up most of my time, I’ve been making an effort to play Final Fantasy XIII too, since I quite enjoy a lot of the game, and if I beat it this week it might still be relevant to review it. Still, while the game is getting harder and harder (Lightning’s not a good enough Sentinel yet, and I often refuse to put Snow in my party, so that doesn’t help), it’s a little annoying to be plucked from the expanse of Pulse and dropped back into somewhat of a tunnel. Sure, there are more branching paths and whatnot, but game really does need more dicking around.

Despite all that, I’m excited to beat the game and go for completion since you can continue your save after beating the final boss, a nice change. It’s no New Game Plus, but it’s something.

Thank god for slow game season -
Seriously, I’m the most broke I’ve been in a very, very long time. I had to trade in for FFXIII and SoulSilver, and I hate trading in games. I don’t think there’s a game I want until Splinter Cell: Conviction, and I shouldn’t be so broke by then.

Seriously, I have to deal with this asshole? -
Check out the comments in Riddles’ little “revenge” post. What a little diva. I get that he quit his job and he’s having a bit of a life revolution, but Riddlethos and I shouldn’t have to suffer his little rebellion. We should be benefiting from it! We’re not the crazy oppressive mom, we’re the cool hip dad! Seriously, there’s just two of us, it should be easy to follow the simple rules we’ve laid out. Ones like “ONE MOTHER FUCKING OFFICIAL REVIEW PER GAME”. Argh, sorry, I love the guy, but I’m hoping a public rant will open up his eyes. He’s supposed to be the conservative one, remember?

Clarification on the 3DS -
Absolutely nothing is official yet, but IGN has a great article explaining three different technologies that the 3DS would likely choose between. I mean, it’s already been chosen, but you know what I mean. We have to wait until E3 for the absolute word, but what’s the internet for if not rumours and speculation?

That’s that. Modern Family time.

Love Me Some Penny Arcade

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Three-Hee

Okay… Time for my Own Revenge

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

god of war 3 box artToday, on Riddlethos.com, I make this vow:

On this day, I will finish God of War III, AND THEN, I will review it.

And my review will be better than Ethos’.

Right now my total play time is 9 hours, 16 minutes. I’m at “The Three Judges.” It’s currently 1:49 p.m. CST.

MARK MY WORDS.