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by Ethos

Hey! Look! Listen!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

HLLfinal

This is already a strange day.

Why? Well, for starters, I woke up at about 8:30 a.m. this morning. And… well, that’s about it. But frankly, that’s all it takes to make my day weird. For me, early morning is between 11 and noon. Sleeping in is waking up 2-3 p.m.

And  yet, here I am at 10:24 a.m, typing up the Friday edition of Hey! Look! Listen! Who am I? None other than your host, Oliver “Riddles” Motok. Love me or hate me… you have to live with me.

Well, no, you don’t actually. Charlie does. Since he’s my roomate and whatnot.

But that has nothing to do with anything, so I suppose we should move on to the actual topics of interest.

Final Fantasy XIII Collector’s Edition Revealed for PAL Regions

I suppose this was to be expected. Like every other even-somewhat-high-profile-release these days, Final Fantasy XIII will be given the Collector’s treatment for both PS3 and 360 upon its release on March 9. The set will include:

-A soundtrack CD with tracks “especially chosen for the Limited Collector’s Edition by composer Masashi Hamauzu.” (In other words, you’ll have to look elsewhere for the complete OST).

-The World a Final Fantasy XIII, which is a hardcover art book featuring… artwork from the game.

-Three “highly collectable” art prints of the Eidolons, Final Fantasy XIII’s summon creatures.

-A ‘Brand of the l’Cie’ decal.

FF13_SPECIAL_PACK_UK

Doesn’t sound like anything that breaks the mold. Regardless, it’ll probably be a nice set for Final Fantasy fans such as myself. This is only confirmed for Europe and other PAL regions at the moment, but I’m *fairly* confident we’ll see the same set – or something similar – here in the states.

I like this guy already.
I like this guy already.

First Online Mass Effect 2 Review to be Published Tonight

While I doubt it’ll make a whole lot of cosmic difference, the gaming world will be able to scrutinize a written review of Mass Effect 2 before its release this Tuesday. UK site NowGamer intends to post their review of the game tonight at 1 a.m GMT. They’re so excited that they posted an article announcing the good news.

Well hey, if Riddlethos was posting an exclusive advance review of one of 2010’s biggest games, I’d be excited too. (NowGamer via VG247)

Mass Effect 2’s Cerberus Pipeline for Free DLC Only

Remember last Tuesday when I talked about the Cerberus Pipeline, an in-game download service for Mass Effect 2? Apparently it won’t be the only way to acquire DLC. In fact, you can only get free stuff through Cerberus. If you want any of the game’s “premium” DLC you’ll have to navigate the Xbox Live Marketplace as per usual.

“It’s not going to be all free DLC for Mass Effect 2 — far from that,”  BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk told Joystiq. ” There’ll be paid DLC packs, and there’ll be stuff available through Cerberus as well.”

If BioWare took the time to design and implement a convenient in-game DLC hub, why wouldn’t they allow you purchase, y’know… everything through it, whether it was free or not? That’s the first thing that comes to my mind. In the end, though, I suppose it’s a fairly inconsequential thing. (Joystiq via VG247)

Spoil the First Eight Minutes of Mass Effect 2

And speaking of Mass Effect 2, here’s the first eight minutes, courtesy of… some German site translated by Google.

Note: If you can not be spoilers, and the first minutes of the game, people wanting to enjoy in front of the TV, the best clicks away again!”

Hee hee. Those silly Google-translated Germans. For the record, I did not watch this. I’m not shit scared of early exposure to games like certain Ethos’ are, but this is a little too spoilerific even for me.

bayonetta-witchBayonetta Will Probably Spawn Sequels and Spinoffs

Bayonetta is the most well-received new action franchise to come along in a good while, so of course the internet is already hot and heavy with sequel talk. The game’s director, Hideki Kamiya recently spoke to Game Informer about the possibilities of future Bayonetta titles, and here’s what he had to say:

“We obviously have love for the work we have created, so I don’t see anything wrong with Bayonetta 2. Personally, I’d like to approach the world of Bayonetta from a different angle, in the form of a spin-off.”

Bayonetta’s plotline is best described as a clusterfuck, but regardless, there’s more than enough backstory and mythology behind it to easily spawn spinoffs and sequels galore. The most obvious possibility would be a game starring Bayonetta’s red-clad rival, Jeanne, but that’s just one of a myriad of options.

Who wants to visit the Demon World this time around? Anyone?

Oh, and Sega: whatever you end up doing, can you make sure the PS3 version doesn’t suck ass next time around? (Game Informer via Kotaku)

ac2screen2Assassin’s Creed II DLC Dated, Priced

Who’s ready to play some more Assassin’s Creed II, eh? I know I am, and on January 28 I’ll be able to do just that. The first DLC pack is called Battle of Forli, and it tells the story of the Orsi brothers and their attempt to take control of the city of Forli. (That’s an actual historical event, by the by.) The DLC will include six new memories in total, and it’ll cost you 320 MS points. ($3.99).

Bonfire of the Vanities will release in February, and will feature ten new memories. For those interested, check out this video on Joystiq, which has Assassin’s Creed II Patrice Desilets talking all about the two DLC packs. If you’re like me, it will fill you with both joy and rage – joy because it looks like these DLC packs will be quite robust indeed, and rage because I still don’t understand why this stuff wasn’t part of the game in the first place.(VG247)

Wordpress says I’m closing on on 1000 words, so I suppose I’ll call it quits here. Look for the third part of my JRPG relapse in a few hours; Persona 3, here I come…


Riddles’ Relapse Part 2 – Final Fantasy VIII

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

ffviii_logoMan, I love Final Fantasy VIII.

And no, I’m not afraid to say that on the internet.

Again, this was the first time I’d touched the game since I first beat it years ago. (Fuck off, okay? I don’t replay games).

As soon as the gorgeous opening video started playing, with its epic musical score, the memories all came rushing back. Final Fantasy VIII’s storyline is a bit of a mess at times, but regardless it’s always been one of my favorite stories in the series – it’s impressively character-driven, and features some absolutely unforgettable moments. (The Sorceress’ Assassination scene at the end of disc 1 comes to mind.)

But then, once the game actually started, I remembered how very, ah, slow paced the first disc of Final Fantasy VIII is. After playing for over an hour, I’ve yet to even start the Dollet mission.

And how about those ridiculously obtuse and annoyingly frequent tutorials? Every time I turned around, I was getting another useless tutorial shoved in my face. Seeing that I already know everything, an option to skip these would have been much appreciated.

But that’s enough complaining! I still had fun with the game. How? Well. Believe it or not, I absolutely love Final Fantasy VIII’s junction system. While I concede that the Magic Draw system is pretty stupid, (though I’ve never minded it) the actual junctioning process is absolutely fantastic in its depth and versatility. I love that I can micro-manage everything, from specific stats to elemental affinities. I love the system so much that I found myself spending needless amounts of time drawing magic and improving my stats.

That might be why I didn’t even make it to Dollet.

Could the junction system be better? Yeah, of course. It should be far easier to obtain magics for junctioning; spending battle after battle drawing magic really is a cumbersome system. But regardless, I love the amount of control the system affords; for me, the junction system is one of Final Fantasy VIII’s greatest triumphs.

I really want to play more, but I’m afraid I must move on to a different console generation, and a different series. Look for the third part of my relapse sometime tomorrow, folks.

Riddles’ Relapse Part 1 – Final Fantasy VI

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Final Fantasy VIAs promised, here I am, live from my magical couch here in Murfreesboro, TN.

I know it’s fairly late in the day at this point, but I have all night – so let’s do this.

I just played about an hour of Final Fantasy VI. I’m almost ashamed to say, it’s the first time I’ve played the game since I beat it all those years ago.

How did it feel to go all the way back to 1994? Pretty damn good, actually.

Final Fantasy VI makes better use of its limited technology than any other 2D game I’ve ever played. The opening scene does a brilliant job of setting the mood, with its chilling musical score and surprisingly crisp and attractive 2D visuals. Nobuo Uematsu really is a god amongst men, and what he managed to do with the limitations of the SNES’s hardware is mind-blowing; after sixteen years, Final Fantasy VI remains one -if not his best – soundtracks.

JRPGs, and games of all genres, really, should take lessons from the opening of Final Fantasy VI. There’s no town-crawling, fetch-questing, or needless, wordy story exposition in the game’s first hour. Instead, the game offers the perfect amount of foreshadowing, character development, and intrigue – while remaining in constant motion.  For example, Terra’s fevered flashbacks ensure that you’re immediately interested in her as a character. In fact, every character is likable and interesting from the moment you meet them – be they hero or villain. Kefka’s introductory scene is classic. Final Fantasy VI really does feature one of the best character ensembles in the history of JRPGs.

After an hour of playing, I really didn’t feel like stopping. As I’ve said in the past, Final Fantasy VI is one of those revered 2D classics that actually lives up to all the nostalgia the surrounds it. It’s a game I’d really love to see remade on more modern hardware – such a classic, character-driven tale deserves to be retold for the ages, with some more competent technology behind it.

But now it’s time to skip ahead a console generation… though, I’ll be remaining within the confines of the same series.

So… Where are the JRPGs?

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

JapanThat’s probably what you’re wondering right now, isn’t it? And justly so; I delayed the week, and there’s been nothing but a Hey! Look! Listen! and a Scatter Storming since.

Methinks it’s time for a long-overdue explanation: JRPG Relapse Week is about myself and Ethos revisiting our once-favorite genre. I say “once favorite”  because neither of us really played any JRPGs last year, and frankly, we feel kinda bad about it – so, I suppose this week counts as a form of repentance. Kinda.

Tomorrow, I’ll be spending the entire day with no less than four different JRPGs, all from different console generation. Here’s what they are:

Final Fantasy VI – SNES (I’ll be playing the GBA port)

Final Fantasy VIII – PSX (Blow it out your ass, haters)

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 – PS2 (The FES version)

Lost Odyssey – Xbox 360 (Hopefully it won’t pulverize my 360 this time)

So. Tomorrow, I’ll be coming at you live from my couch, bringing you play-by-play impressions as I make this metaphysical journey through JRPG History. I suggest you be there. Or be square.

But, right now, it is late. I must rest my brain for tomorrow. ‘Till then, faithful readers!

Scatter Storming. Issue #016 “Let’s Qubit!”

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

ss016Way back when I wrote for Lusipurr.com, I “went” to E3. Somehow, miraculously, I was also in Toronto working on a gameshow for the Discovery Channel. It was called Qubit. The cover is a still taken of me when I was standing in for the host while the control room was figuring some shot out. Anyway, that show was sort of the start of my new position in my current job. And since that’s been my life this past month, I decided to make it the cover. How is it working out? Me and my attempts to make the covers for this feature relevant, I mean. Am I selling it? Anyway, let’s talk about me and my gaming brain.

Serendipity -
Mass Effect 2 Week is next week, meaning the game comes out then. Also, I have a week off of work. This pleases me. My new job doesn’t allow me to go in with no sleep so much anymore, and when I got my hands on the first Mass Effect, I played it until 6am on a regular basis. Now I can do that without worry. Excitement.

Final Fantasy V -
Originally I was going to play FFVI, but another issue with my brother (how many times has he screwed me over on Riddlethos?), and it turns out my FFVI case actually holds a disc of The Office. Great show, not helpful for gaming. But if you read this site a lot, you already knew that. I also decided to play FFV for my first JRPG Relapse title because I’d rather have a more concentrated play session with FFVI as I want to give it a fair shot. JRPG Relapse week is to compare the (potential) evolution of the genre, and I think FFV is a better choice for a snapshot.

Aaaand, Darksiders again -
While I’m excited for this week, I definitely miss Darksiders. I should beat it just before Mass Effect 2 comes out.

That’s it! I gotta play FFV before bedtime, which is soon. G’night, mother fuckers!

Stupid Dishes

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Yup. 3 hours of them. They were obviously way overdue. What an epic. I’ll start playing FFV tomorrow to start off my JRPG-fest. For now: sleep. And pictures of dishes.

That's a picture of me.

That's a picture of me.


I'm a good husband

I'm a good husband

Hey! Look! Listen!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

HLLfinal

Just to echo the sentiments of my current Facebook status, there really aren’t enough hours in a day.  So very much to do, and so little time to do it all. But, if I accomplish nothing else today, at least I can take pleasure in this Tuesday edition of Hey! Look! Listen!

Welcome to Hey! Look! Listen! everyone! I’m your host Oliver Motok, and I think I’m developing carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand. Makes typing this a bit painful, but I’m doing my best to ignore it. After all, the show must go on… am I right?

That’s enough directionless musing from me. Let’s move on to the meat of things.

vgmusicBoston Music College Training Videogame Composers

Berklee Music College in Boston is offering five different classes this semester that will teach students the many nuances of composing music specifically for videogames. By my knowledge, this is the first time an accredited university has offered something like this. From a Boston Globe report:

Berklee is offering five classes this semester in video game audio or game scoring. Sweet says his typical student is not only knowledgeable about state-of-the-art video games like Modern Warfare and BioShock but also has classroom experience in disciplines like sound production, voice acting, music technology, and film scoring.

Versatility and familiarity are important. In writing for games, composers must anticipate and create cues for the various layers and levels a player passes through. Story lines and scenes change rapidly and unpredictably. As technology improves and memory space expands, moreover, these games have grown more sophisticated, visually and sonically. Players’ expectations rise accordingly, creating a demand for such elements as a full orchestral score.

Interesting. I have absolutely no musical talent or inclinations, so I can’t offer any meaningful commentary – but, if nothing else, this is an intriguing concept. Is it useful or necessary? That I don’t know. Perhaps some of our more musically-inclined readers can comment below. (Kotaku).

Mass Effect 2BioWare Announces “Cerberus Pipeline” Service for Mass Effect 2

In a recent press release, BioWare announced that in order to access DLC for Mass Effect 2, players will use an in-game portal known as the Cerberus Pipeline. This portal is activated by a single-use code that comes packed with the game. Players who purchase the game used will be offered to purchase a new single-use code in-game.

The Cerberus Pipeline will give players access to “bonus content as well as daily messages and news on upcoming releases for Mass Effect 2 for no extra charge.” The first DLC pack will be released concurrently with the game (January 26) and will be given to players free of charge. Included in this pack is “a mission that introduces Zaeed, a rugged and deadly gun-for-hire who is recruited to join Commander Shepard’s mission to save mankind.” In short, you get a new mission and a new party member.

Well, that’s just neato! Mass Effect 2 hits stores in exactly one week. We plan on devoting an entire theme week to it here at Riddlethos, so stay tuned.

GoW3God of War III is Not the End

This hardly comes as a surprise, but I suppose it’s worth reporting.  Sony Santa Monica has stated that God of War III might be the end of the trilogy, but it’s not the end of the franchise. “This is not the end of God of War,” said John Hight, Sony Santa Monica’s director of product development ”This is definitely the end of the trilogy, but we’re going to continue to do God of War games.”

“We’re going to be very careful about what we do; we’re the keepers of the franchise and we don’t want to see it ruined or polluted.”

Well good, because neither do we. God of War III will hit Japan on March 25. A North American release is expected soon afterwards. (GamerVision via VG247).

Jordan ThomasGood Read: Kotaku Talks to BioShock 2’s Creative Director

The original BioShock remains my favorite game of this console generation, and it’s because I adore it so much that I’ve been skeptical about the relevance or necessity of a BioShock 2.

But I have to admit, in spite of my endless bitterness and negativity, I’ve been slowly warming up to BioShock 2 for a variety of reasons. This interview with Jordan Thomas, the game’s creative director, is one of those reasons. It honestly sounds like the guy is in this project for all the right reasons – and, as a fan, I can’t really ask for much more.

Hit the link below to read the full article; I’ll just spoil the ending for you here: “We genuinely believe Bioshock is more about asking questions than sending a message,” Thomas says. “We want to know your answers.” (Kotaku).

evil_bobbyBecause it Made Me Laugh: Bobby Kotick Admits that Activision’s Spider-Man Games Have “Sucked”

Bobby Kotick may be a greedy fat asshead, but at least he’s an honest greedy fat asshead. In the most recent Game Informer, this is what he had to say about his company’s Spider-Man games:

“Our Spider-Man games have sucked for the last five years. They are bad games. They were poorly rated because they were bad games.

“We went away from what is Spider-Man. It’s about web-slinging. If you don’t do web-slinging, what is the fantasy of Spider-Man?”

So. Does this mean we can now look forward to Spider-Man games that, y’know… don’t suck? Or does Mr. Kotick just have a penchant for stating the obvious? (Destructoid via Game Informer).

And that’s a wrap for today, folks. There is much else that requires my attention. Look for my first post concerning JRPG Relapse Week soon, in which I’ll announce what four games I’ll be playing.

‘Till then!

Well well well…

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

After our dear, loyal, and insane reader, Andogo SLAVED over that glorious banner, we ended up being a day late this week. Bad timing too, because this is no slouch week. Riddles and I each committed to playing four JRPGs a piece! Yeah, we’ll see how that goes. I’m going to post tonight with my first pick from the earliest generation and I’m going to work my way up to “modern” throughout the week. I’ve already decided, but what do you think I should play from each major generation starting with the SNES? (Handhelds excluded).

Hint: I'm not playing this

Hint: I'm not playing this