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by Ethos

Hey! Look! Listen! #64 – Dream of Californication

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

“I’m not going to bore you with three paragraph non-introductions like Riddles did with his Hey! Look! Listen!…”

Seriously, what a jackass. You guys enjoy my lengthy introductions, right? They’re a nice personal touch, right? I’m an interesting person, right?

Wrong? Well fuck you too, asswipe.

David Jaffe Responds to EA Louse

Remember last week when I wrote about the Tragic Rantings of EA Louse? Y’know, the guy from Mythic who worked on the Warhammer MMO and said that BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to fail epically?

Well, while the man may have had some valid complaints, he was also a butthurt sap who was about to get fired. What I mean by that is: his perspective is far from unbiased. So, it’s hardly surprising that David Jaffe has taken the opportunity to call him out on a few things. You can read Jaffe’s blog entry here.

Jaffe’s a pretty straight shooter, I have to concede. His point about the dancing is spot-on, and mirrors what I thought myself. And this is coming from Jaffe, a guy who’s worked on plenty of games, and most likely worked with plenty of less-than-stellar dev teams himself. He knows what he’s talking about.

I mean, he created God of War. And for that he will remain immortal.

Perhaps wrongfully so.

D’OH

Check Out This Video About Black Ops’ Multiplayer

Awwww yeah. I’m admittedly pretty stoked about Call of Duty: Black Ops. Call of Duty’s online multiplayer is the only competitive online game that I’ve ever become moderately addicted to. Y’see, I don’t tend to be the type of gamer who obsesses over any single game for an extended period of time. So, the fact that Modern Warfare 2 has taken up so many days (days) of my time is an impressive thing.

Is there *anyone* else out there who likes Call of Duty? Nobody? Too bad,watch this (highly informative) video anyway.

November 9 can’t come soon enough.

Capcom Defends Dante Redesign

Okay. Between myself and Ethos, I’m the bigger Devil May Cry fan. I’ve played through the entirety of the first two, and a good chunk of DMC3. I like the series quite a bit, so naturally I paid attention when Capcom unveiled their flashy new series relaunch. However, as you may have noticed, I said nothing – nothing until now.

I’ve been doing this thing long enough to have learned to avoid knee-jerk reactions. They often end up making a fool of you, and I’m not partial to being made a fool of. So, when a developer or publisher does something that  rubs me in every conceivable wrong direction, I force myself to take a moment, step back, wait for the initial shock to wear off, and then see what I think.

When Capcom unveiled the new design for Dante, I hated it. I hated it just as much as the throngs of angry gamers who set the internets ablaze with their vitriolic complaints.

But I remained silent.

Until now.

The new Dante sucks. He sucks, he’s terrible, I hate him. Why’d they do this to him? Why? How? Please, can’t anyone tell me why?

Maybe Christian Svensson, Capcom’s VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development can tell me.

The original concepts that came back for Dante were actually extremely close to the Dante everyone knows and loves,” Svensson explained. “The feedback that came back from [Keiji] Inafune and [Hideaki] Itsuno was, ‘No guys, this needs to be completely different, we need you to go much further and be much more creative.’”

And literally dozens of potential iterations later became what we as a team felt comfortable and actually happy with.

Okay… so they wanted him to look different. Fine. What Capcom needs to understand is that we’re not furious because they changed Dante. Necessarily. Rather, we’re furious because they changed Dante into such a douche. Seriously, could they have come up with a (pardon my language) faggier look for everyone’s favorite demon slayer? Dante is a wisecracking badass, not a fucking brooding grease-haired emo F*GGOT.

Again, pardon the language. I only deem it necessary in these dire times. Sucker Punch was wise, and responded to the outcry of their fans. Hopefully Capcom will do the same. Because I do not want to look at that for eight plus hours.

Man, I Love Back to the Future

I do. Even the second installment, which many people seem to disdain for whatever reason. In my opinion, the second movie is the second best. And the first is the first best. A cookie if you can figure out which I think is the third best.

Granted, it is somewhat amusing (and disappointing) to look at the second film’s depiction of the year 2015. And, while we may still have four years or so until we reach said year, this video from Landline TV more or less has it right. Poor Doc Brown. The guy deserved better.

Somebody *did* make a Hoverboard, though. We have that.

Ba-hahahaha: EA Wants to Kill Babies

Well, not really. However, the unfortunate placement of this pop-out ad for Medal of Honor makes it appear so:

Oh, I love it.

Irregardless of any and all rumors of baby-killing, Medal of Honor managed to sell 1.5 million copies in a week. What? In spite of its “shameful” 75% aggregate ranking?

What a spoiled, spoiled industry.

I’ve Seen This Trailer 82372 Times Before

I know a lot of people are excited about The Last Story. I should be too; it’s Hironobu Sakaguchi. The last game he made was Lost Odyssey, and I loved the shit out of it. Hell, I even enjoyed Blue Dragon for what it was. (Braces).

That said, this trailer looks like it was pieced together from every other JRPG trailer ever made. Ever. The fact that it’s all in Japanese doesn’t help its cause.

So, why would I end this HLL with a boring video that I didn’t even enjoy? Well, one half to appeal to the hopeless JRPG nerds in the crowd. (I can smell you.) And one half because I hate you. I hate you all.

Nah, not really. I had fun writing this. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

~Riddles

Hey! Look! Listen! #50

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Damn, we’re so broke, we couldn’t even afford a pretty banner. Sad.

Seriously, though, I am so fucking broke. I guess that comes along with the whole “unemployment” thing, though. Ethos still has a job, from what I understand, but somehow he’s broke too. I told him not to buy that damned piano.

Oh well. SOMEbody out there wants to hire me, right? I just have to find whoever that is. For now, though, let’s set all of my financial woes aside, and talk about videogames.

By the way, as the title implies, this happens to be the fiftieth edition of Hey! Look! Listen! Thank you, thank you; yes, this is a great day for me as well. Anyway. From now on, I’ll be including an issue number in each title.

Check Out this Gears of War 3 Trailer

I’m not terribly experienced with Gears of War. I played through a little over half of the first game, and never got around to the second one. I did enjoy it, though, and I’ll probably finish them both up before Gears 3 descends. This trailer is a bit on the overdramatic side (especially for a game like Gears) but it’s definitely well-done. And there’s a chick in it.

Gears of War 3 is slated for release on April 8, 2011. And, reportedly, it will feature four-player co-op, a step up from the previous games. A ways off, yes, but it’s never too early to launch a hype train. (Kotaku)

Heavenly Sword Developers to Make Devil May Cry 5?

According to some blog entitled “The Silent Chief,” Game Informer’s May issue spills the beans on the future of Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise. Supposedly, they’re turning to Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory to work on the series’ fifth installment. The Game Informer quote is as follows:

Loose Talk has learned that Enslaved isn’t the only game Ninja Theory is working on-we’ve heard that the Cambridge, England developer is being tapped for the next Devil May Cry.

It is not totally unexpected, however; Capcom has said that although it is shying away from Western developer for new IP, it would continue to utilize them for known franchises, which DMC certainly is.

Interesting. I have very little experience with Heavenly Sword, but given the type of gameplay it contains, Ninja Theory isn’t an odd choice by Capcom. Frankly, Devil May Cry is a franchise that needs a major shot in the arm if it’s going to continue on in any respectable form, especially after games such as Bayonetta have so thoroughly defeated it at it’s own game. (Pun intended…?) So, maybe this new creative leadership is exactly what it needs. (Kotaku via The Silent Chief)

Google Looking to Tap the Gaming Business?

Google has their hands in plenty these days, from cutting-edge smartphones to Google Chrome OS Laptops. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they plan to do something in the realm of videogames.

Google recently hired an ex-SCEA employee named Mark DeLoura, who formerly acted as Sony’s manager of developer relations. His official job title at Google is “Developer Advocate.” No details were offered as to what, exactly, he’ll be doing for Google, but it’s safe to assume that it has something to do with games. Speaking to GamaSutra, DeLoura said “I personally feel that Google hiring someone specifically to focus on games is a signal from the company that they recognize the growing importance of games as a medium.”

With the iPhone becoming a more and more legitimate gaming platform, I’m sure Google is looking to follow suit with their line of Android OS smartphones. Then again, it is Google. Why stop there? They could do practically anything. (Gizmodo)

Reggie Calls 3DS Nintendo’s “Next Handheld Platform”

We already knew this, really, but if there was any doubt before, Nintendo’s 3DS is without question a true successor to the Nintendo DS. Not another re-tooling, but a full-fledged successor. In an interview with BusinessWeek, Fils-Aime said that “We have ideas of what we want to bring to the consumer that we can’t do with the current DS model.”

He also says some stuff about how the business is all about software and blah blah blah. Of course, I agree with him, but Nintendo’s kinda lost their right to talk about quality software if you ask me. (VG247)

I Can’t Buy a 3D Television

Well, yes, my lack of money is a factor as well. But, there’s more to it. Samsung is prepping to roll out their line of 3D-enabled TV sets this year, and they all come with a set of “do nots” that will probably make your head spin. Below is their safety warning, in its entirety:

“Children and teenagers may be more susceptible to health issues associated with viewing in 3D and should be closely supervised when viewing these images. Children under the age of six should not view 3D TV.”

“Pregnant women, the elderly, sufferers of serious medical conditions, those who are sleep deprived or under the influence of alcohol should avoid utilising the unit’s 3D functionality.”

“Viewing 3D television may also cause motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain and decreased postural stability. It is recommended that users take frequent breaks to lessen the potential of these effects. If your eyes show signs of fatigue or dryness or if you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume using it for at least thirty minutes after the symptoms have subsided.”

“Watching TV while wearing 3D glasses for an extended period of time may cause a headache or fatigue. If you experience a headache, fatigue or dizziness, stop viewing TV and rest.”

More often than not, I have a beer at my side while I’m watching TV, or playing a game. In fact, I usually have several beers at my side. Most of them empty. So, Samsung can either find a way to accommodate me in this regard, or I can take my business elsewhere. (TechRadar)

And that’s that! Hope you enjoyed it. This will probably be a fairly relaxed week at Riddlethos.com, but we could all use a breather now and then, eh?

Bayonetta Faceoff: The Conclusion

Monday, January 18th, 2010

As of right now, Bayonetta is 2010’s best action game. Not much of an accolade, perhaps, seeing that 2010 is barely two weeks old – but a true statement nonetheless.

In fact, I’ll go a bit further and say that Bayonetta may, in fact, be the best action game of its kind. By “its kind,” I’m referring the hyper-stylized, combat-oriented subgenre that is populated by franchises such as God of War and Devil May Cry.

So, let’s cut to the chase. In the last week I’ve spent time with Bayonetta, God of War II, Devil May Cry 3, and the God of War III demo. How do these well-established franchises hold up against the fancy new kid on the block? Let’s find out.

bayonetta-witchBayonetta

There isn’t much I can say here that I didn’t already say in the review I wrote a week ago. Bayonetta has been described by director Hideki Kamiya as an “evolution” of the Devil May Cry franchise, which he invented. And that’s almost exactly what it feels like – a faster, flashier Devil May Cry with gratuitous God of War influences. But is it as good, or better than either of its main influences?

kratosGod of War

In the last week, I played a decent chunk of God of War II, as well as the God of War III Demo. No doubt about it, these are some of the best hack ‘n slash games out there; God of War II is particularly impressive for its time, and for the hardware it was on. The action setpieces are extremely impressive, at least from what I’ve seen so far – the opening boss battle against the sentient statue is incredible, and the aerial combat sequences are a lot of fun as well.

The God of War III demo was a lot of fun, and for the most part, it felt like a next-generation God of War game should. The combat largely felt the same, but it definitely controlled smoother, and featured some subtle but appreciable upgrades – for example, “heavy attacks” are slightly faster now, making them far more useful. It will be interesting indeed to compare God of War III to Bayonetta upon its release in March.

Bayonetta clearly channels the combo based-combat of God of War, as well as the visceral, intense nature of the battles themselves. But does it improve on the formula, or simply emulate it in a Japanese environment? And, speaking of Japanese…

devil-may-cry--danteDevil May Cry

Bayonetta lifts its mechanics from God of War, yes, but it channels its atmosphere directly from Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise. The hyper-stylized Japanese themes and the undeniably awesome combination of physical combat and gunplay was first introduced to us way back in 2001 by a certain Devil Hunter named Dante – and it’s important to give credit where credit is due.

However, Devil May Cry and Bayonetta share little in the way of actual gameplay mechanics. Dante is limited to a single attack button, making DMC’s battles more of a button-mashing affair. Also, while Bayonetta features long-range gun combat, it isn’t nearly as useful or prominent as it is in DMC.  However, Devil May Cry does have one key aspect in common with Bayonetta, and it’s worth noting: combat in both games place heavy emphasis on avoiding damage entirely. Want to win? Don’t let yourself get hit. But again: is Bayonetta a better game than Devil May Cry, or did Hideki Kamiya simply swap out everyone’s favorite prettyboy Dante for the ridiculously sexualized witch Bayonetta, and call it something new?

Now that we’ve touched briefly on all three franchises in question, it’s time to decide who is best at what.

Best Combat System: Bayonetta

To answer the question I asked earlier, Bayonetta doesn’t just copy and paste select combat mechanics from God of War and Devil May Cry; it evolves them. God of War has plenty of combos for you to play around with, yes – but Bayonetta actually makes using combos integral to the gameplay. And at the same time, it makes them easier to use. Devil May Cry introduced “twitch-based” combat with an emphasis on avoiding damage, but Bayonetta evolves this concept with Witch Time. Assigning the dodge maneuver to the tap of a shoulder button was a nice upgrade as well.

Bayonetta really does make its two main influences feel slow and somewhat unwieldy by comparison. And that’s not because either God of War or Devil May Cry are broken – far from it. Rather, it’s because Bayonetta’s combat system is simply the fastest, smoothest, most intuitive hack ‘n slash that I’ve ever experienced.

Best Boss Battles: Bayonetta

Aaand she wins again. This is more like an extension of the “Best Combat” category, but I felt the need to honor Bayonetta’s boss encounters.  Like God of War, Bayonetta features some truly massive, grandiose boss battles – the difference here is that they’re even more massive. And, uh. Grandiose. Kratos has officially been outdone.

Best Storytelling/Atmosphere: God of War

Finally, an accolade for our scowly, pale-skinned friend. Admittedly, atmosphere comes down to a matter of preference between the three, but there’s no doubt that the narrative told in God of War is by far the most sensible among our little matchup. It’s not deep, and as Ethos has stated in the past, it’s overly epic. However, unlike Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, it actually makes sense most of the time, and it’s written fairly well. That counts for something.

Best Gunslinger: Devil May Cry

Okay, so maybe I just couldn’t bear not to throw Devil May Cry a bone. It really is a fine series, even if it has been one-upped by its own spiritual successor. This award honors the one thing it does better than Bayonetta: gunplay. One of the best things about Devil May Cry’s combat is the ease and speed at which you can switch back and forth between physical and long-range attacks, oozing badassery the entire time. In Bayonetta you can do the same, but guns are disappointingly ineffective against… well, almost every enemy in the game. Ironic, seeing that she sports no fewer than four of the damn things.

Most Fun: Bayonetta

So now we get down to the nitty-gritty, and answer the question: which game is the most fun to play? For my money, it’s Bayonetta, for all the reasons I’ve listed above. The combat system is practically flawless. The boss battles are some of the best I’ve seen, and certainly the best among the three contenders here. The pacing is spot-on, without a dull moment or a rotating spike-wall to be found. (Props to those who catch the reference.) The difficulty is balanced perfectly; you’ll die a lot, but never because of unfairness on part of the game.

At the end of the day, these are all fantastic franchises in their own right, and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. I greatly enjoyed the time I spent with all of them in the past week, and I can easily recommend them to anyone who enjoys a good action game.