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Ethos and Riddles talk about video games...
            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

Scatter Storming. Issue #041

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Once again, it’s been a busy week for me and games, so I’m not going to bore you with three paragraph non-introductions like Riddles did with his Hey! Look! Listen!, but will – once again – dive right in.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood Multiplayer Beta

Because of my previously discussed subscription to Playstation Plus, I got exclusive access to the multiplayer beta for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I had no idea what it was about, so let me give you the run down if you are in the same boat I was.

In the only mode that I was aware of, the point isn’t an all out brawl, or even team-based objectives, but rather to carry out the simple task of taking out your target before you yourself are assassinated. You get more points for more subtle assassinations, and these points fill an experience bar which have become popular in hooking in online communities. I leveled up once, so I was able to note that new abilities do get unlocked by gaining levels, and that you’re even allowed to construct a loadout. That gives me the impression that there will be the opportunity for customization later on, because that wasn’t an option during my experience. Granted, I only played one 10 minute game, but whatever.

More than anything, I appreciated that the multiplayer was undoubtedly different than anything else out there. It felt very “Assassin’s Creed” in that it was solitary and focused on stealth, quick reflexes, and badass assassinations. Killing my targets seemed to have layers of depth. There are only about 6 or 7 different character models for players to choose from, and there are only those 6 or 7 models roaming the map, so you have to find your target amidst many like faces. There is a radar that lets you know in which direction your target is and also how close she is. And because there is no way of knowing who is after you – as far as I could tell – you can literally walk right up to your target like a harmless NPC before shoving a hidden blade into their throat.

This is very satisfying as an assassin. However, as a target, I have no idea who is on my ass. I do not know how to hide from my stalker. Blending into the crowd helps me with my target, but doesn’t make me any less vulnerable from the person trying to end me as fast as possible. After gaining a level and gaining my first ability, I was able to briefly take on the form of another character model and then wait for a 60 second cooldown before using it again. So defensively, I had a very frustrating time. As far as I could tell, you were only awarded points for assassinating your target, so I don’t think I would be rewarded for discovering my assailant and slitting her throat.

But who knows? Maybe I would be. The tutorial didn’t tell me so, but it’s definitely possible and would absolutely make the game more interesting. I’m also aware that I barely scratched the surface of the unlockable abilities. But still, I consider that to be a little broken if you have to play the game for hours before even being allowed to play properly. Just like the stinger missile isn’t unlocked until something like level 30 in Modern Warfare 2. What a bunch of broken horseshit.

Met the concept artist. Young, very talented dude.

Epic Mickey Impressions

I have to admit, I barely remember my Warren Spector interview. I was in a conference room with an unbelievable view of the Toronto skyline performing my first legitimate interview with a respected member of the gaming development community. I remember that at one point he had his hands on his head like Mickey ears and said something to the effect of “oh god, am I actually doing this on camera right now?” I also remember admitting to have never played Deus Ex followed by Warren dramatically and jokingly telling me to leave the room. I hope I didn’t come across like a total idiot, but in any case, he was engaging and professional.

My point, believe it or not, is that I didn’t get a chance to actually play Epic Mickey at that interview, but instead went to a small event later that night to get a hands on. That is also when I got the signed poster and DS picture with Warren – I couldn’t do that on the clock! So my SUPER point is that I should talk about my impressions of the game.

My relationship with Epic Mickey has been an interesting one. I’ve been on and off the game in terms of my hype for it. Lately, I had been looking forward to it, but not totally buying the “paint or thinner” choices in the game. It seemed like a masked morality system. And while it sorta is, I was surprised by my strong compulsions to use either paint or thinner in certain situations. I play paragon in Mass Effect, and was a nice guy in Fallout 3 and Infamous, so I expected to use paint over thinner in Epic Mickey. This was not the case. Not only does thinner make platforming more difficult (and therefore more rewarding), but I just found it more interesting. I was shocked at my reaction when I befriended an enemy by painting him and then reduced him to a puddle of ink with thinner immediately after. I felt like an asshole, but not necessarily like a bad guy. The world of Epic Mickey is so twisted and weird, that all of these choices fit without appearing to be black or white.

I tried both the 3D combat sections, and the 2D platforming sections and visually, I was very impressed. The game oozes not only style, but variety. After only experiencing Disney gaming in Kingdom Hearts, it was refreshing to explore the unused and forgotten side of familiar worlds.

I must admit, however, after a lot of Mario Galaxy 2 with my increasingly skilled girlfriend, Epic Mickey’s polish felt a little off. I was reminded often by the Disney dude and Warren himself that I was playing an early build of the game, but I imagine that there will be moments in the finished copy when I will shout “I made that jump!” or just be generally a little frustrated that not every platformer controls like Mario.

All in all, I walked away genuinely more impressed than perhaps I expected, and the game is now my most anticipated of the holiday season. That’s the first time I can say that for a Wii title since 2006.

Sonic 4

This is more 2D Sonic. Not like the Sonic Rush DS games; although those were great. This is Sonic as you used to know with all the ups and downs. It’s not as fast as you remember, but then again, neither are the originals. There are still multiple paths, and things still pop up at you at the last second. Although with the addition of that semi-lock-on zoom-bash move (that’s the official name) from the 3D games, it makes those moments a little easier to handle. That’s really all I got for this one. Just a little juxtaposition for you.

Way better than FFXIII

The 4 Heroes of Light

This game is awesome. Pure old school without having to fight with graphics or interface. I mean, I’m still a little annoyed at the item management and the menu layout, but it’s no Final Fantasy 1. It’s great because it’s a reminder of how games used to let you figure out the story. There are no exposition-packed cutscenes nor lengthy tutorials. In fact, there are no tutorials.

Nope, you have to pay attention and talk to as many people as it takes to figure out what to do next, how to work the game, and get a general feel for the mood and culture in each town. It’s quite refreshing and while I expected to enjoy the game, I’m actually really fucking into it. It’s made me drop Birth by Sleep and Pok√©mon Ranger, and I love those games. I need to finish Birth by Sleep soon too before Abe80 takes his PSP back. He’s been very patient.

Sad News

Sure, maybe this should go in a news feature, but Riddles decided to post his HLL on a Wednesday, and that makes me less inclined to write a TTKL. Is that just a really shitty way to conceal laziness? Maybe, but it’s true. Anyway, the sad news is that the really promising Pirates of Caribbean: Armada of the Damned action RPG has been cancelled. That’s it really. I was looking forward to it. Seriously. Click the tag. (IGN)

No more! I’ve written enough!


Scatter Storming. Issue #029

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Hey fellas! I half-apologize for the lack of original content in last week’s Scatter Storming. Only half because that cover was fucking sweet. Also, Star Fox 64 quotes are fucking sweet. I didn’t even get to half of the great ones. Anyhoo, now that I’m not broke anymore, I’ve been buying games like a mad man. Probably not the best idea in the universe, but whatever, it’s good to be back in it! Let’s talk about some of these games, shall we?

Shatter Storming -
I slay myself. After Colin Moriarty from Podcast Beyond pimped the hell out of this game, I decided to download it. It’s a brick breaker game but with the necessary twists. Your paddle can blow or suck (that’s what she said), which affects the trajectory of not only the ball but also power-ups and the bricks in play. Your remaining lives can be used however you like as well. Meaning if you have 3 lives remaining, you can shoot between 1 and 3 balls out into play. It makes for a very interesting take on the genre, and I had a blast playing through it. I’m mediocre at best at the game, but it’s obvious that score whores could play this game for hours on end. For me, I’m glad I bought it, but I can’t imagine I’ll be playing it much after this.

After Patapon 2 took over my PSP, it took a little bit of work to get back into Lunar. Mostly because I’m still playing Plants Vs Zombies all the time. Still, it’s back to being the primary game on my little Go. It’s losing a bit of steam, but I’m still enjoying the writing, visuals, and music quite a bit. We’ll see how it holds up if I get around to any more heavy play sessions.

Star Ocean? -
Yeah, I borrowed it from my brother for the PS3. MAN am I ever glad that it has the original Japanese voice track. I don’t want to know how that stuff would have sounded in English. Sometimes there is no translation for culture. Anyway, the battle system seems interesting, but the field controls seem clunky. Well, at least while in a tight space. I’ll give it a fair shake, but at the time being, it’ll have to do a lot to bump it up from “generic” to “I’ll be able to beat the thing”. I’ll probably just end up waiting until my next Tales of fix for that sort of mediocre anime JRPG fix.

Gimme gimme

But in awesome RPG news… -
MAN, that Pirates RPG looks great! It sounded awesome on paper when it was first announced ages ago, but now that the impressions are rolling in, I’m truly excited. This is how licensed games should be done. Give the team the freedom to make the kind of game they want to make, and give them the time to make it! Although it’s probably bad that I’m expecting Heartless to make an appearance.

Prince of Persia Update -
But this is really what you’re all waiting for! The update to the competition that I am going to TROUNCE Riddles in. Yes, I’ve only completed 25% of Sands of Time so far, but that completion percentage is a little misleading. My week is busiest at the beginning. Although I have a wedding to attend on Saturday, I can dedicate the rest of the time to blasting through the trilogy. Even if Riddles has a…erm…first wind, I’ll still knock ‘im dead. Either way, I’ll be giving impressions of my return to Sands of Time and of the other two games I haven’t had a chance to play before this.

Well that’s all! I appreciate you all still reading this site even after Riddles continuously abandons it! I know I don’t have magazine words on this cover, but I liked the Star Fox one so much, and this picture is a little classy, I decided to keep it this way again. The cluttered awesomeness will return, have no fear!