Thursday, May 28, 2009

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Something good will appear in my noodle.

Fight Night Round 4 demo impressions

"Go Get Em Pac-Man!"

Before we start, I like to pay my condolences to Mike Tyson's daughter, Exodus here.

I remember that E3 with the footage of EA Sports "Fight Night Round 3" with Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins where the punches up close show the faces of the boxers were crushed but as the demo which I only played came out, it felt a bit less than what I saw back and the gameplay just felt too arcade-y as the haymaker attacks make the match too easy especially for the computer. I knew they were going to improve it in some fashion and hell they did so far with the demo of the upcoming "Fight Night" featuring a reenactment of sorts between the pound for pound Filipino boxer Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao and British welterweight Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton.

As I started up the demo it led to a mandatory tutorial where I then knew that the game is going to feel different from the other games. Although using the same fight stick gameplay, it's modified and expanded to utilize more button/stick syncronization but it doesn't mean that it's a button masher. This expansion also forces the player to focus on jabs and hooks instead of just going for the haymakers which can decrease the stamina meter by a large but fair amount (unless the opponent is in stun mode, which is unlimited for a short amount).

Although you can, this game doesn't want you to go entirely brute force as the opponent can counter and maybe take you down easily. It's a coordination of punch areas, the three meters (health, stamina, and guard), and the counters. With the invisible restrain, you might have a large tendency to actually block and/or dodge attacks where you can counter and increase the possibility of a knockdown even with the simplest hook. It's all about understanding the three elements of the fighting. If you do get the opponent to get to stun mode, it's the opportunity to go full force as they attack with low effectiveness and only find an chance to hold to end the stun mode easily.

With the gameplay improvement, the graphics also has it's additions. Running on 60 frames per second with little to no drops is just enough to merit. Fighting feels very smooth and close to the fighting material aside from the very robotic and rough nature of "Round 3" as everyone throws punches with no hesitation. The detail of the fighters of Pac-Man and Hatton looks shocking as the faces look very convincing and the muscle movement can awe any graphics whore. One of the things that I looked at "Fight Night" all the time were the physics. It slowly progressed from a simple rag-doll to glove reaction to now dynamic physics where the trunks react to the fighter movement, the knockdowns utilize a NaturalMotion Euphoria middleware approach where an animation exists with interaction, and the face strikes surpasses what I saw of past E3s.

Audio does the job right with good commentary and subtle advice to the player to try a different method instead of sticking to something that can lead to disaster. Soundtrack can get more variety but it's a demo so I can't truly complain.

Although it's a demo, it feels like a completed game cut up as it's well done and will likely garner critical acclaim. Now off to beat Hatton again just like that match in Vegas!

Demo is out on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network now, game will hit US on June 30, 2009.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Killing Day is alive!

Kotaku - Ubisoft's Killing Day Still Alive?

I remember that revealing of the Sony PlayStation 3 back in 2005 with the numerous "demonstration" trailers for the upcoming games which included the formerly named "I8" (now "Resistance: Fall of Man") and the heavily debated "Killzone 2". There were other demos besides the games that actually released with one exclusive by Ubisoft called "Killing Day". That was a sort of an underdog within the press conference as people were debating the aforementioned "Killzone 2".

When I first saw that footage of "Killing Day" I was literally blown away with the gun combat that existed which had the first person shooting perspective with dynamic hand movement which reminded me so much of Devil May Cry 2 where Dante can shoot multiple targets with his pistols. The gasping moment was when the floor glass was shot causing numerous shards to fall and the enemies to fall to their deaths. After four years, I am still pretty captivated since it looks real time even there are obvious hints that it was pre-rendered.

Time passed on and nothing else about the game surfaced but recently as I was reading the article on Kotaku, it seems that it's still alive. Even if I don't have a PlayStation 3, it's very exciting to keep something alive instead of being another recent victim of vaporware.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Effectiveness of modern video game themes

Most of us enjoy the theme songs of games like Super Mario Bros. with it's snappy MIDI lines and the hollow chants of Halo even if we might not like the games at all. Besides the original content, we got those license like hits. Coming from a non-developer or non-orchestrated background, these songs are a hit or miss.

One example is "Still Alive" by Lisa Miskovsky featured in the parkour based game, Mirror's Edge. After listening to the chorus which was the first time I heard of the song at any form, it felt like some pretty solid spiritual journey just for that part. But as I heard the full song, my interest plummeted to pretty much a 1/10 score format because it then sounded like a big f-ing cash-in to appeal music listeners who never bother to look around for better musicians. But what can you expect from a pop song? Nothing really, there is the easily appealing parts with the verse-chorus-bridge structure that doesn't seem very captivating in my view especially after listening to different kinds of music for a while although the chorus matches with game's setting in one sense but trying to apply that in the other department, it feels like a miss.

I then look at Vader's "Sword of The Witcher" featured in the game The Witcher. Although taking place in a more primitive setting than the thundering death metal the German headbangers deliver, it matches the violence factor of the game by a great amount because the game is rated M and people in the pass have been complaining. Lyrically it relate to the universe of The Witcher which is a necessary plus for that. I can't say anymore but this is a proper use of a unconventional theme song done solidly.

Maybe I am just blabbering nonsense because I IS METHULZ 4 LYFE but I also listen to other stuff like post-rock, jazz, and other forms of music. It just has to sound good, but everyone has an opinion so it will vary but when I feel that the spirit devoted to the song seems very hollow or full, I make my decision.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mass Effect 2: Pre-E3 video


Friday, May 8, 2009

War From A Harlots Mouth - In Shoals

"Berlin Philharmonic sold separately"

I love Berlin metallic experimentalists, The Ocean Collective. Using a great mash of extremities and classics and with their recent multi-concept Precambrian it was just awesome to hear the vocalists of different industries playing through the universe of chaos and elegance including long time member Nico Webers. Interesting enough, he joined the group War From A Harlots Mouth who has a similar sense of music objectives like The Ocean. WFAHM's debut record Transmetropolitan had a filling of jazz, grind, death, and a smarter take on metalcore out of all the Botch-copycats. Although different it lacked any proper strengths to make it enjoyable. After the leaving of original vocalist Steffan and the experienced aging with Nico; it's easy to expect to know that their new album with their latest vocalist is the audible feeling of a revitalized killbot in Futurama.

I can simply say it lacks any of the pretentious inconsistant ideas that were present in Transmetropolitan; it's the opposite. While that album had noisy arppeggios dominated by the overtly annoying deathcore breakdowns with the "quiet" stuff just there, In Shoals actually has attractive riffing that is less technical but properly placed. It has riffs and layered sections for everyone including the fans of The Ocean and Intronaut (which probably had the strongest interest in guitar patterns). Although In Shoals still has breakdowns it's not something that gives the notion is too long for it's own good as the drums is a character of its own instead of just a mere follower of the simple one at a time fashion. Paule can hit and try different signatures without any resistance and that's a relief for people who expected Transmetropolitan.

Instrumentally it's consistent and catchy but as Nico steps up to the mic it's a powerhouse of screaming, discordance, and progginess especially in "That Certain Nothing". He avoids the monotony of other deathcore bands but knows how to deliver; but we gotta have some gang vocals along the way (which humerously works in "Copyriot")!

I almost didn't like this album as I started but as it grows, it grows pretty well and probably the most original and best technical deathcore album of the year and that's not a bad thing!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bionic Commando Multiplayer Demo

"RAD yo!"

Wednesday was the surprising day that Capcom released multiplayer demo of the sequel to one of my favorite games of the 8-bit era. If you had the Super Nintendo or the Game Boy, you should know what Bionic Commando was; it's no Spider-Man but at least you can attach crap and swing which is still awesome and ahead of it's time. With the world of HD and physics, Bionic Commando comes back with a new sense of reality with more dynamic swings. Thank goodness the demo has that apportunity to experiment with the swing mechanic.

Feeling like Spider-Man with dynamics and guns, the mutiplayer demo is just plain fun deathmatch with opportunities to swing and manuver. It's lacks flat land and doesn't have a 2D vibe; but instead the level the demo provided is multitiered and interactable. We can lock and grab on to anything including people (as well attack while grabbing) as long as it's within close proximity. Although provided the simple industrial poles to introduce the basic mechanic of swinging, the trees are swingable where you can make a futuristic Tarzan moment. The mechanics of the arm are has a sense of complexity and simplicity; where you just have to remember the trigger, the jump button, and the left stick to manuver the real-time swinging. It's easy to understand but challenging to handle when you are being bombared by strong firepower of a easily killable sniper rifle or the cheap shotgun but when you can master it and plan the swinging, it's a fun game for a good amount of 8 players per session.

Left 4 Dead Free Weekend

"Zombie Apocalypse Now!"

The game was out for a while ever since late 2008 and has received a strong reception from both gaming press and the gaming public for giving a new approach to survival horror with influences of Valve related game Counter-Strike and new revisionist horror films like Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. Some like me were not able to catch up with the craze during release but this week had everybody with a Steam account, a workable computer, and internets to actually try out the full game for free from Thursday through Saturday afternoon. When I found this out, this was an important opportunity to actually try out the newest zombie game that doesn't have the words Resident, Evil, or even the number 5.

I entered in with very little interest in it as I was disappointed with Valve's other new property, Portal. I did like it but I never understood and disliked the overappreciation of a pretty much simply genered puzzle game. But as I started the full campaign of No Mercy, I had an explosive time going through the infested city and ending at the hospital showdown with a full horde of infected and bosses. I started with bots and it was still exciting to fight with people by my side to destroy the baker's dozen coming at once like a sugar-addict. I also felt amazed with other campaigns with the last two being the stronger as I played with people. About 95% of the time, everyone was cooperative and helping one another as it's a challenge to work as a lone wolf when you have constant converges of regular infected and terrifying bosses all the time. This teamwork doesn't limit to the campaign as I tried out the newest mode Valve provided which was Survival mode.

In the campaign, there are moments in which a specific event calls out the horde and creates a seemingly outnumbered situation. Think of that and apply that an infinite like amount of times of waves. That's survival mode. Everyone starts at a preperation point of a part of each campaign and it's everyone's job to set up traps and gather plans to survive the hordes as long as possible. The best for me only lasting 6 minutes, it's challenging after 1 minute and it the game requires us to work together and help get the best times.

After playing the main campaign and survival mode, Left 4 Dead deserves what it delivers and should be appreciated as a step forward for multiplayer, co-op, and survival horror games. Although it feels limited, it has enough to get a player addicted trying to survive the horde of infected, which does well.