Ratchet & Clank HD collection. This is worth getting.
The “Ratchet & Clank” Collection Announced
Sony has announced The Ratchet & Clank Collection, the high-compilation of the first three games in the series, which first appeared on the PlayStation 2. The games will be remastered in 1080p HD and will include additional features such as stereoscopic 3D support and trophoes.
The collection will be released in Europe this Spring and in North America in Fall. Insomniac CEO Ted Price has said the reason for the delay for the North America release is because they are planning something special for fans in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the R&C series.
Lots To Do
During the process of growing up we, inevitably, have to grow up. Once you hit this lame realization you’ll also realize that the responsibilities we have to take on will ultimately take time away from our hobbies.
I bring you the Working Gamer Conundrum.
Once we’re thrust out into the cold, dark World of Ruin (see Earth) - or in many cases leap into it of our own accord (see Can’t Move Away From Home Fast Enough) - we’re forced to get jobs in order to pay for the games we want to buy and to continuously pay for a place to house these games. Unfortunately, in many cases working takes so much time and energy away from gaming that your games pile up and you never finish them.
You work to play, but you hardly play after work.
This situation works for most other hobbies as well.
Games I own but have yet to complete:
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy V
Final Fantasy II
Burnout: Paradise (though can you really complete a racing game?)
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Parappa the Rapper
World of Goo
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 (again, can you complete a sports game? I haven’t finished a league, though, in any case)
And, as per my buying games addiction, I have Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction on its way.
And to top THAT off, I have the full intention of buying Assassin’s Creed 2 in a couple of weeks. I’m very excited for that.
Of course, then there is the multitude of upcoming games, recent games, and games I missed that I want. I could easily spend a thousand dollars just collecting the games I intend to play when I have more time. Though this may just be a symptom of owning too many consoles.
I won’t even show you my book list. It’s even longer.
The problem is yes, work takes up a lot of time, and so does maintaining an engagement/living together relationship, keeping up with TV shows (which have mostly been pretty terrible lately), watching movies, working on two novels simultaneously, job hunting, cartooning, attempting to teach yourself Dreamweaver/Flash, and actually leaving the house to meet up with the few friends who can also get around their hectic schedule at the same time you can.
I’m not old, but I miss being younger. I miss the days of spending six hours straight playing an RPG (see Final Fantasy VII). Long stretched of gaming becomes a foreign thing when you take up a full time job - so much so that these days I’m relieved to buy a 10-hour game, and in that sense Uncharted 2 was the perfect game for me right now. Well-written, beautiful, fun, and over just quickly for my priorities not to take over.
I’ll be trying to write more, so let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear thoughts on. Though I can’t afford the money or time to keep up with every game, I’ll write about what I do play, new or old. And leave a comment - I hear it keeps away rabid, foaming at the mouth children on Halloween. ::Shudder::
God Of War Collection HD Trailer
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Delayed?
According to Kotaku, Konami’s re-imagining of the PSOne classic, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, has been delayed.
Originally dated for November 3 for Wii, PS2, and PSP, Kotaku has reported:
"GameStop says every version hits December 8, originally scheduling it for a November 3 release. GameFly says the Wii version arrives November 26, but puts a more ominous December 31 on the PS2 and PSP versions. Walmart.com’s release dates for Silent Hill: Shattered Memories are closer to GameFly’s, with the PlayStation versions arriving Christmas Day."
This is very disappointing to me as a hardcore fan of the first three games, though I never expected to own this game until the holidays or post-holidays, anyway (I’ve had my eye on Assassin’s Creed 2 for November). I guess the delay won’t effect me after all.
Some Non-April Fool’s Day Game Announcements
Photo from GoNintendo.com
This announcement and screenshot came from GoNintendo in tandem with Nintendo Power. I remember hearing something about this in the past, so perhaps it’s real. The description says it is a reimagining of the original Silent Hill game for PSX and will rearrange the story, character appearances and plot twists depending on how you play the game. An interesting concept.
Tales of Graces (Wii)
According to IGN, a new game in the Tales series is on its way.
In Graces, players take control of Aspel Rant, an 18-year-old who resides on the outskirts of a kingdom. Some unspecified event takes place that leaves Aspel desiring strength. A catch phrase for Aspel listed in the magazine says “I don’t want to lose anyone again,” suggesting that the unspecified event involved someone’s death.
All the other details in the magazine are on the vague side. The game will have the theme of “Protect” or “Defend.” Players can look forward to a large scale story along with new gameplay systems.
Tales of Vesperia coming to PS3
Scratch: Ultimate DJ (PS3 & XBOX 360)
Think Guitar Hero with a turntable. Features Mix Master Mike, Gorillaz, etc.
Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier
Announced by the Playstation Blog as a sequel slated for the PSP and PS2. This makes sense after a PS2 price cut because Sony obviously intends to continue to support the PS2 for a little while longer. Those who were hoping for a PS3 sequel to compete against Ratchet & Clank were disappointed.
Well, that’s all I got for you. This was a sample of some of the more major announcements that seemed genuine. If I was wrong, and one or more are fakes then I apologize.
What are your thoughts on these announcements and their timing?
Shadow of the Colossus Review (PS2)
In 2005, the makers of ICO brought Shadow of the Colossus to the PS2, brilliantly meshing together a story of true love, evil magic, Japanese knights, beauty, and a grand sense of loneliness.
The story follows an unnamed man in armed only with a sword, bow and arrow, and poncho as he and his extremely loyal horse Agro carry a beautiful dead woman to a faraway, underground altar — the Shrine of Worship. The hero holds an ancient sword, which an ominous disembodied voice takes an interest in. The voice, called “Dormin,” tells the hero that the woman can be revived — but at a great price, and in order to achieve that goal the hero must defeat sixteen colossi from the world. Each time a colossus is defeated, Dormin gives clues as to where to find the next one. The hero can also follow a reflection of the sun on his sword to point him in the correct compass direction, though terrain usually does not allow for a straight path.
Shadow of the Colossus is most known for its art style, which was gorgeous for its time, as well as its epic battles. Both maintain the lonely feeling of solitude in the game’s world, be it through quiet, deserted landscapes set to orchestral music or seeing the scale of one small man and his horse facing colossi that span the height of buildings. The hero, his horse, and the dead woman are the only living things in that world aside from a scarce number of other animals.
Though much of the game is spent riding through vacant terrain in search of the next colossus, the process only emphasises that the game and story is about the hero’s journey — about the lengths he must go and is willing to go to revive this woman. At times, the search can become a bit bland and repetitive, but the story and art style is so well done that these feelings can be easily dismissed, especially because the game consists ONLY of boss battles.
The colossi can only be defeated by identifying their weakspots and stabbing those spots repeatedly. This can be done by reflecting light from your sword onto the colossus until a symbol apears on its skin/fur. The challenge is reaching that weakspot by use of your surroundings, despite the colossi’s often enormous size or agile movements. Many will attempt to shake you off, whereas you must hold on for dear life for as long as the hero’s grip endurance can take (indicated by a shrinking circle). These fights are largely about strategy.
The ending can be interpreted in several ways, and the game has been implied by its developers to be a “spiritual sequel” or a prequel to ICO, in that both games involve the same world and type of beings.
If you’ve never given the game a try and still own a PS2, backward compatible PS3, or PS2 emulator, it’s very much worth it to pick up Shadow of the Colossus. The game can be found for a maximum of $20 new (it’s a “Greatest Hits” title) and for up to half that if found used.
Genre: Third-Person Adventure
Release Date: Oct. 18, 2005
God of War (PS2) - 9/10
The first level of God of War is a subtle but simple warning to families and children that this is not a kids’ game. Throats are cut and cut often, bodies are torn apart with bare hands, and women are slaughtered or seen laying dead in pools of their own blood. Nearly all live women Kratos, a mortal who made a pact with Aries, the God of War, comes across have very visible nipples. There is even an off-screen sex mini-game available early on when Kratos has a sleeping quarters on a boat. This three-way allows the player to hit a series of buttons that appear on the screen in order to perpetuate grunting and moaning, resulting in a reward of experience points. These points, in the form of red orbs, can be used to upgrade weapon and magic skills. The women are grateful, as well.
God of War plays like an arcade-style action/adventure platformer. A multiplicity of enemies come after Kratos as he advances toward Athens, where Aries has started a war against the mortals of the city, and it is up to Kratos (with the help of the Gods) to cut, slash, whip, electrocute and petrify the legions of undead warriors, trolls, and other such creatures along the way. This includes scaling mountainsides, leaping across broken pathways, and solving ancient puzzles within caverns and tombs.
Kratos’ story is narrated by the Oracle, who explains that he was once the leader of a ruthless and violent band of Spartans who overpowered even the largest group of foes. In one battle, Kratos was about to be killed when he pleaded to Aries to allow him to live and strike down his enemies. Aries obliges, but takes part of Kratos’ soul in the process. Kratos becomes stronger than any mortal alive, but ends up leading an army to slaughter even those who do not challenge him, continuing until Kratos comes face to face with an act of horrible Greek irony.
As Aries destroys Athens, Athena enlists Kratos to fight for the Gods, as there is a long-standing pact that the Gods cannot fight amongst themselves. However, she tells him, “only a mortal trained by a God could stand against Aries.” Kratos begins his journey through Athens toward a final battle with Aries, not only as a favor to the Gods, but to take his soul back by force.
The game plays similarly to Devil May Cry, with attacks that take a combination of button-mashing and timing. The more Kratos upgrades his “Blades of Chaos”, which were bound to him by Aries, the more button combinations are unlocked. He can attack, throw, grab, and knock enemies into the air. As the game progresses, several Gods will grant Kratos with the ability to harness their powers into magic. For example, Poseidon grants an area attack that is good for pushing back mobs. Kratos also utilizes on-screen button-pressing for killing moves and to wear down bosses, pressing square, X, triangle, circle, or rotating the analog stick as large button icons pop up. Screwing up the combination will cause Kratos damage.
The best part of God of War is that it was made specifically for older gamers knows that it can go as far as it likes. The game remains fun all the way through, as Kratos allows innocent civilians to die without a blink of an eye and uses soldiers as blood sacrifices to advance to new rooms. He fights minotaurs, sirens, medusas, cerberuses, and other vicious mythological creatures in varying situations and enjoys every moment of it throughout the 7-10 hours of gameplay, as will you.
Genre: Action-Adventure Button-Masher
Release Date: March 22, 2005
Silent Hill: Origins (PS2) - 7/10
The Silent Hill series has told several stories revolving around the ungodly town of Silent Hill as it established itself on the PSone and PS2. The latest installment, released earlier this year on the PS2, sports a fairly strong plot for such a short game, unfortunately something was lost in translation when it was ported from the handheld PSP.
The game begins with a series of flag icons, where you will choose your language and aspect ratio. Get ready to do this again, because the menu pops up every time you load the game. On top of that, the main menu takes longer to load than previous entries in the series, and most PS2 games in general.
Once set up, we are acquainted with truck driver Travis Grady, who is riding down the road, shooting the breeze with a buddy on his radio. Suddenly, a small girl runs in front of the road and Travis slams on the breaks. You would expect the truck to slide sideways and tip over in some horrible mess the way cars crashed in the openings of previous Silent Hill games, but the truck stops successfully, and with no little girl in sight. Travis is confused and searches the road but does not find her, though he sees her through the truck’s side mirrors. Spooked, he decides to ditch the truck and run down the road in search of this lone child, who is out wandering by herself late at night.
This is the first playable portion of the game. You control Travis down the eerie, foggy road into the town of Silent Hill, where you will be acquainted with the awkward controls and camera of the game. As a veteran of the Silent Hill series, the controls in Origins felt clumsy, like a step backwards. The camera angle shifts often as you move, which becomes jarring and disorienting. There were several times just on the first road when I ended up accidentally backtracking due to bad camera changes. Unfortunately, this issue is a constant annoyance throughout the game, often causing Travis to run right into a needle-wielding hell nurse or poltergeist when attempting to run away from a monster. This is a step backward from the past Silent Hill games that had logical camera changes and allowed the camera to move using the right analog stick. Origins, for some reason, does not let you do this.
The graphics are not spectacular, especially for a game that was released in the last leg of the PS2’s life, but this can be explained by the fact that the game originally appeared on the PSP. Unfortunately, the graphics combined with the controls make the game feel more like a PSone game.
Technical issues aside, the story plays out well. The first sequence of the game has Travis navigate a burning building to save the little girl he nearly hit, setting not only the game but the character aside from the other installments. Other Silent Hill games have the character begin by exploring the town, so diving into a fire is a pleasant change. The storyline, which chronicles Alessa’s beginnings (the girl from Silent Hill and Silent Hill 3, as well as the movie) and Travis’ perverse backstory are intriguing and well done. The puzzles and monsters are typical of the series, but the fighting system has been changed so Travis can carry nearly anything that’s not tied down to hurl at his enemies. How he fits a TV, toaster, cleaver, shotgun and drip stand into his pockets is anyone’s guess. Either way, you’ll need as many of these weapons as you can grab, especially with The Butcher on the loose, a hellish incarnation who looks like the result of inbreeding within the Pyramid Head family. This new lurking threat instills a similar fear Pyramid Head did in Silent Hill 2, with the same symbolic qualities for the main character.
Weapons have their own endurance, meaning they will break after a certain number of attacks. This would be frustrating during boss fights, assuming you could actually switch items quickly enough while standing still and having poisonous venom spewed at you. Because of this mechanic, you really have to trust your instincts and prepare your weapon before entering extra ominous rooms.
Another departure from the previous installments is the use of mirrors as a gameplay element. Throughout the game Travis will come across mirrors in bathrooms, for example, that when touched transform the world into the red, grimy, hellish world Silent Hill fans know and fear. This navigation between the “normal” world and the “Otherworld” is used to get around jammed or locked doors and to collect items only available in that world.
The game puts together an interesting origin story with good voice acting and a well-done soundtrack that is stifled by a bad camera and clunky controls. Perhaps the system worked on the PSP, but on the PS2 the quality feels substandard. Even so, if you want to know more about Alessa’s story, pick up this title. At roughly 5-9 hours of gameplay and a reduced price, it’s worth putting up with the technical annoyances.
Genre: Survival Horror/Psychological Horror
Release Date: March 8, 2008