Inside Pulse 12

Playing the Lame Vol. 13

Hi.

I’m Mark B, and this is Playing the Lame. More or less.

I started a new job this week, which left me about, oh, five minutes of free time to myself. In other words, I’ve played no games this week, I’ve had no time to write much, and I’m seriously behind. I’m rather agitated as a result, so this is going to be generally rushed and pissy. I hope you understand.

That said, I wanted to get a PtL out there this week, largely because E3 was, as of this writing, last week, and I wanted to talk about everything that’s coming out of the pipeline, gaming-wise. This is going to end up not getting posted until the following week, sadly, but let’s pretend that what I’m talking about is at least marginally current, yeah? Thanks. So let’s get down to it.

LINKAGE:

… ah, I’m too tired. Besides, no one but Kennedy and the Games crew ever links back to me, so why bother? Maybe next week.

BUT FIRST, IDIOTS:

For reasons I don’t entirely understand, whenever I’m not writing, sleeping, or playing video games, I more or less NEED to be reading. My brain feels this need to be doing SOMETHING at all possible moments in the day, so I end up reading just about anything I can find. As an indirect result, I end up reading things most normal people would never WANT to read, let alone actually read through.

Y’know, like “A Million Little Pieces”. That sort of thing.

Anyway, since I’m an asshole, I figured I’d take some of the incredibly stupid things I’ve read in the past few weeks, copy-paste them, and let you point and laugh as I did. I hope you enjoy it, and never ever expect to see such a feature again (unless I get bored).

“Metal Saga is an interesting concept, and at the very least it’s safe to say there’s nothing quite like it in the world of role-playing games. So if you’re looking for a bit of a departure from the standard slay-the-dragon/save-the-world RPG, you’ll certainly find it here. Unfortunately, the lack of a cohesive narrative makes the game feel like busy work, with no real sense of progression or achievement.” – Gamespot review of Metal Saga for the PS2.

This translates out to “if I don’t have a fifteen minute long cinematic every half an hour in my games, I’m uninterested”. People like the yahoo what wrote this review are the reason I hate traditional RPG’s these days: games like FFX and Grandia 3 would be more palatable if there were LESS story in them. That might sound odd, but when you realize that the stories in these games are pretty… well, poor, you can perhaps see why having LESS story might convince someone like me that the story is better than it is. I mean hey, Lucard waxes poetic about his love for the storyline of Phantasy Star 2, and the storyline in that game, in total, couldn’t fill fifteen typewritten pages. Less is more, people.

“Just beginning play for the very first time literally takes close to three hours, from the hour it takes just to install the game to your Xbox 360 hard drive (the game gobbles up more than a third of the total amount of free space on that thing), to the hour it takes to update the game files once you connect, to the hour it takes to enter about half a dozen registration codes and, finally, spending a few minutes to create your character.” – Gamespot (yes, again) review of Final Fantasy XI for the 360.

Hi. We’re going to play a game. It’s called GET A CLUE.

When FFXI hit stateside, it was released on 4 CD’s for the PC. Assuming each disc was filled nearly to capacity… one can assume, fairly, that there was about 2.8 GB of data between those four discs. Then stop and realize that TWO MORE EXPANSION PACKS have come out in the past couple of years, and assume each pack probably takes up 2 CD’s by itself. Assume, then, that you’re probably installing something like 4 GB of data onto the hard drive of your 360.

Even if you were installing this amount of data onto, say, a SATA hard drive, it’s not going to take five minutes. What the f*ck did you expect? You’re installing the game itself plus THREE EXPANSION PACKS, jerkass. Christ.

And as for the other gripes… first, buy WOW and install it (or just uninstall your copy, whatever), and tell me how long it takes to patch. Yeah yeah, it just came out, I know… it’s an MMO. They update constantly. That’s how it goes. If you’re going to bitch about it, STOP PLAYING MMO’S. And second, if it takes you an hour to register everything with PlayOnline, you’re a mental midget, I’m sorry. Just saying.

“Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi said that Castlevania does not fit with Wii, because the Wii market is for people who want to have new experience, these type of people do not have time to play lengthy games like Castlevania; also he does not have a good idea to make use of the Wii controller in the game.” – News that was acquired from The Magic Box, though I read this on Kotaku.

“For people who want to have new experience”… the Engrish jokes just write themselves, people. Anyway, this all translates out to “we won’t make money off of releasing Castlevania games on Wii, unless it hits 10 million installed user base mark, at which time we suddenly find way to make controller work”. Yes, I wrote it that way on purpose. This argument, by the way, does not prevent Konami from releasing OLDER Castlevania games on the Wii, so if they’re willing to put up the PC-Engine CD version of Dracula X for download, I don’t care if they never make another Castlevania game ever again.

“I don’t think it even needs saying, but people should stay away from Tekken.” – Tomonobu Itagaki, talking about how he hates Tekken.

I don’t think it even needs saying, but Itagaki’s a f*cking tool.

Besides, he’s just pissed off that Namco makes better fighting games than he does. You heard me.

“Plus… well… it’s just not smart to mess with me in writing. You’re not good enough. None of you are. No one can out write me… no one can beat me when it comes to a word battle. It’s what I do and I do it WELL…” – some asshole on the internet, boasting about his (self-professed) skills.

Hey man, I’ve taken shits that looked better than the column I extracted this from. The complete inability to run your work through spellcheck invalidates such a claim, regardless of your lack of ability to write compelling articles. I mean, come on, you spelled “sandwich”, “vomited”, and “show” wrong, and that’s just the first two pages. F7, asshole.

Oh yeah, and your sentence structure is more tortured than Steve Perry listening to “Songs From the Crystal Cave” by Steven Segal. One of the many pieces of baggage that comes with being a “good writer” is the requirement that one must know how to write.

And in conclusion, I’m better than you, eat me.

“Ubi Soft put together one fine action adventure game in Beyond Good and Evil even if the sales charts didn’t reflect it. Perhaps the camera wielding main character didn’t quite have enough appeal to draw in the mass market. Either way, our only real complaint with the game was that it was too short. The best way to remedy that is to bring us a sequel.” – IGN, talking about DUH, in the context of “Ten Games That Deserve a Sequel”.

Really? My only real complaint with the game is that YOU ASSCLOWNS WON’T SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT. Every month, you have to remind us that “Beyond Good and Evil was an awesome game and how DARE you not love it you godless heathens what the hell is wrong with you~” like someone’s magically going to give a shit about a mediocre three year old game and instantly become a convert.

Oh, and by the way: comedy is to the IGN staff like a girl is to Christopher Lowell: The latter has absolutely no idea what to do with the former. Actually, you could probably sub “the IGN staff” in the place of Mr. Lowell and the above would have the same effect.

Okay, okay, enough being snippy, onto the E3 stuff.

PLAYING THE LAME, VOLUME 13.

AKA “Talking about E3”.

Your soundtrack for this week is Oomph! and Tatu. The former is because after 1.) a friend made me listen to Ego, and 2,) I read gloomchen’s review, I decided I needed to own something by them; the latter is because I just found out they released a new CD this week, and since I have no taste, I bought it immediately. Both bands sound about as you’d expect; the former, like Rammstein with more depth (on Glaubelietod, anyway; Ego’s a more interesting CD, and has the GLU elements in it gloomchen mentioned), the latter sounds like it’d be good if Yulia Volkova were a better singer. Of course, it’d probably also help my perception of things if they hadn’t lied about being lesbians (I mind the lying part, not the lesbian part… who you screw is your business, unless it’s me). Anyway, I’m still listening to it, so that about sums it up.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo. E3. One of several times of the year when the curtains separating the gamer and the developer are pulled open, allowing us to see the little man working inside. E3 is usually looked at by most folks on the outside as a chance to see what’s coming up and how far along it is in production. But this year it’s especially important; not only do we get to see what’s in store for the 360, but we get to see (hopefully) final specs on the Wii and PS3 before the crunch between now and their expected November launches. For the first time in a long time, there’s a genuine sense of competition and spirit to what’s going on, and it’s rather invigorating.

If only the same could be said for what came out of the convention. Let’s begin.

SONY RIPOFFSTATION:

Let it never be said that I’m a console fanboy. I have no love of ANY console over any other; to be fair, I can honestly say that while I enjoy video games quite a bit, I hate each and every game developer and publisher on Earth, for various reasons. So no, I’m not actively rooting for any one company over any other in the coming console war of this generation. I’m just hoping to see an all-out war for my dollar from each and every developer, just to see what sort of creativity comes from the companies in question.

And if Sony’s any indication, the answer is “Not much, and we’ll take an arm for it”.

So, onto the PS3. First, let me say way to go, Sony. You managed to create a console that’s so THOROUGHLY unoriginal, it managed to loop around and become original by its complete dearth of originality. That’s some severe talent, guys. The case looks like the PS2 case. The controller looks like a Dualshock 2 controller, only with a button in the center that looks like the button in my 360 controller. You took out the “shock” part of the Dualshock controller to put in a Wii-inspired motion sensor, thus removing one of YOUR original elements to put in someone else’s original element. All of the system specs are highly similar to your direct competition (forget this “Cell” processor bullshit; it’s a 3.2Ghz system, regardless of what spin Sony puts on it), which ultimately means you’re trying to sell the system on your name brand and nothing else.

Okay, time to get technical if y’all don’t mind. Let’s run a quick and dirty side-by-side comparison for a second. Graphics core clock speed… 360, 500 MHz, PS3, 550 MHz. For the record, no, that’s not going to mean very much. Chipset comparison… ATI versus Nvidia, both using custom chipsets. Which one is better is largely dependant on your personal perception (I like Nvidia better, but most everyone I know likes ATI better, so take your pick). Video and system memory? The PS3 is using 256 MB for each, the 360 is using 512 MB shared between the two. In theory, the 360 could do more by sharing the ram (IE the GPU can use whatever the CPU isn’t using at the time, etc), but I’ve never been a fan of sharing ram, so I’d say the PS3 has a mild (and I stress MILD) advantage here. The PS3 can support a larger HDD (because, y’know, I really need all that space for storing my porn collection on my PS3) and has the option to plug in a Memory Stick (but only on the high-end model), which makes it potentially attractive. But you’d best be ready to shell out the big bucks: unless you buy the high-end model, you don’t get Memory Stick (or Compact Flash or Smart Disc) support, Wi-Fi support, an HDMI port (AKA the port that allows you to hook up to a Hi-Def system), or the 60GB HDD. In other words, all of those pro-Sony guys that were screaming “360 CORE? What a joke!” can get to eating their crow right about now.

Oh, and that Spider-Man lettering on the case just SCREAMS lazy, guys.

And when one compares the PS3 launch list (or what we know of it so far, anyway), only three “possible” launch titles stand out: Gran Turismo 5, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Warhawk (and that’s assuming GT5 debuts at launch; GT games don’t exactly come out when they’re supposed to… ever…). Everything else on the list is going to be available elsewhere. And we’re not even certain that ANY of these games are going to hit at launch; the only company that’s confident about their launch date seems to be Sega with their newest Sonic the Hedgehog title, and that’s most likely because it’s launching simultaneously on the 360. Way to pimp the system, guys.

But the single most insulting aspect of the showcase? The price. $500 for the baseline, 20GB HDD equipped console, $600 for the premium, 60GB HDD console. Let’s assume, hypothetically, that you have no interest in video editing, using your Memory Stick (or Smart Media or SD cards), using Wi-Fi, or hooking your PS3 up to your Hi-Def system… $500 for a console gaming machine. $100 more than the top of the line system of the moment, the XBOX 360 Platinum system, and the only thing that’s TRULY better about the PS3 is the Blu-Ray drive.

Look, no offense guys, but that’s a bit excessive, even for a name brand as prolific as yours.

What you’re basically saying is if I ONLY want to play video games and watch movies, I can shell out $500. And in theory that’s fine… but there are three major problems with this suggestion:

ONE: If I want to play video games on a Hi-Def system, I HAVE to shell out $600 or there’s no point in bothering.
TWO: If I want to take advantage of the Blu-Ray Drive for movie watching, I pretty much NEED to be watching the movies on a Hi-Def system, and well, see problem ONE.
THREE: The sole benefit of Blu-Ray technology for video gaming, aside from the Hi-Def support I’m not getting, is the larger storage space. Hands up for those who are too lazy to change to Disc 2? Anyone? Anyone? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says?

You f*cking people never get that quote right.

So, this is the deal: this “Hi-Def” that game rags and the internet gaming media have been ramming down our throats for about the past year now? The same “Hi-Def” that got us kicked off of GameRankings.com? Sony says it’s not terribly important, and if you want it, gimme another $100. This new PS3? Not terribly special when compared side-by-side to the 360. This minimum $100 price increase for the system with the Sony name on the front? Price gouging, and it’s honestly rather unnecessary. Notwithstanding that, loathe though I am of admitting this, Microsoft’s “Core” system can at least be upgraded to a “Platinum” by buying a HDD and a wireless controller; I don’t know how Sony could possibly allow a player to add in all of the missing features their “Platinum” system provides without buying a whole new unit. If a gamer decides to buy a Hi-Def TV a year later, what, they’re f*cked into buying a whole new $600 system to get the full effect from it? That’s some bullshit right there.

I mean, hey, if you want to spend $500 on a video game system, be my guest. Me? I’d sooner spend the money on a Wii and some games, personally. If I wanted a high-end multimedia experience… I’d build a new computer. If I wanted to play video games… I don’t think I’d be willing to part with $500 to do so. I mean, yeah, maybe some sort of honest-to-god jaw-dropping game experience will debut for the console in the next six months that will totally sell me on the PS3, but I doubt it. At this point, I’m just not willing to drop half a grand on a video game system, period. There’s just frankly no point in doing so, and unless Sony’s hiding something major up their sleeves, I don’t see there BEING a point to doing so for a long time, if ever.

But maybe that’s just me. We’ll see.

NINTENDO…

… didn’t do anything, really. The system was debuted, and a bunch of games were announced, but they openly admitted that their Wii titles on display were running on Gamecubes, and that the remotes they were using weren’t tweaked as they should be. The media’s been highly impressed so far, but that doesn’t hold much water with me, for obvious reasons. I’m sure the system will be great and all, but nothing was really done here to reinforce or disprove this belief.

Oh, except for announcing a tentative $250 price point. THAT was pretty cool.

MICROSOFT…

… well, their system is already out, so everything from this point onward is a sales pitch, basically. They basically ran down Sony whilst kind-of-sort-of praising Nintendo (I’m guessing because no one views them as a threat anymore, I dunno), calling Sony unoriginal and pointing out their lack of an actual online strategy whilst noting that Sony ripped off the Big N. Harsh. Not that Microsoft’s big on the originality themselves or anything (hi, Windows is a ripoff of Mac is a ripoff of Xerox), but they’re the guys with the video game system on store shelves, I’m guessing they think this affords them some room to point and laugh.

Says I, we’ll see who’s laughing come November.

THE GAMES:

Oh, and of COURSE we’re going to talk about the games that were showed off. What kind of a video game column would this be if we didn’t? And by “games that were showed off”, I of course mean “games I want to buy, mostly”, but I imagine you knew that.

LOOKING DAMN GOOD/INTERESTING:

GRAND THEFT AUTO 4: Not because I’m actively looking forward to it or anything, but rather because Rockstar announced that the game will be debuting on the PS3 and 360 simultaneously, which flushes at least part of Sony’s leading edge down the crapper. I doubt this will convert anyone out there from one side to the other or anything like that, but this was a rather surprising announcement, all in all, and I found it rather amusing.

LUMINES ON THE 360: Lumines + downloadable content = happy Mark. I’m a sucker for musical puzzle games, and I loved the PSP Lumines, so I’m highly anticipating this.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TWILIGHT PRINCESS: Well, okay, Nintendo was showing off the Wii version, but the Wii kits are running on Gamecubes… whatever, I don’t know. All I know is that assuming this comes out this year, as planned, we’re looking at a strong competitor for GOTY right here. Unless something with Pikachu on the front comes out, then I’m just shouting into the void.

PHOENIX WRIGHT JUSTICE FOR ALL: If you’re not looking forward to this game, you have no soul.

FALLOUT 3: Yes, it’s just a poster of “Fallout Boy”. No, there are no screenshots. No, there’s no playable anything. But it’s Fallout 3, and they’re showing they want us to care about it. Since I do, I am, hence this little screed.

CAPCOM CLASSICS MINI MIX: It’s the NES Bionic Commando and Mighty Final Fight on your GBA. What’s not to love? Yeah, Strider’s on there too, but it’s not like I care about the NES version or anything.

TEKKEN 6: Hey, deep down I’m a Tekken fan at heart. Virtua Fighter feels too stiff for me, Soul Calibur is fun if a bit unrealistic (I stab you, you bleed), and the DOA franchise is mostly about cheesecake and bouncy jubblies. But Tekken always felt like an arcade fighter to me, something I could just pick up and have fun with, no matter what, and as such, I’m looking forward to this new title in the franchise. Even if it is PS3 exclusive. And again I say Itagaki can suck it.

HALO 3: Oh, come on. Like this wasn’t going to make the list. I just keep hoping Bungie is secretly going to sneak a remake of Marathon into one of these E3’s. Oh well.

MONSTER HUNTER FREEDOM: Monster Hunter is my secret shame. It sucks, and I know it sucks, and yet I like it regardless. Having it on my PSP would be a wonderful thing, even though it will most likely still suck, and as such, I’m looking forward to what promises to be a crappy game. God help me.

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES RING OF FATES: I liked the original FFCC, and frankly, a DS version of the game seems like a logical idea to me. Plus, everyone I know owns a DS, so it’ll be easy to get some four-player RPG gaming going. Hurray for that.

SNK VERSUS CAPCOM CARD FIGHTERS DS: If I need to explain why I’m looking forward to this, hi, welcome to Inside Pulse! Try the veal, I hear it’s excellent.

SUPER SMASH BROTHERS BRAWL: When Snake popped out from under the box, completely ready to throw down the cartoon ass-kicking, I gotta admit, I marked out. Sue me.

PERSONA 3/DEVIL SUMMONER: Five SMT titles in three years? I must have been good in a previous life. Seriously, I’m highly anticipating both titles, and you should be too. I know Lucard is. Probably with his pants down.

SUPER ROBOT TAISEN (WARS): Okay, Mazinger Z, Gundam, and Kamen Rider are nowhere to be found here, but it’s still turn-based strategy with SD giant robots. I’m so there.

PHANTASY STAR UNIVERSE: It’s Phantasy Star Online version 2.0, if Sega manages to screw this up, God bless them.

CHILDREN OF MANA: It’s Secret of Mana, updated for the modern day. I can’t think of a better reason to own it than that.

SPIDER-MAN 3: I am a fanboy, this I know all too well. This said, IF the trailer is indeed running in real-time, and isn’t pre-rendered… damn.

FABLE 2: I liked the first Fable, I don’t know what to tell you.

DEAD RISING: Everyone on Earth at this point who’s played this seems to have universally come to the concensus that it’s one of the single greatest video games they’ve ever played, from a “fun factor” standpoint. Mowing down a throng of zombies with a bowling ball DOES sound pretty fun, and as a result, I’m seriously looking forward to this.

BLUE DRAGON: Largely because it’s an RPG for a system whose predecessor wasn’t well known for RPG’s. It looks interesting, but that’s about all I can say about it at this point.

ALAN WAKE: Stephen King: The Videogame! Plus it’s being developed by Remedy, AKA the guys who made Max Payne the awesome game it truly was. Here’s hoping Remedy can do with horror what they did with detective noir.

MAYBE, MAYBE NOT:

METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS: For someone who doesn’t think games are are, Hideo Kojima sure makes a lot of games as art. Consider this: all Metal Gear fans really want is to play as Snake again. So… first we play as Raiden. Then we play as Big Boss. Now we’re playing as “Old Snake”. For a man who says making video games is about giving people what they want, he’s notoriously bad at this thing. Oh, and as far as the game is concerned, it looks pretty, but I reserve any further judgement.

MAGE KNIGHT APOCALYPSE: I like Heroclix better, personally, but there’s something here I’m vaguely interested in… I’m not entirely certain why.

GOLDEN AXE: Well, on one hand, I’d love to see Golden Axe revived on the next-generation consoles, but on the other, Sega’s been hit or miss for the past several years, so I’m not going to hold my breath. Still, something to watch out for.

BOUNTY HOUNDS: It sounds like a fun multi-player experience for the PSP, combining elements of Monster Hunter with futuristic weaponry, but Namco tends to have a spotty record with games that aren’t fighting or dog-fighting. I’m hoping it’ll be great, but don’t be surprised if it sucks; I won’t be.

CHROMEHOUNDS: It’s Armored Core on the 360. Like I even need a reason to like this.

GEARS OF WAR: Anyone and everyone is saying this was Game of Show (or something similar), so I’m fairly confident in saying that this will most likely be a system seller for the 360. It certainly looks interesting, though the idea of Rainbow Six meets Quake is kind of confusing. Still, I’ll probably be in like with everyone else to pick it up on day of release.

RULE OF ROSE: Looks like a cross between The Mansion of Lost Souls, Clock Tower, and Silent Hill. The presentation of the trailer is high quality, and the game looks like it’ll be awesome. Buuuuut… that’s Sony’s name on the front cover, and it’s not God of War. Might still be something to look forward to, though.

BIG BRAIN ACADEMY: I have no idea what’s got Nintendo all hot and bothered about brain training games these days, but hey, owning a game that compliments me for being smart is something I just can’t say no to. We all have our vices, and the need for digital reassurance from inanimate objects is mine. I don’t have to justify myself to you.

NINETY-NINE NIGHTS: Yeah, okay, it looks like another damn Dynasty Warriors clone, but it’s the brainchild of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, maker of Rez, Lumines, and other games you’ve had a dorkgasam over. I’m sure it won’t be phenomenal or anything like that, but I’m still looking forward to it, if only because of its pedigree.

STRANGLEHOLD: It’s a sequel to Hard Boiled. It stars Chow Yun-Fat (digitally, anyway) and is more or less directed by John Woo. However… Midway’s name is on it. At best, I’m hoping it’s better than Rise to Honor. At worst… we’ll be getting a PtL out of it.

DEAD OR ALIVE XTREME 2:

THE DARKNESS: On one hand, I liked Mr. Jackie Estacado from the Witchblade comic series back when I used to read it. On the other, the Chronicles of Riddick didn’t do very much for me, largely because it was too short and very limited. Here’s hoping this time there’s more game than “cinematic experience” to this title.

BLEH:

THE KING OF FIGHTERS 2006: Great, another 3D KOF title. Let’s see… THREE 3D titles from SNK. All three were fighting games. All three of them were lame. I don’t have to draw you a map, do I?

FORBIDDEN SIREN 2: Yes, because that’s what we needed: a sequel to one of the worst horror games of all time. THANKS GUYS.

BATEN KAITOS ORIGINS: I hated the original, so I can’t imagine how this one could possibly be an improvement. Unless someone were to set it on fire… that would be better.

50 CENT BULLETPROOF FOR THE PSP: Oh for the love of God.

UH?:

STARCRAFT GHOST: It’s officially dead, folks. Blizzard says it’s “indefinitely postponed” and it didn’t show up at E3 in any form or fashion. It’s back to more WOW for Blizzard, because god knows EVERYONE plays WOW. Right.

FINAL FANTASY XIII: Shouldn’t you douchebags worry about releasing part XII first? Y’know, the game you’ve been developing for like five years now? Just a thought.

CHULIP: It’s a kissing simulator. Hey, don’t ask me, I didn’t make it. I’m just surprised that the damn thing’s finally coming out.

METAL SLUG FOR THE GBA: Didn’t we already HAVE a Metal Slug for the GBA? I mean, shouldn’t there be some sort of distinguishing title for this release? Also, wasn’t half of the fun of playing Metal Slug the two-player co-op? Don’t we kind of lose this by releasing the game for what amounts to a dead handheld system? Just asking.

CLOSING COMMENTS:

Well, that’s it for this week. There were plenty of other games and happenings at E3 this year, but it’s late and I’m tired. Until next time, I’m Mark B and you’re not (ripping off Chevy Chase like I am). Toodles.

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