Archive for the Lists Category

The 9 Best Games Of The Last Generation

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Borderlands, Games, Lists, Portal, Resident Evil, The Walking Dead, Uncharted on July 20, 2015 by slateman

I’ve been thinking of this article for some time now. Should I list 10 games? Should I list them in tiers? Ultimately, I’m just going to post this and go with it.

This is a list of the nine best/most important games of the last generation. That means the Xbox360/PS3 and PC if it appears on consoles. I am not looking at PC-only titles.

Bottom Tier

resident_evil_5_medium_1Resident Evil 5
This is not an important title. I can’t say it really did anything massively new or reinvented anything spectacular. Although it is entirely co-op, it’s not utterly groundbreaking. And it’s not widely heralded as an excellent title.

What it is however, is awesome. I’ve already raved about it as a stand-alone title. The DLC was fun and diverse. Nowadays I rarely replay games entirely. Instead, I 100%ed it on two consoles (-achievements). It was fun, packed a powerful punch and epitomized what I loved about the PS3/Xbox360 generation. A large game, fully co-op, good save system, tons of weapons and reason to replay it. That last one is an important one. Infinite rocket launcher? Magnum? And this doesn’t even count Mercenaries mode.

Rdr_torquemada_lookoutRed Dead Redemption
GTA in the wild west? No thanks. I love GTA, I don’t like westerns but…well…this is fun and diverse and the writing is impeccable and dead-eye is a hell of a lot of fun and WHOAH, that story twist!!! How many times did I get off track, wandering the woods for a bear or through the vast, arid desert skinning animals and saving people? I lost my save for RDR but I got to see the true ending and it was one of the best stories of the entire generation. And let’s not forget the song when you finally cross into Mexico. It’s rare that one song in a game stands out but its power was in how your rode south, the gentle song leading you into a foreign (yet similar) land. And how different it was, different people, chatter and style.

A sequel in this generation would only make me smile. I certainly hope it’s on the horizon somewhere.

Middle Tier

DLC4_Envishot_LostCity_smallGears Of War 3
The first GOW was great and the second just OK. The third, in my opinion, was the strongest and the most fun. It expanded the color palette for one, and tweaked everything to make it run faster (less clunky) and was just a spectacular and powerful game. So, while the first title really did more for this generation, specifically its cover system, excellent reload mechanics and a fully co-op campaign (oh how I wish for more of those!!!), the third perfected it. If I were to go back; I’d play this one.

call-of-duty-4-mwCall Of Duty: Modern Warfare
I don’t care what anybody says about MW and the series as a whole. Here’s what matters to me…

After hearing all the hype, I finally rented the game and tossed it in my 360. Of course, the visuals were impressive and the sound was solid. It was when my character stepped out into the streets, with bullets flying everywhere, my eyes opened wide. Games up until that point had enemies shooting at you. Some team-based games had more targets, but for the first time, I felt like I walked into a world that was going on around me. I remember having surround sound going, bullets pinging everywhere, and it was utter mayhem. It was precisely what I wanted in gaming. Now, while the sequels upped the ante considerably, it was the first MW where my mouth truly dropped. As a player who avoids multiplayer almost entirely, the campaign was all I cared about. And it was a solid, entertaining and compelling campaign. Its brevity wasn’t disappointing either. Quite the contrary, it was sweet and to-the-point. Solid controls, insane action and at the time, superb visuals made for a game that was truly a game-changer. Once again, say what you will about the series and its subsequent milking. That first game was a turning point.

Just-Cause-2-1Just Cause 2
I never played (or had even heard of) the first Just Cause but this title was a free game on PS+ one month. I’m all about grabbing just about any free game I can but my first play session was merely OK. The controls were a bit loose and it was hard figuring out the whole grappling hook. I remember my second session, however, where my opinion changed entirely.

I had a hard time going back to open-world sandbox games after this. Moving around was so slow and boring (well, with the exception of Saint’s Row, but that’s just a ridiculous game!) The things I managed to do with Rico in this game were outrageous. Tethering cars to helicopters and scaling buildings with ease were awesome, as were the insane amount of explosions but the most important word in a review of this game is “fun”. I had a blast playing this, destroying everything. Just the number of options in this game make it for a memorable and long-lasting experience. Shoot a guy? Tether him to a truck and drive off? Tether an item to a truck and pull it down onto him? Oh, it goes on and on! In December of this year a sequel is coming out and I can’t limit my excitement. This might be one of those games where more of the same is just what I want. We’ll have to see!

walking dead lee clementine

The Walking Dead
Sure, I loved the show, but a choice-based, point-and-click adventure? Once the first two episodes were free, I grabbed them (remember, I love me freebies!) and everything changed. I connected with Lee, the game’s protagonist, more than perhaps I did with any character in any game ever. I cannot even discuss the finale without getting a lump in my throat. It was perhaps the single most powerful gaming experience ever. (yes, that trumps Metal Gear Solid IV and the at-the-time surprise of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII.

And while there were action sequences in this title, those were by far the least exciting, the least compelling, the least enticing. Episodes four and five start to rip your heart out and as I’ve written about already, the tears were genuine. I was talking to my TV. I was moved. I was hurt. And I will recommend this game to anyone, zombie fan or not. In some ways, it should be top-shelf material. Ah…I hate making these lists. Just know that it’s awesome. I shouldn’t have to say more.

Top Shelf

872182-portal-2Portal 2
I missed out on Half-Life and that whole thing and so it wasn’t until after Portal 2 came out that I even tried this series. The first game was certainly fun, but I’m pretty certain I played that (PC) after I beat it on the PS3 (and subsequently played it all again on the PC, beating both 1 and 2 within 24 hours).

This is a triple-A puzzle game…something that’s generally unheard of. Without playing it, my claims of Brilliance can not explain the sheer awesomeness of this title. Sadly, it’s the only thing I can even say. After each test room or the later colored gels, I marveled at the absolutely-ingenious design. I felt such delight at the solutions and the miraculous lack of unsolvable puzzles. The game was designed and tested to perfection. GLaDOS and her anger were written with utter sarcasm and it all delighted as the weird story unfolded. I can think of nothing about this game that isn’t perfect brilliance. You can go back at any time as well, provided you haven’t memorized all the solutions, and enjoy those brainy solutions all over again. Sadly, I never got the chance to play co-op. I bet that’s awesome.

bl2_1

Borderlands 2
After renting and beating Modern Warfare, I rented Borderlands. I’d heard good things, etc. etc. After such a visually-compelling and powerful experience, my initial thoughts of BL were…eh. The cel-shaded presentation coupled with a weird premise didn’t totally impress me immediately.

I played a bit; I returned the game.

A few weeks later, I was humming this tune in my head. I started missing the skill tree options. I had to rent the game again. Perhaps I was lucky but the local video store was closing and I bought the game for like $12. I then played the game. A lot. My save game ended up getting deleted and so at some point I started again. Then did true vault hunter mode. Then I returned a year later and got the platinum. The DLC was spectacular (I bought 3 of the 4, IIRC). We’ve all played our share of FPS games. None compelled me like this one. The outrageous guns that I’d receive were motivation alone to continue! It was stylish, unique, funny and full of loot! The light-hearted story was trumped by the second game, itself a superior product. Just about every fault I could find in the first title was remedied. Things were tweaked where necessary and left alone where needed. Even the trailer was insanely awesome! I love this game and while I skipped the Pre-quel, I fully anticipate grabbing part 3 whenever it debuts on this current generation. LOVE IT! (said in Torgue’s voice!)

B001JKTC9A.03.lgUncharted 2
To complete the trio of sequels…

Sure there are other 3rd-person action games. They’ve existed since the advent of 3D games. In so many ways, Uncharted is inspired by Tomb Raider which itself was inspired by Indiana Jones. So Why is this so important? Because it was fun, challenging, looked great and its gameplay was perfection. The first game is amazing, the third game is more of the same and the second was pristinely balanced. Headshots were truly enjoyable and the ka-ching of every kill was the most rewarding sound of the entire generation of games. Seeing Drake hanging by one arm got a bit old by the third game. However, the cinematics of the second, the chemistry with Elena and Chloe, the diverse and lush locales, the exciting finale, the co-op levels…*takes breath*…This game is probably my favorite of the entire generation even if it didn’t redefine like Portal or Borderlands did. It just did what I love the most…perfectly.

New Albums: Summer/Autumn 2015!

Posted in Lists, Music on June 21, 2015 by slateman

Under The Red CloudAfter a long, slow, uneventful first half of 2015, it seems like the behemoths are ready to unveil some true metal for the second half of the year. Sure, we had Blind Guardian and Armageddon. Arcturus and Solefald are good but not AotY material. Marduk is some solid shit but nothing else stands out. Faith No More? Svartsot? Maybe Sulphur Aeon. No…instead we have the following records to look forward to in the next four months. Color me psyched. Some of these are just nostalgia bands, but I’m excited for what could be a good finale to 2015!!!

Updated to include My Dying Bride

July
10 – Cradle of Filth
24 – Joe Satriani
24 – Lamb of God

August
07 – Fear Factory
21 – Ghost
28 – Soilwork

September
04 – Iron Maiden
04 – Amorphis
11 – Slayer
18 – My Dying Bride
18 – The Black Dahlia Murder

October
02 – Children of Bodom

What To Play: 2015 Edition

Posted in Blog, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Tony Hawk Series, Uncharted on March 1, 2015 by slateman

Maybe I’ve hit a wall. Turning 40 next year and it’s starting to feel like a lot of the things in life I’m passionate about are all becoming…the same. I recall a few years back hearing about this TV show about zombies. A TV show about zombies?!?! Now…season five? Games, movies, TV – so many are feeling awfully predictable and ‘been there, done that’. Even the predictability of some things are predictable. I wonder. Is this normal? Is it my age showing rather than the stagnation of media?

Whatever the case, this wasn’t meant to be a gripe session. Although my expectations for games are still high, they are still realistic, knowing what I might (and might not) get. Here are some titles I’m looking forward to in 2015. Let’s see if they can live up to the hype, their predecessors or if perhaps they exceed them!

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
U4_E3_1920x1080I didn’t get the first Uncharted right away. Who knows why…but once I did grab it, I was sold. This game (well, #2) may be my favorite game of the last generation and for good reason. It is everything I love about gaming. Rock-solid gameplay is coupled with good storytelling and a fun plot. While I feel #3 was rushed, #2 is just stellar. So…where do we go? If it’s everything I expect, it’ll be great. But…will Naughty Dog surprise us with more than just the predictable? I feel they will. They’ll keep all that I love – the shooting, jumping, climbing…but after The Last Of Us, I have a feeling they won’t settle for just more of the same. This is a pre-order, day #1 purchase. I can think of no reason for it not to be.

Psyched Level: 11/10

The Legend Of Zelda

Zelda Wii UOK, here’s all I care about: Standard Controls. I really couldn’t care less about any other element of this game because it will be classic. I just simply cannot stand swinging my goddamn hands around NOT killing that stupid spider because I’m not swinging properly. A huge, seamless world allowing us to adventure wherever with our trusty Epona? Sign me up, take my cash and don’t get too gimmicky. The Wii U screen should be a map, my TV an open adventure of joy and delight.

Bonus Perks: I can play this with my kids. In fact, they’ll probably love it.

Street Fighter V
SFV: Nash!The ’80s

That’s when I started playing both Zelda and Street Fighter. I got caught sneaking across the highway to play arcade games when the pizza place (and the Chinese-food place and the deli…) had an arcade machine and this one was Street Fighter. Fast forward a few decades and I’ve never NOT played Street Fighter. And I’m old and I’m slow and I’m no damn good at the games (well, not very) but I don’t care. SFV will have a pre-order beta program, it’s coming out on the one next-gen system I do have (eff you Tomb Raider) and I wants. My cash is waiting. So is my website.

# of SF Games That Exist: Shut Up – Don’t Care – STREET FIGHTER FIVE!!!

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

MGSVI struggle with this one. I’ve already written about the glory and perfect end of MGS4. It truly wrapped everything up and was it. Done. Perfect. Much like The Last Of Us and God Of War 3, no sequel is necessary. But here we are and I’m a sucker for MGS so I don’t know what to say. I’m keeping my expectations low. Ground Zeroes was OK. It just bothers me that we’re opening this whole can of worms and I fear anything less than perfection will mar the entire MGS mythos. Fine, that’s pompous and absurd but damnit MGS4 finished it! Ah, whatever.

Buy Or Rent??? – Grrr…See, I’m the sucker they make these games for.

No Man’s Sky
No Man's SkyRandomly-generated worlds? Meh. I figured that’s how I’d feel when I played Rogue Legacy and I was wrong. And that’s just a simple dungeon crawler. You mean, entire worlds are unique and different and…wait for it…maybe unpredictable? Not only does that fly in the face of Uncharted #4, Zelda #200 and Street Fighter #&infin…Not only does that fly in the face of all that I complained about in my opening paragraph…No, it also looks to represent all the universe is founded on. I can’t even envision what other worlds might look like and…that’s the point! OK, way too deep there. This game has a good chance of being boring as shit. How will this run? How will it even play? Is it even really a game? *hrmph*

Chance Of Being Cool: Still Processing Mathematics

Just Cause 3

Just Cause 3This is another title I didn’t get into initially. When JC2 was free on PS+ I tested it out. An hour in, I was hooked (heh, pun). I’ll keep this brief. JC3 could be essentially the same as #2 and I’d love it. It’s one of those titles. Latching onto helicopters and flying around with parachutes just about ruined me for other action games for six months. This one will look better and I just hope they don’t try to do anything stupid to the fun and ludicrous gameplay. I’m on board!

The Only Problem: Too Many Games – May GameFly this

Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Rise Of The Tomb RaiderI’m a hypocrite, I know. Street Fighter V is OK, but Tomb Raider is not? Fortunately, I’m fairly certain this title will come out on the PS4 eventually. It’s gotta suck being an Xbox fan and knowing you’ll literally never get SFV. That sucks for everyone. In any event, I won’t be playing this game in 2015 but after it was my Game Of The Year in 2013, I can’t wait for the sequel.

Can It Be Better Than UC4? Good question!

Noteworthy Titles

Mighty No. 9 – A spiritual Megaman successor? OK!
Ratchet & Clank Reboot – Don’t need to say much, I’m game!
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Not a 2015 game but I never played it, so a New 3DS + this sounds great!
Resident Evil / RE: Revelations 2 – Both came out already and I’m enjoying them…they count!
Final Fantasy XV – Not sure if I will even try…The hype for this one will be huge!
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Return? – We’ll see. It’ll be hard to genuinely entice me.

Well, there you have it. That’s a long article that no one will read but hey, we’ll see if my predictions were any good. Now that I’ve written this whole lot, I’m kinda excited about 2015 after all! Screw this predictability nonsense. I’m psyched!!!

The Pros & Cons Of The Hobbit Trilogy

Posted in Best / Worst, Lists, Movies, Reviews, Tolkien with tags , on December 30, 2014 by slateman

307252id1L_TheHobbit_TBOTFA_Teaser_27x40_1Sheet.inddNow that The Hobbit is done, we can look back at the trilogy that is a miracle to even exist. I recall the promise of it coming out being squelched by lawsuits. Now that the trilogy has ended, there is plenty to mull over. The verdict has come and it isn’t pretty. Rotten Tomatoes lists the finale as the worst of the three movies. I’ve heard of at least two comparisons to Episode I – just about the worst analogy a multi-part film could receive. It’s not quite so bad, but some commentary is needed.

The most important part of an article such as this is to preface the entire lot by saying this trilogy was no LOTR. The book, the lighthearted feel, even the way it was filmed differed. Comparing a children’s tale to the “if we don’t destroy the ring, the entire world will cease to be” feel of LOTR would be utterly foolish. Having said this, by the conclusion of the series, I found this tone, the colors, the presentation to be a charming alternate to the darkness found in the first film trilogy.

Nothing is more exemplary than the barrel scene from the second movie. If you read the book, you’ll remember it was a consistent, silly tale of “Aww shucks, we’re in trouble again – Oh look at that! Bilbo saved the day!” Contrast that to, “OMFG darkness, Nazgûl, Sauron’s gonna kill everyone.” The movies’ entire atmosphere is representative of this.

Letting go of this comparison allows for a better appreciation, so just do it.

The Good

The Dwarves
The variation of the Dwarves in the book was limited to color and some simple personality traits. The film does a good job in at least visually differentiating each. Time is limited, clearly, so by the third movie, there were some whom I couldn’t name whatsoever (Bifur and Nori, for instance.) I feel Jackson did a splendid job at making a colorful cast work well in the constraints presented by film. I did quite appreciate the fact that Glóin looks like his son, Gimli.

Out-Of-Control Action
It’s safe to say that some scenes were almost ‘comic-book’y. Yes. Just in case you were forgetting already, This Isn’t LOTR. Read the book again to get a feel of how silly it all was.

Three Films
In the recent weeks, reviews have slammed Jackson and his expansive Hollywood rendition of the timeless 200-page book. Most state that two films (the original vision) would have sufficed. But let me say this…in the original book, Thorin, Fíli and Kíli were all killed in three sentences. The nephews were relegated to saying they died defending their uncle. A film translation cannot introduce main characters and kill them without some weight and gravity. And Thorin’s death would come how? By the hands of a normal Orc? By a stray arrow?

hobbit-azog

Enter Azog & Bolg
In the books, Azog was slain by Dáin after killing Thrór. In the extended version of The Desolation Of Smaug we’re given information about Thrór’s death by the hands of the orc-chieftain. While Azog’s involvement in The Hobbit trilogy was greatly expanded, it presented us with a very important nemesis.

I didn’t like the idea of Azog originally. Another CG character – but think about it…Tolkien created Azog and while his backstory isn’t fleshed out (much like countless other characters), his purpose in the book is legitimate. And Thorin has a genuine interest in him. Who is the main antagonist in the story otherwise? Peter Jackson took an underused enemy, beefed him up and gave the trilogy a veritable (though not the most innovative) main enemy. It had to be done and while it’s far from canon, it ties in well.

Oh, Bolg was Azog’s son. He fought in the final battle and was slain by Beorn. In the movie, Legolas took care of him, but that’s OK. I guess Legolas needed to have some purpose (more on that below).

Extended Editions
We still wait for the last film’s extended version but I look forward to Alfrid dying! I liked the first movie’s extra footage but the second’s was far more powerful. It included much more about Thrain and Thrór. The potency and overarching importance of the magic rings is played out. Beorn has his time in the sun and seeing him next to Gandalf next to Bilbo was a cool height comparison!

Seeing the the Witch-King of Angmar’s burial grounds, the added scenes in Mirkwood and even the naming of Bilbo’s sword Sting were all nice touches that added to the fidelity of the motion picture as well as effective tie-ins to the LOTR trilogy.

The Bad
I positively hate how Galadriel handles things in Dol Guldur in the last movie. However, in The Silmarillion, details are given about the White Council, though few they are. Essentially, while Galadriel is part of the council in some form, she wasn’t there for the actual event. All that’s told is that Saruman, Gandalf and Elrond “assailed Dol Guldur and drove Sauron from his hold.” You can understand Peter Jackson’s desire to include this portion in the films. It ties this trilogy with LOTR and also gives Gandalf something to do. That is why he left the party at the edge of Mirkwood after all. So, having this is ok, but man, I hate the weird magic they give to Galadriel (but it’s not much different than what she was like in LOTR. And, having that meeting in the first Hobbit in Rivendell with Saruman, Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond is pretty cool.

hobbit-tauriel

Tauriel
I don’t know of a single reader of the book who enjoys Tauriel’s presence in these films. Her acrobatics were entertaining. Many cite Tauriel as one of the worst decisions of the movies but I’ll just say one other name. Arwyn. I still haven’t a clue how it was the she was dying in the LOTR trilogy. As a purist, I hated her entire storyline and Tauriel is no better. She is Hollywood’s love story and as dreadful as it was, I understand the need to have this type of character.

Legolas
I realize time doesn’t pass the same way for Elves but it’s hard to hide the 10 years of age in Orlando Bloom’s face. To counter this, some film tricks have been used but he looks less natural. Visuals aside, my biggest issue with him was his lack of purpose. The entire second film just made him seem like a whiny boy slighted by his true love.

The WTF?

Thranduil’s Goodbye
Really? Go find Strider? That’s absurd, ridiculous and unnecessary.

Gandalf Knows?
I look forward to the extended edition to tell me more about this. I’m guessing he may think Bilbo has one of the Dwarf rings of power. This was another unnecessary attempt at a tie-in to LOTR.

Worm Things?!?!
I guess the Orcs need a way to travel. I don’t remember any worm things…

Alfrid
He kept getting screentime in the third movie but never died! Perhaps the extended edition? He was annoying but the comic relief was appreciated by one of my daughters. I expect this was the goal, but like Tauriel, readers groaned at his inclusion and recurring appearance!

It’s Over
Regardless of what you think, we’re done. The Silmarillion will and can never be made into a film so let’s not even pretend there’s hope. So, that’s it. Two trilogies that were dreams in the first place have been issued and while The Hobbit will never receive critical fame, I thought all three movies were fun. I enjoyed them all in some fashion and each has its own merits. I can’t wait for the extended finale. While most will disagree with all of what I wrote above, I’m a reader. I’ve read everything at least three times. I love my stuff and was highly entertained by the motion pictures. For me…that’s good enough!

New Albums: Spring 2014!

Posted in Lists, Music on April 11, 2014 by slateman

melting-sunThere are finally some good releases coming up. I figured we could take a peek at the whats and whens! Some I don’t know if I care about (Marty Friedman?) and some can’t possibly be good (Opeth!) but whatever. I’m certainly excited about new records from Lantlôs, RodGab and of course GODFLESH! Here’s what the next few months look like. Some exciting releases are coming just in time for summer! I’m psyched!

Insomnium – Shadows Of The Dying Sun (April 25th)
Rodrigo Y Gabriela – 9 Dead Alive (April 28th)
Lantlôs – Melting Sun (May 2nd)
Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere (May 13th)
Down – Down IV – Part Two (May 13th)
Marty Friedman – Inferno (May 23rd)
Burzum – The Ways Of Yore (June 2nd)
Anathema – Distant Satellites (June 6th)
Arch Enemy – War Eternal (June 9th)
Opeth – Pale Communion (June 17th)
Overkill – White Devil Armory (July)
Godflesh – A World Lit Only By Fire (?)

Playstation 4: Four Reasons To Be Excited

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists, Uncharted with tags , on February 24, 2013 by slateman

sony-ps4-logoOh, new console, how I loathe thee. I’m sorry, I am actually quite fond of you. Your first year usually sucks but then again it’s so cool having the newest, latest & greatest tech! But nowadays, things aren’t quite like they were years ago. New consoles mean so much more than just better visuals. So, with a non-backwards compatible (with hardware & software), expensive machine on the horizon, why should anyone be excited? My PS3 does just about everything I want (cross-game chat notwithstanding). Let’s see.

#1 – Remote Play & Streaming

Sure, we’re disappointed by the lack of backwards-compatibility but if remote play is anything near what Sony was touting during their press event this month, I’ll be rather impressed. So, I’ll be able to play PS4 games on my Vita? Without lag? Wait…I’m going to press the X button on my Vita, it’ll send that signal via WiFi to my PS4 which will process the button press and then send that entire video signal back – with zero lag? Then to say we could do that with anything from a phone to an iPad…I’m not entirely sold. However, if they can get this working; it’ll be pretty sweet.

Streaming is a different beast entirely and I’ll believe this when I see it. Beyond streaming to devices to play PS4 games, being able to play PS1, PS2 and PS3 games via streaming could be outrageous! Of course, I don’t want to pay for any game I already own…and pay for the streaming service as well because we know that won’t be free! However, this could be a great thing if implemented nicely. I’m hoping they do this right. I’m not sure how this will work but the more I think about it, the more I fear it’ll be a greedy method of extracting cash. Hmmm….

#2 – Dual Shock 4

I may be in the minority but I love the Dual Shock. I’ve loved it since before it had dual analogs and…well…shock. Tweaking it doesn’t look too sexy but from what it seems, this should be one hell of a controller. It’ll also come at a cost; I can’t see that monster going for any less than $60.

Now, I don’t know how much I’ll use the Share button, nor do I have any clue why I’d need a touch pad. The rest looks solid though and I’m excited about it. Oh, and the ability to charge while the system is off: A+!

#3 – Horsepower

Of course we’re looking at a faster, more-powerful processor and more RAM. But it’s what that means that makes me happy. Irksome things from the PS3 will be eliminated. Cross-game chat is, of course, welcome (though will it cost us via a new subscription service?) but there’s more than that. The reported ability to install in the background is a wonderful change from the current method. I’m excited about what else this processing power will entail beyond just graphics.

#3 – Screenshots/Movies

10 years ago I used to capture video and post stuff to PTH but I have neither the time nor the resources to go about it any more. I’m thoroughly enjoying the ability to capture images on the PS Vita, even if I don’t do much with them. Being able to edit video could be a very cool thing indeed as there have been numerous times I’ve wished to do the same. Sports fans could go back and edit replays like they have done for years but now they could save them.

How about a few things I’m not excited about.

#1 – The Price

This thing has to cost a ton. Even at a reasonable $400, which I find a doubtful price point, you need a game and so that’s a $500 purchase in the end. Will PS+ carry over? What will the new subscription cost? Streaming? Additional hardware? That controller at $60 would be manageable – but still costly. I love hardware, but don’t like paying for it! :D

#2 – Not BC with PSN Games

I totally get the backwards-compatibility issue with PS3 games just like how Sony took out PS2 BC on the PS3. I accept that and look forward to how streaming will be implemented for older titles. However, PSN games would be nice to carry over. I have a large number of PSN games. I suppose this is the same as every console generation but I have a LOT of reasons to keep my PS3 hooked up. Speaking of…

#3 – HDMI Space

I now have 3 HDMI devices connected to my TV. My PS3, my Wii U and a blu-ray player. My TV only supports 3 HDMI inputs. Another device = what to unplug? I hate that decision. It may be minor, but in a small house with kids everywhere…it’s an important decision.

#4 – Gimmicks

Sony isn’t focusing on 3D but we cannot forget how important the push was just a little while back. It’s typical, especially for Sony. So, now, we’re going to get the share button forced down our throats, the new camera system will make the Dual Shock 4 act like a Move controller, the touch screen will be used for balancing, etc. Expect the first wave of games to have trophies related to them both. Silver trophy for sharing this game/something with 10 friends! Meh. It’s just like the first Uncharted games – both on the PS3 and the Vita. Remember balancing in the first UC? Tilt the controller? No thanks. It was removed from games #2 and 3. How about the Vita? Hold the Vita up to the light! Swipe, swipe, swipe! No thanks. I hate gimmicks. Expect the PS3 to come at you full force with them.

So…that’s that. I’m certainly excited about the PS4 and will almost definitely be getting one. I have enjoyed the systems for over 15 years now. This holiday’s launch should be cool and I look forward to what they’ll have to offer. Next up…see what Microsoft has to say! I can’t wait to see what innovations they’ll conjure up! While I don’t play my 360 nearly as much as my PS3, I own both of Microsoft’s consoles.

Best Japanese-Only PSN Classics

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, DoDon Pachi, Games, Lists, Ys on February 10, 2013 by slateman

psnBefore my PS3 died (twice) I had two PSN accounts. I would peruse the Japanese store every few weeks, downloading demos and seeing what was new. However, I can’t recall the login and haven’t checked the store in a while. This weekend I signed up for another Japanese account and had a peek at the store’s new layout this morning. There are some great classic games that aren’t available in the U.S. that I’m considering picking up.

PS1 and PC Engine classics cost 600¥, that seems reasonable! As of today, 600¥ translates to just under $6.50 US. Nice! However, I don’t know if it’s possible to use a U.S. credit card on a Japanese account. Over at Play Asia, you can get a 1,000¥ card for $17. That’s…not so reasonable. 1,000¥ wouldn’t do me much good, I’d need 2,000¥ (three classic games w/ 200¥ to spare) but those two PSN cards would cost me $35. Certainly not worth it. I may not dive in and get anything, but I thought I’d talk about what’s good on the Japanese PSN Store that isn’t yet on the U.S. store!

Playstation 2
I’m starting with the PS2 because none are really great. All cost 1,200¥ (~$13) but since the originals are region locked (are these?) even if you owned the titles, you couldn’t play them on the PS3. The games I looked at:

  • Capcom Fighting Jam
  • Capcom Vs SNK 2: Millionaire Fighting 2001
  • Castlevania
  • Neo Contra

Now, Capcom Fighting Evolution was the U.S. title and the game was just plain bad. That was a bad time for Capcom and it was before the company really started listening to fans.

CVS2 is widely regarded as a good title, but since I never liked SNK, I only played it for a short while. And I never chose SNK characters!!!

Castlevania was subtitled Lament Of Innocence here and it’s a title I never beat. The dungeons were so repetitive and devoid of character. Its sequel appeared to remedy some of these things…but I never beat that one either.

Finally, Neo Contra was the second Contra on the PS2 and while it was not anything like Shattered Soldier in layout or difficulty, I had fun playing it! I even wrote a mini FAQ on it. Is that worth $13? Nah…

Playstation 1
The PS1 had an impressive library of games and as the years pass, the games look worse and worse. However, a few titles piqued my interest, and for 600¥ each, they’re manageable downloads. There were two titles I didn’t expect to see, and all games were shooters. Let’s see.

dodonpac

DonPachi & DoDonPachi
I am a big DDP fan (evidence #1 / #2 / #3 / #4 / #5) While these are just the PS1 ports, they’re DDP on an American PS3! I can probably skip DonPachi. However, until DDP3 came out, DoDonPachi was my favorite shmup ever. The game is just incredible and this title trumps part 3 with its metal soundtrack.
Worth a few bucks? Absolutely. I’d pick this up in an instant.

But that’s not all…the Japanese store also has ThunderForce V, the two Ray Crisis titles and Einhander. The latter now fetches a ton of money in its original packaging and I regret selling it all those years back to fund a new PS1. I don’t know why it’s not available on the U.S. store, but I remember it being such a solid title, with different paths, awesome weapons and a pretty cool soundtrack.
And to think, everyone doubted Square could put out a good shooter!!!

Board-DevilsCrush

PC Engine
My friend Dan got a TurboGrafx-16 way back in 1990ish and we all know nostalgia is a very powerful thing. Of course, I’ve gone back to play a lot of these games since, but without the hardware (and Japanese hardware at that!) there are many games I missed out on. And I much prefer the living room experience over
the PC/emulator one as the former is much more comfortable.

The Japanese store has all three PC Engine Ys titles. Ys Books I & II, Ys III: Wanders From Ys and Ys IV: The Dawn Of Ys. Sadly, none are viable purchase options as my Japanese is weaker than ever. Fortunately, I have Ys Chronicle and Ys: The Oath In Felghana on the PSP (Vita) and those cover I-III and Ys: Memories Of Celceta, the remake of part 4, will be coming to western shores this autumn. While I love Ys, I don’t need these titles.

Shooters were still the rage back in the early 90s and there are a number of good titles available. Blazing Lazers, Super Star Soldier and the Turbo Duo title Gate Of Thunder are all there. For 600¥, that’s pretty good. Again, I’ve already gone back to these titles in recent (~10 yrs now) years.

However, there was one title in particular I searched for. I’d easily drop the yen on this one. Devil Crash! As a kid I’d play the US title, Devil’s Crush and have great memories. Even going back to this a decade ago (thus the FAQ and the site) has a special place in my heart.

I’d go back to this game in an instant. The three levels, numerous little secrets (I still don’t know how to get the red ball), high score chasing…it’s just awesome. It’s one of the things I don’t like about this generation. With online leaderboards all the rage, we lose out on local high scores. I love the top-10 lists. Nowadays, games often just keep your best score which destroys local competition and doesn’t even allow me to chart my progress.

In any event, the tame is awesome and I would love to go back and play through it again. It’s only a couple of bucks. Worth it???

So…all in all…with 2,000¥ I think I’d have to pick up Einhander, DoDonPachi and Devil Crash. These three would be worthy entries into my PS3 collection and none require heavy translation. Alas, none are really necessary, so I may just avoid them all and save a few bucks for the impending release of the PS4. Oh, and that had BETTER have full PSN implementation. The new system won’t be backwards compatible, I’m almost certain, but I’d love to have PSN game purchases available. That would be awfully nice.

Best Albums Of 2012

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, Music, Web Design on February 9, 2013 by slateman

vintersorg-orkanI’ve been posting my Best Records of The Year for over a decade now. While 2012 was the weakest year in…well…over a decade, it still had some good stuff. So, in continuing the trend of listing the best of the best, I’ve given the coveted Album Of The Year title to Vintersorg’s Orkan. Read the whole article here.

I have high expectations for 2013, as I’ve already stated. However, until then, I’ll still have last year’s Vintersorg, Borknagar, Alcest and Module.

2013 Video Game Release List

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists on February 3, 2013 by slateman

Colonial-MarinesI had to cancel my GameFly subscription but I hope to re-start soon and begin playing all the new stuff set for 2013. 2012 was a good year for games, mostly thanks to GameFly! Now, with new hardware to come, and many titles not yet announced, this is clearly incomplete. AND, since I don’t have a 3DS or a Wii U, there are actually more things I’d like. However, we’ll keep it brief. Let’s see what’s coming this year, and, like my Metal Release List, it’ll be followed by a number (out of 10) ranking my excitement level. Kalmah’s new record on that list was clearly an 11!

02/12 – Aliens: Colonial Marines (10)
03/05 – Castlevania Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (0 – No 3DS :()
03/12 – God Of War: Ascension (7 – b/c I don’t care about multiplayer)
03/19 – Gears Of War: Judgement (7 – Dunno why so low!)
03/26 – Army Of Two: Devil’s Cartel (8 – fun co-op!)
05/07 – The Last Of Us (10 – Naughty Dog!)
09/17 – Grand Theft Auto V (8)

No Date/Not Announced Yet
??/?? – Ys: Memories Of Celceta (10!)
??/?? – Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 (8)
??/?? – The Walking Dead – Season 2 (10!)

Hardware
??/?? – Playstation 4 (10) – I love the PS1/2/3
??/?? – Xbox720 (9) – Love hardware, not MS as much tho!

There are some high-profile games not on my list – guess I just don’t care that much about them! Looking like a good year, not a great year…not yet. We’ll see how it goes!

Updated: 2013 Metal Release List

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, Music on February 3, 2013 by slateman

The Living InfiniteAs I work on my Best of 2012 article, I can tell last year was a weak year for metal. In looking around, it was evident that 2013 would crush last year’s offerings with an incredible listing of albums to come. In the very least, there’s a new Kalmah which alone should do the trick. However, I’m also terribly excited about a new October Tide and I’m curious about the Soilwork double album. And..Skeletonwitch is in the studio? Lantlôs?!?! Fuck yeah! So…let’s see what’s coming. Better than 2012? It has to be! What follows is the Date/Release/How Excited I Am (out of 10).

Out! – Helloween – Straight Out Of Hell (It’s quite good!)

02/27 – Soilwork – The Living Infinite (8)
03/19 – Anthrax – Anthems (6)
03/22 – Hypocrisy – End Of Disclosure (6)
03/25 – October Tide – Tunnel Of No Light (10)
03/25 – Finntroll – Blodsvept (6)
04/19 – Amorphis – Circle (9)
04/?? – Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn (9)
05/28 – Dark Tranquillity – Construct (7)
06/?? – The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack (8)
09/?? – Solefald – Kosmopolis (6)

??/?? – Kalmah – ? (11)
??/?? – Lantlôs – Melting Sun (10)
??/?? – Skeletonwitch – ? (10)
??/?? – Amon Amarth – ? (8)
??/?? – My Dying Bride – The Manuscript (EP) (8)
??/?? – Children Of Bodom – ? (7)
??/?? – Down – Down IV Part II (5)
??/?? – Megadeth – Don’t really care (5)

I added a few I’m not too excited about…but still…this should be a pretty good year! Imagine Moonsorrow announced a new album too? Oh….just imagine!!!