I’m a big fan of RPG’s and I’ve played many over the years. But, I am a newbie when it comes to the action/beat-em-up RPG genre. I like fighting games, but I’ve never been good at them. Learning combos take time, practice and patience; three things I don’t have much of while playing video games. I’ve never a big fan of beat-em-up action games like God of War or Devil May Cry. But, I liked Dragon’s Crown. I liked it for one simple reason: it’s really fun.

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Dragon’s Crown

Presentation

Vanillaware developed Dragon’s Crown. If you’re familiar with this very talented development studio, you know that it isn’t surprising that Dragon’s Crown packs stunning hand-drawn visuals. If you’ve never heard of Vanillaware, well now you have. Dragon Crown’s color palette is something fit for a king. Very vibrant pastels are used on every inch of this gem. The over-stylized character models are right at home, even if over-sexualized. This is a Japanese-inspired RPG. No one should be shocked that the Sorceress looks the way she does. This game is gorgeously groomed from head to toe. I can’t even begin to fathom how many hours were put into painstakingly hand draw every little animation in the game. But, my eyes are ever grateful for Vanillaware’s patient talent. Words really can’t do the presentation of this game justice. Just go buy it!

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Behold the beauty

Gameplay

It is in the gameplay department where Dragon’s Crown hits a homerun on it’s first pitch in it’s first at-bat. But, Dragon’s Crown unfortunately strikes out on it’s next time up to the plate. Not a baseball fan? Okay, let me go into full detail to explain.

First at-bat:

Dragon’s Crown has 6 unique character classes: Fighter, Wizard, Sorceress, Dwarf, Elf and Amazon. Choosing a character is a built-in difficulty level. Playing as the Sorceress is recommended for expert players, while playing as the Fighter is recommended for beginners. The character selection breaks down each character’s difficulty level. This is a very cool feature right off the top.

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Pick your character

In true RPG form, leveling up and collecting loot are at the cornerstone of gameplay in Dragon’s Crown. Leveling up is straight forward: you get experience points based off of how successfully you defeat enemies and clear levels. But, there’s a deeper caveat. You don’t have to travel back to the hub town once you complete a level. You can earn a higher experience multiplier by moving through to the next level. Keep in mind, you and your teammates will not regain any health, items, or anything else you’ve lost. Yes, this includes loot. It’s one heck of a risk/reward system. A very clever gameplay design choice that undoubtedly adds depth. You will find chests full of loot that are graded from E to S. E being the lowest rarity grade and S being the highest rarity for loot. Your NPC companion, Rannie, will collect coins and open said loot chests for you throughout your journey. But, in true Dragon’s Crown form, there’s a catch. And this catch might be what makes the game for me. You don’t know what you received when it comes to your collected loot. All you know is the grade of it. So, when you venture back to the hub town you can get your stash of loot appraised but it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. So, do you appraise your loot to see what items you got or do you sell your loot blind, without even knowing if it is the rarest item in the game? The choice is yours.

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Rannie

Every time you level up, you earn a skill point. These can be used to upgrade your character. If you’ve ever played an RPG before, this should be straight forward. Think Borderlands here. Each character has a specific set of skills you can upgrade/unlock. Then there are common cards all characters can share when it comes to skill points. Those being stats like increased health, defense, etc.

Like Borderlands, you can play Dragon’s Crown online or locally with your friends. This game is meant to play with others. If your friend’s don’t own Dragon’s Crown or if you don’t have three extra controllers, don’t fret. You will stumble upon numerous NPC’s in the game. Use them! It’s how the game is supposed to be played; four characters on the screen at all times. In a beat-em-up RPG like this, playing with your friends means hours upon hours of addictively fun gameplay.

The combat is satisfying, especially when you shake it up. There aren’t combos, per say, but you will quickly learn what moves to use in succession in order to be successful. Dragon’s Crown is NOT an easy game. It’s this challenge, the uniqueness of its characters, and it’s immensely fun way to play with your friends that make it’s gameplay second to none. Dragon’s Crown is very satisfying. Dragon’s Crown is very polished, deep and refined. Dragon’s Crown is fun! Gameplay is king when it comes to video games. It’s no surprise that this Dragon’s Crown is made out of 24-karat gameplay.

Second at-bat:

The narrator really shines in telling an old medieval-like tale of knight and dragon proportions. Well, at least from the start. About five hours into the story, you quickly pick-up on the fact that the narrator is saying the exact same thing every single time you travel to a vista you’ve been to a million times before. Luckily, you can mute the narrator in the options. Yes, you travel to the same places a million times. This is a thing, too. There are only 9 unique worlds to play through. And then there is a hub town where you can do everything from outfitting your character to resurrecting fallen players. As I’ve stated above, there are too many enemy types to count; every one of them unique. This helps playing the same levels over and over again, a bit more doable. So does the fact that enemies scale to your level. But, for someone who hates doing the same thing twice, this game will get very repetitive, very quickly. Playing with friends is a blast! Again, the gameplay is really fun and rewarding, BUT too much of a good thing can be bad.

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Poof!

You spend the first several hours, essentially doing carrier missions, learning the intricacies of the game. This is fine, but this is all story-related. You will quickly realize that the story feels cumbersome a it takes away from the stellar and insanely fun Dragon’s Crown gameplay. This is a very peculiar situation that I have never really stumbled on in a game, before. It is so strange to say that Dragon’s Crown would be better off without it’s story. But it would. The story takes you out of what makes Dragon’s Crown so good…and way too often. Especially during the first half of the game. For what it’s worth, on harder difficulties you skip the monotonous beginnings of the game. So there’s that.

This is very much a nit-pick. But, I feel like I have to mention it anyway. Dragon’s Crown is a 2D side-scrolling game. But, the screen has depth to it. Think LittleBigPlanet, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of playing as a Sackthing. I played as the Elf on my main playthrough. What makes her unique is her bow. She can shoot arrows at enemies from across the screen. In fact, Elf players are rewarded (and most effective) staying far from the action. This is where screen depth on the 2D plane becomes incredibly frustrating. So many times you feel like you’ve got an enemy lined up from across the screen. You fire the arrow and miss because the enemy isn’t actually on the same line as you are. This happens with up close melee moves, as well. But, it is more pronounced while fighting from afar.

The Verdict

Many of my colleagues were trying to get me to tip my hat for what score I was going to give Dragon’s Crown, well before I finished the game. I wouldn’t budge. But, I told them one thing: it’s really fun. And really, what more do we want in a video game?

+Gorgeous Hand-drawn Art

+Incredibly Deep Gameplay

+Numerous Replayability Options

-Very Repetitive

-Story Gets In The Way

-Can The Narrator Shut Up Already?

Dragon’s Crown: 8.5/10

 

*Dragon’s Crown is a PS3/PS Vita exclusive. I only played the PS3 copy of the game. I recommend the bigger screen for playing this game. Battle scenes get very clustered and chaotic. Anyways, Dragon’s Crown is NOT a cross-buy or cross-play game, but it is cross-save. Meaning you have to buy both versions separately if you want both the PS3 and Vita versions. Also, Vita players cannot play online co-op with PS3 players, but you can carry your game saves back and forth between PS3 and Vita. So, as you can imagine, there is only one trophy list and hence only one platinum trophy. No double plats, sorry guys!

PI!

-Kyle

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What’s up All-Stars?! It’s just Kyle and Ryan holding down the fort this week, with Nooch being his pretty boy self, basking in the California sun for a week. Kyle and Ryan tackle the depressing PS All-Stars news, the joyous Tomb Raider news, and even talk about possible Game Of The Year candidates. Also, Kyle let’s the listeners behind the curtain a bit, and talks about how his review of Dragon’s Crown is coming along. Kyle surprises everyone with a Guacamelee! review, while Ryan talks up Metro: Last Light. Did we even mention Gamescom and the possible PS4 and Xbox One release dates? We sure did! It’s a great show! PI!

You can listen to the show here.

PI!

-Kyle

Guacamelee! is the best VIDEO GAME I’ve played so far this year. And yes, I’ve played The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite. Let me explain. I grew up with the Sega Genesis and SNES. Most games on these two systems were, almost exclusively, 2D platformers. You know, the Mario’s, Donkey Kong’s, Sonic’s, Castlevania’s and Metroid’s of the world. Not only does Guacamelee! harken back to Castlevania and Super Metroid explicitly, but it may do some things better than both of them. Guacamelee! is everything a video game was and should be.

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GOTY 2013?

Presentation

Guacamelee! is gorgeous. This game takes place in Mexico. The art-style and soundtrack certainly reflect this. From a vibrant color palette to mariachi-like music, the aesthetics in Guacamelee! are astounding. The game is littered with chickens, pinatas, coins, barrels, chupacabras, armadillos, chests and the living dead.

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Come here big skeleton. Those green fists are so…

Story

Guacamelee! is NOT about story. And this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, there is no voice acting in the game. But, I feel like voice acting wouldn’t be welcomed. Was there voice acting in Castlevania or Super Metroid? Nope! Guacamelee! is old school. You play as Juan, an everyday agave farmer. Less than five minutes into the game, the Lord of the Living Dead, Carlos Calaca, kidnaps your love interest. Juan’s love interest is El Presidente’s daughter. Hmmm, where have I seen the rich/famous girl falling for the working class guy… Anyways, Calaca kills Juan five minutes into Guacamelee!. Juan then inherits a mask that has special powers. Juan is reborn as a luchador and sets off to rescue El Presidente’s daughter. Guacamelee! doesn’t take itself seriously when it comes to story. If you’re looking hard enough, there are some hilarious text boxes while in conversation, and some amazing easter eggs. These include a boss saying “Trololololololol,” Grumpy Cat posters, and even the character from 2012’s GOTY, Journey, laying dead on the side of a mountain. Let’s face it: Guacamelee! hits it out of the park with gameplay, not story!

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It’s a Journey, I suppose

Gameplay

Gameplay is king when it comes to video games. Plain and simple. Guacamelee! pays a lot of homage to the classics. It is indeed a Metroidvania game. “Metroidvania” is a genre that acknowledges how games like the original Castlevania and Metroid were played. Essentially, 2D platformers that existed in an open world (unlike Mario games). You learn skills and moves as you progress through the game, but to unlock all of the secrets and gather all of the collectibles you must double-back to unlock certain areas with new skills/abilities that you’ve learned. It’s an addictive and rewarding gameplay choice, that old school gamers will remember very well.

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Platforms and PORTALS?!

Since you play as a luchador, hand-to-hand combat is at the crux of gameplay. This hand-to-hand combat is very deep and only gets deeper and richer as the game progresses and you learn new moves. Simply mashing the square-button will work for the first hour. After that, if you haven’t learned and experimented with more powerful combos, you will die and die often. Guacamelee! is a hard game. There’s no way around that. If you’re more of a “new school” gamer and grew up with first-person shooters, Guacamelee! is not the game for you. It’s not easy and it’s mostly up to you, the player, to figure out what works and what doesn’t, when beating up baddies. With that being said, there is a luchador dojo that you can enter and practice/learn combos in.

As you move through the game, you learn new special moves that are color-coded. For example, your uppercut punch is red and your body slam (the frog slam) is green. Why the colors? You will come across enemies with have, let’s say, red blobs surrounding them. This a shield that can’t be broken unless you hit them with the special move that corresponds to that color. Then you can relentlessly combo them into oblivion. You will come across areas that are blocked by colored blocks. Again, if the block is red, you have to uppercut it in order to break it. Now you know how secret areas are marked.

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Soooo many enemies!

Now, special moves are not only for combat and unlocking secret areas. They are crucial in platforming, as well. The uppercut can get you into hard to reach places about you. The “Goat Fly” can get you across gaps that are far too wide for a double jump. It’s literally brilliant what Drinkbox Studios developed here. At times, Guacamelee! feels like a fighting game. There is a trophy for a 300 hit combo! At other times, it feels like a classic Mario game. Then it feels like a Metroid game, as you unlock secret areas with new abilities. It’s brilliant, brilliant fun.

Remember when I mentioned that your character, Juan, dies at the very beginning of the game? Well this means he’s dead. So he now exists in the world of the living dead. Not only does this netherworld fit into the whole Mexican theme, but it makes for completely original and stunning platforming. Some enemies and ledges/platforms only in exist in the real world or in the world of the living dead. Once you learn the ability to switch between the two worlds, at will, things get interesting. Near the end of the game, I experienced the most challenging yet rewarding platforming that I have ever played. I died time and time again. But, this level (and you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get to it) was so expertly designed and was really a stroke of genius, that I felt very accomplished when I finally completed it. Some reviews of Guacamelee! say that the flipping between both worlds wasn’t used enough. I’m not sure if these people played the same game I did. You do it all the time and it is married to both combat and platforming alike.

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Luchador(s)

Unfortunately, Guacamelee! is far too short. It took me just over 5 hours to complete on my first playthrough. It is complete with boss battles, but there’s only four of them. Each one is unique, as is their level. There’s plenty of treasure chests and orbs to find after you beat the game. And then there’s hard mode. For what it’s worth, there’s local co-op available, too. So, replayability is not an issue. But, I could’ve played this game for 20+ hours. A five hour campaign moved too quickly for my taste. Keep in mind, at full price it’s $14.99 on the Playstation Store. I have PS+ so I got it for about $8. So, we’re not paying $60 for a five hour game…

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Guacamelee!

The Verdict

Guacamelee! is a cross-buy and cross-play PS3/Vita exclusive (that’s coming to Steam). It’s also downloadable, only. I played it on Vita all the way through and then tried it out on PS3. Both are awesome. I preferred Vita, as platformers are perfect portable games. Even though you can exchange your save data back and forth between the two versions, there is only one trophy list.

Games like The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite push the gaming platform forward and challenge the groundwork of gaming, as they do. They are very unique and original experiences that shine in storytelling. Essentially, they blur the lines of what a video game is. They argue that games are now more like pieces of art. Guacamelee! is clearly a video game. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s an old school gamers’ game. It does everything right. Because of its charm and deeply rooted origins, we as gamers owe it to Indie developer, Drinkbox Studios, to bring up Guacamelee! in Game of The Year discussions later this year. I will say, Gucamelee! is easily the best downloadable title on PSN this year and is the best Indie game I’ve played this year, as well. Drinkbox Studios should be on everyone’s radar, if they weren’t already.

+Gorgeous Art-style

+Extraordinary Platforming

+Clever Humor

+Numerous Replayability Options

-What Story?

-Too Short In Length

Guacamelee!: 9.0/10

PI!

-Kyle

I went into Ni No Kuni having never played an old-school JRPG before. With this being said, I didn’t really know what to expect from the game. The only things I knew were that it was a long game with a great story. I wasn’t sure how the game would play, how the characters would be, or how the game would look. Therefore, I had a bit of an open mind going into the game. I didn’t have any sort of opinion going in and that was a good thing. This let my awe of the game be amplified. The game is obviously beautiful aesthetically; but the game is so much deeper in other aspects that I didn’t expect. I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of nearly everything about the game. There is so much to see, do, and hear; and, for the most part, it is all so amazingly done.

Presentation

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful games on the PlayStation 3. While it takes the anime approach, as is common with Studio Ghibli’s works, it is extremely polished with great animations in-game and during cutscenes. The cutscenes, while not as common as I would have liked until near the end of the game, are all fun to watch and very well done. The game has varied and interesting locations, each of which resembling a culture from the real world. They all are living worlds with people moving around the world and having something to do. Also, every person around the world has something unique to say. They all comment on something going on in the story or give you some side mission. The soundtrack, which takes over most of the game as there is little voice acting outside of the main story, is catchy and does not get old. Even after almost fifty hours of gameplay, the soundtrack was still interesting and fun to listen to.

Interesting Main Characters
Interesting Main Characters

The game has interesting characters, for the most part. The main characters of the story have great character arcs and dialogue. However, I wasn’t a fan of some of the main villains of the game. They seemed to be there just to be there, and didn’t serve a large purpose in the story. Nonetheless, the voice acting for all characters except for Oliver is great, having emotion and delivering lines masterfully. Oliver’s English voice actor, on the other hand, was not so well done. He is told as being from Motorville, USA, yet it seemed he could never figure out which accent he wanted to have. This wasn’t a huge problem, as the rest of the voice actors make up for it, but it does stand out compared to the rest of the actors.

Story

The story of Ni No Kuni is also very well done. It starts out with a tragic event in Oliver’s world and, after an unforeseen turn of events, Oliver must go to a parallel world to fix the problem. The story goes through Oliver’s travels to fix his problems and help the other world as well. The game has a very clear message that is not hidden, although this is not a bad thing. It plays directly into the latter part of the story and ends up giving Oliver some inspiration. The story, as is common with JRPGs, is very long and goes through many twists and turns all for Oliver’s final goal. These plot points are mostly interesting and fun; although there are some odd plot points that stand out in the end.

An Unexpected Turn of Events.
An Unexpected Turn of Events.

However, there is one main plot point that seemed unnecessary to the story. The final main plot twist seemed to be there just to add more time to the story with more boss battles and plot points. The game goes on for another ten hours after this and the game didn’t really need it. The final part of the game did have some interesting plot points and a satisfying ending, but it seemed that it was not needed for the story and if the story would have ended before it all, I would have been satisfied. This isn’t common in the story, though, as most other plot points are engaging and I rarely got bored with the story.

Gameplay

Ni No Kuni’s gameplay combines elements of other JRPGs and refines it to have a stand-out gameplay system.  Its main elements are an open batte system and taming different enemies to become friendly creatures, called familiars. In gameplay, you can play as any of the main characters themselves, or you can put out any familiar you have tamed to fight for you. They all have their strengths and weaknesses to learn and use strategically. There are a seemingly endless amount of enemies in the world to tame, meaning that there is always another creature to tame and level up so he can fight for you as well. It is a very deep system that can be used many different ways, whether it be choosing to play as Oliver or any of his many familiars.

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Fighting with familiars is recommended.

The other main aspect of the gameplay of Ni No Kuni is the open battle system. The enemies in the world are roaming for you to see and will run toward you if you are of level to fight them. However, they will run away if you are overleveled. This system lets you choose which fights you want to engage in. You can run from any fight you want or stay and level grind for hours, it is all up to you. You can sneak up on enemies to gain the upper hand or vice versa, where the enemy has time to pull off an attack before you can defend or counter-attack. This means that running away from an attack is discouraged, even though it is possible.

Within the actual fights, there are also many possible options to take. While using any character, main or familiar, you can attack or defend, as well as using a special attack assuming you have enough MP. As you lose health or magicka, you can use spells or provisions to regain these. You can also wait for glims to drop on the ground. These glims give either MP or HP, or they can be a gold glim, the rarest of the glims that allow the character to perform a miracle move- a move that deals much damage to any or all of the enemies on the battlefield. The game encourages the player to level up Oliver and his friends so they don’t run out of MP or HP during battle.

During fights you can also command your teammates to either all attack or defend at once. This is where my only real problem with the gameplay generates. This command doesn’t always seem to do much. The friendly AI, especially Esther, rarely listens when telling them to defend and gets killed fairly easily. This can get frustrating late in the game when the enemies have very powerful attacks and you need to defend in order to survive. Plus, they always seem to use all of their MP at once, even against the weakest of enemies. This can also prove frustrating when you need them to perform a spell and they are out of MP due to a fight much earlier. The only way to offset this is either to level them up after the battle, which gets much more difficult later in the game, or use some provisions, which should be saved for absolutely necessary times like a boss battle. These are not game-breaking issues, but they can frustrate, especially late in the game.

Miracle Moves are the best attacks.
Miracle Moves are the best attacks.

The game also comes with a myriad of side missions and bounty hunts to complete. These come with merit awards that give Oliver merit cards which he can redeem for rewards, from the useless to the necessary. The side missions are, for the most part, varied, with the exception of a few that have the same objective for five or six separate missions. Nevertheless, many of the side quests are fun and easy to do, adding on an extra layer of story and gameplay along with the main story. Plus, some of the merit awards can end up giving you necessary abilities, like more XP during battle and extra MP and HP for Oliver. These give Oliver extra power against the most powerful enemies in the game and can turn a difficult boss battle into a trivial one.

There is a lot to do in Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. The main story took me just under fifty hours to complete, with many side missions and other things in the world still incomplete. These side missions could take another thirty to forty hours to complete. The game itself gives dozens of hours of gameplay along with many more hours of gameplay just having fun battling enemies. There is so much content in the game, and it is almost all very well done.

The Verdict

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a beautiful game with a great story and deep gameplay. Although there are some minor complaints, they don’t lessen the overall quality of the game. Its beautiful soundtrack, surprisingly interesting story, and deeply strategic and unique gameplay stand out and make this game something that stands out in this huge year of gaming. As I was a newcomer to the JRPG genre coming in, this game definitely makes me want to go back and play more games in the genre. Ni No Kuni is truly unique and is something that outshines many other games this year. It is something that anyone should play if they like a good story, good gameplay, and dozens of hours of gameplay, even if they are new to the JRPG genre.

+Fantastic Soundtrack

+Amazing Graphics

+Interesting Story

+Unique Gameplay

+Dozens of Hours of Gameplay

-Final Plot Point

-Bad Friendly AI

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch: 9.2/10

 

-Nooch

You’re in for a treat this week! Nooch tells us why Ni No Kuni might be Game of The Year. Kyle argues his case for Guacamelee being the best game he’s played so far in 2013. And, Ryan speaks directly to Miyamoto and goes hard on Nintendo in a fiery rant. Fasten your seatbelts and keep your hands inside the ride at all times…Podcast Infinite starts right now! PI!

You can listen to the podcast here!

Sony Santa Monica has been completely silent since inheriting Super Bot Entertainment’s, Playstation Allstars Battle Royale. Well, up until today, that is. Santa Monica wrote a “Support Update” on their community forums that you can read in full length here. But, they didn’t have good news.

I’ll summarize for you:

1. No more DLC characters or stages – “There will not be any new DLC characters or environments released for PS All Stars. We were proud to work with SuperBot Entertainment and they created a great game, but the characters that have already been released to-date represent the full content for PS All Stars.”

2. Pre-order costumes for Dante, Raiden, Heihachi, and Big Daddy will be released on PSN for free on August 27.

3. Both Zeus and Isaac are still owed their third costumes. Those will be released on PSN, for free “later this fall.”

4. A possible patch is coming “later this fall.” – “This is still in the early stages of research and development. Even if everything goes smoothly with the development and implementation, the patch will not be finished until later this fall. In particular, we’re assessing all character strengths, weaknesses, and functionality for adjustment considerations in this patch. We have been monitoring your feedback in the forums, and will continue to follow your thoughts throughout the process.”

This is  such a shame, as PS Allstars is such a great game. But, this is a perfect example of what happens when games don’t sell. Speak with your wallet and support things you like and care about. We can only hope and dream that a sequel comes to the PS4, somewhere down the road. Until then, you can find me tearing it up with Good Cole until the servers are shut down. Long live All-stars!

-Kyle

What’s up All-Stars? This is episode 5 of Podcast Infinite. After our week-long hiatus, the gang is back with an un-mic’d style podcast. Kyle is a zombie from nonstop work, Ryan has a new nickname, and Nooch is still being Nooch. Join us for the fun! The podcast can be found here. You can also find our rant near the end separately here. Also, send us your feedback or questions for us to answer on the show to podcastinfinite@gmail.com. Thanks for listening! PI!

-Nooch

Cautious Optimism for GTA V

Posted: July 17, 2013 in Blogs, PC, PS3, Xbox 360

I was one of the seemingly few people who didn’t like Grand Theft Auto IV. I didn’t like the characters, the gameplay, or the story. The characters and the story were boring and extremely slowly developed. The gameplay wasn’t as fun as I had hoped going into it with all of the praise it was getting. Finally, the game overall was way too serious. It’s a game that is supposed to be about having fun and going around shooting people, but it was very dark and bland. However, I have an unexpected optimism for Grand Theft Auto V. It seems to be changing and improving on the problems I had with it. It has three main characters, all of whom have different stories and have to work together in some way. Rockstar has said that the game will be much faster in story and hopefully that also means in character development. Finally, the gameplay trailer that was released recently looks very interesting. I have a certain cautious optimism for the game in that it will probably be like GTA IV in combat and such, but I hope it is much more refined, and altogether, much more fun.

First off, the characters. In GTA IV, Niko Bellic didn’t interest me. Maybe I’m alone on this, but I felt that he had very slow character development and I overall didn’t care for him. GTA V looks like this changes. The fact that there are three different main characters makes this a much different story for me. Even if there is a character that I don’t like, I can switch to a different character that I like. This should add variety to the gameplay. The game will hopefully develop the characters faster than in GTA IV. Rockstar said that the game is much faster than GTA IV, hopefully meaning that the characters will also be developed more quickly as well. Plus, the characters look diverse and interesting, each with his own personality and own background that lets them have different skills and different personalized stories. This could add some kind of side story to the main story or a side topic in the main story. However, this all depends on how Rockstar choose to approach the three characters part of the game. I am optimistic that they will do something great with the story, but I hope that it isn’t much like the story, in pace and overall content, of GTA IV, as I probably won’t be interested.

The story and the characters go hand in hand with each other. Therefore, if the characters intrigue me, the story should also intrigue me. So, I am also optimistic that the story will be interesting as well. Rockstar said they will make the pace faster which will engage me unlike the story of GTA IV did. I am also optimistic that there will be interesting missions and huge consequences for the player in the game, possibly even a choice or morality-type system. Whether it be choice of how a mission ends or just how you play it, I am always all for choice, and this is no different. There should also be details into the character’s lives and backstories. The game should detail who these people are and why we should care about them. The characters should mean something to us and I am confident that Rockstar can make that happen. To go along with the character development, the game should be action-oriented. As I said, the game is called Grand Theft Auto, so the game should involve huge heists and large shootouts in vehicles and on foot. GTA IV didn’t satisfy me in this aspect of the game. Its story was incredibly slow and, for me, uninteresting.

The gameplay in GTA IV was the best part of the game for me, although that’s not saying much. It was fun to shoot random people around the street or go flying in a helicopter around the city, but Grand Theft Auto IV’s main competitor, Saints Row: The Third, beats GTA IV in gameplay in spades. Saints Row 3’s gameplay was what made the game great. GTA IV doesn’t have that special gameplay. It is too dull and serious compared to Saints Row 3. However, Rockstar has said that the combat will change in GTA V. Hopefully, this means the game will be more fun to play than GTA IV was. One promising thing about the gameplay trailer was the activities around the world. In the trailer, there was a full-fledged golf game, tennis game, scuba diving, mountain biking, and more. While GTA IV had some activities like this, it wasn’t enough for me. Assuming there are more than these, there would be a lot of activities around the world to take up my time. Even if the main story gameplay isn’t great for me, these activities hopefully would be enough to cancel that out in a way. Plus, the stock market and real estate options look interesting. Also, the driving in GTA IV was one of my least favorite parts of the game. It was much too stiff and difficult to control. Hopefully this is fixed in GTA V.

Finally, the fact that there are three different main characters can add a new layer to gameplay. It can make the game much more open to player choice and easily replayable for three different perspectives. In missions, all three characters will have different roles, so, assuming the game doesn’t force you to play as one of the characters, it will be free for the player to decide who they want to play as. As for the open world with the characters, it will provide three different perspectives of the world that the other characters may not see. There was one possibly annoying aspect of the game mentioned in the trailer. The switching between characters drops the player in to what the character is doing at that point in time, whether it be getting chased by the cops, or riding a bike. This could take some of the choice out of what to do with the character at that point. You may not want to do what that character is doing, but have to finish or change to a different character. For example, if you are dropped in to someone being chased by cops, you can either try to run away or possibly switch to a different character. This may also take some of the difficulty out of the game, as you may be able to switch away from a character out of a mission when they are in trouble.

The final reason I didn’t like Grand Theft Auto IV was the world in general. It’s not the world as in Liberty City, but the tone of the game and the world in that respect. GTA IV was so dark and gloomy for a game that is supposed to be insane and fun. It took away from the experience completely. As compared to something like Saints Row: The Third, it is so much less fun because of how dark it was and serious it took itself. The new trailer for GTA V looks to hopefully change that and I am optimistic that it will, but I can’t be sure. The trailer talks about the ridiculousness of the game, but it still looks like a Grand Theft Auto game. The game does take a new approach with a new color palette which makes the game look much more crazy and fun than GTA IV. The activities around the world should also help to fix this problem. It should be more open to doing fun things like sports or scuba diving or even investing in stocks. Hopefully these activities are pulled off by Rockstar because if they are, the game would become so much better than GTA IV.  As for the world in general, there should be more humor and overall craziness that happens randomly. There were spurts of it in GTA IV, but it should be a commonplace in the series’ new installment because it, also, would make the game much better than GTA IV.

Grand Theft Auto IV was a huge disappointment in my eyes. It was too dark, its story was slow and uninteresting, and the game was overall just not fun. However, I am optimistic that GTA V will change that. From the looks of the trailers already released for the game, it looks to fix many of Grand Theft Auto IV’s problems. It seems to be much more colorful and crazy. Rockstar has said that it will move much faster. And it seems that it will be much more fun with everything to do around the world. While it is still a Grand Theft Auto game and it probably hasn’t changed entirely, which would disappoint me, I am still cautiously optimistic that it will turn out well. The gameplay trailer looks very promising and I am confident that Rockstar can pull it off. Grand Theft Auto V looks like it will turn out better than Grand Theft Auto IV from everything released so far. Everything about it looks better. I am hoping it will end up being that good and I am cautiously optimistic that it will.

What do you think about GTA IV? How do you think GTA V will turn out? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading and PI!

-Nooch

I’m going to start by saying for the first time I’m excited for a new Call of Duty. Ghosts is looking good. Not necessarily visually but from a gameplay standpoint yes. Most likely if you are reading this you know a little something about call of duty so I don’t need to tell you that game plays always been the games strong point. But I’m excited for this new cod for the first time in a long time because call of duty has finally caught up. Adding in the peak around cover stuff, and the new mantling thing along with my favorite new addition dynamic maps, cod finally looks like its changing. But just a few things aren’t enough. There are several problems with the game considering its a first person shooter that need addressing.

One of the biggest ones being the spawning issue. A lot of times in call of duty you will spawn and die 2-3 seconds right out of spawn. Sometimes even instantly, you know it’s happened to you. And it’s one of the most frustrating things that could happen but it’s also easily remedied. At least I think it is, in a little game called gears of war 3 they had something called spawn protection. Which basically meant that when you spawned you’d be safe for a few seconds out of spawn. Like you can’t die for 2 seconds. It was a bit flawed in gears as in gears they gave you 6 seconds out of spawn in most game types. In cod I think only about 2 are necessary. That way in games like demolition where it’s easy to trap someone at their general spawn and just destroy them repeatedly the team getting spawn trapped still has a glimmer of a fighting chance. It doesn’t guarantee a win in most situations and it’s also not going to give anyone some kill streaks as its just two seconds.

And if you don’t like spawn protection they could make the spawns more team based. I’ve never really played battlefield. But I believe they have something similar to what ghost recon: future soldier had. That being a team spawn. You have X ammount of guys in one squad and Y ammount of guys in the other. Then the guys in the first squad spawn on his buddies in the same squad. But only if that person is safe. There are no enemies nearby or anything like that. Because I’ve seen it happen in ghost recon. You spawn on a teammate and then both you and him instantly get gunned down. I realize this may be a bit harder to do. Which is why I fully stand by the spawn protection. I just offered an alternative.

Now I briefly addressed demolition a while ago so id like to talk about it a little more. I like demolition. I think it along with some others are the only really true competitive game types that cod has to offer. The only problem is the spawn system in demo is broken. If your team gets trapped at spawn you lose. It’s not like domination where if you get trapped you spawn at the other end. No in demo you keep spawning in the same general area. I think to fix this you either spawn closer to the middle of the map if you are trapped or you swap. That way the team spawn trapping gets punished for it and is forced to rethink their strategy on the fly.

Continuing on with the subject of game types I’m going to talk very briefly about some things I think they need to fix in some game types. We will start with a small change to one of cods more popular game types domination. I think domination mostly plays fine as it is I just have one gripe. And that’s while you are capturing the thing and then it gets right at the end. Literally the edge of the circle and then you die and it resets. The resetting thing isn’t the problem, the problem is that you have captured the objective. It’s at the end but it doesn’t count because you couldn’t hold out for .1 seconds. If something like this happens then it should just give you the cap, or the plant in sod and demos cases. It may not happen to people as much as it does to me but its still slightly irritating when it does. Next is one that works for two game types. Headquarters and hard point. Again both these gamer types I’m a fan of. But there’s a problem with the spawn system in it. Like you’ll die and enemy team is holding the point, you spawn on the other side of the map, forced to run back and if you die again which is possible you spawn back on the other side again. And by the time you get back the next hard points coming up. So I think in games like hard point you should spawn not necessarily near the current hard point but at least a little closer to it. Same with headquarters. Make it a little more competitive.

Continuing with hard point stuff this whole section will be about it. I find blops 2 did a pretty good job at encouraging people to play the objective more. But they could do better. This suggestion is taken from a friend of mines. He literally said it last night. And this could help people like me who aren’t necessarily good at killing but great at playing the objective. In hard point if a person is standing in the hard point they continually get 10 points or something. Just something to encourage people to stay in the hard point. Because often times in hard point it boils down to someone capturing it and getting the 200 for securing it and then going outside the point and killing people. Sure it’s helping defend it but its not helping as a whole. It doesn’t force you to stay there it just encourages you to. An then my final suggestion for hard point is that hard point is basically cods take on crazy king from halo. So make it that. Make set had point locations and then make the hard point spawn at one of those locations at random. This is to prevent people from waiting at the next hard point because they know where it’s going to be. Stay at the one with your team and take the next one.

Basically I just want more teamwork out of the team oriented games. Sure it’s partly the players fault but its also the creators fault for not encouraging them to play the objective. And for those that don’t like that style of play they can play TDM.

So those were my suggestions on fixing game types and things. Now I’m going to get into other more technical I think issues. Starting with the weapon balance. Ill use the pistols in blops 2 as an example. There’s the KAP-40 which I honestly never really thought that strong compared to every other pistol. Not to say the others are bad just that the KAP-40 is so strong that it much like the AN-94 and the MSMC you don’t even need to aim at your opponent to beat them. You don’t need attachments or anything. That’s how good they are. So when you compare it to other guns in its class they all seem weaker and no one uses them as a result except for people like me who prefer a challenge and prefer not using what everyone’s using. So the weapons should be more balanced. Not necessarily in damage or anything but they should work like their counterparts. Have a risk to using it. If I’m using the MSMC I shouldn’t be firing at a guy on the other side of the map and beat him without him even hitting me. You shouldn’t even be firing the MSMC at a guy that far away. Basically what I’m saying is that sub-machine guns should be what they were billed as. Absolute beasts at close range but unuseable at long. Ok at mid. And I think the pistol should be the sidearm to counter that, great at mid, great at close, ok at long. Unless its something like the executioner which should be in the shotgun category which is to say only really useable at close range but almost unbeatable at it. The assault rifles and LMG’s I think should function almost similarly. The assault rifles being good but not great at any situation so as to keep the balance. They are beatable just not terrible. Whereas lmgs should work almost the same. Small tweaks, useable at short, good at mid, and a terror at long range. Snipers arent even a discussion. What should a sniper be doing, hanging back and basically providing long range support. You shouldn’t be able to run in to an enemy hard point with a sniper and blindfire kill four people. It shouldn’t be a thing. Also addressing if they have it weapons like the crossbow and ballistic knifes which almost no one uses. The crossbow would be useable if it had the explosion radius grenades have which is what it should have and the grenades shouldnt. Grenades are used I think as a way to clear out an area. Getting lucky to get a kill. They shouldn’t kill a guy who’s a good foot from him no matter how hurt he is. I may be exaggerating the distance just to get my point across but still.

Finally I’d like to address some complaints to attachments. Its similar in design to the weapon balance bit. If you are using an attachment there should be a downside to using it. Take the suppressor for example, it makes you invisible on the minimap when firing, it’s harder to hear when being shot at, and I don’t even think it gives you the hit detection mark when being shot at by someone using it. And it has no punishment. But it should. It should make the guns do a little less damage at longer ranges. Every attachment should have a negative effect to it. So you can say why should I use this instead of this. That way all players are generally created equal. It’s no longer about who puts the better attachments on the better gun just who plays and aims better.

Small complaints on perks and kill streaks I’d like to address before I close the blog. There shouldn’t be perks like ghost and score streaks like the hunter killer and RC-XD which are good for one of free kills. They leave you vulnerable much like others but they dont do anything often times but get one kill unless you are lucky. An the ghost perk only prevents you from being seen by UAV. For some reason a lot of people use it. It’s a one off perk that’s relatively useless. These things shouldn’t be there. And if they are then make it so the player using them can’t die while using them. Someone calls in something like a lodestar that requires them to stay motionless till its either shot down or it’s time runs out should not be killable. He should just go off the board entirely until his streak expires. Then he respawns basically at the same place that he called it in at and his score streak continues.

Keep in mind I’m not a developer or anything so I don’t know how good these things are, how easy they are to implement or even if a lot of them are just plain stupid. I personally think they are all great ideas and if implemented could make cod live up to its millions and millions it sells every year. Don’t get me wrong cods a good game but I don’t think it deserves 14 million or something every year. I’d give each cod about a 7 or 8 on the IGN grading scale which is to say good but not great. Fun but flawed. Which I think even the biggest cod fanboy can agree on that.

Thanks for reading. If you have any further suggestions that could make cod better leave them in the comments below and also if you’d like to hear more my thoughts or ideas you can follow me on twitter @undertheh00d. Thanks for reading and have a good day!

-Ryan

What’s up All-stars?! Click here to download the podcast. The gang is back and on track this week. We dive into the crazy news week and give our thoughts and opinions on everything from the Xbone being sold out at Best-Buy to Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus and the future of Insomniac. Nooch is back from his Tubby Custard hiatus and tells us all about his business trip, Ryan is just tired and doesn’t feel well, and Kyle has had one too many Rum Jobs. It’s an entertaining train wreck for sure! PI!

-Kyle