DOTA 2- down the fucking rabbit hole (again)

there was a time when I was blissfully unaware of what this means.
there was a time when I was blissfully unaware of what this meant.

I got into the beta of DOTA2 awhile back and after installing my only experience with it was waiting for a match to start and then quitting after about 2 minutes.  Given that I played the early versions of DOTA as part of my (and everyone else’s) Warcraft 3 addiction, I didn’t think I was missing much.  How good could it be? It’s a bunch of WC3 heroes fighting each other on the same map over and over and over again and I’d done that before.  Plus,  I remember it being pretty boring compared to a straight up WC3 match– you do only control one hero after all.

However, I’m eating a bit of crow meat now–I’ve played some handful of matches here and there and am largely hooked– every time I win one of those boxes, I buy a 2$ key (the game was free after all so I feel I owe them something!).  So my few and dear readers, I will likely post a terrible amount of DOTA stuff in the next gaggle of months until the addiction passes.  The realization that I liked it hit me last night when I actually called it the Cosmic Encounter (the best board game ever made) of video games– in that the basic premise is very simple and easily understood, but the sheer asymmetry of the number of heroes turns it into something completely different every single time.  What’s more, even if you suck really bad, you can still contribute to your team if you have a basic understanding.  Going into a server assuming you will be THE carry in the game is setting yourself up for disaster, but pushing lanes, support and ganking are doable with just a bit of practice.

Please note the most popular video game on the planet is effectively a DOTA clone (League of Legends) so the addictive qualities speak for themselves.

Anarchy Reigns – Griefing out of the gate

Anarchy Reigns.  Best way to describe it is Twisted Metal without the Cars or an insane Power Stone. You run around and punch people and use specials and it’s pretty crazy.  I jumped right into Multiplayer and after two rounds– the greifing began.  When in a multiplayer Deatchmatch room that requires X amount of slots (say 4), it’s possible for a single player to bomb the whole lobby by constantly entering, selecting that they are “ready’ then un-readying it before the timer countdown locks the room.  This happened for about 8 minutes before I quit and went to the campaign game.  Gamers will grief whenever they can, naturally, but this type of shit should have been foreseen.  The game has been out in Japan for a long while now.  You can’t tell me NO Japanese tried this same shit to bomb a lobby?

Anyway, the rounds I got in were chaotic, but fun.   I’ll put up a full review when I get through a mess more of the game.

 

The Carnivore who’s discarded womanhood!

Folding Chair

Ah the new fighting game smell!  I can’t stop myself– ok well I have– I didn’t go in for Skullgirls or Arcana Heart nor the Tekken vs Street Fighter malarkey–but I have a weakness you see, even if a game is so far from targeting my demographic group of ancient occidental old men, if I hear it’s good, I just have to try the fucker. Despite the fact that Virtua Fighter 5 is Marianas Trench deep and I have yet to come close to mastering even one character and despite the fact that while I have played 40-50 matches of KOF 13 online, I haven’t even scratched the surface of that game in the least.  These two reasons alone, not even counting Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Blazblue, are enough to say “never buy a new fighting game,” but again, I cannot stop.

So here we have Persona 4 arena by the same people that did Blazblue (and hence Guilty Gear) and it’s about some high school kids that  go inside their fucking televisions and fight each other in some strange show.  They fight with swords and guns and folding chairs but more importantly, they fight with these strange robots called ‘personas.’  Now, just like Guilty Gear and Blazblue, it’s expected that the plot of any fighting game in this type of insane genre will also be insane so there you have it.  Going inside TV’s, fighting on TV, using strange robots (are they robots?), saying stupid stuff in high pitched voices, beating up their friends and asking if they are OK afterwards, etc.   Anyway the game is based on some extremely popular RPG series that I’ve never played.  While the character designs are great, they just have to LOOK good, it doesn’t really matter what they say or do because despite any type of ‘plot’ it’s still just  a fighter and that’s all it has to be.

Gameplay wise, from my initial plays, I would say the game is a bit less insane than the Guilty Gear series and certainly less than Blazblue.  One thing that is noticeable off the bat is the ease of combos.  You can pull off some insane combos with just pressing the same button and with some mix ups, the combos can hit into the 30’s pretty easily.  I haven’t studied the system enough to really know why or how this works, but I shall because, so far,  it is quite a fun game.  While I like Blazblue and really liked King of Fighters 13 for awhile there, there is something about each that just doesn’t grab me–both are very very difficult games to get good at.  KOF has never been combo friendly by design and Blazblue is really a massive amount of memorization because combos are so long and most of the good ones have multiple cancels within them.  Whether it’s the hop-tech in KOF or just the insane amount of combos you have to pull off to win in Blazblue, I’ve been in the market for something that is a bit more grounded, but that doesn’t have the screen mobility constraints as Street Fighter 4.  Granted, kids going inside TV’s and fighting each other is pretty off the wall, but the fighting system, maybe because of the easy combos, doesn’t smack me in the head like Blazblue saying “you will never be good enough at this to enjoy it” yet.

The roster is mostly chicks with various weapons with a few dudes peppered in there.  There’s only one effeminate guy in the group which is good because, you know– Bridget from GG was a pretty tough pill to swallow when you found out ‘it’ was a boy– and with so many female characters, I was afraid this would turn into an Arcana Heart/ Skullgirls that I would simply embarrassed to play in front of the family or friends.  There are enough dudes to go around and while not filled with grim swordsman that I would like (ala Last Blade), there are some GIANT AXES in play to make up for it, in fact two of the characters are named AXE.  Since these are high school kids, it’s not like any of them are very badass, but some of their personas ARE.  One design looks like a greek statue holding a globe with the chest cut out and a dude sitting inside on a chair another is a massive demon that bursts out of the ground. The personas aren’t on screen all the time, but when they are it’s pretty fawesome.

So fuckall I am glad I got this. I’m probably going to only get to play against my kids but I will go online and get my ass kicked this weekend.  Every once in a while you will get matched with someone that is near your level of play so I’m hoping that happens.  If not, it’s fun to see the fireworks as one gets run down.

 

Anarchy Reigns: Bayonetta!

Platiunum games was being very coy not announcing that Bayonetta was in the upcoming punching game Anarchy Reigns, but they finally let the sexy cat out of the bag which means I get to make a post with a bunch of pictures of Bayonetta and her booty.  I think you’ll agree this is a good thing.  Like I said, this is going to be a SLEEPER hit if it’s anything like the amazing and astounding Urban Reign for the PS2.  People won’t buy this until a year or so after release when all the copies go for 100$ or more, so get it right away when it comes out and you can see THAT ASS!

smooth!

As an aside: I did throw down some (albeit single player) Urban Reign last night, Anarchy Reigns spiritual successor and it is still one of the best PS2 games there is.   If you have a PS2 sitting around and want to find a use for it for a few weeks, Urban Reign is where it’s at.

Tobal 2 action!

Looking oh so 1996!

There are three or four of us that played Tobal 2 back in the day and though we all live on other parts of the planet, every once in awhile we are near enough to pick up a controller and get in some beatings.  Saturday was a time of such beatings with my brother, who, while schooled when he played any other character, beat my ass with EPON (the little dirty dishclout).   Needless to say, Tobal 2 stands the test of time, even though the graphics we were once in awe of look old as the hills now, the fact that the game runs at 60 frames per second really keeps it playable.  That said, I’d say now days, Tobal is all but forgotten, and with the exception of the Japan only Tobal M, nothing has moved on any type of sequel (nor will it).  Tobal is a game series by ex Namco and Sega employees at a company called Dreamfactory who did something very different compared to their contemporaries–moving away from the 2-d plane in a 3d fighting game.  It took Tekken and Virtua Fighter until their fourth incarnations to implement this and Tobal No. 1 had it in 1996!  To be sure, MOST of what you get gameplay wise from Tobal can be found in Virtua Fighter 4/5 and if you are slumming it, the more recent Tekkens.  I won’t hesitate to say that VF5 is a better game than Tobal 2 overall because VF5 is the has the overall best fighting game engine there is, but all ten of the remaining Tobal fans lament the one piece that modern 3d fighters should have mercilessly ripped from the mechanics– the grappling system.

Every time I pick up Tobal again, I’m simply amazed at how the grappling system works and how fun it is.  In VF5, a character does a grapple and at the moment of the grab has imputed his or her ‘move’ to do on the opponent.  The opponent must input a counter to the move extremely fast, almost to the point of anticipating the grab happening.  This leads to what’s called ‘fuzzy’ grapple counters where you actually mash buttons and hope to get in the right inputs to do a counter, not precision pressing like the rest of the game.  The move either lands or it doesn’t and then you get into what the frame advantage is for the grappler/grapplee, etc.

In Tobal, grapples happen and start with the grappler in control of the clinch who can either do low kicks, high punches, push or pull or throw one of two per-character grapple moves.  As the grappled player, you can block high to low (and change up your blocks when needed) and if you time it right and guess the correct direction of pull, reverse the control of the grapple.  In addition, whenever a grapple finisher happens, the opponent can counter that either leads to them controlling the grapple or getting out of it completely (again leading to who has frame advantage between the two players).

So what happened to Dreamfactory?  After Ehrghiez God bless the Ring, which was actually in arcades, and the PS2 launch title Bouncer (a lackluster fighter and a graphically solid but mechanically poor beatemup IMO) as well as the dungeon crawl fighter Crimson Tears (also not all that great–and it’s one big sewer level —no joke), no Tobal 3 rose from the ashes, yet Dreamfactory has been putting out fighting games– the last one was in 2007 called Tough: Dark Fight (Japan only thank god) and man it looks like TOTAL SHIT.  Rumors of a Toshinden rebirth by Dreamfactory are floating around, but that’s about it, like we needed any more toshinden ever.

The dude at fightersgeneration.com updated the Tobal character roster a year or so ago from a mess of files I had been collecting over the years, so if you want a walk down memory lane, check here. Note you can’t deep link in here because this is the last website in existence that still uses fucking FRAMES.

DOTA 2 Beta- you could get in…

I'm mad, blind and there is blood shooting out of my mouth-- just like all the 12 year olds that play DOTA!

Via Steam, if you do a hardware survey AND a “experience with the game” survey you can possibly get a key into the DOTA2 beta.   I played it a bit back when it was all shiny new in Warcraft 3, but it’s been a while certainly and I was but a dabbler.  On the survey, I  had no idea what any of the heroes were actually named and they ask you your top five so -uhhhh.  I mostly used the guy that looked like the blind Night Elf from WC3 all the time so I had a top, um,  one.  That said, if you like the League of Legends and DOTA action, we’re going to get hammered with choices soon as both Valve and Blizzard enter the ring and lets face it in light of Team Fortress 2– Valve’s will be the best.

That said, I never gave Bloodline Champions a go—something that might be worth trying out.

Day 1 (and a half): KOF in the house


"I'm the only normal looking guy that enters this damn tournament"

As the actual Xmas days don’t count as vacation by any stretch of the imagination with all the madness and chaos and driving around, so today is the first day of my official holiday.  I was up until 1AM getting in a game of Starcraft the board game–only my third or fourth play so I was up inside the rulebook most of the time– while the game has all these FF patented fiddly bits, the combat system is excellent.  Four hours later I’m still up with the kids who were right on schedule screaming and crying at 5:30AM.  After I get some sleep, I’m going to drum up some nerdery interest and try to get some painting in between rounds of KOF 13– that’s right– finally SNK’s masterpiece of punchery fell into my craven little hands from Santa Claus– while KOF 12 was all stripped down, 13 has all the extras you want on top of it’s already excellent fighting engine.  I started playing straight away online and cheered after seeing King’s clothes rip off (I was using King and I lost of course) like earlier (MUCH earlier) KOFs.  Now, I don’t want to be a sexist pig here, especially with KOF that has it’s share of cute little man-boys for the girl-otaku to pine over, but fighting games are all about the cheesecake at times.   As silly as the clothes ripping off is, what’s indicative by little touches like this means SNK was confident enough in the engine an the rest of the game to throw in these extras.   Well enough about KOF– except that you should get it.  Fair warning:  if you care about your Xbox rep, do not play online right away as the Japs will rate you a 1 if they play you and don’t feel you’re good enough.

I also got the second Legends of the Old West supplement (Blood on the Plains) from MAAT who will now have to suffer some old west miniatures gaming for his trouble tracking that fucker down.

 

Rocket Raccoon in MvC3 Ultimate(!?)

Looks a bit different than back in the day.

Lots of strange choices were made in terms of characters for Marvel Vs Capcom 3 (Modok, She-Hulk?!) and the trend continues but it’s strange GOOD instead of strange BAD as the list was leaked for MvC Ultimate.  While a fun game, I just could not get past the new style graphics.  Instead of growing on me after detesting them as my first impression, I continued to find them shittier and shittier with every play.  I don’t know what that style is called making everything look like it’s lit up superbright (yet at night) but whatever it is, it just didn’t do it for me.  That said, the addition of Rocket Raccoon to the series roster is quite shocking.  As a poster child for obscure (while not indy) Copper age comics, it’s tough for me to imagine anyone but a few people even remembering the character.  I imagine there are some people that play fighters that are in their late 30’s– so this might be targeted at those few that do remember (as well as the equally surprising Iron Fist) as you have to be pretty damn old to have picked up the Rocket Raccoon stuff on the comic rack at the drug store (I was in 4th grade).

Guardian Heroes coming to XBLA!

Remember, if you ever go to sell back a video game at one of the various intake centers and it’s worth more than 20$– don’t sell it back.  I learned this the hard way specifically due to this game.  Note the sound isn’t too good.  It is the Saturn, 1995, so that’s to be expected (Though the PSX sounded great).