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.
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).
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).
This is make or break time for SNK as a purveyor of the fighting games. KOF 12, while it looked and played awesome was extremely stripped down and was missing some key features (no win poses at the end? no end boss? missing moves for characters? for shame!). Despite the gripes, the fighting engine for KOF 12 is extremely solid and fun. Always more of a fan of KOF than Street Fighter, there’s been a worry, and a very persistent one based on the news in the last year, that SNK was done with fighting games and was going to focus on their pachinko machines (we’ve heard this before too). However, KOF 13 has been in arcades for almost a year and people are just flat out loving it. The super-solid gameplay of KOF, updated with what feels alot like Garuo Mark of the Wolves influences and all new hand drawn sprites a la Blazblue make this a must have. Here is more on the scoop.
Note, this is from my first days into multiplayer, I’ve only played the single player a tiny bit here and there and haven’t messed with the training mode (which like Blazblue, is supposed to be excellente).
CAPCOM: Some good, but you will definitely miss quite a few the characters missing that appeared in MVC2. I know Capcom was trying to update the roster with more modern games but adding more Resident Evil guys? And not even any of the big spooky RE monstrars? Capcom’s potential roster is just so full of goodness that it’s sort of sad to see what filled the slots in MVC3. No Strider Hiryu, no Jin (my favorite!), and NO ONE from Rival Schools (Batsu and those kids) or Star Gladiator? Nor God Hand (Clover got in there with both Viewtiful Joe and Amerterasu from Okami though)? Bottom line: it’s really a mediocre line up compared to what could have been with all the possibilities Capcom had. I for one heartily approve of Zero replacing Megaman, the Devil May Cry guy is cool, I am glad to see some of the absolute joke characters removed (Roll and Servobot) and the Clover characters but the rest, while not meh, could have been better.
MARVEL: Quite a few on the original roster were pretty lame in MVC2, so most of the cut characters you will not miss at all (war machine, thanos, silver samurai, Spiral, Omega Red were all meh-esque). Additions and retained characters though are a mixed bag. Super Skrull, great! Modok: great! Phoenix? Well, Ok. Shuma Gorath? Seriously who even knows who that is? Has anyone actually read Dr. Strange since the 80’s? It may be my taste, but Deadpool is really lame, Taskmaster and Dormammu are just generic guys with skull faces (one burning, one not). Dr. Doom, Magneto, have to be in there but no other members of the Fantastic 4? No Psylocke? She Hulk as the second bruiser rather than Juggernaut? Let me just lay it out here: The Avengers are and always have been the height of comicbook mediocrity and MVC3 has FIVE of their members (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, She Hulk and Hulk). They are the blandest, most in-cohesive and thrown together super team there is, just the leavings of other comic books stuck together with some mansion with no coherent vision to justify their existence. Yes they are the Marvel heavy hitters, but have you ever really enjoyed a storyline with them as the Avengers? Compared to Justice League International/America from DC, Avengers writing and character arcs have always fallen flat. Each Avenger has stood on their own, well sort of, but the Xmen are simply better, better designs, better characters — just plain better.
Ok so it’s insane. Most comboing is really easy compared to MVC2. I can pull off a ground combo to a launcher to air combo to super move with quite a few characters without much trouble, even with the Xbox controllers after just a few plays. It would take me a week of play to do the same things in MVC2. It’s a stark contrast to Street Fighter IV or King of Fighters in that you have to combo or chain every hit to win. It’s even more dramatic in this regard than Blazblue. The 3 on 3 is great fun but man characters go down fast sometimes.
I hate the look of the game and couldn’t figure out why for the longest time. The backgrounds are great, the specials look awesome, the character models are superb but the skins are what suck ass. The psuedo- cell shading and extreme highlighting/black lining they did to the skins that I just absolutely think is atrocious. I can’t really put it into words, it just looks like the characters are fighting at night all the time and some of the skins are just too plain. Look at Modok’s face for a good example of what I mean.
All in all, an absolute must-buy for the fighting fan buried inside me, I would have had to get it eventually. Will it top Virtua Fighter or Blazblue in getting play time? No, but it will be fun to get the unlocks and learn the system and get beat down online for a bit before it only gets pulled out at parties. Just like the old one, if everyone is a scrub it can be a great time to play with peeps that normally don’t get into the fighters.
Littlemute and I played some VF5 on the xboxen360 this week and I recorded it with a Vulkano Platinum device. The resulting video is
You may want to watch that shit in FULL 720p on the youtube main webplace.
More Episodes to follow at a predictable pace. Please let me know if you want more crazy edits or less.
Let me say some things about the Vulkano Platinum capture device,
1. It was 143$ american, shipped. To me, that seemed like a fair price.
2. It installed very easily.
3. It had a problem with Yellow Artifacts out of the BOX! When I used the component cable connections from my 360, to the Vulkano, to the receiver which connects to the TV (ALL COMPONENT CABLE CONNECTIONS), I’d get Yellow Artifacts at the 720p resolution. The Artifacts went away when I switched to using the HDMI out on the Vulkano. WTF is that? CHEAP MANUFACTURING. When I emailed the Monsoon corp about it, they say “Oh just use the HDMI, that will fix your issue.” The fuckers.
4. The PC interface for recording live TV is not very intuitive and thus sucks shit.
5. The Vulkano has a maximum recording resolution of Recording of 720 x 480 pixels. WTF is that? I’ll tell you what that is, it’s a 3:2 aspect ratio CLUSTERFUCK. You can’t use a higher rez and the lower resolutions are also a 3:2 aspect ratio. When you are capturing xbox360 which is outputing 720p (1280×720 pixels) at 16:9 aspect ratio you get a file that is squished and will need to be re-encoded to look right. HOW IN THE NAME OF JESUS DID MONSOON FUCK THIS UP SO BAD? See this chart for reference on aspect ratios.
6. The Vulkano doesn’t allow for pass through, HOLY SHIT THAT IS GAY. Once you connect it, you have to keep the thing powered on even if you are not trying to capture video.
7. After a while the Vulkano will lock up and you have to pull the power cord on it to reboot it. WTF? The power on the remote does not turn the device “OFF” on “ON”.
8. I have no idea how the Vulkano device works as a time/place shifting device for Cable TV because we don’t have CABLE TV CUZ CABLE TV IS FOR ASSHOLES AND SPORTFUCKS.
9. I can’t get Monsoon to give me a GOD DAMN RMA# so i can return the device for a refund. I’ve emailed, then called. The folks on the emails said I’d have to call to get a RMA# and the folks on the phone said I’d have to email to get a RMA#. FUCK THAT! THOSE DAMN PAKI-DIANS, I know they need work too but I NEED A DAMNED RMA# MOTHERFUCKERS!
10. I’ve bought the HD PVR by Haupauge as a replacement, 188$ shipped. I’ll have it by next weekend and I PRAY TO FUCKING JESUS CHRIST it works better.
Platinum Games (Madworld, Infinite Space, Bayonetta) has put out some amazing and, in my opinion, underrated titles since they reformed from the defunct Clover Studio (creators of both the legendary God Hand and Okami). While God Hand is one of the greatest titles on the PS2, it is not the best. That glory belongs to the only beast left on the stage after all others have stepped down beneath the footlights: Urban Reign by Namco. Seen as Tekken toaster leavings in the States, Urban Reign, like God Hand, is an extremely difficult Double Dragon style brawler, one with some exceedingly unforgiving levels, well, unforgiving if like most of the reviewers of the game, you never bother to learn the fighting system. Hence the game, one of Namco’s best, was reviled by reviewers in the USA who typically get a game on a Wednesday and have to have a completed review on Friday. This is simply not possible with a game as difficult as Urban Reign (nor God Hand, nor Demon’s Souls). Of course, Japanese reviewers actually take the time to play the games they review, and it was put on the pedestal it deserves by the Japanese. Out since ’05, only in the last couple years have purveyors of punchy type video games spread the word of mouth across the Pacific that Urban Reign is not only one of the best Double Dragon-esque brawlers, it is the best game on the Playstation 2. While the single player is OK, what makes Urban Reign great is the multiplayer. It supports 4 person multi-tap, and if you haven’t experienced the game in this way, I urge you to go out and buy it and a multitap and do so, or find someone that has one. The game itself can be had for a song, the mulitap– not so much.
Namco, where’s the sequel? Steeped in Tekken, and probably brow beaten by poor sales over seas, I honestly don’t see Namco pulling out the franchise again in a recognizable form on a modern console (hell though anything is getting made into a mobile game these days). So where do we look for the next great Multiplayer brawler? Yeah, Platinum Game’s Anarchy Reigns. Looks like online co-op, online free for all (I counted 4 players total duking it out, but interviews say 8 at a time) and from the videos online so far– an assload of lag! No word yet on any single player, but the interviews (see below) have entirely focused on the multiplayer action. Needless to say, it looks a lot like Urban Reign, and of course the use of the word Reigns in the title is probably no accident. Obviously we mustn’t overlook the distinct similarities to the also excellent Power Stone series. While this seems great, Anarchy Reigns is stepping into the ring with some of the best games in existence, including titles like War of the Monsters and even Twisted Metal, including one I have to give props to but dislike quite a bit: Smash Brothers Brawl.
The characters in Anarchy Reigns seem your standard Platinum fare– that is totally foaming at the mouth berserk. The only semi-normal character is the ice lady above, but even she has a BARCODE ACROSS HER TITS. The rest of the revealed cast so far are pretty much cracked out stereotypes. Four of the characters are straight from Madworld and I’m sure we’ll see a few more from it. Whether Platinum can tap into their Clover IP is yet to be seen but you could see Gene, Devil Hand, Shannon and Elvis. The lady in waiting for announcement is, of course, Bayonetta. Since Bayonetta 2 is confirmed, I doubt you will see her as a playable character but who knows. Her and that other witch with the red glasses would make fine editions, though they seem a bit over powered compared to the current cast (they can stop time and all that jazz).
Fall of 11 is going to be a brutal time with Elder Scrolls and this busting out. I need to make sure to spend my summer entirely outdoors in a tent raped nightly by animals digging up from under the earth.
There are a lot of videos out there, but this limey one seems the best of the bunch for a quick view of what the game is about:
I spanned some time with the UFC 2010 demo on Xbox360, spending about about three hours delivering beatings. The short version of this very short review is that I am hopeful that the price of the 2009 game will go down when this comes out as I see virtually no reason to get 2010 before thoroughly playing through 2009.
Awesome but stodgy. The model’s skins, the blood, the sweat, the damage– it’s all beautifully rendered. However, the animations and especially how the fighters react to hits is very strange and remind me more of rock’em sock’em robots than a real life UFC match. I guess the best word to describe the fighting physics as they relate to the models is: contrived. Nothing looks natural, these are beautifully skinned robots fighting.
Slow, Methodical, technical. The fighting engine is much slower than most, if not all, fighting games out there: there’s no other word for it, but it’s quite a change from Virtua Fighter 5 and especially the lightning fast 2D fighters I’m used to. Positioning is key to get the opportunity for big hits– and when you do there is always a chance that one left hook will be the end of the fight. I spent most of the time played striking and kicking, but found the ground game very engaging though it probably has the biggest learning curve.
However, the game, at least against the AI in the demo, is extremely easy, on anything but the EXPERT setting (which I certainly am not). I was able to beat all the other fighters on the second highest AI setting using the following: Takedown from medium distance, move to side mount, punch face until opponent escaped, repeat. After the opponent is semi-bloodied (end of round 1 or beginning of round 2, start punching when both are standing up and you will get a KO rather quickly. That was every match. Very little deviation was required unless the opponent got a reversal or moved in too close before the takedown. Expert AI counters and combos a lot but it’s the only level that gives anywhere near a challenge (even to a n00b). Compared, again, to Virtua Fighter 5’s incredible AI scaling, this is a disappointment.
It’s a demo
There are many features the game offers outside the actual fights and some of them actually matter I suppose, like the graphics, extras are important but nothing could make up for a bad fighting engine– something I can’t tell without playing extensively with a human opponent. It’s a tough call on this one at full price– but hopefully the 2009 version will drop 10-20$ due to this release.
Though we won’t see this in the states for quite long time, King of Fighters 13 is looking solid. Adding the girl’s team and K’ team to the roster among a few others. Still no Choi Bunge, Chang, Eji or Billy though–where are all the bad guys?