The PlayStation 4 Pro Has Been Announced!

Unless you have been living under a rock you undoubtedly have heard the news that the rumored PlayStation Neo is real and is in fact called the PlayStation 4 Pro. This “new” console (if you can even call it new. I’m not even sure what new means in this generation anymore) will support true 4K specs and will naturally allow for developers to make some better looking games. Should you be excited? My response is no. In fact hell no. You should be skeptical that this will lead to any innovation in the industry.

I am of the opinion that better graphics do not make for better games. Games are truly great when their gameplay or stories or both are compelling and engaging. When you look at gaming that way graphics are not that important in the overall scheme of things. Take a look at Shovel Knight, Cave Story, The Binding of Isaac, Axiom Verge these Indie games do not have realistic boundary pushing graphics but are wildly fun to play. They are also very successful, popular and have been released somewhat recently. It’s really difficult to gauge what Sony and Microsoft, with their Scorpio, see in this generation of gaming. It’s clear that they no longer believe in the somewhat dated, yet functional process, of having a dedicated games console for 4-7 years and then replacing it with something new and hopefully stronger. The benefit to this has always been that the first 2 years will be the growing pains cycle where developers will usually not release anything worth while they try to figure out the console’s advantages and disadvantages. More often you get games that don’t look to nice, function a little obtusely or just don’t age that well. However the upside was that once that period was over you had access to better games. Games that made you wanna buy them and have a blast playing. Once that happens that’s when I consider a gaming generation to have truly begun. For example, for me that did not start until I finally played Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Once I finished it I felt that I had truly come in to this current generation.

Of course with the Scorpio and PlayStation Pro looming I can’t help but feel there is no reason for these consoles to exist so damn early. Look 4K looks amazing. It really does. But to apply it to gaming now would be a mistake in my opinion. All it will succeed in doing is making games much more expensive to produce. This will in turn make publishers more conservative when it comes to the types of games they make. So don’t be surprised if everything that ends up being made is a shooter of some sort. It’s the genre that is arguably the most popular currently. So any new IP that could be made will just follow the path of genre stagnation. Now I’m not trying to jump on an anti shooter bandwagon but come on. So many games now are shooters and even more are first person. Trying to appeal to as many people to recoup the cost of development is not necessarily a good thing. Do you really want to be in a world where Uncharted 4 gets another re-release in the same generation? That’s what could happen. Games just released will get re-releases to take advantage of 4K.

It’s pretty obvious that both Sony and Microsoft are looking now to compete with PC’s in terms of raw power and processing. This is not a smart strategy at all. Why? Because no matter what gaming box Sony or Microsoft make it’s ultimately going to be outdated by the tech advancements of tomorrow and I do mean that quite literally. Like how as soon as you buy a computer within a week it’s already technically outdated. When you are competing with a platform whose parts are constantly evolving you are forgetting the key concept of having a dedicated gaming platform. GAMES. PC’s are our gateway to the internet, our business tools, things students use to write papers or thesis'(sometimes even pirate), a communication tool to loved ones, a device to process high amounts of information at high speeds and yeah it can play games too. PC’s have to be constantly updated because the world demands that of them. Their upgrades dictate the software that we use. Not our games. To apply this logic to game consoles pretty much means you want to nickel and dime the consumer or market yourselves to a very small group who have the expendable income to buy all the things needed to take advantage of these upgrades. Not to mention that the games made will be compatible across all the “weaker” consoles too. But for how long? Even games made on PC’s stop supporting certain video cards after a while so what does this mean for the PS4 Pro and Scorpio? Seem stupid yet?

There is a lot to dislike about this. But at least the PlayStation 4 Pro will be able to play those 4K movies right? Nah apparently it won’t but the Xbox One S can? Boy I sure do miss gaming from my childhood.

 

 

 

Metal Gear….Survive???????

 

What?

What?

What?

What?

What in the hell did I just see???

Konami put up a trailer for what is going to be the first Metal Gear game since Kojima left them. Now I never had any real hopes that Konami would actually be able to make great Metal Gear games. I only wished for the laziest remake of Metal Gear 1 and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake done in the Fox Engine. That’s it. That’s all I hoped for. Turns out Konami wants to create a cooperative game where you survive against some kind of biological threat. As you can probably imagine this was not met with the warmest reception especially since everyone is still angry about that Metal Gear Solid 3 pachinko machine that’s out there. My feelings? I honestly don’t really give a shit. In fact I’m not surprised that this is what Konami wants to do in a post Kojima Metal Gear game. Though I will say the wormholes being an important plot point is goofy as hell and detracts from me taking the game seriously.

That isn’t entirely true though. I do feel somewhat disappointed but only in the sense that Konami has pretty much given up on ever making “traditional” video games. So while they may continue to make PES for the years to come I see now that they are more concerned with short term profit and possibly annualization of very few franchises. Metal Gear Survive I feel is just an attempt to capture the audience who enjoys games like Left 4 Dead. However I’m only speculating since the game is not released yet. I think it’s clear that this game will be primarily online co-op. So if there exists a competitive mode where 4 on 4 teams compete against each other its not too far-fetched to assume that Metal Gear Survive could be Konami’s foray into the world of competitive E-sports. So essentially Konami might have 3 streams of revenue. PES, E-sports, and Pachinko….Can anyone explain to me what the hell Pahcinko is and how you play it? It seems insane.

Getting back on point. What Konami is doing is taking their established franchises and turning them into low risk profit makers. I have no idea if this is benefiting their bottom line or is even economically feasible but this is what they have been doing for the past few years now. Like I said earlier I’m not surprised. But that’s because of how stagnated the gaming industry has become and the simultaneous rise in free to play apps. Konami seems to be taking a risk alienating Metal Gear fans with this new “Metal Gear” game but really is it unique? It doesn’t look it to me. Will it be fun? I have no idea. I don’t plan on buying it at all but who knows maybe Konami will have a massive hit on them and if so then maybe they will return to traditional game development and then I can get my lazy remakes or at least a Castlevania reboot that pays homage to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure where a Belmont and Dracula actually grew up together and Dracula was a huge dick like Dio. See Konami, I just gave you a million dollar idea right there!

Let’s Talk About Mighty No 9

If there has been one game that has had an “interesting” development process it would have to be Mighty No. 9. From an overwhelmingly successful kickstarter campaign to becoming the scourge of the gaming internet. I don’t think there has been a game that has been so publicly supported and vilified at the same time. As a backer, I got to see this game get made from the dramatic shift in art style to the announcement of an animated tv show (I’m not 100% how or why this came about but whatever it’s separate from the Kickstarter). I was also made painfully aware of how many delays this game would probably end up getting and truth be told I would have gladly waited until 2017 for the game. Now that it’s been released you don’t have to look far to see what most people think of it. I have played it. I have not finished it. In fact I’m rather astonished at how terrible I am at the game. Though all this tells me is to practice more so that one day I can breeze through it like Mega Man.

I should be upfront though. This is not a review. Think of this as a sort of first impressions and my opinion for the general “meh-ness” of the game.

I think a lot of people were rather shocked that Mighty No. 9 turned out as flawed as it did. Now in my opinion that’s all the game is. A flawed piece of work that could have benefited from another delay or two. However, as is the case with crowdfunding, failure to deliver something as soon as possible will be suspect in the eyes of some backers. Especially in the case of a highly successful kickstarter campaign that netted a few million dollars for the development. I remember when Keiji Inafune released the video of his asking for help with creating this new game. I’ll be honest I damn near almost cried because Mega Man, Mario, and Earthbound were the shit when I was a kid (along with a bunch of other games but I was going for alliteration and well Earthbound must always be mentioned whenever possible). So of course I threw my money at it like so many other people.

As time went on though I realized that kickstarter is really a platform to fund an idea. A concept really. Keiji Inafune used a lot of Mega Man imagery in his announcement trailer that made everyone think that they were essentially getting Mega Man with a new coat of paint. Not a sequel to the epic franchise, but something new that carries the torch. If it’s anything that should be looked down on it was this video’s imagery. We were made to believe that this would be the new Mega Man. That’s not a claim you can make lightly. So when I say we funded an idea, truthfully we funded something new that Mega Man fans might be able to appreciate.

With all that in mind. As adamant and vocal as some backers and “critics” have been of the game and its development process I feel that we all were guilty of the same thing. We did not manage our expectations. Especially when the game received funding to be released on 10 different platforms. To be honest once this set in with me I realized that I was living in a fantasy world if there was really any hope that 1) This game would be released “on time” or at most 2015 and 2) That Mighty No. 9 would be without its own share of problems upon launch.

I have no proof or anything for what I’m gonna suggest was the problem. This is simply my own assumption. Given that Mighty No. 9 was set to release on so many platforms and was somehow expected to have fully functioning online features and have those online features work with ALL versions of the game. This was a doomed process from the start. This probably gave the Dev team massive headaches and issues between all the different consoles. Especially if they planned to have them all released at the same time, for the most part anyway. Simply stated, I believe that the Development team stretched themselves way too thin and given the negative reception of nearly any and everything they did on the internet they probably just wanted to get this project done and move on finally. Maybe I’m right about this and maybe I’m wrong. But that’s what I believe happened behind the scenes.

So now here we are with the game finally released and the reviewers are calling it crapReally??? Crap you say? I think that’s a bit extreme. Then again we were all made to believe that this game would be the next Mega Man so the expectations were outlandishly high too. The game is flawed. I can see it from the bit that I played. But it isn’t the worst game ever. I dunno if it’s the Mega Man successor we all thought it was gonna be. It probably isn’t. But so far the game’s real problem stems from its performance. The load times on my Wii U copy are horrendously long. Sometimes the frame rate drops a bit. In my experience so far that’s all I can say is wrong. Beyond that it’s a fully developed game and is not nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Once you manage your expectations a bit its a playable game. It’s flawed as hell but you can spend your money on much worse. (Like Assassin’s Creed Unity, a game which I have decided to personally make my arch nemesis. If I ever become an alcoholic it will be because of that damn game.) To be fair though as a backer, I would have preferred another delay to Mighty No. 9 in order to iron out these issues a bit.

Anyway I wanna conclude with looking at another kickstarter game called Shovel Knight. Like Mighty No.9 it was set to release on multiple consoles and seemingly have a boat load of extra content. What Yacht Club Games did was release the game in small batches across different platforms. First was the PC, Wii U, and 3DS versions. Then came the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox One versions a few months later. The team here seemingly managed their time and efforts a lot better than the Dev team for Mighty No. 9. So if Comcept ever gets around to making a sequel they should look to how Shovel Knight was handled and just make a game that functions properly and worry about porting it to everything later. I mean Shovel Knight is on the Amazon Fire TV now. Who the hell seriously plays games on that?!

Nintendo’s E3 2016

Now that E3 is officially over and I have collected my thoughts from what Nintendo has shown I can safely say that once again they have reignited a passion within me with what the have done with The Legend of  Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I always thought it was a bit risky focusing so much on just one game but it seems to have worked out. Breath of the Wild for all intents and purposes looks to be the game that I have wanted to play for along time. I am so excited to play it. Go check it out if you have not already!

My only gripe is that I’m not too crazy with the voice telling Link to wake up. Now I am open to Zelda characters having voices I’m just not crazy about this one voice. But aside from that this game looks incredible. The scope of it is just overwhelming and I know i have used the word “creativity” in previous posts but this game has it. Remember how enraged I was with Microsoft for talking teraflops and graphics? Nintendo has shows with this game that even without flopping you can make a game look so beautiful without having the latest tech. It’s something that I value in my game. I will always value the creativity in an art style over realistic graphics (though that is not to say I hate realism. Some games make it work beautifully).

I am also convinced that this game is somehow gonna be The Legend of Zelda’s Phantom Pain. I say this because I can’t stop seeing parallels between the two games. Link can sneak around to get the drop on enemies. Also look at Link’s hair! Doesn’t it look familiar??

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Yeah I know my shit!

MMHMM! Still think I’m crazy? Alright well guess what? Link can use his shield to essentially snowboard on mountains right? Welp you know who else could slide down mountains?

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I cannot unsee the “links” (pun intended, sorry!)

Not to mention of course that they both awaken after a long time has passed get dropped into a massive open world and are expected to make the legend come back to life. Plus you can make both Link and Punished Venom Snake shirtless and can’t they both climb pretty much anything? Well Snake couldn’t climb on everything sadly, but Link can! He makes Spider-Man look like an idiot.

As you can probably tell I’m beyond excited for this game. It’s coming out on both Wii U and NX in 2017. Apparently both versions will be identical. I could say more about Zelda but honestly you’d be doing yourself a favor scrolling up a bit and watching the trailer some more. This game is going to be amazing. I CANNOT WAIT!

Nintendo also showcased a plethora of other games including Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, which look good as well. I’ll be buying myself Sun when it comes out and will more than likely take Popplio.

However there were two 3DS games that I’m also looking forward to. The first is a New IP called Ever Oasis

All I know for sure is that I get to make an oasis in a desert with the most adorable little characters ever. I should also mention that I’m really glad that the main character is a little child of color. You can choose the sex too! It sorta reminds me of Secret of Mana a bit which makes sense given that Koichi Ishii (Director of Secret of Mana) is heading Ever Oasis  as well.

The second 3DS game I am highly anticipating is Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past. Aside from having the coolest title I am also a huge Dragon Quest fan.

I’m really happy that this game comes out on September 16th. That way I don’t have long to wait! I just realized that although I love Dragon Quest, I have yet to beat any of them. I know I know it’s bad but I have this habit where I make it really far in a game and then life happens and I end up not going back to finish it. In my case this has happened with like 4 Dragon Quest games. So I guess I better get off my ass and finish a few right?

Anyway that about sums up my E3 impressions. Overall this was not a particularly exciting E3 for me but what Nintendo has done with Zelda saved it. I love Nintendo and as a hardcore fan of theirs it’s great to see that despite the internet and 3rd Party developer’s hating them, they can still make an incredible game that makes every other game look crappy. OOH shots fired. But yeah ZELDA IS COMING WOOOOOH!!!!!!! Ok I’m done now.

Sony’s E3 2016

I think the word “Yup” perfectly captures my reactions to Sony’s E3 conference. It’s rather difficult for me to really elaborate with more than just a stoic, resounding “Yup”. What I mean is that nothing really stood out to make me lose my shit or run around all excited like I was 6 years old again and thankfully, nothing pissed me off either (like Microsoft). There were a few games that I am looking forward to and interestingly enough a couple surprises too. So I think I’ll list off what I am looking forward to from the conference and then offer some thoughts about the presentation.

  1. God of War

    I have played all the God of War games to date. What I can say is that Kratos is a damn moron who is so completely unlikable. Yet his games are really cool. I love the fast fluid combat and the feeling of being an overpowered dumb piece of shit who seems to think his vengeance is justified (Ya did it to yourself Kratos. You really did. No one forced you to kick down a door to some house and swing with reckless abandon) So with this game I am eager to see where they take this character and to see if he is still a dumb piece of shit (I’m willing to bet he probably is).
  2. Horizon Zero Dawn

    Last year I saw this game get announced and I believe it had a small trailer. Well this year we got more of a look at it. It seems really interesting but a bit redundant. It’s essentially a 3rd person shooter/adventure with scavenging added. We have played this game before. However, I am still interested in the main character Aloy. There are not enough female leads in games and this is a very refreshing take on a tried and true gameplay style. So I’m very invested in finding out who Aloy is and what her story turns out to be.
  3. Resident Evil 7

    After the shit-show that was apparently Resident Evil 6 (I have yet to play it but I have not heard good things), RE7 was the last thing I expected to see. Naturally as a fan of the series I am excited…but to be honest I’m not too impressed with what I saw. It’s in 1st person with seemingly nothing to do with any of the old cast. Personally I’m waiting for the return of cool guy BILLY COEN. But sadly that probably will never happen. Anyway the game so far seems like Capcom looked at PT when it was alive, saw Konami grind it into dust and then went…”Well we can do that can’t we?”
  4. Final Fantasy XV

    I love Final Fantasy. I grew up with the series. Currently I am replaying Final Fantasy VIII because of how much I enjoyed it when I was young. XV on the other hand looks really dumb and obnoxious. Also why is every playable character male? It should be called sausage fest XV. But whatever. I’ll reserve judgement for when it comes out and I play it. I just hope I enjoy it more than XIII. I still have nightmares about that game. I fucking hate Snow. Holy shit does he just ruin the game. OH FFXV also is supporting PlayStation VR. More on that in a bit.
  5. The Crash Bandicoot remakes
    Yeah this was announced. I was kind of excited and then I got a little worried since Crash is technically still owned by Activision so who the hell knows how that is gonna turn out. But I was excited for about 3 seconds there Sony. Hoh shit was I.
  6. The Last Guardian

    My only reaction was “oh shit it’s still real!”. Here’s hoping the game lives up to the hype surrounding it.
  7. Death Stranding

    IT’S HIDEO KOJIMA’S NEW GAME HOLY SHIT! I’m happy for him I really am. He’s one of my favorite game designers and Metal Gear inspired this here site of mine so yeah I’m so excited for Kojima-senpai! I just wish he could have told us more about the game beyond the name and that we could have seen more than Norman Reedus’ ass. It looks better then Danny DeVito ass, so that’s a plus I guess. That’s about it.

Sony let their vast showcase of games impress everyone. They didn’t even mention the Neo. Probably because they had a feeling that it would slap early adopters in the face, like Microsoft did. Funny how lately all Sony has to do to succeed is go the EXACT opposite way of Microsoft. However if there was one thing I did not enjoy about the presentation it was the segment on VR. I am a VR skeptic. I don’t care how many games you put on the damn thing because if it’s $400 for a friggen helmet in addition to the cost of the console I’m looking at a total investment of anywhere from $700-$800 dollars. Plus when the PlayStation Neo comes out it’ll probably be more expensive as a console so the overall investment for PlayStation VR comes in pretty close to $1000. No way in hell am I spending that. Whatever. Look VR seems to be the thing that the tech industry is forcing down our throats. It’s gonna be everywhere so for now I get to be an enraged Media Scholar as I look for a cane to wave in the air while I act bitter like an old man complaining about new tech sucking us dry. I will end this by saying for all my complaining Sony has convinced me to want a PlayStation 4 so hopefully sometime soon I can pick one up. I need to play Persona 5 when that drops. I would have mentioned it but it was not in the conference so yeah.

Microsoft’s E3 (Let’s Talk about Xbox)

I just watched Microsoft’s E3. There are no words to describe the level of confusion, anger, and bafflement at this company. At first I was happy, not excited, but I felt fine. Microsoft showed off the Xbox One S and I was impressed. It is about damn time this thing gets a slimmer model because I hate the giant-ass console I have in my living room that Microsoft thought was okay. So cool, the Xbone is getting a slim redesign with a bigger hard drive and “new” controller. Fascinating shit there, Microsoft. What else do you have? Obviously a bunch of games, 90% of them shooters. It’s your standard Microsoft fare. Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2, Battlefield 1, all the games that you are already used to seeing on Microsoft’s game catalog. There were very few games that I was personally interested in like Recore, Tekken 7 (I fucking love me some Tekken), Dead Rising 4, Cuphead, and of course, Scalebound. That’s about it because the rest of what was shown was astonishingly boring to me. However, there was one thing that I noticed, though, that kept resounding throughout their presentation.

I noticed that for all of the showcased games, they kept saying that digital purchases would carry over to Windows 10. So if you get Gears of War 4 on Xbone, you can get the Windows 10 version for free. Your saved progress carries over and you can seamlessly play between devices. This was something Microsoft made damn sure was understood. So I analyzed the situation like this: Microsoft recognized the value of gaming. I mean, that’s the only reason they ever created the first Xbox. They saw it would make them a lot of money. Now to ensure this, they also crafted Xbox Live and stamped a $60 a year membership cost. So Microsoft would not only make money off their console and first-party games, they are also making a pretty penny off of Xbox Live as a service. Now, this made sense because this meant that if you paid your $60, you can play with your friends over Xbox and have a blast. BUT now that these same games are coming to Windows, what is the incentive to keep buying into Xbox live when you don’t have to pay to play online on PCs? Does Microsoft see their IP as more valuable and competitive then Steam? I ask this because Steam has completely leveled the field when it comes to PC Gaming. You can play online with your friends for free and get all kinds of games for dirt cheap when they go on sale, which they do…frequently. Not to mention that Steam is such an intuitive and easy-to-use service. Now in a world where Steam exists and is loved by many, why the hell does Microsoft think it can compete with Steam? My answer is that they can’t. I’m actually surprised that they aren’t trying to sell their games through Steam with the stipulation that they’d be available only to Windows 10 users. Then again, I’d be equally surprised that a company that sees itself as more of a service than a platform would suddenly use a competitor to sell their games.

This brings me to the final part of their conference which was the big announcement that Xbox One Scorpio is a thing. Don’t know what that is? It’s basically what Microsoft SHOULD have made the Xbox One. They showed off a bunch of developers talking about it and they all said the same things. Its “true” 4K graphics (again almost typed $K instead of 4K) and its “6 Teraflops” (Are teraflops the new bits? Like 16 bit? I dunno, whatever, anything with -flop as a suffix sounds really dumb). My rough translation is this: “Hi, at Microsoft Studios we use graphics as a crutch to justify our lack of creativity in designing our games. We know many of you flocked to the PlayStation 4 because of how powerful it is and we get it. So we made a new console that is even stronger than the PlayStation 4, so please buy it…please?” Now, they did announce that all games will be compatible between the original Xbone, the slim, and this Scorpio. But as you can tell, I am enraged by this announcement. For me, it comes down to one question: WHY?! Why make this console at all? How am I supposed to believe that there are not gonna be any games that take advantage of these 6 glorious teraflops that just can’t work on the older models because…they aren’t 6 teraflops? Are they even 1 teraflop? Do they flop at all??? Plus if the games expected to be compatible between all Xbox One models, how can any one game truly take advantage of the power inside the Scorpio? I believe that they can’t, and eventually, games will become exclusive to the Scorpio. Anyway, my point here is this: Better graphics do NOT make for a better game. You know what does? Gameplay. Unique and/or fun gameplay. You know why classic games are considered to be timeless? It’s because they are just fun to play. Rarely is it because they just look good.

You know what better graphics do improve? A game’s budget. If a game is expected to output 4K graphics with 6 Teraflops of fun, I’m willing to bet this requires more time and effort on the side of the developers, while the publishers will be putting on pressure for a best selling game. Now to alleviate the costs, they will make a game that appeals to as many people as possible. What this results in is a game that has no identity and plays exactly like previous games, and there’s an 80% chance that it’ll be a shooter of some sort with a lead male protagonist who may or may not be white. Better graphics do not make better games. You know what does? Creativity. So thanks, Microsoft, I truly feel like buying your Xbone was such a worthwhile investment. Especially since I only paid $320 dollars for the friggen thing and it came bundled with both the best Assassin’s Creed game (Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag) and the WORST (Assassin’s Creed: Unity).