I'm not even going to lie-- Between trudging out to the lone useable Toys R Us in the island of Manhattan, watching the Panthers implode against the Atlanta Falcons and Dark Souls I had no real time to think of a witty theme for this week's games-- the unique mixture of sleep depravation, depression and utter fear has crushed the creative spark within me, perhaps never to return.
Fair not though gentle reader, as I am simply a hack blogger creativity is but a burden to my cause. That said, here's a bunch of crap I worked on Saturday while trying my best to talk myself into ownership of Driver: San Francisco.
Ace Combat Seven Assault Horizon
Developer: Project Aces
Publisher: BanCo NamDai
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Hey kids, you remember Ace Combat, right? Fun little fluffy arcade jet shooter most notable for it’s wacky anime politics plot and pink jet planes plastered with images Idolmaster girls?
..well that’s shit’s gone.
Assault Horizon instead takes place in a grim and gritty Call-of-Duty inspired world of “real life” socioeconomic politics penned by Jim DeFelice, the guy (somewhat) responsible for Dick Marcinko’s Rogue Warrior series. For the most part it’s still an Ace Combat game featuring highly supsect amounts of jet-on-jet dogfighting (would anyone really be surprised if more than 20 combat jets were shot down by other combat jets since the end of first Gulf War? I mean, jet aircraft are fucking expensive and unless you’re operating on an insane budget like the US Air Force you can’t really afford to have these things blown up on a regular basis, although I guess the more realistic Ace Combat: Blowing Up Third World Parking Garages From A Remote Base In Nevada is harder to sell), although now there are rail shooter sequences from the back of a Blackhawk.
(note: Because the same guy wrote Rogue Warrior and Assault Horizon and the developers for Rogue Warrior: Black Razor have since gone out of business, I’m going to propose that we put forward the wholly unsubstantiated rumor that Rogue Warrior and Assault Horizon take place in the same universe and that Richard “Dick” Marcinko is in fact a playable character)
And I mean, you can understand Namco’s desire to revitalize the Ace Combat franchise and make it relevant to the new breed of Modern Warfare-obsessed dudebro fratboys-- the only problem is that the idea of a grim n’ gritty real world arcade jet sim with authorial pedigree has already been done, and no one cared about Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. either.
Being a goofy anime-inspired game with customizable Moe paintjobs was AC’s entire charm, and Namco Bandai pissed that away trying to chase the Modern Warfare crowd when they could have gone the other way and released Ace Combat: Bandai Bought Namco And We Finally Made A Good Macross Game!
Platforms: Nintendo DS
There’s a simple metiric with Wayforward games-- anytime they get the chance to re-create an SNES game, it’s probably a game worth picking up. In the case of Aliens: Infestation, Wayforward has a chance to riff on two SNES games-- Super Contra and Super Metroid.
So you’re thinking “Super Contra and Super Metroid. Of course I should already own this videogame and clearly anyone with an opposing viewpoint should be rounded up and sent to Siberia so they cannot harm the human population. But what else can this game provide?”
What If I were to respond with MOTHERFUCKING AUTOLOADER FIGHTS
YOU NOW OWN THIS GAME, BITCHES
On the most recent Beardcast we discussed what we thought would be the best way (if it were indeed possible at all) for Sega to revitalize the Sonic franchise-- I mentioned the obvious masturbatory fantasy of having Sega utilize it’s ties with Platinum to create a truly legendary 3d platformer (that would probably wind up having nothing to do with Sonic other than name value), but really, wouldn’t WayForward be able to get this right? They clearly “get” 2d gaming and love to recreate 16 bit classics whenever possible. So here’s my newest Sonic related masturbatory fantasy (that has nothing to do with sexy dominatrix bats)
1: Sega buys Vanillaware
2: Sega pays the game developers at Vanillaware to leave the island of Japan with the promise never to never so much as touch a d-pad
3: Sega buys Wayforward
4: Sega combines Wayforward and Vanillaware’s artists and sets them about re-creating Sonic, Golden Axe, Shinobi and Alex Kidd.
Yes, I understand the inherent danger in trusting Sega with anything, but Sega are actually decent publishers-- these are the same guys who keep Platinum employed. Admittedly expecting any sense of competence out of Sega regarding thier own catalog of games is silly (consider the nonexistent PR coverage for the XBLA releases of Guardian Heroes and Radiant Silvergun) but this is strictly fantasy. The realistic view of Sega’s plan to re-vitalize Sonic consists of
1: Command Sonic Team to get another goddamned Sonic game ready for Christmas
2: Use last year’s Sonic money to fill a hooker’s cleavage up with cocaine
Anywho. Buy this game, you assholes!
Batman: Arkham City
Developer: Rocksteady Games
Publisher: Warner Interactive
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Are you like me and have managed to successfully avoid all storyline spoilers, gameplay footage and any information on new game + content for the past six months? Well good! Because fuck you if you think I’m doing any research on this game, I’m not buying it for at least the next two weeks.
(also buy this game. Seriously. Reviews are out a full week ahead of it’s release; reviewers are in love with the game and Toys R Us has set it’s yearly B2G1Free sale around the idea that you cannot reasonably expect any games you want to buy to remain in stock by the time this is released on Wednesday. There hasn’t been an bigger assured Good Thing in geek culture since the day it was announced that Sam Rami was directing the first Spider-Man movie and everyone sat in front of their 19 inch Mitsubishi CRTs muttering “fuck yeah, fuck yeah...”)
Ben 10 Galactic Racing
Developer: Monkey Bar Games
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Platforms: Every Fucking Thing
On one hand I want so say something nice about Ben 10 Galactic Racing as Monkey Bar Games is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and likely employs no small number of UNC alumni and fans.
On the other hand, it’s fucking Ben 10. Also, a cart racer? Seriously? In 2011? What’s next, a guitar ga--
Oh fine. Like Ubisoft are rational actors anyway. It’s not like it’s 2008 and you have a respected publisher pushing through a half-baked update of a well-regarded classic using little more rationale than some Waggle UI impr--
Okay okay. What’s next, Capcom re-issuing a director’s cut of questionable value a year after everyone already spent full MSRP on the origna--
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
Developer: Capcom Vancouver
Publisher: Regular ol’ Capcom
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Same spiel as every other time Capcom pulls this shit-- yes, the most recent on-disc revision that easily could have been performed via DLC is probably the best possible version of this game, but it’s also hard to understand why people would be suddenly attracted to this version if they stayed away from the original.
You know what? Screw it. We now need some sort of Capcom Game Corollary the same way we have an Apple Hardware Corollary and a Nintendo Handheld Corollary.
Generalized Capcom Game Rule: A-List Capcom Games are almost always worth buying
Generalized Capcom Game Buying Corollary: You should probably wait a year anyway.
Capcom’s pulled this shit too many times-- Dragon’s Dogma pre-orders have to be abysmal, right? How can anyone trust this fucking company? Unless you’re running into something understandably limited like say Ghost Trick or any given Pheonix Wright game, it makes no sense to buy a Capcom game in the first year. Either you’re going to get a far superior revision for a fraction of the price or you wind up with something hilarious and doomed to fail.
As far Off The Record itself goes-- It’s the original Dead Rising 2, but with Frank West instead of Chuck. Which, if you’re the erstwhile Blue Castle games, sorta has to be a kick in the stomach. Chuck was the only thing they really brought to the Dead Rising formula. Now even that’s gone and they have to be wondering what Capcom has in store for them now that they exist as Capcom Vancouver.
Forza Motorsport 4
Developer: Turn 10 Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Platforms: Xbox 360
Remember a few years back when some of us in the hardcore gaming community (including myself) were screaming that waggle was going to ruin hardcore games because money-grubbing publishers would force developers into half-assed title updates that only served to chase the drooling masses to whom waggle was clearly targeted toward?
Yeah I didn’t expect that to culminate in something I actually loved.
Look, I’m not going to sit here and say Forza 4 is a bad game. The thing is sitting in the low 90’s in Metacritic, even if it’s nothing more than Forza 3 with a better season calendar then it’s still the best racing sim of it’s generation and leaps and bounds ahead of anything Polyphony Digital has produced in the past decade. But if the only material update to Forza 3 is a UI and new cars then I have to wonder if Turn 10 wasn’t pressured by Microsoft into spending development dollars supporting Kinect instead of adding in new race modes. I mean, supposedly Turn 10 is in charge of RalliSport Challenge now that DICE is stuck in EA purgatory. Or incorporate a working single-player mode along the lines of Codemaster’s GRID or Ridge Racer Type 4. Y’know, something other than Kinect Joy Ride: Maserati Edition.
Sure the Top Gear stuff is neat, but you can gain a lot of the same effect and save roughly $40 by buying Forza 3 used while streaming Jeremy Clarkson BBC documentaries in the background.
Hulk Hogan's Main Event
Developer: Panic Button
A motion controlled wrestling game is one of the ideas that should actually work with Kinect, right? Sure you’d be limited to standing in the middle of the ring and throwing out kick and punch and powerbomb motions as the other guy comes to you, but this exact formula made Kevin Nash a millionaire.
And people love wrestling. It’s cheap, dumb fun. Waggle games are similarly cheap dumb fun. Hulk Hogan is cheap dumb fun! So how did Panic Button screw up this game so badly that Giant Bomb won’t even bother running a Quicklook?
I can’t blame Hogan’s involvement here. I have a theory that Hogan feels bad about exposing two entire generations of schoolchildren to his lame super-soft chairshots without ever once showing them how to properly block a real chairshot wielded by the full idiot force of a 13 year old boy.
Here’s my only issue with this game (aside from, y’know, the shocking lack of quality that can only be provided by a company best known for Attack of the Movies 3d and We Wish You a Merry Christmas):
That’s not 2011 TNA Old Man Hogan, that’s not 1985 WWE Classic Hogan, that’s not even 1979 NWA Southeast Heavyweight Champion Hogan. This is no conceivable version of Hogan! It’s not like “big dude with highly improbable biceps” is a trademarked WWE image; it’s clearly a case where someone on the development team created Hogan using the in-game Create A Wrestler feature the moment it was announced that Panic Button had cut a check for Hogan’s likeness.
Panic Button really dropped the ball on Main Event; the Kinect crowd would clearly have embraced this game had Panic Button given any effort at all into it’s development. Hopefully the studio can recover for it’s highly anticipated 2012 title
Jimmie Johnson's Anything With an Engine
Developer: Isopod Labs
Publisher: Autumn Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii
I hate Jimmie Johnson. I mean, I really do. Sure there have been more despicable people to enter NASCAR but at least they didn’t crush your will to live by winning the Sprint Cup thirty times in a row. Fuck you Jimmie Johnson, and fuck your bullshit budget racing game.
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertanment
Platforms: PlayStation 3
Pity poor Insomniac. Despite Spyro being as good of a 3d platformer as could reasonably be expected, Naughty Dog got all the Playstation 1 mascot mojo with Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet and Clank got lost in the Playstation 2’s bizarre Rachet/Jax/Sly Cooper trifecta of mascot platformers, and after finally hitting all the right notes with the third Resistance game it was tied into an unfair association with Killzone 3 and murdered by Gears of War 3 in the NPD sales figures.
And now we have All 4 One, where Insomniac has been forced to take a crowbar to the skull of it’s most successful franchise and give it a co-op lobotomy. This is the last resort of any franchise notwithstanding a kart racer, but by that point you’re veering into self-parody anyway. Oh, and it’s releasing on the same day as Arkham City. These guys can’t catch a break; hopefully this string of bad luck is isolated to the PlayStation brand and Overstrike winds up decent-- Provided you ignore the bit where the company has accepted the yoke of EA Games as their publisher.
Is All 4 One a good game? That’s hard to tell; there’s no review buzz yet and that’s usually a bad sign for a game that’s less than 48 hours from official release. It’s probably at least decent though, this is the tenth attempt at Ratchet and Clank; and they’re usually fully playable, if strangely bland affairs.
BATTLEFIELD 3 marks the beginning of the Bro Wars, the prophesied event that will doom us all to an endless cycle of realistic, extremely drab FPS-- wait, that's the past five years of gaming. Nevermind.
If you think I'm going to have anything insightful to say about DRAGONBALL Z: ULTIMATE NIZOOUZAKAHULLA you are totally out of your freakin' mind
But don't worry about any of that because KIRBY'S RETURN TO DREAMLAND is here to teach us all about love and chasing our dreams and understanding and violent sociopathic behavior.