Yes, this is late. Yes, this is due entirely to Mass Effect 3. Yes, I’m an awful human being. Yes, I’m not putting any effort whatsoever into this opening because I want to go back to playing Mass Effect 3 again. No its not /that/ good a game. Yes, I’ll explain below:
Blades of Time
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment (not quite as offensive as just labelling your development studio Slant-Eye Games, yet somehow less offensive than The Washington Redskins. Also not Gaijin Games, the people responsible for bit.trip. Also not GaijinWorks, the studio Vic Ireland founded shortly before being crushed to death under a pallet of unsold copies of Silpheed: The Lost Planet )
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Remember X-Blades? You know, the suspiciously anime-derived Russian-developed character action game that played like some developer in an abandoned missile silo south of Chelyabinsk-40 missile silo played through the entire God of War, drank five bottles of Stolichnaya vodka and then immediately died?
X-Blades! It had a 50% Metacritic score?
Now you remember! X-Blades! Somehow Gaijin Entertainment convinced Konami to bankroll a sequel; we can only assume the Russian Mafia and a bag of severed fingertips were involved.
For those keeping track, here are the things Konami has no problems funding:
*Silent Hill: Downpour
*Blades of Time
Things Konami absolutely will not spend any money on whatsoever
*Bloody Roar 5
*A good 3d Contra game
*An HD sequel to Symphony of the Night
*Zone of the Enders 3
*Anything else you might actually care about
I Am Alive
Publisher: Regular Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
The frustrating thing about I Am Alive is that it is a good idea that should work, Survival horror where man itself is the monster, Mirror’s Edge-quality 3d platforming, exploring a deserted city after the end of the world-- these are all proven concepts, and there’s no reason why bringing them together should not result in a transcendent video game experience. It’s just a shame Ubisoft never bothered to finish the game. Indeed, it would appear nothing of consequence has changed since it was stripped from Ubisoft Montreal’s control a year ago and given over to Shanghai. Just an absolutely awful end to a rather awful House Party XBLA program.
(While we’re on the subject of regrettable XBLA promotions, can we talk about this Phil Fish thing for a bit? You know, the asshole who made an example out of one shy, retiring Japanese guy who flew all the way over to Games Developer Conference in San Francisco last week and ridiculed the failings of the entire Japanese gaming industry?
Look, I know I’ve said I want to see more personality from the gaming development community, and I stand by that. I love Johnathan Blow and his artistic antics to death, it just means someone is actually trying. But there is a line between “personality” and saying non-controversial things in the most pointedly dickish, way possible because Microsoft paid for an award to be handed out and now you get to speak out about anything and no one will dare stop you from doing so.
I know we have to separate our feelings from a developer from the games they produce, but can’t we all just admit that we’re secretly hoping Fez fails miserably during Summer of Arcade and we get to him out for taking 20 years to develop what amounts to a substandard version Cave Story?
Mass Effect 3
Developer: The Last Vestiges of Bioware’s Once Noble Soul
Publisher: Electronic Arts, The Soul-Slaver, the Devourer of Dreams, He Who Demands Multiplayer Despite All Logic
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Two things to take away from my time spent with Mass Effect 3:
1: It is by far my least well-liked Mass Effect game made
2: The worst Mass Effect game is still better than 90% of everything else out there.
Mass Effect 3 is not going to be game of the year; I sincerely hope it doesn’t make my top ten, if it does then 2012 will be a miserable year for gaming. But if you’re already a fan of the first two games, that sixty dollars that could be spent on far, far worse things. On a purely mechanical level, ME3 is a good game, and if you think of Mass Effect games as Gears of War with squad selection then ME3 is probably the best game in the series.
If you’ve not yet bought the first two Mass Effect games, then go ahead and do so, both together should cost like twenty bucks at this point. They’re still the best original IP of this console generation and legitimately good sci-fi in their own right, with the sort of internally coherent universe you usually see out of Larry Niven, decent writing, and excellent characterization. Also there’s a handful of outstanding missions in both of the first games to remind you of why Bioware once mattered as an RPG company. Also neither one is particularly difficult and you can tone down mission difficulty on the fly. They’re genuinely the sorts of games every gamer needs to have experience with just to maintain cultural relevancy.
But if you’re not in love with the universe at that point then you can stop with Mass Effect 2 and pretend this game never happened, you will miss nothing of consequence.
The more I play Mass Effect 3 the harder time I have reconciling the fact that I’m happy the series is finally done with the anger over what EA has turned Bioware into over the past five years since the first game’s release. After I play through this and Dragon Age 2 (on a dare), I’m walking away from Bioware and pretending the studio fell into a sinkhole sometime immediately after the release of Dragon Age 1. Post-EA Bioware is like breaking up with someone who went off their medication; its best to just pretend the person you knew is dead and never coming back.
Anything this company produces in its current state will necessarily be corrupt, no matter how noble their intentions or how promising the idea may be. At this point there’s no depth I can see the company sinking to. That tech demo with the desert and a jeep could be Borderlands 3 for all we know, and you can see the trajectory Mass Effect is taking toward a Planetside-like MMO.
Street Fighter x Tekken
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
I don’t know what’s weirder about SFxT:
1: It’s Street Fighter vs Tekken, an arcade-era dream video game crossover along the same lines of Daytona vs Ridge Racer and second only to Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat in terms of surely-this-will-never-happen factor
2: Not counting yearly updates, this is now the fourth Capcom fighting game in as many years (Tasunoku vs Capcom in late 2008, Street Fighter IV in early 2008, Marvel vs Capcom 3 in 2011, now this). Between the Capcom games, Mortal Kombat 2011 and Aksys’ baffling ability to stay solvent it’s hard to say the 2d fighting renaissance is still a renaissance at all anymore. This is a full-fledged genre, and while it makes sense that there will be some draw down (producing games every 18 months would be a good start) it seems like there’s enough of an audience to keep these games around for a long time.
3: Capcom somehow remembered that Poison existed, but included her in a major release-- and they’re still forward-thinking enough to insist she’s post-op transsexual and not chicken out.
That’s right. Street Figher x Tekken would make Rick Santorum violently ill.
Anyway, there’s been a lot of noise in the community about all the DLC already existing on disc. While from a value standpoint that’s infuriating, from a business standpoint on-disc DLC represents the best solution for a very ugly problem. Capcom simply can’t keep releasing update discs every year as they have for Super Street Fighter IV and Marvel 3, it splits the online community and destroys confidence in the retail product. On the other hand, it turns out you can’t actually sell these things online easily with Microsoft’s current regulations. Unless you push out a patch to every user with the new DLC models regardless of if they buy the DLC or not, players who dont’ have the models can’t interact with people who are using the new fighters. DLC is something that’s going to stay with us, and until Microsoft can be convinced to stop using a 2006 model for bandwidth limitations, on-disc DLC is the best solution.
And yes, there is an argument to be made that you should have access to everything on the disc when you buy the disc, but no one really complains that they can’t reach MMO raid content until they’ve spent $60 in online fees to get to that point. Nor do we complain that our sixty bucks does not also come with a level select at the start of the game. Turns out we very rarely have access to an entire disc when we buy a game, and most of the value of our game collections is unused when the game is shelved.
The base SFxT roster is huge to begin with, with 38 characters. Of course none of that matters as if you have any taste at all you’re rolling with Rolento/Yoshimitsu. In fact can’t we just skip the entire fighting game aspect and just have a game based around Rolento and Yoshimitsu having wacky, blood-spattered adventures? Who wouldn’t green-light that? You know, aside from Konami.
The gems system SFxT is using seems troubling and I predict the fighting game community will just ban thier use entirely. A fighting game with load-out options sounds like a gimmick from the PS1 era. More interesting to me is the prospect of 2 v 2 simultaneous play and the drama this creates when one guy simply refuses to tag out. As Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty can attest, this is a setup that can destroy the closest of friendships. I’m not sure if it is possible for Floe to kick Noel Brown through a plate glass window, but goddamn if wouldn’t pay money to see him try.
Developer: Zipper Interactive (The SOCOM guys! Also the SOCOM guys!)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation Vita
You know Vita owners are in serious crap when they’re trying to talk themselves into buying a stand-alone SOCOM mission pack. Unit 13 is technically competent and as good a blue print as any for cover-based shooters on the Vita, but we’re talking about a game that’s presented as a menu of missions on which to get a high score with no narrative tying them in whatsoever. That’s a $40 game when the guys down the street on the 3DS are selling people a full-fledged Metal Gear Solid game for the same price. Imagine if The Club was expected to sell launch window 360s and you get something an idea of what SCEA is trying to pull off here.
NEXT (this) WEEK~!
*They just won’t stop making MARIO PARTY games and now we’re up to NINE!
*SILENT HILL: DOWNPOUR. Silent Hill. Czech devs. This will either be a disaster or a glorious Soviet-inspired mindfuck. Hopefully both.
*There is every possibility that TALES OF GRACES F is the defining JRPG of this generation. There is also every possibility that you will never hear of it nor see it it stores because Namco’s marketing budget for Tales games is covered by Nitrobeard.com’s ad budget. This is the part of the article where you realize we don’t actually carry advertisement.