Eat Lead: The Return Of Matt HazardOn the outside, this is a simple action/adventure title with the usual suspects of guns, badass action heroes, and lots of exploding things. At it's roots however, it's a satire of the typical conventions of gaming that we've all come to know.BUY @ amazon
Let me be the first to say right now: Gamers love a good satire...And for the most part, the game is full of it, from the 2d Nazi sprite enemies who can avoid attacks by turning sideways, to that one FF-style boss who can only speak in dialogue boxes, nothing doesn't get skewered, and it's all pretty clever and hilarious, and contains a voice cast better than most games out right now.
On it's face it looks like a pretty fun and zany game...
Slow down, there...
Unfortunately humor and cleverness can only take a game so far. For every clever parody of a video game convention, there were just as many issues with the gameplay. The waves of enemy after enemy had crooked AI that still managed to get cheap shots in, thanks to a faulty cover-fire mechanic, extremely derivative and boring level design meant that as colorful as the enemies were, fights were still a chore, and some pretty ridiculous level glitches, to boot.
It's at this point that you realize that it's not as funny when the developers pull off the same problems that they've been making fun of.
- 2I imagine that the larger part of people here weren't quite as pumped about The Sims Online as most others, but to those who were more concerned with the social aspect of a game than with gameplay and depth, this was something to behold.BUY @ amazon
The opportunity to play The Sims, except with real, human-controlled avatars at the helm, and a customizable world to occupy? Right on. This would be Home on the PS3 before the PS3 even existed. A chat-room denzien's wet dream. You'd never have to return to reality again.
Hype machine away!
Eh...Not so much....
Part of the whole dynamic chat-room experience was hindered by the fact that it was, at it's root; a game of The Sims. This meant that conversation between avatars would be broken up by periodic trips to the SimFridge for a SimCoke to fulfill your SimThirst level.
The interface was considered pretty unintiutive as well, with text appearing in hard-to-read text bubbles over the heads of the avatar that said it. In a room full of users, conversations turn into what can only be described as a clusterf**k, as text pops up with little indication of who's talking to whom.
The game failed to attract new fans, was laggy, and ultimately amounted to little more than a watered down, extremely compressed and confined version of the original game. However, it still managed to keep it's servers running for a good 5 years before finally shutting down.
- 3Besides "Mario", "Link" "Master Chief", and "Snake", there are two words that never fail to get gamers hyped as hell: "Guns" and "Swords." ESPECIALLY when the two are paired together. Couple that with the revolutionary new motion-sensing technology that was much touted by the Wii, and you have a recipe for success.BUY @ amazon
More than the advertised advanced enemy AI, and dynamic use of the environments in gameplay, gamers were most giddy over the prospect of swinging the WiiMote around like a samurai sword, and actually HAVING a samurai sword to swing around. The first 3rd party title for the Wii, Red Steel made lots of promises that it promised to deliver.
In spite of all the excitement, upon release Red Steel's fervor pretty much went limp upon release. (Don't read too much into that statement.) While the sensor controls worked well enough to pull moves off correctly, swordplay devolved into little more than the same motions repeated verbatim over and over, with little strategy involved.
Block. Slash. Dodge. Slash. Block. Slash. Dodge. Slash. Repeat.
The graphics were likewise boring, with textures appearing artistically blurry, but coming off as needlessly muddy and grainy. It was also by no means a well-written, or well voice-acted game either, and it was loaded down with bugs and glitches that made you question if the game is even done.
Most agree the game was a wasted potential of epic proportions.
- 4Oh yeah, I forgot another word that gets gamers hyped no matter what: "Star Wars."BUY @ amazon
Star Wars Galaxies was just starting to come into existence at a time when people were just beginning to get pumped about MMOs. If you were a Star Wars fan it was impossible not to feel excited.
The prospect of exploring the Star Wars universe as an original character of your choice, and being completely immersed in George Lucas' fantastic setting led many fanboys to dub it the closest thing to being The Matrix. What's more, the game boasted prime graphics with realistic character designs, lush environments, and meticulously detailed architecture, promising to make it one of the most immersive Star Wars experiences ever.
And of course, there was the opportunity to engage in the fantasy they all dreamed of: Being a Jedi.
Upon its release in 2003, after all the hype died down it became apparent that all they were left with was the same cookie-cutter MMORPG grind-experience, just with a big fat Star Wars label pasted across it's forehead.
As time went by, the game attracted scores of criticism for numerous discovered bugs, combat and profession imbalances, and towards many of the quests themselves, which were severely lacking in depth.
Then there was the completely haphazard means of unlocking the ability to create a Jedi, which took far too long and monotonous for players to have patience for, and relied heavily on guess-work and process of elimination. What's more, Jedi were given permanent in-game death penalties after dying 3 times, presumably to keep the Jedi count down, but players didn't appreciate it one bit.
Updates were released to fix many of these problems, but then Lucasarts went and threw all the goodwill that had restored with some truly cement-headed changes to gameplay mechanics, which simplified the game to the point that it wasn't thoroughly enjoyable to it's core fanbase anymore.
As of 2006, it was reported that subscriptions to Star Wars Galaxies had fallen as low as 10,363 subscribers.
- 5I won't ever understand why, but people who played Final Fantasy 7 were particularly drawn to the character of Vincent Valentine. (I'm more partial to Barret & Cid myself.) So it was understandable that a spin-off game starring him would generate a lot of buzz.BUY @ amazon
The promise of an epic storyline had come to be expected as well, because that's pretty much what we've come to expect from SquareEnix as a whole at this point. But more than that, the game was a foray into territory that was at that point foreign to the company, taking cues from First Person Shooters as well as Action-RPG.
It was more reminiscent of Devil May Cry than Final Fantasy, and was an intriguing little project. Besides; we finally get to see more of the FF7 story. Awesome, right?
Dirge of Cerberus coupled with the cinematic concrete-block-to-the-face that is Advent Children is my argument for why expanding the FF7 universe was a really dumb idea. There are some things you just shouldn't take the mystery out of or expand upon, otherwise you end up with the freakin' Star Wars prequels.
Everything that made the universe of FF7 interesting was sucked dry from Dirge of Cerberus, and filled with lifeless, charmless characters that you don't care about, interacting in a world devoid of a color pallette, in a story with only a tenuous connection to the storyline it's spun-off from.
Call me cynical, but somehow I find it hard to get excited over a game where instead of running through familiar locales of FF7, you run through their identity-less corridors and warehouses.
Then the game begins to fall back on tired video game cliches, IE: Fighting hordes of generic bad guys with special school-grade A.I., ad nauseum forever. Sure, Limit Breaks are back, and there's a combo system to liven things up a bit, but it's all for naught as enemies would pull every cheap-game-design move to steal hits from you, and your patience.
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