Archive for June, 2008


Metal Gear Solid 4 Impressions

June 24, 2008

Yes, I’ve finally seen the proverbial light I mentioned in my recent MGS 4 related blog post. I’ve finally played Metal Gear Solid 4 and…let’s just say I am very, very pleased.

It all began last Sunday when I was at work and a customer walked to my register with a copy of the game in question in his hand to trade in. Once I completed his transaction, I promptly informed my co-workers that I’d be checking the game out when my shift ended and set the game aside. That night I took it home and…didn’t play it. That day at work had worn me down so I was in no mood to play any games. Of course, the very next day, I finally popped the game into my Playstation 3 and started to play.

Let’s get the wild praise out of the way first before getting into the meat of these impressions. The game is freaking great. It reached out and grabbed me from the first minute like no other Metal Gear Solid game has. The story is keeping me compelled to see it through to the end to the point where I had to force myself to stop playing the other day after having played for nearly 4 hours.

Now that the unmitigated praise is out of the way, I can start being a critic. Now, one of the reasons why the Metal Gear Solid series has never reached out and grabbed me before now is in part due to the clunky shooting and combat controls. I’ve never gotten the hang of the whole, press lightly on the button to raise the gun and hard to shoot thing that has been utilized in previous entries. While I realize that this is a stealth game and thus, shooting and hand to hand combat shouldn’t be your main priority but almost inevitably, the game would find a way to make you do so, which puts a bit of a damper on the experience if you’re a stealth purist.

In MGS 4, this isn’t a problem. The shooting controls have been completely revamped and vastly improved. The camera instantly jumps into an over-the-shoulder view, similar to Resident Evil 4 or Gears of War, once your weapon is drawn. From there, it plays sort of like a third person shooter, a very good third person shooter at that. It’s because of this new perspective on combat that it becomes significantly easier. The emphasis on stealth is unfortunately diminished and the consequences for alerts take a nosedive early on. It’s far too easy to take out the squad of soldiers closest to you and then duck into an out of the way corner for a little while until things calm down.

But despite the ease of combat, stealth is a very viable option, especially with Snake’s new Octocamo. This invaluable addition to Solid Snake’s equipment is one of your greatest allies in the field and perhaps the greatest sneaking tool ever utilized in any stealth game. What it does is automatically change its texture and appearance to blend in with whatever surface you’re pressed up against, be it a brick wall or grass covered dirt. Oftentimes, AI soldiers and NPC’s will walk right past you without noticing, should you p

Everything isn’t all rosy and wonderful though. One of Metal Gear Solid 4’s biggest strengths is also its biggest flaws. I’m referring to this series’ particular brand of storytelling in which impossibly long cutscenes tell its far-reaching, rich and sometimes utterly convoluted story. It doesn’t help that the ratio of cutscenes to actual playing time is damn near 1:1.These cutscenes are entertaining to sit through sure enough, but occasionally, I can’t help but wish the game would shut up and let me play.

In the end, the game is everything I expected it to be and more. I expected it to be great but the sheer magnitude of its quality and ability to make me hopelessly addicted (I’ve actually taken time off from playing it because I didn’t want to finish it too quickly). This truly is the best Metal Gear Solid game and one of the best reasons to own a Playstation 3. Looking back on my previous blog post once again, I see that my lack of excitement was unfounded and that playing truly is believing.


GRID Review

June 20, 2008

The following is a small excerpt of my review of GRID, Codemasters’ second forray into the racing genre for the Xbox 360.

“Following up their previous admirable efforts with their successor to the popular Colin McRae series of rally racing games, DIRT, Codemasters once again dives into the racing genre with another pseudo-successor; this time to the TOCA Race Driver series with GRID. In a move that may be shocking to fans of that series, GRID is not a strict simulation in any sense of the word. It manages to blend arcade style drifting with near simulation handling with good results while still retaining the varied race types and career focus of the TOCA series.”

Justin McBride – Talk Xbox

Full Review


So, Metal Gear Solid 4 is Finally Here…

June 12, 2008

Why am I not excited?

After all the months of waiting, after saying repeatedly that this is the reason I bought a Playstation 3, after all the times I’ve said I’m getting it day one, here I sit in front of my computer with my copy of the collector’s edition still waiting in the back room at GameStop instead of in my PS3’s waiting disc drive. I should know, I was the one who put it back there when I walked in for work earlier today.

What’s the deal? Is there something wrong with me? What am I missing? It’s been a long time coming but the excitement…it’s just not there. I’m not even a little excited for it, not even a modicum of hype exists within me right now. As much as I hate to say this (and I know Metal Gear fans the world over will hate me for this as well), Metal Gear Solid 4 is just another game to me.

But for a second here, let me delve into my past experiences with the series. I’ve never been a big fan of the Metal Gear Solid series. The only Metal Gear Solid games I’ve ever played through to the end are Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. This is strange because I own many, many games in Metal Gear Solid collection, spanning various consoles, as you can see from the pictures below.

(By the way, the Metal Gear Solid 3 you see on the lower left of the first picture is the original Snake Eater. The cover art you see is from an EGM pullout with replacement cover art. Pretty cool eh?)

Despite owning all of these games, as I stated before, I’ve only completed two of them. I’ve never been sucked into the series like its legions of fans. Sure, the storytelling is great and the cutscenes are enjoyable (albeit incredibly long in some cases) to sit through but the gameplay has never really grabbed me. I can see its appeal, but not when it relates to me.

Again, the question I must ask is…what’s wrong with this picture? Metal Gear Solid 4 is bar none, the most hyped exclusive game for the PS3. It’s the game to get for the PS3 and…I don’t own it and to be honest, I don’t know when I’m going to get it.Hell, the game is getting nines from just about every reviewing outlet worth its salt. While it’s easy to say the reviewers merely bought into the hype, I don’t think that’s the case here. I guess I can attribute my sudden frugality to the fact that I’ve been trying to budget myself, seeing as I’ve got an HDTV purchase coming up very soon (that’s also why I haven’t added Ninja Gaiden 2 to my collection yet). But there’s some games that transcend budgets. Some games are so good that, no matter what, you can afford to buy. I recognize Metal Gear Solid 4 as one of those games…or at least…I think I do.

So. I guess I can end this post here as I still haven’t convinced myself that I truly need to get this game now or in the near future. Before a bunch of Metal Gear fans (or maybe fanboys…) rip my head off, please note that I’m not trying to bash the game or diminish its importance in any way, shape or form. I’m just not excited for it at the time being. Perhaps this will change in time, perhaps not. Perhaps I need to play it before I’ll see the proverbial light and rush back to GameStop and finally pick up my copy.

Or hey, maybe I’m just crazy.


Video Blog 6

June 8, 2008

In this latest edition of my Video Blog, I discuss many of the writing projects I’ve been hard at work on as of late. I also give a few early impressions of two games I will soon be posting reviews for, Lost Planet: Colonies Edition and Grid (Race Driver: Grid for my European viewers).


Street Fighter IV Is Looking Good!

June 3, 2008

Back when the first footage of Street Fighter IV appeared on the internet and screenshots were unveiled many months ago in an issue of EGM, I had pretty much written this game off, turned off by what I considered a poor art style. I wasn’t the only one who cried out in despair, as many Street Fighter fans flooded message boards to express their distaste of the new character designs and general disdain with the look of the game.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Well, my opinion on the game has changed significantly having watched the video you see above. Everything I had complained about has been thrown out of the window and I can now say with confidence that I like the new art style. Everything looks incredibly polished and smooth. Animations are fluid, the many graphical effects such as Ken’s Shoryuken and Crimson Viper’s various elemental blows look great, the backgrounds appear well detailed and the characters themselves look better than ever. While they still appear a tiny bit bulky, the fluidity of their movements and attacks make them look great in action.

It’s amazing the difference a few months of polish can do for a game, because compared to its earlier showing, this version of the game looks worlds better. The inkblot and exaggerated paintbrush style used in the cutscenes and smattered here and there during actual gameplay seems to have worked out well and is visually striking. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eyes on this one until it drops this fall for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.

New character screenshots (including a few of the final boss) after the break.

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Story in a Blog Chapter 3 Posted

June 2, 2008

Story in a Blog Chapter 3

I figured I’d also give you a bit of writer’s commentary as well to go alongside this entry…But be sure you read the chapter first!

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