Friday, December 30, 2011

FK's 2011 Round-up!



Despite having a 6-7 year history as a blogger, I still haven't managed to "get it". The blogs I like have contributors who a.) update their blogs regularly b.) write short, succinct, topical, 'punchy' articles about relevant stuff c.) respond promptly when visitors to their blogs leave helpful or appreciative comments. I do none of the above things and therefore do not deserve to have anyone reading my posts. However, I'll still do a round up of my year in gaming, if only to keep this old place from seizing up and being shut down...

So, where was I? Ah that's right, I'd taken a brief hiatus from my Wii to play Dead Space, which I thoroughly enjoyed... Well, faithful to myself at the time, as soon as I got through Dead Space, I reconnected my Wii to have a crack at Dead Space Extraction. Despite being a very linear and "on rails" shooter, I have to say I enjoyed EVERYTHING abut this game, and I'd even venture as far to say that this was a better game than that which spawned it...

First of all, graphically, this game looks great... You'd expect it t have been a big letdown after Dead Space on the 360, but really the game looks almost as good as it's bigger brother...
The next feature which held it's own for me was the story and characters which were both excellent (chief villain is the unlikeable and duplicitous South African "Eckhardt" - one of the best baddies in my recent memory....) Dead Space is a slow burner which took a while to grab my interest. It did however turn into a Jolly good story by the end. Having warmed me up me for the ensuing story line, the Dead Space Extraction plot was easy to jump into.



The other feature of the game I liked was that as each level was completed, a digital "comic book" is opened, chapter by chapter, padding out the back-story in an original way. At first I thought the artwork amateurish - but as the comic continued, I warmed to that as well!

Fully satisfied, I desired more Wii on-rails shooting excellence. I found it in the excellent House Of The Dead Overkill. At first I played with the awesome looking House Of The Dead Overkill Hand Cannon peripheral. But "good looking" does not make for "good shooting" and I completed the game with the Wiimote as my 'gun'. The game is hilarious, and a great reboot of the original... HOTD is one of my long time favourite franchises and I include a lot of arcade play in that love of the game. HOTD-OK is a riot in terms of B-Movie shlock-horror references, but also remains an excellent shooter in it's own right.


Like Homer Simpson, I'm extremely suggestible, and like Homer, I also make dumb links in my head... The mere fact that I'd moved onto zombies in HOTD meant that I thought about Resident Evil... That lead me into downloading Resident Evil 4 HD, 5 and Code Veronica HD from the 360 Market Place... This was a hugely lazy move on my part. Whilst I've loved downloading retro content on my Wii, 360 and PS3 from a variety of platforms in the past - part of my logic being it gives me the opportunity to play games fr the Megadrive, MasterSystem, Snes, N64 etc. without having to set the consoles themselves up. But now I find myself increasingly downloading things so I don't have to move my consoles from room to room... I have RE4 and RE:CV on PS2, which I can play on my PS3, but my PS3 is downstairs in the living room and most of my gaming tends to take place upstairs in my bedroom. I've just upgraded my TV in the bedroom to a 32 inch/81 cm screen. That's hooked up to my 360 and weeellll... you get the picture, it was just easier to download them straight onto my 360... Lazy twat that I am!



And then all of a sudden I'd played the RE4 and 5 games inside out AGAIN, wringing out every last drop of extra content out of each title. I started into RE:CV but then stopped myself... I had to play something NEW! (Or new to me at least...) This has resulted in me stop-starting and half-playing the following titles Gears Of War 3 (as of yet unplayed), Arkham City (loving it but stuck!!!) Devil May Cry 4 (far into but stuck!!!), Mass Effect (as of yet unplayed), Ninja Gaiden (as of yet unplayed)... Started and then stalled at the end of 2011 would include... Beyond Good and Evil (HD), Back To The Future, Dead Rising Case Zero, Resident Evil Code Veronica, Sonic 4 and Shadow Complex.



I've also just received Sonic Generations for 360 for Christmas off Mrs. K, plus Homefront and The Dreamcast Collection for 360 off my lovely boys Joe and Martin. So, I'm back where I always am... Too many games on the go at one time, that feeling of dis-satisfaction of not completing great games. No change there then! On the plus side, I have recently organised my games, sorting them out, alphabetising them and remembering what I've got. I've just sorted out my gaming environment, with the boys confined to the front living room for their gaming activities, with their PS3 and the newest Sony 40 inch TV. My room has therefore inherited the 32 inch I was talking about fr my 360. My PS3 is now the DVD player in the back living room under my 37 inch! This means at least that all gaming can now take place without annoying Mrs. K. And it means I've got a chance with catching up with myself.

So, as usual I've got a lot of gaming to tidy up... but I'm up t the job! I need to get these finished before 2012... r if that is an overwhelming task it will have to be before this:



or this!



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you out there in the blogosphere! I'm off to lazily download Daytona USA and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3!!! :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Just In From Sky News...


Manchester United endured a derby day to forget as they suffered a 6-1 thumping at the hands of local rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.

Hours after finding himself the subject of more headlines after a fire at his home, controversial striker Mario Balotelli inspired the thrashing with an impressive brace.

But it was Jonny Evans' sending off in the 47th minute which marked the start of a downward spiral for the hosts.

Sergio Aguero grabbed the third for City before super substitute Edin Dzeko fired home two either side of a strike from David Silva as Sir Alex Ferguson's men completely unravelled in stoppage time.

City's emphatic win keeps them sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League and gives them a five-point cushion over reigning champions United.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Dead Space - Xbox 360



Why has it taken me so long to actually getting round to playing this game? My middle ginger, Martin, the only other passionate console gamer and survival horror fan in my house, gave it a huge thumbs up when it was released back in 2008. He reported that it delivered scares and mindless gaming fun in equal measure, with plenty of gore and explosions along the way! The critics gave it scores in the eighties and nineties, and even it's offshoot game, Dead Space Extraction for the Wii, received favourable reviews despite being an "on rails shooter", a seemingly dated medium through which to expand on the core story.

But it's taken me sooooo long to get started on it, and it's only within recent days that I've played it with any consistency. I'm within sight of the finishing line now, and as the story begins to reach it's conclusion, I've only just concluded that I rather like it! Various elements have conspired to stifle my enjoyment of the game until now. Silly things that really shouldn't have bothered me. The main protagonist for a start, he has no personality. Compare him to Gordon Freeman (Half Life) or Leon Kennedy (Resident Evil) or even Jack Wade (Headhunter), and he's a no-one. Faceless and forgetful. I can't even remember if we know his name, and I'm up to the middle of Chapter 10 of 12. That's got to be THE worst 'costume' for any alien slaughtering hero to date. It's so boring, souless even - and it looks shit! Like it's made out of sellotape. I'm only up to the level 4 suit, so if the level 5 suit turns out to be pimped out, bling-tastic and super-cool looking, I apologise.

Then there's the stark and austere surroundings of the ship. Compare it to the varied and spectacular backdrops of games such as Resident Evil (Gamecube/Wii) or Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube/PS2/Wii) or even the other worldly vistas of Half Life (PS2/PC) and you'll understand why Dead Space doesn't cut the visual mustard.

*FK takes a small break from writing which strteches into a week's break...*


Still, the whole Dead Space experience creeps up on you... I've now finished the game and It's only then that you see our protagonist's face. I think his elusive air of mystery was very much intended to be juxtaposed to his bare faced and open humanity at the end of the game... or something like that.

What's great about the game is shooting hideously grotesque mutants with a variety of space age weapons and then stamping on their entrails till they pop! That is essentially the best element of the game. My son Martin was genuinely scared by the experience... I wasn't at any point. I felt the game was very playable and apart from final boss I found it fairly plain sailing.

Now, whilst this game shows I have slipped back onto the 360, it doesn't mean my commitment to the Wii is over. Far from it! In fact I only wanted to complete it because:

a.) I started playing Ocarina of time on the Wii's Virtual Console and I realised it was such a huge game, that I should tie up a few loose ends in terms of unfinished games before I fully embarked on it...

b.) I have received Dead Space Extraction in the post and I thought I should finish the main game in the IP before I played an offshoot game...

There has been a slight problem though... playing 'Extraction', an on-rails light gun shooter, is very strange after freely exploring the environment of the doomed space ship, the USG Ishimura, on the Xbox! I'll be reporting on that pretty soon.!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

COD Black Ops Wii - FK's continuing adventures with Nintendo's finest!



Apart from the ginger gene, the only thing my three sons share explicitly, is the opinion that Call Of Duty (online) rocks. It's the only thing they can agree on as far as videogames go -their gaming preferences outside of the franchise go like this - Joe (20): Fifa, Martin (17): Dead Space, Ted (14): World Of Warcraft -see what I mean?

On the subject of Call Of Duty, however they are in full agreement. Every new edition of the game must be bought faithfully for full price on the day of release - pre-ordered and at a midnight launch preferably- and (most importantly) that from the point of getting the game into the house, right up until the next COD launch, the game will ONLY be played as a multiplayer, online experience.

I could not be more different. I have no compulsion to play these games as and when they are released. I cannot (despite the desire to play) cope with the game online! To me it is a panick stricken, jarring, frenetic, disorienting experience. On top of that, a humiliating one as I simply get picked off by other players repeatedly until the game session ends.

I DO love the franchise though. I've played a variety of the series offerings across a variety of consoles - PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 - I've even played two COD games (COD 4 and COD: World At War) on the DS! But until this month, I'd never played one on the Wii.

Nice graphics for the Wii doncha think?

It was with a look of wearied disbelief, followed by stifled giggles that my sons enquired why I was choosing to depart from the world of the 'serious' gamer, to play the shoddy and inferior offering presented to Wii gamers. Well, I'll answer that question right away!

Ultimately it was the price... Black Ops for the Wii was available for £15 (inc. postage), whereas it's 360/Ps3 cousins were costing above £25, even for pre-owned. It also served as a sweetener, when I took the risky decision of having a Wii only summer... I had read enough reviews online to know that the Treyarch boys had done a rather grand job of furnishing Wii gamers with a faithful edition of the game... not some embarrassing child-like "Wii edition" - the option chosen by some high profile releases - Ghostbusters for example, or even a "down graded" version of the game - the accusation levelled at Dead Rising, the game mentioned a couple of posts ago.

As far as I can tell, apart from a few control issues with the nunchuck and wiimote at times, the Wii version offers a full and comparable alternative to the games I've seen on the Ps3 and Xbox 360. I'd be a liar if I said the graphics were as good as it's high def relations, but they look pretty good for the Wii. Essentially the game offers the same high octane, constantly moving, thoroughly enjoyable experience, for a fraction of the price. (And I've not even played the zombies mode yet!)

Most of the Wii games I've bought this summer: Chop Till You Drop, Cursed Mountain, House Of The Dead 2&3 Return, Red Steel 2, Scarface The World Is Yours, and Dead Space Extraction - cost about £7-8 pre-owned. Ghost Squad and, Gunblade NY cost £5 pre-owned. Geometry Wars and No More Heroes? £2.99! This could be a reflection of sales, but is not a reflection of game quality. The Wii is a mine of untapped potential for serious gamers... You've just got to sift through a LOT of crap, to find the games worth playing. As you can see from the list of titles accquired this summer, I've still got a lot of play left in my Wii before I dust off the old Xbox again!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Elderly is back!



Sing it from the rooftops dear readers!

The one and only Elderly Gamer is back and blogging at the following address: xboxmeagain.blogspot.com

Perhaps my favourite blog of all time, been at tad quiet for a spell, like the very site upon which your eyes are fixed at this moment.
However, life in general looks set to improve, as he's back and ready for blogging business! Oh frabjous day, caloo callay etc...

Welcome back dear Elderly!

Dead Rising (Chop Till You Drop)



As my long six weeks holiday approached, I decided to rig my Wii up as my main console of the moment. I tend to switch between bouts of PS3 or 360 playing, but the Wii never got a look in. So in order to prove to myself that it was worth the money I paid for it, I decided to have a "Wii-only" summer. Apart from buying one game for the PS3, (see below), I've largely stuck to it and I have to say I'm loving it! Rather tragically (and unimaginatively), the first thing I played on my newly established Wii, was RE4. Utterly brilliant and proof of the potential of the wiimote and nunchuck as perfect controllers - but I've played it so many times before, that I needed to show a bit more imagination. Then it was onto HOTD Overkill for a bit of light-gun action, followed by 'Gunblade NY' and 'LA Machine Guns', with a bit of 'Ghost Squad' thrown in for good measure. These are all Sega games that I have loved blasting away at in the arcades!

Next,I tried (and failed) to get past my sticking point on Red Steel 1, then enjoyed a bit of Red Steel 2 (great new graphical style,not got me 'hooked' yet, however.) I then re-tried Madworld and still couldn't 'get it', although I liked it's stylistic content.

The game which has had me hooked though, is the much maligned port of Dead Rising, sub-titled 'chop till you drop'. The game was pretty much panned for being a downgrade of the original - the 'hordes' of zombies in the 360 version being replaced by 'groups' of zombies + zombie parrots and poodles - I for one, however am not complaining.

You see, I couldn't play the original past the first couple of levels despite desperately wanting to. It was Capcom, it was zombies - I had to play it! But alas, the unforgiving save system and difficulty spike were just too much for me and I ended up abandoning the game.

Now, a good four years after I first tried to play out the story of Frank West and the Willamette Mall, I'm finally finding out the dastardly truth! I understand that playing this version is like riding a bike with stabilisers, but I don't care! I'm really enjoying it.

I've just purchased RE2 and 3, plus RE 0 for Gamecube, with a GC memory card and controller - so my Wii based Zombie fun looks set to continue. I've also got COD Black Ops for the Wii, plus Tatsunoko vs. Capcom on it's way in the post. On the Virtual conole I just picked up Revenge of Shinobi (Megadrive), R-type (Mastersystem), Donkey Kong (Nes), and Donkey Kong Country (SNES.)

I also picked up Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the PS3, but I haven't really played it yet. Looks fabulous though! Hopefully I'll report back about these games as my experiences unfold... I've a huge incentive to revamp this floundering blog, as my next post will giddily celebrate...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yakuza 4: Release Day Purchase Power





Very occasionally, I can still get excited enough about a video game that I want it on the day it comes out. One such game is Yakuza 4 - indeed, it's much maligned predecessor, the 'hacked to bits for UK release', Yakuza 3 - was the very game that made me get a Ps3 in the first place.

I've loved the Yakuza franchise, since I first read about it's development in a UK videogame magazine in 2004 (0r 2005 - however, it took me a long time - a further three years - before I got round to playing it, as I was strictly into the Dreamcast at that time, and could not bring myself to play the PS2...). It was promoted as "the spiritual successor to Shenmue" (my favourite videogame of all time) - and coming from Sega, with the promise of being a brawling adventure story set in a virtual Japanese underworld replete with a host of mini-games and dating sims, well I was enthralled and hooked by the concept straight away. As a Shenmue lover, there was always a yearning for the 'never coming' Shenmue 3 (it still hasn't arrived yet!) - maybe Yakuza could be a methadone for the cold turkey of waiting for a conclusion to Shenmue?

Now it's seven years later and I've investsed hours and hours in this game and it's following incarnations... from the English speaking Yakuza 1 (starring Mark Hamill and Michael Madsen), through to the syrupy, orphan heavy dramas of Yakuza 3... and I've loved every minute of it.




So far, the ultra cool (yet always caring) Kazuma Kiryu has not made an appearance. The only notable change is that the kung fu action seems even tighter and more responsive than ever, with the ability to stand on one leg and deliver a lightning flurry of kicks to your opponent a pleasing addition. As usual there is a plethora of weapons to be picked up and employed against your foes (Die Hard Arcade style), and thankfully the dating sim side of the game has returned (after being so cruelly cut from Yakuza 3's UK release).

Indeed it's the juxtaposition of sweet highly moral 'family values', slightly saucy romance simulation, frankly bizarre imagery and brutal gangland violence that makes this game so very quirky, so very Japanese, so very... Sega.

As of yet the other forte of the series, the ever twisting and supremely cinematic plotlines have not drawn me in, but another joy of the Yakuza series is how it's stories slowly unfold. I've had a few hours with Yakuza 4 and it's prompted me to blog for the first time in three months. if that's not a good reccomendation for a videogame, I don't know what is!


Yakuza Official Website
Yakuza at IGN
Yakuza at GamesTM forum
FK's first impression of the Yakuza franchise from back in 2008

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas fellows! May your days be merry and bright! New post before the New Year I promise. Been very hectic at work, with health and in home life, leaving me shopping right up today. I will chill out once Christmas day is out of the way and enjoy some relaxation and blogging time! Until then I hope you all have a very peaceful and happy Yuletide!