Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Call of Duty Elite

The Wall Street Journal reports that Activision plans to release a new service along with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. It seems that Call of Duty Elite will work with all Call of Duty games after, and including, Modern Warfare 3. The service provides access to new downloadable content and integrates Call of Duty fans in all new ways. Call of Duty Elite will be an amalgomation of different concepts like social networking (allowing CoD players to track their friends and performance), DLC (having a central repository for new content), and statistics on gameplay (providing information like gamers' performance on certain maps or with certain weapons).

The idea certainly is a bold one, and I can see the appeal that they are going for, however it seems too much to me. Adding a subscription on top of the monthly Xbox Live fee seems a little outrageous. The only added value of this system that I would not be able to get anywhere else are the gameplay statistics. Playstation Network and Xbox Live both let you keep tabs on your friends and have stores for downloadable content. I'll give them that I must pay for each DLC and the service, presumably, would keep me completely up to date for a recurring charge, but I still don't see enough value here to justify a monthly fee.

 I'll have to see what specific services Call of Duty Elite offers in more detail before I cast judgement, but at first glance, this seems like a ploy to squeeze more money out of the already wildly successful series. There's no word on how much the service will cost a month, but I'd bet a wooden nickel on details coming next week at E3.

Ace Attorney Movie Confirmed!

It seems the internet collective was spot on yet again! Capcom confirmed Friday that an Ace Attorney movie is in the works and that it will be released to theaters in Japan next Spring. The intrepid defense attorney Phoenix Wright will be played by Hiroki Narimiya. He is no stranger to voice acting for anime and video games, appearing in such titles as Honey and Clover and Yakuza 4.

My hopes are that this isn't the picture of his actual costume. My good friend Phoenix would not stand for a look that shabby! He's a sharp dressing fellow!

Miles Edgeworth, demon prosecutor and classy gent, will be played by Takumi Saito. An interesting fact you may not know, Takumi Saito was a film called Boys Love, about two men in a secret, forbidden relationship. While this is an innocuous fact, I can already hear the shrill squee-ing of hundreds of fangirls.

Who out there is ready for the truth to be exposed on the big screen?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Reveal Trailer

It seems in the latest iteration in the Modern Warfare family, Treyarch is taking the visual style and story into darker territory. World War III between four separate nations? Normally, I'm not an avid Call of Duty gamer, but this looks very intriguing. I'd better go dust off my scoped monocle.

Ace Attorney Movie Rumors

That title makes my spine tingle as well, compatriots. I've long been an Ace Attorney fan and try to be skeptical when I hear of new offerings in the series, be they games that nobody thought would happen or surprising cross-dressing musicals. Keep that in mind when I tell you the next bit of information.

Two days ago Takashi Miike, director of movies like Ichi the Killer, was quoted saying "It is a very light comedy that I am filming now, a court drama, based on a video game, the Nintendo game DS." I staved off my excitement, waiting for more hard evidence to pile up. I would then gather this evidence and present it in the courtroom of this site so everyone could share in my excitement. It seems like the time has come (as this post is a testament to).

The above image comes from this blog post, made almost two weeks ago. It contains three images with damning evidence of a Phoenix Wright movie. I believe the picture to be a rendition of the following scene from the first game, case 4:

Also, notice the marvelous painting of the Steel Samurai in the shot:

The other two images are of, presumably, the boat shack and Gourd Lake. If you'll remember, the case in question involved Prosecutor Edgeworth as a murder suspect, and ends up taking a devious turn into his past. I'm positively giddy with excitement now! I, for one, am looking forward to more news trickling out about this movie over the next few months.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gears of War 3 Trailer Debuting May 28th

Gears of War 3 was announced some time ago, but a press release today reveals the next major trailer for the game to be debuting on the 28th during game 6 of the NBA Playoffs on TNT. With the game being released worldwide on September 20th, it also seems strange to me for Epic Games to be announcing large trailers in May; I would have expected a press blitz to start in early August.

I say we start battoning down the hatches for late summer when we'll be bombarded with Gears of War tie-ins. Gears of War slurpies, shoes, fountain pens, cats, lanyards, boat anchors, cars, limited edition shovels and the like will soon fill our vision and complete Cliff Bleszinski's dream of putting a chainsaw on absolutely everything.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Call of Duty: Black Ops

You take a sip from a lowball glass and become surprisingly enricCall of Duty: Black Opshed with a bouquet of smoothness, sophistication, and a hint of oak that only twelve years of aging can bring. You savor every flavor this one drink has to offer and feel as though any problems you had before entering the pub suddenly have little significance. You then place your glass back on the countertop and call for the barkeep's attention because, although you appreciated the drink, you had ordered a blended whiskey because it's all you can afford with your measly stipend of the week and the liquor shops are closed at this hour. The barkeep simply nods your direction and says, "No worries mate, this one was on me. You looked as though you could use it". Call of Duty: Black Ops mirrors this hypothetical situation exactly; paying more than you really want to, but doing so because it's the only option, and then getting a little more than your low expectations anticipated.

I'm going to do things a little backwards from the usual format and start with the multiplayer of this game because it's a Call of Duty title and pretty much everyone who plays Call of Duty expects it to be focused in that area, especially following in the wake of the record-breaking phenomenon Modern Warfare 2.

Sadly though, this part of the game exactly meets the expectations bred from a game released almost exactly a year later—lazy. Absolutely lazy. Granted there are a few improvements such as character customization and a few clever game modes, but sadly, my friends, this is pretty much all that's done.

For a game that's full price, I would expect it to not be so blatantly obvious that the scoring animations, graphics engine, and even the font of the numbers for your score are all exactly the same as in Modern Warfare 2. My first round in multiplayer left me with something along the lines of a 27/3 kill-to-death ratio and I'm not particularly good at FPS games! I committed more hours than I care to admit playing Modern Warfare 2 and my high score is a direct result of the two games’ similarity; it was like I hadn't stopped playing at all! If you aren't going to even try to make it a different experience or feel, don't advertise the multiplayer aspect of this game as if it's an entirely new safari when in reality it's the same bloody prey you hunted last year.

The other bit of laziness? Maps. The maps leave me feeling that no adjective could ever fully give the depth of my loathing hatred. They seem cleverly different from the Modern Warfare 2 maps, such as a map with a launch pad that is going through launch sequence as you run around it upping your kill/death ratio (although this itself is preposterous because anyone that close to a launching rocket would be killed by the incinerating flames and smoke long before a headshot wound does). The problem with the maps is that the developers didn't take the time to design maps on a large scale. Every single map I have played feels incredible small, both in perimeter and area. God help anyone who enjoys playing as a sniper because unless you're incredibly good at quick scoping and short-range firing, you shouldn't even bother. I mean what's the point of a scope that can see 200+ "in-game" yards when the furthest anyone is from you in a game is about 30 yards?! My apologies, but if I want to play as a sniper, I want to be able to pick off my opponents that feel they're safe because they're on the complete opposite side of the map. They didn't take the time to expand the maps for diversity; they'd rather just throw in bizarre themes and call it a "new experience". Yes, we all know that Treyarch implemented dedicated servers, Modern Warfare 2's biggest flaw. But really anytime I play on its multiplayer I get bored within 15 minutes. Simply rubbish.
Oh you want to know about the zombie mode? Ok, here's that in three sentences. People get addicted to it and I don't know why. The map is always boring, the game is always the same, the strategy is always the same, and they even used the same voices and voice responses from Call of Duty: World at War. It's just as lazy as everything else. The end.

Single player:
The single player campaign is an entirely different thing altogether and before any of you lops tell me "well duh it's different! It's a different mode WOOAHAHAHA" just shut it. The developers of this game got my expectations completely backwards. I would've figured they spent the entire year developing the multiplayer because that's what Call of Duty players want. Then throw some single player campaign about an agent out to kill all bad guys in the name of good and glory. It seems to me though that the campaign received most of the attention and then the developers said "Oh Lord we forgot to do a multiplayer. Uh...uh...*grabs Modern Warfare 2 disc* here just put this in a clown suit and give 'em servers".

The campaign was brilliant. And to even attempt to pull this off when following in the incredibly epic campaign of the Modern Warfare series is pretty courageous. Being set during the Cold War era alone tells you they were going to new boundaries because this hasn't really been done for a highly franchised game before. Maybe a couple of independent games but for a big name to do so is usually considered taboo. However, they did so in a manner that leaves quite a memorable experience embedded into you. I don't want to ruin this with too many details because I find spoilers to be absolute hogwash, but I will say that you play through the game from different characters' views, giving you a wide range of emotions and perspectives.

The missions are very clever and have a good range of challenge for the experienced and not-so-experienced players. Most importantly it’s so interesting that single player will probably leave you saying "Oh GOD is it really 9pm? I was going to make lunch after that one mission! I completely lost track of the ti-oh bother forget it, I can't stop now!" You are completely drawn in to the story as if you're experiencing it yourself. Well, minus the whole years of Special Forces training and constant threat of death around every corner from missions your government denies occurred or that you even exist. But still! You are completely immersed in a unique environment that tells an incredible story in an almost poetic sense. Simply put, single player is the solitary redeeming factor of this game.

Colonel’s Conclusion:
Multiplayer? Filth. Single player? Outstanding. That's all there is to it. I'll leave it up to you to decide on if that's enough to justify this game. For me, it's not a 21-year-old single malt, but it's definitely an improvement from the blended whiskey I expected to receive.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Assassin's Creed Revelations Announced

Ubisoft is doing it again and I can say without hesitation that my optimism is extremely high. Assassin's Creed Revelations shall be our final chapter in the story of Ezio Auditore. This time Ezio is at a ripe old age of 52 years and will be gallivanting around locations old, such as Masyaf (the original headquarters of the Assassins in the time of Altaïr), and new, including Constantinople (capital city of the then Ottoman Empire). Not a great many details are revealed for this installment but we do know that the game will further develop all three of the major Assassins' stories: Altaïr, Ezio, and Desmond. Ezio comes to Constantinople in search of answers to his ancestor's past, much like Desmond tries to accomplish in the Animus. Upon arriving in the Ottoman Empire, Ezio makes contact with the Assassins in the area and the story of Assassins fighting the Templars continues to unfolds. Ubisoft has also revealed that in similar fashion to the previous games, new weapons will be incorporated to the gameplay including a hidden hookblade that allows the player to zipline across districts to their kill.

Expect further updates as we learn more about this game, but I think it's very safe to say that after the incredible success of all other previous titles, this one should not disappoint. Release is set for November of this year. Perhaps the game may also reveal some details, such as the location and story, of the much anticipated Assassins Creed III.

Chrono Trigger Released on Nintendo's Virtual Console

Some may say it's overkill, releasing a remastered version of an old classic for the DS and then releasing it for download a few years later. Just how many consoles does the public need Chrono Trigger to be on? All of them, I say! If I had it my way, I would be able to play Chrono Trigger on all major consoles, cellular phones, calculators, toasters, small animals, and large bowls of oatmeal. Today marks just a small step toward my doctrine.

Chrono Trigger is a timeless RPG loved by nearly everyone who grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (not that rubish TMNT). The classic is being released for a home console once again with its coming to Nintendo's Virtual Console today. It costs a meer 800 Nintendo points, or 8 USD  if you want to take away the unnecessary layer of currency abstraction Nintendo places on consumers. It's quite a steal, as the game will most assuredly provide many play throughs for all 15 endings. The game provides many interesting battle techniques, ways to level and cooperate amongst your team, and splendid sidequests to keep gamers interested in the 16-bit charmer for days. I won't keep you here any longer; your time-hopping, dual-teching, end-of-the-world-preventing adventure awaits on the Wii.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts Trailer

It would seem Obsidian sees promise in Fallout: New Vegas. Over a week ago, the game developer announced three New Vegas add-on packs (Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, and Lonesome Road), but only today released the trailer for their first installment. Honest Hearts takes place in Utah's Zion National Park and finds our intrepid hero entangled in a war between tribes. The fate of the park is in your hands as you try and resolve the conflict between a New Canaanite missionary and the enigmatic Burned Man.

The video seems interesting and the story seems up to snuff. My only issue with this add-on is that I feel New Vegas's time has come and gone. I played the game and enjoyed it for very nearly a month, but since then, I've played dozens of other games. I can hardly remember what decisions I've made, the alliances I've formed, or even my combat specialties. Releasing DLC for a game that was released almost seven months ago seems ludicrous, and this time difference is only compounded when taking into account the time spent fixing the bungled game.

Perhaps my gaming heart is a social butterfly of sorts, but I feel these add-ons come too late for me. If you feel up to dusting off your super sledge or refueling your flamer, by all means give the add-on packs a whirl. With the additions of new stories along with patched gameplay, Fallout: New Vegas may find its second wind yet.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I certainly hope everyone wished their mothers a very happy Mother's Day. As a lark, years ago, I began to make my mom beef wellington (Hah! See the word play?) every Mother's Day.

I would say "Look Mother, you can now take your aggressions toward me and redirect them at this moist, delicious meal!" Mother would smile at me and say "My dear boy, you're too wonderful to have any aggression towards." She ate the entire meal with just two knives and a scowl...

My mother is a lovely woman.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

News Postings

J. Wellington Rommefeller here, bringing you lot some exciting news! Aristogamer will now be covering the latest in gaming news as well as reviewing games. In order to facilitate this change without making the website boorish, we will be adding in a label system. Be at the ready for news updates starting next week.

Have a splendid weekend, and take your mother out for that classy meal she deserves tomorrow.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy Review

Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final FantasyGood evening, ladies and gentlemen, J. Wellington Rommefeller here. Years ago, the announcement of a fighting game featuring characters from Final Fantasy excited and intrigued me. The trailers promised fights similar to those seen in the films Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The question of how they would execute this type of fighting downright baffled me until I had an opportunity to play Dissidia: Final Fantasy for myself.   Initially, I was quite intimidated by how many controls I would have to memorize, but that feeling quickly fled as the control mechanisms soon became second nature. Fifteen minutes into the game I was batting baddies out of the air with nary a concern. I never finished the game, but upon hearing of a sequel, I resolved myself to continue in Square-Enix’s fighting experiment. Some months later, I loaded the sequel, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, into my PSP and nestled in for an evening of high-flying fighting. Would this sequel meet my lofty expectations?  Or would I find myself sipping brandy whilst listening to the melody of “Dissidia in an Incinerator” in D minor?
The graphics, as with any Final Fantasy title, are about as fetching as they come. Square has built an empire based on beautiful people in silly costumes, and that tradition does not conclude here. The introduction cut-scene alone is a sure credit to what the PSP can really do when pushed to its graphical limits. The visuals within the game are also quite impressive for a handheld console. Actions are fluid and the frame rate skips not a beat. I personally hoped Square would have stepped up their game in the graphics department since the last Dissidia, however with some of the best visuals on the console, I suppose their men were put to better use elsewhere.

The story mode has been improved to some extent in that it is more linear and more dependent upon new characters. In each chapter, you play as a new character who reveals their part of the storyline, with each character working toward a common final goal. In the original, this story was multiplied many times over, as you had to play through the game with every character in order to reveal the full story. I preferred Dissidia 012’s chapter system and not be burdened by the monotony of leveling up so many characters.

The game is really nothing more than a grand scale DLC of the original, not unlike Fallout: New Vegas was to Fallout 3. At its core, Fallout: New Vegas had identical controls, game engine, and concepts to Fallout 3, but with new added features and an entirely new story.   I bought the full-priced Dissidia 012 expecting what I had come to expect from New Vegas. I quickly learned the difference between the two situations is that Fallout: New Vegas was simply more fun than Dissidia 012, and therefore worth the price tag. The more I played Dissidia 012, the more I came to remember why I never finished the original: it’s bloody boring, and there’s little reward for your hard work! In my experience, Square games have a history of becoming monotonous for a time in order to allow for tension building and to dumbfound you later with a smashing story and even more plot details. Dissidia, however, seems to break from this formula by including only the monotony, foregoing the story in order to beat you over the head with messages about love and friendship. Had I a desire to play a preachy game in which I learn grade-school life lessons, I’d play Final Fantasy XIII. Hold on, no I wouldn’t, that game was a catastrophe as well. I’d play Kingdom Hearts; at least its gameplay is entertaining and the sanctimonious morals are expected of a Disney tie-in.

The new features that differentiate the sequel from the original are few and far between. A new world map concept was introduced in which your character may run about between battles, effectively giving you a break from the mind-numbingly repetitive fights. Other paltry offerings include allowing a partner to assist a la Marvel vs. Capcom and expanding the EX Mode system. In Dissidia, EX Mode is the equivalent of the “limit break” construct in other Final Fantasies. In Dissidia 012, not only can you unleash a devastating attack, you can disable your opponent for a short time. 

These meager additions hardly warrant an entirely new game. If I’m going to pay full price for a game that’s almost identical to its predecessor, it bloody well better have features in it that don’t look to have taken a weekend to add in.

It seems the theme of my complaints has been the lack of fun in the gameplay, and that has to deal largely with the fighting system. When first introduced in Final Fantasy: Dissidia, the fighting mechanics were unique, interesting, and a splendid draw. However, as one uses these mechanics again and again, fight after fight, you slowly come to realize that you’d rather be drubbed with a silver-tipped cane than enter yet another blasted battle. Every fight seems identical to the last, which was identical to the one before it and so on and so forth. Don’t take this amiss, some of the brawls are indeed tense and the sense of accomplishment tangible, but all too often I found myself utterly exasperated by the thought of engaging in yet another boring fight. Worst of all, the skirmishes serve only to progress a terrible story that I just can’t bring myself to give two hoots about.   Rather than expediently moving on to the next area, I oft caught myself wondering just how much lighter fluid would be required to set the game’s plastic casing alight. 


I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone other than those with a desperate but inexplicable need to try Dissidia. The sequel’s feature set is slightly larger than that of the original and it actually includes the entire first game as a secret. If you already own the original, perish the thought of wasting your money on the sequel.   Dissidia 012 is nearly identical to the first Dissidia, but the quirk and novelty have worn off to reveal yet another dull, lifeless game shoved hastily onto the market. I shall forever remain a Square-Enix fan, however their most recent games have my slender, attractive neck tie in quite a fiendish knot.

Until next time, I’m J. Wellington Rommefeller and I hope your most recent gaming exploits have been more satisfying than my own. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

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