Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Second Look @ Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (GBA)

(All images are taken from Gamespot)

If you've played any of the console versions of Pro Skater 2, you should have high expectations already. The sequel takes everything fans love about the previous game and cranks it up to 11. The same holds true for the GameBoy Advance version. I want to avoid using the word "port" since this is far from it. It's Pro Skater 2, to be sure, just mini. Same levels, same pros, same tricks. However that might not be enough to afford attention from someone who prefers the console versions.

As soon as the main menu wheel shows, you'll understand how much attention went into this game to be just like the bigger versions. The game contains a Career Mode, Free Skate, and Single Session. Upon first seeing the character selection, one might be disappointed by the pixelized pros. But don't be fooled, they stand up just as well as one should expect.
It will take some time to get used to the default control scheme, but if it becomes too difficult it can be freely changed in the menus; something that feels more natural to the player would be the best route to take. Things such as entering the nollie stance is done by pressing the same button used for kick tricks. The shoulder buttons, as well as the d-pad, rotate the skater left or right in the air. These can't be changed but there is no button interference when playing.
When you stick to it all the way through, you'll find the usual bonus characters, Officer Dick and Spiderman, on the character selection screen. One new addition is Mindy, not the same one from American Wasteland, added to replace Private Carrera.
The 45-degree angle that the game is presented in takes some getting used, eventually it becomes something the player just ignores and accepts. It works, and that's fine.

The biggest, and possibly only, gripe one might have with this game is the lack of character creation. It's understandable that it would have to be cut from the GBA, but we could all do without a few cheats, Mindy, and one less song. A simple character editor would be ideal. Change skin color, hair color, clothes color, and add a board from one of the pros and that would satisfy. I suppose having that option would be too much to put on a GBA cart though.

Pay close attention when performing a trick, you'll see the animations have practically been copied frame by frame from the console versions. The animations, such as Tony Hawk's 900 or Rodney Mullen's Casper to 360 flip, are excellent to look it. They're never just "rotating to 900 degrees" or "a manual that ends with a flip." Each trick is detailed to look exactly like the bigger versions.
Large areas such as the School in Florida and New York City have been shuffled around a bit to make it compatible. Others such as Marseille, France and the hangar in Mullet Falls are the same. As a slight bonus the Warehouse from Pro Skater 1 has been added, with only a few minor changes to level layout. Each change isn't enough to get angry over, it just takes some getting used to.

The sound is the best I've heard in a GBA game so far. From the main menu wheel to a skater hitting the pavement, it's all the same from the console versions. The only thing different from the consoles is the music: the midi-file music is similar, yet at the same time it feels as though it's best suited for this game alone. You still have that SoCal rock feel to it as well as a few hiphop basslines.

The replay value takes this game to about 10 hours, with breaks. Once you get used to getting 100% with one skater it becomes easy to get the rest of the careers complete. Achieving 100% game total, however, will take effort. Mindy can't be unlocked unless you find all gaps (up to Skatestreet anyway). Even after completing the game its still fun to take on-the-go and play every now and then, its something that sticks with you.

If one started with Pro Skater 2 on the GBA and never touched the console versions, there would be no need to fret. This IS Pro Skater 2, just smaller. It's the cherry on top for any fan of the series. Its an excellent game that's worthy of any addition to one's collection.

Keep Playing.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dreamcast's 11th Birthday



It snuck up on me.

Dreamcast's 11th birthday.

Had it not been for checking Blogspot and seeing The Dreamcast Junkyard mentioning it I would have forgotten. So this means I need to write a blog. Well, unfortunately I can't think of anything in such a short amount of time with most of the day being passed by already.
I can always mention MY SMALL GAME COLLECTION. Yes. I think that'll do. Maybe a mini-review for each. So before this intro drags on too long, let me get started.

I unfortunately can't say I'm a big fan of Crazy Taxi. Its blasphemy, I know, but I find the driving and physics in this game impossible to deal with. The tires constantly spinning out as the precious seconds tick down, the insane amount of traffic even on easy difficulty, the passengers commenting about every turn you make, and the most repetitive soundtrack ever conceived (Offspring: "Yah! Yah! Yah! Yah! Yaaaaaaah!"), make it a teeth-grinder for me.
Regardless of all that I've said, Crazy Taxi has an undeniable charm to it. Its an arcade game through and through and its been converted nicely to the Dreamcast. The graphics are clean, the controls are sharp, and it's just fun. As for the soundtrack, it can always be muted, I suppose.

Hit or miss. Its the best way to describe Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX. The controls are sloppy, the graphics seem incomplete, the music is repetitive, and the levels are just lackluster. After completing the challenges of the first levels you have to compete, and place first in, three competitions. Second place wins you nothing but a pat on the back. The only unlockable character here is the SlimJim guy. Yes, you read that right. He's nothing special either. And its almost impossible to bail, just pressing the Y button while coming down from a vert lands you in a stalling position. Broken? Yes.
But despite the bad nature up front, its more like the Pro Skater series than Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX was. Its just as chaotic, the soundtrack, though small, is varied and soulful, and the tricks are insane. You can pull off moves that aren't even physically possibly in real life. Its a true arcade game and I'm proud to have it in my collection.

A game that's as unique as anything you can imagine, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is the tale of Raziel, a vampire who has evolved beyond his master. Considering this a travesty, Kain kills Raziel. Many years later, Raziel is brought back to life by the gods with a task they want him to complete: kill Kain.
Thus begins your adventure.
This third person platformer is an amazing adventure through two worlds: the land of the living and of the dead, each with their on dangers, and at the end of each level lies a vampiric boss that has also been transformed.
The graphics seem pretty advanced for their time, the smoothness of objects lends to the game pretty well. The areas, though fogged in the distance, are varied and never just walking through a gray cave.
The voiceacting is superb and the actors put emotion into their words. No cookie-cutter blandness here.
If you can ever find a copy of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (not to be confused with Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain) it's a definite buy. They just don't make'em like this anymore.

With little to say about this game, Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear on the Dreamcast is... meh. The graphics are nothing to be impressed by, the voiceacting is there, the environments are impressive for back then, and the gameplay is hard. This is no run-and-gun one-man-army shooter. It's tactical in the sense that when the enemies see you they do not hesitate to aim for the head. One main problem lies in the controls, they take a while to get used to. Since there is no strafing, there is no easy way to dodge bullets.
This is one of my least-played in my Dreamcast collection.

If you don't know this game by now you should be ashamed of yourself.
Take all the real-world physics that you know and toss them out the window. A true arcade racer, the only enemy you have is the time limit. Race as fast as you can to get to the next checkpoint, rack up those extra seconds, and splatter some mud on the windshield of the car you're about to pass.
With a true sense of speed, mud splatters when you drive through it, water splashes, dust rises, sparks fly, and your car never gets damaged. Just like in Dave Mirra: there is no reward for second place.
This is one of the definitive Dreamcast games. Any collection wouldn't be complete without it.

ANOTHER arcade classic brought home by the Dreamcast, it's a perfect recreation of the original, with a large exception: since there is no gun attachment, you stay zoomed in all the time. You zoom out by holding down the left trigger. Firing is done with either the A button or the right trigger. Movement is done by the analog stick. It might not be as fast as aiming the gun in the arcade, but the movement speed of the crosshair can be changed in the menus.
Aside from a training mode, its the same as you would find in the arcade. The branching story paths are there, the same bosses, the same patterns. It might not seem appealing, but its better than having the actual arcade cabinet take up space in your room. Another definitive title of the Dreamcast.

Do I have to say anything about this? Well I think I should.
*FANBOYS!* I was a HUGE fan of Sonic when he first premiered, you have to consider that, before you read this, it is an opinion. It is biased. It is what I think. You can love this new Sonic all you want. I don't.

Sonic's transition to full 3D could have gone better. With controls that are too sensitive and wonky, levels that are lacking (and some that just seem like they were halfway completed), camera controls that are maddening, voiceacting that is phoned in, characters that shouldn't exist (I'm looking dead at you Rose and Big), and the useless Chao mini-game, Sonic Adventure is where the image of the blue blur with attitude was dragged through the new millennium mud.
Is it a bad game? Somehow no. But you can't ignore the stack of minor inconveniences that drag it down.

While getting the above image from Gamespot, one number jumps out at me directly: 10.
A perfect 10. A lot can be said for this game and yet I'm at a loss of words. Not only is it a perfect recreation of the arcade fighter, but it packs in a ton of extras such as an adventure mode, survival mode, galleries, and unlockable weapons and characters.
The graphics are crisp, bright, vibrant, and smooth. They run at a steady pace and are mind-blowing compared to the 3D fighters of the time.
This is the true definition of an arcade game. The tale of souls and swords eternally retold does not begin however. Soul Blade made its debut on the PS1 in 1995, and even then it was a technical marvel. Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast is just another reason why Namco is my favorite game company today.

I'm not quite sure what crowd this game is aimed towards. Any rednecks (I'm from Georgia, I can say it) that might have bought this game would have been very disappointed, as would have anyone else.
Controls that are sloppy, gameplay that isn't fun, race courses that are a pain to navigate through, and voiceacting with people that sounded like they were hired with the promise of payment of a new banjo or mud tires... its just not a good game at all.
Just by the cover you would think that this is an arena-racing game or open environment, Dakar-style rush to the end of the track. That's a great deception isn't it? Although its not quite Cover Art Fail material, I for one was disappointed when I first played it.

The Hawkman makes a jump to the Dreamcast. An arcade-style game on a console made for arcade games. What more could you ask for?
Although this game is a simple copy-and-paste job, its still the Pro Skater we all know and love. I can't say much about it. What I can say is that the original screenshots I had seen of it a long time ago made the game looking amazing, almost like a new entry. Instead we get the same game as all the other platforms.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on the Sega Dreamcast is my favorite game of all time. Top favorite. Number 1. I have written in length about this game in other blogs. I can't keep re-writing the same things.
Take the Playstation 1 version, add in a few graphical effects such as: t-shirts blowing in the wind, greater anti-aliasing, better graphics and cleaner sound, a better fogging distance, and you get Pro Skater 2 on the Dreamcast. Its just the best version presented.

Forget all the skills you know about the current UFC games. Can you press a button? Then you can win Ultimate Fighting Championship. The roster of MMA stars is vast, and with the ability to create your own fighter it can be bigger. The main problems lie in that each match can last as little as 30 seconds, and that if your opponent gets in the dominant position, ground and pound, strangle hold, etc. then you're done for. There is no getting out of it, no fighting back. Instant submission. Game over.

Every time I think Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense, that theme song comes into my head. A strict copy-and-paste job of the PS1 version, there's nothing new to this game. I'm not even sure this game has the ability to unlock the levels from the first game, it can be done by swapping out the disc with the original V8 on the PS1 version, but with the Dreamcast, opening the disc lid takes you to the console menu.
Graphics are clean, audio is clear, controls are the same. Its on par with the PS1 version.

Its baseball, just not very good baseball. With convoluted controls, graphics that "just get the job done," and menu music that gives you a nervous twitch if you listen to it for too long, its the same as every other baseball game in existence. Maybe that explains why I got it for $1.

And that's about it. That's all the Dreamcast games in my collection. It's a short stack but they warrant their own CD holder. I would buy more, and I do plan on buying more, but with increasing rarity and price points that are a bit too high for old games, its hard for me to do. Soul Calibur alone cost me $15 and I bought that immediately. It came with no manual but it did have the back cover.
I'm the type of collector that prefers to have get everything with the game. I know I need to get over that otherwise Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation will be lost to me. There are two copies at the Play N Trade store that I bought my Dreamcast games from as well as others. If I don't buy them, someone else will.
Back in middle school, my friend and I used to bash the Dreamcast every day. It wasn't until I was able to buy one a few years ago that I realized just how wrong I was. The Dreamcast is an amazing console and it ended too shortly. There are still quite a few homebrew companies out there that are still making games for it.
I still need to download Half-Life for the Dreamcast. Getting the cdi image is the pain for me.
So how was that for a short notice blog? Took me two hours to write but that's fine by me. Its my contribution to the Dreamcast community and a small insight to my collection. Now if you'll excuse me, Silent Scope isn't going into demo mode with me just sitting here.

Keep Playing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Second Look @ Enthusia Professional Racing.

(All images are from YouTube video is not mine either.)

Enthusia Professional Racing, made in-house by Konami, attempts to blend arcade and simulation racing. It does this rather well by keeping the arcade aspect in the menus while the racing is fully simulation (minus vehicular damage).
This wouldn't be such a bad thing if it weren't for the fact that the player may spend the bulk of their time in the menus trying to figure out the probability system in their favor.
As the game is first started, you're treated to a walkthrough of the menus. Skipping this may be a bad idea as it teaches the player about the probability system, which the game seemingly runs on. It's all about whether or not the player's car has a chance of winning the race, and this is explained during the walkthrough. Don't let these words fool you though; you can still win a race at a harder difficulty but only by roughing up the other cars and driving harshly.

It's an ambitious title that strives to show off what it does. Ambition doesn't cut it as the game is littered with problems that are hard to overlook and limit the overall enjoyment.
One problem lies in the fact that each race is only a few laps, you may find yourself participating in the small-fish races that can give you the odds in your favor. There is no limit to this and its a smart way to upgrade your vehicle to tackle the harder races and improve your odds. If you're feeling daring you don't have to stick to the easy stuff, you're welcome to try the harder races in order to acquire better cars.
This presents a few more problems: Before the start of the start race you can place a “bet” on which car you think will win. This has no bearing on the outcome, leveling up, etc. and is generally useless in the game.
At the end of the race a raffle is presented wherein the cars that participated in the race are displayed and a single one is highlighted. The player presses a button and probability takes effect again as to whether or not the player acquires a new car. This is THE ONLY way to get new cars since there is no purchase system. Konami lost the point with this game when more focus was put on the probability system and Enthu points rather than the gameplay.

The Enthu Points present another problem: Enthu Point are points you get for racing; they deplete with each scrape, each time you go off the road, or each time you hit another car (or when another car hits you). Other than that they exist to gauge nothing. The points refill with each successful win or when you take an in-game week off from racing. If the total points reach zero, it will force you to take a week off. Your Driver level determines how many points you regain during this process.
No matter how many Enthu Points you acquire, one bump or slide off the road will take away the same amount of EP, forcing the player to pay more attention to their driving. This is the question that begs to be addressed when concerning the Enthu Points: if the same amount of EP is taken away for each mistake, why have it so the total number of EP raises with each level? To put it another way: if you have 100 Enthu Points, bumping another car might take away 10 points. Meanwhile if you have 1500 points, bumping a car seems like 150 points are taken away. No matter how many Enthu Points the player has garnered, it seems they're penalized for the same percentage for each mistake.

The Free Ride mode is limited to what you have unlocked so far, meaning new tracks and cars are pretty much off limits unless you work to win them.
There is another mode called Driving Revolution which is a take on Konami's Dance Dance Revolution series. The player is given a preselected car and tasked with driving down a three-lane highway, passing through certain marker gates along the way while trying to make the best time. It's a mixture of skill and little bit of luck (bringing in the probability system again).

The racing is, for the most part, straightforward with the physics and speed being as closely accurate to the real world as Konami can muster. Each car handles, accelerates, and brakes differently from each other. The upgrade system has a small but noticeable effect on the cars.
The tracks consist of real world and original designs, each one requiring a different way to master driving through. It's not tough since the course map provides the player with enough warning of which corner is coming up, its up to them to remember when to brake and accelerate.
There is no damage and, seeing as how there is no monetary system involved, this is a good idea. Since the computer AI is anything but intelligent, you'll have to deal with them bumping into you in their attempts to drive the correct line. The AI is lifeless in that it doesn't fight back, its programmed to just go, to never make a mistake, to accelerate and brake perfectly, to recover from when the player cheaply runs it off the road and continue along as though nothing has happened.
There are two camera views: a close chase camera and a bumper cam with a rearview mirror. The bumper cam is the only way to see what's behind you since there is no button to look back.
Also, you may want to make sure you take a drive properly as there is no restart, only retiring. Doing so forfeits any Enthu points recovery and the chance to unlock a new car.

Enthusia shows off its potential in the graphics department by featuring some of the best graphics seen in a racing game on the PS2, potentially rivaling Gran Turismo 4. There are rarely any jagged edges on the environments, which are unique in their own rights, and the cars are smoothly designed. The game feels to run at a steady 30+ fps (I could be very wrong in that description) even with several cars all going full speed. The car models shown in the menus aren't the same during gameplay, however, but its hard to take notice of the other cars when your main focus is directed towards the driving.
Cars gather no dirt on the off-road courses, similarly the dust isn't kicked up behind you. During the wet courses the rain runs down the screen and back up when speeding. The reflections on car windows are dulled down to pixelated blocks but the reflections on the cars themselves are nice. Lighting during the night levels is nice, but nothing to get excited over. The ground reflects the light during wet night levels.

The soundtrack has an interesting mix of songs, the menu music is piano-techno mix, something of the arcade variety. The in-game soundtrack mixes it up quite a bit with songs mixing techno with rock guitars, its tolerable but best taken in small doses.
The car's engines seem to drone, increasing in pitch when accelerating and decreasing when revving down. Sadly, it's just unnoticeable.
What may be noticeable is that there are no crowd noises. The game feels lifeless and because of this you get a sense of loneliness. No one's cheering you on because no one cares.

In the end, Konami took a bold step in an attempt to blend arcade and sim. It was, however, a misstep. In essence it can be seen as a game you would play in an arcade with a sim racing engine, it just can't make up its mind to figure out which side of the fence it wants to reside on.
If a sequel is ever put into production, Konami should learn from they're mistakes and rid the game of the Enthu points, complicated menus, probability system and focus more on the driving.
The game is littered with problems, sure, but it's not a bad game. The roster of cars is a strong one, the racing is accurate and fun, and the probability system is tolerable, even ignorable.
Konami attempted to make a community behind the Enthusia brand name with a website, which is no longer active, that was meant to be a community hub for Enthusia players which held events, contests, leaderboards and other news. It was just mediocre when compared to other racing games of the time (Gran Turismo 4, Forza Motorsport, even R: Racing Evolution) which had more reason and depth to them.
Even with the game being as old as it is, it would make a perfect addition to the Sim Racing Aficionado's collection. All others would be better off sticking with the more AAA titles.

Keep Playing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

E3, Microsoft and YOU

On Monday morning, the level of stupidity on the internet rose to epic proportions as scores of mindless fanboys rose up in anger with pitchforks and torches and demanded the death of the heads and developers of Microsoft.
Turning on their once beloved console, these fanboys forgot about the years of entertainment that the Xbox 360 had given them.
Alas, they wanted more. Rather than letting Microsoft broaden the scope of the Xbox 360, these fanboys insisted that they receive more mindless destruction video games, scantily-clad women, short storylines and bad voice acting.

What they seem to forget is that Kinect is aimed towards the casual audience.
How DARE Microsoft attempt to turn a video game console into a casual machine! They shouldn't make money from it that way! They should keep charging $60 for a game that players will forget in less than a month!

Kinectimals featured a little girl playing with a tiger, and the fanboys demanded blood. What they forgot at that precise moment was that Kinectimals was made for little kids.
They saw Kinect Adventures and proceeded to tear out their own eyes. They also forgot that this game, no matter how unimportant it seemed, was meant for the casual gamers as well. If someone invites their friends over for a movie and says "Let's play some games first," they can all JUMP IN (Xbox 360's motto) and play together.
They saw Kinect Joyride and demanded a human sacrifice. Nevermind the fact that it's a kart racer and that it was already announced to be supported by the Kinect.
The fanboys saw the fitness program and it made them sweat. I guarantee that half of them are actually obese gamers and hate the thought of exercising.

I am one, I know I need to exercise. That's why I'll be buying the Kinect. At least it will separate me from you mindless baboons that demand to see explosions and hear 12-year-olds, frat boys and potheads curse you out for fragging them.
Want to know why gamers get such a bad rep? It's all of you that get in an uproar when you see something you don't like.
"Hardcore" gamers are some of the whiniest child-like people I have ever come across. If something isn't up to their standards, which are very low in this case, they voice their opinions thinking it will change the minds of the developers.

They simply REFUSE to step back and take a look at the potential that the Kinect offers. Most of them have been stuck inside their rooms for so many years that the main social interaction they've received is through a headset and party chat.
What if they could ACTUALLY see what their friends look like for a change? What if gaming could be something more social than a headset?
You fanboys are stuck in a rut and you don't want to come out of it.

Because Bulletstorm, Gears of War 3, Halo Reach, Metal Gear Rising, Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Medal of Honor, Fable 3, Rock Band 3, Dead Rising 2, Red Faction: Armageddon, Portal 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, Crysis 2, a new Duke Nukem, Fallout: Vegas, Brink, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, Rage, and all these other games aren't enough for you....

You want more and you don't want to give the casual audience any leeway. You don't want Microsoft to try out new technology.

You all make me want to quit gaming.

My Own E3 Impressions

Its been a year since the last E3, and after my debacle of not posting anything but Microsoft, I've gone a little further this year and typed up something that I've posted around on other sites. Unfortunately not any of it is any good. It's quick, short, and opinionated; something you wouldn't expect from me. That's because I'm not going to write up on each game and how the presentation of each went. I don't have that much time and if I did it would take me over a month to do. So remember that what I have written is opinionated, not fleshed out, and if you want to see things for yourself, go to, scroll down a little, and take a look at the videos, the links are on the right. I encourage you to form your own opinions on each press conference and, if you want to tell me a thing or two, go ahead and leave a comment.

Microsoft: "Hardcore" fanboys are some of whiniest child-like people I know. Microsoft shows off the Kinect and they go crazy, saying they've forgotten the "hardcore" audience.
Here's a question: Why can't someone be "casual hardcore?" As in, they only play casual games because they're not impressed with the 4-hour long shooters with storyline depth as deep as a kiddie pool.
Microsoft has catered to you long enough. It's time they use the Xbox 360 as something more than a platform for angry, foul-mouthed 12 year olds, potheads and frat boys who want to spend 8 hours yelling at someone who fragged them online.

Nintendo: ANOTHER DS...
Zelda, who didn't see that one coming?
Metroid Other M, yeah...
Wii Party replaces Mario Party....
No Vitality Sensor, thank you, Nintendo...
Just Dance 2 *sigh*.....

Sony: REALLY riding the balls of the 3D thing, aren't you? Give me a GAME, not an EXPERIENCE.
But who cares? They've announced a new Twisted Metal and this will be the game that will make me buy a PS3.
(I've only seen the videos for Twisted Metal. The GameTrailers videos go for 20 seconds and then stop, forcing me to reload the page each time. Once Gamespot has the full press conference video I'll give my reactions. Not like you guys care anyway.)

EA: Congratulations on getting your act together and making a REAL Need For Speed game that doesn't involve Tuners and NOS.
I'm also looking forward to Medal of Honor, although I know that people are already calling it a CoD ripoff. *middle finger to them*

Ubisoft: A Michael Jackson game? Really?
Rayman Origins, never played the first.
Assassins Creed with Ezio. Again.

I generally don't like E3 because it brings out the a-holes, by that I mean "Opinions are like a-holes: everyone has one." So many people's opinions on what's good or what's bad means it taints your knowledge of what's being presented unless you've seen the press conference videos for yourself and formed your own opinions. I'm about to leave one game community because the founder of it trashed Microsoft without even presenting the facts, he just blurted out his own opinion and that makes me think less of him. If he had given just the facts rather than outright saying "It's lame!" I would have more respect for him. He's supposed to be reporting what's going on, not giving his own opinion.

AHA! I can tell what some of you are thinking already: "But you just gave your own opinions, you're stoopit!!!11!!111!!eleven"
I'm not reporting on the things, am I?
Keep Playing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Control Freak: Reviewer Pro-tips.

Time and time again I come across game reviews that make me lose faith in humanity, ones that are atrociously bad, make no sense, and make English teachers cry. Ones that have no rhyme, reason, or right to be on the internet. 
I've compiled a short list of tips for those who do write those bad reviews. I know a lot of people won't care to follow these. I also know that some people will be outright indignant about these tips. "A hit dog will cry" is all I'm going to say to them. Meaning if you're offended, then you're guilty.
I'm presenting this as a simple guide to people who write bad reviews of video games or any other medium for that matter. It's also a straightforward guide to those who are unsure about their reviewing prowess.
We've all been guilty of bad reviews in our days, some of us still are. I'm not criticizing any particular person's review(s), but rather the people who just don't get it.

You are not the Angry Video Game Nerd or Nostalgia Critic, do not pretend to be so. If you're going to spout curse words at random intervals, don't do it so often to the point that your review is outright unreadable/unwatchable. If you can't think of anything else to say besides a hundred curse words in your review, then don't do the review at all. With luck I'll never read or watch it and that makes me happy. Cursing at a game is pointless. Instead, curse your lack of skills to play the game.
We don't know you, we don't know what games you like to play, we don't know who you are off of the website your review is on, so please don't interject your own personal opinions into your review.
If you are a person who would rather do a review based on just your opinions, you can always start off by saying "I'm a big fan of *genre or series* but I have a problem with *insert problem.* It wasn't up to my standards of blah blah blah..." That helps us get to know you a little better and why it was a problem for you., and more than likely a printed dictionary, defines the word Opinion as "a personal view, attitude, or appraisal," meaning your own thoughts are written down into your review. These are the things you experienced and, in your mind, decided whether or not it was good.

Parallel to that definition, Fact is described as "something that actually exists; reality; truth."
Mario jumping higher after running is a fact. Mario being better than Luigi is an opinion.
See what I'm getting at? A very hard level in a game may seem unfair to you in your opinion, but the reason that it's supposed to be a challenge is a fact.
In simple terms: what may suck to you may be good in someone else' mind.

Punctuation: It's not an STD.

One paragraph is not a review. We need content, descriptions, a voice for the whole of the game. Don't worry if you think its "too wordy." Some people will say TL;DNR, but if you can grab my interest early on you may very well have my attention for the entire review.
Talk about graphics: how they hold up on the console, don't compare to another game unless it's in a series.
Gameplay: is it bugged? Is it perfect in your eyes? Does it remind you of another game?
Sound: Bullets and explosions are fun and all, but did you step back to hear voice chatter or the environment?
Value: How long do you expect to continually play the game? Will you come back to it years from now?
Add a personal opinion: what you wished the creators added or left out. Is it a rental or a buy?
Are you listening to me yet?
Under ANY circumstance directly compare one game to another, especially if they are of two completely different genres. (But as I've said before: ideas are fair game.) I have seen the genre mishap done before: someone compared the driving in GTA: San Andreas as being superior to that in Need For Speed Underground 2, and furthermore someone else compared Underground 2 as being better than Gran Turismo 4. (That's an arcade vs sim argument. We'll save that for later.)

Spell check is your friend, don't be afraid to use it. Some people don't bother with spell check because it makes them feel inferior only to be lambasted by readers later on. That's all a sense of pride and ego, just use the spell check.

What's that you say? One, small, single, little aspect of a game completely ruined the entire experience for you? Awwww poor baby. Well guess what? Tell us instead what you liked about the game. Don't dwell on one area for the entire review.

"I don't care if you agree with me or not, you're going to have to sit here and listen to me rant!"
Umm... no I'm not. I'm going to close out the tab and look for another review that's worth my time.
While we're on the topic: don't "rant." "Rant" is becoming an overused word meaning "I didn't think things through and plastered my opinion into an area of writing on the internet!"

Don't be a graphics whore: The Playstation 3 IS better than the 360 in terms of graphics but only because it is more powerful. Shut up fanboys, I own a 360.
Don't shoot off your mouth and disrespect another console in your review. Doing so certifies yourself as being on the bottom of the barrel of internet reviewers.
Graphics don't make a good game, gameplay does.

Don't contradict yourself. I.e."I did, but I didn't." End of discussion.

We all know there are bad games out there, if you happen to review one, don't throw out random sentences of anger. Try making fun of the game, add a little humor if you can. Satirize!

Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Devil May Cry, Grand Theft Auto, Gears of War, Need For Speed, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty are not the only games ever created. There is variety out there. Other games ARE NOT "ripping these games off."

Don't get involved in the hype machine. Try not to have preconceived notions, good or bad, about the game before playing it. Tell me what you think of it, not what you heard everyone else say. The hype surrounding certain games can be a huge letdown. (Thanks to Andre the Black Nerd for that one!)

Don't diss the old school and retro games: without them we wouldn't have games today.
Okay. Okay. You can hate on E.T. for the Atari all you want. That's fair.

Don't insult your readers.

I hope a lot of you can fair better from what I've presented. I have come across a few mind-numbing reviews in my time, ones that physically hurt to read. Some people just don't know that their reviews are bad, they post them and ignore the wave of facepalms.
Now, I want to know what you all think: what's the one thing you hate when people do in their reviews?

Keep Playing.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Control Freak: GT PSP: My own thoughts

With my review of Gran Turismo for the PSP I tried to hold back my own personal input from the game, I wanted to deliver a straightforward review. I did add a few examples from my own personal playthrough when I mentioned the driving line and not being familiar with it, but that however was an example rather a personal injection. This blog is just my passable thoughts on the game, what I liked, what I didn't like.
The reason I try to distinguish the game review from my personal thoughts is this: The reader may not like the same things I do. In addition, the reader doesn't know me in real life, so by adding my own thoughts to the review, I taint the reader's knowledge of the game. But without further adieu, this is what I really think of GT PSP. Be warned, it isn't pretty.

GT PSP holds no new tracks, no old tracks, and no surprises. It's a copy and paste job of previous entries into the Gran Turismo series, stripped down so it's small enough to fit on a UMD.

Polyphony Digital: Do we really need 6 types of one car? (i.e. over 6 types of the Mitsubishi Lancer.) That just takes up disc space for other cars that could be used. (GTO Judge? Hello?)
And speaking of the Judge: why so few American muscle cars? It seems like a bit of a biased towards America when coming from a Japanese game developer. 

60 frames per second? Give me 30 and better track design, no pop-ups in the background, and no breakthroughs on the course. I know the PSP can handle better graphics than that.
I'm not trying to say "make a completely cartoon version of GT," I'm saying it's a release on a handheld, time to do something different. Surprise us. Wow us. Make us want to play the game.

Only 4 manufacturers at a time? Like I said in the review: it forces us to decide whether to buy this new car presented to us, or save up for the one we want. That's understandable. Problem is it's almost a rarity if you want a certain European or American car. 19 times out of 20 one of the manufacturers is either Nissan or Toyota. As I said earlier: biased much? 
I started and ended over a hundred races (without playing them) just to get the day count up to get to the next manufacturer set in hopes of finding Subaru or Chevy. 

The last DLC given to us was a set of the high price cars: Bugatti Veyron, Enzo Ferrari, GT by Citroen, etc. Cars that would take us all a while to save up for (not to mention longer to find because of the manufacturer limit). So now I have no need to save up that money to buy a Veyron. Thanks.
As for DLC: Give us NEW cars, and NEW tracks. Heck, I'd settle for old tracks (Clubman Stage Route 5 plz?) if it meant I could do something more with the game.

Why no tournament races or individual challenge races? Something separate from the Challenge Mode presented in the game. I understand it's a game meant to be played in between time periods, but you've got to make me want to play it.

What's wrong with the control stick? There is no sensitivity. I push it to the left just a little and the car fully steers left. I know it can handle differing degrees of motion because it's possible in the SOCOM games. Regardless, the physics are similar to what you find in GT4, making me think a certain department was too lazy to improve upon things.

As for the rank up system: What am I supposed to do? I've tried over 20 laps on each track, with new cars, or cars that I've never raced with, and single manufacturer races, but still nothing has changed. Are there certain hidden requirements for each track? If so, what are they because I'm lost and, literally, going around in circles trying to figure this out.

After buying a larger memory card, I found out that I was wrong about installing the game to the memory. Sure it's faster, but it eats up a lot of the battery, despite what the game manual says. . And you need at least 1GB of space to do so. Funny how the game says you needs over 200MB and the manual says 700MB. Good job lying to us. You also need to have the disc in the PSP in order to play it, much like the PS3.

Overall, unless you really want a new Gran Turismo game, and you don't want to wait until 2015 for GT5, it's a definite recommendation. Just don't expect to find this game as great as you would initially think.
(Ha, now that I think about it, it's been said that you can transfer your car collection to GT5. So if you buy every car then you're pretty much set for this game.)

Keep Playing.
But don't keep playing GT PSP, because I don't think I am.