Do modern-day shooters have what it takes to pierce your heart? Let's find out together with the ShootStravaganza!!

September 18, 2014

Are Video Games Actually Hurting Us?

So I started watching Kamen Rider Gaim.

I said as much on Twitter, but it bears repeating: Gaim strikes me as what happens when a man watches the movie version of West Side Story, and takes it WAY too seriously -- and upon realizing that the streets of New York aren’t filled with gang battles won via elaborate dance moves, proceeded to have a nervous breakdown. 

The show starts in one place, and becomes something completely different barely a quarter of the way in.  Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say that head writer Gen Urobuchi has evidently been playing a lot of Devil Survivor…and unfortunately, happened to watch huge swaths of the abysmal anime adaption.

That -- much like the majority of this post -- is pretty depressing.  So you might want to have your favorite comedic video or song uploaded.  

(Should your search fail, Gaim will provide.)  

September 15, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! Battlefield 4

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.”
--Psalm 103:8-12


So.  You knew this one was coming, didn’t you?

September 11, 2014

So How Good is Harry Potter, Really?

A while back, I got to meet one of my dad’s work friends, and he asked me what I had in mind as per the whole “life” thing.  I told him I had the writing equivalent of “hoop dreams” -- though not in those words, because that would require me to be witty on the spot.  In any case, the conversation ended up shifting to J.K. Rowling and the mind-crunchingly famous Harry Potter series -- which he didn’t think was all that great.

Not being a devoted, diehard Potter fan, I can’t say his opinion filled me with rage.  It caught me off guard, sure, but I understood what he meant.  Failing to do so would bring me closer to believing that the canon is perfect, which -- as you know -- is impossible so long as it fails to focus on Sir Neville M.F, Longbottom.  But for what it’s worth, I think that overall, the Potterverse has its fair share of juice.  It wouldn’t have become a cultural tour de force if it wasn’t.  Although considering what other book series also became a tour de force, that might not have the hallowed status it once did.

But enough about that.  Let’s talk Potter.

September 8, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! MGS5: Ground Zeroes

Cripes.  How do you even talk about this game?

The only way you can is the obvious way -- by bringing up the fact that it’s a forty dollar demo.  And it IS a forty dollar demo, without question.  That’s literally the only reason it exists, even if it’s got a spiffy title independent of the upcoming The Phantom Pain.  And it’s not a justified existence by any means, believe you me.  Remember, I’m the guy who raised a stink over The Last of Us and its DLC -- fifteen dollars for maybe an hour and a half of cutscenes, and maybe thirty minutes of gameplay.  So I can’t in good faith recommend Ground Zeroes to anyone.

And jeez, does this set one hell of a bad precedent.  Konami and crew likely only did it because they needed to restock the war chest, and they figured with the MGS name attached, they could get away with it.  And they did.  Even if some people raised complaints, others -- and plenty of them, by the sound of it -- spoke with the one thing that mattered: their wallets.  So I guess this is the new standard now.  I take issues with games like Destiny offering access to its beta demo solely by preordering the game (and “subtly” pushing a thought-free purchase under the idea that “eh, I already preordered it, so I might as well keep it”), but that’s a saintly practice compared to Ground Zeroes

Now.  Let’s talk about the actual game.

September 1, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! Mercenary Kings

You might think it’s a little unfair of me to add a game like Mercenary Kings to this miniseries, by way of it being a shooter in the sole sense that “it has guns”.  But then again, I could counter that by saying there was never any exact definition as to what sort of shooter would appear in the ShootStravaganza.  Given that there’s a third-person shooter coming up, is it really so far-fetched to have a game that leans hard toward being an old-school 2D platformer?

No.  No it is not, good sir or madam.

Moving on to more pertinent matters -- this game has sprites, and that makes me happy.  I agree with the sentiment of a lot of gamers, and think that sprites are cool…and on top of that, something precious ended up being lost in the transition from 2D to 3D.  I’ve got one of the later Breath of Fire games on my PS3, and the animations there make me lament that that didn’t become the future of gaming.  Same goes for Street Fighter; I like (and still play) IV, but there’s just no beating the marvel of Alex tearing his shirt, Sean’s two-fisted dragon punch, and pretty much everything about Makoto and Elena.  A well-made sprite leads to a level of artistic expression that 3D can’t always match.  Or if not that, then it at least offers something friggin’ cool.

So the same applies to Mercenary Kings, as you’d expect.  I just wish there was more to it than that.

August 28, 2014

My Mom is the Best in the Universe

I’m well-noted for being an optimist, but sometimes it’s pretty hard.  That’s to be expected, sadly.  Negativity is part and parcel of the World Wide Web these days, and with good reason: it’s a place where fans -- where those who care deeply about the things they love -- find out on a regular basis that something bad is about to go down.  I try to counteract that here, but the woes of the video game industry and its mounting failures means that a lot of times, I have to get negative, too. 

So you know what?  It’s time to do something different.  I want this to be a happy place, and I can think of one surefire way to do that: paying tribute to my mom.  Today’s her birthday, after all, and she’s such a great person that I HAVE to give her the praise she deserves.  I don’t do that enough, but that’s to be expected when you’re about as good with people as trying to spell the alphabet backwards…while on fire.  (As evidenced by that curiously-morbid joke.)  And seeing as how I have yet to encounter a greeting card that can cram several thousand words onto a folded piece of paper, this will have to do.

So gather ‘round.  Have a seat.  Because I’m going to wish my mom a happy birthday the only way anyone can: by giving 100% irrefutable proof that she’s the best in the universe. 

It would be 110%, but doing that would require making the post’s title in all caps.  And as per The Rules of the Internet, that would put the post's credibility in danger.

August 25, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! Wolfenstein: The New Order

Video games may be an art form, but it’s hard to separate them from the mechanical underpinnings.  Yeah, that’s probably true of every art form, but given that games are built on technology, it’s more than a little pronounced.  So while in a lot of ways, it’s easy to understand why there are so many shooters (even if you’re not willing to welcome them): the mechanics are the simplest way to create a relationship between a real player and a virtual world.  Take aim, pull a trigger button, and things happen.  It’s a hard formula to screw up, even if it is less than preferable to others.

I’m not even going to pretend like I know everything/anything about shooters, but I can do something like that for fighting games.  Even if you don’t have any skill with them, it only takes a glance to realize that there are systems and particulars that go into each one, making them different across the board.  True, there are lessons and concepts that carry over from game-to-game, but Street Fighter 4 is not the same game as, say, Street Fighter X Tekken

There are surface-level elements, like those unique systems; there are deeper elements, like preparation and tactics; there are elements that you have to learn on the fly, going from one match to another (someday I’ll learn how to fight Chun-Li) -- and then there’s the super-deep stuff like frame data, proration, and more.  Fighters may have seen a renaissance over the past half-decade or so, but that’s partly because they’ve got the depth -- at every level -- that can satisfy a player.  It’s what makes fighters one of the purest game genres out there.

I bring all this up because I think that’s part of the appeal of Wolfenstein: The New Order.  And it’s part of the reason why it’s not only the best game I’ve looked at for the ShootStravaganza, but maybe one of the best next-gen games so far…even though that doesn’t really mean very much at this stage, but whatever.

August 18, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! Killzone: Shadow Fall

So you know what I just realized?  All the games that are going to pop in for the ShootStravaganza are PS4 games.  Fancy that.

The way things are looking now, I’m not exactly what you’d call excited about the next (technically current) generation of games.  I’m on record here on Cross-Up of being genuinely worried about what the PS4 and Xbox One would bring, and now that they’re getting dangerously close to the one-year mark, I can say that they’re not the doombringers that most would have expected.  Now, mediocrity-bringers, on the other hand?  THAT’S something they can do.  For someone who’s getting into games for the first time with something like Infamous: Second Son, they’ll be fine.  But for someone like me, who’s played the other, better Infamous games?  It’s a step down.  And the less said about Watch Dogs, the better. 

It doesn’t say good things about the state of a console or a game industry when the most compelling argument to even turn the blasted new box are games that not only DON’T take full advantage of the technology, but could conceivably appear on the earlier consoles…not to mention they were likely made for a fraction of the price, yet ended up better regardless.  In all fairness to the PS4 (and the Xbone, to a lesser extent), I’m going to say what I’ve been saying for a while: someday, they’re both going to get the games that justify their existence.  Someday, they’re going to be consoles worth owning.  Someday, they’re going to make big contributions to the gaming canon.

Today is not that day.  And Killzone: Shadow Fall is not that game.