Monday, June 30, 2014

Interesting scenarios that a new Resident Evil could have.

In the past month, a little bit of nostalgia brought in a Resident Evil marathon with it and after playing some of the games and watching the CGI films, a question came to mind. Assuming that Capcom survives their current ordeal and actually release a new Resident Evil game... What new scenarios could they try? They have mentioned that Resident Evil Revelations and The Last of Us would serve as inspiration for them to bring the franchise back to its survival horror roots, so an action-oriented "final struggle/anything goes" scenario would not fit into that line of thinking. Playing these games and watching the animated movies have shown that they have tried almost any common scenario that a "Bio Hazard" story can develop into, but there are still some of them that would make the franchise look fresh again without the need of a reboot. Let's see some of the crazy ideas that came out of this (get prepared to read, because this is a long one) so let your imagination roll and continue.

populated coast
In order to get away from the Dead Island's "paradise beach" theme, something like this should work.

The island that was too late to be saved

This scenario would happen some months after Raccoon City has been wiped off the map. The setting would be a fictional artificially made island that was created by some billionaire in order to make his own independent nation. The island would have a significant population and it would include all kinds of services and residential areas, sort of like a small contemporary country state (no futuristic stuff). The problem begins when the billionaire's nephew manages to escape Raccoon City before the bombing, after stealing a defective canister containing the virus. With no other place to go, the nephew goes back to his uncle, but not before getting infected, turning into a zombie and starting an outbreak on the island. The Billionaire, knowing that his nation is in peril, asks the U.S government for help (along with a great amount of money). U.S authorities see this an an opportunity to test an experimental anti-virus/vaccine so they send the protagonist (which is a CDC agent) along with a small team to the island in order to try the anti-virus and attempt to save as much people as possible.

The protagonist arrives on the island by boat and starts administering the anti virus to the survivors as he believes that the island could still be saved, but it doesn't work on most people because of unknown reasons and the outbreak continues to spread. The situation gets even worse when the protagonist boat is stolen by scared people trying to escape the island and get blown off to pieces by the billionaire's personal militia as he snaps and orders a lock up on the island. Now you have to survive not only the infected people, animals and plants, but a crazy man who blames you for what happened.  This would be a back to basics story, focusing on survival and how people's lives are shattered by the outbreak, it could also have twist or a complication happening halfway through the game just to spice things up a little. The player could also be able to try to give anti-virus shots to those infected that haven't turned into zombies as the island is explored, that way receiving weapons, items or information for your troubles.

Predator Movie
Remember this movie? That should give your sort of an idea.

Hidden primal horrors

This one happens at the time of Resident Evil 5. On this scenario one of the characters of the series that has not appeared that much in the previous games, will have become a renegade, now working for a drug cartel as life seems to have lost its meaning to him/her (Maybe one of the STARS members we thought to be dead and is alive somehow). The protagonist is sent to the Amazon along with a partner to retrieve a drug shipment that was lost in the area because of a previous botched operation.

The problem begins when they find out that they are not alone in the jungle. Other than the obvious dangers that lurk in the foliage, they find themselves chased by local authorities who somehow became aware of their presence and tried to lure them into a trap. As they run and lose them his/her partner is shot and dies, but the protagonist manages to wound some of the soldiers and makes way to an abandoned native village that seems a little too modern and organized.  Here the protagonist finds the village spreads into a series of abandoned and ran down facilities that seem to have been used by Umbrella in the past and are scattered through the jungle. After exploring for a while the protagonist gets face to face with one of the soldiers, but the soldier asks for them to join forces instead of arresting him because all his remaining partners have been killed by some unknown force. Now the two of them have to look for some way to survive as the sun sets and the night begins.

This one could feature a whole new set of enemies, maybe enemies infected by a failed early version of the T/G-virus and because of the jungle setting, there can be a whole other variety of dangers that can be exploited alongside the normal enemies in the game. The cool thing here would be to keep the player moving back and forth between the several facilities with the use of clever puzzles and different types of hazards so they can become afraid of going outdoors for too long.

Wall of flesh
This image sort of explains the concept, at least on its advanced stages.

What to do when the place itself is the enemy

This one is really a long shot, but it makes sense if you keep an open mind. Here the protagonist can be a totally new one and it the scenario would be in the same time as Resident Evil 6. On this one, the protagonist is a secret service agent that gets locked in an emergency bunker facility with several VIPs and staff after a false alarm. The thing is that one of those VIPs is working for a terrorist group and he/she releases a deadly unknown B.O.W bomb that basically turns the whole place in to a mutated being, with tissue and mutations everywhere as if it were the insides of a living creature merged with the already existing structure.

Little by little the mutation keeps getting bigger and enveloping everything it its path, while infecting people and spawning its own aberrations. The protagonist then must find a way out of the giant mutating structure while protecting the VIPs. On this scenario the player would have to literally protect the VIPs while making progress as any people lost or rescued in the end may change the ending. At some points the player will have to make split second decisions that can mean life of death for the VIPs. It would also be cool if the VIPs would have some degree of A.I that is enough for them to act on their own, so they some times can, follow you, ignore you, have problems with you, be useful, get infected, find items, tell you secrets etc, all depending on how you play and interact with them. All of this with the added detail that one of them is the terrorist and you don't know who.

Wrapping it up

There you go folks, 3 crazy ideas about possible scenarios that the Resident Evil franchise could take on the new game (if it happens). Note that this is entirely based on personal opinion and creative thinking, so if you have your own crazy Resident Evil scenarios go ahead and share them on the comments section, who knows what kind of other crazy ideas we can come up with.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Anime Talk Weekly - Captain Earth

Captain Earth Protagonists Heroes

Anime series that revolve around "mechs" have always been a staple of Japanese animation. This is very noticeable when you hear names like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Escaflowne, Zone of the Enders and other series that touch the topic of mechs and their pilots in a sub-genre that is as old as anime itself. Today we are going to talk a little about a recent anime series that brings the mech topic back to the fans, sort of working as a homage to all those great mech styled series in the past. That series is called Captain Earth.

Captain Earth Daichi in mech
Captain Earth started on April 5, and will have 25 episodes. This series is a science fiction / mecha story about a young high school student called Daichi Manatsu who suddenly find himself working for an organization called "The Globe" by piloting a giant robot or "Earth Engine Imparter" as they are called in the series. Daichi gets chosen to pilot this powerful robot because of his skills on a video game and because he is able to "call" a rare laser handgun that uses pure "orgone" energy (energy that is essential for powering the robots), this gun is called Livlaster Tanegashima. After a while, Daichi gets the name "Captain Earth" as he defends the planet from threats coming from outer space and becomes leader of a squad called "The Midsummer Knights".

Captain Earth - KillTGangUp until now the villains in this series are called the "Kill-T-Gang" who are composed by a species of aliens that come from the planet Uranus (no pun intended). They go all around the galaxy absorbing the libido of different civilizations (Space Vampires) on different planets until they basically extinguish them. On Captain Earth, the Kill-T-Gang set their sights on planet Earth because they see humans as food and will try to bring humanity down with their great assortment of powers like been able to absorb all the libido from a person by just standing near until the person is dead, the ability to control giant mechs, the use of some mysterious beams of light that can cause several different effects on their enemies and the use of a core called "Ego Block" which basically makes them immortal as long as they have it with them. Up until now the whole story goes around on how the Kill-T-Gang attempts to use their libido weaponry to dominate humanity and be able to feast on them. As this series is all about libido, expect a lot of "curious" shots and angles, coming from the villains and also from the good guys as Daichi finds himself in a lot of "risque" situations.

Captain Earth - Suggestive funny moments
Expect our hero to go through a lot of moments like these.
Wrapping it up

Captain Earth is a good anime series for all of those mech anime fans. It carries elements that give a feeling that is sort of a mix between Gundam Wing, Candidate for Goddess and Neon Genesis Evangelion all in one. The series itself carries different kind of moods from the heat of battle, life itself, some comedy and even some moments that can seem rather suggestive (if you know what I mean). It also still manages to somehow be a little more lighthearted and colorful than other similar series we had seen in the past (kind of like Eureka 7). In summary, Captain Earth is an interesting series to watch and even though it hasn't picked up that much popularity, it is still a promising  anime series that gives us a little bit of everything.


Anime News Network

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Why JRPG big releases should already jump to the new consoles

Bravely DefaultJRPG is a niche genre that has been in the industry since the very beginning. Nowadays it doesn't seem to get so much attention as it used to, but has been little by little regaining some ground in the industry.The thing is that even though it looks as if Japanese rpg games are picking up some speed, companies are dragging their feet and not showing any initiative into releasing titles for the new consoles. At first this seems logical because the older consoles have bigger sale numbers, but if we take things into perspective we can see that there are some things that affect this situation that they are not been seen and we are going to talk a little about them today.

Xenoblade Chronicles
This game is proof that the JRPG genre can evolve.

The gaming media has already moved on

The first thing that a company would want is for their game to get mentioned and shown in order for it to get exposure and rally the fans. This is not that likely to happen with older consoles as almost every trending topic in gaming has to do with the new game systems or the PC platform. Titles that are exclusive to the older generation are taking the back seat and having just a quick mention at best, which is not good for advertising, much less for a niche genre that is trying to make it big again.

Tales of Xillia
The "Tales of" series one of the few that still follows its roots and remains successful.

The new console users are louder and more active

Humans are lovers of novelty by nature so even if older consoles have a greater number of games and units sold worldwide, the new generation is what gamers are into. Be it playing multiplatform games or getting into exclusives (like the smashing success of Mario Kart 8), gamers are all about the new games on the newest platforms, been social networks and the gaming media a clear indication of this. This means that by releasing JRPG games exclusive to older consoles they are dividing the niche and making it smaller than it should be even if business logic tells them otherwise.

Final Fantasy X
This is the first game that boosted PS2 sales back in the day.

Newer consoles thrive on the early release of a new JRPG 

It is quite right to say that gamers feel that there is a drought on the JRPG department on every new console and that is fertile ground for success as there is no real competition. You can see this as gamers ask themselves when does Sony (which are known to favor Japanese rpg games) is going to give some role playing awesomeness to the PS4 and even Wii U fans who are eagerly waiting for Xenoblade Chronicles X. If there is something that gaming history has shown us, is that every new console gets its definitive JRPG game early on, but this time that big release isn't even near. Doesn't anybody want that privileged space anymore?

Nino Kuni
Nino Kuni...We need a sequel to this beautiful game.

It doesn't have to be a really expensive production

When it comes to JRPG games, it isn't that much about cutting edge graphics as it is about a fascinating story and cool game play. This doesn't mean that they should make a game based on stick figures, but they can pretty much make it look good without having to sell their souls for it. All they have to do is focus into the story telling and overall design of the game and there you go. Evidence of this comes with the various Kickstarter campaigns that have been popping up that show indie JRPG styled games that look as if they were AAA high budget productions, so if a small studio can do it, why can't they?

Lost Odyssey
The last game we got that had that Final Fantasy 7-8 feeling. 
Wrapping it up

JRPG games have reached their maximum potential for growth on the previous generation and must move on in order to keep growing. The genre had its share of success in the last few years, but it must keep moving in order to keep that momentum going. It is noted that the new generation has not been here for that long, but the fact that there isn't a clear release date for any big JRPG game is kind of weird, considering that the fan bases for each of the new game systems is growing very fast and have already reached a point where profit is possible. Now for all of the JRPG fans out there, let's just cross our fingers and hope for the best.

EVOLVE: redefining the online first person shooter experience.

When EVOLVE was first shown to the gaming community by the people at Turtle Rock (Left 4 Dead), many gamers were surprised because of how much of a fresh idea it was. Up until now the concept of an online session on any first person shooter game was always about just shooting the enemy down, capturing their flag, dominating their spots,etc so the game took that into a whole unexplored direction. Now with a game like EVOLVE we see a re-imagining of the online first person shooter experience with a fresh and interesting new idea. This time you are not only the one behind the guns and gadgets, but also a mighty creature who's job is to make sure that all its enemies are dead at once. The great thing about this concept is that it is surely something that many gamers were wanting to do ever since the first time we had to defeat a giant boss in a video game, so now that we can opt to be the heroes or the big bad guy, let's see how good the idea is holding off.

The Game Play

evolve goliathThe game play in EVOLVE revolves around a group of 4 hunters, trying to defeat a giant monster. Looks simple enough, but it quickly becomes fascinating when you see that the battleground is not arena styled. On this game you will have to move through very well designed maps that feature a mix of jungles, forest, caves and small urban areas as you either hunt the creature or as the creature, you creep on the hunters looking for a way to wipe them out.  The nice thing about these maps is that they are packed with various types of flora and fauna that can either be helpful or harmful, giving each session a good sense of survival, rather than a plain fire fight. The mood on the game maps is also something worth noting, as it has this eerie feeling, sort of like the one you would get if you were walking through a jungle late at night, heard a sound of some bushes moving, pointing your flashlight at them and managing to catch a glimpse of something that has been creeping on to you from the shadows. It is all a mixture of elements that give the game a very intense, but suspenseful feeling.

The Hunters

evolve huntersAs the hunters, you will fight the monster with a party of 4. The basic jobs for these hunters are assault, trapper, medic and support (which means 2 damage dealers, a healer and extra support), but many other different types of hunters have been shown which seem to have their own characteristics and skills which may or not differ from the basic classes. Assault, medic and support are class types that are already known in the first person shooter genre, been the trapper is the one that makes a difference. On this game, the trapper is the one that has the task of playing "tricks" the monster by slowing it down, holding it in place and various other things that will help the rest of the party in their effort to put it down for good by maximizing damage which makes the trapper one of the most important classes other than the medic. If this were a medieval styled game, the trapper would be some sort of wizard who puts status effect hexes on the enemy in order to weaken them.

The Monsters

evolve goliath fire attackAs the monster, your goal is to wipe the hunter party any way you can. There will be a lot of monsters to choose from as you progress through the game, but right now the ones that have been shown are Goliath and Kraken, with Goliath been the basic "grunt" type monster you start with. Playing as the monster puts you in a disadvantage early on, as you begin small and not that powerful, but if you manage to survive the first encounters with the hunters then you get to move around and feed of the local plants and animals in order to get bigger and stronger, which is separated in "evolving stages"(hence the name of the game) as each stage make you bigger in size, gives you new attacks and even some special skills if you live long enough.

EVOLVE E3 gamplay footage by IGN

Balance is king

A game formula such as the one featured in EVOLVE is very prone to balance issues, considering that we have the possibility of the monster been too powerful or too weak and the chance that giving too many tools to the hunters can somehow turn into players finding some way to exploit them. Up until now it seems that most of these issues have been dealt with while playing as a hunter or the monster so neither of them have any unfair advantage.

evolve hunter vs monster
Playing as the hunters gives you a fair deal of weaponry and tools as well as fluid movement which doesn't have you confined to any tight space (including some sort of jet packs used to float around a bit). While it looks "safe" enough to play as a hunter, you are still only human so you can still be mauled if you are not careful enough. While playing as the monster, you may believe that you will be at a clear advantage or disadvantage, but in reality what really decides how well you do, is your instinct for survival. You have to think like a beast and not like a human. Forget about cherry-picking your enemies because the hunters will constantly find you with the help of their trapper and also forget about "camping" because this will prevent you from getting stronger. You will have unnatural strength and powers, but you will not be able to spam your way through, because the game design will not allow it. The game flow in this game involves several skirmishes followed by some calm moments that serve for you to prepare for the next fight, so use them well and don't try to rely on dirty tactics and they don't seem to work. In summary, with game sessions averaging on 12-15 minutes each, we can see that there not much room for error with game play as balanced as this, it all relies on your skills and not on the game's technical issues.

evolve kraken monster
Kraken joins the battle!

Potential for greatness

Right now, as far as we have been able to see about the game, we can conclude that it has lots of potential. Not only it redefines what an online first person shooter plays like, but does it in a balanced way and promises to give us a little extra for our effort as the game will feature unlockable things like new monsters and hunters, so in order to try them all, you will have to go the distance. Add this to the well done game maps (it seems that there will be 12 in total), eerie and suspenseful atmosphere, balanced game play and fast paced action and you have a possible winner in your hands.

Wrapping it up

EVOLVE looks like it will be an interesting, different approach into the online first person shooter experience that has the makings of a great and fun game. If you ever wanted to feel how would it be to be the big bad boss at the end of a stage or if you love long and difficult boss fights, this game is right up your alley and it will become available to you on October 21, so get ready.

Youtube: IGN

Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 unexplained video game mysteries that still baffle gamers.

video game mysteries final fantasy resident evil halflife silent hill 3 mega man

Video game plot holes and mysteries are something that has always captivated the minds of gamers. They are basically the backbone of a gamer's curiosity and a great part of what keeps a game alive. As years go by, these curious details are turned into lore and lore is what keeps gamers talking about a game story even when it is no longer a new thing. The beauty about this aspect of gaming is that it is not perfect and from that imperfection, games get some sort of intangible form of replay value. So now that we are into the video game mystery mood, let's see 5 of those unexplained gaming enigmas that still have us scratching our heads.

Shinra past and present
Perhaps this is the past and present of the Shinra Corporation.

1) Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X... Connected? 

Final Fantasy is one of the most famous JRPG game sagas of all time and still one of the most acclaimed since the very first game which saved Square Soft from ruin  (way before the Square Enix thing) when they were at the brink of bankruptcy. The saga has spawned 14 original titles and countless sequels, side stories and related games. The mystery with this franchise is based on a small reference made on one dialogue that opened the debate about if Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X are indeed connected in some way.

The dialogue happens in Final Fantasy X-2. It tells us about "Shinra of the Gullwings" who is an Al-Bhed boy who happens to be a genius and plans to use whatever is left of the Vegnagun to create a new machine that can siphon energy from the planet. it all seems like the dreams of a child, but the project gets funded which entertains the possibility that this "Shinra" could be one early predecessor of president Shinra of Final Fantasy VII, implying that the world of Final Fantasy X and X2 is part of a cleverly made prequel. Based on some expressions made by some Square Enix developers and writers, little Shinra would have tried to make the mechanism on Spyra, but failed. Then many generations into the future, when space travel had finally become possible, another Shinra from a later generation would embark on a space journey in which he/she discovers planet Gaia (Final Fantasy VII) and while living there, restarts the project and this time finds success, creating the very first mako reactor.  This theory is a very long shot, but it is entertaining to read and discuss.

You can check out the quote from the Square Enix staff HERE.

Resident Evil Barry Burton
The family guy who is a fan of the magnum gun (among others).

2) Whatever happened with Barry Burton? (Resident Evil)

The Resident Evil games were one of the first ones that gave gamers a horror cinematic experience with its high end graphics (for the time) tense atmosphere and fascinating story. Nowadays, Resident Evil is not so much about horror as it is about action, but its characters have passed the test of time and are recognized by even the newest of Resident Evil fans.  The mystery with this one is that nobody knows the whereabouts of one of the fan favorites that used to be a key character in the first Resident Evil game and that character is Barry Burton.

In the first Resident Evil game, Barry Burton was part of the bravo team, who enters the mansion searching for answers. There he is forced to work with Wesker because he threatened to harm his family.  After a long way of lies and deception, Barry almost follows Wesker's plan to fruition, but is saved before that can happen so he manages to escape the mansion along with the others.  After that, it is only known that Barry holds an investigation in Maine and helps Jill get some information about the Umbrella Corporation, but other than that Barry is missing in action.

Capcom could be holding Barry off for a later Resident Evil game. Maybe things got so rough that he went to a secluded place with his family, who knows? Barry swore he would bring Umbrella down so maybe he was the whistleblower that prompted the government to take action. His current status is "still alive" and the B.O.W experiments have not ceased so the mystery goes on.

Half Life The G-Man
"Wake up and smell the ashes" - G-Man

3) Who is the G-man? (Half Life)

Half Life is one of the gems of the first person game genre. Featuring a superb storyline, high quality visuals (for the time) and a good amount of action in a big world to explore. The franchise gave gamers a lot of freedom without sacrificing story elements with earned the franchise a great deal of praise. The mystery on this game series is focused on one mysterious character who is simply called "The G-man". This shady guy has made multiple appearances in the games, even having a full dialogue sequence in the opening of Half Life 2 as well as parts where he seems to be just observing what happens to the protagonist Gordon Freeman, sometimes even stopping time just to give a message and then vanishing afterwards.

Some people say that he could pretty much be a future old version of Dr. Freeman who goes back in time to help his past self, while others say that he is just part of the beings from the other dimension that were connected to our dimension in the Black Mesa experiments. On Half Life 2: Episode Two, the G-man makes a reference that implies that he is not working alone by implying that the things he does are part of the decisions taken by a group instead of just been himself. The only thing that is certain is that the G-man seems to have a special interest in Dr. Freeman and that we will see more of him in Half Life 3... If there ever is one (we can dream, right?).

Silent Hill 3 Heather Mason
A teenage girl with some issues yes, but... Killing innocent people?

4) Is Heather really killing normal people? (Silent Hill 3)

Silent Hill is often considered the strongest rival of the Resident Evil franchise. It took everything that was considered wrong in gaming (bad camera angles, tricky controls, grainy graphics) and made it serve as features in a solid psychological horror environment. The whole franchise is a big mystery that often involves psychology, occultism and even philosophical thinking. This time the mystery has to do with the sanity of Heather Mason who is the protagonist on Silent Hill 3.

This theory comes from a dialogue cut scene within the game where Heather talks with Vincent. She is clearly distressed and tells Vincent about the creatures that she had been fighting with and Vincent suddenly makes a burlesque expression and comes with the phrase "Monsters? They look like monsters to you?". This sole phrase gave birth to the theory that questions if Heather was really killing the demons she saw or if it was all an illusion and she had been killing normal ordinary people that she saw as demons. 

The "Monsters?" part happens after 2:25.

Vincent goes back on his remark by saying it was all a joke, but still some fans of the franchise see it as if he went back on his comment because of the shocked reaction that Heather had. Evidence that supports the "Heather killed humans" theory suggests that the cult that was responsible for what was happening in Silent Hill is reported to have used hallucinogenic drugs on their members to make them "see the gods and angels" which could have been administered to Heather in one way or another. Also the dark powers in Silent Hill have a habit of making people see and feel things which as bad it could have been by its own, could be even worse with the use of these drugs and after all, Heather starts the game in a shopping mall which should be *ahem* full of people. Was she just a scared teenager fighting for her life or a murderer? You be the judge.

Mega Man evolution
The evolution of the "Blue Bomber".

1) The transition between Mega Man and Mega Man X

Saving the most complex for last, comes Mega Man. Otherwise known as Rock Man or "the blue bomber", this blue robot has been the subject of many great and successful games going from the original Mega Man series to the Mega Man ZX games on the Nintendo DS. Right now there isn't much activity around Mega Man except for his appearance on a comic book and as a playable character in the next Super Smash Brothers game, but it is still considered a fan favorite and a classic. If you are skeptic about the "fan favorite and classic" part of the character's reputation see this crowd reaction.

The great Mystery around the Mega Man series comes in the transition between the original Mega Man and the Mega Man X series. The thing is that there is no explanation that can tell us if Mega Man X is in fact an enhanced version of the original Mega Man or if they are two different robots. One of the theories suggests that Dr. Light put the original Mega Man in stasis, made the enhancements and left him there in case a hero was needed in the future, as his technology was far too advanced for humans to understand at the time. Other theory suggests that the original Mega Man failed in the end and was destroyed so Dr. Light dedicated his last years into developing a new version of Mega Man that could not be defeated so easily.

There are many points of view in this mystery, some of them including disturbing events like Zero waking up and killing everyone (Dr. Light, Roll, Mega Man), but been unable to find X who was hidden and sleeping inside a capsule underground. This is based on mere 2-4 seconds of a video sequence in one of the Mega Man X games where it presents Zero in a place that looks like a lab that has been trashed and has several blood stains on the floor. As you can see, this is one mystery that has a lot of possible explanations, but not one of them can be called "the definitive truth"...yet.

Question mark
Mystery is what keeps our curiosity alive and makes life to be fun.
Wrapping it up

There you have it folks. 5 weird video game mysteries are still causing debate in this day and age and will be there puzzling our minds until some official statement is made (which is very unlikely). From horrific possibilities, to lost characters and massive plot holes, these mysteries found in games are a very interesting and thought provoking thing to talk about and with the few ones that you just read about, we are just scratching the surface.

If you know about any other unsolved game mysteries please share them on the comments section as this kind of conversation is always fascinating. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fourth quarter 2014: A wallet bashing list of game releases.

wallet memeIf they survived Steam's summer sale, our wallets are most probably hiding in fear as the last quarter of 2014 gets near. In times like these when a storm of gaming goodness is heading our way, there are so many interesting games to choose from that we get a little lost between all the different titles, platforms and release dates for the games that we are waiting for. Because of that, today we will see a list of 20 of those games, with their exact (or approximated) release dates. There's more than a thousand dollars worth of games on this list, but for those of us who are not rich enough to cough up 1000+ bucks for gaming purposes here is a little help, so you can make your plans and get those you are really hyped for.

Title Platform Release Date
Metro: Redux multi-platform August 29
Hyrule Warriors Wii U September 26
Forza Horizon 2 Xbox One September 30
Super Smash Brothers 3DS October 3
Alien Isolation Multi-platform October 7
Driveclub PS4 October 7
Dragon Age: Inquisition Multi-platform October 7
Battlefield Hardline Multi-platform October 21
Evolve Multi-platform October 21
The Evil Within Multi-platform October 21
Samurai Warriors 4 PS VITA October 21
Sunset Overdrive Xbox One October 28
Assasin's Creed Unity Multi-platform October 28
Bayonetta 2 Wii U October
Grand Theft Auto V (next-gen) Multi-platform October
Halo: The Master Chief Collection Xbox One November 11
Little Big Planet 3 PS4 November
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal Wii U / 3DS November
The Elder Scrolls Online Multi-platform November
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Wii U Holiday Season

So here you have it people. Just in case you were kind of lost with all the release dates that have been mentioned, there's a little something to keep you on track. Some of the games included are still part of the year's 3rd quarter, but they were included on the list because of the hype they have caused and/or the proximity of their release date to the month of October.

Source: IGN

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The problems with Crytek

Crytek Logo

Crytek has been one of those gaming companies that has always managed to impress the gaming community with their games, so it is a little perplexing to read all of these rumors about them having a really bad time as a company as has been reported by various gaming sites. Things like the apparent cancellation of the Ryse 2 and them not paying their employees in time, mark a very difficult time for the creators of Crysis. Today we are going to see some things that may have contributed to their current state of affairs in a way that we can theorize about what went wrong, so let's get started.

The first Crysis game. Can it run Crysis?
Back at the day, this was the poster child of high end gaming.

1) Going away from what fans loved about their games

From the first time they jumped into the gaming scene and made the first Far Cry, Crytek became the new cool thing in video games with their open world style and action packed games. For a time there, we went from playing linear first person shooters to actually exploring a game world where we could do almost anything to survive. Take Crysis for example, in that game you were first thrown in a jungle and you had to make your own tactics without any cues or tips. If you saw some enemies on a cabin you had to make your own way to dispose of them or else you were dead meat. That kind of thing resonated with gamers and made Crytek very popular in a very short time.

After that they somehow changed. As their games made their entrance into home consoles, they felt that they could no longer do their own thing began inspiring themselves on other successful shooters at the time. This lead them to turn away from their unique style and more into the "broader audience". Their games even though they were still good, began to feel like ordinary shooter games. Some say that there was a technological barrier preventing them from making the real next Crysis on home consoles, but it is more likely that they thought that their original style wasn't going to do well with a generation that was oriented to quick game play with an emphasis on online multiplayer. So in the same way that it has happened to other companies, Crytek games tried to roll with the crowd, but failed to get that smashing success that they were waiting for as fans were turned off by their new game play styles and the broader audience was too busy playing other well established shooters. It's a story that the gaming community has seen countless times.

Crytek Homefront
A great concept that fell short because of bad timing.
2) Bad timing

Crytek games have always been high quality experiences, but most of the time they had been drowned by the current trend, especially in the shooter craze that we experienced in the previous generation of consoles. Games like Crysis 2 were often compared to Gears of War, while other games like Far Cry and even Homefront were sandwiched between games like the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series and later by EA's Battlefield 3. This is a bad thing that always happens in the gaming industry and it seems that it will never change. There is always a point in a video game generation in which some games get to the top and most of the time stay there until the very end when the trend pool seems to reset and the industry balances itself prior to the beggining of a new cycle. Crytek tried to take the crown out of the hands of the industry leaders at the time, but could not do it.

This was redemption, a Crytek new I.P that was cancelled.

3) Lack of new I.P

Every time we hear the name Crytek, we think about Crysis and previous Far Cry games and while both are excellent series, there is always this impression that they have a lot more to give. It is likely that many gamers think that the people that gave us such a brilliant game as the first Crysis would be able to give us something new while following their own style. In an open world gaming environment, anything can happen. They can write a clever story, develop any gaming mechanics that fit in to that game world and create a new game that can put them back into the competition. Some would say that Ryse: Son of Rome was a step in that direction, but although the game was good enough, it was a previous Kinect game project that got beefed up and changed for the Xbox One launch, so it doesn't count.

Another worrying thing is the line of cancelled games that the company has, it seems that new ideas were coming, but got lost in development hell. For some reference see this list made by IGN that shows all of Crytek's games and notice how many of them are cancelled. The sad thing about this is that almost every one of those cancelled games seem to be new ideas.

CryEngine 3 logo
After this one, Crytek won't be naming their engines with numbers.

Wrapping it up

Right now, as far as the rumors go about the game studio current situation, it is very unlikely that the things explained in this blog entry can be fixed any time soon, but with time they can be. One thing they can do is to use the current console generation side by side with the PC gaming scene and make a comeback as the Crytek we all knew about. It would be unrealistic to expect a super powered Crysis game made in the same way as the first one, because this would cause problems between the console and PC versions (ask Ubisoft about that kind of thing), but they can bring that feeling back without having to go all out on technical aspects. They can also make new games that could serve them well if they point to the right trends and market. Their CryEngine is powerful so they can use it to bounce and make a comeback, but for now, let's just wait and see.

Monday, June 23, 2014

How the virtual reality concept that gamers crave is at risk again

Binary vortex
It has been one of the most acclaimed sci-fi topics ever, featuring in various works of fiction and sparking our imaginations from the very first moment we heard the term virtual reality. In a bigger or smaller scale, we all have an escapist inside and VR is the holy grail that our inner escapist yearns for. Be it through something like the Star Trek holodeck, VR headsets or even one of those big VR spheres that are sometimes shown in sci-fi movies, many of us want to experience a reality similar to our own, but without the risks. This craving is even bigger to us gamers, as video games are in fact small windows into other realities and year after year as technology progresses we have been getting closer to experiencing that almost perfect VR experience we have always wanted. Back in the 90's there were several attempts to bring VR closer to our living rooms, but failed because the technology was not advanced enough. Now our technology is powerful enough to make it happen, but another big obstacle stands in the way of progress.

The Virtual Reality as dreamed by gamers

The Lawnmower man villain
If you remember this movie, then you were a 90's kid, a time where everything in movies was surreal.

A part of the gaming community has always seen virtual reality as the ultimate form for a video game. The notion of been in a game world where there is no television/monitor and almost no queues to remind you that you are living in planet earth and just playing a game is quite appealing to many. Back in the 90's VR was all about cheap toys that attempted to rip us off, but nowadays we have stuff like the Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus and a variety of other virtual reality devices that are still in development. Recent tests with this new wave of VR equipment has given good results and for a time it all looked perfect, until real dedicated user tests were made.

The Problem 
Anime character with nausea
An anime representation of the problem.

The problem that virtual reality headsets are having this time around is not about technology or weak equipment, but about the human body itself. Many developers already fear that VR headsets are too much for the human body to handle and may cause nausea, vertigo and vomiting to the person using them. This is because even if the virtual world is in fact fake, when the human brain accepts all the sensory input as if it were the real thing, there is a chance that hidden flaws in the person sense of orientation will show, resulting in the player feeling sick after at least half an hour of game play.

Vertigo inducing angle
Vertigo doesn't necessarily has to come from high places.

Just picture it this way, vertigo is one kind of specific dizziness caused by feeling as if everything is spinning even when it is not. So this means that games running as virtual reality environments that go on a first person view and feature certain angles and jerking movements are quite capable of causing this kind of effect on people.

This kind of thing has apparently happened a lot with various developers while testing VR headsets with some of their games. For example the people at Respawn have tested VR headsets with Titanfall and concluded that players were experiencing problems because of the fast and vertical style of this first person shooter. Another team that got aware of this is the team working with Project Morpheus at Sony and even EA found out that VR headsets were making players sick in tests ran with their most recent build of Mirror's Edge 2. While those teams were having those kinds of problems, the team that is developing Project Cars had almost no problems and they look forward to making their game compatible with Sony's headset.

What if this problem is not solved in time?

virtual reality cartoon
VR guy in wireframe VR world with t-rex... hey it could happen!

It is not all doom and gloom, as all the development teams invested on VR head compatibility with video games are currently working on a way to fix the sickness problem and be able to go ahead and give us a nearest to reality and safe VR experience with their games. There is still a lot of hope, but if this problem is not fixed in time, VR headsets will not be able to give gamers the VR experience they wanted, and will be limited to games where there is not so much movement going on (like driving games) or more passive VR experiences that will be interesting enough, but will lack the real thrill that the virtual reality dream stands for. This does not mean that for virtual reality to be good, it needs to be in the form of  fast paced first person shooters, but if they can't emulate real life perception, sensory input and movements because of the sickness problem, all that will be achieved will be nothing more than video games seen through a headset.

technology art
Maybe the human mind is even more complicated than we think.
Wrapping it up

Virtual reality has risen, but once again it runs the risk of passing as a fad, at least in the video game industry if the sickness problem is not taken care of. If you are a gamer and a virtual reality enthusiast your best bet is to put your hopes in the works of the various brilliant teams working with this kind of technology, hoping that they can overcome the challenges ahead and that VR and gaming can finally be a feasible concept. Even on the other side of things, if you are not that much into virtual reality, just know that the advances with VR technology could really help gaming as a whole, so everybody wins.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

AnimeTalk Weekly: Initial D Final Stage

On the gamertologist zone, we talk about various gaming topics, but one day per week is going to be dedicated to anime, as most of the time games and anime go side by side on many gamer minds. This section is going to be called "Anime Talk Weekly" and as the name says, it will feature a different anime topic every week. Now this week, we are throwing one for all of the Initial D fans out there as Initial D: Final Stage has already been released with the first two episodes.

*Spoiler Alert*
Up until now, this final stage focuses on the final showdown that Takumi will have with the suspicious kid from the fifth stage that also happens to own an AE86 (coupe version). This is the race that defines victory or defeat for Project D as their downhill ace Takumi, faces his greatest challenge. Up until now everything has been peachy for the Project D team, as Ryosuke technically defeated his lifelong rival and Keisuke wins the uphill race starting the night, so it is now Takumi that must prove himself against this new opponent, a mysterious boy named Shinji and show if he can win it all for the team or lose for the first time in his life.
*Spoiler Alert ends*

The Series

For those of you that haven't seen the series yet, it is recommended that you start watching from the very beginning in order to understand the events of both Stage 5 and this Final Stage as this series is a little more than just cars and racing. Initial D is an anime series about a young man named Takumi Fujiwara that discovers that he has a great talent for drifting while delivering tofu for his father (who was a legendary drift racer). Later on he decides to give it a try on the streets of his region and starts an impressive string of victories which earns him enough respect for him to be noticed by many other racers that you will see as the series progresses.

As mentioned before, this isn't only about racing, as Takumi (and many other characters) live their lives and experience different situations that steer the series off the races a little and into other things like romance, comedy, normal life, learning about oneself, making decisions and so on. On the other hand, if you are an automobile enthusiast or at least a race/drift fan, you will be delighted to see a great variety of different models from different brands and you may even learn a little bit about how these machines work and how this affects their performance on a race (especially considering the driver).

The Games

Initial D has spawn some video game titles made by Sega, ranging from the arcades to home consoles.The arcade titles did reach America and were one of the first arcade games that made use of smart cards as means of saving your game progress on an arcade, but sadly all of the console games (PS3, PSP) stayed at the other side of the world and can only be played as imports. In case you are wondering, the games go as follows:

  • Initial D Arcade Stage
  • Initial D Arcade Stage 4
  • Initial D Extreme Stage (PS3 import)
  • Initial D Street Stage (PSP import)

If you people are interested in playing the imports you could try online game import stores like Play Asia.

Here's the awesome opening for Initial D Extreme Stage (PS3)

Wrapping it up

For all time fans, there is the Final Stage, for newcomers there is a complete series to watch that will take some time and for gamers Sega has you covered (on imports at least). Initial D is a great series which features good games so give it chance.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Playstation Now beta pricing is...Not so motivational

Playstation Now logoPlaystation Now seems to be Sony's answer to their fans for the lack of backwards compatibility on the PS4. Since they bought Gaikai (streaming technology) they have been promising that their game streaming service will be the next big thing and while most of the gaming community has remained optimistic about it (except some video game industry analysts), right now it doesn't look that appetizing and it is not because of technical issues, but because of the pricing showed for the Playstation Now beta.

The example that everybody is talking about is Final Fantasy XIII-2. As shown on some popular gaming pages, the pricing for been able to "rent" this game go as follows:

5 dollars for 4 hours of gaming
This is pretty much like paying 5 dollars for a long demo, sort of like the ones found on those classic "Jam pack" demo discs of the PS ONE days, not to mention that those discs could be found on retail stores for like a buck. Only that on this occasion the demo vanishes after 4 hours.

8 dollars for 7 days of gaming
It seems pretty fair if you consider playing the game non-stop for those 7 days like some sort of gaming pilgrimage (including the hand lotion for cramps and the magic bucket like in that south park episode).

15 dollars for 30 days of gaming
It seems like a good deal until you realize that some of these games can actually be bought for a similar price and nobody is going to take them from you after 30 days.

30 dollars for 90 days of gaming
Half the price of a new release for approximately 3 months of gaming. It is very likely that you will be able to finish the game before reaching that time (games are a lot shorter nowadays) and considering that this is an rpg, there not much replay value to talk about. So this is more like "ok I paid 30 dollars I must finish this game no matter what" and there will still be a lot of wasted time/value. 

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Wrapping things up

Now keep the game in mind as we see how much it would cost you to buy it online:

Ebay: 16-18 dollars
Amazon: 18 dollars
Gamestop: 15 dollars

This means that actually buying the game is 50% cheaper than renting it, which means that unless prices get a little more competitive, you are better off keeping your PS3. It is important to say that not all games will have the same rental fees, but if Final Fantasy XIII-2 is to be an example, this doesn't look so great. Hopefully Sony will implement some sort of subscription service and that will level the field and make it all worthwhile.There is also the possibility that these are just some test prices for the beta phase and it is subject to change for the official version, so don't count Sony's streaming service out just yet.

Sources: GamespotKotaku

Capcom for sale: who would buy what

Capcom, a really big embodiment of some of our childhoods is now there for the taking. Any of the big gaming companies can dish out the benjamins and the creative father of games like Mega Man, Street Fighter and Resident Evil can fall entirely into their hands. That is the current situation, but while most people talk about this occurrence as "the sale of Capcom as a whole", the company properties can pretty much be sold in pieces which means that individual franchises can be bought if the other 49% of stock holders agree to it. Now using each of the important companies or individual's situation as a guide, we will mention some of Capcom's greatest properties and see who would buy them and why.

Mega Man
It is a no-brainer that the ideal buyer for this franchise right now is Nintendo. The reason is that they are the only ones that have given some love to the blue bomber in years with his appearance on Super Smash Brothers for 3DS and Wii U. Not only that, but the Nintendo platform is the most suitable one for the her in blue right now. This is because of the style of gaming that is going on in the Wii U and 3DS platforms which is a little more colorful and fantasy based than its competitors.

On a second position as a potential buyer, we have Mega Man's creator himself, Keiji Inafune. It is not known how wealthy he is, but if he gets his hands back on his own creation, he will have a money maker that will greatly return his investment and make him a hero to all Mega Man fans.

Resident Evil - Dino Crisis

On the survival horror department Capcom has two franchises that are currently trending and those are Resident Evil and Dino Crisis (with a possible next-gen comeback). As far as competition goes, the companies that are most likely to tap on these games are Sony and Microsoft. If they decided to buy any of these two franchises it is safe to say that each company would get one and then we would have a survival horror brawl between the PS4 and the Xbox One at a later time.

Street Fighter
This one is most likely going the way of Sony, as they have been showing a very persistent interest in this fighting game franchise even making some subtle references to it on some of the promotional videos that they shown just after they unveiled the console for the first time.

Nintendo is very unlikely to go for this one as it really doesn't fit into their current plans while Microsoft remains a wildcard in the case of this game. Another thing that could happen is that Capcom itself protects this franchise and keep it to themselves as it has greatly profited them (still does).

This franchise can go anywhere as we haven't seen anything from it for a long time. If any company does buy it, it can finally spawn the game that its fans have been waiting for years, but there is still the possibility that the franchise will be kept in the shadows of Street Fighter and once again ignored.

If this once great franchise gets some attention, One company that gives a faint impression that they would get it is Atlus. This is because if Darkstalkers were to fall into their hands, they could give it the same treatment they did to Persona 4 Arena, rebooting the series and pleasing its fans.

Ghost and Goblins

The Ghost and Goblins franchise looks like something that Microsoft would pick up. In the course of the Xbox 360 lifespan, we saw some old school franchises featured on the Xbox Live Arcade, and although they weren't exclusives, they had a good following in the Microsoft's machine.

Another company that could shelter this franchise would be Nintendo as they can do all sorts of things with it, from spawning a new Ghost and Goblins game, to featuring Arthur as a new character in Super Smash Brothers. Once again the colorful and fantasy based nature of Nintendo games, puts them as potential buyers for this popular franchise that has been there since the very beginning on Capcom's best times.

Monster Hunter

It is no secret that Nintendo has a stranglehold on this franchise, but if it becomes a sale option and Nintendo doesn't act quick, they can lose it to Sony who really needs it to beef up the sales of the PS VITA which would be a a very productive move, since the franchise helped sell PSP consoles in the past.

Like Street Fighter, Monster Hunter is also one of those franchises that could be protected by Capcom itself, because it is so popular in Japan that it was one of the games that was holding the company afloat, before the stocks were released.

Other games

There are many other franchises (even more than the ones featured on this blog entry) that could be picked up by major companies, but will not be seen at depth because this would mean that the list would go on forever. Just so not many Capcom franchises are left hanging, here is a small list of some other franchises also including the companies that would be most likely to get them:

  • Dead Rising (Microsoft)
  • Devil May Cry (Anyone, most likely Sony)
  • Okami (Nintendo)
  • Strider (Anyone, most likely Microsoft)
  • Beautiful Joe (Nintendo)
  • Power Stone (Anyone, most likely Nintendo or Microsoft)

Wrapping it up

Even though we saw a lot of interesting hypothetical sales on this entry, we have to be aware that it is very possible that no gaming company ever goes forward to buy anything and the stocks end up been bought by some ordinary business man/woman which leaves the company exactly as it was before the stocks became available, so don't get your hopes up. It is also noticeable that not everybody is happy with the possibility of any of the Capcom's franchises becoming exclusive to one gaming platform, but hey it could happen, just be sure to keep an open mind.