I’ve been attempting to catch in on some good deals with my newly-acquired PS2 (and hopefully soon some SEGA Ages titles…). With no particular criteria, here are some rankings.
Guitar Hero III – 9.5/10. Does it feel like playing a guitar? Well, not really, but that’s alright, that’s what a real guitar is for. It’s fun – and that’s all that matters.
Lego Star Wars – 8.5/10. I played this one a few years ago on the X-Box and a had a good time, but there were a couple of frustrating parts, such as the Pod racer level. Improved upon in the second game.
Lego Stars II – 9/10. Yes that’s right, I thought it was a pretty damn good game. It’s easy to get into, fun to play with a friend, and you can play for 10 minutes or an hour.
Outrun2006: Coast2Coast – 8.5/10. Outrun2006 feels like a 1980s arcade game with beefed-up graphics, and essentially that’s what it is. Drifting and sliding is good fun in itself, but all of the additional features make this game worthy of owning at home.
Pride FC – 7/10. The game does a good job incorporating the various moves and positions of MMA into a fighting system. The problem is that there is no career mode, unlockables, or rewards of any sort for playing the game.
Resident Evil 4 – 8/10. I don’t have a good history with RE games. In fact, this is the only one I’ve managed to finish. Ultimately, the game feels like a good chase scene in a movie – lots of action and excitement, but not much else. With the Pro Logic on, this surround is pretty killer.
Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution 10/10. Balance and depth have always been associated with the VF series and it’s no different here. The big addition is the training mode. Since VF4:Evo has been around and many of the strategies and techniques have been figured out, they’re presented here to get you up to speed in some of the finer points of Virtua Fighting.
Virtual On Marz – 5.5/10. It’s not the worst game in the world, but after playing the other games in the series, it doesn’t compare. The speed has been slowed and the areas opened up to more like Armored Core. It doesn’t work too well with the VO play mechanics, though.
Yes, it’s true. I stepped into the blog world. So, I opened up a site that I’m calling “Club Sega” for now. The idea is to take my current Sega-game focus and squeeze it into a site that’s based on shorter articles and editorials – kind of like the news page. The Sega section of this site will still be updated and will continue to be a poor-man’s encyclopedia of sorts.
In other news, things have been archived and I’ve finally uploaded things that I’ve been typing up for the past few days. Hopefully, a few miscellaneous links are fixed as well.
After hearing that it was a Shenmue-like game, Yakuza caught my interest. It also seemed to be one of the few Sega games to come out lately that didn’t suck. That was really all of the info I had about the game, but after playing it, I can see some of the Shenmue comparisons. Really, the game is a beat-em-up, like Die Hard Arcade or even Zombie Revenge, with exploration areas to get to the action.
Shenmue was about being able to explore everything, for better or for worse, and getting caught up in everyday life. To really enjoy the game, it had to be played with a “stop and smell the roses” attitude. Rush through the main objectives and the game could last about 10 hours. On the other hand, spending time talking to characters about finding sailors, going through every drawer in the house, or standing in a parking lot hitting the punch button repeatedly is not everyone’s idea of a good time. The pace was definitely slow. (Warning: Intentionally bad sentence ahead.) The game tried to mimic reality and the reality is that reality is really sometimes boring. The fighting engine was great, at least for the few fights in the game. I haven’t really made up my mind about QTEs yet, but they seem to be finding their way into more and more games (like Resident Evil 4).
Yakuza seems to take Shenmue and redirect its concepts towards action. You can’t go and walk into every single building, but for every building you can get inside, there’s something to buy or do (as opposed to hearing how they didn’t see anything unusual on the day with the strange weather). Fights are way more frequent and follow the standard beat-em-up more so than Shenmue’s VF-based style. Grab objects and beat people up just like the arcade games.
The story seems pretty important to the game, even though I’m having a hard time keeping all of the characters straight. Hopefully on the second time through, it’ll be easier to recognize people. The voice is acting is better in Yakuza, even though the number of f-bombs in the dialog seems overkill. That said, it’s nothing spectacular.
At this point, after only a couple hours of play, I’d rate the game 8/10.
Recently, it seems that I’ve been enjoying arcade-style games more so than console-only ones. In an arcade, the goal is to have a few minutes of fun and move one. Because a person won’t play a game again if it doesn’t have some redeeming quality, developers are forced to work out the mechanics and sort out what makes the game, “fun.” If they don’t, no one will play it, no arcade will want it, and they won’t make any money.
Maybe it’s my impatience, but I just want to get into a game and play. Cut-scenes can be interesting, but if I wanted to watch a movie, I’d put in a DVD. Ultimately, games are played to have fun. If it gets in the way or limits the ability to have fun, it shouldn’t be in there. I think arcade games are more focused and to-the-point for this reason. Too much fluff and a person just moves on.
I’ve been wondering about the existence of QTEs in games and whether it’s a good thing or not. Ultimately, a game is just a person pushing the right button at the right time. But is pushing “X” as soon as the screen flashes “X” really fun? People loved Simon, but it was more about remembering the order rather than just hitting things. Ultimately, I think QTEs are ways of getting the player to interact with the movie.
Console games tend to encompass the holistic gaming experience – movies, interaction, feeling a part of the whole game, rather than stripping it down to the bare essentials for five minutes of fun
Warning: rant coming up. I really wonder how people can read their lines for voiceover work and not question how retarded some of it is. Harrison Ford hated the voices that were added to Blade Runner and intentionally did them poorly, hoping that they’d never make it to the film as is. He wasn’t so lucky.
Could the same phenomenon be happening? Script, dialog, acting, and general voice work in games tends to be pretty bad. Maybe it’s just a recent thing, but having stories and characters full of incoherent names and items/locations just isn’t working. Is it so hard to speak like normal when a microphone is in front of you?
Maybe the world imagines games are for kids. Cartoons have more complex plotlines than some games. But more-so, they tend to have over-the-top voices with straightforward, two-dimensional characters that always have the right thing to say.
Resident Evil has notoriously bad voice acting, even worse than the B-movies it mimics. By the time the series hit number 4, it seems they’ve improved. The voice work still falls into the same traps as cartoons and good-versus-evil movies. The bad guy spouts off the same, “See if you can withstand this!” rhetoric while the hero gives a snappy retort. The written dialogue, the source, is not so hot to begin with. This seems to be the least of problems though.
The voicing itself is terrible. In VO: Marz, the dialogue pauses after every line. I don’t know if they didn’t figure out how to load from the CD (Ok, it’s clear they didn’t) or if the designers intended a lot of people to play the game on mute and read everything. The random pauses are extremely unnatural. Not only that, but many of the pauses are just in the way that the audio itself was recorded. Yakuza does the same thing. The sentence breaks and pauses are out of cadence, most likely because they were trying to synch up the English text with the Japanese character movements.
Talk to a person. Then, ask them to read a story to a small child. Notice the difference in their voice. It slows down and over-enunciates every syllable. They make goofy voices for each different character. You can see their eyes widen and their facial expressions change in an effort to communicate with the kid.
This is their videogame voice.
I can’t imagine that this is by accident. Maybe it really is that hard to be natural with a microphone in front of you. Not every game suffers this fate, though. Interstate ’76 had a good story and good voice acting to go along with it. But it may be the exception rather than the rule. After all, it was written by a former writer for Cheers.
Sitcoms may also be the problem. These shows are paced so that after every joke, there is a pause for a laugh. Dialog isn’t the most natural, as one person usually plays the “straight man” and sets up the joke while the other gets the line and the laugh.
I guess these same arguments could be made for televisions/movies as well.
On the last note, not every bit of dialogue in a game should be subtitled. If the option for it is there, that’s fine, but I don’t want to read every line before I hear it. Have it one way or the other, but not both. Most of us use our ears to listen and our eyes to read. Let’s take advantage of that and instead of focusing on the unfolding text, let’s watch the action unfolding and let our other sense take care of the words.
I found a copy of Virtual On: Marz for pretty cheap and I’ve been playing it as of late. I hate to say it, but it’s not really that great of a game. Basically, it’s the home version of Force. Instead of being a direct copy of the arcade, though, it’s been geared to have missions and you basically go around destroying multiple enemies, a la Armored Core. The problem is that the gameplay doesn’t translate well with multiple VRs or over the different areas. Three-on-one fights are fairly one sided, even if the opponents are severely handicapped. Trying to move down a passageway is hard to do when the dash tool is really designed only for short bursts, not continuous streams.
On the brighter side of things, I finally talked myself into getting some of the Sega Ages line-up. Hopefully, things pan out well and I’ll have some info/reviews on them in the next couple of months.
Not that anyone asked, but to clear some things up about the site: Instead of finishing up articles, I just post whatever I’ve written, even if it’s a poor, off-the-top-of-my-head draft. Why? Simple, if I waited until it was “done,” I wouldn’t have anything on the site. Also, I may write and date things before they’re uploaded, so just because the date on the page is from a couple of weeks (or months… or years…) ago doesn’t mean it didn’t just get added to the site.
VO: Marz – I’m actually acknowledging the game exists.