Why Hope That Companies You Bitch About Will Bring Back Old IPs?

I’ve noticed a degree of schizophrenia among gamers when it comes to bringing back older games.

Take Final Fantasy fans, for instance. All this generation, I’ve heard nothing but bitter shit-talk about how terrible Square-Enix’s output has been–half of XIII being a tutorial set in a series of pretty hallways, XIV turning out to be an unmitigated disaster, and so forth. Yet the slightest hint of Final Fantasy Versus XIII or a VII remake is enough to get them super excited. The PS4 conference was yet another example of this; people were furious that Versus wasn’t mentioned during SE’s time on stage. (Granted, showing an old ass tech demo running on a PC is never excusable, but still…)

Then you have fans of Capcom fighters. Go on any fighting game site, and you’re bound to find pissing and moaning over how “scrub-friendly” Capcom’s beat-em-ups has gotten. And yet, like SE fans, the same people will immediately pounce on any news of an announcement on the hopes that something like Capcom vs. SNK 3 or Street Fighter Alpha 4 will be revealed. And just as quickly as their hype builds up, so too does it give way to anger once their own self-inflicted overexcitement isn’t sated by Capcom’s reps.

I, for one, don’t trust either company to deliver on any potential revivals at this point.

I’ve ignored the fuck out of most of SE’s Final Fantasy output this gen. Indeed, I haven’t bought a single mainline FF game since 10-2, a mistake I refuse to repeat. Likewise, considering what a shoddy, buggy mess Street Fighter x Tekken was, I’m not keen on buying another fighter from Capcom anytime soon. Especially when it’ll be full of stupid microtransactions that you’ll need to play on level ground.

I don’t get why people who constantly hate on these companies so much think that they’re incapable of screwing up their older properties, too. Why would their output magically improve? It makes no sense to me.

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God of War: Ascension – Demo Impressions

Well, let me fix my face.

Ever since Ascension was announced, I’ve been beset with a sense of fatigue. I have zero interest in the multiplayer, and none of the slick trailers or footage showed much difference from the last 5 games on the one-player side. After the disappointments of God of War 3 and Ghost of Sparta, I haven’t been in the mood to kill any more Cyclopes with Kratos lately.

Today, the single-player demo was released to the general public after PSN+ members got a first crack at Kratos’ 3rd prequel. I decided to check it out, to see if it would change my mind.

It sure as hell did.

The game centers around the period just after Kratos breaking his oath to Ares, having been tricked into killing his wife and daughter. For turning his back on the God of War, Kratos is subject to torture at the hands of the Furies, self-appointed arbiters of justice from a time before Gods and even Titans. You start out with Kratos during one of these sessions; you break free and chase your captor while fighting various enemies, along with a stage-sized multi-tier boss a la Chronos from GOWIII. The demo ends just before you confront said boss outright.

The graphics are phenomenal, first and foremost. Foregoing the 1080p of the third game, Santa Monica Studios opted to stick with 720p and a lower frame rate in exchange for greater detail. The trade-off is worth it IMO; GOWIII saw several cases of cut corners visually to hit that 1080p benchmark. Plus the franchise has never been such a hardcore actioner that 60fps was mandatory. It wasn’t a problem in either of the PSP games, after all.

The result is a game that looks much better than GOWIII did. You get very rich detail in exchange for the lower res; Kratos in particular looks amazing, with every grain of the ash from his wife and child popping out and looking so real. But everything, from the other enemies to the environments, has a much more visceral quality than III.

The main accomplishment, however, is the combat.

My main problem with the series is how dissatisfying the actual hack-and-slash stuff feels compared to other action games. It’s not style heavy like Devil May Cry or a Platinum title, so the older games had a tendency to get repetitive and/or mashy (moreso the latter on higher difficulties). That made the combat feel like a chore after a while. They’ve tackled that problem in a big way.

The regular enemy weapons drops, coupled with the ability to grapple one opponent while attacking others, offers some much needed variety to the combat. It was really fun playing around with the grapple mechanics, working to find ways to create space and beat down your opponents in the most efficient way possible. They’ve also added more variety to the QTE’s, adding sequences with regular attacking and dodges to the “press a button to do cool stuff” deal right from the start.

The combat flows better and feels less arbitrary. Combined with the more satisfying feel of hitting and throwing opponents, the demo showcased the best fight mechanics in the entire series. I can’t wait to see how upgrades, new boss weapons and magic play into things.

I’m sold. I’ve got some stuff to trade-in to Amazon, so I’ll be pre-ordering this for sure.

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PC Gamers and The PS4: Missing The Forest For The Trees

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One of the main reasons I got into PC gaming was the dismal HD performance on current gen consoles.

Between sub-720p resolutions, frame drops even at 30fps, the constant aliasing and screen tearing, and god awful load-times despite massive HDD installs, the “HD gen” has been a complete joke in living up to that standard. While the PS3 does have it’s share of visually impressive games–GOW:Ascension and The Last of Us being two recent examples–on the whole, both Sony and Microsoft have put out boxes barely capable of high-def content. Thus most of my PC games have been multiplatform ports, which look and run far better than anything possible in the console space right now.

And yet, despite the lackluster showing, the hardware that Sony and MS leaned on for 7 years incurred billions in losses which took years to recover from. So I didn’t expect a huge leap in performance or spec during the PS4 conference a few days back. Indeed, I’d settled on seeing consistent 1080p, but no huge leap in visual performance beyond that.

Boy was I wrong:

Needless to say, I was floored by just how much better the games looked. Whether it was Killzone, Infamous: Second Son, or Capcom’s new IP Deep Down, what we saw was a  bigger, cleaner jump from anything on current gen consoles to date. We also got confirmation the GPU in the PS4 has a peak computational performance of about 2 teraFLOPS (floating point operations per second)–putting it on par with the performance end of AMD’s latest graphics card offerings. Sony also spoke of an system that would be far more inline with PC’s than the complicated Cell ever managed to be, making it easier on developers.

Alas, none of it was enough for the typing birds of prey that make up the PC gaming community. Rather than being impressed by the gap between the two consoles, they turned their nose up at performance current PCs can match and outstrip. Never mind how they’re comparing a $400-500 box using low-power parts to their full-sized systems, which run GPUs and CPUs each worth more than an entire PS3. Being a big step forward has done nothing to quell complaints that console gaming will be an anchor on the quality of PC games.

This grates me for two reasons.

First, for me personally, and the vast majority of people who play games on console…anything beyond solid performance at 1080p is irrelevant right now. Few outside of PC enthusiasts, hobbyists and professionals care about higher resolutions right now, and if they do, it’s likely because of 4K, which is still several years away from commercial viability. A multi-monitor setup is overkill to gamers stuck with hardware that hasn’t been able to handle 720p consistently, and wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle regardless.

Secondly, as far as being held back, that means little to me if the games will still look like this. Whether it’s because of the raw power of the consoles or how they’re built with devs in mind, that claim looks far more parochial now in light of the footage shown on Wednesday. Dealing with ports of games that were built around 720p was the last big claim they could make about consoles being a noose; the argument becomes much more minute and harder to justify from here on out.

For me? I’m excited about the next Sony console’s capabilities. I was stunned by just how much better the games looked. I can’t wait to see more.

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Hello.

Kingpiccolo08 here.

To be quite honest, I only have this blog because WordPress foisted it on me. I just signed up here to comment on another blog. I’ll probably post here when I’m willing and able, though. :p

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