GameDaze: Thoughts on Destiny
Bungie’s big cross-gen shooter Destiny is finally in consoles all over the world but is it the revolutionary shooter that Bungie has been touting for years? Yes and no. 
Destiny at this point is the WaterWorld of next-gen video games. Huge Hollywood style production but its somehow forgotten to add soul. There’s a lot of good in there and even some great. It’s just buried under a lot monotony.
Destiny is very much the bastard love child of Borderlands and Halo with a dash of the classic Dreamcast title Phantasy Star Online. You’ll find a hearty blend of all of the above, with some incredibly solid gameplay but sadly lacking the charm to go with it. 
Borderlands has charm. Loads of it and loads of loot. While Destiny has the superior gameplay and visuals, it lacks in character. Yes, I love mystery and awe as much as the next person but give this world some context. You don’t want to stuff it full of lore in-game? That’s fine, at least have a codex similar to Mass Effect to let those that want to know more dive in. Oh, wait you do have a Codex. It’s just only viewable on Bungie.net and not in your game? That was a smart move. /sarcasmBorderlands has some insane missions: For example, kill yourself and get money, or call the suicide hotline and be a wimp. Go collect flowers for Jacks grandma and kill the bandits who he hired to murder her so he doesn’t have to pay them. Collect body parts to turn a robot into a human. I don’t expect that amount of silliness, clearly, but for fucks sake - Mix it up!
Playing with friends is a blast. But Bungie has said time and time again that SP gamers would be able to enjoy all of Destiny equally. That’s not the case. I won’t even get into my issues with the lack of no-brainer social features, incredibly rare world events, lackluster NPCs, missions variety and more. Destiny is a good game but it’s not a great one. It has the ability to be though, with time. 

For a game built on the foundations of being a social playground full of possibilities Bungie has crippled communication. The Tower is supposed to be a social Hub, a place to meet fellow Guardians and trade war stories, make friends and find fellow gamers to launch out into a Strike; but I can’t as we can only emote. Shaking my ass and pointing really doesn’t get much across. Proximity chat in social areas and the wild would go a long way in making Destiny the social experience myself and some others want it to be. Being an MMO-lite, the game we’re all playing today could drastically change in 6 months time. Destiny is obviously a labor of love for Bungie. It’s polished, visually gorgeous and has one of the most beautiful soundtracks this year. Couple that with some solid FPS gameplay and what’s there is a fantastic foundation for something that could be very much like the marketing wants us to believe - Legendary. Destiny currently isn’t exactly the game I hoped it would be, but I’m excited to see where it is 6 months from now. Destiny easily has the potential to be the Phantasy Star Online of this console generation. I just hope Bungie listens to fans and builds on what Destiny could be.

GameDaze: Thoughts on Destiny

Bungie’s big cross-gen shooter Destiny is finally in consoles all over the world but is it the revolutionary shooter that Bungie has been touting for years? Yes and no. 

Destiny at this point is the WaterWorld of next-gen video games. Huge Hollywood style production but its somehow forgotten to add soul. There’s a lot of good in there and even some great. It’s just buried under a lot monotony.

Destiny is very much the bastard love child of Borderlands and Halo with a dash of the classic Dreamcast title Phantasy Star Online. You’ll find a hearty blend of all of the above, with some incredibly solid gameplay but sadly lacking the charm to go with it. 

Borderlands has charm. Loads of it and loads of loot. While Destiny has the superior gameplay and visuals, it lacks in character. Yes, I love mystery and awe as much as the next person but give this world some context. You don’t want to stuff it full of lore in-game? That’s fine, at least have a codex similar to Mass Effect to let those that want to know more dive in. Oh, wait you do have a Codex. It’s just only viewable on Bungie.net and not in your game? That was a smart move. /sarcasm

Borderlands has some insane missions: For example, kill yourself and get money, or call the suicide hotline and be a wimp. Go collect flowers for Jacks grandma and kill the bandits who he hired to murder her so he doesn’t have to pay them. Collect body parts to turn a robot into a human. I don’t expect that amount of silliness, clearly, but for fucks sake - Mix it up!

Smiley facePlaying with friends is a blast. But Bungie has said time and time again that SP gamers would be able to enjoy all of Destiny equally. That’s not the case. I won’t even get into my issues with the lack of no-brainer social features, incredibly rare world events, lackluster NPCs, missions variety and more. Destiny is a good game but it’s not a great one. It has the ability to be though, with time. 

For a game built on the foundations of being a social playground full of possibilities Bungie has crippled communication. The Tower is supposed to be a social Hub, a place to meet fellow Guardians and trade war stories, make friends and find fellow gamers to launch out into a Strike; but I can’t as we can only emote. Shaking my ass and pointing really doesn’t get much across. Proximity chat in social areas and the wild would go a long way in making Destiny the social experience myself and some others want it to be. Being an MMO-lite, the game we’re all playing today could drastically change in 6 months time. Destiny is obviously a labor of love for Bungie. It’s polished, visually gorgeous and has one of the most beautiful soundtracks this year. Couple that with some solid FPS gameplay and what’s there is a fantastic foundation for something that could be very much like the marketing wants us to believe - Legendary. Destiny currently isn’t exactly the game I hoped it would be, but I’m excited to see where it is 6 months from now. Destiny easily has the potential to be the Phantasy Star Online of this console generation. I just hope Bungie listens to fans and builds on what Destiny could be.

Where Old Arcade Games go to Retire

This weekend I hit up a local theatre where the movies are dirt cheap. $2.50 for standard admission and a whole $1.00 on Tuesdays. I didn’t know places like this still existed but amazingly they do! The place is as rundown as you would expect for an under 5 bucks big screen experience but it has a certain charm because of it. While other big screen places have done away for the most part with arcades and have installed stadium seating; this little hole in the way is firmly stuck in the 90s. Complete with movie posters of Dogma and a COMING SOON poster of The Matrix still plastered on the walls. It’s like stepping into a time capsule, complete with cheap as hell popcorn and drinks which I loved. Seriously, I paid 7 bucks for a large coke and popcorn with UNLIMITED REFILLS. Yes, I said UNLIMITED. 

But what really tickled my nostalgia bone was the line of beat up old arcade cabinets littering the lobby. I came across an honest to goodness Hydro Thunder in working condition and I couldn’t say no. I popped in 75 cents and relived some of the greatest damn boat racing to ever grace a digital screen. It’s as fun today as it was back then. Not all of the old cabinets were gems. For instance Konami’s  Lethal Enforcers light gun game was never very good, and time hasn’t been very kind to it. 

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Still, there’s a certain charm to shooting a drugged up early 90s shades wearing dealer in the face with a light gun. Gaming has come a long way from the arcade cabinets of yesteryear but it warms my heart to see old games still trucking along, giving joy and digital love to a new generation of gamers. Have you spotted any old arcade cabinets lately? What were some of you favorites from back in the day?

GameDaze with Mike: The Great Drought

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I know, these next-gen systems are new and I shouldn’t complain but damn if I am anyways. I don’t know about you but I’m feeling this next-gen drought something fierce. I’ve played through Knack twice, slaughtered enough Helghast in Killzone: Shadow Fall to have at least thousands of weeping Helgan mothers in mourning and have cut a vicious path of plundering and assassinations in Black Flag where even Blackbeard is eyeing me sideways. It’s been fun. I’ve even gone back to Warner Bros. cheap cash in port of Injustice for a few rounds with Batman and friends but I’m hungry. I need something new, and it seems my PS4 is going to be starving for a bit longer.

Sure, I could pick up Tomb Raider Definitive Edition today on PS4, but asking $60 for a title I’ve already beaten with no replay value just because of some extra spit and shine is a no go for me. It’s pretty. Damn pretty, but asking $60 seems a bit steep. Now if you’ve never played the Tomb Raider reboot, I’d hop on it. It’s one of the best games of last year; but as most hardcore PC gamers know, they’ve already played the “definitive” edition for about $10 on Steam. Making the price point more than a little insulting.

So what’s on the horizon?

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Well, thankfully we have Thief coming up next month, but late February seems so far away. March, which brings InFamous: Second Son and Titanfall even longer. At this point both the Xbox One and PS4 are starving for games. I guess, I have no choice but to wait a little bit longer and bide my time killing a few more Helghans and perhaps making a bit more loot in Black Flag. Hmm…. there’s always something to tackle in my massive Steam backlog… Nah! LOL

What’s keeping you occupied till the big games coming in the next few months?

GameDaze with Mike: Next-Gen Assassin’s

The PS4 is finally here and yes, it’s the first next-gen console I’ve decided to purchase. It was a tough call at times but the strange messaging that Microsoft has had on the Xbox One; it made my call a little bit easier. I will get an Xbox One at a later time, but for now I’m slowly coming to grips with the PS4 and the first next-gen version of the popular Assassin’s Creed franchise. Off the bat I have to give huge kudos to Ubisoft for making what is easily in my opinion one of the prettiest damn next-gen games. For a title that started its life as a current gen game, it’s making quite a debut on next-gen hardware. 1080p, high-res textures, DX11 effects and more all makes Black Flag a sight to behold.

You can still tell it’s current gen roots but damn if it does a fine job of hiding it fairly well. I’m still incredibly early in the game but so far it’s managed to bring together everything I love about the Assassin’s series (action/adventure/historic settings) and blend it with my love for all things pirates. It’s also nice to see that Edward Kenway doesn’t have the personality of a wet turnip, which let’s face it - many people had a problem with Connor. To be fair to Connor, he didn’t exactly have a lovely life so you can’t blame him for not being fun loving. One very small thing I just wanted to share was an email I received after registering my copy of Black Flag into Uplay. Seeing as I’ve played just about every Ass Creed game there is - there was a nice little video from the guys at UbiSoft saying thanks for supporting the series. It’s a small thing but made me smile. Here’s the video below. If you’re a fan of the AC franchise and are even mildly interested in another go through the Animus, I highly suggest giving it a go. Black Flag so far takes some risks with the franchise but also keeps a lot of the things that AC fans love. Sadly, one of them is not Ezio.  

PS4 Day One Impressions

Here are my PS4 Impressions. at least with my limited time with it and also being incredibly ill. Seriously, I’m super sick (UGH)

 
The machine is super powerful, which you can feel from the moment you start playing a game. This thing sings. It’s a lil beast, but like most Sony hardware it still hasn’t quite managed to get the UI and PSN service just there yet. PSN has been having tons of problems, but honestly, that was to be expected. With over a million people all trying to log-in - it’s not a shock that PSN currently is iffy. 

That said, with me paying a yearly fee now for PS Plus they need to step their game up. There are some seriously flawed things with the UI that bug me. The lack of no way to organize game downloads and not being able to use a wallpaper or at least change the UI color are frustrating the hell out of me. It’s my OCD at work.

The share and streaming features are a delight. Easy to use and powerful. This is a community builder for the PSN that was truly needed. 

Voice recognition is half-baked at best, and at this point is almost pointless. Sony needs to invest more in it to be able to be usable for UI navigation and app starting, not just games. The browser still isn’t the best in the world but is certainly a step forward for Sony. It’s webkit based so can easily be upgraded. 

The lack of MP3, MPEG4 and DLNA support is a bummer but it’s something that should be coming soon. Sony has been hammering the point across since Feb that the PS4 is a gaming system over and over again. They’re right. It’s a fantastic system that looks set to build a nice community around gaming. It’s easily the most powerful console out there but is that enough?

With Microsoft investing heavily in their servers and multimedia features; these are areas that Sony needs to address and soon. Having a Ferrari does no one any good if the interface to control this amazing machine is clunky. The PS4 currently feels slightly clunky. The seeds for a great experience are there; they’re just missing some UI features and navigation that feels almost like a no-brainer for the company. The evolution of the XMB is clearly here and it looks sound but needs a fair bit of tweaking to reach the potential that I feel Sony is going for. This is after-all day one and these systems are all about evolution. While Sony clearly holds the title for most powerful next-gen system, Microsoft is beating them to the punch in services that in the long run are going to define the experiences that consumers are going to have with their products. Here’s hoping Sony continues to address these concerns in their next few updates. The PS4 out the gate is smartly engineered machine that has the power to see it through this new generation of gaming, It just needs the user experience to match. 

GameDaze with Mike: LTTP With The Vita

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Sony’s PlayStation Vita by all accounts is a fantastic piece of hardware, something I’m currently finding out. Myself, like many of you, have been reading various forums and the roaring media news of the Vita’s untimely demise. It’s a great piece of kit with no software and no place to go. And to be honest, I believed that was the case as well. But the past few months Sony has slowly been turning that Titanic around and it looks like the Vita, much like its namesake still has some life in it. 

I’ll admit, I’m  not the biggest fan of handhelds. I prefer to do my gaming on a PC or in front of my big screen TV with a controller in hand. While I do own a 3DS, I hardly touch the thing. Granted; games like Luigi’s Mansion really do tickle my fancy. None the less, with my PS3 becoming slowly a fading relic with the approaching next-generation and backward compatibility becoming a thing of the past, I figured I’d dive in head first into the whole Sony ecosystem (God I hate using that buzzword).

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I’m getting a PS4 day one - There’s no question about that. I’m going ‘balls deep’ as a buddy of mine is prone to saying. PS4, PS4 Eye and 5 launch games is a big investment and well, with second screen becoming a big thing for all three next-gen systems (Yes, the Wii U is next-gen) I figured it was time to get a Vita to be best buds with the approaching PS4. 

So I packed up my PS3, 5 games and headed off to my local GameStop to  peddle that shit off for store credit. I came away paying slightly more than $60 for a Walking Dead PS Vita bundle and an 8GB memory stick. I won’t even get into a rant about the pricing scheme for those damn things as you’ve heard more than enough complaints about it - and rightly so.

After a 20 minute setup process and downloading a few games like Gravity Rush and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, I’ve come away impressed with the hardware. The Vita is a solid piece of electronics with a gorgeous OLED screen, which is sadly not in the new revision that Sony is hocking with the PS Vita 2000. 

Gravity Rush is easily the best game I’ve sampled so far. It’s the kind of software that uses all of the Vita’s impressive hardware and touchscreen functionality in an original new IP exclusively for the platform. Uncharted on the other hand is well… Uncharted. Although not as good as Naughty Dog’s entries in the franchise. It does do a good job of giving the Uncharted experience; it just feels like a needless cash-in to try and sell the system on its visual horse power. 

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It’s truly what the Vita is promising in the future that excites me most. Playing games like Deep Down on a second screen while in bed or away from home streaming is a very seductive offering. The Vita’s close connection with the PS4 and flood of new Vita content coming from indie studios like Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Drifter, and Japanese third party exclusive games like Phantasy Star Nova are the biggest selling points for the little system. 

It’s great to see that Sony is strongly committed to the Vita for the long haul, and it’s clear that it’s only in the next 6-9 months that we’re going to begin to really see Sony’s vision for the PS4 and Vita power combo. The idea of interacting with friends all on a unified system, local and Wi-Fi game streaming of PS4 and soon PS3 and PS2 games are all part of an incredibly ambitious future for the Vita. Let’s hope that Sony doesn’t let what is a fantastic piece of hardware down.

GameDaze with Mike: A Second look at Final Fantasy XIII

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I love the Final Fantasy franchise. I have since the golden days of the SNES’s Final Fantasy III. Never before had an RPG ensnared me so tightly and not let go. It’s why when Square-Enix early this generation announced Final Fantasy XIII and the “great white buffalo” that is Final Fantasy Versus XIII (now Final Fantasy XV) I was as excited as a teenage girl around a boyband in the 90s. Sadly, when Final Fantasy XIII eventually found its way to shelves the reception was lukewarm at best and as hostile as lover scorned at worst. I didn’t give a rats ass and picked it up for the Xbox 360 and came around to feeling what a lot of Final Fantasy fans felt - let down.

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But with Final Fantasy XV’s fresh new unveil at E3 its given me the urge to try my hand at the misunderstood RPG once again, and this time on the PS3. The whole mythology behind XIII seems to have a connection with XV and I wanted to better understand what the hell is going on when XV lands on my PS4 hopefully next year. OK, so perhaps that’s just wishful thinking but it could happen haha. 

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GameDaze with Mike: E3 Hangover

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E3 2013 is over and in the can. We saw plenty of games, Microsoft got beaten over the head for their bonehead DRM policies and backtracked, Sony wowed everyone with a cheaper price point and Nintendo still didn’t announce a price drop for the Wii U. All in all, it was one of the most entertaining E3’s in a very long time. Great looking games from all of the platform holders and third parties and a lot of promise for the future. 

This console generation is just getting started. Come October and November both Sony and Microsoft will have their new systems on shelves and fanboy riots will begun anew on internet forums everywhere. Which at times is even more entertaining then the games themselves. So what did you see at E3 that impressed you the most? Decided on what system you’re going to get yet?

I’m going PS4 for the launch of this coming gen for a multitude of reasons. More powerful hardware, a system that can easily be upgraded with a larger harddrive, PS Plus just being a great deal and Sony’s first party games have been killing it as of late. I’ll eventually own an Xbox One as well. I’m not one for missing out on a new Halo… ever. Everyone is going to go with a different next-gen system for their own reasons, at least out the gate, but there’s no need to bash anyone for their decisions. Remember, it’s just video games. Play what you love and love what you play. And if you’re on PSN, shoot me an invite. I’m TheConstantine on there. Say hello and introduce yourself. :)

So, what are gonna get this holiday season?

On Another Level With Chelsea: E3 Expectations, Hopes and Dreams

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     E3 is finally here and it couldn’t be a more controversial one, not what I was expecting, or especially wanting. We’ve all seen the various articles detailing how evil a certain company is and how quiet the other one is with their own details. On top of that, rumors over rumors over facts over rumors, it’s all a giant headache. I was hoping to be more excited for the next-gen consoles, find out what they look like and what they will be capable of…but instead of excitement, I’m met with huge disappointment, secondhand embarrassment, and overall worry for the future of gaming on a budget. Not everyone is made of money, but it looks like this year and the next, will be a hard year for those of us living paycheck to paycheck.

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One-Sided Interaction: The Games Pt2

Welcome to part four of three of my PRE3 Super Fun Extravaganza!

Read the previous entries here:

PRE3: Sony

PRE3: MS

PRE3: Games, Part 1

Thursday we had the first of the PRE3 pressers, the Konami … thing. Whatever that was. Not much to talk about there, really. Sigh.

I’ve also been thinking, for about a week now, about what ‘surprise’ games I want and really think might happen this E3.

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One-Sided Interaction: The Games Pt 1

Okay, so this is part three of three, and tomorrow will be part four of three (yeah, the games list spilled over a bit). If you haven’t already, please feel free to peruse my previous entries:

PRE3: Sony

PRE3: Microsoft

Today, I’ll be talking through a few of the big and confirmed-to-exist games I’m excited to hear/see at E3 this year.

I’m also not breaking things up by publisher or console/PC this year. For me, a great game is a great game (even if I usually lean PC in terms of multi-platform for reasons I’ve discussed previously.)

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One-Sided Interaction: Death, Dead Space, and DLC

Being a man that constantly strives to have a cheery disposition, I view winter as a seasonal metaphor for death. It’s a shitty time of year and I hate it. It’s cold, everything wilts and shrivels, and snow pummets from the sky, raining down death and destruction on the roads. It is, as far as I can tell, a time unsuitable for the sustaining of human life. It’s also the perfect time for a new Dead Space game.

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