Resistance Retribution

I picked up Resistance Retribution because I'd played it briefly in the past and recalled liking it. Normally I hate shooters, but they're usually first-person shooters. Although Resistance is a first-person series on the Playstation 3, they chose to make it a third-person shooter on the PSP so that it would work better with the handheld's limited controls. I'm glad they did because I played Resistance for the PS3 and hated it. Retribution, however, I love.

Resistance: Retribution Screenshot

The game contains a story mode and a multiplayer mode. The singleplayer story spans about 6 chapters, but each chapter contain around 4 missions. Each mission takes aroun a half an hour, so the game should run you about 12 hours. The locations are diverse, so you won't get bored doing the same things in the same places. If you don't already know the story from Resistance 1, it's a "what if" scenario where we see what the world would have been like if aliens began invading during World War II. Strange thought but it works well for what it is.

In retribution you find that these aliens are being "created" or turned from normal people. Upon seeing his brother suffer this fate, our hero James Grayson gets pissed off and begins blowing up alien bases left and right. Although this is a good thing, he doesn't do it the way the army wants him to (they probably want to study this shit to make weapons) so he's considered a traitor and put on death row. At the last minute though, the aliens, called Chimera, begin to win the war and Grayson is called out as a last resort.

As I said the game is a third-person shooter. You walk around using the d-pad and turn the camera (and therefore your weapon) up and down or side to side using the Square, Triangle, Circle, and X buttons. This is also how Syphon Filter controlled on the PSP, and it works even better here. To make things simpler, you don't have to spend minutes trying to aim exactly onto an enemy like you would on a console fps. Depending on the weapon, you either get an auto snap-to lock-on feature, or simply get a large box which is your approximate range. As long as you're facing the right way and are within that box, your shots will hit. This way it's not so automatic that you're not doing any work and can just stand there and mash the R button to shoot. You still need to keep an eye on your surroundings and constantly be on your toes to aim wherever the enemies are attacking you from.

The story in this game actually kept my attention. The overall story we already know. You're fighting the Chimera. But the specific little things that happen in each chapter are different and interesting. Sometimes you need to rescue someone. Sometimes you get separated from your group and need to find an alternate route. Sometimes you steal the enemies weapons or machines and use them against them. Sometimes you're scaling broken-down building and sometimes you're swimming. Many times you'll be fighting swarms of smaller enemies, and other times you'll be getting a hold of a powerful weapon to take out a larger boss. There's just lots of different things to do in this game and there's always interesting reasons for doing it.

Also the fact that Grayson is considered a traitor by the army is interesting because they need his help now. So you get to see Grayson get away with alot of stunts because he knows he doesn't really have to follow orders. What are they going to do, court-martial him again? They need him. He takes advantage of this fact by never doing quite exactly what he's told and always being slightly smug.

I haven't tried the multiplayer mode yet because I'm not really into multiplayer gaming, at least not with shooters. But the single-player campaign alone is worth the price of admission. This is definitely up there with some of the other must-have PSP games.

Assorted Updates

I picked up Resistance Retribution and Disgaea Afternoon of Darkness recently, so look forward to reviews of those soon. I apologize that all of my focus seems to be on PSP games at the moment. Obviously once the 3DS comes out March 27th my focus will shift to reviewing 3DS games so you know which ones are worth buying. In the meantime, I'll review those PSP games and maybe do an overview of the Game Boy Micro.

PSP - Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

I'm currently playing through this game so it's a work in progress. I'm about 5 and a half hours through, and from what I've read it's about a 15 hour campaign. I have alot to say about what I've played so far, but let me just share a few thoughts.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Screenshot

The story in the game is definitely the selling point. Fans of Final Fantasy VII will want to play this just for the story which expands on the original game. It's true that the game is most likely a cash-in and alot of the stuff was probably made up just for the sake of selling another FF game, but they at least put enough thought into it that none of the new characters or events contradict what happened in FFVII. Some people might find it odd that such an important character in Crisis Core's story like Genesis was never even mentioned in FFVII, but even though it's odd it's not altogether impossible.

The graphics in the game are extremely good. It's much more engaging to see characters like Zack, Aerith, and Hojo very highly rendered with so much detail. You also get to visit many locations from FFVII such as the ShinRa building and the church in the slums and see what they would look like almost photorealistically. You also get to witness some very important moments that set up events from Final Fantasy VII, such as Aerith and Zack meeting, and Sephiroth when he was younger and less crazy. I enjoy watching the cutscenes and the dialogue between characters, but the batttle system leaves much to be desired.

The only character you ever control is Zack. You have materia you can equip but it's much less important or varied in this game. I also never thought I'd miss the blurring of the screen when entering a battle in FFVII or the victory music and score display when finishing a battle. But in this game every battle starts off with a computer announcer saying "Activating combat mode." Battles are very frequently interrupted with a sort of slot machine based on Zack's emotions and the outcome generally grants him status boosts, level ups, or a special attack. While helpful, they're also frequent and annoying and unskipable. Each one begins with the computer saying "Modulating phase." followed by a short scene. Battles end with a "Conflict resolved." and the whole thing just feels alot slower than typical FF games.

The main story is advanced by cutscenes and gameplay, which generally involves an extremely linear path down a corridor filled with enemy encounters. There's occasional treasure chests, but nothing really in the way of exploration. There's not really any towns, world map, vehicles, or party. The main "hub" is the ShinRa building where you accept most of your missions from. Occasionally you'll visit a town or building for a mission, but you never get to choose these places, they're always your main objective.

Speaking of missions, the game's length is supposedly lengthened by a set of extra missions which are basically the game's side quests. Unfortunately, although there are between one or two hundred missions, they are all accessed from simply opening your menu and clicking missions. They're listed in order of difficulty and put into subfolders, and new ones are unlocked by completing early missions. These are all pretty much the exact same thing over and over. Each mission has a name and an objective, but each one is almost identical. You'll run down a series of corridors with a few branching paths cleaning up the enemies in that area. You either have to clear out all the enemies or get to one main enemy at the end, and are then rewarded with an item. Some of these missions add a bit of extra detail to the story, but they're so minute that it's not really worth it. The missions begin to blur together after only doing a handful of them and the rewards just don't make up for it.

Skipping the missions in your menu and just playing the main game itself, it doesn't seem very long. Maybe 10 to 15 hours tops. The cutscenes and story are top-notch, and the characters are well developed and look great. The battle system is very bland though. You pretty much have a small menu at the bottom of the screen consisting of Attack, whatever materia you have equipped, and Item. I found you can easily beat all enemies and most bosses simply by mashing the X button when you have Attack highlighted, and only need to tab over to Item by hitting R to use a potion or tabbing over to Cure if you have it equipped when you're HP is running low. You can press Triangle to block enemy attacks or press Square to roll out of the way, either way pretty much avoids the attack or reduces the damage. Bosses such as summons generally have a large attack that involves a cutscene which can take away a large chunk of your HP, but I never died from these attacks and found you can easily be back on top if you cure or use a potion immediately after.

Having the battles be hack-and-slash as opposed to the traditional turn-based does speed things up a bit, but since you're merely mashing X 90% of the time it feels more like a boring chore than an action RPG. Still, the few times I've needed to block an attack or roll out of the way, or exploit an enemey's weakness with a certain materia, it did feel good. Just know that between the low difficulty of the game and the random slot machine which often fully heals you or unleashed devastating attacks, you'll probably never die.

I'm sure i'll have much more to say once I finish the game, but until then I'm enjoying the story.

PSP - God of War: Ghost of Sparta

I purchased the limited edition red and black PSP 3000 system bundle when it was released back in October '10 or whenever it was. I loved the red and black system but I was fairly busy and didn't actually get around to playing the God of War: Ghost of Sparta game that came with it until recently. I own the prequel game Chains of Olympus and had beaten that ages ago and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to Ghost of Sparta. It takes place between the first and second God of War games for the PS2. It's pretty standard God of War gameplay, but although it's similar, I highly recommend playing at least God of War for the PS2 first so that you're at least somewhat familiar with the story.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta Screenshot

If you're completely oblivious to the God of War series (and I don't see how anyone could be at this point) it's a hack-and-slash action/adventure based on Greek mythology. In the series, Kratos, the protagonist (well more like anti-hero) is a mortal warrior who was tricked into killing his own family in a fit of rage. He's forced to wear their bodies' ashes on his skin as a constant reminder of his thirst for war. At the end of the first game, he had overthrown Ares, the God of war, for indirectly causing the death of Kratos' family. Unfortunately, he is still plagued by nightmares, and although the Gods had promised Kratos peace, more often he was tricked an used. He eventually decides to wage war on all of the Gods, and so begins Ghost of Sparta.

On his way to kill the leader of the Gods, Zeus, (which is the journey at the beginning of God of War II) Kratos learns that his brother, Deimos, is actually still alive and being held captive somewhere. Deimos was taken from Kratos during childhood and he was powerless to stop the abduction. Hearing that his brother is still alive, Kratos puts his other quest on hold in order to track down his brother and lay down some Spartan vengeance. This quest will take roughly 6 or so hours to complete, which is not bad for a PSP game. Some full-fledged console games these days only have an 8 to 10 hour campaign. Portable offerings are meant to be played in short sittings anyway, so the 6 or so hours should actually span you a few days.

Kratos' weapon(s) are the Blades of Chaos, two wavy blades he holds which are chained around his arms. He is able to slice directly with them or throw them outward and use the chains to perform all sorts of complex moves and then simply pull them back. Throughout the game, the blades can be upgraded with powers, most notably Thera's Bane, which imbues your blades with the added element of fire. You'll also come across other weapons entirely, such as a spear and shield, and various magic spells. You can also spend the red orbs you find from defeating enemies to upgrade the power of your weapons and skills, although I found myself focusing pretty much exclusively on the power of the Blades themselves and the Thera's Bane ability associate with them. The magic spells are far weaker and require too much of your magic meter to really make them worthwhile.

The game is linear, which in this case is not a bad thing at all. The story is very important in this game and the path that you follow makes the story unfold in the best way possible. Gameplay is divided up into a few different types of sections. Sometimes you'll be hacking and slashing away at hordes of enemies in order to progress. Other times you'll be solving puzzles. These usually involve pushing or pulling some sort of object, smashing something open, or looking for a key or an item you need to progress past a certain point. Other times you'll simply be watching the story unfold either through prerendered cutscenes or scenes acted out using the in-game engine. There are also platforming sections, which usually involve jumping from ledge to ledge, climbing up walls, or climbing across ropes. Occasionally, when sliding down a collapsing platform or grappling over a pit you'll have to press certain buttons that appear on the screen within a short time limit in quick-time events in order to continue. These are also used in combat as finishing moves on larger enemies. All in all, the different styles of gameplay are quite varied and always switch at the best time to prevent any one style from becoming boring or repetitive.

I have to say as I was playing this game I could not put it down. The gameplay is extremely fun. The voice acting is good, at least by video game standards. The story is intriguing, and the graphics are probably some of the best on the PSP system to date. It may not look as good as God of War III for the Playstation 3, but I don't mind that at all. In fact I prefer it this way. When I played God of War III, everything looked too good. It blurred the lines between what was able to be interacted with in the game and what couldn't. Often times I'd try smashing some pots with my blades only to have nothing happen because the pots were merely part of the environment and not something to be smashed to reveal orbs. Also, in the PS3 game, you were given a little too much freedom. You could move Kratos anywhere. If you were walking down a narrow path and walked toward the edge, you could easily fall off and die. If you didn't time your jumps just right, you could easily fall to your death just trying to jump from one platform to another. The PSP game Ghost of Sparta eliminates all this stress by putting an invisible barrier on the edge of ledges. Occasionally in some parts you can fall to your death, but while walking down most paths you only have to worry about defeating enemies and keeping an eye out for treasure. I don't feel it made the game too easy. It's more like they removed an unnecessary frustration.

The game can still be plenty difficult. A few of the boss fights game me some trouble the first time around. If you don't bother looking for Special Chests that upgrading your life and magic meters then you could be at a serious disadvantage. Also the game has multiple difficulty settings and on the hardest one it's absolutely brutal. If you ever die repeatedly on a boss or a swarm of enemies, you usually change up your gameplan and try to figure out what that particular enemy's weakness is or learn when to block their attacks. Eventually you'll get it and feel a sense of accomplishment. It never feels impossible. By the end, the story and gameplay will have you completely hooked. And then, if you haven't already played it, you'll want to jump right into God of War II.

If you own a PSP and haven't played Ghost of Sparta, I highly recommend you pick it up. It's easily one of the best games for the platform.

The Creation of this Blog

I've always enjoyed writing and unfortunately I haven't done it much since I've been out of school. I also like sharing thoughts and opinions with other people, so I figured I could kill two birds with one stone by creating a blog here about my daily experiences with video games. Aside from working in a video game retail store, I spend much of my downtime playing many games on multiple platforms. So I'll be using this forum as a means to not only have an excuse to write on a daily basis, but also to keep others informed who might happen to be interested in things such as critiques on particular games or thoughts and ideas on new hardware as it is released. The Nintendo 3DS system is dude out in about 6 weeks or so, and I have one preordered, so expect some thoughts on that. In the meantime, I'm playing several games so I'll be sharing my thoughts on those. And so it begins...

woooo!

Okay, today was so cool. I went to MCC to take the Accuplacer test and hopefully register for classes. First, they tell me that my grades were so good in highschool that I don't have to take the test and I automatically get put in the highest category. Then I go to register and I actually get all my classes and my schedule done ok. So I goto the financial aid office to see how much aid I get, and guess what? They pay for all of my tuition and all of my books, and then I get an additional 1000 dollars cash back every semester. I was like *blink blink*

Now I can't wait to start school in september. Mewfus!

Schedule

In case anyone wants to drop by and see me at work, or you want to know when I'm not working so we can make plans, here's my schedule for the next week or so.

Saturday 7/10: 3pm - 11pm
Sunday 7/11: 11am - 3pm
Monday 7/12: 3pm - 11pm
Tuesday 7/13: 7pm - 10pm (standby)
Wednesday 7/14: 3 pm - 11pm
Thursday 7/15: 3 pm - 11pm
Friday 7/16: 3pm - 5pm
Saturday 7/17: 6pm - 11pm
Sunday 7/18: 11am - 3pm

(no subject)

I'm bored so I figured I might as well update since I haven't in forever. I haven't really done much other than work. My hours increased each week and now I'm up to roughly 40 a week, so I guess my job is full time now. I work from 3m to 11pm, so my schedule of living has kind of changed. I wake up later in the day than most people, goto work, come home at 11, do my online stuff, play games, goto bed by 2am. Wake up around noon the next day and do it again.

It's not really that bad or anything. Getting a $200 paycheck is pretty cool. I also like the people I'm working with now way more than John and Frank in the back where they make the donuts. I just realized today that the reason I like it better is because I'm with people who are more like me. They have all the guys working in the back, (John, Victor, Frank, Nick...) and they all rough-house and talk dirty and I don't really feel comfortable around them. Then up front they've got all the girls working, (Ashley, Kellie, Erica, Mellisa, etc) and they're all nice sensetive people. Once again it just goes to show I'm not really one of the guys.

So I went from making donuts to working at the counter. Even though counter sucks when it's busy, it's still better than working in back overall. In the back you pretty much never stop working. You go in, there's a list of what you need to do, you work your ass off doing it, and as soon as it's done you go home. Up front is different. You're there a set number of hours whether there's customers or not. So you get lots of time inbetween to relax. Plus in the back it was so hot because of the friers, (they were like some-odd hundred degrees) and upront it's like air conditioned. I stand behind the counter and do various things... I serve people ice cream and donuts, I work the register, I make coffee, clean stuff, and whenever I have time, I draw, eat ice cream, or talk to my coworkers. They're all nice, especially Ashley and Kellie. We're all starting to know eachother better since we've been there a while, and we do favors for eachother. Sometimes one of us goes out and picks up Arbys or chinese for everyone, and we always devide all our work between people all organized-like so it gets done faster. I would have thought since most of the people there are preppy and I'm different, they'd just do their work and not talk to me. But I'm surprised to see that they all tell me about their lives and their friends and their current situations and stuff. So that's cool.

I thought it would be alot harder than it is because I tend to be paranoid and worry. Sometimes it is hard but in the old days I might have just quit because I was scared. I've had to work some pretty damn busy days but I've lived through it and the boss seems to praise me so I keep coming in. A normal job usually lets you work 5 days and then have 2 off, but I worked like 11 days in a row I think it was this month. I was annoyed when I saw it would be that many days, but that week came and went and I survived and got a paycheck out of it which makes it seem worth it. I don't know if I'll still work their once school starts, but I've been working for 2 months and I'll work at least another 2, so all the experience I've gotten and the money I've made has been cool and helpful. I've had to do alot of stuff as a result of this job, like finding my own way to work, catching a bus, managing my time, opening a bank account, getting a debit card, doing the actual work at my job, and sacrificing play time. I'm surprised I've done this much.

So now that I work counter, people can come see me easier. Before they used to have to tell someone at the counter and I'd have to come out from the back, and then I couldn't really talk. But now if you come in when it's not busy (whenever the weather's bad) I can chat for a while. Plus I can get you all the ice cream and donuts you want. So to all the people in Rochester that read this, come visit me sometime on a rainy day. It gets tiring seeing nothing but old men for customers. I usually work monday through saturday but it pretty much changes every week. This week I'm working 3-11 on mon-thursday, I have off friday, 12-3 on saturday, and then 11 to 3 on sunday, but that'll be in the back making donuts cuz John won't be there. I guess I can just post my schedule every week if anyone cares. It's Buckman's Dairy across from the mall on Ridge Rd, you can look it up online or in the phone book if you need to find it.

That's all for now. I'm just eating since I've been working all day, and looking stuff up online. Soon I'll be going to bed. Tomorrow's another 8 hour day so I hope I'm not tired. Thanks to all the friends and family who supported me with this job. My mom was the one who took me to the interview when they called me. No one was home but I felt like it was important that I try so I called her and it turned out she had off of work that day. So she took me to the interview and I got the job instantly. Since then everyone's helped me with rides and motivation. So thanks to everyone. Now go away so I can drink my Faygo.

(no subject)

Today was interesting. I went to the mall because my brother's birthday is tomorow and I hadn't gotten him anything yet (I ended up getting him some nes games). And guess who I ran into there? Robin and someone I'm assuming is her boyfriend. She said they're having a party in July and I could come. Since all this stuff with Jess has been going on I asked if she was coming to, and guess what Robin said? She said she wasn't really friends with Jess so she wasn't really invited. She asked Eugene to come to but I forget if he's doing something that week or not. So me Eugene and Holly are invited. And Jess claimed that Robin didn't really like Holly and that she was more Jess's fiend, but I guess we learned the truth about that now didn't we. So if I'm not working I'll probably go to that party. In the meantime I bought Dave Mirra for gamecube cuz it was in the sale bin for 8 bucks ^_^ I'm gonna go play it now. w00t!

(no subject)

kind of going along with those last 2 entries, I just realized how odd my mix of music taste is... I was browsing through my recent playlist...:

Evanescence - My Immortal
Evanescence - Bring Me To Life
N*sync - Dirty Pop
Jason Mraz - You And I Both
Maria Mena - You Are The One
KoRn - Y'all Want A Single
Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
Ranma 1/2 - Don't Make Me A Shrew
Final Fantasy VII - One Winged Angel
Mudvayne - Not Falling
LFO - I Wannna Sex You Up
Jay Z - 99 Problems
TLC - No Scrubs
Mindless Self Indulgence - Faggot
Britney Spears - Toxic
Chrono Cross - Another World
Shakira - Rules
Shakira - Objection
Shakira - Whenever Wherever
Chingy - Right Thurr
Hot Butter - Popcorn
Ludacris - Stand Up
Avril Lavigne - Losing Grip
Weird Al Yankovic - Hardware Store


Is that messed up or what?