Strike Suit ZERO Review

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After having your space-license of space-fighter pilot revoked you attempt to rejoin the space-air-force. During your space-test a space dogfight breaks out. And it’s only the space-beginning.

The first couple of missions put you in control of a simple fighter to allow you to get a firm grip on the reigns of the space-jet, which is not at all complicated as the game is far more like an action flying game, rather than a simulator.

The controls are easy to grasp, but they are sometimes a bit out of whack – particularly the aim and subsequently the course-setting. It appears that sensitivity rises exponentially as you get further away from a small area in the middle of the screen where the aim is fine, but it is not a major problem as you never have to navigate any closed spaces and going off too much to one side can be quickly and harmlessly corrected within a split second. It is a very different story in the Strike Suit mode, though. Once in strike suit mode, deviating from a circle of about 5 cm radius in the middle of the screen will send your aim flying off and on top of the constant chaos of dozens of other ships and their respective missiles and bullets it can be very disorienting indeed. Thankfully in strike suit mode there is a dedicated lock-on button that swiftly changes from enemy to enemy as you send them to their peril at about 10 times the speed of a normal dogfight, due to the immensely increased firepower of the mech.

The missions are largely repetitive and usually involve some or all of these 3 things: take down a bunch of enemy fighters, shoot down the defenses of an enemy frigate or defend a friendly ship from getting destroyed. While it sounds bland and tiresome it rarely is, as the combat mechanics completely overshadow the shortcomings of mission structures. The combat is fast, tactical and truly empowering. You are usually immensely outnumbered, but due to your Strike Suit capabilities, never outgunned.

Shootin' Barrels

Taking on dozens of enemies while conducting evasive maneuvers to escape from enemy plasma and sending out last-second EMP surges to disorient locked-on missiles is only a third of the battle, the main focus is the strike suit. Very few things are as enjoyable as flying into the heart of the enemy swarm, transforming within a second and raining down heavy machine gun fire and a seemingly infinite rain of missiles upon the foes, destroying a dozen ships within a span of 15 seconds and quickly turning back into pursuit mode and boosting out of there, knowing that these 15 seconds were as crucial and devastating as a handful of minutes preceding that. The game excels at making the player feel critical to the battle and truly irreplaceable, which is one of the reasons we turn to games – to be the one, the chosen, somebody truly awesome.

Strike Suit

Unfortunately even the most fun gameplay cannot compensate for repeating half an hour of the game due to poor and minimalistic checkpoint placement. As with games in general, situations get a lot harder and more bullet-infested in the imminence of the next checkpoint, but it is infuriating when the enemy frigate has but a slither of health left and that is the moment when enemies finally decide to coordinate and send four missiles your way, reducing the ship to a wreck in less than a second.

The story is vastly secondary and something I barely paid attention to because of the lack of strong characters, poor dialogue and preoccupation with gameplay. Whether every game should have a strong narrative is arguable, and I am certainly on the side that does not believe that it is crucial. Some games do not need an engaging story to drive the player forward if the sole gameplay is capable of doing so on its own, and this is a shining example.

There is no multiplayer, which is most likely a good thing. Usually I disagree with the hatred towards “tacked-on” MP, because the budget would not have been allocated to the developer of the singleplayer anyway. Games that do have seemingly pointless MP usually have it developed by a completely different studio and is made to extend the shelf life of the product, so, in fact, the publisher would not have given that money to the developer of the SP as the MP is insurance for the publisher that the game will keep bringing in money over a period of time. This is because people would be more reluctant to trade it in quickly and play the MP upon completing the single player, thus decreasing amount of games traded in, which would mean a decrease in cheaper used copies, which only the retailers profit from. With less used copies people would be more likely to buy new ones, bringing in more profit to the publisher. In this case, however, it was developed by an independent studio, funded by Kickstarter money, no less, so all the budget could have been used on the SP and if there was MP, it would certainly reflect on the quality of SP. Most air-combat games tend to have rather boring MP, and without it being Gundamized with swords and all, I don’t see it being very fun and it would simply be a tacked-on and useless mode in my eyes.

Aesthetically the game is very pleasing as the backdrops are without exception beautiful images of outer space. That coupled in with neon blue and red streaks of fighter jets as they course through the battlefield and one of the best glare effects in all current videogames makes for a vibrant and interesting look.

The music is very ambient and calming which provides a pleasing break from the chaotic battles, but does nothing for the fights themselves. Personally, I think J-pop or power-metal would have been perfect for battle music, but that may be because of my love for Gundam and all Japanese mech-oriented anything. Speaking of Gundam… no matter, how impossible this is, but if the game was re-skinned with Gundam mechs and given a Gundam-like story (+ sword StrikeSuit-on-StrikeSuit battles would not be too shabby) all the shortcomings of the game would have been inexistent.

Overall it is unarguably enjoyable and fun, and while poor mission structure, storytelling and harsh checkpoints are to its detriment, they are certainly overshadowed by breathtaking and empowering combat and beautiful visuals.

7/10

Death Kiss Bang Note

Death Kiss Bang Note Header 1 - Copy

I just watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for the first time. I know, “How the hall have you still not seen it until now?” – well, I try my best to avoid good movies. Truth be told it’s been in my peripheral vision for a while, at least since I watched Sherlock and began admiring the Iron Man man more than before; I liked him better when he was drunk and I didn’t have to worry about him leveling New York with his robot suit, instead he just wore a drape suit and one can’t really cause much damage with silk.

I came across the movie for the wrongest reason imaginable. An American movie adaptation of a Japanese manga and anime Death Note was announced, so I looked it up on imdb in a flash, being a huge fan of the aforementioned japanatoon. Only things listed were: approximate year of release, synopsis, some crap about it being true to the original and the director. The director. I never saw his name before, so I leapt through the hyperlink onto his page. First notable movie was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, so I immediately acquired it through the most legitimate and legal way imaginable and watched it.

Perfect movie. Maybe not enough turtles who are also ninjas, but over the years I’ve learnt to accept that only a tiny percentage of movies have that, and when they do it’s generally a pretty bad sign. One of the best dialogues and the humor hit bullseye for me – it was the mix of utter idiocy, randomness and undeniable cleverness that majority of internet dwellers have a giant bone.rar for. The action was ridiculous, in the sense that it was too perfect, but I don’t have a problem with that because “it’s unrealistic” – it doesn’t matter, suspend your disbelief and enjoy the fucking masterpiece, you shithead. Don’t hate something just because you feel the need to show how “smart” and “insightful” you are just because you can point out the parts where the writer took some creative license to make the piece flow better. Nobody, and believe me that I do mean ‘any intelligent life form in existence’, cares that you hated Skyfall “because hacking isn’t the same as unwinding a yarn ball, you dumb sheeple, gawd it’s so full of shit”.

The cinematography was interesting at parts and seeing as how there was actually something notable about it makes it stand tall above the majority. Actor chemistry seemed absolutely genuine, so much that when Perry told Harry that he’s not his real friend I felt a bit betrayed by the lie I’ve been living for the last 30 minutes. I’m sure the director will get some great performances out of whoever is involved, but I’m not sure what spectrum off greatness it will be. If it will be on the same level, but serious, which is death note 120%, I will be peeing my pants and then on anyone else’s who’s unfortunate enough to be anywhere near me at the time. I see that he can tell a great story, but does his talent also lie in serious, almost completely devoid of humor storytelling?

I have my reservations, but I also have my child-like hope because a work of art that, to me, defines an entire medium that I hold so very dearly is allegedly getting a western movie adaptation by the director and writer whom I now admire greatly.

A Failed Experiment

My first true immersion into nerd culture a couple of years ago when I was about 14. A friend of mine told me to check this thing out – a podcast. A videogame podcast from a site he frequented. I was a bit reluctant at first but one boring, and as it later turned out, fateful night I caved in and decided to finally check it out. Thinking back it’s ridiculous how such an important part of me was birthed from such an insignificant action.

As years passed and I grew up I absorbed their nerdom like a sponge. These guys shaped me more than anything else in the world that I can pinpoint, and they have saved me from many boring nights and depressing teenage days. It was the biggest impact anyone made on me as a person, as it pushed me to discover and try new things, many of which are now my defining features. It’s crazy to think that somebody who doesn’t know of your existence made such a drastic impact to your life, but that does not downplay the importance by any measure.

As I matured and neared the age when I had to decide what to do for the rest of my life the choice was: science or videogames journalism. After a lot of consideration and careful thinking I came to a conclusion that I’d rather make fighting robots, than write about a game where I pretended to be one, but I still wanted to do the latter one; that’s when another podcast came along, which consisted of fans of the original life-changing podcast and these guys made me realize that I can get an engineering degree and dedicate my life to making the world a bit more like Deus Ex, while also doing some creative videogame related stuff on the side.

I started this blog, made a (severely underutilized) YouTube channel and started doing whatever you want to call this. After a while I decided that it was not enough and perhaps I should try recreating the thing that caused the metaphorical Big Bang of my personality. I decided to do a podcast with a bunch of my friends.

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The hosts(sans yours truly).

It went great, we had an awesome time and it probably wasn’t too boring to listen to, but in the end I scrapped the project because I realized that if I want people to want to listen to us I would either have to be extremely cool and possibly an employee of a publication or a very dedicated person, which is unfeasible due to the school workload.

This ended my brief disillusionment and hope that I could recreate that which created me. But perhaps that was only temporary and with time something will come of this. Like many geeks I want to be just like the people I look up to, but it’s important to realize how hard it is to make it; not because you have to be the very best, but mostly because it takes a lot of luck, but on the other hand it is still not out of reach and it’s rather important to look ahead towards something meaningful and dream.

New new new NINJA TURTLES

TURTLES

(New x3, considering the original cartoon, the live action show and the 2003 animated series)

Just recently the first two episodes of the new new  new TMNT cartoon came out. Right off the bat the theme is fucking stupid – it’s essentially a techno, thugged-out version of the original. Kept the chorus but changed the rest of the lyrics to really lame rap. Good news, though! The creators are embracing Don’s sexual attraction to machines and in spirit of “Donatello does machines” he now “has a way with machines” and if you don’t think that that’s just awesome on their part you should probably not be reading this article. Seriously, go away.

The most notable difference from the previous cartoons is that it is now CG – with a rather interesting style. Thankfully they did not go with a style similar to the movie where the turtles looked like anorexic lizards wearing trophy-shells of the turtles they killed. There are many Traditional Japanese and futuristic influences in the style. The juxtaposition between the old ways of the turtles, the space age technology of Crangs is rather odd, but I assume that as the show goes on the turtles will adopt more of the sci-fi stuff. Yeah, I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

The cartoon seems to have younger kids as the target audience, compared to the 2003 installment which was as badass as the turtles can get without spilling blood and the ageless masterpiece that was the original series. Surprisingly combat is a lot better and more ninja-y than before. As their main enemies are the Crang who travel in robotic humanoid exoskeletons Leo and Raph can actually use their weapons to hit them – it is rather mind-blowing, I know. There’s a lot more whackyness going on here than there was in the 2003 series and the gang is back to having pupils, making them look infinitely friendlier. But that’s not it… Now they have IRISES, too! The next cartoon should make them wear clothes. Sure, why the fuck not. Maybe abandon the whole  “TURTLES” thing! Nah, in all honesty they look kinda cool. On top of all that Mikey has freckles and Don has a gap in his teeth – so now all you genetically unfortunate kids can feel better about your tragic nature by comparing yourselves to sewer-dwelling turtles.

Plot-wise this show seems like it will revolve around an alien race of Grang, (or Utroms, as they were called in the 2003 cartoon) who I believe are aliens rather than BEINGS FROM DIMENSION X, like the original Grang was. It goes without saying that Shredder will be another nemesis of the green four, but there is something questionable: is he going to be human or a Crang? I believe that he is in fact human. To support that I will draw a few parallels with the older cartoons. In the original series Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki were both human when their feud started. In the 2003 series Splinter started off as a rat and Shreder was an Utrom. If this show will follow one of the storylines word for word it seems that it will be the former one. And may I add that Shredder never looked this goddamn badass before.

One of the most important points I’d like to bring up is that APRIL ISN’T HOT! There is NO excuse for this. Even if it is aimed at kids she could still be hot – the kids wouldn’t get it and the older audience would appreciate it! Maybe it even help some kids get over cooties and thus abolish sexism at an earlier age! There is literally no good reason for her to not be hot! Story? She’s 15? No! The creators probably just want to keep sexism around. Furthermore making her unhot is nothing short of blasphemy – she has always been an idol of hotness, no matter the medium, no matter the decade, she was someone all guys could find attractive and all girls could look up to because she was nether an ugo or a slut. Well, guess what – now she’s just a ginger, semi-cute teen with freckles. One does not go against decades of great tradition for no good reason, dammit. So please, tell me, show me WHY!

Yeeeeeee...NO!

And guess what else! Don still fell in love with her!

:(

Even harder than ever before. It’s kinda cute… but mostly just sad. No matter how many “love vs. adversity” stories we’ve been fed over the years it is beyond obvious that she’ll just keep saying what a great friend he is and how she never wants to lose him as a friend, yada-yada. He’ll just keep quiet about his feelings and do some machines or some shit. Let’s face it Don, you’re a nerdy fucking turtle and this cute redhead will never love you. How would you even kiss, anyway? Have you seen your dumb mouth? This relationship isn’t cute, it’s downright tragic.

There was also no Casey Jones yet…

WHERE?

All in all it’s a rad cartoon, nonetheless, and I’ll keep watching it. I don’t mind that it’s aimed at a younger audience because that means that new generation will grow up loving the pizza-munchers like many before them have. This is a new step for TMNT and I have high hope that it’ll be a good one. CAWABUNGA!

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes – Rumor and Fact Roundup

About a week ago Ground Zeroes was revealed in a 10 minute trailer and a 4 minute extended demo. The internet exploded with speculation and conspiracy theories, just like how every announcement of an MGS title is followed up and so I’d like to shine a little light on all the things that can be taken away from the trailer… + some outlandish theories.

  • First FOX ENGINE game

-first premiered at E3 2011

-new, really powerful engine created by Kojima Productions

-multi-platform

-abandons standard MGS physical model – very slick (prominent cover system, smooth stance transitions, etc.), very western-styled

  • Motherbase is still present from PW

-may have nukes as “word of our capabilities gets out, and we’ll have the whole world to shut us down”

-has an inspection coming up to check for weapons

-XOF waited for Snake to go save Chico and Paz to go to MSF motherbase and set them up before the inspection or expose the weaponry

-And app that will allow players to customize and traverse base in full detail from a smartphone

  • From FOX two phantoms were born: MSF and XOF

-XOF:

– “Xenogenesis of FOX”

-new antithesis

-led by mysterious man with a burnt face

  • Big Boss

-“back on FOX”

-about 10 years older than in PW

-old as “even age hasn’t slowed [him] down one bit”

  • Open world

-some takes place in Cuba, but other parts of the world will most likely be accessible

-cease everything you see in the distance

-approach to missions from many angles

  • Piloting vehicles

-drive cars, armored vehicles, tanks

-first time piloting a non-mecha transport in MGS

  • No permanent HUD

-only reticle (PW style)

-item switch appears “on” snake, a-la Dead Space

  • Hitch a helicopter ride out of anywhere

-customizable tune when the helicopter arrives

-can get you spotted

-can get shot down

-called by throwing a flare

  • Paz and Chico are imprisoned

-Chico’s sister, Amanda, or Paz was already killed but Snake does not know it.

-were used to lure Big Boss out of the motherbase

-Snake’s arrival was anticipated

  • BONUS RUMOURS AND RANDOM CRAP

-Chico has some audio device in him: perhaps a countdown (he has a bomb inside him meant to kill Snake when he rescues Chico)

-May be VR because strange orange lines appear on the screen sometimes (or just loading)

-May be set in 2 different times: “ground zeroes” may imply multiple GROUND ZEROes

  • Movie

-Avi Arad is set to produce the movie

-made under the umbrella of Columbia Pictures

-no cast or director is attached yet, but Hideo Kojima expressed his admiration for Christopher Nolan… although that may be more of wishful thinking on his part, and not in fact a subtle tease

-no script details confirmed whatsoever: no setting or even protagonist

-an up and coming, not famous actor will be playing the role of Snake

Total Recalls

Having seen the Total Recall remake trailer in the theatre and having heard an internet persona that I hold up quite high talk smack about it, I wanted to check out what it was all about. Having seen the original and the remake trailer earlier today, with fresh memory of them I will try my best to reason the existence of the remake. Yes, it’s true that I can’t compare the two as I haven’t seen the remake, but that is not important here as all I will try to do is justify the remake and not do a comparative review.

The original is a great, cheesy Arnie action-flick that is a minor mind-fuck as far as uncertainty of what is really real goes, with cool dialogue and pure R-rated goodness. I cannot deny what a great action movie it is, but it is certainly not serious. And all studios, developers and the media in general have decided that viewers need to have everything completely straight-faced and devoid of fun and cheesy action.

The mindless majority of contemporary consumers would much rather see a reasonable badass tear through squads upon squads of faceless henchmen grunting and huffing, performing minimalistic but nonetheless badass martial art and pulling off headshots left and right rather than a humorous beefcake with an awesome German accent riddling people with bullets and stabbing them with any elongated object lying around to send gallons of blood spraying out.

In the 20 years since the release of the original Total Recall the entertainment preferences of the consumer majority have changed. Most people don’t like mindless fun anymore and they are all about the realism and badassery just because they’ve been spoon-fed that for years by development teams of whichever media outlet. A good analogy for this is 90’s most popular awesome action fuck-yeah shooter vs today’s: Duke Nukem 3D vs Call of Battlefield Medal Whatever. Duke Nukem sold because then the market wanted silly uncensored, ridiculous fun, now it demands realism and grounded plot because the majority of consumers grew up with the uncensored fun and now stupidly consider it childish.

Of course a soulless remake is a kick in the crotch for the fans of the original, but it makes sense for the company to try to cash in on a premise of a movie that would sell well if it was made to fit the mold of today’s consumer demands. The wrapping of the original would cater to a very small percentage of consumers today, but if amended to what the average consumer wants it has the possibility of being a big hit.

Surely some will go home and forget about this movie, but some will also be exposed to the original through the internet or friends and having seen the remake will be more likely to see Arnie’s Total Recall. The increased amount of exposure would mean that more people could see the original and love it for what it is, while they would never have otherwise.

Most remake-bashers will argue that this is unnecessary; the first movie is perfect as it is and yes, that is true. The latter, at least, because as I have said above: no matter how perfect it is for the fans, the dumb majority of population now would not find it as appealing as the cool and gritty counterpart. So while this remake is equivalent to the studio spitting in the face of fans it will also lean in to whisper “I did it for us. For US, buddy.” and wipe it away with its personal handkerchief as the evil overseer leaves.

I am in no way on a high horse, I suppose that I can just view it more objectively as I’m not a long-time fan of the original and therefore have no attachment to it. And so, I would like to wrap it up by saying that instead of stubbornly hating the entirety of the situation one could calm oneself down by reasoning it with change in consumer base and trying to uplift one’s spirit with hope of bigger exposure of the original in the light of the remake.

Mundane Game Mechanics That Would Be Awesome In Real Life

There are just some things in games that we take for granted and never really give much thought. Some of them are purely informative and some are actually extremely useful. Being the thoughtful and bored guy that I am I noticed myself picking them apart and fantasizing about how awesome it would be if they were real. I’m not talking about stuff like stopping time or super strength or whatever, but uh…

Stats

Stats - Blacklight: Retribution

Have you ever thought what it’d be like if all items in the real world had videogamey stats? Probably not as there’s a good chance that you have better things to occupy your mind with. Well, I have and let me tell you, it would change the way we do everything. Shopping – you can make clear decisions on what to buy depending on what you want. Take pants for instance; you can choose depending on durability, speed, agility, defense, style and etc. no longer will you have to put up with pants that even a kitten can tear to shreds. Also those with no sense of style can hide it very effectively.

People – you can make fun of people for having lower stats than you in something and be absolutely factual about it so that they can’t argue back! You can pick your fights depending on the standing of your stats against the opponent. Maybe you can take him out in one punch, maybe you can dodge until he’s all worn out and then attack or just run the hell away if there’s no way to win and he has everything higher than you apart from speed and stamina.

This tiny aspect of game mechanics would mean the most well-informed decision making since ever and would no longer leave it to guesses and gut-feelings.

Highlighting of Useful Objects

 Highlighting - Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Many games have interactable and useful objects highlighted, like Deus Ex Human Revolution, for instance – it has a bright orange tint over everything useful and Metal Gear Solid has the items spinning a foot above ground. This would mean that one would no longer have to spend eons searching for a lost object – they would see it right away. Take this situation as an example: you’re looking for a tiny DS cartridge in a pile of useless stuff in your drawer. It would be extremely hard to find amongst all that crap, but not if it’s spinning a foot above all other things or is bright orange while everything else is just gray with a slight orange tint! Mundane game mechanics come to the rescue again!

Mini-map

Minimap - Metal Gear Solid 2

Ho boy, this is something very dear to me as an idea. Sometimes it just sucks to be in a new place, be it a city, area or house. Imagine you need to know where all the useful places are, like shops that sell a specific candy, or the location of a nearby bathroom! They would be highlighted as a current quest location on your mini map and you could walk there right away without a bother.  Let’s not forget those times when you just want to get from one class to another without running into anyone but have no way of knowing where they are or when you need to sneak into a top secret nuclear research facility to take out a group of mercenaries threatening your homeland with nuclear annihilation. Well, now you have full awareness of their locations, and you can go about avoiding people/snapping necks without having to worry about running into someone you didn’t mean to run into.

I was once lost in the subway, I didn’t know which exit to town I had to take to get where I needed to be and I looked up to the top-right hoping that there would be a map there to help me out. I felt like a fucking idiot. In my defense I was playing the hell out of MGS2 at the time, but nonetheless. Yes, we are coming close to it with smartphone GPS and soon Google Glass may provide a real-life HUD, but for now the completely correct mini-maps with item and personnel location remain in the realm of games.

3rd Person View

3rd Person View - Skyrim

A fair amount of games has third-person view which give almost full awareness of the surroundings and yourself. It expands the viewing angle to 360 degrees instead of the usual angle of approximately 150 degrees that humans see with their eyes.

Not only can you know what’s behind you at all times you can know exactly how people are seeing you, so perhaps you want to hide really well but don’t know if the top of your head is poking out. No more would one have to watch the shadows as they’re walking alone at night, you can look behind and in front of yourself simultaneously. I know that if you’re reading this there’s no way you’re a geek who gets picked on in class but nonetheless: if somebody’s throwing pieces of paper at your head you can casually avoid every single one to make them think that you have spider-sense and just look cool. Or make it absolutely clear about who’s the culprit so that you can corner him later and web him to a lamp post.

Perhaps you’re trying to park and you’re not sure if the car is going to fit –you can clearly see the car in its entirety and park without a prablam. Third-person view would help out not only in everyday situations, but also in butt-pirating preventions along with pissing off assholes, and that’s pretty great in my book.

Hacking

Hacking - Blacklight: Human Revolution

Real-life hacking involves an extensive knowledge of programming which is something relatively few people possess, while in videogames it’s ether a simple puzzle or a quick time event that anyone with half a brain can perform. Surely it would be a horrible if everyone could just do that and all your devices could be unlocked by a 5 year-old and no information could be protected: even governmental facilities and banks would be as vulnerable as a teenage girl lost in a biker club.

To counteract this there would also be completely uhackable terminals that only your sexy female informant friend can hack over the phone. So again, only those with sexy female informants would be able to do that, which means that only about 7 people in the world would be lucky enough to have all the electronic gadgets in the palm of their hands.

How you could avoid getting your information stolen? Use rock PCs and rock phones. Nobody can hack stones, so you’re in the clear. You can also live under them and that’s great. Or just write on paper and put it on a pin-board, those things never have the poly-count high enough to distinguish the letters, it’ll only be squiggly lines to others.

So there they are, just a few game mechanics that we never praise but would make the world quite a bit more awesome.