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I keep forgetting this is a thing.

May 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Anyway, hey, hi. I think the last time I posted was well over a year ago, and yet I’m still getting an average of 15 views a day. You guys are insane. Now, I realize this is probably due to a lot of search engine queries for certain images or Quake, Sonic, et al, but still; I could actually start updating here frequently. I don’t really like the ‘Cynic with a game pad’ name anymore, kinda wish I could change it. Also, I’ve since acquired a moderately decent desktop and an xbox 360, so the shtick with playing shitty old games doesn’t really fly. Though, to be fair, I could keep doing that.

I just don’t want to.

I’ve never really said much about myself, when I started this blog some three or four years ago, I was sixteen or seventeen and dead set on keeping that a secret. I’m twenty one now, and a little less insecure about people taking me seriously. Don’t take me seriously, hell, I don’t. Anyway, let’s try some basic introductions. Hi, my name is Ian, and I like video games. Quite a bit, actually, it’s sort of a love/hate relationship. Rayman Origins comes out and teaches me how to love again, and then a shovel-ware annual sequel is announced and I lose my will to pick up a controller.

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Categories: Uncategorized

For Your Consideration: SplitScreen

October 21, 2010 3 comments

In lieu of a decent written article, since I’m sitting at the college library and I don’t feel like actually writing, here is an un-edited discussion about things to do with games, between my good buddy Mark (of Random Hoo-Haas, see side-bar links), and myself. Enjoy?

[11:35] Ian: Quick, Mark, spit something at me. Postulate something about the games business for me to extrapolate on.
[11:35] Ragey: Um.
[11:35] Ragey: Offline multi-player – do developers still acknowledge it?
[11:36] Ian: You god damn genius. Is the art of split screen lost? Golden Eye 2010 begs to differ!
[11:36] Ian: As does most of the wii, for that matter, which may be why the Wii is a big family/party system.
[11:37] Ragey: There’s a lot of games on the 360 that I’m surprised have online-only multi-player. I mean, how hard can it be for OutRun 2 to include splitscreen?
[11:38] Ian: Indeed. That’s one thing that I think games like Halo and Call of duty still have over a lot of other shooters that helps give them that foothold in the industry
[11:38] Ian: that being they still fully support four player split-screen.
[11:38] Ian: Albeit Halo multiplayer is on a much grander scale when you’re online, it’s still fun to sit down with three buds and shoot eachother in the face hole.
[11:39] Ragey: Of course. Left 4 Dead is fun online, but it’s much more fun when I’m playing it with people in-person (though it only supports 2-player splitscreen, which given the amount of zombies and crap on-screen I guess is a given)
[11:40] Ragey: Also I suppose it’d be neat to maybe talk about the programming behind splitscreen? Like, I get the impression it’d be something that’s relatively simple, but since a lot of games even back in the day struggled with it there must be more to it than I think.
[11:40] Ian: Yeah, that’s an issue. In this age of Hi-Def gaming, split screen means A: A smaller view for each player and B: More objects that have to be rendered at a time.
[11:40] Ian: I mean, think about it
[11:40] Ian: For every screen, the game is literally having to render a whole other scene.
[11:42] Ragey: I think that’s the bit that confuses me – does having a second camera (player) mean that it has to re-render everything that’s visible?
[11:42] Ian: Yes, essentially.
[11:43] Ian: The assets are shared as far as memory goes, so there’s not a huge extra processing or memory load, I don’t think
[11:43] Ragey: But depending on the intensity of the game it will have an impact, I imagine.
[11:43] Ian: But the graphical elements definitely suffer a bit. I haven’t really looked at Reach, for example, splitscreen in depth VS single screen, so I can;’t pull any isolated examples
[11:43] Ian: But it seems like the logical thing
[11:44] Ian: It’s kind of like this 3D games thing on the Playstation 3
[11:44] Ian: Those games that are starting to implement glasses 3D definitely suffer, because they are having to render the game from two slightly different angles.
[11:44] Ian: Which has been developer confirmed.
[11:45] Ragey: Hm, intriguing.
[11:45] Ian: Fascinating indeed.
[11:47] Ragey: Of course, then there’s also the usage of low-poly models for when stuff gets too much. Mario Kart Double Dash is the first example that springs to mind. I can’t help but wonder if, say, there was something like Left 4 Dead made for the PS3/360 with 4-player splitscreen, but the graphics were N64-quality. Would that make it easier to run or would the sheer amount of models (never mind their complexity) still bog it down?
[11:48] Ian: It would make it much easier to run. I could run several N64 games at the same time on my laptop at home via emulation and not have any slowdown
[11:49] Ian: In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a port of the n64 Goldeneye on XBox Live Arcade
[11:50] Ragey: Now that’s very interesting. Because I admit I was almost wondering to myself, why have we never seen anything like Left 4 Dead until the 360 (in the sense of a co-op game against tons and tons and tons of mass mob enemies), but it’s really just down to the processing power, I imagine. I’d love to see a cheap low-poly version of the game made just to see how it would run.
[11:50] Ragey: And I know Perfect Dark’s been ported to the 360, I think Goldeneye’s still in legal limbo.
[11:51] Ian: “Rumors and even footage of an XBLA remake of Goldeneye floated around the Internet in recent years, but due to licensing and other complexities, a brewing re-release of Goldeneye appears to have been aborted. ”
[11:51] Ian: correct you are
[11:51] Ian: Parfect Dark was more or less the same engine, though.
[11:51] Ian: so the example stands.
[11:51] Ragey: Mmm.
[11:53] Ian: That all said, I’d imagine multiplayer split screen shooters usually run at so fast a pace, you wouldn’t really notice any drop in visual quality at the time.
[11:54] Ragey: Of course. And the fact the screen is squashed probably helps, too.
[11:54] Ian: Yeah

EA MMA: In the blue corner, the challenger.

October 4, 2010 1 comment

Over the last ten or so years, there have actually been several Mixed Martial Arts video games, mostly focused on the lucrative UFC promotion. In 2009, this sub-genre was revolutionized and truly brought to the mainstream in a way that parallels the sports recent rise in popularity with UFC 2009: Undisputed. Undisputed presented the sport with a brutal realism that was far removed from button combos and special moves that developers tried to shoehorn into its predecessors. It was impressive, but it lacked some key elements in the cage. UFC Undisputed 2010 fixed many of these issues, and it was hard to imagine how it could be vastly improved upon at that point.

A little known fact is that Dana White and the UFC went to EA long before THQ and Yukes to make a UFC game. EA dismissed MMA as ‘not a real sport’ and continued to make another Madden. However, the success of Undisputed caught EA’s eye, and deals with the lesser promotion Strikeforce were made immediately, to the complete spite of Dana White, who went so far as to declare any UFC fighters that appear in EA’s MMA game to be fired from the UFC (Of course, this seems to not count for Randy Couture, though this seems to have been allowed because Randy had not signed his likeness over to THQ for undisputed).

And so comes EA MMA, a competitor that I think is needed if MMA video games are going to continue to improve, as I believe competition is the key to improvement. I’ll be transparent here; I’m a UFC fan. I see Strikeforce as a generally lesser promotion with lesser talent and more WWE-style production values. I expected very little out of EA MMA, and that was foolish of me. UFC Needs to step its game up for 2011, because EA is bringing its usual dominance to the proverbial cage.

The Demo for EA MMA just recently came out on XBLA (Yes, you can go play it. Right now!), and I of course had to give it a spin. I want to first note that I like UFC’s soundtrack better. The opening movie for EA being set to Linkin Park’s new song ‘Wretches and Kings’ was a little eye roll worthy, but that’s a very petty complaint. Let’s move, instead, into the important factors: The game’s performance.

EA MMA takes a lot of cues from undisputed, presentation-wise, but veers off in some very significant ways on its own. The biggest difference is of course EA’s ‘Total Striking Control’, which takes more than a small bit of influence from EA’s other hit fighting franchise, Fight Night. It’s the same sort of set up, with the right analog stick controlling your furious fists. However, since this is in fact not boxing, the left trigger serves as a modifier to turn those punches in to kicks controlled via the same fashion. The face buttons serve as one press short cuts to clinch, sprawl, and go for the takedown, while pressing A works to advance your position on the ground, X goes for a submission (Which we’ll get to), and B counters a move or stands you up if you’re in the dominant position. This greatly decreases the complicated nature of the ground game, which is a frustration for many in Undisputed.

However, there is also a control scheme called ‘Classic’ that mirrors Undisputed in an obvious way, with the same sort of striking face buttons and stick-based clinch and grapple. There are a few button variations (A fake-modifier button, which is much more useful against a human opponent who can actually get psyched out), but overall it might be the best choice if you plan to play both EA and UFC.

Submissions are the only thing that, no matter what, are a whole different beast. Instead of the irritating Mario Party submissions like in Undisputed, EA separates its submissions and their mechanics into joint and choke submissions. Joint submissions (Armbar, Kimura, Americana, etc) are a button pressing game in which you try to maintain your stamina while slowly pushing your opponent’s joints (represented in a very cool way by an X Ray view of the bones) to their limit. This isn’t button mashing, though, it requires much more careful timing. Choke submissions require you to rotate the left stick until you find the ‘sweet spot’, which will change periodically and requires a sort of constant twiddling to nail. Your vision tunnels in the closer you get to the choke, narrowing the sweet spot down and simulating actually passing out. Defending submissions works in the same manner.

Fighting in EA MMA feels good. I’ve always found Undisputed to feel a bit mechanical, movement wise, with sounds that don’t quite drive home the impact of every good punch. EA feels organic, and gives you a gratifying smack for every well landed hit. Knockouts are a flurry of punches that never cease to satisfy, and when you clinch, it really feels like these guys are throwing eachother around on your TV. When it comes down to it, I would be happy to sit back and watch people duke it out on EA MMA, while I always found spectating Undisputed matches to be a little boring and methodical. Point: EA.

This isn’t to say EA is absolutely the superior game. UFC seems to present more variable options, and the fights are a bit more spontaneous. EA has a visible torso and head health bar when you begin to really wail on a guy that lets you know when the knockout is coming, and while that’s very helpful for knowing when to back off and play defensive, it also takes a bit of the excitement out of the flash knock out. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a flash KO yet, as every KO becomes your opponent falling to the ground and you engaging in a mad button mashing sequence to finish him off as he tried desperately to defend. That said, you can turn the HUD completely off, but it doesn’t make flash KOs exist in the game.

Take all of this with a pillar of salt, seeing as this is only a demo. The full version of EA MMA will include EA Game Face in the create-a-fighter, which may or may not have terrible results, live broadcasts of fights in a real worldwide ranking, and many more features that I couldn’t explore in the demo. It’s shaping up to be a great game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dana White making some calls if it does well. Look for a full review when the game comes out later this month.

A Longer Yard

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

My ‘Longest Yard’ remake is up on Halo Reach’s fileshare, for anyone interested, Author is listed as DeathToMuffin, map name is “A Longer Yard”. I recommend 2-8 players, though a full 16 would be super fun and hectic. Look for my “Derelict” re-imagining, Dilapidation, pretty soon.

Link to Bungie page:

A Longer Yard

First Map, Likely to be updated to not suck in the near future:

Shore Line

A Quick Thought:

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Was “Hey You, Pikachu!” ever a good idea?

Categories: Uncategorized

And old friend.

November 28, 2008 1 comment
Good to have you back, buddy.
Good to have you back, buddy.

However, in 2008, Sonic Unleashed (Pictured above instead of one of the less desireable games) was announced which, after a half decade of utter shit, is beginning to seem like the light at the end of the tunnel. A new team, a new engine, a return to a more classic cartoony look, and Sonic as the only playable character – as well as 2D sidescrolling action, yes, on a home console, are making this shape up to be perhaps the beginning of a rise to grace for the once mighty furry. I personally just hope it’s not a temporary thing

I said this over two months ago in regards to the latest in the line of Sonic outings. Like anyone else, I had my doubts, fears, hopes, and dreams. However, for once, I was given exactly what I asked for. To anyone who doubted the potential of the little spiky rodent we’ve known for so long, I throw this game in your face as a nonverbal ‘Fuck You’.

Do yourself a favour: Don’t read reviews of this game. For one, reviewers seemed determine to compare every Sonic game to past ones, and focus only on the negatives. For another, everyone seems to be only reviewing the Wii version of the title, and that lower tier half of the package doesn’t do the experience justice.

Don’t read. Just get the game, get it for the PS3 or 360, and play it, then come here and tell me it’s a bad game, I dare you.

Sonic at his best, branching paths, exploration, a solid engine, polish and love in the title, and a reason to be proud to be a Sonic fan again. Count me in.

unleashed_sonicWelcome back, Sonic.

Memoirs of a technicolour furball.

September 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Alternatively titled: Sonic chronicles: First impressions.

Well, talk about a game with a duality complex. Two different sorts of fans are gonna see two very different games with this one.

  • Bioware fans will see a VERY mediocre Bioware game, and commence weeping.
  • Sonic fans will see the best Sonic game in nearly ten years, and commence throwing huge parties.

Let me tell you about my experience with the game so far. We won’t go into what I’m playing it on or how I’m playing it, because as long as I say nothing more specific, I haven’t fatally implicated myself yet.

All you need to know is the game has 20 chapters… And I’m on chapter 2. So, Let’s break this down in a system where my thoughts aren’t gonna be helter-skelter everywhere, thereby confusing even me as I think ‘Wait a tick, didn’t I mention that already?’.

Visuals:

Oh. My. God. I may have stumbled in to heaven. Bioware, if anything, are extremely good at taking peices of an otherwise fragmented and canon questioned franchise and meshing everything together so it works with just enough little references and straight up ‘Hey, remember…’ to tickle even the most jaded fan’s happy nerve. I’m happy to report they’ve delivered again, managing to translate a few classic Sonic environments into a glorious 2D painted style of map that smells of some holy hybrid between Sonic The Comic, Archie, and the games. Hell, in the VERY beginning of the game you’re plopped right down in Green Hill Zone, at which point Tails and Sonic even have a breif dialogue talking about the first Sonic game.

However, I digress, I’ll get to how the characters interact. How about the characters themselves? Well, I can’t say much seeing as they’re about the size of my fingernail when at their largest, and about as big as a piece of rice crispies I ate earlier otherwise. However, thus far, everything seems very well intact, no Riders style crazy redisigns, and the character portraits in dialogue sequences feel like a nice mix of Sonic X and Sonic Adventure, the latter greatly redeeming the former. Good on ya, Bioware.

Story:

Not a Sonic game’s strong point. Ever. Until now. While, granted, SC:TDB doesn’t exactly have a story that’s going to envoke your deepest moral self questionings with emotional choices and tales of political intrigue… It IS good for a story about a bunch of talking animals. Here’s your premise: Eggman is presumed dead (though the D word is never said thus far, just that he’s ‘gone for good’.), everyone’s gone their separate ways for some vacation time, a couple of years have passed (Amy is now 15, tails 10, Sonic 17 or 18, etc.), and Sonic gets a very sudden ring from Tails that goes along the lines of;

“Dude, Knuckles is kinda missing.”
“Shit. Are you serious?”
“Yeah, bruh, some black suited mofuckas took him.”
“Ooooh, Imma fuck ’em up.”

Least, that’s how it’d play out in Shadow the Hedgehog or a Dave Chapelle sketch. You get the idea, though. You now have a mission: Find Knuckles. Strangely, I think one of the earliest Sonic fan games had a similar premise. Oh, obscure memories of early Sonic Fan Games HQ…

Uh, again, digression does my soul good: While admittedly I’ve only made it through two chapters, I’ve read plenty of spoilers (oops) and already trounced through several dialogue sequences, which are really the joy of the experience so far. the dialogue options all give the characters a new, less cheesey life while retaining certain conventions from the Adventure games. Sonic is a snarky bastard if you choose him to be, Tails is a genius independent kid, Amy shows up just for the sake of being around Sonic, Rouge is being a crazy spy, Knuckles I guess was guarding stuff before he was ‘nabbed, and I assume Shadow is off being a forced badass somewhere. I’ll tell you when I run in to him. Point is, the characters are filling the positions they’re SUPPOSED to as opposed to buddy buddy somehow we’re always in the same place and SAWNIK HEWOES.

Look, the point is, it’s good. It’s no KOTOR, but it’s good.

Gameplay:

Is this where the game will fail? Is this the horrible underbelly to the heavenly content otherwise? Surprisingly, no! Not yet! I’ll admit, the fight system annoys me a bit, but maybe that’s because my tablet just isn’t quite as accurate as a DS stylus. I mean, what. Your special attacks for each character depend on a sequence of correctly timed stylus strokes and taps, it’s harder than it sounds, but it’s extremely satisfying to pull off correctly and do massive damage to some poor enemy crab. And yes, characters can expose weak spots, so attack for you-know-what.

So the other main question is… How do you translate the almost speedy to a fatal fault Sonic the Hedgehog to a more paced genre like RPG? Simple: A little give, a little take. While it’s no blistering platformer, it’s not a trudge along RPG either. The more sonic-esque navigation moves (loops, jumps, flying, etc) are controlled through little icons that pop up near your current character, allowing Sonic to zoom around like it’s 1991.

All in all… It actually feels good so far. I haven’t gotten too far in to the deeper elements, but there’s a Codex containing tons of info on the Sonic verse, a chao system in which they become equiptment, thus making Chao useful for the first time ever, and items to augment your characters, though thankfully they don’t show up on the actual model.

Conclusion:

If this seems vague so far, it is. Two chapters in, ffs. I’ll keep you updated.