Man, I’m kind of a flake. I have a lot of opinions about games and the game industry, but I don’t seem to have the fortitude to put any of it in to words. My mind works at a million miles an hour and by the time I get done writing a couple paragraphs, I blank on where I was headed with it. In any case, VIDEO GAMES, right guys?! Let’s talk about them! How ’bout them 2011 releases and that Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands review I promised and never delivered?
Alright, so this game isn’t… bad. It’s just also not very good. Poptfs is probably one of the most blatant cash ins I’ve ever experienced, though also probably one of the most relatively enjoyable, as cash ins usually blow. While the game may not have been designed to be an adaption of the new (at the time) Sands of Time movie, it was clearly designed to coincide with the release in the hopes that either someone would play it and see the movie, or see the movie and play it. As far as story goes, it’s probably the weakest of the series. This didn’t have to happen; the seven year gap between Sands of Time and Warrior Within left a lot of room for a more engaging storyline than HEY HERE’S YOUR BROTHER YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE AND WILL NEVER MENTION AGAIN NOW SAVE HIS CASTLE FROM GIANT MONSTERS.
I was personally hoping for a story chronicling the Prince’s decline from good natured, cocky hero to I. STAND ALOOOONE. INSIDE I. STAND ALOOONE (stand aloooone.). This was not what I got, and it feels kind of like a waste.
Mechanically, the game takes cues from both its predecessors and its sister franchise, Assassins Creed. This is no surprise, since the game was built off the AC framework. This is probably the best part of the game, however, as it maintains that old PoP free running puzzle feel, while having the fluidity of Assassins Creed traversal. If they were to, say, remake the entire SOT trilogy with this technology, I probably wouldn’t argue.
Visually, the game is a mishmash of environments that look like suped up remakes of Sands of Time, Warrior Within, and Two Thrones locations. One room is almost literally a twin to the mechanical gear room puzzle in Warrior Within. It was a nice bit of nostalgia, but it felt kind of hollow, like the developers couldn’t be assed to make a new and interesting environment for this game. Then again, a castle is pretty much a castle, so what are you gonna do?
Lastly, at least the game wasn’t difficult. I breezed through it without dying more than maybe three times, and those deaths were all due to faulty attempts at puzzleforming (my word for puzzle platforming that I just made up right now.). The combat flows well, and once you significantly power up the Prince, he pretty much rips through most enemies. So, while the game wasn’t particularly engaging, it was breezy enough for me to bother finishing it.
So this has been kind of a crappy write up, but I’ve had about four hours of sleep and I’m not really going for professional grade quality here. Plus, if you wanted to play this game, you already have. I just wanted to get my thoughts down.
- The Age of Dragons. Again.
This year holds two dragon related sequels that are probably going to occupy my time and own my soul. First, and most directly relevant, is Dragon Age 2. Excuse me… Dragon Age II. Oooooh lordy. Dragon Age: Origins single handedly stole away about 60 hours of my life; 40 for one playthrough and 20 between all the others I’ve started and never finished. Recently, I borrowed my friend’s 360 copy of Dragon Age to get a save file in there to carry over to DA2, since I played the original on a woefully underpowered laptop and I want to play DA2 without worrying about my graphics card melting. After watching me play it for a couple hours, though, he was immediately sucked back in and jacked the game back from me. Who was I to argue? That’s the power of Dragon Age. I had almost forgotten just how the early days of that game were. Everyone talked about the things they did and no two people seemed to have the same experience. I can’t wait to have that experience all over again. Some people seem to be throwing pot shots at the mechanics, the story, the writing, the new dialogue system, etc. I say shut up and have some faith, this is Bioware we’re talking about. The only time they’ve even come close to producing a bad game was that Sonic RPG from a few years back. Just be glad they aren’t outsourcing DA2 to Obsidian, then we’d get a half finished, broken game that’s nearly a carbon copy of the first. Here’s lookin’ at you, KOTOR 2.
Oh right, Dragons. So there’s this little franchise that started out on the PC years ago. Elder Scrolls, you may have heard of it. Well, after five years and two fallout titles of patiently waiting, TES V is coming, and it looks amazing. Now, people love to knock Oblivion these days for its faults, but hey, fuck you, Oblivion was incredible when it came out. It’s still fun to take a romp trough Cyrodil occasionally, if only to kill -everyone-.
I could talk about this game for paragraphs, but I don’t want to right now. I wonder how a Skyrim anticipation podcast would work out… Point is, I’m fucking hyped for this game.
- Supremacy MMA
This game looks siiiiick. No, just kidding, this game looks like absolute dog shit and I hope it fails commercially. Way to set the sport back like ten years, guys. Jesus.
Till next poorly writting, sleep deprived blog,
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.