Tapping Out – My Month With Bloodborne

In case you didn’t catch my recent post about the wondrous world of Yarnham and Bloodborne here it is (50 Shades of Pain).

This is Bloodborne's message to gamers like me.
This is Bloodborne’s message to gamers like me.

Now that you know that I quickly fell in love with Bloodborne and all that the wonderful world had to offer in the ways of a beautiful game and challenging experience.  And now, about a month after falling for it – the relationship has ended like a high school romance.  I’m not bitter about the game, or even the initial purchase price (as I am currently looking at getting around $35-45 for it on eBay – the auction ends tomorrow).  I just realized that I couldn’t bring myself to care about the character in a story that doesn’t really exist in a game that punishes me to the point even Christian Grey is saying ‘That’s effed up.’.  In the end, much like high school romances – I knew I was getting sick of this game and didn’t want to pour time into a game that wouldn’t give me as joy as I wanted out of something that I do to enjoy downtime and escape the stress of life.  I am looking forward to playing some new games in the meantime and truly can’t wait until Metal Gear Solid 5 – The Phantom Pain is released in September.

I would say I am sad about the fact that I never beat the game if I didn’t know that it basically ends abruptly and throws you back into the fray in ‘New Game Plus’.  Basically, you are simply being given another chance to go through the world, get brutalized again and deal with all the same anger issues this game brings – as well as the joy in defeating the tremendous bosses.  That is all well and good and I commend those of you that worship this game as a demigod in the current lackluster lineup that is quality PS4 titles.

That said – knowing that the game doesn’t really feel like a rewarding experience when you finish it and you simply repeat it all over again reminds me quite a bit of Super Mario Brothers on NES.  When you defeated King Koopa on world 8-4 and thought you beat the game and celebrated the victory – you then get thrown into a ‘New Game Plus’.  This new game had black beetles instead of the brown mushroom guys and was more difficult in some ways.  I’m sure those of you that love Bloodborne probably played through Mario’s ‘New Game Plus’ as well.

For those of you that think I am backtracking on my love of the game or that I said it belongs in your library… I’m not.  It is more about me not being ready to put myself through the ringer to deal with it right now – especially when I can get $45 for it on eBay.  In the future, ask yourself a question when you sell or trade your games.  Did you get your money out of them?  Meaning, I payed $65 for Bloodborne and will get $45 once I sell it.  Did I get my $20 of enjoyment?  Did I learn a lesson from this high school romance in gaming and the strange girl that my friends were warning me about?  Yes… and I have no regrets.

I will say this as a final warning and analogy about Bloodborne.

It is what I imagine it would be like to date a high maintenance model/person (yes, I think there is a difference between the two).  He/She/It might be beautiful and amazing to ‘play with’.  You might even get addicted to ‘playing’ with them – for awhile.  Then their true nature and everything else starts to wear you down.  You realize they want you to only play with them and not hang out with other friends like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Injustice, Metal Gear, etc.

Then, you finally work up the nerve to hang out with your other friends and realize that you are being mentally abused by this ‘Medusa Siren’ of gaming in an ocean full of great and fun activites with too many friends to name.  Bloodborne is the brat of a super model that some gamers will put up with – I’m not and never will be that gamer.

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Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes – The Best ‘Cheap’ Game Since The Orange Box

Before we begin, yes –  Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes can be played through in a matter of minutes (I completed my first play-through in 63 minutes).

Metal-Gear-Solid-Ground-Zeroes-Snake
Snake is back.

That said, Ground Zeroes (GZ) is far more than just a ‘one mission preview’ of the coming Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain.  It is a showcase of sorts for a franchise that has grown over the last few decades.  Not only is it graphically superior (even on PS3) to its predecessors, but it has also taken major steps in gameplay and control.

Metal Gear Solid has been a rather clunky handling game since its inception on PS1.  The side menus for sorting all of the items are gone.  Replaced by a relatively simple D-Pad navigation system for equipped weapons and items.  Other actions can be taken with the new ‘iDroid’ which is basically a quasi-3D PDA that Snake carries around for navigation, cassette and music functionality.  It is a less ‘high tech’ and attached (don’t forget you are supposed to be in the year 1975) Mk2 from MGS 4.

The real improvements to this game are noticed in the actual gameplay.  While MGS3: Subsistence and MGS4 both used the rotatable camera, they still had the clunky gunplay that most MGS fans (and haters) might recall.  For those that don’t know this reference – you basically had to play Twister with your fingers on the controller if you wanted to take out enemies quickly and precisely.  While it became more fluid as you played the game it usually fell short of expectations that games like Splinter Cell pushed for in handling (especially aiming and shooting firearms).

Ground Zeroes doesn’t have that problem anymore.  You now have the ability to handle weapons in a way that is closer to Splinter Cell than ever before.  For some of the MGS ‘purists’ I am sure they will try to raise hell over this new move, but really it is an improvement to the gameplay.  While it may seem to some to be a ‘dumbing down’ of the controls, it is far from that as the challenge is still there – just in a more organic fashion.

The aspect of the game I was most worried about going into this new MGS title was the new voice of Snake.  With the news that David Hayter was no longer the voice of our reluctant hero I became skeptical that anyone could take over the role with the same quality.  Then it was announced that Kiefer Sutherland would be the voice of Snake (aka – Big Boss).  Simply said – he does not disappoint.  At first when Snake says his typical “Kept you waiting, huh?” your reaction will probably feel like when you accidentally called the wrong number and a voice you don’t know says ‘Hello’.  Fear not.  By the time you get to the final part of the game you will see and hear why Sutherland is a welcome addition and change in Snake.

MGS: The Phantom Pain is now my most anticipated next-gen title.
MGS: The Phantom Pain is now my most anticipated next-gen title.

Not only does this game make improvements, but it is also full of other side-missions and other minutia that will keep you busy until The Phantom Pain comes out.  Also, the availability of this title on PS3/360 makes it a joy for those of us that have yet to buy into the next-Gen consoles as we bide our time for the better developed games and the inevitable hardware malfunctions/bugs to seep out and get fixed like last gen consoles (RROD/YLOD).

If you are a fan of the MGS franchise or trying to decide whether to jump into the series – this is worth a purchase.  Not only will you enjoy the additions, but chances are that it won’t leave your system until The Phantom Pain comes out.

XBox One and PS4 – Are Exclusive Titles Still A Selling Point?

On the XBox 360 and PS3 there was the constant bombardment of exclusive titles like Gears of War, Halo and Forza versus Killzone, Resistance, Gran Turismo and for some sports gamers – MLB: The Show.  Now that the next generation of consoles have finally started to become more common in households around the world it is interesting to see that the focus has shifted away from the exclusive titles and more towards the features of the systems themselves.

MGSV
Snake isn’t limited to just Sony consoles these days. But some of his missions are exclusively on one console or the other.

Sure, there are games that XBox One and PS4 have exclusive agreements and rights for, but they aren’t exactly the same type of focus that we saw last generation.  While there are some gamers out there that will have certain games that they simply must have like the Halo or Killzone titles for each respective console… that time is changing.

One of the most obvious changes can be seen in the Metal Gear franchise.  Metal Gear has always been a Hideo Kojima/Konami production.  In saying that – it has also almost always been seen as a Sony Playstation title as well.  Now that they have announced Metal Gear Solid 5 is going to be multi-platform it seems that they are starting to realize that more console availability also means more sales overall.  This isn’t always a blessing as other content within the game will be exclusive to each console.  This is more annoying than anything as it drives many gamers to wonder why they bother spending more and more money on microtransactions.

With multi-platform releases like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden NFL and other titles that prefer mass marketing based on volume of sales rather than simply having an agreement with a certain company to release on a specific console.  The one caveat to this is when companies like EA and Activision make agreements (like they did with Microsoft) to release certain downloadable content (DLC) on one console before other another.  This is a practice that is rather insulting to users that buy a game like Battlefield 4 on PS3/4, XBox 360 and especially PC as well as purchasing the $50 ‘Premium’ service.  Primarily because they are being cheated out of content that is obviously available for XBox One users far earlier than anyone else that have purchased the same service for a different platform.

As we enter into a new era of gaming and an eventual move into a focus on digital content, it will be interesting to see how long exclusivity really plays a role in corporate gaming decision making.  As it stands, there are a lot of gamers that are sick of feeling cheated out of their money when it comes to ‘exclusive’ titles and other DLC not being available for whatever reason.

Q1 of 2013 Is Going To Make It Feel Like Christmas Again

One of the best parts about the holiday season is the release of new games.  From Halo to Call of Duty and through the gauntlet of other adventure games like Assassin’s Creed and Hitman we are usually spoiled with a treasure trove of games to sink our free time into.  Typically, you will see a dramatic slowdown in the summertime because most people are on vacation or outside getting in shape for the beach (PS – You should be starting that now).

The second best time of the year for gamers is March.  March is the typical month where you will find that games have been pushed to in order to avoid competing with big-money/big-name titles like the Call of Duties of the world.  This year we have quite a few games coming out that should prove to excite almost every genre of gamer from late January through March.

company-of-heroes-2_pc_coverThe first game we have to look forward to is Company of Heroes 2.  CoH2 is continuing the franchise that puts real-time strategy into World War 2.  Real-time strategy is a simple concept that can (and does) get rather involved as you get further into the
game.  The general way of looking at this is from the base understanding that you are a commander telling troops where to go and what to do rather than just pointing and shooting.  Company of Heroes is a great game for anyone that is a fan of WW2 history or simply a fan of RTS games.  This game is for the PC, so be sure that you take a look into the system requirements before jumping into this title. If you need a game that will give you the ability to play online against others or simply go against the CPU and try to work on your decision-making and strategic abilities you will get that and more with Company of Heroes 2.

The best part about strategic games is that they aren’t always some sort of battlefield commander genre.  One of the best franchises ever has a new direction coming this February in Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance.  Revengeance is taking the Metal Gear franchise in a new direction with an old face for fans of the series.  Raiden made his presence known in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.  The downfall to this was that many fans (especially American fans) of the series were let down that Solid Snake was only present for the first part of the game before making a cameo in Raiden’s portion of 250px-Metal_Gear_Rising_Revengeance_CoverMGS2.

Why was Raiden disliked by American gamers?  He was designed as a long-haired blonde twenty-something (already sounds a bit feminine, right?).  Not to mention the fact that he didn’t have much of a personality.  Even Solid Snake (the ultimate non-emotional ‘Mr. Mission’) had something more to him than Raiden’s almost whiny persona.

That all changed in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns 0f the Patriots where Raiden came back as a cyborg ninja that resembled Grey Fox from the first MGS game.  Raiden suddenly became a character that people wanted to utilize and get to know.  He developed some sword play in MGS 2 but MGS 4 took it to new heights and now that he is the featured protagonist in MGS Rising: Revengeance – you know more people will want to check this game out.

Now that we are getting closer to March at this point – why not focus on the most anticipated title of 2013 – Grand Theft Auto 5.

GTAV is going to blow the minds of gamers everywhere when it releases (or rather – if it still releases) in March should break almost every sales record.  This is going to continue the trend for free-roaming violence with a decent storyline for people itching to get out and enjoy the chaos brought on by warmer weather.  If this game is delayed yet again, you should expect it to release in May.  This would simply continue the same trend that other Rockstar games have created over the last few years – namely Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire.