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.

What Console War? – XBox One and PS4 Aren’t Much Different

I have been fielding questions from friends, family and NoobTubeTV visitors lately and now I will just put this out there for everyone to read.

The next-gen consoles really aren’t that different from each other.  With some minor differences in RAM speed and other internal tuning the consoles are relatively similar machines on the inside.  The real difference will come in the $100 difference in price on release day with the PS4 being the cheaper of the two.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the system specifications.

Playstation 4 vs Xbox One specs

After going down this list of specs you won’t see much different in the primary specs.  Also, for those that say that PlayStation Online Network is free and XBox isn’t… that argument is over as PS3 will now have a fee to play multiplayer games.  However, that doesn’t mean you will have to find a new receiver for Netflix as it should (still) work just fine with the free online account.

Also, there are conflicting reports out there and let it be stated here that neither system is ‘backwards compatible’ with titles from older consoles.  However, the PS4 will be able to stream games from the old system if that is any consolation (no pun intended).  So, keep that PS3/360 if you plan on wanting to play Grand Theft Auto 5 for the foreseeable future.

What other questions do you have about the coming release of the new consoles?  Put them in the comments section below.

Creativity Isn’t Dead – Most Perceptions of Entertainment are Boring

I have been fortunate to know or be acquainted with artists, writers and even some people that work in video game production.  One thing that has never ceased to amaze me is their creativity.  There is always something new in their head.  Some sort of cool new project that is simply amazing because it is fresh and straight out of their creative mind.  The current mainstream gaming atmosphere doesn’t allow for this sort of creativity anymore.

Video-games-as-art-600x300

With games like Call of Duty and Madden being released every year it doesn’t say much for what corporate monsters think of gaming.  They don’t see it as art – they see a bottom line that must be met in sales or the studio will be closed.  As you start looking at the upcoming consoles do yourself a favor and ask why the games are getting stale.  While Madden can’t exactly change or implement something wild or crazy graphically or otherwise – it is still lacking creativity.

Another example of a great game that became over-produced quickly – Assassin’s Creed.  Really?  Is the character truly a different person?  Sure, the voice is different and the face may be structured with some new scars, etc… but this is the same damn game every time it comes out.  Attack, Counter, Attack, Kill, Run, Repeat.

There are many artists and developers out there that want to be creative in gaming and they are being held back because gamers don’t want new games or concepts.  They want a fresh veneer painted on the same crap they have been playing for 10 years.  People generally fear change and it is up to artists, musicians and writers to flip their world upside down.

I look forward to the day when I can look at video games and see them as new, fresh and risky art… right now all I see is what most people seem to want:

2/3 of a gun
Crosshairs
Poorly animated blood

The list could go on, but really if it needs to you are missing the point.

XBox One – What You Need To Know

The Tuesday that many gamers had been waiting for has come and Microsoft announced the latest iteration in XBox consoles.  It isn’t much of a surprise to hear that they are planning a release ‘later this year’.  While this most likely means a retail release for the holiday season, it would be interesting to see them try to beat the Playstation 4 to the punch with a release prior to that time period.

XBox One

Some of the other details include a BluRay Disc Drive, 500GB harddrive and an 8-core CPU to go with 8GB of RAM.  The system will also have wireless-N tech for networking.  USB 3.0 ports will help for a faster connection for Kinect and other peripherals – it will be interesting to see how far they really want to take Kinect at this point.

In terms of backwards compatibility – none.  This isn’t really a surprise as the 360 and PS3 had virtually zero backwards compatibility after a couple years.

Used games?  The rumors were swirling and they will continue to swirl because Microsoft didn’t address this issue at all.  It does seem that you will have to install every game to your harddrive which would make for an interesting issue when dealing with enormous games on BluRay discs.  Will you have to uninstall old games and then start switching between them after awhile?  The move away from being ‘used game friendly’ isn’t going unnoticed, but many gamers out there won’t do much to prevent this move as they continue to buy big budget titles like Call of Duty and Madden without thinking twice.

Hopefully, the limitations of second-hand games will create a more picky audience of gamers.

(No price points have been discussed, but look for it to be similarly priced to the PS4)