Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hail to the king, baby...

I know, I know. "Two gaming posts, back to back? WTF is this?" well, yeah. I know that my blog isn't a gaming blog, but I really can't just let this one go. I mean this is kind of an event that only happens once in a lifetime.

Anyone who's been gaming for as long as I have knows what I'm talking about. The unthinkable. The unimaginable. The possible end of the world has come.

Duke Nukem Forever is going to be released.

If you haven't heard, you have now. This is not a joke. This is not a hoax. Do not attempt to adjust your television.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me give you a little background. Back in 1996, an unassuming, crude little shooter game was released by a company called 3DRealms called Duke Nukem 3D. This was actually the third installment of the Duke Nukem legacy, however few people have played Duke Nukem 1 and 2,  which were side scrolling platform games released around the same time as games like Commander Keen and Jazz Jackrabbit. But that's not what's important. What's important is what happened in 1997. In '97, 3DRealms announced that a sequel to the cult classic was going to be released. The name? Duke Nukem Forever.

That's right. 1997. 13 years ago. In 2011, the game will finally hit store shelves. I honestly don't know what to think. For a retro gamer like myself, it's akin to the second coming of Christ. The thing is, how can you make a game like this 'good'? The simple answer? You can't. That's the whole point. Duke Nukem is known for it's crude, lowbrow humor and from the reviews of those who have played it at PAX, it hasn't changed a thing in the 13 years it's been brewing.

It's still the old Duke we know and love. He loves his cigars. He loves his women. He hates alien scum. And his size 13 boot is looking for more heads to cave in. It's always amazed me that the movie industry has never taken hold of this little gem. I mean, Hollywood and Duke Nukem would be a match made in heaven, if heaven were littered with half naked women, tons of alcohol, and the entrails of hideous aliens the size of a football stadium. I mean you really can't fuck this up. He's a macho, over the top, guns blazing badass that will make good on his threats, even if that requires him to rip off someone's head and defecate down their neck. As long as a newspaper is handy, Duke will make good on his word.

And it seems like the old adage "You can always bet on Duke." is becoming less of a joke and more of a reality. You just can't keep a good pervert down. Literally, if the opening scene has any indication.

A word of warning: The ESRB is going to have a field day with this one. Forget everything you know about games. There is going to probably be more gratuitous sex and violence packed into this game than any other game of the last century. That includes God of War and Leisure Suit Larry combined. And... well... it's Duke, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

I think I have goosebumps.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Is that your FINAL answer?

Here's the first order of business: I'm not dead.

With that out of the way, a new development has made an appearance:

A friend of mine has been all excited because SquareEnix has decided that one online Final Fantasy game was not enough to bore the shit out of you, there needs to be another one. And thus, we have Final Fantasy... uh... hold on, let me look this up, I've lost track at this point. Ah, okay, Final Fantasy 14 (or XIV to the purists out there). Anyway, I played the previous incarnation of this game for a little bit, and I have to say that from what I've seen... the monsters are much furrier. That's about the only difference that I can tell. Needless to say, I'm not interested. At all.

This isn't to say that I hate Squaresoft, it's more or less just indicating that I'm not entirely happy that the last DECENT game they released was when the PS2 came out. We're on the PS3 now, people. I mean, they used to make good games, back before their graphics department decided that they were going to be in charge of EVERYTHING.

Despite this, I've never been a fan of the Final Fantasy series. In my opinion, the only GOOD game to hold the Final Fantasy title was Final Fantasy Tactics. Which irritates me because I've come to the conclusion that the marketing department for Square were collectively locked in a closet and beat over the head by the art department. This is the only explanation as to why they'd only make sequels the the worst games they've ever produced. Let's look at this, shall we?

One of the most famous and popular Final Fantasy games ever released was of course, Final Fantasy 7. There really is no arguing with that fact, even if you liked 8 or 9 more. When people think Final Fantasy, they think Final Fantasy 7. That's just how it is. Knowing this, let's move on to what is known as one of the worst (At the time) Final Fantasy to be released. That being 10 (or X). So, if you were going to make a sequel, which game would you choose to base your sequel on? One of the most famous and popular games in your series, or the one everyone hated. Well, apparently according to someone who works at Square, Final Fantasy X-2 was a good idea.

I think that guy got fired.

But it doesn't end here. Final Fantasy Tactics, one of the most highly decorated and esteemed games that Square has ever produced... copies selling on ebay for $500+. This looks like a good candidate for a sequel, right? Apparently not. You see, they made Final Fantasy Tactics ADVANCE which was ABYSMAL and you can probably find NEW for like 10 bucks. But of course, they have to make a sequel to that one, FFT: A2. Which was basically the same game but with fancier graphics. As you can see, I think the art department at Square is holding the rest of the company hostage and demanding only the games with pretty graphics get sequels, and not ones that actually have good game play.

On the topic of Sequels, it would seem that Square also doesn't seem to understand how a sequel is supposed to work, however I have to admit that the way they've set up the Final Fantasy series is quite clever. You see, there are only three requirements to make a Final Fantasy game:

1. Final Fantasy is in the title.
2. There's a guy named Cid somewhere.
3. The currency in the game is called Gil.

That's it. Those are the only requirements for a game to earn the Final Fantasy title. You really don't have to relate it at all to the previous game, the battle system can be completely different, you can pretty much swap out all the characters (Except Cid), monsters, planet, universe.... everything. But if you put Final Fantasy on the box and fill the character's pockets with Gil, you suddenly have the next Final Fantasy. And people will buy it. Because it's Final Fantasy.

I don't know of any other series that has a so many sequels that have NOTHING to do with each other at all. But, from a marketing perspective, the move was brilliant because it requires no thinking at all to produce the next game in the series. Hell, you can take a game like Chrono Cross, change the currency to Gil, throw an old guy named Cid in there and bam, you'd have another Final Fantasy game.

Now, onto the online thing: You know, I don't really hate the Final Fantasy series. I really don't. I think it's mediocre and boring, but I don't hate it. So I gave their last online game a try at the request of my friend. Here's a play by play of my experience with Square's last attempt at an MMORPG (Final Fantasy 11):

When you're making an online RPG, character creation should extend a bit past the choice of 'Human A' and 'Human B'. I'm not exaggerating here. You literally had like two options of what your character could look like.

Okay, so I pick my 'Generic Human B' character and take them out into the world. Hm.... now what class should I be? Well, I like to play magic users, so I'm gonna be a black mage. This should be fun, I thought to myself. Until I got into battle. So what spells do I have in my little book of tricks...? Stone. But not like, 'turn your enemies to stone', because that would be cool. No, the spell 'stone' summons a rock which then hits the enemy...

...Did I just use my infinite cosmic power as a mage to throw a rock at someone? Really? Okay. So I'm a stone slinging mage. I'll settle for what I can get, I got it. Well, let's fire up another volley of rocks, right? No. You can't do that, Dave. I have to wait. Like 5 minutes. So now I have to hit them with the stick that I'm pretending is my magic staff. Great. So I'm a gimped barbarian who can throw rocks at my enemies every 5 minutes. This is awesome. So my friend steps in and tells me, "Well, you know the game is designed as though you were a peasant and are just now learning how to be an adventurer. You're not going to have awesome stuff to start. You probably shouldn't start out as a black mage."

Great, so on top of being limited to the fact that I can only look like one of two people in gene pool of this online disaster, I'm basically punished for playing the character I want to play. Okay, so we'll try this again. This time, let's go a different route: Imma be a warrior! I got a sword! I got.... well... okay it's not quite armor, but it works, I guess. Let's go kill some baddies! My first battle went quite well. I slayed the evil worm beast thing and only NEARLY died from it. Now comes the bestest part of the whole fucking game. Sitting down and waiting for my health to refill. You've got to be kidding me. Now I have to sit down and take a nap between EVERY SINGLE BATTLE? Are you joking? So, my friend now imparts on me some more FFMMO wisdom: "Well, you don't have any healing spells, so you'll have to do it that way. You should probably try a Red Mage as they can use a sword and cast a healing spell."

...okay, so now I have to be a Red Mage. Fine. Then it dawned on me as I was looking around the newbie area. EVERYONE was a Red Mage. WTF is this shit? So basically they force you to play one class because every other class is retardedly hard to play when you first start? Seriously? People PAY for this?

At this point I'm pretty fed up with the whole thing. I'm then told "It gets better after level 20." I was level 5. I'd been playing for a week. So what I'm getting from this is I have to fork out like 3 months of subscription fees before I get to ENJOY playing the game I paid for? Um, no that's okay. I'll pass.

Needless to say, my faith in Squaresoft has pretty much all but been destroyed.

I mean come on, they're a Japanese company. The Japanese basically INVENTED the catgirl. How do you fuck this up?

Really? This is NOT how you make a catgirl. Gha...