Top Ten Games of 2013

2013 was a great year to gaming!

One Last Farewell to the Ouya

Cya, wouldn't wanna OUYA!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

News: After more than 12 years, the PS2 finally ceases production

The mighty and long endearing PS2 has finally thrown in the towel--which I'm guessing is a very smelly towel by now. That's right folks, after more than 12 freaking years the PS2 has officially ceased production. Selling more than 150 Million units, it goes without saying that this has been the longest and most profitable gaming console of any generation.

The PS2--like its predecessor, the PS1--was highly regarded in the Arab region. Nearly every house, yes even the elderly , had a PS2 sitting somewhere. It's sad to see it go, but let's face it, it lived way past its cycle.

Cya later, old friend. You've been good to my teen life.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Code of Princess has yet to make it to Europe...

Promo art from Andriasang
So here I was, sitting relaxing on a beautiful Saturday afternoon when all of a sudden this pops up on my Twitter feed...
Umm, really? For those of who aren't up to speed, this game has been out since October 9th. In the US. In English. Of course gamers wouldn't find this problem--seeing as how we're living in the age of online retail--but unfortunately they can't do jack sh*t thanks to the system being region locked. Now sure, many would argue the reason for the delay was to add more languages and fix up the English (it's colour not color!) but still the fact remains that gamers don't appreciate this kind of treatment.

First of all we all know gamers are impatient. It's a fact. Ever since the days of Final Fantasy, people used to buy region x discs or action reply's just to play imported copies of the game and for good reason. Square used to delay Final Fantasy games for months! That's enough to drive any fan crazy. While it's true that game releases have improved over the years, it still causes many to feel discomforted and jealous  Those are feelings you don't want your customers to feel. To prove my point even further, if you were to visit Amazon UK and look for Code of Princess you would find imported copies available.

Second: what if the game never gets localized? It's a big possibility. Huge number of titles (that appeared in certain regions) never got localized. Imagine if fans hadn't protested for Xenoblade sage. It would have never made it and many would have missed out on one this year's best RPG.

Third, and probably the most important point for me, it confuses gamers in our region. It goes without saying that many retail shops here don't give a damn about consistency. It's just grab and sell. The problem is they grab items from various regions (yes, even Japanese) and end up putting it on the shelf. While it's easy for the average gamer to tell what's Japanese and English, it's at times difficult to tell the difference between PAL and NTSC/US. So in a hypothetical situation, you would get customers who have a 3DS from different regions and are trying to buy their games but aren't sure which works. Although many store clerks remind you about region locking, it's practically impossible to guess which titles will come out for which region.

Now unless companies can always get their games out the door worldwide, I say the best the best choice is the obvious one: everything should be region free. I probably wouldn't have been able to play E.X. Troopers in my lifetime had my PS3 not been region free. I'm grateful to Sony for adding that feature (or not adding it, I guess) and I simply can't wait to get my hands on it--even if it's in a different language. On the other side of fence you have people who are still waiting to play a game that came out months ago and has so far yet to receive an official announcement. All I can say to them is keep waiting and pretend we're in the year 2006.

Friday, December 28, 2012

News: Here's our first look at Grey Fox in Metal Gear Rising

While Raiden may be the hottest Ninja on the block right now, let's not forget the one who started the trend. Grey Fox will finally be making his return via DLC for free! (that is if you live in the States). Anyone who preorders their copy via Gamestop will receive a free Grey Fox skin that'll make you feel that you're back in 1998. I'm not sure if the skin includes a different voice or grunt, but I'd imagine it being a lost opportunity if they didn't allow him to scream "punish me! punish me!" while slicing foes.

Via Konami Facebook
It kinda sucks how us Arab gamers get the short end of the stick (again), but hopefully we'll be able to receive it via online store. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

News: 4Gamer Grabs New Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix Images

4Gamer has just released a whole bunch of new Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix Images. Yay! One thing I noticed about the cutscenes is that they no longer have cinematic black bars. Full HD all the

Thanks to Kingdom Hearts Insider for sorting them out. 

Resident Evil 6 Was a Nightmare (literally)

I just walked away from what could be one the worst games I’ve played in my life. Remember that episode from Dexter’s Laboratory where he tries to build the perfect action figure and it just ends up exploding? That’s pretty much Resident Evil 6 in a nutshell. But one thing that really did capture my attention was the plot. It seemed incredibly off and just didn’t fit. I mean aside from a few character references, there is barely any connection between this game and its predecessors. If memory serves me right the next threat the RE crew were going is Tricell. They were pretty much planning on being the next Umbrealla so what gives? While playing through all the agonizing chapters an idea sort of dawned on me. What if Resident Evil 6's plot not real? What if it was all just a dream? Yes, I can hear some of you bashing your head on a blunt object but hear me out. I don’t usually enjoy dwelling on theories, as the possibilities can be infinite, however I feel the need to share this with the world (after all that’s what blogs are for, right?). So sit tight, grab some tea (or preferred beverage), and prepare to have your head blown off as I reveal to you the truth behind RE 6's plot.

*Be prepared for some spoilers below, but at this point I’m sure many of  you have already finished the game or are not planning to.*

Disconnected from reality

This was my first clue. While playing you will constantly be thinking “What the hell is going on?” even towards the end. “We’re fighting hordes of zombies, oh now we’re landing a plane, now we’re flying a plane? Did my partner just casually open the cockpit and jump off?” It’s incredible how ridiculous RE6 can get. I mean sure there were times in other Resident Evil games (such 4 when Leon was running away from a giant statue.) But still, that scene was believable. I could take in. RE6 on the other hand had scenarios that would even make Bollywood shake its head. T-REX Zombie? GTFO!

Familiar faces & locations

Our dreams are usually made up of memories and experiences we've felt before. When it comes to location they end changing or twisting to give us the illusion that it’s different. RE6 does this and more as you visit familiar locations (Raccoon City) and meet familiar faces. Speaking of faces isn't it funny how the majority of key characters in the game are from previous installments? Sure there were new people but they just sort of came out of nowhere. No history and definitely no relationship build up. They just kinda popped in to move the story forward. Some though did have a legitimate reason to be there--which I will get into later.

Characters are self-aware

The characters in RE6 know they’re in a dream. It sort of took me a while to realize but once they started talking to each other I knew something was up. Nearly every “ridiculous” moment in the game is treated casually.

 “Oh look, a giant B.O.W let me climb on its back and rip of this giant cork thing. What could go wrong?”

“What’s this? Purple magic dust that turns people into zombies? Not a problem. I made sure to take my anti zombie medicine before boarding the flight”

“So you’re telling me the only way forward is if we jump on this giant moving platform thing? Oh, well…”

“It's just like Raccoon City” (I swear, I think I heard that line at least 10 times)

“Hey, when will this monster actually die?!”

There’s really no sense of realism or accepting the situation. It’s just random fun with zero risk involved. Hey, if I was dreaming I wouldn't mind doing half of the things they do.

But this of course beckons the next question. If this was really a dream then who’s the one dreaming it up? This wasn't like an Inception moment where everyone is dreaming together. It came from one source. After playing through all the chapters and understanding each characters’ motive, I reached a conclusion…

It’s all in Chris’s head

Yes, the moment of truth. Chris Redfield is having a nightmare and dreamt the whole damn thing up. Let’s first look back at some of the characters and how their stories began. Leon starts by shooting the president and fighting hordes of zombies. Jake is fighting off a bunch of random J’avo's or whatever you call them. Ada is sneaking in a heavy fortified sub.Where does Chris’s story begin? In a bar. No action or threat happening around him. He is sort of just chilling during a time when the world was at a supposed “war against biological creatures.” There's also a very lengthy cutscene with Piers during the time Chris is drunk and half aware of what’s going on. The game then switches to China where we see Chris and Piers fighting B.O.W’s  from NEO-Umbrealla. What? This organization just came out of nowhere. They weren't even hinted in previous installments. What happened to Tricell? Weren't they doing some crazy stuff? Also, if the world is really going to hell then why isn't Chris going to check on Claire? We’re talking about the same guy who traveled to the arctics to get her back and now he’s just “following orders.” From who? We don’t even meet this supposed man in charge. Just like a dream he sort of went with it to see it through the end.

This nightmare is also related to one key character—Wesker. His dream and vision of the world was to see it in chaos and overrun with B.O.W’s. Chris was more or less living Wesker’s dream world. It was a nightmare situation that Chris fought hard to make sure wouldn't come true. Adding to that Wesker ends up living on through his son. One scene had both them starring each other down with Chris uttering “I killed your father. You have every right to shoot me.” It’s plain to see that Chris was punishing himself and couldn't live with the fact that he took away a man’s life—even if he hated him. Everything that Chris did not want to happen sort of happened.  Another mad scientist appeared following Wesker’s vision, partners dying bringing back the Jill scenario, and even that crazy Snake from the mansion made an appearance. He is also the only the character who fought the final B.O.W. Yes, he was with Piers but that's only because...

Piers is Chris

We often dream of people we've never met but they tend to have meaning behind them or maybe even represent a certain part of us.

Piers, like many of the characters in this story, sort of popped up and thus isn't real. But unlike all the other characters, Piers actually has a role. Playing with Chris, you will notice he is constantly thinking about the mission and never really giving damn. On the other hand, Piers is alert and more human—a side of Chris that used to be there. My theory is that somewhere down the line, after fighting for so long, Chris has pretty much lost it. He’s gained too many emotional scars and he just can’t take the fighting anymore. Trough out the campaign Piers will occasionally begin consulting you.

“C’mon, Captain. You can do this!”

“Stop focusing too much on the mission and think for a bit”

“We should have thought about that a bit more”

He’s sort of reminding Chris who he was. It barely fazes him though; in fact Chris sort of ignores Piers for the majority of the campaign until the end.

The two are seen descending to an underwater facility which I believe represents Chris's deepest fears. All of the horror, madness, and virus outbreaks are down there. Now is his time to face it and put an end to his inner struggles.

While in the elevator Chris tells Pears “I’m quitting after this job and then I’m leaving it up to you.” Piers reacts in a shocking manner and refuses to accept it. That scene told us (dream or not) that Chris is tired and can’t go on being the hero he used to be. Moving towards the last scene, we see them running away from the giant jelly B.O.W. The they get cornered and Piers ends up getting his armed severed. Chris is then grabbed and is moments away from being munched. If Chris dies he will be lost and never come back. Piers does the unthinkable by injecting himself with the virus to attack the monster. That pretty much is the core of Chris's fears. Ever since he walked into that mansion in RE1 he was constantly concerned of becoming infected and turning on his friends.

“Piers, what did you do?!”

This is the first time we see Chris act human. I believe Piers (who again represents Chris’s human side) wanted to create a catharsis that would finally liberate him of his all the stress and emotional baggage. Piers has more or less brought back his human side by force.

After defeating the last boss, the two try to make a run for it but Piers decides to throw Chris in the escape pod and stay behind. Chris is shocked and at the brink of tears. As he departs he takes one last long look at himself--the man he used to be. The pod jettisons and heads straight for the surface. The B.O.W returns and makes one last attempt to kill Chris but is immediately struck down by Piers. Now all that fear and his past are is buried deep down on the ocean floor, never to surface again. After the credits you see Chris in the same bar again enjoying a meal (the same one Piers enjoyed eating). A bright light appears as he exits the bar--showing us that he woke up. 

Again all of this is just a wild theory, because in all honestly RE6 just made no sense to me. Maybe the plot was just one giant mess and a cash grab for Capcom. Maybe. But, hey at least I managed to find one way to enjoy my Resident Evil 6 experience. That has to count for something. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jump Festa 2012: Lightning Returns features Costume Changing, Time, and New Battle System

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 seems to be one the strangest entries in the series yet. For one it will be the first Final Fantasy title (excluding the MMO's) to feature real time. And I'm not talking about the sunset-to-sunrise realtime. We're talking about certain events taking place at certain times (a la Majoras Mask). While some of this seems ambiguous Square Enix decided to finally budged and give us more details.

According to the source (Nova Crystallis) time will play a fundamental role in the game's mechanics. It's constantly in motion unless your navigating through menues. Time will also play a key role in NPCs movements or locations which will affect another core mechanic--gathering clues. Key objectives or clues will only appear at a specific time of the day. Gathering these clues will help push the story forward and I'm guessing will affect the outcome of the journey. I really find that part...nostalgic which kinda brings me back to Shenmue (a game centered around gathering clues). Of course actions speak louder than words so we'll have to wait and see.

Missions will have variety such as Sneaking
The new battle system will ditch the paradigm shift for something more flexible. Temporarily dubbed "sugoi" ATB or "amazing ATB" (don't ask), will allow players to switch "Styles" such as weapons, shields, abilities, spells, and accessories on the fly giving more freedom and customization. The creators did stress that this isn't an action RPG and will still retain the ATB system.

Last and certainly not lest, Lightning will have the ability to change her outfit as well as her colors. YES!!

The only thing I'm worried about is the DLC. FF 13-2 was loaded with junk DLC that wouldn't stop coming. Hopefully Square Enix will be a bit more reasonable with this one.

Lightning's final journey is expected to come some time next year. In the meantime check out the latest pics and trailer below.