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  1. The battle system is really, really good (up there with Tales of Graces f), and the dungeons are challenging and well-designed...but the story and characters are comically (even absurdly) bad, and not in the "so bad it's good" vein, either. ...but the battle system is really, really, really good.
  2. the anecdote from Ed Lomas concerning "Pat Sharp's Mind-Blowing Sexual Fun House" made me laugh.
  3. Being a Saturn owner wasn't easy back in the day. You had to convince people (and yourself) it was a worthwhile console when everything and everyone around you was telling a very different story. I was almost relieved when Sega got out of the hardware business, because the whole cheerleading routine was starting to wear me out. You really needed a chip/mod to get the most out of Saturn. It's easily accomplished these days, but it was a massive ballache to get done back in 1997/8, especially if you were living out in the boonies. Being an avid reader of the official magazine was something akin to torture when they shifted to almost entirely to import coverage; all these great games, and I would probably never get to play any of them. I eventually did (well, SOME of them), but back then, just reading about them seemed to suffice, somehow. If I'm being totally honest, I think I was more enamoured with the magazine than the actual console (like a religious person who reads the bible but can't always be bothered with Church). Which isn't to say there were no Saturn games I enjoyed, just that they so often confounded my expectations. I'd previously owned a Mega Drive, where the bulk of software leaned heavily towards platforming and other proto-narrative type stuff, so I never really clicked with the Saturn's arcade-heavy library. I think the first game I played with any sort of regularity was Saturn Bomberman, which had an excellent single player campaign that kept me busy for weeks. So yeah, I never really knew what I wanted from a console with 3D graphics - but then, who did? Until, that is, I played Panzer Dragoon Saga, a game that managed to scratch itches I didn't even know I had. In hindsight, it's maybe not the best JRPG of the 32-bit era because even by today's standards, it's a bit of a pushover; I completed it over four days of devoted playtime, which makes the task of finishing Final Fantasy VII seem almost Sisyphean by comparison. But for those four days - and for the very first time in my life - I was completely enraptured by a video game. I'd played games to beat them (few though they were). I'd played games to get to the next level, just to see what it looked like. But I'd never played a game to see what happens next, and at no point did Panzer Saga disappoint in this respect. From the premise to the mid-game plot twist, to the mind-shattering ending (which is pretty cool even by today's standards), I could scarcely believe how good it was once I'd completed it. Then came the inevitable question: "why can't all games be like this?" - Oh, If only I knew what I were asking. It's no exaggeration to say that Panzer Saga completely changed my opinion of what a video game could be. Subsequent RPGs didn't quite measure up; unlike PDS, they made you work for your progress, something I strongly resented for a long time afterwards. I had been spoilt, and it would be many years before I could just waltz through another video game and expect the same frequency of narrative thrills. But that time did come, and if not taking direct influence from PDS, the preponderance of narrative-driven games we have today certainly seem to validate it. I'm of a very different mindset nowadays. I enjoy all sorts of games, but I'm more interested in mechanical depth, high scores and all that jazz. So, as you can imagine, coming back to Saturn over the past few years has been a real treat. Soukyugurentai Okoyo, Elevator Action Returns and DodonPachi are absolute blinders, and I'm really glad I finally got to play them. But of all the games on my shelf, I think I like Virtua Cop 1 & 2 the best. That it's more accessible than just about every other game on the system is incidental to the fact that they're just incredibly well-designed video games that are well worth dragging your Saturn out of mothballs to play. I'm not ragging on Panzer Saga, by the way - it's still one of my all-time favourite video games (and believe me, that's a hard list to crack). It still astounds me that Team Andromeda managed to take the premise of riding a dragon through an RPG world and turn out such a visually arresting and genuinely innovative game (seriously, the battle system is unlike anything you've ever played before - or since, I dare say). Oh, and the soundtrack is utterly brilliant. In fact, in every respect besides the difficulty, I still consider it a perfect game. Saturn didn't have the most jaw-dropping graphics, nor did it have mass-market appeal. But really, I don't think either of these things are news to anyone, much less worth worrying about in 2014. What matters is that a great many of the best games ever made wound up on the console. They weren't "lucid dreams", they didn't tug at your heartstrings, and in terms of making you feel like an unstoppable badass, they didn't give you an inch. I've written a lot here (apologies), but rest assured it didn't take much effort. Talking up the Saturn is almost reflexive at this point, and a pleasure I don't get to indulge nearly enough. Besides, it's the 20th anniversary, innit?
  4. People talk about Bayonetta as though she exists in a vacuum. I mean, they're fine with saying she's a representation of sexism, but when it comes to calling out Kamiya as a sexist, misogynistic pig, they often fall short. Do they lack the strength of their convictions? Or do they intuitively understand that it's more complicated than that (as, I suspect, we all do)? It's easy to imagine how the principle of "sex sells" have been applied to her design: Bayonetta is sexual. She poses provocatively. She does dirty talk. She is almost nude sometimes. But if you're going to take the principle of "sex sells" to its logical and only conclusion, she falls very, very short of being effective. For starters, Bayonetta is as an older lady. I bring this up because in a world where women are routinely made to feel less valuable and attractive the older they get, depicting her as anything older than a twenty-something (or younger, even - urgh) doesn't seem too smart. Her proportions could easily be described as grotesque - indeed, that's what I see when I look at images of her. But perhaps that was their intention? Oh, and her tits aren't nearly big enough. Not by my standards of course, but to someone with more cynical motives than Platinum, it would be a no-brainer to focus on those instead of the legs. She's also got short hair now. I'm sure that's symbolic of something in this context, I'm just not sure what. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me like Platinum haven't been trying very hard to meet anyone's standards, be they feminists or misogynists - which is probably why the debate rages on four years later. If we're agreed on that, then might I advance the idea that, maybe. Platinum have created a new paradigm here? It's precisely for this reason that artists shouldn't work to a criteria of exceptions - of things NOT to do - when creating female characters, not least because that way lies another, equally unrealistic depiction of women that is just as unhelpful as the one we've left in the past. In any case, and if by no other virtue than the fact she has quite the opposite effect on me than what was supposedly intended, I don't think her character is sexist.
  5. This isn't for a study or anything. I'm just curious about where people stand on reviews. 1. Do you enjoy reading reviews? 2. Have you ever read a review for a game you have zero interest in? 3. Do you ever skip to the end to see the score? (never/sometimes/every time) 4. Do you read reviews for games you've already completed? 5. Have you ever cancelled a pre-order/plans to buy a game based on a review? 6. How important is the score to you? (not important/sort of important/very important)
  6. Don't know when I'll get around to playing this, but I've downloaded the patch anyway. Cheers for the heads up!
  7. Some folk managed to nab it over on Neogaf, but it looks like it's back to £11.99 - maybe it'll be part of games with gold sometime. Anyway, nothing to see here.
  8. Honestly, I DO mean the multiplayer shooter. I've got someone on my friends list who still plays it regularly to this day. Which means.... Can't be right. IIRC, it was server-based, but shifted to P2P when FASA went under.
  9. http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-gb/Product/Shadowrun/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d8024d5307d6 Didn't review very well, but I've heard nothing but good things about this game.
  10. When it comes to Destiny, graphical fidelity is less important than who you want to play with. But if you're thinking further into the future than just Destiny, pick whichever console is most likely to cater to your tastes. Personally, I'd lean towards Xbone because of the Master Chief Collection - but seeing as I enjoy deathmatch in Destiny so much, I wonder if MC Collection would even get a look-in.
  11. I've only played 3 missions, but outside of the boss battles (which are great) Destiny feels mega-flabby. Like Halo, Destiny is at its best when you've got your back to the wall with limited tactical options, but most of the time you're traversing needlessly expansive environments, picking off enemies from a distance, and chasing around an objective marker (which may or may not stay on screen long enough to be useful). Also, does the tower/hub area need to be quite so convoluted? I'm fine with having to traipse around a bit to access what are essentially menus, but does there really need to be so many of shops, and do they really need to be so spread out? It's just another example of Destiny struggling to justify its own scale. Why is everything so big and wide-open when the game is clearly more fun in tight, enclosed spaces? Maybe I shouldn't be coming at this from the perspective of a Halo fan, but the combat is the best aspect of this game by far. Everything else just feels like padding.
  12. I'm going to recommend Onimusha. Imagine Resident Evil's single-screen, fixed perspective crossed with Ninja Gaiden's combat, and you've got a pretty good idea of what gameplay entails. I enjoyed the first entry in the series a great deal (Xbox version, called "Genma Onimusha", is the best choice - it has 60hz and extra gameplay). It's interesting because it strikes a really good balance between exploration and combat. I'd even argue that it makes better use of the Resi Evil template than Resi does, because it gives you vastly more freedom of movement, thanks to the combat. Some say Onimusha 2 is the pinnacle of the series (I haven't got round to playing it yet) but I can definitely vouch for the first. Just avoid the PS2 version - apparently it's a really sloppy PAL conversion, with big black borders and slowdown (this was before Capcom straightened out their act and put 60hz options in all their games). I remember Bujingai being a bit of a one-trick Pony. It was many years ago now, mind you, and if I played it in 2014, I might offer a different opinion. But the crux of gameplay seemed to hinge entirely on the counter/reversal system, and not a lot else. Unless you're a huge fan of Gackt. Anyone given Shinobi/Nightshade a fair shake on PS2? I'm curious to know how they hold up in the modern era.
  13. streaming now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCZ734RshPA
  14. It wasn't a great trailer, and not least because the person playing was absolutely terrible - you don't need intimate knowledge of the underlying game system to see that, especially when they weren't using cover properly and appeared to have some sort of god mode activated. Despite that, I'm optimistic this will turn out well (from a gameplay perspective, at least). Time will tell I suppose, but I find it very hard to believe that Itagaki would ship something he wasn't happy with, even if the survival of his company depended on it.
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