Sunday, July 3, 2011

Monday Musings - 4th July 2011

Happy Independence day to all my American readers. Light some fireworks for your pal Dave. Let's muse!

Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)

Last week we left off in the middle of Act 4. I return last Monday night and plow right into the boss fight with Crying Wolf. Out of the 4 beauties, i think this fight was my favourite (although the Laughing Octopus fight comes close). After that fight Act 4 snowballs. More boss fights, Metal gear appears. There's an awesome Metal Gear fight, and as the Act ends you're just flabbergasted.

Tuesday night i completed Act 5 and finished the game. I will try and collect my thoughts without spoiling anything, cause especially the epilogue... stuff goes down. That fight with Liquid/Ocelot though... wow. I think that's one of the most memorable final boss fights i've had in a videogame (and kind of reminiscent of the Liquid fight from MGS). Sure fighting The Boss in MGS3 had more emotional impact, but this was a nice coup de grace for the series.

That ending though. Yeesh. I had a friend warn me that MGS4 went to many lengths to tie up all the loose ends of the series. While i think he over-exaggerated a tad, the epilogue left me with a puzzled expression on my face. It is a testament to the series though that when it was finally over, i had a sudden urge to play through MGS 1 - 4 again. Perhaps later in the year.

One final note: some fans are aware that due to legal problems, Kojima could no longer use the Metal Gear Solid Theme anymore. There were two ways this was resolved in MGS4. One was that the theme was whistled off-key by a character in the game (which made me smile when i finally worked out what he was whistling), and the second work-around was a similar theme with enough note changes to be its own piece. It actually depressed me a little because the scenes that had this music (most of Act 5 and the ending) just made me think, "Man, they could be playing the MGS theme right now. It would be so much more impactful"). Seriously, that theme has given me chills when played during certain scenes during the series. It's one of my favourite pieces of videogame music. I learned how to play it on keyboard. Maybe this is what prompted the want to replay the series more than anything.

Earthbound (SNES)

Late last year i got the hankering to finally play this RPG classic (that has high praise amongst gamers). Being the 2nd game in the Mother series, i decided to try and play the first game. It was fun, and unique, and i spent many hours on it, but i gave up. This week, i've finally gotten around to trying out Earthbound.

After my first play session, i tweeted that this game contains RPG mechanics that every RPG after it should have had. Let me explain. First off is auto battle. This is commonplace today, but it's only been perhaps in the last 5 years (and thanks in part to the Shin Megami Tensei games) that this feature has become popular. It makes a lot of sense. "Oh there's a creature i've beaten 20 times already. Instead of constantly pressing attack and perhaps healing if my HP gets low, why don't i just press auto battle". Where Earthbound is especially unique and clever is in going one step further. Why should you have to fight a creature you've defeated 20 times before? You're a high level now. It's not worth your time. See, Earthbound doesn't have random encounters (Mother 1 did... and it was annoying). The creatures are on the screen, and they run towards you when they see you, and then battle begins. If you're a higher level then them though, they flee from you. That's not all however. If you still engage one in combat, you don't have to go through the arduous task of fighting them. There's a flash on the screen and you automatically win the fight. How awesome is that? Oh how i wish more RPGs made use of this mechanic!

Then there's the game's sense of humour. From some of the enemy's attacks, to the enemies themselves (The new age retro hippie attacks), to the banter from the townsfolk. The game is not only self aware, but it revels in its goofiness. It really adds a nice dimension to your classic 'Little kid saves the world' RPG tale.

One final gushing observation is how you come by money to buy items and weapons. Everytime you talk to your dad on the phone (which is also how you save your game), he deposits money in your bank account. Often hundreds of dollars. Also, you gain interest on your money the longer it's in your account. Unless you act like a buffoon, you'll never be at want for cash. And if you die? You revive at your house or hotel. Go to sleep, run back to where you were and try again.

It's amazing that an RPG gave this streamlined a game experience in the mid 90s. The only reason i haven't played more during the week is i'm stuck. There's a giant pencil statue blocking my path. I'm pretty sure i have to do something with two inventors named after fruit, but we shall see.

World of Warcraft (PC)

I got the itch again. Checking out my account, i noticed not only is it free to play the game up to level 20 now, but i had received a free week of gameplay for not playing the game! Woo! Hey, scratching that WoW itch for free sounds good to me.

I rerolled Khalulakhaki (an old troll rogue character of mine) on Khaz'goroth (an oceanic server i've played on in the past year). I still watch the cinematic trailers Blizzard makes for the new patches, and the 4.1 trailer months ago with Voljin and the trolls got me excited to play a troll again. It also helped that the new troll starting area in Cataclysm is pretty awesome.

I also use WoW to listen to podcasts i don't have the time for normally. Thanks to the latest episodes of 'Are You Serious?', and 'Smart Wrestling Fan', i'm now level 15 and in Northern Barrens. The new quest arc to get to the Crossroads was pretty impressive.

The mechanics are the same old stuff, and even with podcasts, i can already feel my interest waning. It's cool though. I didn't pay a cent, and if i do leave it alone after this week, if i have the itch to return again, i can play for free again. All is well.

Chime (Steam)

It's Lumines for PC. I bought it cheap on steam a while back, and if you're looking for a well made rhythm block puzzle game, Chime has got ya covered. Playing again did sadly remind me how out of shape i am when it comes to Tetris type games. "This block fits where? Oh wait, i could have put that block there. Oh yeah, this is the same one. Doh! Next time i'll make something out of those pieces. Next time!"

Needless to say i didn't do very well.

Pokemon White (DS)

Not much to say really. I started playing again last night. 10 mins in, the red light on my DS came on. I saved, and quit. A while back i mentioned how that always seems to happen with my PS3 controller. I forgot the same applied to the DS. Battery packs are conspiring against me!

Final Thoughts

You may have noticed that this week i am listing the system of the games in question (or in the case of PC games, PC, Steam, or GoG). This was recommended to me by a friend a few weeks back and i have just remembered that it might be a good idea to implement it. I have the feeling it might feel a bit redundant, but what do you dear readers think?

Yeah, that's all i have this week, so enjoy a version of the MGS Theme from MGS2

Till next week, happy gaming all!

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