Discordian

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Blog Entries posted by Discordian

  1. Discordian
    Welcome....to Silent Hill.
     
    Silent Hill: Downpour (Downpour from here on out) is the eighth installment in the Silent Hill franchise. It was released in March and April of 2012 in most of the world for the Playstation 3 and Xbox360 video game consoles. It was also only released on PS3 in Japan in November.
     
    Downpour is a survival horror game starring Murphy Pendleton who is in prison for a ten-hour high-speed chase. Usually seen by the guards as a "model prisoner" the game starts you out going into the showers when a particular isolation prisoner is supposed to be there. This serves as your tutorial as well as the start of the story as it has you playing as Murphy to kill this prisoner.
     
    Setting
     
    As with most Silent Hill games Downpour is set in the quiet little town of Silent Hill with it's foggy streets and abandoned houses. Now this is where things are a little different from the first game (the only other Silent Hill I've played besides Shattered Memories.) You actually start out after the transfer bus taking you to another prison crashes and you go to try and find help, supposedly at least. You'll go through mines and old diners before you even reach Silent Hill itself. Now what's unique about Silent Hill is that it sporadically rains which plays a bigger part than just the setting. I'll get into that later.
     
    Silent Hill seems to have a recurring theme to make the main character remember the truth of theirs or other people's pasts and sins and possibly make them atone for it; this is no different for Murphy though the game won't tell you exactly what's going on until the end.
     
    There's also the Otherworld sections, like in every other Silent Hill game, where the main character somehow enters a dark world that seems to act on the greatest fears and worst memories of the main character. Murphy's are naturally filled with prison bars, demonic prisoners and a strange force that seems to suck in everything around it that chases him throughout the Otherworld.
     
    Music
     
    The music in Downpour has a lots of similarities to other games in the series with it's dramatic booms of drums and high-pitched screeching resembling rusty gates closing. They do also add some new music though in the vein of slow-paced action games with slightly orchestrated soundtracks still mixed in with standard Silent Hill screeching. I could be wrong here but it seems the music changes depending on the situation, or even on whether you fight or run away from enemies.
     
    Voice Acting
     
    I normally don't do a voice acting section but this game deserves a note at least. The voice actors fluctuate between good and somewhat monotone, particularly Murphy himself who goes from a low rumble when he's calm to a whiny scream when he's faced with terrifying things such as spikes trying to slam down on him.
     
    Gameplay
     
    This is where the game truly shines as you would imagine. This game puts an emphasis on the "survival" part of survival horror since you can carry a single weapon at a time and more often than not they will break very easily if you try to fight every enemy. It's usually better to run away and save your weapon for something that's really in your way though it's entirely possible to beat the game without killing any enemies though you can still incapacitate them (basically knocking them to the ground without finishing them off)
     
    Another point that proves the emphasis on flight rather than fight is that when Murphy is close to an enemy he actually runs faster than normal. His adrenaline kicks in and gives him boosted agility to get away from attacking enemies!
     
    The puzzles are a little simpler than ones from earlier in the series as far as main-game puzzles but there are now sidequests to do which involve puzzles that are slightly more complicated. Many times I found myself wandering for hours trying to figure out what to do because objects you an interact with are just out of site or are so small you can barely see them. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. On one hand it makes it harder to solve puzzles, especially when being chased by hordes of enemies and adds to the tension this game has created. On the other hand you could be wandering for a long time not realizing what you need to do is sitting right in front of you.
     
    Downpour has better combat overall since it makes Murphy really weak, though he doesn't die easy so it's not exactly unfair as it just adds even more tension than before knowing you won't likely survive if you are up against more than one enemy. They also added escape sequences during the Otherworld sections that are derived directly from Shattered Memories in the way you run away and can knock things over to slow down the mysterious force that is chasing you.
     
    The enemy variety is a little small yet they seem to play such a perfect role where they are placed between fast-moving Screamers who can stop you in your tracks by screaming in your ears, the invisible Dolls who can only be killed by destroying their host mannequins and the wall climbers (who's names I don't know) who can generally wreak havoc on you while slamming down on top of you when you get near them.
     
    You'll also carry around a flashlight which will light the way in dark rooms with no light and will also get a forensic flashlight later that can show you hints and clues as to where to go and what to do for some puzzles or they will lead you to secrets!
     
    Now, I did mention that the rain played a bigger part than just setting and this is why: When you are outdoors there's a chance that it will start raining. The rain makes enemies more aggressive and draws more of them to you so watch out when it starts raining! The rain also plays some other part in the story mainly for setting and some dungeons.
     
    Your inventory system is NOT at all like the original games and only allows you to carry first aid kits (which can be used instantly with a tap of the left d-pad button), ammo and guns which don't count as your in-hand weapon unless you equip them. Ammo is quite limited so it's best to save them for those tough parts where you are half-forced into a room with a bunch of enemies and equipping a gun will make you drop whatever is in your hand unless it's another gun. Your inventory will also consist of your puzzle items. Everything is in real time as well so between using your inventory or entering passcodes into a keypad enemies can hurt you so you better run, run, run as fast as you can...
     
    Graphics
     
    There's nothing particularly special about the graphics in Downpour. They are particularly solid and the facial expressions are good. They don't particularly look artificial like most character faces these days. The lips and cheeks move just right so they look almost like real people talking. Eyebrows and the way the eyes move is the same.
     
    Now, there is one problem with the game's framerate though. It has a tendency to start skipping for no apparent reason, even if nothing special is happening that would force a rise in CPU usage. Sometimes it'll end up skipping to the point where you'll find yourself ten feet in front of where you were or the camera will randomly skip much farther than you intended it to.
     
    Overall
     
    I would say overall Silent Hill: Downpour is a culmination of what made the series great whether in regards to old games and new ones. It took the best of all the games and added them together to make a wonderful survival horror experience that is terrifying for the weak of heart, tense for the not-so-easily scared and will give you a run for your money at the very least when the brick in your hand breaks and you are left barehanded to fend off a group of enemies. Dark areas will leave you wondering when the next enemy will pop up and sometimes nothing at all will come which will leave you wondering...."when will it come, if not now?" and might even psyche out some of you veterans. Definitely a must play for Silent Hill and survival horror fans alike. This game really puts the survival and horror back into survival horror!
  2. Discordian
    So I got this game off of a friend of mine (along with a few other games, a headset and a mattress) for Xbox360 and though I am a MASSIVE Sonic fanboy and partially a Sega fanboy I wasn't expecting this game to last long. Sure, I'd play it to completion (whatever that might have meant) but I was pleasantly surprised to become addicted to it. True enough Sonic is the face of Sega and most of the characters are Sonic characters (5 Sonic characters, three more than the max number of characters from any other series) but they did introduce a few games I recognized and some I didn't.
     
    I sort of expected the game to be real simple and like WiiSports' Tennis where you don't even get to move and just hit the ball. No, I was treated to gameplay that's neither too simple or too complex. You have two buttons, each with their own kind of shot and then you do EXTRA shots by pushing them one after the other. So A = standard-allaround move, B = well...I'm not sure what the difference is yet , A then B does a lob and B then A does a weak shot that just barely puts it over the edge of the net so your opponent has to dash to catch it before it hits the ground twice (causing you to gain a point)
     
    If an opponent lobs a little circle shows up and if you are within that circle (or at least next to it) when you hit the A button? You SLAM that ball into the court and so far, no one has caught the ball whenever I've done that. I try not to make a habit of lobbing as it gives the same opportunity to the opponent but sometimes it happens by accident (darn physics engine!)
     
    I love the stages and the music that they have in it. It was awesome to hear Sonic Heroes music which I thought had been lost to the void. Songs like the Final Fortress and Egg Fleet themes are some of my favorite stage themes in the Sonic series and I'm glad they were included. Some of the other stages are Monkey Ball, Space Channel 5, Curien Mansion (when I looked this up turns out it's from the House of the Dead series), Golden Axe (Which has no stage of it's own, unfortunately, just uses Curien Mansion), Jet Set Radio and more! I can't wait to get to the NiGHTS stage. I'm saving that one for last!
     
    It's certainly been a trip playing through this game which has offered me much fun and nostalgia. I haven't even unlocked a few of the stages and I can't wait to find out what they are, but first I have to deal with the Space Harrier stage (which does a very good job of recreating the gameplay of Space Harrier, oddly enough!)
     
    Here's some gameplay to show you what I mean (for those of you who don't know what Space Harrier gameplay is like there's another video conveniently underneath)
     

     
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sb8775ySSQo
     
    The superstar modes are a great addition and spice up the gameplay quite a bit (or in my case: Ensures my collection of that point ) so it doesn't seem quite so dull passing the ball back and forth with CPUs that only kinda half play on the default settings.
     
    As you rally with your opponent your superstar meter goes up and then you can use it when it's full. The superstar mode lasts about five to seven seconds and allows you to hit the ball into a gravity-defying path (for example: Amy shoots it to the net, which it then forms a heart and shoots off in a direction that I'm not sure if you choose or is random) and also has a special effect. Some of the effects happen when the opponent hits the ball, some are projectiles and some involve the environment!
     
    This game is definitely a great throwback for Sega fans. I'd easily recommend it to anyone who is a fan of even one of these series'. I'd also love to play it online with people so add me! (Resulli is my Gamertag)
  3. Discordian
    Even as someone who liked the first game this is something else. They've changed a lot. They've even taken some of the criticisms people had, such as with the driving, and improved on that. There's more options than ever to complete missions as well.
     
    One thing I liked to see was around ten minutes in with the lifts. Apparently they aren't just stuck in place now. You can actually drive them around and use them how you want. They're really going out of their way to make missions open ended rather than having just two or three options on how to complete it.
     
    They're also seemingly adding a lot of stuff to the phone. You can actually get new apps it looks like. I hope they don't waste the potential there.
     
    From what I've seen so far this game is putting the first one to shame. Some would say that's not hard to do but it feels like a genuine improvement.
  4. Discordian
    I'm doing something a bit different with this one, after some constructive criticism from some friends I've decided to throw a few more opinions in there. It may or may not turn out that well.
     
    =============================================================
     
    DmC: Devil May Cry is the fifth installment in the Devil May Cry series. Developed by Ninja Theory (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Heavenly Sword) with Capcom closely looking over their shoulders DmC was looking to change things up a bit. Capcom deliberately wanted a new design for Dante and I daresay they succeeded. Dante's new design, the change from a mystical demonic takeover to a more "coporate demon" prison and adding more industrial music to the soundtrack were all good choices as it really made an improvement and added personality to the game to make it truly unique.
     
    Setting
     
    DmC takes place in a city controlled by the king of demons: Mundus. Mundus, who was previously a giant statue in the first Devil May Cry, is now the head of all the big businesses in the city. Most of the game takes place in Limbo, an alternate reality that dimensionally sits right on top of the real world, which does a fantastic job of making sure environments are never repetitive. I'll admit I went into this game fully expecting it to have repetitive levels as that seems to be a common theme among games that try to be more "realistic." The game surprised me and through to the end kept things fresh.
     
    Levels had a tendency to shift whenever the demons wanted them to leaving Dante to navigate through a bastardized version of the real world that could change the size and shape of everything about him. This was a visually appealing in the sense that when you pass through an area you never know how it will change on you. It could take away the floors, obstruct your path or even extend the length of hallways and this made levels far bigger than they originally seem. They definitely went to great lengths to make sure you never see the same room twice and I'm grateful for that.
     
    Story
     
    The story in DmC is far more fleshed out than in past games. In previous games you could go two or three levels with no story and then when they do show story it's little more than a fight scene between two characters or an intro to a boss. (Example: When Dante runs into Lady for the first time in DMC3 and she starts shooting at him thinking he was one of the demons in Temin-ni-gru) The only time any significant story takes place in the older games is toward the end of the game. True enough big spoilers are best saved for the end but without those the story in the DMC franchise stays very short and succinct and leaves you wondering why Dante is doing what he's doing beyond the reasons given at the beginning of the game. Why does he do this? Why does he go down that hallway? Very little reason is given, at least on the story front since the gameplay tends to be the reason he goes anywhere: To get a key, to get a new weapons, etc.
     
    DmC does a far better job of telling a story. There's a little bit of story at the beginning and end of each chapter. Dante himself has become far more in-depth in this game; he interacts with characters on a much deeper level than "shoot first, ask questions later" like in the last few games. Throughout the entire game I felt Dante was far more emotional when he was around non-antagonist characters, going so far as to ask the new DMC girl Kat about her past. It almost felt like he was trying to make a connection with her but she was half-ignoring him because she was so infatuated with Vergil who had saved her from a demon foster father. Dante did a total one-eighty when Vergil brought them to their home as kids and he remembered his past (he had previously been told he lost his memory to Meningitis) and suddenly opened up to Vergil and Kat and their cause to free the humans from under the thumb of Mundus.
     
    Dante never loses his cocky charm from the previous games though. He still toys with enemies both verbally and physically but now he's started cursing. Some might say this is going overboard but I think it really adds to the characterization of a young Dante.
     
    Overall I'd say this is the best story of the DMC franchise. It's far more fleshed out, characters are more than just demons and hunters cursing and playing with each other and even holds a few plot twists in that make things just that much more interesting.
     
    Music
     
    This is one of DmC's strong points. Not only have they kept the death metal aspects but also have added a lot of industrial music to it. There's also a level dedicated to a strip club and you can imagine with how changing the world around with Limbo how this particular level is very interesting.
     
    I've always been a metalhead myself so I've always enjoyed the music in the DMC franchise but this game really makes something of itself. The music really adds to the general feel of the corporate demon city.
     
    Gameplay
     
    The gameplay in DmC was based on the original games but adds so much more to it. They've added a logical system to allow you to switch between your standard, demonic and angel weapons simply by holding down the shoulder buttons. This gives great potential for long combos and really makes you feel like a badass when you juggle enemies until they die. Though it is a little annoying when they die mid-combo and you fall to the ground. The combat largely takes place in the air; most of your best combos and attacks are aerial and they do everything they can to help you stay in the air by adding grappling attacks that pull you toward enemies or vice versa and also have attacks that lift you farther into the air.
     
    DMC has always been known for it's combo/style meter which adds points to your overall rank in the level. DmC makes it easier to not only do combos, but maintain them as well. Aside from when you get hit your style meter will take longer to dissipate which makes getting S, SS and SSS ranks that much easier. I, for one, enjoyed getting such high stylish scores. It made me feel like I was actually good at the franchise for once even though it's mostly because DmC is actually easier than the rest of the franchise except maybe the second one where it was super easy.
     
    I knew ever since the game was announced at E3 that the platforming would be intense thanks to the grappling and changing environments and I was absolutely right. I love levels that make you platform like that. It keeps you on your toes and feels amazing when you can jump, pull yourself to the next platform only to have it disappear from under you so you have to pull another platform from somewhere else to you so you don't fall into the abyss
     
    Overall
     
    DmC is a vast improvement on many aspects of the franchise that were good in the first place but could use a bit of tampering or were not very good and needed to be improved. I had a blast throughout the entire game and I haven't even had a chance to try the higher difficulties where enemies actually have different behaviors and they even introduce enemies from later in the game early on. I played one level in Son of Sparda (fourth difficulty setting) and I was fighting end-of-game demons right there in the first level. I would easily rank DmC as my favorite Devil May Cry game, except maybe the first one which was pretty awesome.
  5. Discordian
    My boss, my coworker and I all went out for lunch as usual, went to this place called Calozzi's which is one of those sketchy hole-in-the-wall restaurants with awesome food. They basically make steak sammiches with your choice of cheese topping.
     
    This place defines "The messier it is, the tastier it is" because that food was messy as hell. Steak shrapnel in a bun with cheese whiz all over it. They serve it on paper they bring out holding the corners of and the grease from the steak WILL seep out everywhere and onto the table, even through the serving paper.
     
    After that we took the lightrail to another area and down towards the market. We got some Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (I got two scoops of Strawberry Cheesecake, yum) and I literally said it was so good that if I dropped it, i'd cry.
     
    My boss? He said he was so tempted to knock it out of my hands just to see me cry. (Jokingly of course) lmao
     
    When we walked down the waterfront after leaving the market we were walking back up to the office when we saw this group of girls singing in sailboat captain's uniform. They were singing like singing triplets from old black & white movies. It was awesome. Seattle is full of all types.
     
    Had a decent first week at work. I like my job so far.