KILLZONE 2 review – A week in Helghan

I like playing shooters, but I try to not look at them. Halo is too shiny and colorful with art direction that mixes G.I. Joe with Battle Beasts. Gears of War seems to take design tips from Iron Maiden album covers. And Call of Duty lays down realism when all I want is a space gun.

Enter KILLZONE 2.

I love this game’s look: the red-eyed fascists with their blue lightning magic. The burgendy skies full of smoke and particles. The orange sands. The sizeable insects. This game’s imagery speaks to me, and the Helghast architecture is familiar, yet alien enough to evoke an alternate reality. Killzone 2 is “Ice cold!” And you move through large areas like your limbs were bloody frozen. But cool characters walk slow, you dig?

The bullet goes between the glowing red spots.

The bullet goes between the glowing red spots.

As much as I like shooters, I’m nowhere near being interested enough to argue their mechanics. Enemies fall when you shoot in their direction. Headshots make them fall faster. And you can take cover and regenerate your health. That’s it, I’m tapped. Now onto the part I enjoy analyzing.  

You belong to the world Vekta, and Vekta is taking the war to Helghan. Killzone 2’s story is not irrelevant. It’s good… for a game story. If gameplay is king, then story is the throne. It must be comfortable and without rough edges that force you out. Killzone 2  is a leather recliner with a cup holder. But only a forty bottle fits into the cupholder–that part is your brash-talking squadmates. The story’s pace is the part that reclines, easing you from point to point with believable progression. When you learn of the Helghast’s wild card, you get thrust into more fantastical locations. It all makes sense.

I just wish your character Sev had more of a presence. Your squadmates blab on like the guy who greets you on the phone at Gamestop, but Sev’s like that old aunt in the chair who chimes in every four hours. And I’m not the type of gamer who takes on the persona I’m playing as. Though when Sev does emote, he is rather likeable. I wish the same could be said about your foul-mouthed peers. I have neighbors, assholes.

Man this story's good!

Man this story's good!

But the coolest thing, better than Sev’s hair or Rico’s ‘tude, is the fact that you and your countrymen are the invaders. Defending is so played out. Along your invasion you’ll hear the Helghan Emperor slag you off for raping and pillaging his world. It’s propaganda, sure. But he had me for a second. The game does well in keeping the two worlds’ past ambiguous, and it showcases brutality on both sides. So really, you never know who’s in the right. That’s a good thing.

But the campaign is only so long (8-10 hours). I played Killzone 2’s multiplayer for a week. I do best with a shotgun in hallways. And other players thank me when I heal them. That’s it, I’m tapped. The one thing I’ll say about it, though: I always feel the bonuses (better guns, rad character classes) are growing at an equal rate to my skill level. Balance is a commodity in multiplayer gaming, and Killzone 2 is California circa 1849.  

From little details like Helghan chatter to big productions like the few but satisfying boss battles, this game is spit polished. Sony made sure of it with their dollars. So follow suit and give Guerrilla Games your cash. Did you know they’re based in Amsterdam? I was wondering what that Helghan meant when he shouted, “smoke the fat one first.”

Wheel of Fortune Review: Regression Through Unlearning

Wheel of Fortune is one of those games. You know, the one where most people already know if they want it or not. Pretty much anyone over the age of 15 is going to know exactly what to expect with this title. Spinning wheel, word puzzles, Pat Sajak and Vanna White. Are they still doing that show? Wow, they are! They sure do look old these days.

Being the household name that Wheel of Fortune is, many copies will be sold regardless of the actual quality of the game. Many copies will not be sold for that exact same reason. By my count, around 30 versions of the game have been released over the years. It’s been done, it’s also not going to offer any incredible game play opportunities.

Wikipedia says “Every modern version of Wheel features the likeness of co-host Vanna White.” but, interestingly enough, “not Pat Sajak”. Even more interesting than that, neither of them are in the most current iteration for the Playstation 3. Instead, there is no one in the game except for the three contestants. No voice work whatsoever was done for this version. You might ask yourself, does this game do anything for me that the Commodore 64 version didn’t already do? As much as I would like to hype a game from 1986 over a 2009 release, I cannot.

The funny thing is, this photo actually highlights a game mechanic superior to the PS3 version. You can see the wheel spinning and the puzzle at the same time.

The funny thing is, this photo actually highlights a game mechanic superior to the PS3 version. You can see the wheel spinning and the puzzle at the same time.

With the exception of the choppy quality of the shows logo before each game, it looks well enough to be called a Playstation 3 game. Character selection options aren’t the deepest around, but they suffice. The canned character animations like the cabbage patch, and lasso are pretty lame. Besides those points, the game is easy on the eyes.

There aren’t any major concerns with the game that justify a text based beat-down. There are however, many minor issues that should have been addressed prior to release. Not having the game board viewable at all times is an annoyance. So you are left with decision making moments where you can’t see the game board, which is rather frustrating.

Included with this game is the Road Trip mode. Essentially this is an 11 city Wheel of Fortune tour. There are trophies which require play in every city to unlock. Completing the tour is made difficult by lack of functions like game saves and really, any structure whatsoever. When you go into this mode, you are plopped into a city at the mercy of the random number generator. Unless you play the tour straight through without turning off your system, you are doomed to repeatedly play cities over and over. This is due to the lack of any type of game save feature.

Another misstep is found while playing online. As any gamer involved in online play knows, people quit/disconnect in the middle of games often enough to cause major frustration. In Wheel of Fortune, any player that leaves in the middle of a game is not replaced, even by an AI opponent. Where the issue becomes a larger concern is in the online version of Road Trip mode. Road Trip mode is an unstoppable force. You lock into play with 3 people, permanently bound to those players until you quit out. Some road trip, the game never ends.

While not as bad as a video game version of Deal or no Deal, Wheel is lacking in enough facets to say that $14.99 is too high a price. Not being the best version available to date might leave some feeling ripped off. In closing, regardless of its shortcomings, it’s a functional enough version of the game to be fun for anyone who thinks they would enjoy the game.

Wheel of Fortune: Trophy Guide

Bronze Wheel Barrel of Fortune
$100,000 total winnings

This is your total winning dollar amount, not single game winnings. Note that you must win the actual game in order for it to count towards your total. If you lose the game you actually win nothing.

Silver Wheel of Fortune 500
$500,000 total winnings

This is your total winning dollar amount, not single game winnings. Note that you must win the actual game in order for it to count towards your total. If you lose the game you actually win nothing.

Gold Inventor of the Wheel
$1,000,000 total winnings

This is your total winning dollar amount, not single game winnings. Note that you must win the actual game in order for it to count towards your total. If you lose the game you actually win nothing.

Bronze Wheely Wheely Good
$50,000 winnings in one game

One game that you must win. Remember it’s not just the round you have to win. The whole game.

Bronze Wheel Around the World
Win an online game

Go online and win.

Bronze Lucky Letter
Correctly select Q, X, or Z in a puzzle

Just have to play one of these letters correctly in a game.

Bronze Ding Ding Ding Ding
Pick a letter that shows up 4 or more times in a puzzle

So you have to pick a letter. If that letter ends up being in a puzzle four times then you get this trophy.

Bronze Puzzle Apprentice
Win 10 games

Online or offline, just win 10 games.

Silver Puzzle Master
Win 25 games

Online or offline, just win 25 games.

Bronze Wheel Consistent
Pick 5 letters in a row in one puzzle

So you have to correctly pick five letters in one turn. Which means you can’t answer incorrectly and then use an extra turn token of any kind.

Silver Road Warrior
Visit all cities in Road Trip mode

There are 11 cities in total. The part that sucks is that you can’t pick which city you want to play. Unless you play 11 games in a row, which would mean you are insane, you are at the mercy of this game. The game randomly picks which city you will play in. I recommend playing offline to get this trophy. That way you can quit if you have already played in a particular city. Well you can do that online too, but then you are screwing the guys who got stuck playing with the asshat who likes to quit online matches.

Bronze Wheel Spinner
Win a round

You just have to complete any puzzle in the game to get this trophy.

Bronze Wheel Winner
Win a local game

Win a game while playing with more than one person playing from your system.

PSN Store 03/19 : FUBAR

This is usually where we would tell you about the games that came out this week. Possibly, how we will get the trophy information, guide and review up as soon as we can. Well, the bad news this week is that the Call Of Duty World at War map pack has been released and it is causing major hang-ups with the store.

I did happen to notice that Wheel of Fortune was released with trophy support. It costs $14.99, which seems pretty high. I’ll be picking it up as soon as I can manage to stay in the store more than 10 seconds.

Also this week we have a Killzone 2 pack for LittleBigPlanet which I believe contains only stickers and costumes. No surprise, it’s not free.

Expect more info soon.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix(Patch?) + Rant = Lots of Words

Capcom is releasing a patch for HD Remix that fixes a lot of issues relating to the online experience. Apparently this patch is live as of now.

Here is a list of what this patch fixes.

1. After a number of games, the HUD will be corrupt. Yellow lifebars will freeze, the round counter flags will all be on, and the names will show more than one name.
2. Frequent disconnects during VS transition screen. Often caused by selecting START color of character.
3. Title crashes if user has a large friends list and tries to access the friends list
4. Rating being set to “0” and from then on, rating remains at “0”. Once that patch goes live, we’ll reset all leaderboards/scoreboards.
5. Vega sometimes causing desyncing, especially when using the fake wall dive.
6. Lobby list containing full rooms instead of only rooms that users can enter.
7. Zangief Super Motion not working on both sides and in both directions.
8. During the start of the match, there is slight slowdown. This has been minimized as much as possible.
9. If connecting to a ranked match through the quick match function, it is best out of 3 rather than best out of 5. It should always be best out of 5.
10. Sending messages via XMB during a game causes a freeze.
11. Players not added to “Players Met” list.
12. Analog and D-pad can accept input at the same time.
13. Player stats not reporting correctly.

Which brings up a concern.

I’m sure anyone reading this blog has surely seen the Cheapy D open letter to Capcom concerning SF4. I mean, if you aren’t listening to the CAGcast over at CheapAssGamer then you are missing the best show around. But Cheapy brought up a pretty serious topic with his open letter. With the industry standard starting to lean towards sucking our pockets dry by charging us for “content” that would have been free 5 years ago. Other concerns like unfinished games shipping completely broken, leave you wondering. Are those well known gaming companies and franchises that you have grown to trust for their quality products, beginning to take advantage of your faith in them?

Capcom, Activision and Slant 6 are among the most prominent offenders. Broken promises, whoring of franchises and charging for content that we already own. That’s some pretty shady business. You’d think that this might be foreshadowing a much deeper problem. It kind of reminds one of the video game industry in the 1980’s. A time when the industry was relatively new and start-up companies were jockeying for position.  Mimicking one another just to make a quick buck. That didn’t end well. Warehouses full of unsold and worthless merchandise. Crash and Burn.

This isn’t probable today. We have other companies willing to be the good guys I would hope. Companies like EA who have really been turning heads lately with their new focus. Even if it is only lending there name to companies like Criterion, the makers of Burnout Paradise. Which may very well be the best value game of this console generation. Even Namco Bandai, with exceptional releases that barely scrape your coffers(Noby Noby Boy). As long as they can stay afloat, these companies can surely rebrand the gaming industry.

These economic times hit everyone close to home. If you haven’t lost your job, you probably know two or three people who have. The video game industry is by no means immune to these woes. In fact, it may very well be taking it harder than other industries. The movie industry isn’t exactly swimming in money, but going to the movie theater and dropping $20 on soda and popcorn is a lot cheaper than going on a vacation.

 

 

Actual Time line stolen from like 19 different companies.

Actual Time line stolen from like 19 different companies.

 

 

Video Games on the other hand, sometimes you just don’t get much value per dollar when you drop $60 on a game that you can finish in less than 8 hours. One would think that these companies would want to make us more comfortable with the decision to buy their product. Perhaps focusing more on a games replay value by way of the marketing of free content for future release(and actually delivering). Or giving us everything we payed for from the start. Every Chun Li outfit they want to charge me for makes me want to vomit.

What exactly does this have to do with the HD Remix patch release? Well, it’s a step in the right direction. That is, Capcom taking the time to truly polish up a game that is not really it’s main focus. Or at least I hope it isn’t.

So I am stepping on the soapbox and calling for more from companies like Capcom. We could really use a little extra love on Street Fighter 4, could we not.  How about some equivalent of the “Quarter Match” in SF4. That is one thing that is keeping myself and my circle of friends from not really getting our monies worth. How about Age of Booty? It’s got some suspect online play, how about letting me play that with some friends against other people. Or maybe you could just give me a nice patch to go along with these shiny new trophies you added. I can’t see my “Players Met” in Booty, just like HD Remix recently fixed.

How about Sony helps us out as well. How many hardcore gamers wouldn’t be willing to pay a few bucks a month for an online experience that rivals Microsoft’s? Even if you offered your bare bones online experience for free, things like group party chat that functions while you are actually playing a game, would have us forking over our loot in droves.

Surely companies like Slant 6 are feeling like they are underachieving. I know that SOCOM:Confrontation sales have had to slump more than expected after it released completely unplayable. They are moving in the right direction, with patches coming slowly. Five months later though, the game is still not everything it promised to be. It’s going to take many more fixes and a few content releases to get this game back to a shadow of it’s former self. The franchise name may be permanently tarnished though, regardless. Who wants a game that takes half a year to even be playable? Especially when a game like Killzone 2 ships with a completely solid online experience and an accompanying single player campaign that is fun.

These companies need to help me help them. Support your products so that the consumer will be happy to continue to support them with paid content downloads. Don’t let your franchises become synonymous with poor quality. Otherwise, there will surely be a shift towards companies that haven’t left a bad taste in our mouths.

Astro Tripper: Trophy Guide and List

(Bronze)Pod Oppressor
Destroy 10 mutilated pods in any one level of training grounds.

This is easy enough to get on the first level. I know I did and wasn’t exactly sure how. I think what it is, is that you avoid shooting the pods that are moving around. Eventually they mutate into these super pods and they come at you faster. Kill those.

(Bronze)Spidery Point
Destroy the spider boss on Arachnophobia without destroying any of it’s weapons.

Basically you just shoot at the boss only when he opens up his weak spot. Don’t destroy any other spots he can be hit at. Should only take two or three times shooting him.

(Bronze)Tank Oppressor
Destroy 20 tanks in sequence

During the very first level of the second board, kill 20 tanks without killing anything else. Tanks respawn constantly so it’s not very hard. This trophy unlocks as soon as you complete it.

(Silver)Tank Sympathizer
Destroy both Generators on Claustrophobia Without Killing a Tank

Claustrophobia is the second level of the second board. This one might take a little practice. The board is pretty small and shooting only the generators is pretty difficult to do. Timing is key, try to anticipate enemy fire so you don’t die. The generators are the orange spinning things that are behind the shields.

(Silver)Fly Swatter
Destroy 3 Flypods within 5 seconds on any level of insect infestation

On the first Infestation level all you have to do is wait for 3 pods to be spawned at the same time. Then just blow them up real quick. You want to ignore the stuff that explodes out of them until you get all three. Shoot and move quick.

(Gold)Worm Tangle
Destroy 3 Worms in sequence on The Ooze

The Ooze is an Infestation level. You have to kill these worms without killing anything else in between. Clear out as much as you can. Then when you see the first worm, kill it and wait. When another spawns kill it. By the time you are waiting on the third, you will probably have to be avoiding enemies in order to not kill anything else. It wasn’t too hard at all for me.

(Silver)Sneeky Incursion
Destroy the Boss without opening more than one outer door. Only 1 of the 3 outer doors may be opened to any degree

This is the last level of the game. Opening doors is done by shooting the buttons on both sides of the doors. So only opening one means that you can’t shoot out the buttons around any door but one. I’m having a hard time with this one, mainly because it’s the last board of the game.

(Gold)Wheel Collector
Complete Level Fizz Wheels without killing a Fizz Wheel (the rolling wheels connected by a laser)

You can shoot through the wheels all you want, meaning between the lasers. You just can’t shoot the wheels themselves. It’s not too hard to avoid blowing them up. If you have to shoot at things near the wheels go ahead, just be conservative. You don’t want too much stray fire hitting the wheels. Once all other enemies are cleared on the level the board will end only when the wheels have all rolled off the screen. So you need to clear out the board with quite a few seconds left on the clock. When I completed this trophy, I had zero seconds left on the timer.