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Showing posts from July, 2011

Tools of The Trade

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I'm only five months removed from sinking 30 hours into Just Cause 2, yet I can’t for the life of me recall plot details or character names. They were so thoroughly forgettable that they barely even registered with the sizable part of my brain labelled "gaming". What I do recall, however, is how much enjoyment I got out of this very open-ended game and how it was all derived from the multiple uses of a simple, retractable grappling hook.
When I say that a metal gauntlet and wire had more character and charisma than the lead, I’m not just trying to belittle our protagonist in black (I still can’t remember his bloody name). The grappling hook was the key to getting the most out of JC2 and without it the game would have failed spectacularly. Sticking to anything, it affords complete freedom of movement, never once wrenching arm from socket and allowing the player to paint chaos across the blank canvas that is the island state of Panau. I don't know about you, but between…

Toomanyposts – 100 at Toomanywires-UK

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I started toomanywires-uk in October last year in an effort to renew my waning interest in blogging. Up to that point, I had spent a year or so writing on a couple of other sites, as well as doing some occasional freelance work, but it all ground to a halt within a few months of leaving Japan and moving back to England. Although my love of gaming never wavered, my motivation for keeping a regular blog lessened for a variety of reasons including a lack of time, no longer being surrounded by fellow gamers as I'd been in Tokyo, and the increasing realisation that video games were unlikely to ever be more than just a hobby.

Starting toomanywires gave me the focus I needed to get back on track, and maintaining this blog has become my favourite distraction and part of my daily routine. I'm pleasantly surprised by how quickly I've reached 100 posts and content that I have avoided posting unimaginative blogs - for the most part anyway. It has also renewed my enthusiasm for writing…

Monday Spotlight - The Virtual Boy

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Each and every Monday I take an in-depth look at one video game topic. This can be anything related to games and the industry, from individual titles and consoles to developers and prominent figures, and everything else in-between. All related topics are fair game and I will offer some history, commentary and insight for each. Check back each Monday for a new spotlight, and click here for past entries.
Gunpei Yokoi had the golden touch. A career that spanned three decades with Nintendo saw him work on classics such as Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Kid Icarus and Metroid; games which came to define the Kyoto based company and ensured global success. Yokoi was an accomplished inventor, creating the Game & Watch which would go on to sell over 43 million units worldwide. Legend has it that in 1979, whilst riding the Shinkansen (Bullet Train), he took note of a salaryman amusing himself by playing with an LCD calculator. This chance encounter was the genesis of the Game & Watch concept,…

Great Video Game Openings

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Yesterday I had a bellyache about piss-poor endings, something of a recurring problem with video games. However, while script writers and developers struggle mightily with finishing games on a high, they seem to be pretty good at starting them. There is no shortage of impressive and iconic video game openings, while I would be hard pressed to name more than a half a dozen memorable endings.

Here is a look at some of the finest examples of video game openings, including intro movies and initial stages of gameplay that have come to define the very game and most importantly, made me want to play on.
I know this topic has been done to death and is a tired, old excuse for a blog post, but today I'm feeling tired and old, so introductions it is!

Final Fantasy VIII (1999)
Final Fantasy VIII remains one of my all-time favourite games and the opening sequence is the most memorable part of Square's teenage mercenaries-get-amnesia opus. A breath-taking visual achievement for its time, and …

Falling at the Final Hurdle - Video Game Endings

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I have tried to avoid spoilers but this post does contain some story details regarding the end of Killzone 3, which are highlighted well in advance.
Time and time again I have been left disappointed by games that fall short of a good ending. Underwhelming, premature, sudden, nonsensical, lazy, drawn-out, flawed; bad endings come in all shapes and sizes and hamper games across the full spectrum of genres. This malady rears its ugly head not just in bad games, but also middling, good and even great ones.
Much like Lebron James, video games have trouble closing. They may look beautiful, play the part and tell a great story for the first 95% of the way, but I have lost count of the number of otherwise well-crafted games that have disappeared in the clutch, almost as if the developer ran out of ideas and time. Killzone 3, a game which I otherwise thoroughly enjoyed, is a perfect example of this.
A far more coherent experience than its predecessors, Killzone 3 offers some great Sci-Fi, FPS thr…

Monday Spotlight - 2010 & The Tale of Three Shooters

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Each and every Monday I take an in-depth look at one video game topic. This can be anything related to games and the industry, from individual titles and consoles to developers and prominent figures, and everything else in-between. All related topics are fair game and I will offer some history, commentary and insight for each. Check back each Monday for a new spotlight, and click herefor past entries.
2010 was a great year for the FPS. Halo Reach brought Bungie’s involvement with the blockbusting series to an impressive end and MAG took online, squad-based, console shooters to another level. The GoldenEye 007 remake finally gave Wii owners an FPS to be proud of and Bioshock 2 offered an excuse to return to Rapture. But for shooter fans, 2010 will be best remembered as the year that three of the biggest FPS franchises went head to head. Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, and EA’s Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Medal of Honour were all gunning for the same slice of the market with the…

Until Next Week...

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I'm taking a week off from Toomanywires-UK as I desperately need to make time for a number of other projects/jobs that I’ve been avoiding. I know that another week will pass by without progress if I don’t ban myself from blogging for a few days. Writing here has become my favourite distraction and I have a nasty habit of coming-up with ideas for new posts whenever I’m supposed to be doing something else.
But don’t panic, as things will be back to normal from next week with a return to the regular schedule. I plan on kicking-off the week with a Monday Spotlight entitled “2010 & The Tale of Three Shooters”, exploring the battle for modern shooter supremacy between Call of Duty: Black Ops, Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Medal of Honour, as well as the future health of each franchise.
There is plenty to look out for over the summer months as I approach my 100th post and my Tokyo Game Show coverage will be here before you know it.
I’ll still be jabbering away on Twitter all this week …

The Summer Drought

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Summer is traditionally a slow period for video games. It marks the end of the the plentiful days of Spring and serves as the quiet before the storm, where the majority of the big franchises battle it out through the autumn and holiday seasons. With the late spring, early summer debuts of LA Noire and Infamous 2 out of the way, things will now go quiet until September when titles like Rage, Resistance 3 and Gears of War 3 will kick 2011 back into gear. For a reminder of what's in store for the remainder of 2011, go here
With little in the way of new games to interest me throughout July and August, now is the perfect time to catch up with my ever growing backlog and pick-up some titles from earlier in the year. Here is a look at my tentative gaming plans for Summer, which should be just enough to keep me preoccupied without having to resort to socializing with real people and dwelling on the fact that its cold and pissing down with rain outside, even though its July. I swear, Br…

Pre-order Bonuses & Other Things I Hate About Modern Gaming

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Last week I wrote about some of the things I love about modern gaming and why the current generation is unmatched. Today, with tongue firmly in cheek, I’m going to play devil’s advocate and rip it to shreds.
As I approach the end of my twenties, I have increasingly come to realise that modern things are rubbish, and gaming is no different. It was much better in the old days when Sonic wouldn’t piss on Mario if he were on fire; when the opening levels of your favourite games didn’t automatically presume you had learning difficulties and pigs would fly before your grandma would dare play a video game. Back in the Nineties, an elderly lady waving a wand at a screen would’ve been burned as a witch and Wii Sports was a golden-showered fetish, practiced in only the seediest clubs in Europe.
Here are some of the reasons why gaming has gone to piddle.

1. No Case
As much as I have enjoyed some of the downloadable classics on PSN and Live – Shatter, Flower, Battlefield 1943, Trash Panic and Rez HD …

Monday Spotlight - Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

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Each and every Monday I take an in-depth look at one video game topic. This can be anything related to games and the industry, from individual titles and consoles to developers and prominent figures, and everything else in-between. All related topics are fair game and I will offer some history, commentary and insight for each. Check back each Monday for a new spotlight, and click herefor past entries.
With the huge success of Uncharted 2 and the hype surrounding the beta for the next instalment, it is easy to forget about the game that started it all - Uncharted: Drakes Fortune. Although it may not have the celebrated multiplayer of its offspring, it does share the fluid gameplay, visual flare, exciting plot and likeable characters and stands as one of the most important games of the last five years.
California based developer Naughty Dog first made a name for themselves with the popular platformer, Crash Bandicoot on the PS1. In 2001, off the back of this success, the studio was bough…