Musings of a Gamer XI

1. Video Game Awards

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance aside, there were a number of other interesting developments at this year's VGAs, the most enticing of which was The Last of Us. The pre-show cryptic teasers only revealed zombies (insert snarky comment) and a post-apocalyptic setting (insert something witty and derogatory); not exactly the most innovative or stimulating of combinations, as its existence had already slipped my mind come the VGA weekend.

Although I am still concerned about the unimaginative setting, I was intrigued by the trailer and very pleased to see that this will be a Naughty Dog game. I had been hoping that ND would shift their significant talents to a new IP and save their next instalment of Uncharted for the next generation, which is now looking like a strong possibility. I am also rather impressed that they managed to keep this game so tightly under wraps, and if anyone can make zombie survival interesting again, then it’s Naughty Dog.

There was also a shiny new trailer for Alan Wake's American Nightmare, a downloadable follow-up to my favourite 360 exclusive. Rainbow Six: Patriots had a short and punchy trailer, whereas ninety seconds of Hitman Absolution was enough for me to conclude that this will be a rather uninspired sequel. There was also something about a hawk on a skateboard, but I can't tell you more than that, as the mere mention of skating causes me to instantly turn off and start thinking about something slightly less rad.

Just out of interest, does anyone recall who the winners were last weekend? Although I may be well versed in the trailer reveals, I couldn’t name a single winner even if my life depended on it. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the VGA's were merely a platform for new announcements and trailers, which is quickly becoming its reason for being. Perhaps it is time that the industry got a more widely and internationally recognized award ceremony, preferably one that doesn't involve Charlie Sheen and where the attendees make an effort to change out of their ill-fitting t-shirts and combats.

2. Games on the Go

Skyrim will be my go-to title until at least Christmas, when a shit-ton of games should be arriving. Skyrim is getting my (near) undivided attention now that my annual infatuation with Call of Duty has passed, as I have shelved Modern Warfare 3.  After an evening of fragging last Friday, I suddenly realised that I wasn’t really enjoying the multiplayer anymore. This usually happens far quicker, but this year I kept going until level 61 – a good fifteen levels higher than past instalments. Though I’m now burned-out on MW3, I do think it is the best overall package of the series and is an excellent example of how to keep a successful franchise moving forward without having to resort to a drastic overhaul. See my full MW3 review for all the details.

To break-up my Skyrimming, I have been dipping in and out of Super Meat Boy. It is a neat little game and perfect for fifteen minute sessions, as it balances fast platforming with punishing obstacles. I also downloaded Payday: The Heist thanks to a 50% discount as part of the PSN Christmas deals. I’m yet to properly get stuck in, but I have been impressed by what I have seen thus far. In a piss poor year for new games on PSN, it could be one of the best DL titles of 2011. I do still have my eye on Pixeljunk Sidescroller, though it may have to wait until next year.

3. A PSN Update

Not really sure why, but I have a lot to say about this week’s PSN update (the UK version, but I think it’s pretty similar to the US). Firstly, I was happy to see Fear Effect making an appearance as a PSOne classic. I have written about it before so I won’t go into the details here, only to say that it is one of my favourite and most memorable action games on the original PS. I also jumped at the chance to try the demo for Sonic CD. It is one of the few classic Sonic games that I haven't played, thanks to the cost of a Mega CD back in the day and the fact that it seems to have been left off every Sonic compilation since. I have to say that I was rather impressed by the very short demo; from the well-made intro movie to the smooth gameplay and catchy soundtrack, it looks to be a steal, and I would’ve bought it right away if Sonic Generations wasn’t already sitting under our Christmas tree.

Unfortunately, it isn't all fun and games this week on PSN. I continue to be left dumbstruck by the comic pricing for full, downloadable games that are otherwise available at retail. Who on earth is going to buy Alice –Madness Returns or Need For Speed The Run for £50 ($78) when they can be bought for a fraction of that elsewhere. This ignorance in pricing is of great concern when digital games are expected to be such a huge part of the VITA's future, and Sony will have more power than ever when it comes to dictating price points.

The other thing that got my goat is the recent influx of tasteless crap that constitutes the ever increasing library of non-gaming, dynamic themes. I can't believe that anyone actually buys rubbish like a sexy elf or a Christmas candle to adorn their XMB. As I scroll through the weekly updates, I become increasingly vexed by this deluge of visual wank and my disdain grows for the people I imagine getting excited for this tat.

4. Is PS VITA a Sinking Ship?

The big day is almost upon us. Japan is gearing up for the release of Sony's next generation portable, the VITA, as queues are forming outside of electronic stores in preparation for tomorrow’s festivities. Unfortunately for Sony, it hasn't been the most fortuitous of weeks. Aside from the backlash stemming from the price of memory cards and the limitations and cost of the UMD programme, the 3DS, and more specifically Capcom's Monster Hunter 3G, have hogged all the headlines in what was to be VITA's big week. The 3DS exclusive caused the portable to have its biggest week at retail at the most opportune of times. To top it all off, Sony suffered a PR nightmare and a rather bad omen when a ship named after the console capsized during a cross Atlantic race. Sinking ships and all that.

The Vita is still headed for a big weekend, bolstered by a solid launch day line-up, though I'm still unsure of how it will fair in the long run. I'm toying with the idea of getting one in 2012, but it will all come down to the quality of the software, as my lust for new tech only stretches so far.


  1. I'm extremely excited for both The Last of Us and the idea that ND has two teams now. They have some great leads on The Last of Us game too especially with Straley as the Game Director (he had that same role on Uncharted 2). Alan Wake should be fun too. Otherwise, I wasn't too impressed with the trailers (unless I am forgetting something).

    I am still really excited for the Vita, but Sony has been making some weird decisions with it. I can't wait to get it because of some of the games, but they do seem to be making some odd decisions.

  2. i'm so excited for the vita. already pre-ordered/paid it off as well as uncharted. gamestop still doesn't have gravity rush in their computer but when they do i will pick that up as well. i saw on a couple of different sites that downloadable vita games will be around 40% less then the retail versions. that's cool but i will still go for physical copies whenever i can.

    agreee about psn. kind of a lame year for psn exclusives.

    the only vga winner i can tell you is skyrim but i don't even remember what it won. game of the year? maybe.

    i'm with you on mw3. i got prestige for the first time and only played a couple of matches after that. major letdown. was hoping for something cooler. i regret picking up elite. i only did it for the map packs but i don't even see myself playing them. $50 down the drain.

    thanks again for reminding me about my cloud saves. i want to try to platinum demon's souls before i start dark souls and also platinum final fantasy 13 befoe 13-2 comes out. i was devastated when i thought i lost those two files.

  3. The Last of Us looks cool. I can't wait to see more. I have a lot of faith in Naughty Dog.

    The VGAs are a joke. I feel embarrassed whenever I see them. I skipped it this year, and just watched the new game trailers online. The awards themselves are a joke too, but I'm pretty sure Skyrim won game of the year...

    Sonic CD was the last Sonic game I played to completion. I have fond memories of that game... So I wont play the PSN release. I don't want ruin my nostalgia for Sonic CD. I'll just play the demo...

    I want a PS Vita too, but I'm going to wait a bit. I still have a whole stack of PSP games to get through.

  4. we really do need a proper video game awards show, the VGAs are awful. I'm very excited for The Last of Us and I think people keep taking it the wrong way, everyone keeps saying stuff like "another zombie shooter" Naughty Dog truely does know how to craft a new IP and not just take from what they have done, sure they borrow little feature from other games but they always put there own touch on it and really make it there own by what they do with it.
    I've been very disappointed with the PSN store only because they promised Odd World Strangers Wrath way back when PSN got hacked, they say its finally coming on the 27th. thats pretty much the only thing I'm looking forward to and has been for some time.
    Vita, I think, will do much better than what people keep saying even with the price point of the memory card. I'm looking forward to getting one and I know alot of others getting one as well. are you gonna be waiting for its release in the UK or gonna snag one from Japan?
    Skyrim is probably not gonna leave my system for quite some time, its my life right now, lol

  5. @ Trip - Interesting to hear that ND has two teams now. Perhaps we will be getting even more regular releases from ND from here on out.

    I still can't make up my mind with the VITA. I think it will be popular with gamers like you and I, but will hold little appeal to the casual market.

    @ superfriar - I hope you pre-ordered a memory card too!

    I'm gald i didn't bother with Elite, though i did enjoy the free parts of the app. I have always been a sucker for stats.

    FFXIII plat isn't too difficult, once you have located some experience rich areas. Just really time consuming. As for Demon Souls - rather you than me.

    @ Ceva - You had a Mega CD? Although I know that there arent even five games I would want to play, I'd probably buy a Mega CD if I saw one for a good price, if not just for curiosities sake. I remember being wowed by it back when I had a Master System and a Mega Drive.

    I too have a stack of PSP games that I have never touched, which makes me think that I dont really need a VITA. I so rarely play portables nowadays.

    @ DaydreamD - I think having an internationally recognized award ceremony is an important part of the industry's maturation process - something that people outside of the industry can follow.

    I won't be getting a JPN Vita, and not sure when I'll get a UK one. I do want one, but Im already hearing lots of issues with the hardware and OS from ppl in Japan. May wait the problems out and for the first price decrease, though there is always a chance i'll cave and pre-order one.

  6. I didn't own the Sega CD, but my best friend did. I went the Nintendo route while he went with Sega. We would trade systems every once in a while. That's how I got into Phantasy Star and Shining Force. Phantasy Star 3 was the first RPG I played to completion.


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