Musings of a Gamer XXIII


1. 1UP

Community focussed video game website 1UP.com is winding down after ten years in the business. Since 2003, it has been home to one of the most active and passionate video game communities on the net, and has featured a wide range of industry talent. Although its stature has lessened in recent years, 1UP's overall influence should not be overlooked. It played a vital role in a transitional period for games media, as well as being an early adopter of features that we now take for granted, such as weekly podcasts and community blogs.

I haven't been a regular there since 2011, yet it continues to be an important part of my online experience. My Twitter and PSN friend lists are full of 1Uppers past and present and I’d imagine that many of the people who read this blog may be traced back to 1UP. It excelled at nurturing community, as well as blurring the lines between professional and enthusiast writers; it was an ideal place to meet new people from all over the world, all of whom shared a common interest: moaning about stuff video games. It ignited my passion for blogging and the games industry at large, and was an important part of my favourite year in video games; if it weren't for 1UP, I probably wouldn't have started toomanywires.co.uk, nor written elsewhere online.

Farewell 1UP, you shall not be forgotten.

2. Metal Gear: Rising Frustration

I had a feeling I wouldn't enjoy Metal Gear Rising. As it turns out, I was right. I found it to be repetitive, seriously lacking in depth and, most disappointingly, more than a little dull. I realise that I'm in the minority, but I consider Platinum Games to be overrated. However, while I haven't always enjoyed their output, their games are always interesting, something that Rising falls well short of being. It's worth keeping in mind that hack-and-slash is not my genre of choice – I prefer train sims and bust manipulators - but even taking this into account, I was still overwhelmingly disappointed by Revengeance.

With little in the way of instruction, I quickly settled into a groove of spamming light and heavy attacks, sliding around and eventually triggering the slowdown slicing; Zandatsu is fun and, to Platinum's credit, is not over used. Playing on normal, this approach is more than sufficient to slaughter the limited enemy types and mini bosses that inhabit the small arenas that make up the uninspired levels (Sewer-Factory-City etc.). However, the boss battles are something quite different, expecting you to set aside your button spamming ways and rededicate yourself to mastering the parry. I threatened to abandon the game entirely during more than one boss battle, sick to death of missed parries, constantly being dazed and having to bash the left analogue stick back and forth, which has to be the least interesting and satisfying thing you can ask the player to do with their controller.

The camera is awful and the OST sounds like a mix tape of wrestler intro music from the early 2000s (that's not meant as a compliment). There were some highlights, including a fairly entertaining script, and it is satisfying when you dice up an enemy in just the right way, enabling you to quench your thirst with their bionic juices. There was also a run of two consecutive bosses that I really enjoyed (Sundowner and Sam), but then it all went to pot with a prolonged and frustrating final showdown. While Rising has its moments, I won’t be playing it again and am happy to be moving on to something slightly less tortuous (Skyrim DLC!!!!).


The Vita is saved!

3. Vita is King!

Sound the alarm, the Vita is a success! For a fortnight, in Japan. Sony cut the price of the Wi-Fi model from ¥24,980 to ¥19,980 (£139, $208) at the end of February. The more expensive 3G model is also now retailing at that lower price, which would suggest that it's being discontinued. This permanent discount resulted in one of, if not the best week for Sony's troubled portable. Sales more than quadrupled for the week ending 3rd March, coming in at 62,543 units, up from an abysmal 11,456 the week previous. In part due to the release of Soul Sacrifice, the huge popularity of Phantasy Star Online 2 and everyone's favourite bouncy-tits-samurai game, Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, the Vita continued its revival last week, beating out the all-conquering 3DS for the top spot in the hardware charts.

This price cut, along with some well received software, has worked wonders for the Vita, but we will have to wait and see whether this is a trend or brief respite before we return to prophecies of doom. Before you get your hopes up for something similar in the West, Sony has already said that nothing immediate is on the cards, thanks to a “bastard exchange rate”. Even if the hardware did receive a comparable reduction, I just don't see it having quite the same affect here, where retailers are already discounting the sluggish Vita. Still, it wouldn't hurt to try.

4. To Monster Hunter or not to Monster Hunter?

I thought I'd be playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on my brand new Wii U. While the price of Nintendo's latest home console may have fallen over the last couple of months, so has my level of interest. While it already features games that I'd probably enjoy, I've seen nothing that warrants purchasing the hardware. £200 is still a lot of money for a stop-gap, occasional plaything, which is what it would likely be in our house. Knowing that I'll probably shell-out for a PS4 at launch – I can stretch to £400 for a new PlayStation, but anything above that would require some serious soul searching - it's hard to justify throwing coin at a Wii U.

My lack of a Wii U does not preclude me from joining the hunt, however, as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is also coming out for the 3DS. Even still, I cannot decide whether or not I'm on board, no matter how gloriously shit those free t-shirt, preorder bonuses look. I have had a tumultuous relationship with MonHan and came away from last month's 3DS demo unimpressed and dizzy. The fact that it did not support the Circle Pad Pro, something that the full game will, was a big disappointment and I could not get to grips with the standard controls, nor move the camera without coming to a standstill. It's a shame that online multiplayer (without Wii U support) will not be available for the 3DS. As I'm unlikely to have an opportunity to try it locally, I'd just end up running around like a headless chicken yet again, unsure of what to smack, when to smack it and what to smack it with. I'm not sure if lonesome Monster Hunter really appeals, but I haven't ruled it out. Is anybody else considering the 3DS or Wii U versions?

Comments

  1. Daydream Drooler15 March 2013 at 01:59

    1up will be missed, I loved it there and loved the friends I made there. I just wish the trolls never ruined it for people, couldn't stand that shit. I just wish I could find or make a site like 1up again, I loved reading every ones blogs.
    MGR and GOW, both beat em up games and both have been disappointments to everyone so far. the one beat em up I picked up has been an awesome game, DmC is a must. Best combat system I've played and it has a really great story to boot. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys games like GOW or MGR

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1UP was great when we had a group of active bloggers. There was always something well written and interesting to read.

      I'm sure I'll play DmC later in the year. I certainly seem to be hearing lots of good things about it.

      Cheers

      Delete
  2. 1up leaving was surreal. I knew it would happen eventually, but actually seeing it was not something I was prepared for. Still, the new Play Station forum and Pixlbit will keep my two favorite things about the site alive. Of course, it also means I have to go to IGN to read Jeremy Parish's stuff. As for Monster Hunter, just avoid it because we both know what will happen. You'll play it for a little bit, then stop playing for something like The Last of Us, then six months later you'll write something saying how you've neglected it and it deserves better. Then once you give it some attention, you'll write something on how the series just isn't for you. Best just to skip that
    Also: 2004>2009.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheeky bastard! Stop denying me content. I've got to write about something :)

      1UPs demise definitely makes sense, but I think I had just taken for granted that it would always be there, ready for me to dip back into whenever I found the time. I keep meaning to start a Pixlbit account....

      Cheers

      Delete
    2. Here's what you should do for content instead: Play Pokemon. Write about Pokemon. Problem solved.

      Delete
  3. Going to miss 1up even though I stopped going there a long time ago. To be honest I can't believe this didn't happen months ago. The community was the best part but everyone left. It will be missed though.

    I'm with you on Platinum. Extremely over hyped. I bought Metal Gear Rising but haven't even started it and really have no desire to. Simply bought it because it's a Metal Gear game.

    Hopefully the Vita can keep it up and get some developers on board. It's such an amazing device. Looking forward to Soul Sacrifice.

    I think about buying a Wii U all the time. The problem is it's because I want to play some Wii games. Xenoblade and Last story to be exact. I figure I should just buy a Wii U instead of buying a Wii to play them. Holding off though to see if Bravery Default gets a NA release then I will just buy a 3DS instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Metal Gear connection will only get you so far with Rising. There are plenty of nods to series convention, but it is a Platinum game first, and a MG title a distant second. Still, that's probably as it should be, but it's just not for me.

      I was looking at a Wii U this morning, but I can't sell myself on it. I know it's going to get cheaper in time and maybe even get a larger HD, so I'm much better off waiting. As much as I'd like to play MH online, its not enough to justify the expense. I think...

      Fingers crossed for Bravely Default.

      Cheers

      Delete
  4. Going to miss 1up. Like others have mentioned, I knew it would go at some point and yet still felt very surprised. Glad I started my own blog before that news hit or it would have been that much harder.

    I hope the Vita can turn it around, but I am still not very optimistic to be honest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good that most of us seem to have our own blogging space elsewhere, though it's much harder following everyone when they aren't all in one place. It's great you were able to preserve the Play Station club though.

      Cheers

      Delete

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