Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Legacy of Kain:Intro

   A few weeks ago I made a list of the top five games I would like to see remade or remastered in HD.  One of the entries on the list might not have very familiar to you (or at all for that matter.)  I'm talking about the Legacy of Kain series.  Now, I was very vague on the list because I simply couldn't provide the adequate back-story without the entry being ridiculously long. I will be going over each game separately so the stories of each are kept separate.   The vampire mythology in the games is already kind of hard to follow, but when they add time travel, alternate histories, and multiple destinies unfolding over the course of the entire series, summing the story up in a reasonable length might be difficult.   Nonetheless, I will do my best and try not to go too deep into the multiple paradoxes.

  Welcome to Nosgoth.  A Gothic land where vampires rule, magicians and necromancers play with the strings of fate, and everyone talks in a vaguely Shakespearean fashion.  Well, except for the vampires ruling part.  At the time of the first game, Blood Omen:Legacy of Kain, there is only one vampire left in the world, due to a massive vampire purge led by a holy brotherhood of warrior priests known as the Sarafan several hundred years prior.  The Sarafan where under the control of The Circle of the Nine: a group of nine sorcerers who where tasked with guarding and directly linked to the Pillars of Nosgoth: the source of life in the land.  Each pillar is linked to a specific attribute: time, death, mind, and dimension to name a few.  The duty came with the gift of longevity as well as the powers pertaining to the pillar which the guardian served.  The state of the pillars directly reflects the mental state of the guardian, and thus the overall health of the land.  At the beginning of the first game, we learn that someone has murdered the Balance Guardian, Ariel, causing her lover Nuprator, the Guardian of the Mind, to fall into madness.  In his insanity, he cursed all of the remaining members with dementia, corrupting the pillars.  This is the first of many recurring plot points throughout the series.
The Nine Pillars of Nosgoth
  With this brief history of Nosgoth, I will leave you with these links and the promise of more on the way.
  • Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (coming eventually)
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver( coming eventually)
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 (coming eventually)
  • Blood Omen 2 ( coming eventually)
  • Legacy of Kain: Defiance (coming eventually)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Top Five Needed Reboots/HD Remakes

   In recent years, many game companies have rehashed and rebooted their most popular franchises, or simply remade them in HD.    While many great games and franchises have been brought back to the masses, here are the top five games I would like to see get an update. 
  • 5) Half-Life/Return To Castle Wolfenstein  
   These are two of my all-time favorite PC first-person-shooter games.  They are also the only FPS games on this list.  That being said, they are only this low because they kind of already have an update.  Half-Life has been brought back with a fan game called Black Mesa, made using the Source Engine.  While it faithfully retells the harrowing adventure of Gorden Freeman through the Black Mesa Research Facility, as well as improving it in many ways, it would still be nice to have a game made by Valve itself. The same goes for Return.  While it hasn't received a direct reboot, the Wolfenstein saga will continue with the release of Wolfenstein: A New Order.  From what I have seen, New Order will contain a great many elements from Return, but it would still be amazing to see that story with the graphics that we have today.  
Super Soldiers(L)Return (R)New Order
The Luger

    Half-Life to Black Mesa
  •  4) Final Fantasy 6(3)/Chrono Trigger 
   I know what you are probably thinking, "Another combination? I thought this was a top five?"  And it is......kinda.   These first two choices are the only combos on the list, and they're only combined because I feel the same way about both of them.  
   That being said, any kind of remake of either of these games has been a plea of many gamer for quite some time.  Some people might cry foul for not putting these games at the top of the list, and that's okay by me.  Don't get me wrong, these are two of my favorite games.  It's just that these games are so well made, it's hard to think of how they could be improved.  When it comes to Final Fantasy, remakes are kind of a tough subject.  Games 1-3 have been remade several times for various devices, and FF 4 has been done to death.  But when it comes to FF 6 and 7, Square Enix has been adamant in their resolve to not remake them until they can make a game that surpasses them, despite the fact that they would basically be printing money.  
   Chrono Trigger on the other hand, has far less news behind it.  The only thing I know about it, is that fans want another Chrono game, but Square Enix denies them their desire.  They have even gone so far as to shut down an independent developer who was working on a 3D tribute to the game.  All the fans ever got was an amazing trailer and crushed dreams. 

  • 3) Star Wars Battlefront
   There! I said it!  Yes, I am one of those fans.  I have always loved Star Wars Battlefront, from the first time I played it with Sister-in-law's brother, to just the other day.  I know that Battlefront 3 has been announced but that won't take it of my list.  I feel that with the advancements that have been made in gaming technology, this game could truly stand up to the other FPS heavy hitters.  (I know I said I would only have two FPS games on here, but technically, it's a third-person-shooter.)  

  • 2) The Legacy of Kain Series
   This is one of the more obscure entries on this list.  Not many people know of the Gothic fantasy realm of Nosgoth, and the vampires inhabitants who weave their tales of fate.   This is exactly why I think it is ripe for a reboot.  Heck.  The developers, Crystal Dynamics, have already rebooted one of their other star franchises: Tomb Raider.  With games like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 on the rise, as well as the popularity of the antihero, I think a return to Nosgoth is well overdue.

  • 1) Metal Gear
   Never before have I wanted a remake so bad!  I know they made the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection a while back, but really all they did was smooth over the pixels.  It still looked amazing, but something was still amiss.  The lack of the first MGS game was a huge letdown, but the inclusion of Peace Walker gave many people a chance to play through an amazing story without owning a PSP.  But I digress.  The main reason for my recent obsession is the release of MGS5.  The new Fox Engine that it is built around is absolutely breathtaking!   If Hideo Kojima were to remake the entire MGS saga using Fox, I would literally die!  But more specifically, MGS 3:Snake Eater: aka, my favorite game in the series.  The fact that the newest game takes place a few years before the first Metal Gear could open the door for the possibility of remakes and improvements galore! 
Snake after eye-patch
Snake Before eye-patch

Fox Engine. Enough said.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Attack on Titan Tribute Game Review (Severely Outdated)

  What can be said about Attack on Titan that hasn't been said before.....beside the fact that the game is really freakin' hard!  But I digress, as this is to be a informative review, not a testament to my own skill. I am here to relay some of the facts about the game, as well as my own personal opinions.
   I'm going to assume that most people who read this already know what Attack on Titan is.  However, you may have found this page by accident and have just kept on reading.  Anyway, here is a (very) brief, spoiler free, overview.  Attack on Titan is a manga\anime that has become exceedingly popular in just the past year or so alone.  It takes place in a fantasy world where humanity has been brought to near extinction by large, deformed, humanoid giants called titans, who's only apparent reason for existence is to eat humans.  Mankind's main form of combat against these foul beasts is what is known as Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear.  This concept is the basis for the game
3D Maneuver Gear in action.

   Graphics-wise, the game might look kind of kiddy at first glance.  But if there is one thing I've learned about games, it's this: never judge a game by its pixel count.  The developer obviously put a lot of effort into his work to make you feel like you where one of the last soldiers of mankind, struggling to defeat a seemingly unbeatable foe. It was built using the Unity Graphics Engine, a popular choice for Indie developers.  The freedom of mobility that is offered in the game feels like it would be right at home in a spider-man game.  
    The titans in the game are not as diverse in appearance as they are in the show.  On the show, no two titans are alike, whereas in the game, there are only two kinds of appearance: a blonde haired titan, and a titan that most refer to as a genghis, do to its pointy mustache and beard.   However, though they may look the same, the titans come in a variety of sizes, from about twice your height, too taller than most f the buildings.  The behavior is unique as well.  Most titans will ignore you until you get close, but some, actively chase after you in some manner, be it dancing after you or crawling.  While they're officially called abnormals or variants, I like to call these titans "Nopes".   There is even a difficulty in he game that turns all titans on the map into nopes.  This makes an already harrowing task that much more terrifying, because now you have legions of bloodthirsty giants actively seeking you out, even going so far as to leap as high in the sky as you are just to take a bite. This aspect of the game really sets a tone of battling for survival against an enemy that you cannot truly predict.

    The actual game itself consists of four levels (not counting the training level) which are just your basic,"Kill all titans" objective.  There is one where you swing around the map collecting supplies, but that is by far the least eventful mission (good for practicing speed swinging though.)  The true fun begins in multi-player.   There, you can team up with your friends for massive, epic boss battles taken from the show, as well as the solo mission that you might have had trouble with before.  
    A variety of character choices is also a big plus.  The roster of popular characters makes the game that much more fun to play, as each character has a special ability, be it a spin attack, ground pound, fast running, titan distraction, and something else that I would go into, but I think it would be a spoiler (You'll just have to watch the show.)    In combination with the previously mentioned highlights, putting all of it into a rather large map means that no two battles will go the same way.
   All in all, this is a very solid game by any standard (Kudos to the developer.)  While the combat mechanics take a little getting used to, it only makes mastering the game that much more satisfying.  I would highly recommend playing this game (it's free for crying out loud!).  If you do play it, let me know what you think.  Was it great, good, "meh", or bad?  Thank you for reading, and good hunting.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On Arrows and Knees

     It doesn't really matter how long you have been following gaming, chances are you know this eternally overused meme.  It has also gained fame among many non-gamers who may not know where it originated or what it means.   I am here to share a few of the many theories of the arrow to the knee epidemic. 
    The quote is one of many stock phrases that the many hold guards have at their disposal in Bethesda's 2011 open-world fantasy game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.  As you casually stroll through a town, the guards may comment on your sword, your guild, your achievements up to that point, etc. etc., or they my say the iconic line,"I used to be an adventurer like you, until I took an arrow in the knee."   Many people believe that the guards are speaking literally, and that ever single guard in Skyrim has at some point in their life taken an arrow to the knee. This is obviously a little farfetched as there are hundreds if not thousands of guards in Skyrim.  However, there is one theory that could unmask the conspiracy underneath the vast number of injured denizens of Skyrim: the paid hit-man theory.  Skyrim is clearly based on viking society, and at that time, medical practices were not quit as sophisticated as they are now (shocker, I know).  Back then, the only way to heal a shattered bone was to remove it altogether and hope the tendons grew back together properly.   As it turns out, one of the oldest medical laws from that time said, in simple terms: "for every additional bone fragment removed from the body, the doctors bill increases".  In addition, the kneecap is one of the easiest bones to remove. The paid hit-man theory postulates that perhaps the doctors of Skyrim hired hit-men to go around shooting adventurers in the knee and leave them alive. This way, the unfortunate adventurer, would have to crawl to the nearest town for medical treatment, which means more gold in the pouches of the local doctor.  While not the most founded theory, I can see how this might work into the game.   For the more lengthy version, you can watch it at its source: Game Theory: Skyrim, On the Subject of Arrows and Knees.
      Another theory is quite simple: all the guards got married!  This theory is somewhat more plausible than the previous one.  Rumor has it, "Taking an arrow in the knee" is Nordic (the main inhabitants of Skyrim are called Nords) slang for getting married.  Some have cried foul at this claim because, in viking society, women were highly respected as homemakers.  So such a snide comment about how crippling their marriage has been doesn't make much sense.  That was until you realize one thing.  What happens when your knee gets hit with an arrow?  Please stand up for a moment.  Okay, good, now stand with your legs about shoulder width apart with your right foot slightly behind you and your left in front of you.  Now being careful, gently hit the bend of your right knee.  What position are you in now?  Are you kneeling?  Good.  That is what I think this saying means: not a derogatory remark about ones spouse, but the opposite, that you were so in love you fell to you knee like you were hit with an arrow. (I am not responsible for any knee injuries received during the exercise.)
     The third and final theory can really only be understood by longtime fans of the Elder Scrolls series.  The passing quip of a hold guard may really be Bethesda's way of poking fun at the differences between the armor in the forth installment, Oblivion, and the fifth, Skyrim, mainly the lack of specific knee armor in the latter.   This was a cleaver trick on the developers part.
     If these theories have anything in common, it is that they are just that: theories.  I'm sure I didn't cover all of possible reasons for the rampant arrow-to-the-knee-itis which seems to be plaguing Skyrim's adventurers, but I do believe these are some of the most popular.   Please be sure to tell me in the comments which one you think is the most plausible, or even better, tell me any theories you have heard.