Saturday, December 15, 2007

Please excuse the F'ed up header image

Apparently Blogger is attempting to fix some errors with other people's blogs and they are creating other errors in the process with people that haven't been affected up until now. You can surf on over to the Help Group to see plenty of threads about this issue. Hopefully this will be fixed soon.

Until then you'll have to just stare at the bottom half of Chris Redfield's face.


Well, it seems that all of this was planned by our friends at Blogger without even a little note or any type of message about this update.

You can view the details and all the negative responses to the announcement about this situation here.

I guess I'll spend some of my time this weekend viewing the info on this blog in order to fix my header. Hopefully it won't be that bad, even though I have very little html knowledge.


Nevermind. I just got it fixed with the help of a poster in that thread up above! Nice to see the blog fully Resident Evily once again. ;p

Supposedly there is a fix coming for larger headers like mine also.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Out of the few people that posts on this blog...

There is only one person that usually adds comments to my posts on here (besides Seph), and today that person in question is one year older and probably tired out from work as I type this... Most likely dreaming of media and games in HD quality.

So without further ado, this post is dedicated to you buddy!

Happy Birthday, Nish!

Hopefully, sickness isn't still getting in the way of your gaming today! :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow - Review

This review originally posted on Gamers' Temple.

Player(s): 1-8
Memory: 624 KB
Wi-Fi Compatibility: Ad Hoc, Infrastructure

Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is the follow up to last year's Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror that ushered in a new camera and control system for the Syphon Filter series in order to fit the PSP control setup. Dark Mirror was received with much praise and helped to showcase the way a third person action game should be controlled with the lack of a right analog. Now, Logan's Shadow improves upon that gameplay by adding new features that make the overall control scheme feel even better.

Gabe Logan once again finds himself thrown into another terrorist situation, only this time out in the middle of the ocean, while his partner Lian Xing is on vacation. He sweeps through a tanker in order to keep terrorists from getting their hands on an item in a certain cargo hold that government officials will not reveal the content of. Later Gabe returns to base only to find that his partner Lian Xing is not on vacation, but she is on the run, accused of being a double agent. Gabe and his crew set out on a mission to search for Lian and find out exactly what she is doing.

The overall story of Logan's Shadow takes just as many twists and turns as Dark Mirror. Basically, no one is to be trusted. It has some rather surprising turn of events at times and one hell of a cliffhanger ending. The single player portion of the game carries on with the same action gameplay that Dark Mirror upgraded and this time Gabe has a few new abilities.

Gabe now has a new grab move where he can grab an enemy that gets close to him and use that enemy as a shield while aiming at others. This is really useful for when an enemy decides to run up and try to shoot you from your hiding spot - instead of having to quickly aim at him, you can now just grab him and use him as a temporary cover shield while aiming at other enemies. A gauge will appear in the upper right hand corner of the screen that displays how much the enemy is struggling. Once it fills then the enemy will break free, but you can always kill the enemy by simply pressing down on the D-pad and pressing the appropriate button that appears on the QTE (Quick Time Event) afterward.

Speaking of QTE's, Logan's Shadow incorporates many of them throughout the course of the game. Many of them are not included in cutscenes however, they are mainly used to perform a specific action while Gabe tries to lift an object or force an object into place. They are usually few and far between.

Blind fire can now be used while taking cover behind a wall or crate. Press the fire button to make Gabe stick his arms out and fire his gun to the side or overhead. There is no targeting cursor while performing this but it has a chance of hitting an enemy. Blind fire is mainly used for distracting the enemy so Gabe can quickly move to another area while enemies hide from the gunfire.

Like a multitude of other shooters, explosive canisters have now been placed in the background and can be shot in order to take down several enemies at once. One noticeable aspect of this feature is that most of the time enemies do not even try to run or take any kind of cover while a flame-spewing canister rolls behind them ready to explode. The enemies will run from a grenade, but usually not from a canister.

Gabe also regains his health if he sustains damage and doesn't receive any for a certain amount of time. This eliminates the need of first aid kits and having to worry about whether or not you have enough life to get through the remainder of the level. One might think that this would make the game too easy, but when enemies can take you down in a matter of seconds in later levels, it is a very welcome addition!

Once again the camera is linked to the face buttons, so you have to hold a face button to move the camera just like in Dark Mirror. There is a new over-the-shoulder view, which was first introduced in Dark Mirror for the PS2 that has been implemented in Logan's Shadow in place of the auto-aim that was in the PSP Dark Mirror. Yes, you heard that right; there is no auto-aim this time on the default control setup - you'll have to turn it on in the options menu if you want it this time. By default, the L button pulls up an over-the-shoulder view and zooms in on the action in front of Gabe. This makes aiming a bit easier mainly because of the zooming. It's a welcome feature for a game that relies on face button aiming.

The overall control setup actually feels more comfortable this time when compared to the controls for Dark Mirror. Dark Mirror's overall control scheme was one of the best for a 3rd person shooter on the PSP, but the extra moves and features that are in Logan's Shadow make the controls even better. I still find myself panicking at times while trying to shoot an approaching enemy since the aiming is still hard to adjust, but the grab now gives me another option for when enemies get too close.

Along with his new moves, Logan's Shadow also throws in a few underwater levels. Controls for underwater sequences are, in one word, "good" - they're not mediocre, very good, or fantastic, just "good". While swimming around on the surface, the controls remain the same as when Gabe moves around on dry land. Once Gabe dives under, the face buttons must be used for steering and the left analog is used to move in whatever direction that the camera is pointing. It all works, but it takes some getting used to - especially when it comes to fighting enemies underwater. You have to keep in mind that projectile weapons fire slower while underwater, so a moving target can get quite annoying. There is one underwater portion where Gabe is forced to hit falling depth charges in order to hit a sub - this portion takes a bit of patience and some good aiming skills.

Boss fights can still be just as easy as they were in Dark Mirror if you use just the right weapon or have some good aim. A heavily armored boss may fall victim to a single EDT dart. Shoot the boss with a dart then watch as he dies instantly from being shocked. Some boss fights require a bit more skill however.

The overall look of Logan's Shadow looks about the same as Dark Mirror, which already pushed the PSP quite a bit. A few touch-ups have been added here and there. The environments look much more solid in Logan's Shadow and it has some really good water effects while moving on the top of the water for a PSP game. The water has a shiny appearance and ripples flow across the surface while Gabe moves through it. Some environmental effects help Gabe to make use of his thermal goggles this time - like when an enemy shoots a fire extinguisher, Gabe must put on his thermal goggles to see through the mist. Facial expressions during cutscenes add a lot of life to the characters when they speak - they're noticeably better this time and the camera seems to focus on faces much more whenever a character speaks. Once again they have changed the look of Gabe Logan - it seems that he looks different with every new installment in the series while everyone else remains basically the same.

The audio once again sounds pleasing much like Dark Mirror's soundtrack. Logan's Shadow incorporates vocal tracks and soothing music in place of the epic feel of Dark Mirror's but it matches the overall character-driven plot of Logan's Shadow between Gabe and Lian. The voices are still the exact same as they were in Dark Mirror thanks to the returning cast.

The game comes complete with a multiplayer mode and a few unlockable bonus missions. Just like in Dark Mirror, you can still find Hidden Evidence throughout the story missions to unlock bonus content for each chapter. Training missions are included yet again, but some of the training missions are direct copies of the ones from Dark Mirror.

It's good to have played the other Syphon Filters in the series before playing this one (mainly for familiarity with Gabe's team - especially Lian) but it will not handicap you too much if you haven't. A few names will fly right over your head and you won't be as familiar with some of the characters that Gabe meets up with (like Maggie from Syphon Filter 3), but you'll still be able to understand most of the plot. Gabe also mentions a few events from his past during the story as well, but all of them are just hinted at and have little relevance to the story - he mainly uses the information for comparison to what is happening at that time.

Logan's Shadow is an easy pickup for fans of the Syphon Filter series. Do you like Dark Mirror and want more? Then get Logan's Shadow. If you've been putting off Gabe's games because of his mediocre adventures (Syphon Filter 3, Omega Strain) then it is time for you to pick up his PSP adventures and rejoice at Gabe Logan's return to glory. Sure, his aiming may be off at times, but Gabe Logan can still hold his ground very well while next to Sam Fisher and Solid Snake.

The Good

+ Great sound and voice acting
+ Graphics have been upgraded from Dark Mirror and include some better environments and realistic water effects
+ Many new techniques - swimming, grappling opponents, blind fire, in-game healing
+ Improved controls, especially with the over-the-shoulder aiming, which helps to make face button targeting more precise

The Bad

- Swimming controls work, but they can lead to frustration at times
- Enemy AI can be dumb at times
- Some boss fights are way too easy

Graphics: 9.0
Controls: 9.0
Sound: 9.0
Gameplay: 9.0

Once again, Gabe Logan sets out on another PSP adventure that plays just as smoothly as his last one.

And therefore, Berserker dubs thee: 9/10

Monday, December 3, 2007

Silent Hill: ├śrigins FAQ/Walkthrough

Just wanted to make a small post to mention that my Silent Hill: Origins guide is now up on GameFAQs, IGN FAQs, Cheat Happens, Gamesradar, and just about every other site that emails me and asks to host it.

Silent Hill: Origins FAQ/Walkthrough by Berserker

A possible story synopsis will be added and an enemies section will be included for sure eventually - I actually removed the enemy section shortly before submitting it since I wanted to add a bit more into to it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Poll #4 - Game of the Year?

Well, I must say, it has been one fantastic year for gaming so far. Have you even been able to play all the games that you were wanting to from the vast majority that is flooding the market at the moment? I haven't myself... But anyway, out of the ones that you have played, what's your own personal game of the year?

I would probably pick The Orange Box if I had bought it this year, but right now I have to give it to God of War II. I beat that entire game in one sitting on my first time through. I feel it was one of the most epic games I have played in quite a while and it stole many hours of my life. I even went through Titan Mode twice.

Assassin's Creed is a great experience so far but I find myself taking short breaks from it (like right now) to play other games (like VF5 and SH: Origins), Metroid Prime 3 really made me love my Nintendo Wii, and, as already mentioned, Virtua Fighter 5 is still being played as we speak, but God of War II still comes out ahead.

Poll #3 Results

I wanted to end this poll a bit early since I have had another one in mind ever since I started this one and wanted to put that one up.

Which current console have you gotten the most gameplay out of this year?

Nintendo DS
0 (0%)

Nintendo Wii
6 (18%)

2 (6%)

Playstation 2
18 (54%)

Playstation 3
5 (15%)

0 (0%)

Xbox 360
2 (6%)

Total votes = 33

Another reason that I ended this one is because it's very clear to me what most of you have been playing this year. I pretty much expected these results, but I'm a bit shocked at the lack of Xbox 360 support.

EDIT: Kudos to those of you that voted too. I'm quite surprized to have that many votes in a month!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Current Gaming - Assassin's Creed, Logan's Shadow, Silent Hill Origins

Assassin's Creed

I said that I wasn't going to pick up Assassin's Creed this year, but seeing the game on the store shelves got the best of me. Dear god, I picked up the Limited Edition! :D

It was kind of funny how I wound up with the Limited Edition since I was looking for the normal version at Best Buy. They were out of the normal version on the shelves and I asked a BB employee about the game. He went to search for it then I spotted the Limited Edition to the side while he searched on for the normal version. At that point, I basically fanned him away and said, "This will do."

Anyway, yeah, the game has some fantastic gameplay so far. I love how quickly Altair can move throughout the city - it makes chases really fun! The story isn't exactly what I expected, mainly the setup of the story. I won't spoil anything, so I won't mention anything about it. The setup does work well for the overall game however.

Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow

I'm quite surprised at the controls for this more than anything else. There is no auto-aim this time. It has been replaced by an over-the-shoulder aiming that was presented in the PS2 version of Dark Mirror. It helps out quite a bit for aiming since it causes the screen to zoom in a bit when the camera switches to the over-the-shoulder view.

Gabe can actually regain health in this one by hiding himself for a while. For those of you that know how intense Syphon Filter shootouts can be, this is a most welcome feature.

I really haven't gotten far enough to judge the story yet, but so far it is about as interesting as Dark Mirror was. The sound for this one is much more lively than previous games. Dark Mirror's sound was very epic but so far this one's soundtrack sounds even better. When I turned off the PSP for the first time since playing it, I was actually humming the tune from the first few levels still. There is even a vocal song at one point.

Silent Hill: Origins

I'm almost done with my guide for this game. I'm about halfway through the Riverside Motel, so I'm coming along very well! I was hoping to post this up by Friday, but I doubt I'll have it completely finished by then. It should be released for sure by next week though. Still haven't really decided if I'm going to move on to a guide for Umbrella Chronicles after this or not. UC didn't really amaze me as much as I thought it would so I'm not really sure if I could stay focused on a guide for it and also there is still something else I would like to add to this Silent Hill: Origins guide before I move on - I was thinking about a Story Synopsis.

11/29 UPDATE for Silent Hill: Origins FAQ

Nah, this guide won't be up tomorrow but it will be up next week for sure. I spent a good chunk of the day on just the ASCII art for this guide and it is looking quite good at the moment. The walkthrough is completely finished, though lacking proofreading in some parts which I will get to tomorrow and this weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men (X360) - Review

this review originally posted on Gamer's Temple.

Player(s): 1-2, co-op: 2, system link: 1-8
Memory: 60KB
HD Support: 720p/1080i/1080p
Sound Support: Dolby Digital, custom soundtrack
Achievements: 47
Xbox LIVE Support: online multiplayer: 4-8, leaderboards, voice chat

Developer IO Interactive first shocked gamers around the world with their Hitman series a few years back. Straying away from the stealth gameplay of Hitman, they have now taken a chance on an action-based crime story, Kane and Lynch. Kane and Lynch captures the overall atmosphere and style of gameplay that fans expect from IO Interactive while taking a break from most of the stealth elements from their most popular series.

While on his way to his execution, Kane is broken out of a police van through an outside interference and Lynch, one of the fellow prisoners, revitalizes Kane with adrenaline and the two escape from the police. The group that broke him out of the police van (known as The7, a group that Kane previously worked with) orders Kane to find a stash of loot that he took from them in exchange for his wife's and daughter's lives. With the help of Lynch, Kane sets out to retrieve the stolen loot and save his family.

The story takes place in many different areas that are far different from each other, so you're constantly placed in fresh surroundings. The game's atmosphere can get quite immersive throughout the stages. There is one nightclub area that Kane and Lynch must work their way through in order to meet-up with a certain person. Before long, guns are fired and the whole crowd inside goes frantic during the middle of the gunfight - it's quite an eye-pleasing experience. Other stages will take you through many buildings and city streets and many other areas as cops and other groups pursue you.

For a game that is called "Kane and Lynch", one would think we would learn some information about both characters equally, but the majority of the plot deals with Kane. Lynch's past is basically only hinted at through his actions and the dialogue between the two - Lynch appears to be a very troubled character with quite a past too! Even though the story mainly focuses on Kane, he is a very strong character and the entire game is very character driven even in Lynch's case. We learn much about Kane and Lynch's personality through their cutscene and in-game dialogue and they are both interesting characters that make a great team.

The overall gameplay is pretty standard third person run and gun. There are a few breaks in the gunplay such as repelling down a building or meeting up with a certain person, but for the most part you'll be shooting quite a bit.

Shootouts require you to take cover any place that you can find it. Walk up to the edge of a wall and Kane will automatically lean up against it. This automatic cover system can lead to problems where Kane will not lean up against a wall or face a desired direction at times, but for the most part it works well once you get used to it. While leaning up against a wall, Kane can lean out and aim or he can target an enemy and fire blindly. Blind fire reduces accuracy quite a bit, but it works quite well for tense shootouts.

The camera stays behind Kane while moving and can be rotated with the right analog. Hold L trigger to aim and the game will switch over to an over the shoulder view with a slightly bigger targeting cursor. Even while aiming, the targeting cursor is quite small and I had a few problems with it getting lost among white building walls, but it can be seen well for most areas despite that discrepancy.

Kane always has a partner with him and commands can be issued out to the partner through a simplistic controller command scheme. Select from partners using the Directional Pad and choose between X, Y, and B to make a partner follow Kane, attack a target, or move to a location respectively. Tap the button to make the currently selected partner perform the command and hold the button to make the whole squad perform the command. It's an easy system that really helps out for some stages. The game doesn't require one to get accustomed to dishing out commands since the partners act on their own unless ordered and most areas can be approached with Kane alone; still, utilizing the command system helps to make some areas easier.

Sometimes the allies can get annoying while trying to aim. There were several instances where an ally was too close to me and I could only see the back of their head while in aiming mode from my perfect covered spot. A few times an ally would run right in front of my cursor while I was shooting as well.

There is no life bar at all and no health items. Once Kane receives enough damage, the screen will turn a transparent red color and the next hit will knock Kane down. Any player can be revived through the use of adrenaline. An ally will give Kane a shot of adrenaline to revive him and the same must be done for allies once they fall. Failure to revive an ally will result in a game over. If a player is revived with too much adrenaline (usually two within a few minutes) then that player will automatically die from an overdose, so you can't just rely on adrenaline shots all the time. As you might expect, this system really helps out for unexpected ambushes in a stage. It seems that Kane is always the center of attention in a gunfight, so he gets shot quite a bit!

The sound is quite good, ranging from mainly quiet music that helps to set up the dark and dreary story for Kane. The dialogue is well written and the voices match the characters well. F-bombs are shouted out quite often, which one would expect from a crime drama. Dialogue is actually spoken during game loading screens, so you get filled-in on the current situation while waiting for the game to load.

In-game character models are very detailed, especially in the case of Kane. His whole face reveals quite a violent past through his bandaged broken nose and facial scar trailing along the left side of his face. Unlike the usual young protagonist, Kane and Lynch are both older as shown with their bald spots and wrinkles. Environments are rendered well and lighting effects are very realistic at certain points. The nightclub area is basically the highlight of the game's overall environmental presentation - it really is beautiful.

The game can be played cooperatively with up to 8 players via Xbox LIVE while playing in the mode known as "Fragile Alliance". Fragile Alliance allows a player to hook up with other mercenaries and perform a bank heist. Stay together and perform the job with the whole team or kill some team members and take their share of the loot thereby breaking the alliance and rendering you a traitor. Once the alliance is broken, the whole group must focus on killing the traitor. Players will respawn as a cop once killed and will gain a 10% bonus for any loot seized by them. The main story mode can be played with 2 players - one player controls Kane while the other player controls Lynch. It is played in a split screen format and each player has different objectives to accomplish per stage.

The story mode will last you for about a good 7-8 hours so the game is about average length. The difficulties range from easy, normal, and hard. There is an achievement for completing hard difficulty but there are no unlockables associated with beating the game on any level.

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men is a real good pickup for someone that doesn't mind the standard run and gun gameplay mixed with an interesting story. The story has a unique atmospheric feel to it that IO interactive is known for.

The Good:

+ Interesting story and characters
+ Immersive atmosphere
+ Simple yet useful partner system
+ Online multiplayer through Fragile Alliance and 2 player co-op play

The Bad:

- Small white aiming cursor can get lost in backgrounds
- AI of allies can get annoying at times

Graphics: 8.5
Controls: 8.0
Sound: 9.0
Gameplay: 8.0

Kane and Lynch is quite a good crime drama experience and serves as a plausible move away from the Hitman stealth series that IO Interactive is very well known for.

And therefore Berserker dubs thee: 8.4/10

Monday, November 19, 2007

FAQ Progress

Final Fantasy XII

I really want to finish this FAQ to where I would be happy with it. I really do... but I am so burnt out on this game at the moment, its getting hard to even open the document.

The steal/poach/drop list that I was working on fell victim to data corruption, so that went down the drain. In a way though, I'm glad something stopped me because that was taking way too long.

I might just add some minor things later and dub this one finished.

Metroid Prime 3

Speaking of being burnt out on a game, I am at the Pirate Homeworld on this one and am about 75% of the way through with this guide, but I have pretty much lost interest in working on this one at the moment.

I just get tired of the routine involved in gathering all the information before I go to type up the guide. This one will probably be delayed to sometimes next year, but I do plan on finishing this one since I'm so close. I'm really glad that I didn't release this one early, like I had planned on doing about a month ago - I would feel the need to finish it if that were the case.

Silent Hill: Origins

Now this is where the party's at. I've already finished a complete item list for this game complete with room names, so it serves as a nice template for when I type up the actual walkthrough portion (all items are in checklists boxes for each room). I might type up guides like this more often, since everything is not crowded on me at once in this case.

I wrote up the entire hospital section today and I'll probably start with the Sanitarium tomorrow. This one should be done soon since I'm having a good time working on this one. I'd like to do a guide for Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles if I feel like it after finishing with Origins.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Poll #3 - Which current console have you gotten the most gameplay out of this year?

In all honesty, I think it is a tie between the PS2 and Wii for me, but as the year progresses, I think I will be playing the Wii just a bit more than the PS2 for this year. PS2 has no new games that I am expecting to play either.

The Wii's control scheme is so fantastic when you feel the need to lie down and play a game casually no matter what game that may be. I always sit to the side of my TV and I can just lie there and use the Wii-mote just like if I was directly in front of the TV.

Concerning the X360, I tend to be very picky over the games that I play and the X360's game lineup just doesn't interest me that much this year for the most part. With the more recent games that I've played, I'm more addicted to gaining their Achievements than I am on actually completing the game for enjoyment. Not that that's bad, just noticeable.

Poll #2 Results

Well, even though the year isn't over, most of the games listed in poll #2 have already been released (one was delayed), so I decided to go ahead and end it.

Which of the following upcoming releases do you intend to buy this year?

Assassin's Creed (PS3/X360)
11 (39%)

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PS3/X360/PC)
5 (17%)

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (PSP)
2 (7%)

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (DS)
4 (14%)

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP)
4 (14%)

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
1 (3%)

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (Wii)
7 (25%)

Silent Hill Origins (PSP)
4 (14%)

Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
4 (14%)

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
8 (28%)

Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow (PSP)
0 (0%)

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)
4 (14%)

The Orange Box [Half-Life 2] (PS3/X360/PC)
3 (10%)

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3)
1 (3%)

Virtua Fighter 5 (X360)
3 (10%)

Total votes = 28

And so many of your prefer Assassin's Creed. It was actually released a few days ago here in the US, and I had to decide between it or RE: Umbrella Chronicles - decisions, decisions, I tell you. ;p By the header image of this blog, I think you know the outcome to that decision.

I'm quite shocked that Super Smash Bros. Brawl didn't do better - that's the main game that I thought would be the most popular.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Silent Hill: Origins - Review

Player(s): 1
Memory: 544KB

Silent Hill: Origins is the first of two Silent Hill installments that is not developed by Team Silent. For those that don't know, Origins was developed by Climax and the upcoming Silent Hill V is being developed by The Collective. Thankfully, gamers have nothing to fear from this first non-Team Silent installment in the main series of Silent Hill because Climax has delivered quite a survival horror experience on the PSP handheld.

A lonely trucker with a shadowy past by the name of Travis Grady is on one of his normal delivery courses that takes him through the town of Silent Hill. He slams on his brakes as a figure runs across the road in front of his truck while on his path into Silent Hill. Once he gets out of his vehicle to investigate, a mysterious girl steps into view then quickly runs off. Travis follows her to see if she is ok as she runs toward the town of Silent Hill and thereby starts a journey in which Travis must face his own personal demons.

Origins takes place before the original Silent Hill game and tells the tale of how the town was consumed in darkness. Travis interacts with many characters from the original Silent Hill throughout the game's cutscenes while dealing with his own dark past. The town once again has a foggy appearance and Otherworld (the Dark World) still looks just as grim as it always does in Silent Hill.

This time, the protagonist has control over which world he is in. By touching a mirror, Travis can travel in between the normal world and Otherworld. This leads to many challenges where one will have to switch between both worlds in order to get to a certain destination. For instance, you may have to enter a certain room in the real world, then use the room's mirror to travel to Otherworld in order to find a certain item that is blocked off in the normal world but is completely open to retrieval in Otherworld.

It's very hard to believe that this a PSP game since Origins has some of the best lighting effects and overall graphics that I have ever seen for a PSP game. The flashlight produces shadows that stretch along walls and floors just like in the PS2 releases and enemies have a shiny appearance from up close that helps to make their grotesque form even more horrific. The only portion of the graphics engine that has a PSP appearance is the character model for each character. A few jagged edges can be noticed on each character while they move. The filter effect (grainy details) helps to hide the environmental jagged edges well - you have to actually look for them if you want to view them.

The camera angles focus in on particular portions of the environment to build tension just like in other Silent Hill titles. With the Silent Hill 4 control scheme that this game carries, some of the camera angle switches can lead to some control issues. Run toward a certain area and the camera will suddenly change and you'll be heading in the wrong direction. Problems like this can get annoying while running from a group of enemies on the streets of Silent Hill. I also had a few problems with the camera not showing me what was in front of my character which lead to some unwanted damage. A player can press the L button to center the camera behind Travis, but while Travis is up against a wall or door, the camera will remain fixed in whatever direction it is currently in.

A survival horror wouldn't be complete without a scary soundtrack that helps to immerse a player into its horrific world and Origins does not disappoint at all in that aspect. The soundtrack is almost absolutely perfect! Travis' footsteps can be heard as he walks, the radio will sound off constantly as enemies approach, enemies yell out as they pursue Travis throughout the corridors of buildings, portions of the soundtrack will play to highlight a climatic portion of the game, among many other wonderful sound effects. The game even starts out with a vocal song as Travis walks toward the entrance to the town of Silent Hill foreshadowing his experiences to come. The only flaw in the soundtrack is a sound bug that sometimes mutes certain sound effects while in some areas of Silent Hill. For the full game experience, make sure to have a set of headphones or you will be missing out on about 25% of the level of immersion from this title!

The combat in Silent Hill Origins has been upgraded quite a bit. Each enemy can get quite aggressive in this game compared to past titles but Travis can fight back just as much. Once an enemy has grabbed Travis then either a button tapping sequence or Quick Time Event (QTE) will occur. Mash the button or wait and tap the correct button as the button icon appears to break free from an enemy grapple and Travis will be able to throw the enemy off. For each weapon, Travis has a light and heavy swing. Some weapons can even be thrown.

With many everyday objects lying throughout rooms, Travis has quite a bit to choose from to use as weapon. Alcohol bottles, wrenches, samurai swords, meat hooks, toasters - hell, you can even throw a filing cabinet at enemies in Origins. Each weapon has a certain amount of health and that health will be consumed per enemy hit. The health ranges from green, yellow, orange, to red. Once a weapon has sustained enough damage from being hit then it will break and Travis will have to switch to something else.

Switching to a different weapon is where a slight problem occurs since you will have to either switch during direct combat or open the inventory and switch to a different weapon. Switch to a weapon in real time and you never know what Travis may be suddenly equipped with. This is not really that much of a problem though, just noticeable.

Travis must also finish certain types of enemies or that enemy will get up once again and attack. This time, enemies are actually finished off with the current weapon that is held instead of the usual kick - which is something I have always wanted in a Silent Hill game! Enemies get up very quickly if they are not finished quick enough which can lead to some problems while fighting multiple enemies. Hit one enemy in a group and knock that enemy down then you better finish off that grounded enemy before it gets up or it will rise once again while the second enemy is still in the area. Types of situations like this can lead to skipping combat altogether. Silent Hill fans should be used to running from enemies, but with a fun combat system, I actually wanted to fight more, but couldn't because of aggressive grouped enemies.

Also, this game can get a bit hard when you're first starting off. It matches the difficulty of the first Silent Hill. Health drinks and other healing items are not scattered as much as they usually are in past Silent Hill titles, so it is a good idea to either perfect your combat skills or just skip enemies altogether near the beginning of the game once the second building is reached. Being a Silent Hill game, one can expect to get lost during the first playthrough at times, and this is the main aspect that can make the game challenging when health items are needed. Practice with combat or running can easily overcome the lack of health items at the beginning however.

As already mentioned, the overall controls scheme remains the same as the controls introduced in Silent Hill 4. Press in any direction to make Travis walk in that direction with the left analog. This particular Silent Hill has the best auto-targeting of any other title in the series. The targeting is very precise allowing one to easily lock-on to a nearby enemy with great ease.

The game clocks in at about 6 hours from beginning to end. This isn't that long for a first time through a survival horror (and I always take my time), but this is the best survival horror experience for a handheld that can be found at the moment. The game has many unlockables and a few extra endings so it does have its share of replay value to keep the experience lively - some extras can only be obtained on a second playthrough.

Though it isn't perfect in all aspects, Silent Hill Origins truly sets the standard for handheld survival horrors that follow. The sound and graphics alone are truly a site to behold. This is a definite pickup for any survival horror fan and should be a worthy playthrough for any other type of gamer as well.

The Good

+ Horrifying soundtrack and sound effects that sound perfect with headphones
+ Incredible in-game graphics that push the PSP to its limits.
+ Fun combat system.
+ With the lack of health items at times, Origins can get hard, like the first Silent Hill

The Bad

- Multiple enemy battles can get very ugly thanks to the finishing aspect.
- Some sound bugs mess up what would be a perfect soundtrack.
- The camera can hide enemies or mess up current controls with the shifting angles.
- With the lack of health items at times, Origins can get hard, like the first Silent Hill

The darkness will spread throughout Silent Hill as its origins are revealed but Silent Hill Origins is far from a nightmare - it is the best portable survival horror experience yet!

Graphics: 9.0
Controls: 8.5
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 8.5

And therefore, Berserker dubs thee: 8.9/10

Friday, November 9, 2007

Current Gaming - Silent Hill Origins

I picked up Silent Hill Origins on Wednesday and managed to beat it today (Friday). It's a fantastic survival horror experience for a portable and one that demands headphones. If you play this game without them then you're NOT getting the full experience. Survival horrors usually use sound to help draw a player in and this one definitely doesn't dissappoint in that area. Origins reminds me a bunch of the first Silent Hill. Groups of enemies are usually very annoying and cause you to run more than fight, just like the first Silent Hill. Also, like the first, the game is hard and you'll be using health items quite a bit!

I'll have a review up for this one in a few days and I might even do a FAQ for this one - I think I could get through one rather quickly. I really need to finish Metroid Prime 3 first though - eh, I might put MP3 on halt or work on them both at the same time. ;p

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles - Review

Back when Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was first released, the game began with the player in control of Richter Belmont as he prepared for the final battle with the dark lord Dracula - but what game did this final battle take place in? For those that don't know the answer the answer, the beginning sequence was actually the last few moments of Akumajo Dracula X: Chi No Rondo (Rondo of Blood) for the Turbo CD that was never released outside of Japan.

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles takes notice to this previously unreleased (outside Japan) title and compiles both Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night along with a remake of Rondo of Blood entitled "The Dracula X Chronicles" on one UMD disc. This collection bridges the gap in between Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night that was left in question when the original Symphony of the Night for PSone was released outside of Japan. Many Castlevania fans will most likely pick this compilation up for Rondo of Blood by itself, but the remake isn't too shabby!

The remake of Rondo of Blood is a faithful modern day version of the original Rondo of Blood that adds a few new segments. There are a few more split paths that were not included in the original and there are also some differently placed items and enemies. A few cutscenes were also added here and there to spice up the connection between Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. Overall, the remake is a bit easier in some parts, though there are some areas that are actually harder than the original. It keeps the standard hard difficulty throughout all of its gameplay. All the hard elements that an old school Castlevania fan will like have been added to the remake.

The remake spans eight stages and has many split paths that can be chosen. The first few stages all have alternate stages that can be traversed if the correct (sometimes hidden) path is chosen. The game plays basically like an old Castlevania (Castlevania 1 - 3, Super Castlevania 4) with a few added features - extra moves and item crushes. Dracula X does not included the ability to whip in diagonal directions like its predecessor Castlevania 4.

There are two characters to choose from - Richter, who is available from the start and Maria, who is available once she is found by Richter. Richter is basically your standard Belmont with a whip. He has the ability to use an item crush super move that will change depending on what weapon he currently has (dagger, axe, holy water, etc.) Maria attacks by tossing out birds and using cute animals for her weapon attacks. Don't be fooled by this display of innocence in Maria however, she is a monster when it comes to playing with her - literally owning everything in her path with birds and animal friends!

As already mentioned, the difficulty of the remake faithfully keeps the hard difficulty of the original Rondo of Blood. The level of difficulty is far from the easier difficulty of a newer Castlevania where you can simply outlevel a boss or use healing potions to even the odds. Each boss requires the player to become familiar with that particular boss' patterns and weaknesses in order to finish him. Fail to finish a stage by sacrificing too many lives and its back to the beginning of the level with you.

The graphics are presented in a pseudo 3-D format much like a Viewtiful Joe game or Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins. This leads to some minor problems in hit detection sometimes, but nothing real game breaking - a whip might pass by an enemy's head at times when you aim for the upper half. The sound is basically what you might expect from the usual Castlevania. It is filled with fan favorites such as Bloody Tears and many of the tracks from the original Rondo of Blood. There is even an option to set up each stage's music, so you can listen to a favorite Castlevania tune all the way throughout the game.

The original Rondo of Blood is a straight port of the Turbo CD version along with a few added options (mainly save options) and English voices for its anime cutscenes. The game ranges from a challenging difficulty to hard as hell - it all depends on how well you know a stage or particular enemy within it and whether you have the right weapon in a certain situation. Some enemies are much more unforgiving with their attacks in the original Rondo of Blood. Enemies will sometimes flood the screen and cause a bit of slowdown while they pursue your character.

It's interesting to play the original Rondo of Blood and see what all was changed in the remake and how it is presented in the original. I still prefer the anime cutscenes from the original Rondo of Blood compared to the remake but both of them are just as fun to play and they both offer different levels of difficulty per stage. What is hard in one might be a cakewalk in the other and vice versa.

One aspect that really helps out for both the remake and original version of Rondo of Blood is the fact that each stage can be chosen for replay once that particular stage is beaten. This really helps out for when you want to explore a stage to find a hidden path or possible item. When you want to find a particular item hidden in a stage that you may have missed the first time, just load up a stage and grab the item then pause the game and exit back out into the main menu without the need to play the entire stage over again.

Oh, and let's not forget the highly regarded Symphony of the Night. This little masterpiece is basically a direct port of the PSone version of Symphony of the Night with a few added features. The Sega Saturn Japanese extras are not in this version for those that are wondering, but Maria is playable once the game has been beaten. All of the voices have been redubbed in this version and the dialogue has been revised. No more "What is a man?" from our familiar dark lord. Here's the revised line for the curious: "Ha! Mankind. A cesspit of hatred and lies! Fight with them then, and die for their sins!"

Most of the voices in Symphony of the Night recreate the characters faithfully by keeping in tune with the voice actors from the original but gamers that have played the original PSone release might not be willing to accept them as much as a first time player. A few of the characters have the same voice in both Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night which helps to link them together well. Alucard's voice actor doesn't quite hit the nail when compared to the original voice actor to me. Some of his lines don't have as much meaning as they once did.

The controls for Symphony of the Night have been altered just a bit to compensate for the lack of the L2 and R2 buttons on the PSP. Mist form now requires a tap of L + R. Thankfully, this doesn't lead to any problems like I originally imagined since tapping both of them together always (for me) uses mist form without error and never accidentally switched to a bat (R) or a wolf (L) once I had become familiar with the command. Even with the precise command, this is the only transformation command that cannot be switched to another button, so it requires a bit of familiarity in the mind of the player that has played other versions.

With three Castlevanias on one UMD, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles is a steal at the MSRP of $29.99 for those that have a PSP. It has a game for whatever type of Castlevania fan you may be - two games (arguably) for the Castlevania fans that want to hit it old school with the difficulty of the original style of Castlevania and one game for the Castlevania fans that prefer an RPG style adventure. Keep in mind that both Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night must be unlocked during the gameplay of the remake, so the remake must be played a little bit in order to gain the extra two games, which can be a negative point for some gamers.

The Good

+ Three Castlevanias all on one UMD - Dracula X Chronicles (remake), Rondo of Blood, and Symphony of the Night!
+ Plenty of extras that will keep gamers busy with the remake.
+ The remake remains faithful to the original Rondo of Blood in every aspect.
+ Enhanced Symphony of the Night - new voices and playable Maria!

The Bad

- Slight hit detection problems with the remake.
- A few sections of slow down with the original Rondo of Blood.
- The new voices in Symphony of the Night might take some getting used to for fans of the original PSone release.

The long awaited Rondo of Blood is given a facelift and even resurrects Symphony of the Night to accompany it - the stage is set for one hell of a gaming night filled with great pleasure for a Castlevania fan.

Graphics: 9.5
Controls: 9.5
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9.5

And therefore, Berserker dubs thee: 9.5/10


As a little extra, here is a pic of the 3-D Simon Belmont sprite figure that I got with Dracula X Chronicles.

There are actually two versions of this figure I think - a Simon Belmont from Castlevania 1 and a Simon Belmont from Castlevania 2. Thankfully, I got the color scheme that I wanted - the CV2 Simon Belmont. :D

Monday, November 5, 2007

Devil May Cry 4 Premium Edition

With an official date of February 5, 2007 for North America, Capcom has just recently stated that a premium edition will be available for Devil May Cry 4.

The premium version will be $20 more making it have an MSRP of $79.99 and will include two extra discs along with the game - one with the first four episodes of Devil May Cry: The Animated Series (which will be sold separately for $29.99), and one for your PC that includes a "making of" feature, music from the soundtrack, concept art, wallpapers, icons, and screensavers all enclosed in a steel book format case.

Gamespot Article
IGN Article

Out of curiousity, if anyone reads this, are the premium versions of these games nowadays special enough to make you fork over the extra cash to get the extras?

To me, it all depends on the game. For a game like this one, I'll probably spend the extra cash, but for a game that I am unsure about, the normal version would be enough for me. I find that I hardly ever even make use the of the extras in the premium versions of games these days. Usually the main cup of tea to me is the special packaging for the most part, but with an anime series pack-in, I feel it will be more worthwile.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Guestbook Now Added

Just a quick post to mention that I just got through adding a guestbook. If you have the time then please sign the guestbook that now appears under the poll.

Emails that are given will only be viewable by me, so you won't be receiving any fake business proposals, fake Paypal emails, constant emails asking how to kill blood skeletons in Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, or any other spam like that. Wait, did I just - no, no that's all listed correctly.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Current Gaming - Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, Virtua Fighter 5: Online

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (PSP)

For years I have waited for a port of Rondo of Blood and it is finally here! I must say that the remake does play a lot better than the original Rondo of Blood but both of them are excellent to me. The remake has a bunch of hidden items that can found during a playthrough and it also has a few more hidden areas that can be found that weren't in the original Rondo of Blood.

Syphony of the Night now has a whole new voice track - for better or for worse, depending on how you look at it. Every character's voice sounds fine except for Alucard. His voice isn't as deep and overall the old voice put more meaning into the character. The dialogue has been rewritten. No more "What is a man?" - it's now "Mankind...ha!" or something like that. ;p

Virtua Fighter 5: Online (X360)

If I would have had the extra cash back when this was first released for the PS3 then I would have gladly payed $660 for my own copy of Virtua Fighter 5, but I didn't and still don't.

Anyway, the X360 version is exactly what I expected it to be. This fighter is so deep and has one of my favorite fighting characters of all time in it - Akira. He is so hard to master - that is why I like him so. I have been playing with him ever since Virtua Fighter 2 and still continue to pick him

Ever since I have seen the CPU completely own players in Virtua Fighter 2 with Akira, he has been my player of choice. The CPU was outright scary with Akira in VF2 since he was the last character before Dural and the difficulty was so ramped up by then. His quick hits and agressiveness (if played in the right hands) is what inspired me to use him.

Anyway, I can't report on the online portion of the game due to not having Xbox LIVE, but I hear that it plays well judging from the posts on the GameFAQs boards.

The 360 controller actually isn't as bad as I thought it would be while playing VF5. I can pull off most character moves about 80% of the time. Still, I'm thinking about finding a better pad for this game. I don't really care for the joystick that is currently available - control pads are my main choice for fighting games. It's all about that D-pad for me.

I'm planning on having a full review for both of these in a few days - maybe next week.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Current Gaming - Syphon Filter 3

Finished Syphon Filter 3 a few days ago. I was quite suprised at how the story turned out for this one - it was rather boring.

Gabe and the rest of his crew are called to testify in a hearing at Washington and a good chunk of the missions take place during flashbacks. The characters will start to testify then the mission will begin and you basically play through each character's testimony description. This would be fine if the flashback missions were made more interesting. Most of them are are boring missions with little emphasis on the main plot of the game. They feel like filler missions. Even some of the missions that aren't flashbacks felt watered-down and thrown in.

The story gets better toward the end of the game however. There is one twist, but it still wasn't really enough to change my feeling toward the game.

Overall Syphon Filter 3 was ok, but I really can't see myself playing through it again.

I'm very glad that I played through the old Syphon Filter games on PS1 however. I was missing out on a very interesting action series.

In other news, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles is out right now in the US, and I should be receiving that either tomorrow or next week. I chose to order from in order to get a free Simon Belmont figure - I'm a sucker for freebies. Being a cheapass, I chose the free shipping, so I have to wait a bit.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Current Gaming - Syphon Filter 1 & 2, Chaos Legion

Syphon Filter

Just finished this up a few days ago. It has some frustrating levels at times and I was about ready to stop playing and move onto the second game in the series but I'm VERY glad that I didn't - read Syphon Filter 2 description to understand why.

The story was interesting, but the gameplay took some getting used to, especially when enemies wore flak jackets. Good lord, I can't even count how many times that I died in the earlier levels because an enemy would dart out from a corner with a flak jacket on and run toward me guns a'blazin! Needless to say, headshots are a must in this game as you progress.

Syphon Filter 2

As I said with Syphon Filter 1, I am so glad that I finished that one before playing this game. It starts out directly after the first game and tosses around the names of the characters from the first game back and forth just like you came right out from playing the first game when starting this one up. There are no flashbacks to help out.

The gameplay has much more variety on the whole. You have shooter missions and sneaking missions placed throughout the game that help to keep it from the feeling repetitive. There are many more cutscenes this time - at least one before each mission.

In terms of story, the sequel makes the first game seem like a mere stepping stone to the events that happen in this one. The plot involves both Lian and Gabe this time equally instead of everything centering around Gabe's progress. Lian is also played quite a bit in this one - much more than she was used in Dark Mirror.

The first stage for this game was a major turnoff though. It takes place on a snowy mountain and the stage can get a bit confusing at times. Also, why in the world do they throw in so many enemies with flak jackets on the first stage? Come on, this is the very beginning of the game!

Overall, I'm really happy with this one and can't wait to beat it in a few hours most likely. I'm at one of the final stages right now.

UPDATE: Just finished Syphon Filter 2. What a wonderful game! I think I will not proclaim it as my favorite storyline in the series - even over Dark Mirror. Even with the downgraded graphics, if you can learn the controls then the game is really a blast. Now on to Syphon Filter 3!

Chaos Legion

I decided to return to this game after nearly a three year break from it. I've already beaten it before but I decided to return to it since I wanted a difficult action game to play. I started a new game - for better or for worse. The reason I say this is because this game is so incredibly unforgiving on your first time through while playing on normal mode. If I was to sum up the difficulty of this game in five words or less then it would be as follows: This game fucking hates you!

I've played Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry on the hardest modes and those are pretty much equal to the difficulty that is faced on normal mode in Chaos Legion. Normal enemies in normal mode sometimes have an incredible amount of life that will force me to wail on them to no end. It's like some enemies are devil triggered. And to think that Chaos Legion has a hard mode... That's one of the main aspects that I enjoy about this game though. It's hard as hell. Well, that and the legions, because the legions are fun to use and really help out for some of these harder enemies.

I was thinking about trying to get all the Thanatos chips this time on my way through. Maybe that would help out for the final areas just a bit.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Umbrella Chronicles box art

The Europe cover art for Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles has now been released. Here's the way both the NA and PAL covers will look (at this time):



Both covers look very nice but the original cover art before the release of the official US cover looked much better with it's simple design. It simply had a picture of the bloody Umbrella logo that is shown on the US cover below the image of Wesker.

If you ask me, the Europe cover would look better without the Umbrella logo since its addition makes the top portion look too crammed. It's too close to Wesker's head.

Oh well - I have to admit that these are some of the best covers thus far for an RE game.

There have been much worse. Such as the zombie molestation cover from the NA release of REmake.

For the Europeans, I think you got your due with the PS2 Resident Evil: Code Veronica X cover.

For some strange reason, I kind of like that close up of Claire. The zombie reflection in Claire's eye is a nice touch. I guess I find it slightly enjoyable because it's something different.

EDIT: Japanese cover for Umbrella Chronicles:


Is is just me or is it that the Japanese covers are almost ALWAYS better for most games?


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Free Wii Remote Jacket accessory for Wii owners

Nintendo will now be placing Wii Remote jackets with their newly sold Wii Remotes and they are offering to send out Wii Remote jackets to any Wii owners that bought a Wii prior to this announcement.

US/Canada request page

UK/Ireland request page

Everything is free, including shipping. From what I see, the maximum amount that can be chosen is four.

The Wii Remote jackets ship out starting October 15.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

FAQ Progress - 10/2/07

What is a "FAQ Progress"? A FAQ Progress is a traditional thread type over at the GameFAQs FAQ Contributor Board in which the authors post up information about three seperate categories:

FAQ Progress (FP): How is your FAQing progressing?

Game Progress (GP): How is your gaming progressing?

Life Progress (LP): How is your life progressing?

This is done daily on the GameFAQs board, but I might post this up monthly or twice a month for this blog (this is really a hidden effort to post more, can't you see?). You can check out an official one on the GameFAQs boards here.

FAQ Progress:

Final Fantasy XII: Working on a Loot list. Currently on the loot that starts with B. There are a lot of B's mind you.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: About 30% done with this one. Currently up to SkyTown, Elysia. I'm being extremely thorough with this walkthrough so I won't have to go back and add much - proofreading as I go, making item lists with search codes and placing the search codes in the walkthrough as I type it - I usually do all of this at the end, but this time it will all be done the first time. Got two games going to make sure that there are no errors (or at least very small ones). This is taking quite a while though.

Game Progress:

Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (PSP): I'm trying to get used to the controls for this Syphon Filter since I might get Logan's Shadow in a few days. Haven't quite decided if I'm going to get that still though...

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Besides the FAQ stuff with this one, I've also got a game going where I'm trying to complete Hard Mode. Hard Mode is much more fun than normal. The bosses put up more of a fight. I might try the even harder difficulty after this (can't remember the name of it at the moment).

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition: Proofreading.

Life Progress:

Filling out applications here and there and trying to find some kind of job. I really need one - one that actually pays money.

I forgot my mom's birthday yesterday also - just plain out forgot. To make matters worse, EVERYBODY in the family forgot her birthday as well and she spent the whole day without any type of acknowledgement of her special day. She finally mentioned to me and my dad that today was her birthday (yesterday) and how dissappointed she was that we hadn't even mentioned it - talking about getting owned.

I don't know what I am going to do about this since it is hard to make up for something like this, especially when you have a person that never forgets no matter what you do afterwards like my mom is. She is one of the nicest people that you will ever meet but she never forgets whenever somebody makes her mad.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 4?

Well, with a catch.

I found these videos of a player using a Chris Redfield mod for the PC version of Resident Evil 4 on Youtube and thought it was amusing. This is during the Krauser fight so beware of SPOILERS if you haven't played RE4 yet.

Part 1

Part 2

Take a look at that chainsaw knife!

I'm quite amazed at how well the Chris Redfield model fits. Besides Krauser yelling Leon's name, it looks very natural.

There are actually a few more if you look around, such as this one.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shadow of the Colossus - Current Gaming

Every now and then, a game is released that I will ignore because of the constant hype and praise that the game receives. I don't know, it seems to lower my interest at times when some games receive too much praise and they don't fall under the categories that I generally rush out and buy.

Anyway, after about 2 years of putting it off, I finally played a copy of Shadow of the Colossus that I picked up about a month ago. The introduction was ok and fairly normal, but then I moved the camera around for the first time. Good lord, the level of detail in the backgrounds and environments for this game is fantastic! I'm quite amazed at the sense of scale while fighting the colossi also - it definitely helps to make them feel more epic.

The only problem that I have had is some minor problems with finding the next colossus at times, but this is only minimal. So far, I haven't had to resort to a walkthrough. There are a few colossi that I was totally puzzled with until the colossus made a certain move then everything clicked on the method of beating him. I think the third colossus was the one that had me quite puzzled until I found out how to weaken him.

So far, I'm up to the 15th Colossus. Very good game so far. Glad that I finally decided to play it!

Now I need to go and grab Okami and Katamari Damacy since I've been putting them off for the same reason.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Poll #2 - Upcoming Games

Quite a few interesting games will be released within the coming months. Which ones are you planning on picking up?

Here's my thoughts on the game's listed in the poll:

-- Assassin's Creed

I'm interested in this, but I'll only get it if I have enough when it is released. Really I could see myself doing without this game for this year. I'm a little undecided at the moment.

[ ] Buy [X] Maybe [ ] No Buy

-- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

War games are not my cup of tea.

[ ] Buy [ ] Maybe [X] No Buy

-- Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

From the moment it was announced, I have planned on picking this up. A Dracula X 3-D remake, the original Dracula X, and a (supposedly) enhanced Symphony of the Night. What's not to love if you're a Castlevania fan?!

[X] Buy [ ] Maybe [ ] No Buy

-- Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

Even though I love FFXII a bunch, I probably won't be picking this up.

[ ] Buy [ ] Maybe [X] No Buy

-- Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

It's hard not to get this since I absolutely love the original FFT. I'm still deciding on this one.

[ ] Buy [X] Maybe [ ] No Buy

-- Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

No PS3 and also I don't really like the Ratchet games that much from what I've played of them.

[ ] Buy [ ] Maybe [X] No Buy

-- Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

Partially the reason why I bought the Wii. All other games will be put aside when this is in my Wii console. An extremely positive buy.

[X] Buy [ ] Maybe [ ] No Buy

-- Silent Hill Origins

A definite buy. I haven't watched too many trailers for this so it will be all new to me. I just hope that the lack of a second analog doesn't mess up the experience of the game. I have a feeling that it won't, but you never know.

[X] Buy [ ] Maybe [ ] No Buy

-- Super Mario Galaxy

If I do buy another Wii game this year then it will most likely be this, but at the moment I don't plan on buying it.

[ ] Buy [X] Maybe [ ] No Buy

-- Super Smash Bros. Brawl

I'm not much of a fan of multiplayer games, I guess since I don't have many people to play games with, but even if I did, I still prefer a single player experience over all else, so Brawl doesn't interest me that much. I still haven't played Super Smash Bros. Melee yet.

[ ] Buy [ ] Maybe [X] No Buy

-- Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow

Before playing Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, this release didn't even cross my mind. After playing Dark Mirror, I would love to try this out if I have the extra money to afford it (while still holding onto enough for the main games that I want). The story to this one looks very interesting judging from the trailers that I have seen.

[ ] Buy [X] Maybe [ ] No Buy

-- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

To be honest, I am tired of Zelda games. Twilight Princess was great, but they just don't interest me like they used to. I actually enjoyed Wind Waker more than Twilight Princess, so Phantom Hourglass may be somewhat enjoyable, but I'd rather just skip it.

[ ] Buy [ ] Maybe [X] No Buy

-- The Orange Box [Half-Life 2]

I heavily enjoyed Half-Life 2 on my first time through and this is really one of the best $60 buys that I see for the 360 this year, but then there's Virtua Fighter 5 there too, and I want to make sure to have enough cash for that. I may try to get this later in the year though, but not on release date.

[ ] Buy [X] Maybe [ ] No Buy

-- Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

If I had a PS3 then I would be excited about this game. It looks really fun and it's from the makers of the Jak and Daxter series, which I enjoyed quite a bunch!

[ ] Buy [ ] Maybe [X] No Buy

-- Virtua Fighter 5

I must have this. I wanted it during the summer when it was delayed and I still want it just as bad right now. This game needs to release so I can satisfy my fighting game needs. It needs to release now.

[X] Buy [ ] Maybe [ ] No Buy

EDIT: Forgot to list Mass Effect (X360) on the poll and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) for the Europe readers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Poll #1 - Results

I went ahead and ended the poll to the side. I kind of get the point as to the feelings of a good chunk of site visitors - a bunch of you like Final Fantasy, and for good reason, since FFXII is truly a wonderful game.

Here's the final results:

Out of all of my recent guides, which one do you feel is the most helpful?

Dead Rising - 01 (5%)
Final Fantasy XII - 11 (61%)
God of War II - 00 (0%)
Lost Planet - 00 (0%)
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition - 03 (16%)
Tomb Raider Anniversary - 00 (0%)
They all helped me out. - 03 (16%)
None of them. They all fail. - 00 (0%)

Votes: 18

That's about 17 votes more than I thought I would get! Very nice.

Big thanks to everyone that voted!

Since Final Fantasy XII dominated the charts, I've since started updating that guide again and will try to complete it fully this year like I mentioned in the post below. I'm on the Loot list right now that will list all the ways to obtain every piece of loot. Once that list is finished the rest should be a breeze. Well, for the most part.

I'm still not done proofing that RE4 guide either, although that's about all that is left to do there.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (PS2) - Review

- this review originally posted on Gamers' Temple

Syphon Filter's first PS2 outing was an online game that offered little of a single player experience reminiscent of the rest of the Syphon Filter series. Later Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror was released for the PSP and achieved high-level status for its interesting story and online multiplayer gameplay. Now Dark Mirror has been brought over to the PS2 but this is no mere straight port like GTA. The PS2 version drops the online multiplayer and adds enhanced graphics as well as enhanced controls.

The story of Syphon Filter throws around many names and organizations and takes Gabe to numerous areas of the world. To summarize the basics of the plot, a para-military group known as "Red Section" uncovers a project known as Dark Mirror. Gabe Logan, along with his partner Lian Xing, is sent to several destinations around the world to infiltrate this group. The story builds with each mission until ultimately the key players are exposed then the plot really takes off for the remainder of the game. It delves a lot more into Gabe's past than one might expect as the main story progresses.

Dark Mirror features a training mode, story mode, and mission mode. Training mode allows a player to get the feel of the gameplay and I would highly recommend starting with this mode since the game doesn't really teach the basics during the story mode. Story mode is the basic single player experience of Dark Mirror. Once each mission in story mode is completed, that mission will be added to mission mode and can be replayed at any time.

Each story mission has a set of objectives that must be completed and will usually offer a checkpoint once each objective is fulfilled. Once each mission is complete the game will automatically autosave then load the next mission. "Hidden Evidence" is strewn throughout each level and can be optionally found to unlock a few bonus extras per mission. There is also a ranking system that judges Gabe based on his approach taken to finishing a level (such as stealth kills, knife kills, certain weapon use, etc.) and this can lead to unlocking a bunch of extra weapons and content.

The gameplay itself is loaded with tons of action, but there are still plenty of stealth opportunities. It's basically up to the player how to handle a situation most of the time. The gunfights in Dark Mirror can get very intense with the smart enemy AI. The enemies can run, climb, use ziplines, and roll all while in pursuit, so most of the time they don't just sit and wait to be shot.

To let you know what this enemy AI is like, one time, I was on the first floor and a guard started to fire at me from the second floor walkway near a column. I quickly crouch and take cover behind the side of a bar table. When I pop out to fire at him from my cover, he quickly moves back behind the column. I think to myself, "OK, I'll just pop him when he decides to shoot again". Well, he darted out from behind the column and ran behind the column across from him then actually ran to the side of the second floor that was up above me and started to fire from the railing. The enemy AI starts to become more aggressive and smarter later in the game such as this little example - they try to take cover as much as possible and can be surprising with their actions.

Shootouts often force Gabe to take cover behind a crate or wall and wait for a chance to shoot during the constant gunfire from the other end. And these shootouts can get quite intense at times making enemy encounters very enjoyable. The levels are set up to where there is almost always an opportunity to take cover behind a wall or other object. While flattened against a wall, Gabe can peak out just a bit and get a steady aim on any advancing enemy then jump out and fire once the target is pinpointed, which works well for quick headshots.

Dark Mirror uses the ragdoll physics engine, so bodies will fly quite easily from gunfire. Shooting enemies in the legs can cripple them - they will actually hobble or move slowly toward Gabe when he shoots them as such. The familiar headshot can still take out just about any enemy in one hit.

There is quite a bit of variety within the shooting action. There are a few escort missions, boss fights, collection missions, and even a few platforming areas - such as grabbing a ledge to move across a gap or climbing some boxes to get up to a high walkway.

The escort missions don't get frustrating like in a few other action games. The allies will listen to commands that can be issued out by Gabe and there are some allies that will run ahead of Gabe and try to take on a situation by themselves. Fortunately Gabe can heal his allies so escort missions never really are annoying like they could be. The ally AI is usually pretty smart and the escort missions are spread out enough to offer variety when needed, so they don't overstay their welcome.

The PSP version used it's four face buttons to control the camera at all times and had a lock-on button (L1) since it was hard to pinpoint shots at times but thanks to the second analog on the PS2 version players can easily make a precise shot at any time by simply moving the right analog without even needing a lock-on button. The aiming icon is always displayed on the screen while moving, so just aim with the right analog and shoot while moving or standing still. The L1 button on the PS2 version provides an over-shoulder view while aiming instead of a lock-on like in the PSP version. Overall, the control setup on the PS2 version feels much more comfortable, allowing one to maintain a greater focus on avoiding and taking cover instead of constant precise targeting.

Gun variety is extremely detailed in Dark Mirror, even more so than past Syphon Filters. There is a whole onslaught of guns to choose from throughout the main game and there are quite a few of unlockable firearms as well. Many guns can be changed to a different setting (such as fully automatic or single fire) or can be loaded with a different type of ammo (such as normal shots, explosive, gas). There is a bunch of variety in the weapons though Gabe can only hold a few at a time. His main inventory is composed of a pistol, automatic weapon, grenade, rifle, heavy weapon, bare hands (fists, knife, taser) - he can carry one of each of those types of weapons.

Gabe now has grapple moves that can help with stealth situations such as a neck break or throat slash much like in Omega Strain. He can also performs melee attacks on enemies from up close, so while advancing toward an enemy - say, when Gabe is out of bullets and needs to reload - he can hit the enemy with the back of his gun, reload, then shoot the grounded enemy before that enemy recovers.

Along with all the extra weapons and combat techniques, Gabe has thermal goggles, EDSU goggles, and the familiar night vision goggles. EDSU goggles allow you to see objects that can be interacted with in the environments. These really help out quite a bunch when you're stuck in a level. All of the headgear is used quite a bit throughout the game. I use the thermal goggles for almost all shootouts since the enemies are usually far away and this helps to make them much more visible.

As already mentioned, the PS2 version offers minor enhancements for the overall environments and character models. All character models and overall environments are sharper and cleaner than the PSP version. The textures for the characters aren't quite up to par with more recent PS2 games, most notably in the faces - this is just about the only area that helps to reveal the fact that this was a PSP game. The controlled character still has that strange lean when he/she runs that is shown in all Syphon Filter games, but it seems much more realistic than the leaning in Omega Strain or previous games in the series.

The environments are rendered very well for a PS2 game and remain solid without any glitching or breaking of polygons. The lighting effects look realistic in the environments, but the flashlight that Gabe can use could have much better lighting effects overall. Instead of lighting up a wall it only seems to project a massive white circle and provides little lighting for the object it is pointed at. The flashlight looked normal in the PSP version and offered actual lighting effects that would light up a dark room, but in the PS2 version the flashlight is rather useless.

The PSP version had a "Mature Audience" rating and the PS2 version has a "Teen" rating. The blood and taser fire (fire resulting from prolonged taser shock) have been removed from the PS2 version in favor of a lower rating. The blood is barely even noticed to be missing from a neck slice or from gunfire since there wasn't that much in the PSP version to begin with, but the taser fire is a bit of a let down. At times, enemies would actually run toward Gabe while on fire after a tasering overload in the PSP version, but they only spasm and fall at all times in the PS2 version. For all other burnings, the bodies simply turn black and smoke a bit.

The sound has many techno tracks and epic scores that help to boost excitement during shootouts or boss fights. Voices seem to fit all the characters rather well. Gabe remains fairly emotionless throughout most of the cutscenes - basically the way his character is almost always portrayed in other Syphon Filters and the way you would expect him to sound.

Dark Mirror is just about everything that you would expect from a solid PS2 game. Whether it is bought on PSP or PS2 this game deserves to be played by an action fan or, for sure, by any fan of the Syphon Filter series. In all honesty, I am not that big of a Syphon Filter fan but this game had me hooked from beginning to end and I even wanted to replay it to unlock hidden content once I was done.

Owners with a PSP and a PS2 that plan to pick up Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror need to decide whether they want a portable version with a multiplayer mode or if they want the full single player experience complete with enhanced graphics and controls. The camera controls for PSP version are not near as bad as one might expect for a PSP game since it uses the face buttons to move the camera, but the right analog still has a more natural feel to it in the case of the PS2 version and it doesn't need an auto-aim whatsoever to compensate for any lack of aiming. Even though the PS2 version drops the multiplayer, the enhanced graphics and (mainly) enhanced controls make the single player experience much better than its PSP counterpart. Whichever version is chosen, Dark Mirror will deliver one of the best action/shooter/stealth experiences out there for either console.

The Good

+ enhanced graphics that match the PS2 rather well (especially environments)
+ enhanced controls that make aiming much more precise than it was in the PSP version
+ engaging story
+ fitting sound that sounds really good with surround speakers

The Bad

- character models aren't quite up to par with current PS2 releases
- no multiplayer mode
- some weapon effects were dropped from the PS2 version in favor of a "Teen" rating (blood from knife and weapon fire, taser burning animation)
- flashlight lighting effects that were fine in the PSP version look downgraded in the PS2 version

Dark Mirror has its ups and downs with the transition over to the PS2, but that still can't change what a solid action game it truly is.

Graphics: 8.5
Controls: 9.0
Sound: 9.0
Gameplay: 9.0

And therefore Berserker dubs thee: 8.9/10

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Finish Final Fantasy XII FAQ campaign

When I first started my Final Fantasy XII guide, I had the intention to go all the way with it, but since then I have trailed off to many other guides, especially after starting with those FFXII item lists. XD

Anyway, since I still receive a pretty good amount of views for it on GameFAQs and people seem to like it more than my other guides, I'll continue finishing it until I feel it is done. I guess you could look at this post as more of a "Note to Self:".

Expect the following additions:

[X] Full Armor list (almost have this complete already) FINISHED - 9/21
[ ] Full Drop/Steal/Poach list for Loot
[ ] Search Codes in the enemy section with Search Codes listed in the main walkthrough. That way you can look up details about the monsters without the details interfering with the walkthrough. This is the main reason why the mosters can be found in the main walkthrough.
[ ] Cleanup that bottom section - shop list. I still haven't decided how to display all that info, or if I'm going to keep it. It's still just raw data at the moment.
[ ] Redo some of those recommended levels (yeah, I know they're too high in some areas)
[ ] Add some info about the weather in the Giza Plains... somewhere.
[ ] Proofread the whole guide. This comes last (or very slowly throughout the updates), and I know there are plenty of typos throughout it. I really dread this part, as I do with all my guides.

If anybody has anything else to add then I might just add it, so respond to this post or email me if you have any suggestions.