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 It has been replaced by an over-the-shoulder aiming that was presented in the PS2 version of Dark Mirror.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.