Mass Effect 3

Already since the first game, I felt that the Mass Effect series was the grandest undertaking of the current console generation. And now, having finished the trilogy, I am absolutely certain of it. While none of the individual games are perfect, this is one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. The vast, detailed universe (actually, that is just the Milky Way galaxy) BioWare have created, with all the different intelligent species, with hundreds of planets, with complex political relationships, is beautiful. Just beautiful. I can only think of a handful of cases in the history of gaming where comparable amounts of effort have been put into crafting a game/series’ universe. And Mass Effect may actually be THE most complex one of all.

Since I first played the game quite a few months after it came out, I couldn’t help expecting a mess of an ending, as that was the almost unanimous opinion among gamers on the internet. However, I can now safely say that those claims are incorrect. Mass Effect 3 provides a very fascinating conclusion, staying true to the principles of the series. It’s natural that there are people who don’t like it, but, given the size of the saga, there is no possible ending that couldn’t have ticked someone off. So fear not, BioWare did NOT mess up with Mass Effect’s ending. It’s a fitting conclusion to the saga.

Mass Effect 3 Cover

Game: Mass Effect 3
Developer: BioWare
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Wii U
Original release: 2012
Territories: All

The third game in the series is another solid entry. Like the second one, it improves on some things in the predecessor, but is then weaker in other aspects. The thrilling struggle against the Reapers and the brilliant finale have Mass Effect easily leapfrog the second game in terms of overall story. Sadly, it doesn’t hold up as far as conversations/development of your teammates goes (even though we are already familiar with a great part of them). Annoying gameplay features from the second game like streamlined stats distribution as opposed to precise, point-by-point growth, and thermal clips (ammo), sadly remain here. Neat things like hacking are completely gone. It was clearly important for BioWare to keep the game tuned for the average gamer and maximise its sales. But those issues still do not detract much from the overall excellence of Mass Effect 3.

Seeing as I played the game on PC, this is another review where I provide my own screenshots.

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – an action game, but with great potential

I’ve been skeptical about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ever since it was first announced. It was clear that it would be a departure from the Metal Gear (Solid) formula, that it would be an action game about Ninja Raiden cutting people up in Ninja Gaiden style, rather than a Metal Gear game that focuses on stealth. They even changed the name itself from Metal Gear Solid: Rising to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – the Solid part disappeared altogether because Kojima wanted to deliver a message to fans – this is NOT a Metal Gear Solid game in anything but the setting and some characters.

After the project was handed over to PlatinumGames, the studio that’s now home to Shinji Mikami, Resident Evil creator, and Hideki Kamiya, director of Devil May Cry and Okami, as well as others from the former Capcom Clover staff, a studio that has already made a name for itself in the action genre (they’re the makers of well-received games like Bayonetta and Vanquish), it was clear that the goal was to create a solid action game in the Metal Gear universe with the new, badass Raiden as the star – nothing more, nothing less.

And, when I received the Zone of the Enders HD collection last week, it was more than clear that the first content I’d tackle would be the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo included on the disc.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance Title Screen

Game: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Developer: PlatinumGames
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Expected release: February 2013
Territories: All
Price: $59.99

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Retro City Rampage – fresh with nostalgia

I occasionally try out demos, mostly on the PlayStation Network. Very rarely has a demo made me buy a game (the awesome early PS3 action-adventure Folklore comes to mind), but they’re a fine addition of the current generation, a real step forward from the years before when we only got demos rarely, through game magazines or the rare inclusions of a highly anticipated game’s demo in a previous game by the same company (think Metal Gear Solid 2’s demo in Zone of the Enders).

With this article, I’m starting a new section of the site, where I’ll share my quick impressions from demos I have found to be notable. And the first one I’ll write about is Retro City Rampage.

Retro City Rampage

Game: Retro City Rampage
Developer: Vblank Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PlayStation Network (playable on both PS3 and PS Vita); Coming soon: Xbox Live Arcade, WiiWare
Original release: 2012
Territories: All
Price: $14.99

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Magnificent Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes trailer

I know I am almost 2 weeks late with my comments on this, but it only became available to the public after I had gone on vacation. On the event celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the best series in gaming – the Metal Gear series, Kojima showed a breath-taking trailer of the new and upcoming game in the saga – Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. In the off-chance that you haven’t seen it, here it is:

The most important story bits, with my short comments:

  • Cipher references, Paz and Chico have been captured – this means the ties with Peace Walker will be strong
  • Big Boss is aging – the game will most likely take place some 8-10 years after Peace Walker
  • Young kid in a cage shown – might be Chico, but, considering the game takes place a while after Peace Walker, Chico must’ve grown up! So it must be little Solid Snake! There has been very strong evidence that child Solid Snake will be in the next Metal Gear chapter
  • “From FOX, two phantoms were born”, FOX vs. XOF – Big Boss has the FOX logo on his shoulder, while the seemingly bad guys have XOF emblems on their equipment and machinery, in an opposing colour scheme (the fox is also facing right instead of left). Could the quote be referring to The Boss’ legacy, and Big Boss and Zero’s respective takes on it?
  • Mysterious man with a burned face, wearing a fedora shown as the likely villain of the game (leader of the XOF guys) – who could it be? Maybe Zero, considering the above thoughts? Or maybe just someone working for him?
  • “Army without a nation” still mentioned – Big Boss is probably still working towards his grand mission, even if he is part of FOX (could also be using FOX for his purposes)

Other details:

  • Uses the FOX engine – the new engine Kojima has been talking about for a while now
  • Runs on PC with specs comparable to PS3/360 – considering the dated hardware, it looks very impressive – the rain, the visual details, the character models (especially Big Boss)
  • PS3 and 360 logos appear at the end – seems like the game will come out on PS3/360, probably as one of the last big titles on those systems. Still, I’m having a hard time buying it – with PS4/720 reportedly launching around the holiday season of 2013, it would make much more sense to develop such a massive game on the new platforms.

As a whole, I am impressed… Very impressed, and very excited. I’d like to learn more about Big Boss, about his motives, about how Outer Heaven came to be. This game seems like it will offer a lot, maybe all those details. I am also pleased that Kojima is keeping his word regarding Metal Gear Solid 4 being the end of the saga, chronologically. That way, Metal Gear is keeping its artistic integrity, while still releasing games filling the gap between Solid 3 and the original Metal Gear.

Video Game Music of the Week – 28.05-03.06.2012

This week’s video game theme is Still Alive from Mirror’s Edge – easily one of, if not my favourite game song with vocals. On top of the nice song, you’re also getting a very neat gameplay video. 🙂 If you haven’t played Mirror’s Edge, you should give it a try. It’s relatively short and very cheap – not much of an investment from your side. The concept is awesome, one of the best new ideas introduced in games in the recent years.

Composers: Arnthor Birgisson, Rami Yacoub
Singer: Lisa Miskovsky
Game: Mirror’s Edge
Song: Still Alive

Portal 2

The first Portal was one of the finest achievements of gaming in the last 5 years. Introducing the noble concept of portals and being a puzzle game that takes place in first-person perspective, it took the gaming world by storm. The humour was also top-notch, the story told in a unique way. Its relatively short length was a small problem compared to everything it gave to the player. It was universally loved.

It was clear that Valve couldn’t just let such a successful game remain without a sequel. The obvious (financial) reason aside, there was just so much potential and so much more to be done with the concept. There was much more to be explored in Aperture Science’s laboratories. And, four years later, Valve delivered. Portal 2. We were positive it would be a blast again.

Portal 2 Boxart

Game: Portal 2
Developer: Valve
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release: 2011
Territories: All

Portal 2 manages to successfully reuse everything that made the original great and add more. The feeling of nobility may not be there anymore, the puzzles may feel easier because “we think in portals” now, but the entertainment, the feeling of satisfaction as you solve a puzzle and move onto the next one, is well worth it. The new puzzle elements – the bridges, funnels and gels, help the game maintain the feeling of freshness and not feel too much like “more of the same.”

Once again, like in the Wonder Boy review, the in-game screenshots are my own. 🙂

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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

One cannot avoid the feeling of sadness when a great story ends. In addition to the awe at the conclusion, one feels the bittersweet disappointment that now all the secrets have been unveiled and all the dots – connected. That is how I felt when I finished Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – the final chapter of my favourite game series. Everything came together nicely, there was nothing more to be added… But Peace Walker proved that wrong.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Game: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platforms: PlayStation Portable; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (as part of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection)
Releases: 2010 (PSP), 2011 (PS3/Xbox 360), 2012 (PS3/Xbox 360 – Europe)
Territories: All

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the latest installment in the ground-breaking tactical espionage action series by Hideo Kojima. Built for the PSP, it is superior in every way to its handheld predecessor, Portable Ops, and Kojima himself and his trusty team were the ones working on its development from beginning to end (as opposed to the overseer role Kojima had with Portable Ops). Furthermore, with the game coming to consoles as part of the HD collection (and that was the version I played, too), it proved to be ambitious and well-made enough that one barely sees differences from the full-blown console Metal Gear Solid titles.

Fans of the series will certainly love this one, and even people completely new to it will be pleased. Peace Walker keeps the core gameplay we’ve come to know and love, and also takes some interesting new approaches that help the game feel fresh and exciting even to Metal Gear veterans. And it’s another chapter of the story of Big Boss – one of the most badass, awe-inspiring game characters to have ever existed.

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The Beginning

Welcome!

My name is Vlado and I am an independent video game journalist from Bulgaria. I am a newcomer in the game journalism field, having only written my reviews and articles on several forums on gaming sites like GameFAQs, GameSpot, Backloggery, UnikGamer and Netrunner2k2. Nevertheless, I have always received generally positive feedback regarding my writing and the content of my work. The goal of this project is to have a single point where my materials will be shared, and to establish another independent viewpoint on the gaming world, safe from any influences but my own impressions of games and the industry.

My systems of choice are PC, PS3 and PSP, meaning I will cover games on many systems from NES/Master System to PS3/Xbox 360/Wii. My preferences currently lie with the PlayStation brand, so expect reviews of games on PlayStation systems more often than others. I will comment about games I’m currently playing, write reviews of games I have finished, and occasionally post news and comment on the video game industry as a whole.

I truly hope you enjoy my work. Feel free to leave a comment, if you’d like.