Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

When it comes to gaming, I’m usually behind the times a bit (as you may have already noticed). My backlog is just quite massive and there are few contemporary games that interest me as much as older gems I haven’t played yet. Nevertheless, I recently decided to finally play through Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series – the biggest franchise born on my favourite current-generation console, the PlayStation 3. I went in expecting a fun adventure game with a simple, movie-like story and entertaining gameplay. Something like Tomb Raider (a franchise where I’m actually yet to beat a single game, but that’s another story). The first game largely met my expectations.

Uncharted Cover

Game: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform: PlayStation 3
Original release: 2007
Territories: All

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was one of the early PS3 games, and a huge reason to get one already back then, at the startling launch or near-launch price. I can see why it made the purchase worth it for many people. The game is very cinematic and the graphics are really beautiful, which is particularly impressive, considering it came out so early in the console’s life cycle. Even though they are obviously surpassed by the latter two entries in the franchise, I am sure many people were captivated by them in 2007. Add to that the nice beginning, showing the protagonist Nathan Drake on a boat with the pretty Elena, and the action starting immediately, in the middle of a short conversation between them, and you’ll be able to see why Uncharted was a huge system seller.

The game’s premise is intriguing enough – you are (or at least claim to be) a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, and, after finding an important clue left by your ancestor himself, you set off in search for El Dorado, the legendary City of Gold. It’s really a lot like an adventure movie – those influences are easy to see and are spoken of by the developers themselves in the “Behind the Scenes” videos included on the disc (Tomb Raider is never mentioned, of course :)). The story never pretends to offer any more or less than uncovering the mystery of El Dorado. The gameplay follows suit – it doesn’t try anything complex (mostly 3D platforming and third-person shooting), but does quite well at what it strives to do. An interesting thing to note is that there are no boss fights. Overall, the game is entertaining, it’s standard length for the genre (12-15 hours), and it offers nice challenge without ever becoming too frustrating.

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Journey

The moment Journey came out, it was an instant success, with fans and critics alike singing praises for thatgamecompany’s new creation. Like with their previous hit, Flower, the main qualities pointed out in reviews were the unique art style, the sheer beauty of the scenery, and the minimalistic storytelling. Despite the short length (reviews mentioned 2 hours), people around the world loved it, fans drew pretty art based on the game’s world and characters, and word of mouth contributed greatly to its success. And now, it’s my turn to share my thoughts of one of the 2012 gaming phenomenons with you.

Journey Cover

Game: Journey
Developer: thatgamecompany
Platform: PlayStation Network
Original release: 2012
Territories: All

I got my hands on this game thanks to my girlfriend’s sister who gave her a PSN voucher as a birthday present, with the explicit instruction to buy Journey. The $15 price the game launched, and is still sitting at, didn’t seem justified to me, considering its length. I was going to wait for it to drop to at least $10, but, thanks to the aforementioned circumstances, I was apparently going to play it in the year it actually released. 🙂

In the beginning, I thought that people had praised this game for a good reason. The visuals, while not going into much detail, were really beautiful, much like in Flower. I spent a minute or two to admire the scenery before even starting the game. And this stayed consistent throughout the game – every new environment was as pretty as the previous. The atmospheric music and sound effects also impressed me… And the protagonist, with his strange clothes, long scarf, and Final Fantasy black mage-like face, seemed mysterious and cool. But we gamers know that all these things complement a game, they are the side-dish to the meat…

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E3 2012 Summary

This year’s E3 was spectacularly mediocre, what with many people expecting PS4/Xbox 720 to be unveiled, and they weren’t. Not even Nintendo managed to hype its upcoming Wii U console that well. Nevertheless, a lot of stuff still happened, many new games were shown, and a lot of new information regarding already announced games was revealed. Even if it didn’t meet our expectations, it was still E3… If you’re a gamer, it’s bound to excite you at least a little bit.

E3 Logo

Here’s a summary of the happenings at the five major conferences (Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Sony, Nintendo), along with my comments. The items in bold are the biggest announcements each company made in the respective conference.

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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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Top 50 Games Every Gamer Should Know About (Part 2)

And, without further ado, here is the second part of the list. I hope you enjoy it at least as much as the first!

Top 50 games every gamer should know about

See the list

Top 50 Games Every Gamer Should Know About

Plenty of games shape our life as gamers, and we all have our favourites – some mainstream, some more niche. But there are some games that every self-respecting gamer should know about. You don’t have to like them. You don’t have to even think they’re good. But, as a gamer, you should know about them.

Top 50 games every gamer should know about

See the list

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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PS4 “Orbis” rumours – no used games or backwards compatibility

A rumour has recently surfaced regarding the next PlayStation console, codenamed “Orbis.” The most important points being:

  • Is called, or at least carries the working codename, “Orbis”
  • Is scheduled for a Holiday 2013 release
  • Won’t be backwards compatible with PS3 games
  • Will lock new games to a PSN account as an anti-used games measure
  • New games can be bought either on Blu-Ray or downloaded
  • Current specs are an AMD x64 CPU and AMD Southern Islands GPU

Source: http://kotaku.com/5896996/the-next-playstation-is-called-orbis-sources-say-here-are-the-details

With the rest of the points being either details or expected (such as the release date), the two in bold are the ones I’d like to comment on.

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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.