Sunday, October 16, 2016

PlayStation VR - First Impressions Review

And we are back! With all of the hype around VR these days, I figured I'd go ahead and take the time to tell you guys about my experience with it as well. A lot of people are still on the fence with this thing (wondering if it's worth getting, if the games are fun, if it's a fad, etc), so hopefully I can answer some of the things you'd like to know about it. Of course I'd actually recommend you track one down yourself and try it (it's seriously hard to explain to someone who's never experienced it), but for anyone who is unable to, this should give you more of an idea on what it's like.

The Headset and Setup:

The headset itself is actually pretty nice, but it takes quite a lot of wires to get this thing going. First of all since the PS4 isn't strong enough to run VR on it's own, the headset comes with a little processor box. This box is roughly the size of a Vita or PSP (except not as wide and a bit taller), and is meant to sit either next to your PS4 or even on top of it. Although this box doesn't take up much space, what it all has to connect to does. For starters, the box itself needs to plug into a power outlet (meaning you'll need at least two plugs now for your PS4 set up), and it has a USB cable that comes from the back of it and plugs into the front of your PS4 (PS4 does not have a back USB port). Once you've done that, you can unplug the HDMI cable from the back of your PS4, plug it into the "TV" HDMI slot on the back of the processor unit, and then plug a second HDMI into the PS4 and the processor unit's "PS4" slot. That's two HDMI cables, and the one that comes with the PSVR is quite long. (Might be a good idea to get a short one for wire management?) After that is taken care of, you pull half of the processor unit back to reveal the PSVR connectors, which is what you plug the headset's two cables into. These cables are labeled with the four PlayStation button icons so it's easy to tell what goes where. Finally after all this is done, you can then plug the headphones into the PSVR and start -- that is assuming you already have a PS4 PlayStation Camera set up (which is required). If all of that confuses you, here's a quick list of how many cables there are:
  • PS4 power cable
  • VR power cable
  • VR to PS4 USB
  • TV to VR HDMI
  • VR to PS4 HDMI
  • USB from PS4 to VR
  • PlayStation Camera
  • Headset connector cables
  • Headphones plugged into headset
Total: 9 in all. In short, you'll have to do some cable management if you want to keep things looking nice, but I'm sure most people will figure out something. If worse come to worse you could always disconnect the headset when not in use.

Now that the unit is setup though, the headset itself has some options. In general this thing actually feels really nice. It's a bit heavy, but most people should be able to wear it for hours at a time without it causing pain. The headband goes back and forth easily, there's a little wheel to tighten it to your head (similar to a hardhat), and there's also a button to bring the face part in closer or back it off from your face. It's made to fit every type of head, and it feels pretty nice against your face when you bring it in close. Thanks to the little flaps inside, you feel the headset hug you around your nose and eyes, and it also blocks out the light from the outside. The fact that this works perfectly with glasses on is also a plus, and I've found that taking my glasses off (as I'm near sighted) really didn't help me any. The headset was only brought closer to my face slightly, and my vision actually got worse. In other words, those who wear glasses, keep them on and the headset will still fully cover your eyes -- to an extent.

How VR Looks:

What some were wondering about is how the headset actually looks inside of it, and that can mean multiple things. How the games look, can you see any light, how wide is your vision, etc, so I'm just going to answer all of those questions. To begin, I'll talk about the light from the outside. Yes it's mostly blocked out, but SOME can get in. This is more like a single thin line from where the soft material on the headset is, and at least 98% of the time is not noticeable at all. The only time I really saw this gap of light was when games asked me to bring the move controller up to my hear, and the giant glowing ball on top let off a blue light to my left/right. It wasn't a problem, but again that's when I noticed it. As for how the rest of the headset looks though, that's the main reason why the light being let it won't bother you.

The lenses inside this thing are pretty big. If anyone has ever went to the eye doctor for an eye test, you're actually going to be somewhat familiar with how these lenses work. They are very similar to what eye doctors use, they are big enough to cover the entire front of your eye and your glasses, and they are what allow you to see the VR world in full on 3D. While you don't have any real peripheral vision, that isn't a problem. The easiest way for you to see what this is like now is to just take your fingers and rest them on the corner of your eyes. While this will block out a little bit of your vision, you'll still be able to see everything in front of you and off at different angles when looking ahead. Shockingly (as you may see right now) the view range is actually quite large, and it really helps bring you into the experience. As for how the games actually look though, well, that's a mixed bag.

Before you actually start playing VR games the PS Camera has some settings you can change within your PS4 menu under the VR device. You can have the camera take pictures of your eyes so that it can measure the distance between them (to help with the 3D effect), there's options calibrate where your play area is, and there's also a mode that shows you text. Similar to an eye test (yet again), this text may show up clear or blurry, and it's up to you to adjust the headset on your face to get things looking as best you can. I'm telling you now that you'll never get a very sharp clear image here, but getting it to look as good as possible is the ideal. Once all of that is set though, you can start playing games.

What VR games actually look like is a mixed bag (as I said above). The headset itself is running at 1080p for each eye on an OLED screen, but there is still what has become known as the "screen door effect" -- although in this case it's more like a bug net effect. instead of seeing things crystal clear like in the real world, you can see each and every pixel on the screen and the lines between them. Again the PSVR's effect is so small though, it's more like you're looking through a bug net you would put over an open door, or use for whatever kind of outdoor setup you may have (such as a tent and whatnot). While you may notice this at first, it does quickly fade away and in most games it is nearly 100% invisible (even when looking for it I wasn't able to see it in many cases). Sadly, the same can't be said for the issues with the "realistic games."

The graphical quality in VR could be described as a mix between the PS2, PS3, and Vita. In the more realistic games many objects are a bit blurry and "out of focus" looking. This is really noticeable in games like DriveClub where you sit inside the car and are unable to read whatever it says on the dashboard. Instead you can see blurry text, and have to focus a bit harder than normal to make out what it is you are actually looking at there. It gives you the feeling of someone without their glasses (I know, I keep going back to this but we are talking about vision here), and is something they could definitely improve on in the future; however, again this is only an issue in some games. Step away from the realistic experiences like DriveClub, and you have games like Job Simulator that are set in a cartoony world. These games look AMAZING and do not suffer the same problems. Everything is crisp and clear, you can read all of the text, and even that screen door effect fades away. Games like these seem to be made perfectly for VR, and are optimized extremely well. When it comes down to it, the blurry vision in other games is most likely because the game either isn't as optimized as it could be, or simply because the PS4 isn't strong enough to increase it's resolution. Like I said, this is something that could be fixed in the future with the PS4 Pro, but for now it's fine. Although you may be bothered by it at first, things quickly change as you get into the game.

What it is like in a VR World:

This is going to be the hardest thing to explain, "what it's like in a VR world." When many people think VR they think it's just a screen in front of their face. Well, I'm here to tell you that THAT'S NOT TRUE! Even if you were to move in all the way up to your TV and block out the rest of your vision, that is nowhere near the experience of VR. What makes VR amazing is what it does to your senses. For starters, the two lenses over your two eyes make it so you have full depth perception. Simply look across your room in real life, and you'll see what this is like (after all most of you have seen in 3D your entire life I'm sure). It's really hard to convey this to others, but sitting in VR isn't any different from you sitting wherever you are right now reading this. Sure the graphics don't look realistic like the real world, but that's the only change. As for the sound in VR? It too is in full 3D. When you mix these two things together, sight and sound, your brain begins to wonder "what is going on." While you yourself know what you are seeing isn't real, what your brain goes off of is it's senses, and when two of them tell it something is real, it begins to believe that as fact. That's what true VR is.

While it may sound a bit stupid, entering into a VR world can be a bit unsettling. As someone who chose VR Worlds as their first experience, I'll admit I felt a bit scared. Never seeing VR before, I went into this thinking "this is a screen in front of my face," but instead I was sitting in a dark museum room with a massive shark statue in front of me, and nothing but darkness all around. At that moment my brain went from "I'm playing a game" to "I'm actually in this dark place alone... It's not safe here." Of course when I jumped into the Ocean Decent things became even worse. No longer was I sitting in my chair safe at home, and no longer was I in the dark museum, but instead I was underwater diving into the deep unknown... And it was nerve wrecking. Of course it was also pretty amazing, and I was constantly looking around at what was going on, but all sense of security was gone, and when the shark came it was even worse -- that's when reflexes kicked in. Pulling my legs back as it tried to bite me, and flinching when it slammed into my cage. No matter how many times I told myself "this isn't real," my brain couldn't help but react. It's a really strange sensation, and it is even stranger when you start jumping into other games and experiences as well. Remember the horror games that didn't look that scary? Yeah, tell your brain that when you're looking at it in the face.

The Games and Experiences:

Another concern about VR is if it's games are worth it. Well I can only talk about what we have right now, but so far it does seem promising. While VR Worlds is mostly experiences, it does offer a wide verity of things to do. The shark attack is a fun ride that everyone should try at least once, and using your head to play a life sized version of 3D Pong is a lot of fun as well. London the Heist is a fun on rail experience, and the built in shooting range is a lot of fun for anyone who enjoys that sort of thing. Picking up your gun, ducking behind cover, changing out the clip -- it all feels so natural and gives you an idea of how shooting mechanics can work in the future. On the other hand you have classic PC Adventure style games/"walking simulators" where you explore a game world, examining objects, choosing what to say/do, and making your way through a story. These games also work very well in VR, and help you invest into their stories and worlds even more. While not everyone may like the ones we currently have, they show that this genre has a home in VR. Other games on the console are more like what we saw back when Nintendo first released the Wii, or when Xbox released Kinect. They aren't games for "gamers," but that doesn't mean they aren't fun. These games make use of the motion controls to allow you to do real world activities inside this virtual space. You can play pool, there's the shooting range I mentioned, a golf game where you play as a giant robot (ok, not quite the everyday thing), and so on. While many may pass these off as shovelware, that doesn't mean you can't have fun with them and come back to them from time to time. Of course developers will only be able to make so many of these games before they run out of things to do (again, look at the Wii), but they are still nice -- at least for now.

Moving onto the next category of games, we have what gamers might call "real games." There's DriveClub VR for those who like racing games (also a new GT is coming as well as other racers), Rez is an amazing rail shooting experience that EVERYONE should try at least once, there's competitive games like EVE Valkyrie, and then there's heavy hitters like Ace Combat 7 and Resident Evil 7 on their way. These are games that are more for the gamers out there, and they prove that mainstream games can in fact work in VR as well. While some people may also think that only first person games can work with this thing, that too is a complete lie. DriveClub VR actually has all of the standard racing game view points, including the 3rd person view, and it shows that 3rd person games could in fact use VR if they wanted to do so. In this case you're a floating camera behind whatever it is you are looking at, but the world still flies by you, and you get a greater sense of it's scale. Being able to look all around your character from a 3rd person point of view actually feels great, and it can help you see things you might not have noticed before. Play Room VR is another game that allows you to see this in action, where you can play a 3D platforming game from this point of view. You, as your own character, float above this world as you use the controller to guide the platforming character on where to go. Rather than turning the camera with the analog stick, you physically look at what's around you, and follow the character with your own eyes as you try to navigate them there. It's a really interesting concept, and it's something I personally would like to see more of.

In short, VR is something that can work with a wide verity of games, but it will be some time before we see where it actually goes. What we have now does work great, and currently the future does look promising.

Extra Modes:

VR isn't just for gaming, it can be used in other ways as well. Currently these other modes are limited, but you can use the headset to put yourself in a movie theater like area to watch movies and play games on the big screen (giant floating screen). There's also support for VR movies within some apps, and even Hulu has a special VR viewing space where you can watch their shows and movies in different living room settings and what not. While there's not too many of these extras on PS4 at the moment, it's nice that non gamers have at least some use for it, and it's very likely more content will be added in the future.

VR Sickness:

Sorry but this is something I have to talk about -- VR Sickness. VR isn't all sunshine and rainbows, and it's going to have a different effect on different people. While I can talk about my own personal experiences with VR, not everyone reading this will have the same issues as me. For example, the shark attack, London Heist, and Danger Ball in VR Worlds were completely fine for me. I had no issues playing these games, but VR Luge (you're going down hill on a skateboard very fast) did make me feel really funny at first. The more I played the more I got used to it, but the first time I did it I almost fell over. Meanwhile Scavenger's Odyssey where you're in a giant mech thing that spins around and can stick to walls DID make me sick. I had to stop after finishing the first part because my head was spinning and I felt like vomiting... This feeling lasted for quite some time even after I took the headset off. Other games that I was fine with strangely included Rez. Even though I was  flying at high speeds with the camera spinning all around in this cyber world like space, I was fine with it. Yes some parts made me a bit dizzy, but the feeling only lasted a moment and I was able to continue on. It wasn't really until the end where flying higher made me feel odd, but that could have been due to my fear of heights. As for another game that made me sick? Loading Human is the one. It's a 3D first person classic adventure game where you explore a room, pick up objects to examine them, and solve puzzles. Moving around this 3D space myself made me feel very unwell, and I had the exact same issue with other games that allowed free movement including Here They Lie.

The Assembly is another game that's similar to Loading Human, which I was able to make myself sick playing by running around the room, but the good news is it has a "snap" option. With only a handful of games currently using this system, the snap and teleport option was invented to help prevent people from getting sick in VR games. With this set up instead of walking to where you move, you warp a short distance in the direction you press on the analog stick, with a quick fade in and out to black. This is also how turning works, and there's also an option to look in a direction, place a marker, and instantly warp to that point. This way you're always standing still, and lessen your chance of getting motion sick. This is something the extra mode in Rise of the Tomb Raider does as well, and while Here They Lie has free movement (as mentioned above), turning is handled with snapping as well. Of course snapping most likely wont work for all 3D games out there, at least it does work for some and that could possibly help people get more used to VR. It may take some time, but eventually most should be able to work up to handling "more demanding" games without throwing up.

The Good and the Bad:

PSVR is nice. The headset feels nice on your head, it works with glasses (in almost all cases), and it actually works. Putting this thing on transports you to a new world, and it's something everyone should experience at least once. There's a handful of really fun games for it as well, and it can be a lot of fun at parties or when you have friends and family over. Thanks to the social screen on the TV everyone can see what it is you see, and there's even some games out there that use this for local multiplayer games. The ability to play any game or watch movies on the big screen is a nice feature (especially if your PSVR is set up in a family room where others want to watch TV or possibly play another game console), and the extra modes such as VR movies and other experiences even give non gamers something to try out. In general it's a nice addition to the PS4, but that's not to say that it is perfect.

The only real issues with the PSVR is it's resolution, and motion sickness. Sadly most games do look like PS2, Vita, and in some cases PS3 games, and sadly there are objects that are blurry and hard to see, but for the time being it is good enough. Again maybe in the future we'll be seeing improvements to this, but for now it's just something we'll have to deal with. This also means games played in the "movie theater" mode will also look slightly worse than on your actual TV, but it's not that big of an issue. What is an issue though is the fact that this may make you motion sick, so it's entirely possible that you'll buy it only to find out you can't play it at all. Of course I doubt that'll be the case (as I mentioned only a few games made me sick), but it may be a good idea to try one out before you actually buy. At least some games are doing whatever it is they can to cut back on this, but with others you'll just have to learn to deal with it...

Overall though I'd still say the PSVR is worth it if there are games on it you'd like to play. It's something you should experience (at least as a demo in stores), but if you should own it or not all depends on what it is you want. Looking forward to Resident Evil 7 or Ace Combat 7 in VR? Could be worth it then. Want to play some classic adventure games like The Assembly, or another horror game like Here They Lie? Then go for it. What about EVE Valkyrie? Want to get into crazy tense dog fights in space? Well, then that game could be worth it alone! Honestly it all comes down to you, so before you pick one of these up it's a good idea to pick out a library of games first. The bottom line is, the PSVR is only fun if it has something fun for you. Hopefully this helped you with deciding that.
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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Deus Ex: Black Light Novel Summary

Want to play the new Deus Ex: Mankind Divided video game? Well you may be both happy and sad to hear that there's actually a lot more to this game's story, but it's actually told in a prequel novel. Rather than beginning right after the previous game, Human Revolution, ended, Mankind Divided picks up many months later and leaves a massive gap in the story leaving many people confused -- this is where the novel comes in. Why is Jensen where he is? Who are these people he is with? Just how does he plan on taking down the Illuminati? How did he survive the ending of Human Revolution? All of this and more was answered in Black Light, and today I'm going to help all of you who haven't read it get up to speed. The following is a full novel summary of Black Light, and it will cover all of the major moments in the novel. So, let's begin. (Spoilers for the full novel, and possibly Human Revolution follow, so read at your own risk.)

Deus Ex: Black Light - 

The story starts with Jensen waking up in some sort of "medical center" for augs. After the incident this sort of thing was set up for augmented people, and basically acts as a jail. Their augs are locked, they basicallu live in cells, and so on. Jensen was fished out of the water, and was told his augs kept him at a state where they were still able to bring him back. Unsure of who he is, Jensen takes the time to remember what had just happened to him (HRs ending), and keeps his mouth shut. He doesn't know who runs he place, and he trusts no one.

During his stay there he befriends an augmented man called Stacks, he's questioned by some sort of "government" official (a woman named Thorne), and he hatches a plan to escape. Taking Stacks with him, Jensen takes out some guards, destroys the device blocking his augs, and gets ahold of Prichard. After calling Prichard a p***k to prove he is the real Jensen, Prichard helps him and stacks secure a car and they make their way to Detroit.

Meeting Prichard in Detroit, Jensen learns TYM took Sarif after it has closed down, much of Detroit is now lawless and filled with gangs, and he himself has gone back to being a hacker doing shady things/whatever he had to do to get by. He's living in an old theater, paying off gang members, and hardly getting by. Most of the other workers from Sarif are gone from the area, but at least a few of Jensen's ex security team has joined up with the gangsters.

After seeing Stacks freak out from not getting his drugs for his augs, Jensen and Prichard break into Sarif. Inside Stacks freaks out once again at the sight of seeing augmented parts laying around, but Jensen is able to calm him down. Using some security systems set in place by Prichard, they get the doors open to the different rooms, get the drugs, and escape -- all while giving the remaining drugs to other augs in need.

Next Jensen heads out to the facility from the start of HR. Here are said to be some experimental augs that were left behind, and Jensen sets out to stop the gangsters there to steal it. Stacks comes along, and the two set a bomb to destroy the place, but things go bad, Stacks goes crazy again thanks to his PTSD (it's implied during the incident he tore his own family to shreds), and is shot. Lying on the ground dying, he tells Jensen to escape while he sets off the bomb -- which he does. Stacks dies, Jensen runs, and then comes face to face with the task force. The task force is currently tracking down an illegal aug operation, and their leads had lead them to this building. They hold Jensen at gun point, but Jensen shoots his way through the ground and escapes.

Back at Prichards place he finds Prichard being held at gunpoint by the Juggernaut collective. They offer Jensen a position working with them to take down the Illuminati, but he turns it down and follows his own leads. These leads take him to his old security staff who apparently have a part in the deal of these illegal augs. Sadly the first guy he meets in the bar is killed, so he sets out to track down the man who ordered the hit -- yet another one of his ex staff. This also had a bad outcome. Rather than finding answers, Jensen is knocked out, and the cops are called to pick him up.

The guys who pick Jensen up aren't the cops, but rather the task force. While Jensen doesn't trust them, he realizes he could use them, and that he didn't have much of a choice but to go along with them. The gangsters escaped Sarif with the experimental augs, and the task force wants to stop them just the same as he does. So, Jensen heads to the air port with the team, and they interrupt the deal. Things do go bad of course, and many are killed, but Jensen is able to establish contact with Prichard once again, and he helps him stop a jet from taking off with the augs. Jensen also saves one of the task team members, making the others trust him a little more.

Rather than joining the task force, Jensen heads back home to find more leads on the Illuminati, but instead learns the man who knocked him out has been found dead and is scheduled to be burned as soon as possible. Once again with Prichard help to disrupt traffic, Jensen hijacks the ambulance with the body, and begins work studying the body. Using his cyber eyes, Jensen relives the moments of his death only to find Thorne, the agent who questioned him at the medical center was the one who killed him. He also reads her lips and finds out that the train the task force is on with the augs will be attacked.

Teaming up with juggernaut, Jensen gets on the train and finds it a complete mess. Almost everyone is dead, and Thorne is getting close to getting the augs. After a long battle however, and with the help of one of the lead task force members, Jensen is able to stop some of them, set the train into high gear so that it would crash, and then faces off with Thorne. On his last leg, Jensen uses the Typhoon system to finish her off, and finally escape the train before it crashes -- destroying the augs with it.

At the end of the book Jensen decided to join juggernaut because he's out of options. He has no leads on where the Illuminati are, and he realized the task force may be compromised. The Illuminati (Thorne was an agent) was always a step ahead of the task force, and they even knew about the train. Someone was on the inside, and both Jensen and Juggernaut wanted to find out who.

After Novel Events -
  • Juggernaut asks Jensen to join him. Jensen wants to have nothing to do with them, but since he is out of leads on where to go he decides to accept.
  • Juggernaut has Jensen join the Task Force. Both of them know that someone within the Task Force is dirty, and Jensen becoming a part of it is the only way to flush them out.
  • In the comic (spoilers) Jensen is now a part of the Task Force, but the overseas branch and not the American branch he helped in the game -- although most of them are dead anyway. In this short story, Jensen helps uncover the plans of a group that was kidnapping kids and turning them into human bombs. The leader turns out to be the son of a a man on TV who is completely against augs and is trying to start a revolution against them. The reason for his hate? During the incident his augmented son, who they only augmented to save his life, went crazy and killed his wife. During the final moments of the comic, his son kidnaps him, is about to set off a bomb killing both of them, but is then shot in the head and killed. Afterwards his dad goes back on TV, continues his aug hate, and the story ends -- not so much of a happy ending.

Ending Notes -

Just a few more notes to help you understand the story and what's going on with Jensen.
  • The man the Task Force is hunting down at the start of Mankind Divided (it's intro mission) is the same man who was leading the smuggling ring. He escapes on the plane at the air port when Jensen detaches the augs he was attempting to fly away with.
  • The leader from the American Task Force Unit leaves Jensen an email on his PC in Mankind Divided stating he wished he was a part of his unit and wasn't sure why he was with the overseas branch.
  • The death of characters like Stacks really got to Jensen and further helped drive him to taking down the Illuminati. He's lost too many people because of them, and he will now stop at nothing to bring them down.
  • Prichard left Detroit at the end of the novel, and is not seen in the Mankind Divided base game. While he doesn't exactly say where he'll be going in the novel, he does return in the first DLC released for the game. 
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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Uncovering Gaming Relcis from the Past

Today I had to finally sit down and do something I didn't want to, but had no other choice... Clean the basement. Long story short I need to have some work done on the house, and before it happens I need to clean out the basement -- a place where I pile stuff up, and tend to forget about it. Well what originally started out as a boring chore, became one of my greatest finds in quite some time. I uncovered things I had since thought were long lost, and things you rarely see to this day.

SNES and NES Games:

Originally I thought these were both stolen, and lost. Growing up as a kid I had a lot of NES games, and once I got a SNES my collection of it's games began to quickly grow as well. It's how I got my start gaming, and it's the reason I'm still here today. Well, these games were originally stored at my mom's work office (yes, the one that burned down...) so that I could play them over there, but suddenly then began to vanish. I wasn't able to find anything I wanted to play, and when we had to make the move out of that place I never expected to see them again. Welp, here they are! (At least some of them.) Not sure how it happened, but the games were boxed up, and ended up in my basement without me even knowing they were there. Sadly I'm still missing a handful of games, but maybe if I keep looking they'll be turning up as well.

Good old Nintendo Power:

Now I've kept all of my Nintendo Power from all the years I subbed, but apparently I was missing some. Digging through one of the boxes brought me face to face with some of the "newer" older issues I had. They cover GBA, and DS games, and strangely enough the issues are actually relevant to me today. You see I'm currently in the process of getting a hold of the Super Robot Wars games (mainly because Moon Dwellers is on it's way), and one of the issues I found just so happens to cover the very first OG released on the GBA! On top of that these issues also cover other great games I've been meaning to get around to playing at some point, but just haven't had the time to get/find them.

Lots of GB, GBC, and GBA Boxes:

Can't believe I even kept these. Back in the day when game boxes were just game boxes, you would run out of the store, sit in the back seat of the car, rip the game's instruction book out, read it, and if you had your handheld device with you you would play the game. As for the box? Who knows what ever happened to it. These things were thrown away all the time, and it wasn't very often that they would actually be saved. So imagine my surprise when I come across games such as Kirby Tilt N Tumble, Yoshi Topsy Turvy, Mega Man Battle Network, and many others from back in the day! Complete with the instruction books, and all of the plastic protection and what not still inside of the box, these things are in great condition and look as if they still belong sitting on the shelf at the local Wal-Mart.


With the Pokemon Go crazy still going strong, there's currently a lot of people in the world out there hunting them. Well, I just found the motherload. Nearly all of my Pokemon toys from years past are still in perfect to okay condition, and I've just uncovered even more. Giant starter figures, bouncy ball Pokemon, stuffed toys, battle arena with figures that fight each other and save their progress/stats (did
you guys really think Skylanders was the first to do this in games?), and much much more. My basement is apparently filled with Pokemon, and even some other gaming related figures that I had completely forgot about. Sonic Adventure figures from the 90s anyone?

Of course I'm still not done, so who knows what else is down there, but I have found quite a few other video game related things as well. I came across a few "virtual reality" snow boarding games and what not (which of course were just little Tiger Toy like things that strapped to your head with a snowboard you stood on), some Atari Flash Backs, and old movie rental boxes I got from buying used games and games from movie rental places. Although a lot of this stuff may be considered junk, it's still nice actually being able to see it all again in a world where these sort of things no longer exist. It's a blast from the past, and I hope to keep looking for even more stuff as the day goes on.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Am Setsuna - Out Today!

Looking for a classic JRPG to play? Well you're in luck! Today is the release of Square's new title "I Am Setsuna." Set on an island covered in snow, the game tells the story of a young woman named Setsuna who has been chosen to sacrifice herself to quell the monsters that wreck havoc and cause chaos for all who live there. Players take control of a young mercenary who has been hired to escort Setsuna to the location that will become her grave, and hopefully save the island by doing so. According to Square the game's central theme is that of sadness, and it has been made in a way that will remind old school fans of "the good old days." Using the same type of  the active time battle system seen in the classic Chrono Trigger, I Am Setsuna can also be seen as sort of a spiritual successor to it. While the game itself is very different when it comes to it's story and setting, the heart that used to make these types of games great seems to still be there.

For anyone who's interested in checking it out, the game is up for download on Steam and PlayStation 4.
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Resident Evil's Change to First Persion - It's not as strange as you might think.

One of the biggest announcements last E3 was that Resident Evil 7 is on it's way, and that it would also support PlayStation VR. This is something that was somewhat of a shock to many of those watching, and it wasn't long before people took online to express their concern for the "brand new" first person style. Up until now Resident Evil has only either used fixed camera angles or a 3rd person action style camera, so it's really no surprise that people would be skeptical of the new change. From a first glance it's not the Resident Evil they know and love, but rather a game that's copying other first person titles on the market. Well, I'm here to tell you that that isn't true. Resident Evil is a game that can work in first person if done right, and that this actually isn't the first time a Resident Evil game could be played mostly in first person. In fact, one of the best Resident Evil games out there (at least in many's opinion) can be played almost entirely from a first person point of view, and it's easily some of the most fun I personally have had in the series.

So, first of all, what is it that actually makes RE7 different from the past? Yes, it is different from Resident Evil 4, 5, and 6, that's for sure, but these games were action games. They featured some dark creepy settings, they had a few jump scares, and we would often see disturbing monsters along the way, but that's about it. These games were not what Resident Evil was originally intended to be. Now don't get me wrong, each game is great in it's own way (yes, even 6 had it's moments), and they did tell some interesting stories, but they are not "classic" Resident Evil. Sure, it's easy to understand why fans of 4-6 would like 7 to follow in it's path, but it's also not that shocking that someone would want Resident Evil 7 to finally go back to the style seen in 1-3, 0, and Code Veronica as well. That's exactly why Resident Evil 7 is what it is. Although we haven't seen the full game, Capcom has confirmed quite a few things about it, and even the playable demo shines some light on things as well. Basically, Resident Evil 7 is a game where you will explore a single location (rather than going on a world adventure), you'll solve puzzles, gather resources, and slowly learn about what is going on around you by interacting with it's world. The game will in fact feature combat, but with limited ammo (as mentioned in an interview), and the story is set within the Resident Evil universe. So again, I go back to my question. What is it that actually makes RE7 different?

Now many might think that the first person camera is completely unfitting for Resident Evil, or that it's what makes the game different, but it's really not. As mentioned before, this actually isn't the first RE game to be in first person. Sure this is the first mainline game to take this approach, but the game that did it last might as well have been numbered as it is actually one of the most well received titles in the series in recent years. What game is this? It's none other than Resident Evil Revelations of course.

Resident Evil Revelations was originally a Nintendo 3DS exclusive, and it was the first Resident Evil to move back towards it's horror survival roots. Rather than being a pure action game like RE5, the game put our beloved Jill Valentine on a ship of horrors out in the middle of the ocean, and asked us to do whatever it took to survive it. Using a gameplay style similar to Resident Evil 4, players got to explore the ship, solve puzzles, collect resources, and fight off enemies with weapons they found and upgraded throughout their adventure. Sure there was also side chapters that were more action focused, but the main game itself was all about atmosphere, and surviving -- just as Resident Evil used to be. It almost flawlessly blended the 3rd person style of the action games with the gameplay classic fans had been craving, and it even made use of the brand new 3D effect and new circle pad pro add on (right analog stick) to help pull players deeper into the experience, and to fix the "tank control" issue many have been complaining about since the initial jump to full on 3rd person. Although this isn't the only thing the circle pad pro did. It also made it possible to play Revelations from a first person point of view, and the 3D effect only helped enhance that experience.

Even though those who played the console HD version of Revelations may not have noticed, the game actually had two aiming options. The first option was your standard Resident Evil 3rd person shooter style of camera. With this mode you would hold the aim button, your character would bring up his/her gun, and you would then be able to shoot or defend yourself in general. There was nothing special about this mode, and it's what we've come to expect form these 3rd person RE games; however, the second mode was not. Using the same default aiming mode as Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D on the 3DS, the original version of Revelations defaulted you to a first person aiming mode instead. With this mode, combine with the 3D effect, you really felt as if you were inside the Resident Evil world, and you were given complete control over where you could look -- often allowing you to see things you would otherwise miss from a 3rd person point of view. Mixed with the circle pad pro, players could then actually stay in the first person view for nearly the entire game, and move about the world as if it were meant to be explored this way. Although movement while aiming is a bit slower than when running in 3rd person, using the first person point of view could actually be used to your advantage in a lot of ways, and it was also a lot of fun. Rather than sprinting through the world moving from point A to B, the first person view allowed you to take your time, look at the finer details, and even spot incoming dangers that may have originally been too high or too low for you to see. Often there were times I'd just slowly walk down each corridor, always on edge because I never knew what would be around the next turn, and then when I would come to a new room or large open area I'd take the time to fully look around and see what that room had to offer. Of course thanks to the game's new scanning system to find items (which was also in first person) it was basically required that you looked under every table, and behind every door, but even once I found every item in a room I couldn't help but take the time to study the room itself. The game just felt like it was meant to be played this way, and I found myself enjoying it much more than I had ever imagined. Sadly, you would often have to switch out of this view to complete specific actions, but I never really minded -- especially since I loved the 3rd person style as well. Honestly the thought of this type of gameplay being the core focus of a Resident Evil never crossed my mind, but it was something I did really like.

So, what about Resident Evil 7? How is it any different? It's a new horror survival game, with a new cast of characters, set in a new location, and at a later date (taking place sometime after 6). While many may feel the first person point of view is changing the series to match that of some of the newer horror games out there, it really isn't. It's taking the game it has always been, and expanding on features we have already seen in the past... Or rather, you could say this is Capcom finally returning to it's roots, as Resident Evil 1 was originally going to be in first person as well.

Anyway, it's far too early to tell how the game will actually turn out, but if you're interested in seeing what a RE game is like from a first person point of view, then I'd recommend checking out Revelations. At the very least it'll give you somewhat of an idea of what to expect when 7 finally comes around.
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