Yesterday, for no particular reason, I decided I should invest in a membership in Sony's PlayStation Plus service.
If you're not aware, it's a subscription-based service that gives members access to free game downloads, game previews, discounts on items in the PlayStation store, online saves, and other junk.
So far I've downloaded the recent reboot of 'Tomb Raider'
, and bank-heist FPS 'Pay Day 2'
, with more free downloads on the way.
That means my one year subscription to PlayStation Plus, which cost just under $50, has already paid for itself!
PlayStation Plus has our full endorsement.
Today marks the release of 'Burial at Sea: Episode Two'
, the last piece of 'BioShock Infinite'
DLC, and the final hurrah for the Irrational Games studio, which was shuttered by it's founder Ken Levin earlier this year.
remains my favorite gaming title of 2013, and the 'Burial at Sea'
content, which has brought the story full circle, back to the underwater city of Rapture from the first and second games, has only bolstered my satisfaction with the latest entry in the 'BioShock'
ended on a shocking cliffhanger, so I'm pretty excited to see where this entry, which focuses on Elizabeth, who you now play as, takes the twisted tale where there's always a lighthouse, a man, and a city.
It's already downloaded and waiting on my PS3 now.
In the wake of a pretty serious content leak by SONY, Rockstar has released the final 'Grand Theft Auto V'
trailer before the game's September 17th release.
This trailer offers a bit more insight into how Michael gets pulled back into the world of crime, as well as how far beyond the Michael, Franklin, Trevor triumvirate their crime ring might actually extend.
We've been playing a lot of 'San Andreas'
here at Imageyenation HQ lately so this trailer has me more than a little amped to return to the city of Los Santos and its dangerous criminal underbelly in bigger, bolder, and brighter, hi-definition.
I've played 'Bioshock: Infinite'
and 'The Last of Us'
, and 'Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag'
, and 'Beyond: Two Souls'
are all still to come, but 'GTAV'
is looking like the
event game of the year.
Keep your ears open for music from The Alchemist, Oh No, Flying Lotus, Tyler, the Creator, Hudson Mohawke, DJ Rashad, and more when the game drops in a few weeks.
'Grand Theft Auto V'
It's no secret, I'm old. 35 years old to be exact. And during a majority of those 35 years I've spent at least some
time playing video games. I started off getting a quick quarter's worth at the random standup arcade machine in the local convenience store or at bar-table games at whatever "adult" restaurant my parents had unwisely dragged my immature ass to for dinner. Then I graduated to the actual arcade. At this time the arcade was a place of mystery and danger. It was where kids who cut school and other assorted juvenile delinquents were rumored to congregate. And the signs threatening those who were dodging school if they were caught made it seem like you could get in trouble just for being there! But, much like the atmosphere of night clubs would later in my life, the darkness, the cacophony of weird electronic sounds, and the flashing lights of the arcade called to me. I loved those arcade machines! Whether I was good at a game or just wasting a quarter on something I had no chance of success at, it was fun! So, when I discovered that there were these machines, machines with names like Atari and ColecoVision, that could bring that experience home, I wanted in on them. I got the Atari experience thanks to a 5200 my mother bought me. Now 'Pac-Man'
, 'Pole Position'
, 'Dig Dug'
, and others were right there in my house! When Atari fever broke a few years later I wound up with Mordecai and Rigby
's system of choice, the SEGA Master System. I remained loyal to SEGA all the way up to the introduction of the SEGA CD. I purchased one of those things on the day of release. And that was the last system I actually owned until I copped my SONY PlayStation 3 a few years ago.
Obviously games have changed over all those years. The temples of pixels, beeps, and quarters; the arcades, are all long closed and mostly forgotten. People think 'Words With Friends'
, 'Angry Birds'
, or 'Candy Crush'
, are "video games". We're about to see the introduction of a whole new generation
of consoles. It's a brand new world! I definitely look back fondly on the lighter fare of yesteryear. The Pac-Men, Marios, Sonics, Mega Men, Alex Kidds, Rampages, Ghouls & Ghosts, and the like. But when it comes to modern games I usually go in for the cars, guns, girls, and guts style of games championed by Rockstar's 'GTA'
series, 'Red Dead Redemption'
, and 'L.A. Noire'
. Last year my favorite games included the criminally under-appreciated Hong Kong Triad drama 'Sleeping Dogs'
, and the latest entry in the 'Assassins Creed'
saga. This year I blazed a bullet riddled path of bloody revenge through the flying city of Colombia in 'Bioshock: Infinite'
. And I'm currently slogging through the fungus infected dregs of a future America with a little girl at my side in 'The Last of Us'
. I lamented on how the grim reality of the latter game kind of overshadows the possibility of actually having "fun" in an earlier article. I'm further into the game now, and certainly appreciate the gameplay, design, writing, and voice-acting, but it's still more harrowing than "fun". And sadly, 35 year old El Keter doesn't have nearly as much fun as the kid who used to hit the arcade every weekend. Which is why I needed a game like WayForward's "remastering" of 'DuckTales'
, an NES cartridge game based on the uber-successful after-school animated program 'DuckTales'
, to come waddling along and give me something good and old fashioned to have fun with!
Now, it should be noted that being I was a SEGA guy I didn't play a lot of NES titles back in the day. Yeah, I'd get my Mario in whenever I'd visit a Nintendo-owning friend. I played 'Metroid'
. The appeal of 'Zelda'
always eluded me though. And who gave a shit about 'Ninja Gaiden'
when you had 'Shinobi'
? Anyway, the point is, I wasn't necessarily familiar with the vast majority of the Nintendo catalog. And I certainly never played the original NES 'DuckTales'
. I was, like most people of a certain age group, a fan of the cartoon. But I have zero nostalgia for the game, which was apparently a fan favorite. I was sold on the "remastered" take on the 8-bit classic solely by the video promos showcasing what appeared to be gorgeous hand-animated 2-D characters inhabiting an amazingly rendered 3-D recreation of the fowl-filled world of the 'DuckTales'
'toon. All it took was a quick glimpse of those videos, and the co-sign of my Nintendo-owning (yes, she still has an NES and
and Atari 2600) housemate m. Cody
(who has insisted I also mention the fact that she's already beaten 'The Last of Us'
) who apparently was a fan of the NES title, and I added 'DuckTales'
to my "must buy" list. The fact that it would only cost $15 on the PlayStation Network Store only sweetened the deal. And trust me when I say that once purchased, the deal, was in fact sweet. Not only do the graphics bring the original game's sad pixelated take on the characters to smooth, beautiful, colorful, fully animated life, but the original voice actors deliver all the dialogue, both throughout the game's several platforming levels and during the cut scenes which flesh out the admittedly thin story, lending even more authenticity for fans of the show.
More important than any of that though is the fact that the game is just pure fun to play! I've seen a few reviews of the game go negative because, while the audio and visuals were given a complete makeover, WayForward left the gameplay, along with the old-school control mechanism, largely intact. Oddly, this has resulted in complaints of it being both too easy and
too hard, as well as allegations that projects like this are fueled solely by nostalgia, particularly nostalgia for things probably better left in the past. Personally, I have no nostalgia for the original 'DuckTales'
game. I don't have an axe to grind here. I thought the remastered graphics were pretty, and when I played it I had a shitload of fun. This could be a brand new 'DuckTales'
title and I'd have the same reaction. Yeah, you just sort of hop around a lot, collect loot, and bop enemies on their heads. It's a simple, incredibly good-looking game and I haven't had as much fun playing another game in a very, very, long time. And I think what keeps it so fun is the fact that it remains so pure to a different era of gaming. I know, there are developers, particularly indie developers whose bread and butter are games that visually and stylistically hearken back or pay homage to bygone eras. Two of my favorite recent titles, the hand-animated side-scrolling fighter 'Skull Girls'
and the "Metroidvania"-style platformer 'Guacamelee'
, do just that. But both games, while lusciously designed and fun in their own way, miss the mark ever so slightly by utilizing game mechanics that cater to modern gamers by relying on a bunch of overly complicated combos that make simple tasks more difficult than they need to be. Sticking to the basics helps keep 'DuckTales'
fun until the very end.
Seriously, what more do you want? The game is friggin' gorgeous! The music is incredible! The voice-work is phenomenal! The gang—Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby, Duckworth, Ms. Beakly, Launchpad, Gyro, Fenton/Gizmoduck, Bubba, The Beagle Boys, Glomgold, and Magica—are all here! It is nothing
but fun! And it only costs $15 in the PlayStation Store! It's an easy must-buy, both for folks who loved the original, and people who just want a taste of what console gaming used
to be like, without sacrificing their high definition graphics and surround sound in the process. And honestly folks, I really hope 'DuckTales'
is the start of a whole new trend of "remastered" titles that bring classic gameplay into the modern milieu with updated graphics and sound. I hear they're already working on Mickey Mouse's 'Castle of Illusion'
, a SEGA title that actually engenders genuinely warm feelings in the heart of this aging gamer, and from what I've seen they're doing some really interesting things with it. Is it only a matter of time before we get an upgraded Mega Man, or Sonic? Nintendo's been rehashing Mario and Donkey Kong ad infinitum for years already. How about remixed takes on 'Gauntlet'
, 'Golden Axe'
, or 'Altered Beast'
? Just make sure you bring back whoever it was that screeched "WELCOME TO YOUR DOOM!"
in the original. Personally I think a genuine arcade classic like 'Rampage'
is a prime candidate for an update. Just think of what modern graphics quality could bring to the squashing and eating of all those screaming civilians! Oh, there I go again with that bloodlust
'DuckTales - Remastered'
Irrational Games and series creator Ken Levine have finally dropped some of that long-awaited, much-ballyhooed 'BioShock: Infinite'
DLC. And instead of hitting the PS3, downloading the 'Clash in the Clouds'
files to my console, and getting my first person shooter on, I'm here, posting the trailer for you to see.
Yeah, for those of us who paid for the Season Pass back when 'Infinite'
dropped this simple non-story level-based content is sort of a head-scratcher. Wasn't Ken Levine on Twitter telling us to stop bitching about waiting because he was putting so much time and effort into giving us something amazing? Not so sure this is it.
That said, there are two more DLC packs coming, and it looks like there's at least a chance of them giving us some amazing things. The additional content will be a two-parter titled 'Burial at Sea'
and will take 'Infinite'
protagonists Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth back to pre-fall Rapture. Say whaaaaaaat?!?!?
That shot of the Little Sisters is pretty fucking spine-chilling, huh? And the Nat King Cole tune is used to utter perfection. These sounds and images, and word that Levine said it's important that Elizabeth remain a "multi-dimensional" character, give me hope that we will indeed get something amazing out of this Season Pass DLC.
Last Monday I walked into my local T-Mobile store and told the girl behind the counter to talk me into upgrading my phone. I'd spent the last few months reviewing phones and at this point was still torn between the Samsung Galaxy 4, the Samsung Note 2, the HTC One, and the newly-released SONY Xperia Z. After some serious mulling the One and Xperia Z were in a dead heat. But with the Xperia in my hand, loving the design, digging the fact that it's water & dust-proof, and trusting its 13 megapixel camera over HTC's "ultrapixels", all it took was for the salesperson to say "the Xperia has a slot for SD cards, which the HTC doesn't" for me to make my decision. I walked out of the store with the Xperia Z still in my hand.
Since then the phone has hardly left
that hand! Seriously, I had scoffed a bit when reading about how SONY had engineered the phone to be "perfectly balanced", but there it is sitting perfectly in my hand at any angle, with no part of the phone heavier than the other..."perfectly balanced" indeed. But it doesn't just feel
good in my hand; with its super thin profile, rounded edges, and glassy obsidian finish, it looks gorgeous! Bye, bye, phones that all look like the iPhone! From now on phones are actually gonna be "pretty". That prettiness extends to the glorious 5-inch Bravia Mobile-enabled screen, the stripped-down layout of the mostly bloatware-free version of Android Jellybean running on the device, and the design of the UI & its components.
Like I said, one of the main reasons I went with the Xperia over the HTC One is that I just don't buy HTC's whole "ultrapixel" scam. I've seen photos taken with the One in real life, and they look awful! I don't know where the reviewers get their photos from, but I don't believe they were actually taken by a One. The photos I've taken with the Xperia Z since purchasing it on the other hand are pretty much exactly what I'd expect from a 13 megapixel shooter with a bunch of crazy camera-like settings. I can't say much for the One's ultrapixels other than my photos look a lot
better than my One-owning friends' do on Facebook and Instagram, which is all that really matters when we're talking about an in-phone camera.
If you couldn't tell, I've absolutely fallen in love with SONY's Xperia Z. I sometimes find myself whispering sweet nothings to it. And the other day I said "I love you..." out loud which a passerby thought was intended for them until I added "...smartphone." They were none-too-pleased. I
on the other hand remain nothing but pleased with the Xperia. It's slick-looking, super fast (rocking a 1.5 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor), without a trace of lag-time in button-presses & swipes, mighty in battery power, and with 16GB internal memory plus the SD card from my old phone transplanted it's a storage BEAST! And that's not even touching the waterproofing, which I don't plan on testing out for myself any time soon!
I love you smartphone. I love you Xperia Z.