You Get What You Pay For: My Confusion Over 360 Subscriptions

The 360 was the first ever console I picked up on day one.

While working at a game retailers, I sat down with the deputy manager the night before it launched and opened his 360 up and tried out Condemned and was amazed by the graphics (even on a SDTV). I put my machine aside with Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo and Condemned, picked it up at 5am and got home as soon as possible to plug it in and start playing. I reactivated my Xbox Live account without thinking about it, 40 British pounds disappeared straight away and I didn’t give it a moment’s hesitation.

That 40 quid could have just paid for my copy of Modern Warfare 2. Hell, if I shopped smart I could get MW1 and 2 for 40 quid. So why do people happily pay for this service?

A lot of people I know say they pay for the quality of service. These people either don’t play very much at Christmas or have never touched a PC games like Team Fortress 2, Quake 3, Counter-Strike or Unreal Tournament, all of which run great on PC's providing you have a good connection. All of those games are also free to play online once you've purchased the title.

So how did PC, PS3 and Wii all suddenly become crap online? Do people think something is less worthwhile if you aren’t paying for it? Are you getting less of a service because you aren’t paying for said service? Course not. PSN might not have as sleek an invite system and is painfully missing the fantastic cross-game chat feature and Wii is missing... well, just about everything, but PC is far better for online play than 360 could ever be because there aren’t any restraints.

360 users please, for the love of god, stop paying for Xbox Live.

Thanks to Herra Smith for her awesome header image. Expect to see more of her 3am offerings in future posts


Going Through the Motions

My girlfriend and I were so hyped up for the Wii before it was out. At the time we both worked at a game retailers and I managed to get mine the night before release thanks to my fucking awesome deputy and manager. For the year or so after that first day with the Wii I was the happiest owner I knew. Wii has titles like the astounding No More Heroes, Twilight Princess, Mario Kart, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Smash Bros. Brawl and Fire Emblem unfortunately, quality titles soon started to dry up on Wii.

After the first year, my love for the Wii was fading fast. Titles like Iron Man, Samba De Amigo, Mercury Meltdown Revolution and Nitrobike among other sub-par shit I stupidly paid 35 quid for made me start to see the cracks in the machine I loved so much. After the crappy games started to flow it was the Wii's technical draw backs that made me not get titles like Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, Street Fighter or Modern Warfare that made me regret my primary console of choice. Then region locked games that made me miss or have to wait 8 months for titles like Bleach, Tales of Symphonia, Smash Bros, the current pretty Wii game Muramasa and the upcoming No More Heroes 2 both of which are delayed a number of months because I'm British. Then it was the lack of enjoyable titles on WiiWare and Virtual Console, then the lack of care on Nintendo's part for the customer, no 1st party charging solution for Wiimote, poor 1st party titles, no storage solution (until after I had stopped caring), poor online support and growth and then the final nail, Wiimotion Plus.

Fucking Wiimotion Plus, I now have to pay more money to get the features the Wii should have had originally? Fuck that. I pretty much gave up on Nintendo's console offerings (Still love my DS to bits) and stopped following pretty much all Wii related news and releases bar the few that still caught me eye like the recently released Boy and His Blob. Not because i believed the titles to be shit but there just wasn't anything for the type of gamer i was anymore.

So all this leads to my actual topic. Sitting and watching the Sony and Microsoft press conferences at E3 and see BOTH of Nintendo's competition take their idea and turn it into their own. I think many gamers let out a groan to see some hairy fella with sunglasses (really?) show me the bottom of a shoe or a guy who was clearly never prepared to go up in front of millions of people show me his dildo with a  light on the end.

How are these controllers going to enhance the franchises I already enjoy? At this point its speculation but is Natal really going to give me the Gears of War experience I've always dreamt of? Is SMC going to enhance Uncharted in a way I couldn't of imagined in 1000 years? Going off the demo's I've seen, probably not at this point. Making Space Invaders, Burnout and Katamari look like crap is definitely a achievement but not something I'm going to buy into. I'm pretty sure a large portion of gamers work hard (well.... some of you must) for their pay-chequee and the last thing they want to do after working hard is go how and act like a big twatin frontt of their TV (unless they play Fifa or Madden, that must be a common thing for those guys).

So my question. Do we really need or want these motion controls? I personally don't. My games are great the way they are and I'm not looking to jump around and lose a few pounds right now. I want to come home after my day and be treated to a great experience while I relax and not spend my time helping Milo with his fucking homework.

Are we going to see a mass reduction in the types of games we've enjoyed over the years? Only time  will tell.


IMO: Uncharted 2

Nathan Drake is the suave Everyman most men would like to be, good height, good weight, perfect hair, sense of humour, interesting job and the ability to fall off a 2 storey building without breaking any bones.

Like any other honest everyman would, Drake gets embroiled in a quest to find Shangri-La, a mythical
utopia in which ... actually I have no idea what they think is in Shangri-La nor do I have any clue what’s in it but it seems important enough for Drake to want to find it.

While the meat of the story won’t amaze and astound, the way it’s conveyed and acted is where
Uncharted 2 gains fandom. All animations for both in-game and cut scenes are done by using the same person for each role. Nathan Drakes real world counter-part, Nolan North, does all the voice work as well as animations for attacks, movement, rolls as well as story cut scenes  and this is done for every major character in the game which makes all aspects of animation look as close to lifelike as possible. The voice work for al story cut scenes is also done during the motion capture which makes it feel less tacked on and more of a whole package than in other games. The cast also sat through and watched a lot of the game ad-libbing as it was played to get some great comedic moments which really add to the characters charm.
Uncharted 2 isn’t a one trick pony though. While its animation and dialogue is top notch, its combat is also fantastic. Both CQC and gunplay work exactly as expected and have been tweaked and re-jiggled enough since the 1st game to have a noticeable effect. Headshots now down enemies straight away (unless they are in massive suits of armor) and the punch combo system has been dropped in favour of a more streamlined version.

The last part I want to mention
specifically is the multiplayer. It’s OK, it’s not fantastic, but working in teams and killing people is fun. What I really love is the Co-op. with modes similar to Gears of War's Horde, every game under the sun's Capture the Flag, and 3 3-player story missions, Uncharted 2's Co-op offerings are right up my street. Brilliant level design, enjoyable to kill  enemies and a leveling system with items and perks make UC2 probably the best online experience I've had with PS3. The only thing you can’t do is pick your character skin which is a little bit of a bummer.

Uncharted 2 is an astounding package which really showed the quality of game that Naughty Dog can produce and that we as gamers should all play. I wont say this is Playstation's Gears of War/Halo/Generic other title, but I will say this is a series each and every gamer should sit up and take notice of because if Naughty Dog can keep this up, Uncharted will be up there with Castlevania, Zelda, Half-Life and Phoenix Wright as a truly stand-out series for games.

Buy it, play it, love it.

IMO: A gamers policy

1up use grades, Gamespy uses stars, IGN uses a 10 scale and other places that I can’t think of right now use good old percentages. This site isn't really about reviews that much (although I may post reviews from other sites on occasion) what it is about however is my opinion and that's what IMO is all about.

IMO will be my choice of words on a piece of media (be it game, movies, books, porn, menu's at the local bloody pub) with no restrictions at all. if I want to call a it a rusted cuntfart I will because I will have spent my hard earned money on it and then I’ll tell you if  I think you should leave it or spend your hard earned money on it too.

You don't have to agree with me (in fact I'm sure some of you will hate what I have to say) but it’s my opinion and you can take it however you like.


Black rooms and brown pants: Getting scares in videogames right

Anyone who has known me for an extended amount of time will know when it comes to supernatural things I don’t understand, I’m more terrified than a porn stars first performance. Things like the movie 28 Days Later really shook me up for weeks because I was stupidly thinking that some day something like that could happen in real life. Don’t get me wrong, I'm not so chicken-shit that if I had to face a zombie I would run in the other direction, I’d butcher the fucking zombie the same way Sega butchers Sonic games nowadays (ZING!) but its the idea of such things happening that keeps me awake at night and this is what horror games truly lack. The atmosphere and the ability to scare the player, long after the game has been saved and turned off.

After listening to several gamer chums’ talk so highly of EA's fresh IP Dead Space and seeing it on the cheap (brand new may I add) I picked up a copy. Not really thinking about it, one night on a cold and dark English winter, I popped it in and played for around half an hour, that’s not because it was late and I had work in the morning or because my girlfriend wanted to sleep and I was making too much noise, its because I was terrified by the freaking thing. The tension, atmosphere and suspense Dead Space oozes really struck a nerve with me.

Now a few people in the gamer world have started to have an idea, take abilities and weapons away from the player to make them feel underpowered. This is the wrong way to go about making a truly brilliant horror game. I don’t want to feel like a weakling, I want to feel the way I do when I'm in Isaac’s boots, like a bad ass in a bad situation. I've got a pile of awesome weapons in Dead Space but I still feel afraid due to the awesome atmosphere the game oozes.

Of recent memory I've played a few horror games, Resident Evil 5, Dead Space, Fear 2 and Siren Blood Curse. out of the 4 only 2 had me so afraid I stopped playing the game and they would be Siren and Dead Space and its not because I was underpowered or because the controls were made in a way which made it hard for me, the player, to be able to attack and flee at the same time (looking at you RE5), it was because they both gushed the horror atmosphere that books and movies have been trying to use for years.

I hope future games take queues from both Dead Space and Siren when trying to make a horror experience so they don’t instead end up a flawed survival game.

Zombie Cow, Time Gentle Please and the first step on Bitmob

Welcome to Aeries Dies, I'll be updated the blog on a semi-regular basis with new articles and pieces of either my own writing or those I find online that I've enjoyed. Maybe it'll just be a picture of a seal laughing or something, god only knows.

Today was my first try and writing something for Bitmob.com, the fan/industry written article site which allows Average Joes like me who have ambition and talent to write the chance to get in on something in between a blog and a professional site. Its great for some insightful pieces on games and the games press and they currently are trying to get an article of 25 great games that are cheap. They do this by getting users to write a paragraph about a game they enjoy and then they'll collect them all up and put them together.

I Submitted mine for Zombie Cows, underrated and British Time Gentlemen Please and Ben There, Dan That! A double pack of point and click goodness for around 2.99 Sterling or 5 US Dollars. Its only 100 words or so but we all have to start somewhere! Check it out and leave me a comment if you are a lovely person.

Its all about Self-Promotion yo! (bitmob link!)