The Importance of Demos

In a time where many of us gamers judge potential game purchases by reading reviews on Metacritic or the video game publication of our choice, I’ve noticed the growing lack of immediate support for demos on our main consoles. We’ve progressed past receiving demo disks in the mail; packed with trailers and excerpts of a handful of choice games that are poised to be out, because next-gen games are so large in size it simply isn’t feasible. Now that I think about it, this was the main way that I decided what game I wanted to buy when I was much younger. While Youtube bridges the gap between reading about a game and actually playing it, nothing beats test-driving a game where you can judge it yourself, devoid of someone else’s insights and opinions which are inherent to reviews.

Back in the day, demos for the hottest titles dropped months or weeks before their release date. This gave ample time for the intrepid gamer to check out a game, and if they liked it enough, they went out to buy it. Now that demos are digitally distributed through avenues like Microsoft’s Xbox Live, Sony’s Playstation Network, or Nintendos Wii Shop Channel, I’d assume these games would be much more available to us all (since most of us have an internet connection, right). Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that demos for a lot of big name titles don’t go up until months after the game’s original release date. Mass Effect 2 as well as both Call of Duty Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2 are guilty of this. It costs a developer a significant amount of money to provide a demo for users to download, but I’m having trouble understanding why the likes of Bioware and Activision respectably took a while to get their latest games out for people to test out before buying.

As an aside, the only reason I ever considered playing Mass Effect 1 and 2 a few months back was entirely due to the fact that Mass Effect 2’s demo was released. If ME2 didn’t have a demo like ME1 didn’t, I’m quite sure I would have never played it at all.

This week saw the release of the demo for El Shaddai, an action adventure title that is said to blend the fighting elements of Devil May Cry, the platforming of Mario, with the visual style of Okami. After reading an article or two about it in a couple magazines, I was pretty excited to see that this game had been uploaded. My interest peaked after watching a gameplay clip followed by an interview with it’s producer. As I grabbed my credit card to renew my Xbox Live Gold subscription after 3 months of inactivity, I knew I was making the right choice. After completing the demo, I didn’t arrive at a definite conclusion about El Shaddai like I had expected. While the demo had brought something fresh to the table, I saw a couple problems that I knew I would be wrestling with if I went to buy the full game. Luckily, El Shaddai doesn’t release until July – people in my situation have will enough time to evaluate the game more, and most importantly, they haven’t missed the boat and are coming into a new game much later than everyone else. Although I’m personally unsure of if I’ll be buying El Shaddai right now, I still have the opportunity to play the demo as many times as I need to until I can answer that age-old question of “Is this game worth spending my hard earned money on?”

I think it’s very important for more games to do what El Shaddai did this week, regardless of if they’re guaranteed to reach astronomic sales like Mass Effect and Call of Duty does regularly. If there’s a demo to speak of, I believe it would be in everyone’s best interest that it should come out before the full game is released, so we can all play through it and decide to take the plunge and buy it, or choose to skip it. If more people are given the chance to support any given game, it’s preliminary sales would increase, as that demographic of gamers who still prefer trying a game themselves before purchasing them would be accounted for.


Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Reviewed!

Hey readers, in case you haven’t caught the link on Facebook, Twitter or your email if you subscribed, my review for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is posted. Check it at the link below, I hope you enjoy it!

As always, I’m looking for any and all sorts of feedback. Have any questions, comments, suggestions? Don’t hesitate to post something in the discussion box below!

I’ll be working on my follow up article(s) now that the review is done, staying busy until my next game, Dissidia Final Fantasy 2 is released.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit: Reviewed!

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is finished, and the review can be reached here. I decided to complete it first so I can include it in the following article which will appear really soon. You’ll see!

I hope you all enjoy it, and any questions, comments and feedback would be appreciated. Thanks again!

Phantasy Star Portable 2: Reviewed!

Yeah, since my reviews have their own pages, when I post them, they aren’t sent as alerts to the inboxes of people who subscribed, so here it is!

I don’t have enough time to fully wrap up Phantasy Star Portable 2 with a Final Thoughts piece, since I have a number of other articles in the works already, in addition to my final exams bearing down on me. I feel that my review does it enough justice. With that said, I can move onto my next project: Need for Speed Hot Pursuit.

Stay tuned!

Facebook Page Launched!

Trying to get your writing noticed on the internet requires a LOT of legwork. Over the past few months I’ve been reposting my stuff through my personal Facebook page, as well as a number of directory sites like Digg and StumbleUpon. I’ve gotten a lot of exposure that way, but in terms of looking more “professional,” I’ve still been falling short. In hopes to fix that, I’ve made my own Facebook Like Page! You know, those random “Likes” that people click and get flooded on their friends’ News Feed.

I’m still learning how to get it working the way I want, so stay tuned, hopefully I can put a Like box here on my blog here, we’ll see. Anyway, if you’re interested in the link, go here!

Spread the word!

Not Dead!

Nah, I didn’t disappear, but I’ve been INCREDIBLY busy with a lot of different things since my last post. Have you seen my Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep review? Yeah? Thanks, spread the word! No? Go read it right now! It’s on the right sidebar under reviews, can’t miss it. Too lazy? It’s okay, you can click here to read it.

Anyway, I have a number of blogs that are in the process of being written, and its funny because as I was writing one, I got the idea in my head for the next article, and started writing both subsequently…By the time I was juggling three different articles, I realized I had a speech to write and have memorized so I can give it this week! On top of that, I’ve gotten a second huge project, in addition to an even bigger task that I’m wrestling with how to take on- but I’ll dedicate a blog just for that. Again, lets just say I’m INCREDIBLY busy. Okay, I should really run my articles through Word like usual, but I just felt the need to write this before I head to bed. Anyways, I’ll leave you all with a short teaser of what I’ve been able to work on inbetween all the things I just mentioned –

Yeah. Stay tuned!

Ventus, Complete!

I’m a little bit surprised that I cleared Ven’s storyline in four days. More or less, he romps through the same worlds as Terra, and now I’m seeing the point of the three-pronged approach to this game. It’s nice to notice when more than one hero is in the same world, and how their actions are seen from another person’s perspective; again, its encouraged to clear each story to get the full picture.

Gameplay wise, I would say Ven’s game was easier than Terra’s – that is to say, he plays the most like Sora, making him the easiest to get back into playing a Kingdom Hearts game. They’re both nimble, quick, and of course – they can fly. I went through Neverland as Terra just waiting for Peter Pan and Tinkerbell to sprinkle him with magic dust so he can take flight. It never happened, so I guess adults really can’t fly, oh well.

I liked Ven as a character. He’s the most cheerful of the three heroes, and his personality and interactions with others made each scene memorable. Terra’s brooding nature seemed to drive a wall between the bubbly Disney characters, but I’m just being nitpicky. Ven connected with people like Stich, Mikey, Donald and Goofy. The first thing that drew me to him was his obvious resemblance to Roxas, from Kingdom Hearts II. Why does he look just like him? Is this some kind of ploy to get all fans to collectively say “wtf, who is that?” Well, if I were to answer that, then what’s the point in all of you planning to play it? I’ll just say that it’s an interesting plot twist. Regardless, the overarching plot is sometimes difficult to follow, and when you have a new character that looks like someone we’ve already met five years ago, it’s a lot more complicated than just passing them off as something like an older twin…

To build off of my previous note about Final Fantasy’s presence in this game- I’m sad to report that no other characters have been found. Still, a young iteration of Zack is so far the sole representative for Final Fantasy, which is kind of odd. One of the main draws to Kingdom Hearts is seeing a universe that combines the elements of two really big properties: Disney (Duh) and Final Fantasy. Having only a side character (at best) weakens that very easy way to market this game to those fans who swoon at the chance to see someone like Cloud or Squall/Leon again. I still hope that this isn’t the case, but time is running out. Perhaps a bunch of characters are just hiding in Aqua’s story!

I suppose in defense of this decision, having a deficiency of Final Fantasy characters allows the game and the players to focus on the central protagonists. As a prequel, their actions are very important, and this game serves to answer a lot of those questions that still haven’t been answered, or have been speculated on for years. It’s all up to the individual player, but I’m sure a lot of Final Fantasy fans would be dissapointed there isn’t much for them.

If I learned the basics of Birth By Sleep with Terra, then I’ve gotten proficient with Ven. Chances are, what I’ve learned with him will make Aqua’s story a breeze-  but we’ll see.

Well, I’m off to start Aqua’s storyline. Happy Gaming!