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!

https://9999hitpoints.wordpress.com/reviews/review-marvel-vs-capcom-3-fate-of-two-worlds/

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.

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Marvel vs. Capcom 3 First Impressions

After over a decade of rocking the arcades, home consoles and never missing a step with newer fighting games, the most popular crossover fighter Marvel vs. Capcom explodes onto the scene with its third game. After clearing the arcade mode and playing online for a little bit, I can’t be any more excited about this game. I’m still getting my bearings in the arena, but here’s a few things I’ve noticed –

While marveling at the cast of fighters this time around, it’s hard not to miss the characters that have gone missing. Fan-favorites like Strider, Cable and Captain Commando have been left out this time around, but Capcom’s rationale for this is definitely fair in my opinion. It goes without saying that a lot of resources are required to bring a character into this game; the graphics are on par with Street Fighter IV, if not better. Because of this, it’s important to have each fighter bring something new to the table. This is evident in the presence of Super-Skrull, who combines all four of the powers of each member of the Fantastic Four. While he may be a great example of consolidation, I’m having trouble with looking at She-Hulk next to her well established male counterpart, or both Dante and Trish who appear to play similarly. Perhaps they’re not so similar, but we’ll have to see about that. A cast of 36 characters on disk with at least two more on the way via DLC is significantly less than the 56 who flooded the select screen in Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

I started off with a team consisting of Zero, Wolverine, and Dante. While Megaman will also be greatly missed, I think Zero was a better fit for my play style. The frantic nature of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 looks like it favors fast damage dealers, rather than slow bruisers like Thor. Once I hit training mode and got the very basics down, I went out and beat arcade mode relatively quickly. The unlockable characters which included Akuma and Sentinel, were also unlocked effortlessly as well.

Playing online was pretty nice as well, but I’ll go more in depth in my review. Capcom’s great netcode ensured that I had no bad connections; I was pretty surprised at that.

I also came upon a very helpful page for beginners and veterans of Marvel vs. Capcom. From the good people at Shoryuken.com, check out this comprehensive guide to understanding everything you need to know in order to master Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

http://wiki.shoryuken.com/Marvel_vs_Capcom_3/System_Guide

As always, I’ve only scratched the surface of the game.  Stay tuned for the review, coming soon.

Crisis Averted!

Color me infuriated. I’ve had my fair share of issues with my consoles; my third Xbox 360 stands as a testament to that. I’m not a professional, but I’d like to say I’m good at fixing a number of problems that have dropped onto my plate. It’s never easy, but solving them does leave me feeling a little gratified, that is if it’s a problem that can be fixed in the first place.

“That’s not supposed to happen…”

For a few days, Mass Effect 2 was unplayable for me. After finishing the game as a male Paragon Shepard (and subsequently writing an article about the choices in the series thus far, found here), I thought it would be fun to play through the game again on Insanity as a female Renegade. I was having a blast until I had died for the umpteenth time. While I was reloading like usual, my game had abruptly stopped in the middle of the loading screen, forcing me to power off my Xbox. Each time I tried to start the game again, it would freeze up and have to be manually powered off.

I began to fear the worst. “Is my Xbox going to fail?” “Is this the first symptom of a Red Ring of Death error, or the beginning of a chain of bad occurrences leading to a slew of other problems that would render my system dead as well?” A lot of things flew through my mind; it was tough to stay calm. The idea of troubleshooting a console has steadily evolved from simply blowing on the cartridge of an NES game, to running down a long and tedious list of fixes for our current generation consoles that rival a help manual for a computer. When did it ever become so complicated? Throughout the night and the following two days I began narrowing down the possible causes:

1.       Removing all of the Downloadable Content (Stupid mistake)

2.       Cleaning the disks, even though they were in perfect condition

3.       Contemplating using canned air to dislodge any built up dust inside (REALLY STUPID. Thankfully I didn’t go through with this)

4.       Calling Electronic Arts and wasting about an hour of my time (The technician ended up sending me a knowledge base article on Microsoft’s website for how to get on Xbox Live…..)

5.       Playing another game

After four really dumb ideas, I finally landed on something mildly intelligent! As I said before, when you’re not in the right state of mind, foolish things are bound to occur. I proceeded to find out every other game I bothered to put in worked just fine, so it was only Mass Effect 2 not functioning properly. I tried using a different Gamertag as well, and lo and behold, the game was playable again! Only problem is that since I wasn’t using my primary profile, I didn’t have access to the save files I would be using in the first place. Because of this, I realized that the issue had to be centered on my gamertag.

“What seems to be the problem with your game, sir?”

Of the many problems and glitches people have had to battle with to get this game to work, my case had yet to be brought to Bioware’s attention, and because of that, it lacked an official fix. I was literally on my own, unless there were others in my situation that just haven’t spoken up. I did some digging, and eventually got in contact with other Xbox 360 users that had the same problem.

Upon further investigation, the problem lied within the save files connected to my gamertag. Apparently, if you have “too many” save files, a rare instance occurs where an important save file, like your AutoSave(which brings you right back to the last place the game saved before or after a battle or major plot point) or ChapterSave (which brings you to the beginning of the mission you’re in) can get corrupted. This is very problematic because when Mass Effect 1 or 2 is turned on, it is also readying your most recent save to be loaded immediately. Even though you haven’t actually gone about to manually load the save file in question, this is done for you. If these two files or a save you made on your own are corrupted, the game will freeze when you try to advance past the start screen, which was my problem in the first place.

…How I got this fixed isn’t up for disclosure…

….But nevertheless, I had found that my AutoSave for my female Renegade was 0kb’s. Having no file size essentially makes it corrupt, and obviously fails to load. After rectifying that, I was able to load my game up again, and was subsequently able to play as well.

From what I gathered, there are a number of possible causes to this, but I’m willing to bet that this problem won’t be addressed by Bioware or Electronic Arts. Mass Effect 2 has been out for a year and a month now, and if a major issue like this hasn’t gotten some attention yet, it likely never will. I just hope that when Mass Effect 3 comes out, other gamers like me won’t have to wrestle with the system in order to play.

It’s funny. My reasoning behind preferring console gaming to computer gaming is very simple – I don’t have to pray that my machine can handle a new game, and don’t have to be haunted by the idea of having to invest in new tech in order to keep your machine useful. With a console, I just have to pop it in, sit back o the couch and enjoy. For a few days, I had joined the minority of players afflicted with errors. When you aren’t having problems with your game, people like me are invisible; yet if your game fails to work, then you’ll see other people with problems everywhere you look.

Why I Won’t Get a 3DS… For Now

While new consoles always flaunt more advanced hardware and intuitive software than the previous generation, the first crop of games always seem to leave many of us wanting more, and in some cases, feeling sour for forking so much money only to be underwhelmed. Taking on every facet of the 3DS will have to wait until more information is divulged, so this article specifically deals with the trouble that most new consoles face upon their release; the first batch of games that are used to “wow” the public into making the big purchase.

They said this day would come

To me, buying a new console soon after its release is like taking a risk. While I admit to owning each relevant system, I also admit that I got a hold of them relatively close to their launch dates as well. While many of my friends were envious that I was an early adopter of many consoles, I never was as excited to be “one of the first” as other people are. For the handheld crowd, its new console season, and with that, each new press release has been attracting fans to wanting to be the first to own; an innate status I never really enjoyed.

To me, there are a lot of roadblocks that make it so I’m really uncomfortable with purchasing a new system early on. I have never been impressed enough with the relatively small lists of launch titles to warrant forking out an arm and a leg to buy it. I was the first on my block with a Dreamcast, Xbox, Gamecube, Wii, Playstation 2, PS3 and Xbox 360, but I didn’t readily welcome picking up their new-fangled controllers for at least a few months afterward.

This is happening right now for Nintendo’s 3DS. The DS’s successor is being hailed as Nintendo’s newest golden child in a dynasty in (portable) gaming excellence, and with good reason. Nearly anyone you talk to owns a DS, and for the most part, they love it. A follow up to it is naturally going to get a lot of positive reaction. While I too have high hopes for it, I won’t be so quick to purchase one yet, until I see good reason to.

Video Credit: Youtube user AlphaProtocol360 , Capcom, Super Street Fighter IV

“Since we’re naming names here…”

The 3DS’s sky-high price of $249.99 feels like a reoccurring nightmare that began with the PSP Go. Of course new tech is going to be expensive, and you’ll definitely get what you pay for. However, I just don’t see myself paying that much right now just to be able to take a portable iteration of Super Street Fighter IV, for example. Fighting game purists already have enough difficulty competing with a standard control, and are quick to shell out even more cash for a proper arcade stick. Success in competitive fighting games requires the player to be able to execute every technique and combo in their arsenal on command. This just isn’t possible on a handheld controller. This has been true for every other portable iteration of a mainstream fighting game in the past, and that fact just isn’t going to change now. On the bright side, it may be better to say this game will be aimed at the average player base who may not have that much experience with Street Fighter, and want an easier time getting into it. In that respect, this game may work out pretty well. Still, it’s largely the same game, albeit with some new connectivity features and an oblong new camera angle. I’m still not convinced enough to buy this.

Give it some time to grow

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the 3DS isn’t a good purchase just based off this examination of Super Street Fighter IV. I’m saying that for me, I need a lot more convincing than a few shiny ports of already-existing titles, or slight re-imaginings of games we’ve already come to know. I want something new. The future of handheld gaming is definitely on its way, but I think we can wait a little longer for games that are much more substantial. When that happens, purchasing a new console like the 3DS won’t feel like such a waiting game. I don’t think the “future” that we’re all thinking about has emerged yet, since we’re still looking in the past and conjuring up new coats of paint for games that have already come and gone.

Mass Effect 1 and 2 Choices Retrospective

Commander Shepard has saved the galaxy twice. Despite thwarting the plans of both Saren and the Collectors, Shepard must take up the fight against the Reapers for a third time.

Along the way he has made a lot of decisions for better or worse, and it’s an understatement to say that some were more substantial than others. Nevertheless, the majority of his actions have served to shape the well being of many groups, individuals and even an entire species that have come into contact with him.

The key to the Mass Effect series is decision making and accountability. As such, the actions the player makes were said have an immediate outcome in the following adventure. I’ve just recently cleared both Mass Effect 1 and 2, and while I’m completely floored by how vast and massive the game universe is, I can’t help but wonder about a lot of plot points that are hoped to be answered in the eventual release of Mass Effect 3. Some of the choices made in Mass Effect 1 had an immediate consequence (or alteration in cut scene) like whether a certain character is alive or not, was addressed Mass Effect 2. However, bigger choices between both games like the ones mentioned below have left all of us hanging.

Cerberus –

It’s very obvious that Cerberus and the Illusive Man had ulterior motives. Much like how a corporation injects large sums of money to help a business, it’s only a matter of time before that corporation starts to try to control that business’ actions from behind the scenes. The Paragon choice at the end of the Suicide Mission results in the Illusive Man’s only show of emotion, as Shepard blatantly disobeys his order. It’s not smart to piss off the only group that took it upon themselves to bring you back to life, especially if it’s Cerberus. The Illusive Man’s connections and intel were what allowed Shepard to assemble his new squad to take on the Collectors in the first place. Needless to say, the team couldn’t have gotten where they did without his assistance. Upsetting him by “doing the right thing” has to have some repercussions in the third game. (Update: the events of the ‘Lair of the Shadow Broker’ DLC may be the answer to this issue.)

Krogan Genophage –

Krogan are the toughest organic species in existence, who were instrumental in saving the galaxy from being overrun by Rachni long before the events of the first game. On the surface, Krogan seemed to be a typical Sci-Fi bloodthirsty race with no goal other than to fight. Learning that each and every Krogan was forcefully sterilized and left to deal with their affliction definitely added a lot of depth to them and rationalized their disdain for other species. The Genophage renders only 1 /1000 births to be viable, while the remaining typically end in stillbirths or serious birth defects, which severely limit their population. The end of Mordin’s loyalty mission makes it clear that the ongoing issue of the Genophage affecting every living Krogan could be rectified, or left alone to run its course. I hope that Mass Effect 3 addresses this decision, because uniting the Krogan to help in the fight against the Reapers would be a definite plus for Humanity.

Legion and the Geth –

Sabotaging or re-purposing a Geth stronghold was one of the more interesting plot points that were posed during Mass Effect 2. Shepard and his crew spent the majority of Mass Effect 1 killing hordes of Geth, only to be helped by an advanced model that had gone “rogue.” In Legion’s loyalty mission, players are faced with the choice of significantly hurting the Geth army by destroying a large amount of them, or reprogramming them into assisting in the fight against the Reapers. Would you kill off machines that could be your enemy, or take a chance in reprogramming them to help further your own goals? In the grand scheme of things, the Geth became pawns to be used for good or evil. Either way, the Geth can become a new ally or continue to be a nuisance in the face of the greater threat.

The Reapers –

It took the combined efforts of much of the Alliance fleet to take down Sovereign at the climax of Mass Effect 1, and even then, there were heavy casualties. The devastation that one Reaper is capable of was apparent, but the image of thousands of them making their way into the Milky Way Galaxy from Dark Space is a bit unsettling. Also, Sovereign was important because he was the only Reaper who wasn’t hibernating in Dark Space to begin with. His role was to send a message to the rest of the Reapers to begin the process of exterminating all life once again. In Mass Effect 2, we’re treated to the disjointed voice of Harbinger, another Reaper that was controlling the actions of the Collectors, the primary antagonist(s) at certain points of the game. If all of the other Reapers were trapped in Dark Space in hibernation, where did Harbinger come from? They seemed to come out of their sleep on their own, which wasn’t explained. How can that many Reapers be stopped, and at what cost? While the final boss in the Collector Base was incredibly large, it was only an embryo compared to what it would be like if it were to mature. Whatever it’s going to take, Shepard is going to need more than a couple shots from a Heavy Weapon or a sniper rifle to take down a fleet of Reapers.

Suicide Mission –

If you’re red, then you’re dead.

It was clear that casualties were to be expected during the Suicide Mission, hence it’s name. However, it’s possible to ensure everyone lives if players are prudent enough to make sure everyone was loyal (And in some ways this is expected, since there’s an achievement / trophy for doing so). No matter what you do, some of the dialogue still implies that people died. This leads to the idea that getting everyone’s loyalty in the first place took a back seat compared to the issue of time constraints. How long of a timeframe did Mass Effect 2 take place? Perhaps Shepard wasn’t intended to take the time to gain the loyalty of each and every squad member, but only a couple of the more important ones. If players were to start a new game in Mass Effect 3, will there be some sort of default roster of squad members who lived and died?

Mass Effect 3 has a lot of plot points to conclude, and having some input on how things go is what makes these choices that much more meaningful. The conclusion of Shepard’s journey has to tie up these loose ends and some others not mentioned here; otherwise the point of playing each of the three games will lose their luster. How will the final game address all of these plot threads?

And the Winner Is…

Japanese Role Playing Games have been a cornerstone of the realm of video games for years. When we’re tired of shooting, platforming or sports games, there’s nothing like an adventure that features memorable characters, a well written narrative that appeals to the fantasy fan in all of us. Most gamers have been fans of RPGs in general due to the many entries of the Final Fantasy series, as it’s consistently been one of the biggest gaming franchises of each console generation. Although one would think the winning formula that Final Fantasy always has to offer would be just that, a lot of unrest has been circulating over the past few years. The majority of JRPGs follow a number of the same troupes; which include effeminate male characters, cliché storylines to name a few, along with other points that often cross with anime, manga or Japanese culture in general. Many people have begun to call out why this has been happening, and have even shined the spotlight on Final Fantasy.

2010 was a year of turbulence in the Role Playing Game realm, because many household names suddenly found themselves having to fight to stay relevant and viable. Of the games that I reviewed this year, I feel that Final Fantasy XIII was the one who took up this challenge and responded to the growing concerns that ridiculed its waning popularity.

There are several vexing features that are unique to Final Fantasy XIII, which largely served to disgruntle many players who were used to many traditional concepts in the long running series. These changes, while unexpected, were the essence of moving the series forward in its own way.

Here’s what some of you elitists missed out on

Let’s talk about the biggest complaint people seem to have with Final Fantasy XIII: “It takes twenty hours for the game to get fun.” “Half of the game is an interactive tutorial.” “It’s too linear.” Every time I hear these comments, I can’t help but cringe. Yes, the game doesn’t “open up” until the group is fully assembled, and that doesn’t occur until the end of Chapter 9. (There are a total of 13 Chapters, of varying lengths.) In light of that, it would be pretty ridiculous to think that the player is being “held against their will” and forced to not get any enjoyment from the game for such a long time. While the player is “restricted” in that sense for this portion of the game, let’s look at why this seems to be complained about.

First, character growth is capped for each chapter, to discourage power leveling. Fortunately for those who didn’t notice, this maintains the challenge for the player. Secondly, each chapter introduces a new concept during combat for the player to grasp and master. This game features a new rendition of the Active Time Battle system that many of us are used to, and without learning the nuances of it, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. For example, during a boss fight in Chapter 3, players are faced with learning the importance of effective Paradigm Shifting. Near the end of the battle, the boss unleashes a desperation attack that will put each party member in critical health, and it soon follows up with another attack that kills everyone off. The player can only get through this boss fight once they understand that they have to shift to a Paradigm that focuses on healing to survive the rest of the encounter. If they are successful, the party switches to “healing mode,” and weathers the oncoming attacks with ease. Soon after the party is healthy again, they can finish off their adversary with little trouble. A quick decision like that was mandatory for this boss fight, and must be second nature for the player in order to make it through the more difficult fights later in the game. Each chapter during this linear section of the game has lessons that the player needs to understand fully in order to survive, because when the game finally affords more freedom to the party, any encounter can result in a game over if the player wasn’t prudent enough to understand the mechanics of the game while the training wheels were still on.

“So we’re all here to save the world; not just me, right?”

As I mentioned before, the party is split up for the first nine chapters of the game. One of the key reasons behind this is that the player is treated to one-on-one character interactions that really help to delve into each characters personality with as little interference from the rest of the cast. Ironically, most of this development occurs during the early part of the game that many players glossed over. Here’s a clip demonstrating the growing camaraderie between Lightning and Hope during some of the cut scenes throughout Chapter 5.

Video Credit: TheShatteredElement, Square Enix and Final Fantasy XIII.

Bonding like this isn’t possible in a group setting; and this is especially true in real life as well. Since the team was divided, it allowed more energy to be put into each character at each turn of the plot. In turn, players could better understand their personalities and make connections to them. For once, each party member had a direct stake in the mission at hand, and there wasn’t a character that was “just along for the ride,” or lacked any pertinent dialogue. When the team finally was formed, this cohesion continued to the end.

Multiple discs still work

Although we always thought the concept of console loyalty would still be upheld by Final Fantasy (despite it’s past on Nintendo’s systems), this too unraveled. Although this game was originally planned to only be on Playstation 3, an Xbox 360 port was also announced. Whenever a game has a port coming along for another system, development often has to be scaled back so the finished product can run nearly identically for each console it’s released on. The differences in graphics were notably small, but definitely blown out of proportion by elitists. A funny complaint involved the minor difference that the Xbox 360 version had multiple discs, while the Blu-Ray only needed one. The bottom line here is that the entire Xbox player base that may have never experienced a Final Fantasy game before now had its chance. This is just another idea of the changing landscape in the video game industry – There’s not much reason not to limit your audience, especially if the game in question is Final Fantasy. Playstation fans shouldn’t be whining, as they’re receiving the same olive branch with the soon to be released Playstation 3 port of Mass Effect 2.

It’s pointless to compare Final Fantasy XIII with the other big titles in the series, like Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy X. Each of those games had their own changes and additions that helped make them notable games that fans could easily identify with. Although their changes were much more subtle, they weren’t met with as much resistance as Final Fantasy XIII is facing. No two entries are the same, because there’s always a new story to be told, and new ideas and ways to help move the game forward.

Moving forward, like it or not

If you examine anything well known- be it a famous band, television or video game series, there will always be people who have problems when the franchise is taken in a new direction. Whether it’s because a long standing tradition has been broken, or new ideas have taken prominence over the old, it’s impossible to disagree with the fact that change is going on. It’s painfully clear that nothing is really safe in video games. In this landscape, a game that wasn’t afraid to leap into the unknown and to try something new, like Final Fantasy XIII has this year, is without a doubt deserving my choice for Game of the Year 2010.

Why I Missed the Party: Mass Effect

I really miss Baldur’s Gate.

Sometimes I can remember the nights I would play it. I was always in the middle of a journey, adventuring with a ragtag group of heroes from all walks of life. In every event, their unique perspectives would often mix in with mine, with pretty interesting results. If I were to meddle in the affairs of two warring estates to settle the dispute peacefully, my meaner teammate would be the first to ask me why I was such a nice guy. Conversely, my “good” party members would question my intentions as I went into dealings with a criminal syndicate. Extreme actions were often met with brow beatings or threats to leave me high and dry, so I always had to make decisions with those potential responses of my party in mind. I won’t give you all too many examples, but the point is this; Baldur’s Gate, in addition to Western Role Playing Games in general represented a much more active approach to storytelling, and to this day is one of my favorite games of all time.

Before the days of Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire or Dragon Age: Origins, I was introduced to Western RPG’s with the Baldur’s Gate series. This was a time where Squaresoft was the supreme ruler of the RPG genre; a time where the average gamer would only be aware of classics like Final Fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, the games I’ve reviewed thus far are a clear beacon: Japanese RPG’s have been very good to me. However, I feel as if I’ve hit some sort of limit with them.

Like I said in a previous post, the Mass Effect series had gone right over my head. It was a combination of bad timing on my part, and an infatuation of a number of other games, and regrettably, little bit of bias.

I had put a lot of stock in Bioware’s RPG, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, when it was preparing to release. The Star Wars universe was trying its hand at being an RPG, after many years of existing as an avenue for action/adventure games. This was new, and it was big. Playing as a unique character who realizes the potential to wield the force made out to be an excellent idea on paper, but for me, it fell flat. Combat left something to be desired and from there, I continued to find more things wrong with the game. Perhaps it just didn’t work well for me, since this was a top selling role playing game, and did very well to put Bioware into more homes than the average Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast. Personally, I think that Bioware’s brand of RPG was in a transition phase: At the release of KOTOR, it hadn’t reached a stable point that I could enjoy, compared to what Baldur’s Gate had already accomplished.

Since I didn’t like it, I swore off Bioware games completely, since 2003.

However, it’s been seven (almost eight) years since that then. Western RPGs have steadily been on the rise in terms of innovation and mass appeal. At the forefront of this is Bioware, touting a number of games like the ones I listed earlier.

2010 is coming to a close, and unfortunately this is the time where most of us sign off and burrow into our caves to rest every inch of our minds and bodies for the duration of Winter Break. I’ve reviewed everything I wanted to cover for a while, and since I have about two months or so before the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I want to put my reviews on pause for the time being. During this break, I’ll be getting reacquainted with Bioware, and observing how far they’ve come by playing through both Mass Effect games consecutively. I played the demo of Mass Effect 2 recently, and have been completely enthralled with the game play. Perhaps after so many months of having to fight monsters with keyblades and photon weapons while dialogue and plot spoon fed to me, It feels pretty damn satisfying to shoot stuff, and carve my own path (where it’s possible) by choosing what I want to say next.

I just got Mass Effect 1 in the mail late this week and have already gotten my Commander Shepard to become a Spectre, so I’m already knee deep into this great game.

When I look back on certain games, I hate to say that the reason I’m not playing them is because of a bias that was rooted in a previous game. I used to think that Bioware wouldn’t get back on track after finishing Baldur’s Gate. Even though I’m a couple years behind, Mass Effect is clearly proving to be just what I needed to restore my faith in Western RPGs.

Here’s one of many epic moments that made me glad I’m playing this –