Gameplay vs Storyline

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A video game may be judged based on many aspects of it, for instance, presentation, level design, sound effects, gameplay, and storyline are some of them. I particularly prefer games with great gameplay and storyline. I have been always thinking which one is more important to video game greatness. A particular video game I played last year, which holds one of the best storylines of all time, makes me consider the gameplay far more important to gamers. The video game I played was The Walking Dead: Season One from Telltale Games. In terms of storyline, there’s no doubt TWD: Season One is an amazing game. However, it’s not enough to make the game a masterpiece. That gameplay based on point-and-click games from the 90’s doesn’t make the game interesting as it story does. The gameplay is slow, and even broken at times. I played that game more interested in the storyline set pieces contained in the cut scenes than in the actual game. Controlling the main character, which is an amazing video game character, was boring when needed.

After coming back to the Resident Evil series, I remembered playing one of my favorite games of all time: Resident Evil 4. RE 4 is one of the best and funniest third-person shooters of all time. Such an amazing gameplay Capcom has managed to create on that game. I am still wondering how a game can be as fun as RE 4. The controls are fast and responsive, and the shooting mechanics are just wonderful. However, RE 4 holds one of the worst storylines in video game history. It doesn’t make any sense at all. The main character is in charge of rescuing the USA President’s daughter in a small village in Spain. If it had actually happened in real life, it could be the third Great War against Spain. Human beings have done worst in the first two wars for less than that. Even though, I played RE 4 several years ago, I felt like that game storyline was unappealing and laughable at times. But, the plot itself makes room for moments of enjoyment. At the end of the day, the storyline was forgettable, but the gameplay was incredible in a way that I was always coming for more RE 4 (and still want to play the remastered version coming out to PS4 at the end of 2016).

Comparing RE 4 to TWD: Season One is a tough task, but I am comfortable enough to affirm that RE 4 is far better that TWD: Season One. One game is great on the storyline department and the other one has an incredible gameplay. But, as I write, I wish I were playing RE 4. The bad storyline does not make the game any bad to me, while TWD: Season One isn’t one of my favorite games of all time. It’s a good game, nothing beyond that. A real masterpiece such as The Last of Us is able to mix a great gameplay and an amazing storyline altogether. But, such a few games can match that achievement. Out of my mind, I think maybe Bioshock could be considered close to TLoU in terms of matching a great story and gameplay. To sum up, a great gameplay is keen for a great game, and a well-written story is important as well, but not enough to make a game a masterpiece. RE 4 is closer to be considered a masterpiece than TWD: Season One does.

Resident Evil (the Main Series) Needs Depth Changes

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Resident Evil 6 is not a good game. Period. I was a fan enough to torture myself during the 20 chapters of that game. I think I did it because RE 6 is one of the few games that still allow couch co-op. It is a feature 8th console generation is missing out. So, what are the bad things about RE 6? First, the shooting mechanics are not well done. It’s not fun shooting and killing enemies in RE 6. Capcom realized it and improved it a lot in Resident Evil Revelations 2. Second, the storyline is fun at 2 or 3 chapters in Leon’s campaign, but in the rest of the game is painful, even laughable sometimes. Even a masterpiece like Resident Evil 4 does not have an amazing story, but that game is pretty fun overall, unfortunately there’s no much fun in RE 6.  Third and most important is how developers tried to throw a lot of mechanics in that game expecting they would work just fine. I’ll tell you they don’t work. I can’t remember a game with as many quick time events as RE 6. But, what annoys me the most is where the game uses QTEs. Pretty much every section of the game implements a bunch of QTEs. Some of the most mundane activities like starting a motorcycle engine are implemented using QTEs.

One classic section of almost every game is the boss fight. RE 6 has by far the worst boss fights I have faced in my gaming life. When you defeated a boss, you feel accomplished for that, and wish you didn’t have to do that again. I appreciate when a game has many bosses’ encounters; it’s just fine. However, RE 6 has the same bosses coming back from time to time. In Leon’s campaign, we faced the same boss in three chapters in a row. The problem was that every boss in each main chapter: Leon, Chris and Jake, has come back at least twice. At the end of Jake’s campaign (the last main campaign we played), when the boss came back again we were laughing out loud the situation. RE 6 is not a smart game either. A well-developed game as The Last of Us doesn’t change the camera view to show an event happening in other portion of the screen. Smart games require a press button, generally L3 or R3 to change the camera view and show the event that is happening somewhere else. Don’t be surprised RE 6 just changes the camera view while a dozen zombies are attacking you.

That being said, I really hope RE 7 will be more similar to the Revelations series than the main Resident Evil series. I think the series need a level design similar to the classic Resident Evil 4, but keeping the amazing shooting mechanics they developed to Revelations 2. Resident Evil is one of my favorite franchises of all time, and I really want to see Capcom turning things around.

A Game Killed an Opinion

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Don’t hate me, but I didn’t like JRPGs. I remember when I was a kid and I got a game called Final Fantasy 7. What I can say about that game, I really dislike it. Okay, I was a kid and didn’t speak English yet. I think understanding the game’s storyline and plot in a RPG is especially important. Unfortunately, a few games come out in my first language, so most of my friends don’t even play those games because they don’t speak English. Besides the language itself, I found Final Fantasy 7 boring as hell. I was a kid, so my opinion doesn’t count. Crash Bandicoot was my thing at that time. I grew up on gaming pretty much excluding any JRPGs from my library. I think the only JRPG I played was Pokemon Leaf Green and Fire Red.

However, a couple months ago I bought a PS Vita and loved it a lot. I still use my Vita mostly for playing indie games, but reading reviews about the best Vita games pretty much every reviewer was recommending Persona 4 Golden. So, I decided give it a try. The first day I played Persona, I got to play it for only 2 hours and have to admit I didn’t like it. When I went to bed that day, I was really regretting my purchase. Just to clarify, the first 2 hours were just a bunch of conversations setting up the tone to the rest of the game. It was the same feeling I had when I played Final Fantasy 7 several years ago. The only difference was probably that I could understand the language they were speaking on the game.

Even though I didn’t like the first two hours, I gave it a second change later. The second time playing the game was totally different from the first time. I started getting into the storyline. The first combat was just amazing; a catchy music was playing while I beat some shadows. The characters were becoming special to me, I felt very attached to the plot and to the world itself. I played Persona 4 Golden for around 100 hours. It’s already one of my favorite games of all time. What I learned from this experience is that we cannot judge a game based on previous experiences. I was missing out an exceptional genre, and totally want to come back and play other JRPGs such as Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Final Fantasy X.

Some Tendencies Need to Die (Part II)

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Let’s continue our discussion of tendencies that should no longer exist in the video game world. This one is probably my big concern, but I’ve decided to write about it in the second part. What is very annoying about this one is that it actually has a lot of potential. When companies know how to use it, it offers to players such an amazing experience. I’m talking about DLC. A DLC can really enhance the gaming experience. We’ve gotten some pretty good stuff recently. I can tell The Last of Us: Left Behind and Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea are great games. Besides these kind of DLC most known as story DLC are pretty great for almost every game they were released. We can call it relevant DLC, even though the price is questionable for a bunch of them. Other relevant DLC’s come from games such as GTA V Online and Mario Kart 8. GTA V not even charge players for the heists content online, while Mario Kart 8 included new courses for a cheap price. I remembered when I was a kid how much I would enjoy having new courses in Mario Kart 64. DLC is amazing in that way, developers are able to expand their games offering new content for a fair price.

However, not every company is doing DLC right like Rockstar and Nintendo. Most of the video game developers are doing pretty bad actually. I’m very pissed with Season Passes. I think they can be relevant as long as the companies offer good content that could not be included in the game at release. The problem is that clearly developers are leaving behind content they could include in the game at launch for making more money selling Season Passes. Do they think charge 60 bucks for a game is not enough? Almost every AAA company is using this strategy nowadays. Most of the content is just cosmetic DLC. A new weapon color, a different costume, a new stage, so on and so forth.

The biggest problem is that many players support DLC. If it weren’t profitable, companies would no longer do it. We players should spend our money only in essential DLC, not cosmetic DLC by any means. This tendency needs to be used in the right way. DLC is cool as long as companies use it to expand the game and enhance gamer’s enjoyment. The industry will change only when players start not to support the unnecessary content.

Buy or Not to Buy a Playstation Vita

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The PlayStation Vita is an amazing piece of technology. Vita graphical capabilities cannot be compared to any device ever made. Sorry Nintendo, but Sony really knows how to make an amazing hardware, even though I do think in terms of software they are not so great. However, Sony has failed to become Vita’s popular. Besides for Japan, where Sony and every PlayStation product is incredibly popular, Vita has been a failure everywhere else in the world. According to Sony, they sold only 10 million PS Vita worldwide, which is already the least famous PlayStation console ever created. I have absolutely no regrets about buying my PS Vita a couple months ago. Sony has almost successfully implemented a common environment for all PlayStation devices (PS3, PS4, PS Vita and PS TV). However, I’m always wondering why Vita is a failure in terms of sales. I decided to point it out what I do and don’t like about my Vita. The bad things first:

What I dislike on the Vita:

  • Ports are not well done on the Vita: Well, it was kind of expected, but some of the ports seem unplayable. I’m looking for you Jak and Dexter Collection. Some of the games are playable, like God of War Collection and Borderlands 2, but they don’t keep the same quality at all. Frame rate drops a lot of sometimes, but still fun if you enjoyed these games on the PS3.
  • The memory card is very expensive: I don’t need to talk about it. It is the worst thing on the Vita by far. Sony could not use proprietary memory cards by any means. SD memory cards are so cheap and well stablished on the market. Vita’s memory card, which could be a simply SD, are very expensive. It was a huge mistake for Sony, if they want to continue on the handhelds market, which I wish they will, they cannot keep proprietary memory cards. However, I got surprised the games that you buy physically, which I do prefer instead of digital, do not install on the memory card. I’m still very upset with these last two generations (7th and 8th – PS3 and PS4), because in most cases they install the entire game on the hard disk even though you’ve bought the physical game. There’s no difference between going digital or physical in this case. It is really annoying.
  • No AAA games at all: Sony have kind of gave up on the Vita. The system was labeled a legacy device by one of their executives a couple months ago. They will not make AAA games for the Vita, and it annoys me is so many ways. Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush look amazing on the Vita, and they should keep trying to give us quality games.

What I really like on the Vita:

  • Remote Play: It works almost perfectly on the PS4. There are a couple games that even implemented a Vita interface for playing their games such as Destiny and Far Cry 4. Playing PS4 games on the bed far away from the console is an amazing experience.
  • Indie games run perfectly: If you are like me and don’t like to play Indie games in a big screen, the Vita is your perfect choice for playing those games. Indie games are just perfect for the Vita, the 8-bit quality runs amazing on Vita’s screen. I strongly recommend playing games such as Guacamelee, Shovel Knight, Rogue Legacy and Hotline Miami on the Vita.
  • Vita has an amazing library: Besides the already amazing Indie games, Vita has a lot of good games. Persona 4 Golden, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush are great games. Otherwise, some ports work just fine on the Vita like Final Fantasy X.

So, if you are thinking about getting a Vita, I think overall it worth your money. Sony has made some questionable decisions with the Vita. But, I still think the console is amazing. One of the most underrated gaming consoles of all time.

The PSTV is Nothing, But a Failure

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I was one of the people who got really excited when Sony announced the PSTV. Even though, Sony gave me good reasons to buy one at full price, I wisely decided to wait a while to get mine. After using it for a couple months, I can tell the PSTV is nothing but a disappointment for me. There’s a lot of frustration on it, mainly when the PSTV seemed to have so much potential that was wasted. How awesome will be having such a small and cheap device that can connect to Netflix and YouTube, and it is still able to stream PS4 games and let us play PSN games. Should be amazing, but it isn’t. The first big concern is related to the lack of applications for PSTV. If Sony has developed the PSTV to compete against Chromecast and Apple TV, they were not able to provide the consumers the most basic apps. The PSTV doesn’t have apps such as Netflix and YouTube. It doesn’t make any sense. Even the product’s name is misplaced in this case. They should not call it PSTV, there’s no really much “TV” on it. It is not a huge deal as long as the other PlayStation consoles (PS3 and PS4) still got those apps.

Moreover, my biggest concern with PSTV comes from where it should not fail by any means: the gaming department. In theory, players are able to play most Vita games on the PSTV. But just in theory, because at least half of my games don’t work on it. I mainly bought the device because of this feature. PS Vita has so many good games that deserve being played on a big TV. Unfortunately, due to Vita’s touch screen, which could not be implemented in a regular TV, many games are not compatible with PSTV. However, Sony screwed some games that should work just fine. One of the examples is the game Hot Shot Golf: World Invitational. I have been a fan of the series since the PS1 era. So, I decided to give it a try after playing it on my friend’s PSNow account. For those who don’t know, PSNow is a paid subscription that allows players to stream a bunch of PlayStation games. The majority of the games come from the PS3 generation. It works like a Netflix for games. For my disappointment, even though Hot Shot Golf is available on PSNow, it is not compatible with PSTV. There’s almost no touch screen feature on that game. Sony should work on adapting most of the games that are not compatible by now. If I own the game, I want to be able to play it on my PSTV.

I don’t regret buying the PSTV for two reasons: I spent only 39 bucks, and I’m able to play Persona 4 Golden, which is by far my favorite Vita game, on the big screen. But, I’m kind of disappointed with Sony. They don’t invest on PSTV or PS Vita. Both devices have a lot of potential. They are just concerned with PlayStation 4 success. Shame on you Sony, you guys could be even bigger than you already are.

Some Tendencies Need to Die (Part I)

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I consider myself neither an old school gamer nor a modern kid who only plays new stuff. I usually play a lot of modern games for sure, but my favorite games come from the 6th generation, the PS2 generation to be more precise. However, there are a lot of things in this last two generations (7th and 8th) that annoys me so much. One of them is the online gaming. Don’t get me wrong, playing online is awesome for most kind of games, but they don’t work for all of them. Besides, a few games should focus on online gaming. Call of Duty is a good example of a game that should provide a better online experience than offline. However, I don’t want to see even a game such as Call of Duty not having an offline campaign (they already did it for PS3/Xbox 360 consumers in the new Black Ops 3). The industry seems not to believe on me, they do think online gaming should be implemented in every single game. Furthermore, they are really into focusing on online gaming for many titles that really doesn’t fit the style. I tell you, it doesn’t work like that. I miss playing games offline with my friends. But, it is not the only problem. Some games are even not considering offline campaigns anymore, in order to provide a better online experience.

One of my big disappointments comes from one my favorite racing franchises of all time: Need for Speed. I remember having a blast playing games such as Need for Speed Most Wanted, Carbon, and my favorite Underground 2 in my PS2. When they announced that a new Need for Speed was coming out this year resembling the classic underground series, I almost have a heart attack. Could even throw away more than 60 bucks for a game like that. However, as almost always, the industry is doing something wrong once more time. The new Need for Speed will be an online game. They have already done the same thing in the last installment: Need for Speed Rivals, which is a barely average game. This decision disappoints me in so many ways. I think an online component can enhance the player enjoyment, but it should work much more like an additional experience, by any means the unique experience the game will offer. I remember myself playing the old campaigns on the PS2, and it was amazing. Why the industry thinks the online component is so important for gamers nowadays. Another huge problem comes from the lack of balance that most gamers face online. Many of us (like myself) don’t have time to play games all day long (I wish I had). When you play against guys who play almost every single day, it is not fun at all. These 12-year-old kids will destroy most of us who don’t have time to practice very often.

A good solution for the industry is a better analysis of the games that do need an online experience and those who don’t. It is unforgettable that a racing game will offer an online-only experience. FPS and RPG’s are more susceptible to online-only gaming experiences. However, most kind of games should not be online-only. Playing online is awesome for every game as long as it works as an additional feature, not the main and only one.