I’m not going to lie, I had something else planned, but it’s been slightly delayed so I can play more of the game to write on it better. I want to make sure I get my thoughts down just right before I show it to the world. So while writing, I have a tendency to listen to music. My taste in music varies, and I’m certainly no musical expert, but as I listened to various themes, I asked myself, what is my favorite soundtrack? Soundtracks are important to game design, as a good tune can add so much to any part of a game, be it a cut scene, a boss battle, or even just a great catchy theme song. To keep things as varied as possible, I have added a rule. My one per franchise rule is in play, but I’m also going to cut out what I call mix tape soundtracks, from things like sports games or music games. I want music that is written for the game, not a mix of popular music. And I will include a link to my favorite song on that soundtrack.
Honorable Mentions: Mass Effect 3, Halo, Final Fantasy, Super Mario 3 soundtrack, Catharine, Castlevania 3. Portal 2
5. Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
God damn you Skyrim and your catchy ass theme!
It’s really the reason why so many people pick this game as a soundtrack great. All because of one song, picking the entire thing up on its back and carrying it. To be fair, it’s a memorable song, easily the soundtrack standout without question, as it conveys the sense and scale of the epic adventure to be had. To be honest though, much of the soundtrack is ambience though, and many of the few other “songs” are just variations of this one song. It’s why it rates so low on my list. But this one song gets my blood pumping just to hear it. It makes me want to slay dragons and use my booming voice to effect the world, and then gives me a game to do just that. Plus the fact that they made a language for the game and used it in this song is a special kind of cool.
4. Mega Man 2.
Mega man 2 is a cliché choice, I can’t lie. Everyone who appreciates old school chip music gravitates to MM2, and there is a good reason for it. Every tune is catchy and memorable, and considering how often you may replay a stage to beat a boss, they never grate on the ear, which is very important, especially in the older days of gaming, where music had to be as short as possible and was often looped. It’s also hard to pick a favorite, as so many tunes are well done. Some highlights are Crash mans theme, the opening theme, flash mans theme, and of course, my personal favorite, Dr Wily stage 1.
It’s widely considered to be one of the best themes in the series, and I’m inclined to agree. After battling through 8 tough stages, this theme picks you right back up, giving you that push to move forward and save Dr. Light. It’s invigorating.
The reason it’s so low on my list is because, quite frankly, I prefer the mixes that came out of this game as opposed to the chip tunes themselves. They are excellent, don’t get me wrong, but so many people have made great remixes of these songs, and some of them are better than the original tunes, such as this remix of crash man and Justin Timberlake’s lovestoned. Or even check out OCremix for a huge list of remix’s of these songs. You really can’t go wrong either way, though.
3.Street Fighter 2
I could pretend to have taste and put something classy here, like a Zelda tune, or a final fantasy soundtrack. But, that wouldn’t be me.I’m not a terribly classy guy. I had to ask myself, what is my favorite song in gaming? I had only one answer.
Guile themes rounds out as my favorite theme song ever, and the soundtrack of the game is awesome too. To hell with Ducktales, I can’t stop humming this after I hear it. It’s catchy, it literally goes with everything, and is iconic as all hell. Even if you have never played a Street Fighter game, you know this theme, and you know to go home and be a family man. The entirety of SF2’s soundtrack is awesome, showcasing what the SNES could do in terms of music. Everyone had a great theme, and each one is easily identifiable to its character, at least at this stage, before some of the stranger soundtracks, like Street Fighter 3’s hip hop/ jazz soundtrack. And something as simple as the soundtrack speeding up as the match was coming to an end was just really cool, and something you don’t see often, either then or now. But Guile easily stays ahead of the crowd with this jaw dropping masterpiece of musical bliss. It’s also really easy to remix, as the many remixes you can find online will tell you. This is taking nothing away from any of the other excellent choices I could have made, but personal preference ruled the day here. The only reason it doesn’t go straight to number one is this about soundtracks, not songs themselves. Guile’s theme is great, and would win on its own, but the rest of the soundtrack, while good, doesn’t compare to the cheesy fun that is Guile’s theme, or so of my other choices.
2. Double Dragon Neon.
This was a surprise hit for me, and was a contender for one of my favorite games of the year last year. It sadly didn’t make the top 5, but a top 10 it would have easy. The soundtrack is one of the reasons why. Nothing about Neon is subtle. It’s completely tongue in cheek from beginning to end, and is very much a throwback to the ridiculous 80’s, where everything was simpler and we just accepted the random crap we had to deal with in games. Logic had no place then. Neon is a throwback to those nostalgic times, and to help is a soundtrack that does sound like it was made in the 80’s, and the whole thing rocks. I can’t say often that I enjoy the entirety of a game’s soundtrack, but Neon does provide that. I can listen to any song at any time and groove on it, and each one is memorable. But the standout track to me is an early one, before the game goes over the top.
This song just… infects me, and makes me groove, like full out dance to it. It’s a cheesy 80’s dance hit, and it does nothing to hide that, nor should it. The entire soundtrack is a lot of fun, and like the game itself, is very much a love letter, er.. song rather, to the era that inspired it. The best part of the soundtrack however, is that you can download the entire thing for whatever price you want, even free.
1.Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
Of course Metal Gear is at the top of the list. The franchise rule really stuck me here. The entirety of the Metal Gear Solid franchise has excellent music, so it was harder to narrow down. I was able to narrow it down to three out of the Metal Gear franchise, Guns of the patriots, Snake Eater and Metal Gear Rising. Ultimately I had to choose between the majestic and symphonic work of Harry Gregson-Williams for Guns and Snake Eater and the wicked metal soundtrack that is ultimately so infectious of MGR. All 3 soundtracks have excellent themes, be it from MGR’s awesome metal soundtrack to punctuate your hack and slash game play and jazz you up for more intense action, to the somber and atmospheric tunes that are in much of Snake Eater and Guns. It was tough, but one song titled the favor, and if you’ve played the game, I bet you know the song.
I’m a sucker for Bond themes though, so perhaps it’s not fair. But Kojima and Harry really hit this theme out of the park. It’s somber and catchy, and the music video/ intro it’s attached to is wicked. It’s no wonder that not only does the game play the song twice, but Konami sneaked the song into one of the Karaoke Revolution games. It’s that good. And the rest of the soundtrack has great moments as well, helping to give the game a truly cinematic feel to it, full of wonder and bombast, something that Guns just couldn’t do as well as Snake Eater did. Harry Gregson-Williams is one of my favorite composers admittedly, and this game is one of the many reasons why. Snake Eater is one of the more intimate and personal stories in the MG series, and the soundtrack helps sell it as being one of the best in the series to boot.
Of course, those were just my picks. Feel free to throw out your favorite’s soundtracks, or even just the songs themselves.
Well, like everyone else with PS+ it seems, I have had the opportunity to spend some time with Destiny. Bunige’s next big release after walking away from the Halo franchise that put them on the map. Like many others, I had mixed feelings and thoughts on it just from I had seen before going into this “alpha”. No one has really had any time to play this game before E3 this year from what I can tell, so like everyone else post E3, I can give you my thoughts on it. It should be mentioned of course that this is a “alpha” which means before it’s release, many things may change/ be added upon/ dropped entirely, and so on, nothing is really concrete of course.
The story, from what I can tell from Wikipedia, goes as follows:
“Destiny is set seven hundred years into the future in a post-apocalyptic setting following a prosperous period of exploration, peace and technological advancement known as the Golden Age. In a universe where humans have spread out and colonized planets in the Solar System, an event known as “the Collapse” saw the mysterious dissolution of these colonies, the end of the Golden Age, and mankind teetering on the brink of extinction. The only known survivors of the Collapse are those living on Earth, who were saved by “the Traveller”, a white, spherical celestial body whose appearance centuries before had enabled humans to reach the stars. The Traveller now hovers above the last remaining human city, and its presence allows the “Guardians of the City”—the last defenders of the human race—the ability to wield an unknown power, only referred to as “The Light”.
Upon mankind’s first attempt to repopulate and reconstruct after the Collapse, it is discovered that hostile alien races have occupied mankind’s former colonies and civilizations and are now encroaching upon the City. The player takes on the role of a Guardian of the City, and is tasked with investigating and destroying these threats before humanity is completely wiped out. ”
It may seem lazy to steal that from Wikipedia, but the game never really bothers to give you a story, so I had to look elsewhere for it. The “alpha” does drop you into the game at level 4, so unfortunately I can’t comment on well the story gets across in the opening levels, which is a shame, because it’s a halfway decent sounding story from what I can tell. But the crux of the game is divided up into 3 sections, one on earth in Russia where you face the Fallen and the Hive, the tower, which acts as a hub for characters to do everything, from shopping, storing and purchasing of gear to checking their mail, and the crucible, which is where PVP happens. The “alpha” does limit you to only getting to level 8, which seems like a low cap, to be honest, but it gives you just enough time to give you a firm grasp on what the full game will be like.
Let’s get this out of the way first, Bungie doesn’t want to say it, but if it quacks like a duck… this is a MMO shooter, or MMOFPS as its known. They want to call it a “shared world shooter” but… I call it like it is, this is basically a MMO, you just can’t talk to each other in game, which is a strange omission to make. I’ve seen some people compare it to Planetside 2, but I don’t find that fair because they’re not trying to be the same type of game. The most recent title I can compare it to is Defiance, which has most of the traditional MMO mentalities to it, while still being a shooter. I don’t know why Bungie doesn’t let it be what it is… but it is just that. I think that alone will help some people understand if they want it or not right away.
Let’s start with the positives. The game is stunning to look at.
I’m not normally a person that normally notices things like screen tearing or blurring, but the game looks and runs very smooth, and I had no problems with it in that department. The world is decently massive, and the player is given a speeder that allows you move through the area faster than on foot. Control wise the game is fine too. Bungie has chops in the FPS department, and they do shine through here. The guns are responsive, they all decently unique, and thankfully no one class seems to be limited in what they can and can’t use, so that’s entirely up to you. Each class has a unique super move that you slowly build up to, and each one is a game changer, saving you in a bad situation. The game is nice and atmospheric at times, with a decent score. Character models are well designed, and I truthfully really dig the different armor sets. It’s really a stunning game visually, with lots to look at. Character creation gives you a decent amount of options, with 3 races to chose from. Not sure if there will be more, but each race does give you a decent amount of customization options. I chose to play as the Exo, which are robot people, it’s all fluff that doesn’t effect the game too much, but the more customization, the better. Classes are decently varied, and while the beta doesn’t really give you a lot of choice, from what I can tell there is a lot of choice to be had in how you level your character after a while. Gear drops are well implemented, except for the odd choice of letting items drop that players cannot use due to level restrictions. But for gear itself, such as armor, your never left with something your character cannot use, at least I never was. Even if that happens, you can just drop it in your bank to give to another character, or shred it for money. Different gear can give you upgrades and bonuses to things like reload speed and ammo capacity if you use it long enough. And of course certain special gear will also have MMO style bonuses, like Strength, Discipline and Intelligence, which give you different bonuses. There is of course lots of different ways to get gear, and once you hit level 20, you can paint it however you want, which adds to the customization. PVP, which is something I normally cannot stand, is actually really fun, probably because the gameplay fits perfectly, given as it plays most like any other shooter you’ve ever played.
Of course, there are negatives as well. Let’s start with the fact that… it has a lot of HALO inspiration. The hive is practically the flood, for all we know right now, and the fallen are very Elite looking at times. Having looked at some of the other races according to artwork and wikis, I can see some HALO inspiration here and there. It’s not a terrible thing per say, but it’s hard to ignore the HALO in this game. The game also divides up weapons into 3 types, normal which is your assault rifle, special which is your shotguns, snipers rifles, and fuse rifles, and heavy which are your rockets launchers and such. You only have to find ammo of one of 3 different types, which is good, but special and heavy weapons have very little in the way of ammo they can store. Perhaps other classes and certain upgrades will change that, but seeing as the “alpha” does not allow you to really customize your class too much, your left without a lot of options, especially for some people who prefer to use a shotgun or a sniper rifle as a main weapon instead of it being a secondary one. Quests often devolve into kill this guy for loot he drops or kill this guy in general, which is fine for a shooter, but your not told to collect 5 amour pieces off enemies, your given a percentage to fill, with no clear idea until you collect one or two of how many you actually need. Supposedly you can also find quests that just happen sort of randomly. I say supposedly because I never actually ran into one, but in fairness to the game I spent a decent chunk of my time in PVP. Peter Dinklage is actually your narrator/ NAV unit called Ghost, but he sounds really flat and bored by the dialog. Perhaps they will alter his voice somehow.
(I only found one glitch, so I thought to share it.)
This is a game that has me torn in a lot of ways. While it is a MMOFPS, it’s certainly different from much of the competition in that market, so I’m not even sure that its the correct thing to call it at times. I’m genuinely interested by what I see so far, but I also see why some people are very against it. Even having played the “alpha”, which I hesitate to call as its closer to a beta, which is really just a term for a glorified demo at this point, I’m not sure what to think. Really, I’m torn because I do like what I see, and I give them credit for trying to be even slightly different. This is a tough one to call, but… I am interested enough in it that I may pick this up when it comes out. It’s not for everyone of course, but its certainly unique. Honestly, you have to check it out for yourself and see if its up your alley or not. I hate to say that, because it’s a cop out, but I think everyone will be fairly divided on this one, so your only choice is to play it yourself. So go to it.
Over the course of the weekend I was invited into the closed beta for Dead Island Epidemic, a MOBA based on the Dead Island franchise. I had no idea it even existed, nor did I sign up for it, so I still wonder how exactly I got in. But I did, so with that in mind I decided to talk a bit about it. It should be noted that this isn’t a review, as I don’t find it fair to review a game that hasn’t been released yet or is in open beta yet. These are just my experiences with the closed beta, and of course anything and everything could change by the time the game is actually released.
Dead Island Epidemic, or DI:E as it likes to remind you from time to time is quite possibly the most unique MOBA I have ever seen. If you’re unfamiliar with the term MOBA, it stands for multiplayer online battle area. Think of League of Legends or DOTA 2, and that’s a MOBA. The story of which is basically a continuation of Dead Island Riptide. However, you need little to no experience with the series to play this game, thankfully. Really, all you need to know is there is a horde of zombies in Hawaii, and you’re trying to survive. As I mentioned the game does a lot to differentiate itself from the many other MOBA’s that are out there, even calling itself a ZOBA, or zombie online battle area. So let’s go over some of these changes, starting with the controls.
DI:E doesn’t control like a typical MOBA, actually controlling your character with WASD and aiming with your mouse. It’s actually closer to Diablo than any other MOBA I’ve played. In fact, the only MOBA I can think of where you use WASD to move is SMITE. But it is very simple, if not a little unrefined in chaotic situations, which you can find yourself in from time to time. Abilities are mapped to Q, E, R and T for your characters ultimate; you attack with the left mouse button, and use a heavy attack with the right one. Characters can attack and move while aiming abilities. It takes a little bit of getting used to if you’re a League or DOTA player, but it’s nice that you can still attack zombies close to you while aiming a spell at something else, provided they are in the same direction. Another common skill required in MOBA’s is known as last hitting, where in order to get experience from a monster, you need to be the hit that kills it to get the most experience. DI:E also does away with that, making it a very friendly MOBA between teammates.
Visually the game is solid, nothing fancy though. It takes on a cartoonier feel than the other games in the series, but the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, so the cartoony nature only works in its favor. I mean, one character swings logs, another summons a sharknado. The game has a humorous bent, and it’s not afraid to show it. The maps themselves are decently pretty; with a rather strong variety considering the game takes place on a small island. Not much here at the moment, but time may change that.
(pictured above, comedy)
Probably the biggest change is the fact that DI:E is the first MOBA (to my knowledge) that has PVP(player vs player) and PVE(player vs environment), you’re not limited to just trying to kill other people. After a brief tutorial once you boot up the game the first time, you can choose between Horde mode and scavenger mode. Horde mode puts a 4 man team of players against hordes of zombies, as you try to capture points and beat a boss at the end. Scavenger mode places you against two other teams as you fight to control points and gather enough supplies before your opponents to win, while battling against zombies at the same time. Both modes actually offer a decent way to play, as both offer the same rewards. The loot you acquire while playing is based on your characters level, not which mode you play in, leaving it up to you as to what you want to do. While horde mode is basically Diablo, scavenger mode actually offers up a unique way to play a MOBA, as you fight for points and supplies either by killing other players and stealing their loot, or by killing unique monsters that show up on the map, and I’ve never played a MOBA that pits you against 2 other teams. The maps themselves are fairly basic, and there are only so many maps right now, but that’s part of the beta, and hopefully that will grow in time.
The other unique bit they take from Dead Island itself. After the tutorial, you’re taken to the crib, your hub for getting into a game and whatnot, and tasked with buying a character. Each character levels up on their own separately outside of the two game modes, as does your account overall. When you first get a character, your limited to two abilities that you can use, you have to earn the rest by playing them. I don’t care too much for this system, as I find it only handicaps you when you first try to play a character, and it takes a couple levels to unlock all abilities. As you further level, you unlock weapon specialties, bonuses to your abilities, and the ability to use stronger weapons as time goes on. As your account levels, you gain the ability to forge better items with your workbench, where much like the other games in the series, you can use blueprints and items you loot while playing to forge weapons that you can equip on any character. No character is restricted to what weapons they can use, but each character does have weapon specializations, as I mentioned, that give them bonuses to using certain weapons. These weapons themselves also level up to get new passive bonuses. Each character can equip up to two weapons, which you can switch in game with the C button. Most MOBA’s make you do your item buying and customization in game, but DI:E does that all outside of actual matches, which means you have one less thing to worry about while actually in a match. The weapons themselves mostly function as either melee or ranged, but they all have a different look to them, and in keeping with the Dead Island theme, are usually pretty random, often two everyday items duct taped together.
I do have reserves and issues with the loot/item system, however. First off, there is way too much grinding to do and way too many different levels and loot to acquire. It takes a lot to play this game without spending money, as it’s all random. I also have a bad feeling when it comes to forging new items. In order to make an item, you need a blueprint, which drop randomly. You also need pieces for the process, which you get randomly. If your short items when you go to make an weapon, you can spend gear points to make up the difference. You can buy blueprints with gear points as well, if you need them, but the better ones can be expensive. In order to buy a character, you need to spend character points. On top of that, you earn unbound XP, which you can unlock with real money to use wherever. You can also straight out buy weapons with real money, which are max level when you buy them, but that’s not cheap either. It is a free to play game, so I’m not surprised they are trying to get players to go to that cash shop, but it does have some warning signs of being a pay to win game, where hard work can easily be trumped with a credit card. It’s not at that stage yet, as the weapons you can choose from are very limited, but it maybe something to look out for when the game is released. Charging real money to gain extra XP is also a bit cheeky, but it’s optional, and the actual XP you have unbound is never that much.
Overall, DI:E is a game I never expected to like. As I mentioned I was unaware this game even existed until I got into the beta. But, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s so unique from any other MOBA I’ve ever played that it’s worth looking at on that merit alone. On top of that, it’s simple and fun, which I think will help it avoid the toxic player base MOBA’s are usually known for. I’m not too sure what the future holds for DI:E, but once this game gets released, if you’re a fan of MOBA’s its defiantly worth your time. Dead Island fans looking at this one will also feel right at home, as there are enough of the series roots to make you comfortable.
Well, it’s here. The first of many games people are saying will turn the WiiU’s favor around. Mario Kart 8. While I think it’s ridiculous to say that one or even two games will “save” the system, let’s take a look at the newest entrant in the Mario Kart series and see if it gets the checkered flag or burns out at the starting gate.
First off, this isn’t going to be a terribly long review, because there is only so much that can be said about Mario Kart 8. It’s Mario Kart. Surely I don’t have to go into in-depth detail about what Mario Kart is, if you’ve played a Nintendo console in the past 10 years, you know what Mario Kart is and if you like it or not. So instead, let’s talk about the stuff they added, and what’s good and what’s bad.
The biggest notable change in Mario Kart 8 as advertised on the box is the antigravity sections that the game has. Almost every track has a section for it, noted by what looks like a blue dashpad, where the wheels on your kart/bike/atv/yoshi bike/flying battleship will turn sideways. In these sections, you can actually get a speed boost by hitting other racers and certain special bumpers. This actually adds a bit of timing and strategy to racing, where a good timed hit in these sections can speed you up, and knock one of the other racers off the edge, slowing them down. It also looks really cool. 3 New items have been added to the collection, the awesome boomerang flower, which works exactly like how you think it does, a potted piranha plant, which isn’t as cool, but does chomp on nearby racers and gives you a speed boost for a limited time, a little like the bullet bill item. The super horn has one use, protecting your lead from a blue shell, as when used it destroys any items that its shockwaves hit. Also added is the crazy 8, which gives you 8 items (Coin, bob-omb, star, green shell, red shell, mushroom and a blooper), it’s rare though, and I don’t know how useful it actually is, as I’ve never actually gotten one myself. The items additions are ok, finally adding a way to protect yourself from that dastardly blue shell destroying your lead. It also seems to be less common than the blue shell( I can’t speak for the math, only by how often I see it vs how often I see blue shells) and lighting strikes are VERY common, which of course not only shrinks you, but takes away your item too. So, even though they added an item to counter the blue shell, don’t rely on it too much. I don’t mind the new items to much, as the boomerang is an awesome addition, which kind of makes up for the other lackluster additions.
Control wise, the game is very smooth on every controller I tried. This is the first WiiU game I’ve played that did not require me to use the Gamepad to play on my own, which is awesome, because I’ve been looking to use my pro controller for quite some time. The motion controls are still there, and they are still as weak as they were on the Wii, but thankfully they are turned off by default, and if you do wish to try it, it can be turned on and off with the press of a button on the gamepad which is handy because once you try it once, you may turn it off just as quickly. It’s very comfortable to play this game on the gamepad, and nothing is lost if you switch to say another controller type, and thankfully this game lets you use any controller setup you want, so if you found a favorite in the Wii version, you’re in luck here. Well, unless you wanted to use a Gamecube controller, but that might not be an issue for much longer.
There are 32 tracks in the game, half of which are new tracks, and half of which are retro tracks, updated to make use of antigravity, underwater, and gliding sections in case they were missing them before. The new tracks are really well made, and are gorgeous to look at, making full use of WiiU’s capabilities graphically. I didn’t feel that I hated any new stage, they were all great, even the rainbow road stage, the most hated stage of all, has some cool moments. The retro stages look great as well, but I’m not the biggest fan of some the changes to these tracks, and one stage from the SNES days feel really out of place in this shiny new world of karting. Still, the tracks are fun, and upgrades to certain tracks make them much more fun they were before. I’m looking at you, Toad’s Turnpike. I only have two issues with the stages, and one is more a personal nitpick. We see some stages from Mario Kart 7, and I think it’s too soon to call those stages “retro”. But considering they have been doing retro stages for years, they may have used the good ones already. The second issue I have is there are no arena stages for battle mode. When you play battle mode with friends, you choose from 8 of the tracks, but they are unedited for battle purposes. You can go forward and backward on any of these tracks, but it’s not the same as having a arena to battle in, as battles are not as frantic as they were before, with far too much ground to cover.
Online isn’t too bad. The races are smooth and lag free, and it doesn’t seem to matter who you race with. It does take longer to start sometimes, but if that’s the tradeoff to no lag, I’ll take it. The only downside I had with online is some connection issues, but there could be any number of reasons for that, it might not be Nintendo’s fault. Still, it’s relatively painless, and bodes well for the future. Maybe Nintendo is finally ready to enter the online market of gaming. Another new addition is MKTV, which allows players to share videos of their racing highlights. After each race the game makes a highlight reel for you and it takes no time to do so, and it has some neat editing features, like how long the reel is, who you follow and what type of action you follow. I don’t imagine it will last too long before the novelty wears out, but still, it’s another cool feature. Hopefully Smash Bros will be released with something similar. You can upload straight to YouTube as well, but you sadly have fewer options and the videos are compressed to 720p. It’s not a deal breaker, as least not to me but I know some people who will be put off by that.
(a highlight reel, from one of my new favorite tracks, to give you a taste of what its like)
Do I feel this is the game to save the Wiiu? Honestly, I think Nintendo is putting WAY too much on this and smash bros shoulders to save their struggling system. They are doing everything possible to make people buy this game, including giving away a free game when you buy it. That’s not to say the game is bad however, as it is a blast to play. Mario Kart games are always fun, and this one is no exception, and for all the WiiU owners out there, I do recommend it. But all the WiiU owners I know already have it, and I’m not convinced it’s going to get people to purchase a WiiU. Regardless, it’s a great party game, a great racing game, and just in general a fun game, easily worth your time. I give this new Mario Kart a: