Ben's Week In Review: January 11
I still can't believe it's 2009 already, but there's no stopping time. Pisses me off. ;)
So...is backwards compatibility more important NOW?
As we all know, Sony removed backwards compatibility for PS2 software in the PS3 (only the original 60GB model boasted full b/c for both PS2 and PS1 games), and it was primarily due to two reasons: 1. it was too expensive, and 2. Sony didn't believe it was a big selling point. So now that the system costs about half what it once did to manufacture, and Sony apparently believes more people want PS2 b/c in the PS3, they're supposedly pursuing PS2 emulation for their next-gen machine. At first, I didn't understand the train of thought. The further away we get from the last generation, the less important I believed b/c would become, but perhaps I was overestimating the power of nostalgia (as I may have already done). Maybe the further we get from playing Final Fantasy X, the more we'll want to play it. Or, perhaps more PS2 owners are finally diving into the new generation, and would rather have a new system that plays all their old software. But whatever the reason, I suppose the question is: do you want to see PS2 b/c return?
When I ask that, you have to understand; I'm sure everyone would like the additional perk, but I'm wondering if people really need it. For example, I have a PS2 now that sits alongside my PS3 and everything is fine. And with games just getting more advanced, how much of a role will nostalgia really play? I assume these are questions Sony will ask themselves in their rumored pursuit of a PS2 emulator for the PS3, and to be honest, I'm not sure what the answers are...
The arrival of White Knight Chronicles will be interesting
So Level 5 has confirmed the release of WKC for North America, and although we all assumed it would happen, now we know for certain. And I will be very interested to see how Western gamers and critics receive the promising RPG; remember, it significantly boosted PS3 sales in Japan. Now, while I'm sure the game can't cause that kind of spike in this country - no JRPG without "Final Fantasy" in the title is capable of that in the U.S. - I would like to see what the avid RPG fans have to say. It seems that the low Famitsu score comes primarily from a very lackluster online component, which is fine because I won't play it online, anyway. If critics here come to the same conclusion, I'll probably buy it. But look at Valkyria Chronicles...what does it take for a JRPG to sell well in North America? You can bet that Sony probably won't advertise WKC, and as far as I'm concerned, it's the one game that would desperately need a promotion campaign. It'll be ultra-disappointing if the game is great and fails on the charts.
I'm just wondering if enough PS3 owners in North America have even heard of the game. And the only time it really made headlines was when those low Famitsu scores came in, so it won't get off to a running start. The Japanese response to this game is predictable, but I'm a little worried about how gamers 'round these parts will react to it.
Personal gaming update
Okay, so I finished Gears of War 2 today, and before I go off on my mini-rant, I must remind everyone that the game rules big time. It really does. Buuuuut...
At certain points in the game, my allies would do silly crap, like stand and stare at a wall in the midst of gunfire. One time, when my ally and Jack (robot that opens doors and seeks data) were supposed to open a door, they didn't, causing me to run around in circles until I realized I had to reload. Then, I toss a grenade and it hits a tree branch...but it just stays up there, spinning around in mid-air, blinking. Oh, and let's not forget the cheating AI; at first, I thought it was all in my head, but I tested it... See, an enemy can shoot mortars with a certain weapon, just as you can. You aim a certain distance and fire. But of course, you can't cause the mortars to change direction once they've been fired...although, the enemy apparently can. I was wondering why I kept getting hit by them and then I decided to look up while I was running back and forth. They followed my movements in mid-air. Soooo, the enemies had homing mortars. Interesting.
Then there was this boss that cut down pillars, and I had to avoid them. Same thing happened, except this was even funnier. He'd cut one, I'd run to the right, and watch in consternation as the pillar defied gravity and followed my movement to the right as it fell. ...er... Last but not least, the game froze up completely twice during play, including the first time I beat the last boss. And let's just say I wasn't the biggest fan of all the vehicles; you make an awesome third-person shooter, so don't try to throw in flight and driving elements. As fun as it can be, there was just too much of it in GeoW2. Look, the game is great, but I get this sneaking suspicion that if it had been made exclusively for the PS3, we wouldn't have these glitches. Thing is, I always see similar drawbacks in 360 software, and, well...it's just not something you'd ever see in a game like MGS4, for example. I almost want to blame the 360 and not Epic for these technical glitches.
I still say it's the third best game of the year behind MGS4 and GTAIV, but I will also say I had more fun with other games (like R2 and DMC4). It was just frustrating. Who's the idiot that thought the Tickers would be a good addition? Talk about lame. Grr... Anyway, just thought I'd vent. Great game, but...jeez.
1/10/2009 Ben Dutka