Monday, January 17, 2011

Darksiders, and why it's actually good:

I never did a formal review of Darksiders, but did I purchase the game and play about halfway through. Since I received a review copy of Bayonetta at the time, I had to put Darksiders down and focus my attention on her. I watched my younger brother play through the rest of the game on his own file. I never explicitly stated my opinion anywhere, be it internet forum or otherwise, but I did very much like the game. The Zelda-inspired exploration and dungeon crawling mixed with satisfying, Devil May Cry-esque combat made for a very fun gameplay experience.

What struck me immediately about Darksiders was its story. It's not often that you come across a game based in Judeo-Christian mythology. Outside of the occasional Japanese Anime or J-RPG bastardizing the myths, it simply isn't done. Darksiders not only had the balls to design an entire game around it, but actually injected enough into the mythology to create a story that was wholly new and refreshing.

*If you haven't played the game, or simply don't want to be spoiled, stop reading here. You have been warned.*

As mentioned above, the game takes elements of the apocalyptic myths and Book of Enoch and tells its own story. Humanity, the "Third Kingdom," was lost during the Apocalypse, and Hell defeated Heaven during the battle. War, the protagonist of the story and Horseman of the Apocalypse, was betrayed into believing he instigated the battle, and does everything in his power to prove his innocence. He is allowed to search for clues (stripped of his powers and under the Council's constant surveillance) on a decrepit and ruined Earth, and the rest of the game follows.

The game plays in what is essentially traditional Zelda fashion, in which players use their abilities, weapons and sub-weapons to explore and reach new areas, only to acquire more weapons and abilities which allows them to in turn reach more areas, etc.

What made Darksiders strong was the fact that your abilities, weapons and sub-weapons all had a distinct purpose, and all of them were useful for both fighting and for exploration. Zelda has fallen behind in this respect. Too often you get useless shit that you use once on your adventure and then leave in your inventory to rot.

Not so with Darksiders. The Crossblade was useful for keeping combos alive and juggling opponents, in addition to hitting switches and such. The Abyssal Chain was useful as a grappling tool in combat, as well as for exploration. The Tremor Gauntlet gave War some stupidly powerful attacks and helped demolish debris and crap in his way. Hell, the Scythe, the sole purpose of which was combat, was useful for getting more money (Souls).

This was Darksiders' strongest point on the adventure/exploration front: the versatility of the sub weapons. This needs to make it into Darksiders 2.

On top of this, War had some nice timing-based combos, a la Devil May Cry. Do a standard combo by pressing attack four times. Do an extended combo by pausing after the second slash. Do yet another combo by pausing after the third slash, etc. This method clicked with me because of its simplicity. You don't need to press different buttons to execute different combos: you get a great variety of attacks through one button.

I loved this aspect of combat, and the addition of another input (like say, back - forth on the analog stick + attack) wouldn't hurt in a sequel.

The only thing I can say I didn't like too much about combat was the aerial gameplay. Comboing enemies in the air looked cool, but could easily get you nailed. Enemies could still hit you while you were in the air, making it flashy but not at all useful. This was a shame because War came equipped with a easy-to-execute launcher (holding the attack button) and a basic aerial combo.

Devil May Cry 3 and 4 remedied this by making most enemies heavily ground-based (they can't touch you in the air) and by allowing Dante to jump off enemies while in the air (for a quick escape in a pinch). Bayonetta remedied aerial impotence by allowing you to dodge while in the air. A basic feature like this could go a long way to enriching the combat in Darksiders.

Darksiders also lacked competent enemies. Much like the demons in Devil May Cry 3, the enemies in Darksiders were aggressive, but not particularly dangerous once players recognized their telegraphs. War has a block and a dodge: enemies should have counters for both, so that players need to rely on one or the other to avoid taking damage from particular attacks. The same enemy should have attacks that must be blocked to mitigate damage, as well as attacks that will break through your block and must be dodged to avoid damage.

The timing for a player's reaction should get tighter as the game progresses, too. Bayonetta gives you one defensive maneuver: dodging. That's it. But the timing for that dodge must be precise, because different enemies have different attacks that must be dodged at different times. Hell, a single enemy has different attacks that must be dodged at different times. This makes enemies more versatile and unpredictable, and keeps players on their toes. And if the controls are responsive, this makes combat tighter in general.

All in all, I though Darksiders is a very good Action-Adventure title. Combat was enjoyable, as was the exploration and adventuring.

In truth, I really want to see the story of Darksiders continued. We never find out what happens to Samael, who the woman was that corrupted Abaddon, what actions the council would take against War, and what War and his brothers would do now that the truth was out and the Seventh Seal was broken. I read that Darksiders 2 would focus on a new character, and while I'm a bit disappointed to hear this, I hope some of these questions are answered.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dracozombie's last two months in Video Game Trailers: September and October

Yep, I've slacked. I haven't gotten my shit together, but I decided that I really need to put these links here. So I'm getting my shit together now.

Without further adéu, here is the lenghty list of articles I wrote for my National Video Game Trailers column on

Capcom released its second episode of the Marvel vs. Capcom trailer. It is awesome. Dr. Doom and Super Skrull versus Chun Li, Captain America, Trish, Amaterasu and Viewtiful Joe? How can it not be awesome!

Devil May Cry is getting a reboot (DmC), which I can't say I'm very happy with. Dante looks like a hobo punk the developers pulled off the streets of England. The action is cinematic, but I can't really tell what the gameplay is going to look like. Here's to hoping it turns out well.

Alice, Madness Returns is a title I am looking forward to. The first title was critically acclaimed, but I never played it. This one looks like an evolution of that wonderfully twisted and deliciously macabre magic: I will definitely pick it up when it hits.

Square-Enix revealed a brief Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy trailer at the Tokyo Game Show, which you can view in my article. An extended version was also released some time later, which includes all of the footage from the former, plus lots of new contend. Tifa is revealed at the end of this trailer, which made many a man cream his pants at the sight.

A sexy trailer, narrated by Jason Isaacs, gives us a look at Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. I still haven't played it, but I will get my copy some time this week. I promise you the review will be up as soon as possible.

Sega gives us a look at the newest Sonic title: Sonic Colors. The gameplay trailer showcases what players can expect from the blue blur in his latest outing.

A silly and quirky little game called Vikings Row! is scheduled for release for the iPhone. Two short teaser trailers were released, which you can watch here and here.

Keiji Inafune and Capcom reveal Mega Man Legends 3! Inafune reveals Capcom's master plan in a neat video, which you can view in my article. Sweet!

I uploaded the full TGS trailer of The 3rd Birthday, which you can watch in my article. They decided to re-work Aya's personality for this PSP iteration of the game, which is weird, to say the least. Chalk it up to amnesia.

I uploaded the TGS trailer for Okamiden as well. Watch it and melt at the overwhelming cuteness of it all! If you don't feel like petting Chibi from watching this trailer, you have no fucking soul.

Warren Spector and a few developers got together to explain storytelling, and what sets Epic Mickey apart from other games in a video called "Epic Mickey - Behind the Scenes: Storytelling." Watch it, because this game is looking really good.

Platinum Games and Sega has released an enemies trailer for their sexy-tastic action/shooter Vanquish. I regret to say that I haven't bought it yet, but I can't seem myself not pick this up soon. it's too bloody awesome.

Finally, we get an english gameplay trailer for Ys: The Oath in Felghana. I asked for a review copy, because I'm dying to play this bad-boy, but I'll definitely pick it up if it doesn't show. Ys is that good.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dracozombie's last month (or two) in NY Console Gaming: September and October

I've been slacking pretty hard. I can't really excuse my absence, so accept my apology instead. I've done a lot of writing these last two months, so I'm breaking down my content by website, to make these blog entries a bit easier on the eyes.

Here's all of my latest articles for New York Console Games, on

Nintendo and New York-Tokyo held a Samurai Warriors 3 event at the Korean bar "Fat Buddha." The food was good, and I won't say no to free beer, of which there was plenty. Attendees got a chance to eat, drink and play some Samurai Warriors.

I got some hands-on time with a few upcoming Disney Interactive Studios titles, one of which was TRON: Evolution. A mix of energetic action, platforming and more, the game is a great-looking movie tie-in title, coming to the PS3 and Xbox 360.

The second Disney Interactive game I got my hands on was Disney's Epic Mickey, an adventure and platforming title from the creative mind of Warren Spector. The title is absolutely unique, combining adventure elements from Zelda and platforming elements from Mario, alongside a painting mechanic that lets you greatly interact with the world.

I got my hands on a copy of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, for the PSP, and wrote up a review the moment I finished it. Fun combat, lots of content, and an interesting story makes Birth by Sleep a title worth picking up if you haven't already.

Just before the NY Comic Con, I got hands-on with Capcom's Okamiden, the DS successor to the classic Okami, for the PS2 and Wii.

I also managed to interview with Okamiden's producer, Motohide Eshiro, and get an interesting background on the title.

I managed to get hands-on with Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy. It plays much like the original, but there is a LOT of new stuff Square-Enix has added, like the assist system and the new characters. Check it out to read up on Lightning and Kain's movelist!

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a very highly respected PC action-RPG from Falcom, which is being ported to the Sony PSP. Some new trailers and images were revealed, which you can read and view in my article.

Finally, Square-Enix revealed some new screens for Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy. The buxom brawler Tifa from Final Fantasy VII makes her official debut, kicking ass and taking names. New costumes and more round out the article.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dracozombie's last three weeks in gaming: August 22-September 11

Holy shit, I haven't been here in a good while! I've been busy with all manner of personal issues. Over the last few weeks, my parents' marriage has hit a very rocky point, my ex-girlfriend was in town, I got the flu, my fathers family (my grandmother and uncle) came up to visit (i.e. take up space), and I've been writing. It has been hectic, and very draining.

Fortunately, that shit is over now. Almost. My parents are still getting their shit together, but I'd imagine they'll sort it all out by weeks end.

As you can imagine, though, I haven't really gotten the chance to sit down and write in my blog, so I am very behind with my updates.

In any case, here are the last three weeks of my writing for Examiner and Multiplayer Games.

Mafia II his shelves recently, and I wrote a review of the game, which you can read here. It is not a bad title at all: the story is great, and the gameplay is very enjoyable. It is a bit bare-bones, mind you, as in there isn't much in the way of optional content.

With Mafia II's release, 2K and Gamertag Radio set up a very badass NYC release party at the 92nd Street Y's Tribecca Center. Protesters whined about the stereotyping of the Italian mafioso, but no one payed them any mind. Read more on the event here.

Konami held a sexy little event called the NYC Gamer's Night, showcasing some upcoming Konami titles. I got my hands on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which has shaped up to be an great title, and an excellent addition to the Castlevania series. Check out my preview for details on this title.

Among the titles showcased at the NYC Gamer's Night was an interesting wrestling game called Lucha Libre AAA: Héroes del Ring. I thought it looked cheesy at first glance, but it was surprisingly fun and well-designed. What threw me was that it is being developed by spanish developer Immersion Software. Read more on Héroes del Ring if wrestling is your thing.

Ys Seven is the newest incarnation of the Ys series from Japanese developer Falcom. Publisher XSeed localized the title for North America, and it is out now. The verdict? Buy the game. Seriously. If you like Action RPGs and old-school, Zelda-style exploration and dungeon crawling, you need to pick this title up. Read my review if you're on the fence.

Dissidia is the over-the-top, nonsensical Final Fantasy fighting game from Square-Enix that finally let us beat the shit out of Sephiroth with Squall. An S-E has announced the sequel, which is being developed on the PSP just like its predecessor. Called Dissidia Doudecim, you can read all about the title and the new characters in my reveal article.

I only wrote one article for this column in three weeks. That's... pretty fucking bad. Anyway, the action-crazy geniuses at Platinum Games have rolled out a brand-new trailer for their upcoming third-person-shooter-on-crack, Vanquish. A demo is out, if you are interested, but definitely check out the trailer too.

"Wired" and several other sources reported that a negligence lawsuit had been filed against the publisher of the popular MMORPG Lineage II, NCSoft. A Hawaiian man alleges that he has developed an addiction to the game so ridiculously strong that he can no longer function normally. Game addiction is a sticky subject, so read my thoughts on it in my article.

NCSoft and ArenaNet were at GamesCom, showing off Guild Wars 2 in playable from. A storm of recorded videos were uploaded to Youtube since the event opened, and the biggest surprise of the event was the inclusion of the unannounced playable profession: the Necromancer.

The Guild Wars 2 official website officially unveiled the necromancer on it's professions page a few days later, giving it's readers a wealth of details about the new class.

Game site "Glimpse Dog" published it's five-part video hands-on experience with TERA, which gives it's viewers an enticing glimpse of what the game hopes to achieve. The videos are actually very fun to watch because they players discuss all sorts of subjects (particularly politics) as they interview the developers.

The official TERA website released two new screenshots for the city of Allemantheia, the elven capital in the heart of Southern Shara, and also updated with a rich history of the city and it's people. I love a game with a good backstory, and it's nice to know En Masse is putting effort in to translating and westernizing the story to make it more appealing.

Final Fantasy XIV has been in and out of beta for some time now. Websites all over were collaborating with Square-Enix to offer eager gamers a chance to win closed beta keys for the game. Square-Enix announced that Final Fantasy XIV would enter open beta on August 31st, and released a nice new trailer to compliment the announcement.

News of a fatigue system in Final Fantasy XIV hit the internet recently, and the response was fucking atrocious. Fortunately, an official translation explains in detail just how the fatigue system will work in the game. Plenty of people are still crying over the issue, but at least you can properly read how it works now.

It was recently announced via the official website forums that TERA would not be implementing IP blocking or any other territorial restrictions within Europe and North America. Korea wasn't mentioned. This means that players can freely choose which of the two territories they can play TERA in. Sweet.

Fansite "Rift Nexus" has released an exclusive preview of Stonefield, an early Defiant faction zone in Rift: Planes of Telara. This region pits players against assloads of the undead and the ex-servants of the Titans as they complete quests and gain some crucial early levels.

Nobuo Uematsu is considered by many to be a crucial part of the Final Fantasy experience. In the "Making of Eorzea" Final Fantasy XIV video, he discusses the direction he received from the development team regarding music, the composing process and more as well as details on the theme song of the game, which was sung by Susan Calloway at Uematsu's request.

Fansite FFXIVCore has provided a near complete list of the Guildleve Quests, which has been added on their Final Fantasy XIV wiki page. The fansite has also come across some unused/unreleased model data in the game, as well as some as-of-yet unused miscellaneous models.

EverDream Studio has revealed details on the latest instance for its 2D, turn-based, browser-based fantasy MMORPG Dragon's Call. Yes, the same Dragon's Call that a player threatened to sue for banning/flagging the word 'gay" in world chat, not that this fact has any bearing on the instance at hand.

And that does it!

Holy epic shit, this is a long post. But then again, it's three weeks worth of writing. That's what happens when I slack, I suppose.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dracozombie's week in gaming: August 15-21

Alrighty. Down one molar, but up quite a few articles, I'd say. Been keeping myself busy this past week, and I've been on-point pretty much the whole time. So much so that I'm actually posting my Sunday update on Sunday! (Gasp!)

Firstly, I'd like to say that I hate Examiner's basic publishing tool. I like to be able to edit HTML code - even if I'm not that good at it - and the basic tool negates this. Since that's all we can use during Examiner's current transitional period, my Examiner articles look a bit... off. Please excuse this. I'm hoping these transitional shenanigans come to an end soon.

Secondly, GamesCom was in full swing this week, meaning plenty of new images, trailers, artwork, and all kinds of game related jazz hit the web.

And with that, on to my week in gaming!

An interesting rumor hit the internet last week: the PS3, stoic paragon of unhackable gaming security (for developers, at least) was supposedly hacked by a mere USB mod-chip. I haven't followed up on the story, but many other sites corroborated the legitimacy of the product at the time. Read more about it here.

Valkyria Chronicles II has revealed it's pre-order bonus: two extra missions for the early birds who put money down on it before the August 31st release. Remember, Valkyria Chronicles II is being released on the PSP, unlike it's PS3 predecessor. Check out the article for more details.

With GamesCom in full swing, plenty of neat trailers have been released. BioWare's dark fantasy Dragon Age is hitting March of 2011 with a fully-fledged sequel. This cinematic teaser video, the "Destiny" trailer, gives us a pre-rendered taste of things to come in Dragon Age 2.

A while back the Japanese Metroid website had a video detailing the history of the Metroid series. This video has now been uploaded to the english website, with Samus' english voice actress narrating. Pretty neat stuff, so definitely check it out.

The Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep website has updated with the last of it's videos. This time we get the:

Blizzard Entertainment has sued a private server for copyright infringement, and won an astronomical $88 million from the case. And I thought they couldn't get any wealthier. This server not only let people play World of Warcraft without having to pay a monthly subscription fee, but actually made a profit of $3 million from selling in-game stuff to players. It's crazy stuff, so be sure to read the whole article.

The last of TERA's new class-skills has been revealed on the official website. Lancers get a sexy bash and lunge attack, and Berserkers get a neat health-eating ass-kick attack. Plus, TERA was at GamesCom, and announced that they have a full dungeon-crawl as a demo, instead of the E3 demo they've presented for a while. Read up on it here.

TERA has also revealed it's GamesCom trailer, showcasing many of the newly revealed skills in some nice cinematic combat footage. With that, they also revealed the newest screenshots of the week: the Azarel Temple has been re-named to Azarel's Labyrinth, and we get two images of the area surrounding said dungeon.

And that wraps it ups for the week! The latest chapter of Kurohime was finally uploaded by Imangascans, and now I'm very eagerly awaiting the next one. I also learned of a Korean Manhwa called Legend of Maian, which I've been enjoying as well, though I admit I like Kurohime a quite a bit more.

And yes, no Civilization V or Ys Seven yet. I simply haven't published my Civilization interview yet, (but I will this week) and I haven't received my review copy of Ys Seven. I borrowed a copy from a friend and played for a bit (it's awesome) but the fucker demanded it back before long.

C'est la vie.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dracozombie's week in gaming: August 8-14 (update)

Had a pretty rough week, unfortunately. I cracked my molar several years ago, and it started acting up two weeks ago. The pain intensified last week, to the point where I was in and out of the hospital every other day. Fortunately, today (Monday the 16th) the doctors agreed they couldn't save the tooth (the decay was too extensive) and pulled it. So the pain is gone, but so is my tooth. I kinda miss it, now...

Anyway, the pain was kicking my ass hardcore, so I didn't write as much as I would have liked. Nonetheless, here is my week in gaming:

(Update) American McGee's Alice is a cult-classic PC title that was acclaimed for it's macabre, unhinged take on the Lewis Carroll stories "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass." Alice, Madness Returns is the sequel, set ten years after the events of the first title. I forgot to add this article preview at the time of the writing of this entry. Whoops.

My review of Arc Rise Fantasia went live. The verdict? Surprisingly good battle system (especially considering it's entirely turn-based) with a piss-poor localization. I honestly feel that Ignition (the publisher) cut some serious corners with their effort on the game. The dialogue is weak, and the voice overs are atrocious.

Bioshock Infinite hit the scene with it's impressive cinematic trailer, and let's just say that the new setting is fucking awesome. Bioshock has abandoned the underwater utopia of "Rapture" in favor of something fresher, and I think the decision is brilliant. Check it out.

Guild Wars 2 developers interviewed with a french (I believe) MMO website called "Univers Virtuels," and discussed a few elements of the game. They were extremely tight lipped, so we
get little more than snippets of info, but considering how secretive ArenaNet (the developer) has been on the subject of it's upcoming game, I assume any info is better than none. Right?

The badass Guild Wars 2 video, the "MMO Manifesto" promises everything from the kitchen sink to the second coming. I have to admit, It got me excited a bit. Guild Wars wasn't a major blip on my radar, but I feel compelled to keep an eye on it now. I hope they deliver.

The sexy TERA reveals it's screenies of the week, detailing the cities of Velika and Castanica. In addition, we get some super sexy skill reveals for the Sorcerer and Priest class. Sorcerer's get a powerful area-of-effect sleep spell, and Priests get a badass magical bolt combo. Last week saw the reveal of new skills for the Archer, Warrior, Slayer, and Mystic.

Blade & Soul, the sexy South Korean MMORPG from NCSoft, with artwork by the renowned Hyung Tae Kim, is promising a playable demo by the end of the year. They won't be at GamesCom this week, and they very likely won't be demoing at Tokyo Game Show, which leaves G-Star for the demo reveal. God, it's gonna be so sexy...

And that about covers it! My mouth feels like shit courtesy of the tooth-pulling, so I only wrote one article today, but I intend to write plenty this week. Expect to see some Civilization V, TERA, Ys Seven, and more this Sunday!