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Twisted Metal (PS3) Release Date Confirmed!

10/4/2011 (Any fan of the series *needs* to watch that teaser trailer of the live action stuffs! I’d embed it, but gametrailers doesn’t seem to like wordpress.)

I am squeeing as loudly as I can about this news.  Of course I’m a guy, so it sounds more like tires squealing than a chew toy getting stepped on, but that perfectly fits this game anyway!

The last time I was this excited over a trailer was Dead Island, and while that video was heavy on the artistry, Twisted Metal’s is high on the action; high on the octane.

Fire, leather, explosions, heavy rock, chainsaws, motorcycles, and ice cream.  Oh yeah…

“…it’s good to be back.”

Minus Minecraft, the last game I purchased myself with actual tangible currency (non-gift card’d, etc.) was probably Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.  After getting burned with Devil May Cry 2, I am very particular on which games I buy.  Based on what I know about this one so far, and who is in charge of it (David Jaffe was my first DAW post, after all ^_^), I am definitely going to pre-order. 

More than likely a Collector’s Edition.

Developer Appreciation Week: Game Arts and Nippon Ichi Software

Today we conclude our celebration of Developer Appreciation Week with a double up of thanks, as the Misses wanted to thank Game Arts for their superb work on Grandia II, while I wanted to thank Nippon Ichi Software for their excellent Disgaea series.

Of course the Misses left early today so I do not exactly know what she wanted to thank Game Arts for, and as Grandia is more of a ‘her thing’ than mine, I’mma have to think back to the game and see what I can do ^_^

Grandia 2 featured an interesting range in its cast, and it held within itself quite a journey that adventure games seem to lack currently.  It also had a great deal of voice actors I recall from the Metal Gear Solid series, and it was always nifty to hear the characters interact when I could visualize them as the MGS guys battling it out.

The fighting system in place was fairly advanced, quite similar to Final Fantasy XII, which came out over six years later.  Quite a feat.  Madam preferred to rush right in and give a more micromanagement feel, while I preferred to tell the AI how to fight before hand and just sit back and watch like an RTS.  It was one of the few games I have played that I could not wait for the story and movie bits to end so I could “get back to the killing” right away as it was such a unique experience.

The Misses did mention she wanted to thank the company for such a good storyline and that it was the sole reason she went and bought a used Dreamcast, so that she could play one of her favorite games again.  From the Misses to you, Game Arts.  Thank-you.

As for me, I wanted to thank Nippon Ichi for Disgaea(s).  The humor involved in the game continually catches me off guard, from penguins spouting “dood!” to pirates randomly jumping onto the field of battle.  It was the first tactical role-playing game I have tried, and it was a blast.  I even went and got one of the fairly rare strategy guides off eBay, and man is that thang’ thick.

The graphics are light, while the game mechanics are dense.  Not too hard to pass, but in most cases they are as hard as you wish to make them.  Chaining attacks in a certain order to maximize damage and debuffs, leveling up a specific character repeatedly, or attaching them to a new one to absorb some of their skills to mix and match utility, to the randomness of Item Worlds and its rainbow of colored tiles on the ground.  Is it best to throw your fastest unit to the end of the level to reach the boss faster, or to kill everything in sight?  Should you steal all the great loot on the mobs, or toss a few on top of one another to make them grow stronger for better xp?  Many options on a visually simple battlefield allows the player to tackle each situation in their own way, a great idea by the devs that was executed wonderfully.

So let us give a “Deep Fried Goodness!” salute to Game Arts, and a resounding “Dood!” to Nippon Ichi Software!

Developer Appreciation Week: Tim Schafer

After recently pouncing my way though the epic world of Brutal Legend, thanking Tim Schafer and all of the people at Double Fine Productions is far from a stretch of the imagination.  I was unaware of Tim’s previous work, while I knew of the games he worked on, I did not know he was involved or who he was until Brutal came out.  And that is a bit of a double-edged lightning axe of metal, as now I know of this guy’s awesome history, but I also know I was unaware of it for so long.

Every aspect of Brutal is meticulously crafted and sculpted into place.  The characters, their hilarious dialog and the sheer amount of it is staggering.  Talk to any part of your continually growing army before a mission and they will have at least two different things to say or ask, which your character will respond with.  Every mission.  Every unit.  Some of the same type of units tend to repeat (per mission), but usually it’s the Razor Girls and there are like six of them, and they look lazy anyway.  It took one sassy pants’d lady to free you all from a Pleasure Palace?  Lollygaggers.  No pun intended.

Driving around the game shows the massively varying settings from rolling green hills, dry deserts, hellfire skies, arctic tundra, and haunted areas.  Each area is distinct, and each more impressive than the last.  You could not cram more atmosphere into each area if you used a pneumatic vice powered by Ormagoden himself.  The heavy metal themed zones do not look out of place at all, each provoking a “wow” even after repeated visits.

The different armies in the game are equally abstract and you can effortlessly tell their history and background from just looking at them.  Again the dialog between your army and the one of three leaders you are playing is beyond excellent.  It won’t win awards for drama, but it definitely should for comedy.

I know I focused on Brutal here, but as that is the only thing I have played of Tim’s first hand, it is all I can rightfully claim to be a great work.  I am assuming this was far from a fluke based on his following and the reviews of his previous games, and I fully intend on playing the constantly promoted by critics: Psychonauts.  Plus, the guy told off Bobby Kotick.  If that isn’t heavy metal, I don’t know what is.

Raise a sign of the horns during a metal solo for Tim Schafer and Double Fine!  Great job, guys.  Keep up the excellent work!

Developer Appreciation Week: Paul Barnett

Last year, Scarybooster came up with the awesomely stellar idea of thanking those whom we gamers should praise the most: our game’s developers.  How often do we belittle their work due to minor imperfections from an otherwise great game?  The human mind seems to grab onto the negative much tighter than the positive and Scary wondered what better way to thank the devs other than… well… thanking them?  These doods put in a great deal of work, sacrificed time with their family and possibly health in order to get their products out the door on time, and all too commonly we cite the tiny cracks that make up an otherwise flawless presentation.

Today I thank Paul Barnett and the rest of the Mythic Entertainment crew.

While I heard a great deal about Dark Age of Camelot from friends who would play it at the local cyber cafe, I never got into it.  (“Pay to play a game?  What?  Who’d be dumb enough to do that?”)  It really wasn’t until Warhammer Online started to appear at expos and on youtube/the interwebs that I got wind of Mythic and their zany cast of creators.  Fairly early on I was hooked on their selling points: emphasis on battling players over mobs and that tanks could actually do more than stand there and absorb damage like a thick log of lamb waiting to be blasted, burnt, and julienned. (Black Orc! Waaaagh!)

Nearly every week Paul Barnett, Josh Drescher, or Jeff Hickman would have a video up about something new and tantalizing about the Warhammer IP coming down the pike, and with each video I grew more interested.  The guys were always relaxed behind the camera, joyous and nonchalant, while still providing helpful information about how their game worked and what they had planned ahead.

The amount of time it took to get all those videos edited, animations to play during the audio, and just rounding people up and giving them a basic script to base their humorous rants about was well worth it in my mind, as if it was not for these funny details and insights, I would not have liked the game as much as I did.  If any one thing dictated why I bought the game at launch, it was because the cast behind the camera, most notably Paul.

Searching for Warhammer Online on youtube will likely net you a video with at least Paul in the image, if not he and someone else, possibly wearing white-rimmed sunglasses similar in style to Charlie in the Chocolate Factory with Mike Teevee.  He is an extraordinarily festive and jolly guy, but he’s got a good brain under that hood of his and there is a definite logic to his madness.

Here’s an interview on Ten Ton Hammer posted back when the game was delayed.  Paul and Josh are explaining the creative process, and Paul just goes on a tangent about what people like, how the nearly unseen minutia dictates the feeling, the aura, of whatever product you own.  You buy a giant tv, but you really enjoy how the remote molds to you hand, for example.  The TV is more important, but that remote sparks something within you and you form an attachment with it. 

Those little ideas are all over in WAR and they really did put out a heck of a game when it arrived.  Many features in it are now being propped up by other game companies all over the place.  Public Quests were arguably the best part of WAR and games like Rift and others on the horizon are tapping into the excitement of the same idea.  The Tome of Knowledge was fairly revolutionary, and while other games support Achievements, none were as detailed as the Tome.  Titles for killing the enemy, the specific class, dying to the specific class, clicking on a rock in the middle of nowhere, clicking on people without any gear on, etc., etc.

While the game is not as popular as they would like, there is still a great deal of good in there.  I might not have paid as much attention to the game if it were not for the crew rooting for the game and radiating awesome in front of the camera in interviews and conventions, and while my time with the game cycles on and off, I am appreciative of having played the game and enjoyed my time with it.

Three “WAAAGH!” ‘s for Paul and the rest of the crew at Mythic Entertainment!

Developer Appreciation Week: David Jaffe

Upon perusing the always fabulous mmogamerchick’s blog, I happened upon this ‘holiday’ of sorts, where gamers of all genres put aside their grievances and jaded past to thank gaming teams or individual developers for all the hard work they do to bring us the games we all enjoy. 

So to take part in this event of sorts, I thought up a few devs whose work I have admired over the years, but the very first one that popped into my head neigh-instantaneously was the fairly warped genius who brought us Twisted Metal and God of War: David Jaffe and the rest of his crew over at Eat Sleep Play.  (As if the title of the post didn’t give this gem away.) 

He thankfully has a very open online presence and just recently has been posting on his blog again after like half a year hiatus.  Cramming content into his newest and most awesome  Twisted Metal took a toll on his blogging, but he has charged head-on into the fray and is back with some killer posts in just under two weeks.

Mr. Jaffe has always been willing to reach out to gamers and has been in contact with fansites such as Twisted Metal Alliance for years before even starting his blog.  He went so far as to include TMA in the thank-you portion of Twisted Metal Black’s credits and offered a few of the nearby members of the site to play test the game before it went retail.  Odds are if you were to check out his twitter feed the only time it isn’t buzzing with really great information and insight is when he is sleeping or eating dinner with his family.

Just recently the Jaff-Man posted a rant to youtube about terrible customer service, which happened to be directed at a near-by Apple store.  (Extremely Language heavy, yee hath been warned.  The dog chilling on the couch in the background is awesome, by the way.) He was very understanding of the worker’s situation, but was astounded by their indecency and incompetence, stating that “there is nothing worse than people who work for a company and don’t put the customer first.”

It speaks a great deal of his work ethic.  He does not have a lofty, elitist outlook on things, he does not expect people just to buy his game because of the brand name on the spine.  He sees them from not only the dev’s perspective, but more importantly from the player’s perspective.  He knows people want to have a great time playing his games and he puts forth all of his effort to make sure they get the best experience possible.  He is a gamer at heart, who happens to be making awesome games that I cannot get enough of.  Heck, my Minecraft avatar is based on a certain homicidal ice cream truck driver.

The resemblance is uncanny...

Thank-you, David Jaffe, and thank-you Eat Sleep Play.  I eagerly await the next Twisted installment, along with whatever else you deranged group of people come up with in the near future.

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