STEM, Matrix and VR

To accompany my previous post about The Evil Within 2.  I decided to delve deeper into the main theme of the game:  Virtual Reality.  Since the movie The Matrix, the thought of virtual world went mainstream.  To think that a person’s consciousness can be placed into a virtual world as real as the one you and I live in right now, truly gets us to think about our OWN reality.

The STEM system.

In The Evil Within series, that same idea of a virtual world is represented by a fictional machine known as STEM.  In short, the machine uses targeted areas of the brain in order to create a virtual world where all those participating will share a consciousness together.  Imagine a world that doesn’t have disease and that happiness can be made without even physically moving a muscle, this is STEM.  However, in the game’s story the virtual world that was viewed as a utopia, only ends up becoming a living nightmare.

https://i0.wp.com/gameranx.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/the-evil-within-1.jpg

But I’m not here to write about the plot of the game, but to further analyze the virtual world from the real and fictional perspective.  After watching an episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” called “PTSDee”.  (Which was recommended from my wife, Louie.  See the 2 clips below.)  I began to think about what kind of true dangers lie in store for us, as virtual and alternate realities continue to advance in our everyday lives.

Lol, okay I know Always Sunny isn’t greatest example to bring up a serious discussion of the negative aspects of what can come from VR and AR.  But you have to admit, eventually the technology may get THAT GOOD!  (or BAD)  The Evil Within 2 addresses this in the worse case scenario.  Hundreds of people that are currently hooked up to the STEM system suddenly begin to die off and once the story goes into play; all hell breaks loose.  Everyone inside the STEM system either transforms, gets killed or hunted by their own shared virtual consciousness.

Knowing that a machine could either transport you into a paradise or a life as a vegetable, is horrifying.  Like this and The Matrix, if you die inside, you’re toast in the real world.  Add along the potential that any traumatic experience you see or experience in those worlds could affect you in the flesh.  Look at it this way, in games we die and retry until we overcome and succeed.  Now imagine yourself feeling REAL PAIN and DEATH.  Would we be the same?  If it got that bad, would we push on and continue using the technology?

Hell, there are a ton of questions that we can ask here.  That’s why I’ll leave it up for discussion.  Leave any comments below.

-Racoon Daddy

 

March Madness! NES Style!

Just giving you guys a heads up!  I’ve decided to hold a “NCAA Final Four” inspired tournament featuring all of the well loved NES classics!  This will be a large project for me to undertake.  Which will involve quite a few elements, like brackets, actual revisited gameplay (possible videos and commentary) and even a poll section for you guys to participate!

Considering that this will a larger project, it may or may not span past March.  But I’m not too worried about it.  I’m VERY excited about doing this and I hope everyone will come over to make their comments!!

Already, I have the bracket established and HOW the tournament will proceed.  HOWEVER, I want you guys to make the FINAL decision!  Here is the breakdown!

Two THIRD PARTY (i.e. Capcom, Natsume, Squaresoft)  games will compete against each other using a weighted grading system, with a one-hour power hour gaming session for each title and a voting poll.  This will then happen for another two games.  The winners of those will be voted on BY YOU to compete against ONE NINTENDO made FIRST PARTY TITLE.  Which will compete in the same fashion as the first two matches play out!

 

Let me know WHAT YOU GUYS THINK??  Doesn’t that sound pretty cool?!

giphy

 

Title Image credit

The Prince I Never Cared For

Today I got my platinum trophy for Final Fantasy XV, not because I couldn’t get enough of the game. (Which is what normally happens with the ones I do.) It was just that playing through it was such a breeze.

After spending almost 70 some hours total doing BORING side quests and the occassional fun monster hunt. I decided to finish the story and all that remained left in the game. Sadly, I’d have to admit this was worst Final Fantasy experience in all of my days playing them. Before I begin, you’ve gotta know, I’ve been playing the SNES version of Final Fantasy IV (then titled Final Fantasy II). So I know my FF games, including the random spin-offs Square has been spitting out since the post Final Fantasy X days.

IT’S KIND OF SAD WHEN THE FISHING IS MORE EXCITING THAN THE ACTUAL SIDE QUESTS!!

In the end, I will have some lighter things to say about the title. But lets finally get all the bad shit outta the way.

FFXV’s world is a beautiful thing to see, with all of it’s greenery, mountain trails, lakes, mystical caves and dungeons. The enemies interact with the environment and the on-foot music is pretty sweet. But 50% of that is ruined by the repetitive commentary of the “four friends”. (Which is barely what they seem like to each other! But I’ll get to that!) Couple this with the sparse placement of NPCs and lack of real reward for exploration. I get that developers made the side quests to encourage exploration. So why the hell wasn’t there more to hear from the team than “ohhhhs and ahhhs”, “take a look at that” or “whoa”.
It seems that the relationship between the four guys is always strained and never about being real with each other until too late in the game. By that time, the player is so prepared for the end-game, that you’d rather not hear about everyone’s personal demons or why a certain event happened to this guy. Noctus (the primary protagonist) was protrayed as a spoiled whiney emo kid. Okay, I get that; why?! It wasn’t just because his daddy never cared about him, cuz if you pay attention to the story you can kind of feel that King Regis was a good father. Also, I get that he was bummed out with getting hitched soon and all the other crappy things that happened to him. So why didn’t they eleborate on it put in some real scenes with the guys. I mean, for fuck’s sake, the only time Noctus truly sheds tears is in the final camping scene with his “buds”. Even then, it seems like there is sort of a male psuedo-social repression thing.

This happens to ALL of the characters, which is garbage, as there could’ve been so much potential to have a social affection system for the four, much like many other RPGs out there nowadays. There are hints of it here and there, but it never seems to really be something that would get you to like the bond they all have.

For example, take the little morning adventures Noctus’ buds call him out to do. They are too sparse and you’ll probably engage in about 10 total in your entire playthrough. Considering as much as the team camped and toured the world, that chance to interact was WASTED IN A MONUMENTAL FAILURE. Especially, when the team begins to visit the big cities in the game and truly get to enjoy the sites. Where were the welcoming parties, festivals (the lil’ DLC “Moogle-Chocobo Festival” doesn’t count, as only Noctis gets to enjoy it solo, which was also a bad move. Despite the DLC being a nice touch from the developers.) Honestly, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this.

What bothered me the most was the bad portrayal of some of the cultural references throughout FFXV’s worlds. Particularly during pit stops along the highway, where you’ll experience a seriously disenfranchised version of Western American culture. (BTW, not even gonna touch the whole Cindy the mechanic thing.

All I can say is, Noctus’ team acted VERY TAME to how it really would’ve went down! CAN SOMEBODY SAY DIXIE HAZARD RIP OFF!! Okay, fuck it, I touched on it and you guys would, if you were a customers at Hammerhead, you’d be tryin’ to WORK IN HER GARAGE; MARRIED OR NOT!!!! BTW, Square must’ve had a few former Koei-Tecmo staff members join their character design staff. This is included terrible voice work used to to imitate American back country yokles. It almost seems as though the development team, spent more time on the road during their research and less time trying to communicate with the local cultures. Sure there the areas are captured respectfully in a visual sense. (Again, visuals are Square’s speciality, they NEVER have a problem making things PRETTY! I can talk about how good they are until the cows come home!)

Now there are some exceptions, like the big cities which are probably the best parts in the game. Yet again, there was so damn much potential for further story arches, additions to the story, chances to strengthen the bond with the “four friends”, have memorable side stories, etc. (Mind you, would’ve helped want to love the four guys even more.)

In the end, the story stumbles to catch up with most players who are either burnt out from over-questing and exploration or giving us a story with more holes than a buckshot-torn target. Sure, the ending does leave on a high note, but it end up being unremarkable and too ambiguous as to Noctus and company’s fate. (In the end, I kinda did care to see what actually would happen to him and his mates. It is a story I invested $60 and 80+ hours of my life into.)

As a conclusion to this quasi-rant, (Okay, it’s more of a full-on, one) the is are some great qualities to the game I loved. Visually, this was the most beautiful open world I’ve seen in a game, thus far. The surrounding world outside of the lengthy roads, tunnels and rest stops; is vibrant and seems to breath on its own. The floura and fauna blend perfectly with the fantasy creatures well know and love.

Magic and summons are sparse in terms of variety, but they truly are spectacular to see and use. (FYI, summons can to used ANYWHERE and were fairly common during my journey. One badass instance in particular was in the Tower of the Tall and Ramuh used his Judgement Bolt, right into the fuckin’ dungeon!!! (New animation and all, as opposed to the regular one used outside.) Another part I liked, was when a certain dragoon NPC jumps in during some of the later more difficult, night time battles and helps you win, when you might be in a pinch.

The last thing I did love about the game were the dungeons!!

Typically, most RPGs have made the dungeon sections either a chore or the enjoyment made strictly to the battles.  FFXV DOES ONE THING RIGHT, it makes the dungeon crawling a full adventure with its mixture of the atmosphere, monsters and the Four Friends’ reactions.  For example, the first dungeon you go into, you’ll run into goblins.  But it’s HOW you run into them, is what makes FFXV’S dungeons some of the most we’ll thought out scenarios since Atlus’ Persona series.
I loved that I was able to customize the Regalia a bit, was cool and didn’t try to steal the show. Save for the post game ability to literally tranform the Regalia. All I can say is, it ended with my in a ball of flames, a GAME OVER and me falling on my ass in histarical laughter. 

Honestly, it would’ve helped if we had access to it BEFORE THE FINAL CHAPTER, cuz by the time you get the upgrade, it’s loses it’s charm after about ten minutes to a half hour.

Ultimately, I left this experience with caring less about how the characters turned, but more about the adventures dated in dungeons and the rare unique hunt, like fighting a behemoth for the first time.

Had the story been on part with anything on part with ANY of the other Final Fantasy games I’d probably loved the experience more!

BAD DADDY! – Heihachi

Heihachi Mishima, Tekken series.

When it comes to dear ol’ dads, Heihachi isn’t winning any annual awards. CEO of the Mishima Zaibatsu corporation, master martial artist, father to Kazuya Mishima and grandfather to Jin Kazama. (All of whom were taught in the same art as their father.)

When we first meet his son Kazuya, he’s fighting in the “King of the Iron Fist Tournament”, to remove his father from power in the company.
Defeated and powerless Heihachi exacts a vendetta on his own son in a second tournament and captures him.

As a way to ensure his position is never challenged again; Heihachi carries his unconscious son to the peak of an active volcano and drops him in. Yup…hot mag-ma, Dr Evil much?!

 

 

Needless to say, he’s made other attempts at being a better role model. He took in his grandson and raised his pet grizzly bear and trained it to fight like him. (I’m dead serious, his name’s Kuma.) Which he failed, because well…he’s evil. Badass, but evil.

That and everyone in the tournament hates him. Including a teenage school girl Ling, whom he promised to build an amusement park for her. Only to build in his image and likeness. What..A…d*ck!! (See video below)

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FFXV – Quite the surprise! Moogle Chocobo Carnival

Booted up the PS4 this afternoon with Grace and Louie, to play a little FFXV and got the newest update downloaded.  To my surprise, SquareEnix put out a nice little present in this update!  “The Moogle Chocobo Festival!”

Unlocked once you reach Altissia, the festival transforms the already amazing city into a full-on carnival…which brought a smile to my face and got Grace all excited to see all of the Chocobos.  Which is kinda cool when your 4-year old daughter says, “Look at all the Chocobos, SOO CUTE, AWWW!”  FYI, she likes “playing” FFXV, even though I help her out. (Usually, she’s just moving the player around, riding on chocobos and sitting through the car rides.  Any battles she gets into, the AI usually handles, but hey she doesn’t know that.)

As for the carnival, it’s a nice little distraction and gives you an excuse to run around ever inch of Altissia.  There are plenty of minigames like Whack-a-Cactuar and turret minigame to keep you distracted.  They have a slight challenge but you should be able to complete the side quest in an hour or two.

 

Honestly, the fun part is just seeing how the city has transformed from the base game.  It kind of reminds me of Chrono Trigger’s Millennial Fair.  Which was simple, short and sweet.  It’s worth checking out if you’re still trailblazing through FFXV’s world.  As for the special item (the Dream Egg) you get at the end of the side-quest, I’ve got no clue what it does.  It’s probably a fair assumption to think it may be usable, in later DLC.

You see, this is what DLC should be, bite size morsels given to the players as “thanks for playing!”.  NOT an, “Oh yeah, you gotta get the new DLC pack!!  Only $24.99 and you’ll get 10 hours of re-hashed gameplay!”

Have fun ladies and gents!

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Final Fantasy XV – ARE WE THERE YET?! NO!!!!

During the holidays, I lucked out and got a copy of Final Fantasy XV. (for $40 mind you) Which is the eighty millionth entry in the series, but only the fifteenth to be named with a shiny new roman numeral. Mind you, this title was initially named, “Final Fantasy Versus XIII”. Even better, the theme of the game is inspired by a great American past time; road tripping!! What the fuck SquareEnix, stop smoking the blue crystal, cuz it sure as hell ain’t magical!!!

 

Anyhoo, XV is a journey involving a young prince (Noctus, AKA Super EMO prince) and his three “bros”. Ingnis, the smartypants and iron chef wannabe. Gladio, the soft-hearted macho man and Auron’s bastard son (not really) and Prompto the social butterfly/wimpy kid.

 

Just remember, guns don’t kill people, Prompto’s bad selfies do.

 

As a team, the “four friends” work well together, combat is super simple to play and chain attacks. Each of them, complement with Noctus’ movements and comment during the battle, to keep things fresh. This is great, that is until you realize, you can HOLD either the attack or defend button and never have a problem…which serves no challenge to season vets of RPGs and Final Fantasy. However, enemies are either serious over-powered or one hit wonders. Thankfully, the visuals and solid boss fights make up for mediocre gameplay.

 

 

Magic kind of gets skimped on and the whole system of using status, time and white magic is condensed into added effects. Using fire, ice and thunder you mix and add potentcy to the elements by mixing in items and other elements. Sadly, the system seems very basic and looks like it could’ve much more exciting. On the up sides, summons do return, even though there are only a few, they are MARVELOUS to watch!!

Story-wise, I’m not impressed with it thus far. Which is mainly due to the massive amount of fetch quests and hunts you have to do in order to level up. It reminds me a bit of Fallout 4 and MGSV, how the quests, looting and exploration were so distracting that you really stopped caring about the main objective. Don’t get me wrong, this is WORLDS better than Final Fantasy XIII’s linear gameplay. At this point things are picking up, but it hasn’t reeled me in like Noctis’ fishing skills. (Yep, there’s fishing AND IT’S FUN!)

In terms of exploration, the world in FFXV is BEAUTIFUL!! Monsters are immersed into the world and naturally behave in it until the party gets into a battle with them. Exploring takes to different paths, first is using the Regalis (or the Noctus-mobile) which you can drive to ANY destination when you have access to the area. Initially, seems pretty sweet cruising and enjoying the view; that is until remember that sitting in a car is BORING AS FUCK. Let alone, a virtual car ride. Thankfully, once you’ve reached each area, you can fast travel!!! Then there is using chocobos (FF horses) or good ol’ hoofing it. I recommend you use chocobos more often, as they do give you a chance to truly enjoy the design of the world. (Something I learned to appreciate during my playthrough of The Witcher 3. Horses add depth…NO BULLSHIT!)

 

 

Towns are replaced with rest stops that pretty much just serve as outposts to recouperate, do side quests and hunt missions. Honestly, this may seem disappointing at first. That is, until you get to the bigger cities, which add a little spice to the world you’re in. Personal advice, do the side quests if you need curatives and the hunts for money and EXP otherwise, they are a worthless grind with no story or anything else. (Save a few exceptions)

In a nutshell, my experiences thus far, with well over 40+ hours in; if you are patient enough to sit throught the lengthy car rides. Then Final Fantasy XV is worth your time. Overall, it’s an improvement over the previous titles in terms of things to do and see.

INSERT MASSIVE IN-GAME AD!!!!!!!!!

CUP-O-NOOOOODLEE!!!!  (Which are actually REALLY gross!!!)

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-RACCOON DADDY

 

 

It happened!!  

Most of you may not remember my post of how I expressed my absolute disgust for Wendy’s Frosty and french fries.  My wife, Louie loves them…and now the worse has happened.

I GIVE UP!!


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Happy Halloween!!!

(BTW, not my pic, but an AWESOME share none the less!)

Out with Grace and Louie for some trick or treating!  (Grace is Pikachu and she’s loving every moment just to be in costume!)  She’s a huge fan of the cartoon.  (The first two seasons only, “because Brock and Misty are in it!”  Her words, not mine.)

Tonight will be our usual stomping grounds in the local historic district.  Last night, we didn’t see many houses decorated, so we’re hoping for a nice lil’ bundle of goodies for us to share together.

On another note, Grace, whose 4-years old knows what a zombie is…it’s as household as the Pillsbury dough-boy now.  Ugh…

Anyways!  Have a safe and Happy Halloween!!

Here’s a nice lil throwback treat from me!

When should sequels end?

Tonight I was browsing through a Mortal Kombat Wikia, just because I was kind of bored and did some reading.  Throughout this, I thought about how many of the characters either die, come back and kill each other. (It is MORTAL Kombat, after all!) Which continues throughout the ten games, bolstering an EXTENSIVE storyline.

Fans of the series know, that of all the fighting games; Mortal Kombat has the biggest and best storyline. HOWEVER, what doesn’t bother me about Mortal Kombat is, that each story revolves around a power struggle between good and evil. That’s obvious, what does, is that there has to be so many sequels to it!

My problem isn’t directly with the writers of the MK series, it’s with sequels period. Back when I was a kid in the 80s and 90s sequels were considered low-browed and lesser successors to their previous title. Just look at this vid here and you’ll see why.

Bad movie sequels – Great site of all those movies that were so BAD THAT THEY STAYED THAT WAY!!

Now there were exceptions, such as Star Wars, Jurassic Park and the such. Pretty much if it was a HUGE hit right away, you COULD make a solid sequel. But in most cases, it went B-movie and was a VHS tape collecting dust on your shelf. (Ghostbusters, Revenge of the Nerds and Evil Dead were RARE exceptions.)

In regards to games, sequels are almost a guarantee, when you talk about Super Mario or just anything Nintendo puts out for its major title releases…they go GOLD. Third party companies like the now defunct Konami, 2K, Squar-Enix, Capcom and WB Games feel they MUST put out sequels to maintain a fan base.

While partially true, it doesn’t have to be the case. Not everything needs a reboot, sequel, prequel, spin-off, Super-Turbo edition every two years. Gamers like myself, are tired of this!! One, our wallets can’t take the stress of slamming 60+ dollars for that new title, just to end up with a poorly written sequel to an okay title. (Sometimes more than once!)

Obviously, like films, there are exceptions. (Borderlands 2, Resident Evil 2, Shadow Hearts, Uncharted are a few to mention.) Yet companies ruin those exceptional exceptions and they too fall victims to monotonous. Then, in the words of BB King, “the thrill is gone!” We’re left with a sour taste in our mouths and a hole in our wallet.

I’d hate to say this, but game developers are taking less time to create something new and wonderful by welcoming more talented writers and less of the same ol’ thing. (I’m talking to you Gears of War 4!!!)

I started off talking about Mortal Kombat X. Don’t get me wrong Mortal Kombat has always been one of those exceptions. Why?! Because they maintain that creative element in most of their titles. From its deeper storyline established with the previous generation’s titles to the authentic motion capturing of actual martial artists. Sure, if you look at Mortal Kombat 9 and X, they share a ton of similarities but X takes everything they did and makes it better!

Here is a video, if have the time that shows you!

 

For Mortal Kombat, I kind of feel this is their last hoorah. Sure there is ways to take the story further, what with the newer generation of characters and how MK can easily kill off characters by writing them out. But how many times can we perform fatalities and not say…I’m tired of this. This also holds true for the Arkham, Street Fighter, Call of Duty franchises and anything zombie related. (Let’s admit, TWD has numbed us by now, rotters need a break after the TV series ends!) We can only kill the undead and gun down the competition for so long. Yet I digress,

Maybe this coming out of me because, I’ve played enough zombie games to the point that I need a break…for a while.

That’s what I need!!  MUCH BETTER!!

 

So my ultimate question is, when should sequels end for a story?! Can a story be never-ending like so sci-fi series and comic books; by getting new writers and better ideas?! Should we keep things simple leave a story to be appreciated like a fine wine or revive it with a reboot for newer generations?

Shiny New Objects

I know a way behind the trend in regards to the Microsoft Scorpio, Ninendo’s Switch and Sony’s well…whatever the hell Sony is putting out.

We all know they’re coming…no not the Martians. Newer, shinier consoles; which translates to me as more money out of my wallet. Which is a NO-GO for another 5-6 more years. I’m sorry BIG 3, you’re not getting any more console cash out of me for a while. For the exception of the replacement thin ps3.

A few reasons I tend to stay clear of the big console releases, WHEN they release…

1) NEVER buy DAY ONE!!! Hell! Never buy until day 180! The long lines, back ordered consoles, stolen or over- priced E-bay bids, etc.

 

2) Bugs and bad systems; good fucking luck getting tech support during the launch month, let alone a replacement console.

*shudders* Bad memories *shudders*

3) Not enough titles, with only 1 or 2 non-shit titles.  (maybe more these days)               Don’t expect them to be a new Mario AND a Zelda game!!  Last time that happened was…dare I say Super Nintendo?!

OH YEAH!!  Street Fighter:  The Movie!  I’m talking to you!  At least me and my bro gave you some love…for a week!  Without you we wouldn’t  of had the excellent Street Fighter Alpha!

 

 

4) Not a large Online community established, if there is, let’s hope there’s going to be a solid server running it!!

 

5) Save that money, no seriously save it!!! That shiney object will be so much more rewarding in say 1-2 years after launch. For me it’s much longer, I’ve got SUCH A HUGE BACKLOG, it isn’t funny!!! Seriously!

 

He’s a big spender…that one!!!!

6) I can afford to get the 2nd controller and accessories much cheaper later down the road.

7) This shit isn’t going anywhere!!!! Unless the Apocalypse happens…(knocks on wood) your country will still be there. And if it isn’t, if your still alive and kicking, some day you may get a chance to play it. (That’s what gasoline generators are for!! I think.)

8) On that thought, GAMES will be cheaper! New ones won’t be, but you’re damn sure all the ones that have been out for a year will. Let’s face it video games are gold, they don’t hold value, but they damn sure are worth it in the experience of play!!!

True Love…awwwww!

9) All the cool swag that many of the new systems are asking to accompany with them. (i.e., VR headsets, HDR TVs and possible motion detection equipment.) A lot of this stuff may run it’s course, much like Kinect and Move have.  Some will stay and by the time I hit the newer console scene, I’ll know WHAT I NEED AND DON’T. And right now a
$1,500 HDR TV AIN’T in the budget!!