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Frayed Wire X Podcast Episode 11: All Corners of the Earth

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Josh60502, JustMattPwn3r, and LostAddict1993 meet up again to record a new episode of Frayed Wire X. Do they have an idea of what they are going to talk about? No. Does that matter? Def no.

Listen in for discussions about the lack of new posts on the site, the general suckiness of Sonic the Hedgehog, upcoming gaming consoles, and the public’s inability to accept change in games like Metroid: Other M and Final Fantasy XIII.

Due to some issues retrieving the snazzy intro I introduced last episode, this one starts off right away. U mad about that?

Stream it in your browser or subscribe to us on iTunes!

By Josh60502

Disconnected

October 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Everything is in place. The bases are built. The units are trained. Your opponent is in sight. You know you can take them down. It’s time to enact the plan you’ve had sitting in your head for twenty minutes now. The button is pushed; hell is about to break loose. And all of a sudden – nothing. The supplies that were coming in at an alarming rate a second ago are now halted. The units traveling across the war-torn land are frozen in place. Not again, you think. Your wish is not granted. You are disconnected.

Lagging out of a game is no new issue, but it’s surprisingly still an issue. The reliability of consoles are a large part of why I haven’t ever been much of a fan of the ever-finicky field of PC gaming, but some of the PC’s problems still occasionally find their way over to the consoles. Just when I thought I was safe from awful connections and sub-par online servers, I get disconnected from a game on my Xbox 360.

And what a game I get disconnected from. Anyone who has played Halo Wars or any real-time strategy game like it knows how that genre works. You are tasked with building an army to take down your opponents. At the onset of the game, you are given a small number of supplies, which acts as currency to build and upgrade units for your military. The first part of any match in Halo Wars involves building up your forces. Once everything is sufficient, you lead your army into battle.

A game of Halo Wars is a serious time investment. When you play against an evenly matched opponent (or group of opponents), it’s not unrealistic to expect a single match to last over an hour. But what a satisfying hour it can be – by trading blows with your enemy, you learn what strategies they are using and you alter your own approach to counter theirs. You look at the ways you can spend your supplies, make what seems to be the best purchase,s and smile as your units become more and more powerful right before your eyes. Finally the armies meet in a glorious display of explosions, lasers, and utter destruction.

But what happens when you spend half of your match building up for the big fight, but the big fight never comes? What do you do when you anticipate the payoff of the better part of your hour, but that satisfaction never comes? When all the movement onscreen freezes and you freeze in fear along with it, do you feel like you’ve been using your precious free time wisely?

It’s a true shame that a game as fun as Halo Wars can be absolutely ruined by something like bad servers disconnecting players. After all the time and money they spent making the game, the folks over at Ensemble Studios are left with a broken product simply because they couldn’t build a more reliable way to play online. Of course there’s always the line of thought, “Maybe it’s me that’s the problem! Maybe I’m the one with the bad connection!” And then you think back to the other games you were playing online for hours the other day, and you realize that’s not the case at all.

Curiously, I still want to return to Halo Wars after every slap in the face it gives me. I think, “Oh, this time it’ll work. It doesn’t disconnect every time, so maybe now it will run perfectly!” Twenty minutes later, the same thought returns to me. Eighteen minutes later, I’m thinking the same thing yet again. Half an hour later, I shut the game off.

By Josh60502

Categories: Gaming, Halo, Xbox 360 Tags: , ,

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game” Demo Impressions

August 14, 2010 Leave a comment

 

It’s rare that a game with the amount of style and fan service as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game comes along. It’s all the more exciting when that game is good enough to be enjoyed on its own merits, regardless of the player’s knowledge of the source material. Incredible music, graphical style, and homages to the Scott Pilgrim comic aside, this game is a very enjoyable River City Ransom-esque brawler.

Now I’m not normally one to praise games in this genre. I found Streets of Rage to be repetitive and boring, and never really cared too much about Castle Crashers. Maybe it’s the personality and pixelated charm of Scott Pilgrim that drew me in and kept me interested, but after two playthroughs of the surprisingly lengthy demo, I still wanted more. Sure, there aren’t a ton of different attacks, and the enemies you encounter are very similar (identical in many cases), but the action is fun nonetheless. Variation comes in the form of new combos that you acquire as you beat XP out of the random attackers you face in the streets of Toronto, Canada, as well as the unique movesets of the four different playable characters.

As with most beat ’em up games, it’s obvious that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game is meant to be played with others. Four people total can partake in the madness onscreen, although in order for that to happen you’ll have to crowd those four people all around the same TV. Bafflingly, there is no online multiplayer, and in a game like this, that’s a very unfortunate omission.

The graphics mimic the comic book’s art style, but with a detailed pixelated flair. It harkens back to older days of gaming, but the environments and characters are far too detailed and their animations far too smooth to be considered 8-bit or even 16-bit. However many bits they actually are, they are great fun to look at, and they definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the demo.

The music is similarly nostalgic, although it too is too complex to be technically called 16-bit. The chiptune rock band Anamaguchi provided the soundtrack, and I can’t think of a better way they could have handled it. The songs fit the style and mood of the game perfectly.

PSN users can download this game right now, but those who only own Xbox 360’s will have to wait until August 25th before they can get that same opportunity. Being someone in the latter group, I absolutely can’t wait for Scott Pilgrim to make its way over to XBLA. When you can, give the trial a shot and I’m sure you’ll see why.

By Josh60502

“Ikaruga” Xbox 360 Review

Whenever a list of the greatest Dreamcast, Gamecube, or space shooter games is created, there’s always one title that pops up: Ikaruga. Still, it’s a game that has lived in obscurity, and undeservedly so. When it was released a few years back on the Xbox Live Arcade, the veil of mystery surrounding this legendary game lifted just a bit, as many more people were given a chance to experience it. I was one of those people who hopped on to the Ikaruga fan train after playing this XBLA port, and I’m here now to tell you why.

The space shooter genre is now popular mostly among hardcore players who aren’t afraid of a serious challenge. I missed the Super Nintendo/Genesis/Arcade heyday of these games, and have never found them all too appealing. However, I was willing to give Ikaruga a look because of the fact that it was developed by Treasure, who I consider to be my favorite game developer. Sure enough, after playing the trial version of the game the week it came out, I knew I had to buy it.

Believe it or not, this is one of the easier parts

Ikaruga is unique from other space shooters in that there is a polarity system in the gameplay. Basically, your ship’s polarity can switch between black and white at the push of a button. The enemies are all a specific color, as are their bullets. Your ship is immune to bullets of the same color, and if you shoot an enemy of the opposite color, you do double the damage you would if you were shooting them with the same color. There is a lot onscreen to juggle when you play Ikaruga: first, you have to make sure you aren’t running into anybody or any obstacles. Second, you have to keep in mind what color your ship is and know when best to switch. It actually doesn’t take all that long to grasp the polarity concept, allowing new players to have an enjoyable time even when they are getting destroyed by the relentless onslaught.

As is the case with most of Treasure’s games, Ikaruga is not very long. It’s entirely possible to experience the whole thing in one session, although getting all the way to the end without seeing at least one Game Over takes no small amount of practice. Luckily, the game can be tweaked to accommodate players who haven’t yet mastered the art of a full-combo, flawless Ikaruga run. In the options menu you can choose from three difficulty levels, lower the amount of points necessary to gain a new life, and turn on continues (trust me, you’ll want to do that). Additionally, the more you play the game, the more continue credits you unlock. So while none of these things changes the fact that Ikaruga is a brutally difficult game, they keep it from becoming frustrating and unfair.

This is a game that begs to be played more than once. There’s almost always a better way to complete a level due to the combo system, which awards extra points for players who destroy ships of a single color three times in a row. Also, a hidden mode known as “Dot Eater” challenges players to make it through the levels without firing a single bullet, completely changing the way you approach each stage. The game can be played cooperatively as well if you plug in a second controller, where you and your friend will benefit from each other’s shared firepower while drawing from the same supply of continues. If none of your friends are up to the challenge, you can always look for a partner over Xbox Live, although it is very rare that I ever find anybody online to play with.

There is a reason Ikaruga is such a legendary game. Few space shooters are this challenging and yet so accessible, allowing players of all sorts of skill levels to enjoy the masterfully crafted levels. If you still haven’t given this game a look, try the trial version on Xbox Live or hunt it down for the Gamecube or Dreamcast and get ready for a crazy but satisfying ride.

Pros: Accessible yet challenging, well designed levels, unique polarity system, tight controls, great soundtrack, multiplayer

Cons: Short length, nonsensical story, requires more patience than some casual players may be willing to give

Final Score: 9.2 out of 10

By Josh60502

Categories: Gaming, Reviews, Xbox 360 Tags: ,

Podcast Episode 10 – Breaking Your Soul

E3 2010 has come and gone, but Josh60502, JustMattPwn3r, and LostAddict1993 still have much to say about it. We discuss our general lack of interest in Kinect, Sony’s Kevin Butler fan service, and Nintendo’s rekindled love for the hardcore gamer (even if Zelda is looking a little shaky). After running out of topics, we fumble around for ideas and end up talking about Super Mario Galaxy 2, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor, the Final Fantasy series, and the dangers of going through an “eBay phase.” Also, we remind everyone that Death Note is indeed the greatest manga ever created.

Give us a listen and leave some feedback somehow, so that you might not have to wait months for the next podcast again.

Listen to it in your browser, or subscribe on iTunes.

By Josh60502

What to Expect From E3 2010 – Microsoft

June 7, 2010 1 comment

Out of all the big three companies’ showings at E3 this year, I’m most excited to see what Microsoft has in store. Part of this is because I own an Xbox 360 and not a PS3, but the biggest reason is because of how fantastic their press conference was last year. The incredible lineup of games combined with the unveiling of Natal made for a highly enjoyable show, and I’m absolutely stoked for their next one. Granted, it probably won’t be as flashy for a number of reasons. First off, I see no reason why the Beatles would need to show up. Second, I’m expecting it to be big, so the top-notch presentation won’t catch me off guard like it did before. Perhaps most of all, Natal is no longer a surprise. Now, instead of hyping the “controller-free experience”, Microsoft needs to prove that it’s worth everyone’s time.

It’s certainly something different, but is it something that everyone will want to shell out money for? What will be the one killer app that gets everyone enthusiastic about Natal? A casual Wii Sports knock-off won’t do it for me, even though I’m sure we’ll see something like that at the show. Apparently Fable 3 is going to use it somehow; I think it will use it quite a bit to be honest with you, considering how prominent Peter Molyneux (the head of the Fable games) was in that Natal video from last year. Fable 3 is one of the big Xbox 360 games people are looking forward to hearing more about, as are Gears of War 3 and Halo: Reach. I’m sure by the end of the show, some other game(s) will be at the top of everyone’s wish list as well.

Just like last year, I think we’ll see a barrage of cool looking games. Some of them will probably be multi-console, but Microsoft seems to have a way of getting the exclusive coverage on them. Just like we saw Modern Warfare 2 last year at Microsoft’s conference, I predict the first real gameplay footage of Call of Duty: Black Ops will be unveiled here as well. Keeping in line with last year’s Call of Duty coverage, I’m guessing, will be the announcement of exclusive Xbox 360 DLC, at least for a certain period of time.

Some game that no one was expecting will probably show up and wow everyone. Will we see more of Metal Gear Rising? Or maybe Rockstar will pull in with a Grand Theft Auto V debut trailer. If that happens, it will probably come after some lesser cared about (but still anticipated) games such as Rock Band 3. In fact, that game might open up the conference much in the same way The Beatles: Rock Band opened up last year. Hopefully we’ll get to see the new keyboard peripheral teased in the Green Day: Rock Band demo.

I have a feeling that the most talked about moments of the entire E3 show will take place at Microsoft’s press conference. They’ve got a lot they can show, and if last year’s conference is any indication, it will leave us all wowed by the end.

Halo: Reach Opinions

May 8, 2010 1 comment

Ah hey there, this would just so happen to be my first “official” post for the Frayed Wire blog.  My buddy Josh set me up so that I could give you some thoughts on Halo: Reach.

Without further ado:

In my quite honest opinion, Halo: Reach is going to be one hullava game. This is, considering I got my first perfection today!

When I first started the demo after downloading it, I had no idea what to expect.  The opening video made my mouth water.  When searching matchmaker, I found, to my complete dislike, that the servers were down!!  This left me rather upset considering I had specifically gone to do something else while it downloaded fully expecting to be able to play it right then on Monday the  3rd.  So when I noticed that the servers were down for some reason, I quickly raced to Bungie.net to see what the heck is going on.  I wasn’t surprised to see a post from Bungie about their servers being down from the massive horde that is their fan base.  So, I went on, for a few more hours without the Beta, until finally the servers were back online!

I couldn’t wait for my first game on the Beta.  I was playing with an old friend of mine who had told me the servers were back up, and so we went.  The first game was 1-Flag CTF, which is just a fancy way of saying Capture your enemy’s flag without having to worry about one of your own, unless you’re defending.  I figured a +2 on my Kills-deaths was pretty good for a first match.  I had to learn to crawl in the game, but I was soon running by the end, using the “stalker” class and going ninja on all of the Red team baddies.  So, we won which left me on a very good note to go ahead on my own to see how to best survive in this world where the best reign and the flag-whores die.

So far, the few things I dislike the most about Reach have already been addressed for the final release of it for the fall.  So I’m not in a bad mood about it, but I’ll give you what I think about nearly every element in Halo: Reach.

The DMR is a sucky replacement for the BR, but quite honestly, I like it much, much better. I’m so happy to have something close to the Halo: Combat Evolved pistol back!! The Assault rifle also sounds like a popcorn popper, but kicks more ass than its Halo 3 counterpart. I like that now the weapons have legit recoil, or visible recoil while aiming. SWAT is now much harder but twice as fun as spamming BR bursts across the map.

The Covie weapons, such as the Plasma repeater, I think, are much better balanced and tweaked than the Halo 3 ones. In Halo 3 no one wanted Covie weapons, save the plasma pistol for certain situations. The Needler may seem like it takes more needles, but it tracks better and has longer range than the sucky excuse for one in Halo 3. The two things wrong with the Covie weapons are that I WANT MY CARBINE BACK(!!!) and the plasma launcher which is beyond overpowered (however I do enjoy using it ;D).

As for the vehicles, the turrets now overheat and the warthog turret has been nerfed. For some reason, every other explosive weapon has an EMP. How do you put an EMP into a 40mm grenade? Not to mention the vehicles killed by only tactical nukes (Ahem, grenades). When tanks need less damage to be destroyed than the Warthog, you know something is up. When your land options fail, bring back the Banshee(!!), as it now has the fuel rod cannon re-added to it, but a good amount of maneuverability reduced, which isn’t that bad. Just watch out for the airborne enemies, they’ll be sort of like those frozen chickens the Mythbusters shot at a plane a while back (They’ll knock you right out of the sky).

The classes/abilities are fairly well done, except for the armor lock, which definitely needs some tweaking because it seems as though they have an overshield right after the lock wears off. Not to mention I disliked the map Sword Base until I got the hang of the jetpack, because it’s built around a single class which is a VERY bad thing. Now Bungie should start making, or tweak maps so that they’re not so one-sided to a single class/ability. My final concern with the classes is the ability to roll/sprint and immediately melee someone, similar to MW2 (which I dislike greatly) with people running around knifing everyone.

As for Invasion, the only thing that allows you to win as Elites is nothing but a good team and dumb luck.  If the defending team has any kind of wits about them, you’ll hardly get the core out of their base in enough time.  Most of the time they’ll all be launching grenades at you via the class that has that such weapon.  Invasion is currently the only map that has vehicles in the Beta for Halo: Reach.

Overall I just cannot wait until it comes out. Until then I’ll be sitting on my grab bag tea-bagging noobs.

Nuwbz (G.T. iSh0cKu)~ Over and out.

Categories: Gaming, Halo, Reviews, Xbox 360