maanantai 27. kesäkuuta 2016

The Legend of Mania: Article of Awesomeness

Fresh off the EPIC season finale of one God damn masterpiece of a TV show known to us sons of the North as Game of Thrones, I really felt like writing something. It's the excessive blood pressure that does that to a man. First, I thought about writing something on Game of Thrones, but it has come to my attention that many of my friends - and readers - haven't even gotten started with the new season at all. (Get a move on, Jon Slow!) Then, I thought about doing a quick review on Telltale Games' original story based on the lore, but it's been a while since I saw it through and I've yet to have found the energy to go at it again. Let's just say the six-episode series in the traditional (and worn) Telltale Games style had its moments, but it was far from being everything I expected from a Game of Thrones game adaptation. Continuing on with the Mario vs. Donkey Kong marathon is certainly a possibility, but I'm not quite ready to do that just yet. But, I will tell you this much: the marathon will continue much further than what I originally planned. There are a lot of games related to this classic rivalry that I suddenly feel the urge to review. But, it will not be a completely straight line of Mario and Donkey Kong reviews - I will certainly need a break at some point. But, I'm almost certain that I will be doing reviews of Nintendo games quite some time; I have a lot of catching up to do.

Which brings us back to business; after going over ideas on what I should write about for about ten minutes, it came to me clear as day. I totally missed E3 this year, focusing on getting accustomed to my new work habitat, getting to know a lot of new people and my plans for the last three weeks of my summer vacation. I certainly didn't forget the expo, though. As soon as I had some spare time, I dug up every trailer and every bit of info on every remotely interesting game presented at E3. Now if you have followed me since the beginning, or at least -ish, you know there was a relative shitload of games from my favourite franchises on show, including what I predict to be the game of the decade by its ten-minute trailer alone: God of War. However, I've written a lot about God of War and that series alone in the past, so I can't base another whole article on it with a good conscience. Let's take a deeper look at the best of what E3 had to offer. (Let me just say that I've pre-ordered all of the main games of this article already, although not every one of them has a confirmed release date... or even year.)

Say what you will about abandoning the
old. As a newborn near-fan, I'm excited.
What I find kind of funny is that some of these games, I first talked about them years ago on this blog, long before I took it offline, and even now they're not even close to fruition. First of these games is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Back then, it was simply known as The Legend of Zelda. Back then, I also said that it's surely an interesting game, but not for me personally, 'cause I'm not a Zelda fan, not a Nintendo supporter and I don't own a Wii U. All of those things have changed. While I still don't exactly consider myself a Zelda fan - I've been overtly critical towards the series since the release of Ocarina of Time all the way back in 1998 - I now own a legal copy of every game in the main series, with the exception of Spirit Tracks, and I've enjoyed many of them. Most notably A Link Between Worlds, of course because of its strong connection to my favourite Zelda game of all time, and Phantom Hourglass, to my complete and utter surprise since it's wholly based on the use of the DS touch screen, which I'm still not a huge fan of. I'm currently on the brink of completing The Wind Waker (the HD version), a great game as well - I'm moving on to Twilight Princess right after, and from what I've heard, that game has the potential of becoming my favourite Zelda right after A Link to the Past. So has this upcoming game, judging by what I've seen. Hell, what we've all seen. You've got to watch the trailer if you ever had so much as any respect for this series...

...But, the trailer's not that good in itself. I'm not a huge fan of these gameplay trailers that the rest of the world seems to love nowadays, 'cause they very often tend to paint a wrong sort of picture about the game. I'm more into the feels of a wholly cinematic trailer. Either way, the trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did manage to show off a good deal of all the new sorts of elements that will surely be a large part of the game experience, and not bore me out of my socks like these gameplay trailers usually do. It would seem that this game has a more or less full voiceover track, which will surely divide opinions amongst those who prefer voice acting and those who prefer the random cries of "yay", "com'on!" and "splyysh" of the past. As to what the world looks like - I think I'd better dig up Skyrim from the dust for a warm-up. This is clearly going to be, by all means, the biggest game Nintendo has ever made, and the closest to an RPG they've ever made themselves - not to mention the closest to an RPG Zelda's ever been. At least I think that's a fabulous thing.

It's like meeting an old girlfriend at a bar. You're a bit confused,
but damn, you wanna hit that.
Speaking of gameplay trailers, it's already a good time to talk about God of War. Excuse me... GOOOOOOD OF WAAAAAAAAAARRRR!!! "I haven't forgotten you... or what you did that night." Throughout its span, Kratos' quest for vengeance (for things he brought upon himself, that beloved asshole) was (and still is) some of the best journeys I've ever taken, one which I will certainly embark on yet again in the future, in its non-flawless entirety. Most likely once the release date for this whole new chapter in the strange timeline of the Ghost of Sparta is nailed down. At first, when I heard that a game called God of War was up for release on the PlayStation 4, I naturally thought that they were going to re-release the series once again (which I'm sure they will, sooner than we think) under one title. Then, I heard it's going to be a new game. I didn't even consider the possibility of a new prequel, since Ascension didn't make much sense as what it was. Then I saw just a small weeny bit of the trailer and thought the guy who looks like Kratos is not Kratos at all, but some reborn namesake version of him, a physical piece of fan service. Then I paid attention to THAT scar and some very small details in the background that ensured me that this guy is the very same Kratos. Only now, he's in Norway, battling it out with the Gods of the North. ...How awesome can awesome get, exactly? Or strange?

Well, as we long-time God of War fans know - I love you, brothers - this was one of creator David Jaffe's original ideas, alongside the Kratos vs. brother schtick they used up in Ghost of Sparta, not to have the series stuck in one mythological setting. Kratos, the character, was probably not a part of that idea, but the current creative directors saw that Kratos belongs in God of War as much as Mario belongs in Mario Bros.. Which I totally agree on. I'm not sure how they'll twist this up, seeing that Kratos committed suicide in the end of God of War III, but judging by the gameplay trailer and the simple fact that God of War is coming back, as well as regarding my personal infatuation with Norse myth, I'm very interested in seeing how this turns out. Once again though, I would've preferred a cinematic trailer. This one shows off a little too much, and it goes on for too long. Never thought I'd say that about a sneak peek on a whole new God of War game.

On to another favourite of mine, which still remains an almost complete enigma, after being "shown off" at several expos throughout the last couple of years, and another game I already was going apeshit about a few years back. The developer's most recent title proved that they're still very much in the game, and I actually regret not having reviewed that particular title right before originally pulling the plug on VGMania (I still have the draft, but I'd have to make so many changes that I'd have to start it all over again in any case). The developer I'm speaking of is BioWare, that most recent title being Dragon Age: Inquisition, and the future game none other than Mass Effect: Andromeda. Judging by the very little we've actually seen, Mass Effect: Andromeda is a very logical sequel to Mass Effect 3, although the main emphasis is on rebooting the franchise, and bringing back all that stuff fans of classic Mass Effect love. Well, if the example of Dragon Age: Inquisition is anything to go by, here, I think we'll have exactly what BioWare promises. Alas, very little is still known of this upcoming sci-fi epic, besides some random details on Shepard's replacement Ryder, and the facts we've known since and even before the release of Inquisition. The trailer once again wasn't much of a trailer.

Who in the world is the Coon? Perhaps we'll find out in
Last for the main course, we have the sequel to perhaps the most surprising hit of 2014: South Park: The Fractured But Whole (see what they did there?). Now when they first announced this game, it seemed it would take an eternity for this game to reach gold, but it was later I realized, and especially after hearing the dialogue in the actual trailer, that Parker and Stone were waiting for the opportune moment for a new South Park game to strike at what it was supposed to strike at, just like episodes of the show (and The Stick of Truth) before it. The new game is another RPG, loaded with timely satire (mostly on the Marvel and DC cinematic universes) and a casual, yet exciting and positively hilarious role-playing interface. At least that's what I'm expecting, and I'm counting on it so much that I actually pre-ordered the Collector's Edition of the game. It's the only game in the bunch that's confirmed to come out later this year.

Before I start packing for my 14th trip to the Tuska metal festival in Helsinki, plus getting together with tons of friends to have fun with besides the festival, there are a few more games I simply have to mention. First off, Skyrim is coming back as a new-generation edition with all of Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn in tow. Not much of a surprise there, but a word from the wise! I avoided Skyrim for years, until it was reasonably priced. If you're still in the dark about this game's greatness, do not hesitate to buy the new version right when it comes out. Even if you're not a big fan of RPG's, even if you're not an Elder Scrolls fan, I implore you to get this game. You'll not be disappointed. Batman is coming back not only by means of the Arkham collection, but the previously teased Telltale Games title. Now I know what I said about the Telltale Games style being a bit worn out after all these years, but... it's Batman. Troy Baker-voiced Batman. They're using the Animated Series font, for Alfred's sake. Speaking of Telltale Games, The Walking Dead: Season Three is also coming up. I guess I'll have to get that for completion's sake, but if Michonne is anything to go by, I'm not expecting great results. Square Enix failed to deliver a new presentation of the upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake (can you say "FINALLY"?), but delivered info on the Final Fantasy XII remaster, the new Star Ocean game, and an intriguing throwback title called World of Final Fantasy, up for release on the PlayStation 4 and Vita in October.

Kojima Productions make their return as an independent developer, following up on the success of the Konami-produced Silent Hills P.T. demo with a game called Death Stranding, also starring Norman Reedus on a quest for... something very strange. We'll have to see how this turns out. Meanwhile, check out the teaser and make your own conclusions on what kind of game it'll be, I don't really care what kind of game it'll be. I don't care whether it'll take years for it to manifest, whether it'll turn out a PlayStation 6 or 7 exclusive. I just hope Kojima is able to fuck Konami violently up the ass. That company has totally lost its edge.

Speaking of (I love "speaking of") losing edge: Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. One of my lifelong favourites in the field of video games, Resident Evil turns 20 years old. There have been a lot of bad spin-offs, and four years ago, Resident Evil 6 contaminated the main series as well. For the first time ever, I was not crazy about a new main series title in the Resident Evil series - hell, I watched the trailer for the first time yesterday. Resident Evil VII seems to pick up where the aforementioned P.T. left off; it's just perfect, Resident Evil bluntly taking what its once-rival almost started. But, I'm still a bit torn about Resident Evil becoming a first-person ghostbusting game. I'll just have to see how it works. Since I'm more adjusted to first-person games these days, I'm not taking anything for granted, and because of my love for (games 1, 2, 4 and 5 of) this franchise, I'm willing to give Resident Evil VII the benefit of the doubt - as long as critics like it. But, I'm not placing my pre-order just yet.

Well, that's about it. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you once I'm ready to take on New Super Mario Bros. U.

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