Why Is It Good? Jet Set Radio

Why Is It Good? Jet Set Radio

Jet Set Radio: the game that everybody knows by name, but nobody has actually played, just…what the hell is this game? Some kind of street gang themed Tony Hawk rip-off? The game that inspired Lucio’s design in Overwatch?  Air Gear before Air Gear? Kinda, yes and yes, but i’ll tell you what this game is alright: a forgotten gem.

It IS a game about doing tricks (and graffiti), but it’s on rollerskates rather than on a skateboard, it DID inspire Lucio’s design and even the gameplay to some extent, it’s clearly what inspired Air Gear’s creation, and it’s one of the reasons why cel-shading is still such a widely used technique in today’s videogames…But let’s take a step back, shall we?

 

 

A Game That Rocked The World

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One of the classic ads for Jet Grind-Wait, what? You’re telling me this is what the NA version was called?

A step back to the year 2000: the peak of Hip Hop culture, the beginning of the 21st century, and the third year of life of a little console called “Sega Dreamcast”, which aspired to rival the dominating Playstation in terms of sheer power.

Jet Set Radio debuted on that little console, and with an upbeat and cartoony presentation, a weirdly eclectic soundtrack which, even though was largely influenced by that same hip hop culture, also included a few acid jazz, j-rock and even metal tracks (like the unforgettable “Dragula” by Rob Zombie, who catched most players by surprise when it first appeared), and a “pick up and play”, high skill ceiling gameplay involving zipping around the streets of Tokyo-To (Totally NOT Tokyo, you guys) with magnetic inline skates, looking for spots to tag with your trustworthy spray can, in order to reclaim your turf from rival gangs and add some colors to the greyish concrete of the city.

A formula actually never seen before, in game form at least, that made both the critics and most Dreamcast possessors (even though they were not many people in the first place) utterly fall in love with this youthful, vibrant game, receiving 9/10, 92s and all kinds of acclaims, granting it even a sequel (exclusive to Xbox): Jet Set Radio: Future, which took the original formula, modernized the music to 2006’s standards (going from Hip Hop to Techno) and added a cyberpunkish tone to the plot and art style, but this is a Whole different story.

So, now that we actually have an idea of what kind of beast this game is, it’s time to analyze what made it the masterpiece that is known to be today!

 

 

 

Would you stop playing with that radio? The First 30 Minutes & Plot Overview

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Jet Set Radio’s lovely narrator, DJ Professor K.

 

Ok, as you might expect the plot isn’t a shakespearian tale: in the 21st century a brand of magnetic rollerskates is really big with the young, and gangs of teens recklessly skating around, called “Rudies” have formed all over the world.

Tokyo-To’s goverment, heavily financed by a corporation called Rokkaku Group, isn’t very fond of those Rudies, who have been causing trouble and disorder all across the city’s districts, and has issued the police to take care of them with extreme prejudice.

Leading the Anti-Rudi branch of the law enforcement is Captain Onishima, a midget Dirty Harry wannabe with an absurd hairstyle and the shortest temper a police officer has ever had, getting to the point of asking permission from the army to dispatch armed choppers and tank units, all to “take care” of some kids in rollerskates.

Starring this story are the GGs, a small gang of Rudies who go by Tab, the “chill guy” who manages to skate with a hat that covers his eyes, Gum, a somewhat cocky girl who’s all about technique, and Beat, the headphone-wearing poster boy with the best pair of goggles in gaming history, and their goal is to reclaim their turf, that has been attacked by a misterious gang, and just have a grand old time…but there’s more about this situation than it meets the eye.

Now, the first 30 minutes of this game go by pretty fast, with an introductory explanation much like mine, narrated by a much smoother sounding DJ, the first tutorials to make the player familiar with the controls and the first real mission, where Captain Onishima and his oversized Magnum .44 revolver make their first appearance. After that you’re left in your “hub menu”, a garage from where you can change and customize your graffiti, check your records (and leaderboards in the HD version), change the various settings, and choose missions from the Tokyo-To street map, which is divided in three districts: the city of the night, Benten Cho, the industrial Kogane Cho, and your turf, the lively Shibuya-Cho.

 

 

 

The Joy of Painting (and skating): Gamplay and Mechanics

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So you have your timer on the top right, lifebar on the top left, and Can counter on the bottom left, keep an eye for that when you’re painting over Large graffiti: those can take 7/8 cans to be completed, with a QTE specific for each character, its complexity determined by the Graffiti stat.

 

Now, the gameplay itself is somewhat a simplified version of titles like Tony Hawk Pro Skater, that we know: tricks are executed automatically on jump once a certain speed is reached, and are character based, meaning that the characters with a higher Technique stat will execute tricks both more complex and rewarding, score wise, even though because of the other two stats, Graffiti and Power, that couldn’t be always the best choice.

Long story short, you have three values to take into consideration when choosing a character: Graffiti, the higher the stat the more points you’ll receive by spray paiting, but the less cans you will be able to carry, Power, the lenght of your lifebar, for which you also receive points at the end of a mission, based on how much life you lost, and Technique, which i explained above.

Outside of the stats, everything else is purely skill based: your main tools are wallskating and grinding, which can be done on every Surface slightly resembling a strip of any material, from an electric cable to a straight up train rail, and grinding itself helps you build speed along with a dedicated “sprint button”…and that’s about it, mechanically speaking: a simplistic control scheme which depth comes from knowing where you can do what, and where you’re gonna land after it.

Applied into gameplay, the ability to read the enviroment is used to get from point A to point Z while spraypainting through the rest of the alphabet as fast as possible: the levels in fact are timed, and your rank at the end of each one is also determined by how fast you complete it. Of course memorizing the most optimal routes for each level, the angles at which you get most speed off of rails and so on takes a bit of practice, but the results are as stylish looking as a perfectly executed fight from a spectacle fighter.

 

 

 

Let’s Look at the Funk: Sound and Visuals

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Looks better than Mighty No.9, if you ask me.

What really set Jet Set Radio apart from its contemporary titles, though, was the unique graphic style: this game, in fact, kickstarted the use of cel-shading as a common practice for japanese titles, with games like Suda51’s Killer 7, No More Heroes and Killer Is Dead, Kojima’s Zone of the Enders 2 and the more recent Arksys’ Guilty Gear Xrd and Hard Corps: Uprising using this technique to both give the models a smoother look with relatively low effort and to emulate 2D animation with the added “visual depth” of tridimensional models.

A part of the game’s visual charm, though, must be attributed to the various actual graffiti artists who designed the in-game graffiti: people like Eric Haze (who also did album covers for the Beastie Boys and Eric Haze), K-Chap, Chikpon, Enas and Higuchin, who, in a situation similar to WipEout with The Designers Republic, managed to make the in-game art actually cool by…well…designing it like actual art.

About the OST, it’s generally a bit hit and miss: it shoots REALLY wide, showing off Hideki Naganuma talent in covering a lot of genres, and it’s backed up by a quite a lot of other artists, with the NA version getting in even Rob Zombie and Cold…so yeah, there’s gonna be at least three songs you love, but also three songs you’ll probably won’t like. What I can say for sure that it’s just the weirdest collection of tracks to actually represent the zeitgeist of its time I have ever listened, and even if at first I was a bit reluctant, even the “bad” tracks eventually grew on me

 

 

The Point

In a nutshell, Jet Set Radio is both the kind of game to play when wanting to mellow down after a particularly intense session, without paying much attention to the score, just to focus on looking stylish and listening some funky beats, or a Speedrunner’s/Score Attacker’s dream AND nightmare, with levels seemingly designed to drive people insane (and again, the NA version is particularly good at that, with two new stages added to appeal more to western audience, one of them still making speedrunners tear their hair off to this day).

Also, as if it wasn’t obvious enough, there is already an indie studio taking inspiration from both this game and the acclaimed parkour simulator, Mirror’s Edge, to make their own hybrid hypebeast of a game: look up Hover: Revolt of Gamers for more details, it’s on Steam Early Access.

 

I hope you found this “review” entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is The 3rd Runner, off to settle a score with Grind Square.

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Can You Smell What The Devs Are Cooking? GRIP

Can You Smell What The Devs Are Cooking? GRIP

Since the first few months of 2014, a massive nostalgia wave seemingly shook Kickstarter and the gaming industry alike, and we’re not talking about some weak, two meters wave, but a full scale tsunami of hopes, dreams and returning gameplay formulas that were believed to be lost in time: a hype storm that promised to deliver a new hayday to many amazing sub-genres that have been silent for too long.

One of those subgenres happens to be arcade racing, which scene has been bombarded with titles, being them classy Anti-Grav racers like Formula Fusion and Red:Out or powersliding-based games like Drift Stage or Power Drive 2000, soaked in neon lights and synth beats…this roll call left only one type of game behind, and that’s what we’re talking about today: a spiritual successor to the PSX’s Rollcage, GRIP takes it to the streets with the speed of a bullet train and the grace of a steel-plated rhino.

 

 

The Flipside of Future Racing

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More Furious than Fast, if you ask me.

Welcome to GRIP, the future you can watch via pirate TV for just 9.99 a month.

Basically, this game explains what happens while the shiny anti-gravity crafts of the official racing leagues smoothly zoom through exotic racetracks on earth: a bloodsport originated from traditional street racing -you know, the one without military grade weapons mounted on the cars-, but that devolved into all out battling once it got more and more famous throughout the solar system, because as we all know fame means money, and there’s never enough money, so why not murdering your opponent with a Scorpion Missile to get your hands on his paycheck too? He won’t be needing that anymore, right?

Well, i hope you took that into consideration, because that same opponent is now charging a railgun at you. Good luck.

 

 

Unstoppable Force

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Just like a Turbo Spin!

There’s a high chance that the first thing you noticed while looking at the thumbnail, were the strangely big wheels on that armored behemoth hardly resembling a car anymore, well guess what: they’re the game’s main gimmick!

The vehicles currently come in two classes: the all-rounder Dominator and the sturdy, combat focused Dreadnaught, and the friction caused by their insane speed makes them stick to the ground so much that they manage to challenge gravity, wallriding to extreme extents, making even ceilings possible surfaces to take advantage of.

But wait, did i say ceilings? So what happens when the tunnel’s over and the craft hits the ground upside down, you must be asking. Well, there’s when the wheels’ size comes into play: being them actually larger than the frame, they make the vehicle un-overturnable, and effectively unstoppable unless it’s hit by a weapon (even then, when that happens the craft is just sent flying without any great momentum loss, but still taking damage from the hit). And this is what this game is all about: exploiting momentum and physics to shave off your times, while trying to land and dodge as much fire as possible.

Now, as far as the weapons go, in this current build (updated the 7th of july) we have the Scorpion Missile, a simple guided missile with medium damage output, the Aegis Backshield, which is…well…a shield that protects your backside, the Gattler machine gun, which is self explanatory, an EMP emitter that sabotages all the vehicles in its area of effect and the equivalent of the much feared Blue Shell from Mario Kart, the Assassin Missile. More weapons are in the making of course, including the aforementioned Railgun, for a total of thirteen weapons, chosen randomly by passing over a weapon pad, in a Mario Kart-ish fashion.

 

 

The Aestethic of Violence

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From the ground up: Jahtra, the space colony “Orbital”, Norvos and Liddo, just some of the various worlds you’ll find yourself charging onto to get that first place.

Needless to say, this carnival of burning wreckages and roaring engines has quite a grittier tone than other futuristic racers : gone are the fancy branding, elaborate team color schemes and titanium plated tracks, leaving the place to gritty alien landscapes that have been clearly bulldozed down to build the makeshift courses in which the races take place, and their “DIY” nature is reflected both in their visuals and gameplay, with details like flares signaling where the road is supposed to be on FIC Outpost, or most of the track on Transport, built around what used to be a minecart rail, and shortcuts made up by parts of the enviroment that didn’t get torn down probably because of the organizers own lazyness, and because leaving them there could spark up the competition a bit.

As of now the current build has four total tracks, two of them i already mentioned: the FIC Outpost on Norvos and Transport on Liddo, while the other two are Figure 8, a night-time track possibly located on Jathra, and Yuri Industrial, the track featured in most of the press material and the first to be added, definetly located on Jahtra. They’re playable in three competitive modes (eliminator, time trial and of course, regular race) and a practice mode, while Playground Mode is more of a “lab” to test tricks, weapons and physics on, and it’s only playable on its specific “area”, a textureless arena reminiscent of Team Fortress 2’s fan maps, which is not even a flaw, being it a “test mode” that will probably get removed somewhere near the game’s full release.

 

 

Killer Grooves

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“Minds of industrial”, a perfect album to choose from for a game like GRIP.

While the original Rollcage didn’t have people like Tim Wright and The Prodigy in its OST, quite a few big names got their song to be part of it: we’re talking Fatboy Slim, E-Z Rollers, Ed Rush and Hoax, but in this case the music didn’t have the pivotal, mood-setting role that it had in WipEout, so when GRIP came around the artist selection was completely redone, shifting to a more industrial, heavy sounding shade of DnB, to better give that feel of speed and ferociousness, and artists like Full Kontakt, Xtigma and Silence Groove did god’s work, with tracks like Cyborg, Power Train, Reconnect and The Creeper flawlessly managing to give that “mechanically savage” vibe to every race.

 

 

 

What ARE those devs cooking?

To wrap it up, we can say that the lovely folks at Caged Element are cooking something the likes we haven’t seen in a long time: a mixture of simplistic yet effective driving mechanics, slightly busted combat and physics shenaningas that, combined with the fair share amount of customization promised during the Kickstarter campaign, and the yet to be implemented online AND local multyplayer, is probably going to be a must have for hardcore racing fans and casual speed demons alike.

I hope you found this article entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is the 3rd Runner, looking for a cheap ps1 to play Rollcage on.

 

EVO ’16 with The 3rd Runner: Of Downloads and Thuggery

EVO ’16 with The 3rd Runner: Of Downloads and Thuggery

So, last time we talked about fighting games (see: CEO with The 3rd Runner: The Rift), we left off with a pretty big question: could the regulations over typical FGC behaviors, perceived by the higher ups at Capcom as thuggery, hamper the overall Evolution Championship Series experience, in favor of a more sanitized and less entertaining enviroment, more akin to other eSports competitions?

Well, except for a couple of pretty dumb decisions made mostly to pander to the ESPN 2 audience (because surprise surprise, the Street Fighter V grand finals were broadcasted there too!), I can safely say we’re not yet in MOBA territory: players faced eachother side to side like usual, still showed spontaneous signs of respect beyond conventional handshakes, like little fistbumps and eventually hugs, so yeah, they still haven’t robbed us of our emotions!

Unfortunately, though, i can’t say anything about our beloved Heels, because this year they apparently didn’t make it to Top 8, and the most villanous player i can describe is Hollywood Sleep, Killer Instinct’s champion, that still proved to be a pretty decent person outside the metaphorical ring, only displaying his inner Heel by showing off a damn ruthless Gargos (the final boss character of Killer Instinct, which is -needless to say- pretty overpowered); we can assume they maybe dropped their villanous personas for this special occasion (after all they were on national TV this time), saving boisterousness and theatrics for smaller, less public events? We may never know until the next WinterBrawl.

What we may know is that ESPN’s management section doesn’t like women’s physical attributes, beaches and white rooms full of squares, since they forced all Street Fighter V players who used female characters with slightly skimpier outfits to switch to alternate costumes, banned the “Kanzuki Beach” stage because the 10mm of water on the ground could “alter the perception of the characters’ position” and the Training Room Stage, a white room with a square pattern on the walls and floor, generally used as the “grand finals” stage because the squares helped players manage their spacing better, because…well…it looked bad. Now, while these restrictions WERE stupid, the Training Room problem was solved by Capcom, that recently made a stage just for competitive events like EVO and Capcom Cup, the bombastic Ring of Destiny…which is now being sold to us uncultured swines for 25 bucks…one step forward, two steps back, right Capcom?

Even through all these restriction, though, the tournament went great i must say, with Infiltration completing the download of the “Final_Apocalypse.exe” program into his brain, managing to pull off three (three!) no damage, perfect victories DURING GRAND FINALS with his flawless Charlie Nash against Fuudo’s R. Mika (one of the ladies who got their costume censored) which, even though put up a good fight, couldn’t really stand against the Sonic Hurricane called Infiltration. The other tournaments were, of course, no less exciting, with Pokken Tournament being surprisingly hype and the Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- finals showing off the power of a fan-favourite returning character; the katana wielding american Zorro: Johnny. Omito, Johnny’s user, still got soundly beaten by Machabo’s monstrous Sin Kyske. Last but not least, the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 tournament was finally won by Chris “Touhou” G, who surprisingly didn’t burst into a maniacal laughter after realizing his victory, like the son of a Succubus and a Demon that he is,  and instead reacted quite…modestly.

So, to put it short, this first year of the FGC’s eSports transition went smoothly all things considered, and probably had a good effect on the community’s growth…but as much as i hate leaving discussions open, this isn’t the kind of subject you just archive and leave be: truth to be told, I feel this is just the beginning of a new era for the FGC, and like in any “new era”, changes will be inevitable, even if sadly only time will tell what kind of changes they will be. As far I can guess, though, we behaved pretty well this time, so i feel no further restrictions will be needed in the future.

What do You think, dear reader?

I just hope you found both EVO and my article over here entertaining, but this time for the insight you’ll have to look on EventHubs, DustLoop or whatever wiki your game of choice has when it comes to competitive, this is The 3rd Runner, off to practice some Sol Badguy Fafnir Counter Hit mixups!

 

 

 

 

CEO ’16 with The 3rd Runner: The Rift

CEO ’16 with The 3rd Runner: The Rift

So, guess who’s back from a little hiatus? And this time we talk about competitive gaming, finally! Not quite eSports, as much as “WWeSports”, because Evolution 2016, the biggest fighting games tournament of the year, is only a week away! So, to better get “in the zone” with this Whole fighting game business, today we’re talking about Evo’s louder little brother: Community Effort Orlando.

Now, part of the reason of this “pause” i took was that i couldn’t find a proper way to talk about an event like this, since it’s not really the same as E3, and since it’s a tad late to discuss the highlights of the various tourneys, a matter that would also require countless hours of technical explanation, let’s focus on a different, but not less important, topic: a “rift” that it’s starting to form between Community events and “official” events.

Allow me to explain: the fighting game community is famous for being a lot more similar to the old school pro-wrestling scene, revolving around “personas” and “feuds” rather than teams and coaches, like “regular” eSports, and with feuds come various degrees of trash talking, grudge matches with money on the line, and general behaviors that don’t take the PG limits of the eSports scene much into account. All of this, even if in some cases can get slightly obnoxious, is pretty entertaining and has contributed to give to the FGC its unique flair and “personality”, and community founded tournaments like CEO are the best way to witness both its virtues and vices. CEO in particular is the one that tries its best to be somewhat wrestling based, with players facing eachother in actual boxing rings, the catwalk to the ring for those who want to try more “theatrical” entrances and a straight up belt (like the one in the picture above) given to tournament winners! Quite fancy, huh? Because we’re not done! Get this: after years and years of buildup, players getting more and more elaborate entrances (Kenneth Bradley’s replica of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s, complete with Stunner performed on the referee, along with Dieminion’s Undertaker entrance, both from last year’s CEO, being the pinnacle) and mentions of the tournament from actual wrestlers, CEO ’16 hosted a once-in-a-lifetime Street Fighter V showdown between New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Kenny Omega (pictured above, on the right) and WWE’s Xavier Woods, both already well known above-average Street Fighter players, both well determined to put on a show and to bring their recently born “friendly rivalry” to an end: it was the closest the FGC has ever been to becoming what i like to call “WWeSports”, and honestly even more entertaining than some of the most recent WWE events.

That sounded quite hype, right? Well, sadly there’s no coin with just one face, and the other face of this coin doesn’t really like how this whole situation has been evolving, having other plans in mind for the fighting games competitive scene: we are, of course, talking about Capcom, Street Fighter’s publishing company and the one with the biggest influence when organizing competitive events, being Street Fighter the most conpetitively played fighting game.

You see, since the release of Street Fighter 4, the FGC has been slowly but steadily growing, gaining notoriety and getting more and more in the public eye, a public eye that came to consider those player behaviors as “thuggery”, an adjective that Capcom -of course- didn’t like to see associated with events they sponsored, so they straight up introduced more and more regulations in regards of gambling, trash talking, money matches and so on, to try and “conform” EVO and Capcom Cup with the rest of the MLG-organized events, instead of continuing being the “black sheep” of the bunch: the consequences of these “disciplinary actions” will be seen for the first time at this year’s EVO, broadcasted for the first time on ESPN2…will there be that much of a difference? Will the personas we all know and love be hampered by the trash talking regulations? Will it feel too “sanitized”?

We’ll find out in a week, i guess!

While this article wasn’t that insightful, i hope you found it at least entertaining, this is the 3rd Runner, going back to Guilty Gear Xrd’s training room, since i don’t have a ps4 to play Street Fighter V.

 

 

The Flea Market: Orbital Gear

The Flea Market: Orbital Gear

Ah, summer: a time of joy, lazyness, ice cream at least once a day and mosquitos sneaking into anywhere they can with the skills of a FOXHOUND Operative, and also a time of suffering for every pc gamer, who -before they even realize it- find their wallets empty due to compulsory shopping sprees during the Steam Sales.

In this first “issue” of The Flea Market, i would like to bring your attention towards one of those games that usually get a bit overlooked outside of sales season, maybe for the simple (yet stylish) low poly artstyle, maybe for the quite singular gameplay formula or just the release of hypebombs like DOOM during the year, that usually do games like these no favors in terms of publicity.

 

 

(Quite) Mobile Suits

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Orbital Gear is a gameplay milkshake of hype and destruction, footage courtesy of Awschnap.

Surprise surprise, Orbital Gear is a game about mechas! But it’s also Quake, Super Mario Galaxy and -to some extent- Armored Core: a 2D arena shooter where gravity plays a pivotal role to both mobility and shooting accuracy…an experiment that turned out to be actually successful for a year or so after release, but that for a lack of singleplayer content to make up for the two multiplayer modes and a somewhat steep learning curve, has seen interest for it slowly fade away.

Fortunately enough, the guys at Night Node eventually saw it coming and added 48 singleplayer missions, the “Orbital Trials”, that work both as a training ground to learn how to use and counter the various weapons (twelve in total, with four trials dedicated to each weapon, in which enemy drones use slightly less accurate variants of the same guns you’re using) and movement tricks, and as a “speedrun mode” for those who are into it, each trial having a time limit of two minutes and a rank, in order to incentivise continuous movement and accustom your aim to it, because believe me, it’s a fundamental aspect of competitive matches: if you’re not moving it you’re probably already dead.

 

 

Smoking Sick Style Robot Action

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Cube Team’s Doomsday Cannon in all of its glory, in Orbital Warfare mode.

Once mastered the control scheme and found a favourite pair of guns (for a beginner i suggest Hornets and Flak Cannon, which are basically swarm guided missiles and shotgun), the aforementioned two modes are going to be a blast to play: Deathmatch is…well…a free for all deathmatch, you know what to expect, don’t you? Even though the whole gravitational gimmick can lead to some pretty complex tactics and shenanigans, especially when using weapons like the Grenade Launcher, which projectiles also use momentum and can roll and bounce over any surface, and the Phase Orb, a slow projectile with his own gravitational field that can be shot through anything…sounds unbalanced, i know, but using the additional thrusters (utility weapon) really helps escaping its field.

Orbital Warfare however, even though it’s not as played, offers a mode similar to (it’s a weird comparison, i know) the Fort Mode in the Worms franchise: team based, only this time with respawn, where killing your opponents charges up a giant doom beam, and the first team who gets to fire it at the other team, destroying their structures and very own giant doom beam, wins.

A match in any of the modes (aside from the Phase Orb scrubs who just spam it from the edge of the map) is a joy to play, and flows as well as Quake or any other of its arena cousins, only in 2D…the thing is, some more people playing Orbital Warfare would be appreciated.

 

 

Everything Is Shadows

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Nice close up of the shadyness.

…It’s not a Linkin Park song, but the most effective way to describe this game’s artstyle, which is pretty much spot on for the kind of high-speed action they’re going for: the light coming from the gorgeous “spacescapes” in the background of the stages puts everything into a slight shade, both marking its outlines, making enemy mechs stand out in the heat of combat, and making the low poly models look smoother and generally prettier, with details like “energy lines” ornating them in a tron-ish fashion, which i love.

Talking about songs, though, the soundtrack is banging, plain and simple: an album of eight four minute electronica tracks that blend trance, dubstep and dnb with the signature sound of James Kalen, Night Node’s own composer, for a volatile mix that suits this game like a glove. My top two are Nebular Ops and The Galactic Frame, give them a listen to see what i’m talking about, because there’s so just so much words can do to express a song’s potential without sounding hyperbolic and ridicolous.

 

 

The Verdict

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JUST. DO IT.

Being a mech enthusiast, loving electronica music and arena shooters, this game hit all the chords it could with me, so i would have given it a 8 out 10 without thinking twice, but the issues i found with matchmaking (sometimes there’s literally nobody online) make it drop to a plain 7.5, BUT that problem is pretty easy to solve: if you liked what you’ve read or you already watched a trailer in the meantime, you can literally buy it NOW: it’s 0,69 dollars on Steam, 2,09 for the x4 pack (three other copies to give away to your friends), so get it, train for a bit and, if you want, host a server!

I guarantee you it’s gonna be worth way more than what you’ve spent.

 

 

I hope you found this “review” entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is The 3rd Runner, off to play some more Orbital Gear

E3 2016 with The 3rd Runner: Actual Hypelords

E3 2016 with The 3rd Runner: Actual Hypelords

Welcome to Sony’s E3 presentation. We heard you like videogames. Have some videogames.

God of War

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That’s Kratos not murdering a child, quite the rare accurence, isn’t it?

Making Kratos an interesting character? Sony apparently can.

In this sequel/reboot of Sony’s flagship bad character action game, Kratos seems to have moved from greece to somewhere in northern europe, grown a beard and had its way with a woman that probably died horribly at the hands of some ice giant. So the the good old Kratos is a father now, a father that came to understand that just killing everything into a fit of rage is bad, and that seems to care about something other than his senseless lust for revenge, like you know, his son.

The game itself seems to reflect Kratos’ change of mentality, going from a messy and superficial tryhard spectacle fighter, to a slower, more simple and exploration-focused hack’n’slash, a change that I welcome with open arms: there’s games that western studios just can’t do, and spectacle fighters are the prime example, so focusing on a more “calm” approach to the action genre not only comes off as coherent with the plot, but has more chances to be a better experience altogether.

Welcome back, Kratos…i never thought i would have said that.

 

 

Days Gone

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Any World War Z fans here in the audience?

So, who remembers The Last of Us? I don’t, because i didn’t play it, because post-apocalyptic games based around zombie outbreaks make me literally cry in anguish, and when that happens, it usually means they’re pretty good. Now, during the conference, the cinematic trailer of this thing made me melancholic for ten minutes, just because everything that was presented after it cleared my mind from all the post-apocalypting depression, but after watching it again the day after i felt like sh*t for a good hour, so…yeah, there’s potential.

It seems like it’s basically gonna be an Ellie-less, more combat based The Last of Us, based around bounty hunting, with zombies that are straight up zombies and not realistic Toads from Super Mario. Prepare to feel feelings.

Now let’s talk about something else before existential dread consumes me.

 

 

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

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Use bombs wisely!

Oh yeah, now that’s what i’m talking about! So, i’ve never been a Call of Duty fan, really, and all i know about it it’s that The Numbers mean something that’s important to the government, that there’s a guy called Price who’s a massive badass, that CoD players supposedly like Doritos and Mountain Dew and that Black Ops 3’s soundtrack should have been composed by Perturbator, but instead it’s just…what it is, which is not cyberpunk at all…oh, and that this game was supposed to be crap. Well, the trailer just proved the last one wrong, hopefully.

The smartest thing they did about this was showing the title at the end, to show people a game without letting their prejudice filter its real quality, and believe me: there was quality to be found.

It went down like this: military dudes (and a lady, which was a captain) walking down the hall of a battleship talking military-babble and plot points that will be expanded upon, a door opens and you’re on the main deck of a battleship. The player character goes up to a computer and chooses his destination between a whole lot of planetoids (in what looks like an alternate solar system). The next second he’s entering an hangar with bipedal mechs running around,a squad captain is giving a little motivational speech to his team and starfighters are getting ready to launch, and here we discover that this guy (whose name is actually Reyes) is a captain himself, since everyone he passes by on the way to his own starfighter stops and salutes him. He gets to his ship, with the co-pilot (who may or not be an android) already in the back seat, puts his pressurized helmet on, the startup sequence for the ship initiates while it’s being loaded on the catapult…then: Press L3 to Launch.

Cut to an ACTUAL, NOT ON RAILS, space dogfighting sequence, and all i had in mind was Peppy Hare shouting advice from the radio. Then they had to land on an enemy vessel and board it, and it started looking like Call of Duty again, but in Zero G and with grappling hooks to enhance mobility and pull enemy combatants to you, and guess what: it looked fairly good. As the gameplay moved on, the “CoD”-iness of it slowly flooded back, with the close-quarters corridors and rooms of the battleship Reyes infiltrated looking like the usual “corridor shooter” levels we all know and are tired of, but from time to time stuff like tactical slides (like in Advanced Warfare, i think) and Zero G grenades (like the ones in Titanfall 2) popped in, to not make it look completely dull. The escape sequence was pretty cool too, with Reyes opening the airlocks on the vessel and jumping off one of them, being grabbed mid-fall by his own ship.

…Well well well, looks like the folks at Infinity Ward finally remembered how to make a videogame, let’s hope they keep it up and i may be buying a Call of Duty game for the first time in my life.

 

 

Spider Man

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Your friendly neighborhood Spider Man is gonna have a decent game since Spider Man 3 on PS2.

Spider Man by Insomniac Games. Marvel announced that they plan to outsource superhero games to actual developers and make them separate from the movies. Hell yes.

#MakingSuperHeroesGreatAgain

#MarvelvsCapcom4When

 

Horizon Zero Dawn

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One of the better looking new IPs of the generation, that in one trailer completely destroyed the xbox rival ReCore (at least that’s what the general consensus seems to be): Horizon Zero Dawn is shaping up to be quite a unique game, a mixture of Zelda, Far Cry and somewhat Assassin’s Creed, in a post apocalyptic setting where our dear civilization fell and it’s all just went back to its natural state, with humans living like slightly modernized cavemen, while the machines -for some reason- formed a “robot ecology”, where probably once powerful AIs now inhabit frames resembling dinosaurs and freakish chimeras, having regressed themselves to animalistic behaviors.

The main heroine, Aloy, is a huntress who, really, justs wants to live to see another day and uncover the secrets of that messed up earth: an excellent markswoman and quite resourceful when it comes to crafting, she hunts to retrieve spare parts and valuable materials from the mechanical beasts that now roam the wilderness…and that’s all we know about her for now, other than the fact that she lives in a tribe with a bunch of cowards that she’ll probably leave behind. She’s not just a crackshot though, as she’s also got the right array of gadgets to help her out on the -literal- field, the most notable being an earpiece scanner, that analyzes any target’s weaknesses, attack patterns and valuable materials embedded in their structure, a spear that doubles as a hacking device when used in combo with the earpiece, a tether gun to immobilize weakened preys, and a vast choice of craftable traps, of which we currently know only Shock, Explosive and Incendiary variants, but that will probably expand in the future (i smell a skill tree).

This is one of those projects that are nearly impossible to bomb, and it’ll probably be on my to-buy list once i get a ps4.

 

Resident Evil: Biohazard

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Let’s be honest now: Resident Evil 6 wasn’t a great game, and after a kinda better Revelations 2 and a couple of HD remasters of 1 and 2, the series kinda fell silent…GUESS WHO’S BACK NOW?

The “gameplay” demo/trailer for Resident Evil: Biohazard was the most P.T. looking thing i’ve ever seen since P.T. itself (in case you’re wondering, P.T. was the Playable Teaser for Silent Hills, a Silent Hill game developed by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro that got subsequently cancelled because Konami left the videogame industry for good), and it was just..scary, like a good old horror game needs to be: no more gunfights against “smart” zombies in plain sunlight, high impact boulder punching action or…whatever RE6 was outside of the Leon sections: this time it’s you in first person mode (who the hell are you, player character, by the way?), your flashlight and lots and lots of atmosphere, in what seems to be a reboot more than sequel. I sure do hope there are some zombies around, just for old time sake’s, and maybe an appearence of the Beretta 92s, which is by all accounts RE’s most iconic gun. Other than that i can say this feels quite an unusual direction for the series to take, but i kinda appreciate it, and i’m willing to see what they want to try out, having learned from Inafune’s bad suggestions.

Also, the demo is out now and is VR compatible.

 

Crash Bandicoot 1/2/3 HD Remix

Shawn Layden walks on stage to the main theme of Crash Bandicoot perfomed by the live orchestra in the auditorium the event is taking place, that has turned into a beach reminiscent of Wumpa Island, and Crash Bandicoot’s shadow follows him: “I’m proud to announce that we’re working with our partners at Activision, to bring back the original Crash, Crash two and Crash Warped, fully remastered from the ground up on playstation four”.

And the crowd goes INSANE over just that.

…then he announces Crash in skylanders and everyone shuts up.

 

 

Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima, creator of Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders, Snatcher, Policenauts and almost savior of Silent Hill walks on stage on a bridge of solid light that forms as he moves, then stops to take in the uproaring applause from the crowd, and just goes “I’m back, i hope you enjoy my new trailer”.

Norman Reedus, naked, with a pair of strangely futuristic handcuffs, hugs a fetus that disappears into black oil, then gets up, the camera pans all around him showing he’s covered in weird marks and he’s wearing a necklace with several dog tags, and depicted on them several equations for, like, black holes and sh*t.

Then THIS happens:

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I don’t know who those five figures up in the sky are, but i’m praying all the gods i can think of i get to fight them. Also, dead cyborg whales and Norman Reedus’ buttcheeks. Classic Kojima.

 

Then a title slowly fades in: Death Stranding.

WELCOME TO THE KOJIMA ZONE, TELL YOUR BRAIN TO BITE THE PILLOW.

 

 

And this is was Sony’s E3 conference was like, in written form: back to back, no-stop trailers and good news, just like last year but slightly better.

Oh, right, almost forgot: The Last Guardian’s release date is October 25th of this year. Enjoy.

This is The 3rd Runner, being done with E3 for this year!

E3 2016 with The 3rd Runner: From Japan With Love (and 26 hours of Stream)

E3 2016 with The 3rd Runner: From Japan With Love (and 26 hours of Stream)

Square Enix and Nintendo sure love streaming, because that’s what they did instead of a regular conference: respectively EIGHTEEN and six hours of content each, and i’ll say it right away, i was only capable to watch Nintendo’s live, i had to watch Square Enix’s trailers separately, because let’s be realistic, EIGTHEEN HOURS (six hours for three days)? Sadly the rest of the conferences left me sleepless (fun fact: i live in europe, where Sony’s ended around 5 Am), and i had to recover.

Enough atpologies though, we have to skim through those eighteen hours of Square Enix, let’s go.

 

Final Fantasy XV/XII HD

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The Regalia is quickly becoming one of my favourite fictional cars of all time.

After the downright awkward live gameplay at Microsoft’s conference (which i didn’t even mention, it was THAT bad), Square Enix showed how you’re supposed to play Final Fantasy XV with a special “e3 mission”, the Trial of the Titan: in this showcase, the Backstreet Bo-i mean Noctis’ party fight a…well…titan, to prove him that Noctis is fit to inherit his power. So, after a short escape sequence and a quicktime event involving parrying the Titan’s punches with a greatsword, the fight flows quite nicely: Noctis is able to warp around while slashing, so you see him pulling all sorts of Tracer-like maneuvers, teleporting around the behemoth’s hands to get some hits in, and once on the ground occasional QTEs (which inclusion i find questionable…why not a simple block mechanic?) allow him to counter the titan’s attacks and stun him for a short period of time; of course, this game being a Final Fantasy and all, the “special moves” ,like the warping attack, at your disposal are limited by a meter, and while you still control just Noctis, the rest of the party actually helps you by healing and enchanting your weapons, allowing you to use classic spells like Blizzara, used in the showcase…everything’s pretty by the book, really

Also, the Regalia, Noctis’ crew’s car can turn into a jet (Type-F), because screw airships.

The other “big” announcement Square gave about the FF series (outside some mobile game) was the release of an HD Remaster of FFXII, and considering i -as a “casual” on the matter of RPGs- know FFX by heart but i’ve never even SEEN XII, it’s probably a good idea, to boost its popularity and whatnot.

 

 

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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Gentlemen, welcome to Dubai.

And finally we get to Deus Ex! This time Square showed off the first mission of the game, where Adam Jensen is sent, along with a strike force of regular human soldiers, to take on an augmented terrrist group, and ensure the safety of one of their contacts who led them to it, and while the guy playing clearly knew what he was doing, almost pulling off a perfect stealth run and managing to stay non-lethal for the whole mission, the poor guy they had to protect during an arms deal got offed, with the arms dealer, by a squad of masked cyborgs, who opened fire on everything that moved.

The game looked, as expected, amazing: all of the augmentations from Human Revolution are back, along with plenty of new ones, and some of them seem to be available from the start, allowing for a bit more freedom of action, especially when talking infiltration. The returning ones have obviously being reworked and rebalanced, like the Smart Vision, which now looks a lot more like Metal Gear Rising’s Enhanced AR: grey/blue vision with incoming threats highlighted in red, along with their equipment and possible loot, like credit chips, pocket secretaries and ammo.

Another big shocker was that, for first time in Deus Ex History, the tranquilizer rifle wasn’t shown to be complete garbage! Both in looks and function, it has been greatly refined, not shaking around incontrollably while aiming, with a faster reload time and a really sleek white and red frame that looks like an actual sniper rifle, a far cry from the prequel’s desert-camoed animal tranquilizer.

What can i say? The guys at Eidos are clearly nailing it, and this gameplay is just other evidence to add to the pile.

Oh, right, almost forgot: Breach Mode has been shown again, for those who missed the pre-e3 Eidos stream. It’s basically a hacking, but your program now has humanoid low-poly shape and the defenses of the system you’re breaching in are actual guards, drones and turrets. It’s a nice way to “recycle” assets and mechanics by changing their looks and names, and looks like it’s gonna be pretty fun. It’ll be included in the final game for free, obviously.

 

 

NiER: Automata

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Literal Spectacle Fighter.

Now THIS is a gameplay presentation, Platinum! Clean, smooth, that emphasises the double nature of this sequel of the critically acclaimed action RPG “Nier”: under this melancholic and “artsy” post-apocaliptic RPG, beats the heart of a pure character action game with 3d bullet hell elements, a match of Taro Yoko storytelling and trademark Platium gameplay truly made in heaven.

The E3 gameplay showed the androids YoRHa 2B (the girl in the picture above) and 9S facing off against an eerie looking animatronic dressed in a once beautiful baroque dress (decorated with tiny robot corpses), that used regular “character action” attacks and projectile patterns typical of 2D bullet hell games: about halfway in the screen looked like a 3D recreation of a Touhou game, and it was nothing short of amazing.

The player character, 2B, has also the chance to play bullet hell with her foes, thanks to a machine gun unit that constantly floats around her, in a similar fashion to the book from the original NiER (or an Option from Gradius, to put it simple), and the aiming is controlled with the camera and/or with the lock-on functionality typical of other Platinum titles…for the rest, the gameplay is pretty straightforward: you got your light and heavy attacks comboable in all kinds of ways, you got your dodge (without bullet time, though), and it’s safe to bet that dodge offsets, resets and whatnot will also be part of the final release’s combat system.

Let’s go Platinum, what can i say?

 

 

Agents of Mayhem

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From right to left: HOLLYWOOD, FORTUNE and HARDTACK. Personally, i hope the designs of the next “heroes” will be sligtly more daring: these are alright, but…lack something.

Overwatch meets Saint’s Row in this open world “hero based” third person shooter, where you get a team of three characters to switch on the fly, each one with specific weapons, sets of skills and “mayhem” moves, only this time in an open world enviroment: your characters are agents of the M.A.Y.H.E.M., the Multinational AgencY for Hunting Evil Masterminds, founded by Persephone Brimstone, and your goal is to capture -dead or alive- the leader of L.E.G.I.O.N., or League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations, who goes by the name of Dr. Babylon and attacked Seoul to get his hands on the “Zero Point Dynamo”, a superbattery that creates infinite energy, that he’ll probably use to wreak havoc with the satellite cannon shown in the cinematic trailer, if everything goes according to plan. Fortunately enough, M.A.Y.H.E.M. operatives are pretty carefree when it comes to collateral damage, and if stopping this fool means blowing up a few apartment blocks, so be it.

The currently known characters are FORTUNE, aka Marina Santos, the glass cannon of the bunch: dual wields pistols, high mobility, stun grenades and can use an armed drone as companion, HARDTACK, aka Ishmael Funderburke, a self-proclaimed badass sailor who uses an automatic shotgun and an harpoon as a melee and throwable weapon, and HOLLYWOOD, basically Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat, who goes to fill the role of “basic assault rifle class”, even though the moves in his repertoire are not basic at all. Of course the roster is gonna fill up with other nine “heroes” for a total of 12, and an “archer” class was briefly shown in one of the gameplays.

The structure of the game and pacing themselves is going to be reminiscent of titles like Saint’s Row, where you alternate between time on the field and time in “the crib” (this time is a base called A.R.K), where you micromanage upgrades, funds and so on, and of course, being a Volition game, you can expect any form of seriousness to be left out the door, starting with the agents themselves, who banter most of the time between a “hot tag” and the other on the field.

As far as what i’ve seen, looks like an alright game, one of those solid 8s that don’t change the world but are just a good way to spend 40 dollars. If you’re a fan of comic book styled games and third person shooters, and you ran out of f*cks to give about the story in a videogame, keep an eye out for this one.

 

 

I Am Setsuna

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Ehi, look: turns!

This one looks inspired by classic Final Fantasy games, taking the camera angles and “semi-chibi” character design typical of the SNES days but giving it a 3D coat of paint, and the combat looks pretty old school too, turn based with no “action commands” or input-based attacks: just you, your enemy and your brain, just like in the ’90s.

I’m not a fan of games like these, but i know some folks who were ready to sacrifice goats for Square to release something like this, so there you have it! It comes out July the 19th on PS4 (and possibly Vita).

 

 

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithfullness

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Now this a japanese videogame, right here.

A mid-quel between Second Story and Till The End of Time, this Star Trek-inspired RPG…well…looks really cool, and that’s all i can say for sure about the story, frankly: the trailer talked about a contact with another space traveling race (outside of the humans), that turned the protagonist’s planet into toast and…well…stuff that people who actually played other games of the series will probably understand.

Sorry about this one, i disn’t know Star Ocean was a series until five minutes ago, all i can say is: if you played the previous entries, you’ll probably love this one, because if to an outsider like me a JRPG manages to look good, it means it probably has something going.

 

 

To forget about this shamefur dispray, let’s move on to something i actually know!

The Nintendo Digital Event was basically, outside of 20 minutes dedicated to Pokemon Sun & Moon, a 6 hours Zeldacast, and here’s what it came out of it!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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Take that, Skyrim.

What is this game?

This game is all of the games: it’s Dark Souls, it’s Shadow of the Colossus, it’s Metal Gear Solid V, it’s Devil May Cry, it’s Tony Hawk, it’s Far Cry, it’s Cooking Mama, it’s the FIRST The Legend of Zelda, the one where you got dropped into this big freaking world with literally nothing, an old man gave you a sword and off you went, adventuring!

You’re Link, but not some farmer Link, you’re Doomguy Link: you wake up in the SHRINE OF RESURRECTION in your underwear, where a voice tells you to open your eyes and GO, LET THE LEGEND COME BACK TO LIFE, so you get up from your alien-looking bed, you grab some clothes (now there’s multiple kinds of them, and all have different effects and LORE) and get out, and what welcomes you is just…everything: you see that landscape in the picture above? Yeah. That’s all explorable. YOU SEE THAT MOUNTAIN OVER THERE? YOU CAN CLIMB IT, FOR REAL! Because you have a stamina meter used for running  and climbing ANYWHERE, talk about a game changer! But hear me out, it’s not done: hearts? Screw those! Real men hunt their food, so go kill a boar or steal some moblin’s lunch after you brutally murder them with their own weapons, that’s how you replenish your health: find animal, kill animal, cook it with a bonfire, because you can start bonfire by hitting branches with your sword now…but did i say sword? Yeah, good luck finding that, dumdum! Fortunately enough, EVERYTHING is a weapon now! See that tree branch? Pick it up and stab the final boss in the eye with that, because yes, you can just run off -naked- to the final boss if you know where he’s located…or just be lame and find weapons and equipment inside chests, you know.

Ok, that incoherent stream of nonsense was the most effective way to describe the train of thought while playing that game: nothing is given to you, just run off and do your thing, you’ll probably find a military grade bow in the chest up on the peak of that mountain, if you try hard enough, but watch out: if you enter snowy enviroments with light clothes you’ll take damage from the cold. Oh, you want bombs now? Go get them, they’re in a Trial Dungeon (basically a mini-dungeon, without a boss) somewhere. What’s that, you need a horse? Mount one, there’s a herd a few miles from here. An enemy outpost gives you trouble? Push a boulder down there and watch them getting squashed, or steal all their weapons before they get to them, it’s your call really.

And that is why i’m hyped as f*ck for this game: it’s your call, really.

 

…you can’t even choose to NOT follow story, how sick is that?

 

 

 

Ok, hang in there, the next article is the last one, than we can go back to our regularly scheduled whatever, and talk about ONE game at a time: up next is Sony, but i could just post a picture of Norman Reedus staring naked in the distance with dead cyberwhales all around him, in what’s gonna be Hideo Kojima next mindf*ck and just call it a day, really.

I hope this didn’t drag on for too long, this is The 3rd Runner, signing off.