Archive for the ‘The Caveman’ Category

Open ended games.

You’ve heard of them, played them, seen them and at times, enjoyed them. The freedom of playing in a sandbox is the feeling that was likened to games that allowed you to do whatever the fuck you wanted in them.

And yes they are cool. Most of the time.

However, the concept has existed for a while now. The earliest versions of Metroid and Zelda had some form of an open-world concept going on already. They had a feel for exploration and action that didn’t exist at the time…and this was as good as it got.

 

BUT THINGS GOT BETTER!

 

Over time, developers found that games like this had potential. The only thing was that for the longest time, we were stuck in 2D. We had these little sprites that moved around and flailed a bit, and that kept people entertained. In the history of gaming, this was a big deal…and having that sort of adventure gave rise to what we have now!

This qualified as groundbreaking back then.

ENTER GTA 3.

For the first time, we got a full immersion into a world that you could explore. And by explore, I mean go absolutely nuts in.

You have to admit, no other game let you run around with a bat like this.

The game was a huge step up from the 2D pseudo racer that was popular on earlier platforms. It took the idea of driving a stolen car and took it to a whole new level by introducing 3D graphics, environments that no one else had done for a character based game/driving game to date, and all the weapons you needed to get your ass arrested. The game gave us things nobody else would: changable radio stations, the ability to shoot down cops (and the SWAT team choppers if you got that many stars), carjacking skills…and essentially every single immoral, criminal activity you could do in the game. It was fun. And not to mention it gave us something to do when you didn’t want to get on with the mission for a while. You could jack the car you wanted before a mission and set things up…just for kicks. No objective forced you to (well…maybe when a mission started, but more on that later).

 

This really got in the way of getting shit done.

You essentially had the option to do whatever the hell you wanted, or get on with legit missions. Either way, you couldn’t lose (from a gameplay stand point. You’d get busted at some point, pay cash, lose your car, weapons, and stuff…but not lose in terms of having fun) . And that is what makes the series shitloads of fun.

Nowadays, the sandbox, open ended game concept is very much alive. We have games that allow for alternate endings, games with branching storylines that lead to unique endings based on the way we play the game…and essentially games that have no “right” way of being played.

 

Unless you wanna die, then go ahead and try and kill cops. Because they really shoot back in this one.

So the future looks bright for these kinds of games, all thanks to the amazing gameplay found in one of the classics: Grand Theft Auto 3.

 

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And it ain’t one of the Younghusband Brothers!

Warning: if you have no idea about professional football or video game football, this is gonna be a difficult read.

I’ve been playing Pro Evolution Soccer 12 (which will henceforth be abbreviated to PES because spelling it out every time is too much of a mouthful)…anyway. I’ve been playing PES 12’s Master League mode which allows you to build a team up, much like most franchise modes in sports games. After my first full season of using the crummy default team, I got a chance to nab several bigger named players like Chicharito and  Luis Suarez (both of whom have made it an absolute joy to play offensive football), but still lacked a back up keeper. So I began my search on national teams and found that the Philippines had some representation!

AND TO MY LUCK IT WAS OUR VERY HANDSOME GK, NEIL ETHRIDGE.

I’ve played with him as my back up for about 2 seasons now and with his progress and in-game evolution, I have to say he’s proven to be quite useful. In the game, he’s pretty good at stopping just about any shot and is particularly good with ball clearance, something that the developers got right based on his performance today! (And if you haven’t seen him in action irl, i do suggest you watch his game tape…it is pretty nice.)

It is a good thing to see that more real life Filipinos are seeing action in games. Manny Pacquiao of course is in EA’s Fight Night series as one of the most (justifiably) imba characters. However neither of the two have the honor of being the first Filipino in a video game, the honor of which belongs to Jose Rizal who was an unlockable player in the original 1999 release of Medal of Honor! There are a few guys with Filipino roots who play in the NFL and are subsequently featured in more recent editions of EA’s Madden franchise, but they aren’t as cool as these guys…so I shall not feature them. (*insert evil laugh*)

But don’t expect to see our entire Azkal team featured in football games in the near future. Though they are becoming a big deal locally, we’re still small fry compared to other Asian teams with better players and bigger rosters, not to mention players playing in the big leagues. Ethridge is one of the exceptions, seeing that he is on the reserve squad for Fullham, an English Premier League team that isn’t that great. The rest of our squad is composed of guys who don’t necessarily play for the best teams in the world, but are world class.

And it really gives you an idea of how far behind we are compared to the rest of the world in terms of creating world class talent. We have many players who could be bench warmers on decent teams in Europe or starters on B league teams, but we still don’t have anyone that would put fear into the hearts of our Asian counter parts. In gaming however, none of our local players are exactly imba enough on any level to even be featured in a game…which is sad considering that the team we just destroyed in the last round (Sri Lanka) has 4 players featured in the game…and they looked pretty sad sackish.

Given this revelation, how soon do you think it’ll be til we have our Azkals featured in better numbers in games like PES or FIFA 11? Your thoughts in the comments!

I want to start off by giving a shout out to 90s kids.

See, we had it good. Our TV shows were some of the best, our cartoons were some of the most entertaining, and we were the first generation to really grow up in a digital revolution. Our parents had MTV, we got the Internet. They had new wave; we got boy bands and Britney. Our dads had Pong, we got Tetris. And the list goes on. We had it good.

But what really I have to say made my childhood was Pokémon. Yes Power Rangers was fun and the animès were good (Dragon Ball, Gundam, Recca, Samurai X…you name it), but Pokémon is what I have to say made my childhood awesome. Think about it. If you had a Gameboy back in the day, you were forever playing Super Mario, Tetris or whatever random game on that huge gray block of a gaming device that nowadays would make airport officials think you were carrying a bomb. And those games were good.

But they weren’t Pokémon good.

I actually remember the first time I picked up Pokémon Blue and found out what it was all about. I read this crappily layouted instruction manual that showed told me what the Pokémon world was about and I have to say…I bought into it. The promise of a portable adventure with pixilated creatures with magical attacking powers sounded like too much fun to me. See, we weren’t old enough for D&D or other quest games yet, [maybe not even any of the existing Final Fantasies (do note that this was before FF7)] but this seemed like one of those things that we were up for, that I was up for. So I went around playing the game on my Gameboy for months. I was trying to grab that elusive Pikachu in Viridian Forest, evolve my Charizard, catch them legendary bird, and this post cannot go on without mentioning the use of that conflabbed link cable to battle and trade with friends. It was good while it lasted, and even after defeating the Elite Four, the quest continued. You still had to grab Mewtwo, you still had to complete the set…and that never really got old. I can’t tell you how many times I cloned an Eevee or pwnd my friends with my Charizard, but I can tell you that it never really got much better than that.

Well that is until Pokemon Yellow came out.

By that time, the animè was a big deal. The movies were a big deal. The cards, the mini figurines, the piles and piles of Poké junk that accumulated because we couldn’t get enough had all become a huge deal. We all wanted to be Ash Ketchum, and Pokemon Yellow gave us that chance. We started with a Pikachu that wasn’t annoyingly difficult to catch, the same way Ash did. It gave us a more structured story and actually made us feel like we were living his adventure, which is what most of us wanted to begin with. We got the chance to pick up the three starters and in the end have Charizard and Blastoise on our final line up for the Elite Four (if we worked hard enough to evolve them). And if you did things right, you could pick up all the old Pokemon from your safely kept Blue or Red version saves and just destroy all your friends without even trying. All was right in the world.

But the hype died down for me after that. I stopped caring so much about the new ones. Yeah I played Gold and Silver, but they couldn’t match the fun. There was too much going on by the time they came out with the day and night functions, not to mention a hundred new Pokemon. I mean…sure it was fun, but it was different. These new guys couldn’t match up to the ones I knew and relied on. Typhlosion could never match Charizard, ever. Hondooom (though bad ass) was no Arcanine. Even the gym leaders seemed to be bigger wusses than the original ones! And that is where I began to fall out of touch with the franchise. I skipped out on Gen III and all of the subsequent new batches because they just never felt the same. I refuse to even touch the much ballyhooed Black and White versions, no matter how highly acclaimed they are. Although, I did however play the remakes of Fire Red and Soul Silver for kicks, and found myself quite satisfied.

The problem lies in the fact that Nintendo/The Pokemon Group decided to evolve. You can’t blame them. It’s what everyone does, be they a Metapod or a business franchise. They needed more characters, more creatures to make themselves look like they were progressing. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The only problem was that decline in quality. The thing is, for me, I’ve never felt the need for the other four hundred plus (or whatever number we’re on now) that came after the originals. They didn’t make sense. A lot of them were just redone versions of existing Pokemon, most of which were horribly designed and looked so much more ridiculous. I don’t care about another normal/bird type that looks like a rehashed Pidgey. Give me a Pidgey, I’ll make it work! But the creators/game designers changed the look, gave it new moves that do the exact same thing Pidgey does, and changed the name. Us older players know that. We can see that there’s been major rehashing lately, or really lousy character design, all of which was built for a new generation of Poké kids…not kids who actually know what a Cubone looks like. I may sound old when I say this, but we older fans deserve better. We built this baby and should get more creatures that are simply unique and amazing. There wasn’t enough of that as of late, just because these kids with cash are gonna get what they want. AND BESIDES, the reason any of these kids with their 3DSs enjoy what they have now is because kids like us played these games like we were gonna rule the world.

Pokemon changed and there is nothing I can do about that. But every now and then I find myself going back to that game (be it on an illegally cracked version for my DS or some emulator I downloaded). It’s still as good, and  still brings a smile to my face every time I get that Charmeleon to evolve. It all really boils down to what individuals like, and love. I find that my heart belongs to those first few freaks of nature that made me realize how good this pop culture phenomenon was.

Nothing beats the originals. Nothing can ever beat the originals.*

*Save for maybe those legendary freaks of nature that you can get from Nintendo events.  They are just f-ing scary.

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Article by: The Caveman

Artwork by: Frillion