Saturday, July 28, 2012

Weekly Shlockness with John Mikula

                Hello Shlockheads! Welcome back to Weekly Shlockness because who needs those damn Olympics anyway? Why watch the greatest athletes in the world compete for national greatness when you can sit in front of a computer screen and read about how some pudgy white guy was playing video games all week. Now that last week’s DayZ-palooza-athon is over (at least on my end it is) we can get down to discussing some real games. Fans of DayZ can’t even get offended at that crack because it was pointed out to me that DayZ was not meant to be a real game, but more of an anti-game. The creator supposedly wanted this mod to be some sort of self-contained world with no real gameplay goals that people can simply exist within. If this isn’t true then you can blame my correspondent at Daniel Parker Industries because I’m certainly not going to look it up for myself. What do I look like, a legitimate writer? It would, however, explain why the game isn’t very much fun to play. Now that that’s out of the way lets dig into this juicy, delicious, Shlockness cobbler that we call a blog.
Ingredients: 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup of baking sh*t, 1 store bought cobbler
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                To kick off my week I started replaying God of War 2; because hey, why not? For all you Martians out there, God of War is a game that has the player take the role of the Spartan Kratos as he hacks and slashes his way through various Greek myths and legends. I’ve had a soft spot for the God of War franchise ever since I played a demo of the first game at a buddy’s house when I was but a wee lad. I fell in love that day, and when the full game was released I immediately went out and bought it with no hesitation or remorse. The first God of War is one of those rare games that when I beat I immediately turn around and start playing it again, that’s how much I loved that game. The first level when you’re traveling from boat to boat and killing hydras is one of my favorite video game levels from any game I’ve ever played. It’s dark, it’s stormy, and hydras are punching holes in your sh*tty wooden ships; but Kratos doesn’t care. Unlike his loser sailor buddies who promptly begin to freak out, Kratos gets pissed off and starts jumping around, kicking ass, slicing dudes in half, and stabbing hydras in the eyes, neck, and belly. There is just something so raw about it and it does a really good job at making me feel like a complete badass every time I play it.
"Kiss my Grits"
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                Now, that was God of War 1; I’m here to talk about God of War 2. In my mind a sequel should expand upon the ideas of the original game but still feel as if there is a connection between the two. God of War does this extremely well. The formula doesn’t change much but rather it gets expanded upon in all the right ways. The quick time events and the combat system remain virtually identical, but now you get new weapons/magic to use so you aren’t forced to press square, square, square, triangle over and over again. The world also retains the same aesthetic, but now you are introduced to many more characters, locations, and events. Everything feels very similar yet much improved since the last game. I’m going to make a bold statement and say the God of War 2 is a better game than God of War 1. However!!! I find myself having a better time with God of War 1 than God of War 2.
very bold indeed
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                This is entirely my fault though and it has to do with nostalgia. God of War 1 was my first experience with this franchise and it holds a very dear spot in my heart. When I was playing that game for the first time I didn’t know what to expect, everything was grandiose and new. The thrills were thrilling and the chills were oh so chilling. When I play that game I am reminded of these feelings and it makes me feel young again. Going into God of War 2, I kind of knew what was going to happen. The visceral nature and the sense of scale, these things were all old news to me by the time GoW2 rolled around. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy GoW2 because I very much did; it just doesn’t have that warm punch in the gut that comes with my memories from the first game. Playing this game nowadays is still a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played a God of War game before.

                Sure, hack and slash games are fun and all but it always seems to be a little too noisy for my sensitive ears. I’m going deaf playing these things! And they’re always filled with so many mountains. I mean, come on people. Are we as gamers so ineloquent that we can’t enjoy a nice, small increase in altitude without it being so freaking extreme? Luckily I was turned on to this game that I really enjoyed quite a bit that seems to address all my issues; it’s called Bayonetta.
There were many better pictures I could have used, but I didn't want to write "Picture from:"
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                JUST KIDDING! It’s Silent Hill 4: The Room. While it may not be as scary as the Murder Room, it’s still a pretty good game regardless. You play as Henry Whateverthefuckhislastnameis and you are stuck in your one bedroom apartment somewhere that isn’t Silent Hill. I don’t mean Henry is some sort of hoarder, or a shut in, or even one of those crazy dudes that hoard shut ins. Someone has physically sealed off every possible way out of your apartment with big chains and locks. Things look grim until you find a giant man-sized hole in the wall of your bathroom. Naturally you decide to climb on in and the survival horror action ensues.
"Look you're really sweet and everything but I'm just not into giant floating heads"
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                There are a couple of differences between this Silent Hill and the previous two that I’ve played (1 and 2 in case you were unaware). For one the world isn’t quite so open anymore. When you step into the hole you’re dropped into a small enclosed area that you can muck around in, be it a forest, a train station, or what have you. From there you proceed to beat up monsters, collect sh*t, wander around, and do other Silent Hill things. When you have done everything you can do in that area you are transferred to another area where you are expected to repeat the process again. It’s as if you played Silent Hill 1 but instead of walking around the town of Silent Hill between key areas you’re just teleported there. This is an interesting change because I always liked exploring the town to see all the creepy stuff that was there; however, the core gameplay mechanics are still present and they do manage to implement some interesting new things that I feel are a really cool supplement.
For a game titled "Silent Hill" there is a surprising lack of Silent Hill in it.
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                Remember that room I mentioned earlier? Well, you can go back to it. If you find one of the many special holes in the game you are teleported back to your locked up room. While you’re there you can do a lot of stupid sh*t like spy on the people in another building through the window, peer at your lady neighbor through a small whole in the wall, or look out your doors peep hole. Occasionally you get mysterious letters slipped under your door. So far it seems my favorite part of this game has been returning to the room because there’s always something new to behold. It gives me a chance to unwind, check for letters, see what’s going on outside my peephole, or maybe listen to the radio. The room is my creepy little escape where my health regenerates, I get a chance to save, store my items (we’ll talk about this in a minute), and nothing can harm me.

                The biggest problem I have with the game is its new inventory system. You can’t carry as much sh*t as you want like you could in Silent Hill 1 or 2; you only have about ten slots to store all the things you find in the world. This means that you have to store extra things in a beg chest in your room, which in turn means if you need something that you don’t have you’ll have to find a hole somewhere to go back to your room and get it. Also, items don’t stack, so if you want more than one health drink at a time you have to waste more slots carrying all that stuff around. This inventory renovation doesn’t add any real depth to the gameplay like the resident evil 4 inventory system; all it really does is make the game more frustrating.
"This is neither the biggest nor the dirtiest hole I've been in this night"
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I’m willing to forgive this grievance of mine because the core Silent Hill experience is still very strong in this iteration. The environments are still very scary, the Foley work still excellent, and I love going back to the room. I’ve always heard that the Silent Hill franchise has only gotten worse with age, but from what I’ve played so far I don’t think this is the case. I’ve been consistently entertained with this franchise and I’m always left wanting more. If Mike would take some notes on these games maybe he could get more than just his sister to read MMwMM. Ah well, to each his own I suppose, and on that note I’m going to wrap up with Weekly Shlockness. Maybe next week I’ll have a post up before midnight, but I highly doubt it. What do I look like, Superman?

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