Monday, December 28, 2015

Borderlands 2 : Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon's Keep !

My on going playthrough of the absolutely wonderful DLC for Borderlands 2!  will keep adding more videos as I progress, which I definitely ill considering how much fun it is ! The nods to Dark Souls and Skyrim are priceless :D !

Just Cause 3: Can you handle the freedom !

So, out of the blue, in the midst of playing the fantastic Borderlands 2 and the kindof miffing Fallout 4, I had a tryst with Just Cause 3 for about 2 hours and the 2 hours had enough "Boom Boom Boom !" to silence Fallout completely and make think twice about going back to Borderlands 2's fantastic DLC campaigns.

Here's a snippet of what I found myself doing pretty soon of starting this "slam-bang explosion of freedom of a game" :

The question in this game is not "what can I do?" but instead "Hmm, what should I do with all that I can do in this game?" 
The game is a sandbox or a toybox , as everyone must be telling u right now, which provides u with a rather very pretty playground and a bunch of toys to play with.

A flyby with a quick explosion, I guess !

A fine day for mayhem ! 

But there is also another thing people are talking about : Instant Gratification!

 The game lets you have almost everything from the get go ! I want to differ in that regard, the joy of instant gratification will last not for more than an hour if you think that is the hook of this game. No, the power fantasy of having all kinds of explosion causing devices at your disposal is just the surface of the game and not to be mistaken for the whole game. The joy of the game lies in "playing" with it ! :) If you are the kind who can have fun thinking up crazy things to do and then finding ways of doing them with the archaic tools at hand and can enjoy failing in them and laughing away while your plans go completely haywire, then you will have fun in JC3. If you feel smug hanging upside down from a jet plane while launching off cars off a cliff in a whacky show of fireworks without the game providing you with applause/kudos/meaningless-appreciation-shenanigans then you will have fun in JC3. 

The game is for the one who is content in the process and not craves for the applause at the end !  Thats what I feel till now , will be back with more vidoes soon as I get to play more of it :D ! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Indian gaming scene heating up ! WWE2k16 Championship is here !

Looks like finally Indian gaming scene is getting the attention it deserves.  Indian Gaming Expo is right around the corner and their latest announcement has me impressed:

1.5 lakhs worth of prizes ! Looks like us gamers have made a mark , after all , all that money pouring into the gaming arena cannot be wrong, lol :P !

Check out the actual prizes:

1st Place: 1 PS4 Console + Rs.30,000 cash + 1 WWE Championship Title* Mattel Toys

2nd Place: 1 PS4 Console + Rs.10,000 cash + 1 WWE Championship Title* Mattel Toys

3rd Place: Rs.15,000 cash + 1 WWE Championship Title* Mattel Toys

Colour me impressed ! Had it been my kind of game, I would have charged straight into the venue :D !  
On a serious note, if you want to enter the competition, here are the details from their website:

"WWE 2K16 fans can register themselves here to enter for the championship. The registrations starts from today onwards. All the mandatory rules & guidelines are stated in the registration form. No entry fee is charged to participate in the tournament.
For more information on IGX, Kindly visit

I will just leave this here and wish you guys luck ! GO participate and win a ps4 ! There ain't a better gaming machine out there !

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

PES League: Road to Milan is here and now !

Woo...looks like gaming activities are finally picking up in our country :D ! E-xpress just announced the dates for PES League Road to Milan qualifier rounds and its very very soon !

So, if you got your soccer feet soaked in PES or any football simulator then go and play that game of yours cos you might end up representing India at the world stage at the PES League World Finals to be held in Milan, Italy. Who doesn't want to do that , frankly ! I mean, I do, even if I can't tell my right foot from left while playing football !

........and by soon, I mean like really soon. The qualifier round will be held on 20th September, 2015 at Infiniti II Mall, Malad (W) in Mumbai.

So, for a change our dear old Infiniti  Mall will ring aloud with cheers of our fellow soccer fans and gamers instead of shopaholic shrieks of hyperactive kids ! So, get your game on and register yourself here:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Metal Gear Solid V throbbing in thy veins !!!!

Wake up, Sire, its a bright new day and you seem to possess hazy dead eyes ! Let me present to you the finest medicines of the world to bring back your light !

If this doesn't move you, you are probably dead anyway tongue emoticon !

and....... Top it with this and goosebumps all over guaranteed :

pour this on top and you can accomplish anything to day !!!!:

There you go , sire ! Charged up and roaring you are now ! Now put these on repeat and smash the day ! ! ! 

Here's a parting song to play in ur head while u make mince meat of your work:

HooHaa !!!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight: A Tale of two Heroes!

Batman: Arkham Knight
A Tale of two Heroes…..dividing and delighting gamers alike !

This review of the ps4 version of the game is 100% story-wise and gameplay-wise spoiler-free to keep your gaming goodness intact while playing this game.

Secret (totally fictional but completely probable) Conversations overheard in the HQ of Rocksteady :

“But what could be greater than Batman? He is our hero, the reason people play these games, the World’s greatest Detective!”

..…pondered the brilliant brains at Rocksteady. What could make this detective, this puzzle solver who pieces together clues and sneaks up on villains without a rustle, create the biggest explosions ever and make him enter the next-gen with a bang and a bang louder than any other game can ever muster?

“The Batmobile!”

Shouted a brain mightier than others.

“ How could we have missed that ! Batmobile is the solution to it all! It’s his coolest gadget just waiting to be unleashed !”

Now that would be cool J ! This one gadget in the arsenal of the millionaire superhero is the one which makes more of a spectacle than anything else he specializes in. Batmobile guarantees a grand entrance, a dazzling display of pyrotechnics and deafening roar to numb any thug’s false hopes of winning over Batman ever!

“It is time to break the silence that Batman that lurks around in, it is time for letting in the next-gen Batman ! “

(Gleeful sinister laughter echoes in the silence…….)

Jump along, lets deep-dive into the dark skies of Gotham, with Batman and his whacky troupe in toe……..

The Adventure: Tanks, Explosions and Jetsons !
Rocksteady introduces the world of Gotham with a touch of mystique and flamboyance that instantly catches attention. Things are set in motion within minutes in a very theatrical way and soon we have the stage set for Batman, the saviour, to arrive and save the day ! …...or to be literal, start saving the night.

The action gets going relentlessly and people who like flash and bang action will love the start and people who were looking for the cerebral detective Batman may not. The beautiful city makes a supreme first impression dazzling you with stunning graphics and a perpetual rain so dense that it in itself becomes a spectacle during the free flowing flights of the Batman and the tense chases involving the other hero of our game, literally the second protagonist of the game: The Batmobile !

You are going to either hate it or love it but Batmobile has a presence in the game equaling or , to be honest, surpassing Batman and frankly, it stops being a gadget or a car and becomes the second playable character to an extent that can annoy some people while delighting others with its gameplay literally reminding them of their cheerful childhood evenings spent playing Battletanks ( or not if you weren't a biological entity yet back then, in which case you will have no memories to fall back on, sorry, sometimes being older has its perks !). The game integrates Batmobile with Batman so smoothly that playing from within the car and as Batman feels seamless. The game lets you switch between them absolutely seamlessly creating a flow of traversal so fluid that it easily gets addicting to just zip in and out of the car just to see how cool it all is. Oh and the rest of the game also shares that philosophy of coolness.

           The whole focus is on high octane action in this game! Dazzling graphics with lots of explosions thanks to our new found Battletank ! Batman’s on foot sneaking and brawling abilities are fully fledged out only in the side missions scattered around in the open world of Gotham City while the main story continues swinging along with the escapades of the Batmobile. So much so that , without spoiling anything specific, some Boss fights turn out very very anti-climatic because of it ! The side missions do make up for it and make sure you do not leave with a bad taste after the main campaign. In fact, the side missions are very well integrated in to the theme of the game and you can easily get distracted from the campaign completing separate independent mini quest-lines while earning those much needed Wayne points to level up your character, gadgets and Batmobile.

            The game as a whole is fun and the variety of gameplay that Batmobile brings to the game actually keeps things fresh and frantic. While the sneaking can feel familiar and placid sometimes, especially after two (rather three) previous games, the fresh infusion of car chases and tank battles never do. They are always fast and tense keeping the tempo high and bring much needed excitement into this grim tale. Whether they fit into the Batman’s detective world or not, is a debate I will keep away from here. Are they overused? Definitely yes, the game feels like a Batmobile game instead of a Batman game. A little less focus on the Batmobile could have made this game better and could have increased our empathy levels towards Batman, in my humble opinion, as playing for too long as a tank breaks one’s immersion of being Batman…….and that requires no debate.

                Another aspect that can break immersion very strongly are the tutorials in the beginning of the game in the form of Augmented Reality Challenges. The icons pop up right inside the game world, in the middle of all the chaos and the player is asked to perform various make-believe tasks, like taking out thugs and busting virtual tanks, while victims are being held hostage literally 5 meters away.I still can't fathom Batman punching air to train himself smack in the middle of real thugs....I am sure newspapers would carry news of Batman's insanity the next !

Playing alongside Sidekicks is a lot of fun !

That brings us to another new gameplay system introduced in Arkham Knight : The Sidekicks ! You can smoothly switch between Batman and a sidekick during combat and even issue small commands to the sidekicks for quitter takedowns. This is a very welcome addition and I, for one, love this feature. It is well implemented and very fun to play and smoothly integrates into the freeflow combat system of Batman. In fact, it feels strange that the sidekicks are used only in a handful of missions in the game. They add a layer of excitement to the standard brawls and show a promise of adding a layer of strategy if fleshed out and used in majority of the missions. Here’s hoping sidekicks play a major role in the next Rocksteady title. Dual takedown all the way, please !!! :)

The Stories: Heroes, Villains and a wisdom full of Insanity!

             The story is on the lines of standard comic book fare but it does try to explore a bit deeper than usual and succeeds too. It’s good fare, not V for Vendetta or From Hell good, but it does try to veer thematically towards the Neil Gaiman stories of Batman, exploring Batman’s inner thoughts and dilemmas a bit more than a standard comic would.

The undercurrent of Batman seeing the good in everyone is strong here and the story goes on to break the hero/villain stereotypes of various characters. The definitions keep veering around the edge of either and this also serves well as a backdrop for the self-revelatory journey Batman is on. Events and expositions tug us around on a stage-full of unpredictable characters with what seems like insanity edging on the brink of wisdom and being justified either way by the well-presented cast. The game can really get under your skin sometimes, creating surreal moments of wonder and the anticipation of the unknown.

           I am sure, one can safely say that Rocksteady has done one of the best fan-services in interpreting these comic book caricatures as relatable characters. A Hero or a villain, each presents a somewhat eccentric, yet relatable and realistic point of view of this world. Give and take a few notches, Rocksteady has toed the line wonderfully, if not exceptionally, on the theme, given the set cast of characters and the world of Gotham.

                         The game also satisfies the innate Batman fan by roping in a lot of the series’ villains and characters in fitting roles. Complete optional quest-lines (side activities in the open world) are dedicated to particular characters which take you through mini stories woven around them replete with a boss fight in the end. This approach by Rocksteady works out very well and serves the dual purpose of providing worthy context to side activities while letting multiple villains have noticeable presence in the game without overtly straining or muddling the main story. Rest assured that you will meet a lot of Villains and you can have your sweet time with them.

Gotham at its finest:
The open world is heavy, moody, huge and yet claustrophobic in every alley you traverse! The outdoors are simply stunning and it is safe to say that this is the best Gotham city you can roam around in your waking life. The beautiful indoors are similarly very well crafted and moodily lit and keep evoking my dream of seeing a next-gen Bioshock soon. The colours, the atmosphere and the art are spot on here and sometimes you feel a zen moment just gliding through the sparkling rain while zipping around the rooftops or admiring the beautiful indoors that have an uncanny sense of unease to them ( as if they have imbibed the spirit of the Joker in them!). During the course of the game the city changes many moods and each one seems to induce the same wow feeling as the previous one.

                    The city is alive in more ways than one and the constant contextually correct banter from the NPCs keeps the immersion alive while also lightening the mood occasionally. Some of the chatter between thugs is genuinely funny and can make you stop and just listen to them for a while. Similarly, Rocksteady has paid a lot of attention to little details to make you, the player, feel the change he brings to the world. Thugs you apprehend start filling up the GCPD cells and taunt you while you walk around the place. People you rescue also show up in the safe haven and converse with you and intelligently comment on the most recent threats of the villains, as do the GCPD cops. Their reactions to your actions, however small, really make them a bit more believable and your actions a bit more palpable than would otherwise feel.

              It is these little details which create a sense of belonging to this doomed city. As an example, there is this little moment of two cops taking a selfie with the Batmobile while you are away and they scramble around and apologise to you profusely as soon as you reach the spot. That one little conversation suddenly turned those two NPCs into real people with families and responsibilities and really made me stop and take notice apart from breaking into laughter, of course. The Last of Us brought these little in game interactions to the fore and Rocksteady seems to be picking their inspirations from the right places !

An Open world yet eerily claustrophobic !

As for the sound design, well, it’s punchy and loud, like an action game sounds should be. The soundtrack does not catch attention but does not get in the way of the game either.

Final thoughts:

      It's almost as if Rocksteady decided that Batmobile was to be THE GAME in Batman: Arkham Knight. The whole main campaign and the City are designed around it. They have provided for the classic Batman gameplay in the side missions you can optionally tackle, but this still remains a very polarizing aspect of the game. If you end up not enjoying the Tank gameplay, the appeal of the game will drop considerably. At least for the main story, you are almost always in your Tank. So, the merit of the game lies a lot on whether the player falls in love with or abhors the Bat-Tank set free here! And there-in lies the dilemma in passing any judgment on this game.

The game redeems itself with a very satisfying end to the campaign and all is forgiven for the way the manic characters and the finale is treated in this game. Also, the side activities involving the Riddler are just too good to be ignored. In fact, I found myself more interested in acquiring the Riddler trophies and stopping Two Face from looting banks than actually catching the Arkham Knight during my time with the game.

If you have played the previous Batman games then you have to play it simply to see how it ends and gratifying it is to play that final chapter of the game. If you have not played the previous games then chances of feeling disappointed are diminished as you do not have a preconceived notion of how Batman game should play and the tank sections might not trouble you that much. Either way, if you have time for another game, go for it. It is not the best fare this year has to offer, but it sure is fun ! This is the best Gotham you will get to play until at least next or next-next generation of consoles arrive so savour it while you can but be prepared to be a Tank rather than a flying bat…..or a detective !

+Stunning visuals with the best slick, grimy and wet Gotham City you can experience in your waking life.

+Well realized memorable characters.

+Batmobile’s gameplay keeps the action fresh and fun

+A very gratifying Finale.

+ The side missions with the classic Batman gameplay.

+Riddler puzzles !

-Lopsided focus on the Batmobile. Feels like a Batmobile game, not a Batman game.

-off putting and odd boss battles in the main campaign.

-Some immersion breaking choices in presentation.

-No real Detective work for the World’s greatest detective.


“A fun romp throughout and a fitting end to the series. Best to try out the new Batmobile gameplay before buying, though.”

(*all screenshots taken with the Share button on a PS4 system)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV highlights the shortcomings of Dragon Age Inquisition.

I recently made my first foray into MMOS by playing the FFXIV's 14 day trial on my ps4. To not make a long story out of it, I enjoyed it a lot and ended up buying the game for myself but that's not the reason I am here. I am here because what I thought about the most while playing Final Fantasy XIV was , surprise surprise: Dragon Age Inquisition !

Yup, every fun moment I had in FF XIV reminded me of the fun I did not have in Dragon age Inquisition ! I am not saying I didn't have fun in Dragon Age at all, but for each time I did I can count 10 where I did not. For all of its grand designs, the game felt bland and lukewarm in every implementation. For all its shiny exteriors, Inquisition felt like a monotonous trudge through a series of beautiful environments.

Enough complaining about it, though. Here are some of the points which I realized were similar in FFXIV and yet more fun or engaging than Inquisition:
  • The Combat:
    This is where the two games are most similar. Both the games have ability based combat which is governed by cool down meters for those abilities. Multiple abilities share a common cool down meter while some abilities have their own cool down time. Abilities also stack up on each other well if you chain them in a proper sequence. But this is also the aspect where FFXIV is a lot of fun while Dragon Age Inquisition is just serviceable at most. Chaining abilities and taking crit shots in FFXIV is exhilarating while in DA:I, even though we can switch between characters and have cross class combos, when you do land a crit its just another hit, just another fight. One does not get the feeling of having pulled it off correctly or intelligently or victoriously. So what is it that makes FF better in this regard?:

  1. Well, for one the Cooldown times:
    They are faster in FFXIV. I have not measured them in milliseconds or anything, but combat is faster and more hectic in FFXIV making it feel more energetic and involving than DAI where the slower pace makes it feel drab and button spammy in nature. I know these are perceptions and can vary with each individual but then games are perceived experiences and the main emotive or perceptual goal while designing a combat system is the feeling of excitement, the adrenaline rush, while making you believe that your actions and decisions matter. In other words, the goals of designing a combat system include a rise in pace/attention and player agency. If any of these fail the game's combat is bound to feel bland or lacking without the player being able to tell why. Both, a sense of player agency and a higher pace of events than normal requiring higher level of attention, snapping the player out of the exploratory humdrum,are essential in imparting a feeling of being in combat.
  2. Finisher moves:
    this is where Final Fantasy nails it and imparts an indispensable feeling of achievement and decisive agency. Playing as an Archer I acquired a skill called the "Misery's end" which is high powered shot from the bow which can be triggered only when the target has less than 20% health. The idea being that you fire this as the last finisher shot to end the battle on a victorious note. This might sound pretty simple but it leads to a small but significant moment in battle where I, the player, feels a complete sense of agency, power and accomplishment in one go! Of course, there is a chance that the target might live through the move, especially if it's a boss, but even then it foreshadows your impending victory bringing an ebb and flow to every tiny battle you fight. Thats storytelling techniques within each battle ! It is like an announcement by the player that I am about to win this right here, right now ! When it kills, it's like the exhilaration of declaring 'Checkmate' after a well fought chess match ! And to top it all its not some end game skill which one unlocks at the fag end of his/her levels but something that is provided to you very early in the game. From what I played DAI lacks this sorely during its early hours leading to the battles lacking any kind of flow to them. It's stacking attacks upon attacks till the enemy dies. That is not to say that DAI doesn't let you use tactics, it does and does pretty well later in the game but can it make you stay in the game till then? And that brings us to our next point.

  • The Pace of Levelling up:
    this is another area where FFXIV scores ever DAI in keeping your interest intact during the early hours of the game. In FFXIV you level up fast, very fast initially. I was levelling up every 20 minutes or so during my initial hours and even faster when I had my sanctuary bonus running in the background giving me double xp for every quest. What this means , other than gratification and general sense of accomplishment, is that I was gaining new abilities, new toys to play with, every 15 -20 minutes! OTOH, in DAI After spending double figure hours in the game, I realised I had only managed level 7 or 8 which directly equates to the number of skills I had at my disposal to play with. Of course, these numbers are not directly comparable between games but it does show the disparity in rewards and the number of choices I had in each game to play my way or feeling that l could choose my play style after a specific amount of time. FFXIV manages a perfect 'flow' in its "challenges vs rewards" curve and keeps the player engaged and interested while the much much slower reward pattern of DAI makes the similar combat feel like a grind ! It's a designer defined experience and the choice to keep the initial hours slow in terms of progression and choice can lead to that definite feeling of grind. OTOH, giving out too many rewards can make the game feel hollow and nullify the importance of the world you are fighting for or engrossed in. The 'flow theory' is at work here and FFXIV manages that challenge vs rewards graph very smoothly.To be honest, FFXIV is more Grindy than DA:I but it doesn't let you feel it at all which is not just  due to the faster levelling up and engaging combat but also due to another aspect which brings us to our next point.

  • Characters and humour:
    this might seem not to affect the player's impression of the grind but actually it contributes equally towards the perception the player forms of the activities he is tasked to perform. Believability and sense of purpose are the two defining factors here and FFXIV scores better on both fronts but not by making the characters and the world more realistic but instead it makes its world, characters and activities 'believable' by doing the exact opposite ! FFXIV doesn't strive for realism and instead embraces its existence as a game. The characters do not pretend to be real in their dialogues or actions and are perfectly contended in being non realistic 'cartoons', for the lack of a better word. Since there is no make believe going on here, the player's mind also accepts them as fictional cartoons which do whimsical and silly things. The game spices it all up by adding humor to every scene or dialogue cementing the notion that it is all in good fun and none of it is to be taken too seriously ! This approach, well balanced in FFXIV, works wonders and whenever one is tasked with another one of the good old fetch quests, one doesn't cringe at it as there is no suspension of disbelief, there is no part of your brain fighting with the unrealistic demands of the game as the quest giver itself also is aware of the meaningless quest as highlighted by the humor in its quest description. OTOH, DA:I chooses to go the 'realistic' route and as good as Frostbite may make the characters to look and sound, they feel like clay puppets trying to sound too serious in vain. The believability is lost each time a character speaks only to look like a shiny plastic doll devoid of expressions or an exposition is presented out. At each quest description, your mind jumps out to inform you of the futility or the un-feasibility of the required task and the illusion built so delicately by the graphics of the game falls apart. The Witcher 3 succeeds in this department while still keeping the world and characters realistic, thanks to some well written dialogue, the humor and the very well made emotive faces.

  • The dense and alive cities:
    another aspect that elevates the believability and immersive-ness of the world of FFXIV is the way all of its areas feel dense and full of activity all the time. This is where the MMO nature of FFXIV brings in its advantages. Each and every area is bustling with activity creating a convincing illusion of a living breathing world, all thanks to the multitude of players populating its worlds. Even if you never interact with any of them, your world is always full of other people going about their own quests or businesses and that sets the world apart ! Being a single player experience, DA:I cannot do that convincingly and we cannot hold it at task here but this does bring forth the importance of having people together in your game. We could , for example, have a system, somewhat like Demons Souls, where in you can see a lot of players in your game, playing around doing their own thing, even if you cannot interact with them. It would still make the world feel alive and bustling with activity ! Though, of course, your fiction must be able to accommodate this influx of heroes :).

Playing FFXIV has actually made me more interested in going back to Dragon Age and finishing it as it has shown me how good a cooldown based combat can be. Now , I am re-downloading DA:I to see if the game improves in the later stages of the campaign and actually delivers on the promise of being not only an expansive and exhaustive RPG but also an enjoyable and immersive RPG. But the game will have to do it fast because MGS V approaches soon and then, its all over to Snake and Master God Kojima San !

Here's wishing me luck ;)

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Batman spices up his dull days with some thug-spinning fun ! No thugs were actually harmed and I am sure the thug enjoyed the gleeful spinning as much as Batman !

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Batman Arkham Knight: Log 1: Explosions and Jetsons ! Right here, right now !

I have just started my blind playthrough of Batman Arkham Knight on my ps4 and it evoked pretty surprising reactions from me, maybe because I was expecting a different gameplay from it, and it set me thinking that maybe I should log down these thoughts regularly for the fun of it and see how it feels :) I have not read or watched any reviews of the game and do not know what criticisms have been levied or what praises have been showered on the game by the gaming press or users. I am aware that it has been recieved well by people at large, by which I mean if I ask people about Arkham Knight I mostly hear good responses. Rocksteady has built that reputation for itself pretty well !

This project has no real theme or purpose other than to see what amusing thoughts I have while playing Batman:Arkham Knight, which I am sure I will all but forget once its done, and see how they evolve as the game progresses.

Oh and as always I am going to keep it completely Spoiler-free for your experiential pleasures while playing the game yourself. So don't worry a bit and come join me in my adventure as they unfold!

So, here goes the first log, hope this turns out fun :) !

Explosions and Jetsons ! Right here, right now ! Oh and Battletank!

 Diary log 01: 

The game opens really well, to be honest and introduces the world with a touch of mystique and flamboyance that instantly catches attention. Things are set in motion within minutes in a very theatrical way and soon we have the stage set for Batman, the saviour , to arrive and save the day ! ....or to be literal, start saving the night. 


Here is Batman, our gadget sporting masked knight, with all his jazz and antics sprinkling around him. The Gadgets take the centre-stage right from the start and if you have ever dreamt of flying over neon streets while popping out all kinds of seemingly omnipotent gadgets, ala the Jetsons, which can do literally everything for you then this is the game you had been waiting for. For every problem thrown at Batman out pops a gadget by Wayne Tech and saves the day :) !

 The city makes a supreme first impression dazzling you with stunning graphics and a perpetual rain so dense that it in itself becomes a spectacle during the free flowing flights of the Bat and the tense chases involving the other hero of our game, yes there's a surprise here, literally the second protagonist of the game: The Batmobile ! 

You are going to either hate it or love it but Batmobile has a presence in the game equaling Batman and frankly, it stops being a gadget or a car and becomes the second playable character to an extent that can annoy some people while delighting others with its gameplay while literally reminding you of your cheerful childhood evenings spent with Battletanks ( or not if you weren't a biological entity yet back then, in which case you will have no memories to fall back on, sorry, sometimes being older has its perks).

 It's almost as if Rocksteady decided that Batmobile was to be THE GAME in Arkham Knight. Atleast thats how it feels in the intial hours of the game. I mea they have accomodated the car so much into the game that I was even forced to take Batmobile inside buildings, for gods sake, lest I forget about this amazing new gadget In the game and start playing as Batman :P ! 

It will yield different results for different people but for me it is reaching to a point where I have started questioning the quest design's practicality ! Everything is forcibly designed such that u can be in that car for most of the time. Corridors have been widened to allow a car through, simple ledges which can be easily grappled are magically made unreachable for Batman so that Batman needs to go back to get his car and for some reason Batmobile has a grapple in the front which can pass electrical current to devices ! o.0  

Another immersion breaking element of the game is the whole Augmented Reality training exercises that trigger right inside the city, right in the middle of all the chaos ! The game showed me a guy who needs to be rescued from 4 thugs and immediately after informing me about the urgency of the rescue the game asked me to smash holographic thugs right there front of the actual place where a guy is about to die ! 
How can I not feel weird clicking on floating challenge buttons in the air and going through six training mission while a crime progresses right in front of me ? I still can't fathom Batman punching air to train himself smack in the middle of real thugs....I am sure paper would carry news of Batman's insanity the next day :P ! 

 The jarring choices aside the game integrates Batmobile with Batman so smoothly that it playing from within the car and as Batman feels seamless. The game lets you switch between them absolutely seamlessly creating a flow of traversal so fluid that it easily gets addicting to just zip in and out of the car just to see how cool it all is. Oh and the rest of the game also shares that philosophy of coolness. The whole focus right now is on flash and bang ! Dazzling graphics with lots of explosions thanks to our Battletank.

 In case you try being the old batman and fly around a bit, the banter from the thugs keeps reminding you that you have a new car which can level tanks in straight fights lest you forget it and not use it. The game seems obsessed about keeping Batmobile in attention all the time ! I find it very amusing while playing the game and can't help but smirk everytime a thug mentions my having a tank-smashing super Car ;). 

Anyways, I have settled in with that and now I have accepted that most of my Batman adventure would be played out as a havoc wreaking tank sliding around causing giant explosions and not as a sneaking detective with a penchant for cracking knockdowns!

I have put that behind me, accepted my new sidekick and have started enjoying the tank battles for I cannot forego them in any way. Now I look forward to what story the game will unfold around me and hope that it turns out to be a fun experience. 

The game has an excessive focus on explosions for now which was, frankly, unexpected for me.I like flash and kaboom too but only if it has substance to back it up, like say Wolfenstein:The New Order. I will continue tomorrow hoping that now that the initial explosions have settled down, my dearest Batman's adventure actually starts delivering on that mystique with which it opened! 


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Thank You Sony for Keeping the magic alive !

           I am so glad that The Last Guardian is back in production and Fumito Ueda has confirmed that he, along with the rest of Team ICO members , have been working on it since summer 2014!

              The Magic of ICO and Shadow of The Colossus has to.... has to live on ! Some games are good, some great , some exceptional, but Team ICO's games are magical .......surreal pseudo worlds that your mind can inhabit !!! There has never been a virtual world like of the Shadow of The Colossus, which totally enveloped me in a sense of wonder while the game was on and which had me day-dreaming of the Colossi when idle !

Thank you again Sony for funding such games, for caring for the gaming dream ! For gaming is not just a business, its has the magic that this universe bestowed on all art, a magic that connects to us on our human level, sans lingual barriers. It has the magic that communicates without the use of language and there in lies the secret of touching us on deeper level, beyond words, beyond symbolism....... the untouched self.

Thank you Sony for keeping the magic alive by funding Team ICO, the once-in-a-lifetime-experience of Journey and the surrealistic magic of the upcoming "Dreams" and more projects that have got the confidence to materialise due to the existence of these masterpieces !


What might get called offbeat today might just be the one that takes us into the future of games .............and into a journey towards ourselves !

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Destiny : Where is your Fantasy ?

(Lets say this is not one of my usual articles and its more like what I think about Destiny right now put into text. That said, lets dive in !)

Anyone remember this video? this is what Destiny was conceptualised as :

Where is this adventure and exploration? secret areas and secret loot?
Yes, Bungie,  the pressing question I ask of you:

Where is the 'fantasy' of Destiny?

The fresh start:

I am fan of Bungie and Halo and I have been playing Destiny since the Alpha, the first time Bungie let players get their hands on it and have loved the gameplay since the first time I moved my trigger finger in it! Its been more than a year of shooting Hive, Fallen, Vex and Cabal and I will be honest, the amazing art and the super fun gameplay loops have kept me hooked for so long. I still remember seeing Moon for the first time and declaring on forums that it was the best Sci-fi rendition of Moon ever. I didn't like Venus then, because it was just like earth, to be honest, but then I landed on mars:

 and watching a dawn on mars was enough to make me stand in awe again till a rocket from the Cabal brought me back into the "shoot>jump>headshot>Super Charged>Obliteration!" loop of Destiny fun :^) ! And boy did the Cabal know how to fall gloriously when shot in the head .........bam...pooff....phhkkhkhkhkh !
That kind of stuff reinvigorated the play sessions with smiles back on where they belonged :) !

Then came the strikes, something that's still my go-to place for fun and then, after month of not being able to form a group came the raid :O

 The Vault of Glass !

Oh, hell yeah ! The feeling of wonder restored beyond expectations, we followed our leader "HarshadB" like hobbits would follow Gandalf into the unknown! Each step taken as told..."Don't worry, jump down"....."Stop !"....."Crouch"....."Hide from the white ones"...."follow me" ! I was a wide-eyed boy again :^) , a little child filled with wonder as the rabbit hole (literally) kept getting deeper and deeper ! "Those are Oracles,this is the Relic, one portal is the past and one is the future", shouts of "I am blind!" "shoot him now !"........I was lapping it all up like a hungry boy let loose in the toy store of his dreams ! I was ecstatic and, like a perfect Hobbit, when "djsinghaero" told me there's a hidden chest beyond Atheon which only the first timers can see, a blatant lie, I immediately jumped over to my death ! :^)

I was in awe, I was in reverence of Destiny and Bungie ! It was one of the most memorable gaming time of my life , up there with Journey !

....and it lasted for a while.Once it was all done, I kept playing for the loot, the exotics, the Gjallarhorn and the fun the game was, including the PvP(however much lag it may have, it does have the needed ingredient: fun) ! But over time, as the surprises and awe faded away and I had my Hawkmoons and Gjallarhorns,  I turned my eye towards the world of Destiny.....only to find none ! 

Then it started snapping:

I mean..... where is the Fantasy of the world? When Bungie initially revealed Destiny as a concept, the world, the fantasy was huge, and even in the final game the way each place is well named , it all hints towards a very strong mythos. 
But where is all of it? Where is the reason to fight? Where is the context? Where are the people who need saving ? 

Something as simple as , Why is the "Valley of Kings" on Mars called the Valley of Kings?  Or Why are we, a group of Exo, Awoken and Humans, going together in this battle against the Hive, Vex and the Fallen? Why are the Exo and Awoken even interested in it? cos the Queen doesn't seem to be and we have no idea where the Exos came from and thats me, my Warlock is an Exo and I have no idea who he is ! I know the game went through some development hell back then, but it been an year since release and we should now be treated to a proper game ! Heck, Witcher 2 got a totally new opening cut-scene months later because the devs felt it was needed and this is supposed to be a 10 year haul of a franchise and we don't get a proper beginning or basis for the fight !
......and Who are we saving? Humans in that slum under the Traveller that we never ever visit? What are they doing there all day?

Who is that Speaker who has nothing to do at all? He has no role I can tell? I have never seen one human from the city, has anyone seen any human we need to save? I am at the tower, I take orders from a broadcasting robot, I go out into the designated areas, do what the broadcasts say and I come back into the tower. 

That's my Destiny ? My Legend ?

The story quests provided no context at all either,except for "Shoot! Its the bad guys!" and the DLCs just keep adding new Bad guys to shoot, albeit in the same old places. I have recently been getting interested in FFXIV and even Elder Scrolls Online and these games provide tons of unique story content before asking you to jump into Dungeons (Strikes in Destiny) and you can stay engaged with unique content for months before you start redoing the missions for grinding.

Dear Bungie, Where is the world of Destiny? Please spare me the Grimoire cards Bungie. I am a book lover and I have read all the books of the Witcher series but..... it did not serve me a videogame when I bought a book, nor did it serve me a book when I bought Witcher 3. There is a difference, right? 
The godforsaken Grimoire cards!

If I want to read a book on Destiny's universe I would buy and love it too, if its good, but I didn't spend $100 to read flash cards on my PC ! I spent them to live in a world full of wonders , forge my own legend in it and there is none in Destiny ! 

House of Wolves: The promised DLC to solve this exact problem !

This was supposed to be the saviour of the fantasy, the story, but it did nothing at all ! Its still the same ol', same ol'.Why is my Queen not angry at me(an awoken) for not serving her but instead serving a Speaker of the humans? And all those mentions of many Houses of Wolves, I got nothing out of it. Skolas is the new bad guy and all other new bad guys are clones of the older bad guys. "Kill them all ! " That's all I got from it because all the past events Ms. Petra keeps referring to while describing missions to me, they have never been told to me by Destiny before.....ever !
             So, how do I care if a certain Fallen Captain clone with a yellow bar on his head has fought in the Great War of AwesomeTreachery? What war, who fought.......never heard of it, never been told ! Oh, maybe my Ghost knows as usual, but he is silent this time....maybe the speaker at the tower would know....nope, he just sells some piece of cloth and arm bands !...........what are you doing Bungie?

So, it all made for no context to me.

 "Get a Scorch cannon and shoot the rest: That's House of Wolves for me !"

 and for all of us out there actually !

 Same problem with the new playable activities:
Prison of Elders: 

Why is there no context in POE at all? We aren't even trapped in a prison by someone's treachery and trying to escape, instead we are just in there playing gladiator for Variks ! Why the hell, may I ask ? The Queen never asked for Gladiatorial events, she asked for help from the Guardians to defeat the Fallen.
 Just to make a point about context, why can't I be escaping out of a prison while finding tougher enemies as I go? Why can't each round instead be about escaping an area, blowing up a wall to get to the next, finding a key from a special target to move on and ending up in cells with tougher enemies untill we reach the boss and escape the prison? It  doesn't change anything, we can still have the same objectives as now, but it changes everything. Now, there is a reason for doing it all, there is a story to it all that fits inside the universe we are fighting for,  not disjointed levels that need clearing of enemies ! Now, its an actual event happeneing in the current history of Destiny. It makes a difference, we are not playing Pong here, Bungie, are we? :-/

Trials of Osiris:

Who the hell is he, the Osiris? Why is he giving out Egyptian headsets that belong more to a costume party than Destiny? Is he a religious fanatic, cos his servant is a "Brother" Vance surrounded by Candles? Why has he organised this event? What purpose does it serve in the overarching (lack of?) story of the Destiny universe? 
Stop checking messages Dude, we are angry here !

.....and for all things spoken and said why the hell is he on The Reef that belongs to the Queen of Awoken? Mr. Vance isn't an awoken from what I can see ! Is the Queen sharing profits with Mr. Osiris from this reality TV fight show of the guardians? I know, its all for fun and everything does not need justification, but going that little extra bit is what its all about ! 

         If I know there is a rogue group of Gaurdians fighting back for mysterious reasons that need to be subdued or if Osiris, the last king of Ancients has an artifact/weapon that can turn the tide against the darkness and Guardians are being tested for being sent to him (Mercury Lighthouse?) then wouldn't this "just-another-MP-Mode" turn into an actual event happening in the Universe? How hard it is to put such context in?

C'mon, Bungie,  HoW content has the same issue that Destiny has had overall.

  Lack of context !

The game is great and the gameplay the best out there, but the gameplay cannot hold on its own forever ! 

Where is the fantasy, Destiny? 
How do I become Legend without a world ?

    I know you will just say 'The Taken King' fixes everything, just like you said House of Wolves will. House of Wolves didn't, it added more activities but it didn't fix the basic issue here, the complete lack of a believable fantasy which we can invest in ! 
After being burnt by it, I am very wary of buying The Taken King and I believe my money can be better spent on a very awesome Hideo Kojima game that month and on a specific Sci-fi game called No Mans Sky after that. And if that doesn't arrive soon, I may just try Final Fantasy XIV instead.

You might say my comparisons are unfair and FFXIV asks you to pay each month to play it(and it ain't a shooter), but then I have also spent $100 on Destiny. With that money I could have bought and played FFXIV for 6 whole months with much larger content and updates and , not to mention, Elder Scrolls Online does not even charge a subscription fee and for the base price $60 I could have had an immense world of my own !

But, lets say this isn't about money, I still can't get over the fact that after putting in $100 and hoping for similar content as other games ,after 2 DLC packs, I am still left with a game which has about less than half the content of a similar format game and has no fresh events regularly which even F2P game Warframe hosts every other week!

I am not optimistic anymore, Bungie ! I think the time has come to put down the rifle and take a break...............

...the problem makes me sad :( ! That's is real problem, that it makes me sad, cos I want to play Destiny, but the game is getting jaded and is revealing its empty-ness as I come any closer. Its a Shiny hollow shell, where my Legend is just a Mirage.............

Save it Bungie !

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hello Games: Where games surpass our imagination !

Needs no introduction, No Mans Sky is every explorer's "dream-come-true" game ! Its one game where it does not matter what happens in there, it does not matter what check-boxes it ticks, all that matters is you, in your little ship and .....the Universe out there !

......... open to you, all encompassing, unimaginably big but yet, for the first time ever, within your your grasp ! You can, for the first time, just get in your ship and aim for anywhere! Anywhere ! 

...and live the adventures that happen along the way. For once it is literally not about the goal, its all.......I repeat, all about your journey :) wherever you want, for however long you want. Whatever "life" you want in this space !

In a way its a journey into your own mind. It asks a question so beautiful :

"What is it that you would do if you could explore the whole Universe ?"

that how can one not be excited about it :^) !!!!

Here is the latest video shedding light on the small team going about making this masterpiece. I cannot imagine the leap they have taken going from making the little levels of (the very fun game) Joe Danger to a galaxy so massive that it might not ever be possible to visit every planet in it !

They seriously need to announce a release date asap ! Explorers, Scientists,Space miners, Pirates, rogues, adventurers.....all aboard, Ahoy :^) !

Monday, July 13, 2015

Metal Gear Solid is immortal !!!! :^(

From the Japanese voice actor of Snake:

"“Kojima Productions was forced to disband, but it appears that the work that the team has been putting their utmost effort into is nearly complete. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I expect it will become their greatest masterpiece. I couldn’t help it. I just wanted to say ‘Kept you waiting, huh?’ (Laughs.) But even if this is the end, Metal Gear Solid is immortal!”

This brings a tear to my eye...... Seriously still wish this is just a major troll from Kojima San and he would bring forth some stupid video and say "Did you rike it?"...... This cannot be real !


"Snake ! Snaake ! Snaaaaaaaaaake !!!"

Battleborn: Get aside Mr Destiny A new addiction is incoming !


Nice name, yeah? Well, not really.Generic space marine is what I think of when I hear  Battleborn but I paid attention because it sounded a lot like that awesome amazing super fantastic Miyazaki love called Bloodborne but, calm your horses,  it has nothing to do with it which is sad because anything to do with Bloodborne is most welcome, will be appreciated and devoured till  no more can be devoured ! 
     The similarity of name with the Japanese masterpiece is not the only reason Battleborn caught my attention, in fact, putting aside teh jokes, the real reason is that its being made by Gearbox, the creators of Borderlands franchise and, well, I liked Borderlands 2 quite a bit. The cast of multiple crazy characters and the skill trees combined with the unique art style worked its magic on me back in the day and , in fact, writing this right now makes me wanna re-buy the game for my ps4 to try out the newer characters which were released later as DLCs. Damn it, there goes my money again, I shouldn't be writing stuff at all and should be just posting this kaboom-a-shazaam of bad-assery mixed together with some phonetic crooning of exotic sorts :D .......!

   What you just saw, Ladies and Gentlemen, needs no explanation : its gamingsuace being poured in dollops ! Bring it on Gearbox, let the games begin :) ! Yeah ! all that excitement brewing in me and I haven't even shared the gameplay demo yet. Well, I am not Snake to keep you waiting, here , here :
(That Ratchet and CLank vibe to te banter is unmistake-able)

You know what, I can be that Archer right now :^) and that Vampire Ninja :O : the cast of characters is crackling with energy ! I think Destiny, the only game that actually ever got me "addicted" in the true painful sense of the word is in danger now. I sense a true competitor even if the games are very different from each other. Destiny is following the MMORPG formula while Battleborn wants to tread the MOBA way, both not really committing to the respective genres instead trying to be lighter versions of each. Yet the common element of selling a fantasy of playing as exotic characters mowing down enemies together with your friends while earning yet stronger powers as you play remains at the heart of both .......and that both are aimed at the FPS lovers out there ! 

The competition is real and as far as I am concerned, Battleborn is already in the battle with Destiny for my time. I cannot wait to try it out for myself and see the punches it packs considering I am already getting jaded with the DLC pricing and the direction Bungie is taking with the way they serve content in Destiny. Instead of being a world where regular new events occur, Destiny is more on the lines of fixed content being delivered via DLCs which you keep playing till the next paid DLC arrives. This may have always been what Destiny was 'destined' to be but I perhaps had a different vision of a persistent world where newer events get pushed into the world every week, like Warframe does. I mean whats the point of running your game on servers if you aren't pushing fresh events regularly? Even small missions which change things, like :
"Fallen are taking over cosmodrome...defend it , events lasts till Monday evening."
"Hunt a special target amidst a massive firefight between hive and fallen on earth. "
" Fight alongside cabal in taking over an area from Vex....some guardian can choose to take Vex side... Events lasts for few hours ! "

 /end_Destiny_rant.  I got carried away but thats how I had imagined Destiny to be. 

So, what does Battleborn do? Battleborn isn't going that way either, instead they are being a MOBA with a co-op campaign. A MOBA is primarily PvP genre, just like League of Legends and DOTA, and I think thats why Gearbox is so focussed on revealing co-op content first to distinguish themselves from regular MOBAs and catering directly to the FPS fans first and foremost. Just like any other MOBA, Battleborn has a wide array of characters, 25 to be specific and Gearbox is making a huge deal out of it and comparing it to Borderlands 2's 4 but, to be honest, that comparison is just misleading. This is a MOBA-esque game and 25 is not over the top for a MOBA !( C'mon Gearbox, get your act together ;) !) But when they are as crazy and imaginative as Gearbox makes them, then that count of 25 sure packs a punch !

This difference from Destiny, yet sharing the similar fantasy is what excites me actually. This game can be heaven with a bunch of friends, just like Destiny is... but with 25 characters to choose from and each match letting you level your character up differently, there is a LOT of builds to try out and a LOT of fresh gameplay to be savored. Considering that we are having so much fun with just the three classes, technically six, in Destiny, imagine having 25 characters with multiple skill trees which can be changed every mission... ....I see smiles plastered on my face :^)! I hear cackles of laughter while failing and victory dances when the classes just work together ! Who doesn't want to be a Vampire Ninja, for gods sake ! I know I do ! :^D and did I mention a four handed witch yet , oh and a Mecha that can fly up in the air and shoot tracking missiles ala "insert-favourite-anime-name"  !!!

.....and just look at the art style  ! 
In-Game screenshot !

My heart screams :OKAMI !!! :)

Although I am not totally convinced by the art but the mix of Diablo-esque art with Sci-fi with Ratchet n Clank tendencies looks fantastic to me. The explosions are what caught my fancy instantly, they look hand drawn and pulled straight out of Anime ! Apparently the character designer from Borderlands has the reins of Art direction in this one and he has been allowed to go as crazy as he wants and though something feels off about it IMO, it still feels "alien" in a very new way. Its unsettling, unfamiliar to look at and I guess that's the premise of the game. Its the place left after all star systems have died and your warriors fight the last battle of the universe in this far-away corner of the universe ! A world alien to all aliens too, an inviting yet unsettling place for adventure. SOunds and looks equally cool. Hoping it gets mroe polished by the time beta arrives and more importantly, hoping to jump into the beta myself. Sony hasn't really been giving us the betas that were promised with PS+ subscriptions !

Here's the official website, btw:

The promise here is huge and the possibilities immense.
I just hope the MOBA influences don't dilute the fun for me. Battleborn has a 2015 release window.Here's hoping for a excting end to this wonderful gaming year of 2015 !

Oh, edit: Here's the latest interview of th eproducer, much needed tons of info in there, enjoy: