Friday, March 6, 2015

The Last of Us: Let's Talk About Humanity

         Okay, so let’s talk about The Last of Us. I would think it doesn’t need to be said that this game is one of the most amazing games of the 7th generation of video games. A latecomer to the generation that shook everyone that played it, and served as Naughtydog’s sending off gift for the Playstation 3. Now this isn’t going to be a video game review, 1, the game has been out so long, 2, IGN pretty much has the monopoly on good video game reviews, and 3, they bore me. If you don’t have this game though and are looking for a reason to play it, there is no question, you should get this game.  Okay time to get to the actual thing I want to talk about, fair warning, I’ll be talking about a lot of things related to the plot, and just so nobody gets accidentally spoiled: SPOILER ALERT!
           The Last of Us gets a lot of praise for its gameplay mechanics, compelling story, likeable characters, and beautiful aesthetics. I would think that in the 18+ months that this game has been out, all of the praise-able things have already been praised again and again and again, just look at how many TLoU vids there are on youtube. Now what would make this specific article any different? Well we’re about to get to that. I just wanted to talk about something I observed during my second playthrough of the game, and to my knowledge I have not heard anyone talk about this before.

            There’s a connotation with zombie apocalypse settings that people assume that people lose any semblance of their humanity in exchange for the paranoid, panicked, adrenaline-filled will to live, and that’s pretty much a given, we are naturally led to believe that with the fall of civilization and society, survivors lose any reason to cling to social rules, and everything descends into anarchy. My initial assessment for The Last of Us setting is that this connotation was still applicable, especially when I found out that there was a group that resorted to cannibalism to survive, and aside from government quarantine areas, there was a stunning lack of social organization. The entire game reinforced that idea for me, all the fights and interactions with people helped build the idea of anarchy, but during my second playthrough, one scene made me re-evaluate everything.

 “You have no idea what loss is.”

            This one line changed everything for me. In the ranch scene when Joel and Ellie were having a heated argument, Joel says something that explains the entire game, their entire world. “You have no idea what loss is.” Now we’re already aware by this point that 20 years prior to the end of the world, Joel lost his daughter, Sarah. Now we see how he carries that loss. Of course there was an early indication in the first chapter when Ellie pointed out that Joel was wearing a broken watch, the watch that we know came from Sarah. You may be thinking that this is just a redundant example that the survivors in zombie settings have their own share of horrible experiences. But I’m not here to debate whether or not they have experienced hardships. I’m here to explain how that relates to their humanity. It is not the nature, or presence of the loss or hardship that counts, but how they relate to other people regarding their own wounds and pains. “You have no idea what loss is.” We are given an insight into Joel, that he clearly sees his own pain as the greatest pain any one can ever experience. He talks to Ellie in such a condescending manner, implying that she could not possibly have any experiences that would amount to those that he experienced. Let’s take a look at another example:

 “But whatever it is you think you’re going through right now is nothing to what I have been through/”

            Towards the end of the game we have Queen Firefly Marlene talking down to Joel about Ellie, and again we see that same tone in this one line. There’s Marlene talking down to Joel saying that her hardships are worth more than anything Joel could ever experience. This is a recurring element in the game’s characters and it reinforces my point. The Last of Us is not a story of people that abandoned their sanity and morals in a world full of spore spewing infected, quite the opposite actually. I argue that it is in this setting that we see the full extent of their humanity. I go against the notion that this setting presents people without humanity. The fact that they still hold their own experiences in a higher regard over others is a key indicator that they are still human. It’s only showcased more conspicuously in a setting where they can no longer afford to hide their thoughts and opinions. This idea humanizes all of the characters in the game, even David, ringleader to the people-eaters. The most horrible human enemy (depending on who you ask), can still be considered human. What about Ellie though? What about our young companion that was born after civilization? Well we need to take a look at one final dialogue line:

“I’m sorry about your daughter Joel, but I have lost people too.”

            In an odd twist, we see Ellie react with similar gripes but in a different manner. We know a little about Ellie’s back story from key items we find in her backpack during her winter levels, as well as her entire story with Riley which was told through a DLC earlier this year. So we know that she has her own hardships, but she never used it to loom over who she was talking with, in this case, Joel. I just love how calmly Ellie states her pain. This instance expresses a different dimension of her being a polar opposite of Joel. This goes beyond her lack of knowledge on Football rules, teen romantic flicks with wolves, coffee, and the list goes on and on. The Last of Us is built heavily upon the contrast between Joel and Ellie, survivors from both sides of the spectrum, an older man who saw the world that was, and a young girl that was born into a world of chaos. We can now see Ellie as a beacon, the manifestation of the human condition in their apocalyptic world. What kind of person would you become if you were born into a world heavily governed by militia, and a world in constant fear of the infected? You become Ellie. You become a person with the understanding that pain is present in all people, and that your own pain does not make you any better than others. Perhaps that’s why the game is called The Last of Us, not in that the humans are being eradicated by the infected, but rather, the generation that saw the world’s end is slowly dying out, and with it, a new breed of human is born.


Because it took me 7 million years to put up this post, I have also come across new information that might be interesting for all of you. I watched a video of TLoU gameplay which had commentary from three important people in the game's creation. They offered their own takes on the themes, and events in the game, and most definitely you'd take the Director's opinions to be canon, but give it a watch and think about what the game means for you specifically.

That's all for now, be sure to check back because I may or may not have a new post coming soon.
I promise it won't take me so long again. 
Kiboo Out.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Resident Evil 6: Overall Review & Final Words

Hey guys! It's been a long time since my last post so here's to getting back into the swing of things!
This post is just to wrap up things on RE6 which I feel that I just left hanging, so here's my overall review of the game.

Overall Review
It must have been a few months since I finished that game but my opinion on the game in its entirety has not changed since then. I initially meant to cover each of the four campaigns individually with a general recap for the whole game, but I don't think it's necessary at this point in time. So how did I find the game?

I was greatly disappointed. Resident Evil 6 did a great job at making me lose respect for the entire series, it drifted far from the classic scare you out of your seat game and chose to gravitate towards a comfortable co-op game that is the zombie and gun equivalent of a hack&slash game. Even while playing at the Professional difficulty I didn't experience any fear from the game. I touched on this in a previous entry, in that because you always go through the campaign with a companion, be it AI or a 2nd player, the fear is greatly downsized because you have someone with you. This was almost remedied by the Ada campaign where you had to play by yourself, up until Capcom released an update that paired Ada with a random, generic, faceless grunt with a gun. I am disappoint.

I had such high expectations for this game because the last RE game that I played was Resident Evil 4 for the Playstation 2. It felt nice seeing Leon again, but meh. While the graphics are superb, the story is too predictable, and the entire game is just forgettable. It's not one of those kinds of games that sticks with you long after you played it. A game that makes you regard all of the hours you spent playing it as extremely worth it. Sigh. The only thing that I'm glad about this game is that I can finally move on and review other games.

With the recent release of "better" zombie apocalypse games, RE6 is better off just taking a back seat to some of the new games such as 2013's game of the year, The Last of Us, which I will be reviewing at a later date.

Keep an eye out for new posts since I have a lot of games on the list!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Resident Evil 6: Chris Campaign

Hey guys, Kiboo here. I'm back with an overdue post for Chris Redfield's campaign. Let's skip any random openers and just get right into it.

Story & General Feel

Chris' BSAA ID

Chris Redfield returns immediately after doing time in Resident Evil 5, fresh from killing Wesker. We find that he is still a member of the BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, albeit having a short amnesia spell. He is brought back into action by one Piers Nivans, which I'm assuming is some sort of a Lieutenant to Chris' Captain. The entire campaign revolves around the BSAA's primary objective, which is to fight bioterrorism. This somehow translates to shooting down Bio-Organic Weapons (B.O.W.'s), because EVERYTHING can be shot down. During this war on terrorism which brings the boys to China, a little trouble stirs in Chris as he struggles with losses in his subordinates, and as well as his thoughts  of retiring. I found this campaign considerably more enjoyable and somewhat affected me more as a player. Perhaps it's also due to the fact that I fought through this campaign on a hard setting. Out of the four campaigns available in Resident Evil 6, this was the one I enjoyed the most. But don't worry, I'll still make posts for the last 2 campaigns. So just wait for that.

That's right, because fighting off monsters in packs is scaaary.

Now about the campaign's overall game feel. The BSAA is reminiscent of the STARS unit in the first Resident Evil games. In simpler words, the BSAA is a SWAT team, so does this affect the gameplay? Infinitely so. I'm a considerably seasoned Modern Warfare player, and the Chris Redfield experience is similar to the many campaigns of Modern Warfare. What does this mean? This means that it feels like your playing through a military game but with C-virus infected humans called J'avo (pronounced Joo-wa-voh), which I have yet to do substantial research on. I touched on in the Leon post how the fear is underwhelmed with having a partner, well in this campaign, the fear is downplayed even more so in the first two chapters because you're travelling in groups of 6. Not that I'm complaining. I think I've developed a weakness for military characters. I'll miss you Soap. *tear* Anyways, moving on! The campaign strips you of any shred of opportunity to discover something for yourself because there's always someone radio-ing in on you to instruct you what to do, hence the Modern Warfare comparison. Play this campaign for just a few minutes and you'll know what I'm talking about immediately. Moving on!


Okay so I made it a point in my Leon post the amount of disdain I had for Leon's HUD, which was transparent, crude, and confusing. Which is also pictured below for reference.

Leon's Horrible HUD

The first thing I noticed in this campaign aside from the subtle bromance between Chris and Piers, which we'll get to in a while, was that Chris' HUD was different. I LOVED IT. It was just very difficult to see stuff on Leon's HUD because of it's color scheme. But Chris' HUD (pictured below) pops out, and is the most visually appealing HUD out of the 4 shown in the game. It was late in the 3rd campaign that I realized that the HUD was corresponding to whatever manner of communication device the main character had. Leon and Helena had a futuristic transparent tablet/smartphone which explains the horrible transparent HUD. Chris' and Piers' not only had the distinct advantage of giving me the best HUD I had in the entire game, but their communication device, which name I do not know, is amazing. It looks like a rod, roughly 6 inches in length, and shows information in two ways. It can be used to open a circular user interface that hovers just above the rod's handle. It can also be used to project images on a surface, PORTABLE MOVIES, THINK OF THE POSSIBILITIES. You can watch your sitcoms on a wall in Edonia. :D

Chris' Not Horrible HUD

Case in point. Leon HUD, bad. Chris HUD, osom. The other HUDs? We'll get there when we get there. Moving on!

The AI

Okay, this campaign was the first time I had to play with an AI in an RE game. I've only played RE5 on co-op with my cousin. So, what can I say about the AI? I found myself cursing my partner a lot. As of now, this campaign is the only one I ran through on Professional difficulty, which basically means that if I get shot more than 3 consecutive times, I die, and the scarcity of bullets and herbs are heartbreaking. This means that I get killed a lot if I'm left alone. Now okay let's go. First let's meet Chris Redfield's new partner, one Piers Nivans.

Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans

Okay first up, HE LOOKS LIKE ************ JUSTIN BIEBER. The hell is up with that?  Apparently Capcom felt it necessary to make the new character look like one of them boyband boys. ugh. Not that I was judging his appearance, but it added to the stress I had whenever he didn't help me. In solo play, an AI controls your partner, and despite being provided with controls to give commands to the AI, whenever you ask him to "Move In," he answers with one of the following, "No Can Do," "You're Asking Me Now?" or "Not Right Now." Thank God the Professional setting had friendly fire because I punched him a few times to relieve my anger. Sigh. I don't think it's really fair that I bag so hard on him because maybe Capcom intended it to be that the AI doesn't do the work for you as much as possible, but still. Ughh. I kept screaming "dammit Piers," over and over. All that rage turned into something else when I ended the campaign. You're just going to have to get yourself a copy of Resident Evil 6 and play through it to find out because I am not about to spoil it here. It's worth it.

Okay that's about all I can say about Chris Redfield right now. Anything unsaid here will appear in a future post which will serve as a recapitulation for the entire game. So that's it. Comment if you find anything I said offensive, or if you have your own opinions on this campaign. If you haven't played it yet. Rent/Borrow/Buy a copy of Resident Evil 6 and play it to hell. Okay that's it. Just wait up for the next post which will cover Jake Muller's campaign. Here's a heads up trivia to get you excited. He's Albert Wesker's son. So just hold on and wait for the next post.


Friday, December 28, 2012

GK - Update

Hey guys, Kiboo here.

Just posting to let you knows what's been going on.
I'll soon be posting a review for the Chris Redfield campaign from Resident Evil 6. I'm currently on Chapter 5. The reason I'm taking so long will be discussed in the next post. Just hold on for a little longer for that review! It's going to be awesome because I'm enjoying Chris's campaign considerably more than Leon's. Chris' Badass one-liners > Leon's corny statements.

Here's a heads up of some games I will be reviewing some time in the future;

So I managed to borrow a copy of inFAMOUS from my friend, and I must say it is a most interesting game. There are quite a number of ways to describe this game, I somewhat halfway through with this, so the review should come up some time in January, so watch out for this.

Okay hold up. I know Tekken 6 is quite an old game, but be informed that I have no intention of reviewing the actual fighting game itself. Because I believe it's been done to death. Instead, I will be reviewing Tekken 6's Scenario Campaign which is an interactive story mode which was improved from the Devil Within mode in Tekken 5. You'll be able to read up on my assessment of he Scenario Campaign, which features Tekken newcomers Lars and Alisa as they try and save the world. Through fighting, which makes sense. For some reason. Just watch out for when this review comes out.

Christmas came with a surprise for me when someone gifted me with this dual pack of Uncharted. Even after years of these games releases, there is still a considerable amount of buzz going around the internet. The 3 Uncharted games seem to be on most if not all of the top PS3 games lists that I've seen online. I have only grazed through them because I needed to test if they worked, I'll be getting in deep to finishing these two after Resident Evil 6 and inFAMOUS.

Yet another old game joins the ranks. This one was a late Christmas present for myself. I was able to buy one secondhand online. They guy who sold this to me, told me that he'd still be selling some more games in the future. Seeing how the game I bought from him was in near perfect condition, I might be buying some new games from him again. Anyways back to Gran Turismo 5. I'm no hardcore racing fan, but I saw some people playing this on consoles in a mall near my house, and I became curious. I'm learning the skills and tricks at a slow steady pace. I'll be comfortable with writing about this once I learn how to make smoother turns.

There are a lot of games on my plate, which makes me excited as heck. I'll have to finish what I can by January 7, before classes start again. I'll make sure to get a post up by then.

Sidenote: In an attempt to get this blog out there, I'm trying various methods of advertising. I have found a site that "promotes" blogs on the interwebs, so fingers crossed.


*Don't mind this crazy code, they just need to see this on my blog to verify that I own it.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Resident Evil 6: Leon Campaign

Okay hello hello, I'm back, and as I said in the preceding entry, I will now be talking about Leon's Campaign for Resident Evil 6. So let's get into it.


Leon's campaign starts out much like any other resident evil game in the past (and any zombie game for that matter), you're immediately thrust into a zombie apocalypse with no knowledge of anything, except for the fact that you just shot the american zombie president. So congrats, your first zombie casualty is the president of the United States. The feel of the game opens up with Helena (some girl beside Leon) explaining to Leon that the outbreak was her fault. You trust her or you don't but you don't have any say in the matter since she will be your companion for the entire campaign. For the rest of the campaign, Helena keeps Leon in the dark as much as possible, while maintaining ominous and vague comments that only frustrate you as a player. Conversely, Leon keeps mouthing of corny one liners and references to Raccoon. Dude you went through Europe by yourself around crazy murdery Ganados and you still whine about the Raccoon city thing? Sigh.

Moving on! Leon and Helena somewhat bond through the course of the entire campaign, despite both of them knowing next to nothing about each other. This aura of secrecy gets heightened when Helena and Leon encounter Ada Wong (more on that later). Eventually they find a common enemy in the National Security Adviser, Simmons, who apparently caused all of the bio-terrorist attacks (zombie outbreak) in the USA and China. A few bullets, grenades, and herbs later, Simmons is killed after n encounters, and you have saved the world. Hooray? No. Here's why.


1. The first three chapters in the game revolves around Helena's back story, which did nothing for me as a gamer. I understood her urgency of wanting to go to the cathedral, because, "This is all my fault, I have to show you something at the cathedral." Okay, that's the game plot so I go with it. It felt as though Capcom just wanted to visit their pasts with this campaign. You start in campus, then a subway, then a semi-urban city, a graveyard, a cathedral, and some tombs. Settings they've explored in the past games. I was very confused with the aesthetics of the whole damn thing, it didn't seem to make sense, especially that makeshift high-tech laboratory that's beneath an ancient church.

2. I didn't see Simmons as my enemy. Killing him off didn't elicit that gratuitous feeling of elation when you kill a boss that's been bugging you for an entire game. Simmons didn't give me that, because I didn't connect with him in a certain way that made me want to murder his face. He didn't cause me enough grief. I mean, he kidnapped Helena and her sister, Deborah, turned Deborah into the freaking Queen of Blades, and framed Leon and Helena for the murder of the president. Those things on top of causing the outbreak. I listed four things, what else was I supposed to hate him for? His thumb ring? Capcom lacked in two aspects, not making the gamer relate with and take place of the characters (Helena and Leon), and by giving a lackluster enemy that didn't do much to aggravate the lives of our heroes.

3. Here's the big flaw. There's no overall goal. Unlike in Resident Evil 4, where your goal was clear from the get go, to save the president's high pitched shrieking daughter, Ashley(who I missed in this game, "Leooooooon, Heeeeelp"). Nothing was pushing me through this game except for the fact that I was consciously playing it. Killing Simmons didn't resonate within me to make me work hard for it. I just played through it. What pushed me through the whole thing was the promise of an interaction scene between the two  other pairs in the RE6 universe, which ultimately proved to be disappointing. 

In conclusion, we finished the game, which is good and all, but it didn't feel like we achieved something.

Next up I'll be tackling some technical aspects of the game.


The horrid co-op screen

So first up, Capcom. Ahem, WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING WITH THIS LAME CO-OP SCREEN? The Co-op features a staggered split screen which as you can see from the photo, looks absolutely ridiculous. 20% of the screen is unused, at all. I felt that this was highly inefficient, and unpleasant to the eyes. Having blacked-out splotches on the screen distracted me from time to time. The upside is that you're not alone through the whole damn thing, but this becomes a con as well, but we'll get to that later.


Reaction trigger that requires you to wiggle the left analog

When I watched a video review of Resident Evil 4 in the before years, I was freaking out. Capcom introduced a system where you can't be complacent during cut-scenes or any part of the game for that matter, because the game will require you to key in commands to avoid getting killed, murdered, dropped, etc. That thing blew my mind as a kid, that was fantastic. Then in Resident Evil 6, they took a step further, and ruined it. They overloaded the game with reaction triggers. The higher the frequency, the less special the triggers felt. The triggers in themselves, were fairly easy to execute, except for this one:

Horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible climbing

Every few climbs you make, you fall down. I got stuck here for longer than I'm proud of. I'm told that many people consider this to be a glitch. *Sigh of frustration* This is one of the biggest annoyances in a game for me, for all time. At one point, I just wanted to climb the building, Assassin's Creed style, but to no avail. :(


Another shot of campaign protagonists Leon and Helena

Here's a crucial game-changer that got introduced in Resident Evil 5 with Chris and Sheva. Playing in a campaign with two characters, be it Co-operative or Solo with an AI. The question isn't how effective this gameplay is compared to when your character is by your lonesome, the question is, how does this change Resident Evil? From the beginning, Resident Evil has always been about giving the gamer a shocking, and scary zombie apocalypse action adventure, emphasis on the scary. I remember booting up a Resident Evil 3: Nemesis when I was a kid, I freaked when I saw the first tyrant. That was legit scary. Part of the reason why the old games were scary was because your character was mostly alone. In Resident Evil 6 you're always with your partner, except for those parts where you get separated and the game becomes significantly more challenging. But in general, it underwhelms the whole undertone of the game itself. Knowing that you aren't alone makes you more brave. You're not afraid to get tackled or groped by a zombie because your partner can assist you. You're not afraid to run out of stuff, because you can share ammo and healy-stuffs. In addition, having another player to focus on, diverts attention from any one character, it's hard to see character development when you're keeping tabs on two of them. Leon and Helena had their moments together, but in my mind, I believe the game would have been infinitely more challenging had Leon been on his own.

I'll try and get the Chris campaign finished so I can get a review up for posting. I'm very excited to try the Ada campaign, since she's by herself. So, just wait for them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Resident Evil 6: Prologue Chapter

So recently I just got my hands on the newly released Playstation 3 console, the 500 GB Super Slim model, and a few other games to get this new console broken in. I went nuts when I got myself a copy of Resident Evil 6. The reason I went nuts was because I've been with this franchise ever since its early iterations on the first Playstation console. So much like what I did when I saw the game case when I came home last night, let's just get into it.

                                            I kinda freaked out when I found out that the number 6      
                                                        is made up of people and spiders

After you press start, you are immediately thrown into a panning view of a quiet dark scene. Close up to an abandoned car with a pupa slowly tearing open on its steering wheel, then all hell breaks lose.

Explosions go off and you are left lying on the floor, dazed, and breathing hoarsely. A woman beside you seemingly received more damage than you and you struggle to drag her given your current state. You take her to cover and continue to slowly walk across to your destination. You lay her down as you find some herbs to heal her with. You are quickly made aware of the gravity of your situation, it's the classic zombie apocalypse survival story. Suddenly the sequence ends and you are greeted with the opening title sequence as the prologue chapter concludes.


If you've played any of the older resident evil games, you are familiar with the false sense of security that you are lulled into at the beginning sequence which is quickly stolen from you as something horrible happens that leads you to the beginning of your campaign. All such games begin with building your confidence, then thrusting the challenge upon you immediately.


The visuals are stunning as always. The feeling of elation when you boot up a resident evil game for the first time never changes. Capcom certainly hasn't fallen short in today's gaming industry where gamers are picky as hell when it comes to their games' graphics, heck most of them might not be able to go through an 8bit game without missing their precious HD graphics.

Your first controlled character is Leon Kennedy. I was happy with seeing a familiar face and at the same time I felt a little sorry for him, this is his 3rd zombie apocalypse(and I realized that this was Chris' 3rd as well). I know companies make it a point to keep dialogue animations consistent with the Japanese and English audio, but there were some words coming out of their mouths that didn't feel right. Forever the challenge of international game developers.

                                                                 Say Hello to Leon


First thing I noticed was that the game itself spoon-feeds the players, I say this because the game prompts you to use the right analog stick to look around. Simple movements and motions don't require spoon feeding in my opinion. It kind of killed the mood just as Leon was getting up off the ground, I see the analog logo blinking on-screen. I immediately thought, "oh it's one those games."

A lot has changed since Leon's appearance in Resident Evil 4. The overhead camera in RE4 seemed to be more cooperative than in RE6, where you have to manually adjust your camera with the right analog. Now while some people might enjoy this, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Now the default controls for the actual combat motion changed as well, you press L1 to aim and R1 to shoot, as opposed to RE4's controls where you press R1 to aim and SQUARE to shoot. I've been experimenting with both modes of shooting and aim finding myself slowly getting used to the new default controls. We shall see after a few chapters into this game if it makes things easier or harder.

                              Over the shoulder camera action

The Heads-up Display (HUD) is hella ugly. They made it transparent, which makes it that much harder to see while you're playing. Capcom completely eliminated the old inventory system where you open a case in the start menu and have chosen to stick with the inventory system used in Resident Evil 5 where you mess with your stuff on screen, in front of your character. Take note that this does not pause the game unlike in the old inventory system, this means that you can get murdered while you pick which herbs to mix ( I died in RE5 when I missed a reaction trigger because I was fixing bullets in the inventory).

                                The new transparent HUD

Visually the gameplay is stunning but the HUD, controls, and inventory system are some things that need getting used to. I have chosen to start with the Leon campaign in Co-Op mode with my cousin.
                             Leon's got himself a new partner

My next entry will tackle our first chapter in the Leon campaign so wait for that.