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Everything posted by Julius

  1. So, I thought about making a dedicated thread for the Avatarverse (not my name of choice for it, but whatever, it's stuck with the press apparently!) last summer after rewatching The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, but I didn't think there was enough to drive an ongoing discussion in a dedicated thread, besides more people potentially getting into the show through Netflix, which it owes a lot of its resurgence to. However, after Bryan and Mike left the Netflix TLA project, I had a suspicion that it wouldn't end there. So, while Netflix is off reportedly casting a 12 year-old Aang and a 16 year-old Katara - who will be a big sister to Sokka, completely killing his character arc, and probably trying to force Zatara on us all - Nickelodeon has finally decided to acknowledge the golden egg they've been sitting on for years. From Deadline: And confirmation from Paramount what to expect: new series, short-term content, spin-offs, and theatrical films. Oh, and the Avatar Studios logo, which looks great! Well, I think it's safe to say that that might be able to drive and sustain some discussion beyond returning to The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra, and expanded lore. I genuinely never thought this would happen, just considering how they completely kicked Legend of Korra to the curb. You know, when they ordered one season, then ordered way more, then brushed it under the rug and moved brand new episodes over to the Nickelodeon website? And now they're back! What do you hope to see come of this? What's your experience with the series to this point? And do you think the cabbage merchant will make his return? Personally, I'd love to see adaptations of the graphic novels, as they seem like a natural and relatively straightforward place to start.
  2. Your 2021 Gaming Diary

    Been a little while since I've posted here, as I haven't actually picked up and started another game since around mid-February, when I finished up the game I'll be talking about today. METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS | 2008 Set 50 years after Metal Gear Solid 3's Operation Snake Eater, and 5 years after the climactic events of Metal Gear Solid 2's Big Shell Incident, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots takes place in a dystopian 2014 where the "war economy" has plunged the world into an endless barrage of conflicts, fuelling the need for private military companies (or PMC's), the largest of which are owned by a single company, helmed by none other than Liquid Ocelot. You return to the fold as Solid Snake, in this game often referred to as Old Snake as a result of his advanced accelerated aging. Unlike in earlier games in the series, the game is divided into a number of distinct acts, each taking you to a new locale on your globetrotting mission to assassinate Liquid Ocelot as a favour to The Colonel, with many familiar faces from throughout the series turning up on both sides as the world slips towards destruction. In terms of gameplay, Metal Gear Solid 4 once again returns the focus to stealth as you navigate through the game's Acts, but this time the focus is often not on Snake taking on a certain enemy group, with your stealth efforts instead taking place on battlegrounds between PMC and rebel groups, often allowing you to sneak around the battlefield or join the battle. The Camouflage Index from Metal Gear Solid 3 makes a welcome return, this time in the form of a camouflage suit called "OctoCamo", which allows the wearer to blend into their surroundings in a matter of seconds, taking on its colour and textures. Giving Old Snake an appearance closer to Big Boss is the "Solid Eye", a device which replaces a lot of features from previous titles and puts them all in one place, such as the different types of binoculars, image intensifiers, and gives you a small map similar to - but harder to read than - the Soliton Radar, giving you a more accurate picture of which general direction to head in and the locations of enemies in relation to your position, but not much of an idea about the terrain you're making your way through. Another handy device you'll use throughout the game is the Metal Gear Mk. II, a short but stout robotic drone which you can send ahead to carry out surveillance and shock enemies, and also sees the return of the Codec, though this time much closer to what we're accustomed today with video calling than the form it took in earlier titles. The "Psyche Gauge" replaces the stamina meter seen previously, serving as an assessment of Snake's psychological state, and when in combat Snake's adrenaline will increase, allowing him to fire off rounds faster and take more damage; however, if Snake is near something which might stress him out (such as bad smells when hiding in an old dumpster, or overwhelmed by the chaos of the battle around him) or hears something debilitating in a cutscene (which is used to hilarious effect through the game), this meter will lower, decreasing Snake's accuracy and movement speed until replenished, which can be done in a number of ways, such as by removing Snake from the stressor, checking in with a familiar face for some psyche coaching through the Codec, or eating a bit of food. Overall, considering the narrative's focus on war - and more specifically at times, war-induced trauma and PTSD - it feels like a natural progression from the stamina meter for this particular game. While playing Metal Gear Solid 4, especially early on, I found it to be a mixed bag, and my struggle with that is clear to see in my posts in the game's thread as I made my way through. Technically, the game was extremely ambitious visually for the time of its release, but still, the number of distractingly noticeable dips in framerate - on gameplay and in cutscenes - as well as the abundance of loading screens hurts the pacing of the game dramatically in its opening act. I've seen many point at the game's long cutscenes as being an issue, and though there are some long ones in there, I personally enjoyed them as someone who has loved most of the story elements and themes of the series to this point, but I actually think a much bigger issue is the number of shorter cutscenes weaved in and out of short spurts of gameplay (sometimes we're talking about walking a few metres, a short cutscene playing out, picking up an item, another cutscene playing out, and so on). While I think it's clear that the aim was to deliver on a cinematic experience filled with setpiece moments which felt driven by the player, when this happens in the game, I think the game was perhaps trying to be a bit too ambitious for when it released in the PS3's life, as it isn't as seamless as we often see in games today (and even those later in that generation), which results in this stop-start nature at times, which is to the game's detriment. It would be interesting to see if they would try to make it flow better in a potential remaster for modern consoles, and I think that would definitely be a great way to implement fixes to the frame rate issues and loading screens. That this happens in the opening credits, of all places, results in what is by far the most limp opening to a Metal Gear Solid game that I've played through so far. And yeah, let's not get into how long the opening credits last, or how the title is flashed before more credits are shown, which results in "Kojima Productions Presents...Konami". I want to give them the benefit of the doubt on that, though, because I still find it hilarious, and struggle to see how that wasn't an intentional gaffe on their side (or just making a point of how silly opening credits sometimes are). If you want to take a look for yourself (12:38 for the "Presents...Konami" part): Which brings me onto my next point: Act I of Metal Gear Solid 4 might genuinely be the worst "level" of any Metal Gear Solid game I've played so far, too. I do think a large part of that is down to the stop-start nature of it all, but the war-torn streets and narrow alleyways of some Middle Eastern city just doesn't make for an interesting or great way to get yourself reaccustomed with the mechanics of the series either, which means if there's so much as a slight gap between you playing MGS3 and MGS4, you might end up like me, running around like a bit of a headless chicken for the first hour or so, accidentally pressing the wrong button on occasion and needing to run out of places, or just mowing enemies down. It's a way to play the game, sure, but compared to previous games, it definitely took me much longer to get myself familiarised with it all again. I genuinely think this level could have been shortened dramatically, as the story and gameplay doesn't really pick up until you meet Rat Patrol towards the end of this Act, and I feel similarly about how the game just throws a lot at you at once when you find yourself on a ship later on in the game. To cover some of the other issues I've seen people have with the game, I've seen some say the game betrays what came before it by going over the top, but I would have to disagree with that. While, yes, there is one particular character carrying a sword around who is at the centre of these seemingly ridiculous anime-like moments, which get increasingly over-the-top as the game goes on (okay, a couple of the ones in Act 4 might have got me close to rolling my eyes and laughing), that silliness and over-the-top nature of it all has been there since the first Metal Gear Solid. I had much more of an issue with the over sexualisation of Naomi, because unlike Eva in MGS3, there was no reason narratively or for her particular role in this story (and further, it's not a vibe I got from her in MGS either) for her to unbutton the first few buttons of her shirt and then never do them back up for no reason at all; yes, you've made an attractive character, but that's conveyed enough in her face design and how other people act around her, so we definitely don't need some of the camera angles we ended up with in the game, because it was borderline embarrassing at times. I also think Drebin's Shop - which gives you access to buying weapons, items, and ammo at any point in the game through the menu - really breaks the game at times? It feels like a decision to try to make MGS4 a potential entry point to the series, but with this game's story depending so heavily on having experienced earlier games and an ensemble of returning characters, I have to think it was a decision by committee to some extent. At this point you might be thinking that I hate the game, and I wouldn't blame you for thinking that, but I feel the need to acknowledge what I considered as low points, because I adored so much of what happened from meeting Rat Patrol at the end of Act I and onwards. Act II is fundamentally a level where it basically condenses down so much of the look and feel of MGS3, which finally allowed me to really get back to grips with the mechanics of the series, and heck, even some of the plot points, setpieces, and character interactions felt extremely evocative of that story. Act III had a long list of awesome reveals, probably my favourite trailing mission in video games (seriously, if you've played it, you know what I'm talking about; it just captures that detective noir vibe insanely well), an excellent chase sequence. The boss fights with the Beauty and the Beast Unit in this game are great fun to figure out, and feel like fresh takes on ideas we've already seen with earlier bosses in the series. We don't talk about Act IV, because there isn't much to say without potentially spoiling things, but...it's awesome. Trust me. It's awesome. Super awesome. From the location, to finally getting to kick the ass of a certain enemy type, to the chance to do something I could only have dreamt of when playing through MGS1 for the first time last year, it's one of my the most exciting levels to play through and is filled with hype moments, and I loved it. The game is just packed to the brim with excellent cameos and interactions with returning characters, it ties everything together and picks up pretty much every loose thread you could think of, and it does it all with you perched on the edge of your seat, giddy with excitement. It's really hard to discuss without spoiling, and I would hate to do that for anyone who hasn't played the game yet, but I loved it. I'll just stick my reactions from the game's thread in the below spoiler tags, for anyone curious about how that turned out: As ever, something which catapulted my appreciation of this game ever upwards was its soundtrack, once again led by Harry Gregson-Williams, Nobuko Toda, and Norihiko Hibino. Love Theme is the name of the song composed by Nobuko Toda and sung by Jackie Presti which we hear in the opening credits, this strange - almost primal - vocal track which fits the Middle Eastern setting of the opening act greatly. There are the strained, almost painful plucks of the guitar strings of Old Snake. There's the fitting, modern detective noir track Under Curfew, or the epic struggle of Guns of the Patriots. There's the amazing Here's To You which closes out the game, composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone. And there's Sorrow and Father & Son, which both hint at times to the main theme of the earlier games, but definitely resulted in feeling me left wanting the original main theme, and in some cutscenes, it even distracted me because of how much they hint at it but then subvert from using that theme. I've read up on the unfortunate development before the game's release back in 2008 that they decided not to return to the Main Theme of Metal Gear Solid, which I have loved every time it's turned up in previous games, as a result of the allegations made against the composer of the Main Theme, Tappi Iwase, that he had plagiarised motifs for the track from Winter Road by Russian composer Georgy Sviridov (you can listen to a comparison of the tracks here), and while I do think there are similarities, I do think it's just part of the composition business at the end of the day, and intentional or not, these things do happen, such as with John Williams and a great number of works when it comes to the score of the first Star Wars film in particular. I lean towards it being either a genuine mistake where Iwase internalised the composition to some degree (there are many videos online of this happening, such as with Deadmau5 accidentally recreating Darude's Sandstorm), or Winter Road was used as a temp track, and it's something Kojima or others on the team loved in particular and wanted Iwase to go with. Either way, I think the reason that they folded had less to do with the fact alone that the tracks are similar in terms of their motifs - as I've covered, it happens sometimes without any ill will - and more to do with the fact that it was allegations from Russia in particular relating to a track being used as the main theme for a fictional but American "Greatest Soldier to Ever Live". Now, the reason that I bring this up is to point out the absolute genius of Harry Gregson-Williams in this situation, who could have very easily just composed a theme evocative of, but enough of a subversion to, the main theme of the previous games, as was the case in Sorrow and Father & Son, which I mentioned above, as well as a number of the other tracks in the game. Instead, he used the secondary melody and set of motifs which opened his composition for Metal Gear Solid 3's Main Theme (0:51 - 1:57, which that link starts at if you want to have a listen) as the basis for this game's main theme, Metal Gear Saga, which is easily my favourite part of this soundtrack, not just for which epic moments in the game it is tied to, but also because it provides that through line which I think was essential to helping tie this game to the rest of the series musically, and almost subconsciously when you first hear it. I don't think it quite lives up to the original Main Theme, but damn, it gets pretty close to it for my ears at 1:57 and from 2:44 onwards once that guitar kicks in (and then those trumpets!). Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is a flawed game in my eyes, without a shadow of a doubt, and perhaps what I would consider the most objectively flawed of the Metal Gear Solid games I've played through so far. Its first act is sloppy and poorly paced, it is jarring on a technical level, and yes, some cutscenes can get a little long in the tooth. And yet, it is undeniably Metal Gear Solid. With an excellent cast of returning characters, Guns of the Patriots tells an engrossing story founded on how someone's understanding of the world is lost when they die, and how their will - their core purpose - is left open to interpretation by those that survive them, for better or for worse, but also how we shouldn't let the idea of our ambitions being manipulated by those surviving us stop us from looking ahead and striving forwards. There's something very human - very hopeful - about that message, especially considering the focus the game also has on the world's growing reliance on technology, and how we deal with trauma, which continues to resonate with the world we live in today. That it did all of this, burdened with the weight of fans' expectations, and under an increasingly cynical magnifying glass, while also paying homage to what came before it, and delivering some of the greatest, chills-inducing, hype moments in video games? I came away loving it. Flaws and all.
  3. Aliens: Fireteam

    25 minutes of gameplay from IGN: It looks pretty good to me? Shotgun sounds pretty sweet too!
  4. Playstation 5 Console Discussion

    Awesome, enjoy! And yes there is I believe, you should be able to upgrade to the Ultimate Edition from the in-game menu in Miles (this tweet is from before launch, I think I remember seeing it when I played through it though):
  5. General Switch Discussion

    Damn, time flies, I remember all of the excitement around here at launch! I also remember having to cancel my pre-order a month or so out to be sensible, because it definitely would have been a distraction from my studies In terms of actually Switching *clicking sounds*, as a result of lockdowns, over the last year I don't think I've undocked it for more than 5 minutes at a time, so I'm definitely not hearing the Switch *click* in my head as often these days. Has that been the case for you guys, or are you still getting a good mix of both types of play? It's a tough platform for me to gauge for me personally. Seeing as I don't have the most storied history with Nintendo and their home consoles, I think I've probably put just as much times into ports as I have new titles, which is great for me, though I do understand why some might have expected a greater output from them with the Switch, and aren't chomping at the bit to return to titles they've already played through. The next 12 months is looking a bit stronger for me personally (because of Pokémon, and Sinnoh specifically) but I do have concerns over a large number of the titles I'm looking forward to (though admittedly personal). How much of my time will New Pokémon Snap actually take up? Will Skyward Sword end up being a second tier experience with the Switch's motion controls and button layout when compared with the Wii version? Are the Pokémon Diamond & Pearl remakes going to be near enough 1:1 that aside from some QoL features and playing it on a TV, it won't really be worth picking up? Will Legends: Arceus have a passable frame rate or some half decent textures by the time it releases? And will BOTW2 address some of the weaker points I thought it's predecessor had, such as with the main storyline? It's tough, but hey, I'm still excited. The news of Legends: Arceus and how they're phrasing things around BOTW2 has me near convinced that we're seeing a Switch Pro at the end of this year or at the start of the next, which would be exciting too. But, hardware aside, I do wish they'd give us some more customisation options too: WHERE THE HECK ARE THE THEMES?!
  6. Wii U General Discussion

    THE REDEMPTION ARC BEGINS NOW who am I kidding all of these Wii U ports to the Switch is the redemption arc
  7. Virtual Reality

    Bunch of PSVR announcements in store today. First announcement was DOOM3 VR: Other announcements:
  8. TELL ME, DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?! Old Sinnoh. Feudal Japan vibes. Open world. Rolling?! Cyndaquil, Oshawott and Rowlet starters? Ahhhhhhhh! Being developed by Game Freak, who are turning up and showing they care and still have some ambition left. Colour me surprised (and impressed), even if some of the wide environmental shots looked a little rough. Tonight we feast!
  9. So yeah, I guess it's official now.
  10. Playstation 5 Console Discussion

    Well, I think it's inevitable it gets a 4K and/or 60fps version. If not in a patch, it'll be sold as a remaster, but I don't doubt that it's coming in some form. Because it's going to be pretty hard to argue against once we've got our hands on a better performing game with the same engine and assets in Factions But seriously, wouldn't surprise me if they're saving any news on it until we get a major update on Factions. "And for those who have TLOU2, or are playing the game for the first time, the PS5 upgrade will be available later today." Easy marketing tie-in.
  11. Playstation 5 Console Discussion

    To watch the world burn Optimistic take: free upgrade. Pessimistic take: upgrade will be bundled with Factions.
  12. Aliens: Fireteam

    Aaaaaaand I guess I know what me and my friends are playing on Fridays this summer It looks great!
  13. All four clips in one video which will undoubtedly be taken down: That door opening animation seals it for me
  14. Would have to imagine that other than the recording of the footage itself, there's the potential that the trailer itself could be an older trailer, COVID and event delays/cancellations considered. That being said, I still think it's intriguing, especially the idea of a From game in an open world and riding around/fighting on horseback. Oh and that shot of the steep and wide stairway into the archway gives me major 4-1 vibes from Demon's Souls, and reminds me of just how much I hated that black skeleton I still have every intention of playing Dark Souls next, but I think it makes a lot of sense from a marketing perspective, as getting into a trilogy (especially one of the length and relative difficult of the Souls games) can be a tough thing to sell people on. Open world (to be fair I think this is a tough think to convey in trailers a lot of the times anyway, especially depending on your world's topography) + Dark Souls spiritual successor (in that it's returning to a medieval kind of vibe) + the potential for some kind of kingdom/Nemesis system from the little we've heard and seen about the lore from the first trailer and press release, obviously the pull of GRRM sticking his name on this, etc., I think it's going to be interesting to see how it all comes together in the end.
  15. Fair Also fair! I thought I'd stick it in a spoiler tag just in case anyone would rather wait until the trailer releases, regardless of if the apparent leak is true or not, but I did read it thinking that other than that one thing, it could even describe Demon's Souls
  16. Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Early 2022)

    Well, there it is, that's pretty cool! Also something I found funny about all these feudal ties is that the aspect ratio changes in battles, similar to how Ghost of Tsushima did with its standoffs. Not saying it's borrowed from that game necessarily, just found it funny that the game becomes serious in battles I'm actually not totally sure on this. While I don't expect absolutely no NPC's or other settlements in the game, the way they've set it up could be a way to contextually justify only have a very small number of settlements and very, very few trainer battles (if any). I also think it largely depends on how long they're trying to make the game (if the focus is purely on exploration and catching Pokémon to complete the Dex, for instance, then I don't think that an abundance of trainers is necessarily required, though I could still see there being an "evil team" of sorts), but I see this more as an experimental stepping stone towards their vision for Gen IX in trying to realise the core tenets of Pokémon in an open world environment, and it's there where we'll probably see the usual abundance of trainers, settlements, etc. Not basing it on the trailer as such, just a hunch more than anything with how they seem to be marketing it with the town being your base of operations. What I would really like to see is some town-building based on Dex progression and quests
  17. VGC are reporting that they've seen the leaked footage of the Elden Ring trailer floating around. I've popped their description of the footage in the spoiler tag below: Exciting stuff. Surely we'll see something soon?
  18. General Retro Discussion

    Don't think it really warrants its own thread, but I know a few here were interested in the Panzer Dragoon remake, and it seems like Square Enix have got Forever Entertainment onboard for some remake projects with them. Should be interesting to see what comes of it!
  19. E̶3̶ ̶2̶0̶2̶0̶

    On the one hand, yeah, this was always going to happen. The ESA sucks, and after everyone and their mother learned how to pivot to their own online presentations, it was only a matter of time. So E3 might finally be as good as dead? Though I could see them trying to bring it back once COVID is no longer/less of a factor (and probably fail, too). On the other hand, I hope companies learned from last year - and Keighley's Summer of Gaming in particular - that spreading things out so much isn't great from a consumer perspective: too many events with the same presentations/trailers, not as many eyes on it, etc. If the big companies could just turn around and collectively say "we're all going to talk about the second half of the year in June" with set dates for presentations, I feel like it'd just be better from a numbers and consumer perspective. But we'll see. Also, add Bandai Namco to the list of publishers wanting to do their own thing...
  20. Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Early 2022)

    For me, I've pronounced it that way ever since I was a little kid, when reading up on Arceus for the first time on serebii.net and elsewhere back in the day, and I still remember how ridiculously long it took the Pokémon Company to acknowledge it's existence (and I loved how Pokémon World took little jabs at them in their news section for it). There aren't many times off the top of my head arc- is pronounced with a soft c, though I'll admit I'm a bit tired so don't want to commit to saying that it doesn't at all. The dude also has a literal arc on his back, so that's what I stuck with. For my friends, it was rarely the "Arkeus" vs "Arseus" discussion (though it definitely brought us kids a laugh), and more "Arkeus" vs "Arkayus". I didn't really care what they said and just stuck with what I thought from the start What set this in stone for me as the "right" way to pronounce it, in terms of anything official, was the Arceus and the Jewel of Life trailer. Dubbed Pokémon movie title narration has always been an instantly blinding wave of nostalgia for me, I can't tell you how many times I've watched some of those trailers. Found this funny tidbit on Bulbapedia when just looking up the origins of its name on the English dub pronunciation which I thought was worth sharing: Just want to add, I think it's fascinating when it comes to naming legendary Pokémon. You don't really think about it, but they have to come up with something which has an almost larger than life meaning in most languages, and can be tied to various origins from around the world (and the same goes for the design philosophy behind them too).
  21. I watched both seasons of Assassination Classroom over Christmas, and absolutely loved it too, so good to hear you're enjoying it. Some of those OP's are great too! Season 2 is one hell of a ride
  22. Playstation 5 Console Discussion

    Heck yeah, enjoy! Also: happy birthday!
  23. Final Fantasy VII Remake

    Some new info coming from Famitsu about the Yuffie DLC: Hype.