Archive for June, 2012

Gran Turismo 5 Review

June 30, 2012

PSN ID: Venom_46 (Feel free to add me)

Gran Turismo 5 launched in November 2010 for Playstation 3 – nearly four years after the launch of the PS3 system. It was delayed over and over and over for what seemed like years. I remember having a pre-order at GameStop for over a year before finally canceling it after the last delay. I ended up buying it from Amazon on launch day anyway. When it finally launched, there was mass hysteria and expectations were through the roof.

Image

I had purchased my PS3 in 2008 exclusively for Gran Turismo 5 which was when it was originally going to release. I had owned GT1 and 2 on the original Playstation and GT 3 and 4 on PS2. Anyway, I’m writing this review over a year and a half later because I think I finally have a definite handle on what this game is all about and can give a legitimate review. I don’t care what people personally think about the game or what the other fanboys think of Forza in comparison – this is solely on GT5 and what was expected and my impressions of the finished (and evolving) product. As a disclaimer, I’m a Level 38 A-Spec and Level 40 B-Spec. I own 904 cars (855 unique), have won 565 races, and driven over 45,000 miles. I also currently have 35 Gold trophies (and counting) in license testing. I’m a fairly good driver, so this review isn’t from someone who played it once and threw a tantrum because the game was too hard.

Cars

Before I get to gameplay, I’ll start with the selling point: the cars. At launch, this was a comprehensive list of almost every car you could ever want. I won’t name them all, but there were over 1,000 and you’d be hard pressed to be disappointed even if your favorite car was missing. For example, there isn’t a 2003-2004 Cobra, but the 2000 Cobra R is there. As you know, GT5 has what they call Premium models and Standard models. Premium models are a work of art. They look as realistic as a video game can possibly get, they’re more customizable, and they have full and accurate interior views. They just look phenomenal. Unfortunately, a smaller percentage of cars fall into this category. For the most part, the majority of the cars are Standard. By Standard, I mean copied and pasted from GT4. By no means do I exaggerate. The cars retain their polygonal form from the PS2 game. They all have generic interior views, can’t be zoomed in on in photography mode, and are much less customizable cosmetically. This will be a re-occurring theme in this review, but I find this extraordinarily lazy.

(more…)

Advertisements

WWE RAW Review (25 June 2012)

June 26, 2012

Raw improved marginally from last week, but that isn’t saying much. It’s like going from an F to a D-. Starting from the beginning, Vickie Guerrero is the guest GM. It turns out that the permanent GM will be revealed at Raw 1000, which means these next 3-4 shows are just going to be throwaway shows as they prep for a huge 3-hour Raw 1000. Anyway, Guerrero announced Punk vs. Bryan vs. Kane in an unannounced Triple Threat elimination match. OK, two problems here. First, this match had no hype whatsoever prior to right now. Second, this is an exact rematch from the No Way Out PPV 8 days ago. You cannot continue to make people regret spending money on a PPV. They are extremely expensive nowadays. Sure, it wasn’t a 20-minute match, but still, you’re giving it away on free TV 8 days after it aired for $55 on PPV.

Despite that, the match is fine. It was nothing special and the finish protected all 3 wrestlers. It moved the AJ/Kane/Bryan/Punk story forward. Kane was pinned after distraction and Bryan got the pin on Punk by blindsiding him, more or less. Moving forward, it sets up Punk vs. Bryan II at the next PPV. You can’t really be upset about that. Hopefully, it’s a clean match and Kane doesn’t get involved.

Next up, Vickie makes a Ziggler vs. Del Rio match to determine the #1 contender for the World title on Smackdown. That seems kind of rushed and pointless. Shouldn’t these guys be trying to get in the MITB match instead? Vickie makes this an ‘object on a pole match’. Those are never pretty. Ziggler comes off in the segment looking strong. Last thought on this: Vickie is Ziggler’s manager, so why doesn’t she just book him in the title match on Smackdown? If she isn’t loyal to him, why didn’t he just dump her? It’s silly things like these that make the product look cheesier than it is.

Next up, Big Show vs. Brodus Clay. Here’s another example of WWE just blowing potential PPV matches. A month ago, Show laid out Brodus. In response, Brodus was switched to Smackdown brand, which I don’t understand because I thought the brand split was over, yet they still treat it like it exists sometimes. Brodus ends up playing a part in stopping Big Show in the cage match at No Way Out. Ok, so there’s a nice little feud here and it gives the WWE somewhere to go with Big Show and Brodus at this point. Nope, WWE decides that it’s best to throw together a rematch unannounced on RAW. Clay comes out walking just fine despite having a bad knee from some attack on Smackdown. I don’t watch Smackdown, so I have no idea what happened. He gets in a tiny amount of offense, but Show mostly dominates him and gets the easy pin. Then as Clay is being helped out, he gets KO’d by Show again.

This accomplished two things. First, the aging and stale Big Show is a monster. Great. Second, Brodus is a novelty act. The only way this will remotely help Clay is if he returns and takes Big Show out. Knowing WWE, they’ll forget about this and Clay will be dancing on Smackdown next week.

Then, a skit with AJ and Kane is next. Don’t care. The US Championship is being defended this week. Turns out Santino is done feuding with a ring announcer and doing 90-second jobs to Del Rio. It also turns out that the jobber, err, Santino, is also holding a meaningless title. His opponent, Jack Swagger, earned his title shot by losing to Ziggler last week. I know it makes a lot of sense. Shockingly, Santino beats Swagger. Swagger is a former World Champion, so just like the Miz; he’s just being buried weekly.

John Cena is out next to announce his big announcement that he promised on Twitter. Is he retiring or taking a break? Doubtful. He calls the majority of the WWE audience a bunch of 9-year-olds. Thanks, asshole. Way to shit on probably 70% of the audience. He goes on and on with his childish promo which surprisingly didn’t contain any homophobic slurs. Right before he makes his announcement, he gets interrupted by Jon Bon Jovi. No, wait – it’s a returning Chris Jericho. Jericho trashes Cena and says a few things that the non 9-year-olds are thinking. Cena then announces he wants to be WWE Champion again and stop Big Show, so he’s in MITB. The non 9-year-olds with a collective eye roll since we know Cena will likely be given an 11th title reign. Jericho announces he’s also going to be in the MITB.

Out comes Vickie, who says they can’t just enter themselves in the MITB. I was wondering if they’d address that. Big Show has an out because he’s got his contract and does what he wants, I guess. She then announces that only former champions can compete, so Cena and Jericho are in anyway. Well, that was pointless then. Why not start out with that stipulation? She also sets up Jericho vs. Cena tonight. There’s another potential fresh PPV match going for free tonight. There was a joke about WWE being PG in there, but I missed it.

Next, the return of Sid Vicious/Sycho Sid that kept with the Raw 1000 theme. Sid’s looking rough. I saw a quote from someone that said something along the lines of, “Sid looks like he’s seen some things, some bad things,” and that’s pretty accurate. All that aside, it was fun and I enjoyed it. Thank God he didn’t jump off the second turnbuckle, though. If you don’t know what that means, search “Sid Ankle” on YouTube.

The contract on a pole match is next and this was terrible. I’m all for Ziggler getting a push, but this was a disaster. These pole matches are always absolutely stupid, but this took it to a new level with them trying to pick up the dropped clipboard. Sheamus randomly walks out and says he’s excited because Vickie says it’ll be a triple threat match for the title at Smackdown. This is so dumb on so many levels. Once again, Vickie undermines her guy, Ziggler, by booking him in a triple threat. And Sheamus is so stupid, it hurts. He’s excitedly announcing the match even though it puts him at an extreme disadvantage as he won’t even have to be pinned to lose his title. Jerry Lawler pointed this out, but was probably quickly screamed at for making sense in his headset. The only good thing about that match was stopping it.

Now here’s a Diva’s battle royal while they wear bikinis. Yeah, this is a PG show. AJ wins after the travesty you’d expect.

It’s main event time. Cena and Jericho. It’s an OK match until the Big Show comes out. He distracts Cena and Jericho puts Cena in the Wall of Jericho. Show comes in and leg drops Cena, earning Jericho a DQ. Jericho backs off and Show puts Cena in half camel clutch, sort of. More like a choke out. So show pulls back on Cena choking him out and it reminded me a little of Chris Benoit with his Crossface, which is probably how he murdered his son. Turns out the anniversary of that was the day before. Great idea to leave us with that image, WWE. Stay classy. And for those of you who say that’s just a coincidence, this is Vince McMahon we’re talking about. There are no coincidences. This is the man who runs the anti-bully campaign on the shows and then openly mocks a man’s disability on the show.

So, Raw was better than last week, but the PPV is shaping up to have a pretty weak undercard. Not that it matters because all the PPV matches will be on RAW and Smackdown, I’m sure. Next week, don’t hold your breath for Lesnar to be there. They aren’t advertising an appearance, just his ‘answer’. It’ll likely be a taped interview or a lawyer/Heyman delivering the news.

Professional Wrestling

June 23, 2012

I have a lot of opinions on professional wrestling. Yes, I call it wrestling, not sports entertainment. Let me start out by telling a story. I used to go stay at my Grandparent’s house for a week or so at a time during the spring break or summer when I was out of school. They lived over in Illinois, while my parents lived in Indiana. So, what’s a kid to do other than swimming in the pool or playing NES? Watch TV and movies, of course. My grandma would take me to the local video store (remember those?). In 1991, when I was still 7 years old, I chose Wrestlemania VI to rent.

Image

From there, I was hooked. The crowd in Toronto was insane. The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan were my favorite wrestlers. You do realize that the Warrior gorilla pressed Hogan in that match, right? Not a body slam, he actually lifted Hogan above his head. That’s just phenomenal. Anyway, from there I rented Survivor Series 1987, 1988, and 1989. Summerslam 1989 and 1990. Wrestlemania IV and V. I remember when I got home, I found WWF All-American Wrestling on TV and it was the build-up to Wrestlemania VII.

One of my best friends around that time was also a fan and his parents would let him order the PPV events. I remember most vividly watching Summerslam 1992 in London, England. Once he moved away, he would order the PPV events and mail me VHS tapes of them several weeks later. Once we finally got cable TV, I’d watch the scrambled station and listen to the PPV events. I remember ripping down a Shawn Michaels poster and crying when he beat Bret Hart at Wrestlemania XII. Nowadays, Shawn Michaels is my all-time favorite and arguably the greatest wrestler to step into a ring.

Before that, I had moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and had been introduced to World Championship Wrestling by a neighbor kid. I wasn’t a huge fan of WCW at the time, but when Hulk Hogan jumped to them in 1994, I casually started watching, but WWF was still my main interest. I even remember ordering items from WWF Magazine’s mail order catalog – it’s hard to imagine not having the Internet back then. In 1994, I attended my first live event – WWF King of the Ring 1994 in Baltimore while I was visiting a friend. We had nosebleed seats and could barely see anything. Owen Hart was like a speck in the distance. It was a terrible experience overall, but that was my first event. In 1997, when I entered high school, I found some friends who were also wrestling fans. It hadn’t been too popular with people in middle school. If you were a fan, you didn’t really admit it.

In 1997, the nWo was pretty much changing the wrestling world. WWF was crumbling and WCW was on top of the world. While I still watched WWF mainly, I started watching WCW Monday Nitro more and more. Fans from that day will sympathize with me when I say it was a struggle flipping between shows before the era of DVRs. From 1997-2000, I really became a hardcore fan. I also became a huge fan of Extreme Championship Wrestling. I don’t remember how I discovered it, but it might have been a 2AM show on a local channel, which is where ECW aired their syndicated weekly show. In May 2008, I attended ECW’s Wrestlepalooza 1998 PPV in the Cobb Civic Center. It was a small venue, so our seats were just incredible. It was a great event and it introduced me to Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Sandman, and others that I didn’t know a whole lot about at the time. ECW was so good, we ended up going to another house show in the same building in 1998 and an ECW on TNN TV taping in Atlanta. We had front row seats at the ECW house show and it is still the most awesome experience I’ve had at a wrestling event. The main event was RVD and Sabu vs. The Dudleys.

Also in 1998, my friends and I got tickets to WCW Nitro in the Georgia Dome where we witnessed Goldberg beat Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Championship. We were pretty much the only Hogan fans in the building, but it was an amazing experience regardless. We hated Goldberg because we were Stone Cold Steve Austin fans and thought his look was a rip-off. I was 15, give me a break. Despite my Nitro love, I was always a WWF guy. The Attitude Era was, in my opinion, the best era of wrestling – period. ECW, WCW, and WWF at their peak and it was unreal. Oddly enough, when WWF bought WCW and ECW folded, I stopped watching. I don’t remember why I stopped. From 2001 until about 2007, I had almost no interest at all.

The thing that got me watching wrestling again was the Chris Benoit murder/suicide. When they originally reported it as if they were all victims, I tuned in to watch the Raw tribute. I semi-regularly started tuning in, but it just seemed different. I started watching the Wrestlemania events that I missed and ended up ordering Wrestlemania 25 and 26 to see the HBK/Undertaker matches. Now that I’ve been caught up and watched everything, I’ll argue to my death that Shawn Michaels/Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25 is the best match in Wrestlemania history.Anyway, Wrestlemania finally came to Atlanta, so my friend and I decided it was worth it to go despite not being as much of a fan of the product anymore. I mean, it’s Wrestlemania. We also ended up getting tickets to the Hall of Fame ceremony and saw HBK get inducted. I thought that was more enjoyable than Wrestlemania because I love hearing the legends tell stories and reminisce. Wrestlemania 27 was a lackluster card, but it was a fun experience.

Now we’re in the present. I watch Raw weekly, but end up fast-forwarding most of it. It’s just a badly booked show (More on that later). That being said, I’m finally going to attend a Monday Night Raw – the 1000th episode, no less. I have a great seat; I’ve learned what seats suck and what seats don’t. I’m pretty excited for it because I’m hoping it won’t be a normal show and it’ll be packed with guys I grew up watching. Now that I’ve shared my history as a fan, I’ll share my favorite moment in the history of Raw.

Raw used alternate live and taped episodes during the Monday Night Wars. In early 1999, when both shows were drawing 5.0’s and still running neck and neck, Mick Foley won the WWF title at a taping to be aired the next Monday. During the live WCW Nitro, Tony Schiavone announced on air that Foley was going to win and sarcastically said ‘that’ll put butts in seats’ and they promptly lost about 15% of their audience in an instant. Schiavone apologized and explained why that happened, but it’s not the point. That match was the best moment in Raw history. The crowd was absolutely on fire. Stone Cold returned from a brief hiatus and the place just exploded. When the ref counted 3 and announced Foley the champion, it just blew up again. It was just an unbelievable scene and I remember my eyes watering while I watched it. Just a great moment and reward for a guy who really deserved it.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

June 23, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Collector's Edition

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Collector’s Edition

It’s been a long time since I updated this blog. The last time was when Final Fantasy XIII-2 was actually announced! That being said, since I’m a loser fanboy, I purchased the Collector’s Edition. It came with what’s in the above photo. A fancy case, 4-CD soundtrack, and special artwork book. I also picked up the nice hardcover strategy guide to match my Final Fantasy XIII one. What are we up to now? $125 or so? That’ll be important later.  On to the game!

One of Final Fantasy XIII’s biggest complaints was about the linear story line and ‘corridor’ levels. Fair enough, I agree. Those same critics showered Final Fantasy XIII-2 with praise because it wasn’t as bad. I agree with that as well. Sure, it’s cheating a little when it’s the same map in different time periods. I actually thought Academia was annoying as shit because I’d always get lost. The battle system was fine. I honestly didn’t care much for monster taming, though. I’d have preferred to just have more party members rather than this just so I had more options for Paradigms. Was it supposed to make the game harder? More on that in a minute.

I played the game on Normal setting and I died one time. It was the very last battle and I got hit with a Tetraflare and had no idea it was going to completely wipe me out. Next try and I won. This game was so absurdly easy, it bordered on insulting. I’m one of those people that doesn’t like it to be impossibly hard (Think Gran Turismo license testing), but not too easy either. I like a moderate challenge and enjoyable playthrough. Even the side missions where you’re killing the big optional bosses were a joke. Remember Vercingetorix from Final Fantasy XIII? That absurdly difficult Mark Mission? He’s back in FFXIII-2, just under a new name. I entered that battle expecting to get massacred. To my surprise, I easily defeated it using auto-battle. Long Gui? Easily defeated. Even Raspatil! It took longer, but I beat it with practically full health at the end. Those were harder than any of the story line bosses. I got a Platinum Trophy like 20 days after I got the game. Now, let me really get into what pisses me off.

We’ll ignore the shit ending for a few minutes. First, the entire story starts off with nonsense. The whole first game spent the entire time telling about Fal’cie and where they come from, what they want, etc. For it’s faults, FF13 had a good story and it developed the characters fairly well. Piss and moan that it isn’t FF7, 8, 9, 10 – fine. It did a good job. During the entire course of FF13-2, did you really give a shit what happened to Noel and Serah? The Fal’cie have been thwarted and the game starts off with everyone randomly disappearing and Lightning ending up in Valhalla. What is Valhalla, you ask? Good fucking question! There’s a goddess there, apparently not a Fal’cie. Who knows? Anyway, off goes this absurd story. Turns out Serah, who was just frozen in crystal for what should have been eternity, is all of the sudden a farseer who can see the future, except not really. She’s basically a noob for the whole game. So, off we go time hopping and screwing up future worlds. In the end, it turns out that nothing mattered. Caius only needed someone to stab him through the heart (Etro’s) so that she would finally be totally dead and I guess he can swallow the world with Valhalla and stop the Yeul death cycle.

This is so absolutely fucking stupid. Caius and Noel were the last two people alive in the world in 700AF. When Noel dies, it’ll just be ol’ Caius and Yeul. Sounds like the prophecy is fucking over to me! Furthermore, Caius’s plan to end one person’s early death cycle is to KILL EVERYONE. What sense does that make? Anyone? Furthermore, why the elaborate set-up to get Noel to kill him? I mean Jesus, the amount of time-hopping – for what? Just find someone to stand there while you force them to stab you! They try to explain that he needs a worthy opponent to kill him. Oh, really? Why? You’ll put off helping Yeul not die over and over for 7 centuries because you need a worthy guy to kill you? That blows up his whole theory and logic. He’s just evil, you say? We’ll never know!

Then we get to the end. I’ve heard real fanboys defend this game as ‘The bad guy finally wins’ or that no one is really dead and some complex babble. Bullshit. The way the game ended doesn’t matter because there was no ending. It’s the way the story was told and concluded that was absolute garbage. Don’t try to be smart and find some hidden meaning because it isn’t there. This game ended with no clear ending on purpose. I spent $125 on launch day and I got an incomplete game as far as I’m concerned. This game should have had a real definite ending. Closure for all characters. Instead, TO BE CONTINUED. Are you kidding me? This game had ZERO closure. ZERO. Where’s Hope? Dead? Noel? Snow? Sazh? What happened when Valhalla did its thing? Caius? Dead or alive? Might be alive? Why is Lightning a crystal? NO ANSWERS. A $60 game had NO ANSWERS. Tell me how that’s excusable. You can’t.

To add insult to injury, it is revealed that more story will be explained via DLC! WHAT!? I paid all this money for an incomplete game and you want to charge me more to see what happened? So it began. I bought the Sazh add-on. Fucking pointless. I got to play a card game and some other game to find out he was just in limbo. NO RESOLUTION when it came to his fate at the end of the game. There goes $5. Then the Snow DLC. I buy it and I can’t even come close to beating him in the Coliseum. This is the game that was so easy, and now with a fully loaded party, I can’t even touch the guy! Apparently, I’m supposed to spend months crossing monster traits to get these super characters. Anyway, I can’t see the Snow story because I can’t fucking beat him. Finally, the Lightning DLC. Will this finally conclude the game? NO. It only shows what happened to make her turn into crystal. And that made no sense either! You want costumes- $3 each! This entire story and execution of DLC is so wrong that I may never buy a FF game again.

I’ve spent probably over $150 total and I still have an incomplete game. It’s absolutely insane. At least Final Fantasy 13 ended with closure. If there had been no sequel, it at least ended with resolution. This has nothing. They probably won’t even make an XIII-3, either. They’re just that fucking stupid. They’re probably pretty pleased with themselves over at Square.

How long has Final Fantasy XIII Versus been in development? 6 years now? Not that it matters because the story will probably make no sense and have zero clarity. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “Oh, he just didn’t get it,” go to hell. There is nothing to get. There is no hidden message no matter how hard you try to see one. There’s my review of Final Fantasy XIII-2absolute shit.