September 27, 2012

Black Ops II Giveaway

The relatively new site is giving away a copy of COD: Black Ops II for the console of your choice. Just head over to the link at the end of this post and follow the instructions!

June 19, 2008

Decisions, decisions

I'm very interested in the upcoming/just released Space Invaders Extreme. It's fast, has incredible music and seems to be the perfect game for playing in quick bursts when I'm taking a break from MGS4 (or anytime). Also its only USD 20 (+shipping).

Now here's the question: Which version do I pick?

The DS version, with the pros being slightly catchier music and the chance on diverting online and offline multiplayer - although with not much substance or longevity to it as I've heard. The cons would be the smaller screens, simpler graphics and the cramp inducing DS Lite design.

Watch it here:

The other option is the PSP version, with flashier graphics, a nice big crisp screen and the pleasure of a much nicer to hold PSP, with the downsides being a little less interesting (but still very awesome) music and no multiplayer for me.

Watch it there:

Decisions, decisions.

Hideo Kojima Interview Nr. 2: Ceci n’est pas une pipe (Welt Online)

Originally published in German on, June 12th '08
by Thomas Lindemann


Welt Online: Your games are always quite progressive and guide through a complex storyline that often surprises the player. But what are video games at all? Are you telling stories like novels or movies?

Hideo Kojima: If I was sad as a child, naturally, I talked with friends. However, what shaped my experience even more, were movies and novels. Their characters gave me courage. So I always intended to give the user of my games something consistent as well. The telling and the creation of the world and the characters is most important for me.

Welt Online: Are video games art at all?

Hideo Kojima: Not really. Video games are something completely different from movies and novels because everything depends on the player as well. Novels reflect the ideas of the author, a
game adds the freedom of the player. An artist can paint something and then say: this is no pipe. In a game however, a flower always has to be a flower to make the game world usable. A game developer has to comply with this.

Welt Online: This sounds a little too modest. Your games are considered outstanding and have many fans. There has to be something you are doing very well.

Hideo Kojima: A good game developer is similar to a good cook or sommelier. He surprises the users, offers them things they can be happy about. He toys with their tastes. Only in this sense can a video game be art.

Welt Online: In one part of your "Metal Gear Solid" series, a friendly character is suddenly possessed and controlled by evil, at one point. Violence does not help there, the player has to think of something else. How did you know that the allegedly dull game fans would accept that?

Hideo Kojima: At that time, it was 1998, the principle of games always was: There is only you and the hostile outside world. You could shoot at everything that moves. I disliked this style. I wanted that the players have to to think even in an action game, for instance, if the enemy is really an enemy.

Welt Online: Did one really have to think at that moment?

Hideo Kojima: In this scene you are referring to, Meryl, the hero's loyal companion, is suddenly used by the evil Psycho Mantis. Shortly before, she has said to the character controlled by the player, Snake: Shoot me, if I'll ever stand in your way. I wanted to ask the players: What are you going to do, if it really happens? I wanted them to think about their ethics.

Welt Online: The year 2008 is extremely successful for games, yours should once again be a millon seller. Why is there a breakthrough just now?

Hideo Kojima: The new consoles Xbox 360 and PS3 were released, it just took a while for the game developers to adapt to these new technologies. Now is the time. We are influenced by the technology. But we are also ready now, to instill it with our ideas. The gaming industry just made a leap, this is the year of its bloom.

Welt Online: The other big successes this year all came from North America. What is the specifically Japanese aspect in your games?

Hideo Kojima: When I turned on the TV as a child, there were drama-series, quiz-shows and movies from the USA, Europe or other parts of Asia. The same applied to novels. I grew up in a mixed culture. In my games, there are no Japanese characters. Neither are there in the novels I write for myself since my childhood. On the other hand, I am Japanese, never lived anywhere else and have been brought up typically Japanese. The Japanese essence in my work is this weird sense for an intercultural mixture.

Welt Online: Snake, the main character of your game, has committed acts of violence and now has to pay for it. Were you tired of the common insensitive gunslinger?

Hideo Kojima: Old Snake, who I created for this new game, also resembles myself. I am getting older as well. In my games, there is always a theme. The essential question of the saga is: What can we pass on to the next generation? The first part, for example, is about genes. This time it is about things one can not precisely label but has to pass on. For example, values of education. Whoever plays Snake only sees his back. He is supposed to think about what is behind Snake. He only has one year left to live, has to go on a mission, has to save the world, yet what it all means, the player has to guess for him.

Welt Online: This is the last part of your "Metal Gear Solid" series. Would you make a game completely without violence once, too?

Hideo Kojima: For me, the games I make are no violent games, even though many are likely to consider it a shooter. I only wanted to transfer the player into another world and generate a strong tension with it. That is why Snake has to be in war. But in actuality my game is supposed to be a hide and seek. If you are discovered you could be killed. I included it because hiding is boring otherwise. I will continue to look for ways to generate tension in the future. Not necessarily with violence. But it works well. Therefore it is so popular in video games.

Source: Welt Online - "Ein Spiele-Designer ist wie ein guter Koch"

If you liked the interview, please digg it, share it or leave a comment. Much appreciated.

June 18, 2008

What? Metal Gear?!? A frequently updated log of a first playthrough of Metal Gear Solid 4

UPDATE (June 19th 8:56 PM):

I finished Act 3 and a part of Act 4, so there will be my opinion on that here soon. Germany is currently playing against Portugal in the quarterfinals, so there's little time.

My mind was blown throughout the whole end of Act 3 and the beginning of Act 4, more on it later.

UPDATE (June 18th 1:19 PM):

*Act 2 spoilers*

Another 1 1/2 hours later the previous mentioned flaws are all but forgotten. The area I started in, right after the boss, was an open area sneaking extravaganza รก la MGS3 par excellence. I was able to use the NV, radar and the OctoCamo how I wanted to and it worked. I even fooled the FROGS for the first time in the game, even though they could hear the sound my NV made. I was able to take my time, explore, toy with the guards, sneak up on people and completely replenish my stock of rations, instant noodles and Regain, which were lost in the two hours before, without being spotted once.

I had a blast.

The next area, the driving mission, was a lot of fun, except for the "zombies", which kept annoying and distracting me. A lot of the atmosphere was thanks to Drebin's awesome voice work and his superb driving skills. A lot of Gekkos were hurt in the process.

It just kept on getting better. The following cutscenes and the marketplace area, although too small, were fucking incredible.

MGS4, you've completely won me back.

Also this:

UPDATE (June 18th ~7:50 AM):

Firstly, be amazed by the OctoCamo. Yes, there's more than grass in this picture.

*Act 2 spoilers*

I only played for about 2 hours yesterday and those weren't the most fun I had with the game up to now. That may partly be because I either suck or am playing the game wrong, but the intrusion into the mansion was way too hectic and unforgiving to me. My strategy so far was to eliminate/narcotize every PMC on the map and then run around and find all the hidden weapons/items/music. Not such a good idea with infinitely respawning (a concept that I HATE) enemies. I especially don't want to miss any music pieces, so I always feel like the game makes it way too hard to look for them in these situations. It also didn't seem rewarding to try the sneaking approach at that moment in the game, which felt weird. I think I should be utilizing the OctoCamo more but somehow it still doesn't feel natural to me.

The other part that that felt wrong was the fight against Laughing Octopus. I pretty much always go for stamina kills because the game rewards you for it, and it took a loooong time to accomplish that. Maybe I used the wrong weapons (stun grenades, tranquilizer gun) or the wrong strategy, (grenades while she is following me, headshots while she is hiding/mimicking) but I couldn't think of many other options and, sadly, CQC didn't work at all, which I found out in a very fatal way.

I ultimately did beat her though, and facecamo was definitely worth the hassle. The little doll seems useless but is a nice thing to have as well.

All these things were a slight impediment to my enjoyment of the game but I don't think they will detract from my final opinion too much. The game is still very, very awesome.

Also, the scene in which Snake's aging body is shown made a big impression for me for some reason. He seemed very sad and weak. The whole scene helped a lot to make me empathize with Old Snake. More of that, please.

UPDATE (June 16th ~11:30 PM):

Oh my god. It is fucking gorgeous. So far, after an 8-hour marathon with a very interested and welcome audience, it is everything I expected and more. The game is so incredibly cinematic, so magnificently fluid, so beautifully beautiful, so georgeously playable, and so much more. Yes, I am an extreme Metal Gear fan. But even disregarding that, this is the first real "Next-Gen" experience I ever had, and probably the most "compelling" experience I ever had with a videogame, period.

*slight spoiler/theory territory from here*

My theory right now, which my brother largely came up with, is that the game will re-use scenarios from the previous Metal Gears in reverse order. Act 1 was MGS4, every trailer we saw before the game was exactly this setting, so this represents MGS4 . Act 2 is a setting with a rich flora and fauna, a day/night cycle, just like MGS3. So we suppose Act 3 will be a Tanker/Big Shell (Mei Ling's reported ship?) scenario, Act 4 a Shadow Moses/snowy/military base scenario and possibly Act 5 an Outer Haven scenario? It would be very awesome.

I love how everything from the past Metal Gears is recycled, or rather paid homage to. The names of the Bosses (Laughing Octopus = The Joy + Decoy Octopus, Crying Wolf = The Sorrow + Sniper Wolf and so on) the aforementioned areas, the characters - I did NOT expect to see Rosemary again and even less in this very awkward relationship - the fantastic level of detail and the little things that are there to find, including the user-triggered flashback sequences. On a sidenote, I can't quite understand why ANYONE would trust Colonel Campbell ever again, but maybe I will find out over the course of the game. Right now it seems highly unreasonable.

I will not comment on the story or the themes and topics used, promoted and criticized until I finished it. There is too much room for a complete turnaround in a game like this.

This is the game I bought my PS3 for, GTA IV was a impulse buy triggered by the immense hype and ultimately, I was quite a bit disappointed with it. Metal Gear Solid 4 alone though, is worth every cent I paid for the console.

I can't wait to play more of it.

(Original Post: June 16th ~11:00 AM)

Better late than never. Please excuse me for the next few days.