Most Requested Marvel Vs Capcom 3 DLC Characters

Click here for my Super Marvel vs Capcom 3 roster predictions.

After digging through the forum communities at Capcom Unity, GameFAQs, and Shoryuken for several days, I was able to compile each of their “request DLC characters” topics into a single handy list. In their topics, they asked users to vote for three Capcom characters and three Marvel characters that they would like to see added to Marvel Vs Capcom 3 as DLC.

The list I made from combining the topics from the three sites contains votes from HUNDREDS of users. With so many possible characters for hundreds of people to choose from (over 300 were named), every single one in this top 25 should be viewed as a fan favourite, or as a character that should receive careful consideration from Capcom to join Jill and Shuma-Gorath on the DLC roster.

Below are the top 25 requested characters according to the results of all three sites combined as of January 10, 2010.

Keep in mind that the three sites are still continuing their DLC request topics for another 10 to 15 days each. I would imagine that the final results from all sites are likely to be mostly the same as what’s below, only with higher numbers.

Feb. 20, 2011 Update: It’s been several weeks and the numbers below have risen substantially, with the highest voted characters having about 1600 votes. I won’t bother tallying them up again, since I am aware that the results would not change significantly from 1st to 15th. While the number of votes listed below are outdated, the positions of the characters are not.

It’s a bit of a shock that Street Fighter’s supreme bad dude fills in the last slot of the top 25 requested character list. Many folks online have been hoping dearly for more Capcom villains, since the Marvel side has a substantial amount. It makes some sense that everyone’s favourite dictator is so low though. After all, his moveset isn’t really fitting for the Marvel Vs Capcom sort of gameplay.

Back in the 1990s when the X-Men animated cartoon aired each Saturday, Rogue was a pretty big deal and she was probably on the minds of a lot of little boys who were just entering puberty. In this day and age, Rogue’s relevance is much lower, but she is still a fan favourite. She was an enjoyable character in Marvel Vs Capcom 2, so it makes sense to see that some fans want her back.

Street Fighter’s sex appeal. Marvel Vs Capcom 3 looks like it will probably have enough female characters aimed to give teen boys dirty thoughts, and with Street Fighter’s leading lady Chun-Li already on the roster, Cammy’s inclusion seems pretty unlikely. Still, she would fit the gameplay of Marvel Vs Capcom 3 very well. It seems that a few dozen people already knew this, though.

Originally presumed to be in the game’s final roster, it is looking extremely unlikely that Frank West will appear in Marvel Vs Capcom 3 as anything other than DLC. Considering the fact that Capcom seems to think that western gamers are obsessed with Frank, it is unusual that he has been relegated to being nothing more than a character who people wish make it in as DLC. What a crumby way to treat a guy who has covered wars, Capcom.

I personally know nothing about this Marvel character, and I don’t really want to either. The fact that people want her in astounds me. What is the appeal? There’s nothing I can really say about this character, so next up is…

The prime villain of the Mega Man X series. A lot of fans want Sigma in since Capcom’s side lacks villains and Sigma can easily fit into a game like this. Sigma has appeared in pretty much every Mega Man X game there is, and has had countless different bodies and forms. There is so much possibility to work with here, and Capcom would probably be doing the game a huge favour by including this versatile Maverick villain.

Marvel Vs Capcom 3 needs more giant muscle-freaks. The Hulk fits the bill and Haggar is deemed such a character by crazed fans, but those two are not enough. The seventy two people who said “Juggernaut!” know very well that this game needs another mammoth character, and Juggernaut would do nicely. He was pretty fun in the previous Marvel Vs Capcom game. This brute works great in fighting games such as this. Capcom should definitely consider adding him.

Unfortunately I do not know much about Iron Fist, though my feelings towards him are definitely better than how I feel about Squirrel Girl. Iron Fist has an interesting design and I can definitely see a character like this working in Marvel Vs Capcom 3. He seems to have a solid fanbase, and adding this character should definitely please the Marvel readers.

Bass.EXE comes from the Mega Man Battle Network games. I checked them out once and felt incredibly underwhelmed, and I don’t think that I got a chance to see this character in action. Still, the original Bass from classic Mega Man was a great character, so I don’t see how this incarnation of him could be any worse, especially since he received a good number of votes.

Here’s a name that not many people mentioned for the longest time when discussing Marvel Vs Capcom 3’s roster or DLC characters. However, all that changed when a fake reveal picture of Green Goblin as a character emerged on Facebook. Since then, he has been on the tongues of many people. It’s not hard to imagine why, since Green Goblin is by far Spider-Man’s greatest rival ever. Green Goblin would be a solid addition to the cast.

One of the protagonists from Cyberbots, Jin is a Marvel Vs Capcom veteran after being a playable character in the first two games. He has a tremendously solid fanbase, and very few people seem to outright dislike the character. Jin is extremely off the wall and a blast to play as. Also, “BLOOOODIAAAA!” His exclusion is a puzzling one, as he was a very original character. Hopefully Capcom will bring Jin back to his fans.

The most requested Darkstalkers character after Felicia and Morrigan, who are both in the game. With Hsien-Ko expected to be announced soon, it makes Jon Talbain’s exclusion very painful. While a lot of people call him a “generic werewolf” and other things, it is impossible to overlook how his quick fighting style would fit the Marvel Vs Capcom gameplay brilliantly.

And now we break 100 votes per character with another veteran character, Captain Commando! Once upon a time, this guy was Capcom’s mascot. When he was added to Marvel Vs Capcom, he earned a brand new fanbase. I consider myself among those fans, and mained Captain Commando in the previous two Marvel Vs Capcoms. His exclusion has me incredibly bummed out. I’m glad that 100 people want him in. The 101st voter was me, you see.

After being added to the Vs series once again in Marvel Vs Capcom 2, Cyclops quickly re-established himself as a fantastic character in a fighting game. His optic blast was great for punishing new players, as well as those who just can’t close gaps. Considering that Cyclops is essentially the leader of the X-Men and has many fans, his exclusion is very peculiar.

The Marvel character I would like to see added the most! Ms. Marvel has a whole slew of interesting powers and has a very attractive design without looking overly slutty. Marvel could probably do with one or two more female characters on their side of the roster to counter Capcom’s large number of females. Ms. Marvel would be a great choice to balance the roster out.

I know of Dr. Strange and have seen him many times in the media and in pictures, but I’ve never really checked him out at all. Therefore I don’t know as much as I would like to about this character, but I am aware that he has tons of fans. I don’t even follow Dr. Strange and I recognize him, so he’s pretty iconic. Adding an iconic face to the roster would be a smart move.

Pretty much the same as Dr. Strange. An iconic character that I know very little about. I didn’t even watch the supposedly horrendous Nicholas Cage movie. I would imagine that Ghost Rider would be a little difficult to implement though, due to his bike.

The protagonist from the successful PS2 action game God Hand, Gene is a character that many fans are clammering for. Before I saw quite a few people suggest this guy for the roster, I had no idea who he was, and I thought “God Hand” was just a character in the PS1 fighter Ehrgeiz. Well, I was definitely wrong on that one. After checking out a few God Hand videos and such, I can see why a few people would want this guy in.

Surely a face that is familiar to those who have played Devil May Cry. I, unfortunately, never have. That may sound surprising, but I mostly skipped over the PS2 in favour of the Gamecube (don’t shoot me, please). I’m sure that Vergil must be pretty awesome though, since he is from the action packed Devil May Cry series.

To be honest, and even though I voted for her myself, I’m surprised to see Psylocke make it so high and I had no idea that she was so popular. I don’t really read comics and always thought that Psylocke was just one of those random underdog characters. After trying Psylocke out in Marvel Vs Capcom 2, I grew to love her fighting style and her moveset. In my eyes, she would definitely be a welcome addition to the third installment.

It looks like, after two Vs games with classic Mega Man, fans have gotten sick of him. X has been requested almost non-stop since the game was announced. It seems that everyone wants X in over classic Mega Man. I suppose I can understand why, as X’s power-ups are much more varied and interesting. His default armor also has many more interesting powers that classic Mega Man does not have. From a gameplay perspective, X would be vastly superior to classic Mega Man.

I want to understand this Phoenix Wright craze, I honestly do. Niitsuma stated that Phoenix Wright wasn’t in because there is nothing to base a moveset on for him. He literally does not fit this sort of game at all. What is he going to do, smack people with briefcases? Shout “Objection!” speech bubbles that float around and damage opponents? The fact that Marvel’s Phoenix is also acts as a strke against Wright since their names are so similar.

One of the most iconic Spider-Man villains and a fan favourite veteran from the past two Marvel Vs Capcom games. Venom has always been a huge blast to play as, and his incredibly unpredictable moveset that can punish players from across the screen has always been full of awesome attacks. The only reason why I think Venom may never appear in Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is the fact that he is always drastically changing shape. That’s gotta take a toll on the RAM.

The most requested Marvel character, and for good reason. Gambit has appeared in more Capcom fighting games than you can shake a stick at, and was incredibly fun to use in the previous Marvel Vs Capcom games. As one of my main characters, his exclusion makes me feel pretty upset. Still, with so many people begging for him to be DLC, there is still hope for everyone’s favourite Cajun!

And here he is. Come on, everyone probably saw this coming, right? Strider Hiryu’s popularity reached incredible heights with the original Marvel Vs Capcom. I instantly took a liking to the versatile moveset and awesome hyper combos that came along with Hiryu. Out of all the characters on this list, his exclusion from Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is the biggest shocker since after Ryu, Spider-Man and Wolverine, Hiryu is the face of Marvel Vs Capcom. What gives, Capcom?

And here’s another little treat. Characters that I didn’t include in the top 25 and the number of votes they received. I ignored all votes from Akuma, Hsien-Ko, Sentinel, and Taskmaster since they are presumed to be the final four characters and are expected to be revealed this month sometime. None of those four characters even received enough votes to make it into the following list anyway. I assume that they didn’t receive many votes because people feel pretty sure about their probable inclusions.

26th: Silver Surfer (56 votes)
27th: Emma Frost (56 votes)
28th: Thanos (49 votes)
29th: B.B. Hood (48 votes)
30th: Daredevil (44 votes)
31st: Mega Man.EXE (44 votes)
32nd: Carnage (32 votes)
33rd: Mega Man (42 votes)
34th: Date Masamune (41 votes)
35th: Juri (41 votes)
36th: Blade (39 votes)
37th: Chuck Greene (38 votes)
38th: Jedah (38 votes)
39th: Dr. Wily (37 votes)
40th: Nightcrawler (37 votes)
41st: Dr. Octopus (36 votes)
42nd: Roll (32 votes)
43rd: Cable (31 votes)
44th: Nico Minoru (31 votes)
45th: Namor (30 votes)
46th: Tessa (29 votes)
47th: Ryu (Breath of Fire) (28 votes)
48th: Howard the Duck (27 votes)
49th: Regina (27 votes)
50th: Moon Knight (26 votes)

So what does this list tell us?
It tells us that Capcom had better add Strider Hiryu unless they want to deal with rioting fans! The amount of support behind Hiryu for DLC is really incredible. It’s also apparent that there is a lot of respect for the other MvC1 vets, Captain Commando and Jin Saotome. The low number of votes for Roll should, hopefully, be a sign to Capcom that we just don’t want her in the Vs games anymore.

The bottom line? Add Strider Hiryu as DLC. Licensing issues be damned, it must be done!

Venetica – Further Impressions

Due to the holidays, and now bad work hours, my time with Venetica has been a little limited. Still, I’ve made more progress with the game and have become better at playing while discovering new features as well. I originally intended to show off about 60 minutes of me playing, but I lacked time to upload all of that to YouTube, only managing to upload 30 more minutes instead. However, it’s a good amount of gameplay and you can definitely get an idea of how the game plays from these videos.

Here are two videos that are to be played back to back. It is me playing through one of the game’s dungeons.

The video ends kind of abruptly with that boss battle, but in the following videos there will be a conclusion to the fight. Overall, it was a pretty epic fight and is the first real “cool” encounter in the game.

I don’t really want to say too much about the game, because I want to save my comments for the inevitable review that should come this week sometime provided my schedule cooperates with me. I will say that I’m liking the game more and more as I get further into it. Initially, I would have given it about a 7 when I wrote my first impressions a few days ago, but I now suspect that I’d be more inclined to give it about an 8.5 or so. It’s a quality game and if you can look past the slightly cartoonish presentation, then there’s a very enjoyable action RPG waiting for you!

I will say one thing, though. Venetica plays a lot like a cross between The Witcher and, surprisingly, Diablo. The game has a hack n’ slash element to it that Diablo possesses, but the gameplay (how you control Scarlett and how the camera works) is more like The Witcher, especially with the combo attacks.

Truthfully? It’s a great game. I can’t wait to play more, and I’m really looking forward to writing a review about this game. I’m even interested in doing a sort of “Let’s Try” series of videos, if only I can get my darn headset to work. It may be time to invest in a new one.

Return to December 2010 Articles

Venetica First Impressions

Venetica. It’s a bit of an unusual name, and before reading up on the game I didn’t expect that it would be a Fable-esque RPG starring a girl named Scarlett. I’ve spent a bit of time with this game, enough for me to decide to write up some initial impressions.

In Venetica, you play as a girl named Scarlett who is out to avenge the death of her beloved boyfriend Benedict while also getting wrapped up in a story containing some pretty supernatural elements that I’m still learning about. The story telling, so far, isn’t too bad. The dialogue sequences are pretty straight forward, but individual characters have enough personality to make most interactions fairly interesting.

The controls are pretty solid. Moving around, attacking, and interacting with your surroundings is all a breeze. However, I do find that making Scarlett roll is a little cumbersome. To roll, you have to hold down a key and press a directional key to make Scarlett roll. You literally have to stop what you are doing to make her roll, or at least it seems this way. I’ll need to experiment with rolling some more, but it does feel a little clunky. Aside from that issue, the controls are pretty good.

The graphics are a bag of mixed nuts. Characters look good and are portrayed in a cartoony fashion, sort of like the first Fable. Some people clearly have heads that are too large, or bodies that are too out of proportion, but it’s the artistic style of the game and I’m cool with it. Menus are all pretty slick once you get used to them, and environments don’t look too bad. There are some pretty bland textures at times, but the game has a lot of ambiance. A few European reviewers noted that the environments and landscapes are this game’s strong points and I agree. They don’t look up to par anymore, but they are very artistic and immersive.

The combat works pretty well, though it takes two or three fights until you start to get used to dodging and parrying. It’s mostly up to the player to invent ways to dodge and parry, which is cool. There is Scarlett’s roll and such that is designed to help you in combat, but I found just moving around a lot to be more effective. The combat itself plays out a lot like The Witcher. It seems that attacks combo into each other, and if your timing is off at all then you’ll botch your attack. If you’re fighting a humanoid when this happens, it gives them a great opportunity to block and then perform a counter attack, unless you can jump away fast enough.

So far, it’s a pretty decent game. It isn’t outstanding, but I’d definitely give it a higher score than the Metacritic score of 61, which I feel is far too low for this game. Somewhere between 70 and 85 would be better. Venetica is a fun game that is fairly well made, and more people would enjoy the game rather than dislike it.

Venetica is due out on January 11, 2011 in North America on the PC, Playstation 3, and XBox 360.

Return to December 2010 Articles

Bejeweled 3 (Review)

“PopCap goes back to their roots to give us a good reminder as to how they own our souls.”

It has been several years since Bejeweled was really even on the tip of anyone’s tongue, and after PopCap soared to even greater heights from the success of Peggle and Plants vs Zombies, it seemed like a strange idea for them to decide that making a Bejeweled 3 was the most logical next step for them to make. I was skeptical at first, but after playing the latest Bejeweled I can safely say that I’ve laid my doubts to rest.

Bejeweled 3 is everything we know and love from the numbered Bejeweled titles and more. While Bejeweled 2 prided itself in having two game modes as well as one or two hidden bonus modes, Bejeweled 3 boasts four standard modes and four bonus modes. This gives you quite a substantial variety in terms of how you’re going to play with your shiny little gems.

Classic mode is what we’re all familiar with. Break as many gems by aligning three or more of a kind together and amass as many points from doing so before you end up with no more possible moves. This mode has received little if any upgrades at all, but still somehow feels fresh. I attribute this to the improved graphics and catchy soundtrack.

The time attack mode in Bejeweled 3 is called “Lightning” and is fairly addicting. While the idea is to get the highest score possible before time runs out, it is now possible to extend your timer by breaking specific gems that grant time bonuses. They are plentiful at first, but as the time gems become more and more rare, Lightning becomes a very nerve-wracking experience.

Lining out the rest of the default game modes are Zen, which allows you to play for an infinite length of time without losing, and the Quest mode. I like the latter as it presents challenges to you that are always different from the last one that you tackled. There are quite a few quests to blow through and, predictably, they get harder as they go.

The four bonus modes are Butterflies, Diamond Mine, Ice Storm, and Poker. They all add quite a twist to the gameplay, and one of them I find to be so addicting that it could be it’s own game.

In Butterflies, random gems are designated as butterflies. These butterfly gems must be destroyed before they reach the top of the screen, due to a hungry spider lingering along the top of the game board. if the spider gets his eight legs on one of your butterflies, it’s game over. Butterflies starts off easy enough, but I found that it quickly became very frustrating and tense, and I haven’t enjoyed playing it much.

Diamond Mine is easily my favourite part of Bejeweled 3 and is the addicting part that I mentioned. In this mode, the bottom half of the screen is covered in dirt and the top half contains gems. You have to create combinations that are directly adjacent to the dirt, which destroys it. Players must get rid of all the dirt above a certain goal line. When all dirt above the line is cleared, the timer (which I forgot to mention) fills back up and the dirt increases yet again. It’s a fairly repetitive game mode that just involves doing the same thing over and over, but it’s very strategic and I like how there is always a very clear goal for the player.

In Ice Storm, there are pillars of ice that slowly fill to the top of the screen. If one reaches the top and stays there for a moment, it’s game over. To prevent this from happening, players must make gem combinations, which destroys or lowers the ice pillars in whatever columns the gems were matched in.

Poker is a very interesting mode and I commend PopCap for coming up with such a neat idea, but overall this game mode isn’t very enjoyable. The goal is to make various poker hands using the gems on the board. The better the hand, the better your score. The problem with this mode is that it mostly forces you to constantly try for four of a kind of flushes. I found that this limited what I wanted to do in the game mode, and really wasn’t too enjoyable.

Aside from game modes, Bejeweled 3 doesn’t really change a whole lot aside from a new paint job and an improved soundtrack. There are fiery gems that destroy entire horizontal and vertical lines of gems, which is a pretty interesting change. Hypercubes also received a very nice visual upgrade as well.

There are various badges to collect (consider them to be the game’s equivalent to PS3 trophies or 360 achievements), but they are pointless and do not affect anything from what I’ve noticed. Perfectionists may want to try to collect them all, though.

So that’s it. Bejeweled 3 is, well, Bejeweled. If you didn’t like the previous games then you probably won’t enjoy this one either. However, if you do enjoy Bejeweled, then this game will probably amuse you, and the neat bonus modes will provide you with some much needed variety.

Final Score


Gran Turismo 5 (Review)

“Polyphony’s flagship series finally makes it’s official debut on the Playstation 3, and the wait was worth it.”

It has been five years since Gran Turismo 4, which is the same length of time that Gran Turismo 5 was in development for. An extremely early GT5 prototype was shown at E3 2005, and since then there has been a wave of jaw dropping trailers as well as disappointing delays. It is November 2010 and, finally, Gran Turismo 5 has crossed the finish line. Was the five years of development worth it, and does the quality of the game reflect the half decade of work?

Upon booting up Gran Turismo 5 for the first time, most users will be required to update to the latest patch immediately, which is close to 200 megabytes. Following this, the game will ask if the player would like to install 8 gigabytes of optional data. Well, considering the fact that the install size is a massive 8 gigabytes should be more than enough to convince the average player to go ahead and go through with it. I did not play Gran Turismo 5 without the install, but I cannot imagine doing so. The game has to load so much data and changes menus so frequently that it would be insane not to do the 8 gigabyte install.

After all of the patching and optional installing is out of the way, which will take roughly an hour in total, players are treated with a cinematic intro movie that runs for a staggering six and a half minutes. The intro walks the player through the construction of cars all the way up to the exciting GT-esque racing that the player bought the game to experience. The intro does start out a little slow, but towards the end it is crammed with more action and excitement than you would ever expect to see in a Gran Turismo title.

Once you reach the main menu, there are a few choices available. GT Mode (or simulation mode for those who have not played Gran Turismo lately), arcade mode, course maker, GT TV, and the options menu are available to check out. I’ll cover the meatiest bits at the end, so first off is the options menu. The amount of individual options that the player can play with is nothing short of exceptional. Dozens of settings for race wheels, television display, and even proper custom soundtrack settings are all contained in the options menu. There’s a lot to check out, so players who are decked out with a racing wheel, a music collection on their PS3, and the Playstation Eye will have lots of cool settings to check out and play with before racing.

All premium cars have the interior view. Standard cars do not.

GT TV is a feature I’m not too interested in just yet, as I am still enjoying the main game far too much to give it much attention. However, I do know what it contains. In GT TV, players will be able to check out GT5 related videos, watch Top Gear, historical videos about various cars, as well as support for the PSP that will enable you to watch GT TV videos on your handheld.

The course maker is an interesting feature that I’ve played with a little. It allows you pick a theme (circuit, kart track, snow, gravel, etc.) and then generate a random track. You don’t too much control over the design of the track, but you can adjust the complexity, road width, and corner sharpness of each section of the race track. The control you have is very limited, and really all that you can do is decide whether or not the track will be basic or complicated. It’s not a critical feature in GT5, but it’s a little fun to check out from time to time. I don’t enjoy making tracks to race on in it, but I do get a bit of a thrill out of making test tracks in it and then giving them a shakedown in time trial mode.

Arcade features many familiar mainstays of the racing genre. You can compete in single races of varying difficulty levels of your choice, go rallying or karting, attack lap times in time trial mode, or even play with a friend in split screen mode. There are a few dozen “arcade mode” cars that you can choose to use. There is nothing arcade-like about the cars, they are merely just vehicles that the game lets you use in arcade mode rather than having to unlock cars in GT Mode to use. This lets you use various cars in arcade mode without going through the hassle of tackling several GT Mode races just to purchase new vehicles. The cars that you do obtain in GT Mode can also be used in arcade mode, but the way in which you set them to be selectable in arcade mode is a little peculiar and perhaps even archaic. Within GT Mode, you must go to your garage and select a car that you own, then bring up the menu and choose “add to favourites” for the particular car. This allows it to be driven in arcade mode. I do not understand why you have to do this just to use your GT Mode cars in arcade mode, as it seems like a very unnecessary step that only wastes the time of the player. I’ve forgotten to add cars to my favourites on several occasions and had to go back and forth between the two game modes just to enable the car for arcade mode and then select it. This process can take two or three minutes sometimes, which is a bit of a bother.

GT Mode itself is where players will spend almost all of their time. The standard simulation mode is contained here, which involves car dealerships, a tune up shop, A-spec and B-spec races, special events, and more. Upon entering GT Mode for the first time, players will have to purchase a car from the used car lot and then practice their skills in the license tests. Players who feel sure of themselves can skip the tests entirely and just go straight to racing instead, since the license tests are completely optional now.

There are several different kinds of races in GT Mode. First is A-spec, which is essentially just standard single races or tournaments that follow certain themes such as only allowing Japanese cars or European antique cars. Winning these races will grant you credits (currency) and experience. Complete all races under certain categories and you will often be rewarded with cars. B-spec races are identical to A-spec races (same categories, events, etc.) only instead of you driving, you get to instruct an AI “apprentice” sort of driver. You will issue him commands to ease up, increase his pace, or attempt to overtake other drivers. Your B-spec drivers will usually struggle initially, but as they drive more often, they will level up and become better drivers. Some B-spec drivers will just struggle with certain kinds of cars. For example, I stuck my B-spec driver in a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, and he made countless mistakes, spinning out at almost every corner. Afterwards, I stuck him in a Toyota FT-86 Concept ’09 and he immediately proceeded to kick ass, winning race after race. I then figured that the twitchiness of the Corvette may have been too much for my B-spec driver, as even I had troubles with the car. The FT-86 was a much friendlier car to drive and felt great, which my B-spec driver seemed to agree with.

2010 Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel and the futuristic Red Bull X1, which is available ingame.

I mentioned experience points, which is new to Gran Turismo. Obtaining experience from events will allow you to level up, which unlocks new special events and allows you to drive higher tier cars. In previous Gran Turismo games, you could essentially just grind credits and then purchase the best cars, but now you must reach the proper level to pilot certain cars. I always used to buy a Doge Viper as soon as possible, but I had to be level 12 to get the one I wanted in GT5 (the Viper SRT/10 Coupe ’06). When I finally reached level 12, I was ecstatic to purchase the car, and then proceeded to lovingly throw it around the corners of a self-created test track.

The special events in Gran Turismo 5 are great. Initially they may feel challenging or perhaps unfair, but after realizing that the special events take not only raw skill but also careful planning and quick thinking to win, they become extremely intriguing. I struggled with one event that involved racing a pretty ugly Toyota bus around the Top Gear test track, and I just couldn’t figure out how to win it. The best I could muster was 9th for a full day until I went back to the event, observed the AI carefully and planned out several various overtaking moves. When I felt ready to challenge for the gold again, I pulled through and came in first position. It was an awesome feeling to conquer the event, and I felt like I really achieved something. The feeling of accomplishment that I have received from Gran Turismo 5’s various events and races easily trumps any other game that I have played recently.

Now that I have discussed the majority of the game’s content (except the online play, which I have not yet played but here is quite good), I want to go over how the game itself plays. There is really only one thing to talk about, and that is the racing.

As in past Gran Turismo titles, the huge collection of cars present in GT5 (slightly over 1000) contains some pretty awful turds, but most of the cars are either pleasant or flat out awesome to drive. The Toyota bus for example is a wretched vehicle that I never want to drive again, while the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is perhaps the smoothest handling vehicle that I have ever used in a racing game, and I have fallen head over heels in love with it. Few cars handle terribly, and those that do not feel like they are just bad cars, no. Instead, the poorer cars instead just feel like untamed animals that fight with you and challenge you for control. It’s an exhilarating experience to drive such cars, as even the real shit boxes possess lots of personality.

In terms of sound, not many cars sound terribly interesting. Many of them sound like they have generic stock engine noises that we’ve heard several times over now from various other racing games. However, my Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI GSR ’99 is a real treat to listen to. It sounds ALIVE, as if it is breathing. NASCAR and karts also sound pretty fantastic and really capture the essence of their real life counterparts.

The graphics in Gran Turismo 5 seldom dip below “good.” Most of the time, I would rate them as being either good or great. The only time the graphics appear to be “average” or perhaps bad in any way is when there is lots of mist or smoke being kicked around. For some peculiar reason, mist and smoke effects cause cars who get caught inside of them to look very pixelated. Even the premium model cars, which are ordinarily gorgeous, look like PS2 era vehicles when caught in mist or smoke. Fortunately cars are rarely ever in this situation, their stunning beauty rarely comprimised by strange graphical issues. A few cars do have polygon tearing issues, which is very odd in this day and age. I’ve only witnessed it on the NASCAR cars in replays, but there may be other cars that are the victim of polygon tearing.

In terms of trackside graphics, it’s a bag of mixed nuts. City tracks look absolutely fantastic and are perhaps the best looking environments I’ve seen on the Playstation 3. However, once you move away from the city tracks, you will find two dimensional trees and bizarre instances of distant objects popping out of nowhere, rendering far later than they should. These aren’t gamebreaking and don’t really make the game ugly, and at very high speeds most of the graphical problems are hard to even notice. However, tracks with many slow corners give you ample opportunities to pick out the game’s graphical flaws.

All cars look very impressive in the game's race replays.

There were a lot of debates online which are even going on now over the premium and standard model cars. The difference between the two is that premium model cars have interior camera views and every piece of the cars’ exterior is modeled to perfection. Standard cars do not feature any kind of in-car camera view and have lower polygon counts. Many frustrated gamers, particularly at GameFAQs, have gotten very upset over standard cars, calling them nothing more than reskinned vehicles from Gran Turismo 4. Some have said very unkind things towards the standard vehicles and have spoken harshly of Polyphony Digital as a result. So, what’s my verdict on premium and standard cars? Well, unless you are intentionally looking for any kind of graphical difference and freezing your replays in order to do so, you probably won’t notice a damn difference between the two. Yes premium models look absolutely stunning, but standard models are not the ugly abominations that the internet trolls make them out to be. They honestly look just fine and can easily go toe to toe with the premiums. In my opinion, the only advantages that the premium cars have are in-car cameras, fully modelled exteriors, and more thorough damage models. Aside from that, they look pretty much just as good. I’m being brutally honest here, standard cars are not an issue at all.

So how does Gran Turismo 5 hold up? Were the five years of development worth it? In my opinion, yes. Many people are upset and let down by the game’s critical reception, but those are the people who overhyped the game and hailed it as the greatest game of all time long before it even came out. The truth is that Gran Turismo 5 is not the best game ever made, far from it! But, is it still a good game? Yes, it’s a good game. In fact, Gran Turismo 5 is an exceptional game. The care taken to create this wonderful product is very apparent to anyone who plays the game, and the quality of the racing is definitely unmatched. In time, I expect Gran Turismo 5 to most likely become my favourite racing game that I have ever played. So, is it worth checking out? If you are a fan of Gran Turismo or racing games in general, then yes. Even fans of Forza (which I did not want to even mention in this review) should find some aspects of GT5 to be extremely enjoyable.

While there are a few graphical and technical issues with the game, none of them directly harm what this game does best, and that is delivering some of the absolute best racing to ever grace a gaming console. This is, without a doubt, Polyphony Digital’s finest work ever. Bravo, guys.

Final Score


Final Fantasy Blackmoon Prophecy

In 2004, I felt that my interest in RPG Maker was really starting to wane and that I would probably stop using the program soon unless I came up with something that I truly enjoyed working on. I decided that, for whatever reason, an action RPG with Final Fantasy 4-esque graphics would be the best way to go. Looking back on that decision today, I am certain that if I had proceeded with my initial idea, I definitely would have failed horribly.

When I began gathering resources and plotting out my action RPG that I had taken to calling Blackmoon Prophecy, I began to realize that I was almost subconsciously mapping the game as a Final Fantasy fangame. So many elements from the old Final Fantasy titles were present, probably because of the ripped graphics I was using. I decided that maybe an action RPG wasn’t the thing for me to tackle at that moment, and I decided to turn Blackmoon Prophecy into a real fangame. It then became Final Fantasy Blackmoon Prophecy, and my simple goal was to emulate the feel and gameplay of the first six titles in the Final Fantasy series.

I had previously made one Final Fantasy fangame in RPG Maker 2000 called Final Fantasy Mythologies in 2002 or 2003, and it was pretty terrible. In my heart I felt that it was a gem, but as an actual fangame? Well, it was pretty terrible. Only I could enjoy it. I wanted to do better with Blackmoon Prophecy, and I also wanted to dispell the illusion that all fangames suck. That is a belief that has been a part of the RPG Maker community since it’s early days in 1999 and 2000, and a slew of awful Dragon Ball, Final Fantasy, and Pokemon abominations did not help fangames receive a better image. There certainly were good fangames, but they were few and far between. I wanted to make my mark on the fangame side of the RPG Maker community, which is why I chose to make Blackmoon Prophecy feel and look like the old Final Fantasy games. I did not want the game to forge it’s own unique identity, no. All fangames that have done that have mostly failed. I decided to play it safe and, hopefully smart, by modelling practically every aspect of Blackmoon Prophecy after the first six Final Fantasy games.

I released several demos between 2004 and 2007. Initially, not a lot of people took to Blackmoon Prophecy. There were lots of bad maps, dialogue was overly juvenile, and the overall presentation (such as battle animations) was a little disheartening. With each demo, I refined the game more and more to carry a more authentic Final Fantasy feel until it seemed that almost everybody who played the later demos at least partially enjoyed the game. Negative feedback dropped quite a lot over the three years of demo releases. It has now been about three years since the last demo and I can safely say that the refinements I’ve made since then are very thorough and vast. Many dialogue sequences and maps have been completely remade and, in some cases, areas of the game have been completely removed because I deemed them to be too amateurish.

While Blackmoon Prophecy will never feel 100% like the classic Final Fantasy games due to the use of RPG Maker 2003’s default systems, I really do believe that I’ve come closer than any other fangame author in the RPG Maker community. At times, an uneducated viewer could probably mistake Blackmoon Prophecy for a legit Final Fantasy game. A very authentic Mystic Mysidia is ripped from Final Fantasy 4, and Final Fantasy 6’s auction house has been recreated very faithfully as well. Little things like that give Blackmoon Prophecy a distinct Final Fantasy feel. I’ll never nail it perfectly though, but then again I sort of feel like the atmosphere, feeling, and gameplay of the old games are lost forever. Final Fantasy remakes on portable consoles always feel like they have less soul than the originals, and the recent Final Fantasy IV: The After Years on the Wii felt nothing like the game it was meant to be a sequel to. It felt like a strange fangame of sorts. It just seems like nobody can really capture that old feel anymore. I don’t think I can capture it, but I can at least emulate it.

So, exactly what is this Blackmoon Prophecy game about? In traditional old-school fashion, this is a game about saving the crystals from an evil villain and that’s it! It sounds simple because, like the old games, it is. Of course there are many plot devices and storylines that play out, but at it’s core, Blackmoon Prophecy is just an old-school game about saving the world.

The game is set in Gaia, a world that is governed by four major powers – Branch, Ivalice, Lenadia, and Lindblum. Branch is a war-ravaged nation with a predominantly dragoon-based military, Ivalice is your typical shady Empire, Lenadia is a peaceful and vast land ruled by King Gorn, and Lindblum is an economic powerhouse.

The players assume the role of Vahn, a dragoon from the Branch Kingdom. A year has passed since the Crystal War which saw the King of Branch wage war on the world via crystal power. The King was defeated by the other nations, and the crystals returned to their rightful shrines across the world. Now, something mysterious is clearly going on. Strange happenings have been occurring at the Water Shrine, and a local dragoon named Darius has been acting peculiar and defiant in many cases. Can Vahn get to the bottom of it all?

Throughout Vahn’s journey he will team up with a black mage, white mage, summoner, ninja, blue mage, swordsman, dark knight, and a treasure hunter. Each have their own distinct abilities and all excel at different areas of the game. For example, the dark knight is able to manipulate the shadow resistance of fellow party members and enemies. If he lowers an enemy’s resistance several times, he can then use his Black Strike ability. On it’s own, it is an average shadow elemental attack, but after manipulating the enemy’s resistance, it turns into a devastating attack. A few minutes after the dark knight joins, there is a boss battle in which all three opponents are immune to shadow attacks, which makes him useless in that fight as a combatant. As well, the white mage is very weak against shadow elemental attacks and, in that same fight, can be hit by a shadow attack that deals roughly twice as much damage as her maximum HP. Since she is the primary healer, having her in a fight in which she can be killed in a single blow is risky however, if the player were to keep the dark knight in their party, they could theoretically use him exclusively to support the white mage and keep her alive. Situations like that arise pretty often, but a few characters are lucky enough to not be affected much, such as the black mage who commands at least one spell of every element.

In terms of emulating older Final Fantasy games, there’s a long list of things in Blackmoon Prophecy that may be nostalgic for a few people. Characters such as Cid, King Gorn, Siegfried, and Ultros are present while towns like Cornelia, Kohlingen, Mysidia and Silvera are recreated in some form or another. There is a choboco race track where players can bid on the winner and receive prizes, and an auction house where the player can having bidding wars with NPCs over items. A few location names, such as Ebot’s Rock, Mount Matoya, and Gulgur Volcano may remind players of the good ol’ days as well. The summoner character is of course another source of nostalgia with her summons such as Ifrit, Ramuh, and Shiva. More obscure summons like Zoneseek are also in the mix. You name it and I’m probably trying to capture it in some form or another!

I’ve been working on Blackmoon Prophecy quite a lot recently and, at the pace I am going at right now, I think I’ll finish in the summer of 2011 sometime. Finishing this game is definitely one of my goals, and will probably be one of my New Year’s Resolution as well. This is one of the very few things I have ever put online that was enjoyed by quite a few people. That sort of thing can make a person feel good, and I’d love to finish this game and release it to the masses. Stay tuned next year, it may happen!

Click here to visit The Review Depot’s Blackmoon Prophecy section.