Diablo III vs. A Rock

I thought that this was a slightly amusing find, so here I’m throwing it up on here! This is a silly comparison between Blizzard’s blockbuster video game Diablo III and a common rock. The chart compares the entertainment value between the two and it seems that a rock may give you more bang for your buck… but then again, rocks are free and plentiful and can be found just about anywhere!

You can click the following image for a full size version. Also note that if I see any queued comments screaming at me over the nature of the image, I’ll refuse to approve them. Remember, this image is all in good fun. Don’t take video games seriously.

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Marvel vs Capcom 3 (Review)

It’s been over a dozen years since Marvel has released a proper game in their crossover versus series with Marvel. The wait has been difficult for a lot of people craving something new. Marvel vs Capcom 3 is here to give gamers that something new, but does this fusion of two worlds meet our high expectations?

The answer to that question is a very large yes, but that does not necessarily mean that Marvel vs Capcom 3 is leaps and bounds ahead of it’s predecessor. MvC3 does some things very well, but a few curious aspects of the game aren’t up to par set by the two previous Marvel vs Capcom titles.

The first thing worth bringing up is the roster. MvC3 comes with thirty six characters, down from the fifty six in MvC2. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. All characters in MvC3 were modelled from scratch, and all of the characters feel very distinct and original. On the flipside, while MvC2 had a larger roster, almost all of the character sprites used in the game were already created and had been used in previous games, and quite a few characters were either clone characters or just played too similarly to others on the roster. So, while MvC3’s roster is smaller, it is much more robust and each character is truly their own identity. Players who simply want large numbers may feel upset by the smaller roster, but any true fighting game fan will really appreciate how diverse the cast is and how great every character plays.

Marvel vs Capcom 3 is perhaps one of the brightest and most visually satisfying fighters ever.

A lot of popular characters in the franchise didn’t make the cut. Captain Commando, Gambit, Jin Saotome, Mega Man, Strider Hiryu and Venom are the most notable absences on the roster. A few of those characters were the only ones I regularly used in MvC1 and MvC2, so I can relate to many complaints from people that the roster culled too many fan favourites, but many new additions to the roster make up for the loss of several favourites. Look at the names that we’ve lost and then look at the following names: Mike Haggar, Chris Redfield, Dante, Deadpool, Albert Wesker, Zero. Suddenly the new roster is a lot easier to stomach, and there are still several other new characters. Amaterasu, the star of Capcom’s Okami series, is perhaps my favourite of the new characters. Wolves are my favourite animal and Amaterasu’s gameplay is very interesting and unique, so it was really a no brainer for her to become my new Captain Commando, at least in terms of how much I appreciate the character being in the game and how much I enjoy using them.

Many popular veteran characters are still kicking around, so all is not lost. Captain America, Chun-Li, Morrigan, Ryu, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and several others are on the roster and, for the most part, are the same as they’ve always been – only better. The likes of Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath will be released as DLC in March with the promise of further DLC characters to follow later on, which even further solidifies this roster as perhaps one of the most diverse I’ve ever seen in a fighting game. Since this is a three on three fighter, I feel completely sure in myself when I say that there’s a team of three here for everyone. Each and every player will find at least three characters that they will fall in love with.

The gameplay in MvC3 is significantly different from what we were used to in the two previous MvC titles. The controls have been modified and the actual pacing of the fights has also been changed. For starters, gone are individual punches and kicks, and gone are six attack buttons. Mvc3 has three attack buttons (light, medium, strong), a launch button (useful for aerial combos), and two assist buttons. Tapping an assist button will call in one of your team-mates for support while holding an assist button will instead allow you to tag a character in and use them. Overall, the control scheme is pretty much identical to what Capcom had implemented in Tatsunoko vs Capcom. The flow and pacing of the fights are both also similar to Tatsunoko vs Capcom. To a newcomer, fights will play out much slower than they did in MvC2. Characters feel like they have more weight to them, and it gives off the impression that the characters have to put forth actual effort to pull off their attacks. The slower pace only lasts a little while, however. After playing the game for an hour or two, players will come out of their shells and adapt to the new flow of the fights. The pacing will pick up a little and some wild combos and attacks may start to appear, though the speed of the game will still be slower than MvC2.

Sentinel is back, and he's just as intimidating as ever. If you hated him before, you'll hate him again.

To make up for the slower gameplay, Capcom increased the damage that characters take from attacks. Players can change how much damage characters take, but on the default setting it is not impossible to see some characters being defeated almost as soon as they jump into the fight. Characters with lower health, such as Amaterasu, Arthur, or Zero will take oodles of damage while tougher characters like Hulk or Tron will be able to take quite a lot of abuse. There are two characters who are on both extremes of the health scale. Sentinel is the character with the most health and can take more punches than any other character in the game except the final boss. Given how punishing and unforgiving Sentinel can be to fight against, it makes the character a very terrifying force to be reckoned with. Phoenix on the other hand has the lowest health of any character in the game by a very large margin and can be killed extremely quickly without even using hyper combos if her player is being careless. Despite the fact that Phoenix is very fragile, she can dish out tons of damage and can even resurrect herself as Dark Phoenix if she dies when your super meter is at level five.

There are a few interesting mechanics in MvC3 that are worth mentioning. Advancing guard, which was relatively unknown to casual players prior to the release of this game, occurs when you press two attack buttons simultaneously while blocking and being under attack. If your timing is right, you’ll push the opponent back. I haven’t used this function very much yet, possibly because I keep forgetting that it’s even there, but the other gameplay mechanic is certainly one that I never forget about and that is X-Factor, or KFC as the hardcore audience has apparently dubbed it. X-Factor occurs when you press all four attack buttons together. This will put your character into a sort of rage status, increasing damage and speed by a huge margin. It becomes possible to chain all sorts of things together that would normally require a lot of effort or even be impossible. There is a catch to X-Factor however. You can only use it once per match, and how much of a boost it gives you is determined by how well you are doing. If your characters are all in good health, X-Factor won’t really make a worthwhile difference at all, but if you are on the brink of death with one character remaining then you can certainly expect it to give you a very significant boost to just about everything you can imagine. X-Factor may sound overpowered on paper, but it isn’t difficult to fight against a character that is using X-Factor. It just forces you to be more careful and less reckless.

Though, MvC3's roster is smaller than its older siblings, quality over quantity is very much at work here.

It just wouldn’t be Marvel vs Capcom without a hulking final boss from the Marvel universe, either. In MvC3, we are fortunate enough to have the giant planet gobbler known as Galactus waiting for us at the end of arcade mode. Unlike previous bosses, Galactus only has one form. The fight is still broken up into two parts however, with the first part being a battle against the Heralds of Galactus. The Heralds are just randomly selected villain characters in the game who are given a shiny silvery look, and you get to fight two of them at the same time. After defeating them by depleting their shared life bar, Galactus comes out to play. The fight is very similar to the one against Onslaught in MvC1 where the player will be doing a lot blocking when Galactus attacks and tons of frantic comboing when he isn’t. Overall, Galactus provides a very enjoyable fight. My only complaint with the Galactus fight is that he is fairly easy to defeat if you’re using characters that you are at least even decent with.

Outside of arcade mode, where Galactus awaits, there isn’t as much content as you might expect. There’s training, versus, online, and a pretty underwhelming mission mode. The mission mode is basically identical to Street Fighter IV’s trials. You choose a character and the game will give you tasks to complete that are nothing more than stringing moves together to make combos. While I understand that the mode is there to help new players learn how to use specific characters, it is not very enjoyable and does not teach you anything that the training mode cannot. Training mode in MvC3 is pretty robust. Just about every feature introduced into practice and training modes over the past decade have made it into MvC3, making it much more than just a mode that lets you practice a few moves. Training mode in MvC3 can simulate an actual training regime, and you can learn a lot from it. It’s also cool that training mode can function as a fully playable mode with fights as well. There is no 1P vs COM mode on the main menu, but it is possible to arrange such fights in training mode. With several options available to be tinkered with on the fly while engaging in 1P vs COM versus fights, it’s understandable to see how having training mode as a full replacement for 1P vs COM makes a lot of sense.

Beyond that, there isn’t much to the modes of play in MvC3. There are no minigames or endurance tests. Survival mode, a genre mainstay, isn’t even present. Capcom seemed to assume that just having arcade, two training modes, and online play is enough. Unfortunately, for casual players and just about anyone who isn’t hardcore or into the tournament scene, a little more meat is usually required.

Online is pretty decent overall. You have the standard player matches and ranked matches, and several options for filtering through the pools of players waiting for fights. The net code is extremely robust and lag hardly happens at all, proving that Capcom is truly becoming the industry leader in providing reliable and stable servers for online fighting games. The only huge disadvantage to online mode is that you cannot spectate matches when you are in a lobby with several other players. Fortunately Capcom has said that they will patch this into the game at a later date, so all is well, or at least will be in due time.

Galactus is without a doubt the most intense final boss that the Vs series has seen thus far.

Players who obsess over win ratios and such will probably get a kick out of the license card feature. This is accessed from the main menu by pressing one of your right shoulder buttons (R2 for PS3 and Im asuming RT for 360). It brings up all kinds of data, such as a graph that shows how good you are at offense, defense, etc. along with your character usage, total play time, wins and losses in singleplayer and online, and what your reserve teams are. There are many other statistics on your license card that the game keeps track of and, adding the fact that you can set your icon and title ala Street Fighter IV, the license card feature truly is something that feels like your own personal corner of the game. As someone who loves looking at character usage, play times, and so forth in games, I’ve taken a huge liking to my license card.

In terms of unlockables, there isn’t a whole lot here. Casual players will not be too thrilled to know that there are only four characters and a slew of gallery items that need to be unlocked in this game. All four characters can be unlocked in about half an hour by the average player, and the gallery just contains pieces of art, character models and themes, and voice clips. While the gallery is a neat little diversion, it does not stand well on it’s own as the only thing worth unlocking in the game beyond the first hour or two of play. I find myself checking out the gallery items that I unlock perhaps once (and that’s when I unlock them) and then never looking at them again.

With the meat and bones of the game out of the way, it’s time to focus on the aspects of the game that are not tied directly to gameplay.

First of all, the story isn’t good. Fortunately, this is a fighting game and the story doesn’t matter at all! Basically, this is how it goes… The baddies from the Marvel universe team up with Wesker, and they decide that they will use their combined forces to rule both Earths (the Capcom one and the Marvel one). They need to create a portal to pass between the two worlds though, so they decide to sap power from the cosmic being Galactus, hoping that he does not notice. Unfortunately Galactus does notice, and he decides to come kick some ass. That’s the entire story, which is pretty much standard fighting game fare. I mean honestly, do we need to know why everyone is fighting? Not really, we just want to have fun playing an enjoyable fighting game. Because of this, the story does not matter and it will not have any affect on the score I give Marvel vs Capcom 3.

I’ve waited a long time to bring up the graphics, and now I will do so. PC gamers will not be too blown away by any of the character models, but for a console game they look pretty decent. Some character clearly look better than others (because their models demand more detail) such as M.O.D.O.K. or Sentinel. Stage backgrounds on the other hand look absolutely superb. The only one that is honestly below average is the training stage, which is understandable. Some stages, such as Asgard or the Daily Bugle, look absolutely fantastic. Menus and selection screens are also very slick looking due to the comic book appearance that the game tries to mimic.

Despite being very fragile, Phoenix can still dish out quite a lot of pain.

Marvel vs Capcom 3 is an orgasm for your ears. The sound effects are a cut above the rest. While the sounds aren’t revolutionary, they don’t sound generic or give off a sense of deja vu. MvC3 sounds very fresh, and your ears will enjoy it. The music is mostly pretty decent and a few character themes, such Amaterasu’s, are really awesome and well done. Unfortunately, the overall soundtrack isn’t quite as good as what we’ve heard in the past Vs games. Some character themes just aren’t catchy at all and could easily be forgotten. The music is still above average, but not even the three Take You For A Ride remixes can make the game’s soundtrack oustanding.

Where the game’s sound department shines the best is the voice acting. The only English voice that made me cringe was Akuma’s, and I quickly set his voice to Japanese to escape the torture he put my ears through. All other voices are excellent, however. D.C. Douglas as Wesker is easily my favourite of them all, but Deadpool, Phoenix, Super-Skrull, and Wolverine all have great voices as well. Like I said, only Akuma’s English voice bothered me, and one single voice isn’t enough to even dent the score at the bottom of this page.

So, is Marvel vs Capcom 3 a worthy inclusion to the Vs franchise? Without a doubt, yes. I sincerely feel that this could shape up to be Capcom’s best fighting game of all time and, in time, my favourite fighter that I have ever played. There is so much substance to the actual fighting and there is so much experimenting to do with various team setups and assists that you could play this game forever and keep finding new ways to put characters together. Despite the lack of additional game modes, a problem that will be remedied via DLC beginning in March, this is an exceptionally meaty package with tons to do.

If you’re a fan of the Vs series or fighting games in general, or have a love for all thinks Capcom or Marvel, then you owe it to yourself to pick this game up. Marvel vs Capcom 3 will go down in history as one of the best fighting games of all time. You don’t really want to miss out on that, do you?

Final Score

9.3/10

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Announced

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was announced at the Tokyo Game Show today. Longtime Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada of Namco was on hand to show off the first official trailer, as well as answer questions from Joystiq.

“Joystiq: How long have you been working on Tekken Tag Tournament 2?

Katsuhiro Harada: Actually there was some talk at first of doing this before Tekken 6 came out, but when we discussed it amongst ourselves and the team we felt like we first wanted to make a proper sequel to 6 to see how far we could push the limits of our graphics engine on that hardware before going to Tag.

As you’ve seen for yourself in the trailer, we have three or four characters on the screen at once so that’s simply twice as much power needed than previously for example in Tekken 6. So obviously trying to do that right off the bat earlier on would be much more difficult.”

“If it’s running on the same technology as 6, which came not only to arcades but to consoles, what are your console plans for Tag 2?

As we announced, it will see an arcade release first. That’s where most of our efforts are focused on at the moment. But that being said, we do want to provide a chance for all of our fans abroad to be able to enjoy the game. That’s about all I can say at this point.

The first Tekken Tag Tournament came out in 1999. Why did it take 12 years to go back to a tag-based fighter?

As I said on stage, it was pretty much the result of many years of the fans giving us feedback that they wanted tag. At first, for the development team when we started out we had [Tekken] 3 and we thought the natural progression would be to go to 4 and 5 and such as a proper roadmap. Tag came about, first of, as an idea that I had after about five minutes of thinking. We were all really quite surprised when that took off and gained the popularity that it did. So we had to rethink the roadmap again once more. After working on the proper sequels and still considering all the fan feedback and how much that has just gradually increased over the years and gotten to the point where we just really had to seriously consider it.

Tekken x Street Fighter was announced recently, and today you announced this. Both are high-profile games. How are you resourcing both of these projects? Are there multiple teams?

Actually, before Street Fighter x Tekken and that whole announcement came about, Tag 2 was already in the works, so that’s something that we’ve already originally planned for. Really the question is now “so what do we want to do with Tekken x Street Fighter?” It’s getting a lot more people, and assigning them and such, as well as making game ideas on where to take that.

What do you think about the recent resurgence of fighting games, with titles like BlazBlue, Street Fighter and such?

Well, this is something that I’ve said before continuously. The Tekken series, if you look at it alone, each installment in the console versions sell about five million copies lifetime, and has continued for about fifteen years now. Plus the income from the arcades haven’t really dropped off at all for the Tekken series in general. From our standpoint, it’s not like anything has really changed much. The one thing that is noticeable perhaps is that other series, like Street Fighter IV coming back after a blank of about ten years or so, Mortal Kombat is starting to come back. I think that’s where some of the changes are occurring, rather than us. We’ve been rather constant.

Thanks for your time!”

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 does not currently have a release date, but will arrive in arcades and on consoles prior to the Street Fighter and Tekken crossover fighters in 2012.

Return to September 2010 Articles

Rocket Knight (Review)

“One of the best platformers available on the market today, and one that all fans of the genre must play.”

I can vaguely recall back in the Genesis days when I first played the original Rocket Knight Adventures. The game was lots of fun and very impressive back in the day, and it’s a shame that they game didn’t receive nearly as much attention as it deserved. Climax Studios and Konami look to change this though with Rocket Knight, a remake/sequel that serves as a potential revival of the Rocket Knight series. So is this Rocket Knight reboot a successful reimagining of the Genesis classic? Read on.

Rocket Knight opens with the game’s protagonist, Sparkster, witnessing an army of wolves invading his home nation of Zephyrus, which is where the possums live. The pigs team up with the possums to combat the wolf threat, but really… The story doesn’t matter at all. This is a platformer after all, and does anybody really play platformers for exciting stories? Not really. They are nice additions, but they’re not vital. Thankfully Rocket Knight keeps the story telling to an absolute minimum, just like the good old 16 bit days.

The gameplay in Rocket Knight is quite good, and playing this game immediately brought back slight memories from the original Genesis incarnation. The player controls Sparkster who is equipped with a sword and jetpack. The sword is used to, predictably, slash down foes. The jetpack enables Sparkster to speed across the screen in any direction, plowing through whatever unforunate enemies are in his path. The jetpack can also be used to ricochet off of walls, allowing Sparkster to reach ledges that would be impossible to reach without using the ricochet ability. The jetpack and sword can be combined together to create devastating spin attacks, as well as a “drill attack” which is capable of destroying obstacles later in the game.

Levels are, for the most part, your standard platformer obstacle courses. Keep going left or right, and occasionally up or down. There are many pitfalls and hazards (lava, electric currents, etc.) to avoid, and the everlasting presence of your wolf foes makes some obstacles slightly challenging to get past. Unfortunately, I found that most of Rocket Knight to be overwhelmingly easy. It wasn’t until the final two or three stages that the difficulty decided to spike incredibly, which I found a little bizarre as there was absolutely no difficulty curve in the game at all.

For the sake of variety, there are a few flying stages thrown in as well. These levels play a lot like standard space shooters such as Gradius or R-Type. Players can shoot rapid shots or charge up one powerful shot instead which typically destroys anything in front of Sparkster. These levels are fairly fun, but aren’t nearly as enjoyable as the ground levels.

There are a few boss fights, but they are nothing we haven’t seen before. Run in for an attack when the boss is temporarily unable to attack, bounce explosives back at them, and so forth. Like I said, the boss battles in Rocket Knight are the same battles we’ve gone through many times before. They’re still quite fun in this game though, even if they’re far too predictable and easy to figure out.

The graphics are pretty nice for a budget title. Rocket Knight is not available in physical form, only as a downloadable title off of the Playstation Store, Steam, or XBox Live. There doesn’t seem to be a Wii release, which is unfortunate because I’m sure that Nintendo’s console could easily handle this game. The graphics aren’t very detailed or extravagant, and could very nearly be last generation. Everything as a whole looks very average in Rocket Knight, but the game has a very charming graphical style that makes it easy to forgive the game for having mediocre visuals.

Equally as charming as the graphical style is the game’s music and sound effects. From the very first opening you are treated to a very epic sounding background tune that really sets the scene for an engaging cartoon-like adventure. The sound effects really aren’t anything amazing, but they still somewhat above average and sound decent. I can’t recall being annoyed or turned off by any sound effects, which is certainly a good thing.

So for about half the price of a full retail game, you probably can’t go wrong with Rocket Knight. It emulates Rocket Knight Adventures’ gameplay brilliantly and is a blast to play. The only other platformer I have enjoyed quite as much as this game over the past several years would be New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Yes, I even enjoyed this game more than LittleBigPlanet for the simple fact that this game nails the old school platforming formula far better than anything else on the market today. If you’re a platformer fanatic, then this is definitely a must try for you!

Final Score

8.3/10