Red Dead Redemption for Playstation 3 – True Grit

Red Dead Redemption for Playstation 3 – True Grit

A plot full of betrayal and back-stabbing means the storyline of this game has as many twists and turns as the dust tracks one must navigate on horseback. The broad range of environments is matched only by the scope of human emotions this game deals with. Lines are blurred and waters muddied (and sometimes bloodied) in this Western epic from Rockstar Games.

This recent playthrough marks my second attempt at this game. I gave up the first time shortly after having reached Armadillo, sick of being blasted in the face by seemingly every NPC in the game. Since then, having watched and loved the HBO TV series Westworld, I decided it was time to saddle up once more.

My version of John Marston conducted himself with honour, helping those in need and dealing out swift justice to those who would do others harm. Likes included playing Horseshoes, picking flowers, and hunting treasure and grizzly bears. Dislikes: cougars.

There are still some issues with this game. I mainly disliked the combat system here, similar to GTA V, with the white dot which snaps to the target. I tried turning the aim assist off but it makes firing your weapon on horseback near on impossible – for me at least. Also, the difficulty curve once you enter Mexico and Act II of the game was, I felt, much too steep. In particular, the missions involving trains seemed to be ridiculously difficult, only managing to complete them once I had died multiple times and had memorised where the enemies would appear.

However, things I liked about Red Dead far outweighed my dislikes. Stand-out missions such as ‘Hanging Bonnie MacFarlane’ and ‘The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed’ got my heart pumping in ways I had not felt in a video game for many years. The characters were another excellent feature of this game. Rockstar has a way of creating the most vivid, funny and vile characters, that are often in their own way very likeable, Irish being a notable example.

Red Dead Redemption, like almost every character in the game, is flawed yet lovable. It is guaranteed to make you laugh, get your heart thumping and, if it’s doing it’s job right, will probably make you angry at some point. It’ll even bring a tear to your eye, but not in a sentimental way as this is the Wild West, everyone has their own motives and agenda, but even in this desolate land, flowers can still bloom.

Trophy cabinet:
The Gunslinger” this silver trophy is earned simply by changing the targeting mode to extreme and scoring a single headshot.

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Devil May Cry 2 – Hack-and-shoot

Devil May Cry 2 – Hack-and-shoot

So we are back again in the signature red coat. As before we don’t know when and we don’t know where, but it’s chock full of nasties wanting to do us harm. We’ve got our guns and our sword – as well as the aforementioned red coat – and it’s time to chew up some bad guys.

The combat system here is simplified from the first game, with less button combros. This makes fighting more fluid, chaining easier and achieving the coveted ‘S-grades’ more readily. The linear level designs also follow this trend, meaning less back-tracking and re-visiting old areas to put object A into it’s corresponding slot – something I did not like much about the first game.

Ultimately, Devil May Cry us truer to it’s hack-and-slash nature, and less like the early Resident Evil games. Here, you throw yourself into a room full of monkey-boys or magic-men, start swinging your sword, popping off a few shots and add in a couple of cool wall flips and soon you’re having yourself a pretty good time.

Weapons are less varied than the first game. Instead of a variety of swords and even fists-of-fury to choose from, the sequel features ‘sword’, ‘thicker sword’ and ‘thinner sword’. Thankfully, the variety of guns is preserved, meaning that play style is primarily determined by your firearm rather that your main man. Weapons can be levelled up and elemental damage is determined by customisation of the devil trigger.

Some may disagree, but I thought that the bosses were more varied than the first game. Yes, there are some real stinkers such as ‘helicopter-with-eye’ and ‘floating magic heads’ but overall they did a not-bad job. The dude with balls-and-chains for arms was always fun to fight, it was nice to see old spider-bro make a return and even fighting the gorilla had it’s good moments.

I don’t think I enjoyed Devil May Cry 2 more than the first game, but I did die a whole lot less, even managing to complete the game on Normal (a task I found impossible in the first game). I appreciated many of the changes made to the sequel, but found that it lacked the depth and character of the first. The uncomplicated (albeit confusing) storyline and a straightforward play style make this a good hack-and-slash game to play while sipping on a cold one or listening to some talk radio. I also appreciated the subtle (not subtle) anti-capitalist message.

Oh, and you can play as different characters, that’s new too. You can also wear jeans.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for Playstation 2 – What a game

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for Playstation 2 – What a game

There is very little I could tell you about Metal Gear Solid 2 without including spoilers, so consider yourself warned.

MGS 2 Box Cover Art Work

Hideo Kojima, the brains behind this game is a genius. Look at the back of the box art for this game, it includes screen shots with Solid Snake in them. On the front of the box we have a bad ass potrait of Snake too. Everything is geared to make you believe that you are going into this game as the hero protagonist of the previous installment, your character is even referred to as ‘Snake’ during the first few minutes of the opening movie. The aquatic suit mask and respirator hide the true identity of the main character, even after you’re told that your codename is being changed from Snake to Raiden for this mission. And then comes the big reveal: you’re not playing as Solid Snake at all, you’re a rookie by the name of Jack.

The greatest bluff in video games?

The greatest bluff in video games?

The rest of the game is surprise after surprise, I’ve never seen so many plot twists and double-crosses in a game in my life. The storyline is complicated to say the least, and draws heavily from Hollywood movies of the 80s and 90s. This is combined with a charm and sense of surreal humour that you would normally find in JRPGs. Metal Gear Solid 2 will have you single-handedly taking down a mysterious foreign organisation, and along the way you will be urinated on, pooped on by seaguls, have your balls groped by the President of America and fight a Harrier Jump-Jet as a boss battle. This game fuses the two traditions of heroic Hollywood storylines and Japanese video game charm. In fact, the cutscene sections are often so long that it would be fairly accurate to describe MGS 2 as more of video game-movie hybrid.

Just a quick note about this game compared to Zone of the Enders, which I wrote about a few weeks ago and for which Hideo Kojima was producer. Dispite these two games being worlds apart in terms of quality, there is one thing common to both of them: awesome boss fights. Metal Gear Solid 2 and Zone of the Enders do boss fights like how they should be done: frustrating, gruelling battles of wits and timing. From the aformentioned Harrier, to Fatman, Vamp, Solidus and the Metal Gear Rays, MGS 2 has a great line-up of infuriating bosses to get stuck in to. Also if you look closely downstairs inside Strut E you will notice the Z.O.E. insignia on some of the boxes there, a nice touch, but I feel as though that works as a metaphor for the development of the two games: MGS 2 taking centre stage, while Z.O.E. lies forgotten in a box in the basement.

Anyway, I came at Metal Gear Solid 2 as a complete novice, never having played any form of Metal Gear game before. As such, the initial impact of the switch in protagonist was somewhat lost on me. It was only after playing through the after-mission – where you actually do take control of Solid Snake – that the full significance of what they had pulled off hit me.

What had stopped me from playing this game and other games in the series before was the knowledge that I am awful at these games (the fact that I died 78 times during the main campaign on Normal mode can easily testify to my lack of ‘Tactical Espionage Action’ skills). I made the wrong assumption that MGS would be like a run of the mill shooter game: heavy on the action with little in the way of storyline. I could not have been further from the truth, and was pleasantly surprised by the depth of story and enjoyability of gameplay that I found. I became immersed in the lore of the MGS world.

Luckily for me, the game includes an entire novel explaining the backstory of MGS 2. It’s basically the storyline to the first Metal Gear Solid game told from the perspective of Natasha Romanenko – who was apparently one of the supporting characters in the first game – and it’s long. But what a brilliant and brave idea to include something like that in a game. It adds a lot to the mythology that this game works to culitvate, as I am sure the other games do too. It’s addition also meant that I did not feel excluded from some of the finer points of the plot, especially towards the end of the game. For example, whenever someone spoke about Shadow Moses, had I not read the material I would have been like “Who?”

Although still accessible as a stand-alone game, you undoubtedly get more out of it if you have some prior knowledge of the series. However, far from being an excluding factor, the game clearly wants you to know this information, it wants to include you in the world that has been built up around it.

Metal Gear Solid 2 gets a little crazy towards the end. But it does have a clear message: you are able to choose for yourself who you are, it doesn’t matter about what genes you have, or how you were brought up, you can still choose to be the best you can be. Snake was able to escape his genetics, whilst Jack was able to move beyond his uprbringing. And that is what this game does; born a Japenese video game it was brought up on a diet of Hollywood films, but it chose to try and be more than just a game, and more than just a movie, it chose to tell a great and entertaining story, to try and be the best that it can be. Obviously it is neither better than a lot of video games nor better than a lot of movies, but at least it tried.

Kind regards,

Lefthumbstick

I’m not the best at playing games that are in a series in the correct order. Did you play MGS 2 after having played the first one? Did you feel as though you were conned at all? I think that I probably would have.